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daily archive: 05/25/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Conspiracy theories
Daniel Pipes examines how a conspiracy theory started in Nigeria by an Islamist doctor has led to another epidemic of polio, a disease that was almost eradicated: Conspiracy theory keeps polio alive
A worldwide campaign begun in 1988 to eradicate polio was on the verge of success when, early in 2003, a conspiracy theory took hold of the Muslim population in northern Nigeria. That conspiracy theory has singlehandedly returned polio to epidemic proportions.

The theory's source seems to be one Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, 68, a physician and president of Nigeria's Supreme Council for Shari'a Law. Ahmed, an Islamist, accuses Americans of lacing the polio vaccine with an anti-fertility agent that sterilizes children (or, in an alternate theory, infects them with AIDS) and considers them, according to John Murphy of The Baltimore Sun, "the worst criminals on Earth... Even Hitler was not as evil as that."
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Skeletons in the Closet
What would you do if you found out your neighbor is a convicted rapist? A few years ago, my landlord came to tell me that the nice guy who just moved in two doors down from my apartment, the one who always smiled and waved at me when I walked by, was a rapist who had just been released from prison. The landlord said he felt it his duty to tell me and if I objected he would ask him to move. I was stunned and didn't know what to do and trying to be fair, I told the landlord he could stay. But three weeks later I moved.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
South African Muslim organisations calling for sanctions against Israel
South African Muslim organisations organised a protest in Cape Town to denounce the "violation of the Haram al-Sharif Noble sanctuary." They're calling for an international campaign to isolate Israel and they gave a memo to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanding that the government recall its ambassador to Israel, shut down the Israeli embassy in South Africa, and initiate a campaign to impose sanctions against Israel. He responded that the South Africa government "is totally committed to the just cause of the Palestinians and will continue doing everything to ensure that the Palestinian cause is successful." Meanwhile, the president of the Islamic Council of Southern Africa, warned Ariel Sharon "to get ready":
"We will be committed until al-Aqsa is liberated", Najaar added. "Not only al-Aqsa, but the entire occupied land."
S Africans decry al-Aqsa desecration
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Saudis desecrating hundreds of Bibles annually
Shameless hypocrisy, thy name is Saud.
Washington DC - The Saudi government burns and desecrates hundreds of bibles its security forces confiscate after raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately or at border crossings.

As a matter of official policy, the government either incinerates or dumps bibles, crosses and other Christian paraphernalia.

Hundreds of Christian worshipers are arrested every year by Saudi police in raids on their private gatherings. Bibles, crosses and printed materials are confiscated and later burnt or dumped into trash. Bibles and other Christian paraphernalia found with travelers into the country are confiscated and destroyed.

Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Koran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia, and is confiscated and destroyed by government officials.

Recently, there has been a crackdown on symbols of Christianity in Saudi Arabia. On April 21st Saudi authorities raided a make-shift church in Riyadh and arrested 40 Christians. Many Christian religious symbols, such as crucifixes and bibles were later destroyed by Saudi security forces.

When it was revealed last week that a copy of the Koran had allegedly been desecrated by American military personnel at Guantanomo Bay, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval of such activities. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington articulated “great concern and urged Washington to conduct a quick investigation". The Saudi government has also recommended to the American government to install “deterring measures" so that an incident such as this would not be repeated. The Saudi government would not comment on their policy of desecrating bibles that had been seized from foreign nationals.

Interestingly though, desecration of religious texts and symbols and intolerance of varying religious viewpoints and beliefs has been the official policy inside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ruled by a Wahhabi theocracy for some time now, the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia have made it difficult for many Western religions, as well as dissenting sects of Islam, to visibly coexist inside of the kingdom.

Another way in which religious and cultural issues are becoming more divisive is the Saudi treatment of Americans who are living in their country. As of today there around 30,000 Americans living and working in various parts of Saudi Arabia, who are not allowed to visibly celebrate their religious and even secular holidays if they are not of the Wahhabi faith. This includes holidays such as Christmas and Easter but also such secular holidays as Thanksgiving. All surrounding Gulf States allow non-Islamic holidays to be celebrated with the exception of Saudi Arabia.

The American State Department had no comment on this issue.
Respect for me, but not for thee, eh, Saudis?
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A Christian missionary in India
Graham Stuart Staines was an Australian missionary who ran a leprosy house in India. On the night of January 22, 1999, he and his two sons, seven and nine years old, were asleep in a station wagon when a crowd of people surrounded them and set the car on fire, burning them alive. Eighteen people were charged with this crime and thirteen of them were convicted. Dara Singh was found guilty of leading the attack and was sentenced to death and the other twelve participants were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Last week, the Orissa High Court commuted Dara Singh's death sentence to life imprisonment and acquitted eleven of the other participants. Dara Singh, a Hindu extremist who is facing another trial for the murders of a Muslim merchant and another Christian missionary, says he hates missionaries because, according to him, they induce people to convert; he also hates Muslims because, as he says, they target his religion and they target cows; and he has no regrets over the deaths of the Staines children.

The state of Orissa is currently led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu party defined as “the political wing" of extremist and fundamentalist groups. In the last ten years, Christian-owned churches and homes have been burned down in Orissa and several Christians have been killed; in the last five months alone, two Christian pastors have been murdered.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Race Relations
I don't know how it is for you but for me, lack of prejudice means I can feel free to hate a person regardless of his/her race, sexual preference, religion and so on. In other words, just because you're (insert group here) doesn't mean I have to like you!

It took me a few years to understand that. As many of my fellow immigrant comrades, I hadn't really met any blacks or known much about black culture until I came to the States. Was I prejudiced? Of course I was. I felt tenderness towards this entire group of people I didn't even know because I thought blacks had grown up or lived in ghettos, that whites were generally mean to blacks (bad Americans!) and I thought the cops were extra cruel to them. I believed that most black people were civil rights activists and that they were very very poor. I also believed that blacks resented whites because they've been so mistreated by them and that whites resented blacks because er... because we're racist by nature? What can I say, I was a college student and I had a few years of anti-American propaganda under my belt.

I eventually made friends who were black, actually they made friends with me, I was too shy and too new here to make friends with anyone, and they gave me my first exposure to what America is all about: it's not even about equal opportunity, a lot of minorities didn't start with equal opportunity. I think it's about having the freedom to become who you want to become. Like my beloved Condi, a little black girl growing up in racially segregated Alabama, becoming a Stanford Provost and who (please, please, please God!) may become President of the U.S. someday. What other country could this happen in?

Oh and back to equal-opportunity hate: I hate that guy with the funny hair, Al Sharpton. I don't care if he's black.
In the stereotype busting film "Crash," two young blacks come out of a restaurant steaming mad. In the course of their stroll down the sidewalk one of them claims that a waitress ignored them, then gave them lousy service, that the whites in the restaurant gave them hostile stares, and that when a couple passed them on the street the wife locked arms with her husband for fear they'd mug them. In his angry tirade, he covered the wide gamut of myths, stereotypes and negative perceptions that whites supposedly have about blacks.

While "Crash" pierces and pokes fun at racial stereotypes, it's the black perceptions about those stereotypes that make the film especially compelling. Many blacks take it as an article of faith that that most whites are hopelessly racist. A comprehensive Harvard University opinion poll in 2002 found that the racial attitudes of many whites about blacks are tightly enshrouded in stereotypes. The poll reinforced the fervent belief of many blacks that white racially disdain them. But it's hardly that simple.
Crash Course on Black Stereotypes of Whites
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
REAL ID provisions cancel Habeas Corpus?
I've avoided commenting on REAL ID because I don't know much about it and a lot of what was reported about it sounded like commonsense measures. But this seems a tad much.
WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- A federal court is scheduled next week to hear the first case in which the Bush administration is using controversial provisions of the newly minted REAL ID Act that limit the right of appeal against deportation.

Asylum-seeker Ablavi Malm, 51, was ordered deported to Togo in 1998 because her application for refugee status was denied after she failed to turn up for the hearing, according to court documents. Her subsequent appeal invoking the protection of anti-torture statutes was filed 20 days too late to be considered, according to her lawyer, Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights USA.

Sklar says Togolese security forces are notorious for their poor human-rights record and that Malm and members of her family there have been tortured.

The REAL ID Act, signed into law last week, mainly deals with the integrity of the nation's drivers' licensing systems -- setting minimum standards and effectively denying licenses to undocumented migrants and other illegal aliens. But it also includes a series of provisions designed to counter what its authors say is abuse of the immigration system, including by terrorists.

The Malm case is likely to become a flashpoint for arguments about the immigration provisions of the new law.

"I'm amazed that the government would use the legislation in this way," Sklar told United Press International. "It is even harsher than Congress intended.

"This 51-year-old rape survivor is about as far from a terrorist threat as it is possible to get."

The immigration provisions in the new law, say its authors, were designed to prevent those ordered deported from getting around time limits for filing court papers, dragging out their cases with repeated appeals and using the appellate courts to second guess judges' views about their credibility.

To do this, the law removes the right of deportees to file petitions under habeas corpus -- a doctrine dating back to English common law that allows courts to decide whether a person is being held legally or not.

The Department of Justice, in papers filed Tuesday, said the law means the courts cannot hear Malm's appeal.
No more habeas corpus for non-Americans?
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guest author: theparson in Discarded Lies:
Independence, Texas
Nestled in the green hills just about halfway between Houston and Austin and only a short drive from "Washington on the Brazos" rests the tiny town of Independence, Texas. Barely more than a spot in the road now, Independence was once known as the "Athens of Texas." Originally founded in 1824 by one of Sam Houston's "Old 300", Judge John P. Coles, Independence was known as "Cole's Settlement". However, in 1836 one of the residents, Dr. Asa Hoxey suggested the name be changed to Independence in celebration of Texas' own Independence from Mexico.

In 1845 the Union Baptist Association through its Texas Baptist Educational Society chose Independence as the place to build their new institution of higher learning they called Baylor University, a school for men. Shortly thereafter they built Baylor College for women. This of course resulted in tremendous growth for the little town including restaurants, hotels as well as stores and saloons. In his later years the venerable Sam Houston purchased a two story house in Independence though he lived there only a short time before moving on to further adventures. However, after his death his widow, Margaret and her mother Nancy Lea moved there and lived in Independence until their deaths. Both ladies are buried in Independence.

Independence would become the center of culture and the arts for the next 45 years. In about 1880 the railroad petitioned Independence and Baylor University for land grants in order to provide transportation through the now thriving city. However, both entities refused access and the railroad bypassed Independence and instead went through the tiny town of Brenham. This would prove to be the death blow to this magnificent city. By 1886, Baylor University moved to Waco and Baylor College was moved to Belton and Independence began a slow decline that would leave little to attest to its former greatness. The original columns of Baylor University still stand guard over the once great city. The Independence Baptist Church which claims Sam Houston among its former members is still in operation today.
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