Monday, December 25, 2006

The Karaoke and the Secret Chord

When Muslim Mahmoud Abbas made a public relations stop at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, as described by Caroline Glick at the Jerusalem Post, his audience may consisted largely of Filipinos. The Associated Press reports the troubles have kept the pilgrims away from Bethlehem this year, excepting the Filipinos.

One Bethlehem shop keeper calls this the "worst Christmas" in more than 30 years. He says the town is safe but "no tourists are coming" and "there is no business." ... The only large foreign contingent in Manger Square was made up of around 200 Filipino Christians who work in Israel.

There are apparently 35,000 Filipino contract workers in Israel, most of whom are astounded to discover that Christmas is just another working day in the mythical land of their Savior's birth.

Anne Gonzaga, a petite 40-year-old migrant worker from the Philippines, considers herself blessed to be living in the Holy Land. But this year, she will be spending Christmas taking care of her elderly employer while her husband and three teenage daughters celebrate the holiday back home. Before Gonzaga left her life in the Philippines seven years ago, she viewed working in Israel as a chance not only to make money for her family but to personally acquaint herself with the Israel she had only read about in the Bible. But like the estimated 35,000 other Filipino workers in Israel, Gonzaga discovered that in the modern Jewish state, Dec. 25 is just another day on the calendar -- one that comes and goes with scarcely a string of lights or a Christmas tree.


At a recent dinner discussion over the history of the European persecution of the Jews, I pointed out that most Christians today were from the Third World. A large number of parishes in Europe, North America and Australia have a Vietnamese, Indian or Latin American clergy; and many of the most active laiety would be non-European. These Third World Christians would have little, if any, knowledge of the traditional hatreds between European Christians and the Jews. No memory of the pogroms, the secret prejudices, the hidden guilts. In fact, most would never have met a Jew in their life. An Wikipedia entry on Jews in the Philippines illustrates how this was literally true.

As of 2005, the population of Jews in the Philippines stands at the very most 500 people. Other estimates range between 100 and 500 people (0.000001% and 0.000005% of the country's total population). Manila boasts the largest Jewish community, though even there it consists of around 40 families, give or take a few. There are, of course, other Jews elsewhere in the country, but these are obviously fewer and almost all transients, either diplomats or business envoys. Their existence is almost totally unknown in mainstream society. There are a few Israelis in Manila recruiting caregivers for Israel and a few other executives.

But if the Jews were invisible to the indigenes they were the object of scrutiny from the European. When the Philippines was a Spanish Colony it may been too far from Europe to supply teachers, but no distance was too great to hinder the Inquisition.

The history of the Philippines' first Jewish presence spans back to the 16th century, to a few individuals during the Spanish colonial era. It was then that the earliest Jews in the Philippines are historically documented, when two Sephardic brothers (Jews of Spanish origin), Jorge and Domingo Rodríguez, are recorded as having reached Manila in the 1590s. By 1593, both were tried and convicted as Judaizantes (practicing Jews) at an auto de fe at the Mexico City office of the Spanish Inquisition. Known as Marranos or nuevos cristianos ("New Christians"; newly converted to Christianity), the two brothers had accompanied the Spanish conquistadors who colonised the Philippines. Eight other marranos in the Philippines were subsequently tried and convicted.

But the obsession with the Jew was for the European Inquisitor. For Anne Gonzaga and most Filipinos, the first glimpse of Jewry would have been at Ben Gurion airport. So when talking about the Christian-Jewish relations in the 21st century, it is well to remember that things have changed somewhat from the early 20th century, when many of these stereotypes were formed. Christians in Israel today are more likely to be taking care of grandma and grandpa or cooking adobo than secretly reading the the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But stereotypes die hard; yet if you want a new and a strange one, try this unlikely image: the Filipino as the backbone of the largest secret Christian community in the world today: the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia. It is the largest persecuted group of Christians in existence. Again from Wikipedia:

Public worship of non-Islamic religions is forbidden in Saudi Arabia and Christians of all denominations have been subjected to persecution. Possession of Christian Bibles is a serious crime. It is not known exactly how many Catholics there are in the country, but it is estimated to be between half to one million people. There is a very large expatriate community in Saudi including almost a million Filipinos, the Philippines being a predominantly Catholic nation. Saudi Arabia comes under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of Arabia.


I came early to Christmas Eve mass at a church on the outskirts of Manila whose decor reflected every cultural influence that had come through in the last 450 years. There was a Christmas tree with artificial snow. Garish colored lights hung from the ceiling. A palm tree stood behind a creche. Three industrial strength electric fans, more like miniature wind-tunnel generators, oscillated incessantly, slightly disturbing a floral arrangement which looked suspiciously like a rearranged funeral wreath which formed an aisle to the altar. The ceiling, obviously under repair, threatened to collapse at any moment. Nobody cared. A vagabond, sensing Mass was about to start, picked himself up off the church pews and decorously removed himself to the street. He would be back. The bishop came through the door, flanked by divinity students, who in the Philippines, are something of a cross between aspiring politicians, two-fisted jailhouse lawyers and theologians, in a place where the Church functions as the backbone of civil society. The bishop was a small dark man, wearing the vestigial finery of Imperial Rome, but tailored in Marikina, who finally mounted the podium. As he opened the liturgy an astounding sound came from the choir. I have heard Filipino choirs who consisted entirely of the veterans of night clubs, complete with electric guitar and drums; then there are Filipino choirs which cut their teeth on the Magic Sing Karaoke. But nothing prepared me for the concert-quality pianist and booming voices whose English answered the Tagalog liturgy.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains.
And the voices in reply,
echo out their joyous strains.
Gloria! Gloria! Gloria!
In Excelsis Deo!

And as they sang the 200 contract workers may have been in Manger Square, the old people's carers standing in place of the shepherds. The old stereotypes may no longer work. It's a new world.


Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Mercy, I could hear the music when the choir lit up--

12/25/2006 07:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christianity like other religious creeds, is a non story to most Israelis. Nobody cares one way or the other. I lived in Haifa all of my life, and to this day, I couldn't tell a thing about the Bahai, other than its buildings in Haifa are adorned by what looks to be Arabic script.

12/25/2006 07:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In Excelsis Deo!"
English or Tagalog?

12/25/2006 07:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turki al-Faisal's departure, Iran, Lebanon, and those Cheney Visits:
Royal Intrigue, Unpaid Bills Preceded Saudi Ambassador's Exit

The cutoff of funds appears to be one manifestation of a royal rift over, among other things, the way to handle the rising influence of Iran in the Middle East.

In his secret visits, Bandar increasingly pressed the Bush administration not to deal with Iran -- and, instead, to organize joint efforts to counter Iran's growing influence in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon, said sources close to the royal family. The new model would be based roughly on the kind of joint U.S.-Saudi cooperation that assisted anti-Soviet forces during Moscow's 1979-1989 occupation of Afghanistan, the sources said.

Washington and Riyadh are already planning a major aid and military training package for the beleaguered Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, whose government is besieged by thousands of supporters of Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

The Sunni kingdom sees Iran as a threat because of Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons program. The kingdom also fears the shifting balance of power -- under Iran's tutelage -- between minority Shiites and majority Sunnis, who have dominated Middle East politics for almost 14 centuries. The monarchy faces its own restive Shiite minority in the main oil-producing province.

The kingdom grew particularly alarmed as the report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group began to leak out last month, with recommendations that the administration talk to both Iran and Syria, say U.S. officials and sources close to the royal family. Even before the report was released, Abdullah summoned Cheney to again warn about Iran and the regional implications of its growing influence -- and offer Saudi assistance and discuss joint U.S.-Saudi efforts.

The al-Faisal brothers, in contrast, have consistently urged dialogue with Tehran and are wary of joint U.S.-Saudi efforts against Iran and its surrogates. Turki often urged the United States to deal with its enemies. In one of his final public speeches, at the Philadelphia World Affairs Council last month, Turki said: "We speak directly with Iran on all issues. We find that talking with them is better than not talking with them."
After a year of internal tensions and failure to pay bills, Turki was not invited to Riyadh for Cheney's visit, Saudi sources confirmed. And Bandar returned to Washington again right after the meeting to discuss the specifics of the joint efforts. Two weeks later, Turki quit.

12/25/2006 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Real nice piece of writing.

12/26/2006 01:43:00 AM  
Blogger 49erDweet said...

Thanks, w, for those snapshots and the post. I could hear the choir, too.


12/26/2006 06:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mətušélaḥ said, "Christianity like other religious creeds, is a non story to most Israelis. Nobody cares one way or the other."

Christians, on the other hand, honor the Jews as our "elder brethren" because unto them were committed the oracles of God (Rom 3:2).

12/26/2006 07:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


So? Who cares? You can "worship and honor" a statue with thorns on its head, for all I care. What does it have to do with me?

12/26/2006 08:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is WC the voice in the Expletive Spouting Karaoke Barbie?

12/26/2006 08:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mat will soon find out, methinks!

12/26/2006 08:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it's a black Stone in the Arabian desert, or an ancient Jerusalem stone, or a second rate Persian gardens on Mt Carmel, or Xena the Warrior Princess, etc., why do I need to be involved with these fetishes? Explain!

12/26/2006 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why do I need to be involved with these fetishes? "
Our Strength is our Diversity.

12/26/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1st Muslim congressman thrills crowd in Dearborn

Newly elected Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
Speaking in Dearborn late Sunday night, the first Muslim elected to Congress told a cheering crowd of Muslims they should remain steadfast in their faith and push for justice.

"You can't back down. You can't chicken out. You can't be afraid. You got to have faith in Allah, and you've got to stand up and be a real Muslim," Detroit native Keith Ellison said to loud applause.

Many in the crowd replied
"Allahu akbar" -- God is great.

12/26/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atta Rules!
"Allahu akbar" --- God is great

12/26/2006 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Muslims can help teach America about justice and equal protection."

12/26/2006 09:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL! Doug, that's why you're an American, and I'm not. :P

12/26/2006 09:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better Dead than not Diverse.

12/26/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not dead, just resurrected.

12/26/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mainstream/Bush "Conservative" Canard:

"GOP lost the election because Hispanics Deserted Party"

"White" vote (80%) went from 58% to 51%.
Had Hispanics voted 100% GOP,
it would not have made up THAT difference.

12/26/2006 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Mastiff said...

Mətušélaḥ, don't be a dick. Just because you are clearly atheist doesn't mean that you can ignore common courtesy.

why do I need to be involved with these fetishes? Explain!

Easy. Those around you are involved with these "fetishes," and they are willing to kill people (such as yourself) over them. That's all the reason you need to at least take them into consideration, even if you yourself don't take them seriously.

Or, you can wrap yourself in your smug indifference and see how well it shields you from a bomb belt.

On the other hand, I suppose when you live in Haifa all of your life, you can remain blissfully ignorant of the mindset of even Hareidi Jews to your south, much less anyone else.

12/26/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mətušélaḥ, don't be a dick. Just because you are clearly atheist doesn't mean that you can ignore common courtesy.

How is it common courtesy for ANYONE to foist their stupid fetishes on me? If anything, I should be rounding up these freaks and drop them in the middle of the ocean. (That includes the Haredi "Jews").

12/26/2006 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Btw, we also have a very large Druze community in Haifa. You never hear from them. They practice whatever they practice and don't seek publicity for their customs. They also happen to be excellent IDF soldiers, (unlike the Haredi freaks, who by in large refuse to serve in the IDF).

