These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 16, 2012.
Thursday, 16 February 2012
We are like children! We deserve no freedom! We must be beaten with truncheons!
The deaths of at least seventy people at a football match in Egypt has confirmed my reasoned prejudice against this sport, whose psychological, cultural and economic effects is so disastrous. Of course, there is nothing in the game itself, apart from its inevitable propensity to injure the players, that is intrinsically deleterious; but all that surrounds it, at least in its modern professional form, is harmful and horrible.
Football rots the mind and ruins the conduct. Among other harmful effects, it deforms the ambitions of young men from poor areas; it deceives them into thinking that it is the way out of their economic problems and the sovereign way to obtain diamond studs for their ears, so essential to their dignity. Their chances of success are not much higher than that of buying a winning lottery ticket and in any case it appears that such young men in England do not even have the elementary self-discipline necessary to compete with foreigners in this activity.
Be that as it may, the Guardian newspaper's report of the tragic events in Port Said was most interesting, and not without wider significance. The beaten team in the match that ended in so many deaths was called Al-Ahly, and the newspaper reported that the following had occurred afterwards:
Fans congregated outside Al-Ahly's ground in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zamalek… Chants rang out in front of the club against the ministry of the interior and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, as fans believed that there was a major lack of security at the match.
An individual fan by the name of Khaled Gad told the Guardian
's reporter that
What's upsetting is the huge lapse in security which I feel is purposeful on the part of the interior ministry and the military.
I hold no brief for the Egyptian army or ministry of the interior, but this is surely a most extraordinary exercise in blame-shifting.
I am perfectly prepared to believe that arrangements in Port Said were not all that they might have been - only in Switzerland are arrangements all that they might be - but let us just remind ourselves of what, according to the Guardian, actually happened: or, to put it another and better way, what people actually did:
The violence flared after Al-Ahly, one of Egypt's most successful teams, were beaten 3-1. Television footage showed players running from the pitch chased by fans while a small group of riot police tried to protect the players, but they appeared overwhelmed and fans attacked the players as they fled. Fans of both teams clashed and stormed the pitch and dressing rooms.
Let us pass over the fact that in the first sentence of this account the violence flared as if it were an inanimate object obeying the laws of nature, and that existed independently of the decisions of the people who committed it; for reasons of space and time we have often to use this kind of shorthand, but we should be careful not to let it pervert our way of conceiving the matter.
Surely (if this account is otherwise accurate) the fans who gathered outside the ground in Zamalek should have shouted:
We are fools, we are morons, we are criminally stupid, we are murderously idiotic!
To blame the armed forces or the ministry of the interior for the fact that fans attacked players and each other is, in effect, to grant the armed forces and the ministry of the interior complete authority to supervise and control them. To the above chants, the crowd in front of the ground in Zamalek might with justice have added:
We are like children! We deserve no freedom! We must be beaten with truncheons!
In Khaled Gad's comment there is, of course, an explicit paranoia: that the armed forces and ministry of the interior were not merely incompetent but were malevolently plotting. No theory is advanced as to what they were trying to achieve with their plotting: a demonstration to the world, perhaps, that the Egyptian people are so immature that they need authoritarian herding? But while the paranoia might have something specifically local about it, the general form of thought - that the authorities were to blame for the bad behaviour of ordinary people - is a commonplace throughout the world, and not least in Britain.
Not long ago I published a little book pointing out that Britain is the most littered of any major country in western Europe and suggesting some reasons why this is so. Almost invariably when I introduce the subject into conversation, the first thought of my interlocutors is that there are not enough litter bins, that is to say it is the fault of the authorities that the British are the slovenliest people in western Europe.
Few people, I suppose, are more willing to criticise our public administration than I, but this is going too far. I regularly drive down the A14 from the M6 to Cambridge - a distance of about 80 miles - and the roadside, yard after yard, mile after mile, is indescribably filthy, with plastic bottles, polystyrene burger boxes, long strips of polythene and plastic bags full of rubbish by the thousand and the tens of thousand.
How many people must have thrown their rubbish out of their vehicles to produce this informal linear rubbish-tip, and how many litter bins would have been necessary to prevent it from developing? One every yard for 80 miles? Would people have stopped - illegally - to put their rubbish in the bins? Furthermore, I ask my interlocutors whether, in the absence of litter bins, they dispose of their detritus in this way? You may readily guess the answer; so then I grow furious, and accuse them of talking - rubbish, the kind of rubbish that leads to, and justifies, the most abject authoritarianism.
The form of the argument blaming the ministry of the interior for the appalling behaviour of the football fans in Egypt, and that blaming the British local authorities for the slovenliness of the British in the matter of litter, is exactly the same. Both are manifestations of man's eternal search for the greatest freedom of all, the freedom from responsibility.
First published in Social Affairs Unit.
Posted on 02/16/2012 7:16 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Eric Allen Bell on the Michael Coren Show
Posted on 02/16/2012 7:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 16 February 2012
"To Me As An Academic"
From a story about Michael McFaul, formerly a professor of political science at Stanford, with stints at the Carnegie Foundation and the Hoover Institution, now the American Ambassador to Russia:
"But, typically, McFaul is brushing off his rude welcome. In a veiled apology, he says he’s learning from his mistakes (while not naming any).
And he’s raring to go. "If you stop learning, to me as an academic that’s the most insulting thing you can say about anybody.’’
Posted on 02/16/2012 8:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Annoying Americanism of the week
Says Tommy Cooper:
'I'm going to chop off the bottom of one of your trouser legs and put it in a library.' I thought 'That's a turn-up for the books.'
This doesn't work in American, because Americans call turn-ups "cuffs", when, as any British fule kno, cuffs are to be found only on your sleeves. Perhaps Americans don't say "turn up" at all, except when they should be saying swede.
Instead of saying "turn up", the Americans, and increasingly the British, say "show up". This show business is not our business and we should stop saying it. The correct versions are:
British: "He waited for you but you never turned up. He's just gone."
American: "He waited for you but you never showed up. He just left."
Where does this leave Wilkins Micawber, whose luck was a no-show? Sitting on his bum?
Another thing -- when did people start to "rock up"? In my day it was "boogie on down".
Posted on 02/16/2012 10:19 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Romney And The Dog On The Hot Tin Roof
More and more, on the radio, on television, in the newspapers, one hears about Romney and the dog -he carried to Canada, by car, or rather, on top of the car, in a special cage.
According to some opinion polls, if is this event, more than any other, that has soured part of the electorate against Romney.
Here's one of the many articles in the same vein:
Why Romney's 'dog on car roof' story makes him unfit to be president
January 13, 2012 | FoxNews.com
It might be unseemly to bring this up just as Mitt Romney celebrates his win in New Hampshire on Tuesday night and seems to be a strong front-runner for the GOP nomination. But the story of his putting his dog in a carrier on his car roof for a 12-hour family trip is spreading again on the Internet and disturbs me the more I learn about it.
And I am betting the more it gets out, the more votes Romney loses — red, blue and purple.
When, in a campaign debate, Romney opposed allowing a non-documented worker who has lived here for 25 years to stay and earn his way to citizenship, he struck me as heartless.
But when I read the story recently in greater detail about what Romney did to his Irish Setter, Seamus, that struck me as more than heartless — it struck me as downright cruel.
In brief, as the Boston Globe first reported in 2007, in 1983, Mitt Romney, then 36 years old, drove his station wagon packed with five sons and his wife on a 12-hour trip from Boston to Ontario, where his parents had a cottage on Lake Huron.
He took a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon’s roof rack, built a special windshield, and put his dog Seamus into the carrier, where the dog remained for the 12-hour trip.
Was the dog distressed? Was it illegal under Massachusetts law as cruelty? There is some evidence that both are true.
During the trip, the Boston Globe reported, Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, looked around through the rear window and yelled, “Dad — gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window — diarrhea from an animal that just might have been caused by the stress of being inside a cage for 12 hours on top of a car going 60 mph.
And what did Romney do, even after knowing of the dog's diarrhea? Did he realize that perhaps Seamus should be shown some mercy, cleaned up and allowed in the car, to sleep on someone’s lap?
Here’s how the Globe described what Romney then did:
“As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.”
Emotion-free crisis management??!
I love animals, especially dogs. I don’t like people who are cruel to animals. I am told it is illegal in Massachusetts to put an animal on a car roof while driving. Had I been the local sheriff, I would have arrested him.
But I am a forgiving person. If today Romney, looking back, were to say, “You know, in retrospect, that was a cruel thing to do to our dog — I was young, it was a long time ago, I am sorry” — if he said that today, I’d forgive him.
But instead — Romney being Romney — he defaults into saying something utterly implausible. He recently told Fox's dog-loving Chris Wallace that Seamus actually loved it up there!
He then told Wallace that the dog was in an "air-tight container," not mentioning the diarrhea.
This is the ultimate Purple Issue — it cuts across Republicans, Democrats, blue states, red states, liberals and conservatives.
There are more than 78 million Americans who own one or more dogs — about two out of every five households. A Google search of "Romney Dog on Car Roof" brought me 1,080,000 results.
I don’t know how many of these 78 million dog owners (and thus, dog lovers) have yet heard or read about Romney doing this horrible thing, much less making his disingenuous claim that Seamus loved the experience on top of a speeding car for 12 hours, while his bowels turned to water.
But I’m thinking if this story gets out and stays out, there will be tens of millions of Google hits by next October. And I am also thinking that Romney is going to lose a lot of dog-lover votes on this issue alone, regardless of party or ideology.
Here’s one dog lover’s opinion — mine:
I think anyone who puts his dog in a cage on top of a car for a 12-hour drive and then deludes himself or tries to delude others that the dog really enjoyed it — to me, with all due respect, I feel such a man shouldn’t be president of the United States.
Now what does the story of readers' response to the story of the dog on the hot tin roof have to do with Islam?
Oh, a great deal.
But that is the subject of another post.
Posted on 02/16/2012 10:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Being an academic ...
From The Telegraph (Australia), h/t David Thompson:
Schapper in the crapper - she’s flush with cash:
A Melbourne academic has studied the writing on the walls of women’s toilets for a taxpayer-funded research project.
La Trobe University academic Jan Schapper visited almost 50 public toilets in and around Melbourne for her research …
Dr Schapper is employed at La Trobe University and the paper was part of her work as an academic.
“I refer to it as my toilet paper,” she told the Herald Sun yesterday.
Being an academic, Schapper’s initial interest is predictable:
The project was first conceived when Dr Schapper was at Monash University.
“The toilets had signs that were very controlling, and I was puzzling about whether they were racist, and I started to look at other toilets and the signs in them,” she said.
Will her work hold water, or is it just a flush in the pan?
Posted on 02/16/2012 10:45 AM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Fitzgerald: On Dogs And Statues In Islam
[Re-posted from 18 July 2011, which in turn was a repost from 2009]
A story in the Reading Evening Mail two years ago describes a 71-year-old blind Englishman and cancer sufferer who was asked to get off a bus because of the hysterical reaction to his seeing-eye dog by some Muslims on the bus:
A driver told a blind cancer sufferer to get off his bus when a woman and her children became hysterical at the sight of his guide dog. George Herridge, 71, told how the mum flew into a rage and shouted at him in a foreign language. A passenger explained she wanted him to get off the bus during the incident on May 20.
Mr Herridge, from Tern Close, Tilehurst, said: "Her child was kicking and screaming and someone off the bus told me her child was frightened of my dog. The driver said, 'Look mate, can't you get off? I stood my ground. I had not done anything, my dog had not done anything and I was getting off the bus for no one."
And a day after the latest bus incident a lady began screaming "I don't like dirty dogs" at Mr Herridge at the Royal Berkshire Hospital.
A week earlier he faced further animosity from a couple at Asda in The Meadway, he said.
He is unsure what has provoked outbursts but said he thinks some have come from Asian people and that it may be due to religious or cultural differences.
Drivers have been re-instructed to convey the blind and the bus company has sought advice from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and hopes to speak with Muslim leaders. As part of a Muslim Council of Britain project, Mufti Zubair Butt, Shar'ia advisor to Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS, admitted Muslims "require some education" on guide dogs."
Readers of Jihad Watch are familiar with many similar cases. For example, there are those Somali cab drivers in Minneapolis who refused to pick up blind passengers with seeing-eye dogs.
One needs to know exactly what is going on in all of these cases.
One thing is the extreme reaction that often characterizes Muslims in the Western, Infidel lands when they are being asked merely to accept what is a matter of course in those lands -- such as the use of seeing-eye dogs. But for Muslims this does not provoke quiet distaste, but rather a kind of hysteria.
The second is the aggression in Muslim behavior, and demands. For it is clear that in no case was there any attempt to simply get out of the way of the seeing-eye dog; rather, it was the 71-year-old Mr. Herridge who was being asked to leave. And the woman who began shouting at Mr. Herridge, when he was at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, that "I don't like dirty dogs," was clearly committing an act of aggression against an elderly blind man. For she might not have liked "dirty dogs," but she had no need to shout at the blind man who required his dog, and who had a perfect right to his dog, and in whose country this woman had been allowed to settle, though she appears intent on not accommodating herself, but in behaving outrageously toward the indigenes, even the most helpless and vulnerable among them. And when she shouts "I don't like dirty dogs," she is attacking Mr. Herridge himself, for she is denouncing his sole source of succor and solace.
Ibn Warraq once told me that while both Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, Jews are completely relaxed about it. No Jew would run rushing out of a restaurant screaming if he happened to discover that pork was on the menu. But Muslims would, and do. And it is the same with dogs. The hatred of dogs is not rational. It is simply based on the slavish acceptance of Muhammad's strictures, in a well-known Hadith, in which he is reported to have said: "I will not enter a house in which there are statues and dogs."
This is a strange, and even mysterious coupling of two items deemed haram: "statues and dogs." Why, one may ask? I think I know the reason. Statues, of course, were to be found in homes of Christians, and if those statues are clearly declared to be haram, and if Muslims are told that Muhammad, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) will not enter a house with statues, then no Muslim would do so either. That would be one bright line to distinguish Muslims from the Christians whose lands they conquered, and it would be one way to impose on those Muslims the duty not to become too friendly with Christians, not to enter their houses where there might still be statuary. And if Christians, in order to allow the members of the ruling Muslim class, to enter their houses, which might for those Christians be a desirable thing (they would need to curry favor with the Muslims who now ruled over them) they might find themselves more willing to themselves do away with statues and icons of every kind.
But why the warning against dogs? It is likely, I have suggested before at Jihad Watch and am suggesting again right now, that because dogs were prized by Zoroastrians, and treated with great affection and reverence, Muslims would want especially to distance themselves from the same practice, even to hold up dogs as objects of hysterical hatred. In so doing, they would again, as with Christians and statuary, clearly distinguish the superior Muslims and their practices from those of the inferior non-Muslims, in this case represented by Zoroastrians.
In Europe, Muslims have already been reported as vandalizing statues. For Islam makes an exception for statuary that has been so vandalized as to have become an object not of veneration but of comical contempt. Then they can be endured. More than thirty years ago, in Beverly Hills, one of the many Al-Saud princelings bought an estate, and on that estate there were many statues. He didn't destroy the statues, but he painted them grotesque colors, bright blues and greens. And stories were written about this, and pictures taken, and visitors came to gawk. But the great mystery that was never really asked, so certainly not answered was -- "Why?" Why did he do it? No one among the reporters covering the story had any idea that statuary was banned in Islam, but that vandalized statuary could remain, as long as it could not possibly be an object of respect or veneration. The ignorance displayed in that small case had no important consequences, unlike the ignorance of Islam that so many among our rulers, among those who claim to understand the world (and that includes Islam), display. They claim to be able to protect and even instruct us, and yet do not know the first thing about Islam. It is extraordinary, and maddening, and frustrating, and they never seem to think they should be embarrassed by this colossal mental lapsus, nor do anything to remedy it.
It was recently reported that in the heavily Islamic municipalities in Turkey, stray dogs are being hunted, tortured, and killed by the hundreds, and that "at least two of the dogs had been sexually abused." Western newspapers reported that "there is a myth among pious Muslims that dogs are unclean." But this is nonsense. There is no "myth." There is simply the Hadith of Muhammad saying he would not enter a house with dogs, and another that says that one's prayer is invalidated if a dog or a woman passes in front of the man doing the praying. And that means that dogs are haram, forbidden, and that must mean, to most Muslims, that they are "najis" or "unclean." Why call it a "myth" and not a teaching derived from the Sunna (that is, from the Hadith that form much of the written record of the Sunna)?
Muslim attitudes toward dogs, and the fiendish cruelty with which, in Muslim Iran, Zoroastrians and their dogs are treated, have been described by the leading historian of Zoroastrianism, Mary Boyce:
In Sharifabad the dogs distinguished clearly between Moslem and Zoroastrian, and were prepared to go...full of hope, into a crowded Zoroastrian assembly, or to fall asleep trustfully in a Zoroastrian lane, but would flee as before Satan from a group of Moslem boys...The evidence points...to Moslem hostility to these animals having been deliberately fostered in the first place in Iran, as a point of opposition to the old (pre-Islamic jihad conquest) faith (i.e., Zoroastrianism) there. Certainly in the Yazdi area...Moslems found a double satisfaction in tormenting dogs, since they were thereby both afflicting an unclean creature and causing distress to the infidel who cherished him. There are grim...stories from the time (i.e., into the latter half of the 19th century) when the annual poll-tax (jizya) was exacted, of the tax gatherer tying a Zoroastrian and a dog together, and flogging both alternately until the money was somehow forthcoming, or death released them. I myself was spared any worse sight than that of a young Moslem girl...standing over a litter of two-week old puppies, and suddenly kicking one as hard as she could with her shod foot. The puppy screamed with pain, but at my angry intervention she merely said blankly, 'But it's unclean.' In Sharifabad I was told by distressed Zoroastrian children of worse things: a litter of puppies cut to pieces with a spade-edge, and a dog's head laid open with the same implement; and occasionally the air was made hideous with the cries of some tormented animal. Such wanton cruelties on the Moslems' part added not a little to the tension between the communities."
So if you seek an explanation for Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis refusing to pick up blind American passengers with their seeing-eye dogs, or why in England 71-year-old Mr. Herridge was asked to leave a bus because a Muslim child became hysterical, and his mother, instead of calming him, or taking herself and her child off the bus, apparently encouraged the driver to insist that Mr. Herridge get off, you need not wonder or think it is based on some "myth" that "some Muslims" believe. Hatred of dogs as "unclean" is standard in Islam. And it comes in part from a Hadith that, at the same time, has led to the banning, in Islam, of all statuary. Hence that Hadith not only spells trouble for all dogs, and dog-owners, in the Infidel world, beginning but not ending with the blind and their seeing-eye dogs, but it also spells trouble for the statuary all over Western Europe. For what happened to the Bamiyan Buddhas, and hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of other statues destroyed over 1350 years of Muslim rule?
And all because someone somewhere along the isnad-chain decided that Muhammad had denounced dogs and statues, and that of course was done in order to distinguish Muslims from, and to encourage their hatred for, statue-loving Christians and dog-loving Zoroastrians.
Would that those in power began to study Islam, began to ponder what the ideology of Islam, its politics and geopolitics, its Muslim and Arab supremacism, really means for the world's Infidels, their art, their science, their freedoms, their statues -- and even their dogs.
Posted on 02/16/2012 10:59 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Good God -- The Chinese Are Taking Over Everything
Posted on 02/16/2012 11:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
In Nigeria, Bill Clinton's Well-Paid And Dangerous Bromides
Here is how the website "Nigerians Helping Nigerians" reported on Bill Clinton's speech in Nigeria the other day. It was Clinton, being Clinton, blaming the "poverty" of the Muslim North for the Muslim-on-Christian violence. And Clinton did this, with his usual brazen disregard for the obvious, even though Nigeria's overwhelmingly Muslim rulers have, for the past few decades, been systematically diverting the oil revenues(from oil that lies under the delta in the Christian-populated south to their own uses, including the support of their Muslim courtiers.
Clinton doesn't dare to ask aloud what it might be about Islam itself that explains, despite those northern Muslims having arrogated to themselves most of the nation's oil wealth, the relative poverty of the Muslim North. He can't remember how the Biafra War started -- with mass killings of Christians in the north -- and he certainly isn't about to remember Nasser's MiGs that strafed Igbo villages -- and I doubt if he knows who Colonel Ojukwu was, or why in his Ohiara Declaration of 1969 Colonel Ojukwu described the war against Nigeria's Christians as a "Jihad."
I don't think Clinton recognizes, and if he did he still wouldn't dare to, tell the truth about inshallah-fatalism and other aspects of Islam that explain, not only in Nigeria but everywhere -- in Malaysia, and Indonesia, and India, and all over Western Europe -- the economic underperformance of Muslims relative to Christians, to Hindus, to Confucians. . And here is Bill Clinton, pontificating about "poverty" at the invitation of some rich press lord, and apparently perfectly happy to pocket for himself whatever extraordinary sum that Nigerian newspaper magnate offered for his appearance at this event. For if Clinton had been willing to forego his fee, or had donated it to some charity, we would certainly have heard about it. What we do know about Bill Clinton is tjat ever somce he left office, he has been displaying the effects of his insensate greed, as he has been speechifying, and making friends with billionaires who cut him in on deals, practically non-stop. And that is why he has managed to accumulat more than 100 million dollars. And if he can make a hundred or two hundred thousand dollars by speaking about the dire effects of "poverty" in Nigeria -- well, that's money the shameless cheat and charmer is sure he has deserved. Res ipsa loquitur.
15 February 2012.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has warned that the rampant poverty that plagues oil-rich Nigeria felt most acutely in the north is fueling the religious violence now tearing at the nation.
Speaking Monday night in Lagos at the ThisDay Awards, an annual ceremony hosted by Nigerian newspaper magnate Nduka Obaigbena, Clinton admitted he remained “really worried” about the security challenges in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
“You can’t just have this level of inequality persist. That’s what’s fueling all this stuff,” Clinton was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
New government statistics released Monday showed that in Nigeria’s northwest and northeast, regions besieged by Islamic insurgents, about 75 percent of the people live in poverty. [this statistic tells us nothing. It would be more accurate to blame inshallah-fatalism,and the discouragement of thought, both so obviously part of Islam, as the reasons for the relative poverty of Muslims compared to Christians -- in Nigeria, and elsewhere too]
Analysts say that poverty, despite decades of military rule by leaders from the north, coupled with a lack of formal education has driven the region’s exploding youth population toward extremism.
Clinton urged Nigerians to embrace their similarities, and asked the government to speed public works projects such as providing electricity.
“It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with” violence, Clinton said. [Oh? Viiolence by the Allies stopped the violence of Nazi Germany and militarist Japan. Violence is often the only way to deal with problems]. “You also have to give people something to look forward to when they get up in the morning.”
However, Clinton acknowledged Nigeria cannot rule out using military or police force when dealing with the instability.
Posted on 02/16/2012 11:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
William Oughtred, Inventor Of The Slide Rule
Posted on 02/16/2012 2:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Sunnis, Shi'a, And That Show-And-Tell Trial In Iraq
Iraqi vice president behind death squads, judicial probe finds
February 16, 2012
An Iraqi judicial panel said Thursday the country's Sunni vice president and his employees ran death squads that killed security officials and Shiite pilgrims. The findings offer the first independent assessment of accusations that have thrown the nation into political chaos and threaten to re-ignite sectarian tensions.
After wrapping up a two-month investigation, the nine-judge committee found at least 150 cases where either Tariq al-Hashemi, his bodyguards or other employees were linked to attacks ranging from roadside bombs to assassinations of security agents and Shiite pilgrims, Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said.
Bayrkdar did not offer any evidence to support the panel's conclusions, which are not legally binding. He said the death squads operated from 2005 to 2011, and were responsible for a bombing last December on the government's Integrity Commission headquarters that killed 25 people and the assassination of a deputy education minister in 2010.
A spokesman for Al-Hashemi declined to comment. But al-Hashemi, Iraq's highest ranking Sunni politician, has denied the allegations in the past, and has accused Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of coordinating a smear campaign against him as part of a power grab.
Al-Hashemi is a member of the secular but Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political party, whose lawmakers have rejected the charges as bogus.
The case stems in part from television footage that aired on state-run TV in December, showing purported confessions by men said to be al-Hashemi's bodyguards. The men said they killed officials working in Iraq's health and foreign ministries, as well as Baghdad police officers. They said they received $3,000 from al-Hashemi for each attack.
Raad al-Dahlaki, a fellow Sunni and Iraqiya lawmaker, rejected the panel's findings, saying "there is not clear evidence against al-Hashemi."
"These charges are against his bodyguards," he said. "If they are true they have to face fair trials -- not politically motivated ones that put pressure on the judicial system."
The Interior Ministry, which is effectively run by al-Maliki, issued the arrest warrant for al-Hashemi in December -- right as the last of the thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq were leaving the country after more than eight years of war.
Al-Hashemi sought refuge from arrest in the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq.
He has been in the Kurdish capital of Irbil since, and refuses to return to Baghdad where he says he does not feel safe and is unlikely to receive a fair trial. He and other Sunni officials allege the judiciary is not independent of al-Maliki's government.
Ali al-Moussawi, a media adviser for the prime minister, declined to comment on Thursday's findings, but said he doubted they will disrupt Iraqi politics because "all believe in the independence of the judicial system, which must continue working in that way."
The investigation was ordered by Supreme Judicial Council's chief judge, Medhat al-Mahmoud, a few days before al-Hashemi's arrest warrant was publicly announced. Al-Mahmoud created the panel specifically to investigate the charges against the vice president.
One of the panel's judges, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to speak about the committee's members , said that Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Turkomen sat on the panel.
"We are an independent body that is not linked to any executive body," Saad al-Lami, another of the nine judges, said after the findings were announced. He said al-Maliki's office has "nothing to do with these investigations."
The panel's findings will be turned over to Iraqi criminal courts, Bayrkdar said. They clear the way for the relatives of those killed to file lawsuits against al-Hashemi, he added.
The political crisis triggered by the case has tapped into lingering resentments between Sunnis and Shiites. The minority Sunnis fear they are being politically sidelined by the Shiite majority as payback for the years of persecution under Saddam Hussein, who favored the Sunnis.
At the same time, many Shiites suspect Sunnis of links to the still near-daily attacks by Al Qaeda or other insurgents that continue to claim lives.
"The accusations against al-Hashemi are nothing but a farce," said Sunni government employee Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, 38, who lives in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad. "The announcement is a political conspiracy against al-Hashemi that aims to sideline Sunnis. How and why would the government and its security forces allow al-Hashemi to commit dozens of crimes during the past years without trying to stop him?"
Even some Shiites greeted the findings with skepticism, reflecting the weariness many Iraqis feel with the seemingly endless government infighting that risks sparking sectarian violence.
"The accusations made today are an attempt by some people in the government to evoke sectarian problems," said Hassan Hamid, 35, a Shiite trader from eastern Baghdad. "Al-Maliki is trying to divert the attention of the people from the real problems facing the country such as bad security and services. This is political immaturity when the government officials are ignoring the devastated country and people, and direct all of their attention to settle old scores with political opponents."
Posted on 02/16/2012 2:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Knickerbomber Gets Life
From ABC News:
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to bring down Northwest flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 with an underwear bomb, said he was was "proud to kill in the name of God" before he was sentenced to multiple life sentences today in a Detroit courtroom.
"Today is a day of victory and God is great," said Abdulmutallab, 25. He also said that al Qaeda would one day be victorious, and that acts like his will continue until "the righteous servants of Allah inherit the world."
"The defendant has never expressed doubt or remorse about his mission," said Judge Nancy Edmunds in imposing four life sentences plus 50 years. "To the contrary, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathleen Corken had asked Judge Edmunds to impose the maximum sentence allowable for Abdulmutallab's "cold-blooded, calculated plan to kill everyone aboard the plane."
The life sentence was mandatory after Abdulmutallab pled guilty last year to eight charges, including attempted murder, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism.
Prosecutors asked for consecutive life terms, calling him "an unrepentant would-be mass murderer who views his crimes as divinely inspired and blessed."
Posted on 02/16/2012 4:11 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 16 February 2012
In Memoriam: William Oughtred
So farewell, then, William
Inventor of the Slide Rule
×. That was
Oughtred by some
Oughtnumbered by none
© E. J. Throbb, aged 17¾
Posted on 02/16/2012 4:16 PM by Mary Jackson
Thursday, 16 February 2012
De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae, From Bracton To Blake
From The Daily Mail:
February 13, 2012
THIS HUMAN RIGHTS FIASCO NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT TO AN END
Mr Justice Blake has been criticised for his interpretation of the Human Rights Act
THE European human rights regime, so adored by Left-wing lawyers and judges, represents a conspiracy against the mainstream British public. Thanks to these alien regulations, justice has been perverted, the immigration system reduced to a shambles and dangerous criminals allowed to walk free on our streets.
That process of judicial destruction reached its nadir last week in the appalling case of Abu Qatada, an illegal immigrant and Muslim extremist wanted in Jordan on serious terrorism charges. Despite his record, British and European judges decided on human rights grounds that Qatada could neither be detained nor deported. This perverse ruling understandably created a huge outcry, with many people asking why the Government does not just ignore the decision and put him on a plane to Jordan.
In response, our ruling elite has parroted the line that “the law is the law”. We might not like it, say Tory politicians, but the human rights legislation has to be obeyed. Yet this is just enfeebled excuse-making.
It is nothing more than political cowardice to pretend that judge-made rulings in human rights cases are sacrosanct. They are nothing of the sort. In truth, they are often capricious interpretations of an alien continental law, reflecting the judge’s ideology rather than a concern for genuine justice.
Far from upholding our traditional laws and liberties, judicial activism in the name of human rights increasingly undermines them. even some senior legal figures are finally waking up to this danger.
OVER the weekend, the Court of Appeal over- turned a ruling made by Britain’s most senior immigration judge, Nicholas Blake QC, that a Nepalese killer could not be deported because of his human rights.
Mr Justice Blake, president of the Upper Tribunal and Asylum Chamber, decided that rocky Gurung, convicted of killing a man in 2008 by beating him and then throwing him in the Thames, could not be sent back to his native Nepal on his release from prison after serving just three years for manslaughter because he had the “right to a family life” under human right Act Article 8. Blake’s decision could hardly have been more bizarre, given that Gurung was single, lived with his parents and had neither wife nor children.
In quashing this ludicrous ruling, the Court of Appeal said the decision was made in “error” and had looked like “a search for reasons for not deporting him”.
Mr Justice Blake, who used to make his living as a human rights lawyer and, along with Cherie Blair, was one of the founders of the controversial Matrix Chambers, set up soon after the passage of the 1998 human rights Act. Blake is also co-author of the book Immigration, Asylum and human rights.
Last week he was the subject of controversy again when he thwarted the deportation of an Indian nurse Milind Sanade, who had been imprisoned for indecently assaulting a preg- nant 21-year-old patient.
Blake ruled that not only was Sanade entitled to a family life under Article 8 but also that his future conduct would be “more regulated in the UK than he would be in India”, despite the fact that he has been struck off the nursing register. This kind of madness is destroying the integrity of our nation. It is estimated that there are around 400 foreign criminals using Article 8 every year to block deportation from Britain, with the help of seemingly posturing judges.
Characteristic of this pattern was the case of Abdi Sufi, a Somalian who came to Britain illegally in 2003, was refused asylum and went on to amass no fewer than 17 criminal con- victions for offences including burglary, fraud and indecent exposure.
Yet the Strasbourg human rights court decided in July last year that he could not be sent back to his native land. Sickening cases like Sufi’s expose the nonsense of the slogan “the law is the law”. If our rulers really believe that, why don’t they enforce the law and throw out illegal immigrants before they have committed any offences?
IN The same way, instead of blathering about the rights of foreign criminals, why don’t they deal rigorously with drug abuse, burglary or fraud?
The double standards are shocking. The St Paul’s mob can desecrate one of the most hallowed places in the land but woe betide a householder who puts the rubbish out on the wrong day. Similarly, the state brims with self-righteous sensitivity about the human rights of travellers, yet is reluctant to enforce the law against illegal traveller sites, as highlighted by the long-running fiasco over Dale Farm in Essex.
There was another disgraceful example last week from the village of South Harting in West Sussex, where police actually escorted a huge caravan on to an illegal site for which there is no planning permission.
Just to compound the offence to law-abiding citizens, the police also put notices on residents’ cars, warning them not to obstruct the movement of this caravan. “vehicles will be towed away at the owners’ expense,” proclaimed the signs, the sort of tough edict that is rarely applied to travellers’ own illegally parked mobile homes.
In the twisted world of the human rights culture, there is one law for the decent British people, another for the rest.
The judicial elite sees the human rights law as an instrument to refashion Britain, rip- ping up traditions and destroying national identity. The Government should stop hiding behind legalism and start standing up for our country.
Posted on 02/16/2012 7:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Anthony Shadid, Often A Good Reporter, Dies While In Syria
From The New York Times:
February 16, 2012
At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies
By RICK GLADSTONE
Anthony Shadid, a prize-winning newspaper correspondent whose graceful dispatches for both The New York Times and The Washington Post covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in eastern Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey.
Mr. Shadid, 43, had been reporting inside Syria for a week, gathering information on the Free Syrian Army and other armed elements of the resistance to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose military forces have been engaged in a harsh repression of the political opposition in a conflict that is now nearly a year old.
The Syrian government, which tightly controls foreign journalists’ activities in the country, had not been informed of his assignment by The Times.
The exact circumstances of Mr. Shadid’s death and his precise location inside Syria when it happened were not immediately clear.
But Mr. Hicks said that Mr. Shadid, who had asthma and had carried medication with him, began to show symptoms early Thursday, and the symptoms escalated into what became a fatal attack. Mr. Hicks telephoned his editors at The Times, and a few hours later he was able to take Mr. Shadid’s body into Turkey.
The death of Mr. Shadid, an American of Lebanese descent who had a wife and two children, abruptly ended one of the most storied resumes in modern American journalism. Fluent in Arabic, with a gifted eye for detail and contextual writing, Mr. Shadid captured dimensions of life in the Middle East that many others failed to see. Those talents won him a Pulitzer Price for international reporting in 2004 for his coverage of the American invasion of Iraq and the occupation that followed, and a second Pulitzer in 2010, also for his Iraq reporting. He also was a finalist in 2007 for his coverage of Lebanon, and has been nominated by the Times for his coverage of the Arab Spring uprisings that have transfixed the Middle East for the past year.
Mr. Shadid was no stranger to injury, harassment and arrest. In 2002, while working for The Boston Globe, he was shot and wounded in the shoulder while walking on a street in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. During the tumultuous protests in Cairo last year that led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, Mr. Shadid was hounded by Mr. Mubarak’s police, and during a police raid, he had to hide the computers used by Times reporters.
Mr. Shadid, Mr. Hicks and two other Times journalists, Stephen Farrell and Lynsey Addario, were all arrested by pro-government militias during the conflict in Libya last year and held for more than a week, during which all were physically abused. Their driver, Mohammad Shaglouf, died.
In the 2004 citation, the Pulitzer Board praised “his extraordinary ability to capture, at personal peril, the voices and emotions of Iraqis as their country was invaded, their leader toppled and their way of life upended.” In the 2010 citation, the board praised “his rich, beautifully written series on Iraq as the United States departs and its people and leaders struggle to deal with the legacy of war and to shape the nation’s future.”
He spoke of the risks he took while reporting in an interview in December with Terry Gross on the NPR program “Fresh Air.” “I did feel that Syria was so important, and that story wouldn’t be told otherwise, that it was worth taking risks for,” he said of an earlier trip to Syria in which he entered the country from Lebanon on a motorcycle across a rugged stretch of land.
Mr. Shadid also was the author of three books, “Legacy of the Prophet: Despots, Democrats and the New Politics of Islam,” published by Westview Press in 2000, and “Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of America’s War,” published by Henry Holt in 2005. His third book, “House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East,” about his roots in Lebanon, will be published this spring by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Mr. Shadid was a deep-thinking journalist who was not afraid to butt heads with his editors to protect a phrase, scene or quotation that he considered essential to making his point.
His final article for The Times, which ran on Feb. 9, was a behind-the-scenes look at the tumultuous situation in Libya, where rival militias had replaced the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. It ran long, at more than 1,600 words, which was typical of Mr. Shadid’s work. It was splashed on the front page of the newspaper and the home page of the Web site, nytimes.com, which was also typical.
Posted on 02/16/2012 8:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Extraordinary Popular Delusions And The Madness Of White House Crowds
From The Washington Post:
February 15, 2012
A ‘cosmic wager’ on the Muslim Brotherhood
President Obama’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood began three years ago in his famous June 2009 speech in Cairo.
Ten members of the Brotherhood were invited to listen to the address, and they heard a passage crafted especially for them:
“America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they govern with respect for all their people.”
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak didn’t attend the speech, but there was a message tailored for him, too, when Obama said: “Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.” Obama certainly had that right.
The Obama administration has made what might be described as a “cosmic wager” on the Muslim Brotherhood’s peaceful intentions. By courting them in 2009, the United States helped legitimize their political aspirations; by refusing to come to Mubarak’s rescue during the Tahrir Square protests a year ago, the United States all but guaranteed that the Brotherhood would emerge as a dominant political force in a new Egypt.
The Brotherhood is now ascendant, with its “Freedom and Justice Party” having won nearly 50 percent of the seats in Egypt’s post-revolutionary parliament. Its officials have issued soothing statements and pro-free-market position papers. There’s even a Muslim Brotherhood rap video on YouTube, with a catchy beat and this benign refrain: “Freedom we will protect, and justice we will maintain.”
It all sounds reassuring. But the Brotherhood’s reliability as a partner is still largely untested, and even administration officials concede that the democratic transition in Egypt has gone worse than expected. ["worse than expected"? As in "the agreement at Munich has gone worse than expected."]Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is driving the opposition movement in Syria.
The Brotherhood is so important to the future of the Arab world — and is, still, such a mysterious organization in the West — that it’s useful to review its history. What’s clear is that from its inception, the Brotherhood has stressed the importance of liberating Muslims from Western manipulation. This aspiration for dignity and independence is the Brotherhood’s strongest appeal, but it may make the organization a difficult partner.
The Brotherhood was formed in 1928 by Egyptians who opposed British colonialism. The founder, a schoolteacher named Hassan al-Banna, gathered six friends who worked for the Suez Canal Co. To fend off informers, the group developed elaborate initiation procedures.
The movement, at once political, cultural and religious, took off quickly: By one estimate, it grew to 200,000 members by 1938. Banna was assassinated in 1949, after the Brotherhood had attacked the corrupt monarchy of King Farouk.
The anti-Western message was honed by the Brotherhood’s other great martyr, Sayyid Qutb. He was a brilliant essayist whose encounter with the United States in the late 1940s proved poisonous. After visiting New York, Washington, Colorado and Los Angeles, he concluded that “the soul has no value to Americans.”
Qutb’s abhorrence of the open sexuality he saw in the United States is clear in this passage quoted in “The Looming Tower” by Lawrence Wright: “A girl looks at you, appearing as if she were an enchanting nymph or an escaped mermaid, but as she approaches, you sense only the screaming instinct inside her, and you can smell her burning body, not the scent of perfume but flesh, only flesh.”
When Qutb returned to Egypt, he joined the Brotherhood. He refused all efforts by the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser to recruit or co-opt him, and he was executed in 1966.
Facing unrelenting repression, the Brotherhood’s mainstream gradually evolved into a political movement that, on paper at least, disavowed violence; it put down deep roots in Egypt’s professional organizations and won about 20 percent of the seats in parliament when it was allowed to run in 2005. It learned to speak a more conciliatory language.
It was in this tone of reassurance that Brotherhood officials said that they would contest only 30 percent of the seats in the recent parliamentary elections; in fact, they ran in nearly every district and won a near-majority. The Brotherhood also organized a decisive 77 percent win in last March’s constitutional referendum, which they pegged as a vote to protect language that promises the Islamic sharia as “the main source of legislation.”
Olivier Roy, a French expert on the Muslim world, argues that the Brotherhood will learn democracy by doing it: “Democratic culture does not precede democratic institutions; democratic culture is the internalization of these institutions,” he says. That, in essence, is the wager Obama has made.
Posted on 02/16/2012 9:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
American General Reassures Everyone: Iran "Unlikely" To Use Nukes
From The Jerusalem Post:
US: Iran 'not close' to abandoning nuclear program
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
Leading intelligence official says Iran can eventually produce nuclear weapons, but unlikely to initiate conflict.
WASHINGTON – Despite international pressure on Iran, the regime is “not close” to giving up its quest for nuclear capabilities, a leading US intelligence official said Thursday.
“Iran today has the technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons,” Lt.- Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
“While international pressure on Iran has increased, including through sanctions, we assess that Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandon its nuclear program.”
He also said that Iran had the capability to close, “at least temporarily,” the Strait of Hormuz, a major passageway for global oil shipments, and could launch missile strikes and terrorist attacks against the US and its allies in retaliation for any attack on its nuclear facilities.
“However,” Burgess said, “The agency assesses Iran is unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict.”
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who testified alongside Burgess Thursday, said that Iran has not yet decided whether to build a nuclear weapon, though it was acquiring some of the means to do so.
“We believe that the decision would be made by the Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei] himself and he would base that decision on a cost-benefit analysis,” Clapper said. “I don’t think he’d want a nuclear weapon at any price, so that I think plays to the value of sanctions.”
Several lawmakers who were questioning the intelligence officials differed with the assessment.
“I’m very convinced that they’re going down the road of developing a nuclear weapon,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said.
Clapper, though, said Iran would have to take several steps it has so far not done to construct a nuclear weapon, though he declined to specify what those steps were in an open session.
Clapper said that while he agreed with the assessment of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that Iran could build a nuclear bomb within one year, it would likely take longer.
He also echoed Panetta in saying that the intelligence community did not think Israel had decided whether or not to strike Iranian nuclear sites, despite speculation and a Washington Post column based on an interview with Panetta that suggested an attack could come as early as April.
“What could have given rise to this is simply the fact that the weather becomes better obviously in the spring and that could be conducive to an attack,” Clapper said. “We do not believe they’ve made such a decision.”
He said the US and Israel “largely agree” in their assessments of Iran’s nuclear progress.
Clapper also pointed to growing cooperation between Iran and al-Qaida, saying that Tehran has allowed the multinational terrorist outfit a degree of sanctuary in Iran but not as a launch pad for attacks.
“Iran and al-Qaida have, to a certain extent, a shotgun marriage,” he said. “The Iranians may think that they might use perhaps al-Qaida in the future as a surrogate or proxy.”
In testimony before the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that the US is closely tracking Iran and all of its surrogates for potential attacks on American interests.
“We are constantly monitoring their activities around the world,” she said. “Right now we have no specific or credible threat against any organization or target in the United States, but this is certainly a situation that bears watching.”
She noted that she has been conducting “a lot of outreach” to US Jewish groups in particular, including holding conference calls with Jewish leaders in the wake of recent attempted attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets abroad.
A bipartisan groups of US senators, meanwhile, rolled out a resolution on Thursday ruling out a strategy of containment for a nuclear-armed Iran.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also on Thursday, passed a resolution condemning the violence in Syria.
“There is a remarkable consensus in the Middle East that Bashar Assad is doomed, but the end could still be many months away in what winds up a civil war,” committee chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) said. “It was important for us to make clear that Bashar Assad and his clique are to blame for the tragic violence and condemn them for their brutality against their own people.
That’s what we’ve done with this resolution.”
During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clapper said he didn’t know what would happen to Syria after the ouster of Assad or who would take over.
But he warned, “There would be kind of a vacuum I think that would lend itself to extremists.”
He also said that he wasn’t sure whether the new Egyptian government would honor the peace treaty with Israel, but that the decision would hinge in large part on the process of transition and drafting a new constitution.
“I can’t foresee a circumstance where any civilian government that emerges after [the transition] won’t at least a review the treaty,” he said.
“How that will come out, we don’t know.”
Posted on 02/16/2012 9:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
A Musical Interlude: Waiting At The End Of The Road (Paul Whiteman Orch., voc. Bing Crosby)
Posted on 02/16/2012 9:36 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Shootout At The A. Q. Corral In Yemen
Senior al-Qaida leader in Yemen killed in family feud, along with 16 militants
From The Associated Press,
SANAA, Yemen — A senior al-Qaida leader in Yemen was killed in a family feud Thursday and an ensuing gunbattle between his followers and opponents left 16 other militants dead, a security official and tribal elders said.
Tariq al-Dahab was slain at his home in the southern village of al-Masameh by his half brother, Hizam, and other family members, according to the official and the elders.
Hizam and his supporters then fled the scene, taking refuge in another house. Al-Dahab’s followers pursued them and a battle ensued, leaving 16 dead, including Hizam.
It was not immediately clear what had triggered the feud. During the past year of Yemen’s turmoil, al-Qaida-linked militants have seized control of several cities and towns in the south, including large swaths of Abyan province, and the provincial capital of Zinjibar. Government operations have failed to oust them.
Al-Dahab became prominent in the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida after his sister married Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born radical militant cleric who was killed by a U.S. drone strike last fall.
Last month, he led the militants who stormed and occupied the town of Radda, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of the capital Sanaa. The militants pulled out after authorities released 15 of al-Dahab’s men from jail.
The tribal leaders said the al-Dahab family dispute was over inheritance after the death of a wealthy elder who was married to four wives and had at least 20 sons.
The tribal leaders and the Yemeni security official all spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.
Meanwhile, an al-Qaida-linked fighter was killed in clashes Thursday with the army in Zinjibar that also left eight soldiers wounded, two of them critically, the security official said.
The clashes come less than a week before the Feb. 21 presidential elections, which are expected to approve a new national leader to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Security has collapsed across Yemen during the year-old popular uprising seeking to push Saleh from power that was inspired by other Arab Spring revolts. Saleh is currently in the U.S. being treated for injuries sustained in a bomb blast last year. Under a U.S.-backed plan, his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, is to be rubber stamped as the country’s new leader in elections on Feb. 21.
Posted on 02/16/2012 10:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 16 February 2012
If You Want to Learn About Islam, Do You Ask an Imam?
An editorial in The Tennessean yesterday blasted a Rutherford County Counter Terrorism program sponsored by Sheriff Robert Arnold with this headline, “Anti-Muslim 'training' is fearmongering." What was the Sheriff’s offense according to the editors?
In a county that has been torn emotionally for nearly two years over the right of local Muslims to build a new Islamic center, the top law enforcement officer is attempting to indoctrinate his deputies with concepts of religious bigotry against a portion of the population that they are pledged to protect.
When Sheriff Arnold explains that his department simply wants to learn about Muslim culture, the situation collapses into absurdity.
Should anyone of sound mind trust a man who makes such statements? The sheriff has further explaining to do.
If you want to learn about Islam, ask an imam.
Sheriff Arnold in Rutherford County is to be commended for his courage and independence of mind for putting on the Strategic Engagement Group (SEG) counter-terrorism program for his deputies. The Tennessee Freedom Coalition funded the SEG program and the World Outreach Church that hosted it also did the community a real service by providing a venue and hosting arrangements.
I can’t say the same for Bob Smietana and the editorial staff at The Tennessean. They have engaged in promoting hysteria over the SEG program. They even reached out to Jim Cavanaugh, a former ATF official involved with the Columbia mosque burning of 2008 to malign Sheriff Arnold’s initiative without reviewing the instructional materials. Smietana, not content with his own biased reporting and the published opinion of The Tennessean's editorial staff, used Cavanaugh's hysterical blog post from the website of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama, Hatewatch. Cavanaugh’s statement was:
"Reject the haters, Sheriff Arnold, and reorganize your training,” he wrote. “Don’t drink from the poison cup of hate, no matter how sweet they tell you it will taste. Leave the hate to the far reaches of the Internet, and don’t put it in front of a police training classroom. It doesn’t belong there. I want you to succeed, Sheriff Arnold, in the right way and for the right reasons."
What SEG and Sheriff Arnold did was to present information to the deputies on the core Islamic doctrine that violates the human rights of women, gays, unbelievers, and minorities, including those who have left Islam by personal choice. The Tennesseean journalists and editors have forgotten that the First Amendment guarantees the right to criticize a religion, especially one that uses freedom of worship, as a platform to preach its inhumane doctrine. Rather than reviewing and refuting the materials presented, Cavanaugh charged Sheriff Arnold with "hate." This seems to be the default position for those opposed to telling the truth about Islam. Those who state the facts are hatemongers by defnition.
One only need look at the transformation of Eric Allen Bell, the documentarian who was formerly a sharp critic of those concerned about Islamic doctrine and Shariah in Rutherford County. Bell was an item during the controversial Chancery Court Hearings in the visitor gallery as an attack videographer harassing and filming local activists opposed to the expanded mosque. Those disputatious hearings were over the Rutherford County approvals to build an expanded Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM). I knew Bell’s previous positions as he and some of his colleagues criticized my coverage of the ICM controversy in several articles in the NER and posts on our blog, The Iconoclast.
Bell has apparently had a minor epiphany after delving into Islamic doctrine, the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood. He even took the advice of The Tennessean editors and shot footage of Imam Bahloul of the ICM that answered the question at the end of yesterday’s Tennesssean, editorial. To find out about Islam ask an Imam. Here is what Bell discovered as conveyed in a FrontPageMagazine article , “The High Price of Telling The Truth About Islam”, that contributed to his transformation from a defender of the ICM to an opponent of Islamic doctrine. Note this from the reformed Bell discussing the reactions from some backers of his documentary in Los Angeles:
I showed them footage of the Imam in Murfreesboro condoning stoning, admitting that Mohammed had stoned someone to death, saying that women cannot be trusted with money because they are irrational. Then I pointed out that a board member of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was investigated after pictures from his MySpace page had surfaced indicating his strong sympathies for Hamas.
Sheriff Arnold knew about Bell’s revelations, as local activist Elizabeth Coker had presented those facts in a Public Safety Committee presentation in Rutherford County in the fall of 2010. See the You Tube video of that presentation, here.
The Tennessean launched a broadside against the Rutherford County Sheriff’s sponsoring the SEG program in another Smietana article, “Law enforcement urged to pick anti-terror courses with care”. The article praised a politically correct alternative program scheduled for February 27-28th. That program involves alleged “experts from the national Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council and the Combating Terrorism Task Force at West Point. Muslim speakers will explain Islam and its code of conduct.”
The Smietana piece offered this comment from one of the program presenters:
“There is a lot of misinformation out there from people who don’t understand Islam,” said Jonathan White, director of the Homeland Defense Initiative at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
White has worked with the Department of Justice, trained employees of overseas embassies and worked with Muslims who oppose terrorism.
The Nashville training includes information on religious extremism and domestic terrorism, but also includes Muslim speakers. The Joint Terrorism Task Force and Tennessee Office of Homeland Security also are involved.
Lou Ann Zelnick of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition that funded the Rutherford County SEG program when interviewed commented:
We don’t need political correctness when it comes to training our police and sheriffs. This is accurate information. It’s not part of any agenda.
Smietana zeroed in on two of the SEG presenters, Stephen Coughlin, former Pentagon consultant on the Islamic Law of Warfare under Shariah and John Guandolo a former FBI Counter Terrorism expert on Islamic doctrine.
The leaders of SEG have been embroiled in past controversy. According to published reports, Stephen Coughlin, one of the group’s vice presidents, lost his job as a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff after clashing with Pentagon officials in 2008.
Guandolo’s supporters say he left the FBI for being too outspoken about the threat of Muslim terrorists. He claims the FBI and other parts of the federal government have been infiltrated by agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Coughlin was forced out of his position as an expert on Islamic warfare doctrine by Heshem Islam, the former Muslim outreach aide to Bush Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Gordon English. Islam accused Coughlin of being “a Christian fanatic with a pen.” Both Coughlin and Guandolo are among the co-authors of Shariah: The Threat to America. (An Exercise in Competitive Analysis—Report of Team 'B' II) published by the Center for Security Policy, whose President, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. testified during the 2010 ICM Murfreesboro Chancery Court Hearings.
Patrick Poole, veteran counterterrorism analyst, posed a question in a Pajamas Media article Secrecy Surrounds Conference to Train Cops on ‘Political Violence’ about the mysterious Muslim group involved in the alternative program promoted by Smietana in The Tennessean:
Despite inquiries by PJ Media in recent weeks, the conference organizers have refused to provide any details about who will be instructing law enforcement officials on these issues.
Last week I requested a copy of the agenda and speakers for the conference from the U.S. Attorney’s contact listed on the conference flyer. This past Monday I received a response from David Boling, the U.S. Attorney’s public information officer:
Your request for the documents referenced below was forwarded to me for disposition. This training conference is not open to the public; therefore you would need to file a FOIA request for this information.
It is unclear what the event being closed to the public has anything to do with providing the information I requested, especially since it appears that two private outside organizations will be directly involved in providing the training.
Perhaps the presence and agendas of these outside organizations are why these government agencies are stonewalling requests for information. Mystery surrounds one of the private partner organizations for the terrorism training — the American Muslim Advisory Council — which is listed on the event flyer as a partner in the conference.
As I reported exclusively here at PJ Media back in November, Congress included language in the most recent budget continuing resolution to require the FBI to report ongoing contacts with such organizations in an effort to force the FBI to follow its own announced policies in this regard.
However, that hasn’t stopped the White House from pushing ongoing engagement with some of these same organizations, despite criticism directed at similar state-appointed Muslim advisory councils for including leaders of terror-tied organizations.
If anything, the shroud of secrecy that Tennessee officials are exhibiting with respect to this upcoming terrorism conference is raising questions that need to be answered.
The Tennessean, is perpetrating a lie that by asking an Imam or a representative from Muslim Brotherhood fronts, CAIR and ISNA the truth will be revealed to non-Muslims about the way of Allah. In one sense it did for Eric Allen Bell. At least Bell knows better after searching for the truth about Islam.
Posted on 02/16/2012 11:17 PM by Jerry Gordon