These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 7, 2012.
Saturday, 7 July 2012
7 Years since the 7th day of the 7th month
I don't know who took this photograph which I have borrowed from a friend.
I am away today so I cannot be with my friends of March for England quietly at Tavistock Square. I'll have the day in mind. I'll be back in a couple of weeks.
Posted on 07/07/2012 2:49 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Terror suspect with a lonely heart only has himself to blame, says judge
From The Telegraph
A young terrorism suspect who says the Government's new security service monitoring powers are preventing him from finding a wife and starting a family has been told by a High Court judge he has only himself to blame.
The British citizen, known as AM and living in northern England, was told he has yet convincingly to demonstrate he has renounced previous views when he was allegedly ready to be a terrorist "martyr".
AM is alleged as a teenager to have been an associate of the foiled 2006 plane bomb plotters, even though he was never arrested. Now aged 24, he challenged the legality of Home Secretary Theresa May's decision last January to impose wide-ranging restrictions on him under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act.
Dan Squires, appearing for AM, at a recent hearing said he had now been subjected to the longest surveillance period of any terrorism suspect. Mr Squires argued the "devastating" measures were "disproportionate" and so restrictive that he could not contemplate marriage at an age when all his contemporaries in his community were married, or marrying.
Today Mr Justice Mitting, sitting at the High Court in London, rejected the challenge and ruled the measures - except in one instance - both proportionate and necessary. The judge said he was prepared to accept the restrictions were having a chilling effect on AM's social life and personal development, but they were "the unavoidable consequence of the situation in which his own activities have placed him".
The Home Secretary was entitled to believe he had been involved in "a viable plot to commit mass murder".
Referring to the devastating effect of the measures on AM's development and marriage prospects, the judge ruled: "This is the unavoidable consequence of the situation in which his own activities have placed him. "In the light of the factors set out above, some such effect is the necessary and unavoidable consequences of measures properly taken for the purpose of protecting the public from a risk of terrorism. The measures are not disproportionate."
The Tpim restrictions upheld by the judge include AM having to wear a GPS tag, submitting to daily monitoring of his movements, remaining at a specific address from midnight to 8am and not meeting two named individuals.
When he visits the home of his mother and younger sisters, they are required to switch off their mobiles and computers. The judge dismissed a complaint that he was having to reduce visits because his sisters were suffering "annoyance and distress" not being able to use their phones. It was "a small price to pay" to see their brother, said the judge.
The judge said deportation of AM was impermissible and prosecution unlikely, and the only viable exit strategy was to encourage and facilitate a change in his outlook.
Posted on 07/07/2012 3:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Hillary Clinton Ensures Chinese, As Well As Russian, Refusal To Cooperate On Syria
The other day Hillary Clinton, at one of those many, interminable, and misnamed "Friends of Syria" meetings, demanded that Russia and China be made to pay for their continuing refusal to join the West and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in wanting to overthrow the Alawite despotism that, whatever else it does, keeps the Sunni Muslims down and the Christians reasonably well off, in Syria. By doing so, she ensured that the Russian government, enthusiastically backed in this even by opponents of Putin, will not abandon their defense of the Alawites.
Now it seems that the Chinese government is not impressed, either, with Clinton's attempt to bully China:
BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Saturday said that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's criticism of China at the latest Friends of Syria meeting is "unacceptable."
It's wonderful that her misguided policiesin Syria, where one wishes the Alawites to hold on, just, but to be forced to pull back from supporting Hezbollah or standing by their man in Iran, and to be unable to project power beyond Syrian borders (thus ensuring that Israeli defense planners, now that they must worry more about Egypt, will be able to worry less about their northern front) are themselves vitiated by her own diplomatic maladroitness. That maladroitness is born of the hectic vacacny of her day-to-day existence, that life that guarantees that thought cannot take place, a life consisting of those plane trips, those endless meetings, those briefing papers and those briefings, those executive summaries, those smiling advisors with the proper degrees, but degrees that now are a guarantee of nothing, , that impossibility of finding time to read and think and take stock and question authority, including her own, on the matters that matter most, that readiness to rent foreign friends with constant infusiions of foreign aid, that naivete about the world, that failure even to recognize the permanent threat of the ideology of Islam, that deterministic and idiotic mantra about "getting on the right side of history," that... oh, fill up the paragraph or the page yourself.
Her name has been bruited about as a future presidential candidate. The scandal of her husband's avarice as reflected in his non-stop and unapologetic accumulation of wealth since leaving office, so that he reportedly has "earned" over one hundred million dollars. by him, for her use too, of more than $100 million dollars. The scandal of having two Bushes then followed by pair of Clintons would be too much for this put-upon Republic to bear. The Clintons are not, after all, on the same intellectual or moral level as John and John Quincy Adams. In the case of the Clintons, the couple that comes to mind are -- to quote a student I once had, who didn't understand why i objected to his choice of words in his Shakespeare essay -- Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth.
Posted on 07/07/2012 7:19 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Ibn Kammuna: How Islam Stunts The Mind
The Plight of Muslim Societies
When I was living in the Middle East, I once asked a dear friend, an American lady, who was living there, this question: What do you think the main difference between the way we Arabs think and the way you Westerners think?
Even though my question was vague and general, I meant it to be that way. I wanted to see what is most distinct in her mind about the Arab culture and mentality, and the western culture and mentality.
Please keep in mind that she was a learned lady. She answered my question with a lengthy answer, which can be summarized thus:
Arab culture is a culture of secrets. Westerners do have their secrets, but they like most things to be out in public. Arab culture is a culture of shame without truth and openness. The western culture is a culture of “helping the other”, not shaming him/her. And it is a culture of honesty and public records. Arab culture is a culture of “forcing” things on the individual without any reflection. Western culture is a culture of choices, and critical reflection on things.
She said many other things that I can not recall exactly. At the time, I have not been to the west yet. So, I am sure she said many things I did not quite grasp. But these were the points that remained stuck in my memories.
After I moved to the West and lived for many years, I believe she was hitting the nails on the heads in her answer.
In the Middle East, my brain was saturated with “hate the Jew” through textbooks, religious edicts, Qur’anic verses, cultural proverbs, newspapers and other media outlets. This saturation of the mind with “hate the Jew” teachings cannot but force a certain view about Jews in ones mind. It took my many years of living in the west and dealing with many Jewish people to I realized that Jews can be a wonderful people—a process, which I may call “detoxification”. I have dealt with many Jews, who were involved in regular activities of volunteering and charitable activities, and had expertise just for the public good, a trait hardly seen in Arab culture.
My dealings with individual Jews in the West led me to question certain Arab cultural “truths”, which I had been brainwashed with while growing up in the Middle East, and which I believed in. For instance, I had been led to believe in the Arab cultural truth that the 1967 war was no more than an aggression by Israel against Arab nations. I researched this matter based on credible publications and neutral documentaries. And my conclusions caused in me what Thomas Kuhn called a “paradigm shift”. The main instigator of the 1967 war was Arab countries. The prime culprit for the breakout of this war was the then Egyptian president Jamal Abdul Naser. Of course, other Arabs leaders played a supporting role to him. And the entire Arab world suffered a crushing and humiliating defeat in a war, they proudly instigated, at the hands of tiny little state of Israel.
Since then, I have stopped trusting the Arab media or politics. I have decided to do independent research of my own to arrive at the truth.
Let’s go back to the central issue to be addressed in this article – the hopeless realities in the Arab and Islamic countries. The hopeless plight in Islamic countries results from ignoring the facts of life, and avoiding, not addressing, them. And I am convinced that Islam, which Muslims embraces as the complete code of their life, is responsible for creating this plight in Islamic countries. Islam numbs the minds of individuals and nations. It stands in the way of searching truth. Islam’s blinding spell over Muslim societies makes them disinterested in truths and leaves them in ignorance. Please allow me to explain.
The search for truth, no matter what the topic is, requires us to think critically. Critical thinking helps us investigate every truth neutrally and continually, and correct our views about them, whenever needed. This fact can be shown best in the development of sciences. Earth is flat was “Truth” for the greater part of human history. But then, scientific investigation told us otherwise about the shape of the earth – that it has an extended spherical form – different from our age-old truth that earth is flat. And we corrected ourselves.
We believed that the concept of “time” was absolute. Certain phenomena challenged such “Truth”. So, we thought in a critical manner, and ended up changing our view of time to a “relative” one. Critical thinking is, thus, crucial to searching truths, which drives scientific advancements and developments.
Islam destroys this critical element in human thinking, at least in certain matters. Islam may allow critical thinking, but in matters of religions and whatever entails it, are off limits to critical thinking. In the West, people can question the morality of Jesus. One can question the Pope’s intentions. One can challenge any norm. Not in Islam. In a Muslim country, you question Muhammad’s prophethood or veracity of the Quran, you will be dead meat. Ex-Muslim Mark Gabriel was an Al-Azhar professor. He studied Islam critically and understood how evil the foundation of Islam. So, he stopped believing in the Qur’an. Guess what happened to him? He was spat on and attacked by his colleagues at Al-Azhar University and by his family. A university professor in the West Bank questioned the existence of Muhammad due to certain historical facts. Guess what his students did to him? They threw him out of the second-floor window.
Muslims dispute Ali Sina’s assertion that Islam is a cult. But facts on the ground prove his assertions to be true day in and day out. Cult members cannot accept the fact when their leader is found to be a despicable criminal. In an exactly similar way, Muslims not only fail to accept the evident truth that Prophet Muhammad was a despicable criminal, highway robber, a mass-murderer, an enslaver, and a pedophile, polygamist and rapist. They just ignore those facts, give them a divine color, and to go the point of emulating them even today.
When Muslims hears that someone had burned the Qur’an, which could even be a rumour, all hell breaks loose. Cult mentality sets in, and Muslims go berserk. They may kill Christian nuns and missionaries anywhere in world, although the alleged Quran burning occurred at a far corner of the world. They may burn kills Jews, burn Jewish temples and Torah, or destroy Ahmadiyya mosques.
Islam is a cult that found great success because of the age it was born in. In sixth-century Arabia without functioning government, tribal force and might ruled the day. Muhammad utilized that to his advantage. He founded and open “tribe” system, called Islam. In this system, it was easy to join, but impossible to leave alive. Until this day, the punishment for apostasy is death. In that open-to-enter and closed-to-leave tribe system, Muhammad managed to attract all the criminals and renegades from other tribes. He lured them with the greed of loots and female booties for rape, and it worked. With the greed for loots and women, Muhammad set up a successful tribe system – open to entry but closed to leave. He proudly said expressions like “I was made victorious with terror” and “I am the only prophet that God/Allah made loots halal for me”.
This paradigm of Islam’s foundation, however horrendous and despicable it may be, is all to evident sacred Islamic texts, yet Muslims in the 21st century hold their unshakable belief in them to be divine truths world emulating at all times. That’s how Muslim culture does not allow development of critical thinking and self-reflection. Far from it, it suppresses it.
- “Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam. If they do they are to be killed”. Muslims are not allowed to reflect on this Islamic teaching.
- “A Muslim man is allowed to marry women of other religions (Jewish and Christian). A Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a non-Muslim”. Muslims are not allowed to question why Muhammad taught that.
- “A Muslim is not allowed to drink a glass of wine (a healthy thing if done in moderation)”. A Muslim is not allowed to do that or reflect on that.
- “A Muslim woman’s body had to be covered, when in fact exposing your skin to the sun in moderation is a good thing. It helps manufacture vitamin D inside the body, an essential nutrient for the development of bones”. A Muslim is not allowed to challenge such teachings
The list is long. The fact remains that Muslims are not allowed to use their brains in a critical manner if any such use challenges Islamic teachings or Muhammad’s behavior, which is considered sacred Sunna. One Muslim medical doctor in Minnesota still recommends certain forms of female genital mutilation because, in one Sahih hadith, Muhammad taught to do such an evil and immoral thing that destroys female sexuality.
To develop critical thinking, one has to be taught in schools the freedom of thought and the freedom to reflect on anything that is taught or comes to ones mind. True education allows the individual to view nothing as sacred, and to question any learned or perceived fact. Such ability is not instilled in children in Muslim societies. If free and critical thinking were allowed in Muslim societies about anything and everything, I believe, Islam will take its rightful destiny in no time amongst many historical religions that human civilization surpassed. It would be buried in the desert sands of Arabia where it truly belongs.
Posted on 07/07/2012 7:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Abdel Hakim Belhaj, Al-Qaeda, And What's To Come in Libya
From Fox News:
Outcome of Libyan elections could spell trouble for US
July 07, 2012
According to news reports this week, the emir of a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization is edging closer to securing a leadership role in Libya’s new government.
For President Obama, this situation stands to severely diminish perceptions of “prudence” bestowed upon his administration’s Arab Spring-related policies — even if the public knows little about this rising Libyan political star or the terror group previously helmed by him.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj is the co-founder and leader of the purportedly moribund Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Today, he is on the short list of candidates whom Libya observers are comfortably forecasting as key political stakeholders in Libya’s next government. Still, some monitors might call their predictions a tad tardy. And his rise to prominence is hardly a surprise to officials in Washington.
In December 2011, I produced a report for members of Congress which called attention to the trajectory of Belhaj’s role in the post-Qaddafi era. While his rise to political prominence may be a surprise for many outside America’s policy-making spheres, his historical pursuits should be alarming to all.
Established in Southwest Asia by Libyan jihadis who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, the LIFG and its members have been featured prominently in the “global jihad” spearheaded by Al Qaeda. After enjoying Usama bin Laden’s hospitality in Sudan following his and many LIFG members’ departure from Afghanistan in the early 1990s, Belhaj became the group’s emir.
Initially, the LIFG was focused narrowly on one goal: Overthrowing the “apostate” Qaddafi regime in Tripoli. However, the group’s vitriol increasingly incorporated shades of anti-Americanism once the Qaddafi regime crushed their revolt in Libya in the late 1990s, and particularly once the US began targeting Al Qaeda after its 1998 dual bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
In an August 1998 letter regarding the U.S. response to these bombings, the LIFG pronounced, “the U.S.A. is not only an enemy of the Mujahid sheikh Usama Bin Laden and the Islamic movements, but it is an enemy of the Islamic nation.”
While relations between the LIFG and Al Qaeda were at times tenuous, various LIFG leaders assumed top-ranking positions within Al Qaeda. These transitions and the two groups’ operational proximities manifest many assumptions about the LIFG functioning as a franchise of Al Qaeda. But in analysis of terrorist movements, details matter, and the LIFG was not.
Much of the flawed history about the LIFG stems from a 2007 message featuring LIFG Shura Council member Abu Laith al-Libi (killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2008) and present day Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The message was widely misinterpreted as an announcement of the LIFG’s merger with Al Qaeda. But soon after its publication — and with little attention from the Western media — al-Zawahiri explained: “I did not say that [the LIFG] has joined Al Qaeda … However, I said that a group of the notables of the [LIFG] has joined the Qa’idat al-Jihad Group [aka Al Qaeda].”
Regardless of whether the LIFG formally merged with Al Qaeda -- in as much as Al Qaeda helped train and equip LIFG militants, with Belhaj as their leader -- LIFG members trained Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban recruits who fought US forces in Afghanistan soon after the 9/11 attacks. What is perhaps least discussed among officials is that one LIFG member’s combat prowess was so renowned that an Al Qaeda member traveled to Afghanistan to undergo training provided by him in preparation for a (later aborted) component of the 9/11 plot.
But it is not just the misapprehensions bolstered by inaccurate reporting on the aforementioned 2007 “merger” announcement that have hampered much analysis of this obscure group, or its leaders’ interests.
Reporting on the publication in 2009 of a 400-plus-page book of “retractions” written by various LIFG leaders jailed in Libya prompted much more problematic mischaracterizations. What’s more, such reporting no-doubt influenced decisions made by NATO officials who met with Belhaj in Qatar during Libya’s 2011 revolution.
Titled “Corrective Studies in Understanding Jihad, Enforcement of Morality, and Judgment of People,” the book was widely depicted as a repudiation of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism in general. But it appears that many journalists who covered the release of the LIFG’s revisions -- authored by Belhaj, LIFG Sharia committee leader Sami al-Saadi, and several other LIFG leaders jailed in Libya -- did not closely review the contents of this material.
For US officials, the LIFG’s “Corrective Studies” should have raised concerns. Its authors sought to “correct” the path of “true” defensive jihad, not abolish it altogether.
Echoing the rhetoric of such radical clerics as Muslim Brotherhood thought leader and Hamas’ so called spiritual guide Yusuf al-Qaradawi — clerics whose imprimaturs were provided for this work prior to its release — authors of the “Corrective Studies” pronounced jihad is an obligation for Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. They argued these places are occupied by foreign military powers and therefore must be liberated through resistance in the form of violent jihad.
Now that the LIFG has been “disbanded” — but really just re-branded — it is unclear if its leaders feel bound to the positions they espoused in this book.
Given his reported meetings with members of the Free Syria Army in Turkey late in 2011, it may be the case that Belhaj is again examining opportunities to extend his followers’ jihad beyond Libya.
It is one thing for Muslim Brotherhood political figures who are assuming control of Egypt to call for the releases of jailed terrorists and terror plot co-conspirators like Omar Abdel Rahman, the so called "Blind Sheikh" who was jailed in the US after being convicted of seditious conspiracy for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings. Or for these newly elected figures to posture intents to freeze Egypt’s relations with Israel, which previously proved critical to global counterterrorism efforts.
It is quite another thing for the leaders of Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist organizations like Abdel Hakim Belhaj — who, in a letter published on the LIFG’s website in May 1997 lauded Omar Abd al-Rahman, and warned “the tyrant Americans about the wrath of the Muslims, who are fed up with the American oppression that wreaks havoc upon the earth” — to become government officials in a region which is a wellspring for terror groups that target US interests globally.
Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi recently took legal action against the government of Britain for its involvement in their renditions to Libya following their capture by CIA in 2004.
Once in a stronger position, it is unlikely “lawfare” will be the most confrontational tactic Belhaj will be tempted to employ against US and allied interests. And it seems safe to predict that Libya’s new leaders will be disinclined to brand members of many groups designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the US as terrorists or criminals with individuals like Belhaj serving in their midst.
Then again, it seems the Obama administration is equally averse to casting many such individuals in this light as we enter into the post-Arab Spring era. Hence Belhaj’s newfound status as a political player in post-Qaddafi Libya.
Under Qaddafi, the government of Libya was one of the world’s most prolific sponsors of terrorist groups based around the globe. If Belhaj and other Salifist jihadis are allowed to claim prominent roles in Libya’s new government, the post-Qaddafi era might very well retain certain features of the legacy left by a dictator whom Ronald Reagan once famously called the “mad dog of the Middle East.”
To borrow an expression former Secretary of State James Baker used to describe the Soviet bloc’s collapse, the Arab Spring has been a case of managing “one damn thing after another.” In the case of Libya, it certainly appears as though we may be trading one damn thing for another.
Posted on 07/07/2012 10:06 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
A Musical Interlude: I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 07/07/2012 10:13 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Muslim Terrorists Planned To Murder English Defence League Demonstrators
From EDL News:
July 7, 2012 EDL News,
As reported earlier this morning, seven men have been arrested for their involvement in a plot to target last Saturday’s EDL demonstration in Dewsbury.
Police found an improvised explosive device (IED), much like those used in Afghanistan, along with guns, ammunition and leaflets warning ‘infidels’ not to follow the EDL, David Cameron or the Queen.
It was only by chance that just hours before the demonstration was set to begin the car carrying this deadly cargo was pulled over and impounded for not having any insurance. But it was not until Monday that police actually searched the car and discovered the weaponry.
When every single day our newspapers carry reports about Islamic extremism, it’s all too easy to become desensitised; to imagine that in the modern world the existence of would-be terrorists and religious radicals is just an unfortunate reality.
It seems that the reaction ranges from two extremes – from a false sense of security to a paranoid belief that every Muslim should be considered a security threat. Getting the right balance is not easy, but it’s difficult to maintain that Islam does not teach violence when for every Muslim leader who is willing to extend his hand in friendship there is another who is more than willing to praise suicide bombers, preach intolerance or encourage violence against British soldiers.
It’s also easy to imagine that the battle against Islamic extremism is one being fought solely by our security services and that you or I could not possibly have a role to play.
But that is not the case, as these arrests prove. The threat is very real, and those who are not afraid to demand that the government take it seriously now know that they can expect to be targeted.
There are some who believe that the battle against Islamic extremism is a global one that has many very public fronts: from armed conflicts in the Middle East to domestic challenges, such as clamping down on so-called ‘hate-preachers’.
Equally, there are some who see no connection between any of events, and who certainly do not believe that they are evidence of any kind of general ‘problem’ with Islam.
But however interconnected we may believe these different cases to be, it is undeniably the case that ‘Islamic extremism’ does not just mean acts of terrorism committed in the name of Islam. Instead it means everything Islamic that could reasonably be thought to contribute to these terrible acts.
Of course, external influences should not be ignored, but even where legitimate grievances do exist, there has developed a somewhat characteristic Islamic response.
This suggests that there is a deeper problem – not just isolated incidences of extremism. We must be prepared to ask quite simply, why is there so much of this extremism?
This is the question that the EDL is prepared to ask.
We’ve very quickly discovered that asking this question is not only taboo, but can provoke a violent reaction. King Louis Philippe of France once attributed the success of British politics to “their talking after dinner”. So when did we in Britain reach the stage where holding opposing views or saying something that others find hurtful exposes you to the risk of extreme violence?
This is not Iran, where those who rebel against conventional wisdom or politically correct authority can expect to be murdered, and where the killers of unbelievers or ‘blasphemers’ are celebrated as heroes.
We don’t have all the answers (who has?), but we’ve certainly found out enough about Islam to ask some challenging questions and to make some important criticisms.
Unfortunately, we all know what the reaction has been. Criticising Islam instantly makes you an ‘Islamophobe’ or, if you dare to suggest that Islamic extremism might be more of a threat to the country than is widely accepted, a racist.
This demonising of the EDL does a great job of preventing any serious discussion of the issues surrounding Islamic extremism.
It also does a great deal to boost the confidence of Islamic extremists. No wonder they burn poppies, insult homecoming soldiers and attack our demonstrations, often under the banner of the hilariously named ‘Unite Against Fascism’. (They’re the ones with the Islamic fascist on their leadership team who do their bit for freedom of speech by shouting down anyone who disagrees with their surprisingly fascist and illiberal worldview).
It is one thing to be tolerant of views that you find distasteful or unpleasant. It is quite another to tolerate intolerance, or to accept religiously sanctioned violence. Responding to criticism with violence is not the mark of a civilised people, but of people living in a brutal 7th century world, where tribal loyalty trumps all other concerns.
These arrests are simply the result of years of pandering to Islamic extremists rather than working to defeat them. The government has maintained its assumption that Islamic extremists can be reasoned with and convinced to abandon violence and intolerance, rather than making clear to the Muslim community that extremism will not be tolerated and that they must work to defeat the 7th century interpretations of Islam that breed such hostility and hatred.
The first step should be an open public debate about why it is that there is so much Islamic extremism. But this is a question that the government still refuse to ask, probably because they fear that they know the answer – Islam has been plagued with extremism for generations and is, as a result, incredibly resistant to reform.
No wonder people are angry. No wonder they support a movement that exists to remind the government of what should be their primary concern: defending this country, its people, its culture and its traditions.
Few would stand for an England undefended, even if only comparably few currently regard themselves as supporters of the English Defence League.
What would it take for that to change?
Tommy Robinson (EDL Leader) has often argued that our most bitter critics should at least recognise that the EDL are a symptom of extremism. But we have also done a great deal to confront and defeat any kinds of ‘counter-extremism’.
We have always spoken out against racism and made clear that however controversial some of our criticisms may be, they are directed at solving the problem of Islamic extremism, not at attacking privately held beliefs.
We believe that everyone should be free to choose whatever religion they like (including no religion at all), as long as their religious conviction does not lead them to infringe on the rights of others. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Islamic extremism does.
Our reaction has always been measured. We believe in the rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this country, and we are committed to protecting them. All the while, we have maintained our commitment to peaceful protest and will continue to do so.
If we are a symptom, then it is possible to imagine far worse.
People do need to be woken up. They need to realise that they can make a difference.
But if they awake too suddenly and with too much of a jolt, the government would do well to fear the consequences.
That is why they must acknowledge the threat posed by Islamic extremism and defend the rights of those who are not afraid to speak out – if for no other reason than self-preservation.
It seems like a long time ago that we warned of the rise of the British Taliban, but when an IED is discovered on the M1, it’s clear that our predictions are coming true.
The organisers of our Bristol demonstration have also recently been issued with Oman warnings (warnings that the police issue when they have received credible intelligence that there is a threat to your life), so the threat is very real.
Please be vigilant. Any suspicious activity at one of our demonstrations – however seemingly trivial – should be reported to a member of our stewarding team immediately.
Now more than ever, we must not be afraid to continue to ask why it is that we face a continued threat from Islamic extremism.
We must continue to ask why 25% of British Muslims do not believe that they should inform on people involved with terrorist activities (ICM, November 2004) and why 7% believe that suicide bombing attacks on British civilians are justified (Populus, December 2005).
We must continue to demonstrate. We must continue to protest. And we must continue to do so peacefully.
Posted on 07/07/2012 11:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Martin Sherman On Israelis Whose Folly Has No End
From The Jerusalem Post:
Into the Fray: The honorable thing to do
By MARTIN SHERMAN
The only proper thing for two-staters to do is to admit error, apologize for the vast damage they have wrought, and bow out of public life.
The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. – Albert Einstein
This insight encapsulates the predicament that two-staters have inflicted on us. The problems that have arisen from the pursuit of the policy of two-states-for-two-peoples cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created those problems – i.e. by the continued pursuit of that policy.
Over the past several months, two-staters have been in a flap, displaying growing frustration and bewilderment over the refusal of reality to conform to their political prescription. Increasingly, their public statements show signs of despair and desperation, at times tinged with tones of panic. It is becoming evermore common to encounter expressions of what once would have been considered heretical musings, reflecting mounting doubts whether their formula for resolving the conflict is at all feasible.
One of the more outlandish responses to this spreading desperation was that articulated recently by Shimon Peres – who might well be dubbed “the-two-stater-in-chief” – at last month’s Presidential Conference in Jerusalem.
Addressing a plenary session titled “Learning from Mistakes on the Way to Tomorrow,” Peres seemed to advocate that we shouldn’t.
Learn from mistakes, that is.
His recipe for attaining peace – which of course has worked so splendidly up to now – was to forget the past because “we can’t change it.”
Challenging his audience with the rhetorical question, “Can you correct the past?” he urged: “Focus on the future.”
Ah, “the future” – that seductively fabricated illusion, fraudulently framed as the promise of serene tranquility, tantalizingly close at hand, and conveniently decoupled from the trauma and tragedy of the past.
For two-staters, it is the last remaining straw they have to cling to; the last card they have to play in the losing hand they have dealt themselves – and the nation.
Doomed to repeat?
Now while it is undoubtedly true that we cannot change the past, we definitely can learn from it. Indeed, we fail to do so at our peril. As George Santayana warns: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Peres seems reluctant to recall the repercussions of his own actions – and even more reticent to admit them.
Apparently impervious to the massive trail of death and devastation precipitated by the “peace process,” of which he was the principal architect, he recounted to the conference how he sagaciously allayed Yitzhak Rabin’s misgivings and convinced him to go along with handing over Gaza and Jericho to the homicidal regime of Yasser Arafat and his sanguinary cronies.
From Peres’s demeanor, one might easily have concluded that the measures he initiated, and which resulted in the loss of life and limb for thousands of his countrymen, was an admirable deed to be emulated, rather than an appalling blunder to be avoided.
Given their abysmal record, it is understandable that perpetrators of two-state compliant policies should be loath to discuss the past, and keen to formulate a rationale to avoid such a debate.
But even making allowance for the inevitable cognitive discomfort two-staters must experience when confronted with the stark contrast between their deeply held beliefs and the cold facts of reality, Peres’s formula for devising actionable policy takes the concept of public irresponsibility to a whole new level.
Reckless abandon as strategy
According to our esteemed president and Nobel peace laureate, the key to successful peacemaking is to ignore the risks, disregard the dangers, discount the threats, and dismiss the hazards that one may encounter in the pursuit of peace...
Indeed, the prescribed “Peresian” precondition for peace is to “close your eyes a little.”
After all, he asserts, “You cannot make peace with your eyes open.”
So that’s it! The secret is reckless abandon.
All we need to do to attain the durable peace that has eluded us for so long is to throw caution to the wind. Forget who our adversaries are, overlook their intrinsic nature and past behavior, “close our eyes” and conjure up some virtual reality populated by cuddly, congenial Palestinians.
So it seems that flat learning curves are “in.” Or rather learning curves in general are “out.”
But for the gravity of the issues and the calamitous consequences they may entail, Peres’s proposal would be comical – bordering on the buffoonish.
Yet despite its manifest absurdity, it seems to have a definite allure for some.
Indeed, total erasure of memory appears to be the only explanation for Gershon Baskin’s latest column, in Tuesday’s Jerusalem Post, “Is my Zionist dream dead?”
I am having difficulty finding societally acceptable terms to describe Baskin’s diatribe against his country and his people.
The article is not only a deplorable mixture of misplaced alarm, partisan delusion and whining self-commiseration; it is incendiary, borderline seditious and distinctly Judeophobic – allegations I will not leave unsubstantiated.
It is an archetypical illustration of prejudicial political amnesia that would do the “Peresian” philosophy of “closed eyes” proud.
No blame is ascribed to the Palestinians for the failure to attain a two-state peace.
It’s all the fault of the Jews – the blind, callous, egotistical Jews.
Actually, I tend to agree with Baskin’s opening paragraph. He writes: “I am really quite concerned. I see a great disaster about to unfold. I simply cannot understand why people are not shouting, ‘Don’t let this happen!’” For I too fear that we may well be on the cusp of “great disaster” and am a little puzzled at what appears to be inexplicable public complacency.
But from thereon we diverge into antithetical positions – with regard both to the nature of the impending disaster and the measures needed to avert it. For the potential for catastrophe is the direct result of the endeavor to implement Baskin’s twostate idea and the land-for-peace doctrine on which it is based.
Recipe for calamity
For wherever the policy of political appeasement and territorial withdrawal has been implemented, it has resulted in unequivocal fiasco – sometimes almost immediately as in Gaza, sometimes after a few years as with the second intifada, and sometimes after a few decades as in Sinai.
This record of failure leaves Baskin unmoved. He still apparently cannot fathom why this has diminished the Israeli public’s appetite for, and belief in, the twostate principle, with regard to both its feasibility and its desirability.
Throughout Baskin’s column there is not a hint – never mind explicit mention – referring to:
• The indiscriminate Palestinian shelling of Israeli civilian population centers from Gaza after the evacuation of the entire area;
• The frenzied desecration and destruction of the synagogues left standing after that evacuation;
• The Judeophobic incitement in the official Palestinian media and school curricula, almost indistinguishable in its venom from the Nazi Der Stürmer;
• The Judeocidal declarations of intent calling for the destruction of Israel as the nation state of the Jews, in the founding documents of all the major Palestinian organizations – whether in the Hamas Charter, the Fatah Constitution or the PLO’s Palestinian National Charter still posted on the website of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations;
• The bloody wave of Palestinian violence unleashed in response to Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offers of territorial concessions in 2000;
• The Palestinian rejection of Ehud Olmert’s even more radical offers in 2008.
Ignoring far-reaching concessions
But it is not only Palestinian rejectionism and propensity for violence that appears to have slipped Baskin’s mind. So it seems has Israel’s far-reaching willingness to make concrete concessions in the hope of reaching a peace agreement with the Arabs, including the Palestinians, ever since the 1979 Camp David Agreements.
After all, Israel has:
• Evacuated the entire Sinai Peninsula;
• Foregone its oil resources and strategic depth;
• Withdrawn unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, erasing every vestige of Jewish presence;
• Unearthed its dead from graveyards;
• Demolished settlements in northern Samaria;
• Allowed armed militias to deploy adjacent to its capital and within mortar range of its parliament; and
• Imposed a 10-month construction freeze across the “settlements.”
None of these elicited discernible motivation among the Palestinians for reciprocal peaceable measures. They merely pocketed the concessions and moved on to their next demand.
Yet despite the weight of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, Baskin declares, “There obviously is no partner for this solution on the Israeli side,” adding ominously, “soon there will be no partner for it on the Palestinian side.”
But, of course, there never really has been any of the latter, except in the fevered minds of the obsessive two-staters such as Baskin for whom not capitulating to every Palestinian demand is apparently proof-positive of Israeli intransigence.
Yet there are far graver aspects to Baskin’s article than his bias against Israel. Consider the following passage: “One million Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot be equal when they are always subject to be questioned about their loyalty. Of course they will be loyal to their own people when their own state is fighting against them.”
Well, quite apart from the fact that the questions raised regarding the loyalty of the Arab citizens of Israel derive from their deeds and their declarations – particularly of their elected representatives – and not from any arbitrary discriminatory impulse of the Israeli authorities, the implications of the latter part of the excerpt are particularly serious.
For it seems Baskin is endorsing – or at least condoning – support for the enemy in war. How else are we to interpret his acceptance of Israeli Arabs bestowing their loyalty on “their own people” rather than on “their state” when the two are effectively at war. It is hard to imagine how those who wish to cast doubt on the loyalty of Israeli Arabs could ask for any greater validation of their position than that provided by Baskin.
While I would, of course, prefer to reach some alternative conclusion rather than that Baskin is sanctioning, or at least tolerating, sedition among Israel’s Arab citizen, I am having difficulty finding one.
Baskin waxes hysterical, bleating: “What do we do when partition is no longer possible?” Of course it never really was. There certainly is not – nor has there been – any format compatible with Israel’s minimum security requirements that is acceptable to the Palestinians – except of course in the feverish imagination of career two-staters such as Baskin.
There are certainly Zionist-compliant alternatives to the two-state paradigm, as I have discussed in several previous columns, but which due to constrains of space cannot be elaborated on here.
Baskin, however, contemptuously dismisses any thought of other options, asking: What if they don’t work/the Palestinians don’t accept them? Surely Baskin has a commensurate obligation to inform us what happens if a Palestinian state were indeed established and – as would be quite likely – is taken over by radical Islamist elements, or even if the moderate non-Islamic regime cannot rein in its renegade elements. What is Baskin’s “Plan B” once Israel has relinquished control of the highlands commanding its major population centers and vital infrastructure installations? What if the Palestinians do not suddenly behave radically differently to the way they have for the last hundred years? What if they rain down rockets, not on Sderot and remote southern agricultural settlements, but on greater Tel Aviv, Ben- Gurion Airport, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Savyon, Caesarea and Jerusalem? What then? What if what swept through Gaza, and more recently through Tahrir, Tunis and Tripoli, sweeps through Ramallah? Does Baskin care about the consequences for his country and his countrymen? If so, there is no hint of how he proposes to address them.
What is the tenor of Baskin’s Zionism? He certainly seems to place scant weight on the issue of Jewish sovereignty. For him Palestinian sovereignty seems far more essential.
He writes: “The State of Palestine will never exist if it is up to Israel to decide.... I want to understand if there’s a place left for me in this country. I want to know if my Zionist dream has any validity any more.”
It would appear Baskin’s “Zionist dream” is entirely dependent on the establishment, not of a Jewish state, but a Palestinian one – which he implies must be imposed on the sovereign elected government of the Jewish state, presumably by foreign powers. Or am I missing something here? Moreover, it seems that Baskin’s “Zionist dream” cannot have “any validity” nor can there to be any place for him in the country unless millions of more Israelis are brought into the range of weapons being used today from territory handed over to Palestinian control.
That apparently is essential for his moral code. Without this, Baskin’s vision of Zionism will crumble and Israel will, in all likelihood, no longer be a place for him.
The honorable thing
Baskin asks that we be truthful, and indeed we should. But so should he.
He accuses Binyamin Netanyahu of insincerity and deliberately sabotaging any chance of a two-state solution. So it would be extremely intriguing to know how Baskin would relate to Nobel peace laureate Yitzhak Rabin, who, in his final address to the Knesset delineated his vision of a permanent solution with the Palestinians far less generous than any of his successors – including Netanyahu.
Would Rabin’s post-Oslo policies also invalidate Baskin’s Zionist dream and undermine his sense of belonging in the country? The truth, for those who genuinely seek it, is that any two-state configuration is incompatible with any sustainable Zionist existence.
It is high time that the two-staters acknowledge this. Indeed, today the only honorable thing left for two-staters to do is to admit error, apologize for the vast damage they have wrought, and bow out of public life.
Posted on 07/07/2012 1:12 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
American Government And Al-Qaeda On The Same Side
Shouldn't this give Barack Obama, and Benjamin Rhodes, and HIllary Clinton, and many others in official Washington, pause? Just a bit of one? Just to think things through, and think what Syria would be like if the Alawites lost, and how that compares with the Alawites holding on, just, to power?
Posted on 07/07/2012 8:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Or, depending on your mood, possibly all three?
Posted on 07/07/2012 9:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
A Musical Interlude: 'Leven Thirty Saturday Night (Arthur Schutt Orch.)
Posted on 07/07/2012 9:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Why Is Alarm Over Islam's Inroads Described As "Right-Wing"?
From Spiegel Online:
Seeking an Alternative to Two States European Right Wing Stirs Up Middle East Peace Process
By Charles Hawley
David Wilder/ Jewish Community of Hebron
Right-wing populists are not widely known for pursuing peace in Europe. But in the Middle East, they are seeking to change that reputation. A conference right-wing politicians helped organize between Palestinian clan leaders and Jewish settlers took place on Thursday in Hebron. They are billing it as an alternative path to peace in the region.
European right-wing populist parties are widely vilified back home. Deeply wary of the euro, extremely -- and vocally -- suspicious of Muslim immigrants and virulently opposed to the center-left multicultural ideal, they are broadly seen as little more than dangerous makers of mischief on the political stage. Often, they are conflated with neo-Nazi groups even further to the right.
Overseas, however, particularly among Israeli right-wing politicians and West Bank settlers, they are often viewed more favorably. On Thursday, representatives from several European right-wing political parties joined senior settler leaders, second-tier Israeli politicians, Orthodox Jewish leaders and a number of Palestinian clan leaders at the home of Sheikh Farid al-Jabari in Hebron. They came together with no less than the goal of establishing an alternative to the two-state, Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
"First and foremost, we are interested in achieving peaceful coexistence in the region. I think that needs to be the goal of all efforts," Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "To that end, it is important to begin a dialogue. I am convinced that a solution can be found in the near future that is acceptable to all sides."
Strache himself was unable to attend the Thursday meeting, but his party, primarily his close confidant David Lasar, an FPÖ member of the Viennese city-state government, played an instrumental role in putting it together. Joining Lasar in Hebron were Filip Dewinter, a Flemish parliamentarian from the right-wing party Vlaams Belang, and Kent Ekeroth of the similarly minded Swedish Democrats.
'Not Beloved by Everyone'
It wasn't the first such meeting between Sheikh Jabari and senior settler leaders -- represented most prominently by Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council, which administers 30 West Bank settlements -- to have been midwifed by European right-wing populists. It follows on the heels of a meeting hosted at the headquarters of European Parliament in mid-May by Fiorello Provera, a member of the Italian anti-immigration party Liga Nord and vice chair of the European Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee. Although the meeting was not official parliamentary business, it nevertheless carried symbolic value taking place as it did in Brussels.
"Palestinian society is nuanced. There is Hamas and there is the Palestine Liberation Organization. But you also have ordinary people who think and act differently than they do," Provera told SPIEGEL ONLINE in an interview. "The settlers, too, are not beloved by everyone in Israel, they are considered to be extremists. But they have to be understood. How do people expect to build a peace agreement without listening to the various groups of Israelis and Palestinians?"
Provera's question is a revealing one. European right-wing populists have spent much of the last two years building relations with conservative Israeli politicians and West Bank settlers. Provera himself went on a tour of the West Bank earlier this year, following the path of several populist leaders before him, Strache included.
Most went to Israel with a deep-seated conviction that the country -- given its presence on the front line in the conflict with Islam, as Strache told SPIEGEL ONLINE last year -- deserves greater support from Europe. Most came back with an even deeper mistrust of the Palestinian Authority and concern that the two-state solution could merely result in another radical Muslim state on Israel's doorstep. Their skeptical view of the Arab Spring -- as an uprising of Muslim fundamentalism -- has only reinforced such fears.
It is a position, of course, which closely parallels that of the populists' main partners in Israel: conservative politicians from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, parliamentarians from the ultra-orthodox religious Shas party and settler leaders, who are concerned that the two-state solution would force them to give up their homes and their claims to part of what they see as the Jewish homeland.
Pursuing and Alternative Vision
Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority's ongoing flirtations with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and continued reluctance to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, as demanded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have frustrated the Israeli government. Indeed, in his speech before US Congress in 2011, Netanyahu claimed disingenuously that, were the Palestinian Authority merely to say, "We recognize Israel as a Jewish state," it would be sufficient to end the conflict.
Though the path to dissatisfaction with the two-state peace process has been different among some Palestinians, clan leaders such as Sheikh Jabari have arrived at a similar conviction that an alternative vision must be pursued. Jabari is deeply frustrated by what he describes as a corrupt Palestinian Authority that has done little to help his native Hebron. Furthermore, he is convinced that Palestinians can never accept a two-state solution due to religious prerogatives forbidding Muslims from giving up claims to what they see as Muslim land.
"We don't want to live under illusions," Jabari told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "The creation of a Palestinian state is impossible. It is against our religious principles because we cannot give up land. The idea is a stillbirth."
As an alternative, Jabari envisions a single state within which Palestinians live legally and in peace with their Jewish neighbors. And he has taken significant steps to make that vision a reality. For several years, Jabari has nurtured contacts with Jewish leaders in Hebron and has hosted several meetings aimed at, as he says, "eliminating the hate that has been building in recent generations."
Some on the Israeli right see his efforts as a promising attempt to create an alternative negotiating partner to the Palestinian Authority. "There is a common understanding that the Palestinian Authority has really failed in fulfilling the Oslo peace process vision," David Haivri, spokesman for settlement administrator Mesika, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "There might be many who haven't considered an alternative. But I see Jabari as a possible solution to the conundrum."
Claim to the West Bank
The Palestinian Authority, of course, is deeply concerned by the effort, and particularly by the involvement of European politicians, whatever their stripe. In May, the Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a strongly worded condemnation of Mesika's invitation to visit members of the European Parliament, calling him a terrorist and expressing its hope that it "will not represent a new approach in dealing with the Palestinian Question."
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman stressed to SPIEGEL ONLINE that the Palestinian Authority remains the official partner to the international community. "Not just anyone can represent the Palestinian people," she said. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority regards all settlements on the West Bank as being in violation of international law, a position that Europe officially supports.
Given that the Palestinian Authority's position is largely mirrored by that of the international community, including the US, it remains unclear just how fruitful the nascent dialogue might ultimately be. All those present on Thursday vowed to meet again in the near future and optimism was in abundance. Still, changing decades of peace politics, to say nothing of finding common ground between two groups who believe in their historical and religious rights to lay claim to the West Bank, promises to be difficult.
And for all their eagerness to heighten their foreign policy credentials in order to emerge from the political margins back home, the role Europe's right-wing populist parties will play in the Mideast remains an open question. Although Haivri said he had limited expectations, he also offered that, "by inviting us to Brussels and hosting us (on Thursday), the Europeans are facilitating the dialogue." He added: "We are aware of the historical ideology they stem from and we hope that the relationship they have with the Jewish and Arab sides is a true sign that they have moved away from racism."
Jabari, however, seemed more willing to overlook the provenance of his chosen mediators. "It is not a problem to talk to the right-wing politicians from Europe because they are straightforward and honest," he says. "The fact that they are coming here and visiting us is proof that they are serious."
Posted on 07/07/2012 1:18 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Afghanistan Promised Sixteen Billion Dollars
Donors expected to pledge $16 billion in Afghan aid
How many billions will come, do you think, from Qatar, which has been spending a lot to help the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria as it did previously in Libya? How much from Kuwait? The Emirates? Saudi Arabia?
The Muslim members of OPEC have received more than $17 trillion dollars from oil and gas revenues since 1973 alone. They've got at least a trillion or more still sloshing about in assorted surpluses.
The Americans spent two trillion dollars to make Iraq a better place. They spent one trillion dollars to make Afghanistan a better place. They have given Egypt over $75 billion in the last 30 years, and tens of billions to Pakistan, to Jordan, to the "Palestinian" Authority.
Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and other members of the E.U., have given tens of billions collectively to the same Muslim recipients.
Japan has given its own tens of billions, over the years, to Muslim recipients.
The E.U., the United States, Canada, and Japan all forgave Iraq's debt of about $100 billion. The Arab states -- chiefly Kuwait and Saudi Arabia -- rebuffed James Baker when he tried to make them do the same.
Does it make sense for the non-Muslims of the world, whose economies are at the breaking point, should send more billions to Afghanistan? Does it make sense for the Muslims of the world, whose national coffers are exploding with money, should not contribute to supporting a fellow member of the Umma?
Posted on 07/07/2012 1:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 7 July 2012
Abuse Of Females: The West's Shocking Complicity
I have just finished listening to Mrs. Clinton's public pronouncements she made in Europe. Seldom have I heard such drivel fall from the mouth of a US politician. Not only was what she said almost incomprehensible rubbish devoid of any links to reality, but it was also devoid of any internal consistency. In short, it was a shocking display of a diseased mind and I was deeply embarassed on her behalf by the television coverage that I recorded. Forcing her to speak in public was nothing short of abuse and I expected at any moment to see responsible doctors rescue her from such treatment.
Therefore, I have only one question and I ask it perfectly seriously and with deep concern. By any reasonable definition Is Mrs. Clinton in touch with reality to a sufficient degree to be counted as sane, and, since she obviously is not, why are her loved ones and her friends not making attempts to rescue her?
One is much more accustomed to seeing and hearing about females being abused in Islamic countries. To see Mrs. Clinton forced to speak in public about things she obviously knows nothing about, and that her once keen mind cannot now grasp in any case, was just a callous display of ritual humiliation of a female in public and as such was deeply distressing.
So, I ask once more: where are her loved ones and her doctors? Is nobody going to help this poor deluded and delusional woman? Will nobody step up and protect her from the sordid exploitation she is forced to undergo on an almost daily basis?
If she were a woman in an Islamic country we would all be hot under our respective collars about her public treatment and the humiliation of revealing her ignorance and the deterioration of her mind that she is forced into by her boss. Come on America - rescue Mrs. Clinton now. Demand that she is treated with respect and placed in a secure environment where she cannot harm herself or others, or be harmed by them. The maltreatment of this poor lady is shocking and a blot on the escutcheon of the modern, caring USA.
Posted on 07/07/2012 10:28 PM by John M. Joyce