These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 24, 2010.
Sunday, 24 October 2010
Un Caso Clinico, And A Classic (Penguin) Case, To Boot
Colette, on the sister of Spiritual Searcher Lauren Booth, the one who has now found Meaning In Her Life, and The True Path, not to mention a mental peace that passeth understanding, avant la lettre: here.
Some of the reporting of the documents is distinctly tendentious. Take for instance this from the Guardian. The headline states as fact that "Apache helicopters kill 14 civilians". The source for this? A single Iraq informant, speaking to an interpreter for the US military. In addition, an Iraqi colonel said the number was 12.
Any journalist who has worked in Iraq (and I spent much of 2004 and 2005 there) knows that casualty figures from Iraqis were extremely unreliable and often based on rumour, exaggeration or personal/political agendas and prejudices. In the US report, the figures are rightly described as "unconfirmed".
I'm not saying it's not true that 14 were killed. Civilians die in wars, often in very large numbers, and they certainly did so in Iraq. There might well have been that number or more killed by US forces that. But we just don't know and things that we can't be sure about should not be reported as fact just because we might like them to be true.
Interesting to note also to that the Guardian has seen fit to name the interpreter in the incident report, which I won't link to for that reason.
A couple of things to say about the detainee abuse. Clearly, a legacy of Saddam Hussein's regime was a culture of astonishing brutality in Iraq. To expect that indigenous forces would somehow adhere to Western standards of due process is unrealistic. Also, the effort entailed, in the middle of a war, to investigate every allegation and suspicion of abuse by Iraqis would have been a mammoth, and probably impossible, task.
The files show there were occasions recorded when morally courageous US troops did intervene and the blind-eye policy was eventually and rightly changed.
Before I continue, a pet peeve. Can we stop calling them WikiLeaks "the whistle-blowing website"? A whistle-blower is "an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organisation in the hope of stopping it". First, WikiLeaks does not operate within an organisation. Second, to presuppose they are exposing wrongdoing by leaking classified documents is buying their propaganda. But I digress.
It seems to me that the most significant revelations from the massive WikiLeaks document dump is the apparent extent of Iran's nefarious role in Iraq. Remember how we were always being told that the Bush administration was exaggerating the extent of Iranian influence with the Shia militia groups in order to push along a neocon plot to attack Iran? Well, an initial reading of the documents conducted by the New York Times indicates there wasn't much exaggeration at all.
Iranian influence in Iraq is minimal. It's been greatly exaggerated.
So exactly how does that statement square with this from the NYT?
The reports make it clear that the lethal contest between Iranian-backed militias and American forces continued after President Obama sought to open a diplomatic dialogue with Iran's leaders and reaffirmed the agreement between the United States and Iraq to withdraw American troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will not allow its universities to begin teaching certain disciplines it deems too "Western," and existing courses will be revised, a senior Education Ministry was quoted as saying Sunday.
"Expansion of 12 disciplines in the social sciences like law, women's studies, human rights, management, sociology, philosophy....psychology and political sciences will be reviewed," Abolfazl Hassani was quoted as saying in the Arman newspaper.
"These sciences' contents are based on Western culture. The review will be the intention of making them compatible with Islamic teachings."
Hassani said Iranian universities will not be allowed to open new departments in these disciplines and the curricula for existing departments would be revised.
Iran's hard-line rulers accuse the West of trying to harm the Islamic state by influencing the country's young generation with "decadent" culture.
Pointing to the enrolment of some 2 million out of a total of 3.5 million university students in the humanities, in August Iran's most powerful figure Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for modification of these studies.
"Many disciplines in the humanities are based on principles founded on materialism disbelieving the divine Islamic teachings," Khamenei said in a speech reported by state media.
"Thus such teachings...will lead to the dissemination of doubt in the foundations of religious teachings."
Access to the Internet and illegal satellite television mean Western popular culture is king among young Iranians, a vital constituency in a country where 70 percent of the population is under 30 and has no real memory of the 1979 Islamic revolution which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah.
The Race Had To Go On -- For The Greater Bought-And-Paid-For Glory Of The Rich-But-Worthless U.A.E.
Winner slams race conditions after swimmer's death
By MICHAEL CASEY AP Sports Writer
A day after U.S. national team swimmer Fran Crippen died during an open-water race in the United Arab Emirates, the winner of the event said the water and air temperatures were too high to hold a competition.
Thomas Lurz of Germany criticized both swimming's governing body and race organizers Sunday, saying conditions were too hot for racing, that FINA's schedule was too grueling and that organizers should have done more to ensure swimmers' safety in the Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup held at Fujairah, east of Dubai, on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Crippen, from a family of prominent swimmers in suburban Philadelphia, failed to finish and was found in the water two hours later, about 400 meters from the finish, organizers said.
FINA's president said Sunday that "overexertion" led to Crippen's death and FINA had launched in investigation into the tragedy.
"What we know initially is that he exerted himself more than he could, that's what we know," said FINA President Julio Maglione of Uruguay, attending an International Olympic Committee conference in Acapulco, Mexico. Maglione said he was told that after eight kilometers Crippen informed his coach that he wasn't feeling well.
Race officials said a medical report and autopsy on Crippen had been completed, but declined to release their full details to the media.
Swimmers complained of the warm water temperatures, but Ayman Saad, executive director of the UAE swimming association, played down heat as a factor, saying that the water temperature was 84 degrees at the start of the race, which was held in the ocean on a triangular 2-kilometer course behind a breakwater.
All safety measures were in place including lifeguards, boats and divers, Saad said, adding that FINA had signed off on everything before the race started.
Usually at open-water races, a boat follows the last swimmer on the course.
"What I think happened is that the swimmers were in various groups. This is what I heard," FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The AP. "On the last feeding station the coach was talking to him. But I really don't know. We have to wait for the investigation and then we will come up with our position on this. Otherwise it's only speculation."
Lurz insisted temperatures must have been above 86 degrees and that several swimmers suffered due to the heat. He said he talked to many swimmers who complained of swollen fingers and toes, water loss, and he saw several who had become confused following their race.
"The water was amazingly hot," Lurz said. "Nobody thought such things like yesterday could happen. ... It shows it was really just too hot. It was not just one swimmer. There were many swimmers who had serious problems in the water."
FINA's rules place no limit on how warm water can be to hold a race.
Besides Crippen, three other swimmers - two U.S. women and one Brazilian - were taken to the hospital. All were to be released by Monday. Their names had not been officially released, but included Brazilian Allan Do Carmo and American Eva Fabian.
Maglione maintained that organizers followed FINA's rules.
"Apart from the investigation, we are awaiting a report from our technical director, who says that everything was normal according to the regulations," Maglione said. "They told me ... the medical report said it was huge overexertion, that's what they told me."
Gunnar Werner of Sweden, a member of FINA's legal commission and a former FINA honorary member, will lead the investigation and was to arrive at the race site late Sunday.
"When he finishes his inquiry we'll put out our position," Marculescu said. "We understand that they have the medical report in Arabic and they will translate it to English and send it to us. Probably tomorrow we will have it in the office.
"This is a swimmer with a lot of experience. He was a fantastic guy and he came from a big swimming family. We've never had something like that happen in our sport before. I'm sorry for him and his family."
Crippen was the silver medalist in the 10K at the Pan Pacific championships in August, earned a bronze medal in the 10K at the 2009 world championships, was national champion in the 5K in 2009, and won a gold medal in the 10K at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Crippen finished fourth in the 10K and fifth in the 5K at this year's world championships.
Lurz, a nine-time open water champion, said Crippen's death highlighted the need for changes within the World Cup circuit, including setting a maximum temperature and easing rules that require a swimmer to finish the final race to gain points crucial to moving up the rankings and earning prize money.
Lurz speculated it was probably Crippen's desire to finish the race that cost him his life.
"I'm sure he tried everything because he is a sportsman ..." Lurz said. "He would never give up."
Swimmers were the first to respond when Crippen failed to arrive at the finish. Several returned to the water to search for him and were soon followed by police and coast guard divers. Crippen's body was found just before the last buoy on the course, race organizers said.
Crippen was rushed to shore and transported to Fujairah Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"It was unacceptable that swimmers were searching for another swimmer. That is horrible. This can't be," Lurz said. "Swimmers go under water in seconds. There need to be more boats, jet skis, canoes who can take care of every swimmer."
Swimming officials in the UAE canceled the 15km open-water event that was scheduled to be held Wednesday at the same location.
The 10K race is the only open-water discipline that is an Olympic event, having made its debut at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Swimmers and officials gathered at the race site Sunday and held an impromptu memorial service. Many had tears in their eyes and some veterans such as Angela Maurer of Germany openly wept in the arms of her husband.
"It was our way of saying goodbye to a friend and fellow competitor," Lurz said.
Cherie Booth QC was an idiot and a dhimmi for defending, unsuccessfully, the right of a Luton schoolgirl to wear a jilbab. But her sister Lauren has outdone her, going the whole hog. From The Guardian, which doubtless approves:
Tony Blair's sister-in-law has converted to Islam after having what she describes as a "holy experience" during a visit to Iran.
Journalist and broadcaster Lauren Booth, 43 - Cherie Blair's sister - now wears a hijab whenever she leaves her home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque whenever she can.
She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom.
"It was a Tuesday evening and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy," she said in an interview today.
When she returned to Britain, she decided to convert immediately.
Booth - who works for Press TV, the English-language Iranian news channel - has stopped eating pork and reads the Qur'an every day. She is currently on page 60.
Booth has stopped drinking alcohol and says she has not wanted to drink since converting.
Before her spiritual awakening in Iran, she had been "sympathetic" to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine, she said, adding that she hoped her conversion would help Blair change his presumptions about Islam
I didn't know he had any, except for the usual nonsense about Islam being a religion of peace. This is a "look at me, I'm more interesting than my big sister" type of dozy binthood. Does she approve of said big sister being a QC, given that women in Islam are not supposed to be judges and kafir law is wrong?
Whaley's interview endeavors to answer the question we posed in an NER article. "Is Islam a religion or is it a political doctrine seeking world domination with a thin veneer of religious practices?"
Smietana hammers anti-jihad non-profit groups for allegedly making a profit for their principals based on their IRS Form 990 and 1023 filings. Among the groups and persons he cites for criticism in this regard are Steve Emerson of the Investigative Project (IPT), Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), David Horowitz of the Horowitz Freedom Foundation, Brigitte Gabriel and senior staff of Act for America, and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch.
He considers none of the anti-Sharia proponents as 'experts'. Smietana suggests that Middle Tennessee harbors Christian Zionists who are anti-Islam, pro-Israel and anti-mosque advocates. In a companion article he likens these Christian opponents of mosque expansion in the area to the anti-Catholic sentiments in the late 1920's.
By far the biggest target in Part 1 is Steve Emerson of the IPT. Smietana's 'investigation' suggests that IPT's Delaware management company, set up to protect the identities of IPT's staff and donors, has funneled millions that profited Emerson personally. Emerson received only a modest salary for his efforts. The arrangements have passed the IRS review of the group's Form 1023. My colleague and publisher of the New English Review, Rebecca Bynum, argued against this line in Smietana's article praising Emerson's valued investigative work. However Smietana trivializes Emerson's efforts, especially the revelations about the demonstrable Hamas support by an Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) board member, Mosaad Rawash. That connection to the opponents of the ICM expansion project may have provoked Smietana's interest in investigating Emerson.
Smietana also cites Frank Gaffney of the CSP for his allegedly taking a big salary and for his lack of Sharia expertise. Gaffney and the CSP team have tirelessly worked with Sharia law experts to produce the definitive Team B Shariah: Threat to America Report unveiled at a Washington, DC Capitol Hill event in mid-September. This was just prior to Gaffney's appearance at the Murfreesboro Chancery Court hearing on September 27th
Did Smietana hear Sharia law expert, former Muslim Sam Solomon, when he presented in Nashville this past week? If he did, he doesn't disclose that. Instead, Smietana goes on to pillory local 'expert' Bill Warner because he's not a religious Islamic expert but a physicist by background and scientifically trained. Warner is criticized by Smietana for his publishing pamphlets on Shariah and Political Islam. One of the few educational events that Smietana attended was Warner's lecture at a Murfreesboro home. Smietana depicted Warner thusly:
With an American flag as a backdrop, [Warner] paced back and forth like the Church of Christ ministers he heard growing up. His message: how creeping Shariah law is undermining the very fabric of American life.
"This offends Allah," said [Warner], pointing to the flag on the wall. "You offend Allah."
[Warner], who has no formal education in religion, believes Islam is not a religion. Instead, he sees Islam and its doctrine and rules - known as Shariah law - as a totalitarian ideology.
Would Smietana say the same thing of former Muslims and residents of Rutherford County? They know firsthand the Sharia treatment of women, unbelievers and gays in Muslim countries. After all the Mahdist Mullahs in Iran had executed over 4,000 gays since 1979 and continue to sentence women to stoning on trumped up charges of adultery. Smietana had the opportunity to interview these local former Muslims.
Smietana would likely dismiss out of hand the pioneering work on dhimmitude, Islamic anti-Semitism, and Sharia by Bat Ye'or, Andrew Bostom and Robert Spencer because they don't have definitive academic credentials.
Smietana is also unlikely to have read the leading Sunni Sharia legal experts. We refer to Muslim 'scholars' like the late Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi who led Al Azhar University, Sheik Yusuf al Qawadari Shariah finance proponent, and Pakistani Islamic 'revivalist' Abul Ala Maududi founder of Jamaat-e-Islami. Their writings, rulings and fatwas containing anti-Semitic, anti-Western, pro- Jihadist cant fill the racks of 80% of US Mosques identified in the Mapping Sharia Study as extremist and Sharia complaint. Smietana might consider the 1999 testimony at a State Department Forum of Sufi Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani who corroborated the Mapping Sharia project findings that Saudi funding had radicalized US Mosques.
If Smietana wanted to be fair and balanced he should have addressed who funds Muslim Brotherhood front groups in the US. CSP investigations have revealed that CAIR may be in violation of the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) given significant Saudi and UAE funding of its operations.
Unfortunately we have funded the expansion of the Islamic beachhead in America through our addiction to Middle Eastern oil. What is the expression by the cartoon character, Pogo, created by the late Walt Kelly, "We have met the enemy and they are us."
When did this bow wave of Sharia compliant Da'wa (Call to Islam) begin in America? Some say that it was in the early 1970's during the first oil boycott triggered by the Yom Kippur War. Leading American oil companies who were partners in ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia funded 'image studies' of Arabs and Islam at American Universities.
Townhall.com columnist Joel Mowbray points towards a defining event in Saudi Arabia in 1979, the siege at the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Muslim Brotherhood adherents. As a result Saudi Arabia poured billions into global Da'wa to spread its Wahhabist doctrine. My NER colleague, Hugh Fitzgerald has suggested that billions spent by the Saudis far outweigh the Soviet funding of the Cold war propaganda against the West.
But none of this will appear in the pages of The Tennessean. As Smietana is on a war path against critics of the Islamic Sharia threat to America.
I am writing to take great exception to reporter Bob Smietana's characterization of the work done by Steve Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism in today's article, "Anti-Muslim crusaders make millions spreading fear."
First, Mr. Smietana cites one line in our 2008 tax filings to make the unsupported implication that Steve Emerson is somehow pocketing $3,349,000 in management fees from his relationship with the Investigative Project on Terrorism Foundation. He ignores the details on page 10 of the 990 form that shows $2,373,000 of that money went to pay for program expenses, such as the high costs of conducting our research, and $1,017,000 in management and salary costs for our staff of more than 15 people.
Mr. Smietana says without attribution that we are "spreading hate." On what information does he base that subjective, opinionated claim? Is it the Tennessean's practice to allow reporters to make such claims without the benefit of attributing what is clearly an opinion to a named source?
The article also says IPT is "telling donors they're in imminent danger from Muslims." Again, what is the source for this claim? IPT's clearly stated role is to identify potential terrorist threats, particularly those coming from people who hide their true leanings. Our track record is clear: From members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad working at a university think tank in Florida to Hamas supporters using a charity to support terrorism, IPT has been ahead of the curve. Many of the subjects of our work are either in prison or have been deported. That speaks to our track record.
Mr. Smietana also uses loaded terms, such as "self-styled" to refer to Steve and others. Steve has reported on these issues for more than 25 years, and his work and that of IPT has been recognized by national journalism organizations. His 1994 documentary Jihad in America received a George Polk Award. If you are to refer to anyone who reports on or studies any topic as "self-styled," wouldn't that also refer to virtually every employee of the Tennessean? Are all of your court reporters lawyers? Do your police reporters have degrees in criminal justice?
The article implies that we say there is a blanket danger from all Muslims, and anyone who reads the site would see that's not correct. We print articles by Muslims and do stories about Muslims who present a different point of view than the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Islamist groups.
By saying our "tax-exempt status is facing questions," you imply that someone other than the Tennessean and the paper's hand-picked analysts are raising those questions. You present this as something that is already happening outside the realm of the newspaper and its talking heads. If so, what proof do you have of that?
The article also ignores what we told Mr. Smietana about the expansion of our board of directors in 2009, and that the structuring of the relationship between the foundation and SAE Productions was done to provide a layer of security for our employees. Steve has been the subject of death threats because of his work, and our organization as a whole has also been threatened. All of this was approved by our outside legal and accounting experts.
We told the IRS we were contracting out much of our work with a group that did not have tax-exempt status. That was approved. As for the for-profit or not-for-profit nature of SAE Productions, the IRS is aware of that as well. That has not been questioned. We say IPTF contracts out with SAE Productions, which files tax returns with the IRS. All of that has been disclosed.
Finally, your article has taken our limited role in the Murfreesboro story and blown it way out of proportion. We received a question from someone in Tennessee about officials at the mosque. We found that one board member had pro-Hamas writing on his MySpace page. Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by the federal government since 1995. The article says the Department of Homeland Security told mosque officials that they found nothing to worry about, but your sources are those officials. Also, you attempt to back up by recycling a quote from an FBI official that says they don't comment on specific allegations. In essence, you have no primary source to back up the mosque officials' claims.