Friday, September 29, 2006

What's At Stake

My dear friend Father George Rutler is pastor of The Church of Our Savior in New York. Last week he published the followig in the parish bulletin.

"September 24, 2006

"Many in the communications media, accustomed to sound bites, lack the ability to follow the reasoning of Pope Benedict XVI's brilliant lecture at the University of Regensburg. Some journalists misrepresented him, inciting fanatics who burned churches and killed and threaten worse. The New York Times, which defends films and art blaspheming Christ, demands that the Pope apologize to hysterical holdovers from the Bronze Age. Among the words excised from most reports of the lecture were those of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God's nature. . . . Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence or threats."

"The Pope's lecture includes lines taken verbatim from Part II, chapter 2 of his book Truth and Tolerance which we have been selling in our parish book stall this past year, and which caused little comment until demagogues distorted it. The Times of London, to its credit, commented in a September 17 editorial that the Pope wanted to show the contradiction between religion and holy war. 'Violent conversion to any religious faith, or for that matter violent oppression of religious opponents, goes against God's Nature.' One immediately thinks of journalists kidnapped and ordered to convert to Islam at the point of a gun. Reaction to the Pope's lecture shows that a large number of Muslims are not interested in rational debate. The Holy Father was insulted, burned in effigy and threatened. It was an unfortunate sequel to demonstrations after the publication of Danish cartoons critical of Mohammed, which led to the massacre of over 100 innocent people.

"Our civilization is at stake. They are naïve who think that fanatics are not serious in their malice. Mr. Chamberlain thought Hitler might be reasoned with as a gentleman. After the Yalta Conference, President Roosevelt opined that under the surface Stalin might be 'a Christian gentleman.' Countless millions died because of those miscalculations.

"Last Sunday, the city authorities assigned police protection to our own parish because of feared violence from Islamic extremists demonstrating nearby. If God assigns particular people to be his witnesses in each age, we should feel honored that he had us conceived in this generation, to witness to his Gospel with reason and charity.

T"he London Times said, 'The clash of civilizations is not between Christianity and Islam. It is between those who favor open debate and those who think free speech is anathema. . . . The Vatican has said [the Pope] is very sorry his speech caused such offence to Muslims. That is fine but it should not go further than that. . . . As in the case of the Danish cartoons, Muslim zealots are trying to impose their restrictions of free expression on the West. Mindful as we should be of religious sensitivities, that cannot be allowed to happen."'"

Fr. George W. Rutler

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just Think What This Says About All Those Bald Guys!

Actor Rupert Everett has announced he is sterile as a result of having a full head of hair.

A medication he takes to combat baldness has rendered Rupert bald in another respect. Yesterday's MetroUK reported:

"Everett, now approaching 50 says, 'I take medication for Alopecia. It means I don't have any sperm left. If I stop taking the pills, all my hair will fall out, but I would rather have hair than sperm."'

Since Evert is openly gay the idea of reproducing probably was never very high on his agenda. Still, it's a dilemma. "I can be hirstute, or I can reproduce... hm... where's my mousse?"

[h/t Wuzzadem]

Here Comes The Party

"So are you thrilled?" Demfriend bubbled as we waited for our kids at taekwondo class.

I thought she meant the Twins. So I said, politely, "Oh yes. Absolutely. You must be too."

She frowned. "Why would I be? I'm not a Republican."

Egad. Another Midwestern subtlety I hadn't caught on to. Note to self: Republicans have their own baseball teams out here.

That was how I found out the Republican National Convention will be held out here in the Twin Cities in 2008. So in a little over a year and a half I plan to hold a dinner party. There should be a few people in town willing to speak to us by then.

I'm telling you, it gets lonely sometimes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Shows Cancelled

"BERLIN, Sept. 26 — A leading German opera house has canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears stirred by a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad, prompting a storm of protest here about what many see as the surrender of artistic freedom.

"In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs.
The Deutsche Oper Berlin said Tuesday that it had pulled “Idomeneo” from its fall schedule after the police warned of an “incalculable risk” to the performers and the audience." New York Times, Sept. 27

Also cancelled:

"Salome." Muslims protestd that there was only one severed Christian head, and that's just not good enough.

"La Traviata." Muslims protested that the heroine was permitted to die of natural causes. "Why was that woman not stoned to death as proper etiquette demands? It is shameful!"

"Madame Butterfly." Muslims complained that the heroine was allowed to commit suicide. "Adulterous Japanese whore! Stone her, stone her!"


Shows not cancelled:

"Dialogues of the Carmelites." "Murdered nuns? Now that's more like it!"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Shameless Self- Promotion

Ahem.

DIH has a piece in NRO today (www.nationalreview.com) about the break-in at Mark Kennedy's senatorial campaign. Happy reading.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mistaken Identities?

On Saturday I thought I was looking at a photo of Howard Stern in drag. It turned out to be Barbra "no-bra" Streisand.

Last week I glanced at the a photo and thought USA Today was doing a feature on the late Vincent Price. It turned out to be Bob Dylan.

So here is Mrs. V's question of the week:

Who would you most like to see adopt the burqua? I mean, besides Barbara Walters. And Hillary doesn't count, either. You can include guys.

The floor is open to suggestions.

In Case You Haven't Noticed, Noah, It's Pouring Out There

"That which is not said is often the greater truth."

So writes 24-year-old Noah Kunin of Minneapolis, MN on one of his websites, www.blanked-out.com. Depending on your source, Mr. Kunin is either a "local blogger" or a "Democratic Party operative." Personaly I think anybody who has another website (www.actblue.com/page/frontierpac), devoted to raising money for the DFL passes for the latter, but I suppose it's open to debate.

For anyone who hasn't been following the Senate race up here in the North Star state, let me fill you in.

The candidates are Amy Klobuchar (DFL) and Mark Kennnedy (R). Klobuchar is the Hennepin County attorney. Kennedy is the U.S. Representative for the 6th district. At the moment Klobuchar is leading in the polls. How much of a lead she has is open to debate, too: the Minneapolis Star Tribune says over 20 points, Kennedy's own pollsters say more like 10.

At any rate Klobuchar's lead seems pretty solid.

So the question is, why did she pull such a bone-headed stunt last weekend?

Last Friday, TK Noah Kunin contacted Tara McGuinness, Klobuchar's communications director, and gave her a link to a website of Howell Communications TK Inc., the Dallas- based firm that is handling Mark Kennedy's ads. Using the link McGuinness got into Howell's files and viewed an ad that Kennedy hadn't aired yet. She then told her staff to watch the ad, too.

Five days later Klobuchar fired McGuinness and issued a statement to the effect that this kind of thing would not be toelrated and the whole matter of the file theft had been turned over to the FBI.

Hm, you're wondering. Um- five days later? Just out of, you know, curiosity, why did it take her five days? I mean, she's a prosecutor, right? She knows the laws about breaking and entering, right? So what's with the delay?

Klobuchar is mum on the subject, but a few facts: On Monday, the local paper published its 20+ points lead poll. On Tuesday morning, the New York Times ran a flattering report on the poll. Tuesday night, the candidates had their first televised debate.

Yo, Noah- seems like an awful lot's not being said here! Where are you, guy?

"Dang, I Ain't Never Gonna Get That Nobel Prize- Waaaah!"

Hope everybody caught Bill Clinton's hissy fit on Fox News yesterday. If you missed it you can still catch it on YouTube. Which was your favorite part? The part where he did the "I-did-not-have-sex-with-Monica-Lewinsky" finger jab, or when he whined about how nobody understands him?

Tough call.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Catholic Guilt At Its Finest

The forecast for today in the Twin Cities is 100% chance of rain. High of 60 degrees. Kind of like yesterday.

So I open my email and what do I see? An update on our parish's Fall Festival, which is this weekend.

"PLEASE come and support Holy Family Church's Fall Festival during the day and evening.
I know the weather is not ideal, but so many people have spent many hours to put this on for you.
Also, the many volunteers that spent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning setting it up in the rain."


Did you hear that? They spent all those hours just to put this on for YOU. In the cold, wet rain, yet. Just for YOU!

