A Slip at the Table

A man and a woman were having a quiet, romantic dinner in a fine restaurant. They were gazing lovingly at each other and holding hands.
The waitress, taking another order at a table a few steps away, suddenly noticed the man slowly sliding down his chair… then sliding a little more… until he was almost under the table. The baffling thing is, the woman with him stared straight ahead and didn’t seem to notice!
The waitress watched as the man slid all the way down his chair and out of sight under the table.
Still, the woman stared straight ahead.
The waitress, thinking this behavior a bit risqué and that it might offend other diners, went over to the table and, tactfully, began by saying to the woman “Pardon me, ma’am, but I think your husband just slid under the table…”
The woman calmly looked up at her and said, “No, he didn’t. He just walked in the door.”

European Union Should Worry About Europe Not Israel

Beyond the Cusp

By now the news has seeped out from under the big stone of silence which the European media and law enforcement attempted to tuck the night of mass rapes and sexual assaults across the length and breadth of Europe with Germany seemingly haven gotten the worst of it. Cologne was where the initial leaks began where once it reached more than half a thousand complaints by women who suffered varying degrees of assaults of a sexual nature. The police, media and especially the governance in Europe appears frozen as an animal startled for that moment before the fight or flight reflex takes charge and it decides which way it will treat this threat. Europe has seen this threat before back when political correctness meant you smiled over the corpses of your enemies. But they say Europe has changed, Europe has matured, Europe has grown and now Europe has invited their…

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ISIS Followers Plan to Take over Gaza Strip

A new group calling itself the Palestinian Islamic Army (PIA) has popped up in the Gaza Strip, signaling incontrovertibly the growing influence of the Islamic State (ISIS) among Palestinians.

A thirty-minute video put out by the PIA shows its followers pledging allegiance to ISIS “Caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and paints Hamas leaders as “apostates” and “infidels” for failing to implement Islamic sharia law in the Gaza Strip. The video constitutes proof positive that the ISIS ideology has infiltrated Gaza — a truth that Hamas has unsuccessfully been trying to conceal for the past year.

In the video, Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal are denounced for aligning themselves with moderate Arab leaders in the Gulf, who are described as “criminals and enemies of Islam.” Apparently, Hamas has been too kind to Christians living in the Gaza Strip. The narrator blasts Hamas leaders for offering greetings to Christians on their holidays and condolences on the death of some of the community’s members. Hamas leaders are featured making visits to Christian “polytheists” in the Strip.

Yet Christians are not the only bedfellows prohibited to Hamas by the PIA. The video also damns Hamas leaders for their alliance with the Shiite Muslims of Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah. For the PIA, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is a “Satan” waging war on Sunni Muslims. And this “Satan” is in good company: “The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip is a sect of apostasy and blasphemy,” the PIA video declares. Muslims are urged vigorously to distance themselves from the heretical Hamas.


Problems, Problems, Problems

Beyond the Cusp

The world is in a state of flux, well, let’s be honest, the world is in a state of convulsions. The European Union has decided that perhaps the produce grown by the labors of the Jews who planted and tended their groves for well over twenty years just to receive their first fruits worth mention, grape vines tended carefully and the wines made by wineries which have won blue ribbons in France, the land of wine, recognizing their careful blending of grapes or choices of the very best of a single grape both of which rely on care from the very start of setting up your vines with great care and then pray that the weather is kind and provide the exact amounts of rain when needed and sunshine between the rains and lots of sun with the right temperatures for the grapes. Then the harvest must be timed for…

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Turkey: Is It Religiously All Right to Lust for My Daughter?

Turkey has a government agency that regulates “religious affairs” [read: Sunni Muslim Affairs]. It is run by the country’s top Muslim cleric and reports to the prime minister. The Directorate for Religious Affairs, or Diyanet in Turkish, enjoys an annual budget bigger than those of more than 10 other ministries combined – and its president, a government-appointed cleric, enjoys a $400,000 chauffeur-driven car.

Among its duties is to issue “fatwas,” or to tell Muslim Turks what is religiously permissible and what is not. Its current president, the top cleric, also enjoys making long, doctrinaire speeches. Sometimes they sound reasonable, sometimes not.

When, a year ago, Islamist extremists in Paris were putting the final touches on their gruesome plan to kill a dozen cartoonists and attack the Charlie Hebdo magazine, Diyanet was busy issuing fatwas and publishing a religious calendar for three million or so desks and walls in offices and homes. Diyanet, at that time, also issued a fatwa that urged Muslims who have tattoos to repent if unable to erase them. Another fatwa in Diyanet’s 2015 calendar said: “Do not keep pet dogs at home … Prophet Mohammed once said: ‘Angels do not visit homes where there are dogs and paintings.'”

In those days of Parisian chaos — even before the jihadists killed over 130 people in November — Diyanet’s president and Turkey’s top cleric, Professor Mehmet Gormez “did not believe” jihadists could kill innocent people. Speaking to a press conference in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Gormez said that the use of Islamic symbols by the perpetrators of the attack was a sign of “manipulation.” In other words, Professor Gormez was telling the world that someone else was carrying out the attacks and putting the blame on Muslims.


ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese … with ease!

For foreigners, learning to speak Chinese is a hard task. But learning to read the beautiful, often complex characters of the Chinese written language may be less difficult. ShaoLan walks through a simple lesson in recognizing the ideas behind the characters and their meaning — building from a few simple forms to more complex concepts. Call it Chineasy.

More (and video)…

Israel rejects French ultimatum: ‘This isn’t how one makes peace’

Israel moved quickly Friday to reject what it sees as a new French ultimatum on recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, however, welcomed the French initiative.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced earlier in the day that France would shortly try to convene an international conference, with the hope of enabling new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but that if this effort reached a dead end, Paris would recognize a Palestinian state.

“And what will happen if this last-ditch attempt at reaching a negotiated solution hits a stumbling block?” Fabius said. “In that case, we will have to live up to our responsibilities and recognize a Palestinian state.”Israel rejected the approach. “This is not how one conducts negotiations and not how one makes peace,” an Israeli official was quoted by the Hebrew daily Haaretz as saying.


The Box That Built the Modern World

It was 11:30 am on a sunny Tuesday in mid-April, and the Hong Kong Express had been docked at Hamburg’s Container Terminal Altenwerder for exactly 33 hours. Already, the ship was half empty. Cargo from Asia was stacked in neat rows of shipping containers on the dock.

Standing in its shadow, it’s hard to appreciate just how big the Hong Kong Express is. From stem to stern, it’s 1,200 feet, nearly a quarter of a mile; from side to side it’s 157 feet, about as wide as some mega yachts are long. Fully loaded, it can carry 13,167 20-foot-long containers, the standard box used in commerce around the world. Laid end to end, that many boxes—each one containing anything from T-shirts to TVs to truck parts—would stretch for 50 miles.

As the spring sun climbed higher, glinting off the placid Elbe River, some cranes nestled containers into towering metal racks on the ship’s deck while others lifted boxes out. At full tilt, Altenwerder’s custom-built cranes can simultaneously load and unload more than 150 containers per hour. Already, full racks of Asia-bound cargo towered 50 feet above the deck, corrugated steel containers stacked like Lego blocks six deep. Still more hid unseen within the behemoth’s matte crimson hull.

Before Wednesday dawned, the Hong Kong Express would be underway once more, sailing 70 miles down the Elbe to its mouth on the North Sea. Once it edged away from the Hamburg dock, its progress amounts to a snapshot of global commerce: first a brief westward sail to the English port of Southampton, then nearly a month chugging at 25 miles per hour to Singapore.

After a brief stop, the vessel worked its way north. By early June, it would edge into Busan, South Korea. Next stop, China: first Shanghai, then to Ningbo bordering Hangzhou Bay, and finally to the megacity of Shenzhen. It would return once more to Singapore before wheeling about and heading back toward Europe.