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Virgins? What Virgins?: And Other Essays
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These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 23, 2012.
Friday, 23 November 2012
A feminist revolution that cruelly backfired - and a brutal lesson for Britain about telling the truth on sex gangs and race

From the Daily Mail

. . . middle-class girls, groomed into sex slavery by street gangs, have been rescued and are living in a safe house a few miles from De Wallen, the notorious red-light area of Holland’s capital, Amsterdam.

They are the lucky ones. Thousands of other young Dutch girls, some only 11 or 12 years old, are still in the power of the prowling gangs after a controversial social experiment to legalise brothels.

In a chilling parallel to the scandal sweeping Britain’s towns and cities, where a multitude of girls have been lured into sex-for-sale rings run by gangs, the Dutch pimps search out girls at school gates and in cafes, posing as ‘boyfriends’ promising romance, fast car rides and restaurant meals

The men ply their victims with vodka and drugs. They tell them lies: that they love them and their families don’t care for them. Then, the trap set, they rape them with other gang members, often taking photos of the attack to blackmail the girl into submission.

Befuddled, frightened, and too ashamed to tell parents or teachers, the girls are cynically isolated from their old lives and swept into prostitution.

So dangerous are the gangs that the girls at the safe house never venture out alone.

Anita de Wit, 48, the mother of three who set up the safe house last month. It is thought to be the first of its kind in the world. ‘The gangs can kill, and will try to get these girls back because they earn them money. We do not want them coming here to harm them. ’

Anything-goes Amsterdam has long been hailed as a sex mecca. . . In 2000, after pressure from prostitutes (demanding recognition as sex workers with employment rights) and Holland’s liberal intelligentsia (championing the choice of women to do what they wished with their bodies), the brothels were legalised.

But things went badly wrong. Holland’s newly legal sex industry was quickly infiltrated by street-grooming gangs with one target: the under-age girl virgin who can be sold for sex.

The men in the gangs are dubbed — incongruously — ‘lover boys’, because of their distinct modus operandi of making girls fall in love with them before forcing them into prostitution at private flats or houses all over Holland, and in the window brothels. The lover boy phenomenon has appalled Dutch society, not least because of the sheer numbers of girls involved.

Lodewijk Asscher a leading politician . . .  has championed new rules in Amsterdam’s red-light district from January. Prostitutes will sign a register and the minimum age for sex workers will be raised from 18 to 21, to try to stop girls being forced to work by the gangs.

Holland hopes the rot will be halted. Last year, 242 lover boy crimes were investigated by police, half of them involving the forced prostitution of girls under 18. Campaigner Anita de Wit says this is a fraction — ‘one per cent’ — of the true number. ‘There are thousands of girls being preyed on by male gangs in Holland,’ she says.

Anita visits schools to warn girls exactly what a lover boy looks like, and makes no bones of the fact that most of the gangs are operated by Dutch-born Moroccan and Turkish men.

‘I am not politically correct. I am not afraid of being called a racist, which would be untrue. I tell the girls that lover boys are young, dark-skinned and very good looking. They will have lots of money and bling as well as a big car. They will give out cigarettes and vodka. They will tell a girl that she is beautiful.

‘The gangs know who to pick out: the girl with the confidence problems, with the glasses, or who looks overweight. They flatter her and seem like the “knight in shining armour”. She is drawn to her new boyfriend like a magnet.

Anita’s bluntness is a far cry from the approach in Britain, where political correctness has stopped police and social workers telling girls the same home truths: that in many towns, particularly in the north of England, the handsome men chatting them up at the school gate are very likely to be of Pakistani descent. They, too, ply the girls with alcohol and gifts, pretending to be genuine boyfriends.

This week a report into our own sex gangs — by Sue Berelowitz, Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England — was criticised (by the NSPCC, among others) for discounting the evident link between Asian gangs and the sexual exploitation of white and mixed race girls.

In Holland, as in Britain . . . the lover boys seem to see white girls as worthless, to be abused without a second thought.

 . . . at the safe house, there are (equally) disturbing tales. There is Eline, who was an 18-year-old virgin when she met a Turkish lover boy at a New Year party at her local youth club.

Eline thought she was in love with him, but within a few weeks the rest of his group had gang-raped her on a patch of waste land, photographed their crime, and were threatening to tell her parents if she did not sleep with other men to earn them money.

Eline shakes her head a little sadly as she says: ‘The lover boys are always one step ahead. They are making a fortune from these young girls. It is everyone’s duty to tell the truth about what is happening — particularly to potential victims.’

It is a sobering lesson not only that political correctness must not prevent people voicing their fears about grooming gangs, but also that Holland’s liberal approach to sex has backfired disastrously on many of these damaged victims.

Posted on 11/23/2012 3:04 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 23 November 2012
Spielberg's Lincoln

Steven Spielberg is one of the few makers of historical biography in film who is careful about historical detail. Many young people receive their history lessons from the movies and Spielberg seems aware of that and acts responsibly.

Oscar predictions: Lincoln will be nominated for best picture and Spieberg for best director. Daniel Day-Lewis will be nominated for best actor. His portrayal of Lincoln was superb - down to this voice, his walk and his mannerisms. Sally Field will be nominated for best actress for her excellent portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens. Bruce McGill also deserves recognition for his excellent protrayal of Secretary of War Stanton. There will also be nominations for art direction, cinematography and so forth. The 19th Century came alive and the complicated issues of the day were deftly illuminated through the drama of the passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery at the end of the war. There were many interesting choices made in what was shown and what was not. The Gettysburg Address and the second inaugural (two of the greatest speeches in American history) were beautifully and surprisingly portrayed.

Lincoln is rare thing these days - a truly inspiring movie.

Posted on 11/23/2012 4:51 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 November 2012
Muslim Brotherhood head denounces cease-fire, as Morsi claims more power in Egypt

Washington Times:

CAIRO — The top leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood denounced peace efforts with Israel and urged holy war to liberate Palestinian territories on Thursday — one day after the country’s president, who hails from the movement, mediated a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians to end eight days of fierce fighting.

Meanwhile, President Mohammed Morsi issued constitutional amendments granting himself far-reaching powers and ordering the retrial of leaders of the regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak for the killings of protesters in last year’s uprising.

In Israel and the Gaza Strip, the cease-fire held Thursday, even as Israel arrested 55 Palestinian “terror operatives” across the West Bank only hours after the truce went into effect.

The Israeli army said that a reserves officer died Thursday of wounds sustained in a rocket attack that occurred hours before the fighting stopped. He was identified as Lt. Boris Yarmulnik, 28. His death raises the toll of Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza to six since Nov. 14, two of them soldiers. More than 160 Palestinians were killed.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badei predicted that Israel will not abide by the cease-fire.

“The enemy knows nothing but the language of force. Be aware of the game of grand deception with which they depict peace accords,” he said in a statement carried on the group’s website and emailed to reporters.

His statement was a sharp deviation from the role played by Mr. Morsi in the past week. U.S. officials have hailed Egypt’s role in brokering the deal.

The Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Israel, and its members refuse to hold direct talks with Israeli officials. But Mr. Morsi has said that he will abide by the terms of Egypt’s 1979 treaty with Israel, and many members say they are in little hurry to enter into armed conflict with the Jewish state.

Mr. Badei declared that “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims. He also said that taking up arms would be the “last stage,” only after Muslims achieve unity.

In the meantime, he called on Muslims to “back your brothers in Palestine.”

“Supply them with what they need, seek victory for them in all international arenas,” said Mr. Badei, officially known as the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood...

Posted on 11/23/2012 6:11 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 November 2012
No Pleasing Some People

The Telegraph: President Morsi's decree puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, which has caused fury amongst his opponents who have accused him of being the new Hosni Mubarak and hijacking the revolution.

Demonstrators burned down part of the headquarters of the Brotherhood's political front, the Freedom and Justice Party, in Alexandria and there were also protests in other cities.

Offices were ransacked as books and chairs were burned in the streets.

In Cairo, thousands of people demonstrated in Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising, demanding Morsi quit and accusing him of launching a "coup".

Common people, you elected the Muslim Brotherhood. What did you expect?

Posted on 11/23/2012 12:17 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 23 November 2012
Showing little fear of their supposed oppressors
Many Palestinian supporters far and wide have been attempting to revise recent history in an attempt to cast Israel as aggressor in the November 2012 violence, citing events on the 4th and 8th of November despite the fact that the timeline of these events does not support any such assertion. Today’s events at the Gaza border, in which one Palestinian man was killed by the IDF, have been met with similar protestations.
 
However, it would seem that several hundred "demonstrators" tried to rush the border with Gaza, the very same place where the recent violence flaired up. Warning shots are fired but the demonstrators kept coming. It would also seem that even a witness and relation of the deceased has partially acknowledged this fact, despite contrary claims they were just "farmers" and bystanders merely having a wee look at the border with Israel purely out of curiosity A Hamas spokesman accused Israel of violating the Egyptian-mediated truce which took hold on Wednesday and said the group would complain to Cairo.
 
Health officials said Anwar Qdeih, 23, was hit in the head by Israeli gunfire after he approached the security fence that runs between Israel and Gaza - an area that Israel has long declared a no-go zone for Palestinians.
 
"Anwar was trying to put a Hamas flag on the fence," said Omar Qdeih, a relative of the man killed who was at the scene.
 
"The army fired three times into the air. Anwar shouted at them ’Jaabari is behind you’, then they shot him in the head," he told Reuters.
Could it be that Hamas, which rules Gaza with an iron grip and a watchful eye, engineered the confrontation at a sensitive well observed border area, as rockets are no longer a viable political option having agreed to the ceasefire? Such an intent would be far from unprecedented as the Nabka border attacks attest.
 
Could events like the above also suggest that many Palestinians just don't take the IDF all that seriously? Perhaps, considering the spectacle of children attempting to provoke armed soldiers in concert with older Palestinians shooting video nearby. Does such behaviour fit the portrait of the IDF as barbaric killers?
Posted on 11/23/2012 5:06 PM by Robert Harris
Friday, 23 November 2012
Shiites And Sunnis In Pakistan

From The New York Times Blog:

November 23, 2012

The Plight of Pakistan’s Shiites

LONDON - Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is one of four sacred months during which fighting is prohibited. In Pakistan, it is usually one of the bloodiest. Sectarian militant groups see it as the perfect opportunity to target Shiite Muslims, who mark Muharram with daily sermons and frequent processions.

Sectarian attacks have intensified across the country since the holy month started last week. On Monday, a bomb blast at an imambargah (a Shiite mosque or congregation hall) in Karachi claimed two lives. On Wednesday, five people were killed and 11 wounded in back-to-back blasts near another imambargah in Karachi. That same night, 23 people were killed and more than 60 wounded when a suicide bomber attacked a procession in Rawalpindi. Meanwhile in Peshawar, the police seized a large quantity of explosive material and arrested a would-be suicide bomber.

This violence is not new. My home in Karachi is down the road from an imambargah, and each year brings more elaborate security arrangements: policemen with flashlights have gradually given way to razor wire, road blocks, armed guards, concrete barriers, and even bunkers.

This year, the road has been completely blocked to traffic since the start of Muharram. And yet the violence could still intensify, especially on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram - this year, Nov. 24 and 25 - the special days of remembrance known as Ashura, which are observed with public mourning, processions and sermons.

The situation has been made worse by the Pakistani government's half-hearted and hapless efforts to tackle sectarian militancy. Last week, anticipating attacks, the government suspended cellphone service in Karachi and Quetta, capital of the western province of Baluchistan, to block coordination among militants. Interior Minister Rehman Malik also pushed for a temporary ban on motorcycles, the bombers' vehicle of choice. (But millions of middle-income Pakistanis also use bikes, and so the courts blocked the measure, except along procession routes during Ashura.) Malik has also managed to prohibit cars and motorcycles across Sindh and in Quetta from parking within 1,000 yards of any imambargah - a tall order in a city as densely populated as Karachi.

Following this week's attacks, 100 C.C.T.V. cameras were installed to monitor processions in Karachi (at a cost of 50 million rupees, or $520,000). The Pakistani Army will probably be standing by. And cellphone services are likely to be suspended again in the provinces of Sindh and Baluchistan.

Yet the fuss over motorcycles and mobile phones is ridiculous given the government's failure to address the root causes of sectarian violence. Although anti-Shiite militant groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (A.S.W.J.) are officially banned, they nonetheless broadcast their hateful views through sermons and at rallies. They operate throughout the country with minimal government interference. And their message is starting to resonate: According to a recent Pew poll, only 50 percent of Pakistani Sunnis accept Shiites as Muslim.

Worse, politicians blatantly seek their support. In 2010, Rana Sanaullah, a member of the opposition PML-N party, campaigned for a local election in Punjab alongside Maulana Muhammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, leader of the A.S.W.J. This past February, members of the party of the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan shared a platform with the Defense of Pakistan Council, a coalition of 40 extremist organizations, including many anti-Shiite groups.

About 425 people have been killed in 149 sectarian attacks this year, primarily Shiites at the hands of Sunnis. The Hazara ethnic minority, mostly Shiites who live in Baluchistan, is especially vulnerable.

Despite the escalating violence, the government has made too little effort to root out militancy. The National Counter Terrorism Authority, founded in 2009 to develop a holistic strategy against domestic terrorism, is ineffectual. And where sectarianism thrives, regulating motorcycles and phone use won't save lives.

Posted on 11/23/2012 8:44 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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