MYFOXNY.COM - A Fox 5 investigation by Charles Leaf revealed ties between a terrorist organization and Hisham Elzanaty, an investor in the property where a group plans to build a community center and mosque two blocks from the world trade center site.
Now some political figures are intensifying they call for an official investigation into the project's funding.
"Your investigations are making this whole thing much more troubling," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. "This is becoming more troubling by the day."
Elzanaty and real estate developer Sharif el-Gamal were involved in the deal to purchase the old Burlington Coat Factory site in Lower Manhattan for $4.8 million in cash.
Fox 5 uncovered and confirmed with his attorney that Elzanaty, an Egyptian born long island businessman, contributed $6,000 a Muslim charity called the holy land foundation in 1999.
But the federal government shut down the charity in 2001 and accused it of funneling money to Hamas, a designated terror organization. Elzanaty's attorney said his client believed he was contributing money to an orphanage.
Tax records show that NBA star Hakeem Olajuwon, the Microsoft Corp., and a medical equipment company owned by General Electric also donated money, equipment or services to the foundation in 1999, the Associated Press reported.
When a federal grad jury indicted the foundation's leaders, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft said that the case was not "a reflection on the well-meaning people who may have donated funds to the foundation."
However, media reports questioning the charity's possible ties to Hamas had appeared as early as 1993, the AP reported.
Fox 5 News asked the office of state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo if it would investigate, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
Watch this video on the latest developments. Rep. Pete King weighs in and calls for a full investigation.
Who owns Kabul Bank? And where has its money gone? Last night, after Obama had finished his speech about how we were sort of almost done in Iraq but still had a lot of lives to lose and money to spend in Afghanistan (see Anderson, Osnos, and Packer for more on that), the Washington Post put a story on its Web site about how the Afghan Central Bank was moving to replace the management of Kabul Bank. This is the bank that handles the payroll for Afghan soldiers and schoolteachers. From the Post:
Kabul Bank's wayward lending practices, real estate speculation in Dubai and weeks of venomous feuding between major shareholders have threatened to wreak economic and political havoc.
U.S. officials have long worried that Kabul Bank, because of its size and unorthodox practices, could trigger financial mayhem, a prospect that would leave Afghan security forces without pay, threaten unrest by angry-and often armed-depositors and undermine President Obama's Afghan strategy.
Our war in Afghanistan may be compromised by a bank? And, again, whose bank-who are the major shareholders involved in "venomous feuding?" The Post includes a helpful chart; they all seem to have ties to Karzai, his election campaign, and his cabinet. One is his brother, Mahmoud Karzai. He is in a better position to come out of this well than the depositors who were heading to the bank to get their money out this morning; there is a fair amount of confusion at the moment about who's in control, what the central bank's role will be, and, most of all, where all the money has gone. (Some seems to have funded an airline owned by the chairman of the bank.) Are American taxpayers going to end up bailing this bank out, because it's so entwined with the Karzai government that it's considered crucial to the war effort? Is there such a thing as a bank that's too corrupt to fail?
The Wall Street Journal, in a follow-up, described "a massive portfolio of off-the-books loans by the bank's chairman to himself and to other politically connected Afghans." The bank has also, according to the Journal, used hawala, a less-than-regulated money-exchange system, "to clandestinely transfer almost $1 billion out of Afghanistan in the past few years." It was mixed up with New Ansari, a firm that, as the Journal put it, "allegedly helped Afghan politicians, drug barons and even the Taliban move billions of dollars out of the country." (Karzai recently intervened to get one of his aides, who was accused of taking a bribe to stop an investigation of Al Ansari, out of jail.) The Times said that Kabul Bank and its chairman, Sherkhan Farnood, were "at the heart of the political and economic nexus that sustains-and is sustained by-the government of President Hamid Karzai" and "provided millions to Mr. Karzai's campaign." Then there are its business dealings:
First among the beneficiaries was Mr. Farnood himself, the officials said. He invested about $140 million of the bank's money in the real estate market in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said Mahmoud Karzai, the president's brother and a Kabul Bank shareholder. Among those properties were more than a dozen multimillion-dollar villas in Mr. Farnood's name, some of them on Palm Jumeria, an island off Dubai's coast, Mr. Karzai said.
A lot of that value was lost when the Dubai real-estate market fell (assuming, of course, that the transactions were real). More from the Times:
It is not clear what Mr. Farnood did with all the properties he purchased, but he made at least some of them available to his friends and allies. One of them was Mahmoud Karzai, who owns about 7 percent of the bank. Speaking in an interview from Dubai, Mr. Karzai said he had rented one of Mr. Farnood's villas for the past year and a half.
Mr. Karzai said the bank's troubles-and Mr. Farnood's opaque dealings-had made him decide to vacate soon.
"I want to move to a different house," Mr. Karzai said. "I want to cut this out."
So President Karzai's brother has been living in a villa in the Emirates that constitutes a questionable investment by the bank he partially owns; but he might move. The Wall Street Journal said that a U.S. official had tried to make the case that the removal of bank officials was "a sign" that Karzai was getting a little bit serious about corruption. But, the Journal noted,
An Afghan banker with knowledge of the situation offered a less optimistic view, saying the move may have more to do with shifting political and business alliances among the country's small, clubby elite.
Mahmood Karzai, for example, has recently forged stronger links with the owners of Afghan United Bank, a competitor of Kabul Bank. Afghan United Bank's chairman owns a 20% stake in a housing development that Mahmood Karzai is building outside the southern city of Kandahar, where U.S. forces are making a major push against the Taliban.
So what is Mahmoud Karzai's new preferred bank like?
Afghan United Bank is owned by the founders of New Ansari, the hawala that is being investigated. U.S. officials say the bank's owners still control the hawala, although the bank's owners say they have cut ties to the money-transfer business.
Moving the money from one bank to another, or the President's dubiously wealthy brother moving himself from one villa to another, doesn't really count as doing something about corruption. Or, if it does, then we have a long way to go in Afghanistan. It's a bit like moving soldiers from one war to another, and calling it victory.
So, should U.S. taxpayers bail out Kabul Bank because it is considered so vital to the war effort?
Were that all our foreign policy decisions were so easy.
QUETTA: At least 56 people were killed and about 160 others injured here on Friday when a suicide bomber struck a procession brought out to mark the Al Quds day.
Soon after the blast some armed men in the procession started firing into the air, triggering chaos and panic. People fled or lay on the ground to avoid the gunfire. All shopping centres and business establishments shuttered down in no time after an angry mob set on fire several vehicles and ransacked some shops. They also attacked DSNGs of different TV channels and fired at the Aaj van, killing its driver. Three policemen were injured.
Calling from an undisclosed location, a spokesman of the banned Lashkaar-e-Janghvi, claimed responsibility for the attack and warned that the group would "carry out more attacks if Shias continue to take out processions and hold gatherings". A spokesman identified the bomber as 22-year-old Arshad Muavia. But according to a report from tribal areas, a spokesman of the Tehril-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Imamia Students' Organisation had organised the rally that started from Islam Imambargah, located on the Prince Road, soon after the Friday prayers to express solidarity with the Palestinian people. Hundreds of people joined the rally as it moved towards the centre of the city.
"Police tried to stop the rally near Mali Bagh and asked the participants not to proceed any further, owing to security concerns. However, nobody listened to us," said City police Station House Officer (SHO) Muhammad Asif, adding that the participants did not follow the route that had been approved by the police. "We had earlier told them that no officers were deployed in Mezan Chowk and they should follow the given route. But they did not follow the instructions," he said.
A number of young men, who were at the head of the procession, removed police barricades and continued to march forward. When the procession reached Mezan Chowk, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest. As result of the huge blast, 25 people were killed instantly, and human limbs were scattered everywhere. A number of motorcycles parked nearby caught fire, sending up plumes of black smoke.
"It was a suicide attack," Balochistan home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told Dawn. He said that organisers of the procession had been alerted to the threat. Bomb disposal squad officials said the device packed 15 kilograms of explosives. The impact of the blast smashed windows of a number of shops and buildings.
Police found limbs of the bomber and sent them for forensic tests. Police later found the head of the suspected suicide bomber, who was said to be between 25 to 30 years of age.
And They Might Their Quettas Make, With Bare Bodkins Or Bombs, It Hardly Matters
Sometimes there is news to cheer us up.
From Pakistan, for example, we learn that Islam-madded Shi'a, out for the Al Quds Day "celebration" of rage against Israel, with flag-burning, and calls for mass murdering of "Zionists" and Jews, and every conceivable expression of hysterical hatred by primitives (who remain hopelessly primitive because all they have is Islam, and Islam stunts mental as well as moral growth), and these primitives have been told, and do believe, that while all Infidels are hateful, Jews are the special enemies of Allah and of Muhammad. Israel is an affront because it is not permissible for an Infidel nation-state, no matter how tiny, to exist anywhere on land that was once ruled by Muslims. Lest you, in North America or Western Europe, take comfort from that, remind yourself that in the end, as the whole world rightly belongs to Allah and to Muslims, the "best of peoples," no Infidel nation-states may continue to exist, in the long run, anywhere.
So they went out, those Shi'a in Pakistan, for a holiday of hate, and found that right there, among fellow, but Sunni, Muslims, hate was waiting for them, and the bombs went off, as the Taliban, those uber-Sunnis (remember that the Shi'a Hazara were being decimated, and might have been destroyed altogether, by the Taliban, had the American cavalry not arrived in time). Of course the object of their hatred are Israelis whom these Pakistani Shi'a do not know, but have been told and do therefore believe, are their enemies, the enemies of God, as being non-Muslims, Jews, the sons of apes and pigs, the people who may have poisoned Muhammad, the Perfect Man. And then, in the midst of this macabre Al Quds Day, no less and no more macabre than the other Al Quds Days held elsewhere in the hate-maddened Muslim world, with all this muharramish weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, and expressions of hysterical hatred, and threats, and flag burnings, and smashing of property where there would no doubt be not only the expressions of hysterical hatred, but perhaps also some muharramish weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth -- what, really, is Israel to them, or they to Israel, were it not for the minds prepared by Islam to hate the Jews and to insist that all lands once posssessed by Muslims can never, no matter what, come into the possession of any group of non-Muslims -- have been attacked by Sunni "extremists." Or "violent extremists." No doubt a "small minority of violent extremists" -- the same ones with whom the Shi'a otherwise can join in attacking and even murdering Ahmadiyya Muslims, or that the Ahmadiyya Muslims, in turn, can join with both the Shi'a and the Sunni Muslims to attack, and even murder, the Christians of Pakistan.
What a sense of accomplishment that must bring, to Sunnis attacking killing Shi'a, to Sunnis and Shi'a attacking and kiling Ahmadis, to Sunnis, Shi'a and Ahmadis attacking and killing Christians. Fun for the whole family.
And once the Sunni Arabs and the Shi'a Arabs go at it, in Iraq, will this lessen tensions in Pakistan between Sunnis and Shi'a? What about Lebanon? Bahrain? Yemen? Kuwait? Saudi Arabia? What would happen to Sunnis in the Islamic Republic of Iran, say, in eastern Iran, close to Baluchistan?
What should we wish for those Muslim lands where Sunnis and Shi'a now are to be found in sufficient numbers to matter to the other sect?
That they might their Quettas make. With bare bodkins or bombs, it hardly matters.
The government has asked imams for recordings of their Friday sermons and started to strictly monitor religious schools. Members of an influential Muslim women's group have now been told to scale back activities like preaching or teaching Islamic law. And this summer, more than 1,000 teachers who wear the niqab, or the face veil, were transferred to administrative duties.
The crackdown, which began in 2008 but has gathered steam this summer, is an effort by President Bashar al-Assad to reassert Syria's traditional secularism in the face of rising threats from radical groups in the region, Syrian officials say.
The policy amounts to a sharp reversal for Syria, which for years tolerated the rise of the conservatives. And it sets the government on the seemingly contradictory path of moving against political Islamists at home, while supporting movements like Hamas and Hezbollah abroad.
Syrian officials are adamant that the shifts stem from alarming domestic trends, and do not affect support for those groups, allies in their struggle against Israel. At the same time, they have spoken proudly about their secularizing campaign, though they have been reluctant to reveal its details. Some Syrian analysts view that as an overture to the United States and European nations, which have been courting Syria as part of a strategy to isolate Iran and curb the influence of Hamas and Hezbollah.
Human rights advocates say the policy exacerbates pressing concerns: the arbitrary imprisonment of Islamists, as well as the continued failure to allow them any political space.
Of course, all the Muslim Brothers want is a little political space. Hafez al-Assad was much stronger than Bashar. If Bashar is now moving against the Brothers it is probably at the urging of the mullahs in Iran. As Hugh Fitzgerald has pointed out many times, the ruling Alawites are a sect which is considered apostate by the majority Sunnis. Shi'a Iran has issued a fatwa declaring them to be real Muslims. The Assad family and the rest of the Alawites are walking an increasingly dangerous tightrope between the Sunnis and the Shi'a and the Shi'a are growing quickly in Syria which is making the Sunnis nervous. One wonders whether the Alawites will survive the next 25 years. Right now they are useful to the mullahs, who are using Syria to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, but that situation might not endure.
I need a job. I need money.* And you have, dear Newsweek, apparently a need for some additions to your staff. I notice, for example, that Mr. Fareed Zakaria, he of the unsettling skull-beneath-the-skin mien, a fan of Hamas party tricks, a man whose resistible rise took place largely at Newsweek, though now he has gone to both the Lesser Screen and to luciferian Time, where his misleading and dangerous apologetics for islam, insufficientily recognized and understood, will be welcomed by Bobby Ghosh and others already ensconced at that magazine so celebrated, in recent decades, for its utter incomprehension of the Middle East and its palpable want of sympathy for Israel.
Here's an idea. Instead of relying on resumes, and who knows whom, and who recommends whom, and who already has a name, whatever that may mean in the degradation-of-the-democratic-dogma dog days we apparently are condemend to forever endure, why not actually give a test relevant to the application of any would-be commentator on men, and events, and what connects that historical hip bone to that historical thigh bone: that is, a test of general knowledge, and a test of rapidity and vivacity of expression.
Make the test exactly the same for all applicants. Put each of them in a separate room. Hand to each of them the same three lists, containing the same five subjects, on which they are to write whatever they think most important for readers to know. And they are to complete this written examination in five hours, on computers limited to word-processing. No Internet. No outside connections of any kind. No LIfelines of any kind. No Fifty-fifty, no Phone-A-Friend, no Ask-the-Audience, nothing. Just the bleak screen, and the teeming brain to be gleaned. Everyone is on his lonesome.
Perhaps a few examples of what I have in mind would help.
Okay, here are some possible lists:
One would consist of five disparate topics, testing general knowledge : Ibadiyya Islam, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, homozygous co-deletion, Russian formalism, verlan.
Another might consist of five placenames: Alexandretta, Baluchistan, Birobidzhan, Sakhalin, Xinjiang.
Another list might consist of five proper names: Oriana Fallaci, Cees Nooteboom, Alain Finkielkraut, Tatyana Tolstaya, Jacques Ellul.
And there should be -- very important, this -- a list of five questions on American history: Governor Andros, George Whitfield, Mugwumps, the Mauve Decade, Clear It With Sidney.
Applicants would be asked to write whatever they think most significant about those people, places, things, and to make some connection between them,and the men and events one would be reporting on today.
Let those applicants descant, and yet again descant, on these assigned but temporarily supreme themes.
Then, once the written part of the examination is over, call them in for the viva voce. See how well, how convincingly, how attractively, they express themselves. Anyone who does what Tom Friedman does when he appears on Charlie Rose, holding up his hands with two fingers extended on each to offer a visual "quote-unquote" is grounds for immediate failure.
Imagine if such tests had been used by, say, the New York Times in choosing its columnists. Then Kristof and Friedman would never have gotten in the door. allowed to presume and pronounce on matters of moment, of which they know so little, and to confuse and mislead so many. The world would have been a better, because better-informed, place.
Yes, we prate about a meritocracy. And in many professional fields, there are tests to weed out the ignorant and the idiots. A certain minimum level of knowledge, and of verbal facility, should be required for journalists. Such tests are not uncommon in Europe. Why not here?
Yes, I know. One more thing. I've already alluded to it.
Whatever happens, You've got to clear it with Sidney.
So do it already. Show him this posting, and include, printed out, the previous posting "Seeking Employment" to which a link is given in the first sentence of this posting.
He's got a good sense of humor. He's got a brain. I can tell. He might not dismiss this out of hand. I think he might give it a whirl, or something close to a whirl.
*Rebecca Bynum wishes me to make clear that both this and the previous related posting have nothing to do with NER, nor with my posting here, which will continue exactly as before. It would be nice, however, in regard to NER, if what is largely now a labor of love could become something else. "Love in a hut, with water and a crust, Is-Love, forgive us!-cinders, ashes, dust." Just a line from Lamia that I find it difficult to unremember. The old Funes-el-Memorioso problem.
French protests target president's anti-crime proposals
Paris, France (CNN) -- Hurling insults against French President Nicolas Sarkozy, crowds of demonstrators marched through the boulevards of eastern Paris to protest his anti-crime measures.
Organized by 50 human rights and activist groups, labor unions and political opponents of Sarkozy the cortege of protesters at one point stretched a mile and a half from the Place de La Republique to the Place de la Bastille, where a stained French flag was hung on a central monument. Organizers said 50,000 filled the streets, though police put the official estimate at 12,000.
Referring to France's contentious role in World War II, protesters held up signs such as "Sarkozy, son of Petain," referring to Marshal Philippe Petain, who led the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.
Organizers said about 130 cities in France are seeing similar protests against Sarkozy's so-called crime-busting proposals which have led to the expulsion of more than 8,000 Roma, commonly known as Gypsies.
Saturday's protests erupted after the recent raids against camps in Lyon and other cities that forced out a total of 8,300 Romanian and Bulgarian nationals of Roma origin. Close to 10,000 were expelled in 2009.
Roma are a group of people who live mainly in southern and eastern Europe, often in poverty. They tend to live in camps, caravans, or informal settlements and have been the target of persecution throughout history.
But the Roma are not the sole targets of the recent anti-immigration security measures proposed by the French government, protesters claim.[No, what we talk about when we talk about the Roma are, of course, Musliims]
Groups representing other causes voiced their concerns at the Paris rally as well, including advocates of illegal immigrants and demonstrators demanding better housing.
After recent anti-police attacks, the country's parliament is considering new laws to take away French citizenship from naturalized immigrants guilty of crimes like attacks on police, polygamy or female circumcision, traditions associated with some immigrant groups.
Some believe Sarkozy's approach of blaming immigrants for security problems flies in the face of France's democratic fundamentals -- liberty, equality and fraternity.
"He is not fighting crime ... He is deliberately putting into question the basic principles of republican equality, and what is already an extremely serious social and economic crisis now threatens the cohesion of all society," organizations supporting the protests said in a statement posted on the Education Without Borders Network's website Saturday.
When he announced the proposals in July, Sarkozy said French citizenship was a privilege.
"One must earn French nationality and be worthy of it," he said. "Anyone who fires on an agent enforcing order no longer deserves to be French."
Immigration policy has long been a top issue for the conservative Sarkozy. As interior minister, he advocated the deportation of foreign nationals caught in violent riots across France in 2005.
But the recent crackdowns have drawn criticism even within Sarkozy's government. Local media reported that Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was shocked by the president's anti-crime proposals. [Kouchner has always been the worst of Sarkozy's ministers, especially in his non-grasp of Islam and his consequent continuation of an anti-Israel line that he pursues, or tries to, independently of Sarkozy]
Last month's ousting of Roma gypsies without valid identity papers -- drew international criticism with some comparing it to the deportation of Jews during World War II. Something the government said it was absurd since those being expelled were being sent back to their homelands with financial compensation of 300 euros ($381) per adult and 100 euros ($127) perchild, France's immigration ministry said.
French officials have said the deportations are part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration.
In his July speech, Sarkozy said France needs better immigration regulations.
"We are suffering from the consequences of 50 years of inadequately controlled immigration that led to a failure of integration," he said. "We are so proud of our system of integration, but perhaps we should wake up to see what it has produced. It has worked. It works no longer."
Susan MacAllen: Denmark -- Where Tolerance Is The State Religion -- Wakes Up
Salute the Danish Flag - it's a Symbol of Western Freedom
By Susan MacAllen
"In 1978-9, I was living and studying in Denmark. But in 1978 even in Copenhagen, one didn't see Muslim immigrants.
The Danish population embraced visitors, celebrated the exotic, went out of its way to protect each of its citizens. It was proud of its new brand of socialist liberalism, one in development since the conservatives had lost power in 1929. It was a system where no worker had to struggle to survive, where one ultimately could count upon the state as in, perhaps, no other western nation at the time.
The rest of Europe saw the Scandinavians as free-thinking, progressive and infinitely generous in their welfare policies. Denmark boasted low crime rates, devotion to the environment, a superior educational system and a history of humanitarianism.
Denmark was also most generous in its immigration policies. It offered the best welcome in Europe to the new immigrant: generous welfare payments from first arrival plus additional perks in transportation; housing; and education. It was determined to set a world example for inclusiveness and multiculturalism. How could it have predicted that one day in 2005 a series of political cartoons in a newspaper would spark violence that would leave dozens dead in the streets . . . all because its commitment to multi-culturalism would come back to bite?
By the1990s the growing urban Muslim population was obvious, and its unwillingness to integrate into Danish society was obvious. The immigrants had settled into Muslim - exclusive enclaves. As the Muslim leadership became more vocal about what they considered the decadence of Denmark's liberal way of life, the Danes, once so welcoming, began to feel slighted. Many Danes had begun to see Islam as incompatible with their long-standing values: belief in personal liberty, free speech, equality for women, and a deep pride in Danish heritage and history.
An article by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, in which they forecasted, accurately, that the growing immigrant problem in Denmark would explode. In the article they reported:
"Muslim immigrants constitute 5% of the population but consume upwards of 40% of the welfare spending."
"Muslims are only 4% of Denmark's 5.4 million people but make up a majority of the country's convicted rapists . . . an especially combustible issue given that practically all the female victims are non-Muslim. Similar, if lesser disproportions are found in other crimes."
"Over time, as Muslim immigrants increase in numbers, they wish less to mix with the indigenous population. A recent survey finds that only 5% of young Muslim immigrants would readily marry a Dane."[thank god]
"Forced marriages, promising a newborn daughter in Denmark to a male cousin in the home country, then compelling her to marry him, sometimes on pain of death, is one problem.:
"Muslim leaders openly declare their goal of introducing Islamic law once Denmark 's Muslim population grows large enough, a not-that-remote prospect. If present trends persist, one sociologist estimates that every third inhabitant of Denmark in 40 years will be Muslim.'"
It is easy to understand why a growing number of Danes would feel that Muslim immigrants show little respect for Danish values and laws.
An example is the phenomenon common to other European countries and Canada: some Muslims in Denmark who opted to leave the Muslim faith have been murdered in the name of Islam, while others hide in fear for their lives. Jews are also threatened and harassed openly by Muslim leaders in Denmark, a country where once Christian citizens worked to smuggle out nearly all of their 7,000 Jews by night to Sweden during the Nazis occupation in World War II. I think of my Danish friend Elsa, who as a teen-ager, had dreaded crossing the street to the bakery every morning under the eyes of occupying Nazi soldiers, and I wonder what she would say today.
In 2001, Denmark elected the most conservative government in some 70 years: one that had some decidedly non-generous ideas about liberal unfettered immigration. Today, Denmark has the strictest immigration policies in Europe. Its effort to protect itself has been met with accusations of 'racism' by liberal media across Europe, even as other governments struggle to right the social problems wrought by years of lax immigration.
If you wish to become Danish, you must attend three years of language classes. You must pass a test on Denmark 's history and culture, and a Danish language test.
-- You must live in Denmark for 7 years before applying for citizenship.
-- You must demonstrate an intent to work, and have a job waiting.
If you wish to bring a spouse into Denmark, you must both be over 24 years of age, however you won't find it so easy anymore to move your friends and family to Denmark with you.
You will not be allowed to build a mosque in Copenhagen. Although your children have a choice of some 30 Arabic culture and language schools in Denmark, they will be strongly encouraged to assimilate to Danish society in ways that past immigrants weren't.
In 2006, the Danish minister for employment, Claus Hjort Frederiksen, spoke publicly of the burden of Muslim immigrants on the Danish welfare system, and it was horrifying: the government's welfare committee had calculated that if immigration from Third World countries were blocked, 75 percent of the cuts needed to sustain the huge welfare system in coming decades would be unnecessary. In other words, the welfare system, as it existed, was being exploited by immigrants to the point of eventually bankrupting the government. "We are simply forced to adopt a new policy on immigration. . . . the calculations of the welfare committee are terrifying and show how unsuccessful the integration of immigrants has been up to now," he said.
A large thorn in the side of Denmark's imams is the Minister of Immigration and Integration, Rikke Hvilshoj. She makes no bones about the new policy toward immigration, "The number of foreigners coming to the country makes a difference'. Hvilshoj says, "There is an inverse correlation between how many come here and how well we can receive the foreigners that come." And on Muslim immigrants needing to demonstrate a willingness to blend in, "In my view, Denmark should be a country with room for different cultures and religions. Some values, however, are more important than others. We refuse to question democracy, equal rights, and freedom of speech."
Hvilshoj has paid a price for her show of backbone. Perhaps to test her resolve, the leading radical imam in Denmark, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, demanded that the government pay blood money to the family of a Muslim who was murdered in a suburb of Copenhagen, stating that the family's thirst for revenge could be thwarted for money. When Hvilshoj dismissed his demand, he argued that in Muslim culture the payment of retribution money was common, to which Hvilshoj replied that what is done in a Muslim country is not necessarily what is done in Denmark.
The Muslim reply came soon after: her house was torched while she, her husband and children slept. All managed to escape unharmed, but she and her family were moved to a secret location and she and other ministers were assigned bodyguards for the first time in a country where such murderous violence was once so scarce.
Her government has slid to the right, and her borders have tightened. Many believe that what happens in the next decade will determine whether Denmark survives as a bastion of good living, humane thinking and social responsibility, or whether it becomes a nation at civil war with supporters of Sharia law.
Meanwhile, Canadians clamor for stricter immigration policies, and demand an end to state welfare programs that allow many immigrants to live on the public dole. As we in Canada look at the enclaves of Muslims amongst us, and see those who enter our shores too easily, dare live on our taxes, yet refuse to embrace our culture, respect our traditions, participate in our legal system, obey our laws, speak our language, appreciate our history. We would do well to look to Denmark, and say a prayer for her future and for our own."
Facing History -- And Ourselves, If By Ourselves We Mean Those Who Wilfully Refuse To Recognize What Is Going On
French Teacher Suspended for Spending Too Much Time Teaching Holocaust
September 02, 2010
A history teacher has been suspended in France for spending too much time teaching students about the Holocaust.
Catherine Pederzoli, 58, a secondary school teacher who is Jewish, was accused of teaching the subject with insufficient neutrality for both her time dedicated to teaching about the Holocaust and trips she organized to former Nazi death camps, Pederzoli's attorney Christine Tadic told Agence France-Presse. [what would be a "neutral" way of teaching about the murders of European Jewry?]
"If this teacher had been a Christian, no one would have accused her of brain-washing," Tadic said. "Isn't it the case that this teacher's fault is to have been Jewish?"
A report compiled by school officials last month alleged that Pederzoli took up too much time preparing students for the annual school trips to Poland and the Czech Republic and accuses her of "lacking distance, neutrality and secularism" and "brain-washing" in teaching the Holocaust, AFP reported.[is she perhaps paying the price for a "secularism" that really has Islam in its sites? If so, why? Is it really necessary?]
Tadic told the AFP that her client organized the trips for 15 years with no complaints and was unfairly targeted by a new school management team that arrived in 2007. [more about that "new school management team" please]
Authorities suspect Pederzoli of inciting a protest staged by some of her students in December after the school reduced the number of destinations on the Holocaust field trips, the AFP reported.
Judges have two weeks to decide whether or not to grant Pederzoli a court injunction to annul the suspension.
Kulula is an Airline with head office situated in Johannesburg.
Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety
lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real
examples that have been heard or reported:
(On a Kulula flight, there is no assigned seating, you sit where you want).
On one flight, passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"
On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.
"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite."
"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an
emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our
An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered
his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which
required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers
exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said
that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the
passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.
Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking
with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said,
"Did we land, or were we shot down?"
"Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business
as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."
Come And Get It: Now It's Yemen's Turn For Still More American Aid
US looks at bolstering funding for Yemeni military
(AFP) - 2 days ago
WASHINGTON - US commanders have proposed spending up to 1.2 billion dollars over five years on Yemen's security forces, reflecting US worries about Al-Qaeda's presence in the region, officials said Thursday.
US Central Command, which oversees American forces in the Middle East, has called for the major investment despite persistent concerns about corruption in Yemen.
The Pentagon said no final decision had been taken yet on Central Command's proposal for the 2012 federal budget, and that officials from the State and Defense departments were discussing aid for Yemen.
"It's premature to predict the precise nature or amount of assistance that might come out of this process," spokesman Bryan Whitman told AFP.
But he told reporters Al-Qaeda's network in Yemen "poses a serious and growing terrorist threat to Yemeni, US and regional interests."
US authorities blamed a plot to blow up a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day last year on the Yemen-based branch, known as Al-Qaeda on the Arabian peninsula.
The proposed funding increase was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said most of the funds called for by US Central Command would go towards military equipment and training for Yemeni forces.
Some US diplomats, however, are wary of pouring too much money into military assistance without also building up civilian development aid, designed to undermine public backing for Islamist militants, the paper said.
Whitman said the US government had adopted a "holistic approach" to Yemen and that security aid was coupled with civilian assistance to help the country with "political and economic and social challenges."
He added "the US is also providing significant development and humanitarian assistance" to Yemen.
US military assistance has expanded dramatically in recent years, Whitman said, with 155 million dollars for the 2010 fiscal year.
The aid has included military helicopters, patrol boats, trucks and training, while American special forces also work with Yemeni forces to target Al-Qaeda leaders.
The United States is increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Al-Qaeda in Yemen and is moving to ramp up pressure on the militants, a counter-terrorism official said last week.
US officials are reportedly considering stepping up drone bombing raids against Al-Qaeda figures in Yemen, a tactic widely used against militants in Pakistan.
Predictable High-Sounding Bernard-Henri-Levyish Crap From Tahar Ben Jelloun (He Knows That The Real Issue Is Not The Rom, But Muslims And What Sensible Measures Of Self-Defense Can Be Taken In France And Elsewhere)
Lettre au président de la République, par Tahar Ben Jelloun
Monsieur le Président,
J'ai la chance de bénéficier de deux nationalités. Je suis marocain et français depuis 1991. Je suis heureux d'appartenir à deux pays, deux cultures, deux langues et je vis cela comme un enrichissement permanent. Depuis vos déclarations de Grenoble sur la possibilité de déchoir de la nationalité française une personne qui aurait commis un délit grave, je sens ma nationalité française quelque peu menacée, en tout cas fragilisée. Non que j'aie l'intention de tomber dans la délinquance et de troubler gravement l'ordre public, mais je vis cela comme une attaque du socle fondamental du pays, sa Constitution. Et cela, Monsieur le Président n'est pas admissible dans une démocratie, un Etat de droit comme la France qui reste malgré tout le pays des droits de l'homme, pays qui a accueilli et sauvé des centaines de milliers d'exilés politiques tout au long du siècle dernier.
Vous aviez déclaré en 2004, quand vous étiez ministre de l'intérieur qu'"à chaque délit, il doit y avoir une réponse ferme. Mais celle-ci ne peut varier selon que l'on est, sur sa carte d'identité, français ou non". Le président que vous êtes aujourd'hui contredit le ministre que vous avez été. Cela m'amène à réfléchir à la fonction qui est la vôtre et à répondre tardivement au débat qu'un de vos ministres a cru bon de lancer sur la scène publique à propos de l'identité nationale.
La nationalité est une part de l'identité. Elle peut être double, comme dans mon cas. Je ne me vois pas privé de l'une des deux. Je me sentirais diminué.
Par ailleurs, aucune société n'est raciste en soi. C'est stupide et injuste de dire que "la France est un pays raciste". La France, comme tant d'autres pays, est traversée par des tendances à l'exclusion et au racisme, parfois pour des raisons idéologiques et politiques, et d'autres fois pour des raisons de malaise social, de pauvreté et de peur. Faire l'amalgame entre insécurité et immigration est plus qu'une erreur, une faute.
Le rôle d'un dirigeant politique est de décourager, voire empêcher le développement de ces tendances. Un chef d'Etat ne doit pas réagir avec ses humeurs et ses tripes. Au contraire, il n'est pas un citoyen qui peut se permettre de dire n'importe quoi. C'est quelqu'un qui doit peser ses mots et mesurer les conséquences qu'ils peuvent générer. L'Histoire enregistre ses déclarations, les bonnes et les mauvaises, les justes et les malvenues. Votre quinquennat sera certainement marqué par quelques-unes de vos bavures langagières. N'importe quel homme insulté a le droit de réagir. Pas un chef d'Etat. Non pas qu'on soit autorisé à vous manquer de respect, mais vous devez vous situer au-delà du niveau du citoyen moyen. Vous êtes un symbole, porteur d'une fonction noble et exceptionnelle. Pour habiter cette fonction, pour consolider cette ambition, il faut savoir prendre de la hauteur et ne pas coller aux faits au point d'oublier qu'on est un citoyen d'exception.
Qu'il soit issu d'un parti défendant des valeurs de droite ou de gauche, le chef de l'Etat, parce qu'élu au suffrage universel, doit être le président de tous les Français, y compris des Français d'origine étrangère même quand le malheur casse leur destin ou les prédispose à une précarité pathogène. Or, vos récentes déclarations, dénoncées par un éditorial du New York Times et par des personnalités aussi importantes que Robert Badinter, sont le signe d'un dérapage qui, peut-être vous apporterait en 2012 certaines voix du Front national, mais vous place dans une situation difficilement défendable.
Monsieur le Président, je comprends votre souci sécuritaire. Vous ne trouverez personne pour défendre des voyous qui tirent sur des agents de la police et de la gendarmerie. La justice est là pour donner "une réponse ferme" à ces délits ; ils doivent être jugés sans que leurs origines, leur religion ou leur couleur de peau soient prises en compte, sinon, on tomberait dans l'apartheid. Mais la répression ne suffit pas. Il faudra aller aux racines du mal et assainir de manière définitive la situation dramatique des banlieues.
Il est plus facile de susciter la méfiance, voire la haine de l'étranger, que le respect mutuel. Un chef d'Etat n'est pas un policier au statut amélioré. C'est un magistrat, le plus haut placé, donc celui devant être irréprochable dans sa conduite et dans ses paroles. Il est le garant de la justice et de l'Etat de droit. Quand, Monsieur le Président, vous promettez la déchéance de la nationalité aux délinquants d'origine étrangère qui porteraient atteinte à la vie d'un policier ou d'un gendarme, vous tenez un discours que la Constitution réfute. C'est une parole en l'air, car vous savez pertinemment que l'application d'une telle loi, si elle est votée, créerait plus de problèmes qu'elle n'en résoudrait. Ce n'était pas à vous de lancer cette menace.
Monsieur Le Président, vous n'êtes pas sans savoir ce que l'ONG Transparence France a écrit dans son dernier rapport. Au cas où cela vous aurait échappé, je vous cite une de ses conclusions : "La France continue de véhiculer une image relativement dégradée de sa classe politique et de son administration publique." La France est par ailleurs classée au 24e rang sur 180 pays en ce qui concerne la corruption. [what's that have to do with the price of eggs? ]
La crise économique n'est pas une excuse.[no, it isn't. No excuse is needed to deal with immigrants who cause trouble, and who cannot possibly be integrated. They are owed nothing by the French. There is no right to settle anywhere you please. End of story.] La crise morale est un fait. Il revient à vous, Monsieur le Président, de rétablir l'image de la France dans ce qu'elle a de plus beau, d'enviable et d'universel, à savoir son statut de pays des droits de l'homme, pays de la solidarité et de la fraternité proclamées, ['what "universalism" is possible when Islam itself is based on a clear division of all humanity into Believers and Unbelievers, Muslims and Infidels, and teaches that a state of permanent war, though not always open warfare, must exist between the two?] terre généreuse, riche de ses différences, riche de ses couleurs et de ses épices, prouvant entre autres que l'islam est tout à fait compatible avec la démocratie et la laïcité.[is that what the last five decades have proven? That Islam is "entirely compatible with democracy and the laic state? Nothing of the sort has been proven. In fact, all over Western Europe, and especially in those two countries -- the Netherlands and Denmark , which -- supremely laic and supremely democratic, have elevated Tolerance and Diversity to the level of state religions -- we have seen, it has been shown, that Muslims, as long as they take Islam to heart, are incapable of integration into any Infidel nation-sate, and pose a permanent threat to the legal and political institutions, and to the physical security, and to the economic wellbeing, of those who so generously, and out of ignorance, allowed them to enter and to settle, deep behind what Muslims themselves are taught to regard as enemy lines. And even though the French taxpayers, and other Western taxpayers, support millions of ungrateful and hostile Muslim immigrants at a cost of many tens of billions of dollars annually, while these same Muslim immigrants exhibit the highest rates of unemployment (the women in any case stay home to breed, at rates 3-4 times higher than non-Mulsims) and criminality, while taking every advantage of the free medical care and free education and free or greatly-subsidized housing). This can't go on, not anywhere in the Western world. But let's get back to forehead-clutching Tahar Ben Jelloun, whose little book on "racism," readers may need to be reminded, which was intended to instruct the young, focussed on only one kind of racism -- that is, anti-Arab feeling which, one might note, is not directed at Arabic-speaking Christians -- Copts and Maronites and Assyrians and Chaldeans, and surely has to to, therefore, not with "Arabs" but with Muslim Arabs.'
Pour cela, Monsieur Le Président, effacez, je vous prie, de votre discours les idées malheureuses qu'un parti d'extrême droite diffuse dans le but de fermer ce pays sur lui-même, de l'isoler et de trahir ses valeurs fondamentales.
NEW YORK - American Muslims are boosting security at mosques, seeking help from leaders of other faiths and airing ads underscoring their loyalty to the United States - all ahead of a 9/11 anniversary they fear could bring more trouble for their communities.
Their goal is not only to protect Muslims, but also to prevent them from retaliating if provoked. One Sept. 11 protest in New York against the proposed mosque near ground zero is expected to feature Geert Wilders, the aggressively anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker. The same day in Gainesville, Fla., the Dove World Outreach Center plans to burn copies of the Quran.
Allah knows, if Muslims become violent, it will be because they were provoked. We had our chance to live in peace with them, and we blew it.
"We're telling everyone to keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious to authorities and call us," said Ramzy Kilic of the Tampa, Fla., chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Islamic centers as far away as Tennessee and California faced protests and vandalism. In western New York, police said a group of teenagers recently yelled obscenities, set off a car alarm and fired a shotgun during two nights of drive-by harassment at a small-town mosque near Lake Ontario. [Sounds like my former neighbors. Maybe they were Islamophobophobes. ]