China, Keen on More Power in Tibet, Tells the Dalai Lama He Has To Reincarnate, and How

The power of Communist apparatchiks should extend to matters of the afterlife.

At least they think so.

Chinese Communist Party leaders are afraid that the Dalai Lama will not have an afterlife. Worried enough that this week, officials repeatedly warned that he must reincarnate, and on their terms.

The 14th Dalai Lama is pushing 80, and the government in Beijing would like to tighten its hold on Tibet when he dies.

Officials have amplified their argument that the Communist government is the proper guardian of the Dalai Lama’s succession through an intricate process of reincarnation that has involved lamas, or senior monks, visiting a sacred lake and divining dreams.



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“Moderate” Muslim Asim Qureshi Dodges Every Tough Question in British TV Interview: “I Am Not a Theologian”

It’s rare to see a BBC interviewer apply pressure to a seemingly middle-of-the-road Muslim guest. Sure: firebrands like Anjem Choudary are routinely peppered with critical questions, but Muslims who present themselves as moderates are treated much more deferentially and quickly held up as exemplars of peace (sometimes in violation of the BBC’s own guidelines).

Interlocutor Andrew Neil, in the exchange below with Asim Qureshi, breaks that mold.

Qureshi (pictured below) is the research director for CAGE, a purported human-rights organization for U.K. Muslims. He talks most reasonably of young Muslims’ “disenfranchisement” and the “cycles of violence” they get caught up in, to the point where you think you that this is a man with whom you could possibly break bread.

But doubts linger, and when you scratch the surface, those doubts are not unjustified.

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French Cartoonist Zeon Arrested for Anti-Zionist Art

In ostensibly free European countries, you can get in a lot of trouble for the wrong kind of humor – not just (deadly) trouble from jihadists “avenging” their prophet, but trouble meted out by government agencies and police officers.

For instance, in the Netherlands, in 2008, the home of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot, a poison-pen critic of Islam,

… was raided by a team of ten police officers who had been dispatched by the Openbaar Ministerie, the federal Dutch DA’s office that works in conjunction with the Netherlands Justice Department. The cops confiscated Nekschot’s computer, his sketchbooks, and other materials, then took him to a detention facility where he spent 30 hours in a concrete cell before being released without charges — but after he had been made to promise to remove eight cartoons from his website.



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Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky? Religion Has Everything To Do With It

Today is Friday the 13th. Do you dread it? According to Gizmodo, you can fill more than 300 Superbowl Stadiums with the number of Americans who are truly, authentically afraid of that date/weekday combo.

In the United States alone, it is estimated that between 17 and 21 million people dread that date to the extent that it can be officially classified as a phobia. …

The most popular theory as to why Friday is considered unlucky or an evil day is thought by many to spring from Christianity. By tradition, Friday is considered the day that Eve gave Adam the “apple” and they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden. … Also by tradition, Adam and Eve were purported to have died on a the then nonexistent “Friday”. The Temple of Solomon was said to have been destroyed on Friday.

But Christianity doesn’t have to shoulder all of the blame.

Others theorize that Friday being unlucky predated Christianity. The name “Friday” was chosen in honor of the Norse goddess Frigg, also known as Freyja, who was the multitalented goddess of love, beauty, wisdom, war, death, and magic. Teutonic people are thought to have considered the day extremely unlucky, especially for weddings, due in part to the lovely goddess the day was named for. Later, the Christian church attempted to demonize the goddess, so that may or may not be a contributing factor as well.

Whatever the case, despite these quite old origin theories, well documented instances of the notion that Friday was popularly considered unlucky among the masses doesn’t seem to have popped up until around the mid-17th century.



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Disney’s Cinderella Is a Fundamentalist’s Wet Dream

When my daughters, 10 and 12, went to Florida with me recently, we flew into Orlando. To my great relief, neither of them expressed any interest in going to Disney World; we spent a great day at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center instead.

I’ve always loathed Disney animated movies, at least the saccharine, sexist, trademark fare that the studio pumped out for many decades, until Pixar more or less dragged the ossified giant into the 21st century.

I’ll confess that one extra (and related) reason for my dislike is that Christian fundamentalists tend to adore Disney.

The reason I bring it all up is this brand new “honest trailer,” in which a surprisingly authentic-sounding voice-over explains exactly what’s going on between the lines of the wretched original script for Cinderella.



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