Saturday, January 31, 2009

Terrorism, Sacrifice, and Life Everlasting

"Return with your shield or on it."---Thucydides reports that this was every Spartan woman's farewell to her son or husband as he left for war. It means "win or die." The shields were very heavy, and a warrior could not flee the enemy unless he threw down his shield and ran.

Today I read an interesting article posted on a site called Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. The article was titled "Terrorism, Sacrifice and Life Everlasting: Uncommon Insights for President Barack Obama" (1-21-09).

Author Louis Rene Beres of Purdue University writes:

Dealing with terrorism will be at the very top of our new president’s agenda. Here it is important that he understand something odd. The core basis of Jihadist terror has little if anything to do with strategy and tactics. Rather, it is “normally” an expression of religious sacrifice.

The links between sacrifice and politics have a long history.

President Obama should look first to ancient Greece. Plutarch's SAYINGS OF SPARTAIN MOTHERS reveals the female parent as one who rears her sons for civic sacrifice. This mother was always relieved to learn that a son had died "in a manner worthy of his self, his country and his ancestors." Indeed, those Spartan sons who failed to live up to this standard of sacrifice were reviled.

One woman, whose son had been the sole survivor of a disastrous military engagement, killed him with a tile. It was the correct punishment for his apparent cowardice. The eighteenth-century philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, citing to Plutarch, described a certain citizen-mother as follows: "A Spartan woman had five sons in the army and was awaiting news of the battle. A Helot (slave) arrives trembling; she asks him for the news. `Your five sons were killed.' `Base slave, did I ask you that?' The slave responds: `We won the victory.' The mother runs to the temple and gives thanks to the gods."

Why recount these tales from ancient Sparta about sacrifice? What have they to do with current threats of terrorism against the United States? Why should they matter to President Barack Obama?

History speaks volumes. The roots of Jihadist terror originate, in part, from cultures that embrace similar views of sacrifice. In these cultures, however, the true purpose of sacrifice goes far beyond civic necessity. Here, sacrificial practice is a determinably sacred expression of religion. In these cultures, sacrifice derives from a desperately hoped-for conquest of personal death. Above all, with such practice, the Jihadist terrorist hopes to realize an otherwise unattainable promise of immortality.

The Jihadist terrorist insistently claims to “love death,” but this is a lie. Paradoxically, he ecstatically kills himself and innocent others only to ensure that he will live forever. The so-called “death” that he expects to suffer in “suicide” is merely a momentary inconvenience on every martyr’s fiery path to life everlasting.

“Martyrdom” operations have always been associated with Jihad. After all, unequivocal and celebratory invocations for such killing can be found in the Koran (9:111), and, even more explicitly, in the canonical hadith.

For President Obama, the survival implications of this doctrinal fusion of religion and violence warrant very careful study. Convinced that Shahada (“Death for Allah”) violence against the United States will lead to martyrdom, the Islamist terrorist can never be deterred by ordinary threats of reprisal and retaliation. Falling outside the usual boundaries of “rationality,” Jihadist terrorism should compel us to seek very different and more purposeful measures of dissuasion. This means that to keep America safe, President Obama will have to look well beyond orthodox military and political solutions to terrorism.

It still appears to most observers that Jihadist terrorists are unafraid of death. But nothing could be further from the truth. It is precisely their unique and overwhelming terror of death that leads these killers to “suicide.” Ironically, because dying in the act of killing “infidels” and “apostates” is presumed to buy freedom from the penalty of death, these terrorists aim to conquer mortality by “killing themselves.”

...For so many of our terrorist enemies, both individuals and states, killing Americans offers an optimal immunization against death. The death fear of the enemy "ego" is lessened by the killing, the sacrifice, of the infidel. This generic idea has been captured by Ernest Becker's paraphrase of Elias Canetti: "Each organism raises its head over a field of corpses, smiles into the sun, and declares life good."

The Jihadist enemies of America do not intend to do evil. Rather, they commit to the killing of Americans and other “infidels” with conviction and purity of heart. Perversely sanctified killers, these enemies will gleefully generate an incessant search for “profane” victims. Though mired in blood, this search will be tranquil and self-assured, born of the presumption that its warrior perpetrators are neither infamous not shameful, but sacrificial and sacred. [See the full text.]

FBI Severs Its Ties to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (C.A.I.R.)

Fox News (1-21-09) reports:

The FBI is severing its once-close ties with the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, amid mounting evidence that it has links to a support network for Hamas.

All local chapters of CAIR have been shunned in the wake of a 15-year FBI investigation that culminated with the conviction in December of Hamas fundraisers at a trial where CAIR itself was listed as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The U.S. government has designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

An official at the FBI's headquarters in Washington confirmed to FOX News that his office directed FBI field offices across the country to cut ties with local branches of CAIR.

In Oklahoma, FBI officials had worked with CAIR's local branch from its founding in 2007 and attended the fundraising banquet that launched the office. But just over a year later, the local FBI froze all its programs involving CAIR. has obtained an Oct. 8, 2008, letter sent by James E. Finch, special agent in charge of Oklahoma City, canceling a session with local Muslim organizations "as a result of the planned participation by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)."

Click here to read the letter, which was provided by the watchdog group the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

The new policy marks a major shift for the FBI, which has long been close to CAIR. The agency has previously invited CAIR to give training sessions for agents and used it as a liaison with the American Muslim community.

CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, attended a post-Sept. 11 meeting with then-FBI director Robert Mueller, and he met with other top brass as recently as 2006. But that was before Awad was shown to have participated in planning meetings with the Holy Land Foundation, five officials of which were convicted in December of funneling $12.4 million to Hamas.

Click here to see the government's evidence in the Holy Land Foundation case.

Prosecutors identified CAIR's chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmad, as an unindicted co-conspirator in that trial, and Special Agent Lara Burns testified that CAIR was a front group for radical organizations operating in the U.S.

CAIR denies that it conspired in the case and has sued unsuccessfully to have its name removed from the list of co-conspirators. It also is protesting the FBI's decision to sever relations. [See the full text]

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Missing Bosnian Girl Found after 16 Years

Disappeared Bosnian Muslim Baby Reappears in a Serbian Family 16 Years Later: "Long-lost Senida Becirovic [above] points to her name on the list of the disappeared."

"[I]n May 1992, a Serbian soldier -- no one knows his name or fate-- heard a baby crying in a burned-out house in the Bosnian village of Caparde. He took pity and saved the child, handing her over to a local ethnic-Serbian family."--RFE/RL (1-14-09)

Often I write about how the communist-influenced American Indian Movement (AIM) attacked, pillaged, and demolished the South Dakota village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in February 1973. A short history of the AIM can be found on the website of Joseph and John Trimbach, who have written the authoritative history of the AIM titled American Indian Mafia. According to Indian journalists, AIM "disappeared" about thirteen people during the occupation of Wounded Knee.

The Bosnian child Senida (above) has been found alive, but the remains of some of AIM's victims have never been found and are believed to be buried near the village of Wounded Knee. The assault on this small Indian village happened in 1973, not in the long-ago days of the "wild west." So far, nobody has come forward to tell the families where their loved ones are buried.

In 1985, AIM propagandist Ward Churchill published a fabricated story in the KGB-sponsored propaganda mouthpiece, Covert Action Information Bulletin, alleging that FBI-backed death squads had murdered 342 Indians. In those years, the KGB often arranged for fabricated stories to be published about the FBI, CIA, and U.S. Army.

The AIM lawyer, Mark Lane, turned out to be collaborating with KGB journalists such as Genrikh Borovik, according to Vasili Mitrokhin, a Russian defector who had worked in the archives of the KGB.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (1-14-09) reports on what happened when Serbian forces were turned loose on a Bosnian village in 1992:

One morning in May 1992, a teacher in Bosnia-Herzegovina named Muhamed Becirovic had driven 20 kilometers to the town of Tuzla, where he taught in a high school. He had plans for the evening, but couldn't return home to his village after work.

During the day, Serbian forces occupied the village, cutting Becirovic off from his wife, two daughters -- 2-year-old Saida and her 9-month-old baby sister Senida -- and four other close relatives.

He heard loud explosions, on TV he saw that tanks were moving in, and he heard a TV anchor saying that Muslims there were running from Serbian troops and "fleeing to the hills and forests." His village, Caparde, was one of the first villages to be overwhelmed. When he finally returned home, he house had been demolished and his family had disappeared. Some villagers were killed on the spot and others were taken away and never seen again.

By 1996, after four years without any news of his family, Becirovic lost hope and fled the war-torn country after being injured. He ended up in Germany.

That same day in May 1992, a Serbian soldier -- no one knows his name or fate-- heard a baby crying in a burned-out house in the Bosnian village of Caparde. He took pity and saved the child, handing her over to a local ethnic-Serbian family.

That family, though, could not afford to keep the child and she ended up in a local Red Cross center. The following year, in 1993, she was adopted by the family of Zivka and Zivan Jankovic, moved to Belgrade, and was given the name Mila Jankovic.

But the Jankovics were elderly and poor, and in 2006, Mila found herself once again in the care of the Red Cross. And that was when the 14-year-old girl, who had always known that she had been adopted, began a two-year search to find her real parents.

That quest ended six months ago, in May 2008. Exactly 16 years after Muhamed Becirovic lost his family, the phone rang in his home in Germany. DNA tests, he was told, had established that Mila was his missing daughter Senida. He wept for joy that his daughter was still alive, even as he wept with grief for the other six family members who remain listed as missing, presumed dead. [Full Text]

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Iranian Spokesman Claims the Holocaust Is a Big Lie

"In late 2005 [Iran's President] Ahmadinejad branded the Holocaust a 'myth.' His comment was followed by a conference in Tehran in 2006 that brought together Holocaust deniers and revisionists."--Breitbart (1-27-09)

President Obama wants to tell people whom they should listen to, and he also complains that Americans don't listen. The President scolds the Republicans and suggests that they don't listen to him because they are listening to Rush Limbaugh. President Obama is a really condescending person to assume people can't think for themselves. It is possible to listen to and disagree with President Obama even if one does not listen to Rush Limbaugh.

CNS News (1-27-09) reports:

“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” Obama said to Republican leaders who met with the president to talk about the stimulus package.

Besides listening to him, President Obama apparently thinks that our government should listen to and "get engaged" with "all major parties" in the Middle East. Does that mean that we should listen to conspiracy theorists in the Middle East like Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, shown above?

Yahoo News (1-26-09) reports on an interview taped Monday by the Dubai-based Arabic cable TV network, Al-Arabiya:

Obama said he felt it important to "get engaged right away" in the Mideast and had directed Mitchell to talk to "all the major parties involved." His administration would craft an approach after that, he said in the interview.

"What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Obama told the interviewer.

Really? It seems to me that it is the official media and the fanatics in Muslim countries who are dictating to their own people. It also seems to me that some leaders in Muslim countries need enemies because they are demagogues who appeal to hatred and prejudice.

Was President Obama's former minister Rev. Jeremiah Wright expressing the views of black people when he spread the long-discredited KGB lie that the U.S. Army made AIDS to kill black people? I listened to that filth and decided that I was just listening to a vicious KGB mouthpiece who deceived his congregation and spread hatred and mistrust.

According to a writer named Dr. Jack Cashill, the Weather Underground terrorist-bomber Professor Bill Ayers had a hand in writing President Obama's 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father.

Before he goes on Arab television and informs the Arab world that Americans don't listen, I think that the President should go on American television and either confirm or deny Dr. Cashill's allegations. President Obama says Americans don't listen, but I'd like to listen to the President personally and plainly confirm or deny that the communist bomber Bill Ayers had a hand in writing his autobiography Dreams from My Father.

Here is Tuesday's racist conspiracy theory from an Iranian spokesman named Gholam Hossein Elham as reported by Iran's official press agency IRNA, in case President Obama wants to listen to this filth:

Iran's government spokesman on Tuesday branded the Holocaust a "big lie" created to place the Islamic republic's arch-foe Israel in the Middle East, the state IRNA news agency reported.

"The Holocaust is a concept coming from a big lie in order to settle a rootless regime in the heart of the Islamic world," Gholam Hossein Elham told a conference on Gaza in central Iran's religious city of Qom.

It was not the first time an Iranian official has questioned the massacre of Jews by Nazis in World War II.

Iran does not recognise Israel, and since his election in 2005 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has attracted international condemnation by repeatedly predicting that the Jewish state is doomed to disappear.

In late 2005 Ahmadinejad branded the Holocaust a "myth." His comment was followed by a conference in Tehran in 2006 that brought together Holocaust deniers and revisionists.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

KGB Propaganda About AIDS as a Biological Weapon

"[KGB foreign intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices."--Izvestia (3-19-92)

In the fall of 1987, reputable Soviet scientists disputed the KGB's propaganda about AIDS in the pages of Izvestia. The Soviet scientists didn't want their profession to be misused in the service of the anti-scientific KGB propaganda.

The New York Times (11-5-87) reported:

Soviet scientists have disavowed charges in the Soviet-sponsored press that the AIDS virus was artificially cultivated at a secret American military base.

The scientists, Roald Sagdeyev and Vitali Goldansky, publicly distanced the Soviet Academy of Sciences from the accusations about American responsibility for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. They said they had protested the appearance of Soviet articles that repeated those contentions.

The disavowal was contained in Izvestia, the Soviet government newspaper, on Friday. The timing of the article by the scientists suggested that it had been written in response to complaints raised by Secretary of State George P. Shultz in an Oct. 23 meeting with Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, about Soviet discussion of the AIDS issue...

Charles Redman, a spokesman for the State Department, said the United States welcomed ''this authoritative Soviet disavowal of the false charges that the U.S. is responsible for the creation of the AIDS virus.''

''We note in particular that this disavowal appeared in the official Soviet press.'' [See full text.]

In 1992, the KGB foreign intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov openly admitted to an audience of Russian college students who were considering an intelligence career that the KGB had circulated propaganda that falsely claimed that the U.S. Army made AIDS to kill black people. [For the motives behind Primakov's frank admission to the students see here.]

This is the same kind of lie that NAZI propagandists told when they claimed that Jews carried diseases. This lie is no different than the Medieval anti-Semitic canard that Jews poison the Christians' wells with plague.

More recently, the Russian Communist Gennady Zyuganov tried to blame bird flu on the U.S., although Russians scientists disagree. Scientific information about bird flu can be found at the Voice of America in many different languages, including Russian. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also maintains an excellent Pandemic Flu site.

The discredited former professor Ward Churchill circulated similar lies when he fabricated claims that the U.S. Army deliberately infected the Mandan Indians with Smallpox. Ward Churchill writes historical fabrications designed to discredit the FBI, too. For example, the ex-professor wrote in the KGB-sponsored Covert Action Information Bulletin that the FBI backed death squads that killed 342 Indians. More information about the history of the KGB's AIDS disinformation campaign can be found by searching AIDS, Brent Anderson, Primakov, or Rev. Wright on this blog and scrolling down.

The State Department (1-14-2005) has posted information about the AIDS disinformation campaign on its Chinese Embassy site (Dead link, but see here):


AIDS as a Biological Weapon

Allegations suggest that AIDS virus fabricated by United States

When the AIDS disease was first recognized in the early 1980s, its origins were a mystery. A deadly new disease had suddenly appeared, with no obvious explanation of what had caused it. In such a situation, false rumors and misinformation naturally arose, and Soviet disinformation specialists exploited this situation as well as the musings of conspiracy theorists to help shape their brief but highly effective disinformation campaign on this issue.

The Beginning of Misinformation and Disinformation

In March 1992, then-Russian intelligence chief and later Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov admitted that the disinformation service of the Soviet KGB had concocted the false story that the AIDS virus had been created in a US military laboratory as a biological weapon. The Russian newspaper Izvestiya reported on March 19, 1992:

"[Primakov] mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices."

The Soviets eventually abandoned the AIDS disinformation campaign under pressure from the U.S. government in August 1987.

The Real Origins of AIDS

In the mid-1980s, there was still considerable confusion about how AIDS had developed, although scientists universally agreed that it was a naturally occurring disease, not one that was man-made. In the intervening years, science has done much to solve this mystery. There is now strong scientific evidence that the AIDS virus originated as a subspecies of a virus that commonly infects the western equatorial African chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes troglodytes. An article in the February 4, 1999, issue of Nature magazine called "Origin of HIV-1 in the chimpanzee Pan troglodytes troglodytes," explained how scientists used mitochondrial DNA analysis to determine that "all HIV-1 strains known to infect man" were closely related to a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) found in the Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzee. The article also notes that the natural range of Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzees "coincides precisely with the areas of HIV-1 group endemicity." The less common HIV-2, which also causes AIDS, had previously been determined to be related to a virus infecting another African primate, the sooty mangebey.

Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama and her colleagues made this discovery after analyzing frozen blood and tissue samples from four chimpanzees, including a lab chimp named Marilyn, which had died in 1985. Modern tests for HIV reactivity were not available at that time, and Marilyn's tissue and blood samples were rediscovered only in 1998, making the new analysis possible.

Dr. Hahn and her colleagues estimate that SIV may have existed in Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzees for as long as several hundred thousand years. Although it can not be known with certainty how the virus gained a foothold in humans, hunting chimpanzees for food, which is common in west equatorial Africa, could have provided a source for transmission from chimpanzees to humans.

Other scientific discoveries place the oldest known human case of HIV as occurring in 1959. A February 5, 1998, article in Nature, "An African HIV-1 sequence from 1959 and implications for the origin of the epidemic," reported that a plasma sample obtained in early 1959 from an adult Bantu male living in what is now Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRG) had tested positive for HIV-1.

In 2000, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory used their powerful supercomputers to analyze the relationships among various strains of HIV-1. Their calculations showed that the main HIV-1 virus probably established itself in humans in about 1930, as explained in an article in the June 8, 2000, issue of Science magazine called, "Timing the Ancestor of the HIV-1 Pandemic Strains."

"Thus, although a simian immunodeficiency virus appears to have existed for very long periods of time in Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzees, it did not lead to a pandemic in humans before the 20th century. The beginnings of modernization and urbanization in western equatorial Africa in the early 1900s may have contributed to the rise of the AIDS pandemic. Between 1900 and 1961, the population of what is now Kinshasa, DRC increased approximately 100 times, from a few thousand in 1900 to 420,000 in 1961. This exponential growth in urbanization and related dislocations of traditional rural life may have led to conditions that were conducive to the spread of AIDS. Such possibilities are explored at greater length in an article "Origin of HIV Type 1 in Colonial French Equatorial Africa?" published in the journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (volume 16, number 1, 2000, pp. 5-8)."

Thus, it is clear that:

-HIV-1, the virus that caused the AIDS pandemic, could not be man-made because direct evidence shows that AIDS has existed in humans at least since 1959 and scientific analysis shows that it was probably present some 75 years ago, which is long before humans had the means to genetically engineer microbes.

-HIV-1 is very closely related to a similar virus found in equatorial West African chimpanzees

-The scientific evidence indicates that the HIV-1 virus resulted from cross-species transmission, which is known to occur in other human diseases, including influenza, plague, tuberculosis, and many other diseases, especially since this species of virus has a strong predilection for frequent mutation, making adoption to humans relatively easy.

-Social and economic conditions in western equatorial Africa changed dramatically in the 20th century, which could explain why the AIDS pandemic emerged at this time and not previously.

Created: January 14, 2005

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Billy Ayers Comments on the Authorship of President Obama's 1995 Autobiography, "Dreams from My Father"

"[Barack Obama] is a talented and well-educated and erudite and articulate guy and he wrote two really brilliant and well-written memoirs. But somebody [Jack Cashill] did a textual analysis that proved that the nautical images in Fugitive Days were similar to [Obama's Dreams from My Father] and I was the ghostwriter...It's amazing where the paranoid mind can take you."---Weather Underground Terrorist Billy Ayers (Salon 11-17-08, page 2)

Billy Ayers didn't flatly deny that he had a hand in Obama's book. He just called Dr. Jack Cashill paranoid.

President Obama says that he is for transparency. Will he make a public statement affirming or denying that Billy Ayers had a hand in writing his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father?

Meet Billy Ayers' Canadian Mouthpiece Marina Jimenez

"[Barack Obama] is a talented and well-educated and erudite and articulate guy and he wrote two really brilliant and well-written memoirs. But somebody [Jack Cashill] did a textual analysis that proved that the nautical images in Fugitive Days were similar to [Obama's Dreams from My Father] and I was the ghostwriter...It's amazing where the paranoid mind can take you."---Weather Underground Terrorist Billy Ayers (Salon 11-17-08, page 2)

This a a photo of a Toronto Globe and Mail reporter named Marina Jimenez. She writes on immigration issues. She wrote an article (1-19-09) that claims that the Weather Underground terrorist Billy Ayers was refused entry into Canada on Saturday, January 17, 2009. The article quoted Billy Ayers and his crew, but we haven't heard what the Canadian authorities say happened.

The Chicago Tribune (1-19-09) writes:

Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Anna Page said the agency couldn't comment on the case because of privacy laws. Page said any traveler coming to Canada needs to satisfy a border services agency officer about their admissibility.

I think maybe Jimenez has now changed/updated her Globe and Mail (1-19-09) article. The article now claims that Ayers was refused entry once before in 2005, but I am almost certain that this information was not in the earlier version of her article. The point of the earlier version was that Billy had been permitted to enter Canada a dozen times with no problems.

Maybe the Canadian writer Stephen Taylor (1-20-09) [also posted on his blog] showed Ms. Jimenez that Billy wrote an article claiming that he had problems entering Canada in 2005.

I think that Ms. Jimenez and Mr. Taylor should really consider the possibility that Billy Ayers has never been refused entry into Canada. Since the Canadian government can't comment, Billy might be fabricating these stories about being refused entry just to make himself into a martyr.

You really can't believe Billy Ayers. He lies. See my earlier posts about this mystery here and here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Canadian Media Cites Bill Ayers' Own Admissions That His Troubles with Canadian Border Security Are a Common Occurrence [UPDATE: But Are They?]

UPDATE: I think it is possible that the terrorist drama queen Billy Ayers just claims he has problems at the Canadian border. We only have Billy's word that he was refused entry into Canada.

Earlier today I posted an article about how the Weather Underground terrorist Billy Ayers was refused entry into Toronto, Canada on Saturday, January 17, 2009. Billy told the mainstream media that he had been to Canada a dozen times and didn't know why he had been refused entry. He claimed the Canadians had information that he was convicted of a 1969 felony. Now turns out that Billy's own Internet post claims that he has often had problems when entering Canada.

Probably the self-absorbed, melodramatic Billy was just making a fuss this time so he could bask in the reflected limelight of Obama's inauguration. Typically, when Billy has had difficulties at the Canadian border, it hasn't been a mainstream media story; and Billy has been reduced to grandstanding about his "martydom" on a pathetic little Internet site/blog.

According to Billy's 2005 post he claims that he always has problems entering Canada. He claims he was previously refused entry in 2005 because the Canadians have false information that he was convicted of "assault with a deadly weapon," a felony, in 1969. Of course, we don't really know what is true. We just know Billy lies. It would be good if the newspapers asked the Canadian government for their side of the story. Billy may be making up a lot.

A few years ago, Billy Ayers (7--16-05) wrote:

On July 2, 2005 I took a flight from Chicago to western Canada where I was scheduled to give a lecture to a group of teachers at the University of Calgary. Clearing customs, I was directed to Immigration where a growing line of anxious or impatient arrivals -- mostly dark-skinned, mostly young, I the glaring exception -- awaited further examination.

This has become a common-place for me whenever I travel to Canada -- I'm always diverted and delayed, always questioned about my anticipated length of stay and the nature of my business, always double-checked. Whenever I've asked why I'm being subjected to this special treatment, the reply has always been the same: "Just a routine check."

It's struck me as odd, though, since I've never warranted even a second look entering Beijing or Frankfurt, Cape Town or Santiago. Why Canada? Why me? I was never able to get beyond the bureaucratic stonewall. Until now.

I stood before Immigration Officer 1767 -- a man in his mid-thirties with a stubble of beard, slumping shoulders and intense eyes -- as he peered at his computer screen. Shortly, he rose and excused himself in order to "look some things up" in a separate back room. When he returned he had several pages of what looked like computer print-out in his hands. He took his seat in the booth, looked up at me, and added, "What's Students for a Democratic Society?"

I explained that SDS was a student group devoted to peace and participatory democracy. "Are you still a member?" he asked, and, having never technically resigned, I replied that I was.

"You have quite an arrest record," he went on, and I explained that, yes, I did, but every arrest was linked to a political demonstration, and that all of my encounters resulted merely in misdemeanors like "disturbing the peace" or "mob action," vague charges designed to cover a multitude of affirmative acts or sins as the case may be. "Almost all," he corrected. "There's a conviction here in 1969 for assault with a deadly weapon -- a felony."

It couldn't be true, I said. I don't have any felony convictions whatsoever, in 1969 or any other time. "My records say otherwise," he said. It’s a mistake, I replied. He consulted a large book of regulations and said, "That conviction would bring a ten-year prison term in Canada. I can’t admit you."

If you compare what Billy told the media after he was refused entry to Canada on Saturday with what he has written on the Internet, it is easy to see that Billy is a pathological liar and a publicity hound. He may also be a dangerous person.

The Weather Underground is suspected in bombings that caused injuries and deaths. The names of Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn came up during the reopened investigation into the 1970 bombing that killed Brian McDonnell and blinded another policeman. Dohrn seems to have been complicit in the 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck near New York City. A security guard and two policemen died that day.

A Canadian writer named Stephen Taylor (1-20-09) [originally posted on his blog] had this to say:

Stephen Taylor: Canada says no to Bill Ayers. Why the shock?

Today, American radical William Ayers was denied entry to Canada. Here’s the an excerpt from the article on the story in the Globe and Mail:

William Ayers, a distinguished education professor from the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he was perplexed and disappointed when the Canada Border Services Agency declared him inadmissible at the Toronto City Centre Airport on Sunday evening.
He said he has travelled to Canada more than a dozen times in the past.

“It seems very arbitrary,” he said. “The border agent said I had a conviction for a felony from 1969. I have several arrests for misdemeanours, but not for felonies.”

According to the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship website, a decision to keep Ayers out of Canada would not have been made arbitrarily,

“Some people are inadmissible—they are not allowed to come to Canada. Several things can make you inadmissible, including involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations or in organized crime. You can also be inadmissible for security, health or financial reasons.”

Just in case you’re wondering about the sort of criminal activity Ayers has been involved with, look no further than a New York Times piece coincidentally published on September 11th 2001,

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.” Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings.

In his book Fugitive Days, Ayers writes about bombings he participated in which included the US Capitol Building and the Pentagon. So, now that we have reviewed a partial record of criminal activity of Mr. Ayers, why would he be so “perplexed” at CBSA’s refusal to admit him to Canada. In fact, in a blog posting by Ayers, the former leader of the Weather Underground writes of a similar experience with Canadian border service officials when he was previously denied entry to Canada,

[The CBSA official] handed me a form called “Allowed to Leave Canada” and asked me to sign under, “I hereby voluntarily withdraw my application to enter Canada. . . .” I, of course, refused.

After an hour in a holding area, he fetched me and escorted me back through security and US customs, where agents from both sides of the border shared a collegial laugh. As we made our way to the next plane to the US, officer 1767 assured me: “I’m not denying entry into Canada on the basis of your membership in Students for a Democratic Society.” I thought of the chorus from Leonard Cohen’s “The Patriot”: “Ah the wind, the wind is blowing.”

I was first on the plane, seen to my seat by my escort, and my passport returned. The times they are a’changing

Ayers’ trouble with CBSA officials seems to be a common occurrence according to his blog post,

“This has become a common-place for me whenever I travel to Canada — I’m always diverted and delayed, always questioned about my anticipated length of stay and the nature of my business, always double-checked. Whenever I’ve asked why I’m being subjected to this special treatment, the reply has always been the same: ‘Just a routine check.’”

Note that this rejected entry into Canada that he describes in his blog post happened in 1995, long before Barack Obama had been suggested to have links with Ayers, long before Obama’s political campaign and long before GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin suggested that Ayers was a “terrorist”. Therefore, this accusation by the man who arranged for Ayers to come to Canada today is moot,

Jeffrey Kugler, executive director of the Centre for Urban Schooling, is deeply disappointed in the turn of events. For him it’s a question of academic freedom. “It’s kind of ironic the day before Barack Obama is going to become president this is what the Canadian border security has done,” said Kugler. “It seems ridiculous that one university can’t have a professor from another university to come and give a lecture on an important educational topic.”

In a CBC interview today on As It Happens, Ayers was interviewed and he was unapologetic for his “illegal actions” during his time in the Weather Underground and to this day calls his acts “appropriate”.

What were his “appropriate” acts? In his own words,

“The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.”

Seems fairly clear, doesn’t it? Though Ayers was never convicted of any crime, he has admitted to having committed criminal activity. The CBSA has previously denied Ayers. However, if you see this as open and shut, you don’t share the bizarre logic of the NDP. Here is Olivia Chow’s press release on today’s events,

New Democrat Citizenship and Immigration Critic Olivia Chow calls on the Minister of Immigration and Minister of Public Safety to allow educational theorist, Bill Ayers entry into Canada.

Bill Ayers was denied entry into Canada Monday where he was scheduled to speak on education reform at the University of Toronto.

“Canada must respect academic freedom and allow Bill Ayers to share his insights on reforming our education system” said Olivia Chow. “At-risk children deserve policies that produce equality in academic outcomes and deserve to gain high academic achievements. The decision to ban Bill Ayers must be reversed.”

When Bill Ayers became a household name during the last election and after his criminal acts were described to the American electorate, Barack Obama wouldn’t touch the man with a ten foot pole. Now, the NDP goes out of their way to speak out against the Canadian rule of law barring the admittance of a self-declared domestic terrorist.

National Post

Stephen Taylor is a scientist, political analyst and a Fellow at the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, an institute founded by Preston Manning. Read more at his blog,

Al Qaeda Experiment with Unconventional Weapons Goes Awry

"An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry...We don't know if this is biological or chemical."---a senior U.S. intelligence official

Yesterday, I posted a story about 40 Al Qaeda fighters in Algeria reportedly dying from the plague. Today, the information is a bit different.

The Washington Times (1-20-09) and FOX News (1-20-09) are reporting that an Algerian branch of Al Qaeda may have had an accident with an unconventional weapon.

The Washington Times (1-20-09) reports:

An al Qaeda affiliate in Algeria closed a base earlier this month after an experiment with unconventional weapons went awry, a senior U.S. intelligence official said Monday.

The official, who spoke on the condition he not be named because of the sensitive nature of the issue, said he could not confirm press reports that the accident killed at least 40 al Qaeda operatives, but he said the mishap led the militant group to shut down a base in the mountains of Tizi Ouzou province in eastern Algeria.

He said authorities in the first week of January intercepted an urgent communication between the leadership of al Qaeda in the Land of the Maghreb (AQIM) and al Qaeda's leadership in the tribal region of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan. The communication suggested that an area sealed to prevent leakage of a biological or chemical substance had been breached, according to the official.

"We don't know if this is biological or chemical," the official said.

The story was first reported by the British tabloid the Sun, which said the al Qaeda operatives died after being infected with a strain of bubonic plague, the disease that killed a third of Europe's population in the 14th century. But the intelligence official dismissed that claim....

Al Qaeda is believed by U.S. and Western experts to have been pursuing biological weapons since at least the late 1990s. A 2005 report on unconventional weapons drafted by a commission led by former Sen. Charles Robb, Virginia Democrat, and federal appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman concluded that al Qaeda's biological weapons program "was extensive, well organized and operated two years before the Sept. 11" terror attacks in the U.S.

Another report from the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, released in December, warned that "terrorists are more likely to be able to obtain and use a biological weapon than a nuclear weapon." [Full text]

Canada Refuses Weather Underground Bomber William Ayers Entry! [UPDATE: Says Billy Ayers!]

"[Barack Obama] is a talented and well-educated and erudite and articulate guy and he wrote two really brilliant and well-written memoirs. But somebody [Jack Cashill] did a textual analysis that proved that the nautical images in Fugitive Days were similar to [Obama's Dreams from My Father] and I was the ghostwriter...It's amazing where the paranoid mind can take you."---Weather Underground Terrorist Billy Ayers (Salon 11-17-08, page 2)

UPDATE: Bill Ayers damns himself out of his own mouth. He just told the Canadian MSM that he didn't know why he had been refused entry into Canada, but he has written on the Internet that he often has problems at the Canadian border! He claims that he knows the reason: the Canadians have false information that he was convicted of a 1969 felony. Really, you can't believe anything Bill Ayers says. I think it is even possible that the terrorist drama queen Billy Ayers just claims he has problems at the Canadian border. We only have Billy's word that he was refused entry at the Canadian border.

Ayers (7-16-05) wrote:

On July 2, 2005 I took a flight from Chicago to western Canada where I was scheduled to give a lecture to a group of teachers at the University of Calgary. Clearing customs, I was directed to Immigration where a growing line of anxious or impatient arrivals -- mostly dark-skinned, mostly young, I the glaring exception -- awaited further examination.

This has become a common-place for me whenever I travel to Canada -- I'm always diverted and delayed, always questioned about my anticipated length of stay and the nature of my business, always double-checked. Whenever I've asked why I'm being subjected to this special treatment, the reply has always been the same: "Just a routine check."

Original post:

The Weather Underground terrorist-bomber and University of Illinios at Chicago Professor of Education Bill Ayers [scroll down to read all posts, especially about the bombing murder of Brian McDonnell] was refused entry into Toronto, Canada on Saturday night (1-17-09) because Canadian border security reportedly considered him a security risk. I wonder why Canada is refusing Ayers entry just before the inauguation of Mr. Barack Obama? Maybe they know something we don't know.

Ayers, who has a sense of humor, reportedly complained to Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper that he "has travelled to Canada more than a dozen times in the past," but he's not doing that anymore! Finally, change I can believe in!

It's interesting that this is happening right before the inauguration, because the writer Dr. Jack Cashill believes that Bill Ayers ghostwrote parts of President-Elect Obama's biography Dreams From My Father.

Even though I don't like to believe this accusation is true, I think Dr. Cashill has a point because---like Bill Ayers---I have read Obama's "brilliant" book Dreams from My Father. The tone, style, imagery, diction, descriptions, and incidents in this book do echo Ayers' dishonest but well-written book Fugitive Days.

Bill Ayers mocked Dr. Cashill's theory as "paranoid" but did not flatly deny that he had a hand in the book's creation. I wonder if our incoming President will flatly either admit or deny that he had help with his autobiography from the infamous communist bomber Bill Ayers. If its true, he should come clean right away and explain what's going on. I certainly understand how the charming sociopath Bill Ayers manipulates people.

Fox News (1-19-09) writes:

William Ayers, the 1960s radical whose ties to President-elect Barack Obama caused trouble for his campaign, was turned away from Canada Sunday night as he tried to enter the country for a series of educational events.

Jeffrey Kugler, the executive director for the Center for Urban Schooling at the University of Toronto, said Ayers was deemed not admissible after being pulled aside by Canadian immigration officials while trying to clear customs at the Toronto airport.

Ayers had been invited to speak before the center. He was also scheduled to meet with the Toronto District School Board and do interviews with Canadian television and radio stations, Kugler said...

Ayers, a co-founder of the violent Weather Underground group and current education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told the Toronto Star that he didn't know why he had been turned away. [See full text]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Russian Lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Journalist Anastasia Baburova Gunned Down in Moscow

"When one needed a bold journalist, one called Politkovskaya, when one needed a bold lawyer, one called Markelov."---Kremlin critic and rights activist Lev Ponomaryov

Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov (above) and journalist Anastasia Baburova have been gunned down in Moscow. Like the murdered journalists Yuri Shchekochikhin and Anna Politkovskaya, Baburova was an investigative reporter for Novaya Gazeta. Here is a translation of Novaya Gazeta's account of the shooting of Markelov and Baburova.

RFE/RL (1-19-09) reports:

A prominent lawyer representing the family of a Chechen girl killed by a Russian Army officer has been shot dead in Moscow.

Prosecutors say the body of Stanislav Markelov was found on a central street in the Russian capital just moments after he spoke to reporters about the case.

Law enforcement officials were quoted as saying an assailant carrying a gun with a silencer shot Markelov in the back of the head at point-blank range as he walked along Moscow's central Prechistenka Street.

A woman walking with Markelov was also shot after she tried to intervene. She later died in hospital. She was identified as Anastasia Baburova, a freelance journalist working with Russia's opposition "Novaya gazeta" newspaper.

No suspects have been apprehended. Prosecutors said a murder investigation had been launched.

Svetlana Gannushkina of Russia's Memorial human rights center told RFE/RL's Russian Service that Markelov's murder bore the signs of a hired killing.

"This could not have been accidental, and there was certainly no criminal motive behind it," Gannushkina said. "Unfortunately, we cannot conduct our own investigation. We can only demand that the law enforcement bodies do it. But our capabilities, our mechanisms, so to speak, of making such demands are unfortunately very, very weak. All we can do is express our indignation and try to find out who threatened Stanislav, when, why, and how."

Reach Of The Law?

The brazen midafternoon attack took place just minutes after Markelov had spoken to journalists about his work on one of the most notorious cases to emerge from Russia's wars in Chechnya.

Elza Kungayeva, an 18-year-old Chechen girl, was brutally murdered in 2000 in what her father said was a drunken rampage by federal troops based in the North Caucasus republic as part of Moscow's antiseparatist campaign.

Markelov helped secure a ruling three years later, when a Russian officer, Colonel Yury Budanov, was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The case came at a time when Russian soldiers were often thought to be beyond the reach of the law for their actions in Chechnya.

But old wounds were reopened last month, when a court granted Budanov an early release, 18 months before his sentence was due to end. The decision sparked angry rallies in Chechnya and even prompted protests from the republic's pro-Moscow administration.

Markelov had led legal attempts to block the ruling, without success. Budanov was released on January 15.

At a press conference just moments before his slaying, the 34-year-old lawyer said he would push for an appeal, and accused officials in the Dmitrovgrad city court responsible for Budanov's release of acting erratically in the case.

"You know, when someone changes his position several times a day, one questions his sanity. In this case it's a court that changes its position and I can't question the court's sanity," Markelov said.

"But I can question the way it makes decisions, or perhaps only voices decisions, especially when they make statements -- not only to me, but also to journalists -- that they don't know that their ruling has been carried out and that Budanov is already free."

'Killed In Broad Daylight'

People close to Markelov said he had complained of receiving death threats in recent days.

Visa Kungayev, the father of Elza Kungayeva, said Markelov had received text messages warning him that he would be killed if he didn't stop his work on the Budanov case.

Markelov had intended to file a protest this week in the Supreme Court against Budanov's release. Rights-watchers in Chechnya had also suggested the case be taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

In an interview with RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, Kungayev -- who now lives in Norway with this four remaining children -- said he believed Budanov was behind the slaying.

"We, the whole family, are shocked and speechless. There is no doubt that my lawyer was killed by Budanov and his gang. I feel sorry for this professional [lawyer]. A person is killed in broad daylight in Moscow and the criminal escapes," Kungayev said."

Budanov and his gang are behind it. [Markelov] told me last Thursday he was being threatened with death if he didn't drop Budanov's case," he adds. "As soon as the murderer [Budanov] got out of prison, they killed this man, this professional [Markelov]."

Contract-style killings remain depressingly familiar in Russia and have even reached beyond its borders.....

In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a "Novaya gazeta" journalist whose critical reporting took aim at both the Kremlin and Kadyrov, was shot dead in the entryway of her Moscow apartment building. [See Full Text.]

Cave-Dwelling Algerian Al Qaeda Fighters Reportedly Die of Plague

The Oriental rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis) is the main vector for bubonic plague and very probably for the Black Death.

"Plague is a deadly infectious disease caused by the enterobacteria Yersinia pestis (Pasteurella pestis). Plague is a zoonotic, primarily carried by rodents (most notably rats) and spread to humans via fleas. Plague is notorious throughout history, due to the unprecedented scale of death and devastation it brought. Plague is still endemic in some parts of the world."--Wikipedia, "Plague" [See also Bubonic Plague]

The London Telegraph (1-19-09) reports that at least 40 cave-dwelling Al Qaeda operatives have died of the plague in Algeria and that the disease may have spread to other Al Qaeda training camps or to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Terrorist leaders reportedly fear that their fighters will surrender to government authorities in order to avoid dying of the plague:

The disease, which struck Europe in the Middle Ages killing more than 25 million people, has swept through a training camp for insurgents in Algeria.

The arrival of the plague was discovered when security forces found the body of a dead terrorist by a roadside, the Sun reports.

The victim belonged to the large al-Qaeda network AQLIM (al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb).
A security source told the paper: "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease.

"It spreads It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaeda."

Black Death comes in various forms and was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history when it struck in the 1340s killing 75 million people across North Africa, Asia and Europe.

Bubonic Plague is spread by bites from infected rat fleas. Symptoms include painful boils in the groin, neck and armpits. In Pneumonic Plague, airborn bacteria spread like flu. Without medication it can be deadly.

The new epidemic began in the cave hideouts of AQLIM in Tizi Ouzou province, 150km east of the capital Algiers, the Sun reports.

The group, led by wanted terror figure Abdelmalek Droudkal, was forced to turn its shelters in the Yakouren forest into mass graves and flee.

The group now fears the highly-infectious disease could have spread to other al-Qaeda training camps or Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, the paper said.

A source said: "The emirs (leaders) fear surviving terrorists will surrender to escape a horrible death."

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review Rules Wiretapping Legal: Updated NYT Story

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."--Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

"A foreign intelligence exception to the Fourth Amendment's warrant requirement exists when the surveillance is conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes and is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United states."---United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review (8-22-08)

On January 15, 2009, the New York Times carried an article that said "a federal intelligence court, in a rare public opinion, issued a major ruling [see here] validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved."

I reported on that story here.

Now it seems that the NYT (1-15-09) story has been rewritten:

In a rare public ruling, a secret federal appeals court has said telecommunications companies must cooperate with the government to intercept international phone calls and e-mail of American citizens suspected of being spies or terrorists.

The ruling came in a case involving an unidentified company’s challenge to 2007 legislation that expanded the president’s legal power to conduct wiretapping without warrants for intelligence purposes.

But the ruling, handed down in August 2008 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and made public Thursday, did not directly address whether President Bush was within his constitutional powers in ordering domestic wiretapping without warrants, without first getting Congressional approval, after the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Several legal experts cautioned that the ruling had limited application, since it dealt narrowly with the carrying out of a law that had been superseded by new legislation. But the ruling is still the first by an appeals court that says the Fourth Amendment’s requirement for warrants does not apply to the foreign collection of intelligence involving Americans. That finding could have broad implications for United States national security law.

The court ruled that eavesdropping on Americans believed to be agents of a foreign power “possesses characteristics that qualify it for such an exception.”

Bruce M. Selya, the chief judge of the review court, wrote in the opinion that “our decision recognizes that where the government has instituted several layers of serviceable safeguards to protect individuals against unwarranted harms and to minimize incidental intrusions, its efforts to protect national security should not be frustrated by the courts.”

The three-judge court, which hears rare appeals from the full Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, addressed provisions of the Protect America Act, passed by Congress in 2007 amid the controversy over Mr. Bush’s program of wiretapping without warrants. It found that the administration had put in place sufficient privacy safeguards to meet the constitutional standards of the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches. Because of that, the company had to cooperate, the court said.

That finding bolstered the Bush administration’s broader arguments on wiretapping without warrants, both critics and supporters said.

William C. Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University who has criticized the administration’s legal position on eavesdropping, said that while the ruling did not address Mr. Bush’s surveillance without warrants directly, “it does bolster his case” by recognizing that eavesdropping for national security purposes did not always require warrants. [Full text]

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Irish Dancing With an International Flair

Irish dancing has long been popular in America because many Americans have Irish heritage, but Irish dancing is now being featured during the Chinese New Year celebration in Boston and is catching on with young dancers in places like Mexico, Russia, and China!

No doubt the interest in Irish dancing has been sparked by international performances of Riverdance, which made Irish stepdancing famous all over the world. Watch the dance of the Russian Dervish from the Moscow Folk Ballet Company's performance of Riverdance.

If you watched the Russian Dervish, it is pretty obvious that Russian dancers are blending aspects of Irish dancing with their own dance traditions. American tap dancing, such as this 1938 routine performed by Bill Bojangles Robinson and Shirley Temple, evolved from Irish stepdancing as did this modern dance routine from Duluth, Minnesota based on the 1950s song "Yakity Yak."

We are not surprised to see American kindergarteners performing stepdances in school talent shows, but even young Russian dancers like Sergey Nazarov have taken up Irish dancing. The "Irish" dance champion Albert Verholyak teaches Irish dancing to young Russians and also performs in competitions. Albert, who seems to give his Irish dancing a bit of Cossack flair, is profiled in this clip from the Russian talent show "Minutes of Glory."

According to a regional news article reposted by the Karelian School of Culture, Albert, who began to study dance at this school in 2000, is a native of the town of Segezha (Сегежа) in Russian Karelia [See an earlier post about Karelia], although he seems to have grown up in Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia. Perhaps his parents moved to this regional capital after he was born, or perhaps he boarded at his performing arts school. Gifted Russian children and even ordinary Russian children from small communities are often sent to boarding schools. In fact, many children in small Russian communities must attend boarding school to receive an education. They don't take long bus rides like children in rural America because the distances are huge, and the roads and weather are too unpredictable. In bygone years, before the era of good highways and school busses, rural American children who wanted an education also attended boarding schools.

Albert Verholyak [Альберт Верхоляк] began to study dance when he eight years old; and according to the proud teachers at his Karelian performing arts school, he practiced independently every day and was their best student. In 2003, he was awarded a scholarship from the Karelian fund for the Children of Karelia.

According to the article posted by the school, which is titled Graduate of the Karelian School of Culture is the Finalist on 'Minutes of Glory', Albert successfully finished school and then achieved his dream of studying in Moscow when he won a huge competition: out of 120 contestants, only six were chosen. [If you check-out "Minutes of Glory" (Минуты славы) don't miss the almond-eyed Siberian middle-school nightingales from Omsk, the boy accordianist Максим Токаев, the Tatar brothers Arman and Arsin, from the gas and oil city of Tyumen, or Анастасия Сорокова, the teenaged singer of ancient Russian songs.]

The Irish dancer Albert Verholyak won a million rubles in the popular Russian "amateur hour" T.V. program "Minutes of Glory" (See Минуты славы on Youtube) when viewers voted him the winner. This show seems to be the Russian version of American Idol. Albert turned over his prize money to his parents, explaining that "Mamma is my muse" and that "I want my parents to have not only bread, but also rolls with butter." Albert is currently a teacher at the Moscow Studio of Dance and in the future plans to open a jazz class for professionals. This clip begins with American tap dancing until the "Irishman" Albert arrives with his suitcase fresh off a steamship. The announcer explains a bit about "the history of America": that American tap dancing is derived from Irish stepdancing.

Sometimes American tap dancing seems to be viewed with suspicion. In the Russian film "Burnt by the Sun," a vengeful Soviet KGB agent who has been living in the bourgeois West shows off his American-style tapdancing, and the honorable Soviet general subsequently responds with a Russian dance.

These days, Irish dancing schools are popping up like mushrooms all over Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Here is a video promotion for the first Irish dance school in Petersburg called "Mirkwood."

International Irish dancing competitions are covered by Russian television because young Russians are among the contestants. In this video, young girls from Loktev, Russia perform "Irish dancing" with a Russian twist. Do I hear Russian balailaikas?

In Mexico, young people study Irish dancing at the Bradigan Irish Dance School. Here are the Bradigan students in performance.

In this video Dora (Brazil) and Anna (Russia) practice their Irish dance routine at the Limerick University in Ireland.

Irish dancing is also becoming popular in China. Check out the Beijing Quanjian line dance team. Those Chinese kids look cute line dancing to Zorba the Greek.

More later...