These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 30, 2010.
Monday, 30 August 2010
Peaceful Ground Zero mosque developer: 'His face could have run into my hand'
By Asra Q. Nomani for The Daily Beast:
NEW YORK - New revelations about the owner of the Ground Zero mosque building could mean a split between him and the project's influential imam, making it unlikely to ever get built.
Sharif El-Gamal, 37, the owner of the building at the center of the storm over the construction of a "ground zero mosque," is a quintessential American story, a man who went from waiting tables in New York's A-list restaurants to buying and selling properties.
But new revelations are emerging that present a very different narrative. And it could lead to a split between the forces behind the mosque.
Court records from Florida to New York state reveal that Sharif and his younger brother, Samir "Sammy" El-Gamal, 35, a partner with him in his company SoHo Properties, both have a history replete with intersections with tax and debt issues, dating back to at least 1994 and continuing into this year. In one instance, Sharif told a court he didn't hit a tenant from whom his brother and he were trying to collect back rent. He said to police, the tenant's "face could have run into my hand."
I now don't think the mosque will be built at the location staked out near ground zero.
After tracking Sharif's finances and talking to acquaintances about his rough-and-tumble business style, I now don't think the mosque will be built at the location staked out near ground zero. According to people familiar with the mosque project, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan, a community leader, were blindsided by the revelations about Sharif, making a partnership unlikely. Moreover, Sharif's domineering personality troubles them because it doesn't fit into the slow, methodical, and even boring work of building a nonprofit.
Fast jihad, take a seat on the bench. It's slow jihad's turn for a while. We'll put you back in the game in the fourth quarter.
I expect that Rauf and Khan will gracefully bow out of this project near ground zero, lead an interfaith community effort to build an Islamic center elsewhere, and welcome Sharif and his family in the congregation with open arms. To me, that's the best solution out of this political-and now PR-debacle. I'm also certain that somewhere in there the businessman in Sharif will see a profit.
This is exactly as Hugh and Rebecca predicted. Sharif El-Gamal will ostentatiously be set aside, Imam Rauf will make a magnanimous acceptance of millions of dollars to move the Ground Zero mosque a couple of blocks down the road, and the issue will fade away.
According to friends, the brothers [Sharif and Samir "Sammy" El-Gamal] ran with a fast crowd in their twenties. Sharif waited tables at the posh restaurant Serafina, while Sammy waited tables at Tao. For a short while, Sharif worked as a waiter at Michael Jordan's, named after former basketball star. But, according to people familiar with that restaurant, he was fired within two months for arriving reeking of alcohol, among other things. This is around when Sharif started acquiring a criminal record, say people familiar with his life.
This past weekend, capturing this period of Sharif's life, the Daily News ran a headline, "Park51 developer Sharif El-Gamal has a history of run-ins with the law," including pleading guilty in 1994, 1998, and 1999 to disorderly conduct in Manhattan, as well as pleading guilty to disorderly conduct in 1990, a DWI in 1992, and attempted petit larceny in 1993 in Nassau County, N.Y.
According to Broward County court records, on March 3, 1999, Hollywood, Florida, police arrested Sammy, then 25, for "theft/to deprive," a misdemeanor. Later that year, Sammy pleaded guilty, and Judge Sharon Zeller fined him $143 and required him to attend a "substance-abuse through education" course. Just two years ago, during the summer of 2008, the court filed "financial obligation suspension" papers for Sammy's failure to pay his fine.
Neither Sammy nor Sharif responded to a request seeking comment.
After the 9/11 attacks, Sharif told New York magazine that "he just felt like praying." Sharif first started attending Manhattan Masjid, known in the community as "the Salafi mosque," for its adherence to a rigid, puritanical interpretation of Islam, espoused, among other things, on its website.
Why would the 9/11 attacks engender in Sharif a desire to start attending a mosque that teaches adherence to a "rigid, puritanical interpretation of Islam"? Was it for the peace, tolerance, and love that they were espousing?
Then, he discovered Masjid al-Nur, or "Mosque of Light," where Rauf preaches. It's nicknamed "the Sufi mosque" by congregants.
Contrary to current belief, Sufis are not simply peaceful spinning dancers.
Career-wise, Sharif was heading into real estate, collecting commissions off rental leases. He was no big shot, and really never has been, building just a small portfolio of property. In late 2003, he created a website, sohoproperties.com. The three partners were Sharif, Sammy, and Nour Mousa, the young nephew of Amr Mousa, secretary general of the Arab League, a relationship that would later become a lightning rod for critics of the mosque.
On September 10, 2005, New York police arrested Sharif for alleged assault on a Manhattan renter, Mark Vassilieve, when Sammy tried to convince Vassilieve to pay his rent. The charges were dropped when Vassilieve filed a civil suit, which Sharif settled.
On January 24, 2006, according to court records, Nino and Nicola Gaudio won a judgment of $3,300 against Sammy, as well as permission to evict him from property they owned. On February 1, 2006, they won another $3,300 judgment, and on April 6, 2006, N&S Realty won a judgment allowing them to have forcible entry against Sammy. The Gaudios couldn't be reached for comment.
Big things were still in the air though. According to electronic records, Sharif created a website, retailsoho.com, in April 2006. (A visit this weekend showed nothing on the site.) That year, Sharif told the Daily News, he hired a teenager, Francisco Patino, to scout for a new mosque location, when he spotted him on a TV at a Sharper Image store, charming TV viewers of the reality show American Inventor. That same year, according to media reports, Sharif bid on the property at 45-47 Park Place.
The next year, on March 13, 2007, New York state issued a state tax warrant against Sammy for $19,895, according to court records. On April 30, 2007, Sharif bought apartment 6C in a building on W. 93rd Street for $1.075 million with his wife, Rebekka, an American-born convert to Islam.
By this time, the El-Gamal brothers knew Imam Rauf well. In December 2008, Rauf officiated Sammy's wedding to Allison Poole, a scarf delicately draped over the bride's golden brown locks. The young couple clasp hands and gaze softly into each other's eyes in a photo taken at the wedding, as Rauf led the ceremony, smiling, with a microphone hooked to his loose tunic.
On July 7, 2009, after buying the property where he wants to build the Islamic center, Sharif created two companies, 45 Park Place Partners LLC and 45 Park Place LH, LLC. The next day, he started Soho Properties General Partner LLC as a foreign limited liability corporation. On October 16, 2009, Sharif created Soho Properties Inc., naming himself chairman.
Since the controversy erupted, the media has largely portrayed the man behind the mosque effort as Imam Rauf, an Egyptian-born progressive Muslim cleric who could be Sean Connery's body-double [but not his philosophical-double]. His wife, Khan, a Muslim community leader born in Kashmir, India, occasionally shares the spotlight. Known inside the Muslim community as unabashedly ambitious, the couple has irked Sharif and others in his camp. Last week, in a conference call with interfaith partners and others, set up by the Council on Foreign Relations, Khan said, "one of our congregants, Sharif El-Gamal, took it upon himself" to find new space for the overcrowded mosque where Rauf led prayers. Otherwise, there wasn't another word about the Brooklyn-born Sharif. Khan directed folks to the website of the Cordoba Initiative [link by Artemis], an interfaith nonprofit her husband runs, not the developer's website for the effort.
Isn't it interesting that among all the "vast majority of moderate Muslims" who are allegedly trying so hard to build a symbol of "interfaith outreach" to the community, that as soon as you look at who is actually leading these projects, it is either an imam who claims that the C.I.A. carried out 9/11 and who refuses to denounce Hamas, or a low-level thug who allegedly beats tenants? Are these really the "best and brightest" that Islam has to offer?
Posted on 08/30/2010 2:31 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 30 August 2010
Avoiding the elephant in the room
This is a news item from the crime desk of ABC News Australia, thanks to Dumbledore's Army, which as she points out is important as much for what it doesn't say, as what it does.
One of the nation's biggest investigations into organised crime has exposed an international drug importation syndicate with links to the Comancheros outlaw bikie gang, Chinese triads and corrupt Australian officials.
Operation Hoffman, a landmark multi-agency investigation led by the Australian Crime Commission, has also revealed the deep links between drug importers and rogue Australian maritime workers.
A joint ABC Four Corners and The Age investigation into organised crime can also reveal that:
- In Victoria, authorities have uncovered links between corrupt Melbourne port workers, the Hells Angels and prominent Italian criminals
- NSW police have identified a group of drug-importing Sydney port workers with government maritime security cards who have been active since 2004
It has led to major ecstasy, heroin and crystal methamphetamine drug busts across Australia, the biggest-ever drug bust on the Pacific island group of Tonga, and the discovery in May last year of a bikie armoury in Sydney - including automatic weapons and imitation police equipment.
Those arrested include alleged drug runners with links to Chinese triads and the Perth president of the Comancheros, Steven Milenkovski.
Despite Hoffman severely damaging the bikie group, the Comancheros have continued establishing a foothold in Melbourne under the control of local club controller Amad 'Jay' Malkhoun, a convicted heroin trafficker with interests in several Melbourne strip clubs.
One of Hoffman's key targets is Hakan Ayik, 32, from Sydney . . . NSW police intelligence describes Ayik as a 'very serious money maker' who 'generates a lot of money' for the Comancheros and has multiple links to waterfront workers. Operation Hoffman ended earlier this month after NSW police issued an arrest warrant for Ayik for drug trafficking. It is believed he is now on the run.
However, a senior law enforcement insider has revealed to Four Corners that despite its success, inadequate resourcing meant Operation Hoffman was unable to reach its full potential. He said the criminal network it targeted "will reform very, very quickly".
The insider said the ACC needed far more investigators to run major inquiries . . . consensus among senior police is that the ACC is badly under-resourced given the size and reach, here and abroad, of Australia's new breed of technologically savvy and well-resourced underworld figures.
The launching of a state and federal policing taskforce to combat organised crime on the wharves in NSW has been slowed due to inter-agency talks.
As DA tells me, the elephant which is not mentioned is that the reporter specifies the Chinese triads and the Italian gangs (the mafia doesn't exist and you better believe it) but despite the names of two of the Comancheros being Islamic, and despite there being a Middle Eastern Organised Crime Squad (which, just for existing, has been accused of being 'racist' ) makes no mention of the 'heritage', for want of a better word, of the other incredient in this criminal stew. The Muslims.
I find it interesting that the bike gang the Comancheros being heavily Lebanese Muslim in Australia. I read in the Copenhagen post that much of the gang warfare in denmark is clashed between the ethnic Danish chapter of the Hells Angels and the Muslim newcomers who want to wrest control of the drugs scene from them. While in England biker culture, at every level, including the commuter runs remains mostly an activity of the indigenous population.
Posted on 08/30/2010 1:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 30 August 2010
Pat Condell on the Ground Zero Mosque
Posted on 08/30/2010 7:39 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 August 2010
Give me a leader who can switch off
Today is Bank Holiday Monday. I hope no Great People are working. William Waldegrave argues that Great People must take proper holidays. From The Times:
At Dorney Wood, the official house now occupied by George Osborne, there is a bagatelle board. When I was 17 and Alec Douglas-Home lived there as Foreign Secretary, I spent hours and hours trying to achieve a score high enough to allow me to write my name in the ancient book of record that went with the board. When I had finally wasted enough time and won a score high enough to allow me my page, I found that a titanic name from the past had gone before me. Winston Churchill had done the same thing, presumably spending similar hours winning the same right to be recorded in the bagatelle book of fame. When had he found the leisure to do this? June 1940.
Alongside all his other genius, Churchill had the genius for switching off. Painting, wall building, bagatelle. That is the sort of man you want to be led by. Harold Macmillan was famously found with his feet up reading Trollope during some crisis. Drake finished his game of bowls. Alexander the Great took Aristotle with him for light entertainment when he set off to conquer the world, and took time on the way to solve the Gordian knot and visit Diogenes in his barrel.
Imagine the frustration of the Macedonian staff: "The bloody man is arguing about the nature of happiness with that damned philosopher again . . ." All the evidence is that the very great have curiosity, other interests, hinterland, culture - call it what you will - and though they may single-handedly rally the free world against Nazism or lead an army on foot from Greece to Afghanistan and back to Babylon, their minds have more than one track.
That means that they know how to take real holidays. Busybodies who regard holidays as a matter of merely working somewhere else are not the people you want in charge: Sidney and Beatrice Webb chose to waste not a minute on their honeymoon and so were accompanied by suitcases full of Blue Books on social policy. It is no surprise that no aspect of our lives would have been left unregulated in the world they wanted to create.
I'm all for leaders backing off and butting out - it's generally the best thing Government can do. And certainly, politicians should take a break from politics. What do they know of politics, who only politics know? But such a break should not be purely recreational. One leader in particular, if David Cameron can be called a leader, should take time off from his PR trips to Turkey and India to study Islam. Churchill studied Islam and understood it. Cameron could never be a Churchill, but he could at least try to learn from him. He could learn from this site, as could Tony Blair, whose donation would be felt in our coffers more than missed in his.
Posted on 08/30/2010 8:43 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 August 2010
Begg the question
Moazzam Begg is the British jihadist and traitor who was, rightly, held as an enemy combatant in the much maligned but relatively comfortable Guantanamo Bay. He has since milked his "suffering" for fame and fortune, aided by the useful idiot lawyer Gareth Pierce (a woman). This week Begg and his doting father ("He was such a nice boy, just wanting to do the right thing") were interviewed by the BBC. The interview itself was reasonably challenging, but Kate Chisholm's review of it, in The Spectator, betrays an ignorance and gullibility that, while disappointing, should no longer surprise:
British Muslims, Father and Son (Radio 4, Monday) gave us a refreshingly frank account of Begg's life before and after his 'extrajudicial' imprisonment. He was seized one night in Islamabad, where he was living with his young family, after he answered the door to a group of men who pushed a gun to his head, forced him to his knees, shackled his hands and legs, 'hooded his head' and carried him off to three years of incarceration in a converted sea container. He was under suspicion as a British Muslim whose passport revealed he had visited all the major war zones in which the Muslim world had been under attack - Bosnia, Afghanistan, Chechnya - and on several occasions. Yet if MI5 had looked further back in his family records, they would have discovered that generations of Beggs had fought in the British army as Indian Muslims and that he had considered joining up himself before the first invasion of Iraq in 1991 made him realise that as a British soldier he would be involved in fighting against other Muslims.
What a fatuous observation. Chisholm writes of Begg's decision not to join the British army and "fight against other Muslims" as some kind of mitigating circumstance. On the contrary, his overarching, treasonous loyalty to fellow Muslims is all of a piece with his predilection for war zones in which Muslims are waging jihad, or "under attack" as Chisholm dutifully puts it. As for the "generations of Beggs" who "fought in the British army as Indian Muslims", so what? It is Moazzam's generation of Beggs - and Ahmeds, and Khans - that matter, and this generation, discovering Islam without the dilution of Indian culture, is as belligerent as Mohammed and his henchmen intended. Indeed this Begg, for whom family loyalty is as nothing compared with Islam, dismisses his ancestors as agents of "a colonial power".
Chisholm continues in the same uncritical, ignorant vein:
Nothing is straightforward in Begg's life. As a young boy his parents (who emigrated from the subcontinent to Britain in 1966, having as children been forced to flee to Pakistan from the anti-Muslim riots which followed Partition) sent him to a Jewish school because they thought he would get the best education there. As a father himself, he moved his family to Afghanistan and settled in Kabul because he wanted his children to grow up in a broader cultural context than was possible in 'arrogant Britain'. He felt they should be brought up in a Muslim society, where they could be protected from the kind of Paki-bashing he had suffered as a teenager in the Midlands.
Weep for him. A victim of "Paki-bashing" in "arrogant Britain". How could he not wish for the diversity and "broad cultural context" of Kabul? After all, we arrogant, narrow-contexted Britons only use our football stadiums for football. And how could he not be "radicalised", what with all that racism? Hindus and Sikhs, who, in the UK, are the same race, were never "radicalised", but let's not talk about that.
Not good enough.
Posted on 08/30/2010 11:44 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 August 2010
While I have yet to embrace the Kindle, mainly because I like the smell of paper, I believe it makes perfect sense for reference books to be online, or on CD-Rom. I am not too worried about the Oxford English Dictionary being online only, nor by the greater capacity for more ephemeral words that this, according to Times columnist Ross Clarke, will bring in its wake:
The 80 or so lexicographers who have spent the past 20 years beavering away on the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary won't be short of words to describe their disappointment at learning that their life's work will never appear in printed form, only in online format. I know how I would feel: peeved, piqued, embittered, spleenful, miffed.
It was probably inevitable that the paper edition of the OED was eventually going to be discontinued. Few learned sorts nowadays have pockets deep enough or a study cavernous enough for the entire 20 volume, £750 dictionary. But we are going to lose something with the paper edition of the OED. The trouble with the online edition is that it is too tempting for the editors to update it constantly, inserting frivolous and ephemeral words.
Words used to have to be well established before achieving the honour of entering the OED. My dog-eared Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, revised in 1990, does not even find room for the word "hoover" in the main body of the text: it appears only in the addenda, with a note saying that it first appeared in 1927. Of fashionable words from the 1980s there is no mention at all: no mullet hairdo, no sloanes, no yuppies. Since the online edition of the OED was introduced, however, there has been a steady acceleration in its acceptance of new words. The verb "google" was included in 2006. "Hoodie" and "dogging" both entered in 2007.
One hates to sound like a fogey but the problem with accepting new words too quickly is that the OED then becomes hostage to marketing operations. Words such as twitter and tweet have already made the Oxford Dictionary of English, an offshoot of the full OED, which tracks current usage. It may not sound so very different from the entry of hoover, but there is a fundamental difference: the latter was accepted only after it became clear that it was being used by people as a generic term, regardless of their brand of vacuum cleaner. You can't twitter without using a product devised by one company.
What about google? I think people google even if they don't use Google, although most people google with Google. In due course they'll find something else to twitter with.
It isn't just the OED that risks losing authority from going wholly online. Purely electronic archives are too easy to "correct", "update" and generally fiddle with. I don't know who has access, for example, to recent Cabinet papers awaiting release under the 30 year rule. But I know that, as long as they are kept in paper form, no one can easily change them without making it obvious.
I'll never forget the GP who was an early advocate, in the 1980s, of computerising his patients' medical records, something that seemed frightfully modern and progressive then. His name? Harold Shipman.
Unlike Ross Clarke, I love to sound like an old fogey. Nevertheless, there are one or two recent additions to the English lexicon which I would like to see in the OED: dhimmi, jihad, jizya, hudud and taqiyya. And if we have to google and twitter them, so be it.
Posted on 08/30/2010 12:07 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 August 2010
Channel 4 Dispatches - Britain's Secret Slaves
Tonight, at 7.30 is a documentary Britain's Secret Slaves. From the Channel 4 Website:
Over 15,000 domestic workers leave their families to come to Britain every year. Charities claim that many are not only badly treated but that they are living as slaves.
This report investigates the plight of overseas domestic workers brought to the UK, and enslaved behind closed doors by rich and powerful employers in the upper levels of British society.
Dispatches goes undercover as some of the employers accused of modern-day slavery are confronted on camera about how they have treated their workers.
Many workers make the sacrifice to leave their country for the UK in order to better provide for their families back home. But lobby groups and charities communicate that a worrying proportion of domestic workers have their passports taken away from them, are kept locked up and subjected to sexual, physical and psychological abuse.
Many are paid less than £50 a week for 20 hour days and some wages are withheld completely.
This is followed, also on Channel 4, by a drama, I Am Slave, inspired by the true story of a woman called Mende Nazer, who was taken from her home in the Nuba mountains of Sudan to be a slave, first in Khartoum, then London, before managing to escape.
If neither the documentary, nor the drama, mention Islam, it will be a deliberate distortion of the truth. In London it is mainly rich Arabs who have slaves, just as they do in Saudi Arabia, and with full Islamic sanction. In particular, Arabs have enslaved Christians and black Muslims in Sudan.
Posted on 08/30/2010 12:22 PM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 30 August 2010
AP: U.S. wasted billions in rebuilding Iraq
By Kim Gamel for the AP:
KHAN BANI SAAD, Iraq - A $40 million prison sits in the desert north of Baghdad, empty. A $165 million children's hospital goes unused in the south. A $100 million waste water treatment system in Fallujah has cost three times more than projected, yet sewage still runs through the streets.
As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds has been wasted on these projects - more than 10 percent of the $53.7 billion the US has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.
That amount is likely an underestimate, based on an analysis of more than 300 reports by auditors with the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. And it does not take into account security costs, which have run almost 17 percent for some projects.
There are success stories. Hundreds of police stations, border forts and government buildings have been built, Iraqi security forces have improved after years of training, and a deepwater port at the southern oil hub of Umm Qasr has been restored.
Define "success". Is it truly a "success story" if the U.S. builds police stations, border forts, and government buildings in Iraq at U.S. expense, for the ungrateful Iraqi people? Is it a "success" to train and arm the Iraqi army and police who are currently in a state of near-war with each other, and who, as soon as we extract our troops, will begin terrorizing and torturing "The Iraqi People"? Or rather, Sunni police and soldiers will terrorize and torture Shi'a, and vice versa. And it will all be the fault of the Evil Empire, the U.S., for having trained and armed them.
But even completed projects for the most part fell far short of original goals, according to an Associated Press review of hundreds of audits and investigations and visits to several sites. And the verdict is still out on whether the program reached its goal of generating Iraqi good will toward the United States instead of the insurgents.
Actually, the jury came back years ago with their verdict, as is made clear later in this article, which we continue to steadfastly ignore.
Col. Jon Christensen, who took over as head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Iraq this summer, said it has completed more than 4,800 projects and is rushing to finish 233 more. Some 595 projects have been terminated, mostly for security reasons.
Christensen acknowledged that mistakes have been made. But he said steps have been taken to fix them, and the success of the program will depend ultimately on the Iraqis who have complained that they were not consulted on projects to start with.
When the "success" of our strategy depends on the Iraqi people, we are doomed to failure. We should have never gotten ourselves in this position, and we should do everything in our power to get out of this situation as soon as possible.
Another problem was coordination with the Iraqis, who have been left with health facilities that would cost at least as much as the Americans spent to complete. One clinic was handed over to local authorities without a staircase, said Shaymaa Mohammed Amin, the head of the Diyala provincial reconstruction and development committee.
"We were almost forced to take them," she said during an interview at the heavily fortified local government building in the provincial capital of Baqouba. "Generally speaking, they were below our expectations. Huge funds were wasted and they would not have been wasted if plans had been clear from the beginning."
As an example, she cited a date honey factory that was started despite a more pressing need for schools and vital infrastructure. She said some schools were left without paint or chalkboards, and needed renovations.
"We ended up paying twice," she said.
No, the Iraqis ended up paying nothing. It was U.S. taxpayers' money that was wasted twice. First, by sending it to a people who hate us and who hate each other, to try to improve the horrific lives they have built for themselves, and secondly, by giving that money to Iraqi contractors who built hospitals without staircases, and generally did substandard work while siphoning off funds for their personal use via corruption, mismanagement, and outright theft.
The Americans committed to rebuilding the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah after it was destroyed in major offensives in 2004. The U.S. awarded an initial contract for a new waste water treatment system to FluorAMEC of Greenville, S.C. - just three months after four American private security contractors were savagely attacked. The charred and mutilated remains of two of them were strung from a bridge in the city.
An audit concluded that it was unrealistic for the U.S. "to believe FluorAMEC could even begin construction, let alone complete the project, while fierce fighting occurred daily."
That sounds like a good summary of the entire Iraqi intervention.
In an acknowledgment that they weren't getting exactly what they hoped for, Iraqi officials insisted the label "state of the art" be removed from a memorandum of understanding giving them the facility. It was described as a "modern pediatric hospital."
The hospital's director, Kadhim Fahad, said construction has been completed and the electricity issue resolved. "The opening will take place soon, God [Allah] willing," he said.
Allah didn't provide their new "modern pediatric hospital", it was the United States of Naïve, Misguided Benevolence.
Residents are pleased with the outcome. One, Ghassan Kadhim, said: "It is the duty of the Americans to do such projects because they were the ones who inflicted harm on people."
We got rid of Saddam Hussein and the Baathists, stopped the Shi'ite militias such as Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army from killing Sunnis, stopped the Sunni militias such as Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from killing Shi'a, and gave the Iraqi people the opportunity to create a democratic government of their own choosing. For that, we owe them.
There is a Chinese proverb, "He who saves a man's life is forever responsible for it." The moral being, I suppose, to be careful who you help; it may be better for a bystander to simply walk away and let the person in trouble perish. That is not a Judaeo-Christian principle, it is not a Western principle. All belief systems are not equivalent, and this is not a proverb that we live by.
Whatever the wisdom of it, we helped the Iraqis. Our obligation to them ended at that point. We didn't "break it," and we don't need to "fix it". The Iraqis are responsible for their own decisions and for the society that they have built for themselves.
This entire article is listing a few individual projects that wasted a few paltry tens or hundreds of million dollars here and there, without questioning the entire TRILLION dollars we have spent during our occupation of Iraq. These few billion "wasted" dollars are insignificant compared to the waste of the entire Iraqi project. Eight years on, we are still not ready to question the reason we are there (to protect the Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Emirati royal families from Saddam's forces), and do the requisite cost-benefit analysis from our point of view. We're just nibbling around the edges, fretting over some empty prison or hospital, when the entire project was a fool's errand from the start.
Posted on 08/30/2010 12:20 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Monday, 30 August 2010
Freedom of Religion is NOT Absolutely Guaranteed by the Constitution
Obama and all the "expertise" of the Foggy Bottom State Department, scores of academics and ultra-liberal no nothings among inane/insane politicians such as Mayor Bloomberg and radio/television "journalists" do not, cannot acknowledge and prefer to remain willfully deaf, dumb and blind by regarding the current dispute over the proposed community center and mosque at Ground Zero as an issue that is a clear cut case of Freedom of Religion. In their view those who oppose it MUST be guilty of Islamophobia, and worse, bigotry of every sort that includes racism, homophobia, greed, and of course, INTOLERANCE and IGNORANCE.
The truth is that the shoe is on the other foot. Not one of these paragons of virtue who claim sophistication and Ivy league degrees can even explain that the American Constitution does NOT ABSOLUTELY guarantee Freedom of Religion and that both Federal and State Law have taken action against the practices (not the beliefs) and consequences of dangerous and immoral behavior. This was the issue that forced the confrontation of the government against Brigham Young and the elders of the Church of the Latter day Saints (Mormons) to alter their "religion" and accept that American law and citizenship were not congruent with plural marriage or the exploitation of young teenage girls. The Utah territory would not have entered the Union without this confrontation when state power forced a "religion" to change its practices.
The same has been true in many Appalachian states, especially Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia and North Carolina where state authorities forbade the practice of the so called serpent churches among several Pentecostal denominations after the deaths of numerous individuals handing venomous snakes. The states forced churches and church members to accept that the state had a priority to protect individuals from reckless behavior and protect human life in spite of the claims of "religious freedom."
Had the government moved earlier, the absurd and grotesque suicidal deaths of more than 900 people, most of whom were American citizens, might have been prevented. These naïve followers of the Reverend James Jones ended their lives in the greatest act of mass suicide in American history. This occurred on Oct. 18, 1978 in Georgetown, capital of Guyana. His "Peoples Temple" was a Church - i.e. a Religion, whom these same Leftwing and Liberal advocates of tolerance for Islam believe is protected by the Constitution ABSOLUTELY without any qualifications. His "religion" led to the greatest SINGLE LOSS of AMERICAN CIVILIAN LIFE IN A NON-NATURAL DISASTER BEFORE 9/11. The fact that it happened in Guyana was due to the real fear of Jones that he would not be able to continue his church in the United States because he knew that his cult was not permitted ABSOLUTELY by the Constitution to practice acts that could endanger human life.
Yet, the self appointed Liberal, Tolerant Intellectuals who are shedding tears over the possible need to move the Islamic "Cultural Center/mosque" from Ground Zero have undoubtedly never read any part of the Koran or any part of the Sira and Sunnah or done any research on the use of Jihad to expand the Dar al-Islam, yet stridently label anyone as a bigot or intolerant who has, and is aware of the potential danger.
The existing partially-free press in Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Morocco, Jordan, Tunisia, Pakistan and Egypt and the Arabic press in Great Britain admitted in numerous editorials that the conflict in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein has not been a civil war but that jihadi terrorists convinced that theirs is the pure form of Islam have flocked there from as far away as Indonesia and Chechnia to sow death, destruction and mayhem to intimidate all those who oppose the extremist Islamist view of the world. The editorial in the April 15th, 2007 issue of the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the leading Arabic International Daily Newspaper, repeated essentially the same message and had this to say:
"To make the picture clearer... This religious war has nothing to do even with the major issues, slogans related to which are raised in the terrorists' literature itself, like Palestine, Iraq, the U.S., etc. These are people who want martyrdom, that is, they want to fight war, anywhere in the world, and for any cause that has a religious angle.
They are not fighting for money, public reform, or for... the environment, and they are not nationalists, pan-Arabists, or communists... They are not jokers, hippies, or oppositionists. They are seekers of martyrdom, meaning that they are in a hurry to go to Paradise. They are not interested in the life of this world, and they want to take with them to the grave the greatest number of people possible.
I know that this is an issue that is difficult for the Westerner to understand. It is also difficult for many of the Muslims themselves to accept this, and they always try to justify it with issues that they consider legitimate and comprehensible. But the truth is that these terrorists want death for the sake of Allah... That is, even if the Americans left Iraq tonight, and the Jews fled Palestine, and extremist religious governments were established in Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt - this would not satisfy them... They want Paradise, and for this they will travel to the ends of the earth, to the North Pole and the South Pole, "to fight the infidels."
It is incumbent on all of us to make certain that no connection whatsoever exists between this view of Islam and any request to establish a mosque anywhere.
Posted on 08/30/2010 3:53 PM by Norman Berdichevsky