Monday, 31 March 2008
Terror chief told me to bomb London
From the London Evening Standard:
A London man tells today how he was at an extraordinary al Qaeda "brainstorming" summit.
Abu Omar reveals that one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - asked him if he would carry out "martyrdom" operations in the capital.
Other ideas for attacks in Britain and elsewhere were written on a white board as plotters came up with suggestions ranging from attacks on a VIP convoy to the assassination of the Saudi king.
Omar, a former petty criminal who converted to Islam, met Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, another al Qaeda chief, in Afghanistan. Both men were later captured and are to go on trial in America after being held in Guantanamo Bay.
Omar, speaking exclusively to the Standard at a London hotel after renouncing violence, tells how:
• Mohammed personally asked him to attack Britain in a suicide mission.
• He became such close friends with Binalshibh, one of Osama bin Laden's henchmen, that he spent a month with him in a Pakistani safe house.
• He met two other Londoners who discussed terror plans - one of whom planned attacks on civilians in Britain. The other, Abdul Makim Khalisadar, is a convicted rapist whose al Qaeda links are revealed for the first time today.
Omar's real name is being kept secret because of the risk of reprisals over his revelations.
Do you want to become a martyr, the al Qaeda chief asked...
Jailed rapist named as terrorist associate
Plot to attack civilians
Posted on 03/31/2008 8:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 31 March 2008
Khalid Meshaal Claims Shalit Is Still Alive
Sky News: The leader of the radical Palestinian Hamas movement has told Sky News he is offering Israel a deal to attack only military targets and that an abducted Israeli soldier is alive.
In an exclusive interview in Damascus, Khalid Meshaal said he was renewing an offer first made to the Israelis 10 years ago.
"We renew our offer to Israel to let the civilians on both sides not be a part of this conflict," he said. "We renew this offer today."
Mr Meshaal, who is a target for Israeli assassination, said if Israel agreed it would not kill any Palestinian civilians then Hamas would only carry out attacks against Israeli military targets.
I would read the fine print. Define civilian. Define military target.
He also gave confirmation for the first time in almost a year that the Israeli soldier captured in 2006 and held in Gaza is alive.
"Gilad (Shalit) is alive and we are treating him well but Israel is treating the Palestinian prisoners they hold very badly."
I notice he offered no proof that Shalit is alive. I feel for the family. How tortured they must be.
Also during the interview, the Hamas leader appeared to question the opinion of the respected Holocaust historians.
"We don't deny the Holocaust, but we believe the Holocaust was exaggerated by the Zionist movement to whip people," he said.
Posted on 03/31/2008 7:12 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 31 March 2008
Fancy that 2
From the BBC:
There is "no evidence" that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Princess Diana's death or that it was organised by MI6, the coroner at her inquest has said.
Well, fancy that.
Did we really need to spend £7m finding out? Those who believe the conspiracy theories will carry on believing them. Evidence has nothing to do with it. Most of us don't believe them, and many of us don't care. What I want to know is whether they are they finally going to shut up about it.
On the ten-year anniversary of her death, E. J. Throbb wrote some rather irreverant lines, showing a cynicism surprising in a 17¾-year-old. I will repeat them here, to show how shocked I was:
So, farewell then, Princess Di.
I said farewell. Adios.Toodle pip.
What? You still here?
Look, Di, it's been ten years.
You've Di-lighted us long enough.
© E. J. Throbb, aged 17¾
Posted on 03/31/2008 6:15 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 31 March 2008
The Times' review of "Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England" by Emily Cockayne asks: "How many Londoners know that "Mount Pleasant" was the ironic name given to the notorious, gigantic public dung heap that blighted the area?"
I didn't, but I do now, and feel better for it.
Posted on 03/31/2008 6:03 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 31 March 2008
Flooding could destroy Norfolk villages
Further plans to abandon parts of the coast of Eastern England to the sea are expected from the Environment Agency this year, following the suggestion that six villages around the Norfolk Broads might have to be given up to flooding within the next 100 years.
There are fears that dozens of historic villages would be abandoned to the sea.
Norman Lamb, the North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP, said: "There would be churches lost, whole communities lost and a lot of older historic buildings."
Coastal campaigners expect land from The Wash to Kelling along the north Norfolk coast and between Lowestoft and Felixstowe in Suffolk to fall victim to the agency's plans for "no active intervention" to stop coastal erosion. The latest revisions of the agency's shoreline management plans, originally drawn up in 1996, predict sea levels will rise by up to three feet as a result of climate change. The policy would see hundreds of homes destroyed and swathes of the counties' heritage wiped out.
Campaigners say a policy change at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has led to the presumption that coastal management will be withdrawn in areas where the cost to the public cannot be justified.
Under current laws, residents whose homes are destroyed would not be eligible for compensation and no discussions have taken place to change the situation, according to Mr Lamb. A spokesman for English Heritage, which aims to protect and promote England's historic environment, said: "Norfolk's history as a major international trading region has left it with a rich collection of listed medieval buildings, especially its fine churches."
Rarely can the charge that England is disappearing have applied quite so literally. As we report, the Government plans to abandon 25 square miles of Norfolk, drowning homes, farms and whole villages.
DEFRA, that most lamentable of government departments, is refusing to fund adequate sea defences. One of the most distinctive and striking of all British landscapes - the endless skies, flat beaches and pewter-coloured waves of the East Anglian littoral - risks being carried away. . . And, to add insult to injury, one of the few properties to have been reinforced is owned by the Environment Secretary's father, Tony Benn - despite it being one of the few coastal estates between the Thames and the Wash with no public footpath.
There is more to this affair, though, than neglect, penny-pinching and the whiff of nepotism. We have written many times of our concern about the metropolitan outlook of this Government which, for most of its term, has not had a single cabinet minister with a rural seat. Perhaps its neglect of the countryside owes something to a sense that there are not enough Labour votes out there worth chasing.
Yet it does not seem to have occurred even to Hilary Benn that, while few Labour voters live in East Anglia, many of them enjoy visiting its shores and many more nurture a concern for the environment that is neither selfish nor affected. Our eastern lowlands are a national, not a local treasure, and if they are lost, they will not be retrievable.
My comment, living elsewhere in east Anglia and being one of those regular visitors is that :-
The coast of East Anglia is an international treasure. How does it acquire world heritage status like the Jurassic coast of Dorset?
It needs to, and fast.
Above Brancaster - between the Wash and Kelling and at risk. Photo by Mustrum Ridcully
Posted on 03/31/2008 2:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Spring forward - trip over.
The clocks went forward an hour in the UK this morning on to British Summer Time. They also went forward in Sweden but I expect there they call it Swedish Summer Time.
I am now somewhat discomknockervated. I had a late night on Friday in the Pub With No Beer which didn’t help my sleep pattern yesterday but the change has unsettled me more than usual.
I can see the sense in it, making the utmost use of available daylight. If it was important during two world wars I can see the use in this current concern for energy saving. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Some people grumble when the clocks go back in October. Every year some society for the purpose declares that there will be x number more accidents because the clocks are returned to the natural rhythm for the longitude and latitude of the British Isles once the summer is over. They think we should be in line with Central Europe Time all year. The fact that Sweden and Finland and Iceland are not on CET much of the time (if at all) either cuts no ice. They refuse to recall the experiment in 1969-71 when we didn’t turn the clocks back for two years and everybody was miserable because we went to school and work in the dark and got home in the dark. Which is why we went back to the tried and trusted method.
I don’t like the very late light nights of June. I would be no good in northern Scotland or Norway with the Land of the Midnight Sun. I absolutely hate going to bed at 10pm and hearing birds tweeting and sun still streaming through my curtains. I don't sleep well during June and it makes me grumpy.
I like getting up when it is dark and watching the dawn in russet mantle clad walk o’er the dew of yon high eastern house over the back.
I wish we stayed on Greenwich Mean Time all year.
But never mind, it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going.
Posted on 03/30/2008 2:58 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Eat your words
Ben Macintyre gives us some food for thought:
Food is surely the single most important conveyer of words between and among languages. Early travellers traded in exotic goods, but also in words. Just as our palates were changed and expanded with foreign tastes, so the English language has been constantly enriched by new and strange food words, which were themselves gradually absorbed into everyday speech.
Chocolate was only one element of the linguistic banquet laid on by the Aztecs. They gave us guacamole, chilli and tomato, the supposedly aphrodisiac qualities of which persuaded hopeful Italians to dub it the “golden apple”, pomodoro. Some Nahuatl words were quite indigestible. Tlilxochitl, for example, was a prized delicacy meaning “black flower”. The Spanish simply couldn't get their tongues around it, so Willem Piso, a Spanish doctor serving under the governor of Brazil, renamed it vanilla (meaning “little sheath”).
[...Read the original to find out about avocados...]
Food words invade with the invaders. Wine, pepper, butter, radish all came to English from the Roman invasion. Cheese is related to the Latin caseus. The Norman Conquest brought a banquet of table words, as sophisticated French cookery colonised simpler Saxon fare. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the Normans invented English cooking words: Saxon animals (sheep, pig, cow) became Norman terms when cooked and seasoned: mutton, pork and beef. More exotic words followed: gravy, mustard, liquorice.
Food words were exported from wherever the empire spread. And when no word was easily available for import, its very foreignness became its description. Walnut, for example, comes from Old English walhnutu, which means “foreign nut”, since the first walnuts seen in Britain came from Italy.
While English was almost omnivorous, a few food words have been too big to swallow. Early visitors to Hawaii were thrilled to find a fish called a humuhumunukunukupuaa, but as a food, and a word, it never caught on. Some words, like some foods, are best consumed where they originate.
Posted on 03/30/2008 2:40 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 March 2008
For various reasons, last week was a bit of a bugger. The sound of BBC newsreader Charlotte Green, who has the vocal equivalent of a poker face, collapsing into giggles on Friday's Today Programme, was therefore exactly what the doctor ordered.
Click here to listen. Do not, under any circumstances, laugh. Laughing is strengst verboten. The Times reports:
The normally austere tones of the 8 o'clock news on BBC Radio 4's Today programme were replaced by fits of hilarity this morning when a newsreader was unable to stop laughing after hearing a clip of an old sound recording.
Charlotte Green had just finished reading an item about what appeared to be the earliest recording of the human voice, made in 1860, when she fell into an uncontrollable fit of laughter from which she was unable to recover.
Ms Green's latest "corpsing" episode was immediately reported on the BBC sister station Radio 5 Live and prompted thousands of calls to the BBC press office and instant replays on websites.
The giggles were triggered by a recording of the French song Au Clair De La Lune, unearthed by American scientists, that was apparently made 11 years before Thomas Edison first demonstrated the gramophone. The strange, scarcely audible, wail was too much for Ms Green, who was unable to recover her composure and broke down intermittently during the next item: a report on the death of the esteemed screenwriter Abby Mann.
The BBC said that Ms Green's giggles started when she heard in her earpiece a colleague's remark that the clip sounded like "a bee buzzing in a bottle". A spokeswoman said that the programme had so far had 20 comments about the incident, "all positive, about how funny they found it" and no complaints.
The Times leader comments on the strange phenomenon of "corpsing":
Nobody is sure why it is even called corpsing, except that it so often turns out to be dead funny. As when the BBC newsreader Charlotte Green was seized by giggles yesterday on the Radio 4 Today programme while sombrely announcing the death of the Oscar-winning screenwriter Abby Mann - and all the more so because Ms Green generally declaims in the glacial register of a theology don. What had set her snorting so helplessly into her microphone? A snatch of Au Clair de la Lune that was being touted as the first known recording of a human voice.
The only other thing we know for certain is that, as with a tango, it takes two to pull it off. You can no more corpse in private than you can tickle yourself. Scientists suggest that a fit of corpsing is triggered when you find yourself ambushed by an inappropriate and incongruous emotion while you're straining to keep a straight face on account of being in the throes of simulating a very different, far more serious emotion.
Hence corpsing's tendency to afflict actors, newsreaders and commentators - famously the cricket commentator Brian Johnston, who regularly convulsed himself and radio listeners from Trent Bridge to Trenchtown with his corpsing.
Corpsing is such a legendary part of theatrical lore that some believe the term might even have originated from the theatrical prank of goading a fellow actor who's playing a corpse on stage into laughing. Peter Cook was notorious for tossing ad libs, like surreal grenades, into dialogue to provoke his comedy sparring partner Dudley Moore into corpsing. Why were such unscripted moments not cut from the subsequent TV broadcasts? Because the joy of corpsing is that it is as infectious as chicken pox.
Posted on 03/30/2008 11:42 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 March 2008
The Duty To Instruct And Protect
Australia has added its voice to the international chorus of outrage over an anti-Islam film posted on the internet by a right wing Dutch politician.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Geert Wilders' film Fitna equated Islam with acts of terror and violence and was "highly offensive".
"It is an obvious attempt to generate discord between faith communities," Mr Smith said.
"Like leaders in the Muslim world and in Europe, I strongly reject the ideas contained in the film and deplore its release.
"In Australia we believe in the right to freedom of expression but we don't believe in abusing that right to incite racial hatred."
--from this news article
In "Fitna" not a single word that was heard, or that was seen on screen, was spoken or written by a non-Muslim -- that is, until the very end. Every passage displayed was from the Qur'an. Every voice heard in the tapes was that of a devout Muslim, save for that voice of a non-Muslim heard at the very end, uttering the words that explain that the sound of the ripping page was of one not from the Qur'an, but from a phone book, because "it is not for" non-Muslims to rip a symbolic page -- the page of violence, hatred, jihad to subdue the Infidel and ensure the dominance of Islam and rule by Muslims -- from the Qur'an, as from the other implicated texts of Islam (Hadith, Sira), but for Muslims to metaphorically do so -- a challenge to them, a task for them.
And that's it. The rest is all from Islam and from Muslims.
For Foreign Minister Stephen Smith of Australia to denounce a text that is both an act of pedagogy, and an appeal, as hate-mongering, disgusts. That the same Foreign Minister appears to believe that an attempt to present certain undeniable -- but by Westerners such as himself, so nervously, so nearly hysterically, denied -- as "racism" when he knows perfectly well that an ideology is not a race, and that David Hicks, and Adam Gadahn, and John Walker Lindh, are every bit as malign and dangerous to Infidels as were Atta and his nineteen immediate collaborators, or those in Indonesia who murdered so many Australian tourists in Bali, shows a misguided attempt at the "pre-emptive cringe." Does Smith, do others in the Western world who utter this kind of thing really believe it?
Some, no doubt, are confused because they cannot believe that a billion people could possibly accept such malign doctrines. But that is not what the movie "Fitna" argues. It is not what it suggests. It attempts to show the most obvious truth: that the texts of Islam, those that are being, and have been in the past, since the beginning of Islam, taken to heart, are dangerous to Infidels. Muslims who do not take those passages -- in the Qur'an, the immutable and uncreated Word of God -- to heart, may not do so for a variety of reasons. They may be illiterate villagers, whose Islam consists only of the Five Pillars, and who somehow remained largely unaware of the rest, though they have always known that they were "Muslims," that this "Muslim" identity was the main thing in their lives, and that loyalty was owed to Islam and to the Umma, and that this tended to elevate Muslims above all others. Look at all the accounts, over the centuries, by European travelers, by Hindu historians, by Christians who endured Muslim rule (Arakel of Tabriz, the celebrated Armenian whose chronicles have just been re-published in a scholarly translation), by Jews (see Maimonides' Epistle to the Yemen, see Benjamin of Tudela), and no doubt there are also Zoroastrians who have left their accounts.
What do they say, all those chroniclers and historians? Does Foreign Minister Smith know? Does he care to find out? What do the Western scholars of Islam say about the history of Islamic conquest, what prompted it, and what happened to the non-Muslims in the lands that were conquered, over the past 1350 years? Does he know that for a very long period, and especially in that century between roughly 1860 and 1960, before the Great Inhibition, all kinds of Western scholars, German and Dutch and Italian and Russian and English and American and Spanish, studied Islam and the history of Islamic conquest, and their works are not to be ignored nor denied, in the intolerable rush to embrace the assorted espositos and armstrongs, who have nothing like the learning of Schacht, Hurgronje, Jeffrey, Zwemer, Lammens, Dufourcq, and hundreds of others.
This kind of thing cannot be endured. It is not for this or that temporary placeholder in the Western world to decide, peremptorily, because he lacks the wit to figure out how to talk, intelligently, about the meaning and menace of Islam, in a way that cannot be denied, and lacks the wit to figure out the minimal measures that can be taken, if he is to fulfill the duty that high government officials in democracies all have, expressly or by implication, which is to both to instruct and to protect those who, by electing them, or those who appointed them, have entrusted these officials with certain responsibilities, and expect more than the kind of idiocy that Foreign Stephen thinks is acceptable, thinks will satisfy. (DW)
Posted on 03/30/2008 10:58 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 30 March 2008
MAKE OUR CHURCHES SAFE
Our move comes after the brutal assault on Canon Michael Ainsworth who was kicked and punched as he went to tell youths to be quiet in a passageway by his St George-in-the-East parish church in Shadwell in March 5.
That attack highlighted a sorry lack of security at church properties, many of which have faced regular vandalism and become magnets for bored antisocial youths. Gravestones at St Dunstan's church just a mile away in Stepney are regularly daubed in graffiti and other buildings have had windows smashed.
Too often, religious leaders said last week, vandalism against churches was treated as just that, 'vandalism', but similar graffiti on mosque properties is treated as 'faith hate crime'.
There is a feeling among many that the authorities treat churches with less importance.
Yet we have some of the most magnificent London churches in the East End, three of which were created by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the early 18th century, St George's, St Anne's at Limehouse and Christchurch at Spitalfields. Our churches should not be neglected.
Canon Ainsworth, writing in the Advertiser last week, called on Tower Hamlets council, which is responsible for the upkeep and security of 12 church grounds and burial sites, to "play its part" in reviewing security.
But Mr Ainsworth feels that by investing in the derelict nature study centre in St George's Gardens in Canon Street-road, there would also be some good emerging from the horror of the March 5 attack.
The Advertiser urges Tower Hamlets councillors to give this issue the attention it deserves.
We are looking at some of the East End church grounds over the next few weeks and campaigning for improvements.
Posted on 03/30/2008 10:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Mob forces Punjabi girl, 9, into marriage to punish father
A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl in Pakistan has been forced to marry a man of 24 to punish her father for eloping with a neighbour’s daughter.
Nazia Nawaz, who lives in the village of Babrianwala in rural Punjab, described last week how a mob of 30 men, led by a mullah and the local council, stormed her family home and demanded that she and her seven-year-old sister marry two male relatives to settle the dispute.
The forced marriage of Nazia to her adult cousin had just been completed when other family members arrived to stop the wedding of her younger sister, Shazia.
This weekend human rights campaigners in Pakistan criticised successive governments for failing to stamp out the system of village justice known as vani, which is common throughout remote areas of Punjab.
The case emerged when Nazia and her mother made a public statement seeking protection from the man she had been forced to marry.
Her mother, Anwar Bibi, said the dispute began last year when her husband fell in love with his cousin and married her. “My husband developed relations with his cousin, Shamim Bibi, about three months ago. Her father, Muhammad Yar, said Shamim had been abducted and started pressurising me to give my two girls in return.”
Yar demanded that her two daughters be given in marriage to his two adult sons, one of whom was 30 years old and already married with a child.
Villagers said Yar’s sons had planned to take the girls and rape them to punish their father, Rab Nawaz.
Police have arrested 20 men in connection with the ceremony, including Yar and his two sons. The local police chief, Ghulam Mustafa Pahure, said the marriage was in breach of a women’s rights act that came into force last year.
Nazia’s father, whose elopement ignited the family feud, said he had no regrets. “I married for love and we want to stay together, and for this I’m prepared to pay any price,” he declared.
A report published last week by Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) revealed widespread sexual violence against women, often in attacks sanctioned by village councils. In 2007 the commission discovered 354 cases of gang rape, 377 rapes and 21 cases where women were stripped naked as a family punishment.
Pakistan has faced condemnation for its failure to protect rural women in a number of high-profile cases in the past two years.
In one landmark case a former defence minister was found to have been part of a jirga, or community council, that ordered five daughters of a man accused of murder to be handed over to the victim’s family. The youngest was two years old.
Posted on 03/30/2008 9:56 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Al-Sadr Calls Off Militia
BBC: Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr has ordered his fighters off the streets of Basra and other cities in an effort to end clashes with security forces.
He said in a statement that his movement wanted the Iraqi people to stop the bloodshed and maintain the nation's independence and stability.
The government, which had set a deadline to hand over weapons in return for cash, called the move "positive".
Cash coming from American taxpayers, of course. Why should they spend Iraqi oil money when the American purse is still wide open?
The fighting has claimed more than 240 lives across the country since Tuesday.
In Baghdad, the city's military command has extended a round-the-clock curfew for an indefinite period. The curfew had been due to end on Sunday morning...
Moqtada Sadr's statement said: "Because of the religious responsibility, and to stop Iraqi blood being shed, and to maintain the unity of Iraq and to put an end to this sedition that the occupiers and their followers want to spread among the Iraqi people, we call for an end to armed appearances in Basra and all other provinces.
"Anyone carrying a weapon and targeting government institutions will not be one of us."
The cleric also demanded that the government apply the general amnesty law, release detainees and stop what he called illegal raids.
Moqtada Sadr also told his followers to "work with Iraqi government offices to achieve security and to file charges against those who have committed crimes". ...
Posted on 03/30/2008 9:45 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 30 March 2008
The language of administration
I have never served on any kind of Diversity Committee, and it is unlikely that I would be asked to do so. I do not know the precise words Diversity Officials use to say: "We should take more black people even if they aren't good enough." But this is what "diversity" means, so it must be said, one way or another. Of course, "precise words", are precisely what diversocrats do not use. If anyone were to state clearly that skin colour mattered more than talent, you would hear a pin drop in Diversity Offices all over the world.
Stupid and wicked ideas are often couched in obscure language because clarity shows up stupidity and wickedness. Some people cannot write clearly, but even more are afraid to.
The Underground Grammarian, a journal excoriating poor English, is a real find. This short piece from J. Mitchell Morse, explains why administrators are some of the worst offenders. He means academic administrators, but I think it applies equally to other bureaucrats and to managers in industry:
Just as the citizens of a paper-mill town don't smell the sulfur fumes that thicken their yellow air, so we tend to be unaware of the pervasive fear of mental clarity, and to share it unconsciously. We turn off our minds for the same reason that we turn off our lights: we want to sleep in darkness.
Every ruling group wants the masses to be docile, uncritical, unquestioning, unthinking. Virtue, therefore, has always been associated with ignorance and inarticulacy. In view of the exacerbated official anti-intellectualism of the last quarter-century, bad grammar is now a badge of safety, an assurance that we are real folks, not pointy-headed innaleckshals or elitist snobs. The basic cause of bad writing is not lack of brain power but lack of courage.
That is why many of those who are drawn to administration write poorly. Not all but many administrators--although they don't know it--don't dare to write well. They have subconsciously surrendered the power to think with literate clarity, lest they be unacceptable in the way that Adlai Stevenson and Morris Udall were unacceptable.
So have many of us teachers. We are afraid of the pseudo-populists. The most unconsciously reactionary of us all are those who--in the name of radical populism--want our students to remain complacently ignorant of the English in which books are written.
Is it any wonder that our students think and write confusedly?
The first step toward curing this disease, I have found, is to make the patient aware that he has it. Once our students realize that they have the bad habit of intellectual timidity, they begin to have the possibility of writing clearly. For many administrators, however, I fear there is no cure. They have chosen the life of clumsy obfuscation. They have long since consented to sin. They love it.
Posted on 03/30/2008 8:47 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Once again, the Israelis have promised something actual, concessions that will likely endanger their own citizens, while the Palestinian Arabs have promised something ephemeral, that costs them nothing.
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israel and the Palestinians agreed Sunday to a series of 'concrete steps' aimed at paving the way for a final peace agreement later this year, beginning with an Israeli pledge to remove some 50 roadblocks in the West Bank.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the region for the second time this month trying to energize faltering talks, announced the measures, saying they 'constitute a very good start to improving' the Palestinian economy, which has been crippled by Israeli restrictions.
Notice how Israeli restrictions (which are simple measures of self-defense against the relentless terrorism against their citizens coming from the Palestinian side) are blamed for "crippling" the Palestinian economy, such as it is. Palestinian dysfunction is never the Palestinian Arab's own fault.
Under the plan, Israel will remove about 50 roadblocks, upgrade checkpoints to speed up the movement of Palestinians through the West Bank and give Palestinians more security responsibility in the town of Jenin with an eye toward looking at 'other areas in turn.'
The Israelis also pledged to boost the number of travel and work permits it gives to Palestinians and support economic projects in Palestinian towns.
In return, the Palestinians vowed to improve policing of Jenin 'to provide law and order, and work to prevent terror,' according to a State Department statement released shortly before Rice spoke.
Posted on 03/30/2008 8:57 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 30 March 2008
Intra-Shi'ite Fighting Poses Problems For McCain
New Duranty: The heavy fighting that broke out last week as Iraqi security forces tried to oust Shiite militias from Basra is reverberating on the presidential campaign trail and posing new challenges and opportunities to the candidates, particularly Senator John McCain.
The fierce fighting — and the threat that it could undo a long-term truce that has greatly helped to reduce the level of violence in Iraq — thrust the war back into the headlines and the public consciousness just as it had been receding behind a tide of economic concerns. And it raised anew a host of politically charged questions about whether the current strategy is succeeding, how capable the Iraqis are of defending themselves and what the potential impact would be of any American troop withdrawals.
Mr. McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, has made the Iraq war a centerpiece of his campaign; he rode to success in the primary season partly on his early advocacy of the troop buildup. The battle in Basra broke out as he returned from a trip to Iraq this month, proclaiming that violence there was down and that the troop escalation was working.
Mr. McCain, of Arizona, said he was encouraged that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s government had sent its troops to reclaim Basra from the Shiite militias. “I think it’s a sign of the strength of his government,” Mr. McCain said Friday at a stop in Las Vegas. “I think it’s going to be a tough fight. We know that these militias are well entrenched there. I hope they will succeed and succeed quickly.”
Or, it could be that we have been so successful in controlling Sunni-Shi'a fighting (or that the populations have simply separated on their own) so now we see the smaller fissures, both intra-Sunni and intra-Shi'a open up.
The Democrats, who are calling for phased troop withdrawals, are beginning to point to the fighting in Basra as evidence that the American troop buildup has failed to provide stability and political reconciliation — particularly if the fighting leads one militia, the Mahdi Army, to pull out of its cease-fire; that could lead to a new spate of sectarian violence across the country. Some are saying the fighting strengthens their case for troop withdrawals.
But the McCain campaign is hoping to turn that argument on its head, asserting that the battle in Basra shows just how dangerous the situation on the ground in Iraq is. It says this bolsters Mr. McCain’s argument that a premature withdrawal of American troops would lead to more widespread violence, instability and perhaps even genocide.
I want a commander-in-chief who can watch with cool equanimity while our enemies fight each other, and who will not be drawn back into Iraq's civil war on humanitarian grounds. I want a commander-in-chief who values American lives above the lives of Iraqis and who recognizes the difference between American national interest and Iraqi national interest.
“I think that what this demonstrates is that there are very powerful forces that still remain that do not want to see the success of the central government and that would relish the prospect of the American withdrawal so that they could try to fight or shoot their way into power,” said Randy Scheunemann, the McCain campaign’s senior foreign policy adviser. “Would you rather have the Maliki government in control, or the Iranian-backed special groups in control, or Al Qaeda in control?”
This is a false choice. The Maliki government is Shi'a and is already aligning itself closely with Iran. The Sunnis will fight or be crushed by the Shi'a, which is unlikely to happen because they will receive backing from the Sunni states, especially from Saudi Arabia. The likely long-term outcome is a low-level civil war that will flare up from time to time. The Sunni states and the Shi'a states will continue to sell oil to finance the war and they will be more likely to increase production because they will need the money so the price of oil is more likely to drop than rise. The Kurds are likely to split from the rest of the country and we should support that in exchange for a base in Kurdistan. That's all we need. It's long past time to admit that the Iraq "Light-Unto-The-Muslim-Nations" project has failed. It's time for plan B.
Posted on 03/30/2008 7:33 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Islam IS A Political Movement
Something Islam has in common with Nazism is both are cults of personality. The genius of Muhammad is he understood how to make his personality cult immortal by bestowing upon it a religious dimension. But in reality, Islam has no higher purpose than Islam itself - the spread and dominance of Islam in time and space. It has no transcendent purpose as with the message of Jesus which embodies the divine purpose of showing man the way to find God and indeed most religions have this higher purpose. Islam only shows man the way to obey Islam.
I was just sent the following weblog by Daniel Pipes in which he expresses his disagreement with Geert Wilders over what Islam is and therefore disagrees about how to deal with it.
As the Dutch politician Geert Wilders nears the release of his film expected to present the Koran as analogous to Hitler's Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), a point he has already made, it is worth recalling who else has made this comparison. Yes, in recent years, it's become a quite common theme on the right – for example, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly did so on his show in 2002.
But the really interesting comparison is Winston Churchill's, though he did it the other way around. It comes on p. 50 of From War to War, the first part of the first volume of his 6-part Second World War. Chapter 4 deals with Adolf Hitler, including a close look at Mein Kampf, which Churchill called "the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message."
Pipes' Comment: I disagree with the comparison (and also reject the idea to ban Islam or the Koran), seeing this as counterproductive: it won't happen and it need not, as Muslims' understanding of their religion and scripture are potentially flexible. That said, the Churchill quote points to the undeniably deep-felt Western hostility to the Koran. (February 21, 2008)
"Muslims' understanding of their religion and scripture are potentially flexible." I'm relieved to hear it. In the meantime, I shall devoutly hope and pray the Koran lands in the dustbin of history along with Mein Kampf and Das Capital where it belongs and that the political movement of Islam, which threatens everything we hold dear, dies so that it will threaten humanity no more.
Pipes also left out the last line from Churchill's quote: "The main thesis of the Mein Kampf is simple." The main thesis of the Koran is likewise simple. It divides humanity in two and declares there can be no peace between them until one side (Islam) wins. Islam is a political movement. It's that simple.
Posted on 03/29/2008 8:36 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 29 March 2008
A Great Attorney General
Boy, it's nice to be proved right, day in and day out.
As the New York Sun put it yesterday, "It's hard to recall a moment when we have heard this combination of emotion, logic, and straightforwardness in an attorney general." The Sun's editors were speaking about Attorney General Michael Mukasey's speech on Thursday, right in the hear of Pelosi-Land, which was covered by the paper's superb reporter, Josh Gerstein. As the editors recounted:
That was quite a moment when Attorney General Mukasey appeared yesterday at San Francisco, we gather from the dispatch by our Josh Gerstein. The general was making a plea for broad surveillance authority in the war on terror, warning, as Mr. Gerstein paraphrased him, "that the price for failing to empower the government will be paid in American lives." He argued that officials "shouldn't need a warrant when somebody with a phone in Iraq picks up a phone and calls somebody in the United States because that's the call that we may really want to know about. And before 9/11, that's the call that we didn't know about. We knew that there has been a call from someplace that was known to be a safehouse in Afghanistan and we knew that it came to the United States. We didn't know precisely where it went."
That was the point, Mr. Gerstein reported, that the attorney general "grimaced, swallowed hard and seemed to tear up as he reflected on the weaknesses in America's anti-terrorism strategy prior to the 2001 attacks. 'We got three thousand ... We've got three thousand people who went to work that day and didn't come home to show for that.'" Mr. Gerstein pointed out that at the time of the attacks Mr. Mukasey was chief judge at the federal court house a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. He said in his speech yesterday on the coast that the bench did little to prepare him to deal with the daily briefing he receives about the threat to America. "It is way beyond, way beyond anything that I knew or believed. So, if I was picked for the level of my knowledge of what I actually see, that was a massive piece of false advertising," he said. "There's a lot going on out there."
The attorney general, incidentally, said that the tactic of profiling Muslims isn't used at airports, but, Mr. Gerstein reported he used "blunt language to defend extra scrutiny the Justice Department gives to militant Islamic groups. "So far as focusing investigations, we investigate where the threat is coming from. The threat is coming from Islamist extremism. It's not coming from Calvinism," the attorney general said. "We'd be out of our minds, not to mention the waste of resources, to look everyplace simply in the name of being correct." Mr. Gerstein said the attorney general added that religion is never the sole basis for an investigation. "We don't look at Muslims simply because they're Muslims. That doesn't happen," he said.
The Sun's editors summed up: "These columns issued an early call for Mr. Mukasey to be nominated to our nation's top law enforcement post, and we got a glimpse yesterday of the character that made us, and many others, feel that way." Amen.
Posted on 03/29/2008 5:22 PM by Andy McCarthy
Saturday, 29 March 2008
What The Dutch Response To A Boycott Should Be
Any boycott of Dutch products should be swiftly followed by the following measures, made known in advance:
1) an end to all Muslim immigration into the Netherlands
2) a ban on the transfer of outside money from Muslim states -- such as Saudi Arabia -- for mosques, madrasas, propaganda, campaigns of Da'wa, and other support for Muslims whose numbers in the Netherlands have gone -- as "Fitna" notes, from about 1,600 in 1960 to 1 million today.
3) solidarity among Western exporters, who will refuse to supply whatever goods and services were, before such a boycott, supplied by Dutch firms.
4) denial of access to Western higher education and to Western medical care for Muslims who have been allowed to assume that they can continue to take, or buy in the West, all the products, all the advancements, all the technology, all the ways of transmitting information, that are the product of Infidels and, ultimately, of the mental freedoms that Infidels, but not Muslims, possess, and that if they could, they would deprive us of in order to make us conform to their rules, their Shari'a, their everything.
5) a statement by all the member nations of NATO that amplifies the meaning of the phrase "an attack on one of us shall be considered an attack on all" so that this is no longer confined to a military attack, but includes such things as this kind of economic boycott, designed to bring not only the Netherlands, but the entire West to heel.
6) an attempt to start fashioning a common response to Muslim attempts at blackmail and bullying that will not be stopped if, suddenly, Muslim states adopt an attitude of (entirely meretricious) sweet reason, but will continue, and deepen, the ties between Western security services, policy planners, treasury officials, immigration and nauralization officials, working in tandem to diminish the Muslim threat, a common threat, throughout the Western world, based on, prompted by, the texts, and the tenets, and the attitudes, of Islam.
There are a half-dozen measures that, if those who presume to protect us had any sense, they would have come with, and would have been acting on long ago.
But they haven't possessed that sense. And still do not. Not yet. For the mere and horrifying fact that in the Netherlands officials permitted the Muslim population to grow and grow and grow, through both virtually unlimited immigration, and through the providing of every possible benefit, every possible assistance that a generous and advanced Western state can provide (a system that was and is paid for by non-Muslim taxpayers, but milked in every way by, above all, Muslims on the dole, the recipients of every conceivable kind of subsidy or benefit) shows the criminal negligence of the Dutch political and media elites, a negligence shared by the elites of the other countries of Western Europe.
Some are coming, others will come, to their senses. It is a question of when. It is a question of how fast, and how unsentimental they in the end will turn out to be, and how grateful they feel toward the civilizational legacy constructed by others, that they did so little to deserve, and now will have to do so much to preserve. (DW)
Posted on 03/29/2008 5:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 29 March 2008
The police worker who fought forced marriages is facing dismissal for speaking publicly about their plight.
A police worker praised by MPs for protecting thousands of girls from forced marriages is facing dismissal for speaking publicly about their plight.
Philip Balmforth has been removed from his duties and faces a disciplinary hearing next week after giving an interview to The Times about Asian children who go missing from schools in Bradford.
The former police inspector, regarded as a national authority on “honour-based” violence, stands accused of “damaging the reputation” of West Yorkshire Police by speaking to a newspaper without consent.
It is understood that the force, which has investigated 176 cases of forced marriage in the past year alone, took action against Mr Balmforth after receiving a complaint from Bradford council. Senior figures on the local authority are said to have claimed that his high-profile work was damaging the city’s image and was “bad for regeneration”.
Last week 56 MPs signed a Commons early day motion praising Mr Balmforth. It was tabled by Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley and a campaigner for the welfare of ethnic minority women.
The motion applauds his work “in protecting thousands of vulnerable girls in the Bradford district” and commends the police “for having the foresight to engage Philip 12 years ago, thus enabling him to give so many young women the right to choose whom and when to marry”.
Ninety per cent of the victims who have been dealt with by the Government’s Forced Marriage Unit are from a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background and the majority are taken to their families’ countries of origin to be married, often to a first cousin.
Mr Balmforth, a full-time police support worker whose post as vulnerable persons officer (Asian women) is partly funded by Bradford social services, has been contacted for help by more than 2,000 local women in recent years.
He was interviewed by The Times this month after the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into domestic violence established that 33 pupils had vanished from schools in Bradford.
Mr Balmforth suggested that every education authority in the country should be asked: “How many children did you lose last year? And where are they?”
The comments are telling, especially from local people.
Bradford council refused to comment most probably because there are so few councillors that can speak English. I would be very surprised if Mr Balmforth ever returns to his role as he has committed the most heinous of hate crimes in this country today. He has turned over a rock and told us what **** under it, which this government absolutely hates.
History repeating itself....?
Anyone remember Ray Honeyford . . .
Posted on 03/29/2008 4:47 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 29 March 2008
What Muslim Websites Are Saying About Fitna
Here's an open letter to Geert Wilders from anonymouse.org
Verily, our religion will stay the same till the Day of Judgment. We are happy that there are people like you to expose themselves to the wrath of Allah. We are also happy because it makes us comfortable knowing that there are true enemies of Islaam as Allah has mentioned in the Qur’aan.
We are not interested in condemning this or condemning that, but we are interested in letting you know that Islaam will dominate all of Europe, including your hometown, and the Jizyah will be established upon your Country, leaving all of the disbelievers in humiliation until they come to Islaam. Let us remind that there are thousands of Muslims living near you; so always expect the unexpected.
Near the end of your film, you wrote,
For it is not up to me, but to Muslims themselves to tear out the hateful verses in the Qur’an.
This statement of yours proves a verse in the Qur’aan:
And never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their Millah (way of life/form of religion). (2:120)
So by Allah’s grace, He has shown us another practical example of a Kaafir (i.e., that would be you Geert) who will never be pleased with the Muslims until we follow their form of religion.
By Allah, the only thing that we will tear is your heart, the heart of democracy, and the heart of those who fight the Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) promises dominance, and so we too promise dominance. And how will you be O Geert, when Prophet Jesus returns to earth from the heavens and destroys Christianity and wages Jihaad against the world successfully?
That time is coming very soon.
You also said,
The Government insists that you respect Islam, but Islam has no respect for you.
One can write volumes on this, but in short: Islaam doesn’t respect the disbelieving Governments.
Islam wants to rule, submit, and seeks to destroy our western civilization.
Just as your civilization seeks to destroy ours, our civilization seeks to devastate yours. Take a guess as to when we’ll stop.
Now the Islamic ideology has to be defeated.
As long as this world exists, you can never destroy the Islaamic ideology; and our ideology is meant for expansion.
Stop Islamisization, Defend our Freedom.
We say: stop democracy, and defend your basic human rights.
But we don’t hate you for your freedoms as we don’t consider those freedoms. We hate you for your disbelief and defiance.
So keep warning, and we too will keep warning. Islaam denounces Democracy, Islaam denounces Christians and Jews, Islaam denounces the corruption of the disbelievers upon the earth, and Islaam is coming to crush the armies of disbelief and smash the false governments and religions of the world to bring humanity from darkness into light.
Although we hate you for the sake of Allah and pray for your destruction, we are happy that you made this film because no matter how negative the disbelievers try to portray Islaam, in the end, it is Islaam that spreads far and wide. The media in America did its best to portray Islaam as an evil religion after the 9/11 attacks, but just look to how many thousands of people accepted Islaam after the invasion. So Islaam will spread all over Europe, and we will win in the end and we will humiliate you in the end.
Posted on 03/29/2008 2:26 PM by Rebecca Bynum