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   PoliticsPolitics for Pros- moderated

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:33:10 PM
   of 773344
The First Step to Britishness Is Your Poppy
By Carol Gould | November 24, 2005

Writing this week in London’s Guardian, columnist Madeleine Bunting made an important observation in the context of her evaluation of television and radio programs that encourage “multicultural understanding.” She commented that one of the biggest barriers to bridging the cultural gap between non-Muslim and Muslims in Britain is alcohol.

Drinking is indeed a mainstay of British life. The pub, or “local,” has been a meeting place for generations of village and city dwellers throughout the seasons. Alcohol is the centerpiece of social life across all classes. Cocktails and wine with dinner followed by cognac are an integral part of the European dinner circuit. What Italian can live without Chianti? What Frenchman can live without wine? Germans have their beer, Russians their schnapps, and so forth. In other words, if Britain’s leaders are anxious to see young Muslims hanging out with young “typical Englishmen” their teetotaling presents a problem.

However, I would like to turn to an issue that exercises me a lot more than the prospect of eternal separation of Muslim and non-Muslim over the matter of a pint of beer.

Last week was the culmination of that poignant fortnight in which people all over the world wear a poppy in the lead-up to Remembrance Day. Nothing is more dramatic than seeing the sea of red flowers in the lapels of British men and women as they make their way to the office in the early-morning rush hour. All across the British Isles men and women of all ages wear a poppy. When I arrived in the United Kingdom thirty years ago from the United States I was so touched by this tradition that I made sure to buy one from a British Legion volunteer as soon as November rolled around.

The poppy is a symbol of the terrible loss of life in World War I in the fields of Flanders, where these blood-red flowers sprouted above the acres of corpses of fallen soldiers. As the decades have passed, the poppy has been worn to show one’s respect for the millions who have died in successive conflicts as recent as Iraq and Afghanistan. On British television, every presenter and anchor wears a poppy. In keeping with the motto of the British Legion—“Wear your poppy with pride”—every shopkeeper, publican, hotel manager and cabbie wears a poppy. This year I proudly bought mine at my local doctor’s office.

It was therefore all the more astonishing last week when I took a long walk along Edgware Road, the most densely Muslim section of London, and discovered that not one person was wearing a poppy. This all started because I was accosted on my corner, a few yards form where I have lived for twenty-eight years, by a young Arab man who began to get very aggressive with me. Was I, he demanded to know, “from the Jewish”?

He also wanted to know why I was wearing a poppy. I tried to explain the concept of the Cenotaph and Armistice Day. But he seemed determined to establish that I was a Jewess above all else. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake him off. I began to get very alarmed. I hailed a taxi and, thankfully, my pursuer, who was by this time shouting, did not get into the taxi. The driver was enormously sympathetic but told me that I had been “asking for it” by walking in what he called “Little Beirut.” He then told me that we were in World War III. His white, working class anger at what he perceived as “the Islamic takeover” of Britain was palpable. He was not the first London cabbie who has told me he would gladly join the far-right British National Party if pushed.

(It is worth noting in this context that London Mayor Ken Livingstone is trying to institute an initiative to bring ethnic minorities into the taxi fleet, to tackle its almost exclusively white domain. Keeping in mind that Washington D.C. has one of the worst taxi systems in the world, in part because most drivers can barely speak English and do not know the meaning of the words “cordial” or “polite”, especially where female passengers are concerned, one prays the Livingstone initiative will be approached with caution.)

The driver dropped me at Marble Arch. I decided to walk back slowly should my scary have made his way in my direction. As I walked, I realized that not one of the hundreds of Middle Eastern and British-born Muslims who run all of the establishments along Edgware Road was wearing a poppy. Before shouting “Racist!” the reader must understand the nationwide atmosphere of devotion every November to the memory of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who died—often agonizing circumstances and with some in their teens—so that we might live out our lives in splendor. The fact is that most everyone wears a poppy across a grateful nation.

As I walked along Edgware Road, crossing over from side to side of the long thoroughfare I began to get angry. If one lived in Damascus and there was an annual tradition of some sort similar to Poppy Day, one would show respect for the day and join in.

I went in to a greengrocer and asked the young man at the cash register why he was not wearing a poppy. His accent indicated he was English-born. He said, “I have no idea what you are talking about.” He turned to an older man sitting with him -- perhaps his father -- and asked him my question in Urdu. The man looked cross and I repeated, “Why do you British Asians (those from Pakistan) not wear a poppy?” he shrugged. “Are you not taught about the World Wars?” I asked.

I walked and walked that evening, stopping in to every hookah café, every electrical shop and every hijab boutique. Not one person was wearing a poppy.

The British government has brought in a new questionnaire for new citizens. It is full of obscure and at times outlandish questions about British culture. Frankly, I would fail on most of them. What immigrants and their kin need to be taught is that basic pride in being British with which immigrants to the United States glow with such radiance. If a whole portion of the British population does not care a toss about participating in one of the nation’s most sacred traditions, how can we ever “integrate”?

Yes, I am angry and offended that along the miles of pavement I trawled I saw not one poppy on the apparel of any Middle Eastern resident and merchant of Edgware Road.

That evening I did what millions of rapt Britons do every year: I watched the magnificent Remembrance Day concert from the Royal Albert Hall on the BBC in primetime. The Queen looked unusually tense and somber. Shortly after the event we learned that Abu Musab al Zarqawi had issued a warning that Her Majesty, leader of the Crusaders, would be the next target of al Qaeda. There she stood, amid the shower of poppies that rained down on the packed hall, looking down on the thousands of brave service people, and she seemed desolate. The sum total the Muslim world could contribute to the commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II was this ugly threat from a man whose only occupation is spreading misery in his wake, be it a wedding in Jordan or a funeral in Iraq.

When I attended the mobbed Cenotaph ceremony the next day I did not see one Middle Eastern person in the throng.

When I told my local grocer, a Muslim born in the UK, where I had been that day, he looked at me with a blank stare. I said “Cenotaph” and he changed the subject.

Why is wearing a poppy such a big deal to me? It is a tradition started in Canada and the United States that spread to Britain and to the Commonwealth nations, who had also suffered great losses in the Wars. As a Briton born in the USA I feel honored to be a citizen of two great democracies. Another point Madeleine Bunting made in her article was that the young Muslims in a studio audience had endless complaints about life in Britain. They want to change foreign policy. Perhaps learning about how we got here, with our concert halls and opera houses and theatre and art galleries -- not to mention war memorials -- might be a start.

Now think of this: I am mortally afraid to wear my American flag pin in London. What does this say about the direction Europe is going? Bat Ye’or’s “Eurabia” is already erupting in France. Politically correct Britons scream at me if I defend the right of a cabbie to have the Union Jack on his London taxi. Others lament the “appalling custom” of Americans hanging flags outside their houses.

But all I want right now is to see British Muslims wearing their poppy with pride.

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To: D. Long who wrote (148620)11/24/2005 4:40:00 PM
From: LindyBill
   of 773344
Every year has its "Cabbage Patch Doll".

I just remembered that you posted about wanting to buy an X-Box. I am sure some of my grandchildren are getting one for Christmas.

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To: LindyBill who wrote (148615)11/24/2005 4:45:39 PM
From: Ish
   of 773344
<<Not if you are a game addict, I guess. I have never got interested in computer games.>>

My wife wanted a computer in 1988 to use for school and I bought a football game. Never got it to work.

Then we got one late in 1995 and I got the Duke Nuk'em thing. Daym, forget the smokes and booze, I'm killing aliens. About a month of that and I was done. Part the game and part using the computer. I guess gamers are another breed. It's a thrill but I go for crossword puzzles and real life.

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:45:49 PM
   of 773344
I think this is my first post ever about Burma. I wonder why China and Russia oppose action against the Junta.

