These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 20, 2011.
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Joel Brinkley On Bashar Al-Assad
From the Kansas City Star:
Why does the U.S. keep ignoring Syria’s villainy?
Who’s the world’s most dangerous man?
You might think it’s Kim Jong Il, the psychopath-leader of North Korea who frequently blusters about using his half-dozen nuclear weapons. Or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the diabolical leader of Iran, sworn enemy of Israel and the West, working to build a bomb of his own.
Those two are obvious contenders. But my choice is Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s duplicitous dictator, precisely because he has duped presidents and prime ministers into believing he is their indispensable friend — even as he kills American troops, collects weapons of mass destruction and serves as the supply master for terrorist groups.
Even now, as his own people protest his rule, prompting him to shoot and kill scores of them, Washington’s criticism remains equivocal. A few days ago, President Obama remarked, “I strongly condemn the abhorrent violence committed” by “the Syrian government.” Then he added: “I also condemn any use of violence by protestors.” Are both sides equal offenders?
A few weeks ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Assad is entirely different from Moammar Gadhafi, the embattled Libyan leader: “many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”
Less than a week after that absurd remark, Clinton’s own department told congressional leaders “the flow” of terrorists crossing from Syria into Iraq, intent on killing American troops, “has lessened, though not ended.” (Embarrassed, Clinton’s recent statements have been tougher.)
Clinton is hardly the first senior official to be irrationally enamored of Syria. While secretary of state, Henry Kissinger famously remarked “there can be no war without Egypt and no peace without Syria.” Last month, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said she told Assad, “the road to Damascus is the road to peace.”
Where do these delusional views come from? For years, Washington has worked under the premise that, while Syria is unquestionably problematic, it is at least stable. Another government might be worse — the “devil you know” rule of foreign policy.
But how could any new government be worse? Consider Assad’s extracurricular activities. Since the Iraq war began, Islamic extremists have crossed his border by the busload, in full view of U.S. spy satellites.
He sells missiles to Hezbollah, the terrorist group in southern Lebanon and avowed enemy of Israel and the U.S. Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted Hezbollah now “has tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, more than most governments in the world” — all pointed at Israel.
Khaled Mashal, the Hamas leader, actually lives in Damascus and does his murderous business openly from a storefront. American intelligence shows that Syria has a vast store of chemical weapons. Assad pursued a secret nuclear-weapons development program, until Israel bombed it in 2007. More recent intelligence suggests that he is back at it, though this time the program is better hidden.
So I wonder why Washington is taking such an ambivalent posture toward Syria’s uprising, even though Assad has lifted his emergency law. Compare Syria to the other states in turmoil. Egypt was Washington’s best friend in the region. Tunisia’s leader was praised for his cooperation with anti-terror investigations, as was Yemen’s. Libya gave up its nuclear and chemical-weapons programs at Washington’s urging. Bahrain is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
In fact, all of the other nations in play have tried to be American allies. To be sure, all of them have horribly oppressed their own people. But in recent years none has openly worked against Washington, as Syria does even now.
Why is Syria more dangerous than Iran or North Korea? The United Nations has multiple sanctions in place against the other two states, and numerous nations’ intelligence services are watching every move they make. Not so for Syria. In fact, Assad flaunts his contempt for Washington.
Last year, the Obama administration sent a new ambassador to Damascus, hoping to improve relations. The Bush administration had recalled the ambassador in 2005. Well, the very day after Obama made that announcement, Assad hosted a major, ceremonial state visit for none other than Ahamadinejad, the president of Iran. The timing was no accident.
Posted on 04/20/2011 1:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Ballade Des Noms Du Temps Jadis
Now that even presidents and prime ministers are called Tony and Bill and Mick and Mack and Bob and Jack, perhaps it's time to savor the redolent names of a not-so-distant past.
Whenever I have found it my duty to attend, for the sake of some relative, a university commencement, I always get lost in the list of names, and especially the proper names of scholars that appear as part of the title of doctoral dissertations, always listed at the end, after the tiresomely long list of undergraduates -- those theses that, after an agony of rresearch and writing, are at long last "Submitted In Partial Fulfillment For The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy." Take a look yourself, the next time you attend a Commencement ceremony at an American university, this or any old June.
Here are three that, while I don't remember actually seeing them in a Commencement booklet, are exactly the kind of names that do show up, I have no doubt, in such places:
Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, an early student of Mesoamerica, especially of the Mayans and Azects. A Tatyana Proskouriakoff avant la lettre.
Jan Niecislaw Baudouin De Courtenay, linguist and Slavist, who first posited the idea of the phoneme. In the old days, you could not take a course on linguistics in a Russian department without hearing about Baudouin de Courtenay. A Roman Jakobson avant la lettre.
Antoine-Chrysostome Quatremère de Quincy, a man of wide interests, including archeology, Egyptology and, especially, architectural history. A Lewis Mumford avant la lettre.
Read those names aloud to yourself. Just the last part will do:
Brasseur de Bourbourg.
Baudouin de Courtenay.
Quatremère de Quincy.
So much better than Tony and Bill and Mack and DIck and Jack and Nick.
Sterne was right.. They do order these things better in France. France is a foreign country. And so, come to think of it, is that not-too-distant past.
Posted on 04/20/2011 12:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
France Will Give Another Half--Billion Dollars To Tunisia -- Why France And Not The Rich Arabs?
Aide de 350 M€ de la France à la Tunisie
20/04/2011 | Réactions ()
Le ministre français des affaires étrangères Alain Juppé a annoncé ce mercredi à Tunis une aide de 350 millions d'euros pour 2011-2012 à la Tunisie qui a également été invitée au sommet du G8 fin mai en France.
"Le voyage que je fais aujourd'hui à Tunis est très important pour moi. Je sais très bien qu'il y a pu avoir quelques retards ou quelques incompréhensions enre la France et la Tunisie. Je crois que tout cela est derrière nous", a déclaré M. Juppé, qui a rencontré le premier ministre par intérim Béji Caïd Essebsi peu après son arrivée.
"Le plus important et essentiel, c'est cette relation entre nos deux pays qui est ancienne et profonde sur tous les plans", a-t-il ajouté.
"Le grand mouvement qui a été déclenché à partir de Tunis et qui touche le monde arabe suscite chez nous beaucoup d'admiration et de respect parce qu'il faut du courage pour secouer un régime autoritaire et policier.[for god's sake, it was Ben Ali, not Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or for that matter Fidel Castro or Cesar Chavez or Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad]. La France souhaite profondément le succès de ce mouvement", a-t-il commenté.
"Nous allons essayer de faire un effort important pour aider la Tunisie, notamment par le biais de l'AFD", l'Agence française de développement, a poursuivi Alain Juppé en annonçant une aide sur 2011-2012 de 350 millions d'euros. [why? why not ask the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, to give some of their trillion-dollar surpluses to Tunisia? ]
Montants versés prochainement
"Il y a beaucoup de difficultés à surmonter (pour la Tunisie). Nous sommes aux côtés de la Tunisie sur tous les plans, politique et économique", a poursuivi le chef de la diplomatie française en précisant que ces montants seront versés rapidement et destinés à des "projets correspondant aux priorités du gouvernement tunisien, notamment dans les domaines de la formation, du chômage, et tout ce qui concerne la gouvernance".
Alain Juppé a également transmis au premier ministre tunisien une invitation du président français Nicolas Sarkozy pour assister au sommet du G8 les 26 et 27 mai à Deauville (ouest de la France).
Concernant le thème de l'immigration qui a provoqué de vives tensions entre partenaires européens ces dernières semaines, notamment Paris et Rome, Alain Juppé a affirmé que la France "n'est pas un pays fermé". "Nous accueillons chaque année 200.000 étrangers. La communauté tunisienne compte 500.000 personnes, dont 13.000 étudiants. Le taux de refus de visas est de 10%. Ces rappels pour dire que la France n'est pas une citadelle ou une forteresse. En revanche nous ne pouvons pas accepter l'immigration illégale. c'est un fléau", a encore déclaré Alain Juppé en rappelant que la France a également des problèmes, notamment en matière de chômage. [no need to apologize, no need to explain Neither Tunisians, nor anyone else, have a right to enter, or to remain indefinitely, in France]
Au cours de ce déplacement, Alain Juppé doit s'entretenir également avec le président Foued Mebazaa, son homologue Mouldi Kéfi, des bloggeurs, et les présidents des trois commissions en charge de la transition démocratique jusqu'aux élections du 24 juillet pour former une assemblée constituante.
Posted on 04/20/2011 3:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
In Syria, The Day After Tomorrow Is Friday
From The New York Times:
Amid Crackdown in Syria, Big Protest Is Planned for Friday
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Protests erupted Wednesday in the town that unleashed Syria’s five-week uprising, and security forces detained a prominent organizer in the restive city of Homs, casting into doubt government pledges to repeal the country’s harshest laws and initiate reform in one of the Arab world’s most repressive countries.
Though the demonstrations paled before those in past days, organizers vowed to turn out their largest numbers yet on what protesters have begun to call “Great Friday.” Some residents said security forces were already deploying in hopes of stanching the turnout, and organizers across Syria said Friday would be potentially decisive for the uprising’s momentum.
The demonstrations may serve as a referendum of sorts on the declaration by President Bashar al-Assad’s government that it would repeal the 1963 emergency law, enacted when the Baath Party seized power in Syria, and institute a series of reforms — from granting civil liberties to abolishing draconian courts. Some have called the reforms a hard-won gain of an uprising that has shaken the 40-year rule of the Assad family, while others were dismissive of initiatives that seemed aimed at blunting the demonstrations’ momentum and maintaining Mr. Assad’s relentless grip on power.
“People don’t trust the regime anymore,” said Haithem Maleh, a former judge and an often imprisoned human rights activist in Damascus, the Syrian capital. “I don’t think that the Syrian people are going to stop before they bring down this regime.”
Residents said thousands turned out on Wednesday for a protest in Dara’a, a city in southwestern Syria near the Jordanian border where the uprising was galvanized last month. Demonstrators headed toward the Omari Mosque, which has served as a landmark for protesters. Sheik Ahmed Siasna, a preacher at the mosque, said the march ended peacefully.
In Homs, where two people were killed early Tuesday as one of the country’s largest protests so far was crushed, a cautious calm fell.
“The city is still mourning its dead,” said a political activist who gave his name as Abu Haydar, speaking by telephone from Homs, Syria’s third-largest city. “There are security forces everywhere, in every corner of the city and it is not clear what is going to happen, but we are preparing for demonstrations on Friday.”
On Tuesday, the government tried to placate protesters with declarations of sweeping reform while also issuing harsh threats of reprisals if demonstrations did not come to an end.
The long-promised reforms ostensibly granted civil liberties, curbed the power of the police and abolished draconian courts. They legalized “peaceful protests” — coded language for those approved by the government — as the Interior Ministry warned in a statement, carried by the official news agency, that it would bring to bear the full breadth of the law against any other kind.
Hours after the cabinet approved a bill rescinding emergency rule, Syrian security forces arrested Mahmoud Issa, a prominent opposition figure and former political prisoner.
The events punctuated a monthlong uprising that, like Egypt’s, has the potential to rework the arithmetic of a Middle East shaken with dissent. While Syria lacks Egypt’s population or even Libya’s wealth, its influence has long been strong in the region, given its location, its alliance with Iran and its status as kingmaker in Lebanon.
The complexity of its standing means that Mr. Assad’s government finds advocates in the most divergent of places — from the Shiite Muslim movement of Hezbollah in Lebanon to some quarters in Israel.
For days, organizers in Syria have sought to replicate the experience of Tahrir Square in Cairo, where hundreds of thousands gathered to demand the end of the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The square became a symbol and an instrument of the demonstrations that eventually forced him to resign in February.
Syrian organizers envisioned taking over Abbassiyeen Square, a crucial artery in the capital, Damascus, but were thwarted by security forces. Some organizers said they turned instead to Homs, an industrial city near the Lebanese border and the site of a famous Crusader castle, where funerals on Monday for 14 demonstrators killed a day earlier had drawn thousands.
On Tuesday, some protesters said the security forces seemed taken aback by the crowds, which grew throughout the day in both numbers and anger. “A sit-in, a sit-in, until the government falls!” some shouted. “Please go,” a banner implored of Mr. Assad. Mr. Tarif cited witnesses who said protesters had served tea and sandwiches as a chilly night fell, and organizers said mattresses and tents were carted in so protesters could serve in shifts.
Security forces made some attempts to disperse the crowds, but relented until after midnight. Then, protesters said, a mix of soldiers, security forces and police officers surrounded the square and attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and live ammunition after the crowds had dwindled to about 2,000.
Videos posted on Facebook and YouTube showed scenes of chaos, as volleys of gunfire echoed over a square faintly lit by yellow streetlights. Mattresses and the canvas of tents were strewn across the square, where a portrait of Mr. Assad superimposed on a Syrian flag read, “Yes to living together, no to strife.”
“This is reform? This is reform?” asked a protester in one of the videos.
In another video, a protester tried to rally his compatriots.
“Come on back, guys!” he shouted. “Come on back, everyone!”
There were conflicting reports on the dead and wounded. From Lebanon, a resident of Homs, citing relatives’ accounts, said 4 people had been killed and more than 50 wounded. Razan Zeitouneh, of the Syrian Human Rights Information Link, put the number of dead at three. Videos posted by Ugarit News, an independent Syrian outlet that has tried to cover the protests, posted online footage of what it said were funerals for two people.
“Nobody was allowed to stay,” Ms. Zeitouneh said.
Protesters and organizers said the square was empty on Tuesday, and most shops in the city were closed. One resident reported that government loyalists had driven around the city in cars, occasionally firing into the air, to keep people off the streets. Another resident, a 26-year-old protester who gave his name as Abu Haydar, said security forces fired at a funeral on Tuesday, forcing mourners to leave the coffin in the street.
“They might have finished our sit-in this time, but we’ll keep up with our peaceful demonstrations until we get our rights,” vowed one protester in Homs, a 29-year-old engineer who gave only his first name, Ali.
Already, rights groups say, government forces have killed more than 200 people in demonstrations that have skipped from city to city since March, breaking a barrier of fear that long buttressed the rule of Mr. Assad.
As the violence has worsened, the implications have deepened. A deep current of anxiety over the uprising has pervaded Lebanon, where Syria’s ascendant allies worry about the consequences if Mr. Assad falls. Likewise, Syria and Iran have long represented opposition to an American-backed order in the region, an alliance that would potentially not survive a change in government.
Posted on 04/20/2011 12:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
You can't ignore a barnacle
Posted on 04/20/2011 3:00 PM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Tunisians In Lampedusa Attack Caritas Building, Destroy Church
And for the attack on the church that had offered them succor, see here.
Posted on 04/20/2011 12:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
New car fires erupt in Gothenburg suburb
This has been going on for over a week. It isn't Rosengard in Malmo this time but Frolunda a suburb of Gothenburg. So far I have found no report in any English language newspaper. Only the comments indicate the origins of the criminals and even they stop short of attributing the nightly riots to their likely ideology. The Local, which is Swedish news in the English language follows closely the few Swedish language reports which I have run through Google translate. The Expressen headline, Frolunda Brinner (Frolunda burns) suggests that someone understands the seriousness of the situation.
This particular run of arson attacks started on or around the 3rd April when the police collided with two (rather elderly) 'youths' who they were chasing on a motorbike.
This is The Local on the 7th April.
Police in Gothenburg revealed on Wednesday that the torching of several cars in the suburb of Backa over the past few nights was in touched off due to a police action.
More than twenty cars were set alight in recent nights, including a police car and a security guard's car and police now believe the fires are connected to an arrest made on Sunday night.
The arrest came after a patrol car followed two suspects fleeing on a motorcycle.
The motorcycle and the car collided in a roundabout and the two suspects were injured.
When police apprehended one of the two, he allegedly said, “This is not the last you hear of this”.
“We believe that was what started it. But when we are catching criminals red-handed and it is seen as police aggression, that makes me worried,” said Lars Klevensparr, head of the police in the greater Gothenburg area, to news agency TT.
More than twenty cars were set alight in recent nights, including a police car and a security guard's car and police now believe the fires are connected to an arrest made on Sunday night.
The arrest came after a patrol car followed two suspects fleeing on a motorcycle. The motorcycle and the car collided in a roundabout and the two suspects were injured. When police apprehended one of the two, he allegedly said, “This is not the last you hear of this”.
“We believe that was what started it. But when we are catching criminals red-handed and it is seen as police aggression, that makes me worried,” said Lars Klevensparr, head of the police in the greater Gothenburg area, to news agency TT. According to the police those responsible for the car first are 20-30 youths between the ages of 18 to 30. Despite wearing hoods to disguise their faces, most are already known to the police.
According to local newspaper Göteborgs Posten (GP), local residents are appealing to authorities to calm things down in the area, which they believe has become increasingly plagued by lawlessness over the last ten years. “The police are too lenient. They should take a strong line against these youngsters. As it is, they are just laughing at the police,” one resident told GP. In the last two to three years, things seem to have gone from bad to worse.
This was their report yesterday. And again today.
More cars were set alight in the Gothenburg suburbs on Tuesday night as violence plagued the outskirts of the western Swedish town for the second night in a row.At least four cars were in flames in Västra Frölunda late Tuesday night, while police and emergency crews faced stone-throwing young people who also pointed green lasers at officers who attempted to deal with the situation.