"You have to come and have a shredded beef sandwich. Do you know we have someone that spent all night getting the meat cooked and ready for you."

That's right. Someone slaved over a hot stove.
ALL.
NIGHT.
Just for YOU!!

"We have the Teddy Bear Band coming at 1:00PM to entertain your kids and if no one's there who are
they going to sing to?"

Sniff. Sniff. Stop. Stop. please....

"Gramma Bubbles is coming at 2pm to create balloon sculptures for you and your kids."

Sniff... I always wanted a balloon sculpture... every since I was a... (choke back sob) a kid...

"WE ARE MINNESOTAN AND WE CAN HAVE FUN IN ADVERSE CONDITIONS!!!"

Well, actually, I'm from Long Island. In adverse conditions we whine a lot. The conditions don't even have to be all that adverse, really.

But we'll go. It's either that or endure the "Minnesota Passive Aggression" (they call it "Minnesota Nice," but trust me, it ain't) reproachful glances for the next six months. Besides, there is this one other thing in the email:

"We need help in the Beer Garden to drink the beer and Margarita's. (There will be heaters in the tent if needed)."

As long as they have those heaters on, I'll be there.

Who Thought Of This?

What are they thinking over at the Minneapolis Star Tribune?

What are they THINKING?

What the hell is this stupid wallpaper thing they're making me look at before I can see the damn headlines??

It's 5:30 in the morning. I'm up to satisfy the newsjones that wakes me up too early. So I flip open my trusty laptop and, naturally, I turn to the Star-Tribune.

And what do I get? The ugliest ad I've ever seen online. And it takes up the whole screen. And it won't go away.

Bright blue background- I mean BRIGHT blue, the kind even my teenage niece would describe as "a little loud." Covered with row after row of what look like -- I don't know. Biscuits gone wrong? Something the dog gagged up? They're beige, anyway. And there's some little red do-dad on every one, looks like Walt Disney's signature.

It turns out it's an ad for some kind of auto service. The biscuits-gone-wrong are supposed to be cars (I think); the red script is the company's name. I have to look at it for about ten seconds while my beachball gives me that "you are my prisoner" spin. I can't get rid of the ad. I just have to wait.

I tried this twice. It happened both times.

I'm not going to try it again. Get a clue, Strib- ugly is no way to start the day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Plan At Last

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI has invited representatives of Muslim countries to meet next week at his summer residence, the Vatican said Friday. (NYT)

This is a terrific idea. The pope's summer residence, DIH happens to know because she's been there, is perched on the rim of a really deep volcanic lake. Moreover, the Swiss Guard are armed with long, pointy halberds.

One false step from these guys and...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chavez Es Un Maricon! ( or "Chavez Is A Bounder!")

What the media said Chavez said:

"The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Right here," Chavez said as he stood at the U.N. podium where Bush spoke the day before.

"It smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of," Chavez said.

What he actually said:

"The word he used to describe the smell was not 'sulfur'. It was the Spanish slang
word for feces, "sucio", meaning that which is dirty. All his homies will know it as "crap" but more derogatory. Most commonly used, for example, in Mexico, for caca. As in "el sucio de los ninos", when
changing diapers, or when referring to a horrible sight, be it a terribly failed
dish form the kitchen, or the upchuck of a drunk.

"In other words, it was extremely insulting. "Sulfer" was a classic sympathetic
translator's whitewash."

h/t Hordubal

"Rapidamente- donde esta el getaway car?"

CHAVEZ FLEES NYC; CUTS TRIP SHORT AFTER 'DEVIL' SPEECH
Thu Sep 21 2006 08:21:15 ET

"Fiery Venezuela President Hugo Chavez will 'wrap up' his controversial NYC visit early this morning to return home to Caracas, sources say.

"The president cancelled several appointments previously scheduled in NYC today including a second news conference he was to hold at Venezuela's United Nations mission.

"On Wednesday, Chavez, in a controversial speech in the UN General Assembly, mocked President George Bush repeatedly calling him 'The Devil'. "

(from Drudge)

Some Good News

From the Daily News:

"The material girl may have a falling out with the Peacock network.
It seems that creative differences over a controversial crucifixion scene in Madonna's current tour could spell the end for NBC's long-planned special on her concert.

"NBC programming officials are expected to ask Madonna's camp to cut the scene in which she's hung on a cross wearing a crown of thorns while singing "Live to Tell."

"Madonna's camp is expected to reject the change and then pull the show from NBC completely.

"A spokeswoman for Madonna said yesterday she would issue a statement, perhaps as early as today, about the special and the cross scene.

"A network spokeswoman said yesterday, 'NBC is awaiting delivery of the special. Once we see it in its entirety, we'll make a final decision.'"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Other (More Likely) Devil Candidates

The squirrels in my yard. Especially the little b*stard scampering away with a tulip bulb in his maw yesterday.

My contractor.

My high school driving instructor. Also all those State Policemen who gave me my first 75 road tests.

The inventor of the CD jewel box.

The inventor of Play-Dough. (Man, I hate that stuff!)

A certain blonde who shall go nameless.

Barney.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

You Better Watch Yourself, Your Holiness!

Quote of the day:

"So now we know that the new pope is a parochial and intolerant man- but anybody who paid attention to Cardinal Ratzinger's pervious careeer knew that already. Now he is in a position to do much more damage." -some Brit journalist in taday's Star Tribune

Somebody tell that pope to stop burning effigies of Mohammed!

Somebody tell him he better not stone any more women to death, and if he shoots one more nun in the back he'll be sorry!

And if he tries bombing New York or London again, well, he'll be double-dog sorry!

Define "Inappropriate"

NBC PLANS MADONNA CRUCIFIXION IN TV CONCERT
Mon Sep 18 2006 18:38:19 ET

NBC has given the green light to include Madonna-on-the-Cross footage in an upcoming November Sweeps concert special!

In the show, Madonna, wearing a gittered crown of thorns, descends on a suspended mirrored, disco ball-type cross singing her hit 'Live To Tell.'

NBC suit Kevin Reilly said Madonna considered the crucifixion a highlight of her show.

"We viewed it and didn't see it as being inappropriate," NBC explained.

(h/t Drudge)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Oh, And By The Way--

This is what the University of Minnesota's website says about "The Pope And The Witch."


Written by Dario Fo
Directed by Robert Rosen
March 1–9, 2007

A wild send-up of Catholicism and politics by Italy’s Nobel Prize-winning farceur. In the Piazza San Pietro thousands of hungry children, the fruits of the Pope’s birth control doctrine, are crying for food. Meanwhile he contends with assassination attempts, Mafiosi, drug dealers, sinister bankers, and inept cardinals. Fo’s point is that it is easy for a rich church to rage against abortion when millions are born into poverty, and become victims of the drug trade, from which people under the Vatican’s protection can fill their pockets.

(http://theatre.umn.edu/onstage/mainstageshows/PopeWitch.php)

Light in Darkness!

Oh please, please, please go to today's Wuzzadem and click on the brilliant new device- the Gitmo Terro-Gator! See blogroll (right) for link!

And send those guys some money!

"I Got My Job Through The New York Times!"

Mohammed commanded his followers to spread his new religion "by the sword." Which is a) despicable and b) stupid- people just don't work that way. But even Mohammed , as far as I know, never said anything about shooting people in the back.

From the Daily News (h/t NRO):

"Here is the heart of what Benedict said toward the start of an oration that was devoted primarily to discussing how the Christian world has allowed reason to crowd out faith:

'He [the emperor] addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: 'Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'

'The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul....To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death....'"


So who do we get to thank for the current mayhem? The idiots in the mobs, or the media who grabbed a sound byte out of context?

Shouldn't someone in the press have known better? Or is the joy of another headline- "Nun shot in back"- too hard to resist? Do our friends in the press care at all about what they're doing?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Remember, It's A Religion Of Peace

Updated: 02:31 PM EDT


Italian Nun Shot Dead by Somali Gunmen
MOHAMED SHEIKH NOR, AP

Gunmen reportedly killed Sister Leonella and her bodyguard at the entrance of the hospital where she worked in Mogadishu, Somalia.

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Sept. 17) - Two gunmen killed an Italian nun and her bodyguard at a hospital Sunday, and a security official for an Islamic militia controlling the capital speculated the attack was linked to worldwide Muslim anger over a speech by Pope Benedict XVI.

The nun, whose full name was not released, was shot in the back four times at the entrance to the Austrian-run S.O.S. Hospital in northern Mogadishu, said Dr. Mohamed Yusuf, a physician at the facility, which serves mothers and children.

The head of security for the Islamic militia, Yusuf Mohamed Siad, said one man had been arrested and a second was being hunted. He said the killing might have stemmed from the uproar over the pope but stressed he didn't know for sure.

"They could be people annoyed by the pope's speech, which angered all Muslims in the world, or they could have been having something to do with S.O.S," he said. "We will have to clarify this through our investigation."

A Vatican spokesman called the nun's slaying "a horrible episode," the Italian news agency ANSA said.

"Let's hope that it will be an isolated fact," the Rev. Federico Lombardi said. He expressed hope Muslim anger would ease following Benedict's explanation Sunday that the quotation he cited did not reflect his personal opinion about Islam.

The nun, who spoke fluent Somali, was believed to be around 60 and had been working at the hospital since 2002, people at the hospital said, insisting on anonymity for fear of reprisals. She taught at the hospital and also looked after children, said one doctor.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Big Surprise!

The University of Minnesota is rabidly anti-Catholic.

In March the theater department of the U of M will stage "The Pope and the Witch" by Dario Fo. Today's Pioneer Press reports that "Scenes include a paranoid pope convinced that thousands of orphans appearing in St Peter's Square are part of a plot by condom makers to embarass the church, a "crucifixion stroke," a witch who favors abortion and drug legalization [wild guess- that's a good witch, right?] and revelation of evil in the church hierarchy."

The President of the U of M, Bob Bruininks, defends the decision . It's all part of the free exchange of ideas he thinks, and as he wrote in a letter to the Catholic League last week, the U aims at a culture that is "free from racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice, intolerance or harassment."

[He did not add "except against those damned Catholics, at least not in the letter.]

The school's online promotion of the play is similarly even-handed. "Fo's point is that it is easy for a rich church to rage against abortion when millions are born into poverty, and become victims of the drug trade, from which people under the Vatican's protection can fill their pockets."

So now we know- the church opposes the slaughter of millions of helpless babies because it needs them to be its drug slaves! Thanks, Golden Gophers!

Something tells me I'll be writing more about this.

Other Things He Could Have Said

Pork tastes pretty good.

Burquas are unattractive.

Chopping off people's hands, stoning them to death, etc. is wrong. Just plain wrong.

The rioters should show up any minute now.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Media 101

OK, everybody, our class in media studies begins now. Today's reading come to us from our friends across the pond.

"BBC did not know of 9/11 film's link to religious right"

[http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,,1871149,00.html]

David Leigh
Wednesday September 13, 2006
The Guardian

The BBC broadcast a controversial docu-drama, The Path to 9/11, this
week without realising that it had been made by a member of the US
religious right.

[Come on, they weren't wearing their "Members Only" tee shirts? They always wear those! Who are you kidding, BBC?]

The three-hour programme, shown over two nights on BBC2 to
commemorate the fifth anniversary of the attack on the twin towers,
was purchased from ABC, a subsidiary of Disney. At the last minute
the US television company was forced to re-edit sequences after
claims of distortion from former president Bill Clinton and members
of his administration.

[Plus the threatening letter from Bill's lawyer helped.]

A BBC spokesman said the organisation did not vet film-makers on
their political or religious beliefs...

[...as is their usual practice."- oops. forget I said that.]

The film's director, David Cunningham, is active in Youth With a
Mission (Ywam), a fundamentalist evangelical organisation founded by
his father, Loren Cunningham. According to its publications, the
group believes in demonic possession, spiritual healing and
conservative sexual morality.

[Oh no. Not "conservative sexual morality!" The end of civilization is at hand!]

Last month David Cunningham addressed a conference in England
organised by the group at its UK headquarters in Harpenden,
Hertfordshire, on the making of the film. His talk was entitled
Christ-like Witness in the Film Industry.

According to one of the group's publications,"David and his wife Judy
are the nucleus of an association of more than 40 Ywam alumni who are
called to the communications industry in the Los Angeles area ... to
create an independent film company whereby he could both influence
the Hollywood film industry and produce major motion pictures that
would carry a Biblical, values-based message".

[40 people. My God. They're a regular army. Imagine the influence they must have in places like Hollywood! It's scary, my friends, very scary.]

Speaking from the Harpenden HQ, where would-be "disciples" pay more
than £2,000 for six-month courses, the missionary organisation's
international chair, Lynn Green, said that Mr Cunningham's influence
in the film was limited. "He was hired by Disney to direct. He was
not the screenwriter".

[1. How much is £2,000 in real money?]
[2. I have to admit it's fun to read that a director had "limited influence." Writers rule! Just kidding.

But in the US, protesting Democrats have seized on the involvement of
the religious right in the project to allege a political plot to
blame Mr Clinton for the triumph of Osama bin Laden.

["allege a political plot to blame Mr. Clinton"? So now theories are "plots"? Where are those damn thought police when you need them?]

One original fictionalised sequence depicted Mr Clinton's national
security adviser, Sandy Berger, refusing permission in 1998 for the
CIA to capture Bin Laden. Another showed Mr Clinton distracted by his
affair with Monica Lewinsky.

[And that bit about being distracted by Monica is total fiction! He was NOT distracted by that woman, Ms. Lewinsky! He was reading documnts the whole time she was-oh, never mind!]

In a letter to ABC demanding changes, Mr Clinton said: "The content
of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate." His
colleagues said it was "rightwing political propaganda".

[And you know how eager ABC is to broadcast that kind of thing.]

ABC originally gave the impression the film was a historical
reconstruction of the official 9/11 commission report, saying the
film "uses this historic document as the basis for a powerful story".

But yesterday, the BBC said it had warned at the start of the
programme: "The movie is not a documentary. For dramatic and
narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalised scenes."

[They had to borrow the warning from Michael Moore, who was not using it that day.]

The film, as eventually transmitted, had been politically even-
handed, the corporation said. It drew a relatively modest audience of
up to 2.8m, but was seen in the US by 13m viewers.

[Now there's a buzzkiller for you. It was actually even-handed? After all that buildup? Talk about burying the lead, guys!]

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OK, OK....

...I'll play the meme game. Thanks, Georgette (http://Chonicles of a Meandering Traveller):



Five things in my freezer:

homemade marinara sauce
homemade meat sauce
homemade lentil soup
homemade pesto sauce (in ice-cube trays- you can use as much as you need that way)
mint chip ice cream

Five things in my closet:

fleece robe
summer robe
dress my daughter wore as a flower girl in July
clothes I don't wear any more
laundry baskets

(Is this anybody's idea of interesting? Good Lord...)

Five things in my car:

rosary
flashlight
daughter's car pool number
map of Twin Cities to settle arguments with the spouse
map of Northern Virginia- for old times' sake

Five interesting things in my backpack:

I am way past the "backpack" stage of life.

Five people I tag:

Erin, Ray, Joke, Maggie, Barb
(let's see who's really reading this...)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Is Someone Channelling Jimmy Carter?

From AOL news:

Attack Foiled at U.S. Embassy in Damascus
Three Militants, Syrian Security Officer Killed; Chinese Diplomat Among the Wounded
By ALBERT AJI, AP


DAMASCUS, Syria (Sept. 12) -- Armed Islamic militants attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in a bold attack Tuesday using automatic rifles, hand grenades and at least one van rigged with explosives, the government said. Syrian security forces killed three of the attackers and no Americans were hurt.

The attackers apparently did not breach the high walls surrounding the white embassy compound in a diplomatic neighborhood of Damascus. But one of Syria's anti-terrorism forces was killed in the attack and at least 11 others were injured including a local embassy police officer, two Iraqis and seven workers at a nearby technical workshop, Syria's official news agency reported.

Witnesses also said the gunmen shouted "Allah Akbar," or "God is great," as they tried to throw hand grenades over the embassy compound's walls. It was not clear if any of the grenades made it over the walls, which are about 8 feet high.


Any questions?
Or does everyone understand now that "Allah Akbar" actually means "Murder, mayhem and misery for all mankind!"

Seriously- is everyone clear on this?

What else has to happen before people get it?

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11

Where were you when the planes hit the Towers?

I was in California, at a resort near Lake Tahoe with my husband and the baby we'd brought home from Cambodia just ten days earlier. We were there for a conference. I remember I woke up ridiculously early, around five. At the time I attributed it to still being on East Coast time. Now I'm not so sure.

I tiptoed out of the bedroom so as not to wake Richard or baby Sophia. I remember looking at the huge TV in our sitting room. wanting to turn it on but unwilling to make any noise. So I sat there, staring at the blank screen. I felt like I was waiting for something.

The something came in the form of a phone call from one of the conference managers. "There's been this huge terrorist attack!"

I got on the phone and tried to call my family in New York. I needed to find my brother , who worked in the city for an investment house. But no calls were going through.

We went down to the conference command center, where ten or fifteen New Yorkers were gathered around the TV screen. The news was confusing and devastating. The room was virtually silent, except for the drone of the TV and the occasional person wondering aloud where their roommates/boyfriends/sisters were, trying to keep the panic out of their voices.

I must have started hyperventilating or something, because all of a sudden I realized I needed some air. I put Sophia into a stroller and took her for a walk on the woodland paths near the hotel. I thought, Ten days ago I brought this child out of Cambodia so she could have a better life here. Now I can't even promise her safety?

They cancelled the conference. They had to, since no flights were being allowed. The huge resort was like a ghost town, with only a handful of people drfiting through its lounges and passageways. Everyone talked in whispers.

Church services were organized. We knelt together in a small rustic church that usually had only vacationers as its congregation. We sang God Bless America. We cried.

The next day we were able to call New York. My brother and all my family were fine; one friend had had a close call, late for work and just getting off the subway when the first plane hit, a couple of blocks from her office when she saw the second plane strike the other tower. In the coming week I would learn about friends who weren't so lucky. We all did. And we all grieved.


9/11 is a day everyone who lived through it will remember the same way they remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, or when the Great Blackout hit New York. I know that I cannot forget the devastation of that day, or the realization that came afterwards: that we were at war with an enemy who refuses to show himself until he was slitting the throats of helpless flight attendants, or murdering fathers and mothers and children.

There is one other thing about that day that will live in my memory until I have no more memory left. In the conference office we stood around the television in a big semi-circle, our eyes glued to the screen, our ears straining for any new information, any sign of hope. Suddenly one of the staffers cried out. "Hey!"

He pointed.

Across the empty space of the semi-circle, on the carpeted floor of the conference room, Sophia Teresa Vigilante was taking her first steps.

I had my sign of hope.

God never gives up, people. And neither should we.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

He Was Shocked- Shocked!

SOSD: ROMULUS, Mich. – A man with a one-way ticket to Yemen attempted to board a plane with a knife hidden in a book, authorities said.

Mohammed Ghanem, 21, of Hamtramck, was jailed Saturday on $500,000 after being arraigned on a charge of possessing a weapon in the sterile area of an airport. Ghanem was arrested Thursday at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after Transportation Security Administration officers detected the knife “artfully concealed” in the book, airport spokesman Michael Conway said.

Someone had carved out the inside of the book and placed the knife inside it, said Ghanem’s attorney, Nabih Ayad. “He said he didn’t know where the knife came from,” Ayad told the Detroit Free Press.

If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Ghanem was born in Yemen, a republic bordering Saudi Arabia whose 18 million residents are primarily Muslim. He is now a legal permanent resident of the United States and was returning to Yemen to get married, Ayad said.

Ghanem works as a busboy and lives in Hamtramck with family members, but he had a one-way ticket to Yemen, authorities said.

h/t wuzzadem

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lights, Camera....

Everyone else is writing about ABC's docudrama about 9/11, so I guess I should too.

By now the whole blogosphere has heard that Bill Clinton's lawyers are demanding ABC pull the doc because it depicts our glorious former leader in an unflattering light.

