Monday, September 20, 2004

Wacky Madonna makes a fool of herself in Jerusalem

If you have not been following Madonna's ever-changing lifestyle, she is now Esther & claims to be a follower of Kabbalah (means "received wisdom" in Hebrew), a form of Jewish mysticism. She is visiting the Holy Land to celebrate the Jewish New Year. This is a report from The Guardian: Kabbalah is fashionable among some wealthy young Israelis but some Orthodox rabbis say Madonna has debased Judaism's deepest mystical tradition. An American rabbi, Philip Berg, popularised the texts in the 60s. Today they draw adherents such as Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Roseanne Barr. Some of Madonna's religious critics have not forgiven her for her "Die Another Day" video, in which she bound phylacteries to her arm, a Jewish custom usually reserved for men, and ran from an electric chair on which God's name appeared in Hebrew. Also, protesters have rallied outside the singer's hotel to object to her visit to Rachel's tomb in Bethlehem, in the occupied West Bank, without meeting the neighbouring Palestinian communities behind the controversial "security" wall. They sang "Don't cry for me Palestina", and a version of Madonna's hit song Holiday. "While you're on your holiday, take some time to educate," they sang.

Despite recent attacks on Iraqi security forces and their facilities, American officials say Iraqis in search of work are still signing up in large numbers. This is not surprising considering the huge unemployment rate in the country. However, efforts to train new Iraqi Army is facing delays as this NY Times article reports.

From Agence France Presse: "They equate resistance with terrorism." An Islamic conference organised by a group calling for resistance to the US-led occupation of Iraq was on Monday banned from taking place in Berlin by the regional authorities. The website of the "first Arab Islamic Congress in Europe",planned to take place on October 1-3, carries the title "No to US occupation of Iraq, no to Zionist occupation of Palestine". A Lebanese citizen who is one of the organisers was deported from Germany on Saturday following an investigation into his membership of 'questionable organisations'.The man, Fadi Madi, said on arriving in Beirut said that, "The high command of US forces in Europe put pressure on Berlin to attempt to have the conference cancelled." The Central Council of Muslims in Germany and the Islamic Council of Germany have distanced themselves from the event, saying they had not been invited to attend and did not know the organisers.

Having their bylines appear in newspapers is an unexpected bonus for news agency reporters. But now Reuters has asked Canada's largest newspaper chain to remove its writers' names from some articles.The dispute centers on a policy adopted earlier this year byCanWest Global Communications -- the publisher of 13 daily newspapers including The National Post in Toronto and The Calgary Herald, which both use Reuters dispatches -- to substitute the word ''terrorist'' in articles for terms like ''insurgents'' and ''rebels.'' ''Our editorial policy is that we don't use emotive words when labeling someone,'' said David A. Schlesinger, Reuters' global managing editor.