Sunday, 29 November 2009
A Special Musical Interlude: Viper's Drag (Mark Obama Ndesandjo)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 11/29/2009 8:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
A Musical Interlude: Looking On The Bright Side (Ray Noble Orch., voc. Al Bowlly)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 11/29/2009 7:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Is You Is Or Is You Ain't Hizb ut-Tahrir?
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The blow by blow account of the UK school controversy is here.

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Posted on 11/29/2009 2:18 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Iran defies world with plan for 10 new nuclear sites
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From The Sunday Times
Iran’s government today announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants and said work would start within two months.
Each site will be the size of the existing Natanz plant with the aim of producing between 250-300 tonnes of uranium a year.
Iran’s state news agency IRNA says the government ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin construction of five uranium enrichment sites that have already been studied and propose five other sites for future construction.
The decision was made during a Cabinet meeting headed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Sunday evening, IRNA said
The move comes just two days after world powers united in condemnation of Iran’s nuclear activities in a rare show of international consensus on the threat posed by Tehran’s continued nuclear defiance.
China and Russia joined the United States, Britain, France and Germany in backing an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution censuring Iran and ordering it to halt construction of a secret uranium enrichment plant near Qom.
“Because of world powers’ hasty behaviour, the government should submit its plan over reducing Iran’s cooperation level with the agency,” MPs said in a statement read out in parliament.
Parliament can oblige the government to change the level of cooperation with the IAEA, as it did in 2006 after the Vienna-based agency voted to report Iran to the UN Security Council.
Before the latest announcement Gordon Brown had warned that the major powers would pursue harsher sanctions against Iran if it ignored the vote.

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Posted on 11/29/2009 9:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Minarets Banned As Swiss Back Far-Right
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Breaking news from Sky News
Switzerland has backed far-right calls to ban the building of new minarets, official referendum results have revealed.
Switzerland's biggest party, the Swiss People's Party (SVP), claims the turrets attached to mosques are symbols of militant Islam.
The anti-immigration SVP party believes the spires from where followers of Islam are called to prayer demonstrate a "political-religious claim to power".
It forced a referendum on whether or not minarets should be banned after collecting 100,000 signatures from eligible voters within 18 months.
Over 57% of Swiss voters chose to approve a blanket ban on the construction of Muslim minarets, according to official results posted by Swiss news agency ATS.
Partial results from the poll indicate the German-speaking region of Lucerne accepted the ban, while French-speaking areas Geneva and Vaud voted against.
Taner Hatipoglu, president of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Zurich, said: "The initiators have achieved something everyone wanted to prevent, and that is to influence and change the relations to Muslims and their social integration in a negative way."
Mr Hatipoglu said if in the long term the anti-Islam atmosphere continues "Muslims indeed will not feel safe anymore".
Aljazeera is shocked!

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Posted on 11/29/2009 9:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Hit & Run Jihad
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Ryan Mauro writes at Pajamas (with thanks to Alan): 

A radical Islamic terrorist attack doesn’t necessarily need several participants or a direct connection to a terrorist organization. It doesn’t need to be spectacular or done by someone motivated by nothing other than theology. It just needs to be an act of violence aimed at instilling fear in order to advance the cause of radical Islam, and it is because of this failure to understand what qualifies as a “terrorist attack” that the country does not see how many such acts have actually occurred. The increasingly ridiculous argument over whether Major Hasan’s Fort Hood shooting can be considered a terrorist attack underscores this point.

The failure to properly assess several incidents involving Muslims engaging in hit and runs of random civilians serves as a precursor to the debate we are seeing over Hasan today. These may not be big incidents, but they are a symptom of the plague and a foreshadowing of the type of creativity that those wishing us harm will utilize in planning their attacks.

The latest possible act of hit-and-run jihad occurred just this month. A 27-year-old man named Munir Muthana was apprehended in Rochester, New York, after he began running random people over, sending six to the hospital. Two squad cars were also hit as they tried to stop him. He has ties to Yemen and when he was arrested, he admitted to having six beers the previous hour and cursed at the police, saying “Ben Franklin was stupid. He should have made it so you [expletives] can’t swerve the law. The Muslims will fix this country.” If this was just a one-time occurrence, it wouldn’t be an event worthy of this column space unless further evidence of an extremist motivation surfaced. But it is not just a one-time occurrence.

The first major incident occurred on March 3, 2006, when Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar injured nine people by hitting them with his car at the University of North Carolina. Following the attack, the authorities found he had written several letters explaining his actions. They show that the attack was not a sudden outburst but a thoroughly thought-out plan. “I was aiming to follow in the footsteps of one of my role models, Mohamed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers,” one reads. “After extensive contemplation and reflection, I have made the decision to exercise the right of violent retaliation that Allah has given me to the fullest extent to which I am capable at present,” another states.

On August 30 of the same year, Omeed Aziz Popal went on a similar rampage, killing one and injuring 18 with his SUV in San Francisco. His lawyer said he suffered from mental illness and media reports emphasized that he may have been under stress from becoming recently wedded to a woman in Afghanistan in an arranged marriage. One report citing sources in the investigation said that he seemed coherent and they ruled out mental illness as causing his actions, but he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The fact that Popal targeted people outside the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco and was reported by two witnesses as saying “I’m a terrorist; I don’t care” upon his arrest did not affect the media’s coverage, and the story quickly faded.

On January 31, 2007, Ismail Yassin Mohamed engaged in a similar attack in Minneapolis, supposedly because he forgot to take his depression medication. He smashed into a taxicab, ran into a business, and stole a school van, which he then crashed into more cars. He was subdued by residents as he then tried to steal another vehicle. Throughout the attack, he yelled, “Die, die, die, kill, kill, kill,” and said that “Allah made me do it.”...

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Posted on 11/29/2009 7:46 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Lockerbie Bomber Linked To Libyan Chemical Arms Procurement
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From The Times with thanks to Alan:

THE man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was implicated in the purchase and development of chemical weapons by Libya, according to documents produced by the American government.

The papers also claim that Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed alMegrahi sought to buy 1,000 letter bombs from Greek arms dealers while working as a Libyan intelligence officer.

The documents, prepared by the US State Department, raise further questions about the wisdom of the Scottish government in releasing the convicted bomber on compassionate grounds in August.

The documents, written in 1992, were based on information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency to bolster the case against Libya for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which killed 270 people.

They claim that Megrahi’s “deep involvement in Libya’s most sensitive, high-priority procurement operations indicates that he enjoyed the fullest confidence of Libya’s leadership”.

In 1987 Megrahi was appointed director of Libya’s Centre for Strategic Studies, a unit that served the military procurement department. The documents allege: “An alMegrahi subordinate operating in Germany in 1988 played an important role in acquiring and shipping chemical weapons precursors to Libya.

“Al-Megrahi is also linked to a senior manager of Libya’s chemical weapons development programme.”

Colonel Gadaffi, the Libyan leader, was suspected of seeking to stockpile chemical and biological weapons. In the 1980s the government of Chad accused Libya of using mustard gas and napalm against its forces. The documents also allege that Megrahi “met Greek arms dealers and expressed an interest in acquiring 1,000 letter bombs and associated technical equipment”.

In naming him as a prime suspect for the Lockerbie bombing, the documents conclude: “Megrahi ... acted with the approval of the highest levels of the Libyan government”.

Megrahi was freed from prison in Greenock on August 20 after Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish justice minister, received advice that he was terminally ill with prostate cancer. Since Megrahi has survived for more than the three months that he was expected to live, some American relatives of the victims of the atrocity are demanding that he be returned.

Tony Kelly, Megrahi’s lawyer in Scotland, said of the documents: “If there was any evidence backing any of this up I am absolutely certain it would have been introduced at trial and it wasn’t. I think you’re just left with it being unsubstantiated and unattributed intelligence rumours.”

A spokesman for the US State Department said: “We maintain our position that Megrahi should have served out the entirety of his sentence in Scotland for his part in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103.”

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Posted on 11/29/2009 5:47 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Christian convert teen wins arranged marriage case in Ohio
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WorldNetDaily had a story about a Christian convert teen in Ohio winning a case against her parents that invalidated an arranged Muslim Marriage, "Judge: Christian’s ‘arranged’ Islamic marriage invalid."

Note this comment from Jay Sekulow's American Center for Law and Justice  that  defended 17 year old "Nishan:"             :

This is an important case involving the rights of a former Muslim to accept and convert to Christianity. And this decision no doubt will be watched closely by other Christian converts in this country who cannot publicly testify about their conversion to Christianity for fear of facing retaliation – and even harm – from their own family members.

Here are the facts in the Ohio case:

The ACLJ explained, "Nishan's marriage was arranged by her father during a trip to Karachi, Pakistan, in May 2007 following her graduation from high school. Three days after the 'nikah' ceremony, Nishan and her father returned to the United States.

    "She remained confused about the ceremony conducted during her trip to Pakistan and later took precautionary steps to annul her vows by preparing an affidavit for the U.S. consulate in Pakistan in August of 2007," the legal team said. "She gave her affidavit to her father who assured her he would send the necessary paperwork to the consulate. Her family never again mentioned her alleged Paksitani husband and Nishan believed that all necessary steps had been taken to annul any alleged marriage vows."

    However, her father's anger over her conversion to Christianity and her marriage included the statement she had falsified her marriage license application in the U.S.

    "The fact is that Nishan never knowingly or intentionally misstated her marital status on her application  the fact is that even if Nishian's own attempts to nullify her Pakistani marriage were insufficient, her conversion to Christianity in 2009 effectively annulled her partial marriage pursuant to Islamic law, which provides that if either spouse leaves Islam ? and the two never consummated their union, the 'nikah' is immediately annulled," the team explained.

    The court listened to testimony from Nishan, her father and the man who claimed to be her Pakistani husband, and said Nishan's version of the events was "credible."

    "On cross-examination, the father denied assaulting or abusing his daughter or making any threat to his daughter that a 'fatwa' - an Islamic religious ruling - could be issued against her. In fact, the father told the court that did not know what the term 'fatwa' meant - testimony that the court labeled "not believable,'" the organization reported.

Our comment is that this Ohio decision may provide a useful legal precedent in the pending custody hearing in Franklin County  for 17 year Apostate frrom Islam and Christian Convert, Rifqa Bary.  That hearing has been  rescheduled for December 27th.

 

 

 

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Posted on 11/29/2009 3:59 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Sunday, 29 November 2009
Women lead Swiss in vote to ban minarets
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From The Sunday Times
A right-wing campaign to outlaw minarets on mosques in a referendum being held in Switzerland today has received an unlikely boost from radical feminists arguing that the tower-like structures are “male power symbols” and reminders of Islam’s oppression of women.
A “stop the minarets” campaign has provoked ferment in the land of Heidi, where women are more likely than men to vote for the ban after warnings from prominent feminists that Islam threatens their rights.
It seems to have struck a nerve in Langenthal, a small town near Bern where Muslims plan to put up a minaret next to their prayer room in a bleak former paint factory.
“If we give them a minaret, they’ll have us all wearing burqas,” said Julia Werner, a local housewife. “Before you know it, we’ll have sharia law and women being stoned to death in our streets. We won’t be Swiss any more.”
A spoof video game on the internet called Minaret Attack shows minarets popping up all over the idyllic Swiss countryside, after which a message proclaims: “Game over! Switzerland is covered in minarets. Vote to ban them on November 29.”
“It’s a dirty campaign,” said Mutalip Karaademi, an Albanian who leads Langenthal’s small Muslim community. “They’re trying to provoke us.”
A poll suggested the Swiss would narrowly reject a ban but the feminist involvement is having an effect: according to one poll, 39% of women were in favour of a ban, but only 31% of men.
Tatiana, a teacher who had previously voted for the left, was quoted in a newspaper as saying she would vote for the minaret ban as she could “no longer bear being mistreated and terrorised by boys who believe women are worthless”.  Very telling. How many English teachers feel the same but dare not articulate the thought, so indoctrinated into PC they are?
Socialist politicians have been furious to see icons of the left joining what is regarded as an anti-immigrant campaign by the populist Swiss People’s party, the biggest group in parliament.
Swiss women had to fight for their right to vote within my middle-aged memory. Their days of being restricted to Kinder, Kuchen und Kirke are not some distant folk tale. Good on them. British feminists should be so honest.
One of them, Julia Onken, warned that failure to ban minarets would be “a signal of the state’s acceptance of the oppression of women”. She has sent out 4,000 emails attacking Muslims who condone forced marriage, honour killings and beating women.
Swiss business is horrified. There are fears of a reaction against Swiss products similar to the one suffered by Denmark over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in 2005.
“The brand ‘Swiss’ must continue to represent values such as openness, pluralism and freedom of religion,” said Hanspeter Rentsch, a member of the board of Swatch, the watchmaker.
The government, for its part, is worried about reprisals plunging Switzerland into the front line of the war against terror. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the foreign minister, said a yes vote “could make Switzerland a target for Islamic terrorism”.
With a Muslim population of 400,000 and some 150 mosques and prayer rooms, the Swiss thought they had avoided the kind of tensions that have arisen over Muslims’ rights in bigger neighbouring countries such as France and Germany.
That changed in 2006, however, when a Sikh temple, complete with a gleaming white crown, was inaugurated in Langenthal. Karaademi appears to have been struck with cupola envy.
“I said to myself: why not us?” he recalled last week, adding that he had applied for a permit to build what would be Switzerland’s fifth minaret and permission had been quickly granted.
Encouraged by this, Muslim communities all over the country began applying for permits to put up their own minarets, regardless of the fact that noise regulations prevent the towers from fulfilling their traditional function of calling the faithful to prayer.
Patrick Freudiger, a Conservative MP (who) likes to remember a comment by Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, who once described minarets as the “bayonets” of the Muslim faith. “Minarets are symbolic of a quest for political and religious power,” Freudiger said.
Referendum or not, the arguments seem likely to continue. “In Switzerland,” said Hisham Maizer, president of the Swiss Federation of Islamic Organisations, “the debate about Islam is only just beginning.”

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Posted on 11/29/2009 2:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Abu Dhabi to Dubai: Do I Know You?
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Abu Dhabi will probably come hat in hand to us, saying something about how it's not fair that they should have to pick up the tab for their profligate brethren and how we're all in the "global market" together and how bad news like this affects us all, etc., etc. 

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi, wealthy capital of the United Arab Emirates, will "pick and choose" how to assist debt-laden neighbor Dubai, a senior official said on Saturday, after fears of a Dubai default sent global markets reeling.

"We will look at Dubai's commitments and approach them on a case-by-case basis. It does not mean that Abu Dhabi will underwrite all of their debts," the official in the government of the emirate of Abu Dhabi told Reuters by phone.

Dubai's crisis exploded on Wednesday when the emirate, known for flashy lifestyles and the world's tallest building, said it would delay payment on debt issued by one of its flagship firms, angering investors and sending global markets sharply lower....

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Posted on 11/28/2009 8:42 PM by Rebecca Bynum
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Multicultural interlude: African albinos dismembered for body parts
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Apparently it's not just the dismembered body parts of young children that have "magical powers."  Is there any group in Africa that doesn't have to worry about being chopped up into amulets?  From Tom Odula for AP:

NAIROBI, Kenya – The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa's albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.

Mary Owido, who lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.

"Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania," said Owido, 36, a mother of six. "This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone."

Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa.

At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.

East Africa's latest albino murder happened in Tanzania's Mwanza region in late October, when albino hunters beheaded 10-year-old Gasper Elikana and chopped off his leg, the report said. The killing left Elikana's father, who tried to defend his son, seriously injured.

Albinism is a hereditary condition, but occurs only when both parents have albinism genes. All six of Owido's children have normal skin color.

African albinos endure insults, discrimination and segregation throughout their lives. They also have a high risk of contracting skin cancer in a region where many jobs are outdoors.

Owido, a high school teacher in the western Kenyan town of Ahero, says she was forced to transfer from a better teaching job on the Kenya-Tanzania border town of Isebania in 2008 after an albino girl she knew was murdered and her body parts chopped off.

The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of "a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors," the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said.

The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts — including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose — can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

People with white skin in Africa are being discriminated against, segregated, killed, and chopped up for body parts, but "human rights groups" have more pressing matters, focusing here in the evil West.

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Posted on 11/28/2009 8:03 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Human Rights Watch All Of A Sudden Ostentatiously Shows It Is Interested In Subjects Other Than Israel
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Human Rights Watch, which spends almost all of its time -- or so it seems -- on the mighty empire of Israel and its supposed "violations" of human rights -- has been stung, has even suffered, in recent months, as more and more comes out about its personnel. There is Sarah Leah Whitson, who went off to raise money from Saudis in Saudi Arabia, and her selling point, in one of the most horrific countries on earth (as far as human rights go -- as for the money, oh it's very good), was the unbroken record of anti-Israel activity by this most biased of NGOS. And then there was Joe Stork, who has toiled in the vineyards of anti-Israel activity for many decades -- you can find his record on-line -- and who a few years ago was apparently deemed just the fellow to hire to monitor the Middle East for good old Human Rights Watch. And finally, and possibly most outrageously, there is the case of Mark Gerlasco, who has written anti-Israel reports for Human Rights Watch and who, it was recently revealed, loves to go on websites for collectors of Nazi memorabilia and tell them about his obsessive collecting in this area, and the orgasmic thrill he gets -- at least, his words suggest that -- from a really good piece from that memorable period, when Hitler was Hitler and everyone marched and heil-hitlered in serried ranks -- for Mark Gerlasco, it was a thrilliing time, and no wonder he has not one, not ten, not a hundred, but thousands and thousands of individual Nazi items. Just the man to collect information and write reports on Israel for Human Rights Watch, don't you agree? 

 

Well, all of a sudden we have a quick flurry of reports from Human Rights Watch on persecution and mistreatment that are not, mirabile dictu, about the no-doubt still-horrible Israelis, but how can Human Rights Watch regain its cred to denounce Israel, as Sarah Leah Whitson, and Joe Stork, and Mark Gerlasco (perhaps now from the sidelines) are just itching, no doubt, to do, unless a few more reports can be written about other subjects, so that those who are watching in horror the decline, degradation, and complete swinish fall of Human Rights Watch when it comes to its Middle Eastern coverage will have just the teeny-tiniest less evidence to offer up?

Here's one new report, about the mistreatment by Arabs of Kurds in Iraq. It's not put that way, of course. The Human Rights Watch report does not discuss the general mistreatment of non-Arab Muslims by Arabs, and how Islam is a natural vehicle for Arab supremacism. You'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Still, the report shows one thing -- that support for an independent Kurdistan could do much to weaken the Camp of Islam.

NEW YORK: Syrian authorities should end their “unlawful and unjustified” practices of attacking Kurdish gatherings and detaining Kurdish activists, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday. The report, entitled “Group Denial: Repression of Kurdish Political and Cultural Rights in Syria,” documents what HRW says are efforts by the authorities to “ban and disperse” Kurdish gatherings and “the detention of leading Kurdish political activists and their ill-treatment in custody.”

“At a time when other countries in the region, from Iraq to Turkey, are improving the treatment of their Kurdish minority, Syria remains resistant to change,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.

“In fact, Syria has been especially hostile to any Kurdish political or cultural expression.”

Kurds represent around nine percent of Syria’s 20-million population.

Living mainly in the north, near the border with Turkey and Iraq, Syria’s Kurds are demanding recognition of their language, culture and political rights but deny they are seeking secession.

The New York-based HRW said the repression of Kurds in Syria “has greatly intensified following large-scale Kurdish demonstrations in March 2004.”

Since 2005, it said, “Syrian security forces have repressed at least 14 Kurdish political and cultural public gatherings, overwhelmingly peaceful, and often resorted to violence to disperse the crowds.” Aside from political meetings in support of Kurds’ minority rights, the security forces have also disrupted gatherings to celebrate Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year, and other cultural celebrations, the rights group charged. “In at least two instances, the security services fired on the crowds and caused deaths.”

The report also documented the arrests and trials of at least 15 prominent Syrian Kurdish political leaders since 2005. In the most recent example, the Damascus Criminal Court on November 15 sentenced three leading members of the Kurdish Azadi Party to three years in jail for “weakening national sentiment” and “inciting sectarian or racial strife or provoking conflict between sects and various members of the nation.”

Of 30 former Kurdish detainees interviewed by the group, 12 said they had been tortured by the security forces.

“Most of those detained are referred to military courts, where they can be convicted of vaguely defined, overbroad ‘security charges’,” the report said.
 

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Posted on 11/28/2009 8:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
A capital fellow
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We all know how one small word can make a difference - one small word for [a] Man, God  wot [rot]. But so can a shift key.  Pace e e cummings, it  matters. By the way, is pace just another way of saying "to hell with"?

Anyway, here are some famous opening lines. Can anyone spot the shift in meaning?

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the Village though

I am not the first to observe this, but the devil take me if I can remember who is.

I'm away for a couple of days. Toodle pip.

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Posted on 11/28/2009 4:39 AM by Mary Jackson
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Russia train derailment: police investigate possibility of terrorism
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From The Australian and The Telegraph
AT least 22 people have been killed and 54 injured after a train travelling between the Russian capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg derailed, possibly as a result of a terrorist attack.
The carriages came off the track as the train was en route between Russia's two main cities on one of the country's busiest rail links. A government spokesman said the accident to the Neva Express happened at 9.30pm (18.30 GMT) near the town of Bologoye, some 250 miles north-west of Moscow and 150 miles south-east of St Petersburg.  Four carriages came off the rails as the train was travelling between stations in Aleshinka in the region of Tver and Uglovka in Novgorod region
A unnamed security official was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that a one metre-diameter crater was found near the scene of the disaster.
"Witnesses say they heard a loud bang before the accident. This could be proof of an attack,' the source said.
"There are injured," the government spokesman said without giving further details. "Medics, rescue teams and police are working at the scene." Emergency services said it was likely that bodies were buried under the wreckage.
A railways official also told Itar-Tass that "an attack is one of the possibilities' being looked at by the police.
In 2007, a bomb on the same line derailed a train, injuring 60 passengers, with Chechen separatist or ultra-nationalist groups suspected.
Islamist militants have sporadically attacked targets outside the north Caucasus region where there are a number of simmering conflicts surrounding the former Soviet republic of Chechnya.

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Posted on 11/28/2009 4:26 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Arabic teaching in Danish schools
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From The Copenhagen Post
School pupils in Copenhagen will be able to take Arabic as a second language from the age of 12, following a new decision from the Education Ministry.
Copenhagen’s city council had applied to the ministry to offer Arabic, alongside the existing language subjects of English, French and German.
The ministry has turned down the request as it wants to keep the standard languages, reports Jyllands-Posten newspaper, and instead Arabic will be an optional subject offered in 7th grade.
Danish People’s Party (DF) education spokeswoman, Marlene Harpsøe said the decision was a catastrophe.
‘It’s not public schools’ job to teach Arabic. It’s something you can do in your spare time. Arabic isn’t a language that you need in the same way as German for example,"
The Danish Union of Teachers previously recommended that Arabic be introduced in schools and union spokeswoman Dorte Lange was pleased with the news about the Copenhagen project.
‘We live in a globalised world and every day deal with Arabic countries among others. Schools should also look past Europe and offer language subjects such as Arabic, Hindi, Chinese and Turkish,’ Lange said.
Social Democrat education spokesman for Copenhagen, Jan Andreasen, believes DF had misunderstood the inclusion of Arabic on the syllabus.
‘It won’t replace the teaching of Danish. We just want to utilise the fact we have a large Arabic population in Copenhagen who could be better at Arabic and use the language in their business career,’ said Andreasen. ‘Many of these young people have problems because they don’t speak Danish or Arabic so well’.
If children live in Denmark and don't speak Danish well then that is where the teaching emphasis needs to be.

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Posted on 11/28/2009 3:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
Hidden threat from al-Qaeda sleeper cells
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From The Telegraph
Counter-terrorism police and Whitehall officials believe dozens of extremists could have arrived here by posing as students or legitimate visitors.
They are concerned both by the relatively lax checks that are made on the visitors before they arrive and by the ease with which they can outstay their visas without anyone noticing.
As many as 13,000 visa applicants may have entered the country from Pakistan in a seven month period since October last year without any checks on their supporting documentation.
The security services fear that because most do not mix with home grown terrorists, they are able to operate under the intelligence radar, acting as sleeper cells until ready to launch attacks in Britain.
But according to an official watchdog, the Independent Monitor for Entry Clearance, many visa officers do not have "enough time to go through applications carefully".
The security services are also worried about arrivals from Somalia, Yemen and North Africa.
MI5 have got 2,000 domestic extremists under surveillance across the country but is becoming increasingly concerned about the threat from abroad.
Similar concerns are felt in the police and one senior counter-terrorism officer told the Daily Telegraph: "There is a lack of control and supervision at our borders in the broadest sense.
"The problem is not confined to Pakistan, terrorists could arrive from anywhere, and we simply have no idea how many extremists may be here."
Police have discovered that the leader of an alleged plot to blow up shopping centres in Manchester last Easter ran a visa advice service in Peshawar, Pakistan.
He is thought to have helped other alleged members of his terrorist cell to arrive from Pakistan under the cover of student visas.
A police source added: "The arrests in Manchester were a good example of the problem and afterwards we had a lot of discussions within government. We are now relying on the UK Border Agency to sort the problem out.
"Part of the problem seems to be that foreign students generate a huge amount of money and there is not a lot of incentive to do proper checks."
Providing courses for foreign students has become a multimillion pound business but the Home Affairs Select Committee said in July that "tens of thousands" of illegal immigrants could have entered Britain using visas obtained through bogus colleges.
It said there could be up to 2,200 colleges that were not legitimate but were accredited by the Government under a system operating until March this year.
It noted there was "no adequate provision" for tracking down those that had arrived illegally and overstayed their visas.
One of the bodies responsible for checking the colleges, the Accreditation Service for International Colleges, based at a semi-detached house in a village near Middlesbrough, has itself been criticised by a body representing British universities, Universities UK.
A leaked report for the Border Agency warned that immigrants were arriving with false bank accounts, letters of introduction from non-existent British companies and pretending to be tourists when they had left their wives and children at home.
Last night, the Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: "The UK’s borders are stronger than ever before".
I don't believe you, Woolyass.

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Posted on 11/28/2009 3:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Saturday, 28 November 2009
UKIP chief Lord Pearson fights 'dangers' of Europe and extreme Islamists
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Lord Pearson, you will recall, is the member of the House of Lords who worked with Baroness Cox in their attempt to get Geert Wilders to speak to Parliament. In his absence they were responsible for the showing of Fitna to a Parliamentary audience.
This is from The Times
This peer of the realm seems like the ultimate Establishment grandee. . . But Lord Pearson has never felt part of the Establishment. “I’m a rebel,” he says. “I’m not posh at all, I was bullied at Eton for being nouveau riche, which was very unfair, because we were nouveau but we weren’t riche.”
His father was a fighter pilot who worked in aviation insurance after the First World War. Lord Pearson set up his own insurance company and describes himself as self-made.
Friends say that at school he was the smallest but bravest boy on the rugby pitch. He has never minded picking a fight. During the Cold War he became friends with dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As an education adviser to Margaret Thatcher he took on the teachers’ unions. In the 1990s he read the Treaty of Rome and found his next cause — Europe.
Just as the Tories were becoming popular again two years ago, he left the party for UKIP. “If you are a sheep or a lemming you don’t join UKIP. The party is for original thinkers, lateral thinkers, people who care passionately about our culture and our history and who do not like to see our system of representative parliamentary democracy being broken down.”
The expenses scandal has, he thinks, increased the latent sense of disillusionment. “The system whereby you vote for and send your MP to Parliament has become irrelevant; the majority of national law is now made in Brussels, where it is proposed in secret by the unelected bureaucracy. People feel they are disenfranchised and apart from leaving the EU they can’t do anything about it.”
He believes that the rise of radical Islam is dangerous. This year he invited Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who called for the Koran to be banned in his country, to speak in Britain. “I absolutely don’t agree with him that the Koran should be banned but I do think we should discuss what to do about extremist Islamists.
“It is very worrying that a large and growing sector of our society is set against our way of life and laws, our treatment of women and our religion.” Islamism is, in his view, a bigger threat than the European Union. “Its problem is that it is a religious, political and legal system all rolled into one, the penalty of leaving it is death, and it is on a roll all over the planet.”
The Muslim population is “rocketing, their birthrate is much higher than ours. They are already in a position where there are sufficiently strong pockets of them to make demands we find difficult to resist. The British Airways woman was suspended for wearing a cross when 12 of her colleagues wore the hijab. The padre at Sandhurst banned the Creed. Not using the word Christmas is another one. It is when Muslims use our generosity, multiculturalism, openness and hospitality against our Christian beliefs.”
I would stop Muslims schools using their curriculum to spread hatred and anti-Judaeo-Christian sentiment. We need to stop Sharia taking hold in the West in our cities; it is gender apartheid.” He says that he has received veiled threats. But he is not going to keep quiet. “I have had a wonderful innings.”
This 68-year-old is uncomfortable with the pace of change. “It does worry you sometimes when you drive through parts of the country and you don’t really see a white face very much. Obviously we have got used to it and it is something we all support, but it can be pretty difficult if you live in those places and that’s where I think the BNP vote is coming from.”
The British National Party said this month that it would welcome Lord Pearson. Are there similarities between the two minority parties? “Absolutely not — we are completely non-racist. They won’t allow Jews or blacks in their party.”
Unlike Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, he wants everyone of all cultures to embrace Britishness. “The Queen’s the best thing this country’s got by miles, together with the Armed Forces and the taxi drivers.”

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Posted on 11/28/2009 2:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 27 November 2009
Nogoodnik interlude
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Posted on 11/27/2009 6:00 PM by Mary Jackson
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Friday, 27 November 2009
Looming Dubai Sharia Debt Defaults Trigger Global Markets Turmoil
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While we in America were enjoying Thanksgiving feasts and family events, the looming Nakheel property debt default in Dubai was roiling debt, equity, oil commodity and foreign exchange markets.  Some analysts asked if this might be a so-called ‘Black Swan event’. Others noted the swooning Sukuk (Sharia compliant) bond market with severe drops in trading values for debt issued by Malaysia and Indonesia that raised questions about the issuers' sovereign debt risks. This has triggered a flight to safety, temporary of course, to US dollar denominated Treasuries and the US dollar in foreign exchange markets. 

At the Seeking Alpha financial blog, the likelihood of a Black Swan debacle seems remote; however the Eastern Europe sovereign debt markets appear more ominous.

Note this comment in the Seeking Alpha post on the likelihood of a Black Swan event arising from the Dubai World Sukuk bond default:

The events in Dubai are the furthest thing from a Black Swan event as we have all known about this problem for the better part of 6 months or more. The country is in poor financial shape and is, basically, insolvent without a bailout from its neighbor Abu Dhabi. The rulers of the two nations are related. I would be willing to bet that the bailout will come in some fashion, but only after an example is made of the smaller nation, but is this a Black Swan event? What is a more relevant question is will a technical default on Dubai’s debt be a trigger for something bigger?

The effects of these issues are unknown to me at this time because I do not know how China will respond, although I have my speculations, nor do I know what exposure US or European banks have to the Middle East at this stage of the game. I am willing to bet their exposure, especially JP Morgan (JPM), BoA (BAC) and Citi (C), is much higher than we all think since interest rates in that area of the world are much higher than the “norm” in the US and Western Europe. However, the real Black Swan events that I think are being ignored are the ones in Eastern Europe where currency devaluation and real sovereign default is actually happening and has been happening for some time now. Not that you ever hear about that from the media, but read about it sometimes in European blogs or news outlets - and it is disturbing.

Basically, I believe the greenback will have the stay of execution I have been expecting for some time now and it should rally nicely on this possible default news. In reality, a Dubai default means very little to the US other than a sovereign nation defaulting, but it will trigger a flight to quality.

The extravagant Dubai Palm Island and Dubai World building projects were bound to end in tatters for this small Emirate in the Gulf region. Now its wealthier emirate cousins in neighboring Abu Dhabi will likely bail out this commercial disaster for the good of the ummah.  It is also safe to say that the big interest shown in the Sharia bond market by the likes of JPMorgan Chase, Barclay’s Capital, HSBC and others in the innovative capital markets may wane.

Witness, these financial reports:

“Dubai debt default fears spill into world markets” AFP

The shock from Dubai's move to suspend payments due on a slice of government-backed debt spilled over on Thursday into world markets and caused a sharp weakening in global Islamic bonds.

The move to restructure the state-owned Dubai World and the proposal to request a minimum six-month moratorium on its maturing debt has also triggered fears of a domino effect . . . pushing debt rating agencies to slash the grading of Dubai companies.

The shock announcement has begun to undermine some stock prices, with traders in Paris partly blaming it for a 2.06 % drop in the CAC 40 index on Thursday morning.

The fear of Dubai's default "fed a climate of insecurity and crisis of confidence at a time when fears are mounting about excessive public debt," said Xavier de Villepion, an analyst with Global Equities.

Islamic bonds in Asian markets were also weakened following Dubai's announcement, Dow Jones News reported.

A selloff in the Sukuk (Islamic bonds) of the Indonesian government and Malaysia's national oil company Petronas was linked by people in the market to Dubai's decision, it said.

The once rapidly booming Dubai city-state, which has fallen a long way after being hit hard by the global financial crisis, said on Wednesday it intended to ask the creditors of its largest and most-indebted company,  Dubai World conglomerate which owns Nakheel, to "standstill" debt maturity for at least six months, as it restructures the company.

Note this bit of schaden freude from Izabella Kaminska on the FT Alphaville blog,.regarding the foolish cupidity of Barclay Capital's bullish report issued on Dubai debt just a few weeks before this debacle and its sudden turnabout.

My, my, what a difference a few weeks make.

Earlier this month — when all still seemed relatively well in the UAE emirate of Dubai — Barclays Capital was among those touting Dubai-related debt as a decent investment for clients. The bank even confidently predicted the repayment of the now infamous Nakheel Sukuk.

In fact on November 4 — the day Moody’s slashed its ratings on five Dubai government related entities — BarCap analysts wrote:

We expect several developments to act as positive catalysts for Dubai’s sovereign spreads. First, the likely repayment of the Nakheel Sukuk in December. Second, Dubai’s ability to raise the second USD10bn tranche with the support of Abu Dhabi. Third, a successful conclusion of the merger between Emaar and Dubai Holding, as well as a solution allowing mortgage providers Amlak and Tamweel to resume lending.

On that basis, we recommend a long position in Dubai sovereign credit and see today’s negative price actions as an opportunity to buy. While the newly issued Sukuk is our preferred instrument, we also feel comfortable in a recommendation to sell 5y CDS outright or against the CDX EM Index in a relative value trade.

Moody’s, by the way, had warned Dubai’s government was under no obligation to extend support to any government-related issuers either directly or through the support fund. They also wrote:

“Moody’s is therefore making a greater distinction between its view of the creditworthiness of Dubai’s GRIs and that of the Dubai central government, which is itself viewed by Moody’s as benefiting from support from the U.A.E. federal government.”

Unsurprisingly then when you fast forward to November 25 there’s been a bit of a self-acknowledged u-turn from BarCap on the issue of Dubai debt. As they wrote in a note on Wednesday:

Today’s news carries a series of unexpected and surprising headlines when the Dubai Government announced that Dubai World will ask creditors for a standstill agreement to extend the maturities of all debt repayments by Dubai World and its property unit Nakheel until May next year. This announcement fundamentally changes our views expressed in our latest notes in November.

Adding:

Today’s statements are relatively confusing and could underestimate market reaction to the broader set of liabilities of UAE entities. In particular, as spreads were widening on the back of an imminent default scenario by the largest bond issuer in Dubai, another Dubai government entity, with significant financing needs was announcing its willingness to issue.

On the back of today’s developments, we reassess our view towards Dubai as a whole. Fundamentals remain challenging and with uncertainty around the support and political agenda of Abu Dhabi concerning Dubai Inc, spread levels do not seem justified.

The credibility of Abu Dhabi to support Dubai with respect to its financing needs is dented, in our view, eroding the main pillar of Dubai’s
creditworthiness. Dubai’s 5y CDS spreads widened by about 130bp when the news emerged, also sending jitters through wider markets.

The uncertainty and unpredictability around upcoming debt repayments implied by today’s events will add to pressures on Dubai spreads, which may lead to a re-pricing of Dubai and UAE risk, in our view. For the further financing needs of Dubai, today’s announcements imply an increased dependence on Abu Dhabi, as international investors are likely to be much less receptive for Dubai paper than they have been lately.

Well, well. Who’d have thought, eh? 

Sic Gloria transit the Sharia bond market and some of its biggest proponents in the world’s capital markets.
 

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Posted on 11/27/2009 1:57 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Friday, 27 November 2009
Ban Fox Hunting Now!
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hat tip: Bird Dog at Maggie's Farm

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Posted on 11/27/2009 11:17 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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