There are several different ways to approach this topic.

The first, of course, is the old "imagine-if- [insert conservative or even just plain Republican pol's name here]-did-the-same thing-the press-would-be-up-in-arms" complaint.

The second is to imagine what tv would be like if "if it can't be fixed it must be nixed" became a new industry standard. "Dear Mr. History Channel. I don't like the way you portrayed my great-great-great-great-cousin -twice removed. I demand you pull your damaging docudrama or I will sue you with all the resources at my disposal, and given how much my cousin stole- uh, I mean amassed, that will be plenty. Sincerely Attila the Hun XXXV."

The third, sadly, is to get real. These are the Clintons, people. Remember? Remember how President Bill gave his cousin a job in the White House Travel office so she could a) wreck the career of the man who'd been running it 20 years and b) hand all lucrative travel contracts over to Cousin Bill's Hollywood pals? Or any of the other lives that were destroyed merely by brushing up against those two?

Please. What exactly did we expect?

Monday is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks. I lost friends in those attacks- people I grew up with, went to school with, shared some really wonderful good times with. Neighbors of mine back home lost a lot more.

But why think about them? Let's all focus on how Bill looks.

I just don't have time for that guy any more.

Funny Money

My mother and her friends used to have an expression when discussing a particularly well-dressed or well-housed friend: "There's money somewhere."

It meant "We know this person. She does not have a well-paying job or a rich husband. But given her classy lifestyle, we must conclude she has a wealthy aunt or some other legacy hidden somewhere in her family tree."

"There's money somewhere" is the impression I have always attempted to convey. Okay, it's shallow. But it's fun. You'd be amazed how much mileage you can get out of a borrowed fur coat. I wore one to an inaugural ball once. They must have thought I was a donor.

On an apparently unrelated note (but stay with me, it all works out), my daughter started first grade this week. Last weekend I hauled her school uniform out of storage and ran it though the wash, etc. It's a cute little plaid jumper with a lot of navy blue and red. The women in the uniform shop told me it was the prettiest one they sold.

In my schooldays it was absolutely verboten to wear your uniform after school. You only had one, and you had to make it last-- not just for you but for the next two or three kids in the sibling line behind you. But times have changed, or so I've noticed. Many kids at my daughter's tiny Catholic school actually have more than one uniform to their name, and it's not unusual for the kids to go out shopping or running errands with their moms in all their plaid glory.

I have noticed, though, that there's an added benefit to taking Sophia out to the shopping mall in her school clothes. The sight of the uniform gives a lot of people. especially older women, a smile. "I hear plaid is in this fall!" one cheerful grandmotherly type said the other day. But more often I hear something like, "Look, honey- that little girl goes to Breck, too!"

Sophia's uniform, it turns out, is also worn by students at the Breck School, a private school here in the Twin Cities. The first few times I heard the comment I shook my head. "Holy Family," I murmured. But I've stopped doing that, ever since I found out how much dough it takes to send your kid to a place like Breck. Now I just smile and nod noncommitally. It's just too much fun to be taken for a woman with "money somewhere."

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go borrow a coat.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Steve Irwin

I have to say I was shocked at the death last week of Steve Irwin, "The Crocodile Hunter." In his TV shows and even his silly (and quite funny) 2002 movie, he was such a wide-eyed, enthusiastic, happy-to-be-alive kind of guy that it's hard to imagine he's gone.

And suddenly,too: killed by a stingray's barb to the heart. Talk about a freak accident! I had a roommate once who used to worry about dying. Not that she was afraid to die: she was specifically afraid that she'd die in some ridiculous way and she'd look foolish as well as deceased. I guess Steve Irwin didn't think about that much. I mean, a guy who wrestles crocodiles, I can't believe he'd be too worried about an appearance of dignity.

I am not much of a naturalist. My basic philosophy about nature is "get it before it gets you." And don't kid yourself, it's out to get you. Killer bees, sinkholes, tidal waves- it's a jungle out there. And in the end it was nature that did Irwin in.

I will never again encourage my kid to touch the slimy stingrays at the aquarium. The stingrays can touch themselves from now on.

I will miss The Crocodile Hunter.