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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Islamic world: Send a card to your sweetie and get arrested

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Photo: AFP

From Frontpage:

…[E]very year the Islamic Republic of Pakistan bans Valentine’s Day for promoting “immorality, nudity and indecency.” Two days ago, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) sustained its decision to outlaw Valentine’s Day celebrations across the country, ordering authorities to take action on anyone daring to celebrate or promote the Day of Love. Pakistani television and radio stations are disallowed from mentioning the event. No one in society, from an official level to any public place, can even hint that they might be celebrating, let alone thinking about, the day.

Pakistan views Valentine’s Day as an “insult” to Islam. In the past, Valentine’s Day activities in the Islamic country were disrupted by Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s main religious party, but in recent years the state and courts have involved themselves. Back on Valentine’s Day in Pakistan in 2013, supporters of Jamat-e-Islami took to the streets in Peshawar to vehemently denounce the Day of Love. Demonizing it as “un-Islamic,” the Muslim protestors shouted that the day had “spread immodesty in the world.” Shahzad Ahmed, the local leader of the student wing of Jamat-e-Islami, declared that the organization would not “allow” any Valentine’s Day functions, warning that if Pakistani law enforcement did not prevent Pakistanis from holding such functions, that the Jamat-e-Islami would stop them “in our own way.” Khalid Waqas Chamkani, a leader in Jamat-e-Islamicalls Valentine’s a “shameful day.”…

[S]everal cities across Muslim-majority Indonesia are prohibiting people from celebrating Valentine’s Day. Two years ago, for instance, in the city of Surabaya, a group of school students, which included many girls wearing the hijab, denounced the day. In Aceh province every year, Muslim clerics issue stern warnings to Muslims against observing Valentine’s Day. Tgk Feisal, general secretary of the Aceh Ulema Association (HUDA), has stated that “It is haram for Muslims to observe Valentine’s Day because it does not accord with Islamic Sharia.” He has stressed that the government must watch out for youths participating in Valentine’s Day activities in Aceh. One can only imagine what happens to the guilty parties.

In Muslim-dominant Malaysia, while Islamic religious leaders and officials warn people against celebrating Valentine’s, the group The National Muslim Youth Association consistently issues a yearly pre-Valentine’s Day message in which it demonizes the day and specifically directs females not to use emoticons and perfume. Malaysia’s State mufti chief assistant Mat Jais Kamos is habitually mindful of issuing warnings about Valentine’s — and that is why, in 2014, a few days beforehand, he ordered young people to stay clear of celebrating the Day of Love: “The celebration emphasizes the relationship between two individuals rather than the love between family members or married couples,” he affirmed, and department officials backed up his command by distributing leaflets to remind citizens of the 2006 ban on Valentine’s Day issued by the state fatwa council.

Valentine’s Day is also also outlawed in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Under the Islamic regime in Iran, any sale or promotion of Valentine’s Day related items, including the exchange of gifts, flowers and cards, is illegal. Iran’s “morality” police consistently warn retailers against the promotion of Valentine’s Day celebrations, sternly ordering shops to remove heart-and-flower decorations and images of couples embracing on this day — and anytime around this day.

In Saudi Arabia, the morality police consistently punish the slightest hint of Valentine’s Day celebrations. The Kingdom and its religious police officially issue stern warnings that anyone caught even thinking about Valentine’s Day will suffer some of the most painful penalties of Sharia Law. Daniel Pipes has documented how the Saudi regime takes a firm stand against Valentine’s every year. Indeed, the Saudi religious police outlaw the sale of all Valentine’s Day items, forcing shopkeepers to remove roses, all red items and numerous other gifts.

Christian overseas workers living in Saudi Arabia from the Philippines and other countries always take extra precautions, heeding the Saudis’ warning to them specifically to avoid greeting anyone with the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” or exchanging any gift that reeks of romance. A spokesman for a Philippine workers group has commented:

We are urging fellow Filipinos in the Middle East, especially lovers, just to celebrate their Valentine’s Day secretly and with utmost care.

Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran and Saudi Arabia are clearly carrying the torch for the Indonesian Ulema Council in Dumai, Riau, and for the Education, Youth and Sport Agency in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara, both of which issue a dire warning each year to people against celebrating Valentine’s Day, stating that the Day of Love “is against Islam.” This is because, as the Indonesian Ulema Council 2011 judgment explained, Valentine’s Day takes young people into a “dark world.”

In Islamic Uzbekistan, several universities are very conscious of that dark world, habitually make sure that students actually sign contracts promising not to celebrate Valentine’s.

Typical of this whole pathology in the Islamic world was a development witnessed back on February 10, 2006, when activists of the radical Kashmiri Islamic group Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Community) went on a rampage in Srinagar, the main city of the Indian portion of Kashmir. Some two dozen black-veiled Muslim women stormed gift and stationery shops, burning Valentine’s Day cards and posters showing couples together.

And you thought that staging The Vagina Monologues on Feb. 14 was enough of a St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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Me for First Things: Duke University discovers that it’s actually a Methodist college–so it can lobby the rest of the Methodists to start allowing gay marriage

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Duke University, which prides itself on being an elite and cosmopolitan institution of higher learning, has suddenly reminded the world—and probably many of its own astonished students—that it has a religious affiliation with the United Methodist Church.

Duke’s president, Vincent E. Price, joined the presidents of 92 other schools also claiming Methodist ties in voting unanimously on January 4 to endorse a statement that calls on the church to jettison a 1984 provision in its Book of Discipline (its rules for church governance) that bars “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” from its ministry and forbids its clergy to perform same-sex weddings. It was a statement timed to precede—and influence—a special session of the UMC’s General Conference devoted exclusively to the church’s teachings on sex, scheduled for February 23–26 in St. Louis. The statement, from the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, urges the UMC to honor “the past and current practices of inclusion by amending their policies and practices to affirm full inclusion in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church of all persons regardless of their race, ethnicity, creed, national origin, gender, gender identity/expression or sexual orientation.”

The 93 Methodist-affiliated institutions, which serve about 260,000 students nationwide, are mostly divinity schools and small- to medium-size colleges. But they also include some large, prestigious East Coast research universities—Duke, Boston University, Emory University in Atlanta, and American University in Washington, D.C.—that present a thoroughly secular face to the public and whose students have for the most part never set foot inside a Methodist church.

None of the presidents of these four behemoths seem to belong to the UMC. Price was raised Catholic, and American University president Sylvia M. Burwell (secretary of health and human services under Obama) was raised Episcopalian. It’s not clear what religion, if any, Boston University president Robert A. Brown and Emory University president Claire E. Sterk profess. At Duke, for example, nearly the only visible signs of Methodist affiliation are the imposing Neogothic campus chapel and the fact that the university’s undergraduate college of arts and sciences is named Trinity. Indeed, Duke’s official literature seems embarrassed by its past connections to the fervent religious movement spearheaded by John and Charles Wesley during the eighteenth century. A campus document explains that Duke, nearly all of whose trustees were once appointed by the church, has “matured” beyond that. While Duke—unlike other Methodist-founded institutions like Vanderbilt and Wesleyan University in Connecticut—has not completely severed its Methodist ties, those ties are now purely “historic and symbolic,” the document says….

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

My Jill Abramson plagiarism question: If she’s such a big-shot writer, why did she hire someone else to write “portions” of her book for her?

Photo: Twitter page of John Stillman

My Jill Abramson plagiarism question: Did Jill actually write anything in that book of hers?

He drafted portions of this book and provided a sharp eye throughout in editing the manuscript.

–Jill Abramson, crediting one “John Stillman” in “Acknowledgements,Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, published Feb. 5, 2019

Appearing Wednesday night on Fox News, Abramson disputed the allegations, saying: “All I can tell you is I certainly didn’t plagiarize in my book and there’s 70 pages of footnotes showing where I got the information.” Writers are generally expected to credit their sources directly in the body of the text if the material is similar.

For her book, Abramson was assisted by John Stillman, whom she credits with helping her with research, reporting and writing. Stillman, a freelance journalist who has written for Gothamist and The Awl among others, declined comment when reached by telephone Wednesday night.

–New York Times story on charges of plagiarism in Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts,  Feb. 6, 2019

“The problem here is that though I did cite these publications and try to credit everybody perfectly, I fell short,” she admits.

“In the cases that Michael Moynihan cited, there isn’t the correct page number for the credited citation. I’m going to fix those pronto and am determined to make my book flawless and will fix these things as absolutely soon as I can.”

Abramson says that while she had help in pulling the book together, perhaps it wasn’t sufficient.

“I did have fact-checking, I did have assistants in research, and in some cases, the drafting of parts of the book. So I feel I did have support. I certainly did spend money. But maybe it wasn’t enough.”

–Jill Abramson, discussing charges of plagiarism in Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts with NPR’s Laura Wamsley, Feb. 7, 2019

While Abramson was fired by the Times in 2014, she maintains a positive relationship with some reporters and editors there. Several of those staffers speculated that the problems were likely the fault of a research assistant Abramson hired to help her write the book.

“Sounds like she hired a cheap assistant,” one Times journalist said. “I don’t think she went cutting and pasting herself.”

Daily Beast story on charges of plagiarism in Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts, Feb. 7, 2019

I am a journalist living and working in Springfield, Missouri.

My stories and articles have appeared on Gothamist, VICE, Slate, The Awl, Fusion, Mass Appeal, and in some local dailies….

Most recently, I assisted Jill Abramson with the research, writing and editing of her forthcoming book from Simon & Schuster, Merchants of Truth, the story of how the internet changed the news business.

Website of John Stillman, undated

Stillman appears to have this Twitter account, although his last tweet was on Jan. 2–about Jill Abramson’s book, as coincidence would have it.

Now, I don’t know whether Stillman worked for Abramson for cheap–or whether he charged megabucks (which I hope because his future in research assistance seems…cloudy these days).

But really, Jill Abramson, as Wikipedia describes her, is an “author and journalist” who served as executive editor of the New York Times from 2011 to 2014 and is supposed to be one of the 500 most important people in the world.

So why couldn’t she write her own damn book?

Posted by Charlotte Allen

What’s the funniest thing about Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal”? The cow farts? Abolishing airplanes? Or “economic security” for people “unwilling to work”?

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Image: Colourbox
On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) unveiled a landmark resolution cementing the pillars of an unprecedented program to zero out planet-warming emissions and restore the middle-class prosperity of postwar America that the original New Deal helped spur….

The joint resolution stakes out a “ten-year national mobilization” plan to build “smart” grids and rapidly increase the share of American power generated from solar and wind from 10 percent today to as close to 100 percent as possible over the next decade….

That holistic framing extends to the way the document describes emissions, mentioning “carbon” just once and instead using the term “greenhouse gases,” which includes methane, nitrous oxide and ozone….

[T]he resolution seems designed for broad appeal….

And now you don’t:

Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kicked off Thursday unveiling her highly-anticipated “Green New Deal” resolution to cheers from Democrats and environmentalists, but by the day’s end, her staff was forced to take a gaffe-riddled summary of the bill offline.

Maybe it’s because the summary she put up contained stuff like this (really–this is what it said!):

We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.

and:

Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work

Not to mention this heart attack-inducer for homeowners:

Upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency

And how are we supposed to pay for this cow-free, airplane-free, work-free (for the “unwilling”) unicorn utopia that could cost $7 trillion?

That’s easy–we haven’t the slightest idea!

The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and new public banks can be created to extend credit.

If you need a laugh–or a shot of methane gas–you can still read AOC’s summary here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

Greatest SOTU moment: the expressions on the faces of the white-pantsuit ladies when Trump got into their pet cause, abortion at 40 weeks

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Why the long faces, dears?
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. These are living, feeling, beautiful babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world.
“And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth.
“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
There are times when you don’t want to be caught by a C-SPAN camera wearing one of those white pantsuits that tells all the world that you’re a Democrat who really, really cares about Week 40 Abortion in a way that Mr. Orange Man President never can.
Also, ladies, please remember for next time that white isn’t everyone’s color. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks great in white, but um….
Unrelated SOTU question: What do you think that sheaf of big papers was that Nancy Pelosi kept picking up and riffling through and then putting down? A Chinese takeout menu for afterwards? Talking points in huge print because Grandma Nancy just can’t see as well as she used to? Cue cards for when the audience was supposed to clap during Stacey Abrams’s rebuttal?
Posted by Charlotte Allen

WaPo: Democracy may die in darkness, but not when we spend $5.2 million to light a candle honoring a Qatar promoter’s Qatar-edited “journalism” that ran on our pages

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Image: Mashable
The Washington Post spends at least $5.2 million to light a Super Bowl candle for…a guy whose main job was packaging Qatari propaganda disguised as columns on the WaPo opinion pages:
The Washington Post has caused itself a major scandal since it has come to light they and their martyred “reformer” Jamal Khashoggi were publishing anti-Saudi propaganda for Qatar. They tried to bury this in a pre-Christmas Saturday news dump, but that can’t stop the damage this will do to their reputation.
“Text messages between Khashoggi and an executive at Qatar Foundation International show that the executive, Maggie Mitchell Salem, at times shaped the columns he submitted to The Washington Post, proposing topics, drafting material and prodding him to take a harder line against the Saudi government,” the Post wrote December 21.
The Post says they were unaware of this, although Khashoggi’s Qatar connections were well known. They will have to answer for what is either incompetence in connecting these dots or simply not caring as Khashoggi’s attacks on President Trump and the Saudis fit right in with their narrative. The Qatar Foundation denies they were paying him to produce the anti-Saudi material.
But during Security Studies Group research for our report on the information operation after his death, we heard from reliable sources familiar with the investigation that documents showing wire transfers from Qatar were found in his apartment in Turkey.
But that hasn’t stopped the Washington Post from claiming Khashoggi, who actively concealed from the Post that his real boss was a foreign government, as one of its own. Because the enemy of our enemy Donald Trump is our friend.
Posted by Charlotte Allen

What’s worst about Ralph Northam: advocating “comfortable” infanticide, getting caught with blackface/KKK yearbook photo–or being married to Mrs. Ralph Northam?

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Photo: CNN

What’s the worst thing about ex-pediatrician/Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam? You decide.

Is it Northam’s pushing for abortion ̷u̷p̷ ̷u̷n̷t̷i̷l̷ sometime after the baby is born?

“So in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Bonus points from Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran:

Gilbert: Where it’s obvious a woman is about to give birth, that she has physical signs that she is about to give birth. Would that be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? She’s dilating.

Tran: Mr. Chairman, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make at that point.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

Is it Northam’s yearbook photo from med school in 1984–the one with the guy in blackface and the guy in the Ku Klux Klan hood that has the Dems who didn’t mind the abortion thing screaming for the governor’s resignation over this 35-year-old pecadillo so they can get him offstage fast?

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he does not believe he is either person in the racist photo that appeared in his 1984 yearbook….

In a remarkable, hour-long news conference at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Northam defended himself from the cacophony of calls for his resignation, but acknowledged that he had made mistakes on race in his past, like when he darkened his face for the dance contest.
“I believe now and then that I am not either of the people in this photo,” Northam said, denying that he had ever worn a KKK robe and hood or been drunk enough to forget a moment like this. “This was not me in that picture. That was not Ralph Northam.”…
In conversations with lawmakers Friday night, Northam said he did not know which person he was in the yearbook picture, according to Virginia Del. LaMont Bagby. In calls with other allies and lawmakers, Northam said he wasn’t sure if he was in the photo, and Saturday afternoon claimed that he is confident he is not in the photo and that it was placed on his page in the yearbook in error.
As for his inconsistency, Northam said on Saturday that he was able to sit down last night and take full stock of the photo after talking with friends of his from his medical school days.
Or is the worst thing about Ralph Northam his being married to Mrs. Ralph Northam?
But he did admit that he used shoe polish to darken his face when he dressed up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest in 1984. So obviously journalists asked about that. And at one point one asked whether the governor could still moonwalk.
When he heard the question, Northam didn’t answer straight away. Instead, he appeared to look around, as if he were weighing whether there was enough space to show off these supposed skills. His wife, Pamela Northam, seemed to have quick reflexes and appeared to realize what was going on and spoke up. “In appropriate circumstances,” she said. Or maybe it was “inappropriate circumstances”?
Some say that the process is the punishment. But for Ralph “Dr. Spock” Northam, it seems that the marriage is the punishment.
Think about waking up every morning next to a wife who sees no problem with taking over your press conference for you so she can let the whole world know how much she enjoys grinding your testicles into oatmeal.
Posted by Charlotte Allen