Monday, 12 January 2009

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

This update on our newly tropical country comes to us from www.thenorthwestern.com:

Doug Zellmer column: Record snow steals spotlight from frigid temperatures

January 10, 2009

Record snow during December in Oshkosh spawned a lot of conversation thats kept the hot stove weather league going this winter.

Lets push aside the 39 inches of the white stuff from last month and talk about the cold weather. Just in case you didnt notice the temperature while shoveling, December was much colder than normal in Oshkosh.

The average temperature in December was 15.8 degrees, which makes it the 10th coldest December in the city since weather records were kept starting in the 1880s, said officials from the National Weather Service in Green Bay. For about the first three weeks of December it was cold enough for the month to flirt with the top five coldest Decembers recorded in Oshkosh.

By the way, calculating the average temperature is pretty simple. The NWS adds the high and the low for each day and then divides by two.

The 15.8 degree average was a whopping 6.3 degrees below normal for December. Oshkosh had nine days with below zero temperatures last month, according to the NWS and Northwestern weather observations.

Our December weather reminded me of some of the harsh winters on the farm while growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. I knew it was really cold outside when frost built up on the inside walls of our dairy barn. I didnt need a thermometer to remind me of the cold.

One bitter cold winter day I recall like it was yesterday. It was Dec. 31, 1967 when the Packers played the Dallas Cowboys in Green Bay for the National Football League title in the Ice Bowl game. The temperature was something like minus 15 with a biting wind, so we did chores early. Frost was maybe an inch thick on some of the inside barn walls. Our dairy cows only stayed outside about 15 minutes that day. The cows breath seemed to cling to the outside air.

What was really a bummer during cold weather is when the manure spreader broke. That happened to us a few times during the winter and it was no fun standing out in the cold trying to fix it. My dad could take a lot of cold, but when it was below zero he didnt appreciate a break down.

Somehow, I have a feeling this winter has a lot roar left in it. Hang on tight.

Maybe the good folks of Oshkosh, Wisconsin would do well to hold off on the speedo and thong bikini Al Gore led us to believe they'd be ok with.  Instead, keep the overcoat and get warm by burning a few carbon offsets.


DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CHILDREN ARE BEING TAUGHT?

Ken Berwitz

The article below appears to be very well researched and well referenced.  It is the kind of article any mainstream media venue could have issued - if that venue cared to do so.   But it comes to us from CBN News, not from a mainstream news venue. 

See how you feel about this -- and don't hesitate to look at the links it provides as well:

Public Schools Teach the ABCs of Islam

By Erick Stakelbeck
CBN News Terror Analyst
January 9, 2009

CBNNews.com - Several recent studies have shown that American students are alarmingly ignorant about U.S. history and world events.

Experts have attributed the problem to everything from failing schools to substandard teachers.

But what about content?

Who Discovered America?

CBN NEWS ARCHIVES:
Saudi Arabia's 
Curriculum of Intolerance


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For instance, did you know that Muslims discovered America? Or that Jerusalem is an Arab city? That's just some of the "history" that students in America's K-12 classrooms have been taught in recent years--with the help of taxpayer money.

A new report by the non-profit Institute for Jewish and Community Research finds that American high school and elementary textbooks contain countless inaccuracies about Christianity, Judaism, Israel and the Middle East.

The Institute examined 28 of the most widely-used history, geography and social studies textbooks in America. It found at least 500 errors.

One book ignored the Jewish roots of Christianity, saying the faith was founded by a "young Palestinian" named Jesus.

Another stated as fact that the Koran was revealed to Mohammed from God.

Yet another said ancient Jewish civilization contributed "very little" to to the arts and sciences.

The Stealth Curriculum

Textbooks like these are used by millions of schoolchildren in all 50 states. Sandra Stotsky--now an endowed chair at the University of Arkansas--has seen some of them firsthand.

Stotsky was a commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education from 1999 until 2003. In that role, she helped set standards for students and teachers on the K thru 12 level. Stotsky wrote a book about her experience developing standards and professional development for history teachers called The Stealth Curriculum.

"We heard from a number of groups who were outraged because they didn't want what they called a 'Euro-centric' version of history," said Stotsky. "They literally wanted an Islamo-centric version of history. Which means you look at the world from the perspective of Islam and you don't talk about any negative aspects of Islam."

Islamic Seminar

After the 9/11 attacks, the Massachusetts Board of Education funded a special seminar for K-12 teachers to learn about Islamic history and the Middle East.

The outreach coordinator at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies helped organize the seminar. Stotsky said she was shocked by the teachers' lesson plans that came out of the week-long seminar.

"They ranged from having students make prayer rugs; describe what it would be like to go on a hajj--a pilgrimage; learn and memorize the five pillars of Islam; listen to and learn how to recite passages from the Koran; dress like a Muslim from a particular country.it was, to me, a clear violation of ethics involved in how one would expect children to learn about another culture. That they would literally go through the memorization and the learning of religious beliefs."

"These are unacceptable practices in a public school," she added. "In fact, they would be unacceptable academic practices in any school."

Title VI

Harvard is one of 18 universities that receives government funding under Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965. To qualify for that funding, the universities are required to conduct outreach to K-12 teachers, helping them to shape lessons for schoolchildren. Elementary and secondary teachers have taken full advantage of the arrangement: after all, they believe they're getting expert insight on Islam and the Middle East from distinguished university scholars.

"You have a lot of politically naive teachers--well intentioned teachers who do want their students to learn more about Islamic history," says Stotsky. "It has not been well covered in most history courses they've ever taken, so they do genuinely want to learn more for themselves and teach their students more."

In some cases they may be getting more than they bargained for: the Saudi government has donated millions of dollars to Middle East Centers at universities that receive Title VI funding.

The Harvard Middle Eastern Studies Center--whose proposed lesson plans for K-12 history teachers originally drew Stosky's concern--is one of them. As CBN News reported earlier this year, the Harvard Center received a $20 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in 2005. Georgetown University--another title VI recipient--also received $ 20 million from the Prince that same year.

It's through these Title VI university centers--all of them government-sanctioned and taxpayer supported--that Saudi-funded materials find their way into K-12 classrooms.

Education or Islamic Propoganda?

"Saudi donations to American universities should be seen in a much larger picture of Saudi promotion of a Saudi point of view," said Daniel Pipes, Director of the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia. "Whether it be Islamic or political, the Saudis have a point of view. And they have been very clever and very generous over the decades to promote that point of view."

Among the textbooks the Saudi-funded Harvard Center recommends for schoolchildren is the Arab World Studies Notebook. The book is published by a New Mexico-based group called Arab World and Islamic Resources , which was founded in 1990 with funding from organizations that include Saudi Aramco, a Saudi government-owned oil company.

'The Notebook'

The Notebook has come under fire for negatively portraying America and Israel while whitewashing Islam. It's been banned by some school districts.

"It's very difficult to find any discussion of ancient Israel--that it actually existed in time as a country,' Stotsky said of the Notebook. "That it had a king, that it had kings. That King Solomon existed, that Jerusalem was established as their capital city. It would discredit even the founding of the state of Israel by claiming that it was imposed by European or Western powers."

One of the Notebook's most controversial claims was that Muslim explorers beat Columbus to the New World. Older versions state that some Native American chiefs even had Muslim names, like Abdul-Rahim. These passages were eventually removed after widespread criticism from scholars and Native American groups. The Notebook's editor, Audrey Shabbas, did not respond to our requests for an interview.

The Middle East Policy Council--a pro-Arab advocacy group in Washington, D.C.--also conducts teacher training programs for K-12 teachers and has promoted the Arab World Studies Notebook as an ideal educational tool.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal donated $1 million towards the Council's teacher training programs last year. The group did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

Stronger Curriculum Standards Needed

Stosky says there needs to be stronger standards for K-12 curriculums to help offset the influence of outside pressure groups. That's traditionally been a job for local governments.

"State governments have not been given the power to set curriculum," she said. "No, this is a local responsibility. It was devised this way by our framers. You know, the local governments, local communities, would develop their own curricula, decide what they would want to teach their children. State governments could assess, as they now do, but they can't prescribe curriculum for local communities. And the federal government certainly can't prescribe a curriculum. That's why we're having a battle over where national standards are going to come from."

The standards Stotsky helped craft for Massachusetts schools include what she calls "politically incorrect but historically accurate" objectives about the Islamic slave trade, Islamic expansionism and treatment of women in Islam.

"What state governments can do--which to me, is the path we were taking in Massachusetts--is to make sure that the standards you create for a subject have been thoroughly vetted by first rate scholars--and a range of first rate scholars," said Stotsky.

Title VI Battle Hits Capitol Hill

The battle over Title VI has also reached Capitol Hill. In August, Congress approved revisions to the Higher Education Act of 1965--which includes Title VI. Universities must now explain how their Title VI funds will be used--and K-12 schools are now required to reflect a wide range of views on global issues in their lesson plans. Whether the Saudi point of view is still among them remains to be seen.

If you think your children are learning more or less updated versions of what you learned in school, this should a) educate you to the likelihood they are not, b) scare you to think this is what they are learning instead and c) outrage you because of it.

Maybe a call or visit to your local high school wouldn't be such a bad idea.  Be pleasant, be courteous, be open (it is certainly possible students there are not among those being injected with this kind of misinformation).  Ask the principal or someone in the history department - preferably the teacher who heads it - what, if anything, students are being taught about Islam and whether you can borrow one or more of the books they learn from.

The reaction to your requests will probably tell you whether there is anything to be concerned about.  

And, while you're at it, please take a moment or two to wonder why our wonderful "neutral" media do not report what our children are "learning" about Islam.


THE FUNNIEST HEADLINE OF THE YEAR (so far)

Ken Berwitz

You have to hand it to the New York Times.  It has no comic section, but sometimes, without even trying, it is the funniest newspaper around.

Here is the headline and first paragraph of a front-page article in this morning's edition (you can click on the link to read the entire article if you care to):

"Crisis Imperils 2-State Plan"

Published: January 11, 2009

CAIRO With every image of the dead in Gaza inflaming people across the Arab world, Egyptian and Jordanian officials are worried that they see a fundamental tenet of the Middle East peace process slipping away: the so-called two-state solution, an independent Palestinian state coexisting with Israel.

Got that?  Israel's action against hamas is imperiling the "2-state plan".

To read this headline and the beginning of the article, you would swear that a two-state solution has either been achieved or is just about there, but Israel's action has put it in jeopardy.

Ok, a simple question:  how long have you been reading about the "2-state plan" of Israel and a new country of Palestine peacefully coexisting side by side? 

The answer depends on how old you are.  I'm 62 and don't remember when I wasn't reading about it.  Since Israel came into existence in 1948, the "plan" was for there to be two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian Arab. 

Now the big question:  what has prevented it?  Israel's unwillingness to live in peaceful coexistence with an Arab state, or Palestinian Arabs' unwillingness to live in peaceful coexistence with a Jewish state? 

Before you answer, keep in mind that Palestinian Arabs were offered a state of Palestine in 1947, exactly the same time Jews were offered a state of Israel.  The Jews said yes and Israel was born.  The Arabs said no.

It should also be kept in mind that this was 25 years after the British created Transjordan from almost 80% of Palestine's land area -- and a year after it was made into the Palestinian Arab state of Jordan.

That's right, Jordan is a Palestinian Arab state.  It's entire land area is within Palestine and a majority of its citizens are Palestinian Arabs.  What would you call it?

But none of this counts, you see.  The New York Times figures that the "2-state plan" was juu-u-u-u-u-ssst about a done deal, when those dastardly Israelis blew it by attacking Gaza.

And over what?  A piddling little trifle like the fact that Gaza is run by hamas, a terrorist organization committed in writing to Israel's obliteration and the death of its Jews, which fires mortars and artillery into civilian areas of Israel every day.

Then these geniuses wonder why people call them biased.  At least they're occasionally good for a belly laugh.


WHY WE FIGHT

Ken Berwitz

How do you think life might be if you were in an Arab Muslim Emirate? 

Here's your answer, courtesy of the Australian Daily Telegraph:

Sydney mother jailed after 'insulting' Kuwait's Emir

By Janet Fife-Yeomans

January 13, 2009 12:00am

A SYDNEY mother is in a Kuwait prison cell after a bizarre incident at the country's international airport.

Nasrah Alshamery, 43, is facing the archaic charge of insulting the nation's ruling Emir after rowing with airport security officers over Saddam Hussein versus John Howard and George W. Bush.

"My mother didn't even name the Emir. She doesn't know who he is," her distraught daughter Wasa Alshamery, 21, said yesterday. "One of the police said something like, 'Saddam Hussein, he made you (look) human'. My mother said 'Thanks to George Bush and John Howard, they gave you the freedom'."

Under Kuwaiti law, the Emir - Sheik Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah - does not have to be mentioned by name and under Article 25 of Kuwait's constitution, the offence carries a five-year jail term.

The Department of Foreign Affairs last night confirmed an Australian woman had been denied bail while being investigated for insulting the Emir. She will reapply for bail on January 21.

Her sons, Abdulaziz, 22, and Abdulrahman, 18, have been freed on bail but cannot leave Kuwait after being charged with assaulting government officials on December 23.

The row occurred when Mrs Alshamery, her husband Solomon, 43, six sons and daughter flew into Kuwait from Syria as part of their return to their homeland, which they left 10 years ago.

At the family's Winston Hills home, medical science student Ms Alshamery told how an airport security officer was rude to her youngest brother, Mohammed, when the family asked about getting visas.

She said her father told the officer to be polite but he was then hit by the security officer - at which point the two brothers became involved.

They were soon surrounded by 35 police and security officers.

"My mother was screaming at them 'Give me my sons'," said Ms Alshamery, adding the security officers made fun of her mother's Arabic, saying she was speaking with a funny accent and accusing her of being a "slut" because she was Australian, even though she was wearing a hijab that covered everything but her eyes.

Her mum and brothers were arrested. The rest of the family spent three days in a police station before being allowed to leave via Syria.

Their lawyer Mohammed Masri said he would be lodging a complaint with the Department of Foreign Affairs on their behalf.

A DFAT spokesman said she was being helped by embassy officials.

Do you like that part I put in bold print?  You can insult the Emir even if you don't mention him, and the penalty is 5 years in jail.  But your people can be as insulting and thuggish as they care to be and that's just fine.

And if you think this is uncommon in these types of countries, forget it.  It's all too common.  And it isn't even the bad news.

The bad news is what happens if someone dares to decide that Islam is not their religion.  www.wikipedia.com, which usually is far from my favorite source for accurate information, appears to have a genuinely illuminating piece on this.  It includes the following:

Most countries of the Middle East and North Africa maintain a dual system of secular courts and religious courts, in which the religious courts mainly regulate marriage and inheritance. Saudi Arabia and Iran maintain religious courts for all aspects of jurisprudence, and religious police assert social compliance. Sharia is also used in Sudan, Libya and Afghanistan. Some states in northern Nigeria have reintroduced Sharia courts. In practice the new Sharia courts in Nigeria have most often meant the reintroduction of relatively harsh punishments without respecting the much tougher rules of evidence and testimony. The punishments include amputation of one/both hand(s) for theft, stoning for adultery, and execution for apostasy. In 1980, Pakistan, under the leadership of President Zia-ul-Haq, the Federal Shariat Court was created and given jurisdiction to examine any existing law to ensure it was not repugnant to Islam[3] and in its early acts it passed ordinances that included five that explicitly targeted religious minorities: a law against blasphemy; a law punishing the defiling of the Qur'an; a prohibition against insulting the wives, family, or companions of the Prophet of Islam; and two laws specifically restricting the activities of Ahmadis, who were declared non-Muslims.

Under traditional Islamic law[21] an apostate may be given up to three days while in incarceration to repent and accept Islam again and if not the apostate is to be killed without any reservations. There are difference between the four schools in the various details on how to deal with the various aspects of imposing the penalties with respect to the material property and holdings of the apostate and in the status and rights of the family of the apostate. A distinction is also made between "Murtad Fitri", an apostate who was born of Muslim parents, and "Murtad Milli", an apostate who had converted into Islam initially. Some additional penalties and considerations that are mentioned are that a divorce is automatic if either spouse apostatize, an under age apostate is imprisoned till he reaches maturity and then he is killed, and the recommended execution is beheading with a sword. The examples of Apostasy given below show that these punishments are rarely carried out in toto at present, and also underline the problem in harmonizing the constitutional law and Islamic law in the various countries.

In the period of the early Islamic Caliphate, apostasy was considered treason, and was accordingly treated as a capital offense; death penalties were carried out under the authority of the Caliph, the most famous such incidents being the Martyrs of Cordoba. Today apostasy is punishable by death in the countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Afghanistan and Mauritania. In Pakistan blasphemy is also punishable by death. Other punishments prescribed by Islamic law include the annulment of marriage with a Muslim spouse, the removal of children and the loss of all property and inheritance rights

Which do you prefer?  This culture or Western culture?  If the answer is Western culture, this is a good explanation of why we fight the taliban, al qaeda and other kindred groups that want us all to live this way.


A NEW MADOFF OUTRAGE

Ken Berwitz

Want to see a judge's ruling that probably creates more anti-Semites than david duke ever could in his lifetime? 

Try this one on for size:

BUSINESS

JANUARY 12, 2009, 4:56 P.M. ET

And as it turns out, Dianefan is also one of the two other internet users Fey mentioned. Apparently she sometimes also goes under the name Cougar-letter. Here are the angry comments Cougar-letter posted about Fey in the October-December months:

Tina Fey would be a dreadful host. That Sarah Palin bit is getting very old. Tina Fey was simply like the pimple on my face - just there . I think that the key issue here is the fact that when Tina is at her best, shes just not that great. I just hope they give the win to anyone but Tina Fey. Boy I cant wait until Edie Falco comes back on the scene just to wipe that smug look off Tinas face.

So what does dianefan/cougar-letter think of Feys mention of her on the nationally broadcast award show? Dianefan (yes, she changed her name back yet again) ungratefully commented on the boards:

Im famous. She mentioned BabsonLacrosse too. Sorry Tina Fey but I still dont think you deserved to win.

Somewhat baffling, the third user Fey attacked, BabsonLacrosse, actually appears to be a fan of Fey. She once commented that Fey and Christina Applegate are the 2 best comedic actresses on TV

right now. And this is one of the many reasons we love Tina Fey.

I guess this shows that, no matter how successful a person is, he/she can still have the maturity level of a 6 year old during first grade recess.

As a matter of disclosure, I have no axe to grind here;  Until today, the only thing I ever recall writing about Tina Fey is how uncannily well she imitates Sarah Palin.


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