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These are all the Blogs posted on Tuesday, 6, 2012.
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Cliff End East Sussex

Most people have heard of the massive chalk cliffs of Beachy head and the Seven Sisters on the south coast. At the easternmost end by Hastings they are no longer chalk but sandstone. And this is where they end. The White Cliffs of Dover are where the chalk reappears the other side of the marsh and low ground of which Romney Marsh is a part.

 E Weatherwax October 2012

Posted on 11/06/2012 2:27 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Convicted US terrorist in NC beheading plot trial

From Associated Press via the Daily News Jacksonville North Carolina

A man who is already serving 45 years in prison for a terror plot that aimed to kill U.S. troops read Quranic verses to jurors Monday and scolded the federal judge and prosecutors at the start of his trial on charges that he plotted to have government witnesses in his earlier trial beheaded.

Acting as his own attorney, Hysen Sherifi, 28, waved off opportunities to resist the government's case against him. After opening statements by prosecutors, Sherifi read religious verses in Arabic and lectured jurors on their meaning in English.

"We fight for Allah. We have authority. Do you have authority to make laws for mankind?" Sherifi told jurors without describing who else he claimed to represent. "We do not make laws. We follow the laws that have been revealed by Allah."

A prosecutor said in opening arguments Sherifi tried to hire a hit man to behead government witnesses who testified against him in his terror trial. . . federal agents to set up a sting operation that included a confidential informant posing as the representative of a shadowy assassin named Treetop.

Sherifi told the inmate claiming to have murder-for-hire connections he wasn't satisfied with the killing, Matthew Blue of the U.S. Justice Department's counterterrorism section said. "He had one complaint; 'I wish you wouldn't have wasted a bullet. I wish you would have just chopped his head off,'

Sherifi's family are ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo in 1999 during a brutal sectarian war with Serbs. Under questioning from U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt on Monday, Hysen Sherifi said he is a citizen of Kosovo.

Britt allowed Hysen Sherifi to rock in his chair, shout and otherwise lecture jurors for about 15 minutes before telling the defendant to quit. He did. After jurors were excused for the day, Britt told Sherifi the trial involved alleged crimes and he wasn't helping himself with religious lectures.

Sherifi responded that he was arrested because of his Muslim faith, while the Vatican has gone unpunished despite revelations priests molested children and were protected by superiors.

"You want to make cases because we fight for Allah," Sherifi said. "I'm telling you, you have transgressed against Allah."

Posted on 11/06/2012 2:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
In Marseille, Muslim Gang Attacks Jewish Family

Jewish Family Attacked in Marseille, France

The father of a Jewish family was badly beaten and the family home was completely trashed on Sunday by local youths in Marseille, France.
By Chana Ya'ar
11/5/2012,

France
France
Flash 90

The father of a Jewish family was badly beaten and the family home was completely trashed on Sunday by local youths in Marseille, France.
Residents in their Jewish neighborhood are stunned following the incident.

Marseilles is home to some 80,000 Jews – 10 percent of the general population but a small fraction compared to the 250,000 Muslims with whom they also live. It has been relatively quiet France's second-largest city this year, compared to other areas in the country where violent anti-Semitism has been on the rise.

Last month the SPCJ (Service de Protection de la Communaute Juive) security agency for French Jewry reported a 45 percent rise in anti-Semitic attacks since 2011, mostly by Muslims.

This incident began when two youths parked their car in a Jewish family's private garage.

When the family saw the unfamiliar vehicle they called police, and the car was towed. Upon finding their vehicle gone and learning it had been towed, the youths became angry.

They returned with a gang of friends to exact their revenge upon the hapless family. The gang broke into the home, severely beat up the father of the family and destroyed the rest of the house.

According to local sources, one of the youths reportedly attempted to murder the father. Neighbors heard the family's screams coming from the home and called police, who arrested the attackers. Upon leaving the scene, the attackers promised to “finish the job,” according to local media reports.

In May of this year, a 17-year-old Jewish youth wearing a kipa was also attacked by four male gang members who shouted “It's Shabbat for you, long live [Al Qaeda-linked French Algerian Muslim terrorist] Mohamed Merah! F*** the Jews.... Palestine will win!”

One of the gang members jumped on to his victim, punching him in the arm and kicking him in the leg. The victim punched him back. The attacker also punched the victim's brother-in-law, who tried to block the attack, according to Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.

Posted on 11/06/2012 6:30 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Valerie Jarrett, Iran Expert And Master Negotiator

From Commentary:

Contentions

Jarrett’s Secret Iran Talks Raise Questions About Obama’s Intentions

During the presidential debate on foreign policy, President Obama denied that his administration was preparing to conduct secret talks with Iran after the presidential election, as a New York Times story alleged. But according to a report published today in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot and on its English-language website Ynet.com, such talks are not only planned but have been going on for months and are being led by presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett. This raises questions not only about whether the president will stand by his pledge in the debate that any deal with Iran must require them to give up their “nuclear program,” but also whether she is negotiating a compromise along the lines sought by the Europeans in the P5+1 talks. In that compromise, Tehran would be allowed considerable leeway in terms of its nuclear future. It also places in context the administration’s absolute refusal to agree to “red lines,” in response to Israel’s request that the U.S. promise diplomacy would not be allowed to drag on until it would be too late to take action to forestall Iran’s nuclear goal.

That secret talks are going on with Iran is, in itself, hardly surprising since Tehran has been holding off-and-on talks with the West about the nuclear issue for years. But Jarrett’s involvement signals the importance the issue has for Obama because of her standing as a senior advisor and her close personal connection with the Obama family. But by putting someone with no background on security issues in charge of this track, Obama may be signaling that the president’s goal here is not an Iranian surrender of nuclear capability, but rather a political compromise that may not eliminate the threat of an Islamist bomb sometime down the road.

Jarrett was born in Shiraz, Iran (her father ran a hospital there) but left when she was 5, though she is said to have spoken Persian as a child. But that’s the extent of her expertise on the country. Her main qualification is that she is a close confidante of both the president and his wife. She is also widely given credit for helping to jump-start the president’s career by introducing him into the corrupt world of Chicago politics, where she was a significant player. That gives her credibility with the Iranians since she has a direct line to the White House. But if a re-elected Obama is rightly suspected of wanting to show more “flexibility” with America’s foes, then the Jarrett caper seems to be evidence that he is more interested in making this sore issue go away rather than pushing Iran hard to give up the possibility of attaining a weapon.

Though Jarrett and Obama may think their Chicago background makes them tough, the Iranians have made fools of every Western negotiator they’ve dealt with in the past decade, because of their tenacity and willingness to use the charade of talks as a way to run out the clock while their scientists get closer to achieving the country’s nuclear ambition. While the sanctions that the administration reluctantly put in place against Iran have caused the country economic pain, the American conviction that this gives them leverage over the ayatollahs may be mistaken. So long as the Iranian regime believes they can outlast and out-talk the West on this issue, it’s doubtful they can be compelled to sign a deal that would eliminate the nuclear threat–or to observe it even if they did.

While the president has been talking tough about Iran during the election year, it remains to be seen how tough his envoy has been with the Iranians in their secret talks. If Ms. Jarrett emerges with a deal sometime after the election, the suspicion is that her goal is more to get the president off the hook for his promises than to actually stop the Iranians.

Posted on 11/06/2012 9:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Royal Anglian Regiment - Freedom of the London Borough of Havering

I travelled to Romford today to see the 1st Battalion The Vikings, the Royal Anglian Regiment parade through town to receive the Freedom of the Borough. This is one of a series of homecoming parades to mark their final tour in Afghanistan. As this was  to receive the Freedom of the Borough they marched with rifles and fixed bayonets and with colours flying.  These are some photographs.

I don't know yet whether the band that led the parade is the Regimental Band of the Royal Anglians or the same Band of the Prince of Wales Division that accompanied them through Ipswich yesterday - the helmets are similar to the non expert (me)

Each company was led by officers with their ceremonial swords.

This Sergeant with the ceremonial silver axe is the Pioneer, the only man in the Regiment tradionally allowed a beard.

As well as the men marching there were men and women running a recruiting stand and greeting the public. Local families were very pleased to welcome sons and grandsons home.

After marching through the main shopping street the parade formed up in the market place before the Mayor, the Deputy Lieutenant and other local dignitaries. On the far left is the Salamanca Eagle captured by the East Essex Regiment in 1812 from the French 62nd Regiment. If you read the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell or watched the TV series starring Sean Bean you will know about the Essex Regiment and the Peninsular Campaign. The Essex Regiment was one of the County regiments that were formed into the Royal Anglians in relatively recent restructuring.

The Mayor welcomed them to the Borough. She paid tribute to the casualties of this most recent and final tour of their 10 year deployment in Afghanistan. She mentioned the Essex Regiment which received the Freedom of Romford (an Essex town and district outside London at that time) in 1947. The Commanding Officer replied and the inspection concluded with prayers.

One of the nicest things about the day was the presence of groups of schoolchildren from both primary and secondary schools under the supervision of teachers imaginative enough to realise that such an event will bring Civics, or Citizenship or even the dreaded British Constitution alive. Most of them had poppies attached to their school uniforms and with flags and shopping hall balloons they were lively and excited but beautifully behaved.

Photographs E Weatherwax (with thanks to a very tall Viking) November 2012

Posted on 11/06/2012 12:21 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Can Kasapoglu: Turkey And A Nuclear-Armed Iran

From the Jerusalem Post:

Why Turkey should be tough on Iran

By CAN KASAPOGLU
Turkish decision makers should simulate the first day of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough, and count down to the present day.


A nuclear Iran will be tantamount to the collapse of the over five century old balance of power between Turkey and Iran which was first created by the Battle of Chaldiran between the Ottoman and Safavid empires in 1514.

Only after Selim the 1st (or Yavuz Sultan Selim Khan – the first Sultan of the empire who claimed the caliphate) overcame the Safavid Empire of Persia was Istanbul able to exert full control and authority over eastern Anatolia and Northern Iraq. However, for some time now Ankara’s sovereignty in eastern Anatolia and vital national security interests in Northern Iraq have been under significant Iranian threat via proxy war, subversive activities, and political and military machinations. Iran also stands in the way of Turkey’s regional hegemonic agenda, especially in Syria, and in a greater sense in the Levant region.

Throughout history, this corridor has always been a natural route for Turkish expansions into the region we call Greater Middle East today. As a matter of fact, just a couple of years after Sultan Selim Khan vanquished the Safavid Empire in Chaldiran he fought another regional power, the Mamluk Sultanate, at the Battle of Merj Dabik, and conquered Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, or in other words a large portion of the Levant.

At this juncture, understanding the geopolitical mentality of the Ottoman expansion and its correlation with Iran is of crucial importance. In order to project power in the Levant, Turkey has to be safe from the Iranian threat. And vice versa: Iran, whether the Safavids or the contemporary Islamic Republic, must keep Turkey under constant threat to secure the Levant and/or avert Turkish expansion. Thus, Turkish decision-makers should well understand the geopolitical logic of Selim Khan’s perception of Iran as the rock separating between Turkey being caged into Anatolia or being a real regional power (which is definitely not same thing as being popular in the region).

Iran’s desire to keep Turkey constantly under threat resurfaced in the 1990s and 2000s via Tehran’s proxy war attempts. Be it the Kurdish Hezbollah or PKK terrorism, Tehran will do its utmost to keep Ankara in trouble with constant low-intensity conflicts.

Put simply, if the whole Turkish 2nd Army, which is responsible for the Iraqi, Syrian and Iranian borders, was not dealing with the terrorism threat, it would probably be occupied with power projection activities beyond its field of responsibility.

Iranian strategists are aware of this fact. Turkey overcame Damascus when it was harboring PKK in the 1990s through an escalation strategy and gunboat diplomacy.

Can those measures be taken against a nuclear Iran? This is just a hypothetical question for now, however, in the near future it could be a very real scenario facing the Turkish security establishment.

TO COUNTERBALANCE a nuclear threat from Iran, Turkish leaders will have only two options. The first is to pursue mass conventional military modernization and procurement, and an aggressive shift in military doctrine. This means an additional burden on Turkish taxpayers and a great cost in terms of investments in social improvement and economic development.

The second option is to pursue its own military nuclear program. Technically, however, this would be almost impossible to accomplish due to Turkey’s ties with the Western security system and commitment to the NPT regime.

The only other thing Turkey could do is depend on NATO guarantees (Article 5), or the US nuclear umbrella.

However, initiation of Article 5 necessitates a unanimous decision of all member countries.

In other words, it would be tantamount to pledging Turkey’s national security, at the existential level, to a consensus in which even Estonian or Lithuanian refusal could prevent a joint move.

When it comes to the American nuclear umbrella, the situation might be complicated.

After the Cold War, there is no US tactical nuclear capability left on Turkish soil. It is known that there are nuclear warheads at the Incirlik base, but Turkey does not hold the trigger mechanism.

Briefly, a nuclear Iran cannot be, or only at a very steep cost, deterred by Ankara. This reality probably spells the end for Turkey’s historical imperial character. Besides, a completely secure Islamic regime cannot tolerate both Turkey’s secular constitution and the AKP’s democratic conservatism, which is at peace with liberalism and an open economy.

Moreover, within the sectarian fragmentation of the region, a nuclear Iran will most likely spearhead the Shi’ite bloc against Turkey more aggressively.

Thus, Ankara either gets tough with Iran now, or lets a nuclear Iran go tough with Turkey in the near future.

IN SUMMARY, Turkish decision makers should simulate the first day of Iran’s nuclear breakthrough, and count down to the present day. Then they can clearly see that every single day counts, and that Tehran’s nuclear breakthrough has to be prevented at all costs.

Turkish mass media keeps voicing the opinion that the military option would be a nightmare for the region, and defends muddle-through efforts that can do nothing but buy time for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

They are correct in saying that the military option would be a nightmare – but on the other hand, it would also be a nightmare to allow a tyranny which is also Turkey’s historical geopolitical rival in the region to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

We will soon see whether anyone in Turkey today clearly perceives the Iranian threat as did Sultan Selim Khan, or whether “sober and wise” intellectuals, seeing the mushroom cloud over Istanbul, keep repeating that “the military option against Iran would be a nightmare for the region” – probably from the safety of an NBC shelter.

The author, who served as a post-doctoral fellow for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, holds a PhD from the Turkish War College, and a Master’s degree from the Turkish Military Academy.

Posted on 11/06/2012 4:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
In Saudi Arabia, Even The Mildest Of Legal Reforms, Undertaken Only To Attract Investors, Provokes Fury

From Reuters:

Saudi sharia judges decry Westernizing "stench" of legal reforms

Nov 6 2012

By Angus McDowall

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi judges who enforce sharia (Islamic law) have condemned what they see as "the stench of Western ideas" in sweeping legal reforms pushed by King Abdullah, underscoring friction between government modernizers and religious hardliners.

In a letter to Justice Minister Mohammed al-Issa seen by Reuters, eight judges complained about foreign trainers who shave their beards contrary to purist Islam, the minister's meetings with diplomats of "infidel" states and plans to let women practice as lawyers.

The authenticity of the letter, which did not directly criticize either the king or Issa, was confirmed by a source in the Justice Ministry who said it was sent late last month.

Saudi lawyers and political analysts say the judicial reforms announced by King Abdullah in 2007 and supported by Issa are needed to make the legal system more efficient and modern.

"The system deters investors, who find the judiciary opaque. Outdated administrative procedures and inadequate judicial training remain problems," the U.S. embassy said in an assessment in 2009 revealed by WikiLeaks.

Since becoming de facto regent while he was crown prince in 1995, Abdullah has pursued cautious reforms aimed at modernizing Saudi Arabia's economy and making it more socially open, but he has often been blocked by powerful religious conservatives.

The world's top oil exporter has no written legal code or system of precedent, and judges determine cases based on their own interpretation of sharia.

Lawyers say this means similar cases often yield starkly different verdicts and sentences. In some cases King Abdullah has stepped in to annul decisions seen as embarrassing to the country, such as the 2007 jailing of a rape victim on charges of consorting with unrelated men.

However, the reforms have made scant progress five years after being announced, according to lawyers and the ministry source, a delay they blamed on conservatives in the Justice Ministry and within the judiciary.

"I think the majority of judges are in favor. They want to see development both as professionals and for society. But there's another 30 percent. They fight (Issa) day and night, trying to slow down what he is doing," said the ministry source.

Saudi society and government remain very religious and socially conservative. Women are barred from driving, only Islam can be practiced in public and morality police patrol the streets to enforce compliance with social and dress codes.

Posted on 11/06/2012 11:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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