"My girlfriend saw several young people throw a Molotov cocktail at a car," one eyewitness told the Aftonbladet newspaper. Two tram cars were also damaged by rock-throwers during the episode and small fires were also set at an area school. Two young men were arrested later in the evening on suspicion of aggravated vandalism and were set to be questioned overnight.
A selection from the comments.
I saw these thugs around midnight the night all of this happened. The police need to put a foot in their ass. From what I know, it took them over an hour to appear in Backa after I called them (and was on hold for 15 minutes just to get through btw).
It's pretty clear this is organized crime and it needs to be treated as such. The group of 20 I saw, all wearing black hoodies, were men...not boys. This isn't just teenage angst. Interrogate the two who were caught and then roundup everybody connected to them for questioning...apply pressure until someone breaks and agrees to testify.
Since I could hear them talking loudly and yelling, I know they weren't speaking swedish or english. It pisses me off that people would move here and then behave this way...it should be grounds for having your visa or citizenship revoked IMO.
I would say - EXTRADITE all the "known to the police" immigrant criminals. There should be no "already known to police" immigrants. The "first time met the judge" ones shall get economy tickets back to the hellohole they came from. If these are kids, send their families with them. Let them burn and riot in Mogadishu and Damascus
.As an Australian looking at Sweden from the outside I see racism. I see a bizarre self loathing racist agenda to elliminate out 10 million Scandinavians from the earth. . . The Swedish aboriginals should still exist in 200 years. But maybe they will not.
NO arrests?! That's sorted then!
just wondering... what is the age limit for being referred as YOUTH?
Posted on 04/20/2011 2:36 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Goodluck Jonathan Wins 60% Of Nigerian Vote; Muslims In North Attack Christians
From The Wall Street Journal:
Vote Results Tap Nigeria's Tensions
In North, Rumors Fed Christian-Muslim Unease and Jonathan's Election Sparked Riots
KADUNA, Nigeria—The election of incumbent Goodluck Jonathan exposed the raw divide between Nigeria's predominantly Christian south and Muslim north, showing how quickly the country's latent religious and economic tensions can erupt into violence.
Aid groups estimated Wednesday that more than 100 people have been killed in violence that flared up across northern Nigeria after Mr. Jonathan, a Christian from the south, was elected with about 60% of the nationwide vote. Mr. Jonathan now has the difficult task of trying to calm the nation, Africa's most populous and a growing destination for foreign investment.
The town of Kaduna has many of the problems that have helped fuel unrest in northern Nigeria, including high poverty and youth unemployment levels. Its Kabala West neighborhood, dotted with small shops and one-story houses, is home to Christians and Muslims who had been living together in relative peace.
On Saturday morning, nearly 1,000 voters gathered to cast ballots in a mostly Muslim part of Kabala West. A rumor spread that Christian voters in the neighboring polling unit had prevented Muslim election observers from entering the unit.
Several dozen young Muslim men surged toward the nearest church, saying a ballot box was being hidden there. Arguments turned into shoving matches.
Police arrived, then the military. The day's voting resumed.
The outburst appeared to have been sparked by the youths' misunderstanding of a deal that area political leaders had cut concerning the observers that each party sends to monitor polling places. According to residents and members of Nigeria's two main parties—Christians and Muslims alike—the operatives had agreed to keep peace in Kabala West on Saturday by agreeing that members who were Muslim wouldn't observe voting in Christian areas, and Christians wouldn't enter predominantly Muslim areas.
"There's been a longstanding understanding in this area that Hausa [Muslim] observers wouldn't come here during voting," said James Sako, a 59-year-old trader in a nearby Christian area.
As security forces appeared to restore calm, Christian and Muslim election observers agreed to return to their respective posts.
But later that evening, unknown suspects threw a bomb into the Happy Night Hotel on the Christian side of the neighborhood, injuring eight patrons, two critically.
It was one of many outbursts in Kaduna, the site of several sectarian clashes over the past decade. The local government has attempted to reduce such violence by segregating the Muslim and Christian populations, in part by encouraging Christian residents to move to the southern part of town. Residents say the steps have largely worked. But tensions can quickly turn to hand-to-hand combat.
During Saturday's voting, a group of young men who live in a walled-off Christian section of Kabala West ran toward entry points with wooden clubs. Women shooed their children inside. A man interrupted his clothes-washing to head inside and lock his door.
On Sunday in Kaduna, voting results showed that Mr. Jonathan's main rival, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, was winning in the northern states. His supporters celebrated.
But by evening, national results showed Mr. Jonathan sweeping the south and winning the election. Celebrations turned to violence. Supporters of Mr. Buhari burned homes of people, both Christians and high-profile Muslim leaders, who were thought to have backed Mr. Jonathan.
Riots spread across Nigeria's north Monday and early Tuesday. Churches, mosques and houses were burned. Several hundred people were injured and many thousand were displaced, according to the Nigerian Red Cross, which hasn't released its final death toll.
On Monday night, Mr. Jonathan appealed for calm in his acceptance speech in the capital, Abuja. But Nigeria has a raft of politicians who don't accept defeat lightly.
Mr. Buhari's party, Congress for Progressive Change, has rejected most of the results, although local and international election monitors called it the country's most credible election in decades.
Mr. Buhari, who also contested elections in 2003 and 2007, has distanced himself and his party from the violence. In a statement Wednesday, he told his supporters that "it is wrong for you to allow miscreants to infiltrate your ranks and perpetrate such dastardly acts as the mindless destruction of worship places."
Residents of Kaduna say a curfew imposed by the government, which was eased slightly Wednesday, has kept things quiet. Still, they fear what lies beneath the momentary calm.
Monday "was too crazy, it was almost war," said Lalas Abba, 33 years old, who is a DJ at the bomb-struck Happy Night Hotel. "If you go outside, before you know it, you can just get shot."
Posted on 04/20/2011 7:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
â€œExtremistâ€� preacher not as troublesome as expected
From The Copenhagen Post
Yesterday’s conference featuring controversial Muslim preacher Bilal Philips drew a standing room only crowd, as well as hundreds of protesters. The speaker’s “extremist” message, however, never materialised.
A horde of demonstrators, including politicians from across the political spectrum, converged outside the Korsgadehallen auditorium in the Nørrebro district to protest Philips’s support for the death penalty for homosexuals, husbands’ right to hit their wives and Sharia laws.
Anticipating trouble, the police had made arrangements to keep the protesters at arm’s length from the venue, and that was apparently enough to avoid any serious confrontations.
Philips started his speech with a brief definition of Islamophobia, followed by a criticism of the media and politicians for putting Muslims in a bad light.
Citing an example of how Islam and the West could live together, Philips explained that Nordic Vikings were able to sail to North America using shipbuilding techniques learned from the Spanish Moors. “The Muslims were fully aware that the Vikings were pugnacious, but they did not stigmatise them as terrorists. They helped them. We can learn a lot from that today,” he said.
Less than an hour before the Philips took to the stage, the Islamic Society in Denmark, which had invited him, admitted it had made a mistake by allowing him to speak. According to Shah, the Islamic Society was offered a visit by Philips as guest speaker by the youth department of the Swedish Islamic Society. “We accepted the offer without looking any further into what views Philips represented,” said Shah.
From the comments
"Philips explained that Nordic Vikings were able to sail to North America using shipbuilding techniques learned from the Spanish Moors."
If I am not mistaken the Vikings were already master ship builders and were the ones who passed the knowledge to the moors. The vikings had been sailing the north atlantic, baltic and the rivers of northern europe for generations before encountering the moors. Is it just me or is his history wrong?
You are dead right about that, he is re-writing history. I know of no Ship building technology transfers to the Vikings. In fact the Vikinigs sprea the Technolgy by teaching the Wends to sail and raid (Good for Norway, bad for eastern Denmark) and builing Viking Ships in England and Ireland.
"Philips started his speech with a brief definition of Islamophobia, followed by a criticism of the media and politicians for putting Muslims in a bad light."
I think islamic terrorists beat the media and politicans to the punch years ago for putting Muslims in a bad light.
You have to know your history, and you have to watch them like a hawk.
Update - From The German edition of The Local.
A radical Muslim preacher has been ordered by German authorities to depart the country immediately. The move comes after he attended an Islamist rally in Frankfurt that took place despite the objections of city leaders.
Citing security concerns, the authorities said if he doesn’t depart on his own, he could be arrested and forcibly deported.
Philips, who was born in Jamaica and raised in Canada, spoke in Frankfurt earlier this week on the subject “Islam, the Misunderstood Religion” alongside German Islamist preacher Pierre Vogel – who authorities have no way to deport – after a court allowed the event over the objections of Frankfurt officials.
Arid Uka, the 21-year-old Kosovar who has admitted to killing two US airmen in Frankfurt in March, is thought to have established contact to radical Islamist preachers including Vogel before the shooting.
Police said up to 1,500 people, separated by gender, attended the rally, where Philips appeared as a surprise guest. The 64-year-old has been on a tour of sorts around Europe, recently surfacing in Denmark.
Posted on 04/20/2011 3:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
More of Poole's Interview with DOJ Official
Patrick Poole writes:
The nearly six-hour interview I conducted earlier this year with a top Department of Justice official on the condition of anonymity brought forth a number of revelations about serious problems within the U.S. government’s homeland security and law enforcement community.
Last Thursday, I reported here exclusively at PJM on a DOJ memo dated March 31, 2010, from Assistant Attorney General David Kris to Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler. The memo effectively ended the prosecution of Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Omar Ahmad — in addition to the prosecution of other prominent American Muslim leaders — for helping support the Hamas terrorist organization. This decision, according to my source, was not made based on the overwhelming evidence that had been compiled over the past decade by the U.S. attorney’s office in Dallas, but was made due to potential political embarrassment for the Obama administration and out of fear of inflaming the American Muslim community.
But another troubling claim came out during our interview: “Muslim outreach” programs by U.S. government agencies to terror-tied Islamic groups have directly interfered with ongoing terrorism investigations.
My source began by complaining about the counterproductive nature of such programs:
In all my years working for the U.S. government I have rarely seen anything as mystifying as our outreach to Muslims. Do we really need it? Sure. We need to be reaching out to the Muslim leaders who are working to prevent radicalization, not the ones who are making it happen. But that isn’t what we’re doing.
Instead we’re having countless meetings from the Cabinet level on down with groups and individuals that we know are bad guys and who we’ve repeatedly said in court are actively working to support terrorist groups overseas. We even had [FBI General Counsel] Valerie Caproni meeting regularly with these Hamas guys to get their guidance. What advice do you think they were giving her?
And she knew exactly who she was dealing with. It was the FBI who went into federal court and said that CAIR is Hamas.
But at the same time that FBI agents were testifying in the [Holy Land Foundation] trial that CAIR is a Hamas front there was serious disagreement inside DOJ and the FBI about whether we should continue to work with CAIR or cut them loose. So now we do both.
We say publicly that we don’t have an official relationship, but CAIR still has most of the staff in [Attorney General Eric] Holder and [FBI Director Robert] Mueller’s offices on speed dial. Don’t think for a minute that we stopped dealing with them.
And what exactly is our end game for doing this? Nobody knows. Are we getting anything by reaching out to CAIR? Of course not.
Now think for a minute about what we’re doing in any other context. Thirty years ago we didn’t have government liaisons to the IRA. The FBI doesn’t have an interfaith outreach program to the Mafia. Janet Napolitano doesn’t sit down and have lunch meetings with the Mexican drug cartels. And we don’t appoint members of the Crips and Bloods to our advisory boards on gangs. Well, not yet, at least [laughs].
It sounds really silly when you put it like that, but we have been allowing the bad guys to dictate our national policy on terrorism since the World Trade Center bombing [in 1993]. Let’s not forget that during the Clinton administration we had one of al-Qaeda’s top operatives in America — Abdurahman Alamoudi — organizing iftar dinners at the White House! The same guy who stood beside President Bush right after 9/11. Two years later he’s in prison, but his people are still popping up all over Washington.
Then we had [CAIR Executive Director] Nihad Awad advising Al Gore’s aviation security commission back in the late 90s. We said absolutely nothing even though we had him on our wiretaps five years before at a major Hamas meeting in Philadelphia. Nobody from DOJ or the FBI said a goddamn word because CAIR was advising every single federal agency dealing with terrorism at the time. We wouldn’t have these problems if we had cut them off then and there.
Stuff like that really makes me wonder what in the hell are we doing. I could easily give a dozen more examples going on right now. This bizarre fetish we’ve had about Muslim outreach since 9/11 has even damaged ongoing terrorism investigations and is eventually going to get people killed. I really believe that.
I asked for an example of how these outreach programs jeopardized investigations:
Well the best example was the investigation into the missing Somali kids in Minneapolis two years ago.
When Al-Shabaab started gaining support in the Somali community after the Ethiopian invasion in late 2006 and early 2007, all of the government agencies started doing outreach to the Somali imams. But when these kids went missing in Minneapolis, did we get a call from these imams we were reaching out to?
No, they were telling the families to shut up and not to talk to the FBI.
[Author’s note: Subsequent to my interview, Abdirizak Bihi, the uncle of one of the missing kids who was later killed fighting with Al-Shabaab in Somalia, testified before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee hearing on radicalization in the Islamic community making these same claims: religious leaders and CAIR were intimidating the families of the missing Somali men to prevent them from talking to law enforcement.]
It wasn’t long into the investigation before we started hearing that the ones primarily responsible for recruiting and raising the funds for these kids to go fight with Al-Shabaab were the same imams we had been doing outreach to all along. But everyone was saying “we must do outreach,” like they had all been hypnotized, so the outreach continued.
Now at the same time, the FBI was working to get information from these imams about what might have happened with these kids when somebody somewhere decides to put them on the no-fly list. [Author’s note: It was widely reported that Sheik Abdirahman Ahmed of Masjid Abubakar As-Saddique -- the largest mosque in Minnesota -- and the mosque’s youth director Abdulahi Farah were placed on and later removed from the no-fly list.] So they get stopped trying to leave the country, which tips them off that they’re part of the investigation. And the imams quickly lawyer up. Its months before we actually get their attorneys to agree to let them to talk to us. And we got nothing from them when we did.
Once we started to get a handle on how big this really was, it ended up being becoming the largest CT [counterterrorism] investigation since 9/11. And a couple of months in we finally convene a grand jury to look into this thing. So do we call these imams in? Hell no.
Subpoenas go out to a bunch of mid- and low-level people, but not the big fish. And when the low-level people get their subpoenas, who do they call? The imams who are our prime suspects, oh, and who also are supposed to be our outreach partners. And like magic, the low-level folks all suddenly get CAIR attorneys representing them. The result is that the indictments that have been handed down are virtually all minor players. Instead of going after the guys running the operation, we indict a couple of guys and a Somali woman who raised a couple of thousand of dollars for Al-Shabaab.
Don’t get me wrong, I think they should all go to jail, but do we really believe we’re winning the war on terror when this Somali woman gets indicted and the imams who recruited these kids and sent them to fight and die are allowed to walk free?
I asked: the outreach to the imams finally stopped, didn’t it?
Are you kidding me? They’re still working with these guys!
[Authors note: In fact, one Somali press outlet reported that Homeland Security, the FBI, and several other federal, state, and local agencies held an unpublicized outreach session at the Abubakar As-Saddique mosque earlier this month. According to that report, Sheikh Ahmed and other mosque leaders did not attend for fear of backlash from the Somali community.]
But here’s how we get twisted around our own outreach programs. About two months after all these kids disappear, the Al-Shabaab imams from all over the country get together at a meeting in Ohio, including the Minneapolis imams we’re looking at. Do we wiretap the meeting? Of course not.
Instead, a representative for the imams convinces some dimwit attorney from Homeland Security Civil Rights division to come talk at their meeting about outreach. And so they let this guy talk for about ten minutes, then he’s quickly ushered out of the building so they can get down to business. This gives them perfect cover. “Well we can’t be having a terrorist meeting because we had Homeland Security here!”
And can you guess what happened to the imam’s lackey who arranged for Homeland Security to be at that meeting? He’s now one of [Homeland Security Secretary] Napolitano’s senior advisors and running all of their Somali outreach! They gave this guy a security clearance! I’m not f***ing kidding you!
Continue reading here.
Posted on 04/20/2011 6:51 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
In "Restive" Yemen, Instabilty, Paralysis, Etc.-- Why Change A Thing?
Yemenis demonstrate as diplomats cope with crisis
Supporters of President Ali Abdullah Saleh climb on flag poles during a rally held in the capital Sanaa on April 15, 2011.
Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Casualties mounted in Yemen Wednesday as world powers grappled with the political crisis paralyzing the impoverished and restive nation.
The United Nations Security Council met for the first time Tuesday to tackle the hostilities in Yemen, in which anti-government protesters have clashed with security forces and pro-government demonstrators over the last two months.
The U.N. efforts to deal with the Yemen crisis coincide with the ongoing initiative of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, or the GCC -- a coalition of Gulf Arab nations working to ease tensions between Yemen's government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and a restive opposition.
The Security Council was unable to agree on a joint statement, and it's unclear whether any diplomatic reaction will be forthcoming on Yemen in the coming days.
But one diplomat said it was the first time Yemen was on the agenda of the Security Council and it was "perhaps too early for everyone to agree."
This world and regional diplomatic focus on Yemen comes as protesters took to the streets in the capital of Sanaa and other cities across the country, which the United Nations calls the poorest country in the region.
One death was reported in Hodeida on Wednesday, when security forces in civilian clothing shot and killed a protester, sources said.
Security officials in the Aden province city of Khormaksar said a soldier was killed and three others were wounded. Security forces said they saw at least six local residents armed with machine guns attack security forces.
Eyewitnesses said troops had been antagonizing Khormaksar by setting up checkpoints, questioning people on the streets, and using threatening language.
Yemen's instability is rooted in grass-roots political and economic grievances, but the country's instability concerns the West. That's because the al Qaeda terror network has a strong presence there. The Saleh government has been a U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic militants there. [Al-Qaeda, or groups with different names of people who think exactly what members of Al-Qaeda think, will be found everywhere that there are Muslims]
At the United Nations, the Security Council was briefed by a senior U.N. political affairs officer and a U.N. envoy to Yemen. Germany and Lebanon introduced a statement on Yemen which would have called for restraint in violence, among other themes.
If the people of Yemen can spend their time fighting with each other -- for independence in the south, by "Marxists," or autonomy for Houthis (Shi'a) in the northwest -- or still better, fighting with the Saudis or smuggling themselves into Saudi Arabia "to seek a better life," thus threatening that country but not the West -- what is wrong with any of this? Why should anyone in the West not wish such instabiilty, or such internecine warfare, not to continue forever?
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the United States and other nations discussed calling for restraint and an end to the violence in Yemen with a credible transition to democracy.
The United States and France wanted to also express support for the efforts of the GCC. Germany voiced concern about the deteriorating situation in Yemen at the meeting and called on all parties to have a dialogue in Yemen. It also expressed support for the GCC.
But one U.N. diplomat said concerns from China and Russia blocked a unified response to the developments, and some countries wanted more time to consult their governments.
Another U.N. agency, the United Nations Children's Fund, said Wednesday that too many children are exposed to danger in Yemen.
UNICEF spokeswoman Marixie Mercado told journalists in Geneva, Switzerland, that at least 26 children have been killed, mainly by live bullets or ammunition over the last two months.
Another 15 children were killed in a large explosion at the Abyan ammunition factory in March "when civilians reportedly looted the facility, which had been previously taken over by militants."
Mercado said more than 80 other children had been injured in beatings, rock-throwings or shootings. She said nearly 800 others had been exposed to tear gas in Yemen.
Posted on 04/20/2011 7:46 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Musical Interlude: Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone (Bert Lown & Biltmore Hotel Orch.)
Posted on 04/20/2011 8:05 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Terminal Confusion About Islam, Or, British Outreach To The Ikhwan
From The Jerusalem Post:
By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Official visit by the UK Foreign office leads to heavy criticism; official to 'Post': Embassy maintains 'working level contacts' in Egypt.
LONDON – A prominent London-based counter-extremism think tank has criticized the British government over its decision to conduct an official visit to the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt last week.
On Thursday, a delegation from the British Foreign Office, led by Consul-General Marie- Louise Archer and Foreign Office Relations Coordinator Martin Hetringen, visited the Brotherhood’s administrative office in Alexandria.
'Egypt referendum may empower Muslim Brotherhood'
Brotherhood changes English website to appear moderate
According to a story on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English website IkhwanWeb, Archer said the meeting was part of “British efforts to increase cooperation and accepting cultural differences with Egypt’s political and intellectual trends after the January 25 revolt.”
The visit was condemned by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based think-tank set up by former Islamists to “address the unique challenges of citizenship, identity and belonging in a globalized world.” [the Quilliam Foundation itself is not to be fully trusted -- see Ed Husain, for example -- but in this case its views on the Ikhwan need not be dismissed as protective coloration]
“The Brotherhood is a major player in Egypt and it is not unreasonable for the British government to meet with its representatives, however the Brotherhood is a past master of using such ‘engagement’ to further its own anti-Western agenda and to sideline more liberal Muslim voices – while also whitewashing its own extremist beliefs,” said James Brandon, head of research at Quilliam.
The Muslim Brotherhood reported that Hetringen expressed the British government’s desire “to open the door for direct political dialogue” with the organization, noting that delegations from the Foreign Office were “previously keen on holding meetings and contacts with the group’s leaders and members, despite obstacles placed in their way.”
Brandon said that this showed that the British government has no ideas on how to engage critically with the Islamist organization.
“There is no evidence that the British government has any real strategy for how to engage critically with the Brotherhood in a way that does not result in the Brotherhood becoming further empowered and emboldened. For too long the Foreign Office has been happy to indulge the Muslim Brotherhood as the authentic voice of the Arab street,” he said.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Hamdi Hassan said the meeting had been a “good opportunity to exchange views” and discuss the group’s view on the forthcoming elections.
He also told the delegation that the Islamist organization does not discriminate among presidential candidates and takes a tough stance on Salafis demolishing the shrines of Sufi figures. He also discussed the group’s party platform and position with regard to women and Copts.
Hassan said on the Brotherhood website that the meeting was a positive step as it allowed the Foreign Office to find out more about the ideas of the Islamist group’s leaders, “without relying, as was previously done, upon the opinions of others.”
The Foreign Office told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the government has working level contacts with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The Muslim Brotherhood is one part of the mosaic of political voices in Egypt, and so we will continue to have contact with those members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are a part of, or are likely to become a part of, the current dialogue,” a spokesman told the Post.
“Our embassy in Cairo maintains working level contacts with many government and opposition figures, including the Muslim Brotherhood. We have been in contact with members of the Muslim Brotherhood in their positions as elected representatives in the Egyptian parliament.
“We will continue to have contacts with those members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are, or who are likely to be, part of the political dialogue process in Egypt and who have agreed to operate within that process,” the Foreign Office spokesman said.
Posted on 04/20/2011 8:12 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Perhaps The Little World Of The French Media Ought To Examine Itself
From Le Post:
Et si le petit monde médiatique écoutait Robert Ménard ?
Le segment "nouveaux réac'" est en plein essort dans le monde médiatique. Il commence même à être encombré sérieusement. Robert Ménard s'est engouffré dans la brêche ouverte par Eric Zemmour, Elisabeth Lévy, Yvan Rioufol, voire de manière plus feutrée (encore que...) Alain Finkielkraut. Mais il faut se garder de tout jugement moral et bien-pensant, et réfléchir à ce "Vive Le Pen !" lancé par Ménard.
Sur le sujet de la liberté d'expression absolue, Ménard dit exactement la même chose depuis au moins 2003. Voire cette séquence de l'émission Tout le Monde en Parle. Ménard ne fait que défendre une vision "à l'américaine" de la liberté d'expression. Y a-t-il plus de néo-nazis et de négationnistes aux USA qu'en France ? Ca reste à démontrer.
Mais il faut surtout être lucide face à l'émergeance de ces "nouveaux réac'" médiatiques. Le réel problème reste le conformisme lénifiant des médias. Cette tendance journalistique néo-réac a émergé à la suite du 21 avril 2002 et du référendum de 2005 : ces journalistes ont réalisé le décalage abyssale qu'il y avait entre les médias et la population. Quand les grandes plumes, les grandes voix éditorialisantes, les moralisateurs médiatiques, appelaient à voter Jospin et "Oui" à la constitution, le peuple votait Le Pen et disait "non" à l'Europe, quelques années plus tard.
On peut suspecter de l'opportunisme dans les attitudes de Ménard et cie. Il est probable qu'Eric Zemmour vive plus confortablement depuis qu'il a opté pour la posture "à droite toute". Ces grandes gueules ont senti le bon filon. Mais au final, il reste très minoritaire dans le monde médiatique, et ce qu'ils disent ne doit pas être balayer avec mépris.
Au lieu de se boucher le nez, de crier "au loup", de s'offusquer, est-ce que leurs confrères ne feraient pas mieux de se remettre en cause ? Se demander éventuellement pourquoi leur vision de la France, du peuple français, est ainsi en décalage ? Il ne s'agit pas de sombrer dans la démagogie, d'écrire des éditos populistes pour surfer sur l'air du temps. Juste d'une remise en cause d'une profession qui s'est sans doute trop renfermée sur elle-même : N'y a-t-il pas eu, pendant trop longtemps, une tendance au consensus mou, à la pensée automatique, polie, gentille, correcte, lénifiante, dans les médias ? Une soumission à la tendance libérale libertaire qui n'acceptait pas les têtes qui dépassent, les voix discordantes, les idées à contre-courant ?
Un petit monde médiatique qui tente de faire croire, vainement, qu'il y a une différence idéologique entre Sarkozy et Strauss-Kahn, et qui ne comprendra pas pourquoi l'électorat ne veut plus les croire !
Posted on 04/20/2011 8:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
"Islam Is Regarded By Europeans As The Biggest Threat to Europe"
Home truths harder to explain away or conceal with each passing day, even in brainwashed Sweden.
Posted on 04/20/2011 8:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Muslims Rally at Tennessee Capitol to Protest Legislation
Chas Sisk writes in The Tennessean:
Several hundred Muslims thronged the state Capitol on Tuesday in protest of legislation that they say takes aim at their religious beliefs, calling on the bill to be defeated.
Muslims from across the state — many wearing traditional skullcaps and headscarves — packed a committee room and corridors to hear testimony on a bill that supporters say would help Tennessee stop terrorist plots but opponents believe singles out Muslims who adhere to Islamic law.
They urged lawmakers to withdraw the bill, or at least to delay it until it can be rewritten so that groups labeled as terrorist organizations can protest the designation before they are forced to shut down.
That stand is very revealing. Tennessee Muslims support allowing the continued operation of designated terrorist organizations while they appeal, possibly for years. Humm.
“These are issues for any group,” said Nadeem Siddiqi, a native Knoxville resident who traveled to Nashville to speak against the bill. “The United States of America is known for its freedoms, known for due process, known for a fair system, and to be able to have a few individuals in a state of panic create this kind of risk to civil society is just inappropriate.”
The gathering, which was put together by mosques and Muslim civic groups around the state, comes in response to legislation that originally criticized Shariah, the basic set of Muslim religious laws governing everything from warfare and criminal punishments to prayer preparations and family matters.
The first version of the bill, which was written by an Arizona organization critical of Islam, labeled Shariah “a legal-political-military doctrine and system” that requires its followers to support the overthrow of the United States government. Several Muslims who turned out Tuesday said that is a distortion.
“People have this idea that Shariah is just chopping people’s hands, but Shariah is a way of life for us,” said Arshia Shah, a lawyer originally from Britain who now lives in Sparta and came to the Capitol with her husband and two daughters. “It’s prayer. It’s how we deal with our spouses. And to tell people that they can’t practice this — that they’re doing something wrong — is a great concern.”
In the United States, men should not be able to treat their wives and children like property, as per Shariah. Muslims should not be able to practise polygamy as per Shariah. Muslims should not be able to preach sedition, as per Shariah. What about the spead of antisemitism and the teaching of hatred of non-Muslims as per Shariah? Where should we draw the line?
The bill has since been amended to remove all references to Shariah and Islam.
What is left is legislation, known formally as the Material Support to Designated Entities Act, that would let the governor and the state attorney general label groups as terrorist organizations.
The top law enforcement official and the chief executive should be able to do that. If we have wait for the DOJ, we may have dead bodies in the streets. Carlos Bledsoe was fully known to the FBI (he was interviewed by an FBI agent on his return to Tennessee from Yemen) and yet he was not stopped before stockpiling weapons, attempting to firebomb the home of a rabbi in Nashville and successfully murdering one army recruiter and injuring another in Little Rock. Homeland Security is not interested in doing anything except "outreach" to the Muslim community.
Once designated, a group’s financial assets could be frozen and its contributors could face criminal penalties.
The bill’s sponsors, House Speaker Pro Tempore Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, and state Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, say the bill gives Tennessee law enforcement agencies the ability to disrupt terrorist plots. They also say it could be used to disrupt street gangs and neo-Nazi groups, as well as terrorist organizations.
“I think it’s a good bill,” Ketron said. “They say it’s duplicative because it mirrors the Patriot Act on the federal level, but local law enforcement see and hear what’s going on locally.”
Muslim organizations have been opposed to the legislation from the outset, but Tuesday was the first time they turned out in large numbers, drawing a crowd that rivaled those brought to the Capitol by labor and teachers organizations earlier this session.
Several said they had heard about Tuesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee at weekly prayer services last Friday or through an email distribution list maintained by the Islamic Center of Nashville, a local mosque.
“We’re proud of being in Tennessee,” said Rashed Fakhouddin, an outreach volunteer with the Islamic Center. “We want Tennessee to be a shining image all across the country. Bills like this just make us look like we’re witch-hunting Muslims.”
Only 20 minutes of testimony was given Tuesday, as the committee spent most of its allotted time discussing other bills.
During their testimony, opponents complained that the bill gives the attorney general and governor too much discretion to label groups as terrorist and that they would have to wait two years to contest the designation in court. They also say the bill would allow for the use of confidential evidence that they could not contest.
Opponents also derided the legislation’s origins. The original bill was drafted by the Society of Americans for National Existence, an organization that they characterized as a hate group.
“If a bill was written by the KKK, would you consider it even if it was amended?” Sabina Mohyuddin, a youth coordinator at the Islamic Center of Nashville, asked the committee.
Throwing around words like hate group, KKK and racism doesn't change the reality of what we're facing. Nice try, though.
Opponents called for the bill to be withdrawn or sent to a summer study committee to be rewritten.
Ketron said he sees little reason to do so.
“I don’t think if it goes through a study committee that we are going to do anything different,” he said. “They just want it to go away.”
The House Judiciary Committee took no action on the bill before adjourning. It is expected to take the bill up again next week, when it also will be heard in a Senate committee.
Posted on 04/20/2011 7:50 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Leo Rennert Offers A History Lesson To Joel Greenberg, And To The Washington Post
Dear Mr. Brauchli:
In an article about a growing tide of African migrants sneaking into Israel, Joel Greenberg, the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, draws a false parallel between Israelis as a nation of recent refugees seeking to cope with a new wave of refugees from Sudan and Eritrea ("In Israel, flow of migrants poses dilemma -- Some fear state's Jewish character is threatened amid an influx of African refugees" page A8, April 16)
"Their presence," Greenberg writes, "has created an acute dilemma for Israel, a state founded as a haven for Jewish refugees." And he adds:"The controversy over the African migrants touches on core questions of Isralel's self-definition as both a Jewish and democratic state -- a nation of immigrants created as a shelter for Jews after the Holocaust."[Israel was not "created as a shelter for Jews after the Holocaust" but was, rather, the fruit of Zionism, the modern version of Return-to-Zion ingathering-of-exiles that was given renewed impetus by Herzl in 1897 -- but fifteen years before Herzl's speech in Basle, Zionist pioneers had been moving to what for them was the Land of Israel, in the Ottoman Empire, to join other Jews whose families had never left the area, It is a staple of Arab propaganda to describe Israel as having been "created by the Europeans" to "atone for what the Nazis did" and, while seeming to show a certain sympathy, this narrative is an attempt to efface -- even as pretending to sympathetically recognize the Jewish victims of the Nazis -- the attachment of Jews to the Land of Israel, that is a constant for several millennia, and the history of Zionism that predated the Nazi murders, /
A nation of immigrants created as a shelter for Jewish after the Holocaust?
Greenberg simply has his history wrong by a margin of 3,000 years. The roots of Jewish nationhood go much deeper and cover a far longer historical span than the arrival of Holocaust survivors after World War 2. Jews ruled the Holy Land for a thousan years before the Common Era -- with only a brief, half-century exile in Babylon. After the Roman conquest, there was a continuous Jewish presence in Palestine until modern times.
Israel as a post-Holocaust shelter for Jewish refugees? Think again. Jews have rightful claims to the Holy Land as its most indigenous people since David conquered Jerusalem.
A few historical samples that illustrate Israel's historical ties to the land -- not as immigrants, not as refugees, but as permanent local residents:
--In the 6th Century of the Common Era, there were 43 Jewish communities across all parts of the Holy Land
--In the 11th Century, Jews were among the fiercest local fighters in defending Haifa against the Crusaders.
--From 1,267 on, there were an unbroken Jewish presence in Jerusalem until Jordan briefly seized the city in 1948.
--In the 16th Century, Kabbalists flourished in Safed, whose Jewish population grew to 30,000 by the end of that century.
--By mid-19th Century -- a handred years before the Holocaust -- Jerusalem was preponderantly Jewish.
When Jewish survivors of the Holocaust arrived in Israel, they were welcomed in Israel by a virbant local Jewish community whose roots pre-dated the Holocaust by many centuries.
Jews as migrants or refugees in their own land? Greenberg needs a refrsher course in Middle East history. Jews aren't migrants or refugees when they come to settle in Israel. They may be refugees or immigrants elsewhere, but once in Israel, they've come home.
Thus, there's no parallel between African migrants who cross into Israel and Israelis as a supposed post-Holocaust "nation of immigrants."
If there's a moral quandary in Israel about what to do with these African migrants, it's not because both Israelis and Sudanese arrivals can be lumped together as foreign immigrants.
Rather, Israelis -- as locals with an indigenous identity of three millennia -- are commanded by their Creator to always be mindful, respectful and sensitive to the needs of the "stranger in your midst for you also were strangers when you were slaves in Egypt."
As usual, the Bible has it right, while Greenberg has it wrong -- Jews have been strangers, migrants, refugees not only in Egypt but around the world. Except in one place -- the Promised Land. There, they have been and remain fully at home
Posted on 04/20/2011 9:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Jackson Diehl: In Syria, Another Day, Another Massacre
Syria: Another day, another massacre
Reports are coming in of yet another episode in which Syrian security forces have opened fire on a crowd of peaceful protestors. Which raises the question: What will it take to move Western democracies to respond to the serial slaughters of civilians by the regime of Bashar al Assad?
The latest bloodshed took place Tuesday morning, this time in the city of Homs, where thousands of people had occupied a central square Monday night, pitched tents and vowed to remain until their demands for political change were met.
This was an act of extraordinary courage, since at least a dozen people had been killed Sunday in the city of 700,000 by the security forces. And it appears to have prompted another massacre.
Information is fragmentary, because Syria has prohibited foreign journalists from entering the country and done its best to censor the Internet. But reports from residents gathered by the BBC and a video posted on YouTube indicate that security forces stormed the square in the early morning hours, firing on the crowd with automatic weapons.
"Listen to the shooting," once caller told the BBC. "Can you hear it? It's hammering on us like rain.” The death toll was uncertain, though one BBC correspondent was told eight had died.
Mass shootings of civilians by security forces are becoming a near daily event in Syria. In the southern town of Daraa, where the protest movement began last month, there have been multiple massacres, including one on April 8 in which gunmen opened up on a crowd marching with olive branches, killing 27. There have been similar episodes in the city of Banias and in several nearby villages. And these are just the ones that human rights groups have been able to document.
All together, considerably more than 200 people have been killed by the regime. The government mixes its repression with empty promises of change: Hours after the latest shootings Tuesday it announced that it was lifting a decades-old emergency law. But opening fire on crowds was not permitted even under emergency rule. There is no indication that it will stop now--unless the regime is toppled, or comes under severe international pressure.
In nearly every instance where state-sponsored murder on this scale has taken place in recent years, the United States and other democracies have reacted strongly. Uzbekistan’s massacre of protestors in the city of Andijon in 2005 led to a rupture of relations with Washington and the European Union. And NATO has intervened in Libya to protect civilians from Moammar Gaddafi.
Yet the response to Assad’s bloodshed has been limited to rhetoric. President Obama called the shootings in Daraa “abhorrent” and a White House statement said last week’s attack on Banias was “outrageous.” But the administration has refrained from taking even diplomatic measures to express its dissatisfaction, such as withdrawing the U.S. ambassador in Damascus. It has failed to bring Syria’s case before the UN Human Rights Council--not to speak of the UN Security Council.
Syria, mind you, is not a friend of the United States. It is Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world, and a sponsor of the Hezbollah and Hamas militias. For years it provided a transit route for suicide bombers headed to Iraq in order to kill American soldiers. It tried to secretly build a nuclear reactor with the help of North Korea.
Yet even when faced with extraordinary human rights crimes--the repeated gunning down of unarmed protestors--the Obama administration remains passive. At first this response was puzzling. Then it looked badly misguided. Now it has become simply unconscionable.
Posted on 04/20/2011 9:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Why Is The Arab League Not Asked To Pay For This, And To Reimburse NATO For The Several Billion Dollars Already Spent?
From The Guardian:
Libya rebels to get $25m of US military equipment under Pentagon proposal
Gaddafi minister says move to supply 'non-lethal' items such as vehicles, radios and medicines will prolong conflict
Libyan rebels prime a rocket launcher in Benghazi. The US plans to send military equipment worth $25m to forces trying to topple Gaddafi. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP
The US plans to send $25m worth of non-lethal equipment to the rebel opposition in eastern Libya, in a move likely to further entangle the west in the two-month-old civil war.
The proposal to send surplus Pentagon equipment, including vehicles, medical supplies, protective vests, binoculars and radios, follows Italy's decision to join Britain and France in sending military advisers to the Libyan opposition and a French pledge to intensify air strikes.
The Libyan government has warned that such moves will further prolong the conflict and "encourage the other side to be more defiant".
The US plan, which must be approved by President Barack Obama, is to send "non-lethal assistance" to the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, the de facto opposition government which has not been recognised by Washington. The dispatch of the surplus US stock does not need approval from Congress.
As Nato air strikes were reported to have hit Libyan government targets near Ajdabiya in the east, and south of Tripoli in the west, the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, promised to escalate military action to protect civilians. He told opposition leader Mustafa Abdel-Jalil: "We will intensify the strikes. We will help you."
Rebel fighters have repeatedly appealed to Nato and the international community to step up its bombardment of Libyan government forces and military targets. Nato insists its air strikes have been effective in reducing Gaddafi's military capability, but the action has failed to help the rebels advance.
Rebels in the besieged city of Misrata have also demanded ground troops to protect civilians, but the international community is wary of the political and military risks that such a step would entail.
However, the international force of military advisers grew after Italy said it was sending 10 experts to Benghazi to work alongside the 20 sent by the UK and up to 10 dispatched by France. The teams are expected to assist opposition forces with logistics and organisation but will not train soldiers.
Liam Fox, the UK's defence secretary, said many of the Libyan rebels "have no military experience, they have little understanding of weaponry or military tactics. The best way we can assist them is to give them some technical capabilities in how to organise themselves."
The Libyan regime has insisted it is ready and willing to negotiate a ceasefire which, it says, must include an end to Nato air strikes.
In an interview with the Guardian, the foreign minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, said: "If there is a real ceasefire and these bombs stop, we could have a real dialogue among Libyans. It cannot be done with what is going on now."
It was not true, he said, that the Libyan government was not serious about a ceasefire, as critics have claimed. But, he added, a ceasefire needed a "mutual understanding and a mediator".
In a markedly conciliatory tone, he said a ceasefire could pave the way for a political agreement to end the conflict, which could lead to free elections, supervised by the United Nations, within six months.
Obeidi said discussions within the regime about reform had included "whether the leader [Muammar Gaddafi] should stay and in what role, and whether he should retire". Gaddafi's future has become a pivotal issue between the regime and the opposition, which has demanded his departure.
"Everything will be on the table," said Obeidi. But he warned the international community against setting Gaddafi's departure as a precondition for a deal.
"The US, Britain and France – sometimes those countries contradict themselves. They talk about democracy, but when it comes to Libya, they say he [Gaddafi] should leave. It should be up to the Libyan people. This should not be dictated from any other head of state. It is against the principle of democracy."
The US and most European countries have made it clear that Gaddafi must relinquish power as part of any negotiated settlement to the civil war that has divided Libya and dominated the international diplomatic agenda for two months.
The rebel opposition in the east of the country also insists on Gaddafi's departure as a precondition for peace talks.
Obeidi said that Britain, France "and to a certain extent the US" were discouraging moves towards a peaceful resolution "by continuing bombardment, arming the other side and making them more defiant.
"The more the west gives arms, the more they will plant hatred. We do not want to be another Iraq or Somalia. The west could advise the other side to listen to commonsense and study the peace initiatives."
Fighting continued in Misrata yesterday as aid ships tried to dock to deliver humanitarian supplies and evacuate civilians. Nato planes were reported to be flying over the city, which has been under siege by government forces for two months, but they did not carry out air strikes.
There has also been heavy fighting in the Western Mountains region, close to the Tunisian border, in the last few days. Up to 11,000 people have fled the area, according to UNHCR, the UN agency for refugees.
Posted on 04/20/2011 3:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Why Don't You Practice What You Preach? (Blossom Seeley, Benny Fields)
Watch, and listen, here.
And by way of Louisiana lagniappe, Blossom Seeley alone, singing "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" here.
Posted on 04/20/2011 3:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Max Boot, One More Of The Many Who Have To Defend The Libyan Intervention, As They Do The Iraq And Afghan Fiascos, Because They Simply Can't Admit They Were So Colossally Wrong
Read Max Boot's absurdities here. And Martin Kramer's reply to them here.
At Commentary's Contentions"
The New York Times has a damning front-page account today about division and discord within the ranks of Libyan rebels. It’s a good thing the Times was not around in 1775 otherwise it would have been quick, no doubt, to write off the prospects of the disorganized and divided rebels who had the effrontery to attack the mighty British empire.
This week, lest we forget, is the 236th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which started the American Revolution. However valiant the Massachusetts Minutemen (i.e., militia) may have been in harassing a column of British regulars, there was scant cause to think in April of 1775 that thirteen isolated colonies could defeat the world’s most powerful empire. Nor did success become a real possibility for years afterward.
As the rebels struggled to organize themselves there was no end of discord among their political and military leaders. Just as in Libya today, there was a constant power struggle going within the ranks of the rebel leadership. Although George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief, there were many who doubted his leadership and openly supported other contenders, such as Horatio Gates and Charles Lee, who had prior British army experience which Washington lacked.
It took years to forge an effective and cohesive fighting force out of the raw materials provided by the states. And even then it is doubtful that the Revolution would have prevailed were it not for the support of the French who provided not only ships and supplies but regular soldiers to stiffen resistance against the British.
I am by no means suggesting that the rebels in Benghazi are in any way the equivalent of our Founding Fathers. In truth the generation of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, Madison, et al. has had few if any equals not only in American history but world history. However, the Libyan rebels do face many of the same challenges that confronted the American rebels, and, like them, they will not easily or quickly transform civilians into effective soldiers.
To put the Libyans’ struggle in perspective, note that the rebellion is only two months old. With a little patience and a lot more outside support, the Libyan revolutionaries too can coalesce into an effective fighting force capable of toppling Colonel Qaddafi—who hardly has the power of Lord North at his beck and call. The real challenge will come later, after Qaddafi is gone, when the Libyan rebel leaders will be challenged to show a tenth of the wisdom and foresight displayed by our Founders in creating their own republic. On the other hand, the Libyans do have a crucial advantage that our Founding Fathers lacked: they can learn from the American experience, and the experience of many other countries that have been forced to design political systems from scratch over the last 236 years.
Posted on 04/20/2011 4:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Those Minutemen, That Continental Army In Benghazi
John Rosenthal offers a less sanguine, and more sanguinary view, of the "Lbyan rebels" in Benghazi here:
While the International Criminal Court has announced that it is investigating charges of war crimes against Muammar al-Gaddafi and other members of the Libyan regime, harrowing video evidence has emerged that appears to show atrocities committed by anti-Gaddafi rebels. Among other things, the footage depicts summary executions, a prisoner being lynched, the desecration of corpses, and even a beheading. The targets of the most serious abuse are frequently black African prisoners. The ultimate source of the footage appears to be rebel forces or sympathizers themselves.
(Warning: Due to the graphic nature of the videos linked below, viewer discretion is advised.)
What is probably the most harrowing of the clips depicts a public beheading. A man with a long knife can be seen alternately sawing and hacking at the neck of a man who has been suspended upside-down. The victim’s inert body is soaked in blood. The beheading takes place in front of a burnt-out building in what appears to be a public square. The Dutch public broadcaster NOS has identified the location as the main square of the rebel capital of Benghazi.
A crowd numbering at least in the hundreds cheers on the assailants. At one point, a man begins chanting “Libya Hurra!”: “Free Libya!” According to the NOS translation, someone can be heard saying, “He looks like an African.” As the principal assailant begins to saw at the victim’s neck, members of the crowd yell “Allahu Akbar!” Dozens of members of the crowd can be seen filming the proceedings with digital cameras or cell phones. (See clip #1 here.)
A second clip depicts a black African prisoner being aggressively questioned and beaten. The man is alleged to be a pro-Gaddafi mercenary. Extracts from the footage have been broadcast on both the Libyan state television Al-Libya and on Al-Jazeera. More complete “raw footage,” which is available on YouTube, shows the beating continuing even after the man is lying face down on the ground, the surrounding concrete splattered with his blood. By way of photographs and identity papers, a video from an unknown source on YouTube identifies the victim as a Libyan citizen and a regular member of the Libyan army. (See clip #2 here.)
Similar footage of rebels demanding a confession from an alleged black African mercenary has also been shown on Western television. It should be noted that even just the mere exposure of a prisoner to “public curiosity” constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions – to say nothing of acts of intimidation and abuse or the outright lynching that appears to be documented in the above clip.
A third clip shows a group of prisoners being questioned by an interrogator. Several of the prisoners are wearing army uniforms. A rough English translation has been added to a posting of the clip on YouTube. According to the translation, the interrogator appears to accuse members of the group of having opened fire on civilians. The prisoners insist that they were fired upon and that they only opened fire in self-defense.
As in other clips, a black prisoner is singled out for particular abuse. Barking out accusations, the interrogator hovers over him with what appears to be a sort of machete in his hand. In a later shot, what appears to be the same group of men is seen lying on the ground in pools of blood. Their eyes have been bound and they appear to have been shot in the back of the head. Persons walking among the corpses can be heard shouting “Allahu Akbar!” The footage was shown on a broadcast on Al-Libya television. But the “raw footage” and other apparently related footage is also available on YouTube. The actual shooting of the prisoners is not shown. (See clip #3 here.)
In a fourth clip, men can be seen holding up what appears to be charred human remains to the cheers of an assembled crowd. As in the beheading video, numerous members of the crowd can be seen filming the proceedings on digital cameras and cell phones. One of the “presenters” waves the red, black, and green flag of the Libyan rebellion. So too does a member of the crowd. A second group, again waving the flag of the rebellion, can later be seen parading around what appears to be the same remains on a rooftop. A smaller clump of carbonized matter receives particular attention from the revelers. According to one posting on YouTube, the object in question is the victim’s heart. (See clip #4 here.)
A fifth clip shows two black African prisoners who have been tightly bound from head to foot. Online postings suggest that they were captured by rebels in Misrata: a western Libyan city that was conquered by the rebels near the outset of the rebellion and that is presently the scene of heavy fighting. One of the men appears to be badly wounded; the other whimpers as he attempts in vain to wriggle free from his bindings. (See clip #5 here.)
Several other clips, which are available on YouTube, show the corpses of black Africans being publicly displayed and kicked and otherwise abused by “protestors.”
At first glance, it might seem odd that the rebels would document their own atrocities. But given all the indications that the eastern Libyan heartland of the rebellion is a bastion of jihadist militancy, it is in fact not so odd. It is standard jihadist procedure to film beheadings and other sorts of atrocities committed against captured enemy soldiers and hostages.
(For further evidence of the Islamist/jihadist influence on the eastern Libyan rebellion, see my previous articles here, here, and here.)
Posted on 04/20/2011 4:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Of Course A Settling Of Scores With The Alawites Would Follow, And Then Generalized Internecine Strife
From the Jerusalem Post:
‘Bloodbath’ would follow overthrow of Assad in Syria'
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Observers tell the 'Post' that like Iraq, Syria’s diverse sects could turn on each other once the regime is gone.
The overthrow of Syrian dictator Basher Assad is not yet imminent, but should it occur, a bloodbath between Syria’s various sects would likely follow, leading Israeli experts on Syria told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
As in neighboring Iraq, Syria’s diverse population – made up of Sunni Muslims, Druse, Kurds and other groups, who are ruled by the minority Alawites – could, upon the collapse of the Assad regime, turn on each other in a bloody civil conflict.
“I think there would be a bloodbath if Assad falls. The Iraqi situation is relevant,” said Eyal Zisser, a professor of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University.
Zisser, who formerly headed the university’s Moshe Dayan Center Middle East think tank added, “We’re not there yet. The protests are however getting bigger, and more and more forces are joining in. They are spreading to other parts of the country.”
At the same time, around half of the Syrian population, concentrated in the major urban centers of Damascus and Aleppo, are “sitting on the fence” and not taking an active part in protests calling for Assad to leave.
“They are frightened of the unknown, and of the anarchy that could follow,” Zisser added.
Asked how important a role Islamist groups were playing in recent events, Zisser said, “We must remember that 40 percent of Syrians are members of minority groups. This means it is not easy for Islamists to take over. They are there as a political force, but they don’t have exclusive control.”
From an Israeli perspective, decision-makers have grown accustomed to “the Satan that we know,” Zisser said, referring to Assad.
Assad “gave us stability in the Golan – but he also tightened relations with Hezbollah and Iran,” he noted.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, of Bar Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that “everything we knew” about Syria has become outdated due to recent events.
Kedar, who served for 25 years in military intelligence, and specialized in Syria, added that the Muslim Brotherhood “are in the background, not as an organized group... but as an idea.”
Kedar agreed with Zisser’s evaluation that a collapse of the Assad regime would result in large-scale violence, adding that Syria could split up into smaller states following civil strife.
In such a scenario, “many Muslims will chase Alawites with knives – who would in turn have to flee to the Ansariya mountains in western Syria, their traditional lands,” Kedar said. “In such a case, Syria could be divided into six parts: an Alawite state in the West; a Kurdish state in the North, as in Iraq; a Druse state in the South; and a Beduin state in the east, in the Dir al-Zur region. A Sunni Muslim state in Damascus and another in Aleppo could also rise” he added.
“Six homogenous states could appear on the ruins of Syria,” Kedar said.
The analyst has described Assad’s move to cancel longstanding emergency laws, which have been in place for 50 years, as “late, small, and unsatisfactory.”
“The Syrians are jealous of their brothers in Egypt and Tunisia – but fear that the regime will act as Gaddafi has, and slaughter its citizens, if his back is against the wall,” said Kedar.
Posted on 04/20/2011 9:25 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald