These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 8, 2011.
Monday, 8 August 2011
Iran Blames Russia For Nuclear Power Plant Delays
From The Sacramento Bee:
Iran MP: Nuclear plant's launch delayed again
Aug. 08, 2011
TEHRAN, Iran -- An Iranian lawmaker said the country's first nuclear power plant will not start up by late August as planned and blamed the delay on Russia, which is building the facility, local media reported Monday.
The disclosure by Asgar Jalalian, a member of a special parliamentary committee on the Bushehr nuclear plant, reflects the continued the difficulties Iran has faced in moving forward with its controversial nuclear program.
The 1,000 megawatt plant being built in the southern port city of Bushehr has experienced repeated delays that come on top of the unyielding pressure Tehran faces from the United States and its allies, who are convinced the program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for peaceful uses like power generation.
The plant is being built by Russia's Rosatom, and was to be finished by 1999, four years after construction of the $1 billion facility began.
Jalalian, in comments carried by the reformist daily Aftab, blamed the his country's Russian partner for the latest delays. He said the committee on which he serves has determined that the late August start-up deadline will be missed and that they had handed over a report dealing with the issue to the parliament.
"We believe the Russians are not being honest ... about the plant," Jalalian said. He urged Iranian officials to clarify the terms of the deal through "transparent and firm talks, without any 'buts' or 'ifs'."
Jalalian said Iran had already paid at least twice more than the planned construction costs on the project, and additional funds are being demanded.
The contracts with the Russians have no "clear financial ceiling, timetable and end date," he said, also claiming that the Russian partner had reneged on a promise to transfer technology to Iran, as promised in the deal.
Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said the company had no comment.
It was unclear when the full parliament would review the committee's report on the delay or what steps they might take. But the report is the first issued at such a high level to be circulated among Iranian officials.
The Bushehr project dates back to 1974, when Iran's U.S.-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi contracted with the German company Siemens to build the reactor. The company withdrew from the project after the 1979 Islamic Revolution brought hard-line clerics to power.
In 1992, Iran signed a $1 billion deal with Russia to complete the project and work began in 1995. Since then, the project has been beset by problems linked to construction and supply glitches.
Iranian officials have acknowledged that a malicious computer worm infected laptops belonging to Bushehr employees last year, but denied that the Stuxnet worm had affected the facility. Tehran later blamed the U.S. and Israel of being behind the malicious software, saying it was part of a covert plan by Iran's enemies to sabotage its nuclear program which it claims is intended for peaceful purposes only.
Western nations have imposed sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment program, targeting in particular
Russia had already delivered 90 tons (82 metric tons) of fuel for the reactor in eight shipments in 2007 and 2008. That amount is enough for a one-year of operations in Bushehr's light-water reactor.
But in February, Russia ordered that fuel be removed because of concerns that metal particles might be contaminating fuel assemblies. Reloading began in April.
The delays at Bushehr have hurt relations with Moscow and prompted Iranian officials to describe Russia as an "unreliable partner."
And shall we see her like again? Vale Nancy Wake, citizen of the free West
Nancy Grace Augusta Wake (30 August 1912-7 August 2011): beautiful, clever, and above all, brave. She was born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia, lived and worked in England and France, married a Frenchman, performed prodigies of courage and cleverness in the French Resistance, then spent the second half of her life alternating between England and Australia, finally dying in England at a grand old age.
May her story inspire those who in France, in Australia, in New Zealand and in Britain are confronted by the vast darkness of the Third Jihad.
Tributes have flowed from both sides of the Tasman in honour of World War II heroine Nancy Wake, who has died in hospital aged 98.
'New Zealand-born Ms Wake grew up in Sydney and after a brief stint as a nurse, worked as a journalist in Europe, where she married a French businessman in 1939.
'Trapped in France when the Nazis invaded, Ms Wake worked with the Resistance as a courier and later as an effective saboteur and spy.
'She became the Gestapo's most wanted person, receiving the enduring nickname "The White Mouse".
'RSL national president Rear Admiral Ken Doolan has paid tribute to the courage of Ms Wake and says she remains a great role model for all Australians fighting for freedom...
'Ms Wake is regarded as a heroine in France, which decorated her with its highest honour, the Legion d'Honneur, as well as three Croix de Guerre and a French Resistance Medal.
'Victorian RSL president David McLachlan told ABC local radio that Ms Wake thwarted the Gestapo with her every attempt.
"She was very much involved in providing information for the planning of D-day," he said. "She parachuted back in behind enemy lines after she'd been back to England. The Gestapo hated her, wanted her, more than anybody else, and she was an incredibly brave woman."
'Close friend Les Partell says Ms Wake, who died just days before her 99th birthday, earned her nickname because she was so hard to capture. "They could not catch her", he said. "Whenever somebody dobbed her in, they would go there and she would be gone. Nancy would get away from them.
"The world offered a reward for anyone who could catch the White Mouse. They grabbed her husband, Henri, and the Gestapo tortured him to death".
'Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Ms WAke was a woman of exceptional courage who had saved the lives of hundreds of allied personnel during World War II.
"Our nation honours a truly remarkable individual whose selfless valour and tenacity will never be forgotten", she said. "Nancy Wake will remain an abiding inspiration to generations of Australians".
Only so long as we are prepared to tell and retell her story. And not only in Australia; but in New Zealand, her birthplace, and in England and in France, the two countries where she spent much of her adult life. She died in England but her heart, it seems, was finally given to France, where her first husband, a Frenchman, died under Gestapo torture rather than betray his wife to the Gestapo. If you check out her page in Wikipedia, you will find that seemingly she has left instructions for her ashes to be scattered in central France. - CM
'Across the Tasman, New Zealand veterans' affairs minister Judith Collins says Ms Wake's achievements have been acknowledged by members of the Special Forces, past and present.
"Her death will deeply affect many veterans, who will view her passing with a great sense of loss", she said.
'She says while Ms Wake had lived most of her life abroad, she had visited family in her home country [that is, New Zealand - CM] as a teenager."
Daniel Larison On Those "Principled" Members Of The Arab League
From The American Conservative:
Libya and Syria (III)
Daniel Larison August 8, 2011
The governments that make up the Arab League earned the world’s respect in March by condemning Gaddafi’s threats to slaughter Libyan civilians wholesale. They have brought shame on themselves by watching Assad’s savage campaign to exterminate his political opponents in Syria in silence until Sunday. Even then, they stopped short of clearly condemning Assad in a statement that expressed concern and distress over Syria’s violence. The March resolution turns out to have been more personal — aimed at Gaddafi, not bloody repression — than it was principled. ~Jim Hoagland
I’m sure we are all shocked by the suggestion that Arab League governments were more interested in payback against a hated adversary than they were in the protection of Libyan rebels. Who would have thought that their call for Western intervention was an example of cynical opportunism? Obviously, the governments that were helping Bahrain’s government crush protesters were not objecting to Gaddafi’s actions on principle. They were objecting to them because they were his actions, and because of them they saw an opening to exact retribution. Inexplicably, the U.S. and its allies agreed to carry out their vendetta for them.
It is tedious to have to keep saying this, but there were no “threats to slaughter Libyan civilians wholesale.” Gaddafi was specifically threatening those taking up arms against his government, and he had earlier offered amnesty to those armed rebels willing to put down their arms. As Doug Bandow commented in April:
Moreover, he was using brutal military force to restore regime control, not to commit mass murder or genocide. Nasty, but hardly unusual. Casualties climbed because the rebellion spread.
I don’t expect supporters of the Libyan intervention to agree, but seeing such false claims repeated so matter-of-factly on a regular basis is obnoxious.
This retreat from international humanitarian standards greatly hampers all other international efforts to pressure Damascus. Moral indignation by outsiders, to say nothing of military action like that undertaken by NATO in Libya, best succeeds when there is local political cover and cooperation.
It is a mistake to call the Arab League’s reverting to form a “retreat” from these standards, as this implies that there had been some sort of advance toward those standards earlier. The Arab League provided some local political cover for attacking Libya, but except for Qatar and one or two others there has been negligible support from the governments that requested intervention. The Libyan war was something of a fluke. Had it never happened, the Arab League would not want to put significant pressure on Syria, but as the war drags on it provides a very useful excuse for all governments to react more cautiously.
I'm so glad I don't have to see, or read, or hear about, BHL more than I already do, and feel sorry for those who, living in France, can't escape him, can't avoid seeing him on television.
Here he is, unrepentant, in the Khaleej Times:
Stay the course in Libya
8 August 2011
Last week’s assassination in Benghazi of General Abdel Fattah Younes, the chief of staff of Libya’s rebel forces, is a major blow and was felt as one by the rebel coalition, which has lost in him an officer they knew well, who was received by Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, with me, in April.
But this is far from the military and political catastrophe it is being made out to be by those in Europe and in the United States who pass up no occasion to discredit the insurgents — the great argument, this time around, being that the muddled circumstances surrounding his assassination, and the uncertainty concerning the identity of those who committed it, is final proof of the structural weakness of the National Transitional Council, and even of the growing power of dissension within its ranks. I firmly reject all of this.
Every resistance, and every armed rebellion, has had to deal with tragedies of this kind, which are the product of machinations more or less resulting from enemy intrigue. The French Resistance, for example, suffered the elimination of many major leaders who were betrayed, starting with Jean Moulin. [yes, he's comparing the Libyans in Benghazi with the French Resistance] Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, was killed by a camera bomb after he was sold out, on the very territory of the Alliance, by a man who was supposedly a pillar of the region. The same thing happened with the Algerian FLN, whose ranks were decimated by agents who infiltrated the organisation and by resistance fighters the French services turned against it. Revolutions are always at the mercy of a sleeper commando, a “fifth column,” or a manipulated gang. And their politico-military staffs — as anyone who hasn’t lost all historical memory knows — have always been the particular target of double-crossers and of killers who emerge from the shadows. I daresay that the tragedy of the death of Younes is, unfortunately, nothing unusual. And it takes all the bad faith of professional pacifists to perceive in this act proof of a reigning disorder in Cyrenaica that we had failed to adequately judge before deciding to intervene.
Certainly, it’s a tough blow for Benghazi. All the more so because in General Younes the NTC is losing the commander who, having been Muammar Gaddafi’s right-hand man, was best acquainted with his psychology, the secrets and inner workings of his power, the bunkers they had built together, and his tactics and strategies. (That explains Tripoli’s fixation on eliminating him, putting a price on his head, and making his death an objective of priority.) But if this is a hard blow for the anti-Gaddafis, it is by no means fatal. Though Younes knew the enemy system inside and out, and though, moreover, he enjoyed the allies’ confidence—and, in particular, France’s—he was not the only key player. And in Benghazi, as well as in Misrata and in the Jebel Nafusa, there are career officers and civilian commanders as courageous as Younes and equally adept at leading a free Libya to victory, men who have been virtually alone in winning their own liberation due to their geographical distance from the rebel capital. Finally, his disappearance did not result in any retreat on any of the three fronts of the resistance (Brega, Gualish, and the Misrata area)—in fact, quite the contrary.
A commission of inquiry, expedited by the NTC, has been committed to casting light on the circumstances surrounding Younes’ murder. But one thing is certain: the absurdity of the way in which, over the past few days, this event has become a pretext for claiming that the NTC is an opaque and heteroclite coalition, consisting of elements that are virtually at war with one another. This demonstrates, once again, in Europe as in America, a disturbing absence of historical memory. I know better than anyone that members of the NTC include traditionalists and moderns, tribal representatives, members of the urban middle class, ex-Gaddafists, the occasional barely repentant Islamists and their historical opponents, who are longtime human-rights activists. But to deduce from this a fragility, if not illegitimacy, in the NTC makes no sense. It is tantamount to forgetting, first of all, that the democratic element here represents the overwhelming majority, one that is gaining ground with every passing day. And it forgets, once again, the general history of resistances that have always been, almost by definition, coalitions of this kind—an amalgam of improbable unity composed of all the elements of a nation. Isn’t it true that when one denies this obvious fact, and when one wishes to eliminate divergence and discordant voices, as was the case in Algeria with the FLN, that, ultimately, things always turn out badly?
The rumours will have no effect. In the wake of the assassination of one of its own, the Libyan rebellion is, more than ever and perhaps for this very reason, compelled to tighten its bonds and to win. And the coalition, for its part, has no reason to waver, to doubt, or to even think of putting one of the most bloodthirsty tyrants in the world back in the saddle. At the moment when another dictator, in Syria, is drowning his people in the “rivers of blood” Gaddafi had promised his own, it is more imperative than ever to establish what I hope will soon be known as the “Libyan precedent” — by seeing this operation through to its conclusion.
Image made from amateur video released by Ugarit News and accessed via AP TV News on Aug. 8, 2011, shows members of the Syrian military standing near the body of man in the northern Syrian province of Idlib Sunday Aug. 7, 2011. (Contents and date cannot be independently verified)
The Syrian government is defying international criticism of its crackdown on a popular uprising, relying on its armed forces to suppress political dissent. Unlike its counterparts during similar unrest in Egypt and Tunisia, Syria's military has given few signs of breaking with the ruling elite.
Security forces that moved into yet more Syrian towns this week have shown little hesitation in opening fire on civilian areas. President Bashar al-Assad says the troops are acting out of national duty to counter what he calls outlaws, an interpretation of events rejected even by his allies.
Despite the ferocity with which the operations are being carried out, opposition to the crackdown is likely among at least some of the military's rank and file. Most foot soldiers are from Syria's Sunni majority, long-dominated by the Assad family's Alawite minority.
They are also closer in social and economic terms to the victims of the crackdown than they are to the nation's rulers, with some coming from the very neighborhoods they must now attack. Their officers, however, are disproportionately [almost entirely] Alawite.
Mourners carry the body of a person during a funeral ceremony in the city of Homs, Syria, in this image made from amateur video released by Ugarit News, August 2, 2011
And according to human rights groups, commanders are willing to use brutal measures to ensure orders are carried out. Witnesses say soldiers who have refused to open fire on civilians have themselves been shot and killed.
A few have managed to escape.
One of the dozens of deserters who have turned up in Lebanon called on others in the Syrian army to reject the government's commands.
But such well-publicized defections are limited.
"The army in Syria is composed of one million and a half. You cannot talk about 20 cases here and 50 cases there," said Haytham Manna, who is with the Arab Commission for Human Rights.
So far no brigade, let alone a division, has turned against the government. Part of the cohesion can be attributed to the command structure. Key positions in the security apparatus are held by relatives of President Assad, including his brother Maher and brother-in-law Assaf Chawkat.
It is a style of family rule seen in Libya and Yemen, where similar uprisings have also been met with force. Perhaps more importantly, power is divided under a complex system devised by former President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, to decrease the chance of an internal coup.
This has tied security forces far closer to the leadership than, say, in Egypt or Tunisia. In both those nations, the military proved an institution unto itself, and its support of the protest movements was key to the uprisings' success.
Nadim Shehadeh, a political analyst at Chatham House, says if Syria's political and military leaders were to fall, they would likely fall together.
"I think what you will find is a crumbling of the whole structure because the inner circle are people that are very tight together," said Shehadeh. "But they are also afraid of any defections or any internal coup. So, if anyone is suspected of being capable of such a defection, he would be dead already."
But human rights monitor Manna believes its not too late for the military to act independently.
"The most important thing is a position from the military apparatus as a whole," said Manna.
Manna argues that the military might be deterred by the prospect of a civil war. [nonsense]
But as the military operations continue, hopes of avoiding a broader conflict are fading.
Yes, I know it isn't Tuesday, but it will be Tuesday tomorrow, and tomorrow I will be in Norfolk, where there are Broads galore, but little broadband. Readers are invited to disentangle the latest nonsense from Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek, the man who puts on his phallus as other men put on the Ritz.
In The Guardian - where else? - he compares a murder victim with a mass murderer:
The first thing that sticks out is how Breivik constructs his enemy: the combination of three elements (Marxism, multiculturalism and Islamism), each of which belongs to a different political space: the Marxist radical left, multiculturalist liberalism, Islamic religious fundamentalism. The old fascist habit of attributing to the enemy mutually exclusive features ("Bolshevik-plutocratic Jewish plot" – Bolshevik radical left, plutocratic capitalism, ethnic-religious identity) returns here in a new guise.
Even more indicative is the way Breivik's self-designation shuffles the cards of radical rightist ideology. Breivik advocates Christianity, but remains a secular agnostic: Christianity is for him merely a cultural construct to oppose Islam. He is anti-feminist and thinks women should be discouraged from pursuing higher education; but he favours a "secular" society, supports abortion and declares himself pro-gay.
His predecessor in this respect was Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch rightist populist politician who was killed in early May 2002, two weeks before elections in which he was expected to gain one fifth of the votes. Fortuyn was a paradoxical figure: a rightist populist whose personal features and even opinions (most of them) were almost perfectly "politically correct". He was gay, had good personal relations with many immigrants, displayed an innate sense of irony – in short, he was a good tolerant liberal with regard to everything except his basic stance towards Muslim immigrants.
Wonder why? Could it be because Muslim immigrants are not good tolerant liberals?
What Fortuyn embodied was thus the intersection between rightist populism and liberal political correctness. Indeed, he was the living proof that the opposition between rightist populism and liberal tolerance is a false one, that we are dealing with two sides of the same coin: ie we can have a racism which rejects the other with the argument that it is racist.
As Sellar and Yeatman might say, sketch the above without using a protractor.
New English Review Press is pleased to announce the publication of our third book, Anything Goes by Theodore Dalrymple:
Sparklingly funny, unflinchingly realistic, and profoundly wise, these brilliant meditations on our postmodern predicament by the Montaigne of our age impart urbane pleasure and enlightenment on every page.
-- Myron Magnet, author of The Dream and the Nightmare: the Sixties’ Legacy to the Underclass
Theodore Dalrymple is an extraordinary essayist--mordantly funny, profound, and immensely learned. In this new book, all of his considerable talents are on display as he explores the nature of evil, the dark legacy of totalitarianism, the insidious spread of politically correct ways of thinking in free societies, and many other topics. A perfect introduction to Dalrymple's thought.
-- Brian Anderson, editor of City Journal
Another brilliant collection from our age’s answer to Dr. Johnson and George Orwell. A feast of wit, insight, admonition, and plain old common sense.
-- Roger Kimball, author of The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art
About the Author
Theodore Dalrymple is a former prison doctor and psychiatrist. He has been arrested as a spy in Gabon, been sought by the South African police for violating apartheid, visited the site of a civilian massacre by the government of Liberia, concealed his status as a writer for fear of execution in Equatorial Guinea, infiltrated an English communist group in order to attend the World Youth Festival in North Korea, performed Shakespeare in Afghanistan, smuggled banned books to dissidents in Romania, been arrested and struck with truncheons for photographing an anti-government demonstration in Albania and crossed both Africa and South America using only public transportation. He is also the author of more than two dozen books and innumerable essays.
Der Spiegel: Was Mossad Behind the Stuxnet Malworm?
How Stuxnet Disabled Iran's Centrifuges, Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel has a comprehensive report on the Stuxnet Malworm, “Mossad's Miracle Weapon: Stuxnet Virus Opens New Era of Cyber War. ” That report appears to tie its development to a single nation-state covert cyber warfare unit: Israel’s Mossad. Heretofore, the identity of the state sponsor of the Stuxnet malworm had been murky, involving a possible cooperative effort between the US and Israel. The Der Spiegel account has the ring of authenticity. It includes a most unusual and rare briefing about the Stuxnet malworm for foreign journalists at Mossad’s secret facility near Haifa. The briefing was conducted by former Mossad director, Meir Dagan, recently retired from Israel’s secret service. Dagan had publicly been opposed to conventional military attacks on Iran’s nuclear programs for fear of the Islamic regime launching nuclear missiles against Israel – see our NER article, “The Iranian Missile Threat.” The opening paragraph of this Der Spiegel report notes:
The complex on a hill near an interchange on the highway from Tel Aviv to Haifa is known in Israel simply as "The Hill." The site, as big as several soccer fields, is sealed off from the outside world with high walls and barbed wire -- a modern fortress that symbolizes Israel's fight for survival in the Middle East. As the headquarters of Israel's foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, this fortress is strictly off-limits to politicians and journalists alike. Ordinarily, it is the Mossad that makes house calls, and not the other way around.
The agency's strict no-visitors policy was temporarily relaxed on a Thursday in early January, when a minibus with darkened windows pulled into a parking lot in front of a nearby movie theater. The journalists inside were asked to hand over their mobile phones and audio recorders. Meir Dagan, the powerful head of the Mossad, had invited them to the facility. It was his last day in a position he had held for seven years. On that January day, the journalists were there to document his legacy: the Mossad's fight against the Iranian nuclear program.
He spoke passionately about the risks of a possible military strike against Iran, saying that he believed that such an attack would lead to a conflagration in the region that would include a war with Hezbollah and Hamas, and possibly with Syria. And anyone who believed that a military strike could stop Tehran's nuclear program was wrong, said Dagan. It could slow down the program, he added, but only temporarily. For this reason, the outgoing Mossad chief was against bombs -- but in favor of anything that could set back the Iranian nuclear program without starting a conventional war.
Delay was the new magic word. And to that end, the Mossad head had created a miracle weapon that everyone in the room on that January day knew about, but which Dagan did not mention by name: Stuxnet.
This Der Spiegel Story concurs with what I thought four years ago could be the approach to disable Iran's centrifuges via a malworm like Stuxnet.
To this writer, the hunch about using Radio Frequency weapons to destabilize the power cycles for the whirling centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment facility was played out in March 2007. I discussed that prospect at an Intelligence Summit Symposium in St. Petersburg, Florida on Electronic Magnetic Pulse threats during a chance discussion with a US defense scientist. He smiled at the question and nodded at just the right moments. Little did I know at the time, that Israel was in the midst of possible programming and test the Stuxnet malworm. A malworm that over the period from June 2009 to November 2010 would achieve the same end; destroying more than 1,000 of Iran's 8,000 centrifuges and setting back the timetable for 'wiping Israel off the map of the world.'
The Stuxnet malworm was the genius of Israel's military intelligence Unit 8200 and the cadre of young hackers both inside Israel's security services. They were assisted by entrepreneur - graduates in the civilian sector, who successfully pulled this off. These young Israeli cyber warriors left behind a calling card; code that spelled out the date of the execution of an Iranian Jew by the Islamic Republic in 1979. They have demonstrated the prowess that created the cutting edge of cyber warfare. This put aside high cost complex military attack scenarios with attendant huge casualties feared by Meir Dagan and others here in the US.
These young Israeli cyber warriors also knew the vulnerabilities of the Microsoft Window's operating and digital security systems. Microsoft operating systems were developed and tested at their Israeli subsidiary. Moreover, the anti-virus software giant Symantec's Israeli subsidiary may have the same relationship to its Silicon Valley parent. The Siemens connectionfor infrastructure management of Iran's enrichment facilities might have been provided via third party cyber intelligence sources, perhaps German or US. However, Israeli cyber warfare cadres may also have had access to the same infrastructure management syetms through its own covert means. Israel had another advantage. Israel could test the Stuxnet malworm at its Dimona nuclear development facility using centrifuges most likely procured from the A.Q. Khan network in Pakistan, the original source of Iran's first generation enrichment centrifuges. This might have been achieved via double blind front companies established for this express purpose, making the ultimate owners difficult to track. The third generation Stuxnet malworm hinted at in the Der Spiegel story would likely address the matter of destabilizing the carbon fiber centrifuges that appear to have replaced the original aluminum designs. Nonetheless, taking out more than 1,000 centrifuges set back the Iranian nuclear enrichment effort.
Unfortunately, Iran has enough enriched uranium to assemble several nuclear devices this month, according to IAEA inspector reports and intelligence derived from debriefings of high level Revolutionary Guards defectors. At issue, is whether Israel has covert technical means of disabling these devices and the means of their delivery. The means of delivery may include intermediate and long range missiles ensconced in silos near Tabriz, that we wrote of in the August NER article- "The Iranian Missile Threat."
Being a devotee of good science fiction, I am reminded of the prominent role played by worms in Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, Dune and the 1984 cult movie of the same name. There, a desert people, the Fremmens, on an arid planet Arrakis adopt a Messiah like figure, Paul Atreides. They ride sandworms with Weirding Modules defeating the tyrannical Emperor stopping the production of spice that enables interstellar travel by folding space- an Einstein construct. Paul Atreides with his army of Fremmens riding giant sandworms takes on the Emperor and the Spacing Guild. The fictional character of Atreides remarks: "he who can destroy a thing controls it."
Is the Stuxnet Worm episode the reality version of Dune? Stay tuned for the next episode.
In Libya, Rebels Concede They Can't Win, But Plan For Victory Anyway
Post-Gadhafi plan for Libya revealed by NTC
LONDON - Agence France-Presse August 8, 2011
A 70-page Post-Gadhafi plan prepared by the Libyan rebels with help from Western powers concedes they have little chance of toppling the long-serving ruler but that internal divisions will force him out
A rebel blueprint for a post-Moamer Gadhafi Libya would retain much of the current regime’s infrastructure in the hope of averting an Iraq-style descent into chaos, the London Times reported Monday.
A 70-page plan prepared by the National Transitional Council (NTC) with help from Western powers and seen by the paper concedes they have little chance of toppling the long-serving ruler but that internal divisions will force him out.
In that event, the rebels plan to establish a 10,000-15,000 strong “Tripoli task force” to secure the capital and capture prominent Gadhafi supporters. Around 5,000 policemen will be recruited to serve as the interim government’s security forces, according to the plan.
The rebels claim that 800 current Gadhafi government officials have already been recruited to their cause, and could form a key plank of a post-conflict security apparatus, the paper reported. The document also maps out how telecommunications, power and transport infrastructure will be secured in the immediate hours after the regime’s collapse.
The plan relies heavily on defections from the old regime, which threatens to cause friction with those within the rebel faction who want a complete purge of the existing order.
The rebels estimate that around 70 percent of high-ranking Gadhafi officials will commit to the new regime.
The NTC confirmed the report’s authenticity, but requested that the British newspaper withhold key details which could compromise the ongoing operation. Aref Ali Nayed, the head of the planning cell for the task force, said it was important that the general public “knows that there is an advance plan”. “What you have obtained was an early draft,” he told the paper. “We are now working on a much bigger picture.”
In Iraq, Apparently Not Everyone Agrees That "The Surge Worked"
Iraq's Qaeda asks ex-fighters to return, threatens attacks
August 8, 2011
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate has asked Sunni militia members who turned against the insurgency and joined forces with the U.S. military and the Shi'ite-led government to return to its ranks, threatening to attack those who do not "repent."
In an hour-long audio speech, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, said the group was growing stronger "despite all the difficulties and challenges" and was still training and sheltering foreign fighters, the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group said late Monday.
"As for you, satanic Awakenings, we strive to guide you more than you strive to kill us. If you come to us in repentance, we will accept your repentance even if you killed a million people," Adnani said, according to SITE.
"Do not stand in the way between us and the (Shi'ites) ... We will not get bored or tired; rather, we will continue until the Day of Judgment, and we will kill from amongst you only those who we see will never return."
The Sahwa militia, or Awakening Council, made up of former insurgents who turned against al Qaeda and helped turn the tide of the Iraq war, was formed in late 2006, mostly by Sunni sheikhs with the help of the U.S. military during the sectarian bloodshed that killed tens of thousands of people.
The integration of the former Sahwa fighters into the government is considered a key to stabilizing Iraq, eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein and before a full withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of this year.
The Sahwa are increasingly concerned that the new Shi'ite-led government is not carrying out a promise to hire them. Two years ago the Pentagon criticized the slow pace of integration, saying that a failure to hire the Sahwa fighters could jeopardize security gains.
Jobless Sahwa could return to a weakened but still lethal insurgency that carries out dozens of attacks each month.
While overall violence has plunged since the 2006-07 bloodshed, bombings and other attacks occur every day, and occasional major attacks kill dozens of people. Sahwa militia members are frequent targets.
Adnani said the ISC was still carrying out hit and run attacks despite rumors the insurgency had been weakened by the arrests and killings of its leaders, and ordered Iraqi officials not to execute jailed Muslims.
"Know that if you execute Muslim women and men in general and the mujahideen (fighters) in particular, you will face dire consequences," he said. "Everyone knows that when we say, we deliver."
Fox News Documentary: Evidence of Honor Killing Denied in Arizona Murder Trial Verdict
Faleh Al-Maleki, Father and honor killer Noor Al-Maleki, daughter and honor killing victim
This past weekend, FoxNews released a stunning documentary,” A Question of Honor: Police Say Iraqi Immigrant Father Targeted Daughter in Honor Killing.” The documentary produced by FoxNews covered the prosecution and trial of an Iraqi father, Faleh Al-Maleki who in October, 2009 ran over his own Iraqi-born 20-year old daughter, Noor Al-Maleki and a companionAmal Khalaf, in an apparent honor killing. Faleh Al-Maleki had been granted asylum by a US immigration court. The production by Bill Hemmer of FoxNews is the second such documentary on honor killings in America. Last August, Hemmer and the FoxNews documentary team covered the 2008 shooting deaths in Lewisville, Texas of two daughters Sarah Yaser Said, 17, and Amina Yaser Said, 18 by a their Egyptian father, a 50 year old cab driver Yasir Abdel Said.
The FoxNews documentary on the Arizona honor killing presented tape recordings of the phone conversation between the suburban Peoria, Arizona detectives and Seham Al-Maleki, the mother of the victim. The mother was in California at the time allegedly instructing US Marines on Islamic ‘culture’. During the recorded call she evidenced denial over the honor killing of her daughter by her husband, Faleh. Note this excerpt:
“I want to see my daughter!” Seham Al-Maleki screams on the tape.
“Until he [Noor’s father] is located, we are not mentioning where she is at,” responds Laing, who told the mother that witnesses in the parking lot identified her husband as the driver.
“This woman, she is lying, because she is dirty,” Seham says, referring to Noor’s friend Khalaf, who survived being hit by Al-Maleki’s Jeep.
Al-Maleki fled while his daughter was taken to the hospital, in critical condition. Seham was eventually allowed into the hospital to see her daughter, who was removed from life support on November 2, 2009.
The former CAIR chapter executive in Phoenix, Mohamed El-Sharkawy, a member of The Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board, confirmed to FoxNews that the Peoria police worried that another family member would try to kill her, too.
“They were afraid that -- because he did not succeed, that somebody else, his son or a relative, will go and finish the job,” said El-Sharkawy, who was called in to the investigation after Noor was run down.
The apparent motivation behind this honor attack was the daughter’s refusal to return to Iraq for an arranged marriage.
Al-Maleki then fled Arizona to Mexico City. Then he took a flight to London’s Heathrow airport, where he was detained after an immigration check revealed a bench warrant for his arrest on murder charges. He was extradited to Arizona.
The Peoria, Arizona police detectives interviewed Al-Maleki at an airport upon arrival. He evinced little remorse for the killing of his daughter, Noor, during the recorded police interview.
Khalaf, a friend of the daughter, injured in the run down attack, presented evidence during the Maricopa County trial of the father’s clear premeditated intent to run down his daughter Noor with his Jeep Cherokee when they both were leaving an Arizona State welfare office.
The FoxNews documentary interviewed the Maricopa County, Arizona, Deputy Prosecutor Laura Reckart who sought first degree murder charges against Al-Maleki, the father, for this honor killing. The defense attorneys sought to characterize the run down murder of the daughter as an ‘accident’ as they alleged all he was trying to do was spit on her.
Reckart, as evidence of the intent to commit honor killing of Al-Maleki’s daughter Noor, played a tape from a recorded and translated call with his wife from Jail. He and his wife discuss how “an Iraqi without honor is nothing” and lament that while Faleh is suffering in jail, Noor “is comfortable now” in her grave.
During this same call Faleh urged his wife, Seham, to dismiss his Jewish public defender lawyer and find an Arab attorney to defend him.
While the Foreman of the JuryJeff Van der Zweep clearly saw the evidence presented as justifying a Murder One decision, the jury was split on whether this was an honor killing and opted for a Murder Two charge.
The jury was split on whether he was angry at his daughter and he just saw her and-- in his anger, killed her, or if it was for honor.
Maricopa County Judge Roland Steinle handed down the maximum allowable sentence of 34 1/2 years for the 52 year old defendant, Al-Maleki on February 20, 2011. Steinle denied that this was an honor killing, based on the evidence presented by Prosecutor Reckart. Steinle commented in an interview with FoxNews Hemmer, “I think it sensationalizes what is nothing more than a parent killing a child.”
Prosecutor Reckart had a different opinion, “I'm not going to say I respect their verdict”.
Hemmer later interviewed her in New York where she was attending a conference on honor killing at John Jay College of the City University of New York. She told Hemmer that she would be teaching a course on the subject of honor killing in the fall.
Columnist Mark Steyn was interviewed by Hemmer and commented on the mounting evidence of honor killings in Europe, Canada and here in the US caused by Muslim immigration and condoning of Sharia law in our communities.
Watch this mrcTV channel video of the entire FoxNews Bill hemmer documentary, "A Question of Honor'.
Pakistan's Terrorists Still Being Sent To Jammu And Kashmir
From The Buzz:
J&K infiltrations prove Pakistan has not changed
Thereis seemingly no end to Pakistan’s hypocrisy. Even as its interior minister Rehman Malik talked about India and Pakistan playing a “decisive role together” to end terrorism, three Indian soldiers died during a fierce gun battle near the Line of Control in Kashmir with heavily-armed infiltrators. That this was the second infiltration bid in three days showed how relentless was Pakistan’s proxy war in the region. Malik also took advantage of P Chidambaram’s reference to the possibility of the involvement of an Indian ‘module’ in the Mumbai blasts to try and deflect attention from Pakistan’s own culpabilities in the matter of training, funding, arming and dispatching its own jihadis across the border. The coverage which is usually given to the infiltrators by the Pakistan army by opening fire to distract the Indian troops is yet another heinous example of Islamabad’s duplicity.
It is doubtful, therefore, whether the anodyne comments of Pakistan’s new foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar about the opening of a new chapter in mutual relations can be taken seriously. There has obviously been no change in Islamabad’s long-prevalent twin tactics of dispatching the militants to Kashmir in the guise of ‘freedom fighters’ and either sending terrorists to every other part of India or operating through sleeper cells. The presence of numerous terrorist training camps in the north-west of Pakistan — of which its all-weather friend, China, has at last become aware following the terror attacks in Xinjiang — has never been a secret. Yet, India and the international community have been helpless spectators of these incubation centres of the killer viruses for fear of a wider conflagration if any attempt was made to wipe them out. But, as long as these camps function with the active assistance of the Pakistan army and the ISI, there will be no peace in the region because Islamabad has shown no inclination to forsake its declared policy of ‘bleeding’ India through a ‘thousand cuts’.
KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait said yesterday that threats by Iraqi militants would not deter the oil-rich emirate from completing the construction of a controversial megaport between the two nations.
"We are not scared by threats and we are continuing the construction work in the project. Work is ongoing smoothly and as planned," said Khaled Al Jarallah, the foreign ministry undersecretary.
The Kuwaiti official was responding to new threats by the Iraqi Shiite militant group Ketaeb Hizbollah that it would strike at the port if Kuwait did not halt construction.
The group made its first threat last month and Kuwaiti newspapers yesterday published new threats by the same group.
"This threat is unfortunate and irresponsible," Mr Al Jarallah said after a presentation on Mubarak Al-Kabeer port to heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Kuwait.
"There must be an official Iraqi handling of these threats," the Kuwaiti official said.
Last month, Ketaeb Hizbollah, which has claimed deadly attacks on US troops in Iraq and is believed to be backed by Iran, warned a South Korean consortium to halt work on the Kuwaiti port project.
Iraqis are objecting to the port because they say it will strangle Iraqi shipping lanes.
The Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki has said that Kuwait has yet to notify Baghdad of the Mubarak project. He said Baghdad only learned about it from third parties.
The multibillion-dollar container port is being constructed on Bubiyan Island, close to the border with Iraq, and is due for completion in 2016. Construction began in 2007.
Mr Al Jarallah and other Kuwaiti officials yesterday denied that the port would have any "negative impact" on the shipping lines or the environment, saying it would rather better serve the economies of both nations.
Mr Al Jarallah said an Iraqi technical delegation received details on the project in Kuwait City in May and visited the site of the project. Another delegation is due to arrive in the emirate soon for more questions.
Sarrazin's controversial book Deutschland schafft sich ab.
Within two months, Sarrazin's book Deutschland schafft sich ab ("Germany Does Away With Itself" or "Germany Abolishes Itself"), published end of August 2010, became the highest sold book on politics by a German-language author in a decade, with overall sales hitting 1.1 million copies and the first editions sold out within a matter of hours or days. In the 13th edition Sarrazin added a brief foreword commenting on the nation-wide debate his book has sparked. As of May 2011, 1.5 million copies were sold.
Sarrazin's views and criticism of it
Sarrazin advocates a restrictive immigration policy (with the exception of the highly skilled) and the reduction of state welfare benefits. There were severe reactions to his statements on economic and immigration policy in Berlin, which were published in September 2009 in Lettre International, a German cultural quarterly. In it he described many Arab and Turkish immigrants as unwilling to integrate. He said, among other things:
"Integration requires effort from those that are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone that is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arabic population in Berlin."
He has also said regarding Islam, “No other religion in Europe makes so many demands. No immigrant group other than Muslims is so strongly connected with claims on the welfare state and crime. No group emphasizes their differences so strongly in public, especially through women’s clothing. In no other religion is the transition to violence, dictatorship and terrorism so fluid.”
Sarrazin's statements were criticized by the chairman of the Interior Committee of the German Bundestag, Sebastian Edathy (SPD), the ver.di union and the political scientist Gerd Wiegel.
Sarrazin's book Deutschland schafft sich ab"Germany Does Away With Itself" or "Germany Abolishes Itself", presented at the end of August 2010, came under criticism for claiming that Germany's immigrant Muslim population is reluctant to integrate and tends to rely more on social services than to be productive. Furthermore, he calculates that their population growth may well overwhelm the German population within a couple of generations at the current rate, and that their intelligence is lower as well. He proposes stringent reforms for the welfare system to rectify the problems.The first edition of his book sold out within a few days. By the end of the year, the book had become Germany's number 1 hard-cover non-fiction bestseller for the year and was still at the top of the lists.
An uproar was caused at the same time by an interview with Welt am Sonntag in which he claimed that "all Jews share a certain gene like all Basques share a certain gene that distinguishes these from other people." He subsequently offered his regrets for the irritation cause and explained his source, for instance, in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, referring to international media reports on a recent study by Gil Atzmon et al. that appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Statements of support
Polls suggest that almost half of the German population (including SPD members) agree with Sarrazin's political views and even 18 percent would vote for his party if he started one.In a survey conducted for the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper among 10,000 Sarrazin readers, an overwhelming majority was shown to be male, middle-class, middle-aged to elderly, conservatives.
With a view of the strong and sometimes polemical reactions against Sarrazin, some have argued that in Germany freedom of speech is being lost, as pressure to conform to political correctness is suppressing and silencing diverging opinions. Sarrazin's views were echoed to a varying degree by notable figures of the German public sphere including German-Jewish author Ralph Giordano (writer), industrialist Hans-Olaf Henkel, journalist and Islam critic Udo Ulfkotte and FAZ publisher Berthold Kohler.
While Turkish and Islamic organizations have accused Sarrazin of "racism" and damaging Germany’s reputation abroad, the prominent German-Turkish sociologist and best-selling author Necla Kelek, who has defended Sarrazin, introduced him at a Berlin press conference in late August 2010 attended by roughly 300 journalists, as big a turn out as for the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rare press appearances. Kelek said Sarrazin addressed “bitter truths” in his new book and the chattering classes have judged it without reading it.
Henryk Broder, the Spiegel newsweekly commentator, offered an explanation for attacks on Sarrazin’s statements. “And there’s a second trick that’s being used now: he’s being accused of anti-Semitism. If you could accuse him of anything, it’s philo-Semitism, because he wrongly thinks Jews are more intelligent than others,” Broder said. He added, “But of course, with an anti-Semitism accusation you can really go after someone, because anti-Semitism of course is no longer acceptable in Germany, and rightly so. There is no substantive debate here at all – the issue is that a nation gets up, as it were, they all agree and they take it all out on a scapegoat who they’d like to send into the desert. It’s very disturbing.”
"Political correctness is silencing an important debate" said Matthias Matussek of Der Spiegel magazine. "Sarrazin's findings on the failed integration of Turkish and Arab immigrants are beyond any doubt. He has been forced out of the Bundesbank. The SPD wanted to expel him from the party, too. Invitations previously extended to Sarrazin are being withdrawn. The culture page editors at the German weekly Die Zeit are crying foul and the editors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are damning Sarrazin for passages he didn't even write. But what all these technicians of exclusion fail to see is that you cannot cast away the very thing that Sarrazin embodies: the anger of people who are sick and tired—after putting a long and arduous process of Enlightenment behind them—of being confronted with pre-Enlightenment elements that are returning to the center of our society. They are sick of being cursed or laughed at when they offer assistance with integration. And they are tired about reading about Islamist associations that have one degree of separation from terrorism, of honor killings, of death threats against cartoonists and filmmakers.
Klaus von Dohnanyi, who offered to defend Sarrazin as the SPD seeked to expel him, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper how Germany was overshadowed by its Holocaust history and how a culture had developed whereby anyone saying the words "gene" or "Jew" is automatically considered suspect. He complains that we shy away from debates that "are commonplace in other countries." Among those is the discussion that "specific ethnic groups" share specific characteristics.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has an unspoken pact with the Turkish electorate: he delivers rapid economic growth, jobs and money, and voters let him shape what kind of democracy this Muslim nation of 74 million people becomes.
So far, the deal has served him well.
Erdogan has overseen a near tripling of per capita income in the last decade. That has helped blunt misgivings over the way he deals with dissent, and allowed him to subordinate Turkey's powerful military, which has long seen itself as guardian of the country's secular soul. Last year he used a plebiscite on constitutional reform to break the cliques in the judiciary, another bastion of Turkey's secular old guard.
The prime minister's Justice and Development Party (AKP), socially conservative and successor to a banned Islamist party, won a third term with 50 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections in June thanks largely to the success of its pro-growth free-market policies.
"Erdogan realizes he will be in power as long as the country prospers," Umit Ozlale, an economics professor at TOBB University in Ankara said. "When the economy is on track he handles other challenges from the military, judiciary or from the bureaucracy more easily."
At the same time, many Turks have a sneaking feeling that the prime minister's road to democracy will always lead to his own party. With the economic boom now wobbling and the resignation on July 29 of the country's four most senior generals, tensions at the heart of Erdogan's Turkey are becoming harder to ignore.
"The fear amongst many of the (AKP's) critics in Turkey is that the party is now overly dominant with fewer checks and balances given its controls all the main levers of the state," said Timothy Ash, an analyst at Royal Bank of Scotland.
BEATING THE GENERALS
When Chief of General Staff Isik Kosaner stepped down late last month along with the heads of the army, military and navy, he said he could no longer stand by while 250 fellow officers languished in jail, victims of charges he described as flawed and unjust.
The capitulation of the top brass confirmed what most Turks have known for years: the generals are a spent force in Turkish politics.
In many ways, that's progress. Generals overthrew three civilian governments between 1960 and 1980 and forced an Islamist-led coalition of which Erdogan was part from power in 1997. Turks respect their military, but most want to keep the uniform out of politics.
Erdogan has managed to do just that. In 2007, the military failed to stop the AKP government installing Abdullah Gul as president. That same year, Erdogan won a second term as prime minister in a parliamentary poll that let the military know they should stop messing with democracy.
That's created a new dynamic between soldiers and politicians. The new generals Erdogan selected last week may not love the AK Party, but they're unlikely to ignore fellow officers plotting against the government. When Erdogan chaired a meeting of the Supreme Military Council a few days after the resignations there was no doubting who was in charge. Flanked by grim-faced four-stars, Erdogan sat alone at the top of the table, where he would normally be joined by the chief of general staff.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE
Erdogan's followers like his forceful personality and the fact he grew up in Istanbul's rough Kasimpasa neighborhood, where boys learn to carry themselves with a swagger and have the last word in any argument.
More than that, they appreciate his piety and sense of justice that some ascribe to his studies of Islam. Many see him as uncorruptible.
He connects with ordinary people, using everyday language in his speeches and addressing members of the audience with comments like: "Isn't that the case, sister?," "Don't you think so, dear mother?"
They also like that he's engineered a shift in power away from the old Istanbul-based business houses to the so-called Anatolian tigers in the more conservative heartland of Turkey.
And his appeal goes well beyond Turkey.
The tongue-lashing he gave Israeli president Shimon Peres at Davos in 2009 over the Gaza offensive, cemented his reputation in the Islamic world.
Last December, just before the uprising in Tunisia started the Arab Spring, a taxi driver in Tunis pointed to a photograph of Erdogan in a newspaper. "Nice man," the cabbie told a Reuters journalist. "The best leader in the Islamic world right now."
THREE TIMES A WINNER
Turkey's prime minister has long understood that the key to success is economic growth.
Over the past decade he's transformed Turkey from a basket case dependent on IMF loans to the 16th largest economy in the world. He wants Turkey to be in the top 10 by 2023.
Flush with money and with their own economy faring far better than the euro zone, Turks have grown less enamored of the prospect of joining the European Union.
Last year Turkey notched up 9 percent growth. An Istanbul banker tells a story about a customer who wanted a loan. When asked how many siblings he had in his family the young man said: "We are four, but God has given us Tayyip, so now we're five."
There is a sense that as long as Erdogan keeps Turks in jobs and the money rolling in, people won't mind if the AKP government loses some of the democratic zeal that marked its early years. Erdogan has been very open about his plans for a new constitution that could open the way for him to become president.
Chances of the opposition unseating him are remote, and he has no real rivals within the AKP.
Sinan Ulgen, chairman of the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), an Istanbul- and Brussels-based think tank, reckons the greatest risk to Erdogan's dominance is an economic crisis brought on by an external shock.
"Until then the AKP has a blank check," he said, speaking just before the latest market turmoil. "This situation can continue as long as international markets remain benign, as long as interest rates globally remain low, as long as risk aversion remains low."
"THE FINAL WORD"
That is a dismal prospect for members of the old elites, who fear Erdogan's AKP aims to roll back the secular state envisioned by soldier-statesman Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when he founded the republic after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Erdogan has already been in office longer than any other leader since Ataturk. Critics refer to the possibility he will rule on as president as the "Putinisation" of Turkey, though the term is seldom seen in the press.
When foreign diplomats in Ankara are asked what action Turkey might take on an issue, the answer is often along the lines of: "In the end Erdogan will have the final word."
Normally it would fall to the judiciary and press to provide a check on the government. But Turkey's judges and journalists have also had their wings clipped.
Only last year, Erdogan won backing in a referendum on constitutional reforms that included changes to the way judges are selected. There's little doubt that the judiciary needed reforming, but critics say that the changes also reduced judges' independence.
Turkey has fallen to 138th out of 178 countries in the World Press Freedom Index produced by media freedom pressure group Reporters without Borders, from 101st in 2007. Washington and Brussels have both aired concerns.
Early this year, with the election looming, police detained around a dozen journalists said to be linked to an alleged anti-government network dubbed Ergenekon, the fabled valley of Turkish legend from where a tribe of Turks escaped their enemies by following a lone wolf.
Opposition politicians and military leaders allege some prosecutors are taking revenge for past state repression of Islamist movements. Armed with leaks from either prosecutors or the police, government-friendly media report the detentions in ways that suggest the suspects are guilty before their cases are heard.
"Many people worry that the arrests of these officers and journalists may be the product of a witch-hunt mentality by those who feel they have the power now and are using the judiciary to settle old scores," said Hurriyet Daily News columnist Semih Idiz.
Since coming to power, Erdogan has gone out of his way to be seen as a model of pragmatism. Alcohol may cost more, but little in the way of legislation offers evidence of a religious agenda.
An attempt to lift a ban on women wearing the Muslim headscarf entering universities or working in the public sector has not been revived since it was pushed back in 2004.
In the past year, however, there was barely a murmur when universities began taking a permissive stance toward students in headscarves.
Scaremongering over the spread of Islamism proved a vote- loser for the secular opposition, so they stopped campaigning on it, opting instead to pick holes in Erdogan's image as a champion of democracy.
The pillar of his political program is a proposal for a new constitution to replace the one drafted after a 1980 military coup. Parliament is expected to begin work on the new charter in October, and it is likely to dominate the political agenda until next summer.
"It will be a constitution emphasizing pluralism rather than a single voice. It will take the individual and their rights as its basis, protecting national unity and our shared values and accepting the wealth of social diversity," Erdogan said late last month.
Critics are unconvinced. When Erdogan has said in the past "democracy is not an objective, it is a vehicle," his foes have pounced, pointing to the words as proof of his autocratic tendencies.
"The new constitutional order will bring not liberty and democracy, as the government is trying to persuade Westerners, but a harsher new order," former Constitutional Court chief judge Yekta Gungor Ozden told Reuters.
WHAT KIND OF PRESIDENT?
But the shape of a new constitution is far from clear. Burhan Kuzu, the head of the parliamentary commission looking at it, is a staunch advocate of the presidential system and argues that Turkey prospers from single-party rule and slips back when led by weak coalitions.
Not everyone in the AKP likes the idea of a presidential system: to win the parliamentary votes he needs to alter the constitution, Erdogan will have to reach out to rival parties.
Former justice minister Hikmet Sami Turk told Reuters that many opposition groups will not "accept a presidential system. It could lead to a dictatorial system."
If Erdogan fails to win his changes, he will likely still run for -- and win -- the presidency in 2014 even if the position remains a figurehead role.
His greatest threat is an economic crisis.
Against conventional wisdom, the central bank cut its policy interest rate to an all-time low on August 4, despite growing concerns about inflation and pressure on the lira currency.
In the last few months, Erdogan said that ideally he'd like to see real interest rates at zero, a notion that makes some worry that populist priorities could hurt the economy.
If inflation rises or the flow of foreign investment dries up, Turkey could easily find itself with a current account deficit climbing beyond 10 percent of GDP, leaving it vulnerable to an economic shock that could persuade voters to desert Erdogan just as they did his predecessors.
Pisapia, New Mayor Of Milan, Welcomes More Mosques But Not Yet The Gigantic Mosque Demanded
The fears of Magdi Allam turn out to be justified:
From Corriere della Sera
August 8, 2011
Salvini: pisapia e i suoi incontrano più spesso rom e islamici che i milanesi delle periferie
Islam, entro l'anno luoghi di preghiera
in ogni quartiere. Polemici Lega e Pdl
Il vertice a Palazzo Marino. Lara Comi: «Personaggi screditati». Rinviato il tema della Grande Moschea
Alcuni degli esponenti del Caim ricevuti a Palazzo Marino (Milestone Media)
MILANO - Risolvere entro un anno l'annoso problema dei luoghi di preghiera per le comunità musulmane di Milano con il riconoscimento dei tanti piccoli centri già esistenti, riferimenti territoriali importanti che meritano di avere dignità, rinviando per il momento l'idea di un'eventuale Grande Moschea: sono queste le indicazioni uscite dal primo incontro tra l'amministrazione comunale e i rappresentanti delle comunità islamiche milanesi, riuniti sotto la nuova sigla Caim. «L'impegno della Giunta è quello di creare luoghi di culto nei quartieri della città per uscire dalla modalità delle soluzioni tampone che non sono degne di una città come Milano», ha spiegato l'assessore al Benessere Chiara Bisconti, che ha partecipato al tavolo insieme al vicesindaco Maria Grazia Guida e al collega alla Sicurezza Marco Granelli. Insomma, basta palestre riadattate e sì invece a locali a norma, il tutto all'insegna di «una migliore trasparenza nei rapporti tra i musulmani e il resto della società civile». «Il grande luogo di culto rimane comunque una priorità e c'è anche l'impegno affinché questo sia l'ultimo Ramadan affrontato in emergenza» con i credenti riuniti sotto il tendone del Teatro Ciak, ha poi aggiunto la Bisconti.
«BASTA SPAURACCHI» - Confessando di essere rimasta «un po’ stupita», il vicesindaco Maria Grazia Guida ha raccontato: «Nessuno ci ha posto immediatamente la questione "moschea sì, moschea no", e questa è una cosa su cui riflettere. Stiamo parlando di una Milano che cambia, ed è stato anche ipotizzato che la moschea sia stata utilizzata in passato come spauracchio, è uno schematismo da cui bisogna uscire al più presto. Gli spazi di religiosità aumentano la coesione e la vivibilità». Parole confermate anche dal direttore del centro islamico di viale Jenner Abdel Hamid Shaari, che ha sottolineato come ora «l'urgenza sia quella di trovare dei luoghi di preghiera nei quartieri per i diversi centri culturali e soltanto dopo, con calma, affrontare il tema di una Grande Moschea». Un percorso che vedrà protagonisti i quartieri milanesi «che coinvolgeremo», ha assicurato il vicesindaco. Nel percorso verranno considerati anche i criteri legati alla sicurezza «che affronteremo insieme, nell'ottica del dialogo», ha aggiunto Granelli.
LE COMUNITA' - Ad essere ricevuta a Palazzo Marino è stata una delegazione del neonato Caim, che si presenta come coordinamento delle principali realtà islamiche presenti nel Comune di Milano. Il portavoce è Davide Piccardo, figlio del portavoce Ucoii (Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni islamiche in Italia) Hamza Piccardo. Le associazioni islamiche milanesi che aderiscono al Caim sono la Fajr di via Quaranta, l'associazione Islamica di Milano di Cascina Gobba, l'Istituto Culturale Islamico di viale Jenner, la Comunità Islamica di Milano composta dai membri della comunità turca, l'Islamic Forum-Associazione Culturale Bangla composta dalla comunità bengalese, l'associazione di Welfare Islamica di Milano, la Nuova Associazione Culturale Islamica Dar al Quran di via Stadera, l'Alleanza Islamica d'Italia, l'associazione Donne Musulmane d'Italia e i Giovani Musulmani d'Italia. IL nuovo appuntamento in Comune sarà il 14 settembre, «per una mappatura degli spazi, da cui il tavolo di confronto individuerà le priorità delle varie comunità e dei quartieri - ha spiegato l’assessore al benessere Chiara Bisconti -. Abbiamo spezzettato il problema e ci occuperemo della ricerca di un luogo di culto che sia integrato in ogni quartiere». «Diverse comunità sono costrette a pregare in luoghi non adatti, come, per esempio, alcune palestre. Noi pensiamo che questi siano spazi in cui si debba solo fare ginnastica, ed è giusto che continui ad essere così, perché riteniamo che per le funzioni religiose siano necessari altri tipi di ambienti e come tali debbano avere altre caratteristiche», ha ribadito l'assessore Bisconti.
LEGA: PISAPIA PREDILIGE ROM E ISLAMICI - «Una grande moschea a Milano? Una valanga di firme li fermerà»: così il capogruppo della Lega Nord in Consiglio comunale Matteo Salvini aveva, già alla vigilia dell'incontro, annunciato battaglia. Per l'esponente del Caroccio «Pisapia e i suoi - conclude - passano più tempo a incontrare rom e islamici che i milanesi delle periferie».
PDL: GRANDE MOSCHEA IMPROPONIBILE -Per il capogruppo Pdl a Palazzo Marino Carlo Masseroli, la Grande Moschea sul modello romano «è improponibile a Milano perché non ci sono le condizioni né urbanistiche, né infrastrutturali, né di convivenza civile». La costruzione infatti «avrebbe bisogno di uno spazio importantissimo che in città non c'è, in quanto attirerebbe i fedeli di tutto il Nord Italia». Per di più, per l'ex vicesindaco Riccardo De Corato, «non serve perché sono tremila i frequentatori dei luoghi di culto islamici. Non c'è quindi il bisogno numerico». Dal partito di centrodestra arriva invece l'ok ai piccoli centri di preghiera, purché «ci siano spazi adeguati, soggetti interlocutori riconosciuti e accreditati - elenca Masseroli - rispetto delle regole e delle normative con verifiche puntuali e continue e non si creino squilibri nel tessuto sociale dei quartieri». Altra precondizione «fondamentale», ripetono sia Masseroli sia De Corato, è che «non ci sia nessun intervento del pubblico». Insomma «non è il Comune che si deve far carico di trovare gli spazi - conclude De Corato -. Se ce li hanno e sono a norma va bene, altrimenti se sono fuori legge, come sono in gran parte al momento, vanno chiusi».
COMI: RISCHIO FONDAMENTALISMO - «Il dialogo va fatto con chi rispetta le leggi italiane, e non strizza l’occhio alla sharia; con chi crede nei valori dell’Occidente, nella libertà dell’individuo, nella parità tra uomo e donna, e dimostra di volere l’integrazione», attacca il vice coordinatore lombardo del Pdl ed europarlamentare Lara Comi. «Se gli interlocutori per la moschea sono sempre le stesse facce screditate, come il portavoce di viale Jenner, Abdel Shaari, ieri braccio destro di un imam, Abu Imad, condannato dopo tre gradi di giudizio per terrorismo internazionale, è difficile pensare che il vertice con gli islamici a Palazzo Marino possa essere foriero di non so quali rosee prospettive per Milano». «Non mi sembra - sottolinea Comi - che finora gli attuali presunti portavoci delle comunità islamiche milanesi, a cominciare da quella di viale Jenner, abbiano dimostrato a sufficienza di aderire ai valori occidentali, di rispettare le donne secondo quanto prescrive la legge italiana». E ha citato il silenzio sulla legge anti-burqa e sulla vicenda di Sakineh, «salvo il fatto che il signor Shaari si fosse espresso, a titolo personale, in caso di adulterio, non per la lapidazione ma per la detenzione (!). A dimostrazione che confonde ancora il peccato con il reato». «La questione - aggiunge Comi - non è quella della libertà di culto che a Milano è garantita. Ma il pericolo che una moschea, con tanto di minareto, possa sedimentare e infiammare il fondamentalismo. E purtroppo in Europa abbiamo avuto diverse riprove, dalla moschea di Finsbury Park, a Londra, ad analoghe zone grigie in Austria. E il fatto che la giunta Pisapia voglia (è scritto nel programma) edificare una grande cittadella islamica, che rischia di calamitare gli integralisti, pone più interrogativi».
Now That Kemalism Has Been Tied In Knots By Erdogan, Why Doesn't Fethulleh Gulen Move Back To Turkey?
Fethulleh Gulen runs his sinister empire from the comfort and safety of the United States. Why? Why is he allowed to remain in this country? Can it be that the American government knows as little about him, and his activities, as it once did --as the entire West once did -- about Ayatollah Khomeini?
Ayatollah Khomeini would not have succeeded, once Saddam Hussein kicked him out of his exile in Iraq, had he not found haven in France, in Neauphle-le-Chateau, where he made tapes that were then copied, by the hundreds of thousands, back in Iran.
Fethulleh Gulen has organized "schools" that permit him to import large numbers of Turkish teachers who share his Islamic views. This has to be the focus of the FBI, the police, and above all, political figures in Washington who seem to be unaware of what is happening in Turkey, and what Fethulleh Gulen is doing in this country.
Why don't they ask the many intelligent secular Turks who now live in, permanently or temporarily, in this country, and whom Fethulleh Gulen does not fool --not for one minute?