The Patriot Act? bah!
According to some cranks those cunning "imperialistic yankees" are keeping an eye on everyone, including Santa.
NORAD have been tasked with tracking Santa Claus:
"NORAD uses four high-tech systems to track Santa - radar, satellites, Santa Cams and jet fighter aircraft.
Detecting Santa all starts with the NORAD radar system called the North Warning System. This powerful radar system has 47 installations strung across the northern border of North America. NORAD makes a point of checking the radar closely for indications of Santa Claus leaving the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
The moment our radar tells us that Santa has lifted off, we use our second mode of detection, the same satellites that we use in providing warning of possible missile launches aimed at North America. These satellites are located in a geo-synchronous orbit (that's a cool phrase meaning that the satellite is always fixed over the same spot on the Earth) at 22,300 miles above the Earth. The satellites have infrared sensors, meaning they can detect heat. When a rocket or missile is launched, a tremendous amount of heat is produced - enough for the satellites to detect. Rudolph's nose gives off an infrared signature similar to a missile launch. The satellites can detect Rudolph's bright red nose with practically no problem. With so many years of experience, NORAD has become good at tracking aircraft entering North America, detecting worldwide missile launches and tracking the progress of Santa, thanks to Rudolph. "
Keep an eye on him here
Enjoy, but don't believe everything that those cranks say!
23 December 2006
The Patriot Act? bah!
21 December 2006
David Irving's release from Austria can only give hope to President Ahmadinejad, a week after the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran.
The clemency shown to Irving will only embolden Holocaust deniers and it wouldn't surprise me if that conference in Tehran becomes an annual event, a regular neo-Nazi shindig.
Hopefully the conditions of Irving's probation will limit his activities somewhat, but I imagine that Ahmadinejad's invite is already in the post.
I think that opponents of Holocaust denial and neo-Nazis need to step up a gear.
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/21/2006 12:21:00 am
17 December 2006
Mahmoud Abbas’s tactic of calling early elections is a shrewd political move, for months Fatah and Abbas have been trying to outwit Hamas and now is their chance.
Abbas is presumably calculating that Hamas’ record of poor rule; inability to recognise Israel and receive international funding will dramatically affect Palestinian’s voting, so swinging people around to voting for Fatah/PLO.
Abbas probably thinks that the previous perception of Fatah/PLO as corrupt and ineffective will not worry Palestinians terribly, as long as they get sufficient international aid.
Fatah, etc would most likely argue that in government they alone can bring massive aid to Gaza and the West Bank, and the Palestinians in their current dire situation may consider that more important than any temporary bond that they might have had with Hamas.
Of course, Fatah and the PLO have a terrible record of corruption but there may be a small window for peace if Fatah/PLO beat Hamas, who knows?
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/17/2006 01:20:00 am
14 December 2006
I am indebted to Linda Grant. BBC Newsnight coverage of the disgusting Holocaust deniers conference in Iran is very good with Jeremy Paxman on top form.
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/14/2006 12:25:00 am
12 December 2006
The Jerusalem Post reports: No one was reported wounded and no damage to property was reported in the latest attack. Since the Israeli-Palestinian cease fire last month, 21 Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel."
"Two Kassam rockets landed in open fields in the Sderot region Tuesday evening. A third rocket was also fired, but the place of its landing was undetermined.
No one was reported wounded and no damage to property was reported in the latest attack. Since the Israeli-Palestinian cease fire last month, 21 Kassam rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel."
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/12/2006 07:40:00 pm
10 December 2006
According to the radio news, Augusto Pinochet's plan to avoid justice, over his murderous regime in 1970s
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/10/2006 06:26:00 pm
09 December 2006
Since 2003, some 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur.
Another 2m have been driven out of their homes. Yet the world's attention is elsewhere.
Sunday is a Global Day for Darfur, focusing on the appalling incidence of rape and other sexual violence which is the hallmark of the rebel Janjaweed militias.
Kofi Annan today promised to make the crisis his top priority for the remainder of his time at the helm of the United Nations.
But in the meantime, a whole generation has been brutalised.
Tonight, we have moving testimony from a Darfuri woman who has horrific experiences of the very worst of the conflict.
Not only did she witness the violent gang rape of a group of girls - some as young as eight years old - by the Janjaweed, she also was repeatedly raped herself by Sudanese government security men.
She believes there is not one woman in Darfur who has not suffered a similar fate.
Eventually finding her way to the UK, she has now been told her application for asylum has been refused, and she must return to Khartoum.
She tells us she'd rather return to her village, and die with her people, than go there."
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/09/2006 12:35:00 am
07 December 2006
7th of December holds special resonance for many Americans, for on that day in 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, which eventually led to the United States of America joining Britain and the Soviet Union in the battle against Nazi Germany.
Roosevelt was able to convince the Congress to declare war on
As William Shirer sums it up:
“Adolf Hitler's reckless promise to
[William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Mandarin Paperbacks, 1995, p. 870]
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/07/2006 11:55:00 pm
06 December 2006
There has always been controversy concerning the Catholic Church’s attitude toward the Nazis, from the signing of the Concordat in the 1930s to the assistance given to fleeing Nazis in the post-war period.
Pope Pius 12th often comes in for considerable criticism and his inability to speak out against the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust, only reinforces the view of a weak complicit Papacy.
More recently the subject was raised at Harry's Place and an intense discussion followed.
Concrete evidence on the Catholic Church’s role is limited as the Vatican archives are closed, which has led to considerable suspicion and new evidence looks set to raise more questions, according to the BBC:
“The man who later became Pope John XXIII tried in vain to challenge the Vatican's perceived indifference to the Nazi Holocaust, a new study has found.
Papers and diaries show then Archbishop Giuseppe Roncalli posted an urgent telegram in 1944 to Pope Pius XII on the atrocities at Auschwitz.
The telegram's date contradicts the Vatican's official version of when it received a report.
The new insight comes from the papers of a Jewish emissary, Haim Barlas.
He had befriended Archbishop Roncalli, then the papal nuncio to Istanbul, in the 1940s.
The exchange of letters between Barlas and Roncalli, mostly in French, was recently uncovered in a private collection in Israel.
The letters show that Roncalli was frustrated by the Vatican's silence in the face of what was emerging in Europe.
They show that in 1943, the archbishop took it upon himself to write to the president of Slovakia asking him to stop the Nazi deportation of Jews.
On 23 June 1944, Barlas passed Roncalli a chilling 30-page report.
The document, now known as the Auschwitz protocols, had been compiled by two Jews who had escaped the camp that April.
The archbishop quickly scribbled a synopsis of the report and sent it by telegram.
His message made clear that the camp's purpose was the mass killing of Jews.
The date the telegram was sent contradicts the Vatican's official version that it only received details of the report in October 1944.
Vatican officials, when asked about the alleged discrepancy, suggested the question be directed to historians of the period.
But while all of the archbishop's correspondence with his Church superiors has been preserved in the Vatican archives, the part that could clarify when he sent the details has not been made available to scholars.”
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/06/2006 01:10:00 am
05 December 2006
I know I shouldn’t, I should as an atheist rant on about fake jollity, commercialisation and the non-existent birthday for Jesus, but I can’t.
I can’t because at heart I am an old sentimentalist, and the winters I remember a long ago were always a cold and miserable time.
Except that is, when Xmas came and for a few days before, we’d hunt around for presents, the anticipation was great.
Finally, the big day came, and we were up early, opened our presents and had a very nice meal later.
On Boxing Day and for a few days after, we had scraps from Christmas, a very nice bacon joint with bread.
Now I could rage about pagan festivals dressed up to suit prevailing sentiments, but I won’t, instead enjoy the event, chill out, don’t drink too much and send those cards early.
This video clip is my contribution to the holiday spirit strangely entitled "Xians against Xmas", anyway I have a soft spot for pagan holidays.
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/05/2006 07:07:00 pm
04 December 2006
Bad book reviews are not unusual, but Shalom Lappin's forensic dissection of Jacqueline Rose's The Question of Zion is a pleasure to read, not only for the sharpness of wit and understated humour but for Shalom Lappin's encyclopaedical grasp of the subject.
He points out numerous elementary errors that a scholar, such as Professor Rose, should have avoided. Professor Rose's entry at Queen Mary suggests that she specialises in the area of "Zionism and the history and writing of Israel-Palestine", but as the review and rejoiner indicate her knowledge, method and basic scholarly integrity in this book are to be questioned.
Professor Lappin's original review is here, Professor Rose's reply here and finally, a rejoinder from Professor Lappin, which contains many informative passages. Some that caught my eye are :
"Rose is careful to avoid mentioning the role that Palestinian violence has played in defeating moderate governments and keeping right wing parties in power. The reason is not hard to find. As indicated by the elision in her description of the grenade assault on Yehud in 1953, she does not take this violence seriously. She quotes Max Rodenbeck’s description of the Palestinian cross border attacks of the 1950s as ‘pinprick raids’. Would she also apply this description to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s attack on a group of school children in Maalot on
One of the most serious failings of much Israeli strategic thinking is its chronically unimaginative resort to crude military reactions to complex problems that require nuanced political responses. Rose, and many of the commentators whom she admires, are invariably quick to point this out. By contrast, they resist any recognition of the extent to which this self-destructive pattern is, in no small part, itself conditioned by the longstanding enthusiasm for uncompromising violence and terrorism that Palestinians have frequently adopted as their preferred method for dealing with Israel."
The whole of Democratiya is well worth a read just for Professor Lappin's scholarly review of Rose's shoddy politicised propaganda.
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/04/2006 12:52:00 am
03 December 2006
As if the poor people of
"A hitherto unknown group calling itself the Just Swords of Islam issued a warning to Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip over the weekend that they must wear the hijab or face being targeted by the group's members.
In pamphlets distributed in various parts of the Gaza Strip, the group also claimed responsibility for attacks on 12 Internet cafes over the past few days.
The warning was directed primarily against female students in a number of universities and colleges who do not cover their heads in line with Islamic tradition.
The group said its followers last week threw acid at the face of a young woman who was dressed "immodestly" in the center of Gaza City. They also destroyed a car belonging to a young man who was playing his radio tape too loudly.
Addressing female students, the group said: "We will have no mercy on any woman who violates the traditions of Islam and who also hang out in Internet cafes."
According to the group, its members used rocket-propelled grenades to attack 12 Internet cafes and a number of music shops in different parts of the Gaza Strip.
It said the places were targeted because they were "distracting an entire generation of Palestinians from their duty to worship [Alla] and jihad so that they could serve their Zionist masters and the Crusaders."
Hamas officials denied any connection to the group, noting that their movement does not resort to methods of "intimidation and terror" against the people.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip reacted with mixed feelings to the group's threats. While many seemed to support the demand that all women wear the hijab, others expressed fear that the group was trying to create a Taliban-style regime."
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/03/2006 12:10:00 am
02 December 2006
Technology is a wonderful thing, it has freed humanity from so many tedious and repetitive tasks, however, it is not without its own perils.
Technological dependency is one of those perils, and we all know the symptoms: from phoning up the utility company to be told that "the computer says that you're dead" to relying too heavily on M$ Word's spell checker, which makes a hash of so many basic English words.
The Times reported another example of technological dependency (or stupidity, if you like):
"An ambulance crew’s blind faith in a satellite navigation system turned the routine 20-minute transfer of a patient between hospitals into a 400-mile odyssey.
They drove for eight hours before finally delivering the patient. After the equipment sent them north, they covered 215 miles in about four hours. The way back was only slightly shorter and took more than 3½ hours.
The paramedics are far from unusual in being deceived by their sat-nav systems.
Last month a woman dodged oncoming traffic for 14 miles after misreading her sat-nav system and driving the wrong way up a dual carriageway.Police said it was a miracle that no one was injured after the young woman joined the A3M, which links Portsmouth to London, on the southbound side — only to head north.
In September a taxi driver took two teenage girls 85 miles in the opposite direction after keying the wrong place name into his sat-nav. The girls asked to go to Lymington in the New Forest, Hampshire, but the driver tapped in Limington, Somerset."
Posted by ModernityBlog at 12/02/2006 01:39:00 pm