A real commercial for Trumpybear: your conservative teddy

Grania sent me a tweet with this “Trumpybear” commercial in it and said that it was a real commercial for a real product, as verified by Snopes.

And, sure enough, Snopes says it’s a genuine product for sale. The details:

Exceptional Products, the Texas company that markets Trumpy Bear on television, also uses infomercials and television advertising to promote products like Hairdini, Save a Blade and Plaque Attack.

In October 2017, the commercial began running on 10 TV networks, including Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, according to the advertising and media news web site Ad Age.

The product consists of the 22-inch tall stuffed animal and a 28-by-30-inch American flag blanket that can be stored in a zipped pouch inside Trumpy Bear himself, according to the product web site. Trumpy Bear costs $39.90, which can be paid in two installments of $19.95.

We asked Exceptional Products about sales of Trumpy Bear, but the company declined to provide any details. Nonetheless, we know people have been buying the toy, in particular as a Christmas present according to several social media posts.

And yes, “President” Trump was born on Flag Day in 1946.

The world has gone insane when you can’t tell the difference between a Trumpybear commercial and a Saturday Night Live skit.

Two more lunches in Paris

A quick post with two more lunches in Paris (one more to go today, at my old favorite Chez Denise, and I’ll report later on that and our lunch in Chartres).

The unanimously voted Best Lunch of the Trip was at the venerable old bistro Josephine Chez Dumonet near the Tour de Montparnasse.

The outside:

The inside (from both ends). A happy boy about to eat:

An amuse-bouche: a glass of cream of cauliflower soup to sip with the good bread:

Appetizers: foie gras (a half portion) and smoked salmon (a half portion, and fantastic). Due to my having sent a bottle of wine back because it was corked, the appetizers were half eaten before I remembered to photograph them. One good thing about Josephine’s is that both entrées and plats come in half portions, and believe me, you don’t want more than that!

The house special is bouef bourguignon, an intensely rich beef stew cooked with wine and vegetables. It’s served with house-made noodles, over which you slop the beef and sauce. This is a half-portion, and believe me, it’s enough!

So rich!

One dessert must be had: the soufflé Grand Marnier, with a side glass of the liqueur to pour onto the hot souffle:

They were nice to us there (perhaps because of the bad wine, which they exchanged), and after the soufflé, they put the whole bottle of Grand Marnier on the table so we could have an aperitif. It’s imperative to scrape every bit of the souffle out of the bowl, especially the crispy bits on the edge:

Coffee is a big deal there, as it comes with all kinds of treats. This is just one coffee (note the house-made madeleines):

A view of the kitchen (yes, we were put in the “foreigners” section behind the partition, a bad habit of the restaurant. But I’m not complaining, as they treated us very well and the food was fantastic.

Saturday lunch was at Ambassade Auvergne, specializing in the hearty food of this region in south-central France. It’s on an unprepossessing street near the Centre Pompidou near Les Halles. I ate there fairly regularly during my first sabbatical nearly 30 years ago, and was curious to see how it had held up. Very well, it turned out.

The inside, though, is warm and inviting. Although the place is frequented by tourists in spring and summer, we were the only non-French diners in the restaurant. In fact, during all of our dining in this off-season, we found only a single American in a restaurant, and he was a frequent visitor to the city and had lived here as a wine writer.

Amuse-bouche: rillettes and good bread:

Entrées: The local salad with green lentils, ham, and a lovely mustardy dressing. This is a house special, and it’s terrific.

And a big plate of delicious house-cured ham:

The aligot (mashed potatoes with copious lashings of melted cheese) is famous here, and I had mine with a local sausage. The waiter demonstrates the big titer of cheese in the aligot by stretching it at the table. Here’s a video:

And my plat:

Another plat, the daily special. Roasted guinea fowl with mashed potatoes mixed with diced morels (mushrooms). It was juicy and really good, and the potatoes otherworldly:

Dessert was chocolate souffle dished out from a huge crock, served with some Auvergne-style cake. I could barely get down the last bite, as I was really full (the ham entrée was huge). Yes, I know it looks like dog poo, but it was rich, creamy, and dark:

I photographed the local cheeses, which I didn’t try, on the way out. When I last ate here in 1989-1990, I was able to get down a cheese course before having two portions of mousse. Ah, to be young and hungry again!

Lagniappe: Femme avec ours

Women’s March splintering over anti-Semitism, communications director mounts a bizarre defense

My beef with the Women’s March is not over its goals, which (I think) are to promote equality of women everywhere; I certainly agree with that. And in general I think the movement has been a net good: by promoting women’s activism in politics and society, it must have been at least partly responsible for the rise of progressive women candidates in this fall’s elections, many of whom were voted in.

No, my beef is with the leadership of the Women’s March and the tone they’ve imparted to the March. I refer in particular to Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Tamika Mallory, who have regularly praised terrorists (including cop killers as well as Hamas), associated themselves with anti-Zionism and the eliminate-Israel BDS movement, and osculated the tuchas of Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam and America’s most famous anti-Semite and homophobe. He’s also a sexist and a critic of against transgender people.

The views of the leadership have trickled down to some of the feminists in the movement. So, for example, Chicago’s Dyke March, which occurred several months after the Women’s March, kicked out a group of Jewish lesbians who wanted to march under the “Jewish Pride” flag, simply because it showed a Jewish Star of David imposed on a rainbow-striped flag.

It just won’t do for a progressive and supposedly intersectionalist group (its formal name is “Women’s March Inc.”) to demonize other historically oppressed groups, namely Jews and gays. But one of the implicit aims of at least the leaders of Women’s March, Inc. seems to be eliminating the state of Israel and promoting anti-Semitism.

Note that the “Unity Principles” of the Women’s March, Inc. (I use its name to distinguish it from different Women’s March groups; see below), are these:

We believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. We must create a society in which women – including Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.

As the NY Post article below points out, Jewish women are conspicuously absent from this statement, even though, on a per capita basis, U.S. Jews are subject to more hate crimes than members of any other group.

At any rate, in just the past few days the Women’s March seems to be fracturing over the anti-Semitism of its leadership. A few days ago, I reported that actor Alyssa Milano said she won’t speak at the Women’s March in the future unless its leaders disavow their association with Louis Farrakhan and his reprehensible views.

Now, as reported by Advocate.com (click on screenshot below), actor Debra Messing has joined Milano in repudiating the anti-Semitism of the Women’s March. Messing is Jewish, a big advocate of LGBTQ rights, and was an active presence at the first Women’s March in 2017.

Here’s her statement; I expect there will be more from other people, but I also expect the Women’s March spokespeople will dismiss these statements as the patronizing views of “privileged white women”—indeed, they have already done so (see below). So much for women’s unity!

Third, we have the think tank of Germany’s Social Democratic Party—one of that nation’s two major political parties—rescinding its Humanitarian Award to the Women’s March because of Sarsour’s anti-Semitism (click on screenshot below):

The Jerusalem Post reports the contents of the letter that led to rescinding the humanitarian award:

“An organization that may support feminism, but discriminates against Jews and Zionists and denies Israel’s right to exist should not be honored by a democratic foundation that advocates diversity and speaks out against discrimination,” the young academics added in their letter.

The letter stated that “Since its inception in 2017, Women’s March USA has attracted media attention due to the antisemitism of its board members and chair women. Linda Sarsour, a member of the board and former president of Women’s March USA, is notorious for her propagation of antisemitism toward Israel. This transpired not only through her statement from March 2017 claiming that feminists could not be Zionists simultaneously and that Zionists were Nazis, but also through her demonization and delegitimization of Israel, as well as the application of a double standard. She also calls herself a ‘very staunch supporter of the BDS movement.’ These forms of antisemitism were also visible at the Berlin Women’s March in January 2018. The organizers did not show any attempt of critique or disassociation.”

The graduate student academics said Sarsour “also spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories that resemble the classic antisemitic trope of blood libel. In September 2018, for instance, she claimed that when US police officers shoot unarmed black people, Jewish persons responsible would lurk in the background.

. . . According to the open letter, “Sarsour, Carmen Perez [another board member of Women’s March USA], and Tamika D. Mallory [co-chairwoman of Women’s March USA who is [JAC: was] to receive the FES Human Rights Award], have attracted attention due to their long-standing support of the notorious antisemite Louis Farrakhan, who, among other things, called Adolf Hitler a ‘very great man’ while recently comparing Jews to termites.”
Fourth, we have this recent editorial in the New York Post, also calling attention to the anti-Semitism of the Women’s March leaders (click on screenshot):

After recounting some of the praise for Farrakhan and terrorists emitted by the Women’s March leaders, the paper says this:

But in September, Sarsour said American Muslims shouldn’t “humanize” Israelis. There was no overwhelming response from the left to remind her that Israelis are actually human. American Jews who ignore this hatred are fooling themselves. Anti-Semitism is specifically about dehumanizing Jews until their murder makes sense.

In July, she tweeted birthday wishes at a fugitive cop-killer. This is not a woman who has done a lot of introspection and changed her views. Why stand with her?

Make no mistake: These aren’t comments made years ago; they’re happening now. Just last May, Mallory praised the “bravery” of Hamas terrorists. Two weeks ago, Farrakhan compared Jews to termites.

Some marchers think they can find common ground with these women. That’s misguided. A conservative marching alongside white nationalist Richard Spencer, because they both happen to agree on, say, economic issues, would rightly be pilloried. This should be no different.

Sure, protest Donald Trump, if you like. Free expression is vital. But don’t do it under the Women’s March umbrella. Start another march, join with friends, do something different. It’s November, you have more than two months to think and plan.

In fact, an important “splinter group”, the Women’s March Alliance—the one that organizes the Marches in New York City—is now breaking away from the Women’s March, Inc., which organizes only the march in Washington, D.C.. Further, there now lawsuits over which group can use the “Women’s March” name. The fracture between the NYC and DC marches is apparently because of bullying by the national leaders, including Sarsour. The report from Newsday says this:

Organizers of the Women’s March on NYC say the group behind the inaugural Washington, D.C., demonstration tried to bully its way into planning the 2019 march in Manhattan.

. . . Katherine Siemionko, founder of the nonprofit WMA, said Women’s March, Inc., board member Linda Sarsour demanded recently that some of her team members be added to the planning committee for the Women’s March on NYC. If not, then Women’s March, Inc., would create its own march, Siemionko said she was told.

Now, Women’s March, Inc., is planning its own march in the city separate from the Women’s March on NYC, the organization said on Wednesday.

“I think it’s unfortunate that Women’s March, Inc., has used bullying and threats to attempt to hijack the inclusive and beautiful Women’s March on NYC,” Siemionko said. “Their rhetoric represents the toxic patriarchy our women’s movement is fighting against. WMA is working to redirect the movement back to its true purpose — gender equality.”

Indeed! And about those lawsuits:

The branding dispute has now spilled over to the courts, as Women’s March, Inc., attempts to trademark “Women’s March.” WMA, March On and the organizers of sister marches in Los Angeles and Chicago have filed lawsuits in opposition to the trademark application on the basis that the movement’s branding does not belong solely to Women’s March, Inc.

“The fact of the matter is that there are many different Women’s March organizations,” Wruble said. [JAC: Vanessa Wruble was a former organizer of the D.C. Women’s March who left the group and started her own activist organization.]

Perhaps it was inevitable that identity politics—or rather, the explicit marginalization of Jews by a group supposedly dedicated to women’s inclusivity—would fracture the March. The Newsday article adds this:

The different factions born out of the inaugural march are split along ideological lines, as well.

Siemionko and Wruble said their organizations have missions different from that of Women’s March, Inc., and both have distanced themselves from the organization’s approach to leadership.

“We believe in the power of local women versus something that comes more top-down in which there are a few people at the top dictating what happens,” Wruble said of March On.

Following a New York Post opinion article that called for a boycott of the 2019 Women’s March over allegations of anti-Semitism, Siemionko said she felt compelled to  issue a statement reiterating that the WMA is not affiliated with Women’s March Inc.

Sarsour, as well as using the Women’s March to further an Islamist agenda, is, I think, using it to further her own career and ambitions, for I believe she really wants to run for Congress. She’s deeply into her own personal power. But even if she doesn’t have legislative ambitions, I see her as an odious and unctuous bully—a woman whom no progressive person should admire, much less follow. I’m stymied why so many self-styled progressivists see her as a role model. (Actually, I’m not that stymied: Sarsour wears a hijab and therefore by definition is both oppressed and a woman of color. In reality, she is neither.)

Get a load of this doublethink. Fendlay seems to take Milano’s withdrawal from the organization pending its disavowal of anti-Semitism as the actor’s “forcing people what to do and think”:

This moment, with Alyssa Milano, is exactly the type of thing black women were expecting. Alyssa is acting in accordance with the tradition of white women who use the labor of women of color when it’s convenient for them, and then use their power to trash those women when it becomes more expedient. Without being invited to speak at all, Alyssa brought up a 7 month old controversy in an attempt to force women of color to do exactly what she wants them to do. Yet these things weren’t a problem for her last month, when she was posting pictures of herself in D.C. protesting Kavanaugh, at demonstrations organized in large part by Women’s March.

And here’s some good doublethink: we should be free to criticize each other, unless you are criticizing someone for anti-Semitism or for supporting anti-Semites:

. . .We must be free to ask questions and offer criticisms of each other, but it matters greatly how these questions and criticisms are framed, and who they really serve. When you attempt to put people in situations where their only option is to behave exactly as you prescribe, that is an attempt to dominate. When misinformation is being spread, when someone’s character is being attacked, it prevents dialogue and understanding because it robs them and their allies of the chance to respond from a place that is anything other than defensive. It takes away our power to speak our truth as truth — only to say “but that’s not true”.

I doubt that Fendlay would say the same thing about supporters of Trump that she says about supporters of Farrkahan!

Here’s some whataboutery: Farrakhan won’t change, and there are more important issues than distancing oneself from Jew-hatred:

. . . All of this isn’t to say that hate speech doesn’t matter. It does. But white supremacists are not joining the Nation of Islam, not now nor ever. And because of their proximity to power in our society — literal access to the highest office in the nation — real white supremacists are who we all need to be focused on, together. As Tim Wise insightfully writes, there is a history here. “This shifting of attention from right-wing, white bigotry and anti-Semitism to Farrakhan is a predictable pivot… And it’s one about which most white folks don’t know very much, but about which black folks certainly do. It’s a history of white people telling black people who their ‘legitimate’ leaders and spokespeople are, or should be, and who among them is illegitimate and needs to be rejected.”

My emphases below. This really is a prime example of Authoritarian leftist deflection and distortion:

. . . Alyssa Milano is calling for this specific kind of performative outrage, making a public statement condemning a Black man. This demand will have no impact on curbing anti-Semitism, neither in the Nation of Islam nor in our society. In conceding to her demand [JAC: What demand?], the roughly 50,000 people who follow Farrakhan, plus the thousands more who work with the NOI in their communities, will also see themselves as denounced, which will have quite the opposite impact. Farrakhan will never change, but if we want the members of Nation of Islam to be more open to different points of view, then having people like Tamika Mallory — who has very clearly organized a movement that is at odds with his views — in the space as a leader is an important liberalizing influence.

Umm. . . it’s not just Farrakhan. The Nation of Islam’s own theology is as loony as that of Scientology, not only full of crazy and wild assertions, but also of anti-White and anti-Semitic sentiments (see here). Yes, the Nation of Islam does do good things in prisons and in the community, but, like most religions, it also spreads a toxic and bigoted view of humanity.

Finally, Fendlay dismisses Alyssa Milano’s dissent because she’s just a privileged white woman whose criticism of anti-Semitism promotes white supremacy. How is that supposed to work?

Alyssa Milano and all the white women lined up behind her are actually enforcing the power of white supremacy through their misguided attempt to challenge hate speech. There are two sinister assumptions happening, which I will pose as questions. Whose power is a threat to who? And, who is worth the labor of our compassion and who needs to be eliminated?

Cassady is doing the Women’s March, Inc. no favors. While thinking she’s defending people of color against racist whites, she’s keeping the March on the rails of anti-Semitism, transphobia, and yes, the NoI’s sexism.  Rather than admit that Farrakhan is a hateful bigot and that anti-Semitism and bigotry against gays and transsexuals has no place in an inclusive march, Cassady, Sarsour, and Mallory are sticking to their script.

And they probably must keep sticking to that script, for if they backtrack and admit error (something Control-Leftists don’t do), then millions of women will discover they were misled. And that would be a big loss for the Women’s March.

I’m not a woman, and thus haven’t experienced sexism. But I have experienced anti-Semitism, and I wouldn’t want to be part of a movement whose leaders dance around Jew-hatred while uttering propiatory weasel words.

h/t: Orli

Monday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Good morning, welcome to the new week!

Notable birthdays today.

1840 – Auguste Rodin, French sculptor and illustrator, created The Thinker (d. 1917)

1923 – Ian Graham, English archaeologist and explorer (d. 2017)

1929 – Grace Kelly, American actress, later Princess Grace of Monaco (d. 1982)

1934 – Charles Manson, American cult leader (d. 2017)

1976 – Mirosław Szymkowiak, Polish footballer and journalist

1977 – Benni McCarthy, South African footballer

 

In history today:

1912 – The frozen bodies of Robert Scott and his men are found on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

1927 – Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Joseph Stalin in undisputed control of the Soviet Union.

1954 – Ellis Island (the United States’ busiest immigrant inspection station for over 60 years) ceased operations.

1977 – France conducts the Oreste nuclear test as 14th in the group of 29, 1975–78 French nuclear tests series.

1979 – Iran hostage crisis: In response to the hostage situation in Tehran, US President Jimmy Carter orders a halt to all petroleum imports into the United States from Iran.

1980 – The NASA space probe Voyager I makes its closest approach to Saturn and takes the first images of its rings.

1981 – Space Shuttle program: Mission STS-2, utilizing the Space Shuttle Columbia, marks the first time a manned spacecraft is launched into space twice.

2014 – The Philae lander, deployed from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe, reaches the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Hili has VIP visitors today.

Marta: I haven’t seen you for a long time.
Hili: You could’ve come earlier.
In Polish:
Marta: Tak dawno cię nie widziałam.
Hili: Mogłaś wcześniej przyjechać.

 

Finally, we come to the the flotsam and jetsam of Twitter, offered for your amusement:

 

Felid Twitter

 

 

 

 

Ineffably cute Twitter

 

Interesting stuff to read Twitter

People who still haven’t twigged that DPRK News Service is a parody account Twitter.

Don’t try this at home Twitter:

 

 

 

 

 

Satirical Twitter

Unmentionable Twitter

Humans get up to strange stuff Twitter

It’s a wonder the human race has survived this long Twitter

This didn’t age well Twitter

God is a man Twitter

And finally, pedant alert Twitter.

[The 20,000 leagues referred to in the title of Jules Verne’s novel is of course the distance traveled, not the depth. But of course, we all knew that already 🙂 ]

 

 

Hat-tip: Matthew & Heather

 

Armistice Day 100

by Grania

Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. An American artillery gun from the 11th Field Artillery Regiment named “Calamity Jane” fired a single shot at this time, known as the closing shot of the war. (Wikipedia)

Of course, this wasn’t the actual end of the war and the peace only lasted a scant two decades before a deadlier war broke out. But the commemoration brings nations together in a gesture of peace and goodwill and remembrance of sacrifice and heroism each year. Here are some moments from this year’s ceremonies.

A touching moment between two leaders.

 

The ceremony has been somewhat detracted from by the non-presence of someone who apparently couldn’t make it because of the rain.

This has inevitably led to a fair amount of satirical and angry commentary when he did finally turn up.

 

Not from 2018 but very apt especially at the 1.22 mark.

 

Although Blackadder Goes Forth was a comedy series, it’s final scenes were among the most poignant commentary on the troops in the trenches I’ve ever seen.

 

 

 

 

Hat-tip: Matthew

More on the Asia Bibi case

As I reported yesterday, taking my news from the HuffPo UK, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian falsely convicted of blasphemy and then freed after eight years on death row in solitary confinement, appeared to have been denied asylum in the UK. The denial was reportedly based on the possibility that Bibi’s presence in the UK would cause unrest from “certain sections of the community”—almost certainly Muslims.

I found that reprehensible, but added that the news needed confirmation. I have still not been able to confirm HuffPo UK’s report, which came from the British Pakistani Christian Association. And, as reader Michael Fisher pointed out, the entire report may be “bullshit”. I’m counting on the British press to investigate this story further, and will let you know what transpires.

In the meantime, though, there’s dire (and perhaps non-fake) news about Bibi from The Independent; Pakistan may not let her leave, which means she couldn’t get asylum anywhere:

Normally a request for asylum in the UK would need ro be made after fleeing Pakistan. However, Pakistan’s government has reached a deal with Islamists to restrict Ms Bibi’s travel while the case is reviewed.

Under the terms of the deal made on Friday night, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration said it would begin legal proceedings to place Asia Bibi on the “exit control list” (ECL).

It also agreed not to oppose a petition for a review of the Supreme Court decision to free the mother-of-five, who had been on death row since 2010.

In return the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party (TLP) issued an apology for any hurt caused during three days of nationwide protests and called for its supporters to disperse.

The TLP party was constituted explicitly to punish blasphemy in Pakistan, and promoted riots throughout the country after Bibi was freed. If the TLP made a deal with the government to issue a lame apology in return for what it really wants—Bibi’s continuing presence in the country, endangering her life—that’s just as bad as the UK denying her asylum. The outraged Islamists simply want the woman dead, even though the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned her conviction.

Stay tuned.

Sunday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Good morning! There are 50 days remaining until the end of the year.

1863 – Paul Signac, French painter and educator (d. 1935) who helped to develop the pointillist style

1901 – Sam Spiegel, American film producer (d. 1985) who won Best Picture three times.

1926 – Maria Teresa de Filippis, Italian race car driver and first woman Formula One driver (d. 2016)

1974 – Leonardo DiCaprio, American actor and producer

1964 – Margarete Bagshaw, American painter and potter (d. 2015)

 

In history today:

1215 – The Fourth Council of the Lateran meets, defining the doctrine of transubstantiation, the process by which bread and wine are, by that doctrine, said to transform into the body and blood of Christ. Apparently it took over a thousand years for this to become clear to Christians.

1620 – The Mayflower Compact is signed in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod.

1869 – The Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act is enacted in Australia, giving the government control of indigenous people’s wages, their terms of employment, where they could live, and of their children, effectively leading to the Stolen Generations.

1966 – NASA launches Gemini 12.

1992 – The General Synod of the Church of England votes to allow women to become priests.

Hili is thinking about the future today. She is probably right about this one.

Hili: Will future generations appreciate our efforts?
A: I doubt it. They may be ungrateful.
In Polish:
Hili: Czy przyszłe pokolenia docenią nasze wysiłki?
Ja: Wątpię, mogą być niewdzięczne.

 

But, on to less lofty notions.

 

There’s a mixed bag from Twitter today.

Cute Twitter

Felid Twitter

 

 

Natural world Twitter

 

Dunno about the cutest thing ever, but it’s certainly interesting.

Current events Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Cheesy jokes and puns Twitter

 

Hat-tip: Blue, Matthew, Heather

 

 

Asia Bibi reportedly denied asylum in the UK because of “possible unrest” among “certain sections of the community”

Not long ago I wrote about the plight of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian who was sentenced to death for blasphemy after she got into a row with the Muslim women in her village. As I wrote at the time:

The details of her case show a country steeped in hatred, ignorance, and faith (some of these words might be redundant). The story started in June of 2009 (9 years ago!), when Bibi was bringing water to a group of farm workers in her village. Bibi was a Christian, a mother of four, and then 38 years old. The other workers, who were Muslim, objected to Bibi touching the bowl, and she might even have taken a sip from it.

The details of the altercation then are unclear, but Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. (As the Supreme Court just ruled, this claim was probably fabricated as a form of revenge or denigration.) She was arrested, and in December of 2010 was sentenced to hanging for that blasphemy. She would have been the first woman executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy law.

She’s been in prison now for almost 8 years, and in solitary confinement on death row.

Bibi was recently released by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which excoriated the lower courts for relying on unreliable and vindictive witnesses. She’s apparently free to leave Pakistan, and she better get out ASAP if she wants to live, for a freed “blaspheming” Christian has a half-life of about a month in that country.

Just about as disgusting as her conviction is a new report from HuffPo UK (via the Pakistan Christian Association) that the UK has denied Bibi’s appeal for asylum in that country because it might cause “civil unrest.” I find this hard to believe, but I’ll recount what HuffPo UK says:

A Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal to Britain for asylum has been denied because her arrival in the country may stir civil unrest, HuffPost UK has been told.

. . . On Saturday her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled Pakistan, saying he feared for his life.  Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has also released a video message saying he too fears for his family’s safety.

“I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom,” he said.

But campaigners working to secure Bibi’s move abroad said the UK government had not offered her asylum, citing security concerns.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said two countries had made firm offers of asylum, but Britain was not one of them.

“I’ve been lead to believe that the UK government had concerns that her moving to the UK would cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists.

“Security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community”ˆ! You know exactly what that means: the Pakistani Muslim sections of the community, which would continue the religious vendetta against Bibi. Those who would cause such unrest are like spoiled children and should be treated that way; their infantile tantrums should certainly not be respected by a supposedly democratic government.

This is the same country that gave Salman Rushdie police protection, and then knighted him, after he was subject to a fatwa from Iran. If this new report is true, England has shamefully neglected its duty—yes, its duty—to shelter someone subject, like Rushdie, to religious persecution, all from fear that British Muslims will cause unrest.

I can’t tell you how angry this makes me, and I’m hoping the report is untrue. The British government has been cowering in fear of Muslim anger for several years, and their cowardice is reprehensible. What kind of democracy would turn away a woman like Bibi because she’d rile up the local Muslims, and that because of a false blasphemy charge.

CNN reports that Bibi has requested asylum in the Netherlands, and I’m pretty sure she’ll get it there. That country, at least, takes requests for asylum seriously. And if this story is true, British readers should hold their government accountable for this travesty.

I’ll await further verification of what seems to be a horrible lapse in British judgement, but the Torygraph did report that Bibi’s husband asked the UK for asylum for their family.

Asia Bibi

h/t: cesar

Caturday felid trifecta: Lego cats; cat and dog rescued together; robotic cat–and lagnaippe

It’s Caturday, and Grania reminded me that I need to put up a felid post so that the streak remains unbroken.

If you’re into Legos, Skeptical Kitten reports and advent of Lego Cat Kits, which aren’t cheap: $66.

Here are a few examples:

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And from LoveMeow, we have this heartwarming story (click on screenshot)::

Gomez is the Chihuahua mix and Morticia the tuxedo kitten. After being rescued, they became inseparable in the shelter and now they’re looking for someone to take both of them.  It could be YOU!

Saver of Souls Pet Rescue, a local rescue in Va Beach, Virginia, learned about their plight and couldn’t bear the thought of them being separated. The two furry friends depended on each other to thrive.

The rescue immediately offered to take both in and help them find a home together. “Our rescue stepped up to the plate. We couldn’t bear to separate these sweet friends,” they shared with Love Meow.

Would you like this pair?

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From TechCrunch we get a report of Nybble, a robotic “open source” cat, whatever that is (I’m a computer ignoramus).  Here are the details, and a video is below.

The project, based on something called the Open Cat, is a laser-cut cat that walks and “learns” and can even connect to a Raspberry Pi. Out of the box a complex motion controller allows the kitten to perform lifelike behaviors like balancing, walking and nuzzling.

“Nybble’s motion is driven by an Arduino compatible micro-controller. It stores instinctive ‘muscle memory’ to move around,” wrote its creator, Rongzhong Li. “An optional AI chip, such as Raspberry Pi can be mounted on top of Nybble’s back, to help Nybble with perception and decision. You can program in your favorite language, and direct Nybble walk around simply by sending short commands, such as ‘walk’ or ‘turn left.’”

The cat is surprisingly cute and the life-like movements make it look far more sophisticated than your average toy. You can get a single Nybble for $200 and the team aims to ship in April 2019. You also can just build your own cat for free if you have access to a laser cutter and a few other tools, but the kit itself includes a motion board and complete instructions, which makes the case for paying for a new Nybble pretty compelling. I, for one, welcome our robotic feline overlords.

This appears to be for computer geeks rather than ailurophiles, as it’s no substitute for the real thing, but it is a challenge to programmers!

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Lagniappe (click on screenshot):

Photo: Wojtek Jabczynski/Facebook

A Polish mountain climber who recently scaled his country’s highest peak was surprised to find a domestic cat waiting for him at the very top.

Wojciech Jabczynski couldn’t believe his eyes when he reached the top of the 2,500-meter-high Rysy mountain and spotted a ginger cat nonchalantly licking its paws. No one knows exactly how the feline got to the mountain top, or why, but Jabczynski suspects it may have climbed up from a small tourist hut under the peak. Surprised by its presence there, the experienced climber took out his phone and took some pictures and recorded a video, just to make sure people believed him when he told the story.

The cat looks to be in good shape, but I’m worried about it. How did it get up there? As one commenter noted, “Death in these mountains awaits him, unfortunately. It would be nice if someone showed some empathy and common sense and tried to take the cat to shelter.”

h/t: Diana MacPherson, Tom, Paul

Nevertheless, he persisted: Sammy the seal begs for fish

In a small seaside town in Ireland, Sammy the seal makes a daily appearance to beg fish from the fishmonger. I don’t know how this behavior started, but I suspect someone from the store gave him a fish. The rest is history. The YouTube notes:

Sammy the Seal begs for fish outside a restaurant in Wicklow Town, Ireland in this funny seal video caught on camera. According to local reports, Sammy was spotted being shooed back into the sea by a fishmonger this morning (November 22). In this file footage, Sammy is engaging in his daily ritual – emerging from the Broad Lough river and proceeding to kick up a fuss outside the restaurant. Eventually the owner of the restaurant gives in and brings out a fish, which he gives to the expectant creature. Sammy then flops back into the water.

But. . . Sammy returns!

Were I the fishmonger, I’d be in a dilemma now, as you can’t just stop feeding that adorable animal, but he also risks his life flopping into the road. I suppose he could use Sammy to increase business, with a motto like, “Our fish is so fresh that a seal leaves the ocean to get it!” Then, with the increased business, Sammy could get more fish.