These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 5, 2009.
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Taliban Threatens To Behead Canadian Muslim
This is surprising. Khadija Abdul Qahaar runs a blatantly pro-jihad website with a left twist, called Jihad Unspun. It's one of the best Islamic propaganda sites around. If she survives this ordeal, I wonder if she'll change her tune and go back to being Beverly Giesbrecht...I doubt it. From the Montreal Gazette (h/t:Jihad Watch):
Taliban militants who are holding a Canadian woman hostage in Pakistan say they will kill her if their demand for a $2-million ransom is not met by Sunday, according to a report from a Pakistani newspaper.
The latest threat against Khadija Abdul Qahaar was made in a pamphlet circulated in parts of North Waziristan, a mountainous region of northwest Pakistan, The International News reported.
Last month, the militants released a video in which the 52-year-old Qahaar pleaded for help, saying her captives planned to behead her if the ransom wasn’t paid.
“Time is very short and my life is going to end,” she said on the video, pointing at a long knife hanging behind her.
The militants set a March 31 deadline, which they later extended to April 3.
They say the new deadline of April 5 is final.
The former West Vancouver resident was kidnapped in November along with three guides while travelling to record video.
Qahaar, who changed her name from Beverly Giesbrecht after converting to Islam in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, is the owner and publisher of a controversial pro-Islamic web magazine called Jihad Unspun, which is registered to a West Vancouver address.
Qahaar’s website was criticized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, which flagged it as "a Canadian pro-terrorist website."
In the new pamphlets, the militants charged that Qahaar was not a journalist but rather a spy sent by the Canadian government.
“Under the Islamic laws, her punishment is death,” the pamphlet reads, according to the newspaper report...
Posted on 04/05/2009 7:01 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Michelle Obama: WAG In Chief
Barack Obama is as yet unproven, and so far not particularly impressive. But on Michelle Obama, my mind is made up. She is a brash mediocrity, with a sense of grievance and of entitlement, both nursed by “affirmative action”. There was something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on until Yusuf Smith nailed it for me: she is a WAG. Wikipedia defines WAG, a term Americans may not know, as follows:
WAGs (or Wags) is an acronym used particularly (but not exclusively) by the British tabloid press to describe the Wives And Girlfriends of high-profile footballers, originally the England national football team. It came into common use during the 2006 World Cup, held in Germany, although it had been used occasionally before that.
WAGs are generally blonde, which Michelle Obama, is not – if she were she would not have got into Princeton. Yusuf Smith, right about nearly everything except Islam, agrees:
Yesterday, while Barack Obama was discussing how to save the world economy with Gordon Brown, Berlusconi et al, Michelle Obama put in a planned, but mostly unannounced, visit to a girls' school in Islington, north London. You can read a synopsis of what she said here and there are various videos of bits of it available. She told the girls that when she was at school, she did not "cut class" because she loved getting A's and thought smart was cool, and that "whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude". I have a few reservations about it, however, concerning how realistic an example she is of a high-achieving woman.
To put it simply, Michelle Obama's distinction now is being a powerful man's wife, a type of female role which has existed in every generation, and like all such roles, you don't get it by doing well at school. While some American First Ladies have had independent careers (e.g. Lady Bird Johnson in broadcasting, Hillary Clinton in law), others were previously undistinguished (e.g. Laura Bush), even if they became well-known as campaigners on one issue or another. Unlike Cherie Blair, for example, who is a renowned human rights lawyer (some of whose activities have been called embarrassing to her husband), Michelle Obama has actually drastically reduced her independent professional activities since her husband started his campaign to become President. And London girls' schools don't often feature speeches by Chicago intellectual property lawyers and hospital executives.
[A]t a time when one of the biggest problems is the lack of ambition, and the aspiration to be famous for its own sake or to be so-called WAGs (wives and girlfriends of famous men), surely some people will have questioned whether there was some incongruity in a speech of this type being delivered by a First Lady, even one of working-class Black background. Some would surely have taken the message that doing well was less important for a woman than marrying well (not that choosing one's partner wisely is a bad lesson in itself, but I am sure that is not what they had in mind). I hope the teachers encouraged some discussion in the school about this issue.
Behind every successful man, joked Les Dawson among others, there stands an astonished mother-in-law. The helpmeet, muse, power behind the throne – whatever you like to call it – has always been with us. She helps a powerful or talented man fulfil his potential, and massages his ego. Sometimes she is intelligent in her own right, but nobly – or stupidly, in my opinion - sacrifices her mind and her ambitions for his. Sometimes she is just a gold-digger. Either way, it is not a role I admire – such women tend to be hostile to other women, and are pretty much interchangeable – and certainly not one that young women should aspire to.
Posted on 04/05/2009 7:52 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 5 April 2009
There is something clinical and creepy about Switzerland, with its wartime "neutrality" and its Nazi gold - a country where you can't flush the toilet between midnight and seven o'clock. Never trust a country that's too pretty - look at Austria. Creepiest of all things Swiss is Dignitas, the Zurich-based assisted suicide organisation. Jenny McCartney:
Mr Minelli is the founder and director of Dignitas, the Swiss-based organisation that provides a team of doctors and nurses to administer painless deaths on request. He is also a radical on matters of death: he not only regards it as a human right, but appears eager to expand his client base.
He described death as: "without conditions. A human right is without any conditions except capacity". And he dismissed the British understanding that euthanasia should be restricted to the terminally ill: "As a human rights lawyer I am opposed to paternalism. We do not make decisions for other people."
On the contrary, however, suicide has plenty of conditions, not least the question of the scorched hole it blasts in the lives of those left standing around it. And Mr Minelli, despite his protestations, seems unusually keen to take immense decisions for other people: for once someone, healthy or not, has firmly expressed the wish to die, he appears perfectly happy for his team to be complicit in the business of killing them off.
He went on to describe suicide as "a marvellous possibility," and even offered an economic argument for the efficiency of his clinic. "For every 50 suicide attempts we have one suicide and the others are failing, with huge costs to the National Health Service". Mr Minelli appears to be arguing that if these aspiring suicides had attended the Dignitas clinic, every last one of them could have been finished off neatly and permanently, with no prospect of messy recoveries to trouble the state's purse-strings.
The truth is, of course, that many people attempt suicide at a particularly low point – sometimes as a distress signal – and then receive treatment, recover, and go on to lead broadly happy and productive lives. Emotion, that powerful engine of despair, is notoriously prone to a change of direction. This possibility appears not to be of concern to Dignitas, so long as the client has legally confirmed his or her intentions.
There is also a troubling contradiction at the heart of one of Mr Minelli's arguments, that he is perfectly entitled to facilitate the suicide of the mentally unwell. On the one hand mental illness is deemed to be an unbearable source of distress that justifies an exit strategy; on the other, such people are held to be of sufficiently ordered mind to consent to assisted dying. You might say that Mr Minelli can't have it both ways, but then he doesn't appear to mind much which way he has it.
Like most other people, I feel compassion for those like the parents of 23-year-old Daniel James, who took their son to Dignitas last year after he chose to die following extensive paralysis in a rugby accident. It would have been cruel and unnecessary of the British authorities to have pursued them. I also believe that the common practice whereby hospital doctors increase morphine to terminally ill patients in extreme and hopeless pain, even to the point of inducing death, is a humane one. Yet these are very specific circumstances, which do not require the authorities to legislate further, but to have the common sense to turn a blind eye.
The only argument for "assisted dying" for the terminally ill is this: that the disabling effects of their illness make it physically impossible to commit suicide without the help of others. Thus, while one might think their suicide a wrong decision, one can at least sympathise with the desire to have, in extremis, the choice always available to the able-bodied. I cannot see any necessity or logic, however, for assisting the physically well to die.
Yet I suppose we should be grateful for Mr Minelli's chilling frankness, which will surely have led even those who, to quote Keats, are increasingly "half in love with easeful death" to think again. For beneath that soothing, conscience-smoothing title of Dignitas, what we heard issuing last week was not the honouring of humanity, but the bleak denial of it.
The Times reported last year on the "murky truth" behind this organisation. I hope we never get anything like it over here.
Posted on 04/05/2009 8:07 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Cartoon strip aimed at under-12s depicts Christian boy as Islamaphobe thug
The whole political correctness atmosphere which surrounds the child care regime in this country needs serious review. This is just the least of the many, many, things wrong with it.
From The Mail on Sunday
A Government-funded charity was at the centre of a row last night after a magazine it publishes for children appeared to depict Christians as Islamaphobes who regard Muslims as terrorists.
In a cartoon strip, a boy wearing a large cross around his neck is shown telling a friend that a smiling Muslim girl in a veil looks like a terrorist.
He later confronts her and shouts: ‘Hey, whatever your name is, what are you hiding under your turban?’
She replies that the garment is called a hijab and it is part of her religion, ‘like that cross you wear’.
The girl is then shown standing up for another boy, who is being bullied, and her behaviour is contrasted with that of the boy wearing the cross.
The cartoon story, entitled Standing Up For What You Believe In, appears in the latest issue of Klic!, a quarterly magazine aimed at children in care aged from eight to 12.
Published by the Who Cares? Trust, a charity set up in 1992, it is described on the cover as ‘the best ever mag for kids in care’ and is widely distributed by town halls.
The charity received £100,000 from the Department for Children, Schools and Families, headed by Ed Balls, in both 2007 and 2008, and £80,000 this year.
Mike Judge, of the Christian Institute, said: ‘What about Christian children in care who received this magazine? How will they feel to see themselves mocked as narrow-minded Islamaphobes? It is a clumsy caricature, symptomatic of a culture which says it is OK to bully Christians in the name of diversity.’
Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP for Kettering, said: ‘I think it is very unfortunate that the lad who is pointing the finger is wearing a cross. You can hardly imagine anyone producing a magazine in which the roles were reversed and it was the Muslim girl who was behaving badly.’
Gary Streeter, the Tory MP for South West Devon, said the religious parody was ‘unacceptable’, adding: ‘If it is being done with public money, it should be investigated and the magazine withdrawn.’
But Who Cares? Trust chief executive Natasha Finlayson said she had no intention of withdrawing it, ". . . when a woman called us (with a complaint), I went back and looked at the comic strip from her point of view,’ Ms Finlayson said.
‘I am sorry that she is upset but I don’t share her view. When I saw the cartoon, I didn’t think of that character being a Christian because I saw the cross as ‘bling’, as jewellery. To me it is a cartoon about bullying rather than discrimination or religion.’
She may see it as bling (which anyway is a black fashion, and the boy in the cartoon is clearly white, bling also usually involves lots of diamonds and is rarely a single piece.) but the girls sees it as the religious symbol that it really is. I have just come back from a Palm Sunday service when we held the cross aloft and walked into the street.
This is pure anti Christian propaganda which I find very offensive.
Posted on 04/05/2009 8:13 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 5 April 2009
A Musical Interlude: You're Driving Me Crazy (Rudy Vallee)
Posted on 04/05/2009 10:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Just A Few Beginning With E
"We feel it is vital to give our women, our minorities, our less fortunate a sense of real empowerment."
"Her newly-acquired skill set did so much to empower her."
"Parents are empowered to safeguard their children against eating disorders."
"Can't you just feel the energy in this room?"
"His late poems have such energy."
"There is so much energy and good will for a bus service between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill."
"Obama's trip has caused admiration among young Europeans for America to increase exponentially."
"The price of homes in southern California over the past decade went up exponentially."
"Salaries for America's wealthiest 1% went up exponentially, while the real wages of workers remained static.".
No. No. And No.
Posted on 04/05/2009 8:27 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
What Gives America The Right To Force Turkey On The E.U.?
Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy do not see eye-to-eye on Turkey. Sarkozy does not want Turkey admitted to the E.U. Nor does Angela Merkel. Nor do the leaders of italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, or Great Britain. Nor, one suspects, does any leader in any of the member-states of the E.U. What about their citizens? They, too, seem distinctly unenthusiastic about admitting, as what would be the most populous member of the E.U., a country that is not only 99% Muslim, but that is becoming less Kemalist, and more truly Muslim, every day.
But Barack Obama, and those who advise him, possess the o'erweening presumption to attempt to tell the people and nations of Western Europe that, because Turkey as a "moderate Muslim state" needs to be further "anchored" in the Western world, those worried about 80 million additional Muslims in Western Europe, free to move about from country to country without a visa-- and how many others, assorted Muslims from outside Turkey, will be able to slip in disguised as Turks while the hopelessly understaffed border guards of Western Europe have no idea how to distinguish a Turk from, say, an Azeri from northern Iran, or even from an Arab from, say, northern Syria or northern Iraq. The problem that European nations now face with those endless boatloads of people, Muslims and sub-Saharan Africans --crossing the sea, would be increased with immigrants flowing in, ceaselessly, from Turkey, without even that sea as a minimal barrier.
What would any American government think if, say, the government of France told it that it had a "duty" to open its southern border to anyone at all from Mexico, because that would "anchor" Mexico in the North American sphere, and then not only would thrity million Mexicans cross the border, but so too might tens of millons of others, from elsewhere in Latin America, who could more readily posee as "Mexicans" just as, in the case of Turkey in the E.U., could many non-Turkish Kurds, Azeris, Arabs, and other Muslims who might appear in France, or Italy, or England, with even greater ease, and in even greater numbers, than they manage to do, with such impunity, today.
Posted on 04/05/2009 10:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Paul Bowles On How Muslims Think Of Christians
Morocco used to be a place where Western homosexuals liked to go. Gide, for example, who makes much of the Arab catamites of north Africa. Or Juan Goytisolo, who after a most unhappy mariage blanc left his wife and moved to Morocco, for what he fondly believed was "Muslim tolerance" of practices that "Catholic" Spain would never tolerate, and descended into the madness of malevolent anti-Israel attitudes that, for all I know, may have had less to do with going native than with the resentment he quite unnecessarily directed at his former wife, Monique Lange, a relative of, inter alia, Proust and Bergson and Emanuel Berl (a philosopher, a brave resistant, and the husband of the French singer-songwriter known as Mireille).
Perhaps beginning to see the light, Goytisolo may toward the end of his life beginning to learn learning that Morocco isn’t the permanent paradise he took it to be. If he wants the kind of toleration that will last, perhaps he should move to Israel, the country he loves to hate.
But far better known than Goytisolo, among the Western homosexuals who chose Morocco as their home, is an American writer, the late Paul Bowles. Bowles moved to Tangier, when it was still under the control of Europeans, and when its population contained many French and Spanish as well as Berbers and Arabs. In later life he would complain about how dull Tangier, and the rest of Morocco, had become, once the Westerners, or most of them, had left. By dull he meant culturally, dull in all the ways that might matter. No doubt there was always the excitement generated by the hysteria of the street, and those voices always so much louder than those in the West, so often, just below the surface of sluggish inshallah-fatalism, restraining a hysteria that can be brought easily to the surface by a word or a look.
Bowles was no fool about Islam. Here is what he said in a late interview:
"INTERVIEWER: But isn't there a special psychological dimension to the situation of a foreigner living in Morocco? It seems to me that a foreigner here is often looked upon automatically as a kind of victim.
BOWLES: Well, he is a victim. The Moroccans wouldn't use the word. They'd say "a useful object." They believe that they, as Moslems, are the master group in the world, and that God allows other religious groups to exist principally for them to manipulate. That seems to be the average man's attitude. Since it's not expressed as a personal opinion but is tacitly accepted by all, I don't find it objectionable. Once a thing like that is formulated you don't have to worry about the character of the person who professes it. It's no longer a question of whether or not he agrees with it as part of his personal credo."
Fifty years of living in Morocco, and Paul Bowles offers this clear-sighted summing-up:
"They believe that they, as Moslems, are the master group in the world, and that God allows other religious groups to exist principally for them to manipulate."
Print that out. Put that on your refrigerator. Send that into the Internet ether, to as many places as you can.
Posted on 04/05/2009 2:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
A Palm Sunday interlude
Evensong at my church this evening was the Easter excepts from Handel's Messiah sung by our choir and a local orchestra. A sixth former sang the aria I Know that My Redeemer Liveth.
This is by the soprano Dame Isobel Baillie, with The Huddersfield Choral Society and the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent, recorded at Huddersfield Town Hall in 1946.
My husband's grandmother may well have been in the audience, which is why I chose this out of many admirable alternative reditions.
Posted on 04/05/2009 5:03 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Denmark's Somali Problems
There have been similar problems in Shelbyville, TN, where there are 1,000 Somalis in a town of 17,000. The locals describe them as being very aggressive. In Nashville there is a preponderance of Somali taxi drivers one of whom ran over a customer who had objected when the Somali driver had endorsed Hitler's program of extermination for the Jews. In Denmark, the Danish cabbies don't want to pick them up. This comes from Islam In Europe:
JydskeVestkysten newspaper writes that taxi drivers in Kolding (Denmark) think it's too dangerous to drive with Somalis, and so hare now boycotting all rides with Somalis.
They know that they're not allowed to discriminate by ethnic origin, and the drivers risk therefore a criminal case and a fine of 500-1000 kroner. They can also be sued for compensation. Similar cases were awarded compensation of up to 50,000 kroner.
The head of the city's biggest taxi company, Krone Taxi, supports his driver's decision.
Hans Jørgen Aarøe told JydskeVestkysten that there's barely any driver who dares drive with Somalis anymore. The Somalis have given them many problems, they kick their cars if they think they're in the way, they spit, threaten the driver, and skip paying. So he's full of understanding for the drivers.
The drivers of the city's other taxi company, Kolding Taxa, also lost any wish to pick up Somalis.
Nightclubs in the city also reject Somalis. They're aware it's illegal to generalize and ban the Somalis entrance only based on their nationality, but even so, there's zero tolerance towards the ethnic group of Somalis.
Peter Jørgensen, owner of the New York nightclub in Kolding told jv.dk that they don't want Somalis. They make a lot of ruckus. They steal bags, hit the doorman, and bring knives with them.
They're not the only ones banned from New York, but they're the only ones who don't understand that they should keep away, says Peter Jørgensen.
He tells of a fight between a Somali who was banned from the club, and an ethnic Dane. The Somali pulled out a knife and went for the head and neck of the Dane. The Dane was a bodybuilder type and was not injured.
New York's workers are also afraid. Peter Jørgensen says that several time his employees were attacked by Somalis. He has people who don't dare go out on the streets at night, because there's somebody after them. None of his employees consented to be interviewed, since they were afraid of being beaten up.
Peter Jørgensen says the police know which Somalis are the ones causing the trouble. He says they had run the police in the past when they had trouble, but the police didn't come when they heard it was Somalis...
Posted on 04/05/2009 5:06 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 5 April 2009
The Foreign Policy Of A Naif
"The United States and Europe must approach Muslims as our friends, neighbors and partners in fighting injustice, intolerance and violence, forging a relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interests," Obama told the summit.
"Moving forward toward Turkish membership in the EU would be an important signal of your (EU) commitment to this agenda and ensure that we continue to anchor Turkey firmly in Europe," he told EU leaders.
Why "must" the United States and Europe approach Muslims as "our friends" and "partners in fighting injustice, intolerance and violence"? Does Islam teach Muslims that they can be "friends" with non-Muslims, or does Islam inculcate the idea that Muslims must not "take Jews and Christians and friends"? And does Islam not further teach that a Muslim may feign friendship, for the greater good of Islam, with non-Muslims, but cannot offer real friendship?
Is not Islam based on the very idea of a permanent state of war between Muslim and Non-Muslim, Believer and Infidel? Does it not impose as a duty, central and not tangential, on all Muslims some kind of participation in the "struggle" or Jihad to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam, not only in Dar al-Islam, but in Dar al-Harb, the Domain or House of War, where Infidels as yet have not succumbed to Islam?
Does Barack Obama know any of this? Does he know it, but not believe it?
Does he know it, and does he believe it, but does he, and those advising him, think it best to pretend otherwise, and to collaborate in a dangerous game of misrepresenting Islam to Infidels, including those imperiled in Western Europe by the previous acts of nearly criminal negligence on the part of their own political and media elites, that allowed so many Muslims, so thoughtlessly, to settle deep behind what Muslims themselves are taught to regard as enemy lines?
At best, Obama is a naif. At worst, he -- or those putting him up to this -- are shallow calculators, tinhorn Machiavels who are simply not up to the task of defending the Infidel world against Muslims, against Islam.
And besides, when he utters such nonsense -- so easily disproved -- he increases distrust of American government, and causes not only American, but European Infidels, to become confused, and demoralized.
An unacceptable statement, unture in every particular except one: geographically, some Muslim states -- e.g. Turkey -- are indeed the "neighbours" of some Infidel lands. In just the same way, Germany under Hitler was a "neighbor" to Poland and to France. And the Soviet Union was a "neighbor" to the countries the Red Army subdued in Eastern Europe. And Communist China is a
"neighbour" to Tibet. So what?
Posted on 04/05/2009 10:17 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
A Musical Interlude: Of All The Wrongs (Peruna Jazzmen, voc. Eva Taylor)
Posted on 04/05/2009 10:31 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
From The BBC:
An ice bridge linking a shelf of ice the size of Jamaica to two islands in Antarctica has snapped.
Scientists say the collapse could mean the Wilkins Ice Shelf is on the brink of breaking away, and provides further evidence or rapid change in the region.
Sited on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Wilkins shelf has been retreating since the 1990s.
Researchers regarded the ice bridge as an important barrier, holding the remnant shelf structure in place.
Its removal will allow ice to move more freely between Charcot and Latady islands, into the open ocean.
European Space Agency satellite pictures had indicated last week that cracks were starting to appear in the bridge. Newly created icebergs were seen to be floating in the sea on the western side of the peninsula, which juts up from the continent towards South America's southern tip.
Professor David Vaughan is a glaciologist with the British Antarctic Survey who planted a GPS tracker on the ice bridge in January to monitor its movement.
He said the breaking of the bridge had been expected for some weeks; and much of the ice shelf behind is likely to follow.
"We know that [the Wilkins Ice Shelf] has been completely or very stable since the 1930s and then it started to retreat in the late 1990s; but we suspect that it's been stable for a very much longer period than that," he told BBC News.
"The fact that it's retreating and now has lost connection with one of its islands is really a strong indication that the warming on the Antarctic is having an effect on yet another ice shelf."
While the break-up will have no direct impact on sea level because the ice is floating, it heightens concerns over the impact of climate change on this part of Antarctica.
Over the past 50 years, the peninsula has been one of the fastest warming places on the planet.
Many of its ice shelves have retreated in that time and six of them have collapsed completely (Prince Gustav Channel, Larsen Inlet, Larsen A, Larsen B, Wordie, Muller and the Jones Ice Shelf).
Separate research shows that when ice shelves are removed, the glaciers and landed ice behind them start to move towards the ocean more rapidly. It is this ice which can raise sea levels, but by how much is a matter of ongoing scientific debate.
Such acceleration effects were not included by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when it made its latest projections on likely future sea level rise. Its 2007 assessment said ice dynamics were poorly understood.
Posted on 04/05/2009 2:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Shire Network News
This week Shire Network News talks to Dr Richard Cravatts, director of Boston University's Program in Publishing at the Center for Professional Education, who is currently writing a book entitled "Genocidal Liberalism: The University's Jihad Against Israel".
Posted on 04/05/2009 4:17 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Impossibly Demanding Pakistan
With conditions set on aid, Pakistan sharpens tone
ISLAMABAD (AP) — When U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke arrives in Pakistan this week he will be publicly feted for President Barack Obama's pledge of massive, long-term aid for a wobbling nation critical to America's strategy for turning around its the war in Afghanistan.
But the money doesn't come without conditions, and Pakistan — while eager for the funds to shore up its faltering economy and develop its ability to counter insurgents — is honing a list of questions that highlight significant differences over the right way to combat al-Qaida and its growing band of regional allies, officials and analysts say.
Holbrooke, Washington's special representative for the region, is expected in Islamabad on Monday, the first high-level U.S. visitor since Obama labeled Pakistan's border region "the most dangerous place in the world" for America because of the terrorists it houses, "almost certainly" including Osama bin Laden.
But Obama has warned that the pledge of $7.5 billion in civilian aid over five years will only be forthcoming if Pakistan demonstrates its commitment to uprooting al-Qaida and other violent extremists — comments that have done nothing for the often-strained relationship.
Islamabad points out the hundreds of Pakistani troops killed by militant attacks or in a series of ill-fated operations along the Afghan border since Pakistan dropped its support for the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
"We have sacrificed much more than they have sacrificed," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday. "We have sacrificed our soldiers. We have sacrificed our economy. What else do they want?"
What Washington says it wants is better cooperation from Pakistan's powerful but reluctant security establishment, especially the pivotal Inter-Services Intelligence agency. After months of leaks to U.S. newspapers, Holbrooke, U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen and other American officials have in the past week gone public with allegations that the ISI has sustained links with — and perhaps secretly aided — some militant groups, a charge vehemently denied by Islamabad.
There also seems little doubt that Washington expects stepped-up Pakistani military operations this year to complement those by the expanding American forces in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is accompanying Holbrooke, meaning the American delegation is likely to face the skepticism of Pakistan's military as well as of its political leaders. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad declined to give any details, citing security concerns. The two U.S. officials were in Kabul on Sunday.
Asif Ali Zardari, the pro-Western president atop Pakistan's year-old civilian government, has described Obama's aid pledge as "an endorsement of our call for economic and social uplift as a means to fight extremism."
More precisely, the American money, and billions more expected from other donors meeting in Tokyo on April 17, will help avert a sharper deterioration in an inflation-ridden economy from which many foreign investors have fled in the face of the violence and political uncertainty.
Analysts say discussion of up to $3 billion in aid over the same period to boost Pakistan's counterinsurgency forces will also go down well.
As well as boosting the army, the new package will "build up the paramilitary and police forces, which is quite critical to holding areas that the military clears," said Shuja Nawaz, director of the U.S.-based Atlantic Council.
David Petraeus, the four-star general overseeing the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, last week encouraged Congress to approve the aid package quickly, saying it would help persuade Pakistan of America's long-term commitment — reducing the temptation for Pakistan to hedge its bets in case of U.S. and NATO failure in Afghanistan.
Posted on 04/05/2009 2:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
The Leader As Nation Builder In A Time Of Globalisation
From this speech, from Tony Blair, you will learn nothing. You will have learned nothing.
Posted on 04/05/2009 2:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 5 April 2009
Massive Fraud At The Highest Levels
Here is a very interesting interview (thanks to Ares Demertzis):
BILL MOYERS: Welcome to the Journal.
For months now, revelations of the wholesale greed and blatant transgressions of Wall Street have reminded us that "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One." In fact, the man you're about to meet wrote a book with just that title. It was based upon his experience as a tough regulator during one of the darkest chapters in our financial history: the savings and loan scandal in the late 1980s.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: These numbers as large as they are, vastly understate the problem of fraud.
BILL MOYERS: Bill Black was in New York this week for a conference at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice where scholars and journalists gathered to ask the question, "How do they get away with it?" Well, no one has asked that question more often than Bill Black.
The former Director of the Institute for Fraud Prevention now teaches Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. During the savings and loan crisis, it was Black who accused then-house speaker Jim Wright and five US Senators, including John Glenn and John McCain, of doing favors for the S&L's in exchange for contributions and other perks. The senators got off with a slap on the wrist, but so enraged was one of those bankers, Charles Keating — after whom the senate's so-called "Keating Five" were named — he sent a memo that read, in part, "get Black — kill him dead." Metaphorically, of course. Of course.
Now Black is focused on an even greater scandal, and he spares no one — not even the President he worked hard to elect, Barack Obama. But his main targets are the Wall Street barons, heirs of an earlier generation whose scandalous rip-offs of wealth back in the 1930s earned them comparison to Al Capone and the mob, and the nickname "banksters."
Bill Black, welcome to the Journal.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Thank you.
BILL MOYERS: I was taken with your candor at the conference here in New York to hear you say that this crisis we're going through, this economic and financial meltdown is driven by fraud. What's your definition of fraud?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Fraud is deceit. And the essence of fraud is, "I create trust in you, and then I betray that trust, and get you to give me something of value." And as a result, there's no more effective acid against trust than fraud, especially fraud by top elites, and that's what we have.
BILL MOYERS: In your book, you make it clear that calculated dishonesty by people in charge is at the heart of most large corporate failures and scandals, including, of course, the S&L, but is that true? Is that what you're saying here, that it was in the boardrooms and the CEO offices where this fraud began?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah. Are you saying that Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover-up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely.
BILL MOYERS: You are.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Absolutely, because they are scared to death. All right? They're scared to death of a collapse. They're afraid that if they admit the truth, that many of the large banks are insolvent. They think Americans are a bunch of cowards, and that we'll run screaming to the exits. And we won't rely on deposit insurance. And, by the way, you can rely on deposit insurance. And it's foolishness. All right? Now, it may be worse than that. You can impute more cynical motives. But I think they are sincerely just panicked about, "We just can't let the big banks fail." That's wrong.
BILL MOYERS: But what might happen, at this point, if in fact they keep from us the true health of the banks?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, then the banks will, as they did in Japan, either stay enormously weak, or Treasury will be forced to increasingly absurd giveaways of taxpayer money. We've seen how horrific AIG -- and remember, they kept secrets from everyone.
BILL MOYERS: A.I.G. did?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: What we're doing with -- no, Treasury and both administrations. The Bush administration and now the Obama administration kept secret from us what was being done with AIG. AIG was being used secretly to bail out favored banks like UBS and like Goldman Sachs. Secretary Paulson's firm, that he had come from being CEO. It got the largest amount of money. $12.9 billion. And they didn't want us to know that. And it was only Congressional pressure, and not Congressional pressure, by the way, on Geithner, but Congressional pressure on AIG.
Where Congress said, "We will not give you a single penny more unless we know who received the money." And, you know, when he was Treasury Secretary, Paulson created a recommendation group to tell Treasury what they ought to do with AIG. And he put Goldman Sachs on it.
BILL MOYERS: Even though Goldman Sachs had a big vested stake.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive stake. And even though he had just been CEO of Goldman Sachs before becoming Treasury Secretary. Now, in most stages in American history, that would be a scandal of such proportions that he wouldn't be allowed in civilized society.
BILL MOYERS: Yeah, like a conflict of interest, it seems.
WILLIAM K. BLACK: Massive conflict of interests.
BILL MOYERS: So, how did he get away with it?
WILLIAM K. BLACK: I don't know whether we've lost our capability of outrage. Or whether the cover up has been so successful that people just don't have the facts to react to it. ...
Actually, Bird And Fortune have it right too: Financial Advisor (hat tip: Hugh Fitzgerald).
Posted on 04/05/2009 3:43 PM by Rebecca Bynum