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Weekend news roundup

A loving Jew-hater: Mikis Theodorakis expands on the anti-Jewish sentiments we covered last year. But he insists he loves Jews, it's just that they control world finance, America, and oh, yeah, concert venues that won't let him play anymore. More on this later. (Hat tip: Alex B.)

Business as usual: Arafat is refusing to make the demanded reforms in the PA. Color me unsurprised.

Arafat stonewalled his detractors once again Wednesday in the latest confrontation over administrative reforms.

Refusing to sign presidential decrees needed for restructuring his administration, Arafat instead pledged to take the necessary steps in a letter to the parliament, and the lawmakers approved it, 31-12.

The recommendations included forming a viable government capable of fighting corruption more effectively and restoring law and order. It also called on Arafat to follow through on promises made in a speech last week to crack down on graft.

What? Crack down on graft? But then how can he support his wife and child in the manner to which they are accustomed?

Germans and Belgians help Israelis find sucide bombers: Okay, so they're German and Belgian Shepherds.

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Sniffer dogs were put into service on public buses in Jerusalem for the first time in a bid to thwart suicide bombers, officials said.

[...] "The association Pups for Peace, financed by gifts from the Jewish diaspora has specially trained these dogs for five months and they are to be used in other towns," the official, Roni Latan, told AFP.

The dogs are German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Labradors, chosen for their hunting instincts, he said.

Have fun, Harrison. I know what your take on this story will be.

Egypt breaks the peace treaty, again: Egypt is facilitating arms smuggling across the Gaza border.

According to a summary of his comments, leaked by a person present in the meeting, Ya'alon charged that if the Egyptians wanted the Palestinians to have Katyusha rockets capable of hitting Ashkelon, they would facilitate that as well.

Ya'alon added that Egypt knew exactly which arms were being smuggled, and could halt the smuggling of rocket-propelled grenades into Gaza.

Look for fierce denials from Egypt and officials calling Ya'alon a liar.

Arab double-standard time: Remember the fuss over Israel refusing to allow citizenship to pals who marry into families? Well, three Arab nations are doing the same thing, and nobody seems to give a damn.

All of a sudden, in the month of July, word came from the Egyptian Parliament: Egyptian mothers who have children whose fathers are not Egyptian will not be able to pass down their Egyptian citizenship to their children. No one in Egypt will admit this outright, but the discussions in Israel about the Citizenship Law have had a direct effect on the timing of the passage of this law in Egypt.

"In our parliament here they realized that it is impossible to condemn Israel - to call it racist and to compare it to the Nazi regime, at worst, or to the apartheid regime, at best - when the same vermin is alive and kicking here," says an Egyptian lawyer who is also a human rights activist.

Up until July, the Egyptian "vermin" was called the 1976 Citizenship Law 26. According to this legislation, Egyptian women married to non-Egyptian men are not entitled to extend their citizenship rights to their children even if the husband is absent, dead or unknown. Children, under the law, acquire their citizenship from their father and if his citizenship is unknown, because the father's own identity is unknown, the mother and the children have a problem. Quite a big one.

In Egypt, the constitution does make a woman's rights equal to those of a man in principle, but actual realization of that equality is light years away. In the matter of citizenship, for example, the children of an Egyptian woman who are born to a non-Egyptian father are considered aliens and are treated according to the same policies that are applied to foreigners.

What? You mean the Arab nations discriminate against women? Say it isn't so!

These offspring are, for example, not entitled to discounts on education fees and are required to pay full tuition in foreign currency. They are accepted in faculties of medicine and engineering only after the quota for Egyptians has been filled - that is, almost never. Children with non-Egyptian fathers and children of foreigners are entitled to work in government jobs only if they are citizens of a country that allows Egyptians to work in government jobs there. As for jobs in private companies, under Egyptian law, the proportion of foreigners in the work force is allowed to be no greater than 10 percent of all the workers in those companies. Thus, even if a young person was born in Egypt, has lived there all his life, has served in the military and has fulfilled all his obligations, he is still considered a foreigner under the old law.

So in other words, they're second-class citizens. Hm. I sense a double standard here.

If the problem of Egyptian children born to non-Egyptian fathers is about to solved for the most part, this is not the case in Jordan, Kuwait and most of the other Arab states. In Jordan, for example, Wafa Zidan, a Jordanian citizen who married a Palestinian man from Gaza, has been waiting for three years to obtain citizenship for her young son. As under the old Egyptian law, in Jordan, too, Jordanian mothers cannot extend their citizenship to their children, and the children continue to hold their father's citizenship even if nothing is known of his whereabouts. Jordan granted citizenship to Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, but not to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or those who arrived in Jordan through other countries.

Now Jordan is insisting that additional Palestinians will not receive Palestinian citizenship. The law in Jordan stipulates that only a Jordanian man can help confer citizenship on his spouse. If she is an Arab (non-Jordanian), she will receive citizenship after three years, and if she is not an Arab, she will become a citizen through marriage after five years. The opposite does not apply: A woman cannot pass on her citizenship to a foreign man, and hence not to her children. According to Jordanian government sources, there is no chance that this situation will change in the near future despite Queen Rania's efforts in the area of the status of women.

"We cannot allow ourselves to add more Palestinian citizens to the kingdom," said a Jordanian government official. "If we do that, tomorrow Gaza will empty of its inhabitants and all of them will want to become Jordanian citizens through marrying Jordanian women."

Not to mention the West Bank. And then what club would you have to hold over Israel? But wait, the hypocrisy gets even bigger.

"Each of the Arab countries has excellent excuses for not granting citizenship to Arab residents, never mind foreigners," says an Egyptian sociologist who teaches at Cairo University.

"Jordan has a Palestinian problem, Kuwait has an Iraqi problem, Egypt has a problem with anyone who isn't Egyptian, and Lebanon has a problem of the demographic balance between the ethnic groups so that if it gives citizenship to a Sunni, it has to give citizenship to a Christian or a Shi'ite. The beautiful slogans about Arab unity smash on the rock of citizenship. The Arabic language and the religion of Islam have not been enough to produce a common identity ever since the Arab nation-states were created. The interesting thing is that it is the radical religious organizations, the ones that presumably should be supporting the elimination of the secular national and civil frameworks, that are the ones who are objecting to changing the citizenship laws. But with them, it is because of their aspiration to preserve the inferior status of women."

So it's okay for Arabs to worry about a demographic bomb, but not for Israel. Check.

Proof of Jews: Archeologists have unearthed a Jewish village that existed more than 2,000 years ago. They also unearthed a palestinian village that is more than 5,000 years old. Whoops, my bad, it's a Canaanite village.

The rural Jewish town uncovered at the site existed from about 100 BCE to 135 CE, until the Bar Kochba revolt, said archeologist Dr. David Amit. Several hundred people are estimated to have lived there, perhaps the extended members of five to eight families. Excavations at the ancient village have uncovered a 2,000-year-old street, Jewish coins from the time of the rebellion, and wine presses, as well as a mikve (Jewish spiritual bath). The mikve, which is still visible, was turned into a regular water well by pagans who lived at the 50-dunam village for several generations after the Jews vacated the area.

They found a note, too. It said, "Would the last Jew to leave please blow out the lamp?"

And on the international terrorism front: Russia finds traces of explosives on the two planes that crashed on Tuesday. Hands up, those of you who are surprised. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Yemen convicted 15 men on terrorism charges. The men, of course, proclaim their innocence.

Another oil well's been blown in Iraq. This war is far from over.

And that's enough news for now.

Postcript: Yes, I know all about the accused Israeli spy case. I'm waiting to read more information about it, and hoping it isn't true. Because as it stands now, it's perfect fodder for the Grand Zionist Conspiracy theorists. Mikey and Justin are having a field day, I'm sure. | |



The dog ate my blog

I had an excuse for yesterday. I was at Busch Gardens and Water Country. I went on this ride. It's called "Rampage." I think it should be called, "Death Wish." The angle of the ride is somewhere between 45 and 90 degrees, and the only way I managed to summon the courage was because Sorena didn't back off, either. But I closed my eyes at the top of the slide before they hit the switch that dumped me down it.

I cannot believe I actually went on that thing. 75 feet high, and it really did feel like you were going straight down. I didn't open my eyes until I was near the bottom.

Just about every muscle in my body aches today. When one goes to a water park, one should probably have gone swimming at least once in the past few months. Otherwise, one wishes for much Advil.

On the other hand, the wave pool was a hoot. So were the other rides.

I will have link-filled, news-filled posts later on, but I've got business to take care of, including getting a new pair of glasses today. Bifocals. Sigh. I'm not getting older, but my eyes are. | |



On Second Thought

Who's talking now: I would just like to point out that after weeks of few, if any comments on my posts, the one on my experiment with poison ivy has drawn, er, a rash of them. (Yes, I did have to say that.) It's the most I've gotten since another silly post months ago. By the way, the numbers seem to be broken. Haloscan is a little off today.

Dream, dream, dream, dream, dream: Two nights ago, I dreamed that I moved to an apartment in Bloomfield, NJ, a block or two away from where I used to live. But I didn't get to spend much time there, because I was sentence to thirty days in jail for not paying my taxes, or something like that. But the jail was extremely minimum-security, and you could leave it for hours at a time so long as you got permission and came back to sleep every night. I woke up extremely puzzled and unable to figure out exactly where that came from.

Well. Last night, I continued the same damned dream, something I almost never do. I was still in jail, and for some reason thought I needed to move out of my apartment, so I got my mother to hire a storage place and take care of it for me. Only she didn't get all my stuff, and I had to get there before a certain date (and oh, man, I just realized I have to return my videos to Blockbuster this morning—please tell me that wasn't the reason), and Tig and Gracie were there, and it was just a total mess. And I interrupted David Letterman's softball game.

Now this post sounds more like Michele than me. I must be channeling her, because she's taking a hiatus. Hiatus. You said hiatus. Huh. Huh. Ohmigod, I am channeling her.

Spider, spider: There's a spider by my thermostat, and I'm debating whether or not to kill it. If it bites me when I change the AC (I turn it down during the day and up at night, as I sleep upstairs and work downstairs), then yes, I'll kill it. But as of now, it's earned the right to live. Of course, I don't even know if it's the biting kind. I don't think I've ever had a spider bite, either. No poison ivy, no spider bite, and only one bee sting in my life. Oh, no—here it comes again: HA-ha.

The Believer: I watched The Believer last night. I thought I would hate it. I didn't. I found it extremely thought-provoking and well-done. Ryan Gosling is definitely one of the best new actors to come along in some time. More on this film later, but I highly recommend it, especially if you're Jewish. I think it deals quite well with the issue of Jewish self-hatred. More on this later. | |

Wednesday's news

Meet the new guard: The palestinian civil war continues.

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Gunmen opened fire at a convoy carrying the deputy Palestinian intelligence chief on Wednesday, seriously wounding him in the chest and killing two bodyguards, Palestinian officials said.

The shooting was the latest unrest in Gaza, which has seen a wave of kidnappings, protests and other violence over the past month.

[...] Palestinian hospital officials said two bodyguards were killed in the shooting, and two others were wounded. Officials said that Abu Rajab would be transferred to an Israeli hospital with better facilities.

There was no immediate word on who carried out the shooting. Security officials said they had opened an investigation.

Rajab, who keeps a low public profile, is an old ally of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Most recently, he had been in charge of security for Palestinian diplomatic missions abroad, officials said.

Guess he'd better tighten up security at home, then. Perhaps it's because of stories like this one:

Residents of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip said on Sunday that they had managed to thwart an attempt by senior Palestinian Authority officials to lay their hands unlawfully on publicly owned land.

According to the residents, several PA officials tried over the weekend to seize a large piece of land in the Amal neighborhood, which is close to the settlement of Neveh Dekalim. They said the PA had previously allocated the land for the construction of a school and courthouse.

Eyewitnesses said scores of angry residents, armed with clubs and chains, blocked a truck carrying construction material as it was on its way to the disputed land. They said the truck had been dispatched by the commander of the Khan Yunis police, Jamal Abu Hassan, who was trying to lay his hand on the land.

But wait, there's more!

Eight Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, in armed clashes between rival Fatah militias in the Gaza Strip on Sunday afternoon.

Sources in Gaza City said supporters of former PA security minister Muhammad Dahlan exchanged gunfire with members of the National Security Forces and Military Intelligence – two bodies that are headed by Gen. Musa Arafat, a cousin of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The clashes erupted during a huge rally organized in Gaza City in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike.

Palestinian terrorist exports: Hamas is on the job—in America. Police caught one videotaping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Several hours after the indictment was unsealed, two off-duty police officers from Baltimore County noticed Mr. Elbarasse's silver Nissan traveling westbound over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with Mr. Elbarasse's wife videotaping the bridge, state officials said.

The officers grew suspicious when Mr. Elbarasse's wife, whose name was not released, saw their police car and lowered the camera, officials said. Mr. Elbarasse, driving with his two daughters in the back, was stopped and questioned, and state officials determined that he was on a Federal Bureau of Investigation watch list as a "person of interest" with possible terrorist connections because of his ties to Hamas.

Their lawyer, who is (sigh) Jewish, paints them as innocent tourists, and lies about Hamas.

"Hamas's struggle is in Palestine,'' Mr. Cohen said. "Hamas has never taken a position against the United States."

Really? Then this threat against the U.S. after Yassin was killed wasn't from Hamas?

Vowing revenge in a written statement, the group said the Israelis "did not carry out this operation without a prior approval from the terrorist American administration." The statement goes on to warn the United States "has to bear the consequences of this crime."

Then he plays the race card.

Mr. Elbarasse and his family "weren't doing anything," Mr. Cohen said. "They're going over this beautiful bridge, and his wife takes out a camcorder because she wants to videotape the sights. But all of a sudden it becomes a big thing because the cops see a woman in a hajib, in traditional garb, and it's like, 'Oh my God, she must be a terrorist.' ''

"If the wife was blond-haired and blue-eyed, they wouldn't have messed with her. This is straight out of central casting."

Is that true? They only stopped her because she was wearing a hijab?

Travelers are stopped and questioned almost daily in Maryland after being spotted taping bridges, tunnels and other possible targets, said Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney of the Maryland Transportation Authority, the bridge operator. Chief McLhinney said Mr. Elbarasse's appearance on the F.B.I. list, combined with the tape contents, aroused suspicion.

"It was the nature of the videotape itself that got everyone's attention," he said in an interview. "This went beyond the normal tourist video. They didn't seem to be focusing on what people normally focus on there, the water, the skyline, the facilities on the shore. They were focused on the bridge itself."

Eat this, mullahs. Israel won her first gold medal at the Olympics. In windsurfing. Yeah, windsurfing. Look, effing badminton is now an Olympic sport, so no laughing at windsurfing. Have you ever tried it? It's tough.

It's great to know that Hatikvah is going to be played at the Olympics for the first time ever. There will be much seething by Israel-haters, and much schadenfreude by, well, me. HA-ha.

The Russians are saying there's no sign of terrorism in last night's twin plane crashes. Uh-huh. Let's amend that to "Yet." Then again, Russian authorities have never been known for their truthfulness.

All right. Time for breakfast. | |



How much is a rash worth?

Heidi and I have a years-long argument that may never be settled. I have never gotten poison ivy in my life. She gets it fairly often. I insist I'm immune to it. She insists I've never been exposed to it. I inform her that I have walked in the exact same woods as the people I've been with who got exposed to it. She informs me that it's obvious I never touched it, or I would also have poison ivy.

She's a nurse, you see, and she knows that there's a breakdown of who is allergic to poison ivy, and it goes by age, and after a certain age, she says 100% of the population is immune. I still say she's wrong, because I've never got it. Anyway.

Her daughter caught poison ivy at camp last week, and Heidi and I got into our usual argument, and finally I said, "You know, I'm almost tempted to touch some poison ivy just to prove to you once and for all that I'm immune to it." Heidi is absolutely fine with that idea. But then I thought some more, and realized that if I'm not immune, it's going to suck. So I said, "I don't think I can do this for nothing. You have to pay me for it. How much you think it's worth?" And Heidi said, "I wouldn't expose myself for any money, so it's gotta be a lot."

She's a Calvinist. She won't pay me to expose my skin to poison ivy. (I'm thinking a tiny patch on my lower calf so it won't spread if I do turn out to be, ah, normal.) So we discussed throwing it open to my readers.

So. How much would you pay me to see if I'm immune to poison ivy? I just may do it if enough people throw enough money into the kitty. Talk about your blogosphere experiments. We can even use digital pictures to document the whole thing.

But really, you've got to make it worth my while to risk being contaminated by a plant. And risking Heidi being right all along. | |


Twofer Tuesday

Today's moment of Kitty Zen: A rare picture of Gracie and Tig together.

Gracie and Tig, together

Feel free to make up a caption in the comments.

And folks, I'm thinking of creating Tig & Gracie greeting cards. Seriously. I have the skill, the card stock, and the printer cartridge. I also have Amazon and Paypal for payment. Is there an interest out there?

They could easily be personalized. For instance, the above could definitely be a get-well card. Something like, "Omri, sorry to hear you're not feeling well. Next time, skip the raw oysters."

Let me know in the captions or in email, and I'll put up a choice of pictures for prospective cards. I have a zillion of 'em. Or you could send me your own picture, and I can use that in the greeting card.

Update: Here are two screenshots of the card I just made, the front cover and the inside pages. It's only a rough draft, and I already see many things I can improve. (The second draft changed "she" to "Gracie" in the text inside.) If you're interested, I'm serious about this. There will be a page up soon with pictures and choices of categories. | |



Monday morning linkfest

Good works: Strengthen the Good has chosen its first charity: One that benefits victims of Hurricane Charley. And it's a matching fund, so every dollar you contribute is equal to two, up to the first $100,000. Follow the link, check out the charity for yourself, and contribute if you can. Remember that Alan is vetting charities before asking you to contribute.

Cat pictures: It's the weekly Carnival of the Cats. Lots of cute pictures, especially over at Mind of Mog.

Overachiever: Judith Weiss has her usual zillions of links. I like this one best: The Coop is a Republican. Alice Cooper, Republican. That so does not work. My worldview is forever broken.

I saw Coop during his "Welcome to my Nightmare" tour. I think I would not have done so then had I known he was one of THEM. Heh.

Still mulling: Gary wants me to discuss this issue. I'm still thinking it over. I'm thinking he won't like my take on it if I do write about it.

Read Imshin: She's got the skinny on many things. Jewish student gets beat up in France, the bullies get expelled, sue the school, the judge awards them damages and sendds them back. What was that about no anti-Semitism in France again? Also, read this piece on what Arab leaders really think of Arafat. Oh, heck, just read Imshin. | |

The victory of the separation fence

In the current Newsweek International, an admission from a terrorist that the fence is doing its job:

Israel's near-defeat of the Palestinian resistance has also stirred demands for reform. After 3,000 deaths (many of them civilians) and massive destruction, many Palestinians feel exhausted, beaten and skeptical about the logic of continuing the armed struggle. The few active guerrillas in the West Bank admit that attacking Israeli targets has become a near-insurmountable challenge. "The [724km security] wall has made it almost impossible for us to conduct operations," says Zacaria Zubeideh, the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the Jenin refugee camp.

The article is rather naive in its view of Arafat's willingness to reform, but does mention that the finger of blame is no longer pointing solely at Israel

The reform campaign has been gaining momentum. Many Fatah members now acknowledge that Arafat's rule has been a disaster. In one of its sternest rebukes ever, a Palestinian Legislative Council investigation two weeks ago blamed the Palestinian leader and his associates for "anarchy" and for "failing to take a political decision to end it." Put together by a five-man panel—including both Fatah reformers and Arafat loyalists—the report demanded an end to Qassam rocket fire into Israel and other attacks, and the resignation of the members of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's government, and called for general elections. The panel lambasted the government for its paralysis in dealing with the armed militants who have held the West Bank and Gaza hostage for four years. "The main reason for the failure of the Palestinian security forces, and their lack of action in restoring law and order," says the report, "is the total lack of a clear political decision and no definition of their roles."

Take that, ICJ. | |

The Swiftboat veterans and John Kerry

I've been trying to decide exactly what it is about Kerry's war record that grates on my nerves. I think this column in NRO has finally hit upon it: The hypocrisy of an anti-war protester, who built his nascent political career on the anti-war movement, now trying to cash in on the respect that is given to veterans—respect that he never gave them until he needed it in his political career.

If he believes his 1971 indictment of his country and his fellow veterans was true, then he couldn't possibly be proud of his Vietnam service. Who can be proud of committing war crimes of the sort that Kerry recounted in his 1971 testimony? But if he is proud of his service today, perhaps it is because he always knew that his indictment in 1971 was a piece of political theater that he, an aspiring politician, exploited merely as a "good issue." If the latter is true, he should apologize to every veteran of that war for slandering them to advance his political fortunes.

Let me set the background for you. I am old enough to remember Vietnam fairly clearly. In fact, the main reason I started watching Star Trek reruns is because the six o'clock newscasts featured war news on a daily basis, and ended each show with a scrolling list of the names of dead and wounded. My thirteen-year-old self found that incredibly depressing.

My older brother was getting closer and closer to draft age, and my mother talked about sending him to Canada to live with relatives. She didn't disparage the Vietnam war. She was afraid her child would be killed in it, and said she was not willing to let that happen for any reason. I don't know if it was just talk, or she would have followed through with it, because the war ended two years before his eighteenth birthday.

I was turning into a hard-left liberal. Most of my teachers were liberal, my family always voted Democratic, my cousin whom I most admired was a hippie, my best friend's older brothers and sisters had all gone to Woodstock and were into, shall we say, mind-altering pharmaceuticals. But somehow, I never, ever disrespected the Vietnam veterans. It used to make me boil with rage to hear about anti-war protestors spitting on returning soldiers.

I never thought it was the soldiers' faults that they'd been drafted, and always honored the uniform. My cousin the (now ex-)hippie didn't, either. Her first husband was a Vietnam vet. He served six months as a Cobra pilot, when the life expectancy for Cobra pilots was one month. He told me a little about his experiences. He was shot down twice, I think. He was reluctant to discuss his experiences, and never claimed that he was any kind of hero.

I have the feeling he's not going to vote for Kerry in November.

Neither am I. | |



There is no anti-Semitism in France

A Jewish community center in Paris was burned down last night. The police suspect arson. But there is no anti-Semitism in France.

The fire that broke out on Saturday night in a Jewish community center in the 11th arrondissement of Paris has left Serge Benha m, community leader, in a state of shock.

The center, an old Sephardim synagogue attended and financed by Jews of Greek, Turkish and Spanish origin, hands out nearly 100 free lunches every day to the needy, as well as providing shelter during the afternoons and hosting conferences.

Benhaim, speaking to The Jerusalem Post a few hours after the fire, expressed his fear that Don Isaac Abrabanel, as the center is known to some, might never reopen.

French authorities suspect the fire that destroyed the Jewish center in eastern Paris overnight Saturday was an arson.

How can that be? Anti-Semitism is not a big problem in France. Chirac said so. He even chastised Ariel Sharon for saying that it was.

The presence of top-ranking French officials throughout the morning did nothing to appease Michael, a member of a nearby synagogue.

"Each time a Jewish tomb is desecrated or a synagogue burned down, politicians rush to the scene, express their support to the Jewish community and have their picture taken," he says.

"But there isn't a real political will to fight anti-Semitism," Michael noticed.

But I don't understand. France is not the country of the wildest anti-Semitism. The graffiti on Notre Dame Cathedral that said "Death to the Jews" must have been an isolated occurrence. And anyway, Chirac condemned that act and swore to find the perpetrators.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe and Paris Police Chief Jean-Paul Proust both visited the site.

French President Jacques Chirac condemned the center's destruction and said the government was "determined to find the perpetrators of this unacceptable act so that they can be tried and convicted with the greatest severity" that the law allows.

There, you see? The government is in action against France's small problem with Jew-haters. I hear they're going to call Inspector Clouseau from retirement and put him on the case.

Arab anti-Semitic propaganda is largely responsible for what Michael describes as an increasingly uneasy climate in France.

He is not overly worried by the swastikas found on the recovered furniture because according to him, neo-Nazi groups are accountable only for a very small proportion of anti-Semitic actions.

"Most anti-Semitism today is bred by pro-Palestinian propaganda, which the French government overtly allows," he says.

Don't be ridiculous. The French don't allow it. It's not like a fictional book about a palestinian suicide bomber made the bestseller list in France. There is no anti-Semitism in France, Or at least, not the wildest kind. And if there is, it's the fault of a few neo-Nazis. Or the effect of Israel on the palestinians.

There is no anti-Semitism in France. | |

What makes America great

This is America:

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (AP) - Hundreds of local residents and some from across the nation have turned out to provide a vast array of free aid since Hurricane Charley ravaged the area on Aug. 13.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that as of Friday 77,000 households had registered for disaster relief in Florida. The Red Cross is preparing 125,000 meals a day and says an estimated 2,200 families have been housed in shelters.

But it is the unofficial aid stations that have become a lifeline for many people.

Hurricane victims need travel only a few blocks on some major thoroughfares before seeing hand-lettered signs offering free water, ice, sandwiches, diapers, blankets and toiletries. Many Good Samaritans just pull up at the first big intersection they see to distribute their aid.

With a freezer full of food about to spoil, there was only one thing for Nestor Tsimpedes to do after Hurricane Charley made a shambles of his restaurant - feed people for free.

When the freezer was emptied of ham, roast beef and turkey, he sent his employees to buy hot dogs.

"What was I going to do? I'm ruined," Tsimpedes said, his eyes becoming moist with tears as he recounted memories of the Greek-American kitchen where he toiled nearly every day for the past 10 years.

"We are amazed by what we see here," said Bruce Bagge, a retired investment executive who loaded up a pickup truck with ice and water to take back to his neighbors.

For several days, Audrey Brooks of Fort Myers loaded up her minivan with bags of bread, peanut butter and other supplies and drove 25 miles to the damaged area. On Thursday, she brought 25 gallons of bleach so people could disinfect their homes, and it was all snapped up in about 30 minutes.

"I am just doing what I can," Brooks while her 6-year-old son Timothy napped in her car. "It's sad. It hit in along an area where people don't have a lot anyway."

[...] Dale Creech, a construction superintendent for Minton Construction in Palm Beach, has been delivering ice. When he arrived the day after the storm hit, he drove a truck of ice around until he saw someone in need. Since then, Creech and his company have sent out several truckloads of ice.

And let's not forget Strengthen The Good, a website that will be promoting micro-charities for people in need while also teaching the world how to spell (and type!) "strengthen." | |


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary is also a good bet if you've never been here before.