These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 9, 2007.
Saturday, 9 June 2007
21/7 'link to cleric of hate'
The trial of the 21/7 London bombers continues at the Crown Court at Woolwich. From The Sun.
Muktar Ibrahim, 29, and Ramzi Mohammed, 25, “forged links” to their suicide attack by attending the speeches of Abu Hamza, a court heard yesterday and were “devoted followers” of the preacher of hate at Finsbury Park Mosque.
Jurors have heard how both men were caught on camera by police surveillance officers at Hamza’s open-air sermon in 2004.
Prosecutor Max Hill (told the court) “Muktar Ibrahim not only heard preaching like his from the mosque, he was a devoted follower as was Mohammed.”
Mr Hill said all six defendants — Ibrahim, Mohammed, Hussein Osman, 28, Yassin Omar, 26, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, 34, and Adel Yahya, 24, were extremists.
Posted on 06/09/2007 4:17 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Avoid clichés like the plague
Dot Wordsworth writes:
I heard someone on the wireless, in talking about the Freedom of Information Act, refer to the ‘information-requesting community’, as if they all lived together and had much in common.
Now steady on, Dot. I know curmudgeonly is what you do, but "wireless" went out with the ark. In fact it's so old it's new, and now means something very different. I agree about "communities", however. "The Gay Community" is the silliest. What, after all, does Peter Mandleson have in common with Julian Clary?
You could, though, legitimately refer to me as a member of the annoyed community. I do have something in common with thousands of readers and listeners, even if I have never met them, who are enraged by stupid, empty, clichéd and erroneous language.
Now I have read an entertaining little book called She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook (Constable, £5.99). It is by Christopher Howse, who used to work for The Spectator, and Richard Preston.
It includes turns of phrase that I had not noticed, such as ‘Can I get a coffee?’ said by people asking for one at a shop. I am still not sure that I understand what government-spokesman types mean by top-slicing. But I found myself laughing in recognition at ordinarily irritating phrases such as not a problem, pan-fried, doing nothing is not an option, step up to the plate, take on board, and, a sure sign that inspiration if flagging: the list is endless.
Some words and phrases I hate are not in the selection, such as: in shock, transparency, valued customer, ongoing, envision, fit for purpose, real-time. I might have said the authors had ‘missed a trick’, were it not such an annoying phrase to use.
People have used that phrase about things I have written, in which I omitted certain elements because they are too hackneyed to mention. ‘She missed a trick by not mentioning the delicious tale of Queen Elizabeth, the Earl of Oxford and the fart,’ writes a reviewer, ignorant that I had judged the story too well known to benefit from another outing. In any case, many people think that missing a trick is something to do with the kinds of trick that you cannot teach an old dog, whereas the figure of speech comes from card-playing. Missing a trick is failing to make or take one that you should.
Card playing? Shouldn't that be card carrying? Is Dot Worthsworth literally a card carrying member of the chattering classes? Going forward she may become one.
Posted on 06/09/2007 5:58 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 9 June 2007
UK Attorney General Denies Involvement in BAE-Bandar Cover-Up
LONDON, England (CNN) -- UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith on Friday denied media reports that he ordered investigators to conceal payments from an international anti-bribery watchdog agency.
"It's absolutely untrue that I ordered investigators to conceal payments from the OECD" -- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- Goldsmith said.
His comments followed British media reports alleging former Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, may have received up to $2 billion in secret payments from a British defense firm, BAE Systems, over a period of nearly 20 years.
According to the Guardian newspaper and the BBC, the payments were channeled to at least one Saudi embassy account at the now-defunct Riggs Bank in Washington.
The payments were tied to the prince's role in negotiating an $85 billion deal to sell British warplanes to Saudi Arabia in 1985. The agreement -- known as the Al-Yamamah arms deal -- is the largest in British defense history.
Prince Bandar, a close friend of U.S. President George W. Bush, was described as the chief negotiator in the deal. The Saudi royal, through a lawyer's statement, "categorically denies" receiving any "backhanders" -- secret payments -- and called the the reports "an extremely serious allegation."...
Speaking Thursday, at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, Blair told reporters if the investigation had gone ahead it "would have involved the most serious allegations and investigations being made of the Saudi royal family."
Blair also said that he didn't "believe the investigation would have led anywhere, except the complete wreckage of the vital strategic relationship for our country in terms of fighting terrorism, in terms of the Middle East, in terms of British interests there." He added that as a result of the investigation, "thousands of British jobs" would have been lost, suggesting the Saudis would have taken aerospace business elsewhere.
The British Ministry of Defence was part-owner of BAE Systems throughout much of the period when the alleged payments to Prince Bandar were made...
BAE Systems acknowledged making payments, but denied any wrongdoing. The firm's statement said that "the al-Yamamah program is a government-to-government agreement" and all payments were made "with express approval of both the Saudi and the UK government."...
Posted on 06/09/2007 6:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 9 June 2007
A Reservation On The Female Donkey?
New Duranty: MIAMI, June 8 — Jurors in the federal terrorism case against Jose Padilla heard his voice for the first time Friday, discussing — by the government’s account — secret plans to travel overseas and wage jihad.
In a decade-old wiretapped conversation, Mr. Padilla, an American convert to Islam, assured Adham Hassoun, the co-defendant accused of recruiting him: “It’s going to happen soon. Trust me.”
The conversation was among more than two dozen that prosecutors played in court this week, mostly between Mr. Hassoun and various men the government says he conspired with. They discussed playing football, going “on the picnic” and smelling “fresh air” — all code for engaging in jihad, said a federal agent serving as a government witness...
Mr. Padilla mumbled and chuckled throughout the conversation played Friday, sometimes calling Mr. Hassoun “bro.” Mr. Hassoun appeared impatient, asking Mr. Padilla if he was “ready.”
“Inshallah, brother,” Mr. Padilla replied, using the Arabic for “God willing” and urging Mr. Hassoun to have patience. “You know, it’s going to happen.”
Mr. Padilla, who met Mr. Hassoun at the South Florida mosque, is described in the indictment as Mr. Hassoun’s recruit. It says Mr. Padilla traveled to Egypt in 1998 and then to Afghanistan, where he filled out an application to attend a terrorist training camp. The call was recorded in July 1997.
Other calls played Thursday and Friday, as interpreted by Mr. Kavanaugh, focused on jihad activities in Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Kosovo. There was talk of “brothers” who had been “married” — code for killed in battle, Mr. Kavanaugh said — and of interference by “the dogs,” or the United States government.
Mr. Kavanaugh also said a reference to “eating cheese” was code for waging jihad. But he said he had no idea what a reference to a “reservation on the female donkey” meant...
[Me: I know a female camel is significant in Islam, but a donkey? Calling Bill Warner...]
Posted on 06/09/2007 6:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 9 June 2007
I found them eventually on You Tube. I didn’t remember the band but I recognised the tune which is a cover of a song better known in the Box Tops version.
Their albums are still available as CDs on Amazon, and the vinyl single is on ebay with a bidding war likely to break out.
Because while the band in that form was short-lived the musicians went on into much bigger bands. This single was not representative of their better work.
Paul Raymond is the keyboard player with UFO who I have seen a couple of times. Mick Grabham was in Procul Harum. Nigel Olsen drummed for Elton John.
So now I know.
Posted on 06/09/2007 6:32 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 9 June 2007
The President and the Pope
ROME (AP) -- President Bush, in his first meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, defended his humanitarian record around the globe, telling the papal leader on Saturday about U.S. efforts to battle AIDS in Africa...
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's No. 2, said Benedict planned to discuss the war in Iraq and the plight of Christians in the unstable, violence-wracked country. The war was vigorously opposed by the late Pope John Paul II. In his Easter message, Benedict said 'nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.'
In a pre-trip interview, Bush said: 'I think His Holy Father will be pleased to know that much of our foreign policy is based on the admonition to whom much is given, much is required.'
Typical of our age and this President that a spiritual admonition should be interpreted in a purely material way. I am reminded of another parable, "For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken away from him.”
Posted on 06/09/2007 6:39 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Another Iraq Casualty: General Pace
Yesterday it was Stephen Hadley, today the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Bush seems to be convinced that if he just gets the personnel in his Administration sorted into just the right jobs, shifting the tarbaby from hand to hand, he will become unstuck to Iraq.
New Duranty: WASHINGTON, June 8 — The Bush administration said Friday that it would not reappoint Gen. Peter Pace to a second term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking officer to be a political casualty of the fight over Iraq.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the decision was reached in order to avoid bitter hearings in a Democratic-controlled Senate that is already confronting the White House over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I have decided that at this moment in our history, the nation, our men and women in uniform, and General Pace himself would not be well-served by a divisive ordeal in selecting the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Mr. Gates said.
The defense secretary stood alone at a Pentagon podium in making the announcement, and he spoke in somber tones in describing how he fully had intended to recommend General Pace be offered a second two-year term as chairman, only to change his mind over the last few weeks after consulting with senior senators of both parties.
Mr. Gates said he would recommend that President Bush appoint Adm. Michael G. Mullen, the chief of naval operations, to serve as the next chairman. The defense secretary praised Admiral Mullen as a man of “vision, strategic insight, experience and integrity.”