12/26/2006 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...or liberal "Jews" in America that always side with the enemy.

12/26/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dershowitz excepted, of course.

12/26/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church under the Vicariate of Arabia is not completely underground. IIRC, it is seated in Qatar and at least when I was there the bishop was a certain Bishop Grimoldi (whom I met).

In the UAE, Oman etc Christians are allowed to practice their faith, however subdued it may be. Dubai & Abu Dhabi sport big if discreet churches and Sharjah the most Islamic of the Emirates even has a church. Same goes for Oman.

My former parish (I was a resident in the UAE for six years) consisted of an Indian majority, second was the Filipino contingent and then a smattering of Westerners, Pakistanis, & Arab Christians. The building was in a compound on the edge of the industrial district and if you didn't know it was a "Kaneesa" you would not know it.

The Christmas Vigil mass would be held outside in the Church compound and even that would be jam packed full of people (for those who were servants this would often be the only time their employers gave them leave for mass).

The only time my parish had problems was when a mosque/temple in India was ransacked by a Hindu mob.

12/26/2006 10:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christmas Tree Salesman in Baghdad
Business is down.

12/26/2006 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, a HINDU Mob!
NOW we're cookin.
Gotta Rustle up a Buddist Mob, I guess.

12/26/2006 10:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug said, "Gotta Rustle up a Buddist Mob, I guess."

The Bodhi Father will make you an offer you can't refuse unless you wanna ride in the trunk of his Karma and sleep with the Golden Fishes.

12/26/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't mind diverse Doug, he lives in the middle of the ocean. And no, I had nothing to do with him being dropped there.

12/26/2006 11:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're just upset cause you can't sleep w/the Golden Fish Misses.

12/26/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm just upset that I can't sleep. Probably because of these freaks.

12/26/2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Polling Data

Who would you vote for in a presidential election?

Mahmoud Abbas

Ismail Haniyeh


Who would you vote for in a legislative election?





Source: Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
Methodology: Face-to-face interviews to 1,270 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, conducted from Dec. 14 to Dec. 16, 2006.

12/26/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Election Could be Very Close

12/26/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...


It is not unanimously agreed that Abbas has the authority to force an early election. But, assuming for the moment he does, what will Dr. Rice have to say for herself if Hamas again blindsides her? One thing is certain: Dr. Rice will remain undeterred in her quest to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear. From the looks of things, Olmert will continue to assist her.

12/26/2006 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


Not so sure about Olmert going along with Rice. He's just broken a promise to her by building a new settlement in the West Bank for ex-Gaza families.

12/26/2006 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger allen said...

President Ford has died. RIP.

12/26/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

Maybe this time Fatah will not allow more than one candidate per district to run as a Fatah candidate.

12/26/2006 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were it not for the despair inspired by Mr Ford and his junkie wife, James Carter could never have barnstormed the electorate and rescued them from the Internationalist, Inflationist and Recessionist decisions of Gerald Ford.

Before he was so vanquished, Ford'd muscle out the great Justice O'Douglas, notoriously denigrating him with the racist epithet "Paddy." And in spite of his attitude problems, Ford'd retire with all the trimmings, cosmetic angioplasty and all.

Hopefully America has the self-respect to tip Ford's rigid remains down the grieving chute into the Amnesty chipper. The mechanical whirl will spit out a crunch, before returning to the calm churn of a moment before. A fitting crescendo for the 38th if there ever was one.

May he be stored in tin cans so that his memory may live on for posterity.

12/27/2006 12:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But we'll always get to remember Ford for his cover on Cosmo.

Maybe when he's divied up into cans he can make the cover of Time. Unless his lavish Michigan tomb's terra cotta vetoes and pardons prove more noteworthy.

Maybe its best we lay his body in one of Gerry's iconic station wagons and set him careening over a Michigan dune and let him rest there, naturally and publically. Just how Gerry would have wanted.

12/27/2006 12:04:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Religious freedom / diversity hasn't hurt us so far.

1620 - Pilgrims establish colony to have freedom to practice their religion.

1789 - US Constitution

Article VI
... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

12/27/2006 03:03:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

I there is a real security issue for foreign tourist in Bethlehem. If Mahmoud Abbas
and his "body guards" were there I certainly would not want to be there.

It would be like taking a trip to South Central LA to see the Crips, crack dealers and the spay paint on the buildings - not very appealing.

12/27/2006 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Sir, this is Patton talking … You have just got to make up Your mind whose side You're on. You must come to my assistance, so that I may dispatch the entire German Army as a birthday present to your Prince of Peace … — Prayer of Gen. George S. Patton, Dec. 23, 1944

12/27/2006 03:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AspergersGentleman said, "Were it not for the despair inspired by Mr Ford and his junkie wife, James Carter could never have barnstormed the electorate and rescued them from the Internationalist, Inflationist and Recessionist decisions of Gerald Ford."

Ronald Reagan offered his services as Commander-in-Chief in the 1976 primaries, but the Pubs wanted to stick with Ford. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him swim on his back.

12/27/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Doug said...

...or liberal "Jews" in America that always side with the enemy.
12/26/2006 10:49:32 AM
This is the legacy of the McCarthy era lies. When the genius political communists attributed to the republicans what Stalin was about to do to the Jews under the Doctor's Plot and as a result the dems got the moniker "protector of the jews"

12/27/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackie Mason on Osama Obama up next on Ingraham:

12/27/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Dave Horowitz Dad was fired from teaching for being a Communist, the corrupt folks around him wanted him to claim it was due to Antisemitism and play that card to the hilt:
His dad, having more character, Commie or not, refused.

12/27/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mason Hilarious on Obama Duck and Hide on the Borders, Gay Marriage, etc.
...two most popular opinions:
On the one hand,
and on the other hand.

12/27/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

Material reality portends one of a spiritual nature. But faith confesses limits while skeptics acknowledge none, so affirmation is at disadvantage.

True enough, birth in any given place or time largely determines one's doctrinal conceptions, from Allah and YHWH to Tantric essences or Gitchie Manitou. But this, mortality inescapably entails. We don't know much, but who denies that parents inhabited a world before their birth; that all alive exist both here-and-now; that no-one living can persist forever? Herein lies Mystery, for language guarantees we do not stand alone, so all things grow and change.

Those who reduce "religion" (the word means, to re-knit [spiritual] ties in context and perspective of mortality) to a figment, positing an all-powerful Old Man with white whiskers, dwelling beyond Space and Time, stirring the quantum pot with a relativistic finger, do flee Fatality, deny the Mystery that drives pursuit of Life.

Most churchgoers of whatever creed, if pressed, will say that Death, the end of Life, entails a mere oblivion. Quite possibly... but that is not Nature's way. Labels such as "Atheist" or "Agnostic" are beside the point: Who cares if Sheik Abdul Aziz ibn Baaz, Grand Mufti of Mecca and Medina, believes that Earth is flat (per Fatwa issued in 1993, denying which must be to "war with God")? A better approach would be "Askepsis" (our coinage), meaning to accept one's Revelation as a work-in-progress, collected stories heeded only insofar as Faith suspends our disbelief.

These are deep waters. Writers who express disdain for coerced acquiesence in any doctrine play into foolish hands: You are who you are, despite the Grand Inquisitors, murderous Mullahs, fanatical Imams of any sect. Who claims special dispensation from Divinity dwells most in darkness, for Matter ineluctably divides from Spirit, Life from Death. The gulf is absolute:

"All the Saints and Sages who discussed
"Of the Two Worlds so wisely, they are thrust
"Like foolish Prophets forth-- their words to scorn are scattered,
"And their mouths are stopped with dust."

--Omar Khayyam (Fitzgerald)

Why does it matter? Because by very nature, what you do must realize who you are. Employ wise learning to discern right choice, generous and kind. Above all, keep to Honor, for no good comes of sacrificing Principle. Then in thine age, bless children once again, who gave them Life in trust for those who follow on. Abjure the Hierarchs' self-serving Tales... is mortality so awful, after all?

12/27/2006 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

As a congressman Ford definitely pr4esided over one of the most ludicrous hearings, until Clinton, that pilloried Douglas for his connections to various foundations, his writings and his friendship with Henry Wallace. But to claim that Ford drove out Douglas from office flies in the face of facts such as that the stroke Douglas suffered in 1974 left him obviously incapable of continuing. And that the other justices put off any decisions that required Douglas' signature until after the ailing associate retired.

12/27/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Habu1 said...

I hate to see you get all weepy eyed over the passing of former President Ford.
Have a grog and just try to remember the good tee shots he made, don't just focus on the bad ones that maimed and crippled innocent onlookers.
He did after all give us the WIN button.

12/27/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger PossumTater said...

Pat Patterson,

You're trying to confuse the blogsphere with facts. Those who do so are usually heavily ridiculed or at minimum made to suffer endless sarcasm over every future coment made.
This is just a friendly warning.
Fortuneately the blogsphere is big enough to accomodate even those who know what they're talking about, you just have to find the right venue.
If you can't find one soon just boogie over to the Eubonics Roundtable and Rib Joint. Over there English is not spoken so it makes little difference.

12/27/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Pat Patterson said...

possumtater; I think I can learn quickly though my last comment does look like I typed it with my toes. Mo' bettah, ya betcha!

12/27/2006 03:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The WIN button?

What is that?

I'm naked and its gusty in the VIP Room of knowledge.

12/27/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Whip Inflation Now

12/27/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Filipino choirs are amongst the best in the world. I've heard quite a number of them in international choral competitions, and the sound they make almost always blows the audience away.

Every time I would turn to the friend sittin in awe next to me, and ask, "How the heck do they do that?"

Back to the topic of discussion, I've noticed that the vibrancy of the church(whether catholic or other denominations) lies on its very frontiers, not in its decadent center(Europe).

Although I'm an atheist, I often delight in informing my quite conservative colleagues in the Anglican school I teach in about the often insane and inane policy changes of the 'mainstream' Anglican church in England and the US, and watching out for their reactions.

12/27/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...

Rice last visited the region in late November and held talks with Abbas and Olmert. The US administration has since welcomed Abbas’ calls for early Palestinian polls and Rice said it also planned to ask Congress for funds to support his security forces.

Abbas, addressing a news conference after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, said: “I discussed the upcoming steps with the president, especially that Dr. Rice is coming here on the 13th and 14th (of January).”

Upcoming Rice Visit

12/27/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger PossumTater said...


for the right answer on WIN button


volume up

12/27/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Those guys owe a lot to Talking Heads--the 80s best band.

12/27/2006 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Triton'sPolarTiger said...

Buddy Larsen:

You have email... unless it's going into your spam folder!


12/27/2006 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger sam said...


Great stuff. I got it wrong again. Made my day. Thanks.

12/27/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Looks like the Islamic forces in Somalia are collapsing like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Islamic Forces Abandon Somalia's Capital

The Islamist forces who have controlled Somalia's capital for months abandoned the city to clan rule on Thursday after government forces advanced to within striking distance.

An AP reporter in Mogadishu saw gunmen taking off their Islamist uniforms and submitting to the command of traditional elders. Gunfire echoed through the streets as people began looting Islamist bases and buildings belonging to Islamist officials, witnesses said.

"I have seen that the Islamists are defeated, I'm going to rejoin my clan," said gunman Mohamed Barre Sidow. "I was forced to join the Islamic courts by my clan, so I now I will return to my clan and they will decide my fate, whether I join the government or not."

Residents south of the city reported seeing Islamist forces in a long convoy heading south.

12/27/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

In the news...

Apparently, the United Arab Emirates has decided to convert much of its foreign exchange into Euros.

I regard this as an interesting development. This makes me wonder if the UAE is betting on Iran to win its confrontation against the United States.

12/28/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

pyrthroes said...
Above all, keep to Honor, for no good comes of sacrificing Principle.

"You can't learn to soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency." - W Somerset Maugham (The Circle)

Politics. n A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. Ambrose Bierce (Devil's Dictionary)

Principle. n A thing which too many people confound with interest. Ambrose Bierce (Devil's Dictionary)


12/28/2006 02:50:00 AM  
Blogger Judith said...

I can personally report LOTS of Philippino tourists all over the Old City on Xmas Day.

12/28/2006 03:42:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> Apparently, the United Arab Emirates has decided to convert much of its foreign exchange into Euros.

> This makes me wonder if the UAE is betting on Iran to win its confrontation against the United States.

They could simply be diversifying, as all our creditors are scared of a dollar collapse.

Because foreign governments want to artifically rig their currencies to take our jobs away, they recycle all the dollars we spend for oil or for Chinese goods at Walmart into buying US assets. According to my calculations from the last Federal Reserve report, foreigners are close to owning half (43%) of US government debt, over one-quarter of the debt of US businesses (29%), own the equivalent of one out of seven US businesses ($4 trillion in US stocks and private ownership of companies). Foreigners also own a big piece of US mortgages, so in effect one of ten US citizens mails their mortgage check to a foreign country or citizen.

Some of the money we ship overseas ends up getting recycled into support of terrorism. In fact bin Laden probably got much of his money from oil.

This foreign ownership of US stocks and bonds is also an economic weapon of almost unimaginable power. Right now the constant foreign purchase of US stocks and bonds is keeping stock prices high and interest rates low (as bond prices stay high). This helps the foreigners in the short term as it encourages us to go deeper into debt, sending them more and more of our money, and allowing them to own more and more of the US.

However, if they stop buying, or even worse start selling, the stock market would crash, the dollar collapse, and interest rates soar (like the 70's but worse). Some smaller countries have been broken by similar sales in the past, and those were done by speculators, not governments holding trillions of dollars of US debt.

The oil countries own massive quantities of US debt, and could use this as a weapon to black mail us into supporting terror. China is another big debt holder, so if we face them in world war III they could use this economic weapon.

12/28/2006 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

The Somali Islamists are collapsing like a house of cards.

"People are cheering as they wave flowers to the [government = anti-Islamist] troops," said resident Abdikadar Abdulle, adding that scores of military vehicles had passed the Somalia National University.

Parts of Mogadishu shook with the sound of gunfire and outbreaks of looting after the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) fled their base to avoid advancing government fighters backed by Ethiopian tanks and jets.

"We have been defeated. I have removed my uniform. Most of my comrades have also changed into civilian clothes," one former SICC fighter told Reuters. "Most of our leaders have fled."
He said the Islamists had fled to the southern port city of Kismayu and the administration controlled 95 percent of the Horn of Africa country.

12/28/2006 05:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The nations of the Middle East make this sound (i.e. about selling oil in Euros or Pound Sterling or whatever) whenever the dollar is weak. I saw it once or twice when I was resident in the UAE.

I don't know what has the dollar down but I guess at least part of it is intentional on the part of our government to make our products cheaper in relation to other nation's goods.

A weak dollar policy may change at least for a time.

12/28/2006 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Does anyone have more information about the 16th century Marranos in the Philippines? I was told that my ancestor was a Marrano persecuted for killing a catholic priest, fled to Philippines and took a Visayan name. I just wish I could find valid supporting evidence.

6/09/2008 03:53:00 PM  

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