These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 19, 2010.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Why go to university?
With rampant grade inflation at A-level - although not, despite what Hugh thinks, in the degree classes at the top universities - and with mounting debt, eighteen-year-olds are asking themselves whether university is worth it. For most it isn't. Higher education should have been reserved for the most academic, instead of being extended and watered down for the mediocre. From The Telegraph:
This then is perhaps the first cohort of school-leavers to face a "perfect storm" of fewer university places, higher grade requirements (due in part to grade inflation), increased tuition fees, a shrinking graduate job market and the prospect of a graduate tax.
So what exactly should a bright new Neet ["not in education, employment or training" ] do today if they can't get a place in further education? Well, one certainty is that there will be no shortage of advice, often from family, mainly well-meaning, frequently infuriating. The likes of Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Alan Sugar are often held up by ambitious fathers as success stories who didn't spend three years getting drunk and watching Countdown. Indeed, the first step might be to acknowledge that university is no longer the passport to a golden future it was once considered.
"Times have changed," says Tim Campbell, the winner of the first season of The Apprentice, who went on to found the Bright Ideas Trust, which encourages young entrepreneurs. "I'm not saying that university isn't useful – I built up a lot of social capital there – but there are many other ways you can do this."
"Social capital"? I don't remember "building up" any of that. Perhaps I was a brick in the great edifice of someone else's social capital. A brick, that's me.
Regular reader Alan has a disturbing set of news stories relating to the EDL. First this, from the BBC:
The English Defence League has said it wants a "peaceful demonstration" in Bradford later this month, as police seek a ban on all marches in the city.
West Yorkshire Police has applied for the ban on 28 August, the day of a planned protest by the group.
Unite Against Fascism (UAF) plans a protest on the same day, in response to the English Defence League (EDL) demo.
The application, which needs government approval, follows a campaign in the city to stop the EDL march.
Home Secretary Theresa May will be asked to authorise the ban, which is being submitted by Bradford Council in a written application.
It comes after West Yorkshire Police's chief constable Sir Norman Bettison wrote to the council requesting an order to prohibit any public processions over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Sir Norman said he was taking the action after considering the "understandable concerns of the community".
He said a ban on marching would not stop either group holding a "static" protest.
As Alan points out, If the main political parties, trade unions, politically left organisations, Islamic groups, MSM, and the Police have their way, the EDL will be legally straitjacketed. This is how the EDL explained their activities on an earlier Bradford demonstration:
The EDL and our brave soldiers owned the streets of Bradford today and moderate Muslims were able to go about their daily business in peace without any problems what-so-ever.The left wing biased media would lead people to believe that the EDL are against all Muslims – this simply is not true as today’s domination of the streets of Bradford demonstrates.Such peaceful Muslims would be welcomed into EDL ranks with open arms so long as they are committed to the British values of freedom and democracy.Such Muslims are as British as the rest of us and our brothers and sisters.
The EDL ensured an honourable reception for our brave troops.Thanks to the presence of the EDL no soldier of the Yorkshire Regiment had to endure the indignity of being spat at by people who find it convenient to call themselves British citizens.There were no ridiculous accusations levelled against these brave men and women who are committed to our country and way of life.In short, the returning soldiers were treated as heroes should be.They were feted by patriotic Britons who value and appreciate the sacrifice that they have made for us all.The British city of Bradford welcomed them home and celebrated their achievements.
The EDL supporters and the soldiers of the Yorkshire Regiment mingled together as the brothers that they are.The Yorkshire regiment is as multiracial as the EDL and are all the proud sons and daughters of England.Thanks to their blood, sweat, and tears, their devotion to our country and their commitment to each other can we all sleep safe and sound in our beds at night.They have bravely fought the kinds of people who were behind 9/11 and 7/7 and as such have our eternal gratitude.They deserve both our respect and our profound thanks.
And this, as Alan points out is the inarticulate response of the National Union of Journalists, a notoriously anti-Israel and generally stupid organisation:
The EDL is primarily an anti-Muslim organisation made up of football hooligans, racists, fascists and former loyalist paramilitaries.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “The atmosphere of menace which the EDL seek to generate may be disproportionate to their size and level of public support, but their activities can still constitute a serious threat to working journalists and to the communities in which we live. The NUJ fully support the calls from anti-racists, other trade unionists, community groups, political parties and faith groups to stop the EDL bringing their bigotry and Islamophobia to Bradford. The EDL incite hatred and are violent, the EDL should be stopped from continually wreaking havoc in our towns."
Erick Stakelbeck's coverage of the Murfreesboro mosque controversy airs on the ABC Family Channel as part of CBN's 700 Club today at 10 AM Eastern time. We will also post the video as soon as it becomes available online.
In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam. During the onslaught, which began 10 Septembers ago, Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner. Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take "risks for peace."
During Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's July visit to Washington, Barack Obama praised him as "willing to take risks for peace." There was a time when that meant swapping "land for peace" -- Israel sacrificing something tangible and irrecoverable, strategic depth, in exchange for something intangible and perishable, promises of diplomatic normality.
Strategic depth matters in a nation where almost everyone is or has been a soldier, so society cannot function for long with the nation fully mobilized. Also, before the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel within the borders established by the 1949 armistice was in one place just nine miles wide, a fact that moved George W. Bush to say: In Texas we have driveways that long. Israel exchanged a lot of land to achieve a chilly peace with Egypt, yielding the Sinai, which is almost three times larger than Israel and was 89 percent of the land captured in the process of repelling the 1967 aggression.
The intifada was launched by the late Yasser Arafat -- terrorist and Nobel Peace Prize winner -- after the July 2000 Camp David meeting, during which then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to cede control of all of Gaza and more than 90 percent of the West Bank, with small swaps of land to accommodate the growth of Jerusalem suburbs just across the 1949 armistice line.
Israelis are famously fractious, but the intifada produced among them a consensus that the most any government of theirs could offer without forfeiting domestic support is less than any Palestinian interlocutor would demand. Furthermore, the intifada was part of a pattern. As in 1936 and 1947, talk about partition prompted Arab violence.
In 1936, when the British administered Palestine, the Peel Commission concluded that there was "an irrepressible conflict" -- a phrase coined by an American historian to describe the U.S. Civil War -- "between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country." And: "Neither of the two national ideals permits" a combination "in the service of a single state." The commission recommended "a surgical operation" -- partition. What followed was the Arab Revolt of 1936 to 1939.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations recommended a partition plan. Israel accepted the recommendation. On Nov. 30, Israel was attacked.
Palestine has a seemingly limitless capacity for eliciting nonsense from afar, as it did recently when British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Gaza as a "prison camp." In a sense it is, but not in the sense Cameron intended. His implication was that Israel is the cruel imprisoner. Gaza's actual misfortune is to be under the iron fist of Hamas, a terrorist organization.
In May, a flotilla launched from Turkey approached Gaza in order to provoke a confrontation with Israel, which, like Egypt, administers a blockade to prevent arms from reaching Hamas. The flotilla's pretense was humanitarian relief for Gaza -- where the infant mortality rate is lower and life expectancy is higher than in Turkey.
Israelis younger than 50 have no memory of their nation within the 1967 borders set by the 1949 armistice that ended the War of Independence. The rest of the world seems to have no memory at all concerning the intersecting histories of Palestine and the Jewish people.
The creation of Israel did not involve the destruction of a Palestinian state, there having been no such state since the Romans arrived. And if the Jewish percentage of the world's population were today what it was when the Romans ruled Palestine, there would be 200 million Jews. After a uniquely hazardous passage through two millennia without a homeland, there are 13 million Jews.
In the 62 years since this homeland was founded on one-sixth of 1 percent of the land of what is carelessly and inaccurately called "the Arab world," Israelis have never known an hour of real peace. Patronizing American lectures on the reality of risks and the desirableness of peace, which once were merely fatuous, are now obscene.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The proposed mega-mosque at Ground Zero has sparked outrage among many Americans. But far from the bright lights of Manhattan, there is another mosque firestorm brewing.
CBN News recently visited one Tennessee town where locals are voicing concerns about their new "neighbor" - a multi-million dollar Islamic center. It's just one of several such projects planned nationwide.
Middle Tennessee is often referred to as the "buckle" of the Bible Belt. For cities and towns there like Murfreesboro -- about 30 miles south of Nashville -- it's still about God and country.
But some residents of Murfreesboro believe that that all-American feel may soon disappear, thanks to plans to build a huge Islamic center in their backyard.
"Within 17 days they had approval to build this mosque, when there are other large congregations here in the community who, some took as much as a year and a half to get the approval to build onto their facilities," said local activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore, who is president of the pro-Israel group, Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.
No Public Debate
Cardoza-Moore told CBN News that Rutherford County commissioners pushed through the mega-mosque with no public debate or input. She said residents were shocked when they learned about the project:
"We were asking our country commissioners, 'Please, before we start and give the approval for a mega mosque, a 52,000-square foot facility for 200 people, can we please look into some of the people affiliated - the donors, who is going to fund this mosque?'"
Many asked why a small Islamic community of only about 250 families needs what would be one of the largest mosque complexes in America.
The imam of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center said the current location in too small, and that his congregation needs to move. Their preferred destination is located a few miles away - 15.2 acres of land that will include a mega-mosque, a swimming pool, a gymnasium, an Islamic school, and living quarters for the imam.
"We've treated every particular religious organization exactly the same way," Rutherford County mayor Ernest Burgess said.
Burgess told CBN News he has no reason to believe the mosque's leaders have "any ill intent."
"We have a Buddhist temple here," he said. "We have a Hindu temple here. I mean, we have, I believe, still based on our constitutional rights, the ability for people to worship the way they want to worship."
Questions on Mosque Leaders
Yet serious concerns have been raised about imam Osama Bahloul and at least one board member of the Murfreesboro Islamic Center. Bahloul is a "distinguished graduate" of al-Azhar University in Egypt, where anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric is commonplace.
He told CBN News off camera that he condemned the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah and that Murfreesboro Muslims were just looking for a quiet place to worship. Yet he declined to appear on camera.
Then there is Islamic Center board member Mosaad Rawash.
Rawash was suspended from the board after pro-jihad slogans were found on his MySpace page. They've since been removed. A mosque spokesman said that Rawash is back on the board after being cleared of any wrongdoing.
Locals also have other concerns--like where the millions of dollars are coming from to pay for the proposed complex
Mosque officials say the money was raised in the community. But local journalist Rebecca Bynum said she isn't convinced.
"In other mosques, like in Boston and other areas where there's been huge mosques built, the funding did come from overseas, principally from Saudi Arabia, rich individuals from countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE," she said.
Murfreesboro is not alone. two more mega-mosques are now being planned for Tennessee--one in Memphis and another the town of Antioch, near Nashville.
"It does seem to be part of a larger strategy to build mosques in rural areas and create Islamic communities--large Islamic communities--in rural areas for some larger purpose," said Bynum, a columnist for the New English Review.
Fighting Christian 'Crusaders'
Cardoza-Moore believes the purpose is clear in middle Tennessee.
"You have Bible book publishers, you have Christian book publishers, you have Christian music headquartered here," she said. "So this is where the Gospel message goes out. And the radical Islamic extremists have stated that they're still fighting the Crusaders--and they see this as the capital of the Crusaders."
Mega-mosques are now in the works from coast to coast. In addition to the three massive Islamic centers in Tennessee, the proposed Ground Zero mosque continues to stir fierce debate.
One mosque plan was recently shot down in nearby Staten Island, New York. But a large mosque is currently in the works in neighboring Brooklyn.
In Sheboygan, Wisc. and Portland, Ore., 2 multi-million mosque projects have been given the green light. Another opened last year outside Boston and a $10 million complex opened in Atlanta in 2008.
Meanwhile, neighbors are protesting planned mosques in Southern California and the Chicago suburbs. And there are now plans to build the first ever Islamic center in northern Kentucky.
"When a large mosque is built, it draws more Muslims to the area," said Bynum.
It's been estimated that as many as 80 percent of American mosques have received funds from Saudi Arabia, where the official state religion is radical Wahhabi Islam.
Intelligence sources tell CBN News that many American mosques have been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood--an Islamist movement that seeks to establish Islamic sharia law worldwide.
We asked Mayor Burgess if he and the Murfreesboro county commission were aware of these points.
"I'm not informed about that, I don't have any evidence," he answered.
"Don't you think you should be informed, though?" CBN News asked.
"As a basic citizen, I should be informed about every issue that I can be," Burgess said. "But I can only enforce this rules and regulations that the state of Tennessee and the United States and Rutherford County have authorized me to enforce."
Taking a Second Look
The County commission is now taking a second look at local residents' concerns about the mosque project, including the environmental impact and traffic flow that would result.
There are also complaints about an unmarked grave that has appeared on the Islamic Center's new property.
"We don't know anything about the body other than it was wrapped--it's not in a casket, it's not embalmed, it's not in a vault," said local activist Kevin Fisher.
Mosque officials told us they know who is buried there, but did not give us a name. Mayor Burgess said. "The burial was legal.
But others say it's further proof that a massive Islamic center is not a good fit in their community.
"I think we will stop this mosque from being built," said Cardoza-Moore.
As in Murfreesboro, So Five Years Ago In Billerica, Or, Where Does The Mosque Money Come From?
In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a mega-mosque is planned for a town where the existing mosque has 250 members. Yet a gigantic mosque complex is being planned, costing many millions of dollars.
This is happening all over the United States, and indeed all over the Western world.
Where does the money come from?
We know that Saudi Arabia -- that is, Saudi individuals, and Saudi groups -- have spent nearly one hundred billion dollars in spreading Islam around the world, with particular attention to making sure that land is acquired, and mosques built, and mosques are then maintained and imams paid, with Saudi funds. This is a spectacular sum, and perhaps some idea of what it means can be better grasped if one considers that in the seventy years from the founding of the Soviet state to the undoing of that state, the Soviet Union spent, on Communist propaganda worldwide, 8 to 9 billion dollars, that is less than one-tenth what Saudi Arabia alone has spent.
And Saudi Arabia is not the only source of funds. Libya, for example, or rather Colonel Khaddafy, whose pocketbook is the same as the Libyan National Treasury, has been spending money in sub-Saharan Africa, in such places as Lome, in Togo, to buy up the local Big Man and then to go on a campaign of mosque-building and mosque-upgrading -- in Togo, Khaddafy has, for example, supplied electronic amplication equipment and sound systems to mosques, so that the call to prayer, can be heard everywhere, drowning out Christian bells and five times a day, making life distinctly unpleasant for Christians.
There is money from the United Arab Emirates. There is money from Kuwait. There is money from Iran. There is money sloshing everywhere, for no Muslim state bothers to spend money to rescue or help fellow Muslims who do not have oil or gas reserves. That is always and everywhere left to the non-Muslims to deal with, and we have just seen, in the welcome lack of enthusiasm for bailing out, in every sense, Muslim Pakistan, a sign that the Infidels of this world have just about had it with that state of affairs, and are waiting for Saudi Arabia, that sits on a trillion dollar surplus, and the U.A.E. (with about one million Emirati Arabs) sitting on a similar sum, and Kuwait a nearly similar one, to come through for fellow members of the Umma.
But they won't. Don't worry -- even if they finally are embarrassed to come up with a billion between them, when they are sitting on close to three trillion dollars, it won't be nearly what is needed.
What is needed is not only more money from the rich Muslim states who should be the ones responsible for helping fellow members of the Umma, but -- as one welcome result -- less money available for them to spend on mosques in Murfreesboro, or Billerica, or Los Angeles, or New York, or London, or Paris, or Madrid, or Rome or Turin or Manchester or Copenhagen or Stockholm or Malmo or [fill in your favorite fifty cities right here].
Here is a news item that people now dealing with the Murfressboro mosque business might want to consider, and possibly look into, a piece that appeared in 2005 in The Boston Globe. It struck me at the time, and has remained in my mind:
January 2, 2005
Ramadan, the holy month for the world's Muslims, brought a new cultural flavor to Billerica last year. The month-long religious observance is traditionally marked by prayer and fasting, but something extraordinary unfolded in a wooded tract off Rangeway Road.
The Dawoodi Bohra Muslims celebrated Ramadan for the first time in their own mosque -- a giant white structure with an onion-shaped dome and two adjacent buildings. The complex cost $15 million to build.
Previously, the Dawoodi community had worshipped in space provided to them in Chelmsford by the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church and Congregation Shalom.
"It is a major milestone for us to have our own place," said Murtaza Doctor, an Andover resident and a member of the Dawoodi Bohra's board of directors. Other members of his community live in suburbs such as Billerica, Chelmsford, Reading, and Westford. "We are grateful for the assistance given to us by the church and the synagogue, but it is good to have our own place of worship. Right now, we are still settling in. It's nice."
The Dawoodi Bohra in this region has about 100 families, totaling about 300 people. Its members started moving to the area about 30 years ago. They are part of a larger Dawoodi Bohra community of 7,000 families in the United States. Mosques also have been built in Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. The sect has about 1 million members worldwide.
In a gesture of gratitude, the Dawoodi Bohra welcomed the membership from the First Parish and Congregation Shalom for an open house on Oct. 17, just after the start of Ramadan. Dozens of non-Muslims turned out for the event. They were given tours of the mosque, which is formally named Qutbi Masjid, and the group of buildings around it. The compound, Ajax Complex, also contains a religious school building and a residence for the imam, the group's religious leader. A meal was served after the tour.
Doctor said the event was rewarding for his community, particularly the youth.
"The children, in particular, gained a lot from this. The fact that there was enough interest from people of other faiths to come out and spend part of the day with us -- at our mosque -- shows them that we are part of a collage and that groups have the right to pursue their own beliefs and faiths."
The Rev. Ellen Spero of the Unitarian church in Chelmsford, said the Dawoodi Bohra community, along with its mosque, has made a distinct impression on the cultural landscape.
"It's exciting, not only that they are here, but that they are welcomed here," said Spero. "We, meaning everyone who lives in this region, are the better for it.
"I remember seeing the mosque for the first time and thinking, that here in New England, where you think of the white clapboard church or meetinghouse with a steeple as the traditional place of worship, we have a mosque which looks as if it were transplanted from India. It's wonderful."
Sometimes Western women can be bafflingly keen to endorse the Muslim woman's "voluntary" subission, but not Australian judge Shauna Deane. Less of the tu quoque and more of the moi aussi. From ABC News, with thanks to Dumbledore's Army:
A Perth judge has ruled a Muslim woman cannot wear her traditional face covering while giving evidence in a fraud trial.
The 36-year-old woman, who is known only as Tasnim, had wanted to wear the niqab in court because there would be men there who were not her blood relations.
Tasnim has worn a burka, including a niqab which covers her face, all her adult life.
She has been living in Australia for seven years and wore the niqab at her citizenship ceremony.
She has lifted the niqab for passport checks at the airport, for her driver's licence photo and for medical and dental treatment.
This is what happens when you have female judges. Fitna, fitna fitna.Couldn't they have done keyhole dental surgery through the niqab? Still, if she ever has laser eye surgery, she'll be able to stay modest.
Tasnim does not wear it at home if only direct family members are present.
She is giving evidence at the fraud trial of Anwar Sayed, the head of an Islamic school.
However, defence lawyers raised concerns that the jury members would not be able to properly assess her evidence.
In her ruling, District Court judge Shauna Deane said the court had not been able to find a similar case in Australia.
She said she did not consider it appropriate for Tasnim to wear a niqab in the dock.
She ruled Tasnim should give evidence with her face uncovered because the jury should not be impeded in its ability to assess her demeanour.
But the judge said her decision was in no way binding on any other court, as there was no reason for her to examine or discuss the Islamic religion, or to determine the practice of wearing certain garments.
I am sorry to learn that Billerica, Massachusetts is home to a fifteen million dollar mosque. I'm sure fifteen million dollars could be better spent, in that town or elsewhere, and if it comes from Saudi Arabia, why aren't they giving it to the flood victims of Pakistan?
Billerica is thought to be named after Billericay in Essex. Here is a song un-Islamic enough to apply to both. I'm not sure how well it will cross the Atlantic; clearly, all the refined Billaricians did, taking their Ps and Qs and leaving their glottal stops behind: