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These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 17, 2012.
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Is this Britain's first white honour killing victim?

The victim’s mother speaks to the Daily Mail

Laura Wilson was just 17 years old — a happy but headstrong girl whose love story across the racial divide would have a tragic ending. ‘She was feisty — if she had anything to say she would speak out,’ her mother Margaret says, as she showed me a picture of a smiling, mischievous teenager.

Laura’s Asian boyfriend, Ashtiaq Ashgar, also 17, was born in Britain but when Laura challenged his family’s traditional cultural values by confronting them with details of their relationship, she had to be silenced.

One night in October 2010, Laura was lured to the banks of a canal in Rotherham in South Yorkshire, where Ashtiaq attacked her before throwing her into the water. He was subsequently arrested and found guilty of Laura’s murder last June and sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Margaret Wilson has never spoken publicly before, but she told me she is convinced her daughter was murdered because she challenged the code of honour which some ethnic communities still follow in the UK.

‘I honestly think it was an honour killing for putting shame on the family. They needed to shut Laura up and they did,’ she says. The possessions of the right hand, ie the slave girls captured from the infidel are not supposed to demand their rights.

Laura Wilson’s murder had the brutal hallmarks of an honour killing. She lived in Ferham Park, an Asian and white community in Rotherham.

Although only a teenager, Laura already had a baby by an Asian man, Ishaq ‘Zac’ Hussein, a 20-year-old.  However, he refused to recognise the child and Laura was really in love with his friend, Ashtiaq Ashgar. Her mother says: ‘Ashtiaq was her first love, she adored him.’

But stung by Zac’s rejection of her and their child, Laura decided to confront the men’s families and told them she’d had sexual relations with both men.

Sheffield police believe this was the trigger for a plan to kill Laura. Police know from analysing records of the two men’s phones that after the heated exchange they held several meetings. There were even text messages about buying a gun.

DS Mason, now retired, took me through the desolate industrial area where Laura took her last walk after Ashtiaq texted her three days after she confronted the families. He had asked her to meet him by the canal. Police believe Ashtiaq began a frenzied knife attack on the girl before throwing her, badly wounded, into the canal.

‘I have seen many murders in my time,’ said DS Mason, ‘but this was the worst. . . I think it was all about shame, in their eyes, Laura had brought shame on the family by coming round. Their son had also brought shame on the family.’

As Laura’s mother lays flowers on her daughter’s grave, she cannot forget the face of the accused in court: ‘He never showed remorse.’ No, two goats won’t butt their heads about the death of an infidel girl.

Posted on 03/17/2012 5:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Happy O'Green Day

Fox news (hat tip:Small Dead Animals):

A Massachusetts school principal is renaming "St. Patrick's Day" with "O'Green Day" in an effort to be "inclusive and diverse," while some parents are blasting the decision as "stupid" and illogical.

Curtin, principal of the Soule Road School in Wilbraham, Mass., decided to change the name to ease discomfort that some students might have in celebrating St. Patrick's Day or Valentine's Day -- which last month was renamed to "Caring and Kindness Day," according to parents with children in the school. 

Posted on 03/17/2012 6:13 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Confessions of an Eagle Cam Junkie

Every morning I've taken to opening up the eagle cam in a new window and leaving it open so I can check on the nest throughout the day. Yesterday there was snow and the mother eagle was keeping the eggs warm despite the cold wind. Every now and then I've caught the changing of the guard, where the male comes to sit on the nest while the female goes to get something to eat. He's a bit larger than she is and he is sits on the nest very gingerly and seems to wait anxiously until she returns. She deftly rolls the eggs over, snuggles down on them and then arranges the grassy nest material up around her body so the eggs stay nice and warm. Sometimes the camera pans around so we can see the area. It seems to be a horse farm in Iowa. There is a little stream running through and a barn and horses down below. Sometimes the camera zooms in closely on the eagle's face, her eyes, feathers, beak and tongue are then very clear. The feathers on her wings and body are a deep, rich brown, while her head and tail are snow white. Sometimes other little birds flit around and land on the nest, which doesn't seem to bother her at all. Last year, all three eggs hatched and the chicks all fledged. I'll report again when the eggs hatch.

Posted on 03/17/2012 6:19 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 17 March 2012
The Only Way is Essex

I didn’t post this immediately last week. I’ll start with the news report from the BBC.

Vandals have wrecked a memorial to members of the Royal Anglian Regiment who were killed in Afghanistan.

