These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 22, 2011.
Friday, 22 July 2011
Ghana - Muslim community condemns homosexuality and lesbianism
From The Ghana News Agency
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Chief Imam, Alhaji Sheikh Umar Abdul Kaadr, has said Islam would not support any political party or politician who would allow or tolerate the practice of homosexuality in the country. He said Islam regarded homosexuality “as a big sin and even more dangerous than a man and a woman committing adultery”.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday Sheikh Kaadr stated that people caught indulging in the obnoxious practice should be punished. He said the holy Quran talks against such acts and any one found practicing homosexuality or lesbianism cannot be supported by the Islamic religion because that person wanted to destroy the religion. He said the peace and development Ghanaians were enjoying was because such acts were not allowed and added “If it is legalized Allah’s anger will come upon us as he did to Sodom and Gomorrah”.
The Muslim Community, which was represented by COMOG, Ahlusunna Wal Ja’maa, the Shia Muslim Community, Tijanniya Movement, Society of Muslim Preachers and Network of Muslims Youth Organisations, stated that there was ample evidence that the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism had contributed to the further spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Ghana. It said the practice was not only “demonic”, but an abominable act which if encouraged would lead to the spread of infectious diseases and halt procreation, which is an instruction from the Almighty God to humanity to reproduce their offspring.
Alhaji Easah argued that there was no moral justification by gay rights advocates on the subject, which, he said was alien, disgraceful, shameful and disgusting to the entire Ghanaian, cultural, societal and religious norms and practices. He called upon all well meaning Ghanaians including politicians, the media, clergymen, Imams, traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the country to join in the crusade to eradicate the practice from the society.
Alhaji Easah said the Muslim Community proposed that Parliament as a matter of urgency took a position on the issue with the passage of a Homosexuality and Lesbianism Bill, making the act a criminal offence which must attract stiff punishment such as long prison terms with hard labour and disqualification from consideration for appointment or promotion to any public office or position. He also called upon traditional rulers and opinion leaders to assist the police in the identification and prosecution of homosexuals and lesbians, stressing that a person who failed to report such people when they were approached also committed an offence.
Coalition rules out legalising multiple Islamic marriages after Whitehall leak
Ministers have ruled out legalising polygamy after a leaked Whitehall paper suggested multiple Islamic marriages could be officially recorded by the state.
An internal document, prepared for ministers by civil servants, (say no more - a service culled of experienced officials in favour of recruitment structured to celebrate 'diversity') warned that women who enter religious marriages are “unprotected” if their husband then takes a second or third wife. One possible solution could be to require all Islamic and other religious marriages to be registered with state authorities, the document suggested.
The Department for Communities and Local Government quickly ruled out legalising multiple sharia law marriages.
But the suggestion caused alarm among some MPs, who warned that any move towards official recognition of polygamy would be “wholly unacceptable”. A leak inquiry is believed to have been launched into how the document became public. It was prepared as part of a background briefing to ministers on the Coalition’s “integration and tolerance working group”.
Philip Hollobone, Tory MP for Kettering, said: "The British public will not support the recognition of polygamous marriages... Any step along that road would be a step too far." Conservative Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, said that there was a difference between recognising polygamous marriages and registering them. But she went on: "Both are wholly unacceptable. This is a Christian country."
A Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Polygamy is illegal in Britain and will remain so."
What was President Ronald Reagan’s favorite riposte to critics: “there he goes again’! Well, the same could be said for Jeremy Ben Ami, the founder of J Street who launched a self-promoting book, this week, “A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation" (Palgrave MacMillan. J Street has generated controversy across the American Jewish landscape and this from the son of one of the Bergson Boys, Yitzhak Ben Ami. J Street and the younger Ben Ami lack credibility over revelations of the group’s hidden source of funding from anti-Israel billionaire George Soros, and criticism by local activists of Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRC) in cities like Boston, Hartford and Indianapolis for inviting local J Street chapters into the "big tent." J-Street is a group that promotes its vision of being “pro-Peace pro-Israel” while demanding the creation of an immediate Palestinian State. In fact J Street has supported several Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) speakers at its annual conferences in Washington, DC. Further. And it has drawn the ire of the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem when it came to promote its views to a majority of a very wary Israeli body polity, excepting, of course, extremist leftist allies like Peace Now, Rabbis for Human Rights, the New Israel Fund and B’Tselem.
The senior Ben Ami Yitzhak was one of the six Jabos, Revisionist Palestinian Jews, followers of the late Ze’ev Jabotinsky, under the leadership of Peter Bergson, the nom de guerre of Hillel Kook, who came to the US just before WWII to promote the idea of a Jewish Army to fight Fascism and Nazism. Instead, they became embroiled in a campaign to save the remnant of the six million European Jewish men, women and children murdered in unspeakable ways during the Holocaust. The Bergson Boys, as they were called, through dint of lobbying on Capitol Hill in Washington, major pageants, and free ads in Hearst newspapers electrified American Jews and Christian Zionists to defy FDR and his Jewish viziers (like speech writer and White House counsel, New York lawyer and Judge, Samuel Rosenman and what passed for so-called American Zionist leadership, Dr. Stephen S. Wise of the American Jewish Congress and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, head of the Zionist Organization of Anerica . They were toadies and took their cues Jewish Agency leaders of the yishuv (Jewish community) in Mandatory Palestine led by the first Labor Socialist Prime Minister of Israel, founding father, David Ben Gurion, who opposed the Revisionists and Irgunists. The Bergson Boys succeeded, despite opposition from American Jewish Zionist leadership, in getting a joint Congressional resolution passed entreating an unmoved FDR to do something to save European Jews from being consigned to death in the gas chambers and crematoria of Nazi death camps. It was left to Roosevelt’s Dutchess County, Hudson Valley New York neighbor, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr., aroused by his staff, to confront Roosevelt in the Oval office. That effort led to the establishment of the War Refugee Board and efforts that may have saved perhaps 250,000 Jews. That important episode by the Bergson Boys in America was been chronicled in the 2003 book, Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America and the Holocaust, by Professor David Wyman and Rafael Medoff.
Yitzhak Ben Ami, the father of Jeremy, helped to organize those fabled “We Will Not Die” pageants in major American cities, with Broadway and Hollywood figures like actors, Edward G. Robinson, Edward Arnold, playwright Ben Hecht, émigré composer Kurt Weil and even choreographer Jerome Robbins. Rabbi Jon Hausman’s mother Ethel attended one of those pageants and has preserved the program from an event that her uncle took her to in Philadelphia when her parents in Bridgeport, Connecticut sent her as an adventurous teenager for a visit that sparked her lifelong Zionist commitment a legacy for her four accomplished sons. In it is a picture we found of none other Yitzhak Ben Ami, Jeremy’s father.
What passes for the American Jewish wire service, the JTA, had a ‘whitewash’ piece by Ami Eden“ J Street, the book—expect more controversy “ showcasing Jeremy Ben Ami’s new book. Note some of self adulatory excesses by the younger Ben Ami in making comparison with his father’s valued efforts as a Bergson Boy.
“My organization, J Street, is attacked ... from the right for being left-wing, while the attacks in the 1930s against the Bergson Group came from the left and called them ‘fascist,’ ” the younger Ben-Ami writes. “If the experience of the Bergson Groups teaches us anything, it is that the appropriate way to deal with those new voices is not to reflexively shut them down but to engage them on the merits and see what value there may be in what they are trying to say.”
It is true, as Ben-Ami asserts in his book, that some right-wing and centrist critics of his organization have launched vitriolic and distortion-filled attacks against J Street and its leaders, often working to blackball them from various forums.
Then there is the evident lack of credibility of Jeremy Ben Ami cited by Eden;
Take George Soros-gate, the controversy over the news that the billionaire funder of anti-communist and anti-Bush causes -- and a critic of some Israeli security and settlement policies -- in fact had been a leading donor to J Street.
“The revelation of his support generated a storm of controversy,” Ben-Ami recounts. “So did the decision not to make his support public when it began.”
Well, not exactly. The issue wasn’t funding but credibility: J Street had spent years essentially denying Soros was a donor when in fact he was one of the organization’s biggest funders.
In another flash of denial, Ben-Ami writes that “if, God forbid, war were to break out tomorrow and Israel’s existence were to be threatened, the American Jewish community and Jews worldwide would -- without a doubt and appropriately -- rally to the flag.”
Maybe most Jewish groups would, but not J Street -- at least not in December 2008, when Israel went to war against Hamas to stop rocket attacks on its cities. Just hours after the Israeli operation started, J Street criticized it on strategic grounds. And then, in a move that would upset even sympathetic liberals, one of J Street’s spokesmen sent out a mass e-mail suggesting that those backing the Israeli operation lacked “sanity and moderation” and proudly declaring that “there are many who recognize elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide.”
Then there is this dhimmi-like pose of Ben Ami in a laughable moment criticizing the ADL for being anti-Islamic, all while the ADL supports construction of mega mosques through the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques.
For example, Ben-Ami criticizes the Anti-Defamation League for its opposition to the Islamic community center near Ground Zero, and a few sentences later laments that “overall, the response from the established American Jewish community to growing intolerance all across the United States has been muted at best.”
Criticizing the ADL’s position on the Lower Manhattan Islamic center is fair game, but Ben-Ami’s broader claim is an outright falsehood. The ADL itself has issued frequent condemnations of anti-Islamic bigotry and participated in an effort to defend the general right of American Muslims to build mosques.
Judging from the book, J Street continues, in the name of open discourse, to defend engaging with harsh critics of Israel -- including having a BDS supporter speak on a panel at its conference -- even while arguing that Jewish groups and U.S. lawmakers should give the cold shoulder to right-wing Christian Zionists.
Ben-Ami also lumps centrists who favor a two-state solution together with those who oppose Israeli concessions and push for settlement expansion. And he suggests that politicians and Jewish organizational leaders who disagree with J Street or criticize the organization fall short on supporting peace and democracy -- or they have bowed to intimidation from pro-Israel forces.
We can understand why the 70,000 Russian Jewish community in my hometown of Boston are upset at the local JCRC inviting a local J-Street chapter into the "big tent" of the hub city Jewish federation-the combined Jewish Philanthropies. These Russian émigrés know totalitarianism first hand given their experience under Soviet Communism. They also can see through the thin diaphanous veil of treason to Israel and the Jewish people that passes for J-Street and Jeremy Ben Ami. A son of the Bergson Boys he isn’t. J Street is not his father, Yitzhak’s legacy. He has betrayed that by creation of this anti-Zionist monstrosity.
Jerry Gordon is also a member of the Board of Z Street. See our interview with Z Street Founder, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, here.
ISTANBUL // In announcing his intention to visit the Gaza Strip, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has raised the stakes in an ongoing crisis with Israel, observers say.
Quoting unnamed foreign ministry sources in Ankara, the Turkish daily Radikal reported yesterday that Turkish diplomats had told their Israeli counterparts they expected an Israeli apology for the death of nine Turkish activists during a raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid for Gaza last year by July 27.
That day, a panel of the United Nations is expected to publish its report on the Israeli raid. In case Israel does not issue an apology before that date, Turkish-Israeli relations could sink even deeper into crisis, Radikal said. "If Israel apologises, [Mr Erdogan's] Gaza trip will not take place," the paper reported. There was no official comment on the newspaper story.
Mr Erdogan told reporters on Tuesday that he intended to visit the Gaza Strip after a visit to Egypt, which is expected to take place next month. He said the Turkish foreign ministry was looking into arranging the Gaza trip.
Celalettin Yavuz, the deputy director of the Turkish Centre for International Relations and Strategic Analysis, a think tank in Ankara, said Mr Erdogan's announcement stood for a new, tougher style of foreign policy. By entering Gaza from Egypt, Mr Erdogan would in effect break the Israeli blockade of the area, Mr Yavuz said by telephone yesterday.
"Either Israel apologises by July 27 and Erdogan will not go to Gaza via Israel, or Israel does not apologise, and then tensions will rise further," Mr Yavuz said. "It is too early to tell what will happen."
He said Mr Erdogan's government had concluded that Turkey's foreign-policy approach of recent years, which sought to address international problems like the Cyprus conflict with "goodwill", had failed to produce tangible results. That is why Mr Erdogan had started to follow a tougher line.
Earlier this week, the Turkish prime minister ruled out further Turkish concessions to overcome the division of Cyprus, even though the conflict on the Mediterranean island has slowed down Turkey's bid to join the European Union. Mr Erdogan also said Turkey would freeze relations with the EU during the second half of next year, when the Greek republic of Cyprus will hold the bloc's rotating presidency. Last week, Mr Erdogan refused to meet Stefan Fule, the EU's enlargement commissioner.
In the case of Israel, Mr Erdogan was aware that a confrontational style benefited him both domestically and among many governments in the Middle East, Mr Yavuz said. "Every now and then, he plays this card." But too much public pressure on Israel carried the risk of making an Israeli apology less likely, Mr Yavuz added.
Mr Erdogan's announcement of his planned visit to Gaza came at a time when Turkish diplomats were expressing optimism about a solution of the row.
"I would be surprised if there were no apologies since both sides have the political will to resolve this crisis," ambassador Ozdem Sanberk, a Turkish member of the UN panel probing the Israeli raid, said earlier this week, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency. "We are heading toward a solution probably toward the end of the month."
Israeli officials, including the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, have said publicly that Israel will not apologise. But Israeli officials also acknowledge that upgrading relations with Ankara was a high diplomatic priority and that Israel would benefit from a return to the close ties the countries had before a series of crises that started with Israel's military operation in Gaza in late 2008.
Turkey showed its willingness to improve ties with Israel by putting pressure on a controversial aid organisation in Istanbul not to take part in this year's second Gaza flotilla. As a result, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief, or IHH, pulled out of the project last month.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces intercepted a French ship heading for Gaza. Fifteen passengers, along with an Israeli journalist, on board the Dignity Al Karama were arrested and were to be deported yesterday.
Sabine Hadad, a spokeswoman for Israel's immigration service, confirmed that the 15 passengers, including 11 French citizens and others from Sweden, Canada and Greece, would be sent home.
"The 15 passengers were interviewed on Tuesday evening by our services and have voluntarily agreed to sign a document saying that they are ready to leave in 72 hours," Ms Hadad told Agence France-Presse.
UK forces have arrested a British man and woman in Afghanistan fearing they may have been planning a deadly attack on British troops in the country. The Pakistan-born pair were held at a hotel in the western city of Herat in a joint raid with Afghan intelligence service the National Directorate of Security.
The suspects, who are British passport-holders with dual nationality, are now being held by British troops in Helmand Province, (in a secure facility in Kandahar where they are being questioned.) according to The Times.
Nato forces in Afghanistan normally hold suspects for a maximum of four days before releasing them or handing them over to Afghan authorities. The Foreign Office spokesman added: 'The UK has a national policy of detaining beyond 96 hours in exceptional circumstances, in particular where it could provide information that could help protect our forces or the local population.'
The defense team is using the only strategy they see as viable despite strenuous objections by the defendant. Brandon Gee writes in The Tennessean:
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Today, defense attorneys will try to convince an Arkansas jury that admitted terrorist Abdulhakim Muhammad suffers from a delusional disorder that has its beginnings in Nashville.
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday in the capital murder trial of Muhammad, who is charged with the 2009 shooting outside an Army recruiting station here that killed Pvt. William Andrew “Andy” Long and wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula.
Thursday, prosecutors called a detective, a crime scene investigator, a firearms expert, a surgeon and the state medical examiner in an effort to prove Muhammad committed a crime he has already admitted to several times.
While most of Thursday’s testimony was technical in nature, it was visibly gut-wrenching for members of Long’s family who were in the courtroom to hear Muhammad’s videotaped interviews with investigators and a discussion of the soldier’s fatal gunshot wounds.
“In my opinion, these wounds were nonsurvivable under any circumstances,” said Charles Kokes, the state medical examiner.
The fourth day of the trial began with the playing of the recorded interviews Muhammad gave to local police and an FBI agent beginning just two hours after the shooting. Muhammad told police he was taking revenge on behalf of Muslims worldwide for the actions of U.S. soldiers overseas.
“It was an act of retaliation,” Muhammad said in the first of two interviews. “There’s a war going on.”
When confronted with the news that his attack had killed one of the soldiers he fired on, Muhammad said, “I don’t really feel nothing,” and claimed he would have killed more troops if he could have. He said he was pushed to the breaking point by news reports and Internet videos that showed soldiers abusing Muslims and desecrating the Quran. “I just made up my mind, and I had to retaliate,” Muhammad said in the recorded interviews. “It’s like I blacked out.”
Muhammad was born Carlos Bledsoe in Memphis but changed his name in 2004 when he started practicing Islam while attending Tennessee State University in Nashville. He dropped out of school in 2005 but continued living in Nashville before traveling to Yemen in 2007. He claims to be affiliated with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
In his opening statement Wednesday, defense attorney Patrick Benca said his star witness would be Shawn Agharkar, an Atlanta psychiatrist who will testify that Muhammad is delusional.
Muhammad disputes that claim, but Judge Herbert Wright has rejected his requests to fire his lawyers and represent himself.
Little Rock police detective Tommy Hudson testified that Muhammad seemed mentally stable during the questioning that followed the shooting.
“He knew what was going on and why he was there,” Hudson said.
The defense’s claims also conflict with a psychiatric evaluation conducted by the Arkansas Department of Human Services that found Muhammad was not suffering from a mental disease or defect at the time of the crime...
Until a few years ago French visitors to London arrived at Waterloo. They could head north, via Trafalgar Square, to Agincourt Road, confident that they would have won that battle but for ten obstacles. From The Telegraph (h/t Esmerelda -- of this parish rather than of the Nabokov poem):
Weight of French soldiers' armour. The armour of the French army was so heavy that it may have had a considerable role in hampering their victory.(And all those onions and garlic cloves must have weighed them down - M. J) [...]
Muddiness of the battlefield. It had been raining continuously for two weeks and the recently ploughed land, on which the battle took place, was a sea of thick mud.[...]
Use of longbow arrow. In the longbow, the English had perfected an extraordinary weapon that gave them a considerable advantage over the French crossbow. [...]
Crowding of French troups.
Lack of authority. [Liberté, égalité and fraternité just doesn't cut the moutarde - M.J.]
Narrowness of battlefield.
Expertise of English army. [That's a good one. Perfidious English experts.]
English army initiated the battle.
French army expected more troups.
Complacency of the French army. The French were convinced they would win the battle, a complacency that may have been to their cost. Whilst the English camp was sombre the night before battle, the French are said to have spent the night celebrating and taunting the English across the lines. So confident of victory were the French that they had already prepared a specially painted cart in which to parade the captured English king
Reader Ripsnorter adds some more important reasons:
11. We were English
12. They were French
13. We had William Shakespeare and Sir Lawrence Olivier
14. Kenneth Branagh, too
Other French disadvantages include an inability to pronounce the word "elbow". Ze bilbow, indeed.
If Erdogan Goes To Gaza Turkey Should Be Booted Out Of NATO
In the mighty contest to come with the Camp of Islam, NATO should be, as it now is not, an organization whose members are part of the West, not part of the Camp of Islam, nor with large populations of people who share the same goals, and same worldview, as Muslims outside of Western Europe. A group of permanent subversives -- subverting the press, subverting the right teaching of history in the schools, threatening those who dare to exercise their rights as members of an advanced - i.e. non-Muslim -- society, taking full advantage, and then some, of every conceivable means of support -- free education, free medical care, free or heavily subsidised housing, unemployment and child benefits, all the things that are part of the welfare states of Western Europe and that were originally created, and continue to be supported by, those who sensed an obligation to the poorer members of their own societies, and had no idea that millions of people, deeply hostile to them, disrespectful of and indeed enemies of, the legal and political institutions and social arrangements of the advanced non-Muslim states, would move in and take full advantage of those benefits, of those welfare states. Resources are limited, and what the Muslim immigrants take -- and they take a great deal, and cost a good deal more in their cost to the prison and security services, for the Muslim populations in "Europe must be monitored, and permanentlly (think of the cost of police, security guards, lawyers, judges, prisons, the cost to pay Muslim informers who are making small fortunes either watching, or claiming to watch, other Muslims -- an expense that would be greatly reduced if the number of Muslims in Europe were greatly reduced, through a halt to any further Muslim immigration, and a deliberate policy, both of governments and people, of doing nothing to make Muslim life easier, and everything to make Muslim life more dififcult, in Europe.
As Europeams find that their own benefits are cut, while indigenous Muslims manage to take such outrageous advantage of the system (and it does not help when many of those administering those benefits are Muslims themselves), as they see or begin to understand the full cost, as they come to realize that the Total Belief-System of Islam inculcates Muslims to feel deep and abiding hostility -- even murderous hostility at times - to all non-Muslims, things will change. We can already see, in Western Europe, the mass fiddling of the system, and can see the attempts to physically intimidate those who would dare to exercise their right of free speech when they choose to subject Islam to intelligent critical scrutiny, and can see the attempts to create parallel systems of law -- Shari'a being observed, at this point, mainly for family law, and observed with impunity, for Muslims who take Islam to heart are convinced the Shari'a, the Holy Law of Islam, is the only law that matters, and mere man-made law, Infidel law, can be ignored whenever it conflicts with the Shari'a.
The indigenous non-Muslims, within whose lands, in just the last few decades, large numbers of Muslims, bringing with them Islam, undeclared, in their mental baggage, have been allowed (through inattention,confusion, observance of foolish pieties, diseased sympathy) to settle, are observing, taking things in, viewing the spectacle of Muslm behavior in Muslim lands, and in non-Muslim lands, and are repelled by what they see. They are still opposed by those who, having been responsible for creating the climate that allowed such a Muslim influx in the first place, cannot dare to admit how wrong they were, and governments, too, having no idea as to what they could or should do if they were to correctly identify Islam as a permanent threat, an ideology that is inimical to the West in every way, and whose adherents do not need to participate in terrorism to undo the advanced Western states, but can proceed, patiently, through well-financed campaigns of Da'wa, and demographic conquest, to enlarge their numbers, and increase their power, that is to achieve the demographic conquest of Europe that could never, in the last 1350 years, have been imagined, since Europeans until just a few decades ago understood perfectly the menace of Islam and its fanatical -- and even unfanatical -- adherents.
The most important alliance in Western Europe is that of NATO. During the Cold War, many in Washington -- thanks to John Foster and Allen Dulles -- did not worry about Islam. There was no OPEC, no vast unmerited oil wealth to make Muslims popular. While in India Nehru and Krishna Menon gave off a whiff of Fabianism, and were insufficiently, in Washington's eyes, on the side of the West, those smiling Pakistani terry-thomas-moustachioed generals, all ramrod straight and pukka sahib, with their flywhisks, and their sonorous deep anglophone appeal -- so different from those oily bandung "neutral" Indians -- knew how to play the ever-gullible Americans, and have been playing them ever since. "Islam is a bulwark against Communism" was enough for many, and they ignored all the other aspects of Islam, ignored for example that Islam rests on a distinction between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and non-Muslim, and describes a state of permanent war, though not always of open warfare, between the Dar al-Islam (the lands where Islam dominates and Muslims rule) and Dar al-Harb (the lands where non-Muslims still dominate and Islam does not yet rule). No one read Sura 9, much less the whole Qu'ran, no one studied the Hadith, no one read the commentators, and the "Middle East" experts in Washington, London, Paris were self-selected "Arabists" who were famously hostile to Israel (many of those who choose Middle Eastern studies have suffered from a particular well-known mental pathology, that is they are self-selected, precisely because their hostility to Israel and their susceptibility to the supposed charms of the Arab East). ARMACO was spewing out its propaganda, and having its effect. No one, in short, knew a damn thing about Islam, no one could think ahead.
Thus, in 1952, as a reward to Turkey for having sent about 5400 troops to the Korean conflict (where they fought well, and also had time to conduct Da'wa among the Koreans), Turkey was allowed into NATO. Kemalism was the state policy of Turkey, and its stoutest upholders were the Turkish officer corps. Many assumed that Kemalism would continue forever. But Kemalism needs constant reinforcement. It is Islam that is forever.
If NATO is to make any sense, have any purpose, it is to defend the non-Muslim West -- perhaps in alliance with other non-Muslim peoples and polities -- against the Camp of Islam. And it makes no sense, for such a purpose, to continue to include Turkey in NATO. Turkey is a Muslim state, and it is becoming, thanks to Erdogan and his party, more Muslim every day.
Why is Turkey in NATO? Why is there no discussion about this? Why is the Turkish military, now that is no longer the defender of Kemalism -- that is, no longer the force that helps to constrain Islam -- considered an appropriate beneficiary of Western arms, Western training, Western aid, Western everything?
It may have made sense to have Turkey in NATO in 1952, just. It makes no sense today when the officer corps no longer has the power to maintain Kemalism, and Erdogan rules the roost.
He thinks, and others do too, that Turkey is a "success story." Turkey has certainly benefitted from the vast sums the Americans have thrown into Iraq, just as the economies of Kuwait and Qatar have profitted, with some local contractors making off like the billionaire bandits they always were.
Let's see if Turkey, without the free-spending Americans, and with Europeans not quite as indifferent to where they travel -- and they travel to Turkey to see, mostly, the ruins and monuments of classical antiquity, and for the beaches -- neither of which have anything to do with the Turkey of Islam (yes, Topkapi, and a blue mosque or two, are de rigueur on the tour, but not the main point) -- does as well in the future as Erdogan assumes it will. And what happens when his pan-Islamic appeal, which he thought would lessen the appeal of Kurdish separatism, turns out not to work. And what happens as the Alevis worry about Sunni militancy, possibly a spillover from Syria.
All kinds of things are going to happen that may not as yet worry Erdogan, and his Party, and the schemes and dreams they have for Turkey as a Great World Power. But they will.
Spain urges Libyan rebels to prepare for 'new era'
July 22, 2011
MADRID — Spain's prime minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on Friday urged Libyan rebel leader Mahmud Jibril to strengthen his organisation to be ready for "the new political era" that Libya would face if Moamer Kadhafi is defeated. [the people will still be deeply Muslim, many still tribal, and -- with a few remarkable exceptions among those who have lived for long periods in the West -- primitive. What else needs to be known?]
Zapatero told Jibril that Spain supports the rebels' National Transitional Council "as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people," [a phrase packed with absurd preconceptions and delusions] his office said in a statement following talks between the two in Madrid.
Zapatero "encouraged him to strengthen his organisation and his operations so it is in a position to successfully address the new political era that Libya will have to confront.
"The internal reconciliation process and the process of constructing a new, stable, prosperous, sovereign and democratic society will be one of the key tasks of the future," Zapatero told him. [what is he talking about? This is Libya.]
Jibril is the diplomatic chief of the National Transitional Council (NTC), a political body created by the rebels.
Libya has been wracked by a civil war since a violent uprising against Kadhafi, in power for more than four decades, swept the country five months ago.
Spain is taking part in a NATO-coordinated operation against Kadhafi's military assets and has formally recognised the NTC.
While the NATO bombing campaign has managed to prevent the fall of opposition-held cities such as Benghazi and Mistrata, it has not been able to dislodge Kadhafi's regime.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in Madrid Wednesday that Kadhafi could remain in Libya so long as he completely gave up power, as part of a larger political deal, including a ceasefire, on the future of the country.
But Jibril said on Thursday that is up to Libyans to decide if Kadhafi can remain in the country if he gives up power.
He also reaffirmed that the international community [it doesn't exist] should give the NTC access to frozen Libyan funds or let them be used as collateral for bank loans.
Zapatero told Jibril that Spain considers humanitarian aid to Libya to be a priority [why? why is aid to Libya, and not to the soutnern Sudan, a priority for the government of Spain? It does not appear to be a priority for the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis? Why for Spain?], noting that Madrid is the fourth largest contributor to the country in this regard.
The two also discussed the military situation in Libya, "the diplomatic prospects in light of various initiatives that have been launched and, finally, the internal situation of NTC and the territory it administers."
From A Somali Site: Somalia And Arab League Racism
Here is the view of one educated Somali:
Somalia: Racism at the Arab League
UK-LONDON-Mareeg.com-Somalia was a member of the Arab League since 1974, the same year Palestinian PLOjoined the League. Somalia is devastated by civil war since 1990’s and continues to hemorrhage. More than 750,000 Somalis lost their lives and more than 3.3 millions are homeless. The organization’s 21 Arab nations with the exception of Djibouti havefailed to attempt a single reconciliation effort.The United Nations, European Union, African Union and United States made some effort to get the best possible solution given the circumstances which culminated to the election of moderate leader Sharif Ahmed as president and transitional federal government was formed 9 months ago. To make this effort work, the UN nations appealed financial support and help from donor nations including the Arab League which includes the oil riche nations of Gulf Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, U.A.E, Kuwait, Iraq, Algeria, Libya and other influential Arab states such as Egypt . So far the Arab League has delivered only one (1) Million US dollars for the African Union Mission in Somalia and zero dollars for the Somali Transitional Federal Government. Compare this disparity with the money provided by Arab League to rebuilding Gaza in Palestine for the recent Israeli devastation. Saudi Arabia provided one (1) Billion US dollars, Qatar $250 million and Algeria $100 million in addition to more than 7.5 Billion Euros pledged for Palestine by the members of the Arab League and European Union countries.The Arab League provided ten times more relief and donation to Sri Lankan Tamil a Buddhist nation with no connections to the Arab League than Somalia.[this is not true]In fact some Arab League members are being recentlydiscovered to have indirectly funneling money to the Somali Al-Shabab and Hisbul Islam through Eritrea, a terrorist organization toppling the Somali transitional government who carried out the recent suicide bombing that four government ministers and students were killed.
What crime does Somalia committed to deserve such an utter neglect from the Arab League? Why are some Arab League members working against the current Transitional Federal Government when they have failed to organize and sponsor a single reconciliation conference? Why Somali citizens in rich Gulf Arab countries are being deported to war torn country while it is against all international conventionrelating to the status of refugees. Why the Arab League are not transporting relief aid to millions of displaced refugees suffering in subhuman conditions in Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemeni borders. Where is the relief effort of the Arab League? Why African Union troops are on the ground in Somalia but there is no single Arab country willing to support? Is the Arab League waiting a call from Obama or Hillary Clinton to respond?
The inaction of the Arab League and member countries is shocking when it comes to Somalia a member country that the League can have a positive effect with very little financial support and political support. Somalia has done its share to assist the mission of the Arab League over decades. It is high time for the Arab League to do some soul searching and re-evaluate its conduct and absence in the Somali conflict or is it Somalis are too dark to be a member of this exclusive club?
Estate agents once tried to talk my neighbourhood up - literally - by describing it as Lower Highgate. Highgate, famous for the Communist plot in which Karl Marx is buried, is uphill and up-market, and the agents fooled nobody. Nothing untoward has ever happened in Highgate, but if something did, for example Mr Jacqui Smith hosting an orgy in Pond Square, would it later be known as Highgategate?
In real life nothing untoward has happened - my losing an umbrella in The Flask hardly counts - but fiction is another story (well it would be). There's David Copperfield and Rosa Dartle, and more recently, Her Fearful Symmetry by the comically monikered Audrey Niffernegger. I had high hopes of this novel, having walked every inch of its setting, but was disappointing. American-born Sarah Churchwell didn't think much of it. From The Guardian:
Novels with unsympathetic characters need to offer the reader something else: a gripping plot, intellectual gravitas, stylistic delights, something to compensate for making you read 400 pages about people whom in real life you would cross the street to avoid. With the honourable exception of Martin, who emerges as a moving study of agoraphobia and OCD (although even his resolution feels rushed and unearned), Niffenegger relies on a series of increasingly contrived twists to resolve her baroque plot, up to and including suddenly having all the characters conclude that Valentina is suicidal – despite the fact that the narrative spends a great deal of time inside Valentina's head and we never witness a single suicidal thought. Nevertheless, the novel's entire resolution depends on the reader believing this abrupt announcement.
Other than Martin, the novel's most vivid character is Highgate Cemetery. Having decided to set her novel in it, Niffenegger worked there as a guide for a year. She learned her way convincingly around the cemetery, but she's less certain outside its gates. My favourite moment is when an English character announces "I'll be with you in a jim-jam", but I was also extremely surprised that Julia was able to find American chicken noodle soup at Tesco (trust me, it can't be done).
Instead of fabricating ghosts and faux-Englishmen, it's a shame that Niffenegger didn't just cut away all the cobwebby Halloween trappings and write a moving, realistic story about a man with OCD who is trapped for real, rather than ersatz, reasons in a flat overlooking a cemetery. She sustains a mood, but it is vaguely repellent, rather than enjoyably disquieting. Instead of a lingering, unforgettable ghost story, this is the novelistic equivalent of a cut-rate séance, a parlour game complete with Ouija boards and cheap theatrics, as unconvincing as knuckles rapping under tables.
The Americanisms, and there are many, bothered me less than they did Sarah Churchwell, because I have been English all my life and don't have the zeal of a convert. And the book is a page-turner - or in my case a Kindle-button-presser. The characters were irritating, though, and in the case of the young women, improbably passive and prim.
The Guardian is notorious for its misprints, and underneath Churchwell's review is the correction:
This article was amended on Thursday 22 October 2009. The character in Niffenegger's novel is Elspeth Noblin, not Goblin as we had it. This has been corrected.
Quaere: Why is Turkey in NATO? Is Turkish membership of any value, or is it a danger to the effectiveness of NATO as that organization must necessarily turn its attention away from Russia to the threat from Islam worldwide, and especially to the threat, foreign and domestic, that Muslims who take Islam seriously pose to the West and to the West's most important military alliance, NATO?
Of what conceivable good, of what possible benefit, is Turkish membership in NATO to the other members of NATO? And why should Turkey be a member, and not instead a country that is of far greater value militarily and morally to that very West that NATO was originally established to protect -- that is, Israel?
Some still choose to describe Turkey, quite backdatedly (it's not the 1950s or the 1960s anymore) as "our NATO ally Turkey." Turkey is indeed a member of NATO. But the main reason for NATO's existence in the past was the military threat posed by the Soviet Union, and Turkey, which was happy to collaborate in efforts to contain its ancient enemy Russia, was a good ally. The Soviet Union was for the Turks their hereditary enemy, Russia, under a slightly different guise, and Turkey could and did offer troops (for the Korean War), and listening posts and airbases.
But who could imagine Recep Tayyip Erdogan offering bases today, or any kind of military aid, that would be part of an Infidel coalition against what would be understood to be representatives of Islam? Turkey today is in the control of a regime that is intent on undoing Kemalism and determined to make Turkey firmly part of the Muslim world -- even if, at the same time, the regime of Erdogan is outraged by any attempts by Europeans to keep Turkey out of the E.U.
How good an ally can Turkey be, with Islam in the ascendant and Kemalism under constant siege, if the main purpose of NATO is now or soon will be to protect Western Europe and preserve the Western alliance from those who, within Europe, are either Muslims or collaborators with Muslims? It makes no sense for the members of NATO to commit themselves to treating an attack on Turkey as an attack on themselves, when the Cold War is over, and a re-islamizing Turkey makes friends with Iran and Syria. Do the other members of NATO think that the Turkish military would come to their aid if any Infidel nation-state in NATO were attacked, from within or without, by Muslim forces? But NATO members are already under attack by the Muslims in their midst, who now constitute a grave national security risk, one at least as great as that posed by domestic sympathizers with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And they are under attack by Muslim forces, too, in Afghanistan.
Turkey is part of the very Camp of Islam that is the most dangerous threat to the West today, and to what is the Western military alliance, NATO. It makes no sense to keep this Turkey in NATO. It is no longer the Turkey that once was a fit member of NATO under different circumstances, with a different enemy.
It is especially maddening that Turkey, but not Israel, is a member of NATO. Israel is not merely an unshakable part of the West, but the Western world is, as all educated people used to know, not conceivable without the inheritance from Israel as from Greece and Rome. And now that Israel was re-established, after nearly 2000 years, in the ancient Jewish homeland, its disappearance would whet Arab and Muslim appetites, and would a deal a great blow -- understood by so few -- to the morale and to the continued existence of the advanced West, which is the world's best hope for a semi-decent model of existence.
As long as Erdogan and his associates, and those who effectively support them -- including Fethulen Gulen, spreading Islam through his "educational" efforts around the globe from the safety of suburban Virginia -- are intent on removing the constraints on Islam that Ataturk (intent on saving Turkey from Islam and the effects of Islam) so carefully and systematically placed on it, there is no point in thinking of Turkey as more than part, a non-Arab part, a partly-secularised part, but still a part, of the Camp of Islam. It should be treated most warily.
A Manhattan-sized chunk of ice that broke off a glacier in Greenland nearly a year ago is drifting toward the coast of Newfoundland, Canada — providing a stunning sight to scientists and curiosity-seekers but also posing a potential threat to ships.
The ice island is 20 square miles — roughly 6.2 miles long and 3.1 miles wide. It was formed when a 97-square-mile chunk of ice broke off Greenland's Petermann Glacier on Aug. 5, 2010, possibly due to warming of the Atlantic Ocean.
The ice island, the largest single chunk remaining from the massive parent chunk, has been winding its way through Arctic waters ever since.
In the past few days, it has been moving south at a rate of 5 to 6 miles per hour. On Thursday, it was about 11.5 miles off the Labrador coast, drifting toward Newfoundland, said Lionel Hache, senior ice forecaster with Canadian Ice Service in Ottawa. The Ice Service, a department of Environment Canada, has been tracking the movement of the ice island.
Happy Rogers was the only American in her graduating class at Nanyang Primary School in Singapore.
Happy Rogers, age 8, stands among her classmates in the schoolyard at dismissal time, immune, it seems, to the cacophonous din. Her parents and baby sister are waiting outside, but still she lingers, engrossed in conversation. A poised and precocious blonde, Hilton Augusta Parker Rogers, nicknamed Happy, would be at home in the schoolyard of any affluent American suburb or big-city private school. But here, at the elite, bilingual Nanyang Primary School in Singapore, Happy is in the minority, her Dakota Fanning hair shimmering in a sea of darker heads. This is what her parents have traveled halfway around the world for. While her American peers are feasting on the idiocies fed to them by junk TV and summer movies, Happy is navigating her friendships and doing her homework entirely in Mandarin.
Fluency in Chinese, she says—in English—through mouthfuls of spaghetti bolognese at a Singapore restaurant, “is going to make me better and smarter.”
American parents have barely recovered from the anxiety attacks they suffered at the hands of the Tiger Mom—oh, no, my child is already 7 and she can’t play a note of Chopin—and now here comes Happy’s father, the multimillionaire American investor and author Jim Rogers, to give them something new to fret about. It is no longer enough to raise children who are brave, curious, hardworking, and compassionate. Nor is it sufficient to steer them toward the right sports, the right tutors, the right internships, and thus engineer their admittance to the right (or at least a good enough) college. According to Rogers, who in 2007 left New York’s Upper West Side to settle in Singapore with his wife, Paige Parker, and Happy (Beeland Anderson Parker Rogers, called Baby Bee, was born the next year), parents who really care about their children must also ponder this: are we doing enough to raise “global” kids?
“I’m doing what parents have done for many years,” Jim Rogers says. “I’m trying to prepare my children for the future, for the 21st century. I’m trying to prepare them as best I can for the world as I see it.” Rogers believes the future is Asia—he was recently on cable television flogging Chinese commodities. “The money is in the East, and the debtors are in the West. I’d rather be with the creditors than the debtors,” he adds.
It has become a convention of public discourse to regard rapid globalization—of economies and business; of politics and conflict; of fashion, technology, and music—as the great future threat to American prosperity. The burden of meeting that challenge rests explicitly on our kids. If they don’t learn—now—to achieve a comfort level with foreign people, foreign languages, and foreign lands, this argument goes, America’s competitive position in the world will continue to erode, and their future livelihood and that of subsequent generations will be in jeopardy. Rogers is hardly the only person who sees things this way. “In this global economy, the line between domestic and international issues is increasingly blurred, with the world’s economies, societies, and people interconnected as never before,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in remarks in the spring of 2010 at the Asia Society in New York. “I am worried that in this interconnected world, our country risks being disconnected from the contributions of other countries and cultures.”
Despite Duncan’s articulate urgency (and the public example of Rogers and a few others like him), America is so far utterly failing to produce a generation of global citizens. Only 37 percent of Americans hold a passport. Fewer than 2 percent of America’s 18 million college students go abroad during their undergraduate years—and when they do go, it’s mostly for short stints in England, Spain, or Italy that are more like vacations. Only a quarter of public primary schools offer any language instruction at all, and fewer high schools offer French, German, Latin, Japanese, or Russian than they did in 1997. The number of schools teaching Chinese and Arabic is so tiny as to be nearly invisible.
Meanwhile, 200 million Chinese schoolchildren are studying English. South Korean parents recently threw a collective hissy fit, demanding that their children begin English instruction in first grade, rather than in second. Nearly 700,000 students from all over the world attended U.S. universities during the 2009–10 school year, with the greatest increases in kids from China and Saudi Arabia. “Not training our kids to be able to work and live in an international environment is like leaving them illiterate,” says David Boren, the former U.S. senator and current president of the University of Oklahoma. The gap between our ambition and reality yawns wide.
There is no consensus on remedies. According to a white paper issued in 2009 by the Institute on International Education, most colleges and universities say they want to increase participation in study-abroad programs, but only 40 percent are actually making concerted efforts to do so. Long immersion programs are expensive, and in an environment of tough statewide budget cuts, students and professors are too crunched for time to make international experience a priority. Educators disagree on which kinds of experiences are most advantageous for kids—or even what advantageous means. Is it enough for a teenager who has never traveled farther than her grandma’s house to get a passport and order a pint in a London pub? Or does she have to spend a year in Beijing, immersed in Mandarin and economic policy? Is the goal of foreign experience to learn a language or gain some special expertise—in auto engineering or peace mediation? Or is it to be of service to others by giving mosquito nets to poor children in an African village?
Jim Rogers sees an America in decline, and his solution has been to immerse himself in the countries and cultures that are ascendant. “We think we’re the world leader, but we’re not,” he says. “I don’t like saying that. I’m an American. I vote. I pay taxes. But the level of knowledge is not very high, and that’s going to hurt us, I’m afraid.” In the Rogers family’s five-bedroom bungalow, there is no TV. Instead, there are more than a dozen globes to look at and maps to ponder, a nanny and a maid who speak only Mandarin to the kids, bicycles to ride, and a new karaoke machine so the girls can learn Chinese songs.
A generation ago and as far back as Thomas Jefferson, a certain kind of child from a certain kind of family went abroad because it was done; a sojourn in Europe was as crucial to becoming a cultivated person as knowing the works of Mozart or Rembrandt. The point was to see the Great Museums, of course, but also to breathe the air—to learn to converse in another tongue, to adapt to the rhythms of another place. Hemingway did this, of course, but so did Benjamin Franklin and Johnny Depp. This is what Pamela Wolf, who just returned to New York City with her husband and children from a year in Barcelona, did. She enrolled her teenagers in an international school, where they made friends with kids from around the world and learned to speak fluent Spanish. Her children have a global perspective not only because of their language skills but also because arriving in a new place, knowing no one, forced them to be resilient. “It’s pushing yourself out of your comfort zone,” Wolf says. “It builds a very compassionate child. While, yes, grades and academics are as important to me as anyone, you need resilience to understand and have sympathy for other people.”
Such lengthy sojourns, though, are available to only a few: the very adventurous or the very rich. Wolf and her husband are both self-employed. “Financially,” she says, “we have the great privilege of earning money while we’re away.”
Without resources and connections, a foreign experience can be a misery. Two years ago, Maribeth Henderson moved from San Antonio with her husband, her college-age son, and her adopted 5-year-old daughter, Wei Wei, to a remote part of China, in Guangdong province. Wei Wei didn’t learn much Mandarin—her school taught mainly Cantonese—and Henderson felt lonely and alienated. “It was so Chinese that I couldn’t assimilate and feel comfortable,” she says. “I couldn’t speak the language; it was hard for us to even order food in a restaurant. If you ordered a chicken, they would literally hand you a chicken. You were lucky if it wasn’t alive.” Henderson abandoned ship, returning to Texas with Wei Wei ahead of schedule and leaving her husband and son in Guangzhou. Now, though, she’s planning to try again. This summer she and Wei Wei will move to Beijing, and Henderson hopes the big city will ameliorate her former isolation. About her goal—helping Wei Wei learn Chinese—Henderson has no doubts. “For children to be competitive and successful in a global economy,” she says, “it’s important for them to be bilingual.”
For parents who want to give their children global experience while keeping them safely on the straight and narrow American path of PSATs, SATs, and stellar extracurriculars, there’s an ever-growing field of options. Immersion schools have exploded over the past 40 years, growing from none in 1970 to 440 today, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics, and Mandarin, especially, is seen among type-A parents as a twofer: a child who learns Mandarin starting at 5 increases her brain capacity and is exposed to the culture of the future through language. (One mom in San Francisco laughs when she recalls that her daughter learned about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott in Chinese.) The education entrepreneur Chris Whittle and colleagues recently announced plans for the new Avenues school, to open in New York City in September 2012 and designed to compete with the city’s most exclusive (and expensive) private schools. Its curriculum will be fully bilingual—parents choose a Mandarin or Spanish track when their kids are 3—providing the Happy Rogers experience but with all the conveniences of home. “We think that any child that graduates from high school a monoglot is automatically behind,” Whittle says. Fourteen months before the school’s doors open, Avenues has already received 1,200 applications.
Study abroad is now a prerequisite on some college campuses, and a few professional schools, especially in business and engineering, have begun to require international study as part of their curricula. Nursing students at a community college in Utah must all spend a month at a hospital in Vietnam as part of their training. But Margaret Heisel, director of the Center for Capacity Building in Study Abroad, believes that a real global education comes from a long stay in a strange place; it gives kids skills that no amount of study can teach.
My own experience proves this point. During my sophomore year in high school, my father, a university professor, moved our entire family to Amsterdam for his sabbatical year and enrolled my brothers and me in local public schools. During that glorious year, I rode my bike through city streets, learned to roll a cigarette one-handed, and eventually spoke Dutch like a 15-year-old native. (I can still say “That’s so stupid” and “This is so boring.”) We saw Stonehenge and the Rijksmuseum and drove to Burgundy for the grape harvest, but the real impact of that adventure was that I learned a degree of self-reliance—a 15-year-old girl needs to make friends and will cross any cultural boundary to do so—that I didn’t know I had.
“I think it’s liberating to some extent,” Heisel says. “It touches people in places that being in a familiar place doesn’t. It requires versatility, flexibility. It’s a different culture and it’s pressing on kids in different ways.” Baby Bee is equally at home on visits to the U.S. and in Singapore, where her father rides her to school each day on his personal pedicab. There she sings the Singapore national anthem and pledges the Singapore flag. “She’s no different from the Chinese kids,” says her teacher, Fu Su Qin. “And her Chinese is just as good.”
Our Ally Kuwait And Those Arab Contractors In Iraq
U.S. judge orders arraignment of Kuwait firm Agility
ATLANTA, July 22 (Reuters) - A U.S. district judge ordered the arraignment of Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility in the latest step in its prosecution over charges the company defrauded the U.S. Army in multibillion-dollar contracts.
The order by Judge Thomas Thrash, dated Wednesday, came after a U.S. appeals court ended a series of procedural hurdles that have delayed the case for around 18 months.
Thrash said in the order he would set a date for the arraignment hearing "expeditiously," according to court documents.
"This is a criminal action. It is before the court on the motion for arraignment of defendants, which is granted," the order said.
Agility was the largest supplier to the U.S. Army in the Middle East during the war in Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks, with contracts worth around $8.5 billion.
The case is one of the largest military fraud cases in U.S. history and is politically sensitive in both Kuwait and Washington.
The case is U.S. v. The Public Warehousing Company K.S.C., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, No. 09-00490.
Somalia: A Problem For The Rich Arabs To Be Publicly Asked To Deal With
From Voice Of America:
July 22, 2011
Somali Militants Will Block Aid to Famine-Stricken Areas
Islamist fighters loyal to Somalia's al-Qaida inspired al-Shabab group perform military drills at a village in Lower Shabelle region, some 25 kilometers outside Mogadishu (February 2011 file photo)
Somalia's militant group al-Shabab says it will not allow aid groups it has banned from operating in famine-stricken areas of the country.
Definition of Famine:
The word famine is a term that is not used lightly by humanitarian organizations. The United Nations describes a crisis as a famine only when the following conditions are met:
Malnutrition rates exceed 30 percent
More than two people per 10,000 people are dying each day
Severe lack of food access for large population
Almost half of Somalia's population, 3.7 million people, are affected by the current crisis with malnutrition rates in southern Somalia the highest in the world, surpassing 50 per cent in some areas. The United Nations says it is likely that tens of thousands have already have died, the majority of those being children.
The drought that has led to the current famine in parts of Somalia has also affected people in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Previous Famines in the Horn of Africa:
The al-Qaida-linked group has called the United Nations declaration of a famine in two areas under its control "propaganda."
This week the U.N. declared a famine in southern Somalia's Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions and said nearly half of Somalia's population needs urgent aid. On Friday the World Health Organization said five more regions in southern Somalia are on the brink of famine.
Thursday, Al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Rage accused the U.N. of exaggerating the crisis for political reasons. He said al-Shabab will allow increased aid only from foreign agencies currently working in its strongholds, not from organizations it has banned. But he did not specify which organizations.
Death rate increasing
Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said Friday the death rate of starving Somalis reaching refugees camps in Ethiopia and Kenya is climbing and the exodus of Somalis is continuing at a high rates.
Relief groups are searching to ways to deliver life-saving aid inside the country to save lives and prevent the mass exodus of Somalis to overcrowded camps in neighboring countries.
Relief groups say personnel must keep a low profile to avoid being targeted by the militants, whose members sometimes demand payments and seize deliveries.
The U.N. estimates that tens of thousands of Somalis have already died of malnutrition. It warns a rapid increase in aid is needed to prevent the widespread loss of life.
Overall, the Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in six decades. The U.N. has said more than 11 million people are in need of food aid.
Iran says a Revolutionary Guards commander and five force members have been killed in clashes with Kurdish rebels in the northwest.
The semi-official Fars news agency said Friday that the commander, identified as General Abbas Asemi, died in an explosion. He had been overseeing operations in the province of Qom. The news agency did not say when the deaths occurred.
Iran launched a major offensive against militants in the border region near Iraq last week.
On Monday, Iran said the Revolutionary Guards had taken control of three bases of a Kurdish opposition group in the region.
Guard Colonel Delavar Ranjbarzadeh claimed “a large number'' of deaths of opposition group forces during fighting over the borders. The report could not be independently confirmed.
The hours-long gunbattle between militants from the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan and Iranian forces ended early Sunday. It had erupted near the Kurdish town of Sardasht.
The Kurdish militant group, known as PJAK, has been involved in sporadic clashes with Iranian forces in recent years and says it is fighting for greater rights.
The deadly clashes came nearly a week after the Iranian military had threatened to attack the group's bases in neighboring Iraq. PJAK rebels said the fighting had spilled over into Iraq's Sulaimaniyah Province.
Oslo explosion: 'several' dead, dozens injured after Norway city blast
I expected a Scandinavian country to be attacked eventually, but I thought Denmark was most likely. This is from the Telegraph.
A massive car bomb explosion rocked central Oslo on Friday, killing "several" people, injuring dozens of people and severely damaging government buildings including the Prime Minister’s office.
Local media reported that police had confirmed "several deaths". Police urged people to stay of their mobile phones.
Locals report more than one explosion went off. Damage to buildings was as far as five blocks away The damage appeared consistent with that from car bombs. Police and fire officials declined to comment on the cause. The Prime Minister was reported to be safe.
Injured people were seen lying on the street in pools of blood. Heavy debris littered the streets and smoke rose over the city centre. The 17-storey building, which also houses Norway's biggest tabloid newspaper VG, was reported to be on fire, with thick black smoke being seen for miles.
Witnesses reported the massive blast blew out most windows in the building as well as nearby government departments including the oil ministry, in Norway’s capital and most populated city.
David Lea, Western Europe analyst, at Control Risks said: "It's very difficult to tell what has happened. There certainly aren't any domestic Norwegian terrorist groups although there have been some al Qaeda-linked arrests from time to time. They are in Afghanistan and were involved in Libya, but it's far too soon to draw any conclusions."
However, also from the Telegraph - Will heaven's opinion. And don't forget this happened on a Friday.
Oslo explosion: Is al-Qaeda behind this? It is not yet known who – or what – was behind the gigantic explosion that hit central Oslo this afternoon. But here are three factors that are worth bearing in mind.
A year ago, three men were arrested in Oslo on suspicion of preparing terrorist attacks. At the time, Norway’s security service chief Janne Kristiansen said: “We believe this group has had links to people abroad who can be linked to al Qaeda, and to people who are involved in investigations in other countries, among others the United States and Britain.”
“Many Islamists conflate Scandinavian countries. E.g. in 2006 Norwegian embassies were attacked following Danish cartoons.” It sounds far-fetched, but according to a Reuters report on the three arrested men mentioned above: Suspect Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, an Iraqi Kurd with Norwegian residency, confessed to planning a bomb attack against Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that published the Mohammad cartoons in 2005, It sounds highly likely to me. Anyway, an infidel is an infidel, whatever kaffir nation he lives in.
Norway has 400 troops in Afghanistan. Not as many as some, but do they really need an excuse.
This does not have the hallmarks of greens trying to save the whale, or Laplanders the reindeer. Keep the injured in your prayers tonight
This discussion of Arab sayings puts one in mind of another favorite of the ethnographic linguists or linguistic ethnographers.
In his exhaustive treatment of Indo-European Proverb and Riddle Lore, Prof. Hans Taubenschlag notes the many apparently independent appearances across the globe, of the same mysterious riddle. It consists of the following phrase (in its English version) :
"Brothers and sisters have I none, but this man's father is my father's son."
Based only on the information provided in that statement, the listener must then provide an answer to the question "Who Is Being Talked About?"
Examples of the riddle have been recorded in: Kyoto; the Kamschatka Peninsula; Kabul; Kandahar; Cairo; Capetown; Cagliari; Koenigsberg; Cannes; Kensington High Street; King's College (Cambridge); Cos Cob (Connecticut); Kansas City (Kansas); and Kalamazoo (Michigan).
This puzzle-phrase has been the subject of much speculation by linguists and ethnographers alike. Despite the enormous amount of scholarly attention it has received, having been the object of countless grant proposals, almost all of them successful, and the subject of many conferences (Acapulco, 1959; St. Tropez, 1971; Spoleto 1983; Nantucket, 1991) the significance of the riddle, much less its still elusive solution, has not yet been fully elucidated.
Scholars believe that despite the considerable efforts that have already been devoted to the matter of solving the riddle and understanding what it signifies, many promising avenues of further research need to be followed up, with many more grants also needing to be awarded and conferences needing to be attended, before the final breakthrough can be achieved. But they express cautious optimism that such a breakthrough is indeed on the horizon. There is light at the end of this particular tunnel.
There are reports that some shots have been fired and several people killed at a youth meeting of the ruling Labour Party in Utoya, an island on the outskirts near the capital. As many as 700 people were believed to be taking part in the summer camp - most of whom were teenagers aged between 14 and 18.
There are reports that a person dressed as a police officer opened fire on the island. Sky sources said that ambulances have been unable to reach Utoya because shots are still being fired. Police said that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was due to attend the event. Anti-terror officers have been sent to investigate the incident.
Sky sources said that survivors reported a strong smell of sulphur which has led to police investigating the theory this was a car bomb using fertiliser nitrate. Sam Kiley said that earlier this year, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a bomb-making handbook which contained notes on how to build fertiliser bombs.