These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 5, 2011.
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Burning the Koran
The BBC, the New York Daily News and The Guardian have a very low opinion of Muslims. Muslims, to them, are like rabid dogs, incapable of controlling their temper when provoked. Westerners, on the contrary, are a higher form of life, who must take responsibility, like the owner of a rabid dog. Brendan O'Neill in The Telegraph:
[Pastor Terry] Jones’s burning of the Koran was daft. But it did not directly cause “the tragic, deadly violence” in Afghanistan, as one Pentagon spokesman claimed. To suggest that it did, to argue that Jones has “blood on his hands”, as the New York Daily News put it, is to overlook the fact that there is an important bridge between words and actions. That bridge is us, people, the audience, the public, who are possessed of free will and thought and who must make a decision about whether, and how, to act on the words we hear. The idea that words lead directly to action, that the image of a burning Koran in the US leads inevitably to violence in Afghanistan, is to cut out these middle men and present speech as an all-powerful force that dictates world events.
Such an outlook is dangerous for two reasons. First because there would be no limits to the curbing and policing of speech if we all bought into the mad notion that it can directly cause other people’s deaths. If words really are so dangerous, then surely they should be treated as just another weapon, like gun and knives, whose usage must be tightly controlled by the cops and powers-that-be? Already, post-Koran controversy, some Democratic politicians in the US are hinting that the First Amendment, which guarantees free expression, might need to be rethought, since certain forms of speech “endanger the lives of a lot of innocent people”. The consequence of calling into question the free will of people who hear or read certain words is to generate an Orwellian rush to clamp down on anything judged to be “problematic speech”.
And the second problem with the “blame Jones” brigade is that it lets rioting Afghans off the hook. It says they’re not really responsible for the bloodshed they unleashed; Jones is. There’s a great irony here, because many of the commentators who make this argument do so in order to express their apparently enlightened and cosmopolitan sympathy with beleaguered Muslims in Afghanistan, yet in the process they patronisingly depict Afghans as overgrown children, as attack dogs almost, who hear a command or see an offensive image and act on it, robot-like. Modern-day liberal pity for Muslims would seem to be a comfortable bedfellow of the old-world colonial outlook: in both instances Third World people are treated as hapless, helpless creatures who must have their eyes and ears shielded from dodgy ideas.
The consequences of taking this approach to the Koran controversy are potentially dire. Just as in the Muhammad cartoons controversy, Western liberal politicians and thinkers are giving Muslims a licence to feel offended, a licence to go crazy; they are effectively legitimising violent responses to offensive images by saying: “It’s understandable. This is what happens when we fail to respect their culture.” Given a green light by self-flagellating Western observers, who will be surprised if groups of Muslims behave in a similar fashion next time someone pulps a Koran or depicts Muhammad as a goat?
While the Guardian-BBC access patronises and panders to Muslims, O'Neill and most readers of this site hold them to the same standard as we do non-Muslims, while pointing out how many fall short of that standard.
Was Terry Jones's action "daft"? Taken out of context it might have been; however, in the context of Islam today, it made the point, seen again and again, that far too many Muslims get violent if you say their holy book is violent. Christians can rise above the desecration of a Bible because their God is not mocked and requires his children to show forbearance. Allah, on the other hand, cannot take it, and commands his slaves to kill.
Posted on 04/05/2011 4:11 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Ozone Depletion In The Past Few Months
GENEVA — Record loss of the ozone — the atmosphere layer that shields life from the sun's harmful rays — has been observed over the Arctic in recent months, the World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday.
"Depletion of the ozone ... has reached an unprecedented level over the Arctic this spring because of the continuing presence of ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere and a very cold winter in the stratosphere," the WMO said in a statement.
Observations from the ground, balloons and satellites show that the region has suffered an ozone column loss of about 40 percent from the beginning of the winter to late March, according to the United Nations agency.
The highest ozone loss previously recorded over the Arctic, about 30 percent, occurred in several seasons over the past 15 years or so, according to a WMO spokeswoman.
"If the ozone depleted area moves away from the pole and towards lower latitudes one can expect increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation as compared to the normal for the season," WMO said, adding that the public should check their national UV forecasts.
But any increase in UV radiation over lower latitudes away from the Arctic — which could affect parts of Canada, Nordic countries, Russia and Alaska in the United States — would not be of the same intensity as one suffers in the tropics, it said.
Skin cancer link
UV-B rays have been linked to skin cancer, cataracts and damage to the human immune system. "Some crops and forms of marine life can also suffer adverse effects," the agency said.
The record ozone loss over the Arctic comes despite the "very successful" Montreal Protocol aimed at cutting production and consumption of ozone-destroying chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons, the WMO said.
The substances were once present in refrigerators, spray cans and fire extinguishers, but have been phased out.
Nevertheless, due to the long lifetimes of these compounds in the atmosphere, it will take several decades before their concentrations return to pre-1980 levels, the target laid down in the 1987 pact, it said.
Posted on 04/05/2011 7:53 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
In the beginning was the Word. But before that was the Conversation. From the BBC:
In the beginning was the word and the word was... good? Four hundred years after the publication of the King James Bible, philosopher AC Grayling has written a book which offers atheists a "bible" of their very own.
In The Good Book, Professor Grayling attempts to whisk together in one tome the wisdom of Ancient Greek philosophers, Confucian sages, medieval poets and the discoveries of modern science.
Without any reference to gods, souls or afterlives, it aims to give atheists a book of inspiration and guidance as they make their way in the world.
In place of the more well-known Ten Commandments, his atheist principles are: "Love well, seek the good in all things, harm no others, think for yourself, take responsibility, respect nature, do your utmost, be informed, be kind, be courageous."
Professor Grayling, the president elect of the British Humanist Association, is unambivalent about the biblical mission of his work.
"The point about the religious bible is that it purports to give us some direction. It contains the commands of a divinity wishing us to live a certain way," he says.
"In fact it has a message which is that there is one great truth and one right way to live.
"The modest offering of The Good Book is that there are as many good lives as there are people who have the talent to live them, and that people must take the responsibility for thinking for themselves and making that decision for themselves.
"What this book does is try and offer them resources for thinking about that."
Man does not live by resources alone. Let's compare old and new, on the subject of horticulture.
Authorised Version (or KJV to our American friends):
The Lord God commanded the man saying: Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
New improved God-free version:
In the garden stands a tree. In springtime it bears flowers; in the autumn, fruit. Its fruit is knowledge, teaching the good gardener how to understand the world. For it he learns how the tree grows from seed to sapling; from sapling to maturity, at last ready to offer more life. And from maturity to age and sleep, whence it returns to the elements of things.
The elements in turn feed new births; such is nature’s method, and its parallel with the course of humankind.
Such bloodless ecobabble makes you long for some smiting. The Telegraph has more:
The tome is divided into 14 books: Genesis, Wisdom, Parables, Concord, Lamentations, Consolations, Songs, Sages, Histories, Proverbs, The Lawgiver, Acts, Epistles and The Good. The last contains Grayling's humanist version of the Ten Commandments: "Love well; seek the good in all things; harm no others; help the needy; think for yourself; take responsibility; respect nature; do your utmost; be informed; be courageous."
"People will be offended, without even having read it. They will see it as a terrible act of arrogance. It absolutely isn't at all. Without being all Uriah Heep about it, it is modestly offered as a contribution to the conversation of mankind."
Humankind, surely? And is Uriah Heep Cockney rhyming slang for Lost Sheep?
Posted on 04/05/2011 11:31 AM by Mary Jackson
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
That Hectoring Self-Promoting Dope Tom Friedman
« NYT Responds to Reports That it Rejected Goldstone Op-Ed | Main
April 05, 2011
Thomas Friedman, Belligerent Or Not?
The Israeli Hebrew daily Yediot Achronot published a very bizarre item today. The last paragraph of a news item about the New York Times' denial that it refused to print Richard Goldstone's retraction states:
Yediot Achronot would like to clarify that contrary to what was reported yesterday, journalist Thomas Friedman did not publish columns belligerent towards the State of Israel. We apologize for the error.
Perhaps Yediot was compelled to publish this sentence following some sort of threat by the New York Times. This apology does not reflect well on Yediot in light of the fact that the earlier statement that Friedman published columns hostile towards Israel is 100 percent accurate.
On Oct. 19, 2011, Friedman wrote ("Just Knock It Off"):
. . . when America asks Israel to do something that in no way touches on its vital security but would actually enhance it, there is only one right answer: “Yes.” It is a measure of how spoiled Israel has become that after billions and billions of dollars in U.S. aid and 300,000 settlers already ensconced in the West Bank, Israel feels no compunction about spurning an American request for a longer settlement freeze . . .
Yes, I know, Netanyahu says that if he did that then the far right-wingers in his cabinet would walk out. He knows he can’t make peace with some of the lunatics in his cabinet, but he tells the U.S. that he only wants to blow up his cabinet once — for a deal. But we will never get to that stage if he doesn’t blow it up now and construct a centrist coalition that can negotiate a deal.
On Nov. 13, 2010, Friedman wrote ("I believe I can fly,"):
If you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 floors you can think you’re flying. It’s the sudden stop at the end that tells you you’re not. It’s striking to me how many leaders and nations are behaving today as though they think they can fly — and ignoring that sudden stop at the end that’s sure to come. . . .
Well, first there’s Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been telling everyone how committed he is to peace with the Palestinians while refusing to halt settlement building as a prerequisite for negotiations. At a time when Israel already has 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, Bibi says he can’t possibly take another pause in building . . .
Netanyahu toys with President Obama, makes Israel look like it wants land more than peace and risks never forging a West Bank deal . . .
That’s the sudden stop at the end — unless the next war comes first. But, for now, Bibi seems to think he can fly.
On Dec. 11, 2010, Friedman wrote ("Reality Check"):
The failed attempt by the U.S. to bribe Israel with a $3 billion security assistance package, diplomatic cover and advanced F-35 fighter aircraft — if Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu would simply agree to a 90-day settlements freeze to resume talks with the Palestinians — has been enormously clarifying. It demonstrates just how disconnected from reality both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaderships have become.
Oil is to Saudi Arabia what unconditional American aid and affection are to Israel — and what unconditional Arab and European aid and affection are to the Palestinians: a hallucinogenic drug that enables them each to think they can defy the laws of history, geography and demography. It is long past time that we stop being their crack dealers. . . .
Israel, when America, a country that has lavished billions on you over the last 50 years and taken up your defense in countless international forums, asks you to halt settlements for three months to get peace talks going, there is only one right answer, and it is not “How much?” It is: “Yes, whatever you want . . .
On Feb. 1, 2011, Friedman wrote ("B.E. Before Egypt, A.E., After Egypt"):
But Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel is in danger of becoming the Mubarak of the peace process. Israel has never had more leverage vis-à-vis the Palestinians and never had more responsible Palestinian partners. But Netanyahu has found every excuse for not putting a peace plan on the table.
On Feb. 13, 2011, Friedman wrote ("Postcard from Cairo, Part 2"):
Israel today has the most out-of-touch, in-bred, unimaginative and cliché-driven cabinet it has ever had.
Rather than even listening to what the democracy youth in Tahrir Square were saying and then trying to digest what it meant, this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh – to the point where the White House was thoroughly disgusted with its Israeli interlocutors – and using the opportunity to score propaganda points: “Look at us! Look at us! We told you so! We are the only stable country in the region, because we are the only democracy."
True, the New York Times likely distinguishes between State of Israel and the Israeli government, but in any event Yediot Achronot was justified in calling Friedman's columns belligerent. Too bad editors did not have a backbone to stand up against the unknown pressures that the Times apparently applied.
-- By Yishai Goldflam
Posted on 04/05/2011 2:26 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Helping Refugees After World War II
By RICHARD TOYE
Military victory — to adapt Oscar Wilde — is rarely pure and never simple. The Allied triumph in Europe at the end of World War II was a case in point. The war and the Holocaust forced millions of civilians across national frontiers. Afterward, multitudes of ethnic Germans were expelled from Eastern Europe and many of the Jews in Poland fled from a new wave of persecution there. Those lucky enough to survive these migrations faced months and years in limbo as the authorities wrestled with the logistical, political and moral difficulties involved in returning them home — or in finding them a new one.
These, in the terminology of the time, were the “displaced persons,” or D.P.’s. However, as Ben Shephard shows in “The Long Road Home,” his highly readable and moving book of postwar relief efforts, not all those who succeeded in obtaining this coveted official status (which brought an entitlement to food and shelter) were simple victims. Along with concentration camp survivors and former slave workers were many from Ukraine and the Baltic States who had collaborated with the Nazis and fled with them as the Russians advanced. Paradoxically, when Western governments started to take in D.P.’s to help with their own domestic labor shortages, it was these groups that tended to be favored, on racial grounds, at the expense of the Jews. Even Britain’s left-wing Fabian Society emphasized the importance of recruiting “sound stock,” adding that “the eugenics of immigration cannot be overstressed.”
However, it would be wrong to dwell too much on the hypocrisies, injustices and follies that surrounded the relief work. Mass starvation was avoided, and this in itself was no mean feat. Shephard, a historian of modern warfare, explains that much of the credit should be given to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (U.N.R.R.A.). Known to its critics as “You never really rehabilitate anyone,” the agency was beset from the first with bureaucratic problems, but also attracted many dedicated workers who were determined to do their best in appalling conditions. If they occasionally showed impatience with those in their care, and sometimes resorted to racial or national stereotyping, it was hardly surprising. They were dealing with a mass of heavily traumatized ordinary people; it was not easy to come to grips with the suffering, let alone to know how best to help. Some of the quandaries were insoluble.
One heart-rending chapter deals with the efforts to reunite children with their mothers and fathers. On the face of it, this sounds like an incontrovertibly good thing, in particular for those infants who had been stolen from their families by the Nazis on account of their “Aryan” looks and reassigned to German foster parents. Yet was it right to wrench children away from their new families against their will, especially in cases when it was not clear that the true parents could be found or that they wanted their children back? U.N.R.R.A. staffers divided on the issue, some feeling that the effort had to be made by way of atonement for the original wrong, and others skeptical that returning children to their birth countries was necessarily in their best interests.
Shephard is commendably nonjudgmental on such questions, and he also raises an important point about the writing of history, which so often dwells on spectacular evil at the expense of pedestrian virtue. He notes that whereas Hitler had Josef Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl as publicists, U.N.R.R.A. had to make do with a dull official history and the “feeble efforts” of the National Film Board of Canada. With this book, Shephard has made a significant contribution to redressing the balance.
Posted on 04/05/2011 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
A Musical Interlude: Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
Posted on 04/05/2011 3:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
When You Don't Know What Else To Do
No plans to suspend military aid to Yemen: US
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday there were no plans to suspend US military assistance to Yemen but urged a swift transition of power amid a wave of anti-regime protests.
Asked at a news conference if the US administration was considering withholding military aid due to unrest and violence against demonstrators, press secretary Geoff Morrell said: "As far as I know, it has not been."
"Obviously, we are monitoring the situation closely. It's fluid," Morrell said.
Tensions are running high in Yemen after 19 anti-regime protesters were shot dead by police on Monday, with President Ali Abdullah Saleh facing demands to step down without delay.
Washington has viewed the autocratic leader, in power since 1978, as a valuable ally in efforts to contain the threat posed by Al-Qaeda in the region. But the United States shifted its stance this week, urging Saleh to peacefully relinquish power.
"The situation right now is a difficult one, the longer it festers the more difficult it becomes," Morrell told reporters.
"That is why this government has been urging a negotiated transition as quickly as possible."
But he said the threat from Al-Qaeda in Yemen was serious and that it was possible US military assistance would continue no matter the outcome of the political turmoil.
In 2010, the Defense Department spent $150 million to train and arm Yemen?s security forces and has requested from Congress more than $100 million for the current fiscal year and $115.6 million in military and economic aid for fiscal year 2012.
The White House on Monday expressed fears of Al-Qaeda's affiliate in the country taking advantage of a power vacuum produced by the upheaval.
Saleh's official response to opposition demands to step down and hand over to his deputy for an interim period has been to urge protesters to dismantle their roadblocks and go home.
Saleh has said he is willing to step down by the end of this year, but his ruling General People's Congress party has defiantly said he should serve out his term until 2013.
Posted on 04/05/2011 3:27 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Two Women - born in the same city, but there the similarity ends.
Regular readers will know that as a former resident of Dagenham in Essex I am concerned at the creep of Islam into the town. It is my opinion that the Islamic Forum of Europe (operating out of Whitechapel, adjacent to the East London Mosque), having gained control of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and finding the London Boroughs of Newham and Waltham Forest to be the territory (aspired to, if not actually already theirs) of Tablighi Jamaat, has decided that their next conquest will be Dagenham.
The Becontree Heath Islamic Society have links with IFE and the East London Mosque such that they celebrated the launch of the new mosque by inviting senior members of that Mosque and a senior ‘lawyer’ from the Sharia court in Leyton. As you can see from the report of the second meeting of local residents here, the young chap selected to speak for the mosque started by admitting how Muslims are spreading everywhere, and in particular out of Tower Hamlets, for this the first (of many?) mosque in Dagenham.
I heard yesterday that the Thames View Muslim Association have plans for their own permanent premises. An association spokesman said “lots of Muslim people have been moving to Barking and Dagenham. They need a place to worship. Demographics are changing.”
I have been pondering the two meetings with Margaret Hodge lately, wondering what motivates her. Despite the input of the Anglican Vicar and the Roman Catholic priest, who testified that they and their parishioners have been lied to, kept in the dark about Muslim plans, and marginalised, Margaret Hodge prefers to support the Muslims rather than the local people who object to the mosque. I would like to know her motives.
It can’t be money; they don’t even have enough money to buy the property yet, while she is one of the co-owners of the family business Stemcor, the world's largest privately owned steel trading corporation, with a turnover of £6.28 billion in 2008.
It may be lust for power. Her constituents cordially hate her – without the Muslim vote (and remember George Galloway said he owed his election as MP for Tower Hamlets to the IFE more than it would be wise for him to publicly admit) she would not be MP. On her showing to her constituents in Becontree recently I am convinced that she did not increase her majority in the constituency last May by fair means.
She won 24,628 votes in May 2010 a substantial increase on the 13826 that got her elected in 2004 and on her share of the count in previous elections. The most her immediate predecessor Jo Richardson (who was actually well liked) ever received was 22,846 in 1974 when she was first elected. Before that the notorious Tom Driberg, communist, probable Soviet spy, and flamboyant homosexual (pre-Wolfenden Report days, ) only managed 500 more than Miss Richardson.
Quite what she gets out of having Barking and (since the 2010 boundary changes) a troublesome corner of Dagenham as her personal fiefdom I can't fathom. I assume that as the island of Sark is not for sale Barking and Becontree will have to do.
Some locally ponder her background and whether her early years in Egypt (she was born in Cairo) have had any effect. And this brings me to the comparison I want to make.
Margaret Hodge is one of the four daughters of Hans and Lisbeth Oppenheimer, from Stuttgart and Austria, who had met and married while Hans was working for his uncle in Alexandria. As Hodge’s nephew David Edmonds, writing last year in Prospect magazine put it, once the Nazis came to power Hans and Lisbeth Oppenheimer were stranded and stateless. But the alternative was far worse. Hodge was born in Cairo in 1944 and according to Edmonds his family “would have stayed in Egypt had it not been for the 1948 Arab-Israeli war: a brick through the window was the warning that antisemitism had migrated to the Middle East”. He needs a lesson in history. Antisemitism had not “migrated” to the Middle East; the Islamic version was as old as Islam itself.
Edmonds is also a little disingenuous in merely mentioning a brick through the window. In 1945 on the 28thanniversary of the Balfour declaration the Muslim Brotherhood (still going strong) instigated, it is believed, the burning of a synagogue, a Jewish hospital, and other Jewish buildings and institutions in Egyptian cities, including a soup kitchen for the poor.
Throughout the spring and summer of 1948 there were acts of sabotage against the Jews. Jews were rounded up and their assets seized. Martial law was imposed and some Jews were released from the prison camps on condition they left Egypt never to return.
Conditions worsened during the 1950s. King Farouk was overthrown in 1952and Gamal Abdul-Nasser came to sole power in 1954. In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, all Jewish families in Cairo and Alexandria were placed under house arrest with funds and food dwindling. Their businesses and property were seized and the persecution culminated in an order in 1957 for the expulsion of all Jews from Egypt. Many left with only what they could carry on their person.
Which is when another Jewish woman, born in Cairo only a few years before Margaret Oppenheimer, also left Egypt for the United Kingdom.
The very woman whose studies David Edmonds would do well to read for his history lesson. Her professional name is Bat Ye’or, Daughter of the Nile. She is the author of eight works of history and commentary about the history of non-Muslims in the Middle East. Her particular interest is the history of the Dhimmi or subjugated Christians and Jews living under Sharia law in North Africa.
Margaret Hodge grew up in London and studied at the London School of Economics. Bat Ye’or came to London and studied at University College, and then at the University of Geneva. She is reputed to have established the use of the word dhimmitude, to refer to the status or condition of the dhimmi, the third-class humans of the Islamic world.
She explained her work thus: - “I had witnessed the destruction, in a few short years, of a vibrant Jewish community living in Egypt for over 2,600 years and which had existed from the time of Jeremiah the Prophet. I saw the disintegration and flight of families, dispossessed and humiliated, the destruction of their synagogues, the bombing of the Jewish quarters and the terrorizing of a peaceful population. I have personally experienced the hardships of exile, the misery of statelessness − and I wanted to get to the root cause of all this. I wanted to understand why the Jews from Arab countries, nearly a million, had shared my experience.”
Her most important works in my opinion are the Dhimmi, The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam - From Jihad to Dhimmitude and Eurabia.
Two Jewish women, born in Cairo, educated in London.
Bat Ye’or, a true lady in her deportment and conduct. Margaret Hodge, who bears the title ‘Lady’ but is rude and brusque.
Bat Ye’or who taught the world about dhimmitude and how Islam treats and continues to treat those who will not submit.
Margaret Hodge who courts Islam for her own ends.
Why and how the difference?
Posted on 04/05/2011 5:09 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
David Cameron's Brilliant Idea: Give Still More Aid To Pakistan
From The Telegraph:
Britain triples aid for Pakistan's schools
David Cameron has disclosed plans to almost triple British aid for schools in Pakistan, even as its government spent billions on military equipment.
The Prime Minister was criticised for offering to spend more than £600 million of British taxpayers’ money in a country whose government he admitted could waste at least some of the aid.
Visiting Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, Mr Cameron announced that over the next four years, British aid for education in Pakistan could reach £650 million.
Britain’s last four-year budget, from 2009-13, allocated £250 million for education. The major increase in school aid could lead to four million Pakistani children attending school for the first time, officials said. It would also make the country the biggest single recipient from Britain’s growing aid budget.
Despite protests from some Conservative MPs, Mr Cameron is increasing aid spending, even as other departments see their budgets cut.
Pakistan spent barely 2 per cent of its annual budget on education, but more than 15 per cent went on defence.
Britain is cutting its defence budget by 8 per cent, cutting 17,000 military posts and scrapping warships and fighter jets.
By contrast, Islamabad is in talks with China to buy six submarines at a potential cost of more than £1 billion.
The Pakistani government may also spend another £1 billion on Chinese fighter aircraft.
Mr Cameron insisted that the support for education in Pakistan was in Britain’s long-term interests because illiteracy and poor schooling were a “root cause” of Islamic extremism and terrorism. But he conceded that the move would be controversial, and admitted that corruption and waste in Pakistan made it harder to justify British aid payments.
“The British people want to know every penny we do spend is going to the right places,” he said in a speech at a university in Islamabad.
“I need to convince them that it is. But my job is made more difficult when people in Britain look at Pakistan, a country that receives millions of pounds of our aid money, and see weakness in terms of government capacity and waste.” Mr Cameron said the answer was for Pakistan to tighten its tax code, ensuring more people paid more tax.
Many of Pakistan’s richest people “are getting away without paying much tax at all. That’s not fair,” he said.
Privately, even British diplomats were uncomfortable about the large increase in aid to Pakistan because of widespread fears that government corruption would prevent at least some of the money reaching its intended destination.
Philip Davies, a Conservative MP, said cuts in British public services made it impossible to justify increased aid payments.
“That is especially the case with countries that can afford to spend billions of pounds on defence,” he said. “If they can afford submarines they can afford to educate their own people.”
As part of a new “security dialogue”, Mr Cameron announced that Britain would join the US in funding a Pakistan “centre of excellence” to develop bomb-disposal techniques.
That could mean sharing sensitive military secrets with the country’s intelligence agencies, which had been accused of supporting militant groups, including the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister insisted that helping Pakistan would make Britain safer.
“I would struggle to find a country that is more in our interests to see succeed than Pakistan,” he said.
“If we fail, we will have all the problems of migration, of extremism — problems that we don’t want to see.” [the "problems of migration" can be solved in only one way - keeping out Pakistani immigratns. Tens of millions would move to Great Britain in a minute if they could-- it is the job of the British government to keep them out, and to repatriate as many Muslims to Pakistan, and other countries, as possible. As for "extremism" -- that is a misleading euphemism for Islam taken to heart. "Extremists" are those Muslims who do not ignore, but take seriously what is contained in Qur'an and Sunnah, and who are unwilling, as some Muslims are in the West, in order not to attract unfavorable attention and possible harm to their position, ]so calculatedly are) to hide their real views.
Posted on 04/05/2011 6:01 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Vox Populi Gives Its Opinion Of David Cameron's Great Idea
Here are the latest comments -- for earlier ones take a look at the Telegraph story itself:
Posted on 04/05/2011 6:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Samir Geagea On Syria's Latest Dark Deeds In Lebanon
From The Daily Star:
Geagea: Syria most likely behind abduction of Estonians
By Nadim Ladki
April 06, 2011
BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea said Monday that Syria was most likely behind last month’s kidnapping of seven Estonians in Lebanon, adding that an explosion outside a church in Zahle 10 days ago was linked to the abduction and meant to be a diversion.
Geagea also told The Daily Star in an interview that the failure of Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati to form a government so far showed that the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition was fragmented and incapable of building a state.
The LF leader, a key figure in the March 14 coalition, said the Estonians, snatched at gunpoint near Zahle March 23 while cycling, were likely being held in Syria.
“I don’t want to analyze, I want to discuss the information that we got in the past 24 to 48 hours,” Geagea said of the kidnapping. “When we see that four, five days ago the Syrian brothers started telling the Estonian government through mediators that they can help in this, and crossing that with other almost confirmed information that they [Estonian hostages] are now in Syria or at the very least if they were not in Syria then the key to the hand [that is holding them] is in Syria … the issue becomes clear.”
“Until further notice, I can say that the main side behind it [the abduction] is the brothers in Syria,” he said. “How would they benefit, in what area, it is not clear yet but as long as they [Syrians] offered their services to see if the door is open [for them to negotiate], then we will find out exactly what they want.”
Lebanese security forces have made several arrests linked to the kidnapping but despite earlier reports that they were close to locating the Estonians little progress has been announced in recent days.
Geagea, speaking at his fortress-like complex in Maarab north of Beirut, said the blast outside the church in Zahle was aimed to divert attention away from the kidnapping. “It was a secondary operation and the church wasn’t the target per say. It left damages but it wasn’t a separate attack.”
Geagea said what worried him was the ease with which Lebanese sovereignty was again violated. “Is it right that six years after the Cedar Revolution, 21 years after the Civil War and nearly 68 years after independence such a thing can happen?”
But the LF leader played down fears of a sharp deterioration in the security situation in the country despite the lack of a fully functional government.
“Of course the absence of a government has repercussions and fallouts on the various elements of national life, including security, but until now it seems that all sides in Lebanon are being reasonable and no one has bad intentions,” he said.
On the political front, Geagea predicted that forming a government would eventually fall back into the hands of the March 14 coalition because the rival March 8 camp would not be able to govern Lebanon.
“What is delaying the formation of the government is that what we call the other side, are not one side. All that brings them together is their rejection of the reality that was established after the Cedar Revolution and their wish to destroy it,” he said, in reference to a series of street protests in 2005 that led to the ousting of Syrian troops from Lebanon after an almost 29-year-presence.
“Now that they have toppled the Cedar Revolution from power … they can’t agree on one thing to form the government.”
Geagea said Hezbollah and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun could not govern or build a state: “Hezbollah, with all my due respect, is not a state builder. It is not shy with its ideology, the party wakes up on resistance and sleeps on resistance. You can’t build states on a slogan, regardless if it was a right one or not.”
“General Aoun, of course, is very far from having the mentality of building a state, or the mentality of building, full stop. General Aoun is good for opposition where he attacks all the time … He claims he has a reform project, [but] after all these days and until now I don’t know what is this project.”
The LF leader said regional developments and the domestic stalemate make it very difficult to predict when the government deadlock would be broken or how instability in several Arab countries would reflect on Lebanon.
“In these circumstances, it is very difficult to make predictions but my impression is it will be very difficult for the other side to form a government … and in case it managed to form a government, it would not be able to do anything.”
He predicted that March 14 would eventually be entrusted with forming a government, but cautioned that it would find it difficult to govern, mainly because of Hezbollah’s weapons.
“We know that nothing positive can be done in the country in this abnormal situation. There should be a solution to this abnormal situation of having an authority outside the authority of the state due to the presence of weapons outside the control of the state.
“This issue must be resolved before I can have hope in delivering an actual achievement.”
Posted on 04/05/2011 6:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
CMEP Invoked Goldstone Then â€“ Says Nothing Now
Under the leadership of Executive Director Warren Clark, there has been a remarkable change in tone in the material published about the Arab-Israeli conflict by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), a lobby group supported by more than score of churches and para-church organizations in the U.S. These organizations have typically embraced a one-sided view of the Arab-Israeli conflict that places Israel, but not its adversaries, before the seat of judgment.
Under the leadership of its previous executive director, Corinne Whitlach, the CMEP could be counted on to issue irresponsible statements about the conflict that affirmed the anti-Israel narrative offered by Israel's adversaries.
For example, under Whitlach's leadership, the organization repeated claims by Muslim extremists in the Middle East that Israel was undermining the Al Aqsa Mosque with its archeological digs near the Temple Mount.
Accusations like this have been responsible for inciting numerous acts of violence against Jews and Israelis in the past several decades and raised serious questions over just how serious the CMEP was to promoting peace. CMEP's decision to pass these accusations on, without challenge, was simply inexcusable.
Fortunately, things have changed a bit under Clark's leadership, a former Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department. During Clark's tenure, which began in January 2008, CMEP has been much more circumspect in its activism.
It recently issued statements condemning the murder of five Israelis living in Itamar and the recent bombing attack in Jerusalem. The Itamar statement blamed the attack on a “stagnant peace process” but nevertheless, this statement, coupled with the condemnation of the Jerusalem bombing, indicated that CMEP understood its obligation to condemn, not incite, acts of violence.
This does not mean that CMEP has embraced a more comprehensive understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The organization is still committed to propounding a narrative that portrays Israel as controlling the violence directed at it through concessions and peace offers. This was evident in the Lenten materials the organization published in 2010. In these materials, Israeli behavior was measured against a Biblical standard of conduct while the behavior of its adversaries were not.
Another example of the organization's tendency to obsess about Israel while remaining silent about the behavior of its adversaries appears in a recent CMEP article about the Itamar killings. In a recent newsletter, CMEP stated that Prime Minister Netanyahu's response to the murders highlighted divisions within Israeli society.
This needs some unpacking.
Five Israelis are brutally murdered.
Israelis respond with outrage and horror.
CMEP then comments on Israel's angry response, without saying a word about anti-Semitic incitement that has been going on for years on Palestinian television.
Most commentators would – and did – regard these murders as highlighting the problem of incitement in Palestinian society, but not the CMEP, which said nothing about this problem.
This is significant. The Itamar attack represented an opportunity for the CMEP to take seriously Israeli concerns over incitement in Palestinian society, but the organization instead used a massacre against Israeli citizens as a jumping off point for a critique and analysis of Israeli society.
This is peacemaking? This is Christian peacemaking?
CMEP's Treatment of Goldstone Report
The CMEP's desire to keep Israel before the seat of judgment is evident in its lack of response to a recent admission from Judge Richard Goldstone that there were serious problems with the report about Operation Cast Lead issued by the UN-created commission he directed in 2009.
In particular, Goldstone has stated that contrary to the original report, the evidence “indicate[s] that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of [Israeli] policy.” According to The Jerusalem Post, Goldstone has, since the publication of his op-ed in the Washington Post on April 1, 2011 promised to work to nullify the report he helped author.
Given Goldstone's role in producing the report, his robust defense of the text, and the manner in which both he and the report he helped write were lionized by commentators, this is a big story that demands some sort of comment, particularly from those groups, such as the CMEP, who previously invoked the text as the Gospel truth.
So far, CMEP has said nothing about Goldstone's change of heart, which is interesting given the amount of attention the organization devoted to the report.
For example, on Oct. 16, 2009, the CMEP stated in its newsletter that the Human Rights Commission's inability to quickly pass a resolution regarding the Goldstone Report was one of the factors that “led to outbreaks of violence and the threats of violence on the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem beginning October 4.”
If this is in fact the case, it is an indication of just how much damage the Goldstone Report has done to the cause of peace, particularly in light of its chief author's recantation.
Then a few weeks later, on Nov. 5, 2009, the CMEP called on its supporters to “Spank or Thank” their U.S. representatives according to how they voted on House Resolution 867 which opposed condemned the Goldstone Report.
Here is the relevant text of the CMEP's legislative alert:
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass a resolution that will block "any further consideration" of the Goldstone report. The detailed report found credible evidence of war crimes by Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, which left 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.
House Majority Leader Hoyer justified his vote in favor of the resolution saying the report is "distorted." He also said the 1.5 million people living in Gaza are suffering "in major part from the determination of their imposed leaders to pursue indiscriminate terror." He failed to mention that their hardship results from severe restrictions on movement of people and goods imposed since 2007 by Israel and Egypt, a condition many have defined as collective punishment.
Enough is Enough! If your Representative voted for H. Res. 867, tell them NOW they are undermining U.S. credibility internationally!
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen used her time on the floor to inject fear into the debate saying, "How long before U.S. officials will face the same persecution for defending our nation against al-Qaeda and other such threats?" Israel's security is on the line and the U.S. must remain balanced in order to guide both parties to peace and security. The Congresswoman's fear mongering does not help Israel, the U.S., or the Palestinians get any step closer to a better future for our children.
Only a balanced approach can lead us to a better future. Contact your Representative to THANK or SPANK them for their vote!
There are 36 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives that opposed the resolution. These brave leaders need to hear from you too! Please thank your Representative if they opposed H. Res. 867.
Fight Impunity, uphold the rule of law, and contact your Member of Congress today!
The CMEP's exhortation to its supporters that they fight impunity and uphold the rule of law seems a bit ironic in the face of Goldstone's recent op-ed in which he admits that while Israel has investigated its actions during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas has not.
That same day, CMEP sent a letter to the Obama Administration, supporting “the recommendation in the Goldstone Report that independent investigations into allegations of war crimes committed during ‘Operation Cast Lead' from December 2008 to January 2009 should be carried out by Israeli and Palestinian authorities.” The letter continues: “We support your administration's efforts to encourage such independent investigations and we urge you to continue to press Israel and the Palestinians to conduct them.”
In light of recent events, including Hamas refusal to investigate its actions during Operation Cast Lead, will CMEP revisit this issue?
Goldstone did, admitting in his recent op-ed that “In the end, asking Hamas to investigate [potential war crimes] may have been a mistaken enterprise.”
Of course it was.
Hamas is dedicated to Israel's destruction and seeks to impose a veto on Jewish national life on land previously governed by Muslim rulers. Committing war crimes such as targeting civilians is a central part of Hamas's strategy.
The upshot is this. CMEP invoked the Goldstone Report in its calls for investigations by both Hamas and Israel into their actions during Operation Cast Lead.
According to Goldstone, Israel has investigated its behavior.
But Hamas? Goldstone puts it bluntly: “Hamas has done nothing.”
Good luck finding any acknowledgement of that reality in CMEP's statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Originally published at Camera.
Posted on 04/05/2011 6:30 PM by Dexter Van Zile
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Those Arab Officers We Train And Who Become, As A Result,
A military officer from the United Arab Emirates has been accused of luring a Filipina servant to the US and keeping her in virtual slavery.
Col Arif al-Ali, a student at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, took the woman's passport, failed to pay her and kept her confined to his house, prosecutors said.
He is charged with fraud and falsely telling federal investigators he had paid her.
He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
'Forbidden to leave'
Col al-Ali, 46, brought the woman to the US as a household servant for himself, his wife and five children, promising her $10 (£6.14) per hour for 40 hours of work a week, Assistant US Attorney Mary Rogers said.
Instead, he forced her to work seven days a week, often until midnight, without pay and refused to let her talk to anyone outside the family or to leave the house on her own, Ms Rogers said.
The woman, who has not been identified, escaped and is now in hiding, prosecutors said.
When confronted by investigators in February, Col al-Ali produced a document indicating he had paid the woman $19,000. Investigators found no evidence he had made the payments, officials said.
Col al-Ali's lawyer Victoria Walton put the discrepancy down to a misunderstanding and to a language barrier.
Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Col al-Ali was released pending trial in July and told he must continue studies at the Naval War College, a US government institution in Newport, Rhode Island, that trains US and foreign naval personnel.
He was ordered to restrict his movements to the state of Rhode Island unless he needs to travel for his studies, which are to conclude on 10 June.
Posted on 04/05/2011 7:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
Iran's Tentacles in Venezuela, And Elsewhere In Latin America
Iran makes inroads in Latin America
WASHINGTON (AP) — Iran has expanded its ties in Latin American beyond its close relationship with Venezuela, a top U.S. commander said Tuesday as he described a troubling development that the United States is watching closely.
Gen. Douglas Fraser, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, said Iran has nearly doubled the number of embassies in the region, from six in 2005 to 10 in 2010 while also building cultural centers in 17 countries. Last year, Iran also has hosted heads of state from three countries — Bolivia, Guyana and Venezuela.
"Iran continues expanding regional ties to support its own diplomatic goal of reducing the impact of international sanctions connected with its nuclear program," Fraser told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Washington fears that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Fraser described a close relationship between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They've had at least nine visits during Chavez's 12 years in office. Fraser said the alliance is still largely for diplomatic and commercial purposes, but said there were still too many unknowns.
"There are flights between Iran and Venezuela on a weekly basis, and visas are not required for entrance into Venezuela or Bolivia or Nicaragua. So we don't have a lot of visibility in who's visiting and who isn't, and that's really where I see the concerns," he said. I don't have connections with those organizations that Iran has supported in other parts of the world, Hezbollah. But we're still skeptical and watching that on a routine basis."
Fraser said the ties between the two countries are based on several shared interests, such as access to military and petroleum technologies and avoiding international isolation.
On a separate issue, Fraser said Venezuela has purchased $8 billion to $12 billion worth of weapons from Russia, China and Spain, including automatic weapons. The U.S. is concerned the weapons could end up in the hands of illegal groups.
Posted on 04/05/2011 8:00 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 5 April 2011
A Musical Interlude: Time Waits For No Man (Helen Forrest)
Posted on 04/05/2011 8:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald