These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 29, 2012.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
A Naive And Sentimental Appeal -- For At NER, No One Quite Knows How To Do It
Here's that Appeal, brought annually to you by our consultants, Mr. Alastair Sim and Mr. Charles Dickens. It appears a few days beyond Christmas, but not beyond midnight on December 31, by which witching hour one should make one's charitable -- for Americans, that means tax-deductible because 501(c)(3) -- contributions.
NER's contributors possess no talent when it comes to fund-raising. We don't know how to do it. We are shy about it. We can't quite bring ourselves to raise the matter, hoping others, without having to be asked, will see the need and do what they can. NER does not possess the Development Office of a "world-class" university, plotting with the deadly efficiency of a military campaign. . Those who contribute to the site know some things, but are at sea when it comes to raising even the most modest of funds. Is that something for which they should be punished, or should you, those potential contributors, "still be kind, and eke out our performance with your mind"?
It is not maddening to see people decide not to contribute anything to NER if they are not the contriubting sort. But what does madden is when regular visitors to this site, who surely having seen how this site makes so many things clear about Islam(and, en passant, much else, not to mention those winning Musical Interludes that please), and does so oftem memorably and entertainingly, give elsewhere to those who are now past masters in the art and craft of asking. And then NER, poor and deserving, because it has not mastered that particular art, that particular craft, finds itself left, like Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl, out in the cold. That's not right. That's not just. And it is a result of not thinking clearly. You should make yourself see that, as we do, feelingly.
So the end-of-year annual appeal is this: Put your money where your mind is. Send something to NER.
HOW would the United States government react if a huge section of its territory were occupied by terrorists and drug traffickers who raped women and forced them to marry? If children were conscripted and deprived of their education? If citizens had their hands and feet cut off? That is precisely what has happened to the once peaceful and democratic nation of Mali.
Life in northern Mali before the rebels and Islamic extremists arrived was calm; we lived together harmoniously in a community of various languages and backgrounds, including people of Tuareg, Sonraï, Bambara and Peul ethnicities. Coexistence of different ethnic groups in a secular society has long been a fundamental value in Mali, and our cultural diversity enriched us.
In 2004, I became the first woman to be elected mayor of a town in northern Mali. It wasn’t easy in this ultraconservative region. We built a community center to encourage the economic self-sufficiency of women, who accounted for more than half the town’s population of about 16,000. Despite many difficulties, the initiation of development projects created a real sense of hope among the population. Even if the economy was slow to take off, it was progress. Now it is all in shambles.
Jihadist criminal groups like Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, working with drug traffickers and armed separatists, are threatening democratic institutions, national unity and secularism in Mali.
Our democracy, achieved through great struggle, has shown its weaknesses. Poorly handled rebellions, a failure to decentralize political power and an influx of armed men and drug traffickers during and after the 2011 war in Libya have all contributed to our present crisis.
In the spring of 2011, a group of secular Tuareg separatists, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, grew stronger when its fighters returned from nearby Libya with heavy weapons to liberate northern Mali, which they call Azawad. The movement formed a military alliance of convenience with jihadists in the region. Together, they quickly routed the Malian Army, but simmering mistrust and bitter disagreements eventually led to a split, with the jihadists gaining the upper hand. The collapse of our military in the north left us in an appalling situation: a country without an army to protect its citizens.
I was forced to flee the town I govern earlier this year when jihadists and separatists took over. Goundam, like other northern towns, was left foundering in total chaos: there was no government, no schools, no libraries, no electricity and no freedom for our citizens.
The rebels and extremists looted our health center’s stores of medicine and equipment. Not even our personal belongings were spared. Women were driven from the community center, where they had been working to earn a living — and all of this was supposedly in the name of establishing Shariah.
Lawless and godless men — who hide behind Shariah and demands for Tuareg independence — are now beating and raping women and conscripting children to fight their “holy” war.
And the greatest tragedy is that people are starting to get used to it. Isolated from public life, women can no longer dress as they wish or freely go about their business. Children no longer attend school. In short, our development efforts have been destroyed.
Immediately reclaiming northern Mali from violent extremists must become a priority. And it can’t be done without international help, especially from key powers like America and France. The United Nations, the European Union, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States must all do their part to resolve the crisis before it becomes a greater threat.
After recovering its lost territory, Mali needs help in organizing free, transparent and credible elections to choose representatives who are elected by — and not imposed upon — the citizens. We also need help reconstituting a national army, accelerating political decentralization, strengthening civil society groups and making economic development a fundamental part of re-establishing security.
I was staggered to hear the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, express his fear in a report last month that a humanitarian disaster might result from military intervention in Mali. The disaster is already upon us. Could there be any disaster more grave than the one we’re already living?
President Obama must not allow northern Mali to become a hotbed of terrorists and drug traffickers that poses a danger to the entire world.
The United States has intervened in less dire situations. I call upon its conscience. Please help us get our families out of their wretched distress. We are innocent victims. We cannot do it alone.
HYDERABAD: Akbaruddin Owaisi, the firebrand leader of the Majlis-e-Itthadul Muslimeen (MIM), was on Friday taken to court over his disparaging remarks against Hindus in a hate speech, the main content of which was that Muslims would need just 15 minutes without the police to show 100 crore Hindus (a billion) who is more powerful.
In a complaint filed against the MIM legislator, an advocate said he had stumbled upon you tube uploaded hate speech made at a public meeting at Adilabad on December 24, about 300 km from the city.
The VII additional chief metropolitan magistrate after admitting the petition said the matter will be heard on December 31.
Akbaruddin, who is the younger brother of MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, said Hindus have so many gods and goddesses, and every eight days, there are new gods coming up. "We knew about Lakshmi, but who is Bhagyalakshmi, we are not aware," Akbar said referring to the Bhagyalakshmi temple abutting the historic Charminar.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Ministry of Love promoted nothing but hatred and the Ministry of Truth spread nothing but lies. Although totalitarianism of the kind described and analyzed by Orwell has all but disappeared from the face of the earth, give or take a country or two, totalitarianism of another, softer kind is marching its slow way through the institutions. In the name of diversity and tolerance, it enforces uniformity and bigotry: and there is no vice as insidious as that which, in the search for power, takes itself for virtue.
In England, this degeneration has gone further than almost anywhere else in the western world. In northern town of Rotherham recently a perfectly decent couple who fostered children in need of care and attention had their foster-children removed from them because they were members of UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party, which was deemed by the local council, controlled by the Labour Party, to be racist. There were no allegations that they couple had maltreated any children; indeed, to all appearances they were exemplary foster parents (of children of non-British background, incidentally). Their only ‘crime’ was to hold the ‘wrong’ opinions.
What were these opinions, so terrible that no child should be exposed to them, or even to the mere risk of being exposed to them? Actually, it was highly unlikely that the couple ever spoke to the children about politics, and certainly it was never proved or even alleged that they did. Their opinions were thus like the miasma that for millennia was believed to be the cause of epidemics, they exerted a subtle and disastrous influence without anybody being able to explain exactly how. We are not very far here, either, from the witchcraft craze.
One can hear in one’s mind’s ear the kind of justification that led to the decision to remove the foster-children from them. The fact that the children were thriving under their care was, of course, of no account: for which child knows what is good for it? It is possible for children to thrive for the wrong reasons. And, while the foster-parents may not have tried to influence the children directly with their opinions, we all know that attitudes, especially racist attitudes, can communicate themselves by subtle rather than by overt means, implicitly rather than explicitly. So again, the fact that, outwardly, the foster-parents did nothing wrong is completely beside the point. Their unsuitability as foster-parents was essential, that is to say of their essence, not of their merely phenomenal, or rather epiphenomenal, appearance. Rotherham council no doubt has its own Malleus malefecorum for sniffing out such essences.
The opinions to which Rotherham’s incipient political police objected were the following: UKIP wants the United Kingdom to recover its national sovereignty by withdrawing altogether from the European Union, and also wants much firmer restrictions on immigration. It is far from certain that the majority of the population does not agree with it on both counts; but in effect, the decision of Rotherham Council is indicative of a will to place both questions beyond the range of permissible political discussion, at least if you want a licence to do anything (and increasingly, such licences are needed). You can have any opinion you like, so long as it is ours.
As it happens, the two political issues are very important. The British political class (including, but not exclusively, Mrs Thatcher) gave away British sovereignty without consulting the British population and even without much in the way of public discussion, the matter being considered too technical for the imperfect capacities of the average, or even the above average, man. This is as if the Congress unilaterally, without discussion, voted to abrogate the Constitution. UKIP is thus a serious, one might almost say revolutionary, challenge to the undisturbed predominance of the present British political class – no doubt to replace it by another such class, if the revolution succeeded.
The second issue is likewise important; and the fact that the issue obsesses genuine racists should not divert us from its real importance. It certainly didn’t divert the Labour Party, which wanted to encourage mass immigration in order to change the psephological characteristics of the British population, which it found previously unsatisfactory.
An important question for the country is the following: why did it import a large number of foreign unskilled labourers while maintaining an almost equal number of the native population in a condition of state-subsidised unemployment? In other words, why mass immigration and mass unemployment at the same time?
The reasons are not straightforward and no doubt resistant to political change, at least not without very considerable courage and a willingness to accept conflict. The reasons go deep to the heart of the social policies followed by the political class, including Mrs Thatcher, for the past sixty or more years.
The first reason is that the foreign workers are better than the British. They have a better attitude to work than British workers, they are often better educated than British workers, and before long will even speak better English than the British workers. If I were an employer and knew only of two twenty-four year old applicants for an unskilled job that one was a product of the British educational system and the other was Polish, I would unhesitatingly opt for the Pole. This very fact raises very unsettling questions about the nature of what we have done to ourselves, via our political class, for many decades.
The second reason is that we have created a system in which, for people at the lower end of the economic scale, the difference between working and not working, at least from the purely economic point of view, is minimal. So while minimum wages are attractive to foreigners, they are unattractive to the British unemployed. You would not have to be Nostradamus to see potential for real political and social conflict here.
The third reason is the rigidity of the housing market, in part created by housing subsisdies. Such subsidies are not easily transferable from one area to another, and so people in receipt of such a subsidy cannot (or rather have a negative incentive) to move to where the work is. Thus a labour shortage develops in one area of the country, and mass unemployment in another. One area is economically dynamic, another has the atmosphere of the Soviet Union under Brezhnev (except that there is a little more state-subsidised consumer choice, because the subsidies go ultimately to state-subsidised licensed traders such as supermarkets, betting shop chains, etc.). Thus everything is distorted and corrupted.
No wonder the political class does not want such matters to be even raised, why UKIP seems such a threat. It must therefore be declared beyond the pale, unclean, like a mediaeval leper.
In the meantime, children are indoctrinated in schools. On a litter bin near my house, into which people are supposed to place the wrappers of their almost continuous snacks, there is a child’s drawing with the legend ‘Keep your planet clean’: not, nota bene, ‘Keep your town clean,’ which is a call to decent behaviour, but ‘Keep your planet clean,’ which is an appeal to an ideology which must not be questioned.
The Somalis Who Riot For Subsidized Housing In Columbus, Ohio
Unless you know someone in Columbus, Ohio, you would only be able to guess -- from the single video displayed -- that the huge Somali population in Columbus explains what went on in early December, in a rush to sign up for the best Columbus offered in subsidized housing.
One More Confident And Baseless Prediction About Syria
From an editorial today in The Washington Post:
"The most likely scenario is that rebel forces will, in a matter of weeks or months, win the war — or at least cause the Assad clique to retreat to its ethnic stronghold on the Mediterranean coast."
In a matter of "weeks or months"? How do they arrive at this conclusion? How have all those -- that is, virtually everyone -- who for nearly the past two years have declared, again and again, that Assad is a "dead man walking," that he can't last more than a few weeks, and who have kept on saying this, despite all the by-now obvious evidence that almost every single non-Arab or non-Muslim minority -- Christians, Druse, Kurds, and of course the Alawis themselves - and even if, in the past, some of those minorities, such as the Kurds, have been ill-treated by the Assad regime but know perfectly well a Sunni Muslim regime would treat them far worse, all support the government, and that many Sunnis obviously support the government too, because they fear a real Islamic state, which is what the rebels, with Jabhat Al-Nusra in the lead, would -- they fear -- undoubtedly bring.
And among Syria's neighbors is Lebanon, currently dominated by Syrian-supporting Hezbollah, the most powerful military force in the country, and Iraq, where the Shi'a refuse to inspect, much less halt, Iranian shipments of weaponry by air, and worry about a Syria dominated by Sunnis who could come to the aid, across a porous border, the Sunnis who are approaching a state of open revolt against the Maliki government and the Shi'a who are now grabbing most of the oil money, and even Turkey has its Alevis, who remember the massacres they have suffered at the hands of Sunni Turks, and who, while not identical to the Alawis of Syria, and not to be confused with them (as the Iranian Press TV so often does), would not be happy if the Alawis were overthrown and massacred (nor would the Turkish Alawis, not the Turkish Alevis, who live just over the border and flaunt their photographs of Assad. And then, just on the other side of Iraq, and sharing a border with Turkey, is Iran. And if, in Syria, the Kurds are now fighting not the regime but the rebels who have been treating them so badly, which side is it likely that fellow Kurds in Iraq, in Iran, in Turkey, will wish to win? The Arab supremacists of Jabhat Al-Nusra, or the Alawites whom, it is clear, have decided to let Kurdish parts of Syria go, and may even now be supplying weaponry to the Kurds knowing that it will be used against the uber-Islamic rebels now lording it over the Kurds in Kurdish towns.
And there is one more reason for those making predictions to be a little more tentative in their airy dismissal of the Assad regime.
Suha Arafat and daughter Zahwa, November 2011 Hillary Clinton Kisses Suha Arafat
Source: Ynet.com Source: New York Post , November 1999
In a Dubai TV interview on December 16, 2012, Suha Arafat, the widow of Yasser Arafat , revealed in a MEMRI translation that her late husband had perpetrated the Second Intifada in September 2000 that lasted until 2005. More than 3,000 Palestinians, 1,000 Israelis and 64 foreigners were killed in the armed uprising. The Palestinian myth created was that the visit to the Al Aqsa Mosque by then Israeli Prime Minister (PM) Ariel Sharon, triggered the Intifada. Arafat had rejected a US deal brokered by Former President Clinton with Israel at Camp David. In November 1999, Suha and then First Lady Hillary Clinton were photographed embracing during a visit to Ramallah. Clinton’s espousal of a Palestinian state was complicated by Suha’s accusations against Israel at the time:
Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children.
Jerusalem Post and Daily Callerarticles on New Year’s weekend drew attention to MEMRI’s translation of Suha’s revelations from the December 2012 Dubai TV interview:
Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return.... Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so.’
I do not want Zahwa’s [Arafat’s daughter’s] friends in the future to say that Yasser Arafat abandoned the Palestinian cause and principles. I might be martyred, but I shall bequeath our historical heritage to Zahwa and to the children of Palestine.
Watch the MEMRI translation of the Dubai TV interview with Suha Arafat:
Suha Arafat had returned to the media spotlight on November 27, 2012 with exhumation of her late husband’s remains from his tomb in Ramallah. Samples taken for conduct of forensic examinations and his remains hurriedly re-interred.
This extraordinary event was requested by Suha, Arafat’s widow. According to a CNN report, French investigations earlier 2012 had found traces of polonium-210, a radioactive substance, on her late husband’s toothbrush, underwear and signature black and white checkerboard kaffiyeh headdress. Arafat had died in a French hospital in 2004 succumbing to undisclosed causes at the time. The reason for French investigations in 2012 followed the releases of a 558 page report by a French clinic excerpted in the Israeli daily, Ha’aretz. Swiss and Russian laboratories have been sent samples of the exhumed forensic materials for investigation.
One implication of these recent disclosures was that Arafat may have succumbed to radiation poisoning via polonium-210, a radioactive substance used to assassinate Alexander Ltivinenko a former Russian intelligence agent who was allegedly working for Mi6 in the UK. The obvious target of those accusations was Israel, which categorically denied the charges by Palestinian Authority officials and his widow. CNN noted the response from a spokesperson for Israeli PM Netanyahu:
"We had nothing to do with it," Israeli government spokesman Mark Ragev told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "Those charges are ludicrous and its conspiracy theories which, as you know sometimes have legs of their own. But, as you know, there is no truth in it whatsoever."
Mossad agents were involved in an embarrassing near poisoning attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan during Netanyahu’s first term as Prime Minister in 1997. More recently, Mossad was apparently involved in the successful alleged poisoning death in a Dubai hotel in January 2010 of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh ; co-founder the Hamas militia, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Al-Mabhouh allegedly may have organized the kidnapping of IDF solider Gilad Shalit. Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv in an Atlanticarticle suggested that Al-Mabhouh was the Hamas negotiator with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Al Qods Force. The latter was facilitating delivery of rockets and other arms to Hamas in Gaza via the Sudan and Sinai. These included the long range Fajr-5 rockets used by Hamas in the recent November 2012 eight-day rocket war, Operation Pillar of Defense.
In a September 2012 Der Spiegel article about the French forensic investigation and pending exhumation, a Palestinian official said that if Arafat was murdered via radioactive polonium they might request an International Criminal Court (ICC) tribunal akin to that convened in the matter of the assassination of Lebanese PM Hariri. Note this comment:
"To this day, we have avoided accusing Israel of being responsible for Arafat's death," says Nimr Hamad, Abbas' political adviser. "But if we find polonium in his body, it is 99.9 percent certain that it was Israel. That would help us because it proves that Israel doesn't want peace." He adds that they would demand the appointment of a special tribunal "like the one that was supposed to explain the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. But the evidence is clearer in Arafat's case than it was in Hariri's."
That may be a distinct possibility given the UN General Assembly vote on November 29, 2012 upgrading the PA’s status enabling it to bring such charges before the ICC.
So why did Suha return to the media spotlight? It may have less to do about accusations against Israel than to the questions of the opaque quality of the information on Arafat’s demise in 2004, the recurring allegations that he may have succumbed to AIDs and the lack of any definitive autopsy. It may also be allegations of diverting donations from the PA and questionable financial transactions in both France and Tunisia. In 2003, French authorities accused her of laundering $11.4 million in funds from accounts in Switzerland to those in France. Her role in these media events is not beloved by PLO-Fatah leaders given her previous lavish lifestyle in Paris and financial settlement negotiated by Pierre Rizk, a former intelligence official of a Lebanese Maronite Phalange organization. Before the conclusion of financial arrangements Suha was alleged to have spent more than $200,000 a month in a lavish life style. Given the late Arafat’s control over more than $3.0 billion in donor funds and investments at his demise, Suha was granted in a negotiated settlement an estimated $22 million a year from those secret funds controlled by her late husband..
Perhaps as a result of these allegations of financial irregularities, Suha has been living in Malta for the past two years with their 17 year old daughter Zahwa. Their daughter Zahwa was born in 1995. Suha was raised in a prominent wealthy Palestinian Catholic family and sent to finishing schools in Paris. Her father was an Oxford educated banker. He mother was a Palestinian nationalist poet. Suha met Arafat in the mid-1980’s and functioned as his translator at meetings in Paris, when the PLO-Fatah was in exile in Tunis. She allegedly converted to Islam when she married Arafat.
The Der Spiegel article and interview with Suha in Malta in September 2012 reveals some of the animus towards Tawfik Tirawi, Arafat's former intelligence chief.
Saad Djebbar, one of Suha Arafat's lawyers in Paris, in an [Al Jazeera] television interview said that the French legal system has jurisdiction because the murder began in the Palestinian territories and ended in France. He then added the curious sentence that Suha Arafat wants to prevent the Palestinian Authority from obstructing the investigation.
For the last two years, Tirawi has headed the official Palestinian commission charged with investigating the cause of Arafat's death. Since the scandal involving possible polonium poisoning erupted, he has been repeatedly forced to explain why it was al-Jazeera, rather than him, that came up with the idea of taking a closer look at Arafat's underwear.
Tirawi encountered Arafat on an almost daily basis. "I saw very clearly how things got increasingly worse with him," he says. "At first, he had spots on his face. Then, he was constantly throwing up, he lost weight, and the skin on his feet dissolved so that he could only wear sandals." Then he adds: "We were always certain that the Israelis had poisoned Arafat."
As Tirawi sees it, it was just an accident that al-Jazeera discovered the last missing piece of the puzzle. He claims that his commission has tirelessly investigated the case, but that its activities have been secret because such things are obviously kept out of the public gaze.
Palestinians believe that Palestinian Authority officials never made any real effort to solve the mystery surrounding his death. The first investigative commission was dissolved six months after Arafat's death and only reappointed in 2010.
Der Spiegel raises the skein of unresolved questions surrounding Arafat’s demise and the lack of autopsies requested by Suha, his widow, and the French authorities:
The French clinic's 558-page report on the death of the [Palestinian] national hero raises more questions than it provides answers. For example, why did Suha Arafat refuse to allow a liver biopsy to be taken? Why didn't anyone demand that an autopsy be conducted? How can it be that even the best doctors in France didn't find the cause of this strange infection, which caused blood to coagulate and led to a stroke? Could it be that the French government wants to keep the cause of death secret?
Moreover, why is there so much missing in the report, and why does it seem like "someone has played around with it," as Avi Issacharoff, a reporter with the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, says? Likewise, he also finds it somewhat odd that he, an Israeli journalist, was the only one to publish the secret French medical report, rather than Suha Arafat or the Palestinian Authority.
Perhaps the ultimate reason why Suha has insinuated herself back into the spotlight over these new investigations about her husband’s demise, are accusations about siphoning money in France and Tunisia. Der Spiegel notes:
In addition to being widely despised in Ramallah, she has also fallen into disfavor in France and Tunisia, where she is under investigation for suspicious cash flows and corruption. There is also the persistent rumor that she had a hand in the disappearance of $300 million (€240 million) after Arafat's death. In any case, it would certainly seem opportune for her to now assume the role of the widow avenging her husband's death in the name of the Palestinian people.
In a November 2011 Ynet.com article, Suha denied these accusations in an interview with Egyptian journalist, Wael Al Abrash, saying:
I didn't take money from Palestine, I didn’t take lands from the state of Palestine.
After working for Palestine for 50 years, does Arafat not deserve to build a playground for his daughter in Tunisia? I am not ashamed of that but, others came and took over. It's the only investment he did for Zahwa and I have the papers to prove it.
e didn't buy her jewelry or build her factories, just a little playground in Tunisia. I have nothing to hide. Yasser Arafat is the one who ordered the playground to be built.
Suha Arafat is playing the media to gain sympathy and revenge as an alleged grieving widow against PA political and security leaders for not providing adequate security that might have prevented her husband’s demise. That might deflect accusations of financial irregularities arising from alleged mishandling of donor funds. Her recent confirmation of Yasser Arafat’s premeditated Second Intifada should give no comfort to Israel, given that she continues to accuse Israel of despoiling Gaza. In the Ynet.com article she rationalized the Paris birth of her daughter Zahwa in 1995:
My father was on his deathbed and in hospital and that is why I made the decision. I refused to give birth in Israel – I told them (the Israelis) - You ruined the whole of Gaza, you were the ones who destroyed our hospitals, not us.
Lenny Ben David in Israel commented:
If Suha refused to give birth in an Israeli hospital could it be she didn't want any Israeli hospital having the baby's DNA?