The memorial plaque in the grounds of the Royal Anglians' Regimental Chapel at Warley near Brentwood in Essex commemorates nine men lost in the toughest tour of duty in the history of the regiment in Helmand Province in 2007

Thefts of metal from War memorials and churches are a common crime these days – born of lack of respect and greed. This memorial wasn’t valuable, being made of Perspex so the only reason can have been lack of respect. It is not known whether this was the contempt of an ideology, be they the type like MAC who make a point of abusing Military Parades and Remembrance Services, or the anti-war nihilists among us, or the plain and simple vandal who takes delight in trashing that which is precious to others for the sheer fun of causing distress.  And distress was caused to the families of the men commemorated, all of whom are local.

The good news is that an anonymous donor came forward within hours with the price of a replacement. Donations which poured in later will be allocated to the Royal Anglian Benevolent Fund.

The Garrison chapel is unique in being a purpose build freestanding Regimental chapel; most others are part of a barrack complex or are contained within a Cathedral or Parish church. It was built in Romanesque style in 1857 just after the Indian Mutiny and was dedicated to the Essex Regiment in 1925. The Essex Regiment is now part of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

By the time I visited the damage and been cleared and tidied as you can see. The blossom is out and the memorial rose bushes are coming alive.

Essex Division of the EDL decided that it had to be made clear to whoever was responsible that their actions were not to be tolerated. A demo for the town centre was called at short notice, a flash demo which gave the UAF and their ilk no time to prepare opposition.

Brentwood is currently best known for the pseudo reality television programme The Only Way is Essex featuring the life and loves of a group of attractive young men and women whose social lives revolve round the Sugar Hut club and restaurant.  Their catch phrase, uttered by a young woman admiring her friend’s new outfit/bauble/boyfriend is “Oo, I’m well jel!” (Translation – really jealous)  

Socially Brentwood is an affluent area (with pockets of individual poverty). Warley on the outskirts is still a village, a conservation area and very affluent.  The Garrison Chapel is right opposite Ford's English HQ; anybody who saw Made in Dagenham will remember the meetings of senior management that took place there. Anybody who knows Essex will also be aware that they covered the distance between HQ and factory at the speed of light!

There are two Muslim organisations in town. The Brentwood and South Essex Cultural Association split from the Al Furqan Foundation last year. The Al Furqan Foundation hire the Sea Cadet’s hut for Friday services while BASECA use the Army Cadet hall in the next street. Both want their own dedicated premises. An attempt to purchase a property in nearby Pilgrim’s Hatch a few years ago met opposition and failed. However they say their numbers are increasing, certainly I never noticed Halal food shops until today and there were more women in hijabs on the High Street than there used to be.

The Essex EDL contingent met and walked with their flags, handing out flyers to the town centre.

The police were obviously confident that all would go well as only a handful of PSCOs were in attendance, and at a distance. They formed up outside the Bay Tree shopping mall in front of the ruins of the Chapel of St Thomas a Becket.  Before the Reformation Brentwood was an important stop on the pilgrim route from the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk to that of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury.

The theme of the day’s event was ‘Support our Troops’.  Some people objected to being offered flyers and were more snobbish about the demonstration than inhabitants of the town that made the grooming treatment of vajazzling nationally famous have any call to be.  

One woman asked for several flyers then dramatically tore them up. She may enjoy her ivory tower at the moment but that insulation will not last for ever. However most people took the flyers with interest and all went very well overall.

Once the flyers ran out we dispersed.

Don’t be jel – Join the EDL.

Photograph 1 from the BBC video, the rest by E Weatherwax March 2012 

Posted on 03/17/2012 12:22 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Newspapers Are America's Fastest Shrinking Business

From the Financial Times:

The headlines about the US newspaper industry have never been so bleak.

In recent weeks, LinkedIn, the networking website, and the Council of Economic Advisers have reported that the press is “America’s fastest-shrinking industry”, measured by jobs lost; the Newspaper Association of America has shown that advertising sales have halved since 2005 and are now at 1984’s level; and the Pew Research Center has found that for every digital ad dollar they earned, they lost $7 in print ads.

As media from television to billboards bounce back from the recession, newsprint is being left behind. Zenith Optimedia this week predicted that internet advertising would pass newspaper advertising next year around the world – but in the US, where internet penetration is high and newspaper audiences are shrinking, digital will overtake newspapers’ and magazines’ combined ad sales this year, eMarketer estimates.

“There’s no doubt we’re going out of business now,” one unnamed executive told Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which predicted a future of shrinking newsrooms, print deliveries only a few days of the week and more papers closing altogether. A USC Annenberg School study reached the stark conclusion that most printed US dailies would be gone in five years.

Departing executives and bankruptcy advisers have been among the few people making good money from newspapers. The chief executives of Gannett and the New York Times left in recent months with packages worth $37m and $24m respectively, while advisers to Tribune’s Chapter 11 proceedings have earned $233m.

Yet the very pressures on print are also accelerating the pace of change in newspapers’ business models.

On March 5, the Los Angeles Times introduced a “membership programme” that will limit online users to 15 free articles a month. After that, readers must pay a subscription, which is more pricey for digital-only access than for a bundle in which they keep taking the newspaper.

The move followed Gannett’s announcement in February that all 80 of its community newspapers will introduce digital subscriptions, in a move the publisher expects to add $100m to operating profit.

Gannett won't make $100 million for online subscriptions. They're dreaming.

Posted on 03/17/2012 2:39 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 17 March 2012
Amina Al Filali, In

From Afrik.com:

Le Maroc est toujours sous le choc après le suicide d’Amina Al Filali à Larache, dans le nord du Maroc. L’adolescente de seize ans s’est donnée la mort après avoir été contrainte d’épouser son violeur pour que celui-ci échappe à cinq ans de prison. Cette alternative est prévue par la loi marocaine en cas de viol. Des ONG ont manifesté jeudi pour demander l’abrogation de ce texte.
Plusieurs ONG marocaines, qui luttent pour la défense des droits des femmes, ont manifesté jeudi à Larache, dans le nord du Maroc, pour exiger l’abrogation de la loi sur le viol. Le suicide, samedi 10 mars, d’une adolescente de 16 ans, Amina Al Filali, a relancé le débat. La jeune fille s’est tuée à Larache en ingérant de la mort aux rats. Elle avait été contrainte d’épouser son violeur, un membre de sa famille. Près de 300 personnes ont observé jeudi, à l’appel de la Ligue démocratique pour les droits de la femme, un sit-in devant le tribunal de Larache qui avait autorisé l’agresseur à repartir libre pour épouser Amina.
Tout pour éviter la « hchouma »
Ce genre d’arrangement est prévu par la loi marocaine. L’article 475 du code pénal permet à un violeur d’épouser sa victime. Cette alternative a été acceptée par la famille d’Amina pour éviter la « hchouma » (la honte, ndlr). Ce mariage devait permettre de « sauver l’honneur » de la famille et éviter que l’agresseur accomplisse ses cinq ans (maximum) de prison. Perdre sa virginité avant le mariage est considéré comme grave, quel qu’en soit la raison. La Tunisie et l’Algérie ont des dispositions similaires en cas de viol.
Au Maroc, ce drame a fait réagir le gouvernement. Une réunion a été consacré à cette affaire. « Cette fille a été violée deux fois, la dernière quand elle a été mariée », a déclaré le porte-parole du gouvernement, Mustapha El Khelfi, avant d’ajouter qu’ « il faut étudier d’une manière approfondie cette situation avec la possibilité d’aggraver les peines dans le cadre d’une réforme de l’article du code pénal. Nous ne pouvons pas ignorer ce drame ».
L’unique femme ministre du gouvernement d’Abdelilah Benkirane , Bassima Hakkaoui, chargée de la Solidarité, de la Femme et de la Famille, a reconnu jeudi sur la chaîne de télévision 2M que cette loi était un « vrai problème » et qu’il faudrait organiser un « débat [pour la] réformer ».
Amina, ultime victime de la loi sur le viol
Ce suicide a fait réagir plusieurs associations féministes qui luttent depuis des années pour l’abolition de cette loi. Le 8 mars, à l’occasion de la Journée internationale de la femme, le Mouvement alternatif pour les libertés individuelles (Mali) exprimait une nouvelle fois sa colère. Dans un communiqué, l’organisation s’insurgeait contre « l’appareil judiciaire marocain, ses magistrats, ainsi que le législateur, qui voient la femme victime de viol comme une "anomalie sociale" qu’il convient de "racheter" par le mariage. La sauvegarde de l’hypocrisie sociale est donc plus importante aux yeux du législateur que le crime en soi ».
Pis encore, lorsqu’une femme est violée, elle doit être en mesure de le prouver. « Que faisais-tu avec cet homme ? », « Comment étais-tu habillée ? », « Tu étais vierge ou pas ? » sont des questions qui peuvent lui être posées pendant un interrogatoire. L’agresseur peut ainsi se retourner contre la victime en affirmant qu’il l’a payée pour coucher avec elle. Une femme violée peut donc se retrouver sur le banc des accusés et purger une peine de prison pour relation sexuelle hors mariage. Le cas d’Amina n’est pas un cas isolé mais son suicide met en exergue l’injustice de cette loi sur le viol.

Posted on 03/17/2012 9:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 17 March 2012
David Landau On Netanyahu's Speech, And What It, And The Response To it, Mean

From Haaretz.com:

  • Published 03:24 16.03.12
  • Latest update 03:24 16.03.12

Backlash to Netanyahu's Iran speech ignores Holocaust's enduring effect

Between the lines, in his speech Bibi was conducting a harsh reckoning with the predecessors of the Jewish leaders cheering him in that Washington auditorium.

By David Landau Tags: Holocaust Benjamin Netanyahu Yasser Arafat
Israelis needed, as we know, an entire generation until they were able to look the sights of the Holocaust, its refugees, the very fact of its occurrence, straight in the eye. We needed another entire generation until we began to acknowledge, or at least to consider, the claim that there was something cold and aloof in the Yishuv's response and in its conduct even during the time of the Holocaust itself.

Something twisted burrowed deep into the inner workings of the reemergent nation and distorted its ways of thinking. The story about David Ben-Gurion, who berated a refugee who had escaped from the camps and somehow made it to Palestine at the end of 1944 for speaking about her experiences in "a foreign language" (Yiddish ) illustrates just to what extent such a sanctification of "practicality" could warp the mind. What was at play here, apparently, was a combination of a mental inability to grasp an unprecedented, inconceivable reality with an escape into a sense of complete political impotence. This, apparently, is what gave the leadership the strength to persevere.

Certainly, there were other elements as well. Future historians, and future psychoanalysts, will continue to try to decipher just what happened then. They would do well to also study what is happening here now.

To judge by the nearly Pavlovian reactions of ridicule and disgust that filled the press in regard to the AIPAC speech in which Benjamin Netanyahu drew a comparison between Auschwitz and the Iranian nuclear bomb - it appears that this syndrome, i.e., our inability emotionally to confront the Holocaust, has yet to be cured.

"Comparing Nazi Germany to Iran," my good friend Gideon Levy wrote here, "is to minimize and cheapen the Holocaust ... Israelis eat this stuff up. In a survey, 98 percent (! ) of Israelis responded that the Holocaust is the most important guiding principle to them, more than any other principle. This is the result of Netanyahu's speeches."

In an editorial entitled "Kitsch and death threats," this paper wrote mockingly that "to spice up his speech with one of those visual gimmicks he so loves, he even pulled out a photostat of correspondence in order to imply a comparison between U.S. President Barak Obama's cautious approach toward attacking Iran and President Franklin D. Roosevelt's refusal to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz."

And historian Yechiam Weitz wrote on Ynet that "Netanyahu's comparison did not transform the reactor in Qom into Auschwitz. It transformed Auschwitz into another reactor that might be dangerous."

These responses, and many more like them, manifest that same repression, those same inhibitions. That same early pioneer, Eretz-Israel machismo which found it so difficult to accept the fact that there was someone who fully intended and was actually capable of murdering millions of Jews.

That same clinging, just as back then, to the comforting belief: It's not happening, and even if it is - there's nothing we can do about it.

Certainly, one can disdain the style of Bibi's speech. "If it looks like a duck ...," he bellowed, with tasteless humor, to the thousands of cheering Jews in the audience. "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then what is it?"

However, his critics' fastidiousness does not exempt them from having to answer his question. Nor does it discharge them from the duty of historical discernment.

Many of us feel loathing and contempt for the frequent recourse of our right-wing leaders, Begin chief among them, to invoking the Holocaust in their every political speech and action. In doing so, they devalued the Holocaust time after time and profaned its memory.

Begin's letter to Ronald Reagan in 1982, in which he compared Yasser Arafat hiding in besieged Beirut to Hitler in his bunker in Berlin, still echoes infamously in Israel's annals. But this is not to say that the right-wingers, most especially the Bergson (Hillel Kook ) group in the United States, were not correct during the Holocaust, when they fought to create political pressure on Roosevelt to save the Jewish victims of the Holocaust - and were rudely rebuffed by the Jewish and Zionist establishment.

Between the lines, in his speech Bibi was conducting a harsh reckoning with the predecessors of the Jewish leaders cheering him in that Washington auditorium. Many of those applauding understood this. Netanyahu himself all too often wallows in that Revisionist propensity for hollow rhetoric coupled with cynical abuse of the memory of the Holocaust. He is recognized, moreover, at home and abroad, after six years at the helm of the country, as a prevaricator, a dissembler and indeed an outright liar on peace and the two-state solution (and on many other, less fateful matters as well).

But this does not mean that on this particular fateful matter, the Iranian nuclear bomb, which he has been addressing incessantly for 20 years now - and rightly so as a leader haunted by the Holocaust - that here too his positions are necessarily unfounded and his statements worthy only of derision and condemnation.

It is the unwillingness (or inability?) to make this distinction, together with the intensity of the almost instinctive dismissal by most analysts of his remarks to AIPAC, that raise the fear that our Israeli Holocaust syndrome is still with us, dulling our reason and distorting our judgment.

Posted on 03/17/2012 10:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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