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Comment on Iranian Woman wins Math Genius Prize, Iranian officials Obsess about her Hair by Muslima Lawyer

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Not sure why my comment was deleted so I am reposting. What Iran is doing is no different than France’s ban on hijab in certain settings. Both involve control of women’s bodies.

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Comment on Israel: Crowd shouts “Death to Arabs” at Jewish-Muslim Wedding by Eric Swerdlin

August 19th, 2014 No comments

Merits a tweet from you. Will we see a tweet every time someone in an Arab country screams “death to Jews”? You’ll be busy.

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Comment on Iranian Woman wins Math Genius Prize, Iranian officials Obsess about her Hair by Clif Brown

August 18th, 2014 No comments

The advance of human freedom of expression is relentless and unstoppable. The best reaction to the fear of it is to let it pass.

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Comment on 6 Things To Know If Police Stop You In The US by Jim Hickman

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Danny one would hope that to be true. However facts show that that is no guarantee that you won’t still be roughed up, or for that matter killed.
The police are supposed to be our public servant. However, all too often they act like they are our masters, and in the inner cities and poor neighborhoods everywhere an occupation force.
An entire body of work shows what can happen to otherwise decent human beings when they are given what appears to be unlimited authority combined with the authorization to kill a civilian based on a spilt second decision making process. The inevitable result of this kind of power is abuse in ways small and large.

From verbally disparaging civilians to being gruff and aggressive when the situation calls for the opposite. Police are supposed to be an island of calm in the middle of a hurricane.

Is policing an extraordinarily difficult job? Of course it is, but when you give one human being the full coercive power of the state to end a life, they have to be held to the highest standards possible. We have to apply strict scrutiny to their actions.
It’s also the case that without community support and trust effective policing is all but impossible. Violent Crime in any neighborhood is caused by a very small element who intimidate the majority community.
The problem with police who in the occupation mentality is that through a windshield everyone begins to seen as a potential criminal.
What can we do to start to reverse this situation?
1. Look at the selection process to be a police officer (PO) Having taken one of those tests and passed myself I didn’t see it as nearly comprehensive enough to determine if we should trust a person with authority to kill.
2. Continuing retraining, ree their personal mental state, and the fact that they are the servants, not the masters. This includes police education about the communities they police.
3. Police should not be allowed to investigate their own prospective criminal acts. It shouldn’t be an Internal Affairs Division (IAD) either. I don’t know what you call it or how it’s organized but it cannot be controlled by the Chief of Police, but it must have police representation.
4. Lapel/Body cams will be worn by all officers on duty who have cause to interact with the public, or those arrested and under the control of the police.
5. The composition of police especially in the small towns, counties and cities. While it may not be possible to have an entire police to live in the jurisdiction they police, it is a huge problem when few to no police live within the jurisdiction. In the Ferguson case the officer in question lives 45 miles away in a totally different world. Combine this with a lack of community policing, and you have a long term problem. Some percentage of the police have to come from the jurisdiction they police.
6. Community policing. I don’t care how they do it, but get those officers out of their squad cars. Get them onto the sidewalks where they have to interact with the community. They don’t have to do it all the time but they must do it part of the time.
7. The police have to be involved in community affairs beyond policing. I don’t know if it involves sponsoring sports leagues or what? Whatever they do it has to involve the young people of a community. Enough of them have to see the police outside their official roles.
8. An organization, an official one, of community leaders, including young people who interact with the police. Who do not allow rumors to take over an information vacuum and a lack of transparency within police forces.
I don’t see any other way to restore trust, especially in inner city neighborhoods, between the police and those communities.

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Comment on Can al-Abadi win over Iraq’s Moderate Sunnis? by Bill Bodden

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Robert Fisk (link to en.wikipedia.org) on Syria and al-Maliki and Obama:

“In an article published by the Independent under the title “Syrian ‘moderates’ aren’t so moderate in Iraq”, Fisk said “Well, God bless Barack Obama – he’s found some ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria. Enough to supply them with weapons and training worth $500m. Congress wants to arm these brave freedom fighters, you see. “

“And Obama,” he added, “having sent his 300 elite Spartan lads to Iraq to help [Iraqi PM] Nouri al-Maliki fight the rebels there, needs to send help to the rebels in Syria.” link to sana.sy

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Alfred J. Butler, Egypt, and the Copts, Part II: The Arab Conquest and its Sequels

August 18th, 2014 No comments

I’m on vacation. As I have done each year, I have prepared a number of posts on historical and cultural subjects unlikely to be overtaken by events, with at least one appearing daily. Part I of this post appeared Thursday and I had intended for this part to appear Friday, but was delayed.

A.J. Butler

Having introduced A.J. Butler in Part I, and discussed his works on Coptic churches and practices, I want to turn today to the works for which he is best known: his 1902 study of the Arab Conquest of Egypt, and two sequels in which he followed up on the original as new sources became available.

The period of the Arab Conquests of the Middle East in the early Islamic period has notoriously created challenges for historians. Traditional Arab historiography derived its fundamental methodology from hadith criticism, the method devised to determine the practices of the Prophet Muhammad through anecdotal evidence (hadith) documented by a chain of transmission (isnad) of the form “I heard from so-and-so who was taught by so-and-so who heard it from his uncle so-and-so who heard it from the Prophet in person.” Recognizing that transmitters might invent these chains, scholars know as mutahaddithun studied biographies and other data to determine if each link in the chain held up (Were they alive at the same time? Were they ever in he same place?) Many modern critics have raised doubts about the method, but Arab historians expanded it to documenting the early years of the faith. Though most of our systematic Arab history dates from a later period, the second and third centuries AH, the traditional chains offer a far more textured and detailed account than is available for, say, Western Europe in the same era.

The problem is that, when an Arab historian encountered seemingly inconsistent or contradictory versions, he simply listed them both, even if they muddled the chronology or the narrative. For the conquest period, the standard and massive work of al-Tabari follows at least two distinct traditional lines (each with their own internal variations). For the conquest of Syria-Palestine, the chronology and command structure and even the dates of battles is very muddled. Nineteenth-century Orientalist scholars such as Michael Jan de Goeje in Mémoire sur la Conquête de la Syrie and Prince Leone Caetani in his meticulous Annali dell’Islam hammered out a sort of “received version” of the chronology and sequence of events, that dominated Western scholarship and influenced Arab scholars,and still does, though these were not the only possible choices. Modern scholars such as Fred Donner, Hugh Kennedy, and the Byzantinist Walter Kaegi (and many others) have challenged some of the conventional account and elaborated upon it.

There is an exception. Most of these modern reworkings either stop before the conquest of Egypt, or generally follow the broad interpretation put forth by Butler between 1902 and 1914.

His major work, The Arab Conquest of Egypt and the Last Thirty Years of the Roma Dominion, appeared  in 1902, the same year Butler received his Ph.D. (Google books version; various other formats at Internet Archive here.) (Let me add that while the full original edition is available digitally online for free, there is a 1978 “Second Edition: from Cambridge University Press which collects the book and its two sequels and adds an Introduction and extensive “Additional Bibliography” by P.M. Fraser to bring the state of research down to the 1970s.)


That the book is still of value may seem somewhat surprising, since Butler wrote it without access to some of the key sources. He had seen only parts of Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam’s Kitab Futuh Misr, the earliest and fullest Muslim work on the subject, and judged that it contained “a good deal romance mingled with history.” While that my hold true for the section on the Maghreb and Spain, Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam came from a long line of mutahddithun and thus was in possession of solid traditions dating from long before his own ninth century. Butler also lacked a full text of Tabari.

He did recognize that the Christian sources were much earlier than the Muslims’, and made full use of the Chronicle of John of Nikiu, who wrote in the late seventh century and my have been a boy at the time of the conquests. (John’s Chronicle can be found online here.) 

In the 1902 book, however, Butler made a blunder concerning the value of the other key early source, The History of the Patriarchs. Although seemingly aware of the work he was misled by the attribution to Sawirus (Severus) of Ashmunayn and referred to it as a 10th century work. In fact, Severus was merely the compiler of earlier biographies,and that of the Patriarch Benjamin at the time of the Conquest was written by one George the Archdeacon, who flourished in the late 7th century and may also have been a boy at the time of the Conquest; in any event, he would have been able to speak to eyewitnesses. The section of the History of Patriarchs dealing with the period can be found in Patrologia Orientalis Vol. I, fasc. 4 in Arabic and B.T.A. Evetts’ English translation (Google Books version here; various formats from Internet Archive here; English text only here).

Despite missing some key sources, Butler was abler to offer a chronoloy of the conquest which still stands, and to put forward an interpretation of the figure known in the Arabic sources as “al-Muqawqis,” identified by Butler as the Chalcedonian Patriarch Cyrus. Both of these interpretations still largely stand, though there have always been dissenters on the identification of al-Muqawqis. Still, most scholars accept Butler’s view as largely correct. (Al-Muqawqis may be a post for another day.)

As Fraser points out in the 1978 edition and Additional Bibliography, the earlier parts of Butler, on Late Byzantine Egypt and the Persian  occupation, do not hold up as well due to new sources, and the discovery of administrative papyri from the early Islamic period also renders his account of administration outdated. But the basic conquest narrative still largely stands, especially if read with Butler’s two subsequent monographs.

For in fact Butler soon gained access to the sources he had missed, and wrote two updates, now usually reprinted together with The Arab Conquest. These were his 1913 The Treaty of Misr in Tabari: An Essay in Historical Criticism (various formats at Internet Archive) and his 1914 Babylon of Egypt: A Study in the History of Old Cairo (various formats at Internet Archive). The three works together remain the essential starting point for any historical research on the conquest period.
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Comment on Largest Israeli anti-War Rally since Gaza Campaign Began: 10,000 Protest in Tel Aviv by Danny

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Easy….let others carry your weight…if you won’t fight ..ok…but drive a truck or work as a medic..or clerk…cowards all

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Comment on 6 Things To Know If Police Stop You In The US by rabrophy

August 18th, 2014 No comments

“You have the right to get your ass kicked, anything the cop has can and will be used against you, you will be charged with anything the cop wants to charge you with and it will be validated by a court of law.”

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Comment on Largest Israeli anti-War Rally since Gaza Campaign Began: 10,000 Protest in Tel Aviv by Pronsaios MacConraoi

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Udi Segal,
You are a brave man and I 100% support you.
Pronsaios.

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Comment on Is Climate Change Making us Ill? by Carlos Aguirre

August 18th, 2014 No comments

Climate change will show its visible effects soon. At present it’s having its hidden effects.

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