These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 19, 2008.
Monday, 19 May 2008
Police face scrutiny over the arrest of radical jihadist who renounced violence
He was the poster boy for jihadist extremism who become one of its most vocal opponents, meeting a government minister and being offered Home Office funding to support his deradicalisation work among young Muslims.
But now Hassan Butt is under arrest and at the centre of a high-stakes legal battle that goes to the core of Britain’s fight against terrorism.
Hassan Butt sent dozens of British Muslims to training camps in Pakistan, raised money for the Taleban and once boasted of his desire “to kill or be killed for the sake of Allah”. His words and deeds in support of Islamist terrorism were reported widely between 2001 and 2004, yet he was never charged with any offence.
After the suicide attacks on London in July 2005, he embarked on a lengthy and painful reexamination of his beliefs, eventually repudiating violence and emerging as a passionate critic of the cause he once espoused. Since early 2007 Mr Butt, 28, has denounced al-Qaeda in numerous newspaper articles, in international television interviews and in debate at the Cambridge Union.
However, he has been labelled a traitor to Islam by his former comrades and in April last year was stabbed in the street by two assailants.
Ten days ago, as he prepared to board a flight to Pakistan, Mr Butt was arrested – and is still detained – under the Terrorism Act.
If his rejection of violence was not a sham, then Greater Manchester Police – whose investigation is being carried out independently of Counter Terrorism Command at Scotland Yard – may be about to face more than a few tough questions.
Some may receive an airing at the High Court this week, when the force must defend its attempt to seek evidence against Mr Butt by scouring the notebooks of journalists from leading media organisations.
Mr Butt’s autobiography, Leaving Al-Qaeda: Inside the Mind of a British Jihadist, had been due for publication this month. The release was put on hold, indefinitely, when one morning in March the acclaimed writer who had helped Mr Butt with his book received a knock on the door of his North London home.
Outside stood three counter-terrorism detectives who ordered Shiv Malik to hand over the unpublished manuscript and all his notes and source material relating to Mr Butt.
When he refused, the police went to court and obtained a production order forcing Mr Malik, 27, to comply.
The force is seeking to obtain similar production orders against the BBC, the American TV network CBS, Prospect magazine and The Sunday Times. Each has interviewed Mr Butt. All four are resisting the demands and will be represented at the High Court on Wednesday for a two-day hearing at which Mr Malik is seeking judicial review of the production order.
Senior journalists, including Jonathan Dimbleby, give warning today in a letter to The Times that the police action “poses a serious risk to the future of investigative journalism”.
The letter notes that among those to have praised Mr Malik’s past work on Islamic radicals is Jonathan Evans, the head of MI5, who described his investigation into the July 7 bombers as “essential reading”. Whether the police are entitled to the production orders will be decided in court. The timing of their pursuit of Mr Butt is a different matter.
Last month, with his book’s publication shelved, Mr Butt spoke of his fears that police in Manchester suspected that his renunciation of violence was bogus and that he was secretly still a jihadist.
The suspicion among some of those close to the case is that police were concerned that Mr Butt was still mixing in dangerous circles.
Mr Malik said that this was inevitable. “It’s rather like trying to take people off drugs. By the very nature of your work, you have to associate with people who take drugs, so there are going to be drugs around. Hassan is associating with radicals. That’s what he’s intending to do and that’s the community that he’s in. He’s trying to unwind it, but to do so he still needs to be in those places.”
Mr Malik, who has worked on the autobiography since 2006, is convinced that his remorse is genuine.
Whether his subject is genuine or not is immaterial to the court hearing, which may produce a landmark ruling on a journalist’s right to protect his sources. Mark Stephens, of Finers Stephens Innocent, representing CBS, whose 60 Minutes programme interviewed Mr Butt last year, said that the broadcaster would strongly resist the production order application. “Journalists are in sufficient peril already, without Greater Manchester Police adding to the difficulties and dangers of covering the War on Terror,” he said.
If Manchester Police genuinely have reason to believe that Butt is still involved with terrorism, then even if they prove to be wrong I am not overly concerned at his arrest. The confidentiality of sources is another matter. What does concern me is the possibility that, like the West Midlands Police and their attack on Channel 4, they are influenced by outside factors. Was anybody ever apprehended for the attack on him last year? I will reserve judgment until I read more of the arguments reported from Wednesday’s hearing.
Posted on 05/19/2008 4:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 19 May 2008
Algeria: Authorities detain Christians leaving prayer meeting
Algerian authorities have charged six Christians with distributing illegal religious material after detaining them as they left a prayer meeting in a western city last week. The Protestants were charged with “distributing documents to shake the faith of Muslims,” according to a written court summons issued Saturday (May 10) prior to the men’s release in Tiaret city. Their first hearing is scheduled for May 27. During the detainees’ overnight stay at a local police station, officers repeatedly threatened them for converting from Islam to Christianity, one of the Christians said. “They said we were accomplices and the spies of the Jews, thus we deserve to have our throats cut without pity,” said Djillali Saibi.
Citing security concerns, police ordered the predominantly Arab Muslim city’s small group of Muslim converts to Christianity to discontinue meeting in members’ homes last December.
Officials said that a bomb had been planted in one of the Christians’ houses, though local church members claimed that the bomb threat was just an excuse by police to push them out. Ordinance 06-03 requires church services to be held in government-sanctioned buildings.
Tiaret Christians said they have continued meeting in small numbers for prayer. It was following one such gathering that police detained worshippers last Friday afternoon (May 9).
Saibi said the men had been poorly treated and were refused the chance to telephone their family members, a right guaranteed under Algerian law. In addition to threats from local police, he said that the public prosecutor insulted them the following day when they met with him to be charged.
“He asked us why we left [Islam], whether it was for money, and what price they paid for us,” Saibi said.
Posted on 05/19/2008 4:52 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 19 May 2008
Al Qaeda vs. Hezbollah In Lebanon?
The Sunni-Shi'a conflict in Lebanon is likely to worsen, which may not be a bad outcome from the infidel point of view. The Christian Science Monitor:
...Hezbollah's swift routing of Sunni groups during deadly street battles that started May 8 in Beirut has spawned an ominous backlash within Lebanon's Sunni community – one of anger, humiliation, and fear. While fighting lasted about a week, the result could see the influence of moderate Sunni leaders weaken as their constituents shift toward more militant groups – such as Al Qaeda and its adherents – as a perceived source of protection against powerful Hezbollah...
As the fighting flared in Beirut, jihadist websites were abuzz with speculation about a civil war in Lebanon. Fatah al-Islam, an Al Qaeda-inspired faction that fought a bloody three-month battle against the Lebanese Army last summer, vowed to come to the aid of Lebanese Sunnis against Hezbollah. "What has happened in Beirut – the invasion, the killing, the incineration, the humiliation against the Sunnis – is not acceptable," said a statement, the authenticity of which could not be verified.
Sheikh Hammoud, the Hezbollah-allied Sunni cleric in Sidon, acknowledges that there is support for Al Qaeda in Lebanon and that it could grow in the wake of the sectarian battles. He says he has sent messages inviting Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or his deputies to contact him directly.
"I want to inform them on exactly what is going on in Lebanon so they don't come here," he says. "Unfortunately, no matter what we say about this conflict, I think Al Qaeda will be tempted to come."
Lebanon's top leaders traveled to Qatar Friday to negotiate a deal to end the crisis. Hopes are high that the dialogue will succeed, but few Lebanese believe that the troubles are really over. "We hope that it will be an end to our problems," says Hajjar. "But realistically, I think it's only the beginning."
Posted on 05/19/2008 7:28 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Gays Defend Marriage
David Benhof writes:
Welcome to GaysDefendMarriage.org, a new voice in the “marriage equality” debate. For years, there has been an apparent consensus in the LGBT community that:
- The man-woman definition of marriage is unacceptable and must be replaced by any means necessary with a new approach that allows us to marry our same-sex partners; and
- Redefining marriage is overwhelmingly the most important issue facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
Well, I don’t agree....
Posted on 05/19/2008 8:02 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
And there's probably a mushroom quango. From The Times:
The cost of Britain’s “hidden state” of unelected public bodies has soared to more than £100 billion a year, new research has revealed.
Critics say the rise of quangos under the Labour government has produced wasteful and confusing duplication of roles.
While £85m is given to the Carbon Trust to advise businesses and government bodies on becoming low carbon, £22m is handed over to Envirowise to do almost exactly the same thing.
The Food Standards Agency extols the health benefits of a low-fat diet and yet millions are being spent on food promotion bodies that implore the public to eat more sausages and chips.
The research is in a report by the TaxPayers’ Alliance. It says these largely unseen and unaccountable bodies spend £101 billion a year, the equivalent of £1,662 for each person in Britain.
This is despite the call by Gordon Brown in 1995, when he was the shadow chancellor, for a “bonfire of quangos”.
Quangos often seem at odds with one another, critics say. The Potato Council has a £6m budget and employs 49 staff. While other arms of the government warn the public not to eat too many fatty foods such as chips, the Potato Council is marketing a national chip week. It says: “Chip week is a fun PR campaign to remind consumers that chips, made from British potatoes, can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.”
I wonder if there's a mango quango.
Note that the plural of quango is quangos, not quangoes. Anything goes, but not qangoes.
Posted on 05/19/2008 7:59 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 19 May 2008
France Admits Contacts With Hamas
New Duranty: PARIS — France confirmed on Monday that it has had contacts with the leaders of Hamas for several months to try to better understand the positions of the radical Islamic group that is running Gaza.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner emphasized that there were no negotiations with Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by both the United States and the European Union.
“These are not relations, they are contacts,” Mr. Kouchner said on Europe1 radio. “We are not the only ones to have them,” he said. “We must be able to talk if we want to play a role.”
Mr. Kouchner confirmed a report in the daily Le Figaro, quoting a retired French diplomat and former ambassador to Iraq, Yves Aubin de La Messuzière, saying that he had met a month ago in Gaza with Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, and Mahmoud Zahar, among the most important Hamas leaders in the Palestinian territories.
The confirmation of contacts will anger the United States and Israel just days before Mr. Kouchner makes a visit to to the region which will include Bethlehem, in the West Bank. It will also displease the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who has said that he will not talk to Hamas, which he accuses of carrying out a bloody coup in Gaza last June.
In Jerusalem, Arye Mekel, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said his government had already raised the issue of this meeting “at the highest levels" of the French government and "received assurances that there is no change in the position of France vis-a-vis Hamas, and that it continues to adhere to the three conditions of the Quartet, namely, if Hamas wants to be acceptable as a partner, it must recognize the existence of Israel, stop terror, and accept all agreements signed in the past between Israel and the Palestinians."
Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the French meeting was part of a general softening in the European position toward Hamas. Various European officials, they said, feel uneasy about the European position because they are concerned that it is unrealistic and would like to formulate a new one. This meeting, they said, is part of those efforts...
According to the account of Mr. Aubin de La Messuzière, however, his Hamas interlocutors told him nothing that they have not repeatedly stated in public. “They assured me that they were ready to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, which amounts to an indirect recognition of Israel,” he said.
Hamas, however, has always said that such a Palestinian state could be established only if Israel pulled back from all land occupied in 1967, which Israel is not prepared to do. Hamas would not recognize the state of Israel in perpetuity – only live side by side with it for a temporary period, 10 to 15 years, in a “hudna,” or truce.
Mr. Aubin de La Messuzière also said: “They said they were ready to stop suicide attacks and what surprised me is that the Islamist leaders recognize the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas.”
His comments could appear naïve, because Hamas has always recognized the legitimacy of Mr. Abbas as the elected president of the Palestinian Authority and also his right, as head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians. Hamas has also said that it believes such talks are useless.
Hamas has also had a largely effective ban on suicide bombings inside the post-1967 Israeli borders since August 2004, with a few incidents carried out by local cells. Hamas has been talking to the Egyptians, who have been trying to mediate a cease-fire in Gaza between Israel and Hamas for months to end rocket attacks on Israel, Israeli attacks and targeted killings in Gaza, and a release of prisoners, including Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli corporal captured in Israel and brought to Gaza in a Hamas-led operation on June 25, 2006.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, considered a supporter of Israel, will make an official visit there in June and will spend “several hours” in the Palestinian territories but will not talk to Hamas representatives, Mr. Kouchner said.
The European Union said it will continue to maintain its ban on formal contacts with Hamas.
Mr. Kouchner said he found Hamas was "more flexible than before" but still unwilling to recognize the state of Israel. He did not elaborate.
Hamas leaders like Mr. Haniyeh and his adviser, Ahmed Youssef, have regularly said that they would like to have good relations with West European countries, whom they regard as more sympathetic to their positions than Washington. Their implicit desire is to split the United States and Europeans on the issue...
Posted on 05/19/2008 8:14 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Pakistan Takes Steps Towards Shari'a State In Seven Districts
Our ertwhile ally, Pakistan, continues to show its true colors, but what else should we expect? No Muslim state can be our ally in what is essentially a conflict over Islam.
MEMRI: On May 11, 2008, the secular government in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) finalized a deal with the Taliban groups for the implementation of shari'a in the province's seven districts. The Pashtun nationalist government in the NWFP, which came to power last month, had vowed to talk to the Taliban in order to establish peace in the region. The talks were held between the government, Pakistani Taliban and the outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e -Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Shari'a)...
Under the deal between the NWFP government and the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi, which is controlled by Sufi Muhammad's son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, a shari'a system of administration and justice will be implemented in seven districts. This will effectively create the world's first mini-shari'a state within Pakistan, with the provincial government practically ceding control to the Taliban in roughly 45% of the province...
Taleban Ulema to Guide Police Stations, Shari'a Courts
According to a report in the Peshawar-based Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Khabrain, shari'a law will be implemented in seven NWFP districts: Malakand, Swat, Shangla, Kohistan, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Chitral.
Under the deal, the government will create a department of "Amr Bil Maroof," a reference to the Islamic principle exhorting others to be good. According to the report, police stations in these districts will assist the Amr Bil Maroof department, thereby ensuring the enforcement of shari'a in everyday life. Ulema will be recruited for honorary department positions, to advise government officials.
According to the Roznama Khabrain report, "the [ulema of the] department of Amr Bil Maroof will train [sic] people in Islam, Islamic teachings, Islamic norms and laws." There will be total ban on singing and dancing, and the ulema, who will not be paid a salary, will be based in the local police stations of the seven districts and offer their services as part of their work for Islam.
Courts Will Deliver Islam-Compliant Punishments
The paper stated that shari'a courts will be created in the seven districts, and that these courts will have the power to deliver Islam-compliant verdicts such as amputating the hands of individuals convicted of theft, administering 80 lashes or stoning for convicted rapists, or enforcing qisas - a principle that permits "like punishment" for a crime.
According to the paper, judges will be required to have knowledge of shari'a. Those who do not will be transferred to other districts of the province, and their positions will be filled by judges who do, and who have qualified at an Islamic university. Also under the deal, ulema will be appointed as assistants to the judges of the shari'a courts.
Government to Terminate Legal Proceedings Against Hundreds Of Militants
The four-day talks were held at Fishing Hut Chakdara in the Lower Dir district of the province. The government delegation was led by NWFP Minister Bashir Belour, and a five-member Taliban delegation was led by Maulana Muslim of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi.
Under the deal, the government has agreed to terminate legal proceedings against 524 militants from the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi, as demanded by the Taliban. Another 56 will be granted bail once they reach the Pakistani courts.
