These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 28, 2009.
Monday, 28 December 2009
Too Close For Comfort
JERUSALEM — Israel Radio reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak says Iran will have the technology to build a nuclear bomb early next year and will be able to produce one in 2011.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered this assessment before the Israeli parliament's defense and foreign affairs committee.
The Defense Ministry said it could not confirm the report, and a Barak spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.
Posted on 12/28/2009 7:13 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 28 December 2009
Napolitano Changes Her Mind
Apotropaically, partheopaically, Janet Napolitano, who yesterday said that the security system "worked really very, very smoothly" suddenly -- everyone was calling for her head -- changes her mind:
Napolitano concedes airline security system failed
The Obama administration has ordered investigations into the two areas of aviation security — how travelers are placed on watch lists and how passengers are screened — as critics questioned how the 23-year-old Nigerian man charged in the airliner attack was allowed to board the Dec. 25 flight.
A day after saying the system worked, Napolitano backtracked, saying her words had been taken out of context.
"Our system did not work in this instance," she said on NBC's "Today" show. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."
Posted on 12/28/2009 8:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
At least 15 dead in Tehran street battles
From The Times
At least fifteen anti-government protesters, including a nephew of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s opposition leader, were shot dead yesterday as the smouldering confrontation between the regime and the so-called Green Movement finally erupted.
Early reports put the number of dead at five, but as clashes continued late into the night, Iranian state television reported that the number of dead had risen to 15. The Ministry of Intelligence said more than 10 were members of "anti-revolutionary terrorist" groups.
The other five who died during the bitter clashes in the Iranian capital were killed by "terrorist groups," Iranian TV claimed.
Analysts heralded the start of what could be a bloody endgame as hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters poured on to the streets of Tehran and other cities and fought running battles with the security forces. Opposition websites claimed that some policemen had refused to fire on demonstrators. Foreign journalists have been banned from Iran but Western newsrooms were inundated with mobile telephone footage of astonishing scenes: jubilant demonstrators attacking riot police and Basij militiamen, protesters gleefully setting light to a police station, Basiji building and motorbikes being captured from the security forces, detained protesters being freed from a police van while colleagues are carried away with blood pouring from gunshot wounds. Dozens were injured and more than 300 arrested. “The gloves are off. There is no question about that,” said one analyst. Ali Ansari, Professor of Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, said: “No one can now doubt that change is coming.”
The demonstrators’ fury was no longer directed solely at President Ahmadinejad, whose alleged theft of the presidential election triggered protests in June, but also at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader and embodiment of a theocratic government that has lost legitimacy.
Opposition websites said that demonstrators broke through cordons, blocked streets to thwart squads of baton-wielding motorbike police, hurled stones, stripped captured police officers of their uniforms and weapons, and burnt state-owned banks. Mobile telephone footage showed them holding aloft captured Basiji crash helmets as onlookers cheered. “People no longer fear,” one activist told The Times.
Another witness told The Times how a middle-aged woman emerged from a cornered crowd and yelled at the police: “Aren’t you ashamed to beat and kill your own people?”
“To our surprise two of them admitted they were ashamed and were doing this only for money. The head of the squad then asked that we go home because he did not want to have to give the order to have us beaten,” the witness said.
The opposition claims that the unrest is spreading across Iran, and to every social class. It senses victory, but activists fear a bloodbath first. “The security forces, especially the Revolutionary Guards, are prepared to fight until the end as they have nowhere to go,” one member said.
Except, I'm old enough to remember (1979) 1 million people on the streets of Tehran rejoicing that the corrupt regime of the Shah was out and welcoming the Ayatollah Khomeni home from Paris. And look how pear-shaped that went. But hope blooms eternal in the human breast, and that was then, this is now.
Btw Neda Soltan has been named The Times Person of the Year.
Posted on 12/28/2009 2:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 December 2009
The sound of dropping pennies.
I'll make one post of this little lot as it is on the same theme.
First the leading Telegraph View:
Over the past decade, institutes of higher education in London have consistently provided sanctuary for Islamist students who parrot the hate-filled rhetoric of al-Qaeda and its allies.
For passengers wondering why, yet again, the journey from check-in to departure lounge is a taste of hell on earth, the answer is straightforward. Religious terrorists are plotting to inflict on us a permanent state of earthly hell: airliners dropping from the skies, dirty bombs in shopping malls and cities, all leading to an Islamic caliphate whose totalitarian writ would run from Mecca to Milton Keynes. Was it coincidence that the attack took place on December 25? Of course not: this was an attempt to destroy the peaceful feast day of a Christian religion that the bomber despises.
Moreover, although Muslims in opinion polls frequently express a preference for living in an Islamic state, only a small percentage share the jihadist fanaticism that inspired the airline bomber. Yet the awkward fact remains: of that percentage, a worrying number have lived in Britain and especially London. Some have studied at our universities: Abdul Mutallab graduated in mechanical engineering from University College London in 2008.
Over the past decade, institutes of higher education in London have consistently provided sanctuary for Islamist students who parrot the hate-filled rhetoric of al-Qaeda and its allies. Again and again, speakers have been invited and rooms provided so that, in the name of free speech, vulnerable students can be indoctrinated. Some of those students may now be sitting in caves in Waziristan or cafés in the Yemen devising methods of killing Westerners. Perhaps they picked up their expertise in a British university laboratory. We may never know until it is too late.
What we do know is that our security forces have consulted vice-chancellors in order to impress upon them the urgency of the threat. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done. Liberal British academics, along with their friends in the media and public sector, have a habit of diverting any discussion of terrorism away from Islamism towards the evils of Anglo-American foreign policy. By doing so they are less likely to offend students from developing countries whose delicate sensibilities seem to matter more than security. Perhaps some of those academics are stuck in airport queues today. If so, we must hope that it finally dawns on them that, irrespective of the complex causes of terrorism, their politically correct indulgence of Islamic radicals is making life more dangerous for all of us.
Next Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail - To our eternal shame, Britain is STILL a hub for Islamic terror
So here we go again. Another international Islamic terrorist plot - and yet another British connection.
But the deeper and more urgent issue for Britain concerns the key role this country has once again played in a Muslim's trajectory to radicalisation and terror. Abdulmutallab, who claims to have been working for Al Qaeda, was an engineering student at prestigious University College London for three years until 2008.
He was actually refused an entry visa to Britain earlier this year, but only because the institution at which he said he wanted to study turned out to be non-existent.
It appears he became a religiously extreme Muslim at a school in Togo, but was further radicalised while studying in London before apparently going to Yemen and linking to Al Qaeda.
Who can be surprised? After all, this is ' Londonistan' ...
Despite 9/11, the 2005 London Tube and bus attacks and the dozens of other Islamist plots uncovered in Britain, the astounding fact is that Islamic extremist networks are still allowed to flourish in Britain, largely through the obsession of its governing class with multiculturalism and 'human rights'.
As a result, Britain remains - to its eternal shame - the biggest hub of Islamic radicalisation outside the Arab and Muslim world.
Extremists are still slipping into the country. The courts are still refusing to deport terrorists in order to protect their 'human rights' abroad.
London boasts the shameful reputation of the world's premier money-laundry for terrorism, which shelters behind a label of 'charity' that the authorities choose not to challenge.
Not only is no action taken against extremist mosques and madrassas, but many British universities have been turned into terrorism recruitment centres.
More than four years ago, the intelligence expert Professor Anthony Glees listed 24 British universities which he said had been infiltrated by militant jihadists.
Indeed, the long list of Islamic terrorists who were educated at universities in Britain should in itself have raised concerns about radical Islam on campus.
Yet Professor Glees was instead undermined by university authorities determined to bury their heads in the sand.
Yet the government refuses to outlaw Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of the key groups that is radicalising students on campus by infiltrating and taking over these student societies and preaching its subversive message of Islamising the free world.
But it's not just in the universities that Britain seems unable to recognise, let alone deal with, highly manipulative Muslim extremists.
Astonishingly, similarly radical speakers are regularly invited into the very heart of the defence establishment, on courses teaching intelligence officials as well as soldiers and police officers about radical Islam.
The Government is funnelling money into extremist Islamist groups, and even employs Islamist radicals within government as advisers on - wait for it - 'combating Islamic extremism'.
All in all, Britain's defences against radical Islamism now resemble nothing so much as one giant hen-house over which a pack of ravenous foxes has been placed in charge.
The root cause of this madness is that British ministers and officials refuse to accept that what they are facing is religious fanaticism.
They insist that Islamic extremism and terrorism have got nothing to do with Islam but are rather a 'perversion' of Islam. And they believe that the antidote to this is 'authentic' Islam - which they then use taxpayers' money to promote.
But what they fail to grasp is that 'authentic' Islam is currently dominated by a deeply politicised interpretation which promotes holy war to conquer 'infidels' and insufficiently pious Muslims.
And although many such Muslims abhor this and have nothing to do with violence or extremism, it is an interpretation backed up by Islamic theology and history and currently supported by the major religious authorities in the Islamic world.
That is what the government often ends up inadvertently funding - with catastrophic results. For when exposed to this, even many hitherto secular Muslims become radicalised.
If Britain is ever to get on top of its terrorism problem, it has properly to acknowledge and tackle this radicalisation process. That means giving no quarter to this politicised interpretation of Islam.
And that means junking its current idiotic definition of an 'extremist' as merely someone who is committed to violence. It must outlaw instead the religious fanaticism that also threatens the British way of life.
So the Government should say that Muslims are welcome to live here on exactly the same basis as all other religious minorities - that they accept the principle of one law for all, and do nothing to threaten or undermine the prevailing culture.
That means an end to the increasing toleration of Islamic sharia law as the effective jurisdiction in Muslim areas, which so badly threatens in particular the safety and well-being of women, homosexuals and converts from the faith.
It means giving no quarter to the Muslim Council of Britain and all the other organisations and individuals who support Islamic extremism but are currently wooed by Whitehall.
It means outlawing Hizb ut-Tahrir. It means prosecuting the anti-West fanatics in mosques and madrassas. It means profiling Muslim extremists at airports.
None of these things is currently being done. Instead, radical Islamism is being appeased on the grounds that Muslims must not feel targeted in any way.
But in fact, this merely cuts the ground from under the feet of genuinely moderate British Muslims.
For it is their friends and relatives, and worst of all their children, who are being radicalised through such a wrongheaded strategy.
For in the defence of Western society against militant Islam's war of conquest, the activities of the Christmas Day bomber show that once again Londonistan is the weakest link in the chain.
Finally the Daily Express, which I never used to read but which has come up with some interesting articles recently.
Professor Anthony Glees, Director of Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, said extra questions at airports and even body searches for passengers deemed as risky could prevent potential terror plots.
He said Muslims in particular would be targeted for more security checks as an “inevitable consequence” of the heightened security situation. Professor Glees said: “Profiling passengers is the rational solution at this time . . . Muslim passengers should be prepared to give security at airports more detailed explanations of why and where they are flying.”
He said profiling could be politically unpopular, particularly in Labour seats where the Muslim vote could prove decisive.
But I don't care a tinker's **** about Labour seats. They engineered this to get votes, they have to be voted out.
These are things those of us left in London or in sanctuary just outside have been saying for a couple of years.
The Edmonton Sun is advocating the same profiling.
The trouble is, we are too timid as a culture to do the obvious -- focus on young Muslim men with radical connections, who have proven themselves to be 99 per cent of the problem
Posted on 12/28/2009 3:12 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 December 2009
25 Brits in jet bomb plots
This is an exclusive from The Currant Bun, (The Sun) which has been taken up by the Jerusalem Post
COPS fear that 25 British-born Muslims are plotting to bomb Western airliners.
The fanatics, in five groups, are now training at secret terror camps in Yemen.
It was there London-educated Umar Abdulmutallab, 23, prepared for his Christmas Day bid to blow up a US jet.
The British extremists in Yemen are in their early 20s and from Bradford, Luton and Leytonstone, East London.
They are due to return to the UK early in 2010 and will then await internet instructions from al-Qaeda on when to strike.
A Scotland Yard source said: "The great fear is Abdulmutallab is the first of many ready to attack planes and kill tens of thousands.
"We know there are four or five radicalised British Muslim cells in the Yemen.
"They are due back within months when they will be under constant surveillance."
The 25 suspects, of Pakistani and Somali descent, were radicalised in UK mosques.
The strange thing is that one of the oldest Muslim communities in England are the descendants of Yemeni seamen who settled over 70 years ago in ports on the North East coast, Hartlepool and nearby, and who never seem to be involved in any of thse plots.
Some had been to university and studied engineering or computer sciences.
Others were former street gang members.
Special Branch monitored them as they flew to Yemen, in the Middle East, from British airports in the spring and summer.
In almost every case, their tickets were paid for in cash and bought less than a week before travel.
PM Gordon Brown and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson were being briefed.
Why do we have to let them back in? Don't say because they hold British passports - we are at war and they are traitors.
Posted on 12/28/2009 3:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 December 2009
A Funny Interlude
You know that you live in a small town when the guy who serves you at your local store speaks English – as his first language!
Posted on 12/28/2009 7:03 AM by John M. Joyce
Monday, 28 December 2009
Il caffe alla napoletana, and an appeal for a transfer of a tiny, hardly noticeable amount of your wealth to NER
The steady, as opposed to occasional looking-for-weekly-specials, clientele of Whole Foods can be roughly divided between the earnestly healthy (who buy those pills and magic potions promising health with just a hint of everlasting life) and the connoisseurs of taste. For the latter, those who drink coffee have taken quite a shine, anecdotal evidence suggests, to Ill, rather than Lavazza. There is no discernible difference in taste. The key to Illy’s victory was price. Not, as free market fundamentalists might have it, (ignoring what might be called the suprasegmental features of advertising), the coffee that is cheapest but, rather, the coffee that is most expensive has won: Illy costs nearly twice as much, in the United States, as Lavazza. This is a major part of its whole-foods-faddish appeal.
In a world where there is so little certainty, where many would be disoriented if it turned out, for example, that the “best colleges” were no better than many of the un-best colleges, it’s important to be able to rely on lists. I don’t mean the honest lists of Consumers Reports, that tells you about toasters and car repair, of the Best Program in Art History, and the Best Chocolate Truffles, and the Best Recording Of The B-Minor Mass, and the Best New Conceptual Artist, and The Best This and The Best That. And so often, what else do we have to go on but money, the impressive size of the endowment of this school, the cost of that chocolate, the latest auction records for that painter?
In the Parthenopean impoverished penthouse depicted here, was ravishing Sophia Loren using Illy, Lavazz, or some just-roasted coffee beans, no-name in name, at the local market, perhaps known only to people in her neighborhood? And what if that coffee she, Sophia Loren, has made in that fijm clip is better than anything you might be able to buy, even if you are a hedge-fund manager in Connecticut, or George Clooney lazily lying on that private beach he outrageously created on the Lago di Como or, for that matter, some professor, with a four-hour work week (as long as those graduate students keep composing those lectures for you, and the teaching assistants do all the grading), say self-satisfied Homi Bhabha, shopping at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods, and wanting to make sure that he carefully chooses only the best, for only the best, you see, for such a person, will do.
Good God, where might it all end, if you had to judge for yourself, and you realized you could no longer assume that the cost of colleges and men and even websites and coffee was a guarantee of their value, their worth.
This website, for which you can, if you choose, pay nothing, costs you nothing. But it is of value. You know this perfectly well, for if you did not know it, you would be a fool, and fools tend not to visit this site, at least not more than once or twice. Right now this website is still in its eleemosynary mode. Keep in mind that it is a 501©(3), and that contributions are tax-deductible. If you never give to anything, and don’t intend to start now, that is maddening but not nearly as infuriating as would be your giving to other, far less worthy causes, with their cunning appeals, and the absurd sums people get away with paying themselves at some of these – let’s be charitable – quite profitable not-for-profit organizations. In the spirit of James James Morison Morison Weatherby George Dupree telling his mother that you must never go down to the end of the town if you don’t go down with me, don’t you dare give money to others, if you don’t give money to me. And by “me” I mean, of course, and not only royally, “us.” We of NER and the Never Never.
Meanwhile, by way of extra inducement, and to bring the supreme theme back to coffee and to Naples:
Posted on 12/28/2009 9:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
Suicide bomber kills 25 in Pakistan
From The Australian
A SUICIDE bomber has struck Pakistan's largest procession of Shi'ite Muslims on the holiest day in their calendar, killing 25 people and wounding dozens more, defying a major security clampdown.
The blast unleashed riots in Karachi, the financial capital, where angry mourners went on the rampage, throwing stones at ambulances, torching cars and shops and firing bullets into the air, sparking appeals for calm.
"The blast was so huge that I felt my hearing had gone, but then I started hearing cries of injured people and saw pieces of human flesh and blood on the road,' said Abbas Ali, 35, one of the mourners thrown to the ground.
"Some were crying and some were running here and there with panicked faces. My younger brother was with me; I looked for him and was told he was injured and sent to hospital,' he said.
Pakistan had deployed tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces, fearing sectarian clashes or militant attacks at Ashura processions, when Shi'ites whip themselves to mourn the seventh-century killing of Imam Hussein.
"It was a suicide attack. He was walking with the procession and he blew himself up,' Interior Minister Rehman Malik told private television, calling on the Shi'ite community to suspend their commemorations.
More than 50,000 Shi'ites had taken to the streets, marching in black or beating their naked torsos with chains and slicing their skin with knives.
Posted on 12/28/2009 9:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 December 2009
Louis Armstrong: Ambassador for a Better World
Posted on 12/28/2009 2:38 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 28 December 2009
A Phony Open-Societies Poll Designed To Reassure And Fool The Unwary
From The LibertyPhile:
British Muslims most patriotic in Europe - Misleading Headlines and Unreliable Market Research!
A statistic from the Open Society Institute’s Report on 11 EU Cities recently hit the headlines. [The Institute is funded by George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist.]
UK Muslims are Europe’s most patriotic said The Sunday Times on 13 December. “….. on average 78% of Muslims identified themselves as British, although this dropped by six points in east London.”
The Telegraph had something similar Muslims in Britain are the most patriotic in Europe according to a new study
It also allowed a least one commentator to conclude that multi-culturalism British style really works and we need more of it.
Pickled Politics told us New poll shows why multi-culturalism works “…. The study and report is a slap in the face for right-wing dogma …. it shows that Britain’s relaxed attitude to differences in religion and culture has made British Muslims more likely to identify with this country and be proud of the liberal traditions they live in ....”
Nevermind the fact that the statistic is highly suspect and the claims based on it very dubious. Remarkably, even the authors of the report themselves say that the findings are not representative. And the report examines neither patriotism nor liberal attitudes as its purpose and coverage is something else altogether.
See below for a professional appraisal of the market research behind this report.
The statistic was one very small item in a 327 page report that covers Cohesion, Belonging, Discrimination and Interactions, Education, Employment, Neighbourhood and Housing, Health Care, Policing and Security, Civic and Political Participation, Media.
The full report looks suspiciously like the fulfilment of a political agenda, picking and choosing from existing research and literature, and the market research with its many faults as a device to give the results and conclusions the appearance of objectivity.
The initiative of which the report is part states “The At Home in Europe Project …. works to advance and promote the integration of minority groups in Western Europe. ....” So far, so good. It goes on to say:
“.... there is .... increasing acknowledgment of the prejudice Muslims experience and the social and economic disadvantages they suffer. This complex situation presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges: how to effectively ensure equal rights and social cohesion in a climate of ….. rapidly expanding diversity.”
The assumption here is that Europe has to do something, that Europe has to change its ways.
The Open Society Institute should consider using some of Mr Soros’ generous funding to do a report telling Muslims how they should change.
That they might experience prejudice and feel victimised in Europe because Europeans find their behaviour and ideas objectionable. Face veils are not liked. You only cover your face in Europe if you are unwell, cold, or in mourning. Otherwise covering your face means you want to hide your true feelings and it is very rude.
Religious freedom is important to Europeans and the use or threat of violence to enforce religion on people or to protect religious beliefs went out of practice in Europe a long time ago. You have to put up with people saying things about your religion even ridiculing it which you find objectionable, and men and women really are equal, to name just a few of the topics that cause friction between Muslims and Europeans.
And, if you want to be respected it won’t be because of your religion but rather your behaviour and achievements as human beings.
The press headlines are careless journalism and smack of wholesale swallowing of press releases. Pickled Politics are seizing on something with little examination because it suits their view of how the world should be.
But in any case it is academic whether it is 60 percent or 70 percent or 80 percent of Muslims in Britain who see themselves as British (whatever that means and which most definitely could exclude patriotism and pride in liberal traditions).
It is abundantly clear to anyone who has their eyes open, reads the press or watches TV, that there are a lot of Muslims, a very large number, one in five, or one in four, or one in three, who live in Britain who do not wish to be British, except to the extent that it provides a safe place to live and has a good public health service, and who are doing all they can to recreate the societies of their forebears or homelands and propagate beliefs and practices alien to Britain.
A much more useful report would be one on the Muslim publicists and representatives that we hear all the time promoting, demanding, and excusing, all those things that make Muslims aliens to Britain even though they live here. A sad fact is there are very few Muslim publicists working in the opposite sense.
What do the 200 British Muslims people in this survey (that is the number of British interviews, 100 in Leicester and 100 in Waltham Forest, in this European project) think of the views of Dr Suhaib Hasan, the Secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council of Britain and a member of the senior panel of imams at Regent's Park Mosque in London, who says:
“…. sharia says authority must be with the man to maintain the house. The woman's duties ….. lie with the cleaning and childcare.” “…. In matters of divorce, the right of ending a marriage lies with the man because 'women have emotions, whereas a man thinks first before he speaks". See here
It would be interesting to know what they think of Sarfraz Sarwar, leader of the Basildon Islamic Centre in Essex. “Mr Sarwar's …. suggestion is to adapt the 'three strikes' policy on crime. Instead of being jailed on the third conviction, a criminal could face having a hand chopped off."
"That would fit in with the way of life here. I'm not being extreme. This has to be used in moderation, for serious crimes, not petty robbery. …."
What do they think of Faisal Siddiqi, founder of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal a British Muslim parallel justice system whereby men inherit twice what women inherit, it’s more difficult for a woman to get a divorce than a man, and a Muslim man who assaults his wife can go on an anger management course, who says the British media are obsessed with beheadings and other extreme punishments? “They constitute only 10% of sharia” he says! See here
Another leading light of British Muslim opinion is Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, who says that stoning to death for adultery is acceptable in a country where people choose that as the law. See here
Mr Bunglawala’s erstwhile boss, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, is famous for saying death was too easy for Salman Rushdie. His present boss thinks arranged marriages are a good idea and we should have them in Britain.
And how many of those Muslims in Leicester and Waltham Forest agree with the explanation of why a woman’s evidence is worth less than that of a man given on the UK based Islamic Sharia Council website? See here
And what would they say about the stories behind these (accurate) headlines:
Christians face trial for criticising Islam • Can a Muslim say happy Christmas to his friends? • Teachers upset at Muslim woman who doesn't shake hands • Burkini swimmers want men to leave pool • Dentist ordered two women to wear head scarves before he would see them • Muslim student, 18, banned from college because she refuses to remove her burkha • Report denounces 'destructive' polygamy
The Open Society Institute carried out not only a sub-standard survey but the wrong survey.
Market Research Appraisal - How Reliable are the Survey Results?
The quoted UK press headlines and articles are based on a survey organised by the Open Society Institute. How much credence can we give to these claims and this survey?
The full Open Society Institute Report on 11 EU Cities, including the survey methodology and questionnaire, can be downloaded from here
(1) Extremely small sample sizes
These UK claims are based on 100 “in-depth” interviews with Muslims in Leicester and 100 in Waltham Forest, east London.
This is an extremely small sample for any kind of statistical claim. We see all the time how surveys considerably larger than this (1000+) can produce a false picture. The polls predicting a Swiss vote against a ban on minarets is a recent case in point. The result was significantly in the other direction.
And any bias or misrepresentation in the sample can dramatically mislead.
(2) Biased sample
It is not clear what the sample represents. The questionnaire used raises numerous questions concerning its ability to work reliably.
The questionnaire contains seven sections(Note 1) over 24 closely printed pages and asks altogether 98 questions. This is an enormous questionnaire. Many of the questions demand prodigious feats of memory recall and mental concentration.
It is usual in market research when recruiting respondents to tell them before they agree to be interviewed how long a questionnaire is going to last, after all they are giving up their time at no benefit to themselves. And, the interviewer doesn’t want them walking out half way through. This questionnaire probably took at least 1 hour and may have stretched to 2 hours. It would be extremely difficult to recruit even a very small sample of 200 (100 Muslims and 100 non-Muslims in each city).
It is not what you would expect the common man (or woman) to cope with or put up with. It also seems designed for well informed and educated people though they are equally put off by long questionnaires and irritated by impractical, vague or demanding questions. See the example questions below.(Note 2)
You also sometimes get bored or lonely people with time on their hands who are happy to chat with an interviewer, but this doesn’t help sample representativeness either.
It is also possible that interviewers when faced with an enormous, badly designed and onerous questionnaire recruit people who are friends or acquaintances or people they know to be interested in the subject or have a stake in it. They are not typical and are biased in some way. Sample representativeness takes another bashing.
(3) The meaning of the relevant questions and the quality of the answers
Only two of the questions out of the total 98 in the questionnaire directly addressed the Britishness issue. In huge multi-topic questionnaires like this any one topic is likely to get only the most cursory attention.
There is clearly little time for the interviewer to explain what is meant by the question, even if he or she does that, and little time for the respondent to give a considered answer in line with what the question really meant.
The first question [D6] simply asked “How strongly do you feel you belong to this country?”
Not very strongly
Not at all strongly
This was third in a section of three questions the other two asking “How strongly do you feel you belong to your local area?” and “How strongly do you feel you belong to this city?”
The other and more relevant question [D9] asked “Do you see yourself as [British, French, etc.]?" [This question is asking for cultural identification with society rather than legal status]
The respondent could answer only yes or no.
It is not clear if the phrase in brackets was consistently read out or made clear. The fact that it is brackets implies that it is a note to the interviewer rather than something automatically read out or explained to the respondent.
Given the need to complete a very long questionnaire with very difficult and demanding questions the interviewer was probably under considerable pressure to do get through questions as quickly as possible.
The write up on this section in the report (p73-75) uses two distinct terms interchangeably, "see themselves as nationals" and "cultural identification" implying uncertainty as to what the answers meant.
There is no mention of ideas such as "patriotism" or "liberal traditions".
(4) The Open Society Institute’s own description of the survey methodology
The Open Society Institute themselves admit that all is not well with the market research fieldwork. They say:
“The fieldwork consisted of 200 in-depth, face-to-face interviews with local residents in each city (100 Muslim and 100 non-Muslim). These questionnaires were then elaborated upon in six focus groups held in each city of local Muslim residents. ....”
“….The questionnaires and focus groups were facilitated by local researchers and research coordinators. The latter were responsible for identifying respondents for the questionnaires and participants for the focus groups, together with a team of interviewers composed of people from different ethnic groups and with varied language proficiency.”
There are limitations to the research, including:
• recognition that questions answered may be affected by differing understandings of the question (efforts were made to ensure that this was kept at a minimum by translating the questionnaire verbally and ensuring that the interviewer spoke the first language of the respondent);
• an awareness that the sampling method means that respondents are not wholly representative of the population.
The findings contained in this report are not intended to be taken as a comprehensive reflection of the Muslim population and their concerns in these 11 cities. They should be viewed as a snapshot of the diversity and opinions of ordinary Muslims and non-Muslims through their concerns and experiences as residents of urban neighbourhoods in the EU. [Emphasis added]
This last paragraph is really nonsense. It looks like an attempt to salvage something from a bad job.
(5) Experience and objectivity of the survey fieldwork organisations
The fieldwork and reporting were carried out by “city teams” of local researchers and co-ordinators from local organisations. They are listed on p5 in the acknowledgements section of the report.
No professional market research or survey organisations with the experience and resources for recruiting representative samples and designing practical questionnaires were involved.
The organisations doing the work in the UK were (a) the Policy Research Centre, based at the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, whose slogan is “Shaping policy through critical thinking and analysis”, (b) the ippr (Institute for Public Policy Research), whose slogan is “Challenging Ideas, Changing Policy” and (c) the Faith Regen Foundation, an Islamic charitable organisation concerned with social issues.
It is hard to believe that these organisations were neutral and didn’t interview people who they had contacts with and who would be biased.
(6) Other factors
The survey mainly ignores the differences in attitudes to nationality, belonging, and cultural identification, that might be caused by demographic, historical, geographic and constitutional factors.
For example, a large proportion of German Muslim “guest workers” do not have German citizenship, many French Muslims are from Algeria a neighbouring country to France, and Marseilles to Algiers is a relatively short journey for people to keep in touch with relatives. British Muslims in Leicester are also close to being a majority in that city and this might have some influence on them feeling that they belong there.
(1) Subjects covered by survey
The survey questionnaire was divided into sections covering Neighbourhood Characteristics (10 questions), Identity and Belonging (13), Social Interactions (7), Participation and Citizenship (11), Experience of Local Services (24), Discrimination and Prejudice (13), and Demographics (20).
(2) Demanding and difficult questions
Most of us will be familiar with the type of question that presents a short list of usually no more than five items which we have to choose from or rate in some way. In some cases the respondent might be given a card listing the items rather than have them read out. Taking in five items can be difficult especially if they are sprung on the respondent who might not think in those terms or need time to reflect.
Question D1 asks respondents to select and put in order the five items that they consider the most important from a list of 13 items. [emphasis added]
“Suppose you were describing yourself, which of the following would say something important about you? Please identify five options in order of importance, where number one is the most important”
The kind of work you do
Your age and life stage
Your level of education
your level of income
Your social class
Your ethnic group or cultural background
The colour of your skin
Any disability you may have
Get someone to read out that list to you (or to give you a card with that list and you to study it), see how long it takes, and how able you are to select 5 items and put them in order of importance.
Good questionnaire design would require that the order of the list is varied as items at the top of a list might get more attention than those at the bottom.
Another question apart form requiring enormous patience on the part of the respondent to try giving an answer, requires that they have computer-like mental abilities to remember and analyse what they do.
Question E1 asks “In the last year, how often, if at all, have you met and talked with people from a different ethnic group to yourself, in the following places?”
At your home/their home
At school, work or college
Sport leisure activity
Socially outside work/school
Child’s crèche, school, nursery
Place of worship or other religious centre
Health clinic, hospital
On public transport
Park, out door space
Educational evening class
And for each of those places the respondent was asked to say whether the communication was:
At least weekly
At least monthly
At least once a year
Not at all
This question would seem designed for people with remarkable memories and powers of observation, a few per cent of the population if that!
Posted on 12/28/2009 2:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
A Musical Interlude: Black Coffee (Carroll Gibbons Orch., voc. Marjorie Stedeford)
Posted on 12/28/2009 9:38 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
Barbara Plett, The BBC Correspondent Who Wept For Arafat, Now Spreads Her Anti-Israel Venom As The BBC's UN Correspondent
No celebration as UNRWA turns 60
By Barbara Plett
BBC UN correspondent
The UN agency which looks after Palestinian refugees commemorates its 60th anniversary this month. But there's no celebration.
Prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement look dim and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is keenly aware that its "temporary" mandate could continue for years, even decades.
And some say the agency is part of the problem.[here is where Plett carefully avoids discussing the amazing hogging of UN resources -- 50% of everything the U.N. allocdates for all the hundreds of millions of refugees all over the world has gone to UNRWA, an organization now fully Arab in its makeup save for a handful at the very top who are kept on by way of camouflage. UNRWA's rolls never go down; no one is ever taken off them; no one ever dies; many sign up because tself now a completely Arab-staffed organization save for one or two keeping up a facade at the top"
“ I think for every Palestinian refugee here, when he sees the flag related to UNRWA, that means for 60 years we are still under occupation with no rights ”
Hussein Mansour Headmaster and Gaza resident
UNRWA was set up in 1949 to look after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who fled or were driven out of what became Israel during the first Arab-Israeli war.
It was supposed to provide short-term shelter pending the refugees' right of return to their homes - a right enshrined in UN resolutions.
But 60 years on, the Palestinian refugees are still stateless.
UNRWA has now mushroomed into a huge institution providing housing, health services, education and emergency food supplies to over four million refugees in five countries.
Hussein Mansour is an example of how the UN agency has helped many Palestinians.
The 46-year-old educator grew up in Gaza in a shelter built by UNRWA to house his parents, who had fled their village, al-Masmiya, in what was Mandate Palestine but is now southern Israel.
Because Mr Mansour's father died he was classified as a hardship case and received extra food rations.
He attended UN schools and received UN assistance for college. Now he is the head of a school for the deaf, which also receives support from UNRWA.
Mr Mansour is very much aware of what he owes to the agency, but for him its existence is a constant reminder of his statelessness.
"I think for every Palestinian refugee here, when he sees the flag or places related to UNRWA, that means for more than 60 years we are still under occupation with no rights. We are still dependent on the United Nations, not independent," he said.
He tells his children their real home is in al-Masmiya, not Gaza.
Right of return
The right of return remains one of the most contentious issues in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“ We have a problem when UNRWA is political and partisan ”
Mark Regev Israeli government spokesman
The Palestinians say the right must be recognised.
The Israelis say any mass return of refugees to their original homes and lands would change Israel's character as a Jewish state.
It also charges that UNRWA and the refugee issue have been exploited politically by the Arab states in their conflict with Israel.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev questions why refugee status is passed on to second and third generations.
"We have a problem when UNRWA is political and partisan. Why haven't Palestinian refugees been resettled? And have extreme politics prevented that from happening?" Mr Regev told the BBC.
This diplomatic war is why Israel does not support the annual renewal of UNRWA's mandate, even though it has no problem with the agency's humanitarian function.
Israel's deputy UN ambassador Danny Carmon argues that UNRWA cannot be viewed as a solely humanitarian organisation.
“ The idea that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee crisis is absurd ”
Christopher Gunness UNRWA spokesman
"UNRWA receives yearly backing from the international community, from the UN General Assembly with very politicised, anti-Israeli resolutions that set the mandate for it to work," Mr Carmon said.
UNRWA denies any political agenda, pointing out that refugee status which continues through generations is not unique to the Palestinians.
"The idea that UNRWA perpetuates the refugee crisis is absurd," said the agency's spokesman Chris Gunness.
Mr Gunness argues that the refugee crisis can only be solved as part of a comprehensive peace plan. Until politicians broker a deal the refugee crisis will continue.
But he argues that UNRWA sometimes has to take on an advocacy role, not least because of Israeli policies that affect the refugees.
For example, an Israeli blockade has prevented recovery from the Israeli operation a year ago that devastated Gaza.
Israel says the offensive and the blockade are both aimed at Hamas, which controls Gaza and has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, not Gazan civilians.
Mr Gunness argues that the agency's role is born out of humanitarian necessity rather than politics.
"We have a million refugees in Gaza, 80% are aid dependent, and we have to advocate against this cruel collective punishment that is making life so miserable," said Mr Gunness.
"Let's be clear: this is not a humanitarian crisis caused by natural disaster. This is a humanitarian crisis of choice, of a direct political choice," he added.
Few doubt that until there's a political resolution of the conflict, UNRWA will remain. No one wants it dismantled, not even the Israelis.
But after 60 years the only solution refugees like Mr Mansour say they will accept is the right to return - either to an independent state of their own, or their former homes in what is now Israel.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Posted on 12/28/2009 3:16 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
On the Fourth Day of Christmas
it should, according to John here, be collie birds, ie blackbirds not calling birds, brought to you.
Now it just so happens that on Boxing Day, after visiting the cemetery, I walked up Leyton High Road intending to photograph the Three Blackbirds by Leyton Midland Station. The right bird, even if one short of requirements.
This pub had a history for music. My best friend's family knew it before the war as an Irish pub - when Steeleye Span released All Around my Hat in 1975 with its chorus of 'I will wear the green willow', her mother recognised the tune, but had heard different words about the green of the Republic of Ireland. 30 years later I recall a rather good local Country and Western band called Highway Shoes.
The pub is now a Function suite specialising in conferences and Asian Weddings. The building is now smarter than I ever remember which is no bad thing, fresh paint, hanging baskets and space for a marquee. But it isn't called the Three Blackbirds any more and so they don't need the sign.
I want to save the Four Ashes at Takeley for an item on trees next year, and likewise the William IV also in Leyton High Road (for Kings).
But on the subject of Williams my husband was rather taken with this sign for the King William in Glastonbury when he was there in October. It is just the one William, but Just (1) William, is quite enough Williams thank you, and with his gang Henry, Ginger and Douglas they were four Outlaws.
Posted on 12/28/2009 5:28 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 December 2009
East London Mosque Favored By Fawning Infidels Linked To Nigerian Muslim Terrorist
From Harry's Place:
It has received visits from Prince Charles. Boris Johnson visited it to encourage non-Muslims to fast during Ramadan. The then Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, delivered a speech in which he envisaged a ‘role’ for Sharia within the English legal system. It has received huge wads of “Prevent” cash from the Government.
It has also hosted fundraisers for Interpal, which is associated with Hamas. It has been used by Awlaki and his supporters, to urge Muslims not to assist the police. The antisemite, Al Sudais was a guest of honour, earlier this year. The name of its Imam, Qayuum, appears on the pro-terrorism “Istanbul Declaration”, having apparently attended the conference at which it was produced: although he now denies having signed it. Its management has included those who are the subject of serious allegations of Jamaat-e-Islami war crimes during the Bangladesh War of Liberation. Other senior figures involved with the Mosque are closely connected to Islamic Forum Europe, a Jamaat-e-Islami front organisation.
And now, surprise surprise, the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre is linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The Independent says:
Security agencies in Britain are investigating reports that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian accused of attempting to blow up a transatlantic airliner, contacted radical Muslims while studying at university in London, The Independent understands.
Mohammed Mutallab, a cousin of the arrested man, has claimed that the 23-year-old came under the influence of extremist groups while in this country, and associates claim he visited the East London Mosque, which has attracted criticism for hosting Muslim hardline preachers, three times.
I expect we’ll see, today, another mealy-mouthed press release condemning terrorism from the East London Mosque. Followed up, no doubt, by a letter before action from Carter Ruck, if anybody dares to suggest that it is bollocks.
Posted on 12/28/2009 9:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 December 2009
Homegrown Terrorist Training: another Christian Action Network documentary
The New York Jewish Week has an article, “An American Intifada” on the rising concern among American Jews about homegrown terrorist threats. It was occasioned by testimony before a hearing of the New York State Office of Homeland Security. This is a welcoming although distressing revelation from a mainstream group obviously concerned about being in the bomb sites of Muslim extremist jihadis. Witness observations from Yehudit Barsky, head of the American Jewish Committee’s terrorism division, and David Pollock, assistant executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, about what is troubling the awakening Jewish community.
Barsky told The Jewish Week, “The threat of homegrown terrorism has clearly become more severe.”
“In almost every case of homegrown terrorism you’ll find at least some traces of anti-Semitism,” said Pollock. “I think we’re vulnerable. It’s important for Jewish institutions to harden their targets, so that any potential terrorist doing surveillance should conclude that another target is easier.”
Attacks have not just targeted Jews, added Barsky, “but it has happened to Jews so often, so regularly, that as a defense mechanism some of us would rather not think about it.”
Despite all the terrorist cases, most Jews remain complacent, but Barsky said, “I think a lot of people are just unaware. Complacent means you know about it and then ignore it. Too many people don’t even know.”
Sometimes even those who do know prefer to attribute the root cause to more conventionally liberal explanations for crime. For example, the rabbis of the two targeted Riverdale synagogues said that attacks, such as the one on their synagogues, could best be fought by alleviating “poverty” and “socioeconomic” hardships allegedly faced by the four Islamic men arrested for the bomb plot.
“Poverty?” Barsky laughed out loud. “You blow up synagogues because you’re poor? Forgive me, but in my time I’ve heard a lot of excuses for terrorism. You may recall the Brooklyn Bridge attack in 1994: that excuse was ‘road rage.’ It turned out to be a premeditated attack.”
In the attack on the El Al counter at the Los Angeles airport in 2002, “people were making psychological excuses for that, too, ‘his wife left him,’ etcetera, and so that’s why he shot up El Al,” said Barsky. “There have been psychological excuses made” for almost every homegrown terrorist attack since 9/11.
“These are sorry excuses,” said Barsky.
The New York Police Department “put out a report, over a year ago,” said Pollock, on the growing threat of homegrown terrorism. They were “criticized,” said Pollock, for how politically incorrect the report was.
There are “between 600,000 and 750,000” Muslims in New York City said the report, “about 40 percent of whom are foreign-born. Unfortunately, the city’s Muslim population has been permeated by extremists who have and continue to sow the seeds of radicalization.” The radicalization “is indiscriminate, and those attracted to it include New York City citizens from all walks of life, ranging from university students, engineers, business owners, teachers, lawyers, cab drivers to construction workers.”
“What all these incidents” since that NYPD report are showing us, said Pollock, is that the Jewish community is looking at “a very key threat. The Department of Homeland Security is finally going to be responding to this. Finally, reality bit them.”
It is ironic that Barsky’s and Pollock’s remarks were conveyed before a New York State OHS hearing. Christian Action Network (CAN) has graphically portrayed that international terrorist group; Jamaat ul-Fuqra (JF) has para-military training camps in more than 35 locations across America, including upstate New York. JF operates in the US as Muslims of America (MoA). JF’s founder is the infamous Sheik Mubarak Ali Gilani who was involved in the entrapment of American journalist Danny Pearl of the Wall Street Journal in Pakistan in 2002. Pearl was kidnapped and tortured allegedly by Khaled Sheik Mohammed and slaughtered in accordance with jihad doctrine, after first acknowledging that he was a Jew. Khaled Mohammed and four other 9/11 plotters will ironically be put on trial in a New York federal criminal proceeding. The MoA front for the JF is considered,” The best positioned group to help al-Qaeda launch an attack in the US.” Here is what we wrote about the MoA and its nefarious America activities in an NER article:
The group here in the US has committed attacks and robberies, acquired contraband arms, engaging in counterfeiting activities, and proselytized effectively among Afro-American prison inmates. JF members participated in the 1993 terror bombing of the World Trade Center.
JF seeks to “purify Islam” through violence.
What is of great concern is that federal and state law enforcement authorities have investigated and monitored JF and its front group Muslims of the Americas (MoA) and delisted the group as a terrorist organization. Nor has the IRS taken away MoA’s charitable tax exempt status.
We posted a review of CAN’s initial documentary, “Home Grown Jihad” in January, 2009. Now CAN has another video from an MoA source that graphically portrays home grown Muslim extremists going through military training exercises at the JF’s Hancock, New York compound near Binghamton.
Ryan Mauro of CAN had these comments:
In the video, you see the converts shooting into a lake, scaling fabricated walls, marching in military fatigue, practicing stealth maneuvers, and learning combat involving swords and knives, including how to slit someone’s throat. You also see excerpts of a separate propaganda tape from the same organization where two of its leaders declare the U.S. is a Muslim country and that they will “not sit idly by and let our country be destroyed by this hidden hand,” referring to evil forces attacking the Muslims.
If Ms. Barsky and Mr. Pollock have concerns about their fellow New Yorkers they might first suggest that the NYS-OHS investigator get a copy of both CAN documentaries. They should request the State Police conduct a raid of the Hancock facility with a court warrant and secure arms caches and training videos, as well as extremist Muslim tracts. There may be tracts that espouse the Jihad doctrine of conducting war against Jews, Christians and all non believers.
That would be a productive outcome of the NYS-OHS hearings and a start at stifling home grown terrorists in our midst.
Posted on 12/28/2009 11:33 PM by Jerry Gordon