News | Anorak - Part 494

News Category

We don’t just report off-beat news, breaking news and digest the best and worst of the news media analysis and commentary. We give an original take on what happened and why. We add lols, satire, news photos and original content.

Mark Steel And SWP

MARK Steel has sensationally … left the SWP:

Mark Steele spoke to a packed Green Left fringe on saturday and was very funny and radical, good on how socialist need to rethink strategy, good on climate change and good on the media. He said he had left the SWP which surprised me.

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Celebrities, Politicians, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Islamic Scarves Face Ban In Australia

scarves.jpgISLAM in Australaia: “It seems that The Sunday Herald Sun now has a sliding scale of just how offensive different types of Muslim dress are right down to the simple scarf”


Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings, War On Terror | Comments (9) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

BBC Says Rafik Hariri And Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh ‘Great National Leaders’

bbc-bias.jpgTHE Jerusalem Post reports:

In an uncommon act of journalistic contrition, the BBC has apologized for equating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh as “great national leaders.”

The BBC took the unusual step after Don Mell, the Associated Press’s former photographer in Beirut, lambasted the parallel, drawn by BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawkesley in a BBC World report last Thursday, as “an outrage” and “beyond belief.”

American journalist Mell was held up at gunpoint by Mughniyeh’s men as his colleague Terry Anderson, AP’s chief Middle East correspondent, was kidnapped in Beirut in March 1985.

The BBC issued a statement Friday acknowledging that “the scripting of this phrase was imprecise.”

A little Britsh understatement. And now over to Jenny for the global warming update for your region…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: TV & Radio, War On Terror | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Where’s The Beef In America?

LARGEST US beef recalls in history:

The USDA has initiated a 135 millionlb beef recall. Accusatiaon of bad practice – killing sick animals.

But why so sick? More antibiotics, please…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Anorak In New York, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Hillary: The Movie

THE McCain-Feingold Act on Hillary Clinton:

A three-judge panel ruled that the movie itself [“Hillary: The Movie”] is akin to a campaign ad and cannot be broadcast on television. It tells “the electorate that Sen. Clinton is unfit for office . . . and that viewers should vote against her,” they said. However, they said that brief ads for the film could be broadcast because “they proposed a commercial transaction — buy the DVD of The Movie.”

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Hillary Clinton, Politicians, Race For The White House, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Paisley Jr Resigns Over No Wrongdoing

MR Paisley Jr refused to answer any questions today as he read a statement:

“With a certain degree of sadness I have informed the First Minister [his father] of my intention to resign from ministerial office,” he said. “I can’t express strongly enough that I am not going because of some hidden or some revealed wrongdoing on my part.”

No wrongdoing. So why resign?

The Rev Ian Paisley’s grip on power weakened today when his son and right-hand-man was forced to resign from the Northern Ireland government amid a rising tide of sleaze allegations.

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Politicians, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Death Of The Traditional British Sunday

FROM Ed B: “BTW, there’s a quite amusing programme on BBC4 tonight (8pm, then repeated at 11.30). It’s a look at the death of the traditional British Sunday. I saw it before and it contains some gems.”

Anorak TV…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

NEW Zealand Not Recognise Independent Kosovo

“NEW Zealand would neither recognise nor not recognise an independent Kosovo, Prime Minister Helen Clark said today“. For real...


Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Politicians, Twitterings | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Hizbullah’s Radiation Therapy

IN IRAN, the rhetoric continues: “The cancerous growth Israel will soon disappear,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Muhammad Ali Jafari wrote to Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the FARS news agency reported Monday.”

In a letter of condolences following last week’s assassination of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh, Jafari said: “I am convinced that with every passing day Hizbullah’s might is increasing and in the near future, we will witness the disappearance of this cancerous growth Israel by means of the Hizbullah fighters’ radiation [therapy].”

Thing that glow in the dark…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings, War On Terror | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Hillary Clinton Loses To Win

HILLARY Clinton.

What Clinton aides discovered is that in certain targeted districts, such as Democratic state Sen. Juan Hinojosa’s heavily Hispanic Senate district in the Rio Grande Valley, Clinton could win an overwhelming majority of votes but gain only a small edge in delegates. At the same time, a win in the more urban districts in Dallas and Houston — where Sen. Barack Obama expects to receive significant support — could yield three or four times as many delegates.


And: “Based on exit polls, among the approximately 16.3 million people who identified themselves as Democrats, over 678,000 more voted for Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama.”

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Politicians, Race For The White House, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Worthy Artists

WORTHIES: The new embraceable Britain – What’s behind our sudden craving for big, bold works of public art? Jonathan Jones goes on a British odyssey – and finds a whole new country taking shape…

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Twitterings | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Daily Express – The Rogarian’s Friend

ANOTHER day and with it another chance for Daily Express readers to live like their Romany neighbours and win a Campervan. More details here.

