Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Two Sumatran tiger cubs have become inseparable from two baby orang-utans after their respective mothers abandoned them. (BBC News)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Portrait of a War-Torn Society: Iraq

Sunni Muslim boy with his father at Friday prayers today in central Baghdad.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict in One Photo

British PM Tony Blair Announces Troop Withdrawals from Iraq by Summer

British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today plans to significantly decrease the number of his country's soldiers in southern Iraq, currently numbering 7,100. Over the next few months 1,500 Brits will return home with another 500 scheduled to come back this summer. The British forces will focus on training Iraqi security forces and military units, staying until 2008. However, Blair said that Iraqis in the south would "write the next chapter" in their history.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dixie Chicks Sweep Grammy Awards; Make Comeback

Three years after being essentially banned at country music stations and shunned by the Nashville-based country music establishment following Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines' critical comments about U.S. President George W. Bush's Iraq War, the biggest-selling female music group made a comeback as they swept the 49th Annual Grammy Awards this week. After Maines' comments, country music stations organized events where people could destroy or throw away their Dixie Chicks albums and Maines received death threats. The band won 5 awards including Record of the Year & Album of the year. Bravo.

Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice" (Record of the Year), music video:

To buy their recent album Taking the Long Way, go to:

Live Grammy Performance (excellent):

The band is the subject of a soon-to-be released documentary, Shut Up and Sing:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Evils of St. Valentine's Day

"Valentine's Day promotes obscene cards and nudity and encourages our youngsters to be publicly affectionate in parks and other places -- this is against our ancient civilisation," said Jai Bhagwan Goyal, head of [Hindu radical group] Shiv Sena in the capital. "This western creation is corrupting our young people and making them have immoral thoughts ... we are already seeing that there are more evil crimes like rape happening in India."

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Panda Babies Named in China

Eighteen panda cubs living in China's Wolong Nature Reserve have been named at a ceremony in Sichuan province. Names for the five to seven-month-old cubs were chosen from about 30,000 entries submitted by the public after an appeal for ideas. Tao Tao (playful in Mandarin) and Huan Huan (happiness) were amongst the most popular. The panda above was named Fu Wa after Beijing's Olympic mascot.
(Source: BBC News)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Farewell, Palestine

"How Do We Keep Getting Away with This?"
A gathering of Palestinian strongmen in Mecca resulted in a temporary deal on a unity government. The participants then performed 'Umrah, the "minor" pilgrimage. From left: Fatah security official Muhammad Dahlan, Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and HAMAS political bureau chief Khaled Mesha'al (the hardliner who lives outside of Palestine.)
Any bets on how soon this "deal" will fail?
Despite Israeli government actions, such as the illegal expansion of West Bank settlements by messianic, militant Jewish settlers, the Palestinian leadership has for decades been inept, to put it mildly. In recent months, scores of Palestinians have been killed in inter-factional fighting between HAMAS and Fatah (through its militias Tanzim and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.) So much for the Western notion that the secular Fatah is "democratic."
The U.S. supports secular and faux religious Arab autocracies? Never!
Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrayn, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Tunisia are "democracies in progress." Yeah, sure.

For more information on the "deal," see:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jerusalem Clashes Over Israeli Excavation Near al-Aqsa Mosque

Thousands of Palestinians protesting Israeli excavations near the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock clashes with Israeli police today resulting in at least 34 injuries. The Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa stand on the Haram al-Shariff (Noble Sanctuary)/Temple Mount believed by Muslims to be the place of the Prophet Muhammad's Night Journey and Ascension into the Seven Heavens where he spoke with the prophets of old and God Himself and where Jews believe the great temples of King Solomon, the Second Temple rebuilt after the Babylonian Exile, and King Herod the Great stood. It is feared that the excavations endanger the platform on which the mosque stands.
One when examines the archaeology and historical accounts (mostly Roman and those of the Jewish historian and ally of Rome Flavius Josephus) it is clear that Herod's Temple stood at the site and comments to the contrary are foolish and grossly inaccurate.
For more information, see:

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sistani: Iraq's Old Gray Cleric Fading

Grand Ayatullah Sayyid 'Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, the most influential of Iraq's four grand ayatullahs, has seen his authority dwindle as the country's Sunni and Shi'i Arabs descend further into an ultra-violent and sadistic civil war. Initially politically effective, al-Sistani has been largely marginalized in temporal affairs by lower-ranking Shi'i clerics who serve as powerful political chiefs, namely Muqtada al-Sadr (ON POSTER TO LEFT), the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq's 'Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim (BELOW), and virulently anti-Iranian ayatullah Mahmoud Hassani al-Sarkhi (BOTTOM). Al-Sistani's calls for peace between the two Muslim Arab communities have failed and thousands of Iraqis are killed every month. Last week estimates put the number of dead at over 1,000 people. Traditional religious authority continues to erode as inter-communal violence spirals out of control.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Magda Amer, Egyptian Preacher

Dr. Magda Amer, 54, a practitioner of yoga and fan of macrobiotic food, is a popular preacher at the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq mosque in the affluent Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis, where the Presidential Palace is located. She delivers regular lectures on Islam and alternative medicine. (Photo: BBC News)
She also runs a macrobiotic grocery store:

Monday, February 05, 2007

'Enlightened' Israeli 'Democratic' Settlers

"[The Jew] fears to throw out the cancer raging in his midst - the Arab enemy - lest the world turn on him. He is repaid measure for measure by a grim Almighty as the world, daily, condemns him for 'oppression' of people thatwould not have been there had he had faith in God rather than fear of the Gentile."
-Rabbi Meir Kahane, American-Israeli settler leader

The side of Israel rarely covered in U.S. media: The world of tens of thousands of radical, militant, and messianic Israeli Jewish settlers.

Highly Recommended PBS Frontline documentary:

In "Israel's Next War?" FRONTLINE goes deep inside the world of militant Jewish radicals who pose a grave new threat to Israeli security and, potentially, to the region. "The dream of these extremists"—to blow up the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, one of the most important holy sites in the Muslim world—"should give us sleepless nights," says former Israeli Security Chief Avi Dichter. "Jewish terror is liable to create a serious strategic threat that will turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a conflict between thirteen million Jews and a billion Muslims all over the world."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Courtesy of al-Qa'ida in Iraq

Iraqis are beginning the grim task of trying to clear up after a devastating suicide truck bomb that destroyed a busy market in the Shi'i neighbourhood of al-Sadriya, killing over 100 people. (AFP)