Burma's Plight
Mr. Holliday is dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the City University of Hong Kong.
November 24, 2005

Recent weeks have witnessed a flurry of interest in Burma. In September, a report commissioned by former Czech President Václav Havel and Bishop Desmond Tutu called for U.N. Security Council action to promote national reconciliation and oversee a transition to democracy. More recently, the world has bemusedly watched as the paranoid ruling military junta, fearful of seaborne attack, relocates the national capital inland to Pyinmana, some 350 kilometers north of Rangoon.

The limelight is welcome. For too long, this country of 55 million people, positioned at the heart of Asia and sharing long borders with China, India and Thailand, has been ignored. Periodically the U.S. and her allies renew or upgrade economic sanctions or plea for the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But few prominent leaders take a sustained interest.

The recent push for change faces major roadblocks. Both China and Russia have signaled that they will veto any attempt to put a Burma initiative on the U.N. Security Council agenda. Other members, such as the Philippines, have expressed reservations. There's a long history of intransigence, too. Burma debates have rumbled along to no apparent effect for 15 years since an abortive 1990 general election saw the military junta reinforce its stranglehold on the country.

If this initiative does fail, Burma will continue to struggle with low-grade civil wars, booming narcotics industries, incipient health crises, extensive environmental degradation and desperate, grinding poverty.

At present, too much faith is placed in quick political fixes. Burmese activists and Western commentators in liberal think tanks frequently insist that with just one more ratcheting up of sanctions, the junta will fall and a transition to democracy will ensue. Yet for every Western corporation that fails to invest, there are many Asian companies lining up to go in, and the regime is probably as strong now as at any time since 1990. In Asia, observers often naively believe that the junta will eventually succeed in striking a political deal that stabilizes the country and enables reform to take place.

For real change to occur, the focus has to move beyond politics to the economy and society. Burma does not now possess sufficient internal resources to undertake a successful transition to democracy. This country, repressed by military rulers for nearly 45 years since a March 1962 coup, needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up if it is to have a reasonable stab at a post-authoritarian existence.

Across much of Asia, it is businesses that are currently pushing the envelope of social development. In China, no more democratic than Burma -- but generally held to be an acceptable venue for investment -- worker terms, conditions and rights have been upgraded by inward investors who are responsible corporate citizens and monitor compliance down their supply chains. In the long run, it is only on these sorts of foundations that political reform and democratization will take place across the region.

While investment flows in Burma remain small, similar developments are taking place. Take, for instance, the involvement of Western oil corporations in the Yadana gas project. Though highly controversial, Western oil corporations have created well paid jobs, established microcredit schemes to boost indigenous entrepreneurship, and reached out to local communities. They have made considerable investments in education and healthcare, on a local and national scale. All in all, they have gone a long way to setting new standards for socio-economic engagement in difficult settings.

While any major investor of course has to do business with an odious and incompetent junta, investing companies are also uniquely placed to help reconstruct and re-energize the society. But it's a fine balance to strike. In the short term, inward investment may well reinforce the position of the junta. In the longer term, responsible corporations under the spotlight of shareholders and non-government organizations can help sow the seeds for a sustainable transition to democracy.

No rapid political remedy is available for Burma. Economic sanctions cannot work. The net they cast is simply not watertight. Despite the immense moral standing supplied to sanctions by the unstinting support of Aung San Suu Kyi, they must be abandoned. Equally, the complacency that continues to pervade much of Asia is a recipe for stalemate and, quite possibly, disaster.

Only an active policy of committed, long-term political engagement and inward investment can set Burma on the path to prosperity and democracy. The journey will not be easy, clean or pretty. But it is hard to think of alternative ways forward for this miserable country.

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To: D. Long who wrote (148620)11/24/2005 4:50:06 PM
From: Ish
   of 773344
<<Every year has its "Cabbage Patch Doll".>>

I knew a guy who opened a store in the river town of Havana, Illinois. Barbie craze. He got a doll plus dozens of empty boxes and put them in his window as a draw. The Barbie got sold and his place burned.

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To: briskit who wrote (148614)11/24/2005 4:54:55 PM
From: Lane3
   of 773344
This seems like it was written a long time ago

Yes, I had been yacking about going through my clips from the time around the start of the war. I should have put the date on it.