General Pace has served for six years at the very highest ranks of the military, for four years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and then two years as the first marine to be chairman. General Pace, who is 61, had made clear that he wanted to be reappointed, and associates said he was deeply disappointed. When he steps down at the end of September, he will become the shortest-serving chairman since Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor in 1964, during the early years of the Vietnam War...
Posted on 06/09/2007 8:11 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 9 June 2007
They're Al Qaeda, We're Freedom Fighters, So Give Us Those Weapons
Another revealing look at fighting in Iraq. This time from the WaPo:
BAGHDAD, June 8 -- The worst month of Lt. Col. Dale Kuehl's deployment in western Baghdad was finally drawing to a close. The insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq had unleashed bombings that killed 14 of his soldiers in May, a shocking escalation of violence for a battalion that had lost three soldiers in the previous six months while patrolling the Sunni enclave of Amiriyah. On top of that, the 41-year-old battalion commander was doubled up with a stomach flu when, late on May 29, he received a cellphone call that would change everything.
"We're going after al-Qaeda," a leading local imam said, Kuehl recalled. "What we want you to do is stay out of the way."
The week that followed revolutionized Kuehl's approach to fighting the insurgency and serves as a vivid example of a risky, and expanding, new American strategy of looking beyond the Iraqi police and army for help in controlling violent neighborhoods. The American soldiers in Amiriyah have allied themselves with dozens of Sunni militiamen who call themselves the Baghdad Patriots -- a group that American soldiers believe includes insurgents who have attacked them in the past -- in an attempt to drive out al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Americans have granted these gunmen the power of arrest, allowed the Iraqi army to supply them with ammunition, and fought alongside them in chaotic street battles...
It was about 2 a.m. on May 30 when Capt. Andy Wilbraham, a 33-year-old company commander, first heard military chatter on his tank radio about rumors that local gunmen would take on al-Qaeda. Later that morning, a noncommissioned officer turned to him with the news: "They're uprising."
"It was just a shock it happened so fast," Wilbraham said.
By noon, loudspeakers in mosques throughout Amiriyah were broadcasting a call to war: "It is time to stand up and fight" al-Qaeda. Groups of men, some in black ski masks carrying AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, descended on the area around the Maluki mosque, a suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq base of operations, and launched an attack. For the most part, Kuehl's soldiers stood back, trying to contain the violence and secure other mosques, and let the gunmen do their work.
The next day, a Thursday, al-Qaeda counterattacked. Using machine guns and grenades, its fighters drove the militiamen south across several city blocks until they were holed up in the Firdas mosque, soldiers said. "I was getting reports every 10 minutes from one of the imams: 'They're at this point. We're surrounded. We're getting attacked. They're at the mosque,' " Kuehl recalled. He dispatched Stryker attack vehicles to protect the militiamen.
"We basically pushed that one back just by force," said Capt. Kevin Salge, 31, who led the Stryker team of about 60 men to the mosque. "We got in there. Our guns are much bigger guns. Then freedom fighters, Baghdad Patriot guys, started firing."...
To the Americans, the fighters on both sides appeared nearly identical. They wore similar sweat suits and carried the same kind of machine guns. "Now we've got kind of a mess on our hands," Salge remembered thinking. "Because we've got a lot of armed guys running all over the place, and it's making it very hard for us to identify which side is which."...
"Let's be honest, the enemy now is not the Americans, for the time being," [Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, a leader of the Sunni Dulaimi tribe] said. "It's al-Qaeda and the [Shiite] militias. Those are our enemies."
The American soldiers initially asked their new allies to wear white headbands and ride around in the Strykers to point out al-Qaeda households. But the joint patrols didn't work because the local fighters were disoriented after riding in the enclosed Strykers and couldn't find the right houses, Salge said.
Before long, he added, "people everywhere were wearing headbands, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of them were al-Qaeda."...
On Wednesday, a week after the fighting broke out, the Islamic Army issued a statement declaring a cease-fire with al-Qaeda in Iraq because the groups did not want to spill more Muslim blood or impede "the project of jihad." American soldiers played down the statement and suggested it did not reflect the sentiments of the men they are working with in Amiriyah....
The tank driver, Spec. Estevan Altamirano, 25, expressed skepticism about his new partners.
"Pretty soon they run out of al-Qaeda, and then they're going to turn on us," he said. "I don't want to get used to them and then I have an AK behind my back. I'm not going to trust them at all."
Posted on 06/09/2007 9:25 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 9 June 2007
I have a lot of time for The Telegraph. It once played host to Will Cummins, whose fearless criticism of "the black heart of Islam" cost him his job at the British Council. Charles Moore regularly talks sense, and Boris Johnson irregularly. However, occasionally it publishes nonsense, and the latest piece of wishful thinking by Christopher Howse is one such occasion:
God will be invoked in Arabic in Westminster Cathedral on June 19, with the first performance of Sir John Tavener's The Beautiful Names. [More here - M.J.]
Some will think it odd to call God by the name Allah in a Christian church. But Allah is simply the Arabic for God, just as God is Deus in Latin, Bog in Russian.
And the greatest of these is Bog. But let's pause for a minute. Has it not occurred to Howse that, while a dictionary may translate Allah as God, Muslims understand something different by this word?
The word Allah refers to the same God that Jews and Christians worship. There is no doubt of that. He is the God of Abraham and Isaac; the one living God. He is the God that Jesus worshipped and whom he invoked, in Aramaic, as he died on the cross, calling on him by the name Eloi.
Careful, now. If you say Jesus died on the cross you will offend Muslims who believe he did not.
In a way, the word used to refer to God is arbitrary. It functions as a common noun, in the same way as tree or mountain. The difference is that there may be many trees or mountains, but, by his nature, there can only be one God.
So it isn't a common noun, then; it's a proper noun. In fact a beech has more in common with an oak, and Ben Nevis with Everest, than the Judeao-Christian God has with Allah.
In commenting on how different names seem to signify contrary aspects in God, the 13th-century Sufi writer Jalal al-Din Rumi explained: "Just as a person is, in relation to you, a father and, in relation to someone else, either a son or a brother, so the names of God have their relations.
He is, from the viewpoint of the infidel, the Conqueror; from our viewpoint, the Merciful."
Oh dear, you didn't mean to quote that last bit, did you, and give the game away? Merciful to his followers and a Conqueror for and of the infidels. Perhaps even William, that other famous Conqueror, was good to his friends.
Let's pretend we didn't see that quotation from Rumi, especially as Rumi is often claimed by the interfaith brigade as a proof of Islam's soft, spiritual character.
This quotation is as clear a statement as any that Islam divides the world up into believers and infidels; the latter are to be conquered, and then there will be peace. Islam, you see, is a religion of peace.
Howse is oblivious to the obvious. He strikes a real note only in passing, when he says:
I do not expect John Tavener's work to please many Muslims. Muslims drop in to Westminster Cathedral, but rarely for services. It would be surprising if they did.
Posted on 06/09/2007 9:54 AM by Mary Jackson
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Views sought over TA mosque plan
People living near the site of a proposed new mosque in Telford are being asked for their views.
The Shropshire Islamic Foundation wants to spend more than £1m transforming the old Territorial Army centre in Wellington into a place of worship.
It said the buildings would cater for 800 people and be the county's first mosque to offer separate prayer facilities for Muslim men and women.
A planning application has been submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council.
The King Street complex would feature a main prayer area covered with a glass roof, a women's prayer room, children's facilities, a kitchen and a flat for the Imam.
The local paper the Shropshire Star has carried the story these last few weeks here and here. Much is made of the renovation and restoration of a much loved local building.
The BBC mentions that this will be “the county's first mosque to offer separate prayer facilities for Muslim men and women” as if it were a good thing. Neglecting to mention that existing Mosques don’t admit women at all.
No old fashioned Workingmens Club is allowed to exclude women any more, and rightly so. Indeed I doubt that many men would want their wives excluded these days. So why does it pass without censure when it concerns a Mosque.
The comments are naïve in the extreme. Much of the opposition to the London Markaz stems from bitter experience.
I fear the good people of Wellington are in for a rude awakening.
Posted on 06/09/2007 2:17 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 9 June 2007
Franquear Sin Franco
How true. Frank is best. And stampless franking privileges, which alas are available only for those who "take a leadership role." Nabokov, once asked his criteria for the acceptable state, replied that among other desiderata, there should be no pictures of a ruler "bigger than a postage stamp." I'd add to that: not only no pictures of a ruler bigger than a postage stamp, but also the possibility of buying postage stamps without the ruler's face on it.
Once, in the Central Correos in Madrid, at a time when Franco was still alive and not yet either comatose or dead, I wanted to buy some postage stamps, but not with his mug on them. I was trying to be loyal, in my fashion, to those with long memories: Pablo Casals, who never went back to visit Spain, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, and even the political figure Alvarez Del Vayo, whom I was to meet several times in New York before his late death. I told the clerk "Queria franquear sin Franco." He was surprised, but gave me some stamps sin Franco. I paid, and left. No one arrived to take me away.
Now as to Mary's quiz:
- Which one of them is not the odd one out?
- Which one of them is the most alike?
- Which one of them is both the same?
The one in the middle is not the odd one out.
It is also the one that is most alike.
And it is also both the same.
Tricky questions but, if you try hard enough, susceptible of solution.
Posted on 06/09/2007 2:57 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald