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Saturday Edition February 16, 2008

Posted by uberhim in Uncategorized.
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David Pogue, a technology columnist for the New York Times, has a quirky video review of Office Live Small Business.

I haven’t been terribly impressed with Jack Fairweather, who writes the “Islam’s Advance” blog for the Washington Post. But his recent video on Mr. Afghanistan and the rising popularity of bodybuilding in Afghanistan is well worth a look.

It never ceases to amaze me how often intellectually lazy opinion-pieces make it into major publications. Here is an excerpt from a recent essay in TIME magazine entitled “Veiled Hostility” by Pelin Turgut:

But … let’s not kid ourselves that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a champion of women’s rights. I have attended meetings where his Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies chose not to shake my hand simply because I’m a woman. I know that hardly any of the AKP deputies have wives who work; when one of them sought to file charges against her husband for allegedly beating her, she was quickly dissuaded. I have watched Erdogan’s daughter (who studied in the U.S. because of the ban) come home, get married and disappear. There was not a single female MP on the commission that drafted the current constitutional amendment … about women!

Erdogan seized on the chance to lift this ban with an enthusiasm that he hasn’t shown for any of the many other democratic reforms Turkey needs. The government has shelved plans to lift Article 301, which makes it a crime to denigrate “Turkishness,” under which writers and intellectuals like Nobel prizewinner Orhan Pamuk have been tried. Erdogan has made little progress in addressing the grievances of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. If he is really out to prove his democratic mettle, these are the kinds of issues he needs to address.

If what is written in the first paragraph is all true, then it’s fair game – though it eludes me how Erdogan is responsible for his daughter’s marriage and her retreat from the public sphere. But the second paragraph betrays Turgut’s duplicity: not only has Erdogan been pursuing democratic reforms in earnest, but his most stubborn opponent in pursuing those reforms has been Turkey’s secular establishment.

What’s more, both Article 301 and the persecution of the Kurds fall squarely at the feet of the secular establishment; Article 301 is a product of the secularists’ own rabid nationalism, and it has been the secular military that has been rearing to go at the Kurds. The crux of Turgut’s argument is baseless.

All of which begs the question – how the heck did this make it into TIME?

The Washington Post has a piece about Congressman Frank Wolf’s letter to Georgetown demanding an explanation of how it has spent Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal’s $20 million gift to the school. There are also a few references to the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax, Virginia, which might be closed until it can prove that it doesn’t espouse extremism.

Interesting timing, no? For seven years the Bush administration has been schmoozing with the Saudis – its only in garbage time that these politicians suddenly find their voice.

Finally, from the International Herald Tribune: “Danish Youths Set Fires, Attack Police in 5th Night of Violence”. This is how far removed Denmark is from the news – nobody even cared to report anything about the first four days of rioting. I really hope the rioting has nothing to do with the cartoons’ re-publication.

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