These are all the Blogs posted on Thursday, 4, 2010.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Dozy bint of the week
I was saying only yesterday that we hadn't heard much about Cherie Blair recently. Cherie Blair is, of course, the grasping and rather common wife of one of the worst Prime Ministers Britain has ever had. And up she pops, in her professional capacity, behaving unprofessionally in showing favouritism to a Muslim. From the BBC:
A secularist group has lodged an official complaint against Cherie Booth QC after she spared a man from prison because he was religious.
Shamso Miah, 25, of Redbridge, east London, broke a man's jaw following a row in a bank queue.
Sitting as a judge, Ms Booth - wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair - said she would suspend his sentence on the basis of his religious belief.
The National Secular Society claims her attitude was discriminatory and unjust.
Inner London Crown Court heard that Miah, 25, of Redbridge, east London, went into a bank in East Ham and became embroiled in a dispute with Mohammed Furcan about who was next in the queue.
Miah - who had just been to a mosque - punched Mr Furcan inside the bank, and again outside the building.
Ms Booth told Miah that violence had to be taken seriously, but said she would suspend his prison sentence because he was a religious person and had not been in trouble before.
She added: "You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour."
The National Secular Society has complained to the Office for Judicial Complaints, suggesting that Mrs Blair acted in an unjust and discriminatory way, and suggesting that she might have treated a non-religious person less leniently.
Since the religion in question is Islam, violence is indeed "acceptable behaviour". On the other hand, this appears to be violence against a fellow Muslim, judging from the name, which would make it unacceptable. And what were those infidels doing making him queue?
U.S. report: Blond-haired, blue-eyed Americans may be joining Al Qaida
From The World Tribune WASHINGTON — The Senate has expressed concern over American converts to Islam who were joining the Al Qaida network in Yemen.
A report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asserted that nearly 40 Americans who converted to Islam have moved to Yemen and might have joined Al Qaida. They said some of these Americans could pass for Western Christians and could penetrate U.S. homeland security. The Senate panel asserted that Americans in Yemen have been recruited by Al Qaida over the last year to conduct mass-casualty strikes in the United States.
A key concern was a group of about 10 American converts with features that include blond hair and blue eyes. Officials said Al Qaida has sought to recruit such Americans to penetrate U.S airports and other security.
There is a group of nearly 10 non-Yemeni Americans who traveled to Yemen, converted to Islam, became fundamentalists, and married Yemeni women so they could remain in the country," the report said.
From The Jewish Chronicle
Cambridge University’s Israel Society has been slammed for bowing to pressure from Muslim students to cancel a speech by a top Israeli historian.
Prof Benny Morris had been due to speak on Thursday, but the event was cancelled after complaints from, among others, the university’s Islamic and Pakistan societies who claimed he was an “Islamophobic hate speaker”.
Israel Society president Jake Witzenfeld called the cancellation “unfortunate but noble”, adding: “There was no intention to “give racism a platform”.
Mr Witzenfeld said: “While Prof Morris’ contribution to history is highly respectable, his personal views are, regrettably, offensive to many. Ultimately, we place respect for those who have been offended above the importance of hosting this speaker.”
In a letter to the student union on Monday, some students wrote: “His visit is insulting, threatening to Arab and Muslim students in particular and also goes against the spirit of CUSU’s stated anti-Islamophobia policy. We ask CUSU to make clear these kinds of views are abhorrent and offensive.”
But the JC understands the cancellation may have been part of a pre-emptive strategy ahead of a planned visit by Daud Abdullah, Muslim Council of Britain deputy secretary.
He is due to speak on February 18 as part of Islam Week. Last year he signed the Istanbul Declaration which threatened violence against supporters of Israel and British troops. Cambridge’s Jewish students now plan to ask for his invitation to also be withdrawn. That will never work. But the plan has apparently backfired after outraged Israel supporters attacked the society’s cancellation.
Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chair of the Zionist Federation, said: “Benny Morris has made some robust remarks about Palestinians, but the idea that he is ‘Islamophobic’ is absurd. He has taught Jewish and Muslim students.”
Prof Morris said: “Basically, it is foolishness. But the cancellation has generated an invitation for me to speak at Cambridge’s Department of Political and International Studies, which will have a bigger audience.”
American Troops Helping Build Schools Are Murdered, Pakistan Mad At U.S.
Pakistan faces backlash after U.S. troops attack
By Michael Georgy
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Taliban bombing that killed three U.S. special forces soldiers in Pakistan on Wednesday could further weaken the government and hurt U.S. efforts to win more backing in the fight against militants.
While the presence of U.S. soldiers to train paramilitary forces is hardly a secret, it is a highly sensitive matter in Pakistan, where anti-American anger runs high.
"It will only convince the public, even moderate Pakistanis who are anti-Taliban, that the government is doing nothing expect lying to them, and the military (is) for that matter," said Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani analyst and expert on militants.
"It will be a big blow for public morale."
Wednesday's attack at a girls' school near the Afghan border is likely to generate elaborate conspiracy theories, with one simple question already asked: Why were special ops troops attending the inauguration of a girls school anyway?
First television channels said the dead foreigners were journalists, then officials said they were aid workers. Only later did the Pakistani military and the U.S. embassy say they were American soldiers.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman said the U.S. soldiers were invited by the Pakistani paramilitary Frontier Corps to attend the inauguration of the U.S.-funded project.
"It is going to pose some problems for the Pakistani government," said Riffat Hussein, a professor at Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam University.
"It might even lead to some kind of questioning in the Pakistani parliament about the presence of American special forces on Pakistani soil."
RESOLVE OF THE PAKISTANI TALIBAN
Suspicions are likely to deepen at an unfortunate time for the United States, which sees long-time ally Pakistan as a vital in its fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan.
Washington wants Pakistan to go after Afghan Taliban who cross the border to attack Western troops in Afghanistan, a move that could antagonize militants Islamabad has long seen as assets.
But Pakistan's military is already stretched against the homegrown al Qaeda-backed Taliban, which claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing.
The violence highlighted the resolve of the Pakistani Taliban and raised questions about the effectiveness of a government security crackdown launched in mid-October that destroyed the group's bases in their main stronghold.
It also further lifted the profile of the Pakistani Taliban, whose leader Hakimullah Mehsud appeared in a farewell video with the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan in December.
The Pakistani Taliban have previously focused on toppling the government, not attacking U.S. soldiers, but now the United States faces the prospect of coming under further attacks from them.
NEW ALARM BELLS
The possibility Pakistan's Taliban may have known U.S. troops were traveling in the convoy will ring new alarm bells.
"A lot of the bombings in Pakistan have been inside jobs. In the sense that they have been carried out by people in the security services who leaked information to the bombers," Rashid alleged. "Is this such a case? If so it's very, very dangerous." U.S. defense officials said Islamabad had in the past thrown up obstacles to expanding the Special Operations mission over fears of a public backlash, frustrating U.S. officials.
Winning more Pakistani cooperation could be even more difficult now, judging by the reaction from some Pakistanis.
"If they were trainers what they were doing in such a sensitive region? They should train in a garrison instead of roaming around," said Syed Sajjad Ali Shah, a retired school principal.
"Our rulers are not politicians. They're money-makers. They don't care what's happening to the country. What's good and what's not good for the country."
Unpopular President Asif Ali Zardari has little room for maneuver anyway, with frustrations spreading over the troubled economy and chronic power shortages.
He could become more vulnerable if his aides, including the defense and interior ministers, are prosecuted under revived corruption charges.
Since late 2001, tens of billions of dollars, in military aid (some of it hidden in the larger defense budget), economic aid, forgiveness of debt, has been given to the government of Pakistan by the United States. Aid of every kind, and then soldiers sent to help train the Pakistani military in the use of weapons given by the Americans, and in tactics. And billions in economic aid. All of this, despite the fact that Pakistan itself gave birth to, nurtured, and returned to Afghanistan the Taliban, and even though Pakistan supported diplomatically, militarily, financially, the Taliban, not stopping even when that Taliban collaborated so closely with Al-Qaeda.
And yet it is we, the Americans,who are supposed to accept the whines and complaints, and listen to the conspiracy theories (a feature of Muslim peoples, who unused to critical thought, fall more heavily than any others for such things, and because the Infidels of the world are, through the prism of Islam, seen as the source of all Muslim woe, the source of all the world's evil, conspiracy theories always and everywhere see the Infidels behind everything that Muslims find unpalatable). It is we who are supposed to now give the Pakistani army -- in order to prove that we "trust" the Pakistanis and thereby win their trust, you see -- drones, just as we used to give them F-16s, just as we unvigilantly allowed them, using our money, to steal Western nuclear secrets (a metallurgist named A. Q. Khan did the light-fingered lifting), and then to develop, during nearly a decade of hand-on-heart deeply sincere denial, what the Pakistanis delightedly now call "the Islamic bomb."
Why, after all this display of trust, generosity, and good will, by the Americans -- those murdered soldiers were there to attend the opening of a school they had paid to have rebuilt after the Taliban destroyed a previous building (the school was for girls, and the Taliban didn't approve) do the Pakistanis naturally harbor, and express on every conceivable occasion, their anti-American feeling? Because it isn’t anti-American. It’s anti-Infidel. It’s against all Infidels, because Pakistan is Muslim. Do you think the Christians in Pakistan, or the remaining Hindus, harbor similar anti-American feelings? Of course they don't dare express their real thoughts, but you know perfectly well that they do not. And you know why.
The Prince of Wales has never been a man to suffer from a lack of enemies, from modern architecture to intensive farming. Yesterday, however, he declared war on a new — but also ancient — adversary: the Enlightenment.
Even by the Prince’s standards, his opposition to the system of beliefs that came to dominate thinking in the 18th century and has held sway ever since is an ambitious one, if a little tardy.
Long regarded as the foundation of contemporary political and intellectual culture, by way of influences ranging from the American Declaration of Independence to the scientific method as embraced from Isaac Newton on, the Enlightenment was based on the belief that all society’s ills could be vanquished by the application of reason.
Its seminal figures included the likes of Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Voltaire and Rousseau. To Prince Charles, however, it is old hat. “I was accused once of being the enemy of the Enlightenment,” he told a conference at St James’s Palace. “I felt proud of that.”
“It might be time to think again and review it and question whether it is really effective in today’s conditions, faced as we are with huge challenges all over the world. It must be apparent to people deep down that we have to do something about it.
About what, exactly?
On a dinner date in “The Jerk”, the Steve Martin character demands a new wine, and won’t be palmed off with one of those old wines. Quite right too. New is better. Euston Station is better than St Pancras. The New English Bible is better than the King James Version with its incomprehensible “thees” and “thous”. New lamps are better than old - usually. As for new wine, under the progressive religion, it is neither here nor there; forward-thinking Mohammed banned it altogether rather than merely commanding, as fuddy-duddy old Jesus did, that you put it in new bottles.
As for the Church of England, of which Charles, if he reigns, will be head - out with it. Let's try Islam for a change.
On a different note, what's so good about Rousseau? The "Noble Savage" is surely one of the stupidest ideas since Islam.
Pakistan, Our Permanent Enemy, Denounces The Aafia Siddiqui Verdict
Pakistan, the permanent enemy of Infidels, has denounced the verdict in the trial of the Siddiqui lady, the one exaggeratedly called, repeatedly, a "neuroscientist," as if her managing to do graduate work a decade or two ago should make us think of Torsten Wiesel, and David Hubel, and unjustly un-nobelled -- because too early late - Stephen Kuffler, of Johns Hopkins and the Marine Biological Laboratories, and Stoney Beach in Woods Hole.
Here's the story:
Pakistan denounces conviction of neuroscientist in US court
Dr Aafia Siddiqui found guilty in New York of attempting to shoot a team of US soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2008
An FBI picture of Aafia Siddiqui, released in 2003, when she was named as a suspect over links to al-Qaida operatives. Photograph: AP
A New York court found Siddiqui guilty of attempting to shoot a team of American soldiers and FBI agents in an Afghan police station in July 2008. She faces up to 60 years in prison.
A foreign office spokesman said he was "dismayed" by the verdict, adding that Pakistan's president, prime minister and foreign minister had appealed to the US authorities for Siddiqui's release. The government spent $2m on top flight lawyers to defend her.
Television reports carried furious comments from ordinary Pakistanis reflecting a widely-held view that the 37-year-old mother of three, who graduated from MIT and Brandeis University, was the victim of a grave miscarriage of justice.
In Siddiqui's hometown, Karachi, her sister Fowzia struck a defiant note. "Maybe they thought there would be crying and condolences. This is not so; we are rejuvenated," she said at the family home, surrounded by cheering supporters.
Shireen Mazari, editor of the rightwing Nation newspaper, wrote that the verdict "did not really surprise anyone familiar with the vindictive mindset of the US public post-9/11". Mushahid Hussain, a prominent opposition politician, called for Siddiqui to be sent home.
One of the few dissenting opinions came from Siddiqui's ex-husband, Amjad Khan, who said his ex-wife was "reaping the fruit of her own decision.
"Her family has been portraying Aafia as a victim. We would like the truth to come out," he said.
Hard facts have been elusive in one of the most intriguing and murky cases to emerge from the Bush administration-era "war on terror". It started in March 2003 when Siddiqui and her three children mysteriously disappeared from Karachi, probably picked up by Pakistani intelligence.
What happened next is hotly contested. Siddiqui's supporters, led by the British campaigner Yvonne Ridley, insist she was sent to Bagram airfield north of Kabul, where she was detained and tortured by US forces.
Sceptics say she was probably on the run in Pakistan, associating with Islamist extremists. In 2004 the FBI named Siddiqui as one of seven senior al-Qaida figures plotting to attack America, which earned her the nickname "Lady al-Qaida" in the US media.
But few of those events were examined in the trial, which concentrated on a narrow sequence of events in an Afghan police station in July 2008, when Siddiqui dramatically resurfaced.
The prosecution claimed that Siddiqui seized a US soldier's M-4 rifle and opened fire, before being shot in the stomach and arrested.
Notably, she was not charged with terrorism-related crimes or al-Qaida links, and after yesterday's guilty verdict was announced, defence lawyer Charles Swift said the case had been decided on "fear not facts".
The prosecution could produce little forensic evidence to support its case; with experts unable to produce incriminating bullet cases or fingerprints on the weapon Siddiqui allegedly fired.
Instead the jury appeared to have been swayed by statements from at least seven witnesses, including an Afghan translator and several US soldiers.
Jurors may also have been swayed by Siddiqui's erratic behaviour. The diminutive defendant, who appeared in court with her face mostly veiled, frequently made shouted outbursts that caused guards to hustle her back to her cell.
She said her case was been orchestrated by unspecified "Jews" and demanded that no person of Jewish descent be allowed to sit on the panel of jurors. After the guilty verdict was announced she cried out: "This is a verdict coming from Israel and not from America." She is due to be sentenced in May.
The hearing left many contentious questions about the enigmatic neuroscientist unanswered – particularly the fate of her missing children.
Siddiqui's oldest son, Ahmed, resurfaced alongside his mother in Afghanistan in 2008. He now lives in Karachi with Fowzia Siddiqui, who has not allowed him to speak publicly of his experience.
But the whereabouts of the other two children – Mariam, 11, and Suleman, 7 – remains a mystery. Their father, Amjad Khan, has called for an inquiry into their whereabouts.
"We would like the three governments to come up with a joint report to lay down the truth," he said. "Most of all we are concerned about the two kids – where they are, who is holding them, and why."
A radical cleric has said the Nigerian man accused of the failed Christmas Day attack on an aircraft over Detroit was his student but he didn't tell him to carry out the bombing.
In an interview with a Yemeni journalist, carried on the website of the TV station al-Jazeera, Awlaki said: "Brother mujahed [holy fighter] Umar Farouk — may God relieve him — is one of my students, yes. We had kept in contact, but I didn't issue a fatwa [religious ruling] to Umar Farouk for this operation."
Awlaki said he supported the attack in which Abdulmutallab tried to detonate a homemade bomb in his underwear, but it would have been better if the target was a military one.
"I support what Umar Farouk did after seeing my brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan being killed," he told the interviewer.
"If it was a military plane or a US military target it would have been better...(but) the American people have participated in all the crimes of their government. Some 300 Americans are nothing compared to thousands Muslims they have killed."
British officials fear he has cultivated contacts with a network of extremists in Britain. During his time as a student at University College London, Abdulmutallab is said to have been “reaching out” to extremists, thought to have included Awlaki. He exchanged up to 20 emails with Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged gunman in the Fort Hood attack last November after Major Hasan sought his advice.
Special Branch officers are being stationed in universities at risk of being targeted by extremists, the Government has admitted. A number of institutions have been identified by counter-terrorism officers amid fears students are in danger of being groomed by fanatics.
David Lammy, (or Laddie as some called him when he was at the DCA) the Higher Education Minister, insisted the threat posed to universities had been exaggerated but admitted that it remained an "extremely serious issue".
In an interview, Mr Lammy admitted that security had been stepped up at a series of universities, with anti-terrorism officers actively patrolling campuses.
“We have identified universities for whom the risk is greater and they have to work closely with Special Branch, and so I think it is a partnership between leadership at universities and the police,” he said. Mr Lammy said he did “not recognise a caricature of a significant risk across Britain”. But he added: "We do recognise that threat levels have been raised and that this is an extremely serious issue and that there are particular institutions – and those institutions are aware of this because we have brought it to their attention – where the risk is greater and those institutions are working very closely with the police and are working closely with Special Branch and those institutions (police and Special Branch) are present on campus.”
The Government refused to be drawn on which universities had been identified or the number of institutions with tightened security. In the past, Prof Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham University, has suggested as many as 24 institutions may have been infiltrated by extremists. The Government has denied the claims.
Pakistan Urges Americans To Tell Them Ahead Of Time About Operations In Afghanistan
Rawalpindi, Feb 4 (IANS) Pakistan Thursday urged the US-led NATO forces to take it into confidence before launching operations in areas adjacent to its borders in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan’s army should be taken into confidence before launching any offensive by US-led coalition troops at areas, adjacent to Pakistan’s border,” army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani told a visiting NATO commander, Online news agency reported, quoting sources.
“The coalition forces should ensure that no terrorist or extremist enters in Pakistan’s area during the operation,” Kayani told Lt Gen William B. Caldwell, commander of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan.
The remarks come as NATO and the Afghan army are planning their biggest joint offensive since the beginning of the Afghan war in Helmand and other areas.
The Helmand province, located in southwestern Afghanistan, is the world’s largest opium-producing region, responsible for over 40 percent of the world’s total production.
Kayani and Caldwell discussed the planned offensive, the security situation in Afghanistan and the new US for the war-torn nation, military sources said.
Relations between the Pakistani army and NATO as well as the training of Pakistani armyofficers by NATO were also discussed, the sources added.
Pakistan has been repeatedly complaining about the continuing US drone strikes against the Taliban in its North and South Waziristan areas along the Afghan border that have claimed some 700 lives since they began in mid-2008.
Pakistan has also asked for drone technology to enable it conduct the strikes to stem criticism of the attacks at home but the US has invariably turned this down.
In a concession of sorts, US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates, during a visit here last month, announced that Washington would provide unarmed reconnaissance drones to Pakistan to enable closer surveillance of the border areas.
E' scomparsa Boa Sr, ultima indigena di una tribù delle isole andamane
Morta l'ultima indigena che parlava
il "Bo", lingua di 65mila anni fa
Quando gli Inglesi colonizzarono l'arcipelago, nel 1858, c'erano almeno 5.000 persone. Ora ne sopravvivono 52
MILANO - Un'altra lingua che si parlava sulla Terra è scomparsa per sempre, un altro patrimonio che non sarà più recuperabile in alcun modo, non c'è tecnologia che tenga. E questo idioma, di sicuro, era uno dei più antichi: dopo circa 65mila anni l'unica donna indigena rimasta al mondo che ancora lo conosceva era Boa Sr. Aveva circa 85 anni, ed è morta: con lei si spegne per sempre il “bo” la lingua parlata da una delle più antiche tribù del pianeta. Si stima infatti questa gente abbia vissuto nelle Isole Andamane per almeno 65mila anni. Era una delle 10 tribù di cui si componeva il popolo dei Grandi Andamanesi. «Da quando era rimasta la sola a parlare il bo - ha raccontato il linguista Anvita Abbi dell'Università di Nuova Delhi, che la conosceva da molti anni, Boa Sr si sentiva molto sola perché non aveva nessuno con cui conversare. Era comunque una donna con grande senso dell’umorismo; il suo sorriso e la sua risata fragorosa erano contagiosi». «Non potete immaginare - ha commentato il professor Abbi - il dolore e l’angoscia che ho provato ogni giorno nell’essere muto testimone della perdita di una cultura straordinaria e di una lingua unica». Boa Sr aveva detto al professor Abbi di considerare la tribù confinante dei Jarawa, che non erano stati decimati, molto fortunata per il fatto di poter continuare a vivere nella foresta, lontano dai coloni che attualmente occupano gran parte delle Isole.
LA STORIA DEGLI INDIGENI DELLE ANDAMANE - Quando i Britannici colonizzarono le Isole, nel 1858, i Grandi Andamanesi contavano almeno 5.000 persone. Ora, dopo la morte di Boa Sr, ne sopravvivono 52. La maggior parte fu uccisa dai colonizzatori o dalle malattie importate. Non riuscendo a “pacificare” le tribù con la violenza, i Britannici cercarono di “civilizzarli” catturandoli e tenendoli rinchiusi nella famigerata “Casa degli Andamani”. Dei 150 bambini nati nella Casa, nessuno ha superato l’età di due anni. Oggi, i Grandi Andamanesi sopravvissuti dipendono largamente dal governo indiano per il cibo e le case, e fra di loro è molto diffuso l’abuso di alcool. «I Grandi Andamanesi sono stati prima massacrati, e poi quasi tutti spazzati via da politiche paternalistiche che li hanno condannati a malattie epidemiche e li hanno derubati della loro terra e della loro indipendenza» ha commentato Stephen Corry, Direttore Generale di Survival International, associazione che tutela le culture dei nativi in tutto il mondo. «La perdita di Boa è un tetro monito: non dobbiamo permettere che questo accada ad altre tribù delle Isole Andamane».
LO TSUNAMI - Boa Sr, come quasi tutti gli indigeni delle Andamane, era sopravvissuta allo tsunami del 2004. «Gli anziani - aveva raccontato in quell'occasione - avevano detto che non dovevamo muoverci e che non dovevamo scappare». Nell'arcipelago gli indigeni ebbero pochissime vittime, grazie anche al fatto che molti di loro riconobbero in anticipo quello che stava accadendo, forse perché seguirono i movimenti degli animali e non si fecero trovare nei pressi della costa quando arrivarono le ondate dello tsunami. Rimangono nella memoria, a differenza della lingua di Bo, le foto nelle quali si vedono indigeni delle isole Andamane che puntano il loro arco contro barche ed elicotteri che provano ad avvicinarsi per portare aiuti.