These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 28, 2013.
Monday, 28 January 2013
Muslim vigilante gang attacks 'could escalate', police warn
I didn't put this up last night, and now I see that The Sunday Telegraph has made an update.
Vigilante gang attacks could escalate into violence and unrest, police have warned, as Islamic extremists vowed to protect “Muslim areas” from those who “disobey God”.
Scotland Yard detectives investigating a series of incidents that were filmed and posted on YouTube are also looking into an assault on a man in his 20s after vigilantes confronted white revellers in Shoreditch, east London.In a separate incident in the early hours of January 6, vigilantes assaulted a white man in his 20s in what police described as a “hate crime”. I could be wrong but right on the border of Bethnal Green (which comes under LB Tower Hamlets) and Shoreditch (which comes under LB Hackney) are two of the only three gay pubs left in the area. One is literally on the corner of Boundary Street. I suspect they were the morality patrol's target.
Police have stepped up patrols in the area amid fears the incidents could escalate further and cause unrest in communities.
Detective Chief Inspector Wendy Morgan, who is overseeing the Metropolitan police's investigation into the incidents, told The Sunday Times: "The question has been asked 'Are we worried about escalation?' Obviously, we are. We don't want any unnecessary unrest in the community."
The behaviour was condemned by Muslim leaders.
According to the Sunday Times, lurking behind the paywall, Muslim groups are further considering targeting abortion clinics and betting shops. They have also highlighted a link to another video made last summer by the Shariah Project of a second anti-prostitute patrol around Leyton. That group denys links with the Muslim Patrol of Tower Hamlets, but their spokesman said that as a Muslim, he cannot condem the actions of other Muslims.
We live in interesting times, not!
Posted on 01/28/2013 7:22 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 January 2013
200 years since Pride and Prejudice was published
As John said earlier, here at NER "we also try to point up various aspects of our cultures"
I could make all sorts of comparisons about Jane Austen's intelligence, her decision to stay single and write professionally, the decisions her heroines make about their marriages, that she wrote at a time when marriage was not solely about a young couple who fall in love but that she regarded love as imperative, with a culture which even when transplanted to western Europe frequently practises polygamy, forced marriage and child marriage into the present day.
Enough said. This is the house in Chawton in Hampshire where she edited ready for publication her best known (but in my opinion not her best, although it is still very good) novel, Pride and Prejudice, which was published 200 years ago today. Front, back and inside.
Photographs E Weatherwax and S Sto Helit February 2012.
Posted on 01/28/2013 8:21 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 January 2013
Like China, Like Pakistan, Iran Too Looks Forward To Deriving Profit From Afghanistan
The American government spent one trillion dollars in Afghanistan, a violent, tribal society, with a primitive population (kept primitive by Islam) that enjoys blowing up schools and other examples of Infidel-funded attempts to improve life for Afghans.
China is hoping to profit from the mineral wealth of Afghanistan. Pakistan is hoping to profit from continuing to influence Afghani politics through the Taliban and other Islamic groups (referred to by self-assuredly pretend-knowing journalists as "the Quetta Shura" and "the Haqqani network") based in, or given succor in, or funded from, the Pakistani side of the Durand Line. And now Iran, whose fellow Shi'a in Afghanistan, the Hazara (an easily-identifiable Mongoloid people) were being massacred by the uber-Sunni Taliban until the Americans arrived in time to rescue them, hopes too to profit from ties to Afghanistan.
The Americans could simply have bombed Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, left calling-cards promising to monitor the situation using drones, and then bombs ad libitum, as the re-appearance of the illness warranted. But instead they chose to stay, to bring "freedom" and "democracy? and, as in Iraq, and most expensively, toys and good things to eat for boys and girls on the other side of the mountain. It's been very good for the family of Mohammed Karzai, and for courtiers of Karzai, and assorted warlords, all of whom have, being bandits, made out like bandits, and they can't quite believe their luck, and the American manna that has fallen on them like the gentle rain from heaven, and that they are still trying to keep coming, for as long as they can, from the longsuffering American taxpayers who have, of course, no say in what their freewheeling rulers, whose idea of a "strategy" in dealing with the Camp of Islam is to lavish here, there, and everywhere money upon any Muslims who forgot to be born with oil and gas deposits under their soil.
Here's the story about Iran's overtures to Afghanistan:
Bloomberg-1 hour ago
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is seeking to strengthen links with neighboring Afghanistan, saying Iranian electricity and water ...
Posted on 01/28/2013 9:15 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Islamic Unity, Or, Ahmedinajad Both Encourages, And Reflects, A Meeting Of Muslim Minds
Ahmadinejad: Muslims Should Mobilize to Destroy Zionism
"Under the circumstances that the Zionists are occupying and killing oppressed people, we should not sit idly by," says Iranian president.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that all Muslims should mobilize their resources to uproot Zionism.
He made the remarks in his speech to the 26th international conference on Islamic Unity, saying that the prime goal of the Muslims should be terminating the issue of Zionism.
“Under the circumstances that the corrupt, uncultured and murderous Zionists are occupying and killing oppressed people, we should not sit idly by,” Ahmadinejad was quoted by PressTV as having said.
Elsewhere in his speech, he said that it is not possible to attain unity without having a unique leadership, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
The only leader who can guide the Muslim world is the prophet Mohammad, he underlined.
“All differences and discords among Muslims have roots in our misunderstanding of Holy Quran and the guidelines of the prophet Mohammad,” said Ahmadinejad. “Today we need leadership similar to the prophet to get the Muslim world united.”
Criticizing the management of the global economy led by the U.S., he said the U.S. has taken helm of global economy which aims to transfer the wealth of world nations into the pockets of certain governments.
“Enemies of humanity claim they are administering the world. They claim to be advocates of freedom and democracy around the world but under such circumstances, they should not say that they advocate freedom of Muslims. They must call for liberation of all world nations as well as the U.S. people from the rein of Zionists,” said Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad’s hateful remarks were made on the same day that countries around the world marked International Holocaust Day.
The Iranian president, who is notorious for his hateful comments against Jews and Israel, has several times denied the Holocaust occurred. Last March he surpassed previous acts of chutzpah and told German television the Holocaust “was a colonialist plan that resulted from a lie” that Israel exploits to suppress Palestinian Authority Arabs.
Ahmadinejad asserted that Jews “never were rulers of this land. They made a story named Holocaust, and the Palestinians have to pay the price for it.”
Several months ago Ahmadinejad labeled Israel “the axis of unity of the world hegemonic powers.”
“It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs, and behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision makers...” the Iranian president claimed.
The Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also repeatedly expressed hope that Israel would be wiped off the map.
Last summer Khamenei expressed confidence that the “Palestinians” will eventually retake control of their motherland.
“The light of hope will shine on the Palestinian issue, and this Islamic land will certainly be returned to the Palestinian nation, and the superfluous and fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography,” Khamenei said.
Posted on 01/28/2013 9:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Uber-Sunnis Suicide Blasts Kill Alawite MIlitiamen
From USA Today:
Al-Qaeda-linked group claims blame for Syria blast
BEIRUT (AP) — An al-Qaeda-linked group fighting alongside Syrian rebels claimed responsibility Monday for a suicide car bombing that reportedly killed dozens of President Bashar Assad's loyalists last week.
Islamic militants have been the most organized fighters battling government troops in the 22-month-old conflict in which more than 60,000 people have been killed. Their growing prominence has fueled fears that Muslim radicals may try to hijack the revolt, and has contributed to the West's hesitance to equip the opposition with sophisticated weapons.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which the U.S. says has ties to al-Qaeda and has declared a terrorist organization, said in a statement posted online that one of its suicide bombers detonated a car bomb last Monday at the headquarters of a pro-government militia in the central province of Hama. It said the bomber drove a truck packed with explosives to the militia's complex in the town of Salamiya and blew himself up "to give the tyrannical regime a taste" of violence it has been inflicting on the Syrian people.
Activists said at least 42 people, mostly pro-Assad militiamen, were killed in the blast. The government did not say how many people were killed, although state-run SANA news agency published photographs of what it said was a funeral procession for the blast's victims on Wednesday. In one of the photographs, a dozen men are seen standing behind 11 caskets, wrapped into a Syrian flag.
Jabhat al-Nusra has previously targeted government institutions in Damascus with suicide bombers and has led successful attacks on military bases and strategic territory in the country's north.
The suicide bombings are part of the relentless violence that has engulfed Syria since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.
On Monday, activists said troops were battling rebels in several towns and villages around Damascus, including in Daraya, Arbeen and Zabadani. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the regime's forces also shelled several of the capital's suburbs.
The areas outside of Damascus have been rebel strongholds since the uprising began. In recent months, the rebels have used them as a base from which they have been trying to push into central Damascus, the seat of Assad's power.
In the north, troops clashed with rebels in al-Hasaka province along Syria's border with Turkey, the Observatory said, adding that at least 10 rebels were killed in the fighting that erupted Sunday after the opposition fighters attacked a government checkpoint.
International efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria have repeatedly failed and both sides fighting in the civil war are convinced they can defeat the other on the battle field.
Posted on 01/28/2013 9:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
A Musical Interlude: My Handy Man (Ethel Waters)
Posted on 01/28/2013 9:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Could One Of Those Diverse Ideas Be To End All Attempts To Programmatically "Diversify" In Such Banal Ways?
From an announcement at an academic job site:
"The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from visible minority group members, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, members of sexual minority groups, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas."
Posted on 01/28/2013 11:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Senator Kerry Answers -- Unsatisfactorily-- Senator Rand Paul
Posted on 01/28/2013 11:08 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Hamadi Redissi, The Secularist Who Has To Pretend The Problem Is Not Islam But Islamism, Nonetheless Recognizes That Those Who Take Islam Most To Heart Threaten Those Who Don't
From Le Journal du Dimanche:
Tunisie : "Le rêve d'Ennahda est notre cauchemar"
INTERVIEW - Hamadi Redissi est politologue et philosophe. Il est l’un des grands spécialistes de l’islamisme en Tunisie. Il a écrit Le Pacte de Nadjid (Seuil 2007), ou comment l’islam sectaire est devenu l’islam. Son dernier livre paru est La Tragédie de l’islam moderne (Seuil 2011). Il répond aux questions du JDD, dans sa maison, à Tunis, au lendemain de l’ajournement du procès de Habib Kazdaghli, le doyen de l’université de la Manouba.
Pourquoi le procès a-t-il été ajourné?
Ils font durer le dossier depuis le début de l’affaire, basé sur un calcul simple. Galvanisée par sa victoire aux élections libres d’octobre 2011, Ennahda a pensé s’appuyer sur les salafistes. Aussi quand ses derniers à l’automne ont commencé une action à l’université de la Manouba pour imposer que les étudiantes "niqabées" puissent passer les examens, ils ont surfé sur la vague de cet incident, avec le doyen de la faculté qui s’opposait à eux.
Visiblement le plan ne se déroule pas tout à fait comme prévu?
Non, en effet. Parce que le rapport de force entre Ennahda et les salafistes a changé, il n’est plus autant qu’avant en faveur de ces derniers. Ils sont donc coincés. Si le doyen est condamné, on saura que la justice est biaisée et s’il est libéré, les salafistes ne seront pas contents. En outre, s’il est acquitté, il pourra se retourner contre les plaignantes, les "niqabées". Le verdict a été repoussé au 17 janvier, cela ne me surprend pas. Ce sera trois jours après le remaniement ministériel prévu.
Pensez-vous qu’Ennadha cherche à mettre en place un régime de terreur?
N’allons pas si vite. Il est vrai qu’ils sont dans le double discours et qu’ils ont un agenda. Ils sont d’ailleurs entrain de le mettre en place, de façon à la fois transparente et opaque. Il y a d’un côté des élections qui se déroulent dans une certaine transparence et que j’appelle en sciences politique, la dictature élective. Et de l’autre, il y a une mise en place et une occupation de tous les rouages de l’Etat comme de ceux de la société civile, qui est évidente.
Quel est donc réellement l’agenda du parti d’Ennahda?
Il y a le plan A et le plan B. Le plan A qui ferait que la Tunisie ressemble à une dictature démocratique, type Poutine. Un dirigeant élu mais autoritaire et qui serait acceptable par l’Occident. Et un plan B qui serait la mise en place d’une dictature religieuse mais pas sur le modèle iranien. Le nombre d’écoles coranique est croissant, le port du niqab plus que autorisé, le nombre de mosquées contrôlées par les salafistes est passé à plus de 500 dans tout le pays. Ce n’est donc pas une islamisation forcée et brutale mais plutôt "atmosphérielle", de sorte que dans quatre ou cinq ans la Tunisie sera submergée par la religiosité. Cela deviendra donc un Etat dont la société aura basculé de façon très naturelle dans le religieux. On en voit aujourd’hui l’ébauche. C’est clairement le rêve de Ghannouchi et ce sera notre cauchemar.
Comment pourrait-il échouer?
Il y a encore de grandes forces de résistance : les femmes, les classes moyennes sécularisées et une tradition nationale. Il ne sera donc pas aisé de mettre le plan B en application. Et s’il y a résistance, ils devront passer à un stade supérieur, celui de la violence. Or, ils sont divisés.
Il y a deux camps : d’un côté, ceux que j’appelle les aventuriers, et de l’autre les réalistes. Les premiers sont prêts à aller jusqu’à la violence et Ghannouchi en est incontestablement le chef de file. Il est entouré d’une clique de voyous et ne vous méprenez pas, ce ne sont pas des voyous en gandoura, barbichette et petites sandales, non ils sont en costume trois-pièces, ils ont attrapé une proie et ne sont pas prêts de la laisser filer. Les deuxièmes sont de bons bourgeois qui n’iront pas se mettre dans un processus de violence. Au contraire, ils travaillent sur le scénario des élections, et au plus vite.
Quelle est la marche de manœuvre de l’opposition?
Comme elle est libérale et pacifiste, elle n’a aucun autre choix que celui de l’agenda unique : élections et libertés. Mais Ennahda ne lui facilite pas le travail puisqu’ils leur laissent très peu d’accès au peuple, notamment en province, quasiment totalement verrouillée par le parti. Résultat, l’opposition est de facto coupée de sa base. Les petites gens se mettent à avoir peur.
Comment voyez-vous l’avenir de votre pays?
Si les élections se déroulent librement et avec transparence, nous aurons peut-être la chance de faire de la Tunisie, le cimetière de l’islam politique. Mais pour cela, il faudra une grosse pression pour que le parti d’Ennahda et les partis de gauche de la coalition gouvernementale arrivent aux élections, de manière propre et légale. Il y a un récent sondage américain, réalisé par l’université de Yale sur un échantillon de 1000 personnes interrogées sur trois mois, qui montre qu’Ennahda aurait perdu près de 65% de sympathisants, en l’espace d’un an. L’avenir du pays est en train de se jouer mais aussi incontestablement celui du parti islamiste. D’autant que 80% des gens interrogés ont affirmé qu’ils se décideraient à la dernière minute pour le candidat de leur choix.
Posted on 01/28/2013 9:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Mali: French troops encircle Timbuktu as fleeing Islamists burn ancient scrolls
From AFP via the Telegraph and the Guardian
Fleeing Islamists torched a building housing priceless ancient manuscripts in Mali's fabled desert city of Timbuktu, which was on Monday ringed by French-led troops making a lightning advance north.
A building housing tens of thousands of manuscripts from the ancient Muslim world and Greece was set aflame, raising fears of further damage to the country's cultural heritage after months of destruction by radical Islamists.
French paratroopers swooped in to try to block fleeing hardliners as ground troops coming from the south seized the airport of Timbuktu, which has been a bastion of the extremists controlling the north for 10 months.
"We control the airport at Timbuktu," a senior officer with the Malian army told AFP. "We did not encounter any resistance."
Timbuktu mayor Halley Ousmane, who is in Bamako, confirmed the fire at the Ahmed Baba Centre for Documentation and Research which housed between 60,000 and 100,000 manuscripts, according to Mali's culture ministry. "I spoke to my media officer this morning. What has happened in Timbuktu is dramatic," he said.
Ousmane said he had been informed that Islamists had "burnt alive" a resident who had cried out "Vive la France".
Hallé Ousmani Cissé told the Guardian that al-Qaida-allied fighters on Saturday torched two buildings that held the manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century. They also burned down the town hall, the governor's office and an MP's residence, and shot dead a man who was celebrating the arrival of the French military.French troops and the Malian army reached the gates of Timbuktu on Saturday and secured the town's airport. But they appear to have got there too late to rescue the leather-bound manuscripts that were a unique record of sub-Saharan Africa's rich medieval history.
He added: "This is terrible news. The manuscripts were a part not only of Mali's heritage but the world's heritage. By destroying them they threaten the world. We have to kill all of the rebels in the north."
The manuscripts were held in two separate locations: an ageing library and a new South African-funded research centre, the Ahmad Babu Institute, less than a mile away. Completed in 2009 and named after a 17th-century Timbuktu scholar, the centre used state-of-the-art techniques to study and conserve the crumbling scrolls.
Both buildings were burned down, according to the mayor, who said the information came from an informer who had just left the town. Asked whether any of the manuscripts might have survived, Cissé replied: "I don't know."
The manuscripts had survived for centuries in Timbuktu, on the remote south-west fringe of the Sahara desert. They were hidden in wooden trunks, buried in boxes under the sand and in caves. When French colonial rule ended in 1960, Timbuktu residents held preserved manuscripts in 60-80 private libraries.
The vast majority of the texts were written in Arabic. A few were in African languages, such as Songhai, Tamashek and Bambara. There was even one in Hebrew. They covered a diverse range of topics including astronomy, poetry, music, medicine and women's rights. The oldest dated from 1204.
Seydou Traoré, who has worked at the Ahmed Baba Institute since 2003, and fled shortly before the rebels arrived, said only a fraction of the manuscripts had been digitised. "They cover geography, history and religion. We had one in Turkish. We don't know what it said." He said the manuscripts were important because they exploded the myth that "black Africa" had only an oral history. "You just need to look at the manuscripts to realise how wrong this is."
Some of the most fascinating scrolls included an ancient history of west Africa, the Tarikh al-Soudan, letters of recommendation for the intrepid 19th-century German explorer Heinrich Barth, and a text dealing with erectile dysfunction. A large number dated from Timbuktu's intellectual heyday in the 14th and 15th centuries, Traoré said. By the late 1500s the town, north of the Niger river, was a wealthy and successful trading centre, attracting scholars and curious travellers from across the Middle East. Some brought books to sell.
Typically, manuscripts were not numbered, Traoré said, but repeated the last word of a previous page on each new one. Scholars had painstakingly numbered several of the manuscripts, but not all, under the direction of an international team of experts.
Posted on 01/28/2013 11:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 January 2013
Annals Of Davos Man: Kissinger On The Need To Stop Iran
24 January 2013
A nuclear war in the Middle East would be a "turning point in human history," says Mr Kissinger
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran is in the "foreseeable future".
The Nobel Peace laureate, 89, was speaking about prospects in the Middle East at the World Economic Forum.
He said nuclear proliferation in the region triggered by an armed Iran would increase the chances of an atomic war - "a turning point in human history".
He also urged the US and Russia to co-operate in resolving Syria's conflict.
"There has emerged in the region, the current and most urgent issue of nuclear proliferation. For 15 years, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have declared that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, but it has been approaching," he said.
"In a few years, people will have to come to a determination of how to react, or the consequences of non-reaction.
"I believe this point will be reached in a very foreseeable future," he added.
In his assessment of the stand-off between Iran and Western powers over its nuclear programme - which Tehran argues is for peaceful and civilian purposes - Mr Kissinger called for "serious" negotiations on both sides to look for solutions.
"Unilateral intervention by Israel would be a desperate last resort, but the Iranians have to understand that if they keep using the negotiations to gain time to complete a nuclear programme then the situation will become extremely dangerous."
The consequences of Tehran's programme, he said, would be that other countries in the region would also want nuclear arms.
"The danger is that we could be reaching a point where nuclear weapons would become almost conventional, and there will be the possibility of a nuclear conflict at some point... that would be a turning point in human history," he said.
"If Iran acts as a nation and not as a revolutionary cause, there is no reason for America or other permanent members of the UNSC to be in conflict with it, nor any countries in the region. On that basis I would hope that a negotiated solution would be found in a measurable time."
Meanwhile, Mr Kissinger advocated a US-Russia understanding over the conflict in Syria, while opposing military intervention.
"The Syrian problem would best be dealt internationally by Russia and America not making it a contest of national interests," he said.
"I would hope that the undertaking of the US foreign policy will not be be characterised by the divisions that we see in [its] domestic policy."
Posted on 01/28/2013 12:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
An Improbable Update Which Doesn't Seem Improbable At All
Here's a posting from five years ago:
Thursday, 24 July 2008
For some time I have been noting bits and pieces of Barack Obama’s idiolect – those words and phrases he especially favors. I noticed, for example, how much he loves the word “improbable” and how often he uses it with feigned wonderment at his own amazing, to him and therefore to his audience, history -- if the history of a man is to be reduced to some banal business about his ethnic and racial background, subjects for Obama of apparently great and abiding interest, rather than being centered on the much more interesting history of the development and cultivation of that man's unique intellect and take on the universe.
The first notable public use was in his speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, which had not yet become the staple we have all become so used to, and some of us to love – Obama’s Personal History, A History That Like Its Humble Hero Doth Bestride The World Like A Colossus And Holds Out The Audacity Of Hope For All Of Us – contained the following:
“My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name.”
This past year, in desultory fashion, I put up two comments at Jihad Watch that show his favoring --or as some ill-educated professors of literature might put it, his “privileging” -- that adjective:
”He [Barack Obama], or his speechwriter, like to lift phrases from American history. And some of them, but not all, can be tracked down. The one he keeps re-using, and that he used early on in today's speech -- that "improbable experiment" -- has a ring to it. I suspect that the well-turned phrase comes either from some figure in American history, or was said by a professor conducting a class at law school or even by an emeritus professor giving a talk. When did Paul Freund, who was good at quoting Mr. Justice Holmes, die? Or might it have been a subtitle used by Bernard Bailyn, or Michael Kammen? One never knows.”
“Yes, Obama can point out -- unless McCain beats him to the punch -- that the Money Weapon is so much more effective, at this point, than terrorism in promoting the goal of removing all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam. And he can grandly reach out, he with his "improbable" life story and his race-and-nation-bestriding impulse, to create that Grand Alliance that will "harness the energies" of "both left and right." But Obama can't do it if he doesn't recognize Arab and Muslim oil revenues as a Money Weapon, and is unable to connect that instrument of Jihad, the Money Weapon, to support for other instruments of Jihad, including Da'wa, and demographic conquest and, yes, that terrorism to which such dangerously exclusive, even monomaniacal, attention has been given by the benighted Bush Administration.
So when I read a story about Obama’s speech-act of July 24, 2008 in Berlin, I can’t say that I was “pleasantly surprised” – because I wasn’t surprised at all – but was certainly amused to discover that the phrase from Obama’s speech that was chosen by The Times as the title for the story came from this perorating excerpt:
“People of Berlin, and people of the world, the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.”
The Times titled its story about the speech “We Are A People Of Improbable Hope.”
No, not so “improbable.” In fact, that was surely, for those who are verbally vigilant, the least improbable, and the most probable, “improbable,” in the history of speechifying.
And here's the headline of, and link to, an article I found on the Internet just now:
In something of a parting gift, President Obama is making abundantly clear ... “A few years ago it would have been seen as improbable,” Clinton ...
Posted on 01/28/2013 12:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Leo Rennert: Kerry's Islam-Ignorant Outdated Nostrums About "Peace"
January 26, 2013
Kerry's Palestinian Fallacy
During his confirmation hearings for secretary of state, John Kerry advanced an ambitious plan for Mideast diplomacy that hardly got any ink from most media, yet portends a potentially grand failure for his tenure as America's top diplomat.
Kerry told lawmakers that it was his "prayer" to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table because the regional and even global stakes in achieving a peace settlement couldn't be greater. In other words, solve that conflict and the world will become a better, safer place.
Here is how he put it:
"So much of what we need to aspire to achieve and what we need globally -- all of this is tied to what can and doesn't happen with respect to Israel and Palestine."
To illustrate his point, Kerry mentioned such challenging issues as rising jihadist threats in the Maghreb (North Africa), and sectarian conflicts in South Asia, the Persian Gulf and "elsewhere."
What Kerry embraced in these few sentences is a thoroughly discredited diplomatic rationale that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal could do wonders to mitigate instability, divisions and violent upheavals in the Arab/Muslim world. Somehow, the Syrian civil war would abate, domestic tremors against Hashemite rule in Jordan would disappear, Sunni and Shia regimes would reconcile, tranquility will reign in Egypt, Iranian mullahs will give up their nuclear ambitions, and Islamist renegades in Libya, Algeria, and Mali would put down their weapons. The West could rest easier with a more reliable source of oil.
If only Israel and the Palestinians could end their protracted conflict. It's a favorite regional strategy espoused by Arab regimes to divert attention from real domestic problems that go unattended. It's also a way of pressuring Washington to lean on Israel for more concessions to the Palestinians -- all in the name of ending strife in a vast, unstable Middle East.
Yet, even as there's nothing new about this grand, discredited fallacy, Kerry nevertheless signals that he will use it as his guide and primer as secretary of state. Never mind that successive U.S. administrations and presidents have succumbed to it -- only to discover that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict doesn't rank high on the agenda of Arab leaders. Else why would they renege cavalierly on financial support pledges to the Palestinian Authority and let it go bankrupt?
Kerry seems to be but the latest secretary of state to succumb to the State Department's siren song that, when it comes to U.S. diplomatic strategy, the road to progress and peace throughout the Middle East runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah. It doesn't -- as Kerry is apt to discover if he goes through with this grand fallacy.
Posted on 01/28/2013 12:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
John Kerry, Or, The Lilies And Languors Of Louisburg Square
John Kerry, of the Milton-and-Elizabeth-Island Forbes and the catholicized Kohns of Vienna, joins Barack Obama as one of the two Lincoln pretenders now in the government. Each of them fondly believes that he possesses something more than the longhshanks of Lincoln, something to do with a deep thoughtfulness and humanity and melancholy wisdom, that should put others in mind of Lincoln. And each man further believes, just as fondly, that Posterity will recognize the likeness and give him his due. It will be fun to see how, with the thoughts they'll both be thinkin' thinkin' -- thinkin' I'm another Lincoln -- that the as-yet-unacknowledged rivalry to the title of Honest Abe's Ablest Avatar-- will work itself out.
What is already clear is that John Kerry, who still likes to spend an evening listening to jazz at the Hotel Carlyle (a friend of mine saw him there recently) instead of staying home and reading up on Islam -- even two or three of Bat Ye'or's books would have done wonders for his understanding -- lakes, despite his gravelly voice that he loves to listen to, the mental gravitas to do the work, to study up, as he should have been all of the past few years, or even the past ten years.
So it is not surprising that he would still believe that the little business in West Asia about Israel and the "Palestinians" is somehjow a "problem" that can be "solved" -- Kerry shows the same naive can-do attitude of George Bush who was going to fix Iraq, and fix Afghanistan, because he knew that once the "extremists" were put in their place, and lots of American money lavished on the locals, and "ordinary moms and dads" in Muslim lands in the Middle East had their wishes fulfilled, everything would be okay.
It would be fascinating to know if John Kerry could properly define "Jihad" and "dhimmi" and "Jizyah," could define the Hadith and Sira, could explain what it means for Musliims to call Muhammad "uswa hasana" and "al-insan al-kamil," and if he could give any further indication of having studied, and made that study his own, the ideology of Islam, and the history of the Muslim conquest of many different non-Muslim lands and peoples.
I don't think he has. I think he's been enjoying himself altogether too much, with his seven houses, including that multi-year renovation of that Brahmin Xanadu in Louisburg Square, and his taste for evenings out, and all the rest of his life of great, and unmerited, privilege.
Posted on 01/28/2013 1:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
How Very Caucasian
Went to a birthday celebration on Saturday. A Russian friend was being feted. He told tales of seeing Viktor Shklovsky in Moscow, and Andrey Sinyavsky in Paris, and of once meeting Molotov. He offered a dismissive review of the latest movie version of Anna Karenina, comparing it unfavorably not to the Soviet version, which I would have expected, but to the one he, and all the other Russians present, considered to be the best version in any language -- the big-budget American spectacular with Audrey Hepburn. Then he talked of the places he was hoping to visit, on one last wild crazy trip he was planning to take abroad: to Lima, Buenos Aires, Rio, Tahiti, and Easter Island.
The delicious food included matnakash, satsivi, caviar. How very, I realized later, Caucasian.
Posted on 01/28/2013 3:30 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
"We're Ruled By A Worse Regime: Religious Fascist, More Dangerous"
Egypt in show of defiance against Islamist leader
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press | January 28, 2013
CAIRO (AP) — Protesters battled police for hours in Cairo on Monday and thousands marched through Egypt's three Suez Canal cities in direct defiance of a night-time curfew and state of emergency, handing a blow to the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's attempts to contain five days of spiraling political violence.
Nearly 60 people have been killed in the wave of unrest, clashes, rioting and protests that have touched cities across the country but have hit the hardest in the canal cities, where residents have virtually risen up in outright revolt.
The latest death came on Monday in Cairo, where a protester died of gunshot wounds as youths hurling stones battled all day and into the night with police firing tear gas near Qasr el-Nil Bridge, a landmark over the Nile next to major hotels. In nearby Tahrir Square, protesters set fire to a police armored personnel carrier, celebrating as it burned in scenes reminiscent of the 2011 revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
"I will be coming back here every day until the blood of our martyrs is avenged," said 19-year-old carpenter Islam Nasser, who wore a Guy Fawkes mask as he battled police near Tahrir square.
Angry and at times screaming and wagging his finger, Morsi on Sunday declared a 30-day state of emergency and a nighttime curfew on the three Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailiya and Port Said and their provinces of the same names. He said he had instructed the police to deal "firmly and forcefully" with the unrest and threatened to do more if security was not restored.
But when the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew began Monday evening, crowds marched through the streets of Port Said, beating drums and chanting, "Erhal, erhal," or "Leave, leave" — a chant that first rang out during the 18-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 but is now directed at Morsi.
"We completely reject Morsi's measures. How can we have a curfew in a city whose livelihood depends on commerce and tourism?" said Ahmed Nabil, a schoolteacher in the Mediterranean coastal city.
In Suez and Ismailiya, thousands in the streets after curfew chanted against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which he hails. In Suez, residents let off fireworks that lit the night sky.
"Oh Morsi, Suez has real men," they chanted.
In Ismailiya, residents organized street games of soccer to emphasize their contempt for the curfew and state of emergency.
On Morsi's orders over the weekend, army troops backed with tanks and armored vehicles have deployed in Port Said and Suez — the two cities worst hit by the violence — to restore security, but they did not intervene to enforce the curfew on Monday night.
The commander of the Third Field Army in charge of Suez, Maj. Gen. Osama Askar, said his troops would not use force to ensure compliance. Army troops in Port Said also stood by and watched as residents ignored the curfew.
Adding to Morsi's woes nearly seven months into his turbulent presidency, the main political opposition coalition on Monday rejected his invitation for a dialogue to resolve the crisis, one of the worst and deadliest to hit Egypt in the two years since Mubarak's ouster.
Nevertheless, the dialogue went ahead late Monday afternoon. A list of participants released later by the presidential palace showed that Morsi presided over an inaugural session made up almost entirely of fellow Islamists whose support for him has never been in question.
The violence first erupted Thursday and accelerated Friday when protests marking the two-year- anniversary of the start of the anti-Mubarak uprising turned to clashes around the country that left 11 dead, most of them in Suez.
The next day, riots exploded in Port Said after a court convicted and sentenced to death 21 defendants — mostly locals — for a mass soccer riot in the city's main stadium a year ago. Rioters attacked police stations, clashed with security forces in the streets and shots and tear gas were fired at protester funerals in mayhem that left 44 people dead over the weekend.
The official MENA news agency said three more people died on Monday, succumbing to wounds sustained on Saturday, taking to 47 the number of people killed in the city over the past three days.
Earlier Monday, thousands in Port Said turned out for the funerals of some of those killed over the weekend. Witnesses later reported clashes in the city. The armed forces later said troops have repulsed an attack by six gunmen on motorbikes on the city's main prison.
In Cairo, white clouds of tear gas hung over Qasr el-Nil Bridge from early Monday morning and through the evening, wafting into nearby districts. The fighting was reminiscent of scenes two years ago to the day, when police and protesters battered each other on the same bridge in the most violent day of the 2011 uprising.
"People died to gain their freedom, social justice, bread. Now after 29 years of the despotic Mubarak, we're ruled by a worse regime: religious fascist, more dangerous," said Mohammed Saber, a 65-year old engineer who came to watch the clashes with his wife and children.
The clashes intensified in Monday evening. A group of protesters, including black masked youth, flashed the V-for-victory signs as they jubilantly milled around the burning police vehicle in Tahrir.
Outside Cairo, protesters marched, pelted police with rocks or cut off roads and railway lines in nearly a half dozen cities, including the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the country's second largest.
The geographical spread of the unrest and the tenacity of the protesters have showcased the depth of opposition to Morsi's rule outside the ranks of the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups.
However, it will take the mostly liberal and secular opposition time and effort to translate this popular resentment of the Islamists into electoral power and seriously challenge them at the ballot box. The Islamists have dominated elections for both houses of parliament late in 2011 and early 2012. Morsi narrowly won the presidency with under 52 percent of the vote.
The major opposition parties grouped in the National Salvation Front, led by reform leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBardei, are seeking to leverage the turmoil roiling the country to break the Islamists' hold on power and force Morsi to make concessions.
ElBardei and other front leaders said they would only accept his invitation to join a national dialogue to resolve the crisis if he agreed first to form a national unity government and a commission to rewrite what they see as contentious parts of an Islamist-backed constitution adopted in a referendum last month.
The rejection of Morsi's offer is likely to lend more weight to ElBaradei and his colleagues in the Salvation Front at a time when protesters on the streets are increasingly showing their independence from politicians, voicing a wide range of non-political grievances.
The Front has painted the explosion of unrest as a backlash against attempts by Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists to monopolize power in Egypt. It says the instability is proof that Morsi doesn't have enough legitimacy to bring security or achieve reforms alone.
"We support any dialogue if it has a clear agenda that can shepherd the nation to the shores of safety," said ElBaradei, flanked by former Arab league chief Amr Moussa and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi.
The Front later issued a statement in which it said failure by Morsi to meet its conditions should be cause for early presidential elections, now scheduled for 2016.
Posted on 01/28/2013 4:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
Muslims Stop An Indian Film From Being Shown In India
Interdit dans l'état du Tamil Nadu et à Puducherry, le film de Kamal Haasan "Vishwaroopam" ("Vishwaroop" pour la version en hindi) a été également censuré jusqu'à aujourd'hui au Karnataka, en Andra Pradesh et partiellement au Kerala. A l'étranger, il a été retiré des salles au Sri Lanka et en Malaisie. La raison ? Plusieurs groupes musulmans trouvent que Haasan montre l'islam sous un jour peu flatteur.
C'est un film d'action et d'espionnage, s'inspirant des tragiques attentats du 11 septembre 2001 à New York. Un de ces longs métrages en 3D où les effets spéciaux l'emportent sur les longues scènes dansées et chantées, ce qui est plutôt rare dans le cinéma indien. Justement, ont fait valoir plusieurs organisations musulmanes de Chennai (Madras), de Madurai et d'ailleurs, il n'y a rien de romantique, rien de romancé dans ce film qui ressemble du coup à un documentaire, se plaignent-ils. Bref, le terrorisme en direct, orchestré par des groupuscules islamistes, plus vrai que nature. Insupportable à leurs yeux. Et d'en tirer la conclusion hâtive que le réalisateur avait voulu diaboliser l'islam et que "Vishwaroopam" faisait de tous les musulmans des terroristes.
Forts de cette conviction, ils ont demandé purement et simplement l'interdiction du film et l'ont obtenue... pour 15 jours. Les autorités pensent-elles que les esprits vont se calmer une fois ce délai passé ? Samedi, un juge a visionné en privé le long métrage. Il devrait rendre son verdict lundi 28 janvier. Dans le Territoire de Puducherry, une délégation de musulmans en colère a soumis vendredi une pétition à un responsable local et le film a été aussitôt retiré des programmes. Redoutant des manifestations, voire des éruptions de violence, Bangalore (Karnataka), puis Hyderabad (Andra Pradesh) ont à leur tour interdit "Vishwaroopam". Le Karnataka a levé la punition ce dimanche, avec un succès mitigé. Le Kerala, qui n'avait pas bougé, a dû faire marche arrière dans plusieurs villes où des musulmans ont envahi les salles de cinéma qui projetaient le film. Des heurts ont notamment eu lieu à Ernakulam (district de Cochin). Enfin, la Malaisie et le Sri Lanka ont, eux aussi, retiré le film de Haasan des salles par mesure de précaution.
La super-production de Kamal Haasan doit sortir à Delhi le 1er février et pour l'heure, rien à signaler dans la capitale. Dans le même temps, elle sera diffusée aux Etats-Unis, au Canada et dans plusieurs pays d'Europe. Si c'est le sud de l'Inde qui s'est enflammé c'est d'abord parce que Kamal Haasan est un enfant du pays. Véritable star du Kollywood, le cinéma de Chennai, Haasan a tourné son film simultanément en tamoul, telugu (la langue de l'Andra Pradesh) et en hindi. Acteur de renom, il tient le rôle principal dans "Veshwaroopam". Le tournage n'a pas été facile. Kamal Haasan s'est d'abord vu refuser l'autorisation des Etats-Unis, où il avait prévu de tourner une grande partie du film. Il est donc allé au Canada. Nombre de scènes se déroulant en Afghanistan ont été filmées à Chennai même, dans des décors montés de toutes pièces et où des étrangers déguisés en soldats américains ont joué les figurants. D'autres scènes ont été filmées en Jordanie, puis finalement aux Etats-Unis.
On imagine mal voir Kamal Haasan renoncer à un film qui a coûté tant d'argent et d'énergie. Afin d'éviter le bras de fer avec les organisations musulmanes, il avait invité leurs leaders à visionner son oeuvre en avant-première. Loin d'être convaincus, ces derniers ont redoublé de véhémence. Dénonçant un "terrorisme culturel, Haasan a décidé de saisir la justice à son tour. "Je suis touché par tous les témoignages de sympathie que j'ai reçu, mais en même temps, je suis consterné que certains puissent voir dans mon film un acte contre mes frères musulmans", a-t-il déclaré dans une lettre de Los Angeles où il se trouve actuellement. Rappelant qu'il s'était toujours engagé en faveur du respect des droits des musulmans en Inde, l'acteur-réalisateur a ajouté : "J'ai été utilisé sans vergogne à des fins politiques par de petits groupes qui cherchent à se profiler (...) Tout musulman neutre et patriote sera certainement fier en voyant mon film. C'est à cette fin que je l'ai réalisé".
"Vishwaroopam" met en scène un djihadiste afghan du nom d'Omar, étroitement lié à al-Qaïda. Avec Salim, un autre militant, ils projettent d'attaquer New-York en y larguant une bombe au césium. Ils sont à la tête d'une multinationale terroriste. A l'autre bout de la chaîne, Vishwanath dit Wiz est professeur de kathak (danse indienne) dans le New Jersey. En fait, loin d'être un danseur hindou, Wiz est un musulman appartenant aux services du renseignement indien, la RAW.
Posted on 01/28/2013 4:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
A Literary Interlude: George Herbert
PRAYER the Churches banquet, Angels age,
Gods breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth ;
Engine against th’ Almightie, sinner's towre,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six daies world-transposing in an houre,
A kinde of tune, which all things heare and fear ;
Softnesse, and peace, and joy, and love, and blisse,
Exalted Manna, gladnesse of the best,
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
The milkie way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bels beyond the stars heard, the souls bloud,
The land of spices, something understood.
Posted on 01/28/2013 7:10 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
A Musical Interlude: We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 01/28/2013 7:22 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 January 2013
A New Proxy War In Yemen?
In the 1960s, it was Nasser's Egyptian army against the Saudi-backed "Royalists." Now it is apparently Iran against Saudi Arabia.
From The New York Times:
Yemen Seizes Sailboat Filled With Weapons, and U.S. Points to Iran
WASHINGTON — The authorities in Yemen have seized a boat in their territorial waters filled with a large quantity of explosives, weapons and money, according to American officials briefed on the interdiction. The officials said Monday that there were indications that Iran was smuggling the military contraband to insurgents inside Yemen, although they declined to provide details.
Yemeni security forces halted and searched the sailboat, a 130-foot dhow, last Tuesday and found the weapons in three large cargo rooms in the hold, according to reports on the mission reaching Washington. There was American support for the interdiction, officials said.
The government of Yemen confirmed the seizure Monday in an official statement. The captured weapons included surface-to-air missiles used to shoot down civilian and military aircraft, C4 military-grade explosives, 122-millimeter shells, rocket-propelled grenades and bomb-making equipment, including electronic circuits, remote triggers and other hand-held explosives, the statement said.
If the weapons turn out to be the Iranian-made Misagh-2, as cited in the reports from Yemen, it would reflect a significant increase in lethality for the insurgents. Yemen is already awash with small arms and explosives acquired over years of war and insurgency, much of it brought in from a number of foreign sources through its poorly controlled ports. There has been little effort to regulate the supply — one governor of a northern province is also a major arms dealer — and insurgents have often raided the stores of Yemen’s corrupt and divided military. Many of Yemen’s unruly tribes command powerful arsenals.
The United States has a publicly acknowledged security assistance effort under way with Yemen. At the same time, the American military and the C.I.A. are engaged in a clandestine program of using drones to strike militants associated with a terrorist organization, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen.
With the United States and Saudi Arabia providing both public and secret security assistance there, and with Iran also said to be arming militant forces, Yemen has become the battlefield for a major proxy war by outside powers.
American officials said the weapons on board were made in Iran, and that the pattern of the shipment matched past instances of suspected Iranian smuggling into Yemen. Officials described the smuggling as part of a plan by Iran to increase its political outreach to rebels and other political figures in Yemen. To identify with greater certainty the source of the seized weapons, the boat’s navigation instruments will most likely be examined to determine its origin and route, and the crew will be questioned.
For years, Yemen has accused Iran of supporting the Houthi rebels, who fought an intermittent guerrilla war against the Yemeni government from 2004 to 2010. Those accusations — including claims of intercepted weapons shipments — often lacked evidence and, up until about a year ago, routinely were dismissed as propaganda.
But after the uprising in Yemen in 2011, the Houthi movement expanded from its base in the northwest — now a de facto Houthi statelet — across the country. It has benefited from widespread dissatisfaction with both Yemen’s government and the local equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood, known as Islah.
By last spring, American military and intelligence officials described what they viewed as a widening effort to extend Iranian influence across the greater Middle East. Iranian smugglers backed by the Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, had begun shipping AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and other arms to replace older weapons used by the rebels, American officials said last year.
Senior officials briefed on the mission said that the Yemeni Coast Guard had conducted the operation jointly with American military forces. An American boarding party from the Navy destroyer Farragut accompanied the Yemeni Coast Guard crew as it interdicted, boarded, inspected and seized the vessel, according to officials.
American intelligence played a role in the seizure, most importantly in pinpointing the vessel from among the large numbers of traditional fishing and cargo boats sailing in and out of Yemeni waters. Officials declined to describe the intelligence that identified the vessel, except to say that various standard techniques, like human intelligence, overhead surveillance and communications analysis, went into the effort.
This interdiction comes at an extremely delicate time in Yemen, with the government largely paralyzed, sectarian tensions rising and accusations of Iranian interference — which have long been used as a propaganda tool here — on the increase.
Iran is also accused of supporting the secessionist movement in southern Yemen, which has also held vast public rallies in recent days and now poses a serious threat to the Yemeni government. The most prominent television station in southern Yemen, Aden Live, is run by a Yemeni political figure who has acknowledged receiving funding from Iran.
Iran’s goal in supporting these rebellious political currents, the critics say, is to foster a chaotic environment and weak state where it can maintain influence through its allies, much as it does in Lebanon.
But analysts caution that such accusations have long been a staple of political discourse in the Gulf, where Sunni governments use them to marshal old sectarian animosities against Shiites in Iran and elsewhere.
Bernard Haykel, a professor at Princeton University and an expert on Yemen, said Iran was being “opportunistic” in its support for the Houthis and was trying to counteract the American and Saudi support for Yemen’s government. But Tehran is hardly controlling the group in Yemen, he said.
“Iranians want to needle the Saudis in every possible way,” Professor Haykel said. “But to say that the Houthi are proxies of Iran is stretching the boundaries of credibility.”
Yemeni and American national security interests also are challenged by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Sunni-based terrorist organization that has specialized in finding creative and deadly ways to smuggle explosives aboard passenger and cargo airplanes.
Although the Houthis have gained Sunni adherents, they clearly draw inspiration from Hezbollah, the Shiite movement in Lebanon that Iran helped found and continues to support. The Houthi leaders are Zaydis, a branch of Shiism that is close to Sunni Islam, but have long complained of discrimination by hard-line Sunni Islamists in Yemen and in neighboring Saudi Arabia, who tend to view all non-Sunnis as heretics.
Sectarian animosities were virtually nonexistent in Yemen until recent years, in part because Zaydis, who compose perhaps a quarter of the population, are theologically close to Sunnis. [wasn't Saudi support for some Shi'a explicable not because of some supposed theological closeness, but because the Saudis were prepared to back anyone against those they thought of as "Marxists" (secularists, Nasserites), as they did the people in South Yemen?
] But the spread of hard-line Salafi religion from neighboring Saudi Arabia, starting in the 1980s, has fostered a corresponding militancy among many Zaydis in Yemen.
Posted on 01/28/2013 7:37 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald