Archive | December 2012

quick minx update and Happy Sylvester!!

If you are not my Ema, you might be bored by this post so read on with that caution 🙂 I love days when I have meetings with a string of really on the ball, intelligent, curious, and serious students. It just makes my whole day a good one, no matter how long or how tired I get.

I had far fewer students in class today than usual because it is Sylvester and international students tend to take today and tomorrow off. They are particularly unmotivated to attend classes that start at say 8:30 a.m. Naturally, today was the day for course evaluations.

Today, I also got to make a quick garden-store run (and I do mean run, quite literally, when I ended up with a 25 minute break). I was hoping they’d have some of those really small and super cheap-o already-started herb plants. Sadly, they didn’t. Instead, I got two really small and super cheap-o (1.5 sheks each) annual flower plants (no idea what they are called but they make gorgeous flowers that are a combination of deep purple and orange –at least, that is the colour combo that I chose). I got an expensive 8 shek oregano plant. I also bought a seed packet of lettuce since I’ve gone through the whole packet of the duds with only 4 very sickly plants and 3 healthy and nice ones to show for it. I’m trying a different variety this time, one that is more like a lettuce head rather than looser leaves, in hopes it will germinate better and got a packet of thyme seeds to try to make a border in the spring in the herb garden. The guy threw in a packet of Lobelia seeds that had busted open for free. Hey, trying to grow free flowers from seed will be worth it if even one manages to germinate and survive. I’ve never grown many flowers and definitely never Lobelia so it will be an adventure.

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help the garden minx design a front herb garden

I got to spend a bit of time out in the garden today, planting another round of mixed baby lettuce in a planter, starting some parsley seeds, and hopefully another 3 heads of loose-leaf lettuce (out of the 20 seeds I stuck in the little pots, let’s hope I’ll get 3!). I did some weeding around the garlic and onion that is ringing the rose bushes and was thrilled to see one of the rose bushes is just laden down with buds. Then I surveyed the front area where I am trying to start an herb garden.

The two rosemary cuttings have dug in and are looking very happy. Eventually they will grow to be like 3 feet high and a couple feet wide there by the wall but right now they are a measley 6 inches tall and single little spikes. About 3 feet over, I’ve got two lavender plants in front of some grass that I plan to take out. I actually like the grass part of the year as it grows up higher than the wall and waves about and looks quite pretty in the first few months of summer. The rest of the year, however, it just looks like a mess and seems to be a magnet for people tossing their trash into as they walk by. So, if it isn’t raining, tomorrow before Shabbat falls I plan to dig it out.

In total, I’ve got a space about 12 feet long and 3 feet wide that I can turn into herbal splendor. I’m hoping to get some suggestions about visually pleasing herbal groupings of plants — things you’ve found that look really nice nestled close to, in front of, or behind lavender, some nice groupings of high and low plants that draw the eye, plants that make particularly pleasing borders. I’ve looked at a lot of websites and pictures and gotten some good ideas but I’m still looking for more and personal experience is the best of all. The one limitation is that they must be plants that don’t need a whole lot of water and do well in non-compost-rich soil. Ideas please!

Lebanon calls for border to be closed to bar Syrians of Palestinian origin fleeing out of Syria

Syrian forces have killed more than 800 Palestinians in attacks on the Yarmouk ‘refugee’ village, causing most of the 50,000 “Palestinians” living there to flee. Given that most of the folks living in that village are 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation Syrian-born they could hardly be called refugees — until now. Now they are indeed refugees from their Syrian homeland. More than 3,000 have crossed the border into Lebanon, causing the Lebanese, who are not over-fond of the Palestinians except as political tools, to start taking steps to close the border so no more of them can come in.

As the Gatestone Institute reports

The Arab world, meanwhile, has done nothing to help the Palestinians in Syria.

The Arab League did not hold an emergency meeting to discuss what Palestinians described as “massacres” against the refugees in Yarmouk, home to some 50,000 people.

This is not the first time that Palestinians living in Arab countries find themselves caught in conflicts between rival parties. Those who meddle in the internal affairs of Arab countries should not be surprised when bombs start falling on their homes.

The Palestinians have a long history of involving themselves in the internal affairs of Arab countries and later complaining when they fall victim to violence. They complain they are being killed but not saying why they keep getting into trouble.

Palestinians are not always innocent victims. They bring tragedy on themselves and then want to blame everyone else but themselves.

In Syria, a Palestinian terrorist group called Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, which is headed by Ahmed Jibril, had been helping the Syrian regime in its attempts to suppress the opposition. Jibril’s terrorists are reported to have kidnapped, tortured and murdered hundreds of anti-regime Syrians over the past two years.

The last time an Arab army bombed a Palestinian refugee camp was in Lebanon. In 2007, the Lebanese army destroyed most of the Nahr al-Bared camp after another terrorist group, Fatah al-Islam set up bases there and attacked army checkpoints, killing several soldiers.

In the 70s and 80s, Palestinians played a major role in the Lebanon civil war, which claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people.

Pop over to Gatestone to read the rest of the report. Hat tip to Blazing Cat Fur one of my daily reads for news sites!

Go Mousie!!

In an ordinary month, Little Mouse would have already ceased to be able to eat anything, be it hard kibbles, wet food, pureed wet food, human baby food, or desperate Ema-made chicken broth. In an ordinary month, Little Mouse would have been at the vet two weeks ago for a steroid shot because the little cat hadn’t been able to eat for days. This is clearly not an ordinary month. Tzfu Tzfu, everyone knock on wood.

No, today Little Mouse was a connoisseur. He happily lapped up the gravy and a few select portions of the Famcy Feast his Ema gave him this morning and evening. In-between, he was noshing on the hard food kibbles almost as often as the next cat. Granted, he bellied up to the hard kibble bar more often than the others but ate less at each grazing. But he ate. He didn’t try a bite and then run gawping in pain away. Nor did he hiss and back away from his wet food buffet. I pried his mouth open for a check (yeah, I’ve got some war wounds as a result, yet another good sign because he is feisty enough to be like yo wat you doin’?). The ulceration that is usually out of control at this point is just starting in his mouth. He will need another steroid shot, but not yesterday and not today and maybe (hopefully) not for another week and maybe even two weeks further.

The bad news is that he has developed a lump at the injection site on the back of his neck. It is not an uncommon development but it may herald cancer. We don’t know and can’t find out because he can’t go under for a biopsy.

Obama gives cold shoulder to Christians and secular activists in Egypt

One of those Coptic Christian leaders and activists writes this over at Breitbart news:

Last July when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Egypt she was met with widespread protest from Coptic Christians and secular activists objecting to what they all believed was the Obama administration’s role in helping the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) ascend to power in Egypt.

The secretary had requested to meet with ten Christian leaders, myself included. All of those invited refused to meet with her and boycotted her visit. Most of us had been both publicly and privately warning members of Congress and the administration of the danger the Muslims Brotherhood poses and about their desire to turn Egypt into a theocratic Islamic fascist country. Yet we were ignored.

Going back to April 2007, Democrats made special efforts to link up with the MB when visiting then-House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., met with Dr. Saad el-Katatni, the MB’s parliamentary leader, at former U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s home, at a time when then-Secretary Condoleezza Rice has publicly refused to meet with the Brotherhood.

Mr. Ricciardone, who I can call a friend, once told me that his friendship with another MB leader, Essam El- Erain, extended for close to 30 years. Perhaps that was the catalyst for this meeting and subsequent meetings that took place at his residency.

A stream of meetings as well as public and private contacts followed between current U.S. Ambassador Ann Paterson and members of the Brotherhood since her arrival to Egypt shortly after the revolution. The ambassador seemed to favor the Brotherhood and the hardliner Salafis over the rest of the secular players in Egypt.

In fact, she has turned down requests for meetings from heads of political parties and other secular politicians, myself included, who opposed the Brotherhood.

In addition to the ambassador, other U.S. officials such as Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Sen. John Kerry made the pilgrimage to the MB headquarters and made sure to meet with their leader, Khairat El-Shater, at times even publicly praising him, as did Mr. Kerry. Those visits were made during a time where no political group had emerged as a leader in post-revolution Egypt.

The MBs used these high-level meetings to tell the Egyptian people that the U.S. was supporting them and did not object to their rule. Many of us reached out to U.S. officials at the State Department and complained that the U.S. policy regarding the MB was putting the secular forces in Egypt at a disadvantage because it seemed to be propping up the MB, but our concerns were dismissed.

We warned of the MB’s desire to impose Sharia law once in power and the grim effect it would have on the rights of the millions of Christians and moderate Muslims, including women and children, yet all of our warnings were dismissed. It seems that a policy decision was made to bring the MB to power in Egypt at all costs, and it happened.

After being in office for less than six months, President Morsi issued an edict exempting his decrees from judicial review, and he is now forcing Egyptians to vote on a constitution that would impose Sharia law, violate human rights and religious freedom of Christians, degrade women, regulate child labor, and kill the tourism industry for violating Islamic Sharia.

Many youths and a large portion of the Egyptian population responded to the president’s new powers and draft of the constitution by taking to the streets and surrounding the Presidential palace in protest.

Morsi then sent his own armed militia to attack the protesters with numerous weapons including shotguns, swords, and firebombs.

The Brotherhood militia killed ten people, wounded hundreds, and kidnapped top youth activists, then tortured them inside the presidential palace for two days before turning them over to the police.

As the Supreme Constitutional Court was poised to dissolve the constitutional assembly, Morsi again sent his Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi militias to besiege the courthouse and prevent the judges from entering the building.

Upon arrival, the judges were turned away by the militia after their lives had been threatened, and to this day the militias are still surrounding the courthouse preventing the judges from meeting.

The president wanted to prevent the court from dissolving the assembly until after he pushed the referendum through and the constitution became effective.

Morsi again sent his armed militia to burn down the opposition, Al-Wafd Party, headquarters in response to the opposition and media stepping up their protests and criticism of the constitution, which large numbers of Egyptians reject and view as a setback for freedom.

They demolished cars and fired shots at the Al-Wafd Party, which is the oldest secular party in Egypt.

Another set of Morsi’s militia besieged Media City where most of the independent TV channels are located.

The militia attacked TV anchors known to disagree with Morsi and prevented TV guests who are known to oppose Morsi from entering the city, so they could not appear on TV and criticize the referendum.

Simultaneously, another group within Morsi’s militia attacked the headquarters of newspapers known to oppose Morsi and the referendum.

The editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al-Watan went on TV to appeal to the president to stop his militia from attacking reporters and the newspaper building.

Through this all, President Obama’s comments essentially boiled down to, “This is an internal matter and we leave to the Egyptian people to sort out.”

What the Brotherhood are doing in Egypt is holding a gun to the head of their opposition to pass a constitution that so far failed to garner a greater support among Egyptians.

Once that becomes the law of the land, the race is on to turn Egypt into another theocracy headed by an Islamist fascist regime that soon after will threaten the security of the free world. At the heart of it is the Obama administration and its failed foreign policy, and what I see as the desire to destroy moderate Egypt and turn it over to the fanatic elements of the society, creating a monster that will turn on its creator.

Michael Meunier is the President of Al Haya Party in Egypt. He is the founder of the U.S. Copts Association and a democracy, human rights and religious freedom activists.

Yeah it is all Muslim Brotherhood all the time over there in the Obama administration.

For a good analysis of what is going on over in Egypt right now, check out this new post from the Egyptian Sandmonkey: The Powers That Be

Build, Bibi, build

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Tuesday to keep building in the capital city of Jerusalem. “With God’s help we will continue to live and build in Jerusalem, which will continue to stand undivided under Israeli sovereignty,” he said.

Sarit Hadad, one of my fav singers, played at the event. Lieberman, in turn, addressed the settlement issue as well.

“We have one dispute with the global community,” he said. “This dispute is about the construction in Jerusalem and in the settlement blocks. This is why we need a united and strong government that can withstand the pressure.

“This is the difference between us and the Left,” he said. “We want to build up Jerusalem, while they want to divide it.”

Another 1500 apartments were approved in a neighborhood of Jerusalem this week and most excellent news of all is the final approval giving Ariel University full approval to be a university. It is a well-deserved distinction and very long past due.

Yeah, it is time for a bit of Sarit’s Celebration (Hagiga)

Japanese voters prove more intelligent than U.S. voters

Japanese voters had been on a similar course as the U.S. They had a conservative Prime Minister in office during the same period Bush was in office in the U.S. and, just as U.S. voters went for the liberal side with Obama in ’08, so too did the Japanese vote in their liberal party. Unlike U.S. voters who voted to continue the U.S. economic decline and the decline of their country’s power on the world stage with the re-election of Obama, Japanese voters have now chucked their liberals out. They are determined to revive their economy and re-assert their strength in the region. They’ve voted in a conservative who is pro-business and who has promised to deal with a swelling national debt and come up with a recovery plan following last year’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crises.

Conservative Shinzo Abe has also stressed his desire to make Japan a bigger player on the world stage, a stance that has resonated with many voters who are concerned that their nation is taking a back seat economically and diplomatically to China. Abe has vowed to stand up to Beijing over an ongoing territorial dispute.