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December 4, 2005

Meanwhile, in the world
Posted by Patrick at 12:10 PM * 31 comments

An exchange in the comments section of Don’t Bomb Us: A Blog by Al Jazeera Staffers:

Anonymous: Though you broadcast these screeds in detail because it is “news” that you have a “duty” to report, when I search the Al Jazeera site for the phrase “honor killings” I get nada. Not a single hit. Don’t you think that the murder of women throughout the Islamic world by their uncles and fathers and husbands because these women have the audacity to date who they want or express what they think is newsworthy?

Mohammed [of Don’t Bomb Us]: You make mention that our website does not mention “Honor Killings”—that is true since we don’t use American English—we use English English. Try your search using “honour” instead—or just click here for Google results.

You see, sometimes little cultural misunderstands can cause such a big fuss.

Let’s keep talking. Enjoy the weekend…!

Rather more polite than I would have been.

Elsewhere, Mohammed demonstrates the vast cultural gulf between the West and the mysterious, perfume-scented, treacherous East, so different from ourselves:

Off-topic but news none the less: Mozilla is releasing Firefox 1.5 tonight! Can you even remember life without tabbed browsing? I wonder how this will affect development of Flock—the Web 2.0 uber-browser that I’ve been playing with to post to “Don’t Bomb Us” (yes, I’m a geek. Now if only Management would trade in my Thinkpad for a PowerBook…)

Worth a look. In 2005, there’s no remaining excuse for getting all your news from American media.

Comments on Meanwhile, in the world:
#1 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:07 PM:

I read mainstream European media (British and German) but my paranoia kicks in with Al Jazeera. Not that I don't want to read their viewpoint, rather I don't want to leave log trails for our overzealous DHS watchdogs.

I like being able to get through airport security without being strip searched, thank you.

Paranoid, perhaps. But this crazy government of ours has given us lots of reasons for paranoia.

Frex - a good friend of mine who's pretty conservative now always flies clean-shaven because he's afraid that facial hair will target him for extra searches. Why? Because he's been given extra attention at DTW while sporting a scruffy beard, and breezes right through without, with a sample > 1. Random, maybe. But he can't be bothered extending the sample set to find out.

#2 ::: Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:09 PM:

So I went to and entered "honour killing" into the search field and I'm shown the first 10 of 500 hits. The headlines of the first 10 results are:

Greenspan fears for global economy (12/2/2005)
Overview of TV news channels (11/30/2005)
Israel threatens to shut Rafah crossing (11/30/2005)
Yemeni rebels killed in fighting (11/30/2005)
Darfur rebels claim attack on town (11/29/2005)
Darfur rebels claim attack on town (11/29/2005)
Dozens killed in China mine disaster (11/28/2005)
Allies warn US over CIA's secret jails (11/24/2005)
Panic as China city taps turned off (11/23/2005)
Japan Tamiflu deaths under scrutiny (11/17/2005)

In these ten articles the word "honour" does not appear. The word "killing" appears in exactly one of the listed articles. When I hit the "next" button I presented with a message saying "Search results. 0-0 of 0". I get the same results with "honour killings". Actually I get the same results no matter what I put into the search field.

Nothing wrong with non-American news sources, just try to pick ones with some competence.

#3 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:24 PM:

Scott - Try Google.

And I also ran your search on directly on and got totally different results than you did:

1 - Palestinians decry 'honour killings' (5/7/2005)
Several hundred Palestinian women have held a silent protest in the West Bank town of Ram Allah, demanding legislation to protect women from so-called honour killings.

2 - Publisher: Honour killing book fiction (8/13/2004)
The Australian publishers of Norma Khuri's best-seller Forbidden Love admitted on Friday the Jordanian-born author's account of an honour killing in the Middle East was fiction rather than fact.

3 - Report: Honour killing story a hoax (7/24/2004)
The author of a best-selling book about her friend's murder in a Jordanian honour killing has been accused by an Australian newspaper of fabricating the story.

4 - Lebanese man in 'honour killing' (10/15/2003)
A Lebanese man has confessed to murdering his sister to protect his family's honour.

5 - Father jailed for UK 'honour killing' (10/7/2003)
A Muslim businessman has been jailed for life by a British court for the murder of his teenage daughter's Christian boyfriend.

Plus several more. The onsite results are comparable with Google. Not sure why your search was different

#4 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:26 PM:

Here's the link to the search results from aJ, but it looks like the link may not be stateless. Your results may vary...

#5 ::: Sundre ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:27 PM:

Scott: ditto on Larry's results. Searches on "honour killings" and "honour crimes" pull up articles just fine. Perhaps it was a temporary bug?

#6 ::: Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:28 PM:

I get proper results with Firefox. The original query was done with IE. Seems like the site isn't testing with the most used browser. Still not very competent.

#7 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 01:55 PM:

Can you even remember life without tabbed browsing?
Gee, not since I began using Opera back in 1998...

#8 ::: Brooke C. ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 02:17 PM:

I saw "Control Room," the documentary of Al Jazeera's experience of the invasion of Iraq, around the same time as "Farenheit 9/11." Very intriguing stuff about journalistic bias and sources...and not nearly as one-sided as you might expect. Though my favorite of that election-year documentary glut is still "The Corporation."

#9 ::: morinao ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 03:40 PM:

Scott: I tried your queries with both Firefox and IE and got the same satisfactory results as Larry did. However, I've noticed that every once in a very long while, Google News hiccoughs and yields similar behavior to what you report. Not a competence issue, just the imperfect state of the art.

#10 ::: g-clef ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 03:56 PM:

If you're really concerned with not showing up in logs when surfing, have a look at TOR. It's been around for a few years, and the folks I know who use it are generally impressed.

#11 ::: Spam, spam, spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 04:14 PM:

Can't even make a link properly.

#12 ::: g-clef ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 04:50 PM:

Huh. odd. I had the full HTML in there. Ah, well...let's try that again...TOR info is here

#13 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 05:22 PM:

Using Larry's link I got the nonspecific results Scott reported, but when I did the search myself it worked fine.

#14 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 05:28 PM:

Eleanor - I did say that the results link may not be stateless, meaning that what's there may be dependent on how you got to the page.

#15 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 08:53 PM:

" Still not very competent."

Scott, I'm getting the impression that their technical competence isn't actually what you're bothered about.


#16 ::: matthew h ::: (view all by) ::: December 04, 2005, 10:16 PM:

-- " Still not very competent."

--Scott, I'm getting the impression that their technical competence isn't actually what you're bothered about.

-- Hm?

George Orwell may have explained that: " [A]ny implied praise of a rival organization, fills [the nationalist] with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort." Notes on Nationalism

#17 ::: Scott Janssens ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 02:13 AM:

Jon H, I'm getting the impression you're insinuating something. Or is that too a sharp retort, Matthew?

Seriously, the only thing bothering me now is dealing with pre-moving crap. It just seems to me that if one responds that a correctly spelled search returns results one should verify that a correctly spelled query actually returns results. If I take too keen an interest in the technical aspect, well it's what I do for a living.

#18 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:56 AM:

This does seem to be the good stuff:

Three brothers have hacked to death their two sisters in Jordan, a day after parliament rejected an amendment that stiffens sentences for people convicted of so-called honour killings.

Perhaps this sort of news is preferable to word of how private contractors in Iraq cheerfully blow away random families, but I'd prefer a world in which neither happened.

#19 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 04:00 PM:

IJWTS that I am glad to see "so-called" (in one form or another) attached to "honour killings" in all these examples, particularly since the American media outlets still typically report instances of murders by jealous husbands etc. as expressions of passionate love ("Two slain in love triangle--news at eleven").

#20 ::: Randy Bush ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:47 PM:

i can no loger get to port 80 on testing from a number of hosts around the globe, but have no problem with other blogs. one suspects the dc war machine and/or some vigilantees have gotton to blogspot.

#21 ::: dolloch ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2005, 06:51 PM:

Larry - Perhaps instead of avoiding sites like Al Jazeera, we should encourage surfing to them! More people on The List = more checks at airports = longer lines and shorter tempers = more people questioning why we need the sprawling DHS screwing with us all the time! :)

Well, mildly amusing anway.

#22 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:49 AM:

I'm never sure what gets you searched at airports. In my very limited experience it seems fifty fifty between "profile cases" and "entirely and completely unlikely people, picked solely to illustrate the fact that we are not profiling," ie elderly caucasian and african american ladies, young female students, etc.

Of course I may be biased because the latter group is the kind of person I'm most often traveling with, and so I notice when we/they get stopped.

#23 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:47 AM:

I'm never sure what gets you searched at airports.

Usual suspects:

Wrong last name.
Wrong first name.
One way flight.
You beeped twice at the magnetometer.

The first two you can often test for. Next time, fly as "L Miller, not Leah Miller", or other such trickery.

One way flight. A friend of mine got burned by this Sunday. Flying PDX-SFO-ORD, on AA. The PDX-SFO leg was a codeshare on Alaska. The Alaska plane was seriously delayed, so he was going to miss his connect. So, they walked him to United to get him to SFO to catch his flight to ORD.


What He Saw -- ORD-PDX-SFO-ORD, on AA, Codeshare AA, AA. This is a round trip, like "Patriotic Americans" fly.

What the TSA saw. ORD-PDX on AA. PDX-SFO on UA. SFO-ORD on AA -- three one-way flights, like them terrorists fly. Bang, "SSSS" on the boarding pass.

The magentometer. I actually agree with this. They tell you, repeatedly, put the metal in your bag. However, everybody makes mistakes. So, if you walk in, and it beeps, you get another chance -- walk back, check for metal, put it on the belt. (Last time it happened to me, it was the new pager from the new job -- it wasn't part of the ritual Stowing Of Thine Electronics yet.)

If you beep again, then you get hand searched, rather than the rest of us watching you try six or seven times to figure out that your glasses/belt/claymore is what's setting off the detector.

Note, if this happens to you, and you find it is your glasses/belt/claymore that's setting it off, reconsider flying with it, or at least, put it in your bags. I know you get surprised by things like this the first time.

For the last year or so, the "pull random people aside" hasn't been done. The gate screening was a joke to anybody with at least one quarter clue. The frequent flyers figured out this dodge in about two seconds. They call the flight. Somebody walks up, and gets the "random" search. The frequent flyers then get on the plane.

However, this is apparently coming back with the new rules, though it appears it will be random searches at the security point, not the gates. Still, it's Yet Another Annoying Thing about travelling. Plus, you can have a four inch pair of scissors, but not a four inch knife, because nobody will think of stabbing someone with a pair of scissors.

#24 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 10:45 AM:

And so another potential fannish visitor, who would think nothing unusual in arriving in New York, smooching around various places until Boskone, and leaving from Boston, decides that he can forgo the US version of civilisation.

#25 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:18 PM:


This is one of the few, treasured, places I would have to ask:

Bomb or broadsword?

#26 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 03:56 PM:

Erik - A really odd-looking thing in your carry-on can get you searched, too.

A couple of years ago, I had a quick overnight trip to Seattle from SFO, so I drove to SFO from work, with my stainless-steel coffee mug still in my backpack.

Going home, the security people at Sea-Tac had a meltdown over it and practically called in the bomb squad. I got a talking-to in a special room and missed my flight. I think they were showing excess bluster in an effort to save face. Or, they may just have been unfamiliar with travel mugs, after all, nobody in Seattle ever drinks coffee.

Just a one-off, though. I've never had a problem before or since.

#27 ::: ananke ::: (view all by) ::: December 06, 2005, 08:05 PM:

Actually my partner, he of the very Arabic* looking beard got pulled over in a random search when he wasn't even flying the other week. It's one of the reasons I decided against the headscarf - we might be your usual Aussie mongrels (albeit I'm Christian not agnostic like my partner) but me in a headscarf and him with a beard? Not fun.

*Arabic, Amish, bushranger or Leprechaun beard, depending on the viewer.

#28 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 07, 2005, 08:57 PM:

They talked about honor killings in Iraq tonight on NPR while I was taking my long drive home. Daughter gets kidnapped, when she's returned, they think nothing of capping her. She might be 'polluted,' devirginized.

The guy who talked about killing his niece (her brother lost his nerve to do it) to the interviewer acted like it was killing a dog or something. I think there's a special place in hell for the whole freaking tribe. They're burning.

#29 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 12:02 AM:

I work for a jewelr friend at our local renaissance festival, which takes place over seven weeks starting Labor Day. At the time Vanguard had such such cheap seats that he was flying back and forth (they live west of Denver, near Winter Park) every week.

five days after 9-11 he flew back here to KC. He had five 5" diameter pennanular brooches in his carry on because he's had jewelry stolen.... he keeps all his merchandise in a satchel when he flies. We're talking five inch circles of bronze with a six inch pointy pin attached, basically brass knuckles with a shiv built in. He was astonished that they let him though because they opened the satchel and looked at at ALL his merchandise. because it was metal and opaque.

Clue challenged comes to mind. He drives now, because the airfare is still cheaper than gas.

#30 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 06:20 AM:

To the average unreconstructed Middle Eastern male - not those rarities who have by honourable effort or inbuilt character acquired different values - a woman is the property of her husband or senior near male relative. Her chastity is not her only worthwhile quality - there is also her docility, fertility and the value of her labour - but it is the essential prerequisite to any assessment of her value. Its compromise - not necessarily its actual loss - means that her value falls to nothing, making her a burden and disgrace to her family. A good woman - and there are good women, just as there are good dogs - would of course prefer death to that. If not, it only makes the disgrace worse, and the necessity to kill her the sharper.

Thus, Paula, I regret that you are wrong. To the person you heard, it's not like killing a dog. If it were a good dog, that would be regrettable, even it it were necessary. This is like killing a bad dog, an uncontrollable or dangerous dog. A public duty, distasteful perhaps, but not regrettable.

#31 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: December 15, 2005, 09:16 PM:

Dave, your analysis has to be incomplete.

If women were property, to be killed when their value fell to nothing, there would be a thriving market in arab women sold to westerners who are not so concerned about virginity.

A significant number of women killed instead of sold to infidels would imply that there is some other factor involved.

Or else it's a market imperfection. Perhaps there's a whole lot of money waiting for the people who can get that market organised and save those lives.

Assuming it happens much. I've noticed a lot of americans talk about how ready they are to kill people, who don't actually kill anybody I find out about. There's a chance this is similarly overblown.

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