Chomsky, Israel Lobby co-author Mearsheimer to speak at Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel in October 2007

UPDATE: link to speaker schedule HERE

This one is hard enough to find online. John Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby, will be speaking in October in Chicago along with Noam Chomsky and others:

12 October 2007 – 2:00pm – 7:00 pm
Rockefeller Chapel, University of Chicago

I first caught this on NPR on a local Chicago show called Worldview. As I turned on the radio, I was caught up short by the assertion that the only thing preventing the formation of a Palestinian state is the U.S. Israel lobby. Two authors were on the show discussing their book and it got very interesting. The authors say the Israeli lobby, like the NRA, does not represent the actual views of the members that support them, but only the most extreme views. They also characterize the lobby as not being religious in nature–they say the group is political–as many Jews oppose the work of the lobby and many Christians support it.

The book, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Policy not surprisingly made the New York Times unhappy.

But what does anyone really know about the Israel Lobby, besides what is whispered–sometimes not so quietly–on the Arab Street.

Philosophers say they like Noam Chomsky, not because they agree with him, but because they have to engage in a lot of original thought to figure what is wrong with what he is saying. These authors seem to be having the same kind of effect on the public debate over the Middle East.

Maybe it’s time to get that kind of sunlight onto the Israel lobby.


Related posts:

Academic Freedom-the shirt 

Chomsky Ditches Rockefeller Chapel, Politics is Still Local 


Posted in Middle East, Palestine, peace. Comments Off on Chomsky, Israel Lobby co-author Mearsheimer to speak at Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel in October 2007

The Cost of Discipleship: IRS drops investigation of Pasadena church’s anti-war sermon

The IRS has dropped its investigation of the all Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena over a 2004 anti-war sermon. So what did they determine? The anti-war sermon is illegal and the church loses its tax-exempt status? Nope. Maybe the anti-war sermon is completely legal and the church should never have been investigated? Nope. The IRS has concluded that the anti-war sermon was illegal but the church can keep its tax-exempt status.

The church has spent approximately $200,000 defending itself from the IRS investigation.

During an audit, taxpayers are usually given the opportunity to discuss and explain issues of concern, but in this case, the IRS has yet to explain exactly what violates the rules against intervening in a political campaign. The current rector says the church has “no more guidance about the IRS rules now than when we started this process.” The church has decided to ask for an explanation and an apology from the IRS, and an investigation by the Treasury department which oversees it.

The church has also obtained e-mails through a Freedom of Information Act request that call into question the role of the Justice Department in the case. The emails show the Justice Department communicated with the IRS before the IRS became interested in the case, that the Justice department coordinated IRS requests for documents and also discussed news coverage of the case.

“In view of the fact that recent congressional inquiries have revealed extensive politicization of [the Department of Justice], my client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” attorney Marcus S. Owens wrote in a letter Friday requesting an investigation.

No kidding.

Posted in Free speech, Iraq, peace, Religion. Comments Off on The Cost of Discipleship: IRS drops investigation of Pasadena church’s anti-war sermon

Gems in the Spam Sewer

Every once in a while I go diving in the Spam filter just for kicks. Once I found a real comment that had gone there by accident. Another time I found a meme that had traveled from the blogosphere to spam being generated in an Amsterdam group of IP addresses. This time I’m not sure what I’ve found. They are a group of quotations, all from the same IP with a U.S. origin. They look like advertisements, but if you try to follow the links, all you get is “server not found”.

Here is the collection so far:

Sep 24, 11:29 AM, posted to “Ship of the Desert at Wadi Rhum (photo)”

Midnight allegation | | | IP:

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong — Voltaire

web hosting review

Sep 24, 11:27 AM, posted to “Welcome”

Violent mountain | | | IP:

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it — Noam Chomsky

alcor life extension foundation

Sep 24, 11:24 AM, posted to “Ship of the Desert at Wadi Rhum (photo)”

brutish whole | | | IP:

Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion… in private self defense… JOHN ADAMS, A Defense of the Constitutions of the Government of the USA, 471 (1788)

ps2 mod chip

Sep 24, 11:14 AM, appears to have tried to attach to an attachment of a Tom Vilsack t-shirt

goatish involvement | | | IP:

It is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.

cell cheap phone sale used

Sep 24, 10:49 AM, posted to “Welcome”

Profound athlete | | | IP:

It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners — Albert Camus

artistic business cards

I’m still not sure exactly what to make of this. Is it an unsuccessful spambot, or some other vile technology run amuck? But what spambot quotes Chomsky? Or for that matter, Voltaire? Perhaps it’s yet another conspiracy.

Related posts:
‘Thinking Blogger Meme’ enters Spamland.


Posted in Conspiracies, Curiosities. Comments Off on Gems in the Spam Sewer

Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama and being black enough: What color is justice?

Now it’s not enough to be black in the world of Jesse Jackson. You also have to act black.

According to South Carolina newspaper The State :

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for “acting like he’s white” in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles’ arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La.

When it comes to justice, is there a difference between black and white? Are some things criminal when done by whites but not criminal when done by blacks, or the other way around? More importantly is the standard of conduct for a black candidate different from a white candidate?

So if Obama is “acting like he’s white”, how does that mean he’s acting? And what about the other contenders? Are they acting black and white–or red and blue? The press release from the Obama offical campaign website:

Today I stand with those who stand for justice in Jena. The thousands of Americans from every race and region who have descended on this small Louisiana town carry forth the legacy of all those who sat at lunch counters and took freedom rides to strike a blow against injustice wherever it may exist. When a noose hangs from a schoolyard tree in the 21st century and young men are treated in a way that is not equal nor just, it is not just an offense to the people of Jena or to the African-American community, it is an offense to the ideals we hold as Americans. I renew my call for the District Attorney to drop the excessive charges filed in this case, and I will continue my decades-long fight against injustice and division as President.

Similar press releases were issued from the offices of major Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. No comments at all came from the official websites of top-tier Republican candidates Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney.

And what exactly does it mean to “act black”?

“Jena is a defining moment, just like Selma was a defining moment”, said Jackson.

But commenter Fred on Obama’s campaign blog disputes that characterization:

I know Rosa Parks. I love Rosa Parks. And Mychal Bell (the ring-leader of the Jena 6) who has become the cause celebre for the same crowd that was last spotted at Duke University extolling the virtues of a conniving stripper who tried to ruin the lives of three young men is no Rosa Parks.

Mychal Bell was in a group of black students that knocked a white student to the ground and continued beating him after he was unconscious, leaving him blind in one eye for three weeks. Some of the same individuals were involved in another racially charged incident between three black students and a white student at a gas station in a black neighborhood.

So what is the politically correct “black” response? “The lives of six young black men are being ruined”… charging them with crimes has “the power to ruin their prospects for a happy and prosperous future”. The only proper response is to “drop all charges” and “grant immediate reprieves to any of the young men who are convicted”, according to an on-line petition. After all, the noose incident was seen by the black community as a “threat”, but the white student who was beaten blind and unconscious was only attacked “with sneakers”. For anyone who thinks this is a caricature of “black” thinking, the petition got 145,000 signatures.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton can go rushing down there and reinforce the idea that it’s okay to hurt someone as long as they’re white. After all, it’s good publicity for the voter registration drive. Or is it.

Maybe the Reverend Jackson can galvanize some black voters to register and vote with this issue, and maybe for now Obama will go along with the political strategy in order to reach this voting block.  But when it comes right down to it, how many people want a black president and how many people want an American president? The only reason Obama has gotten as far as he has in American politics is his ability to work within the mainstream.  If he is seen as merely a tool of black leaders who can fetch him whenever they want for whatever crackpot cause, instead of a leader in his own right, he will quickly end up in the backwaters trying to cater to a very limited group of voters, who, quite frankly, don’t turn out to vote.

The Bible in Arabic: two websites with text and audio

A Christian website,, apparently out of Beruit, Lebanon, offers the Bible (new Testament and Psalms) read out loud in Arabic.

Or, click “Listen” above the chapter listings, and read the text. Yeah, that’s right, it says “ikra” for listen and “isma” for read. But it’s there.

If you have ever heard Moslems say the Bible has been changed, but when asked about it cannot tell you what they mean, there is also a very interesting discussion of that idea here. As you might expect, this website says the Bible has not been changed, and they use the Koran and the Bible to show why not.

A mechanical translation button at the bottom of the page lets you translate to English, but here’s what you get for the 23rd Psalm:

Long 23

1 مزمور لداود.الرب راعيّ فلا يعوزني شيء. 1 long for Dawood. God is the patron Yaouzni anything.

2 في مراع خضر يربضني.الى مياه الراحة يوردني. 2 pastures Erbini Khader. Water Yordene rest.

3 يرد نفسي.يهديني الى سبل البر من اجل اسمه. 3 is myself. Guide to the mainland for ways to identify him.

4 ايضا اذا سرت في وادي ظل الموت لا اخاف شرا لانك انت معي. If Sirte 4 also resulted in the death not be afraid of evil for Thou art with me. عصاك وعكازك هما يعزيانني. Akazk your stick and are Yazianni.

5 ترتب قدامي مائدة تجاه مضايقيّ.مسحت بالدهن راسي.كاسي ريا. 5 arrange alumni table towards Mbaiqi. With oil Rasi. Casey Rea.

6 انما خير ورحمة يتبعانني كل ايام حياتي واسكن في بيت الرب الى مدى الايام 6, but the best mercy Etbaanni every day of my life and I live in the house of God to the extent days

You can only read the English when you look at the site, but when you do a copy/paste, the Arabic somehow appears!

For comparison, here is the English version of the Twenty-Third Psalm in the gender-accurate TNIV from the Bible Gateway (used by Baptists). For sheer poetry, my favorite is the Revised Standard Version, now replaced by the more accurate New Revised Standard Version (used by mainstream denominations).

Bible Gateway also has an Arabic translation of the Bible. From the same people at the International Bible Society you can get the audio Bible in MP3 as well as some biblical stories in Egyptian and Sudanese dialects.

I can’t tell what what denomination is. Perhaps it’s Marionite, which is similar to Catholic and active in Lebanon. I do know there are different translations of the Bible in Arabic, the Catholic (“Lateen”) version being different from the Protestant version.


Posted in Religion. Comments Off on The Bible in Arabic: two websites with text and audio

Online Arabic Translation Tool

Here is a quick translation tool mainly for speakers of other languages who want to look up a word in English, but you can also use it to get a quick spelling of a word in Arabic.

This link takes you to the home page. Type the word you want in the search box and click the search button.  Then scroll down the resulting page until you come to an entry for “Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary”. You will see your word displayed in several languages. The Arabic version is separated into discrete letters and fully voweled.

For example, if you type in “chocolate” and scroll down to the bottom, you will see the following display:

chocolate1 [ˈtʃokəlit] noun
a paste made from the seeds of the cacao tree

Arabic: شوكولاطه
Chinese (Simplified): 巧克力
Chinese (Traditional): 巧克力
Czech: čokoláda
Danish: chokolade
Dutch: chocolade
Estonian: šokolaad
Finnish: suklaa
French: chocolat
German: die Schokolade
Greek: σοκολάτα
Hungarian: csokoládé
Icelandic: súkkulaði
Indonesian: coklat
Italian: cioccolato
Japanese: チョコレート
Korean: 초콜릿
Latvian: šokolāde
Lithuanian: šokoladas
Norwegian: sjokolade
Polish: czekolada
Portuguese (Brazil): chocolate
Portuguese (Portugal): chocolate
Romanian: ciocolată
Russian: шоколад
Slovak: čokoláda
Slovenian: čokolada
Spanish: chocolate
Swedish: choklad
Turkish: çikolata

If it’s too small to read, you can click on “view” in your toolbar and increase the text size until it’s legible.

I also have the free FoxLingo toolbar that can be added to the free Firefox browser. It is capable of translating an entire web page between English and Arabic, and fairly quickly too, but the accuracy and readability is about what you might expect from a mechanical translation tool. You also have to play with it a bit to get it to translate what you want. Still it’s worth having and using. For translating just one word, though, the first link above is by far the best.

Posted in Arabic. Comments Off on Online Arabic Translation Tool