Today, Fallaci believes, the Western world is in danger of being engulfed by radical Islam. Since September 11, 2001, she has written three short, angry books advancing this argument. Two of them, "The Rage and the Pride" and "The Force of Reason," have been translated into idiosyncratic English by Fallaci herself. (She has had difficult relationships with translators in the past.) A third, "The Apocalypse," was recently published in Europe, in a volume that also includes a lengthy self-interview. She writes that Muslim immigration is turning Europe into "a colony of Islam," an abject place that she calls "Eurabia," which will soon "end up with minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt." Fallaci argues that Islam has always had designs on Europe, invoking the siege of Constantinople in the seventh century, and the brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. She contends that contemporary immigration from Muslim countries to Europe amounts to the same thing--invasion--only this time with "children and boats" instead of "troops and cannons." And, as Fallaci sees it, the "art of invading and conquering and subjugating" is "the only art at which the sons of Allah have always excelled."Those "brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire" were stopped by a Polish king Jan Sobieski in the battle of Vienna. Fallaci understands that the war against terror didn't start on 9/11; it started in the seventh century when the religion of Islam was created. It didn't start with Christian Crusades. It started when the idea of the caliphate was conceived. And it will not stop until one side loses.
I can drink to that. But this time, I will just open a bottle of my absolute favorite. Not because it's any good. But because it reminds me of my early college days back in Poland.
Wine competition pits France v US
The US has emerged victorious in a blind tasting by experts in London and California pitting US and French wine against each other.
The contest recreated a tasting 30 years ago in which France was defeated after French experts decided wines from California were better that year.
The result was seen as a blow to French national pride and shocked the country's wine industry.
In recent years, new world wines have overtaken global sales of French wine.
The tasting took place at two locations.
One tasting was in London at the Berry Brothers and Rudd wine shop in St James's Street - one of the UK's oldest wine and spirits merchants.
The US tasting was held at Copia, the US centre for wine, food and the arts, in the Napa Valley, California, a region famous for its wine production.
Nine judges there sampled ten unlabelled glasses of decades-old wines.
The combined scores from both panels gave victory to wines from California's Napa Valley. A 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet from Napa received the highest praise.
"I'm very impressed," said Christian Vanneque, a French judge who was at the original tasting in 1976.
"I don't know if I will be able to go back to France," he added. "After a second time, they will kill me."
On the European side, the contingent was headed by British wine writer Steven Spurrier, who organised the original tasting.
"I expect the outcome to be much friendlier this time," Mr Spurrier said.
"The results last time caught the judges off-guard, and I'm afraid many of them reacted rather badly."
Back in 1976, in a contest called Judgment of Paris, nine French experts agreed that the Californian wines they had blind-tasted were better than the French.
It was a result that turned the industry in France on its head as well as being a deep blow to French pride, says the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Paris.
Until then, it had been taken for granted that US wines were never going to improve on the French.
The rematch included all the original red wines tasted in 1976 to see how they had aged, as well as newer vintages from both nations.
The French wine industry has suffered badly in recent years because of the glut of wine on the world market and strong competition from abroad.
Thousands of hectares of vines in France have been destroyed to deal with over-production, with some Bordeaux wines even being turned back into industrial alcohol.
To add insult to injury, the world's leading wine critic, Robert Parker, is also an American - and a man whose tastes are irrevocably changing the way some French wines are made, our correspondent adds.
But this isn't really a fight about President Bush or freedom of speech. This is a fight about the identity of country music. There's a contract that binds country singers to their fans, and the Dixie Chicks have broken it.
For mistrustful listeners in search of an answer, Ms. Maines's comments provided one. Forget about President Bush: she had used the words "ashamed" and "Texas" in the same sentence, and she had done it on foreign soil. She meant to insult the president, but some former fans thought they heard her insulting Texans, and therefore Southerners, and therefore nonmetropolitan listeners everywhere.
This interpretation may seem specious. And yet Ms. Maines and her band mates seem to be going out of their way to prove their detractors right. Instead of fighting for their old fans, the Dixie Chicks seem to be dismissing them.
On "60 Minutes" Ms. Maguire told Steve Kroft that their concerts weren't typical country concerts. "When I looked out in the audience, I didn't see rednecks," she said. (Did her lip curl slightly as she pronounced the r-word?) "I saw a more progressive crowd."
And in a Time magazine cover story she said the group would rather have "a smaller following of really cool people who get it," as opposed to "people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith." (It would seem Ms. McEntire got her revenge.) Perhaps there's a difference between this attitude and simple snobbery, but you can't blame country fans if they don't much feel like splitting hairs.
In case anyone is interested, today is the day the new Dixie Chicks CD goes on sale.
The new song 'Not Ready to Make Nice' is darn good.
I ordered mine on line right after they appeared on 60 minutes.
If you don't know, they are the singers who had the guts to exercise some free speech rights and criticize Bush on stage shortly after he invaded Iraq.
Some people had a problem with people who actually exercise their free speech rights and started a boycott campaign of their music. Bush supporters who don't understand the concept behind free speech went so far as to issue a fatwa with death threats aimed at the Dixie Chicks. The song 'Not Ready to Make Nice' is a statement that they don't think they need to apologize for having genuine feelings and speaking the truth about them.
As they stick to the principle of making music to express themselves, I say 'Good on ya!'
The reason why I bought the CD is two fold. First it is good music and second because I wanted to make a statement that people shouldn't have to be afraid to express a simple opinion.
The United Nations' Committee on Torture has called on the United States to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center. The panel said the U.S. should "cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close this detention facility, permit access by the detainees to the judicial process or release them as soon as possible."
The U.N. also criticized the practice of sending detainees to countries where torture is practiced, even where those countries have given assurances that terrorists will not be mistreated. Which raises a couple of questions: first, if the U.N. is concerned about the U.S. sending terror suspects to countries like Egypt, Jordan, etc., because their human rights record is so bad, what, if anything, has the U.N. tried to do about it? Has the U.N. taken any meaningful action against those countries, or is it only concerned about mistreatment of prisoners when it can be used as an opportunity to bash the United States?
Second, given that a large proportion of the Guantanamo prisoners come from the very countries the U.N. criticizes us for sending prisoners to, how exactly are we supposed to release them? A few weeks ago, there was publicity about a couple of Chinese prisoners at Guantanamo who were determined to be "innocent" in the sense that they had attended al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan for the purpose of carrying out terrorist acts not against the U.S., but against China. The administration would have been happy to release the two men, but for obvious reasons they didn't want to go to China, and we didn't want to admit them to the U.S. The problem was finally solved when a third party agreed to take them.
This problem would be far more substantial if we were to accede to the U.N.'s demand that all of the Middle Eastern prisoners at Guantanamo be released:
Military officials have said that they are trying to release many of the roughly 490 detainees now being held in Guantanamo. They say that the effort has been slowed, however, by the difficulty in arranging for clear assurances that they will not be abused when they are returned to their country of origin — in many cases, Saudi Arabia or Yemen.
The U.N., of course, isn't doing anything to help solve that problem. Once again, one wonders whether this whole issue means anything to the U.N. other than an opportunity to foment anti-Americanism.
As the Iranian crisis deepens, is anyone looking to the U.N. for a solution? I hope not.
U.S. Senate lifts visa requirement for Poles
Warsaw, Poland May 18, 2006
The U.S. Senate adopted an amendment to the immigration bill which would allow Poles to travel to the U.S. without a visa. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
If the House approves, Poles will be able to travel to the U.S. for 60 days without a visa. The amendment was put forward by Senators Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland).
The amendment gives preference to countries which are U.S. allies in the "War on Terrorism."
Poland has long been a close ally of the U.S. and there are about 10 million people with Polish roots living in the U.S.
A woman walks into a curio shop in San Francisco. Looking around at the exotica, she notices a very life-like, life-sized bronze statue of a rat. It has no price tag, but is so striking she decides she must have it. She takes it to the owner:
"How much for the bronze rat?"
"Twelve dollars for the rat, a hundred dollars for the story," says the owner.
The woman gives the shop-owner twelve dollars. "I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story."
As she walks down the street carrying his bronze rat, she notices that a few real rats have crawled out of alleys and sewers, and begun following her down the street. This is a bit disconcerting, so she begins walking a little faster.
Within a couple blocks, the group of rats behind her grows to over a hundred, and they begin squealing. She starts to trot toward the Bay. She takes a nervous look around and sees that the rats now number in the thousands maybe millions- and they are all squealing and coming toward her faster and faster.
Terrified, she runs to the edge of the Bay, and throws the bronze rat as far out into the Bay as she can.
Amazingly, the millions of rats all jump into the Bay after it, and are all drowned.
The woman walks back to the curio shop. "Ah ha," says the owner, "I'll bet you have come back for the story?"
"No," said the woman, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Democrat."
Saxton is GOP's best chance for governorshipGuess how I voted. Hint: I couldn't vote for Mannix for his complete inaptitude as the chair of Oregon Republican Party in general and for his not having fielded any candidate in the Republican primary in 2004 against Mary Gallegos who had betrayed Republican principles by voting to increase our taxes.
Saxton, who came in third behind Kevin Mannix and Jack Roberts in the 2002 Republican primary, displays a refreshing knack for answering most questions with specific positions and proposals, even on complicated matters such as PERS reform, education funding, land-use reform and transportation.
Certainly, he has some imperfections.
His not-so-subtle turn to the right in this primary election - although probably politically necessary within the GOP - is at odds with his history of moderation. And his efforts exploit concerns over undocumented workers have bordered on xenophobia.
Once you become US citizens don't vote for Democrats for they will bring the socialist hell hole whence you escaped here.But I will not hold that one against him. My W'04 sticker goes back on the rear of my car.
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