According to Roznama Khabrain, the government has also agreed to declare a timetable for the withdrawal of Pakistan's security forces from the seven districts.
If Similar FATA Deal Is Reached, The Shari'a Administration's Contiguous Geographical Area Will Expand By 120%
While the seven districts in which shari'a is to be implemented represent roughly 45% of the NWFP, if the Pakistani government also succeeds in its efforts to reach a similar deal with Baitullah Mehsud in the FATAs, the shari'a administration's contiguous geographical area will expand by approximately 120 percent.
There are reasons to believe that the shari'a state's frontiers will expand in the days ahead....
Posted on 05/19/2008 8:51 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Film inspired by 7/7 bombings has premiere on anniversary
The survivors and relatives of those who were murdered on London Transport on the 7th July 2005 are not being well served at the moment.
A film prompted by the 7 July bombings is to be premiered in London on the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Shoot On Sight, with a cast including Brian Cox and Greta Scacchi, is a fictionalised account of the killing of an innocent young Muslim man by the Metropolitan police in the wake of the outrage.
Some of the families of those killed today expressed shock at the " insensitive" timing of the premiere and said they knew nothing of what is the first movie based on the attacks.
Jag Mundhra, the Indian Hindu director who was living in London at the time, said the aim of the film was not to offend.
The story is told from the perspective of a Muslim police officer - played by Naseeruddin Shah - with a white wife and children who are well integrated into British society
The aim of the film was to address these issues. "I wanted to see the point of view of a shooter who had to pull the trigger and shot the wrong guy. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
"I knew that it might create some controversy but I thought the issue was important enough to not fear controversy. Everyone says the wounds are still raw. But facing up to a situation is more cathartic than hiding from it."
Mundhra said he spoke to Assistant Commissioner Ghaffur before making the film and also won the cooperationof the Regent's Park mosque where some of the filming took place. The bombings themselves are not represented as the film is based on the aftermath.
But Lisa Cassidy, 28, of Finsbury Park, whose 22-year-old brother Ciaran died at Russell Square, condemned the project.
"Are we going to get to see this beforehand? We want to know exactly what this film is about and what they are portraying. I think it is completely insensitive to release it on July 7 - they are just trying to make money and raise publicity."
Richard Deer, 31, lost his Polish girlfriend Karolina Gluck, 29, at Russell Square. He said: "I think it would have been nice if out of respect they had arranged a way the families could see it first. For some of the families it is still very, very raw. I think for this kind of film that is going to be on the world stage it is very insensitive not to tell us and to show it on July 7. We are all at different stages and dealing with it in a different ways."
A spokesman for the Justice4Jean (Charles de Menezes) campaign said: "I think it is good that they are exploring the role of the police."
The film is being released in the UK on 11 July with the premiere benefiting Flame, a charity for the education of women in Asian communities, and in America and India.
I know that while some survivors and relatives see de Menezes as another innocent victim of the atrocity there is concern that his death is the one that has attracted all the publicity, his death being most useful as a handy stick with which to beat the police. And as in this film it is an innocent Muslim killed by the police (not as really happened an innocent Muslim girl killed by the bombers) I am sure that the Regent’s park Mosque would have been more than pleased to help.
Meanwhile the memorial to the 52 victims has also hit problems. A substantial sum has been made available, a good site, Hyde Park, allocated and a good artist given the commission, Anthony Gormley who made the Angel of the North Sculpture in Gateshead. However all is not satisfactory.
Mandrake hears that the families of those killed in the 2005 terrorist attacks in London have agreed to accept a most forbidding design for a memorial to the victims on the grounds that it would require little or no maintenance.
I can disclose that the memorial, which is due to go before planners in the next few weeks, will consist of 52 metal posts. The posts, which will be 12ft high, are meant to represent each of the victims of the Islamist terrorists. They will be arranged in four clusters, to symbolise the four separate bombings, at King’s Cross, Tavistock Square, Aldgate and Edgware Road.
“We were shocked when we saw the design,” says an official from the Royal Parks who was shown the plans at a meeting earlier this month. “Is it really a fitting tribute to have what will look like a scrap-heap in a beautiful corner of the park? When you think of all the memorable art that’s been produced in tribute to the dead, it seems so sad that they are going to be remembered forever by a clump of metal posts.”
“We were told that the designers were under strict instructions to produce a memorial that would require as little maintenance as possible. The Government is keen to avoid a repeat of the Diana fountain. What is so sad, though, is that they won’t even put the names of the victims on the posts because they are worried about vandalism by Islamic extremists. The names will go together on a separate plate. Surely, the whole point of the memorial is about not giving in to terrorists.”
Posted on 05/19/2008 9:06 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 19 May 2008
A Musical Interlude: The Music Goes Round And Round (Jay Wilbur Orch.)
Posted on 05/19/2008 9:34 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 19 May 2008
The skipping community
Whether or not we decide to skip sex, we should definitely skip community. As a fully paid-up member of the harrumphing community, I have harrumphed about this before:
I distrust the word "community" almost as much as I distrust the words "discourse" and "diversity". The word suggests cosy togetherness, but is, in practice, a euphemism for totalitarianism and tyranny. There must be "diversity" within a "community", we are told, but the "discourse" of the "community" must always be the same.
The Ummah - the community of Muslims - is the most sinister of these communities. Billions of people, of all races, in all times and all places, bow towards Mecca and worship a seventh century Arab warlord. Non-members must be exploited, converted, subjugated or killed. The community comes before art, science, music, humour and love.
Other communities are less threatening, but no less absurd. Dot Wordsworth recently reported hearing of the "information-requesting community" - as if they all lived together and had much in common. The "gay community" is another phrase we hear all too often. What exactly does Matthew Parris have in common with Elton John? The "black community" is even sillier. Membership requirements are very lax - you can join even if you're half white, like Barrack Obama.
David Benhof, linked in Rebecca's post refers to the "LGBT community". This, it turns out, stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered".
How does such a disparate collection of people constitute a community? What have they in common? The transgendered, in particular, should not logically wish to join the LGBT. (Is there a membership fee? A big member discount?) A woman who was once a man surely wants to join the female community - the Women's Institute, perhaps.
Let us skip community. We are the community skipping community.
Posted on 05/19/2008 9:40 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 19 May 2008
Where Should The Rohingyas Go?
Ann Corcoran writes at Refugee Resettlement Watch:
There is a lot of talk these days about halting all immigration of Muslims to the West. Here is an article at New English Review by Hugh Fitzgerald suggesting that is a measure we should consider, but the politically correct multiculturalists in the United States would have a cow. They are agitating for more Muslims not less.
That suggestion of halting immigration and the other measures put forth by Fitzgerald are mild compared to what one country is doing.
We’ve written about the rise in Ethnic Nationalism here and here.
Now comes one country that is taking this concept to the max. What follows is a list of policies one government has put in place. You guess the country!
The government is:
1. Forcibly closing all mosques and madrassas
2. Prohibiting the construction of new mosques and not allowing repairs to old ones
3. Jailing those who do attempt to repair mosques
4. Making religious congregation difficult
5. Forcing Muslims to build religious buildings for another faith
6. Requiring Muslims to get permission to marry. They also must shave their beard and agree to having only two children.
Have you guessed it yet?
The government is the military junta that controls Burma (Myanmar).
The above is from testimony given by Chris Lewa (scroll down for bio) in December of last year speaking before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (a government body we need to learn more about). She says the policies are driving the Rohingya out of Burma and and causing radicalization:
The resentment spread by these policies combined with sheer poverty are conducive to radicalisation. They have also lead to the continuous movements of Rohingya out of Burma to Bangladesh as well as through Bangladesh by boat to Thailand and Malaysia, thus becoming a regional problem. Therefore, U.S. policy makers should consider the unique situation of the Rohingya in formulating U.S. policy to promote human rights.
She recommends two things the US can do, the first is send more money to the United Nations for the Rohingya in Burma:
The U.S. government should provide more financial support for humanitarian action inside Burma, particularly for the UNHCR and the WFP.
And, finally the durable solution (remember that buzz word), bring them to the United States:
The U.S. has generously resettled a large number of Burmese refugees from Thailand and Malaysia. Unfortunately, the Rohingya have been excluded from the U.S. resettlement programs so far. Resettling Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh and Malaysia should be considered as a durable humanitarian solution promoted by the U.S.
That’s right get the Rohingya to the US, put them to work in a meatpacking plant and living in a lousy apartment in a lousy neighborhood and they will magically give up all thoughts of Islamic supremacy. Fire up the magic melting pot.
Posted on 05/19/2008 10:06 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Three examples in London
On the subject of London memorials to the dead two pieces of sculpture spring to mind.
First, the Memorial near St Paul’s Cathedral to the men and women of the Fire Service killed during the blitz. This was only erected in about 1990, 45 years after the end of the war. As my father served in the AFS it was of interest to me. The sculpture recreates firemen working on St Paul’s which suffered several fires and explosions. Two men train the hose on the Cathedral while the other calls down towards the Thames for more water to be pumped from the River.
Second in Horseguards, the relatively recent memorial to the victims of the Bali bombs. A stone globe part circled by a wall of names. Much smaller but it reminds me a little of the Vietnam memorial in Washington.
Finally the Book of Tribute to the victims of the 7th July in the Museum of London. Every family has written a couple of pages about the lost person, their life and interests which is very moving.
I like the Angel of the North although I have not yet seen it in real life. I hope that Anthony Gormley will be allowed more leeway in his commission so that he can produce something fitting and beautiful.
Posted on 05/19/2008 10:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 19 May 2008
McCain Cuts Ties To Saudi Lobby
The interesting thing about this story is the small window it opens into the reach of the Saudi Lobby. From The Blotter:
Two more lobbyists have left the McCain presidential campaign over conflict-of-interest issues.
The departures of lobbyists for Saudi Arabia and energy companies brings to five the total number of aides who have had to cut ties with the Republican presidential candidate over their conflicting roles as both influence-peddlers and campaign officials.
Former congressman Tom Loeffler, a national finance co-chairman for Sen. McCain's White House bid, quit the campaign Sunday after new reports that his firm earned millions representing Saudi Arabia.
Public filings show that as a lobbyist, Loeffler had met with Sen. McCain to "discuss. . . U.S.-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia relations."
Loeffler also represents the European firm EADS, which recently won a $35 billion contract after McCain blocked a similar, scandal-tarred deal with U.S.-based Boeing Co. McCain has denied acting at the behest of lobbyists in the matter.
Eric Burgeson, an energy-industry lobbyist, was reportedly fired from the campaign on Thursday after it instituted a new conflict-of-interest policy.
These farewells mean that at least eight lobbyists have had to sever their ties to either the McCain campaign or to their own firms as a result of press scrutiny or the campaign’s new policy.
Posted on 05/19/2008 10:24 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
MB Down Salafi Faction Up In Kuwait Vote
New Duranty is simply reporting "Islamists Win 24 of 50 Seats in Parliament of Kuwait" and something about their being socially conservative, but the Global Muslim Brotherhood report has a bit more detail:
The media is reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait, had its representation in the Kuwaiti parliament reduced by half at a time when other Sunni Islamists performed well. According to one report:
Sunni Islamists have made a strong showing in Kuwait’s legislative election, while minority Shia gained one more seat, according to results released on Sunday. Official results from four districts and unofficial returns from the fifth showed that the Islamic Salafi Alliance and its allies won at least 10 seats in Saturday’s poll. This is almost twice their strength in the previous chamber. As in the previous election, women failed to enter parliament. In all, Sunni Islamists won 21 seats, four more than their number in the previous parliament. Parliament was dissolved by the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state in March after a standoff between the government and members of parliament. More Shia legislators The Islamic Constitutional Movement, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, however, saw its strength cut by half to three MPs in the 50-member parliament. The number of legislators from the Shia Muslim minority increased by one to five. All elected Shia MPs are Islamists, including two members of the previous parliament who took part in a controversial rally in March to mourn Imad Mughnieh, the assassinated military commander of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, sparking sectarian tensions. Analysts had predicted that sectarian divisions would play a key role in the election in the emirate, where Shias constitute one-third of the native population of just over one million. Liberals and their allies won seven seats, one less than in the previous house, while the nationalist Popular Action Bloc led by Ahmad al-Saadun, a veteran opposition figure, took four seats. Women, who were contesting the election for only the second time, failed to win any seats. Twenty-seven women were in the running. There are 22 new faces in the parliament, mostly from tribal areas.
Last week, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported that a complaint had been filed by unidentified parties which accused the Al-Islah Charity Organization, a Muslim Brotherhood charity, of financing Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) candidates. The report also indicated that the ICM was implicated in other scandals including “vote-buying’ on the part of the son of one of the ICM candidates, an official ICM spokesman. It is not known what role these events played in the Kuwaiti Brotherhood’s major electoral losses.
Posted on 05/19/2008 10:46 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Al-Qa'eda training children as suicide bombers
Militants linked to al-Qa’eda have set up training camps in Pakistan to teach children how to conduct suicide attacks.
The Pakistani army claimed today to have overrun one such camp in territory where the notorious Pakistani Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud, operates.
Militants had transformed a government-run school near the village of Spinkai in South Waziristan into what one officer described as a “nursery for preparing suicide bombers”.
The school was part of a large compound above the village that included a small mosque.
Maj Gen Tariq Khan, the commander of the division that captured the area, said: “It was like factory that had been recruiting nine to 12-year-old boys and turning them into suicide bombers.”
He told the Dawn newspaper that at another location military investigators found film footage on a DVD that they believed depicts children at the school being taught suicide training.
The footage, which was shown to journalists, contained images of a masked teacher instructing rows of schoolchildren who wore white headbands inscribed with Quranic verses.
The teacher pointed at the blackboard while an armed guard stood alongside and discussed what to carry in a suicide attack.
Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the army’s chief spokesman, said that the school and a hospital had been taken over by militants “to prepare children for suicide attacks and for making IEDS [improvised explosive devices]”.
The general said that during operations in the area soldiers had rounded up over 50 boys who were undergoing suicide attack training.
He said that many of the boys had been kidnapped. Most of them were from the ethnic Pushtun belt of the North West Frontier Province and that some were locals from South Waziristan.
“The boys were handed to an NGO [non-governmental organisation] to be looked at,” said Maj Gen Abbas.
Since January last year Pakistan has witnessed over 80 suicide attacks that have killed more than 1,000 people. Many of the suicide attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan - some reported to have involved teenagers and even younger children - have also originated on the Pakistani side of the border.
Posted on 05/19/2008 11:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 19 May 2008
Earlier I reported that quangos had mushroomed. And, mirabile dictu, there is a Mushroom Quango. Well, a Mushroom Bureau anyway (h/t John). Click below for your mushroom needs.
The Mushroom Bureau's slogan is "Mushrooms - the magic ingredient". Did they mean to write that?
This is the best mushroom website I have ever seen, with not mushroom for improvement. I don't know who designed it, but I suspect he's a ... fun guy.
Posted on 05/19/2008 11:37 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 19 May 2008
Those Pesky States In The Middle
From the McClatchy report:
Obama’s wife, Michelle, is slated to campaign in Kentucky on Monday.
That'll be a big help, I'm sure.
Obama conceded that he has a steep challenge to get his message and background to voters in states such as Kentucky — where he trails Sen. Hillary Clinton by 27 points, according to a poll published earlier this week — and West Virginia, where voters chose Clinton over Obama by 40 points on Tuesday.
"What it says is that I'm not very well known in that part of the country," Obama said. "Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it's not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle."
Kentucky actually borders the Senator's home state of Illinois - somewhere down there, where they have farms and stuff.
Posted on 05/19/2008 11:55 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Kentucky Musical Interlude
Posted on 05/19/2008 12:11 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Wilders To Bush: Drop Double Agenda With Muslim World
This is a long interview, but worth quoting at length:
BRUSSELS, May 19 (UPI) -- As President George W. Bush wraps up his trip to the Middle East, controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, a passionate supporter of Bush and the U.S. war on terrorism, called on him to drop his "double agenda" in the region by ending support to Islamic states like Saudi Arabia.
Wilders, who briefly achieved global notoriety when he released his anti-Koran film "Fitna" in March, told United Press International that the United States should not overlook Saudi Arabia's flagrant bad governance and human-rights abuses.
"American relations with Saudi Arabia should be revised," he said, adding that Saudi Arabia's status as a major oil producer should not mean that its track record ought to be overlooked. "Saudi Arabia is no good and won't be for the foreseeable future," he said.
"I think supporting Saudi Arabia is a bad policy and shows a double agenda," said Wilders. But he demurred at the suggestion of sanctions or military action -- "it's not like they should invade tomorrow" -- suggesting only that the desert kingdom be subject to the same standards as other U.S. allies like Israel.
The parliamentarian recently returned from a trip to the United States and said he was surprised to find his anti-Islam agenda had so much resonance there.
Wilders heads a small anti-immigration party in the Dutch Parliament and lives under 24-hour police protection because of death threats resulting from his public comments about Islam and the Koran, which he has compared to Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and says should be banned in the Netherlands.
Echoing the comments of some U.S. neoconservatives, Wilders has said he regards the spread of radical Islam as the next great challenge to the West, after fascism and communism.
"I think Islamization presents a threat to the public safety of the entire West, including the United States," he told UPI. "Direct and indirect dangers are present in (Muslim) politics and culture."
He said the shared enemy demanded closer trans-Atlantic ties.
"Islam's growth is the greatest threat of this century and we need to interact more on how we (the United States and the European Union) will protect traditional Christian and Jewish (territory)," Wilders said. "I see America as an ally in that fight."
He lambasted cultural relativism and said Islam was incompatible with democracy and Western values. "We shouldn't pretend that all cultures are equal and let equality rule. We've witnessed attacks on America and Europe, so we're all in danger."
Wilders, who describes himself as a Reaganite and is a longtime supporter of the GOP, endorsed John McCain for the presidency.
"If I were an American, I'd choose the Republicans again. ... McCain is the only candidate, and there are a lot of positive, and also some less positive, things to be said about him," he said.
But he fretted that complacency had set in, both in Europe and America. "We mustn't forget that sense of urgency that followed Sept. 11," he urged.
"Keep an eye on Islamization in America," Wilders advised the next president. "The people that I spoke to in America were concerned that there's no urgency surrounding (the issue of) Islamization."
He also counseled the United States against promoting Turkish accession to the European Union, which he opposes because of Turkey's "Islamic values."
"I'm not sure it's smart," Wilders said. "I don't know how the United States would react if we'd say that Mexico or Cuba, or any other country with whom relations are difficult, should become the 51st state.
"America thinks from a NATO point of view where Turkey is an appreciated ally. But relations between Turkey and its neighbors are bad, and I think that if Turkey joined the EU, the regional situation would only destabilize further."
He added that Turkey needs to learn to cohabit with its neighbors politically and economically and should remain a NATO member and cooperate with the EU, but without ever joining it.
"The EU is about sharing certain values, and Islamic values are simply not compatible," Wilders said. "And I wouldn't want Iran and Syria to border on the EU. The United States wouldn't want that either, but that's what would happen (if Turkey joins)."
"I'm not in favor of excommunicating Turkey and am in favor of good relations, but just because they're good neighbors doesn't make them family," he said. "It would only lead to trouble culturally."
He also argued that EU membership would create problems in Turkey by ruling out "a positive political role" for the military as a "counterbalance" to any moves to undermine the secular character of the state there.
"If (Turkey) were to join the EU, certain treaties would require it to extract the army from politics, and that would remove the counterbalance" to any efforts at Islamization.
The result, he said, would be disastrous. "Then we'd have an Islamized state within the EU."
"It's a bad suggestion and not in Europe's security interest," Wilders added of Turkish accession.
Despite his differences over the Turkey issue, Wilders, who sits on the Dutch parliamentary committees for defense, information and security services and foreign affairs, as well as the delegation to the NATO Assembly, said he'd keep advocating close American ties. "I'm an Atlanticist," he said...
Posted on 05/19/2008 12:57 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
So We Lose an American City or Two, So What?
Good for Sen. McCain, going after Sen. Obama like that on Iran. The Soviet Union was a superpower unlikely to attack us because retaliation would have been certain and massive. Iran may be comparatively puny, but the chance that the mullahs will actually use the weapons once they have them is geometrically greater. They may not be able to destroy the United States, but they could dwarf 9/11.
And what would we do if they did? We've spent years blathering about how our quarrel isn't with the Iranian people (a mythical 80 percent of whom, we're periodically assured, really despise their regime and may revolt any day now). So far as our rhetoric goes, Iranians are innocent victims. If Iran launched a nuclear attack against us or our allies, would we really turn the place into a parking lot — which would have devastating consequences for neighboring states? I'm not convinced we would — and I'm betting I'm a lot more rational than Ahmadinejad in that my calculations are not affected by the likelihood of the Mahdi's long-awaited arrival.
Which again raises the issue of motivation. Ahmadinejad and his cohort are apocalyptic jihadi revolutionaries. Shouldn't what they believe be analyzed and factored in as we try to assess the threat that they pose? Or would that offend moderates too much? It seems awfully silly to compare them to the Soviet Union when, with the latter, we had a deterrence policy — Mutually Assured Destruction — that was explicitly based not only on the size of the enemy arsenal but on whether, given his motivations, he was likely to act. Obama appears content to calculate based on the size of the arsenal, period. That's not MAD, but it's madness.
Posted on 05/19/2008 2:22 PM by Andy McCarthy
Monday, 19 May 2008
Muslims Riot At German Hospital
We're heard rumors about this kind of behavior at hospitals before, but usually they are unconfirmed by news reports. Perhaps Mary, who reads German better than I do, can confirm the translation of this report at Gates of Vienna:
Katya is a Gates of Vienna reader in Austria who picked up the following news story from a German news site. As far as I can tell there is no English-language version available so far.
Katya says the incident happened today (May 19th) at 04:35, and was reported by Andreas Drees and Ulrich Steden in Der Westen. Below is her summary of the news article:
A Turkish female died of heart failure in an intensive care unit in Evangelist Bethany Hospital, Iserlohn, Germany.
Twelve of her male and female relatives began to riot, throwing chairs and tables and ripping pictures off the walls. Horst Hennig, the manager of the hospital, while acknowledging that pain and grief follow such deaths, felt that such a reaction on the part of the mourners was beyond reasonable.
The initial police force, called to calm matters, was attacked by the rioters with fisticuffs and kicks and therefore withdrew to await reinforcements.
In the meantime, the relatives rang on their handys (cell phones) for reinforcements of their own and before long the so-called family members totaled forty. Eventually, it took nine police cars and eighteen policemen using pepper spray over an hour and a half to quell the rioters.
The patient was a 56-year-old Turkish woman. The giveaway is in the last paragraph, where the article mentions that there will be a meeting on Monday morning with the Integration Department (or Council) of the City of Iserlohn.
The hospital manager praises the police service. The rioting relatives were treated at the hospital for their pepper sprays injuries...
Posted on 05/19/2008 2:36 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
Obama Is The New Carter
Like I said, Obama is looking more like Jimmy Carter every day:
AFP: Reviving Friday's furious row sparked by President George W. Bush's suggestion that Democrats wanted to appease terrorists, Obama said that not talking to North Korea and Iran had only made those states stronger.
"I want everybody to be absolutely clear about this because George Bush and McCain have suggested that me being willing to sit down with our adversaries is a sign of weakness and sign of appeasement," he said.
He also attacked McCain's plan for a gas tax holiday to cope with rising pump prices, which Clinton supports, as well as his other environmental plans, saying the Republican had consistently opposed fuel efficiency standards.
"For him to come to Oregon as an environmental president, but his big strategy is to do more drilling and to have a gas tax holiday for three months, that's a phony solution," he said.
Pitching his message to Oregon's environmentally-conscious voters, Obama called on the United States to "lead by example" on global warming, and develop new technologies at home which could be exported to developing countries.
"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.
"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.
Remember the sweater?
Posted on 05/19/2008 2:52 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 19 May 2008
A Musical Interlude: If I Had You (Al Bowlly)
Posted on 05/19/2008 9:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 19 May 2008
Black And White And Red All Over
CROW AGENCY, Mont., May 19 (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama became an honorary member of an American Indian tribe on Monday and promised a proactive policy to help tribal people if he wins the White House in November.
The Illinois senator who is leading rival Hillary Clinton in their race for the party's presidential nomination, joined the Crow Nation, a tribe of some 12,100 members in Montana, taking on a native name and honorary parents in a traditional ceremony.
Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, was "adopted" by Hartford and Mary Black Eagle and given a name which means "one who helps all people of this land."
"I was just adopted into the tribe, so I'm still working on my pronunciation," Obama told a crowd after stumbling over some of the native names.
"I like my new name, Barack Black Eagle," he said. "That is a good name."
Many in the audience wore traditional feather headdresses and some banged drums ahead of Obama's visit, the first by a presidential candidate to the Crow Nation.
Obama held rallies throughout Montana, which holds its primary election on June 3.
The state is home to some 60,000 American Indians, making them a key swing vote, according to Dale Old Horn, 62, a spokesman for the Crow Nation.
Obama said he would appoint a Native American adviser to his senior White House staff if he wins and would work on providing better health care and education to reservations across the country.
"Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, the first Americans," Obama said.
Old Horn said the tribal members related to Obama because of his background.
"His heritage of being poor, of being an outsider, you know those two things are the commonalities that he has with us," he said. "We've always been treated like outsiders when it comes to government policy. In addition to that, we all grew up poor."
Posted on 05/19/2008 9:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald