These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 3, 2012.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
Praise Is Due To Marvin Chirelstein
A professor, now retired, from both Yale and Columbia Law Schools, he spent a year at Harvard Law School, teaching a class on Corporations. He deserves to be in Bartlett's for his description of Business Units II, a course that Dean Rostow roped him into teaching at Yale which consisted “entirely of case-annotations for commonly used bond indentures and other boiler-plate documents,”: and which Chirelstein described as “the most boring and insignificant course ever offered anywhere at any time in any language.”
An alleged terrorist has gone on trial in a British court charged with plotting to carry out an attack with a man who died in an explosion on a busy street in Stockholm.
Taimour Abdulwahab died after detonating an improvised explosive device in the Swedish capital on December 11, 2010, having earlier set fire to a car containing an IED.
Nasserdine Menni yesterday denied conspiring with Abdulwahab, from Luton, Beds, to further terrorist aims by criminal means, including the use of explosive devices intended to kill members of the public in Sweden. It is alleged he did so in Glasgow, Luton, Bedford, Sweden, Syria, Iraq and other unknown locations between January 1, 2003 and March 8, 2011.
Menni, whose age is not known, also denies transferring money to Abdulwahab, knowing it would be used for terrorist purposes. His trial at the High Court in Glasgow is expected to last for up to three months.
Menni is also accused of fraudulently claiming benefits and pretending to be an asylum-seeker in order to stay in Britain.
Swedish police officer Karl Viktor Andersson, 32, told the court how he had found Abdulwahab's body after the explosion in the Bryggargatan area of Stockholm. "I decided to clear the area and send members of the public around the body away because it could be an explosive and it might not be safe to be near," Andersson said.
Abdelwahab, a 29-year-old whose family fled from Iraq to Sweden in 1991, had lived with his wife and three children in Luton, north of London before the botched attack.
The men who launched al Qaeda's English-language magazine may have died in a U.S. missile strike last fall, but "Inspire" magazine lives on without them -- and continues to promote jihadi attacks on Western targets, offering detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America with timed explosives and how to build remote-controlled bombs.
The magazines eulogize Awlaki and Khan as the "spirit" and the "tongue" of "Inspire" respectively, but deny that their deaths will stop the magazine or jihad. The second of the two issues seems to have been prepared after Khan and Awlaki's deaths. "To the disappointment of our enemies," says one of the articles, "issue 9 of Inspire magazine is out against all odds ... The Zionists and the Crusaders thought that the magazine was gone with the martyrdom of Shaykh Anwar and brother Samir. Yet again, they have failed to come to terms with the fact that the Muslim ummah is the most fertile and most generous mother that gives birth to thousands and thousands of the likes of Shaykh Anwar and brother Samir."
The ummah is apparently not giving birth to proofreaders, however, since both issues are riddled with typos, including one on the cover of issue nine, where a headline asks whether the West or al Qaeda is "Wining on the Ground." Issue eight, which includes the last editorial note from Samir Khan, also displays a help-wanted ad, asking for researchers and translators, "sisters' willing to write articles, and "people who can preserve permanent internet links for all of the magazine issues."
But issue nine carries (equally) lethal advice, with "It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb," which gives detailed instructions on how to ignite an "ember bomb" in a U.S. forest, recommending Montana because of the rapid population growth in wooded areas.
"In America, there are more houses built in the [countryside] than in the cities," says the writer, who uses the pseudonym The AQ Chef. "It is difficult to choose a better place [than] in the valleys of Montana."
Issue eight has an eight-page article on how to construct a remote-controlled explosives, with a laundry list of parts and ingredients and photos showing proper assembly. In addition, issue eight provides tips on training with a handgun and issue nine provides advice on how to be an urban assassin.
Runa Ali is aware her neighbourhood has a reputation for dodgy electoral practices. Standing on the doorstep of her flat in Tower Hamlets, east London, she is more resigned than she is angry.
"Someone was round here a little while ago asking to collect our ballot. They knock on the door and say 'We are collecting the ballot papers, just hand us yours and we'll deal with them for you'." The 28-year-old is referring to the practice of local party volunteers knocking on doors offering help. It might seem innocuous – an attempt by helpful locals wanting to do what they can to get the vote out. But it is illegal.
Aware that such tactics are common, Miss Ali always goes to the polling station in person. But she fears that many people in this predominantly Bangladeshi corner of London might be taken in by unscrupulous campaigners. "Most of the people affected will be those who do not understand the political system or do not care: the young and the very old," she says. "Because most [of those] people don't understand the system and English is not their first language."
Every time an election comes to Tower Hamlets – a vibrant but impoverished borough which lies in the shadow of the City and is home to Britain's largest concentration of Bangladeshis – rumours, accusations and counter-accusations of voter fraud abound. For vibrant, read monochrome - black niqabs, shuttered pubs, gay free zone, etc.
A common complaint is over so-called "ghost voters", and the suspiciously high number of residents that can be registered for postal voting at small properties. Local Tory councillor Peter Golds has sent a dossier of evidence to the Electoral Commission highlighting flats where he believes this takes place.
The Independent knocked on their doors (of a few of the flats highlighted by Cllr Golds) yesterday and received no answer from two of the flats. But at the third a white man answered, who said he lived alone. According to the electoral register, four Asian names were recently added to his address as postal votes. The man, who declined to give his name, said he was recently visited by a man of south Asian origin who tried to collect the ballots. He refused.
In an attempt to tackle voter intimidation outside polling stations, police officers have been deployed during elections across the borough. But many residents say it has had little effect.
Whom Do You Believe - The State Department, Or Chen Guangcheng?
May 02, 2012
Alternate Account of Chen Guangcheng Drama Unfolds on Twitter
Kate Woodsome | Washington
TOPSHOTS Chinese activist activist Chen Guangcheng (L) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing on May 2, 2012. A US official said there would be no repeat of the incident involving the activist Chen Guangcheng, but declined to comment on China's call for an apology. AFP PHOTO/Jordan Pouille
A close associate of a blind Chinese dissident who left U.S. protection in Beijing Wednesday has posted a series of notes on Twitter, saying the press has gotten the story wrong about Chen Guangcheng.
Zeng Jinyan, the wife of activist Hu Jia and a friend of Chen’s, says the dissident lawyer felt pressured to leave the U.S. embassy.
GUANGCHENG TALKED TO ME. WHAT MEDIA REPORTED IS WRONG.
Senior U.S. officials in Beijing who helped negotiate Chen’s case say the activist left the diplomatic compound of his own free will. In a background briefing with reporters, the officials said Chen consistently stated his desire to stay and work in China.
But at about 8 p.m. in Beijing Wednesday, Zeng tweeted in English and Chinese that Chen said he and his family were willing to leave the country. However, she said he felt compelled to abandon the U.S. embassy because he feared for his family’s safety.
That account echoes an interview Chen gave the Associated Press.
VOA was unable to contact Zeng or Chen for comment, but other Western journalists who reached Zeng said she confirmed her Tweets and said she was taking a big risk by speaking with them.
Zeng also tweeted that Chen told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a phone call Wednesday that he wanted to “see her,” not “kiss her,” as U.S. officials reported. A U.S. State Department spokesman dismissed the discrepancy, saying Chen was speaking in “broken English.”
In this photo released by the US Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng makes a phone call as he is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke on the way to a hospital in Beijing, May 2, 2012.
That phone call was one of many Chen made while driving to a Beijing hospital with U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke after leaving the embassy. He also placed calls to members of the Western press to confirm his departure from the diplomatic compound.
Zeng says before those calls, Chen was not able to contact anyone since Friday.
The Texas-based advocacy group ChinaAid, which has been in contact with Chen since his escape, says it fears the U.S. has “abandoned Mr. Chen.”
"We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the reports about Chen's involuntary departure [from the U.S. embassy] is true," said ChinaAid President Bob Fu in a statement.
The group is demanding the U.S. and Chinese governments release the full details of Chen’s release.
U.S. officials say Chen left the embassy after receiving guarantees from China that he would be relocated to a “safe environment” and be permitted to attend a university. Chen is a self-taught lawyer who fell out of favor with Shandong province authorities after exposing and challenging forced abortions and sterilizations, which are contrary to Chinese law.
Chen’s perilous flight from his heavily guarded home in Dongshigu village to the U.S. embassy in Beijing has presented Washington and Beijing with their greatest test of diplomatic relations in decades. The situation was made even more delicate because of its timing. The U.S. secretary of state and other senior officials are in Beijing this week for talks that were supposed to focus on North Korea, Iran and Sudan. Instead, Chen’s human rights, an issue Clinton has long championed, became the focus of a week of flurried negotiations that the U.S. diplomats involved say left them sleepless.
When asked by reporters about Chen’s long-term safety, Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington the U.S. would continue to seek access to Chen to ensure China’s commitments become a reality.
Good Old Prince Nayef, Or More On Saudi Warnings To Iran
Saudi slams Iran’s ‘unacceptable’ attitude towards ‘occupied’ UAE islands
'Any harm towards any of our (GCC) countries affects us all'
RIYADH - Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz has described as "unacceptable" Iran's attitude towards three islands under its control which Gulf Cooperation Council member UAE claims it owns, a report said.
"I reiterate the kingdom's condemnation to the unacceptable attitude of neighbouring Iran that continues to ignore the legitimate right of the United Arab Emirates over its three occupied islands," said Prince Nayef, who is also Saudi Arabia's interior minister.
"Any harm towards any of our (GCC) countries affects us all," he said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA late on Wednesday.
Prince Nayef also pledged his country's full support to the UAE and Bahrain, facing a Shiite-led uprising, saying "their security and stability is part of the security of all GCC states."
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia accuse Shiite-dominated Iran of backing the uprising in the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom.
Meanwhile, a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on April 11 to Abu Musa -- the only one of the three disputed islands which is inhabited -- sparked a storm of protest from both the UAE and its Gulf Arab allies.
The six-nation GCC angrily labelled the visit "a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates over its three islands."
Iran seized control of the three Gulf islands in 1971, when Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.
Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.
But Abu Dhabi says the Iranians have taken over the entire island -- which controls access to the oil-rich Gulf -- and have built an airport and military base there.
George Vujnovich, Operation Halyard, Draga Mihailovich, And Our Serbian Allies
George Vujnovich Dead: OSS Agent Who Led Daring World War II Rescue Of More Than 500 Dies
NEW YORK — George Vujnovich, the intelligence agent who organized a World War II mission to rescue more than 500 U.S. bomber crew members shot down over Nazi-occupied Serbia, has died at his home in New York. He was 96.
Vujnovich is credited with leading the so-called Halyard Mission in what was then Yugoslavia. It was the largest air rescue of Americans behind enemy lines in any war.
A long retired salesman of aircraft parts, he died April 24 of natural causes at home in Queens, according to his daughter, Xenia Wilkinson.
The Serbian-American and Pittsburgh native was an officer of the OSS, the precursor of today's CIA, when about 500 pilots and other airmen were downed over Serbia in the summer of 1944 while on bombing runs targeting Hitler's oil fields in Romania, according to U.S. government field station files.
The airmen were hidden in villages by Serbian guerrilla fighter Draza Mihailovich, leader of the Chetniks, whom Yugoslav communist officials considered to be Germany's collaborators.[Tito and his henchmen did not "consider them to be" but, rather, falsely claimed that Mihailovic and his non-Communist Serbian partisans were collaborators]
"This mission would not have succeeded without the great courage of Draza Mihailovich and his brave men," Vujnovich said at a 2010 ceremony in which he was formally awarded the U.S. Bronze Star Medal.
It was no small feat to convince American officials to allow him to work with Mihailovich on the clandestine mission, dubbed Halyard, meaning a rope used to hoist sails. By then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had decided to follow British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's lead, abandoning support for Mihailovich in favor of the Yugoslav communists, the strongest grass-roots guerrilla force fighting the invading Nazis and Italian fascists.
"Vujnovich is the one who sold the mission to U.S. officials. He pushed hard," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steven Oluic, a former West Point professor who prepared the award submission for the Department of the Army.
On Aug. 2, 1944, three OSS agents strapped with radio transmitters were airdropped near Mihailovich's headquarters to set up the operation. Dozens of U.S. military cargo planes flew in over the months to pick up the airmen when they were downed. Serbian villagers had helped them build an airstrip by the village of Pranjani.
The fliers parachuted into a mountainous region where local farmers brought them to their houses and barns. During the next 66 days, the Americans moved each night to a different location so as not to be captured by the occupying Germans.
The story is told in a 2007 book titled "The Forgotten 500," by Gregory Freeman.
The American Media Gets an Egyptian Presidential Candidate All Wrong
May 3, 2012
Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Monem Abouel Fotouh was a leading force in the militant Islamist student movements of the 1970s; one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s point men for aiding the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s; and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office for twenty-two years. It should not have come as a surprise that he has earned the endorsement of Egypt’s most influential Salafist organizations, al-Dawa al-Salafiyya and its political arm, the Nour Party, as well as the backing of U.S.-designated terrorist organization al-Gama’a al-Islamiya
But American media has had a tough time acknowledging the dispiriting truth that Egypt’s presidential race is now a contest between theocratic Islamists such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and Abouel Fotouh on the one hand, and autocratic former Mubarak regime officials such as Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq on the other. Instead, the country’s major newspapers have gone out of their way to designate a hero. The Wall Street Journal thus whitewashed Abouel Fotouh as “relatively liberal,” while The New York Times dubbed him a “liberal” outright. Any judicious reading of Abouel Fotouh’s record would contradict these characterizations.
Abouel Fotouh’s reputation as a “liberal Islamist” is largely the product of his views on political inclusion. As he notes in his memoirs, he has long advocated for the right of women to run for political office, and he similarly supports Christians’ right to run for president. These stances put him at odds with his more fundamentalist colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, including Brotherhood presidential candidate Morsi, and it was one of the reasons for his ouster from the organization’s Guidance Office in 2009.
But it was not the primary reason. As Abouel Fotouh told me during a March 2011 interview, his disagreements with the other Guidance Office members were mostly about the organization’s dictatorial internal structure, which he wanted to reform by instituting term limits. “I left because I pushed for an amendment that people can only stay in the Guidance Office for eight years, and I asked thirteen other members to [leave the Guidance Office] as well,” he said. “But they refused.” Yet despite his falling out with the Brotherhood’s brass over this administrative matter, Abouel Fotouh remained quite committed to the organization: he was a member of the Brotherhood’s Shura Committee—its 100-member policy-making body—for another year-and-a-half, and was among the Brotherhood’s most visible advocates to the international community during the January 2011 revolt that toppled Mubarak. His ultimate departure from the Brotherhood in the summer of 2011 was similarly not because of ideological disagreements, but strategic ones: the Brotherhood leadership vowed not to nominate a presidential candidate, but the ambitious Abouel Fotouh declared his candidacy anyway.
Indeed, Abouel Fotouh’s exit from the Muslim Brotherhood hardly implies his moderation, and he has continued to embrace the Brotherhood’s core aim of establishing a sharia-based legal system. In this vein, his presidential platform calls for “the application of sharia law as a comprehensive concept for achieving the fundamental interests of the people,” which include ending poverty, unemployment, corruption, and “deviance.”
Like the Muslim Brotherhood, Abouel Fotouh embraces an interpretive “maqasid” approach to sharia, which places a rhetorical emphasis on broader aims such as justice and compassion. But also like his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, Abouel Fotouh’s progressive façade frequently slips. In this vein, when military vehicles ran over a Christian-led demonstration outside of Egypt’s state-run media building on October 9, killing 28 people, Abouel Fotouh blamed the Christians for choosing “the wrong place and the wrong time” to demand their rights. He further stated that the massacre advanced the “foreign and Zionist aims of igniting sectarian strife in Egypt.” Abouel Fotouh’s insensitive response to the killing of Christians was hardly out of character. When the U.S. released a report in 2007 criticizing the Mubarak regime’s treatment of Copts, Abouel Fotouh called it “divorced from reality,” and belittled anti-Coptic discrimination by claiming that anti-Muslim discrimination in the West was worse.
Meanwhile, while reaching out to Salafists on the campaign trail, he qualified his prior support for non-Muslims running for president. “It’s the right of any faction, Islamist or non-Islamist, to nominate, or not nominate [candidates]—it’s up to them,” he said in a recent interview on Salafist satellite television. “But Egypt cannot have a president who does not have an Islamist orientation. The Egyptian people expressed this in the parliamentary elections, and in other elections.”
On foreign policy, Abouel Fotouh similarly echoes the views of Brotherhood hardliners. For starters, he’s a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. “I don’t believe it was jihadists,” he told me, when I asked him whether he thought that al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. “It was too big an operation. … They didn’t bring this crime before the U.S. justice system until now. Why? Because it’s part of a conspiracy.” He has also refuses to recognize Israel, supports ending gas sales to Israel, and has indicated that he would either end or amend the Camp David Accords, which he says were “imposed” on Egyptians.
Of course, it is impossible to know whether Abouel Fotouh will be elected; that decision ultimately rests with the Egyptian people. But it is the responsibility of the media in the United States to prepare the American public for what may be in store. If Abouel Fotouh is elected, he is liable to create a host of challenges for the United States, as well as for many Egyptians. Downplaying those challenges by pretending a longtime Islamist is actually a progressive liberal will do absolutely nothing to solve them.
Eric Trager is the Ira Weiner Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Today New York has a flourishing early-music scene, but just 60 years ago that was not the case. This March alone, concerts were performed here by resident ensembles with names like the New York Baroque Dance Company, the Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, Musica Viva, the Cisraritanian Consort of Viols, and the New York Continuo Collective, whose notes for a concert I attended describe their goal as to “examine the rhetoric of text, gesture, ornamentation, and phrasing to create a common language for realizing this highly improvised music.”
That statement does not quite tell us what makes early music different from the later classical music of the 18th and 19th centuries, so I tracked down the leader of Continuo, lute master Pat O’Brien, in his teaching studio near the Morgan Library and Museum on the east side of town to find out just what makes early music—well, early.
Reading through a number of books and articles that he recommended, and listening to judicious examples of “historically informed performances” of the music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and Baroque periods, I developed a comparative understanding of early music.
If you listen to the classical music station WQXR or take out a subscription to the New York Philharmonic, you will hear a repertoire that generally begins in the late 18th century and ends in the mid-20th. The core of the repertoire is the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Verdi, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky, as well as Liszt, Chopin, Mussorgsky, Vaughan Williams, Ravel, and many others. What unites all of these is that the musicians performing their music continue a pedagogical genealogy that goes as far back as Beethoven or Mozart, or perhaps a little further. Then it stops.
There is a near-consensus among musicologists that, despite the fact that European art music has been a going concern for a thousand years, it experienced a great discontinuity from just a few decades before the Industrial Revolution. If music before 1800 was a painting in full color, only the sketchy outlines of its masterpieces seem to have survived past that year.
The event that first heralded this change was the end of the Baroque period, with the death of J. S. Bach in 1750. That is when the tradition of performance practice and teacher-to-student interpretation seems to have died out, or been transformed. We can get a simple understanding of the contrast between early and later European art music if we compare the musical world of Europe in 1600 to that of 1850—one date clearly in the early period and the other thoroughly modern.
Strains of bird flu that could spread among humans have been created in the lab - and now full details on just how this was done have been published openly, raising fears that the research could be used by terrorists to craft a deadly bio-weapon plague.
Bird flu, or H5N1, has killed more than half of the 600 people it is known to have infected, but it cannot spread easily between people. So Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to find whether H5N1 could evolve in the wild into a form that was transmissible between humans.
Kawaoka’s FBI-approved team first created thousands of mutant versions of H5N1. From these they identified a version that could stick to cells in the human nose and throat and then combined this with the strain from the wild that caused the 2009 pandemic. With this hybrid virus, the scientists infected ferrets and watched for when the virus evolved a strain that could spread through the air and infect healthy ferrets in neighbouring cages.
According to Kawaoka, the study shows that relatively few mutations are required for the virus to acquire the ability to transmit between mammals, including humans. The strain created during Kawaoka’s research is less severe than the one that caused the 2009 pandemic, it is susceptible to Tamiflu and it did not kill any of the ferrets in the experiments.
But there may be further strains not studied that have the ability to evolve transmissibility. In fact, the researchers have already spotted strains with one of the mutations they identified in Egypt. As Laurence Fishburne’s character in Contagion says: “Someone doesn’t need to weaponise the bird flu. The birds are doing that.”
Kawoaka is less dramatic, claiming that the results can help authorities to prevent or prepare for an outbreak.
"This study has significant public health benefits and contributes to our understanding of this important pathogen,” he said. “By identifying mutations that facilitate transmission among mammals, those whose job it is to monitor viruses circulating in nature can look for these mutations so measures can be taken to effectively protect human health."
It is an argument made repeatedly over the past few months by Kawoaka and his colleague Ron Fouchier, a researcher at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and author of another blocked bird flu paper. Although Kawaoka’s research is now published, Fouchier’s remains under wraps, even though Science magazine has said it will publish the work. The concerns over the researchers’ studies came from the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB).
The body’s decision to block the research kickstarted months of tense discussion between virologists, security experts and journal editors. Last month, the NSABB reversed its controversial decision after Kawaoka and Fouchier amended their papers. “The revised papers had more clarity on risks and benefits,” said the NSABB’s Paul Keim, who added that the board comprises scientists, not “generals and colonels and majors”.
Fouchier admitted at an emergency conference convened in April to discuss the controversy, that most of the extra 1000 words he added to his paper dealt with the level of biosecurity in place during the research.
The Dutch virologist explained that due to the biosecurity conditions in place, if an accident were to happen, “the public won’t be exposed, but the individuals in the laboratory will be”.
Like Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and Nicholas Kristof, and Tom Friedman, and so many others, Bin Laden was enthusiastic about the Arab Spring. No doubt he too wanted to be "on the right side of history." That phrase was all the rage a year ago. You don't hear it much any more, do you?
Osama bin Laden was a surprising ["surprising" to whom? Only to those in the West who complacently thought that "democracy" would represent a defeat, rather than a victory, for those promoting, through less violent means, the exact same goals as Bin Laden and Al-Zawihiri. For the well-prepared, there are seldom surprises]proponent of the Arab spring, according to documents found after his capture and released on Thursday.
In his last private letter written just a week before his death, he said the revolutions represented a “formidable event” and a turning point in the Arab world. Before the release of the 17 letters by the US government, the revolutions were viewed as a concern for bin Laden as they could cause instability and potential western involvement in the region.
At the time of the letter, the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt had fallen to rebel uprisings.
“The fall of the remaining tyrants in the region was inevitable,” he continued, and said al-Qaeda must increase efforts by “educating and warning Muslim people” about “half solutions” touted by the Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamist groups. If al-Qaeda were successful in recruiting the newly freed rebels, bin Laden said, “then the next phase will [witness a victory] for Islam”.
He said al-Qaeda could capitalise on the revolutions, including “inciting people who have not yet revolted and exhort them to rebel against the rulers” and calling for jihadis to unite in a broader media campaign to that point.
Though the documents – analysed and released by a privately funded academic institution within the West Point military school – were translated into English, analysts noted that bin Laden’s original Arabic wording helped to understand his views on the Arab spring.
He did not call the people involved with the revolutions “mujahidun” or “warriors of faith”, but instead referred to them as “free revolutionaries” or “thuwaar ahrar” taking part in a “liberation (tahrir) enterprise”.
Anti-Semitic Rant Passes Without Challenge at Methodist Convention
For the past several days, the United Methodist Church has been meeting in Tampa, Florida for its General Convention that is held every four years. At this convention, the delegates approved a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli products made in the West Bank.
The assembly also rejected a resolution that would require the denomination’s Board of Pensions and Health Benefits to sell its stock in three companies that do business with Israel – Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola.
Snapshots readers can watch the proceedings regarding these two resolutions here and here.
The defeat of the divestment proposal was a bitter pill to swallow for many of the activists that descended on the UMC’s General Convention. Jewish Voice for Peace was out in force at the assembly, as were a number of anti-Israel activists from inside the denomination.
As is to be expected at the national assembly of any mainline church in the United States, the proceedings bespoke of a monomaniacal obsession on the alleged sins of the Jewish state and absolute silence about the misdeeds of other countries in the region.
Search the legislation before the assembly for resolutions regarding Coptic Christians in Egypt or Assyrians in Iraq and you will find nothing.
One of the more outrageous moments of the assembly took place after it became apparent that the proposal to demand that the UMC sell stock in the three companies mentioned above was not going to pass. A woman who introduced herself as Margaret Novak said the following to the gathered assembly:
I would just ask us all to imagine we were United Methodists in the 1930s and 40s [and] that our Board of Pensions held stock in the very successful manufacturing firms in Germany that bid and received the bids to manufacture the ovens for the concentration camps.
At what point would we decide it was time to divest?
How much evidence would we ask for before it was time to stop the wholesale destruction of people?
(Note: Novak’s statement can be seen here. Her statement starts a 5:47 minutes into the video and lasts until 6:37.)
The moderator did not call her out of order, but merely asked if her speech was for or against the non-divestment resolution then before the assembly. (She was against.)
Margaret Novak compared Israeli policies in the West Bank to the destruction of Jews in Europe. She made this statement in front of several hundred people and the moderator of the assembly let her statement pass unchallenged.
Novak's comparison between current Israeli policies and that of the Nazi regime falls under the working definition of antisemitism issued by the European Forum on Antisemitism. This definition warns against "Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis."
Novak's suggestion that the Israelis are perpetrating a genocide ("wholesale destruction of people") is defamatory. The population of the Palestinians has grown fourfold in the decades since the 1948 War.
Will someone from the UMC’s leadership condemn Novak’s remarks before the General Convention comes to an end on Friday May 4, 2012 or will they pass unnoticed?
This is a reasonable question to ask. The UMC has been the source of some ugly rhetoric in the past. For more information about this problem go here and here.
James E. Winkler, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), can make it right. He can issue an unequivocal apology for the ugly anti-Semitism that was allowed to pass unchallenged at the UMC’s General Assembly on May 2, 2012.
It is also reasonable to ask if Jewish Voice for Peace is going to condemn Novak’s rant. As stated above, JVP was out in force at the assembly.
And will the Methodist activists, operating under the banner of UM Kairos Response condemn Novak's statement?
Such rhetoric simply cannot pass unnoticed at the UMC General Convention.
Will Winkler act? Will Jewish Voice for Peace respond? Will UMKairos Response?
Tennessee Enacts New Law - A Pushback against Gulen Controlled Charter Schools
Sheik Muhammad Fethullah Gulen
AP reported Tennessee Governor Haslam’s ‘pocket’ enactment of a law without his signature aimed at controlling the abuse of the H1B and J-1 visa program for foreign non-migrant teachers by the Islamist Fethullah Gulen Movement which has sponsored dozens of Charter Schools across the US funded by taxpayers. TheAP article noted he circumstances behind the enactment of this Tennessee education legislation and the objections raised by Muslim community advocates, members of the Governor’s controversial American Muslim Advisory Council:
Gov. Bill Haslam will allow a bill that limits the number of foreign workers at charter schools to become law without his signature, the Republican announced Wednesday.
Haslam said in a statement that he questions the constitutionality of the measure and that he doesn't want to harm the state's efforts to improve education standards.
The governor said changes made to the bill late in the legislative session eased some of those concerns.
"I am comfortable that because it is permissive and not mandatory, it does not adversely impact the state's momentum in education reform," Haslam said.
Under the bill, a chartering authority would not be allowed to approve a school's application if it planned for 3.5 percent or more of its staff to be hired from among the foreign workers in the H1B or J-1 visa programs. The bill would allow exemptions to the limit for foreign language teachers.
Haslam said he will request a formal legal opinion about the law from the state attorney general, and will seek to clarify the measure for school districts around the state.
"It is important for local educational agencies to fully understand the implications of this law and their decisions about granting charter school applications," he said.
The measure was sponsored by Rep. Judd Matheny of Tullahoma and fellow Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro. It passed the House on a 63-29 vote, while the Senate approved its version 18-13 - just one vote more than the minimum needed to pass.
Sabina Mohyuddin, a board member of the American Muslim Advisory Council from Tullahoma, criticized the bill when it passed as "an anti-Muslim bill shrouded in anti-immigrant language."
The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition on Wednesday said it was encouraged that Haslam shares concerns about the bill, but expressed disappointment that he didn't veto the measure outright.
The problem for the State Legislature in Nashville was how to save the Tennessee Charter school program from being suborned by Turkish American followers of the reclusive Sheik Muhammad Fethullah Gulen. Gulen has been a resident since 1999 of a fortress-like estate in the Pocono Mountains community of Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. The multi-billionaire Gulen has been tagged as” the world’s most dangerous Islamist.”
Local Gulenists in the volunteer state had approached Tennessee legislators offering free junkets to Islamist Turkey. This was part of a softening up campaign to gain acceptance of Gulenist controlled Charter schools in Tennessee communities like Memphis and Knoxville posing as Science Academies with faculties largely composed of Turkish Gulenist supporters brought in via our generous State Department H1B and J-1 Visa programs. How generous? An investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer about H 1 B Visas issued by the State Department t to non-immigrant Turkish employees of the Gulen sponsored US Charter Schools revealed:
An analysis of H1-B visas conducted for The Inquirer showed that the number granted for Gulen charter schools has grown substantially since that 2006 report. More than 2,500 have been issued since 2007.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted 509 of the H1-B visas in 2007. In 2010, the total was 839 - a 65 percent increase.
The “Putting Tennessee First” legislation in the 2012 legislative session passed on April 14th. The measures, HB 3540 sponsored by Rep. Judd Metheny (R –Tallahoma) and SB3345 by Sen. Jim Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) were directed at regulating charter schools controlled by foreign groups and staffing with foreign teachers brought in under the US H1 B and J1 Visa programs.
At the 2010 New English Review Symposium in Nashville by Prof.Raphael Israeli of Hebrew University spoke on Sheik Fetullah and the Gulen charter school movement in Turkey and the US.
Watch this New English Review presentation by Professor Raphael Israeli of Hebrew University at the 2010 Symposium in Nashville on the Gulen Movement and control of over 85 Charter Schools in America
The Gulen sponsored charter schools in States like Texas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia have come under intense scrutiny as a result of a series of exposes about escalating funding for Science Academy construction and operations, a web of ownership conflicts and what was really being taught to predominately low income school populations at risk. (See the New York Times in depth investigation of Imam Gulen’s Charter Schools, here) The suspicion was that taxpayer funded charter school fees were being used to indoctrinate students in the Gulenist brand of Islamism that emphasizes a return of the last Islamic Caliphate that ended with the demise of the Ottoman Empire and creation of the Turkish Republic in 1924. The Turkish republic was founded by a committed secularist, Kemal Ataturk, only to see its takeover in 2002 by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul, an alleged Gulenist adherent and PM Recep Erdogan. Erdogan was re elected to a third term in June 2011 as Turkey’s leader.
Gulen’s stealth form of Islamism is cloaked in the mantra of promoting a moderate form of Islam that decries terrorism and emphasizes the virtues of science, Turkish culture and support of the Turkish state.
The movement is well known for running a network of schools lauded for their academic rigor and commitment to spreading Turkish language and culture. Gulen followers have been involved in starting one of the largest collections of charter schools in the United States. With their neatly trimmed mustaches, suits and ties, and their missionary zeal, supporters here convey the earnestness of Mormon missionaries or Muslim Peace Corps volunteers. Their eyes moisten at the mention of Mr. Gulen’s name, which is invoked with utmost reverence.
[ . . .]
But some critics say that outward appearances belie the true agenda of a movement working behind the scenes to expand the role of Islam in Turkey. They say that, ultimately, the community aims to bring Mr. Gulen, who is ailing, back to Turkey.
Their true agenda appears to be proselytizing their brand of Islam using US public charter school funding.
Our congratulations to Speaker Harwell, Rep. Metheny, Senator Ketron and other Tennessee legislative colleagues who undertook this pushback against the questionable Gulen movement's control of taxpayer funded charter schools.