NO ONE who has read the French press for any length of time will have failed to notice that the term Anglo-Saxon is not one of praise or endearment, to say the least. For many contemporary Frenchmen, including, but not, only journalists, the Anglo-Saxons are what the freemasons were for their predecessors in the 19th century: participants in a vague but sinister plot to control the world and destroy French civilisation.
It doesn't matter, of course, that the so-called Anglo-Saxon countries differ considerably among themselves, in their societies, policies and interests. Roughly speaking, Anglo-Saxon means a combination of lack of savoir vivre, terrible food, ultra-liberalisme (a term of art meaning lawless capitalism red in tooth and claw) and sexual hypocrisy, that is to say a mixture of prudery and prurience.
The "markets" -- a typically Anglo-Saxon invention -- are taken as being both wildly irrational and at present engaged on a concerted attempt to destroy the Euro as a common currency. For believers in the Anglo-Saxons as the secret movers of the world, it could not be that the whole idea of the common currency was flawed in the first place and was bound to lead either to financial catastrophe or to a completely undemocratic and authoritarian central control of the economic life of the continent, or to both. Not a sparrow, or a French bank share, falls, but the Anglo-Saxons are behind it.
The French banks have lost nearly two thirds of their share value since July 1 this year. Why? Could it be that, exposed to Greek foreign debt, of which they hold about a half, at a time when Hellenic default is l'air du temps and the European finance ministers cannot agree among themselves what to do about it, the banks are in a somewhat fragile condition? Not according to the head of the French employers' federation, Laurence Parisot, for whom Wall Street and the City of London, aided by their journalistic accomplice The Financial Times, are responsible for an organised drumbeat. For her, euroscepticism, the lack of transcendental belief in the European project (though no one will say exactly what it is), is a kind of mental disorder rather than a rational assessment of the chances of 27 European countries coming together peacefully in a kind of giant latter-day Yugoslavia.
For the French economist Shahin Vallee, the Anglo-Saxons "have always regarded the Euro as an intellectual crime and have looked on its success with a certain bitterness". What exactly that success consists of, other than its survival until now, is not explained. It certainly allowed several countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal among them, to run up unsustainable debts, believed from the first to be guaranteed by Germany. Who would have lent the Greeks so much money if they thought they were going to be repaid in drachmas?
An economist at the French bank Natixis (which, incidentally, lost $US450 million [$460m] in Bernie Madoff's scheme), Patrick Artus, claimed that the US was in desperate need of a loss of credibility of the Euro, because it did not want a viable alternative to the dollar: otherwise it would not be able to finance its own enormous deficits. The implication of this was that a giant plan had been concocted, presumably involving not only Wall Street but the government of the US, to depress and then destroy the Euro.
Contrary facts hardly matter for believers in such conspiracies. The Anglo-Saxon banks that, for Vallee, "will see in the difficulties of the Eurozone an opportunity to gain market share" as if they were a bloc like the Warsaw pact, vary greatly among themselves. The Canadian and Australian banks, for example, are not much exposed to fragile European debt, but the British banks have lent a total of something like $US135 billion in Ireland alone, that is to say approximately $US30,000 per man, woman, child and baby in the country. That German banks have lent the same amount, and Belgian banks almost half as much, suggests that in reality there is more convergence between Britain and Europe than between Britain and the healthier parts of Anglo-Saxonia.
The affair of Dominique Strauss-Kahn was also grist to the mill of the French, who see an essential conflict between themselves and the Anglo-Saxons, a clash of civilisations as it were (if, that is, the Anglo-Saxons can be considered civilised at all).
For Pascal Bruckner, a French intellectual normally of great intelligence, the motive for the arrest in New York of DSK was the following:
" To punish France for [its refusal to participate in the war in] Iraq, for Roman Polanski [the film director whom it refused to extradite to the US], for its laws on the veil and the niqab, to bring to heel this recalcitrant nation, so persistent in its dissolute ways, such is the ultimate meaning of the DSK affair, at the moment when America bites the dust and seeks convenient scapegoats for its decline."
Though published in Le Monde, this is surely verging on the mad. He finishes the article by saying that the Americans have nothing to teach the French about the art of love, rather forgetting that the encounter in suite 2806, whatever else it might actually have been, was not exactly one of the great love stories of the 21st, or of any other, century.
Of course, it would be grossly unfair to suggest that the denigration of Anglo-Saxons, or the belief in their plot to take over the world, is universal in France. The nation is far too large and intelligent for that. Many sceptics about the viability of the Euro are now finding a public platform there, and the response to the DSK affair has not been entirely supportive of his way of making "love".
A majority of the French now want him to retire from politics. The Belgian francophone newspaper Le Soir published a cartoon after DSK's self-exculpatory interview on television with the beautiful Claire Chazal. In it, a middle-aged male viewer switches off the television in disgust, saying, "Disappointing -- he didn't even come on to her!"
Still, the term Anglo-Saxon is not one of affection in France.
CAIRO — By force of this year’s Arab revolts and revolutions, activists marching under the banner of Islam are on the verge of a reckoning decades in the making: the prospect of achieving decisive power across the region has unleashed an unprecedented debate over the character of the emerging political orders they are helping to build.
Few question the coming electoral success of religious activists, but as they emerge from the shadows of a long, sometimes bloody struggle with authoritarian and ostensibly secular governments, they are confronting newly urgent questions about how to apply Islamic precepts to more open societies with very concrete needs.
In Turkey and Tunisia, culturally conservative parties founded on Islamic principles are rejecting the name “Islamist” to stake out what they see as a more democratic and tolerant vision.
A backlash has ensued, as well, as traditionalists have flirted with timeworn Islamist ideas like imposing interest-free banking and obligatory religious taxes and censoring irreligious discourse.[this is not a "timeworn Islamis idea" but is part of perfectly orthodox Islam. Why is not identified as such? Why are readers left uncertain and confused about whether or not these are "Islamist ideas" or simply part of Islam?]
The debates are deep enough that many in the region believe that the most important struggles may no longer occur between Islamists and secularists, but rather among the Islamists themselves, pitting the more puritanical against the more liberal.
“That’s the struggle of the future,” said Azzam Tamimi, a scholar and the author of a biography of a Tunisian Islamist, Rachid Ghannouchi, whose party, Ennahda, is expected to dominate elections next month to choose an assembly to draft a constitution. [Azzam Tamimi is also a fanatical Hamas supporter, who may be seen in action here] “The real struggle of the future will be about who is capable of fulfilling the desires of a devout public. It’s going to be about who is Islamist and who is more Islamist, rather than about the secularists and the Islamists.”
The moment is as dramatic as any in recent decades in the Arab world, as autocracies crumble and suddenly vibrant parties begin building a new order, starting with elections in Tunisia in October, then Egypt in November. Though the region has witnessed examples of ventures by Islamists into politics, elections in Egypt and Tunisia, attempts in Libya to build a state almost from scratch and the shaping of an alternative to Syria’s dictatorship are their most forceful entry yet into the region’s still embryonic body politic.
“It is a turning point,” said Emad Shahin, a scholar on Islamic law and politics at the University of Notre Dame who was in Cairo.
At the center of the debates is a new breed of politician who has risen from an Islamist milieu but accepts an essentially secular state, a current that some scholars have already taken to identifying as “post Islamist.” Its foremost exemplars are Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party in Turkey, whose intellectuals speak of a shared experience and a common heritage with some of the younger members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and with the Ennahda Party in Tunisia. Like Turkey, Tunisia faced decades of a state-enforced secularism that never completely reconciled itself with a conservative population.
“They feel at home with each other,” said Cengiz Candar, an Arabic-speaking Turkish columnist. “It’s similar terms of reference, and they can easily communicate with them.”
Mr. Ghannouchi, the Tunisian Islamist, has suggested a common ambition, proposing what some say Mr. Erdogan’s party has managed to achieve: a prosperous, democratic Muslim state, led by a party that is deeply religious but operates within a system that is supposed to protect liberties. (That is the notion, at least — Mr. Erdogan’s critics accuse him of a pronounced streak of authoritarianism.)
“If the Islamic spectrum goes from Bin Laden to Erdogan, which of them is Islam?” Mr. Ghannouchi asked in a recent debate with a secular critic. “Why are we put in the same place as a model that is far from our thought, like the Taliban or the Saudi model, while there are other successful Islamic models that are close to us, like the Turkish, the Malaysian and the Indonesian models, models that combine Islam and modernity?”
The notion of an Arab post-Islamism is not confined to Tunisia. In Libya, Ali Sallabi, the most important Islamist political leader, cites Mr. Ghannouchi as a major influence. Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader who is running for president in Egypt, has joined several new breakaway political parties in arguing that the state should avoid interpreting or enforcing Islamic law, regulating religious taxes or barring a person from running for president based on gender or religion.
A party formed by three leaders of the Brotherhood’s youth wing says that while Egypt shares a common Arab and Islamic culture with the region, its emerging political system should ensure protections of individual freedoms as robust as the West’s. In an interview, one of them, Islam Lotfy, argued that the strictly religious kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the Koran is ostensibly the constitution, was less Islamist than Turkey. “It is not Islamist; it is dictatorship,” said Mr. Lotfy, who was recently expelled from the Brotherhood for starting the new party.
Egypt’s Center Party, a group that struggled for 16 years to win a license from the ousted government, may go furthest here in elaborating the notion of post-Islamism. Its founder, Abul-Ela Madi, has long sought to mediate between religious and liberal forces, even coming up with a set of shared principles last month. Like the Ennahda Party in Tunisia, he disavows the term “Islamist,” and like other progressive Islamic activists, he describes his group as Egypt’s closest equivalent of Mr. Erdogan’s party.
“We’re neither secular nor Islamist,” he said. “We’re in between.”
It is often heard in Turkey that the country’s political system, until recently dominated by the military, moderated Islamic currents there. Mr. Lotfy said he hoped that Egyptian Islamists would undergo a similar, election-driven evolution, though activists themselves cautioned against drawing too close a comparison. “They went to the streets and they learned that the public was not just worried about the hijab” — the veil — “but about corruption,” he said. “If every woman in Turkey wore the hijab, it would not be a great country. It takes economic development.”
Compared with the situation in Turkey, the stakes of the debates may be even higher in the Arab world, where divided and weak liberal currents pale before the organization and popularity of Islamic activists.
In Syria, debates still rage among activists over whether a civil or Islamic state should follow the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, if he falls. The emergence in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria of Salafists, the most inflexible currents in political Islam, is one of the most striking political developments in those societies. (“The Koran is our constitution,” goes one of their sayings.)
And the most powerful current in Egypt, still represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, has stubbornly resisted some of the changes in discourse.
A Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, accused Turkey of violating Islamic law by failing to criminalize adultery. “In the secularist system, this is accepted, and the laws protect the adulterer,” he said, “But in the Shariah law this is a crime.”
As recently as 2007, a prototype Brotherhood platform sought to bar women or Christians from serving as Egypt’s president and called for a panel of religious scholars to advise on the compliance of any legislation with Islamic law. The group has never disavowed the document. Its rhetoric of Islam’s long tolerance of minorities often sounds condescending to Egypt’s Christian minority, which wants to be afforded equal citizenship, not special protections. The Brotherhood’s new party has called for a special surtax on Muslims to enforce charitable giving.
Indeed, Mr. Tamimi, the scholar [and fanatical Hamas supporter] , argued that some mainstream groups like the Brotherhood, were feeling the tug of their increasingly assertive conservative constituencies, which still relentlessly call for censorship and interest-free banking.
“Is democracy the voice of the majority?” asked Mohammed Nadi, a 26-year-old student at a recent Salafist protest in Cairo. “We as Islamists are the majority. Why do they want to impose on us the views of the minorities — the liberals and the secularists? That’s all I want to know.”
A Real, Not A False, Martyr, Now Facing False, Not Real, Charges
Iranian pastor faces death for rape, not apostasy
By Dan Merica, CNN
September 30, 2011
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will executed for several charges of rape and extortion, not his original sentence of apostasy.
NEW: Iranian official calls Nadarkhani "rapist ... guilty of security-related crimes"
NEW: Official says Iran doesn't execute people because of their religion
Nadarkhani got death sentence for rape and extortion
He is the leader of a network of house churches in Iran
Washington (CNN) -- Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will be put to death for several charges of rape and extortion, charges that differ greatly from his original sentence of apostasy, Iran's semi-official Fars News agency reported Friday.
Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, where Nadarkhani was tried and convicted, accused Western media of twisting the real story, referring to him as a "rapist." A previous report from the news agency claimed he had committed several violent crimes, including repeated rape and extortion.
"His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity," Rezvani told Fars. "He is guilty of security-related crimes."
In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010, however, the charge of apostasy is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani.
"Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32-years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19," reads the brief.
The brief was obtained by CNN from the American Center for Law and Justice and was translated from its original Farsi by the Confederation of Iranian Students in Washington.
It goes on to say that during the court proceeding, Nadarkhani denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam.
"He (Nadarkhani) has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim," states the brief. "During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -- olvasileh."
Rezvani, the official from Gilan province, confirmed that his execution is "not imminent" nor is it final.
He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes. Gholomali Rezvani
Mohammadali Dadkhah, the pastor's lawyer, said through a translator that even in light of the Fars News report, he does not believe Nadarkhani will be put to death.
"The case is still in progress," Dadkhah said. "There's a 95% that he won't get the death penalty. Yes, I still believe that."
Dadkhah spoke briefly of the trial proceedings, stating that he presented documents to the court that should be convincing, including documents from Shi'ite leaders that state the crime does not warrant the possible punishment.
"This is a legal process that should take its course, and it should stand, on its own merits. It should succeed," Dadkhah said.
Nadarkhani, the leader of a network of house churches in Iran, was first convicted of apostasy in November 2010, a charge he subsequently appealed all the way to the Iranian Supreme Court. After four days of an appeals trial that started Sunday at a lower court in Gilan Province, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.
That said, Rezvani -- echoing an earlier report from Fars -- insisted that "Nadarkhani's crime and his death sentence have nothing to do with his beliefs.
"No one is executed in Iran for their choice of religion," he added. "He is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes."
The possible execution of Nadarkhani, based on an assumption it is tied to his Christian belief, has elicited responses from the highest levels of the United States government, too.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement Friday that said the United States stands with "all Iranians against the Iranian government's hypocritical statements and actions."
The White House released a statement on Thursday, stating that Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people."
"That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations," reads the statement.
Leonard Leo, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, says a trial for apostasy in Iran is rare. According to him, this is the first apostasy trial since 1990.
Nadarkhani's trial and his possible execution have engaged American Christians, as well. Todd Nettleton, spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian organization that attempts to assist with persecuted and minority churches around the world, called the news of the new charges proof that international attention on the issue is working.
"They are feeling the attention, they are feeling the weight of the eyes of the world watching how they are treating this man," Nettleton said. "I am dumbfounded, though, that at this stage in the game, this is what they would trot out."
Voice of the Martyrs manages a Facebook page that has brought a lot of attention to Nadarkhani's trial. With comments updated by the minute, thousand of people have taken to Facebook to spread the word about the pastor.
In light of this news, Nettleton said the Facebook page would continue to be active.
"I think our first response will be prayer for pastor Youcef," Nettleton said. "Prayer that justice will be done and that he will remain faithful no matter that the days ahead may bring for him."
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - U.S. Senator John McCain said on Thursday the fall of Muammar Gaddafi was inspiring people all over world, including citizens of Syria, Iran, China and Russia, but he twinned his praise with caution about Libya's many revolutionary armed groups, saying they had to be brought under control.
Leading the first visit to Tripoli by members of the U.S. Congress since Gaddafi's fall last month, McCain added at a media conference that U.S. investors were eager to do business in the oil-exporting country but this would be difficult as long as fighting continued.
Many residents of the capital say they want the return of the police and the departure of trigger-happy provincial gunmen who have based themselves there since they helped topple Gaddafi last month, saying they fear the militias' jockeying for post-revolutionary power may turn violent.
"We believe very strongly that the people of Libya today are inspiring the people in Tehran, in Damascus, and even in Beijing and Moscow," said the Republican Senator from Arizona, a former presidential contender.
"They continue to inspire the world -- and let people know that even the worst dictators can be overthrown and be replaced by freedom and democracy."
"How they succeed will also be watched very carefully by the rest of the world," said McCain, who was accompanied by fellow Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
They earlier held talks with the country's de facto head of state, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the interim National Transitional Council (NTC), and the interim Prime Minister, Ahmed Jibril.
Rubio said the United States should always side with democracy even if it might be tempted not to, in cases where "those in charge of a government are friendly to our interests."
"Ultimately I believe we should always be on the side of a transition to democracy that includes Iran, Syria and eventually I hope Bahrain and Saudi Arabia," he said.
Asked if the United States would cooperate with Libya in the event that it had an "Islamic government," McCain replied: "I think the U.S. will be prepared to cooperate with any government that the Libyan people decide. But obviously our relations will be affected by what kind of government that is."
"I do not claim to be an expert on Libya but I do know enough to know that the people of Libya are not in significant numbers interested in a radical Islamic extremist government such as we have in Iran or a couple of other countries. That's not the nature of the Libyan people."
McCain also said the interim NTC had to continue trying to bring under control Libya's many armed groups, whose habit of shooting in the air unsettles many in the capital.
"It's important for the NTC to continue bringing the many armed groups in this city and beyond under the responsible control of its legitimate governing authority," McCain said. "It's essential to continue working together to secure the many weapons and dangerous materials that the Gaddafi regime proliferated around this country."
On Lockerbie, McCain said Americans wanted to know if anyone else was responsible for the 1988 airliner bombing which killed 270 people other than the one Libyan so far convicted for the attack, Abdel Basset al-Megrahi.
In March, NTC chairman Jalil, Libya's former justice minister, said he had evidence of Gaddafi's involvement in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.
"I see no reason why we will not see cooperation on the part of the Libyan government after all 90 some Americans are dead as a result of his (Megrahi's actions) actions and we'd like to know who else was connected with it," McCain said.
Megrahi was convicted of the bombing in 2001 and sent to a Scottish prison to serve a life sentence. The Scottish government released him and sent him back to Libya on compassionate grounds in 2009 because he had cancer and was thought to have only months to live.
Megrahi's release and return to a hero's welcome in Libya angered many in Britain and the United States, home to most of the Lockerbie victims.
Perish the Jews -- oops, sorry, -- perish the thought. From The Spectator, which should have sacked Taki Theodoracopulos long ago:
It is mind-blowing to me that, taking account of their history, the Israelis have allowed themselves to become the systematic oppressors of another people. Well before 1948, Jewish armed gangs had begun to chase Arabs out of places they had lived in since time immemorial. Because of the Holocaust, people turned a blind eye. We all know the rest.
That would be the same Holocaust that Taki's "Palestinian" chums are taught to deny from the moment they can speak? That would be the same Holocaust, right down to the numbers, that Taki's "oppressed" chums in Hamas have explicitly vowed to repeat? Don't quibble, Mad Hatter's Tea Party style, that you can't have more of what you never had -- anti-Semites are not bound by logic.
Three further questions:
First, Taki refers to those whom "Jewish armed gangs" "oppressed" in 1948 as Arabs. Weren't they "Palestinians"? If not, why not?
Second, what is "time immemorial", by Taki's reckoning? Even allowing for Greek elasticity with figures, by comparison with Jews, Arabs have been in the Holy Land only half a dog watch.
Thirdly, what possessed John Derbyshire. formerly of this Parish, and Kathy Shaidle to write for the magazine of this disgusting anti-Semite? Perhaps Derb appreciates Taki's misogyny - he has after all described the religion of honour killing and child rape as "masculine". But Kathy Shaidle?
A PETITION with 3,000 signatures has been handed over to council bosses as residents stepped up their protest against an “illegal” mosque. Business owners on Waterloo Road, South Shore, believe the Noor A Madina Mosque is operating illegally as it was opened before planning permission was granted. The authorities allow a mosque to run illegally but threaten a Christian cafe for using the Bible. Fresh air and fun don't seem to be a feature of the town any more.
Owners of the site, which was formally (I think they mean formerly) a takeaway (and we know what sort of people run Blackpool's takeaways), have since applied for retrospective planning permission to change the use of the site.
But local people think the mosque will cause huge problems with parking around the area. Mike Rowe, landlord of the Waterloo pub, handed the petition in to Blackpool Town Hall yesterday. He said: “Local people feel very strongly about the mosque. We believe it is operating illegally and would like to see it closed down".
Natasha Shah, co-owner of the mosque, has been invited to attend (a public meeting in the Waterloo pub to discuss the issue on Tuesday) Mrs Shah said: “I don’t think this petition reflects the views of the whole community, but everybody has a right to their opinion. Our door is always open, come and see us before you make a decision about the plans. The mosque is for everyone to use in the community.” Where have I heard that one before? Dagenham!
WISE RIVER, Mont. — The trees spanning many of the mountainsides of western Montana glow an earthy red, like a broadleaf forest at the beginning of autumn.
But these trees are not supposed to turn red. They are evergreens, falling victim to beetles that used to be controlled in part by bitterly cold winters. As the climate warms, scientists say, that control is no longer happening.
Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days.
From the mountainous Southwest deep into Texas, wildfires raced across parched landscapes this summer, burning millions more acres. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state’s spectacular aspen forests have gone into decline because of a lack of water.
The devastation extends worldwide. The great euphorbia trees of southern Africa are succumbing to heat and water stress. So are the Atlas cedars of northern Algeria. Fires fed by hot, dry weather are killing enormous stretches of Siberian forest. Eucalyptus trees are succumbing on a large scale to a heat blast in Australia, and the Amazon recently suffered two “once a century” droughts just five years apart, killing many large trees.
Experts are scrambling to understand the situation, and to predict how serious it may become.
Scientists say the future habitability of the Earth might well depend on the answer. For, while a majority of the world’s people now live in cities, they depend more than ever on forests, in a way that few of them understand.
Scientists have figured out — with the precise numbers deduced only recently — that forests have been absorbing more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people are putting into the air by burning fossil fuels and other activities. It is an amount so large that trees are effectively absorbing the emissions from all the world’s cars and trucks.
Without that disposal service, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would be rising faster. The gas traps heat from the sun, and human emissions are causing the planet to warm.
Yet the forests have only been able to restrain the increase, not halt it. And some scientists are increasingly worried that as the warming accelerates, trees themselves could become climate-change victims on a massive scale.
“At the same time that we’re recognizing the potential great value of trees and forests in helping us deal with the excess carbon we’re generating, we’re starting to lose forests,” said Thomas W. Swetnam, an expert on forest history at the University of Arizona.
While some of the forests that died recently are expected to grow back, scientists say others are not, because of climate change.
If forests were to die on a sufficient scale, they would not only stop absorbing carbon dioxide, they might also start to burn up or decay at such a rate that they would spew huge amounts of the gas back into the air — as is already happening in some regions. That, in turn, could speed the warming of the planet, unlocking yet more carbon stored in once-cold places like the Arctic.
Scientists are not sure how likely this feedback loop is, and they are not eager to find out the hard way.
“It would be a very different world than the world we’re in,” said Christopher B. Field, an ecologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
It is clear that the point of no return has not been reached yet — and it may never be. Despite the troubles of recent years, forests continue to take up a large amount of carbon, with some regions, including the Eastern United States, being especially important as global carbon absorbers.
“I think we have a situation where both the ‘forces of growth’ and the ‘forces of death’ are strengthening, and have been for some time,” said Oliver L. Phillips, a prominent tropical forest researcher with the University of Leeds in England. “The latter are more eye-catching, but the former have in fact been more important so far.”
Scientists acknowledge that their attempts to use computers to project the future of forests are still crude. Some of those forecasts warn that climate change could cause potentially widespread forest death in places like the Amazon, while others show forests remaining robust carbon sponges throughout the 21st century.
“We’re not completely blind, but we’re not in good shape,” said William R. L. Anderegg, a researcher at Stanford University.
Many scientists say that ensuring the health of the world’s forests requires slowing human emissions of greenhouse gases. Most nations committed to doing so in a global environmental treaty in 1992, yet two decades of negotiations have yielded scant progress.
In the near term, experts say, more modest steps could be taken to protect forests. One promising plan calls for wealthy countries to pay those in the tropics to halt the destruction of their immense forests for agriculture and logging.
But now even that plan is at risk, for lack of money. Other strategies, like thinning overgrown forests in the American West to make them more resistant to fire and insect damage, are also going begging in straitened times. With growing economic problems and a Congress skeptical of both climate science and new spending, chances for additional funding appear remote.
So, even as potential solutions to forest problems languish, signs of trouble build.
In the 1990s, many of the white spruce trees of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula were wiped out by beetles. For more than a decade, other beetle varieties have been destroying trees across millions of acres of western North America. Red-hued mountainsides have become a familiar sight in a half-dozen states, including Montana and Colorado, as well as British Columbia in Canada.
Researchers refer to events like these as forest die-offs, and they have begun to document what appears to be a rising pattern of them around the world. Only some have been directly linked to global warming by scientific studies; many have yet to be analyzed in detail. Yet it is clear that hotter weather, of the sort that science has long predicted as a consequence of human activity, is playing a large role.
Many scientists had hoped that serious forest damage would not set in before the middle of the 21st century, and that people would have time to get emissions of heat-trapping gases under control before then. Some of them have been shocked in recent years by what they are seeing.
“The amount of area burning now in Siberia is just startling — individual years with 30 million acres burned,” Dr. Swetnam said, describing an area the size of Pennsylvania. “The big fires that are occurring in the American Southwest are extraordinary in terms of their severity, on time scales of thousands of years. If we were to continue at this rate through the century, you’re looking at the loss of at least half the forest landscape of the Southwest.”
The Carbon Dioxide Mystery
In the 1950s, when a scientist named Charles David Keeling first obtained accurate measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a mystery presented itself. Only about half the carbon that people were releasing into the sky seemed to be staying there. It took scientists decades to figure out where the rest was going. The most comprehensive estimates on the role of forests were published only a few weeks ago by an international team of scientists.
As best researchers can tell, the oceans are taking up about a quarter of the carbon emissions arising from human activities. That is causing the sea to become more acidic and is expected to damage marine life over the long run, perhaps catastrophically. But the chemistry is at least somewhat predictable, and scientists are reasonably confident the oceans will continue absorbing carbon for many decades.
Trees are taking up a similar amount of carbon, but whether this will continue is much less certain, as the recent forest damage illustrates.
Carbon dioxide is an essential part of the cycle of life on Earth, but geologic history suggests that too much can cause the climate to warm sharply. With enough time, the chemical cycles operating on the planet have a tendency to bury excess carbon.
In the 19th century, humans discovered the usefulness of some forms of buried carbon — coal, oil and natural gas — as a source of energy, and have been perturbing the natural order ever since. About 10 billion tons of carbon are pouring into the atmosphere every year from the combustion of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests.
The concentration of the gas in the atmosphere has jumped 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution, and scientists fear it could double or even triple this century, with profound consequences.
While all types of plants absorb carbon dioxide, known as CO2, most of them return it to the atmosphere quickly because their vegetation decays, burns or is eaten. Every year, during the Northern Hemisphere growing season, plants and other organisms inhale some 120 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, then exhale nearly the same amount as they decay in the winter.
It is mainly trees that have the ability to lock carbon into long-term storage, and they do so by making wood or transferring carbon into the soil. The wood may stand for centuries inside a living tree, and it is slow to decay even when the tree dies.
But the carbon in wood is vulnerable to rapid release. If a forest burns down, for instance, much of the carbon stored in it will re-enter the atmosphere.
Destruction by fires and insects is a part of the natural history of forests, and in isolation, such events would be no cause for alarm. Indeed, despite the recent problems, the new estimate, published Aug. 19 in the journal Science, suggests that when emissions from the destruction of forests are subtracted from the carbon they absorb, they are, on balance, packing more than a billion tons of carbon into long-term storage every year.
One major reason is that forests, like other types of plants, appear to be responding to the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by growing more vigorously. The gas is, after all, the main food supply for plants. Scientists have been surprised in recent years to learn that this factor is causing a growth spurt even in mature forests, a finding that overturned decades of ecological dogma.
Climate-change contrarians tend to focus on this “fertilization effect,” hailing it as a boon for forests and the food supply. “The ongoing rise of the air’s CO2 content is causing a great greening of the Earth,” one advocate of this position, Craig D. Idso, said at a contrarian meeting in Washington in July.
Dr. Idso and others assert that this effect is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, ameliorating any negative impacts on plant growth from rising temperatures. More mainstream scientists, while stating that CO2 fertilization is real, are much less certain about the long-term effects, saying that the heat and water stress associated with climate change seem to be making forests vulnerable to insect attack, fires and many other problems.
“Forests take a century to grow to maturity,” said Werner A. Kurz, a Canadian scientist who is a leading expert on forest carbon. “It takes only a single extreme climate event, a single attack by insects, to interrupt that hundred-year uptake of carbon.”
It is possible the recent die-backs will prove transitory — a coincidence, perhaps, that they all occurred at roughly the same time. The more troubling possibility, experts said, is that the die-offs might prove to be the leading edge of a more sweeping change.
“If this were happening in just a few places, it would be easier to deny and write off,” said David A. Cleaves, senior adviser for the United States Forest Service. “But it’s not. It’s happening all over the place. You’ve got to say, gee, what is the common element?”
Tracking an Ebb and Flow
So far, humanity has been lucky. While some forests are starting to release more carbon than they take up, that effect continues to be outweighed by forests that pack carbon away. Whether those healthy forests will predominate over coming decades, or will become sick themselves, is simply unclear.
The other day, deep in a healthy New England thicket of oaks, maples and hemlocks, two young men scrambled around on their hands and knees measuring twigs and sticks that had fallen from the trees.
“What was the diameter on that?” asked Jakob Lindaas, a Harvard student holding a pencil and clipboard.
Leland K. Werden, a researcher at the university, called out a metric measurement, and they moved to the next twig. It was one of thousands they would eventually have to measure as part of an effort to tell how fast the wood, knocked off the trees in an ice storm in 2008, was decaying.
The debris they were cataloging would not have struck a hiker as anything to notice, much less measure, but the Harvard Forest, 3,000 acres near Petersham, Mass., is one of the world’s most intensively studied patches of woods. The work the men were doing will become a small contribution toward solving one of the biggest accounting problems of modern science.
In every forest, carbon is constantly being absorbed as trees and other organisms grow, then released as they die or go dormant. These carbon fluxes, as they are called, vary through the day. They vary with seasons, with climate and weather extremes, with the health of the forests and with many other factors. Across the world, scientists are struggling to track and understand this ebb and flow.
A 100-foot tower stands in the middle of the Harvard Forest, studded with instruments. Put up in 1989, it was the first permanent tower of its kind in the world, built to help track the carbon fluxes. Now hundreds of them dot the planet.
Meticulous measurements over the decades have established that the Harvest Forest is gaining weight, roughly two tons per acre per year, on average. It is characteristic of a type of forest that is playing a big role in limiting the damage from human carbon emissions: a recovering forest.
Not so long ago, the land was not a forest at all. Close to where the men were working stood an old stone fence, a telltale sign of the land’s history.
“When the European colonists came to America, they saw trees, and they wanted fields and pastures,” explained J. William Munger, a Harvard research fellow who was supervising the measurements. So the colonists chopped down the original forest and built farmhouses, barns, paddocks and sturdy stone fences.
By the mid-19th century, the Erie Canal and the railroads had opened the interior of the country, and farmers plowing the thin, stony soils of New England could not compete with produce from the rich fields of the Midwest. So the old fields were abandoned, and trees have returned.
Today, the re-growing forests of the Eastern United States are among the most important carbon sponges in the world. In the Harvard Forest, the rate of carbon storage accelerated about a decade ago. As in much of the world, the temperature is warming there — by an average of 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 40 years — and that has led to longer growing seasons, benefiting this particular forest more than hurting it, at least so far.
“We’re actually seeing that the leaves are falling off the trees later in the fall,” Mr. Werden said.
Scientists say that something similar may be happening in other forests, particularly in cold northern regions that are warming rapidly. In some places, the higher temperatures could aid tree growth or cause forests to expand into zones previously occupied by grasslands or tundra, storing more carbon.
Forests are re-growing on abandoned agricultural land across vast reaches of Europe and Russia. China, trying to slow the advance of a desert, has planted nearly 100 million acres of trees, and those forests, too, are absorbing carbon.
But, as a strategy for managing carbon emissions, these recovering forests have one big limitation: the planet simply does not have room for many more of them. To expand them significantly would require taking more farmland out of production, an unlikely prospect in a world where food demand and prices are rising.
“We’re basically running out of land,” Dr. Kurz said.
Even in forests that are relatively healthy now, like those of New England, climate risks are coming into focus. For instance, invasive insects that used to be killed off by cold winters are expected to spread north more readily as the temperature warms, attacking trees.
The Harvard Forest has already been invaded by an insect called the woolly adelgid that kills hemlock trees, and managers there fear a large die-off in coming years.
Wildfires and Bugs
Stripping the bark of a tree with a hatchet, Diana L. Six, a University of Montana insect scientist, pointed out the telltale signs of infestation by pine beetles: channels drilled by the creatures as they chewed their way through the juicy part of the tree.
The tree she was pointing out was already dead. Its needles, which should have been deep green, displayed the sickly red that has become so commonplace in the mountainous West. Because the beetles had cut off the tree’s nutrients, the chlorophyll that made the needles green was breaking down, leaving only reddish compounds.
Pine beetles are a natural part of the life cycle in Western forests, but this outbreak, under way for more than a decade in some areas, is by far the most extensive ever recorded. Scientists say winter temperatures used to fall to 40 degrees below zero in the mountains every few years, killing off many beetles. “It just doesn’t happen anymore,” said a leading climate scientist from the University of Montana, Steven W. Running, who was surveying the scene with Dr. Six one recent day.
As the climate has warmed, various beetle species have marauded across the landscape, from Arizona to Alaska. The situation is worst in British Columbia, which has lost millions of trees across an area the size of Wisconsin.
The species Dr. Six was pointing out, the mountain pine beetle, has pushed farther north into Canada than ever recorded. The beetles have jumped the Rocky Mountains into Alberta, and fears are rising that they could spread across the continent as temperatures rise in coming decades. Standing on a mountain plateau south of Missoula, Dr. Six and Dr. Running pointed to the devastation the beetles had wrought in the forest around them, consisting of a high-elevation species called whitebark pine.
“We were going to try to do like an eight-year study up here. But within three years, all this has happened,” Dr. Six said sadly.
“It’s game over,” Dr. Running said.
Later, flying in a small plane over the Montana wilderness, Dr. Running said beetles were not the only problem confronting the forests of the West.
Warmer temperatures are causing mountain snowpack, on which so much of the life in the region depends, to melt earlier in most years, he said. That is causing more severe water deficits in the summer, just as the higher temperatures cause trees to need extra water to survive. The whole landscape dries out, creating the conditions for intense fires. Even if the landscape does not burn, the trees become so stressed they are easy prey for beetles.
From the plane, Dr. Running pointed out huge scars where fires had destroyed stands of trees in recent years. “Nothing can stop the wildfires when they get to this magnitude,” he said. Some of the fire scars stood adjacent to stands of lodgepole pine destroyed by beetles.
At the moment, the most severe problems in the nation’s forests are being seen in the Southwestern United States, in states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The region has been so dry that huge, explosive fires consumed millions of acres of vegetation and thousands of homes and other buildings this summer.
This year’s drought came against the background of an overall warming and drying of the Southwestern climate, which scientists say helps to explain the severe effects. But the role of climate change in causing the drought itself is unclear — the more immediate cause is an intermittent weather pattern called La Niña, and research is still under way on whether that cycle is being altered or intensified by global warming, as some researchers suspect. Because of the continuing climatic change, experts say some areas that are burning this year may never return as forest — they are more likely to grow back as heat-tolerant grass or shrub lands, storing far less carbon than the forests they replace.
“A lot of ecologists like me are starting to think all these agents, like insects and fires, are just the proximate cause, and the real culprit is water stress caused by climate change,” said Robert L. Crabtree, head of a center studying the Yellowstone region. “It doesn’t really matter what kills the trees — they’re on their way out. The big question is, Are they going to regrow? If they don’t, we could very well catastrophically lose our forests.”
Scientists are coming to a sobering realization: There may be no such thing left on Earth as a natural forest.
However wild some of them may look, experts say, forests from the deepest Amazon to the remotest reaches of Siberia are now responding to human influences, including the rising level of carbon dioxide in the air, increasing heat and changing rainfall patterns. That raises the issue of what people can do to protect forests.
Some steps have already been taken in recent years, with millions of acres of public and private forest land being designated as conservation reserves, for instance. But other ideas are essentially stymied for lack of money.
Widespread areas of pine forest in the Western United States are a prime example. A scientific consensus has emerged that people mismanaged those particular forests over the past century, in part by suppressing the mild ground fires that used to clear out underbrush and limit tree density.
As a consequence, these overgrown forests have become tinderboxes that can be destroyed by high-intensity fires sweeping through the crowns. The government stance is that many forests throughout the West need to be thinned, and some environmental groups have come to agree.
But the small trees and brush that would be removed have a low commercial value, especially in a weak economy. With little money available to subsidize the thinning, the Forest Service is reduced to treating only small sections of forest that pose the biggest threat to life and property.
On an even larger scale, experts cite a lack of money as endangering a program to slow or halt the destruction of tropical forests at human hands.
Deforestation, usually to make way for agriculture, has been under way for decades, with Brazil and Indonesia being hotspots. The burning of tropical forests not only ends their ability to absorb carbon, it also produces an immediate flow of carbon back to the atmosphere, making it one of the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Rich countries agreed in principle in recent years to pay poorer countries large amounts of money if they would protect their forests.
The wealthy countries have pledged nearly $5 billion, enough to get the program started, but far more money was eventually supposed to become available. The idea was that the rich countries would create ways to charge their companies for emissions of carbon dioxide, and some of this money would flow abroad for forest preservation.
Climate legislation stalled in the United States amid opposition from lawmakers worried about the economic effects, and some European countries have also balked at sending money abroad. That means it is not clear the forest program will ever get rolling in a substantial way.
“Like any other scheme to improve the human condition, it’s quite precarious because it is so grand in its ambitions,” said William Boyd, a University of Colorado law professor working to salvage the plan.
The best hope for the program now is that California, which is intent on battling global warming, will allow industries to comply with its rules partly by financing efforts to slow tropical deforestation. The idea is that other states or countries would eventually follow suit.
Yet, scientists emphasize that in the end, programs meant to conserve forests — or to render them more fire-resistant, as in the Western United States, or to plant new ones, as in China — are only partial measures. To ensure that forests are preserved for future generations, they say, society needs to limit the fossil-fuel burning that is altering the climate of the world.
The Assassinations of Awlaki and Khan Change Nothing
Samir Kahn & Anawar Al-Awlaki of AQPA
The US had another alleged victory Friday in the war against the unnamed threat-Islamic terrorism. American – born Jihadi Preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki (Awlaki) and Saudi –born US Citizen Samir Khan (Khan) of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) were assassinated by missiles fired from a CIA Predator UAV at a convoy in Yemen. As indicated in this FoxNews report by Catherine Herridge, they had been instrumental at exploiting social media via the Internet to recruit Jihadis. The attack, according to an ABC News report, occurred near the town of Khasaf, about 90 miles from the Yemeni Capital of Sana. The New York Times reported President Obama hailing this as a major strike crippling Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The death of Awlaki marks another significant milestone in the broader effort to defeat Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” the president said at a ceremony Friday to mark the retirement of Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Both House Homeland Security Chairman, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney congratulated President Obama.
“The killing of al-Awlaki is a tremendous tribute to President Obama and the men and women of our intelligence community,” Representative Peter T. King of New York, the Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement Friday.
“I commend the president, the members of the intelligence community, our service members, and our allies for their continued efforts to keep Americans safe,” Mr. Romney said in a statement. “Nevertheless, we must remain vigilant and continue the fight against those who seek to destroy us and our freedoms.”
The ABC report further indicated the more significant casualty in the CIA drone attack may have been Saudi-national and bombmaker, Khalid Ibrahim al-Asiri. Al-Asiri had been involved with the ‘engineering’ for the bombing attempt on the Saudi Interior minister in August, 2009, the Christmas 2009 underwear bombing attempt over Detroit and creation of the printer cartridge bombs found in October, 2010 on a plane in Dubai in DHL courier packs destined for targets in the US.
The Awlaki and Khan killings were not without critics. The President’s actions were lambasted by the left, the ACLU, and from the libertarian right, with Texas Republican Congressman and perennial GOP candidate for the Presidency, Ron Paul.
The ACLU immediately jumped in indicating that the killing of two American citizens was illegal under the US Constitution, notwithstanding Obama’s 2010 ‘capture or kill’ order for Awlaki. Note what the PBS Need to Know blog site reported:
“We continue to believe that the targeted killing program violates both U.S. and international law,” Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director of the ACLU, said in an interview Friday morning with Need to Know. “As we’ve seen today, it’s a program under which U.S. citizens far from any battlefield can be executed by their own government without judicial process and on the basis of standards and evidence that are secret.”
. . . That Americans need to think about such actions because Awlaki was born in the United States and was entitled to the same rights as all U.S. citizens.
"No, I don't think that's a good way to deal with our problems,” Paul said in a videotape of the questioning by reporters. Awlaki “was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. We know he might have been associated with the ‘underwear bomber.’ But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys. I think it's sad.”
Paul went on to compare the situation to Timothy McVeigh, convicted of blowing up a truck bomb at the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The attack killed 168 people and injured more than 800 people.
“I think, what would people have said about Timothy McVeigh? We didn't assassinate him, who certainly had done it,” Paul said. McVeigh “was put through the courts then executed. … To start assassinating American citizens without charges, we should think very seriously about this.”
Paul argued that the killing of Awlaki was different from the attack on Bin Laden because Bin Laden was involved in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
“I voted for authority to go after those individuals responsible for 9/11,” Paul said. “Nobody ever suggested that he [Awlaki] was participant in 9/11.”
Paul may not be in command of all the facts about Awlaki’s association with 9/11 perpetrators.
Awlaki had met with three of the 9/11 perpetrators involved with the Flight 77 attack on the Pentagon in both San Diego and when he preached at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. Awlaki engaged in taqiyyah immediately following 9/11 with the media, see this October, 2001 PBS News Hour interview with Ray Suarez. Then there were revelations about Awlaki’s dinner at the Pentagon in 2002-see here. After his interrogations by the FBI, he was never detained and fled the country for Yemen. The question remains why wasn’t he placed on a no fly list by the counterterrorism echelons in the FBI to prevent his flight from the US? Moreover, why hadn’t federal prosecutors convened a grand jury investigation after his flight to issue warrants for his arrest under federal counterterrorism law? Perhaps those secrets died with him in the CIA Predator attack in Yemen. But we would gainsay a Freedom of Information Act dragnet might reveal, at least heavily redacted, evidence that such investigations had been initiated.
Awlaki had exchanged more than 20 emails with lone Jihadi, Maj. Nidal Hasan, the perpetrator of the November, and 2009 Fort Hood Massacre. Hasan is about to undergo a military courts martial under the Universal Code of Military Justice with the ultimate penalty of death. Fawzi Shahad, the Kashmiri-born naturalized US citizen acknowledged being “inspired” by Awlaki for his May 1, 2010 Times Square attempted bombing. Moreover, there is the American Muslim convert, Carlos Bledsoe, who adopted the name of Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad who killed US Army recruiter, Pvt. William Long, and wounded another soldier at a Little Rock, Arkansas mall recruiting center in May, 2010. Bledsoe/Muhammed had traveled to Yemen to learn Arabic, married a Yemeni woman and received training. Was he in contact with Awlaki and the AQAP? Probably.
Awlaki was involved in a death fatwa against a Seattle -based cartoonist, Laurie Norris in July 2010 who at the urging of the FBI went into hiding. According to this CNN report, Norris had drawn a cartoon and posted it on her Facebook page. She called for an “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on May 20, 2010 for which over 100,000 had signed up.
Awlaki in a signed article in the AQAP English language magazine and webzine, Inspire, edited by Samir Khan a cyber Jihadi killed in Friday’s missile attack said:
She should be taken as a prime target of assassination. This campaign is not a practice of freedom of speech, but is a nationwide movement of Americans who are going out of their way to offend Muslims worldwide.
Did Awlaki lose his entitlement to protection under the US Constitution, through these and other alleged involvements in terrorist bombing attempts? We wait for US Attorney General Eric Holder to respond to these questions. Attorney General Holder tried to grant the right to criminal prosecution under US law for several 9/11 alleged planners and detainees at GITMO, most prominently, Khaled Sheik Mohammed. Under intense criticism from Congress and elements of the media, the Obama Administration reverted back to the original Military Tribunals, which have yet to proceed against the suspected 9/11 planners in GITMO detention.
We noted in an NER article in November, 2007 about the cyber sleuthing of colleague Joseph Shahda that Samir Khan had been profiled by the New York Times as the alleged webmaster for al Qaeda, operating from his base in North Carolina. We wrote:
One of those engaged in the war against internet Jihad, Joseph Shahda, emerged from those shadows in a series of investigative articles by New York Times reporter, Michael Moss, that appeared on October 15th and 21st. The first article discussed the internet Jihadis themselves, including, most dramatically, 21 year old Samir Khan of North Carolina who ran an internet relay for al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, seemingly with impunity.
Saudi-born Khan grew up in Queens, New York in a middle class family. Unlike, Awlaki, he was a naturalized US citizen. If this was public knowledge four years ago, you would have thought that Khan, whose on-line activities were being monitoring by the FBI, would at least have been put on a no-fly list?
While both Awlaki and Khan are now dead, would that have closed the book on them and the AQAP? Catherine Herridge of Fox News said on an interview Friday, the broad reach of Awlaki and Khan remains as a legacy on the AQAP internet site leading to possible retaliatory attacks.
Media reported that there were at least three other US Citizens on the ‘capture or kill’ list. Perhaps that might include ‘Bama boy, Omar Hammami, an al Shabaab commander in Somalia. At least, in his case, the Federal prosecutors convened a grand jury investigation in Mobile, Alabama to issue an indictment under US law charging him with giving material aid to terrorists.
In early October 2008 I posted, unchanged, what I had posted the year before. I will now re-post the 2008 post, which itself re-posts the 2007 post. Let's see if one of the three candidates for a Nobel (two in Medicine, one in Literature) wins this year. If not, I'll keep re-posting. Friday, ...Read More...
A previous posting from a year ago is re-posted below. The veiled predictions of future winners it contains remain the same. But calendrical considerations forced me to accelerate the day of re-posting; the Nobel Prizes this year will begin to be announced -- that in Medicine ...Read More...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcMDaq-Nkdo It's the Ambrose Orchestra, with Sam Browne doing the vocal, brought to us not on the old Victrola, but live from the Mayfair Hotel. For that "Nobel twist," you must wait a year or two for more. I'll remind you then of this posting, ...Read More...
"Is This What You In The West Mean By The Arab Spring?"
From The Guardian:
October 1, 2011
Yemeni women's rights campaigner warns of Islamists behind the uprising
Education activist claims west has misunderstood Arab spring and that forces of oppression are coming to fore in country
Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen. Photograph: Arno Burgi/Corbis
A leading campaigner for women's education in Yemen has issued a stark warning to western governments to be wary of key members of the country's protest movement, who have been seeking since January to end the 33-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"To those who talk of an 'Arab spring' in my country," she told the Observer while in London, where she is seeking asylum with her two daughters, "I would say that it was not Saleh who threatened my life or made me too frightened to carry on with my work or stay in Yemen. It was the opposition."
"Sara" does not want to give her real name, out of fear for the consequences for her family and colleagues in Yemen, but she is anxious to highlight what she believes is a profound misunderstanding in the west of what is really going on in Yemen, where more than 400 people have died since the start of the uprising in January.
"I welcomed the protests when the young people first started gathering in al-Tahrir Square [in the capital, Sana'a]. Yemen needs change and an end to the corruption of the last 30 years, but when the shooting and shelling started in March, the people in the square were the innocents caught in the middle of the real battle for power that is still going on."
In the early months of the uprising, Sara carried on with the work she had been doing for 20 years – encouraging young women to get an education in state-funded schools, showing the traditional culture in Yemen was not incompatible with training girls to become scientists, engineers and doctors. Both of her grown-up daughters – who are now in exile with her – are healthcare professionals.
"My work had always been unpopular with some people who say it is against Islam. They accused me of encouraging girls to become too western, to dress inappropriately, to pretend they were men, but each time I was able to show that what they said wasn't true," she said.
Although today only her hair is covered, in the photographs she carries with her of her work in Yemen, often greeting UN and EU visitors to the projects she set up, she is always wearing a full-face veil, with just her eyes showing.
Although she and her family had friends among the protesters in al-Tahrir Square, she preferred to stay at her desk during the first months of the uprising.
"Without knowledge, learning, training, there is no future," she explained. But then those more conservative forces who in the past had attacked her work, or tried to take it over and run it on more traditional Islamic principles, started harassing her. They warned her to do nothing until the president had been overthrown.
When she refused, suspecting their motives, they threatened her. At first she resisted the intimidation – although she admits she was frightened – and carried on even when she heard that her name had been included on a list broadcast by opposition forces of those they wanted to target. But being told by foreign human rights workers that her life was in danger was the last straw. She reluctantly decided to flee.
"I don't blame the protesters in the square," she said. "They are mostly young and innocent. They want money and jobs. But even there their tents are in groups, each with their own idea about the future, all very different. And behind them is sheltering the real opposition."
She specifically accuses two key figures in the struggle. The first is General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar – a former ally of President Saleh who changed sides early in the uprising, but whose forces, she says, have been responsible for some of the worst atrocities during the unrest, such as firing on tribal leaders (including Muhsin's brother) and children who came to urge him to reach a compromise with the regime.
The second is Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar, leader of the largest tribal grouping in Sana'a, an ally of Muhsin, but with his own separate militia.
Both of these two men, she warns, have close ties with the main opposition party in Yemen, al-Islah. One of its leaders is Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, who has been labelled a terrorist by both the United States and the United Nations, and is often described as a key figure in the al-Qaida group that has been able to operate in what has become Yemen's political vacuum.
These are the forces that have constantly threatened her work, she says. She had previously managed to keep them at bay because the Saleh government, for all its faults, upheld women's right to education. But now that her country has descended into what she describes as "madness", these forces can now threaten her life with impunity.
"Is this what you in the west mean by the Arab spring?" she asked.
Yet another razzia or ghazi raid from Muslim Somali into majority-non-Muslim Kenya; ten Somali Muslim gunmen kidnap disabled Frenchwoman
The AFP account, as reproduced by Australia's ABC.
This Somali Muslim raiding and abduction of non-Muslim tourists from Kenyan beach resorts will harm the Kenyan economy. Throughout the history of Islam Muslim societies - to use that word loosely - have always raided their non-Muslim neighbours, causing economic and psychological disruption and thus preparing the way for full-scale Jihad later on. Of course there are and have been non-Muslim societies that raid and kidnap - the Vikings being one of the more famous examples - but the putative founder of Islam, Mohammed, was a violent raider, kidnapper and slave-taker whose every deed and word are held up to all pious Muslims as good and worthy of emulation. And so it should not surprise when one finds Muslims engaging in human trafficking, and in raiding and theft and kidnap for ransom, usually with non-Muslims as the designated prey.
'Somali gunmen have snatched a disabled French woman from a Kenyan resort island and fled back across the border with her after a shootout with Kenya's navy, officials said.
'It is the second attack on foreigners (sic: on foreign non-Muslims - CM) in one month in the area of Kenya near the border with war-torn Somalia ('war-torn Somalia'. That is, 'sharia-crazed jihad-wracked Muslim Somalia' - CM).
'The wheelchair-bound woman - identified by local sources as Marie Dedieu, 66 - was taken from her home on Manda Island by "10 heavily armed Somali bandits", the Kenyan government said in a statement.'
'The statement added the gunmen were "suspected" members of Somalia's Shebab Islamist rebel group.
Somalia's Al-Shabab sharia-pushing jihad gangsters, piously imitating the example of their robber, rapist and kidnapper 'prophet', warlord Mohammed, Islam's 'perfect' man. - CM
"Security forces swung into immediate action and pursued the abductors", making their way to the town of Ras Kamboni in southern Somalia by speedboat, the statement said.
'Nairobi dispatched a helicopter and coastguard vessels which caught up with and surrounded the fleeing gunmen.
"In the ensuing shoot-out between the abductors and the Kenyan Navy, several of the abductors were injured but managed to enter Ras Kamboni," said the statement, which offered no details on the abducted woman's condition.
'Shebab rebels control large swathes of territory in southern Somali, but Ras Kamboni, a former rebel bastion near the Kenyan border, is not currently under the control of any single group, with several gangs holding sway.
'Somalia's weak, Western-backed government is still largely confined to the capital, Mogadishu.
'The Kenyan government said "every effort is being made to rescue the victim", while Tourism minister Najib Balala promised security will be beefed up.
Judging by his name, Mr Najib Balala is a Muslim. Where do his loyalties lie, if it comes down to a choice between the non-Muslim law of majority-kafir Kenya, and his fellow Mohammedans, however immediately embarrassing their actions? - CM
"We fear for her health", French foreign affairs spokesman Bernard Valero said in Paris, adding that the woman - who is retired and has been living in Kenya for about 15 years - was on a medical regimen when abducted.
'Her companion, John Lepapa, a 39 year old Kenyan who was present during the attack, said there were six assailants on land and four waiting in the boat, and "they all had guns".
"He shoot at me when he passed this window", he recounted.
'Zeniab Anthony, her maid, said she was sleeping in the servants' quarters when she got up to go to the toilet. "When I reached the doorstep, I saw a man with a gun. I started screaming and five more came in", she said.
If there were security guards, where were they? And if there were not, there should have been. And I would advise the resort not to hire Muslims for anything. - CM
'She and another maid were then taken to the main house.
'Locals said the kidnap victim was well known in the area, where she spends much of the year. The kidnappers did not take her wheelchair with them.
'Ernest Munyi, head of police for the coast province, said the abductors had forced a man working for the Frenchwoman and living nearby to take them to her.
"The gang knocked on the door of the house help who stays in an adjacent house, and when he resisted, they forced themselves in. They then directed him to take them to the house of their boss, which he did," he said.
"We were all startled awake because there were gunshots", said Jeremiah Kiptoon, who works on Manda Island.
'The dogs were barking and people were screaming...I ran to the place to see what was happening, but by the time I got there, the lady was gone."
Sounds like they need many more, bigger, better trained dogs that can be turned loose at need. I'd have liked to see how these Somali Muslim jihadi kidnappers handled having chunks taken out of their backsides and legs by a pack of about twenty well-trained guard dogs. Dobermans, say, or Alsatians, or Rhodesian Ridgebacks, or bull terriers. That lady should have had a dog - two dogs - in her room, or in the next room. And a gun. - CM
'String of kidnappings'
'Lamu, with its immaculate white sand beaches on the Indian Ocean, is one of Kenya's most prized tourist venues despite its proximity to war-torn (to repeat: jihad-wracked Sharia-crazed - CM) Somalia.
'There are no cars on the island, only donkeys, and Lamu Old Town is the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa, according to the UNESCO cultural agency, which declared it a heritage site in 2001.
'The French consulate in Nairobi issued a formal warning to prospective visitors on Saturday to avoid the archipelago and the region up to the Somali border.
'On September 11 (and I wonder whether that date was purely coincidental - CM) gunmen (sic: Muslim gunmen - CM) attacked a British couple in their 50s - Judith and David Tebbutt - on holiday north of Lamu.
'David Tebbutt was shot dead and his wife was captured. She is believed to have been sold to pirates now holding her in central Somalia.
This is modern day slave-trading. And what price are they asking for her ransom? - CM
'Somali has been lawless for two decades after plunging into a bloody civil war with the 1991 ouster (sic: ousting - CM) of President Mohamed Siad Barre.
'Lawless'. To be more precise: Sharia-crazed. It is precisely because of the attitudes and practices that Islam inculcates and that the sharia encodes - suspicion, and aggression, and a zero-sum approach to any dispute, and the enablement and sacralising of raw amoral power exercised without limit - that Muslim societies oscillate ceaselessly between two modes of being: either a war of all against all, or a brittle and rigid order imposed from the top-down by a ruthless dictator. "If you are among Muslims, you would always fight" - so said an ex-Muslim, now Christian, a Turkish citizen of Kurdish ethnicity who became a Christian in the process of creating a Kurdish translation of the Gospels. So I read in an article in the UBS World Report of 1st February 2006. Ayaan Hirsi Ali says much the same, in her account of intra-familial and inter-clan conflict in Muslim Somalia, in both 'Infidel' and 'Nomad'. - CM
'A Briton kidnapped in southern Somalia in 2008, environmental researcher Murray Watson, is still missing, and a French secret service agent has been held in Somalia for more than two years.
'The Lamu archipelago is often included in package holidays to Kenya...
'Tourism is a key foreign currency earner for Kenya, East Africa's largest economy.
'The sector had only recently recovered from the violence that erupted after disputed 2007 polls.
If I recall correctly, there was a significant Muslim component to that 'violence'.Not only does Kenya border on sharia-crazed jihad-wracked Somalia, from which (as we see in this latest story) Muslim raiders - thieves and kidnappers - appear to be crossing its border with increasing frequency and violence, but it is also afflicted with a large, aggressive and dangerous Muslim Fifth Column. - CM