Only in the caring Daily Express – The Rogarian’s friend

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: Immigration, Tabloids | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Anti-Israel Bias At LSE And The Jewish Question At Oxford University

ISRAEL. And academia: “In a lengthy and fiery debate at Oxford University over the weekend, the student union conceded Israel’s ‘right to exist’ by just over 100 votes.”

Supporting the motion, Jessica Prince from Oxford’s University College spoke about the “absurdity” of the debate title. “I didn’t think it was a question that we ask anymore,” she said.

Opposing the motion, Lewis Turner from Oxford’s New College said that if Israel is supposed to be a safe haven for Jewish people, “it’s not working out because it’s one of the most dangerous places for them to live.”

Meanwhile, over at the LSE:

The London School of Economics Students’ Union (LSESU) on Thursday passed a resolution calling for its university and the National Union of Students in the United Kingdom to divest from companies that provide commercial and military support to Israel, which they dubbed the “apartheid regime,” according to reports in British media.

As Harry asks: Has anyone ever proposed a motion there to divest from, say, China, Sudan, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Iran– or for that matter, any of the 43 countries designated by Freedom House as “not free”?

Play the game: The Official Judeosphere Drinking Game

Posted: 18th, February 2008 | In: War On Terror | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Forget Economics When Picking A President

Forget Economics When Picking A President

By economics prof Tyler Cowen…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Race For The White House, Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Johannes Heesters Brings Nazi Nostalgia To Holland

heesters1.jpgJOHANNES Heesters is the 104-year-old Dutch cabaret singer who played Nazi Germany.

Now aged 104, Heesters is on stage at De Flint in Amersfoort, Holland.

A look at the billboard shows that Heesters performed for Adolf Hitler and visited the Dachau concentration camp. Tough crowds.

But no tougher than the Dutch. Here’s Piet Schouten, representative of a committee formed to protest against Saturday’s performance:”He kept singing for the Nazi regime, for the Wehrmacht, and he earned millions. We have a problem with that on behalf of all the victims.”

Johannes Heesters began his career in Amsterdam in the 1920s and moved to Germany in 1935, where he enjoyed a successful career.

Ah, zose ver der days.

Back on stage, Heesters gave full throat to “The Merry Widow”, the story of a London woman after the Blitz. It was the German song that made him famous. And he sang “There by the Windmill,” a Dutch classic about a Nazi sympathiser pointing out where the Jewish family were hiding.

Once before has Heesters tried to rekindle the fires of those glory days when nothing stood in his way, nor in the way of his German fans, but he was booed off stage in Amsterdam in the 1960s. Although, as the BBC reports, he has performed in other countries, notably Austria and Germany, where he lives.

But we must not judge. As Dutch newspaper Trouw writes, “the stain will always remain, but Heesters is welcome home in the Netherlands — it’s nice that he’s appearing here 104 years after his birth.”It’s all too easy for people today, most of whom grew up after the war, to pass judgment on the collaborators then. What would we do under comparable circumstances?”

Why, we would sing, of course, sing, sing, all the way to the concentration camp…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: War On Terror | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Rise Of The EcoMum: The Horror, The Horror

eco-mums.gifTHE New York Times spots “The women gathered in the airy living room, wine poured and pleasantries exchanged.

In no time, the conversation turned lively — not about the literary merits of Geraldine Brooks or Cormac McCarthy but the pitfalls of antibacterial hand sanitizers and how to retool the laundry using only cold water and biodegradable detergent during non-prime-time energy hours (after 7 p.m.).”

You look for a door. But the room is spinning. Shrinking. Shrinking. Voices begin:

“It’s like eating too many brownies one day and then jogging extra the next,” says Kimberly Danek Pinkson, 38, the founder of the EcoMom Alliance, speaking to the group of “efforts to curb eco-guilt through carbon offsets for air travel”.

Women are formed into an EcoMom circle in Palo Alto. “Executive mothers” are following a “10-step program that urges using only nontoxic products for cleaning, bathing and make-up, as well as cutting down garbage by 10 percent”.

Eat your greens. Your greener greens.

“I used to feel anxiety,” says Kathy Miller, 49, an alliance member, recalling life before she started investigating weather-sensitive irrigation controls for her garden with nine growing zones. “Now I feel I’m doing something.”

Then there is the issue of the materials used in imported toys. “It’s ‘Mom, these come from China,’ ” Pam Nessi, 35, said of her daughters’ recent inspection of two of their dolls. “It can be overwhelming. You don’t want them to freak out.”

Relax. Breathe in. Listen to the pan pipes. Green. Green. Reverend Green with the lead piping in the EcoMum circle. No, not the lead, the sun-fed asparagus with polenta and lead free stuffing.

Green. Green with envy at Kathy’s growing zones. Is prozac organic?

The green shoots of recovery…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Anorak In New York, Global Warming | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Students For Concealed Carry On Campus

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus:

A nonprofit organization called Students for Concealed Carry on Campus would like to change that. The group, whose 12,000 members nationwide include college students, faculty and parents, champions legislation that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on campus, in the hope that an alert and well-trained citizen could stop a deranged shooter before he or she could do serious damage. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, 13 states are currently considering some form of “concealed carry” legislation aimed at campuses. Utah is the group’s model; after a state Supreme Court ruling found that the state university had violated a law allowing permit holders to carry concealed weapons, the school agreed that guns could legally be carried on its grounds.

What does the teacher get to carry, to enforce discipline?

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Anorak In New York, Twitterings | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

India Knight Makes A Meal Out Of Supermarkets

INDIA Knight says “Supermarkets are selling us out”. Enough of this cheap protein, massive choice of ingredients, ready meals, availability and value. What we want is something else. And India Knight knows what it is, and how to get it.

Says she in the Times:

I realise I am speaking from a fortunate standpoint: I can afford to pay a little more for organic and locally sourced ingredients, and I use my local butcher and fishmonger (which I’m lucky to have: both are a dying breed) because I would rather eat fantastic meat once a week than mechanically recovered slop on a daily basis. But actually I question the whole “value” status of supermarkets, not least because whenever I go to one I end up buying a pile of stuff I don’t actually need or, indeed, want; stuff that, more often that not, ends up being thrown away (shamefully).

Anorak resists the urge to reprint the entire article and file it under “beyond parody”. Instead we just strip out a few juicy bit, our choicest cut being:

Rubbish highly processed food is not cheap, whereas you can make enough rice and dhal for six people for about £1.50.

Genius. That’s the food budget and the obesity crisis polished off. We can all eat Indian food, like those Indians whose life expectany is 63 (men) and 66 (women), less than the 77 (men) and 82 (women) in the UK.

India Knight was born in 1965…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Food & Fat | Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Kenya: In Case You Weren’t Watching

KENYA. Not Iraq. Not Israel. A news story that escapes the mainstream:

Alan Ogot, one of Kenya’s leading historians, is the chancellor of Moi University in Eldoret…The biggest threat to the country, he says, will not come from Luo secession, or even from other tribes’ reprisals, but from crime. In Luoland over half the population is under 18 years old. Unemployment in Kisumu is already 70%. Without jobs, political lawlessness will harden into organised criminality.

Who sets the news agenda?

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings, War On Terror | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Swab Found In Caesarean Mother

WAS it autographed? “A woman has undergone an operation to remove a swab left inside her during a Caesarean delivery.

Sahar Asma Sarfaraz of Beckenham, south London, gave birth to her first child Sabrina at Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington on Tuesday.

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Phil Woolas Wades Into Bottled Water Debate

BOTTLED Water. A Political issue. It’s Phil Woolas. Yes, him, the inbred Muslim chap.

Notes Dizzy: Jesus wept. That is all you can say when you hear that the Environment Minister, Phil Woolas, has said that the amount of money that people spend on bottled water “borders on being morally unacceptable”. What a complete idiot.

All those people that go a long journey and find themselves thirsty are now it seems morally reprehensible. Why.. doesn’t anyone know they should be drinking coca cola? Diet of course so that we can stave off the obesity epidemic, and caffeine free too so that you don’t have a heart attack and cost the state lots of money as well.

The MP for Oldham clearly doesn’t seem to concerned either with those people in Buxton (just down the road from his own constituency) who have quite a stake in the bottled water market. Meanwhile, his colleague, Tim Lang, the Government’s naural resources commissioner said,

“We have to make people think that it’s unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong,”

Would this be the wrong time to mention the House of Commons spends around £60,000 a year on bottled mineral water, and, since 2002, has managed to purchase £314,056 worth of the stuff?

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Politicians, Twitterings | Comments (5) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Islamic Law Applied In US Courts

PROFESSOR Fadel wrote for States of Islam last year. The case was in a NJ federal courts where two corporations had agreed to use Saudi-Sharia law to decide disputes.

An excellent example of the continued relevance of legal orientalism among at least some American judges is the case of National Group for Communications and Computers Ltd. v. Lucent Technologies International Inc., 331 F.Supp.2d 290. In this case, the judge concluded that the contractual doctrine in Islamic law that renders contracts with gharar – uncertainty or risk – unenforceable, precluded the plaintiff from recovering the going concern value of an enterprise that was forced to liquidate as a result of the defendant’s breach of contract. Accordingly, the court concluded that the plaintiff could recover only the book value of the liquidated firm’s assets.

I do not want to underestimate the difficulty an American judge may have in construing a doctrine such as gharar in a contemporary commercial setting. To my knowledge, there are no modern authoritative treatises of Islamic law as there was in the pre-modern era, and for that reason, any application of Islamic law to a current dispute inevitably requires a judge to engage in a certain amount of hypothetical reasoning, always a difficult task in even the best circumstances. I am critical, however, of the judge’s premises regarding the radical otherness of Islamic legal principles, assumptions that obviously colored the judge’s determination of to apply the doctrine of gharar to the dispute. As a colleague of mine who brought this case to my attention pointed out astutely, the judge, having concluded that Islamic law is “fundamentally different from that of the United States,” id. at 294, obviously decided that the “right” result in this case must be the “wrong” result in the US, as though Islamic law and US law exist in alternate universes, with Islamic law representing all the alternatives rejected by US law.

Of course, the doctrine of gharar while it may be legitimately criticized as being overly formalistic and therefore obsolete in the modern context (at least in many cases), is not radically “other” at all. In fact, the common law of contracts shares with classical Islamic law the refusal to enforce contracts when there is uncertainty as to material terms of the contract, especially price. The problem in this case was that there was no uncertainty in price: a third party had purchased 25% of the liquidated firm’s equity prior to the breach, thereby giving a precise, bargained for price term for the firm.

The court rejected this method for calculating the plaintiff’s damages by giving the doctrine of gharar unprecedented scope: according to the court’s reasoning, any bargain involving consideration whose value is speculative is unenforceable in Islamic law, even in circumstances where the parties themselves have settled on a fixed price. Thus, the court accepted that a contract for the purchase of shares in a corporation could not be enforced in Saudi Arabia, even when the contract fixes the purchase price. According to the classical Islamic law of contracts, however, so long as the consideration is fixed and known, there is no gharar, although there may be disappointment if the deal sours. For that reason, there is no objection to the sale of a plantation, even though the law prohibited an owner of a fruit tree from selling the fruit of her tree prior to the time it had become edible. If, on the other hand, the parties wish to enter into a contract with a contingent pay-off structure, e.g. the sale of a company for a price to be determined in whole or in part by the firm’s future earnings post-sale, as in the case of a partial earn-out, for example, then the doctrine of gharar would be relevant, but even in this case, it would not be dispositive. Because gharar was considered to be relative, only contracts with material uncertainty were unenforceable on that score. In any case, the doctrine has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that only God knows the future, as contracts for future delivery of goods – so long as the price, quality and delivery conditions are clear – are absolutely enforceable, even though there is uncertainty as to the ability of the obligor to perform her obligation in the future. Accordingly, the only uncertainty that Islamic law concerns itself with is uncertainty in the terms of the contract, not the actual value of the consideration.

The court, however, is not disturbed in the least by the apparently absurd result it attributes to Islamic law: after all, Islamic law is different. Moreover, the parties to this suit were “sophisticated business enterprises well-versed in the . . . doctrines of Islamic law. They chose not to include any prophylactic choice of law clause in this case. The parties, therefore, are subject to the full application of Shari’a, however uncompromising that application may be.” Id. at 296. In effect, the court seems to be saying to the plaintiffs that you deserve this result for not opting out of that insane alternative legal universe called Islamic law.

There are at least two other cases that Volokh has picked up where US courts permitted application of Islamic Law. Via

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Immigration, Twitterings | Comments (6) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Machines Replace Man

MACHINES will achieve human-level artificial intelligence by 2029 – fact!

Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people’s brains to make them more intelligent said engineer Ray Kurzweil…

I’ve made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence with the broad suppleness of human intelligence including our emotional intelligence by 2029,” he said.

“We’re already a human machine civilisation, we use our technology to expand our physical and mental horizons and this will be a further extension of that.”

Which human? And which machine?

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

More Che And Obama

obama-texas.jpgOBAMA and Che…

Posted: 17th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0


BIOSHOCK is a video game for think ’em ups:

BioShock may have been conceived as a study in nuance, a place for gamers to discover and explore at their own pace, but its dip into the ethical morass of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophies has brought her beliefs back into the mainstream spotlight and even piqued the interest of the Ayn Rand Institute’s president, Yaron Brook.Brook, a former member of the Israeli Army military intelligence and award-winning finance professor at Santa Clara University, first took notice of the game when he discovered his 18-year-old son playing it. It’s a fact that didn’t bother Brook despite his son’s objectivist beliefs and the game’s not so positive take on the philosophy.

“My son has to find his own way in life,” he said. “There are certain games I wouldn’t want him to play, like Grand Theft Auto, games that celebrate criminality. But a game that might lead him to think and have him challenge his ideas, I’m fine with. “Luckily for me he doesn’t agree with the game, he still seems to believe in objectivism.”


Posted: 16th, February 2008 | In: Twitterings | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0