Monday, November 29, 2004

Whine festival?

Among those who read our most recent column item about Washington’s hosting several European leaders tomorrow who will provide a “European Take on the 2004 Election” is none other than the policy counselor to the European Enterprise Institute in Brussels.

Suffice it to say that Christopher C. Horner, who makes his home on this side of the Atlantic, isn’t impressed with the European lineup invited by the Center for American Progress.

They include Robin Cook, a member of the British Parliament who earlier served as foreign secretary; former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Manuel Oliveira Guterres; and former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

“So, the Center for American Progress offers to enlighten this side of the pond with a representative panel of former European elected leaders to disgorge the continental keening over President Bush’s re-election?” Mr. Horner writes.

“Ahem. Reading this murderer’s row of ex-somebody’s prompted immediate howls of protest-cum-laughter. The Dane, Rasmussen, is not to be confused with current Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen — U.S. ally and liberal (‘liberal’ still used properly over there, as a good thing), but was decisively bounced by his own voters and now serves as president of the Party of European Socialists.

“Robin Cook was too far left for Tony Blair’s left-wing Labour Party and resigned over the Iraq Liberation. Rounding out this well-balanced cadre, Antonio Guterres, is current president of the Socialist International.”

Concludes Mr. Horner, who is also Washington editor of the EU Reporter: “Europe’s left makes our own left-wing party look like right-wing pikers in comparison.”

Muslim TV

“If we do not define ourselves, others will.”

So say creators of the U.S.-based Muslim TV network you’ve been reading about, coming soon into living rooms near you.

The cable television network, called Bridges TV, will not profess one particular sect or philosophy of Islam, its creators say:

“The purpose of Bridges TV is to build a platform that will allow all American Muslims, and furthermore, all Americans, to discuss and debate various philosophies and sects.

“Having said that, Bridges TV caters to mainstream Islam as defined by belief in the Oneness of God, acceptance of Muhammad as a messenger from God and a seal to all prophets.”

The network, which debuts tomorrow, will originate in Buffalo, N.Y.

“One show features a Muslim newspaper reporter named Jinnah who solves whodunits,” reveals Buffalo News reporter Jay Tokasz. “A soap opera explores the melodrama of a Muslim father confronted with his daughter’s desire to marry a non-Muslim. ‘Allah Made Me Funny’ chronicles a Muslim comedy tour.”

There will also be music videos and animated children’s shows, classic movies and food and culture programs, all geared toward American Muslims. As Mr. Tokasz points out, Muslims in this country are not only more educated than the typical American, the average annual household income is $11,000 higher than the overall U.S. average.

“Its founder and chief executive officer, Muzzammil S. Hassan, 40, hopes the network will help balance negative portrayals of Muslims that have dominated American media since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” Mr. Tokasz explains.

He adds that the network already has carriage agreements with Comcast Cable Co., the nation’s largest cable operator.

One of the most frequently asked questions the network says it has received is why the U.S. government would allow its operation in the first place.

“We have briefed the U.S. State Department and have had several good meetings with them in Washington,” it answers. “We have consistently received positive feedback,” including from Stuart Holliday, media assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell.”

Hunting MPs

Inside the Beltway reader Mike Orceyre of St. Petersburg, Fla., couldn’t help but laugh when reading our column about U.S. sportsmen rallying around their British brethren after Parliament issued a hunting prohibition with hounds.

Or, as this columnist unintentionally phrased it, the House of Commons on Nov. 18 “rammed a bill to ban hunting with hounds through Parliament.”

Says Mr. Orceyre: “’[H]unting with hounds through Parliament’ is something I should dearly love to see.”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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