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daily archive: 09/07/2004
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
The Muslim Vote
American Muslim leaders ended their largest annual meeting with a rousing plea to thousands of community members that they vote in the presidential election.

Muslims urgently want to register their political presence in this country as a step toward ending what many believe are excesses in the war on terror.

The American Muslim Taskforce, an umbrella group for top U.S. Muslim organizations, met behind closed doors separately from the weekend conference, deliberating whether to make an endorsement in the race. Democrats and Republicans are seeking their support.

American Muslims hold special importance this election year because they have strong communities in battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio and Florida. Also, immigrant Muslims tend to be educated professionals - an attractive demographic group.

Despite bitter feelings over how President Bush has conducted the war on terror, Muslim leaders said an endorsement for his challenger, Democratic Sen. John Kerry, was not guaranteed. Independent Ralph Nader traveled here Saturday and made an aggressive pitch for their backing. A decision is expected by next month.

In 2000, leaders of major Muslim organizations made their first endorsement in a presidential race, choosing Bush over Democrat Al Gore. Bush had indicated he was sympathetic to their concerns about the use of secret evidence in immigration hearings.

However, many rank-and-file Muslims - especially U.S.-born blacks, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic - opposed that 2000 decision. After the Sept. 11 attacks, and the anti-terror policies that followed, the Muslim leaders who had organized the Bush endorsement said openly they had made a mistake.

Still, Bush did not give up on the Muslim vote. About a year ago, the administration increased contacts with Muslim leaders, inviting them for briefings with the Department of Justice and the White House office of faith-based initiatives, among other gestures, according to Salam al-Marayati, head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

But Bush appears to have little chance of winning the leaders' endorsement, given widespread anger over terror-prevention laws.

Regarding Kerry, some Muslim leaders say his campaign has missed opportunities to capitalize on Muslim resentment of the president.

Muslims urged to get out the vote
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Our Neighbors
The attack on a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan is stoking old hatreds among the patchwork of ethnic groups in the tense Caucasus, raising fears of revenge attacks that could reignite a decades-old conflict.

Beslan residents, mostly ethnic Ossetian, have been dismissive of links to foreign terrorism but have seized on reports that Ingush were among the attackers at the school — alleging they would have known where to strike and been able to pull off the operation that left at least 350 dead, including the militants.

"When this is all over, you just wait, we'll get them ... our neighbors, the Ingush," one mourner said Monday during a wake as dozens of funerals were held in Beslan.

The history of conflict between Ossetians and Ingush runs deep.

The Ingush are Muslims and have long sympathized with their close relatives the Chechens, and both were deported to Central Asia during World War II because Soviet leader Josef Stalin feared they would help the invading German army against their longtime Russian foes. Chechnya and Ingushetia were part of a single administrative district in the Soviet era.

The Ingush returned home starting in the 1950s and demanded the return of homes inhabited by Ossetians, who are mainly Orthodox Christian and friendly with Russians, having joined the Russian Empire voluntarily in 1774. But they suffered decades of discrimination, forced to buy back their homes and to live as second-class citizens.

In 1992, after Chechnya's leaders declared independence, the first armed conflict in Russia following the Soviet collapse broke out after Ingush militants demanded control of Ingush land in North Ossetia — particularly the district of Prigorodny district, a majority Ingush area that was given to Ossetia in 1944.

In the former front-line village of Chermen in Prigorodny district, on the border between North Ossetia and Ingushetia, new red brick homes are finally erasing the destruction left from the 1992 war that killed hundreds of people and caused at least 50,000 ethnic Ingush to flee their homes in North Ossetia.

In 2002, the presidents of Ingushetia and North Ossetia signed a friendship agreement between the two regions trying to close the book on conflict in an effort brokered by President Vladimir Putin. Still, the pact failed to outline any specific steps to resolve property disputes.

Ethnic Tensions
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
From LA Times, Talk? These walls rant

Take a stroll through the Mea Shearim neighborhood and listen to the walls speak.

Plastered on the stone face of one building is a dire warning, in thick Hebrew characters, about a hotel reportedly being built on the site of ancient Jewish graves. A few paces farther, a poster urges religious students in this ultra-Orthodox enclave to resist the "plague" of idleness during summer vacation.

On any given day, postings offer up glimpses of a family's private strife or a tiff between neighbors, displayed for all to see in back-and-forth exchanges. Dozens of other notices are more mundane: advertisements for weekend getaways — strictly kosher, of course — Bible-themed children's books, cures for constipation, death notices.

The posters, known collectively as pashkevilim, cover so much acreage in Mea Shearim that it sometimes looks as if a giant, blocks-long newspaper has been unfurled through the neighborhood's cramped lanes.


The pashkevilim, whose original Old World purpose was to deliver anonymous barbs, now serve as a small-town tattle sheet and free-swinging political forum, a way to sell merchandise and safeguard the strict religious rules that govern daily life for Jerusalem's 150,000 ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, residents. About 5,500 live in Mea Shearim, part of a swath of ultra-Orthodox pockets in northwestern Jerusalem where pashkevilim are popular.


A measure of the central role the pashkevilim play among the ultra-Orthodox has been the angry reaction in the neighborhood to the city's recent effort to enforce rules limiting the posting of notices to city-owned bulletin boards, which offer blackboard-size spaces.

The city has dispatched a team of four inspectors to find unauthorized postings — and in Mea Shearim that is not difficult — and hand out $100 fines, though pinpointing the sources of unsigned notices can be difficult.

As part of the campaign to reduce the number of pashkevilim, the city named a local printer its sole concessionaire, making him the only person in Jerusalem licensed to put them up. He is also authorized to rip down those that don't pass through his hands first.

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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Selling Frances
For anyone who didn't get enough of Hurricane Frances as it blew through Florida, remnants of the storm are for sale.

More than 170 items were listed on eBay's Internet auction site Monday, a day after the eye of the Category 2 storm came ashore.

The starting bid for Tupperware filled with wind was a penny. Photos showed Broward County residents running around with the containers "catching" the wind. Surprisingly, someone had already bid $10 for one of the four containers.

Somebody had bid $6.99 for beach sand a Broward County surfer had collected. Three Frances survivors had bid 15 cents each to have a woman pray for them.

One-cent vials of rain that fell in Orlando as the storm passed over had no bids. Neither did a woman's offer to sell the T-shirt she wore during the storm, nor did the request by a Longwood resident for someone to help get a large oak tree off of the seller's home and car.

For Sale on eBay
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Dead Chic
Ernesto Guevara de la Serna was born and raised in Argentina, the son of a rich man. But it was with Fidel Castro's revolution that Guevara won fame and infamy. It is with Cuba that his iconic image is associated. And it is in Cuba that Guevara is interred.


Whether to bring Guevara home is the latest installment of what could be called necro-politics in Argentina.

The body of the 19th Century Argentine strongman Juan Manuel Rosas was repatriated from England in 1989 amid bitter disputes. Rightists revered him, leftists reviled him, and then-President Carlos Menem decided to bring Rosas back as a symbol of reconciliation for a nation emerging from the trauma of bloody civil conflict and government repression.

More than a decade earlier, the corpse of Eva Peron touched and hardened hearts.

Eva Peron's embalmed body had been hidden by army officers after they overthrew her dictator husband in 1955. The corpse made its way around town, at one point ending up in an attic, before it was sent to a secret burial in Italy. But in 1971, her body was sent to an exiled Juan Peron in Madrid. He covered it with a shroud and set it up in his dining room.

Juan Peron returned to power in Argentina in 1973, fell ill and died the next year, passing on power to his third wife. Only then was Eva Peron brought home.

Rosas now rests in peace in Recoleta Cemetery, the last--usually--stop of Argentina's rich, famous and powerful. Eva Peron is there too, and her grave has become a popular, flower-festooned shrine. Just last month, the silk burial shroud that Juan Peron commissioned to cover Eva was returned to Buenos Aires for public display.

Compañero Che Guevara
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Mixed Marriages Elsewhere

The European Council in July criticized Denmark's legislation on immigrants as a threat to human rights. The laws are a complicated mix of financial, housing, age and national loyalty requirements that critics say deter mixed marriages.

One of the most contentious provisions holds that both partners be at least 24.

Rightist politicians say the legislation prevents poor immigrants from overrunning the welfare system and protects Muslim girls from forced marriages, which Integration Minister Bertel Haarder has described as an "offense" to freedom. Immigrants and asylum-seekers make up about 8% of Denmark's population of 5.3 million. Three percent of the population is Muslim, and the government has imposed some of Europe's toughest restrictions on Islamic clerics.


Anti-immigration sentiment is spreading across a historically liberal northern Europe and Scandinavia, a region that these days worries about diluting national identities and funding the world's most generous health and social programs. Attitudes toward foreigners have hardened since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and as records show a disproportionate number of immigrants committing crimes.

Danes in mixed marriages say they suffer discrimination that most Westerners seldom encounter. They move away from friends and family. Because they live in Sweden, they often cannot vote in Denmark, yet many of them pay as much as 38% of their wages in Danish taxes.

They are caught in an odd commuter existence, shuttling twice a day between Copenhagen and Sweden, weighing love and prejudice and the lost entitlements between.

Officials in Malmo, the Swedish city on the other end of the Love Bridge, estimate that 1,200 mixed-marriage couples from Denmark have migrated across the Oresund strait since 2002. Fifty to 60 more arrive in Sweden each month.

Betrayed by Denmark
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Selfless Moore
Michael Moore says he won't submit "Fahrenheit 9/11" for consideration as best documentary at this year's Academy Awards. Instead, he's going for the bigger prize of best picture.


"For me the real Oscar would be Bush's defeat on Nov. 2," Moore told The Associated Press during a phone interview Monday from New York.

In the midst of the presidential campaign, Moore's announcement is a strategic move for his Oscar campaign. Documentaries and animated films have their own categories, but the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that those niche awards can limit a film's appeal in the overall best picture class.

Moore said he and his producing partner, Harvey Weinstein, agreed "Fahrenheit 9/11" would stand a better chance if they focused solely on the top Oscar.

He also said he wanted to be "supportive of my teammates in nonfiction film."

Right, Mike. You're sacrificing yourself for the team.

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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Iraqi civilians
U.S. forces battled insurgents loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the Baghdad slum of Sadr City on Tuesday in clashes that killed at least 36 people, including one American soldier, and wounded 203, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said.

The fighting in Sadr City erupted when militants attacked U.S. forces carrying out routine patrols, killing one American, said U.S. Army Capt. Brian O'Malley.

An al-Sadr spokesman in Baghdad, Sheik Raed al-Kadhimi, blamed what he called intrusive American incursions into Sadr City and attempts to arrest the cleric's followers.

"Our fighters have no choice but to return fire and to face the U.S. forces and helicopters pounding our houses," al-Kadhimi said in a statement.

In the slum's roadways, small groups of Sadr's Mahdi militia fighters used hammers to dig up the asphalt to plant explosives. Bands of fighters in civilian clothes — mostly in their teens and early 20s — wielded rocket-propelled grenades and trotted toward the clashes, children running in their wake.

There's those innocent Iraqi civilians again.

Fierce clashes in Iraq
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
From Beslan to Belsen
From Times Online:

The victims of Beslan are certainly not the first of Mother Russia's children to die in agony at the hands of fanatics. In Michael Burleigh's masterly history of the Third Reich he retells the story of an event in Ukraine in August 1941. The story is the more striking for being typical of its time.

German troops near Kiev were dealing systematically with civilian prisoners. Among those they processed were 90 children. They were rounded up, imprisoned in the baking heat, and then denied food or water while officers discussed their fate. The children had to eat mortar prised from the brickwork to avoid starving. Eventually, after checking that their actions were in compliance with Wehrmacht orders, the children were taken into the woods and shot.

The murder of children was not just accepted as a legitimate tactic, it was required by Nazi ideology. The enemy was bestial, it had to be extirpated lest it take revenge and that meant, in Himmler's chilling words, "even the brood in the cradle must be crushed like a puffed-up toad. We are living in an iron time and must sweep with iron brooms".
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Russia's 9/11
From Times Online, a thoughtful article by William Rees-Mogg.

"In the past three years, the world has been adjusting to the consequences of 9/11. That one event has dominated American politics and policy. It has divided the Nato alliance, with France and Germany taking one line and the United States and Britain another. In both America and Britain it has been the central issue of political debate. It has been a major influence on the increasingly unstable world market for oil. It has been the crucial event in the growth of Islamic terrorism.

On the day of 9/11, I was asked to write a short piece for The Times, reacting to the event. I thought that the nearest to a comparable date was December 7, 1941, the day of Pearl Harbor, 60 years before. The American people responded to that with an absolute determination to destroy the power which had attacked them. They have done so again. President Roosevelt called it “a date which will live in infamy?. The consequences included the dropping of the first nuclear bomb on Hiroshima; in many ways they persist in influencing the present.

Many other people saw 9/11 in the same way. Clearly we were right. Like Pearl Harbor or the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, 9/11 was one of the days which changed the world. Now we have to ask whether the hostage-taking of the schoolchildren of Beslan on September 1, 2004, the 65th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, was another of these historic tragedies. In Russia, at least, that is how it has already been understood.

Beslan is for the Russians another terrible event which changes everything. It changes many of the major factors of world relations, the future of Russia itself, including the future of the Putin presidency, the war against terrorism, including both Russian and Western relations with Islam, the response to the growing threat of nuclear proliferation, the basic relationship between Russia, Europe and the US, the probable outcome of the American election and possibly even of the next British election, the future of the world oil market, the future of the Middle East, and particularly of Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia, even the economic development of the emerging superpower, China.

Beslan is what strategists call “a low-probability, high-impact event?. Potentially it changes everything.
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