There were a lot of problems with that article now, including what you mentioned. I just wanted to illustrate the preconception as aspect, as I mentioned.

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:55:09 PM
   of 773344
Weighing pandemic's impact
Though seen as unlikely,
outbreak scenarios have
investors calculating risks
November 24, 2005

PARIS -- If avian flu sparks a global flu pandemic, the world will have a lot more to care about than financial markets. But that hasn't stopped economists and strategists ruminating over the possible impact on everything from economic growth to interest rates to stock prices and foreign exchange.

Concerns about a possible pandemic have risen with the emergence of the H5N1 bird-flu virus, which has jumped from birds to humans, killing 67 people in Asia in the past two years. Some scientists fear that if the virus mutates to the point where it can be transmitted between humans, the world could face a pandemic.

"While it is difficult to quantify the precise likelihood of a human H5N1 pandemic, analysis suggests that avian flu is a rising risk to the global economic outlook," says Robert Bonte-Friedheim, an equity analyst at Citigroup specializing in medical affairs and lead author of a recent report on avian flu.

The prospect of that is still viewed as extremely low. But the World Health Organization estimates that a relatively mild global flu outbreak could cost two million to seven million lives. But others contend that a truly virulent virus could rival the 1918-1919 "Spanish flu" in which anywhere from 20 million to 100 million people died.

"The bottom line is that flu pandemics have already developed in the past and may well show up again in the future, with potentially devastating consequences for the global economy and markets," says Lorenzo Codogno, co-head of European economics at Bank of America.

A relatively mild -- and containable -- outbreak of bird flu would likely slow economic activity, cause stocks to fall, bonds to rally and trigger sharp jumps in so-called haven currencies, such as the Swiss franc and possibly the U.S. dollar and sterling. But these effects should prove temporary, contend Citigroup analysts. In fact, they regard the equity selloff as an opportunity to buy stocks that would be expected to rebound with economic growth.

A full-blown pandemic is another story. Even people who regard predictions of a repeat of 1918-1919 as alarmist acknowledge the ruinous impact of such an event. "A virulent, global outbreak of avian flu, which is still considered to be a low-probability event, would cause global economic activity to decline, raw-material prices to collapse, risk aversion to rise, monetary policy to ease and interest rates to fall," says Ben Walker, a fund manager at Gartmore Investment Management.

Economies would be buffeted by curtailed individual travel, increased absenteeism from the workplace, reduced shopping, a steep drop in consumer and business confidence and government-imposed quarantines.

Meanwhile, the combination of increased investor aversion to risk and slowing global growth would damp cross-border investment. That, in turn, should be bad news for the currencies of countries with large current-account deficits that rely on financing from abroad, such as the U.S., Australian and New Zealand dollars, the U.K. pound, South African rand and Mexican peso, says Marvin Barth, a Citigroup currency economist.

Slowing growth, especially in Asia, would also put a big dent in the demand for raw materials, particularly jet fuel. "Severe constraints on global mobility will have a huge impact on oil demand," say Citigroup analysts. "However, some commodities, such as gold and silver, could benefit from a 'flight-to-quality' trade," says Gartmore's Mr. Walker.

To get a notion of what might happen in various markets, investment strategists often use the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003 as a template. East Asian growth shrank. Deflation set in as consumer prices fell in Hong Kong, China and Singapore.

In Hong Kong, tourist arrivals plunged, hotel-occupancy collapsed and the stock market tumbled 10% in six weeks. Consumer discretionary, industrial, bank, materials and real-estate stocks in Asian markets excluding Japan fell 7% to 17%; utilities and health-care stocks rose slightly. Post-SARS, the sectors that fell the most came roaring back. Even so, SARS may be too-optimistic a benchmark. It was short-lived and mostly restricted to four Asian countries.

"In SARS, the market didn't start coming back until the caseload of new patients was on a sustained downward trend," says Citigroup's Mr. Bonte-Friedheim. "With a potential H5N1 influenza, it would probably be a long time before that point is reached."

Under a pandemic scenario, the stock sectors that should perform well include companies that make antiviral drugs and vaccines, hospital chains, cleaning-product manufacturers, home-entertainment providers, telecommunications and Internet-related companies and utilities, according to Citigroup and Gartmore's Mr. Walker.

Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's notes that "businesses that depend on large numbers of people congregating -- such as airlines, lodging, leisure and restaurants -- would suffer serious setbacks." Other "losers" include shopping-mall operators, luxury-goods companies, oil companies and mining and metals concerns.

For all the prognosticating though, some contend that such an event would be so serious that there is little that investors can do. "I don't think you can do anything about it," warns Crispin Odey, head of Odey Asset Management in London. "It's uninsurable."

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148616)11/24/2005 4:56:55 PM
From: Lane3
   of 773344
Don't you see something strange in a column whose first half says, "they were sincere, there was no deception" and whose second half concludes "they will successfully stonewall and cover up"?

No. You can be sincere in your initial efforts, then, when challenged, want to avoid explaining yourself.

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From: LindyBill11/24/2005 4:59:35 PM
   of 773344
Spielberg steps in it
American Thinker
November 24th, 2005

Warning signs are already out and should be for the coming Steven Spielberg movie on the Israeli effort to hunt down those who participated in, or planned the Munich massacre in 1972. In an article in the LA Weekly about the movie, the clear spin is that it will be a great film: nuanced, balanced, thoughtful, and all the other good stuff. Friends of Israel will wonder of course how balanced a movie can be under the weight of the heavy hand of Tony Kushner, an anti-Israel playwright, who was Spielberg’s choice as screenwriter. . . Spielberg has not said much about the movie, but made one statement about it to a New York Times interviewer that is quoted in the LA Weekly article:

“Viewing Israel’s response to Munich through the eyes of the men who were sent to avenge that tragedy adds a human dimension to a horrific episode that we usually think about only in political or military terms. By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts about what they were doing, I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today.”

So the slaughter of Israel’s Olympic athletes is a “tragedy” and Israel’s response to capture or kill those responsible is classified as a “horrific episode”, which over time raised “troubling doubts” among the Israelis involved. . What more do you need to know about the film?

This would be similar to describing 9/11 as a tragedy, and our response in Afghanisan as a horrific episode. It is a level of “thinking” that puts one on a par with Chris Matthews, who recently told a college audience that we need to stop hating our enemies, and just understand them better. Yes, we in he West can benefit from talking more to those who murder athletes, behead journalists, and blow up mosques and tall buildings. Our problem is that we are not talking enough to Zarqawi and Bin Laden, to get to understand them better. Sure, and FDR should have hit Japan hard with more understanding after Pearl Harbor.

Spielberg seems to believe that the Israeli Palestinian conflict is resolvable, if only the two sides talked a bit more with each other, and stopped fighting. Note the involvement of Dennis Ross as an advisor to Spielberg on the film. Ross knows from talking to both sides. It was his job. He did it between 1991 and 2001 almost nonstop. And all that talk eventually ended when Yassar Arafat decided enough talk, now let’s get on with a suicide bombing campaign.

For the heroes of Hollywood, living their sheltered existence in mansions on each coast, every conflict is resolvable, if only each side took the time to understand the “other” a bit more, and talked more and fought less. In the real world it is not so easy. But Hollywood is not the real world.

Richard Baehr 11 24 05

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To: Lane3 who wrote (148628)11/24/2005 6:14:56 PM
From: Nadine Carroll
   of 773344
No. You can be sincere in your initial efforts, then, when challenged, want to avoid explaining yourself.

Won't wash. The explanation they gave - "we got bad intelligence" IS the alleged coverup.

Logically, either they were sincere and thus there is no cover up (unless you want to discuss the CIA's attempts to cover up and distract attention from its dismal track record), or they were insincere and "intentionally misled" the nation into war, which is the charge being made against them.

You can't have it both ways. Greeley is trying to.

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