These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 13, 2008.
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Suicide bomb boy kills three Scots marines in Taliban attack
From The Scottish Daily Record and The Telegraph
THREE Scots Marines were killed in Afghanistan yesterday when a boy bomber wheeled a barrowload of explosives into them.
The three Marines - based at 45 Commando, Arbroath - died when the Taliban triggered a bomb as the 13-year-old pushed the wheelbarrow towards them.
The men from 45 Commando Royal Marines were on foot patrol when they were approached by the 13-year-old. As he drew closer, a bomb hidden under papers in the wheelbarrow was detonated, it is believed by a watching member of the Taliban using a remote-control device.
One of the commandos was killed instantly, another died at the scene and the third died in hospital.
The slaughter took place near the flashpoint town of Sangin in Helmand province.
Military sources believed the teenager was "almost certainly" unaware he was going to his death.
The use of children as unsuspecting suicide bombers has become commonplace in Helmand and has happened several times before in Sangin.
Reviewing Theodore Dalrymple's Not with a Bang but with a Wimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline, Patrick Keeneywrites:
It is a literary curiosity that so many physicians write so well. From Anton Chekhov to Somerset Maugham to Williams Carlos Williams, to more contemporary examples such as Lewis Thomas, the late Michael Crichton or last year's Giller Prize winner, Vincent Lam, there is no shortage of doctors who excel at the literary arts.
It may be a “literary curiosity”, but it is not surprising that doctors, or other writers whose “day job” is scientific or technical, often write better than full-time practitioners or teachers of “the literary arts”. A doctor, scientist or engineer has a vested interest in clarity and precision; if he fails to get his meaning across, the wrong limb may be cut off, or the bridge may fall down. In contrast, a writer or professor of literature is motivated to write obscurely. If he writes clearly, readers may realise that he has nothing to say, and his reputation will collapse.
There are exceptions, of course, but not enough of them.
Police launch investigation into how restaurant bomber was radicalised by Pakistani extremists
From The Telegraph
British police have launched an investigation in Pakistan to hunt down two men suspected of radicalising nail bomber Nicky Reilly.
Officers say they are working with Pakistani authorities to trace a number of emails sent by Reilly, 22, in the run-up to the bungled attempt.
Reilly has admitted attempted murder by trying to detonate two home-made nail bombs in a packed restaurant in Exeter, Devon, in May.
Police say the Muslim convert, who has learning difficulties, was 'radicalised' by extremists who he was in contact with via his home computer.
Officers say he had communicated with two men in Pakistan before the incident who are now being hunted in a joint police operation.
A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: "We are following up lines of inquiry in Pakistan. At present, we have no plans to send officers across to Pakistan but we may well do so in the future. The only contact we are having with Pakistani authorities at the moment is via phone or letter. We are trying to establish who Nicky Reilly was talking to over the internet before the blast. This is a long-term investigation which is on-going."
There is an interesting discussion of the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, which I believe was signed by John Adams and is still in force, over at VFR.
TITLE 50 > CHAPTER 3 > � 21
� 21. Restraint, regulation, and removal
Whenever there is a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion is perpetrated, attempted or threatened against the territory of the United States by any foreign nation or government, and the President makes public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being of the age of fourteen years and upward, who shall be within the United States and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured, and removed as alien enemies. The President is authorized in any such event, by his proclamation thereof, or other public act, to direct the conduct to be observed on the part of the United States, toward the aliens who become so liable; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject and in what cases, and upon what security their residence shall be permitted, and to provide for the removal of those who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, refuse or neglect to depart therefrom; and to establish any other regulations which are found necessary in the premises and for the public safety.
This act specifies "nation or government." The reading of "nation" may possibly be construed to apply the Muslim ummah, since the authors obviously wanted to cover more than agents of foreign governments. Notice also that it states that this law would come into effect either by a declaration of war (as between the U.S. and Japan) or by a predatory incursion (without a formal declaration of war) and with or without a government being involved. Naturalized citizens would be exempt.
The 13th December is the feast of St Lucy, or Lucia, a 4th century virgin martyr who was said to have refused marriage in favour of work with the poor and who was reported to the authorities as a Christian by the rejected suitor. Her death as reported many years later was the usual combination of gore and miracles.
Her day is celebrated throughout Scandinavia with light, this being the day in the old calendar which would have been the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year.
Young girls wear white dresses and serve their families breakfast and coffee. At a service in church or school one particular girl will represent St Lucia in a white robe with a crown of candles, symbolic of the return of light. Other candles illuminate the area with a blaze of light.
This year in Sweden boys are clamouring to be allowed to wear the crown of light, in the interests of sexual equality.
Photo from this site.
Victor Davis Hanson makes some good points in his City Journal article about the demise of the classical education:
Traditional colleges and universities aren’t about to die, of course. But their attractions—and especially the enticements of the Ivy League schools, Stanford, Berkeley, and such private four-year colleges as Amherst and Oberlin—will largely derive from the status that they convey, the career advantages that accrue from their brand-name diplomas, and the unspoken allure of networking and associating with others of a similarly affluent and privileged class. They are becoming social entities, private clubs for young people, certification and proof of career seriousness, but hardly centers for excellence in undergraduate education in the classical sense. For all the tens of thousands of dollars invested in yearly tuition, there will be no guarantee, or indeed, even a general expectation, that students will encounter singular faculty or receive a superior liberal arts education—let alone that they will know much more about their exceptional civilization than what they could find on the Internet, at religious schools, or on CDs and DVDs.
Once academia lost the agreed-upon, universally held notion of what classical learning was and why it was important, a steady unraveling process removed not just the mission but the mystery—and indeed, the beauty—from the American university. How ironic that the struggling university, in its efforts to meet changing political, technological, and cultural tastes and fads, willingly forfeited the only commodity that made it irreplaceable and that it alone could do well. And how sad, since once the university broke apart the liberal arts, all the religious schools, self-help courses, and CDs couldn’t quite put them together again.
Yet, even as he decries the "therapeutic curriculum", he writes (my emphasis):
The university was a unique place; it thrived because liberal arts in the holistic sense simply could not be emulated by, or outsourced to, private enterprise or ad hoc self-improvement training.
Nihad Awad addressed the annual CAIR banquet in Washington D.C. as reported in VOA:
What do American Muslims expect from President-elect Barack Obama? What can they do to help redefine their role in U.S. society? Those questions topped the agenda at the recent annual meeting of the private Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, in Washington D.C., attended by more than 700 Muslim-American activists from across the country.
"Private?" Did they lose their 501 (C) (3) status?
In his opening remarks at the annual fund-raising banquet, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called on Obama to pursue a less-militaristic policy in the Muslim world and to open his administration to the ideas and talents of Muslim-Americans.
"We are asking President-elect Barack Obama to deliver [on] his promise and end the illegal war in Iraq, and also we ask him not to escalate the war in Afghanistan and to seek consultation and counsel from American Muslims, who care both about America and the world," Awad said. "Finally, we are asking Barack Obama to be inclusive in his administration, because so far he has been accommodating to many minorities.
"American Muslims have been left out so far. We hope that he will hire qualified American Muslims to serve in his administration, and there are plenty of talents."
In this administration, however, a recommendation from Grover Norquist won't help.
The CAIR director also urged Obama to "restore the rule of law" that Awad said has been eroded over the past eight years by the Bush administration. Awad expressed the hope Obama's administration will be, as he put it, more respectful of the rights of people of all faiths.
"American Muslims feel left out. American Muslims feel [they are] being selectively targeted by certain agencies, and American Muslims should not be deprived from giving legitimate charitable work for needy people, and also American Muslims have to be part of the decision-making process when it comes to domestic policies and foreign policies, especially when it is pertaining to the Muslim world."
America Muslims have been deprived of being able to give to charity? I suppose he's referring to the Holy Land Foundation convictions in which the principals were found guilty of fraud and funding terrorism on 108 counts. CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in that case.
Awad said the "politics of fear" had failed to distract American voters from the real issues during the November national elections. He noted how a controversial documentary film linking Islam with terrorism was widely distributed across the United States by some conservative American political groups, just weeks prior to the November presidential election. But the tactic failed to excite much public interest, and it did not discourage American Muslim voters from going to the polls in record numbers.
He is referring the movie Obsession which was distributed through newspapers to alert the country to the dangers Islam poses for non-Muslims. Their intent was never to discourage Muslim citizens from voting.
Keith Ellison, a Minnesota representative who in 2006 became the first American Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress, took the podium to urge the largely Muslim audience to get more involved in politics. He said the election of Barack Obama should be seen as an opportunity for Muslim-Americans, in particular, to redefine themselves as active American citizens and to make their voices heard.
"The only way to define yourself is to work in a purposeful way for your own best interest," Ellison said. "We have to stop allowing other people to demonize the Muslim community, and these people are using their freedom of speech in a negative way, and we have, therefore, to use our freedom of speech in a positive way.
"And so the Muslim community has to lift its own voice and be heard. We should remember that we are not starting from zero. There is a lot of goodwill out there. Every time a Muslim physician takes care of a patient, there is goodwill out there. Every time a Muslim community activist does a good deed for somebody, that creates a goodwill out there."
Ellison said qualified American Muslims should apply for some of the 8,000 jobs he said are available now in the incoming Obama administration. He says that today - with a new U.S. president sporting "Hussein" as his middle name - there is no excuse for shying away from work because of an accent or a foreign name...
On Wednesday, December 10th, the Israel project sponsored an hour long news conference with Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade. Because of their senior House committee posts they have had dialog with the transition team of President Elect Obama. The overall topic of the conference call was Iran and options for the incoming Obama Administration’s dealings with a nuclear Iran. There were 200 working journalists, bloggers and activists from around the globe on the Israel project news conference call with Reps. Hoekstra and Sherman. Israel project executive director, Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi, moderated the email queries with the Congressmen.
Iran Options for Obama
CQ Politics has an excellent digest of the responses from Reps. Hoekstra and Sherman. Their responses covered:
·prospects for containing Iranian nuclear development via stronger economic sanctions;
· creating diplomatic initiatives with allies like Germany and India;
· inducing Russia to back these initiatives; and,
· the fading prospects of either American or Israeli military options to attack Iran’s nuclear stockpiles and missile development facilities.
Here are some key points raised by Hoekstra and Sherman on Iranian Options for incoming President Obama.
Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, says Iran’s conditions for serious talks — U.S. withdrawal of military forces from Iraq and an end to support for Israel — are impossible for the United States to concede.
It’s clear that we need to keep the pressure on economically, politically and always have the option of a military potential if we are expecting to have any kind of results from our engagement or activities on Iran, Hoekstra said.
Sherman suggested that a pre-emptive military strike, either by the United States or Israel, was unlikely, given the American public’s wariness in the wake of Iraq.
Hoekstra said the cooperation of the international community would be critical.
Right now, you’ve just got too many people saying we don’t see the problem, we’re not going to be part of the solution, and economic sanctions used by a few means they’re not used at all and are not effective, he said.
We have a lot of tools in our toolbox to put economic and diplomatic pressure on them, but those tools have remained in our toolbox, said Rep. Brad Sherman. We have used roughly 1 percent of what’s available to us.
Meanwhile, he contends, America could do things at home to pressure the Iranian government to curtail its nuclear ambitions. Among the actions Obama could take are:
• Prohibiting exports of aircraft parts to Iran, which would ground their commercial and military aircraft.
• Stopping U.S. oil companies from allowing their overseas subsidiaries from doing business with Iran.
• Enforcing the Iran Sanctions Act (PL 104-172) to prevent investments by foreign oil companies in the Iran oil sector.
• Demanding the World Bank stop disbursing funds to Iran in the form of concessionary loans that have already been approved over token U.S. opposition.
• Denying nuclear cooperative agreements to countries that provide nuclear technology to Iran.
• Putting economic pressure on companies building liquefied natural gas plants in Iran.
• Going after trans-shipments of sensitive technology to Iran.
One of the easiest things to do would be to enforce the Iran Sanctions Act, Sherman said, which helped to dismantle Libya’s WMD program when the law applied to that country.
The most obvious pressure point, he said, is Iran’s need to import much of its refined petroleum. [We have writtenabout “gas quarantine” of exports to Iran proposed by Reps. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rob Andrews (D-NJ]. Declining oil prices are also causing economic difficulties, but this is somewhat counterbalanced by the fact that the economic recession makes other countries more reluctant to forego their own revenues from exports to Iran.
Without actions like the above, Sherman said, Iran will probably be able to enrich uranium, for peaceful energy uses or for a nuclear weapon, within the next five years.
It is not true that we have done all that can be done and failed, he said.
U.S. Rep. Sherman: “Sharia banking is not a national security issue”
At news conference call described below, one of the participants asked Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) , Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non Proliferation and Trade, “will Sharia Banking be treated as a national security issue?” Sherman responded that he didn’t consider Sharia banking a national security issue. His rationale was that “Sharia loans straddle preferred stock and debt” – the inference that there were few voting powers in such investments. To his knowledge, these weren’t equity investments with voting powers. However, we have evidence of voting powers granted by financial giants like Citigroup to equity investments from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Saudi Prince Alaweed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holdings.
Sherman has clearly not been apprised that ultimate Sharia compliant ‘excess income’ goes to Muslim charities that may act as possible conduits to Islamic terror groups. As illustrated by the recent Holy Land Foundation re-trial convictions, millions of Islamic charity funds have gone to groups like Hamas - a foreign terrorist organization so designated by our State Department - via Muslim Brotherhood fronts in America.
Sherman’s lack of understanding of Sharia finance and its threats to national security are reflected in the controversy concerning AIG’s ‘Takaful’ homeowners insurance policies underwritten by its specialty insurance company, the Lexington. ACT! For America raised the issue in view of the government controlled ownership of AIG, following the massive $150 billion bailout by the Federal Reserve. See our discussion about the AIG bailout here. Note this response from AIG to inquiries from ACT! For America rationalizing the underwriting of the‘Takaful’ Sharia compliant policy:
We received your email expressing your concern over our announcement that we would begin marketing Takaful insurance products in the United States.
AIG operates around the world and endeavors to provide products that meet the diverse needs of its 74 million customers living in 130 countries and jurisdictions.
Marketing to specific ethnic constituencies is not new or unique to AIG. For instance, AIG businesses have tailored programs for a range of religious organizations, including Methodist churches and synagogues. The concept of Takaful is similar to the concept of reciprocal exchange, or mutual insurance. What makes the structure somewhat different is that premiums are held in non-interest-bearing accounts, and any excess profit is distributed back to the policyholders or given to charity. While the Takaful structure is desirable to those whose religious convictions preclude them from engaging in traditional interest-bearing structures, Takaful is also increasingly popular among non-Muslims who feel that the excess charitable aspect is a socially responsible mechanism for the purchase of insurance. In the United States, AIG plans to direct excess profits to U.S. based charitable organizations. These policies are standard homeowners’ policies and are guided by U.S. law. The funds for these policies are held in Shariah-compliant, non-interest bearing accounts at HSBC.
We hope this addresses your concerns.
Conflating tailored insurance policies for Christian and Jewish religious groups with Sharia compliant policies and the direction of excess income to ‘socially responsible charities’ evades the subversive objectives of Sharia finance. The ACT! For America rebuttal noted the dangers of who controls the flow of the ‘Takaful” policy excess income:
The advisory board for AIG’s Shariah-compliant insurance includes Muhammed Imran Usmani, the son and disciple of Muhammed Taki Usmani. The elder Usmani is a “who’s who” in the Islamist world and an outspoken proponent of aggressive jihad. For example, he has issued numerous fatwas (religious rulings) that provide material support for terrorism. What “socially responsible mechanism” does AIG provide to “Methodist churches and synagogues” that has an advisory board which includes the disciple of an internationally-known advocate for terrorism?
Given AIG’s announcement about forced sale of assets to repay the government ‘bridge loan’ might that involve the potential sale of the Lexington Insurance Company, which developed the ‘takaful” homeowners insurance policy? Will the matter of Sharia compliant insurance simply become the problem of the new owners of AIG’s Lexington? Those AIG asset sales could possible occur before year’s end.
What the AIG ‘takaful’ insurance policy and Rep. Brad Sherman’s comments about Sharia finance illustrate is how uninformed our government is about the flow of alleged ‘socially responsible excess income’ to Islamic charities, some of whom have provided significant support for the Grand Jihad both here in America and abroad in the Middle East, Somalia, and Pakistan. Congressional Intelligence, Homeland Security and Terrorism Committees and incoming President-elect Obama’s National Security Council and Justice Department staffs should consider having briefings from Stephen Coughlin on Islamic Law War Doctrine and David Yerushalmi on possible Sharia Compliant Finance violations of civil and criminal law .
Will that happen? Somehow, I doubt it. Until those briefings occur, the government will live in denial about the security risks raised by Sharia compliant finance in America.
Amos Oz, pocketing one of those prizes that European countries --especially Germany -- like to give to Israelis as long as those Israelis are reliable apologists for the "Palestinians," that is constantly apologizing for Israeli actions and finding excuses for the acts of Muslim Arabs ("Palestinians"), in accepting the award, had the following deplorable things to say:
Israeli author Amos Oz: Arab-Israeli conflict kept alive be fanatics
Israeli author Amos Oz was presented on Saturday with a top German award for his political and literary work.
Oz, 69, was honored by the city of Dusseldorf with the Heinrich Heine Prize for combining "literary creativity with political sensibility and humanistic commitment."
The award, worth 50,000 euros ($66,000), is named after the 19th century German poet. It has been awarded biannually since 1972 to personalities who share Heine's values of tolerance, human rights and mutual understanding of peoples.
Oz, who was born in Jerusalem in 1939, is one of Israel's best-known authors and political voices. He is a co-founder of the Israeli peace movement and a prominent champion of Palestinian rights.
In his acceptance speech, Oz said the Arab-Israeli conflict could only be resolved in the context of European values of tolerance, rationality and pragmatism. However, it "is being kept alive by fanatics on both sides."
Oz also said Heine taught that humor and irony were the best medicine for extremism and narrow-mindedness, and that modern people can never feel at home in one culture and one place. Oz pointed out that Heine saw Judaism as a culture and a people, and that he believed that a modern people can and should rise above mysticism of ancient theology.
Oz also said that before Zionism dug itself into national borders and locked itself into an armed struggle, it had only dealt in normalcy, in reentering history, in Jews belonging to the family of nations. Those, he said, were the main tenets of Heine's beliefs.
Oz said he was ambivalent about Europe, since many of his forefathers had seen it as the promised land, but it had maliciously turned its back on them. However, it was the European heritage that had tuned us into a modern civil society, and the Arab-Jewish conflict could be settled precisely with European values of rationalism, pragmatism and tolerance.
Last month, Oz joined other Israeli intellectuals and dovish politicians to establish a new political party that aims to unite the Israeli peace camp.
A former professor of literature at Ben-Gurion university, he won the Israel Prize for literature in 1998, the Goethe Prize in 2005 and Spain's Prince of Asturias Prize in 2007.
Among his best known works are A Tale of Love and Darkness, Don't Call It Night and Rhyming Life and Death.