These are all the Blogs posted on Monday, 9, 2008.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Hazel Blears, Communities Secretary, says sidelining of Christianity is 'common sense'
It is "common sense" for Christianity to be sidelined at the expense of Islam, a Government minister claimed on Sunday.
Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, defended Labour’s policy on religion after a report backed by the Church of England claimed that Muslims receive a disproportionate amount of attention.
She said it was right that more money and effort was spent on Islam than Christianity because of the threat from extremism and home-grown terrorism.
Ms Blears told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “That’s just common sense. If we’ve got an issue where we have to build resilience of young Muslim men and women to withstand an extremist message.”
Time and effort can be spent on Islam without ignoring Christianity. Because this government ignores all other faiths except one. And Islam gets attention because of its practices and demands, not any underlying spirituality that may be there.
She added: “We live in a secular democracy. That’s a precious thing. We don’t live in a theocracy, but we’ve always accepted that hundreds of thousands of people are motivated by faith. We live in a secular democracy but we want to recognise the role of faith.”
The Church of England bishop responsible for the report, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, said afterwards: “She said we live in a secular democracy. That comes as news to me – we have an established Church, but the Government can’t deal with Christianity.”
What we have is the separation of Church and State (render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s) which is inconceivable within Islam.
As The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, the landmark report commissioned by the Church and written by academics at the Von Hugel Institute accuses ministers of paying only “lip service” to Christianity and marginalising the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, while focusing “intently” on Islam.
However Malaysia’s Prime Minister warned yesterday that Muslim extremism in Britain will grow unless the Government and society learn to understand Islam.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the prime minister urged Gordon Brown to allow the country’s Muslims to live under Islamic law, but also said that they must prove their worth to society.
Mr Abdullah argues that the Government must do more to ensure Muslims do not feel discriminated against if it is to tackle the rise of radicalism.
“The failure to understand Muslims is driving a divide between the communities,” he said. “Gordon Brown must encourage a better understanding because Britain must appreciate its Muslims.”
Mr Abdullah, who was talking on the eve of a landmark summit of world leaders, echoed the calls of the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this year for Muslims to be able to live under sharia.
The Malaysian Prime Minister also acknowledged that Muslims must also play their part in proving their value as immigrants. “If they want to be respected then they must do something for the community,” he said. “They must not be a liability. They have to be an asset.”
He reminds me of the stereotypical roving husband, who complains to the barmaid that “my wife doesn’t understand me” when she understands his flaws only too well.
Posted on 06/09/2008 2:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 June 2008
Brown hails 'sacrifice' of troops (but won't sacrifice treasury funds for the best equipment)
The British death toll in Afghanistan reached the 100 mark yesterday after three soldiers of the 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment were killed by a suicide bomber during a patrol in Helmand province in the south.
The suicide attack, the first this year against British soldiers, happened in the Upper Sangin Valley in the north of the province, the location of many of the fatalities since thousands of reinforcements were sent to Helmand to confront the Taleban in 2006.
The 14 killed this year, including the three from 2 Para, all died from this latest form of insurgency. The 11 others were killed by mine explosions and roadside bombs.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has paid tribute to the 100 British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 after a suicide blast claimed another three soldiers' lives
The sad milestone came when a lone insurgent detonated an explosive device as a foot patrol from 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment was returning to base on Sunday.
Mr Brown said: "My first thoughts and condolences are with the families of these soldiers, who died serving in Afghanistan with such distinction.
"I want to pay tribute to the courage of all the 100 British troops who have given their lives in Afghanistan in the service of their country. The risks they bear and the sacrifices they make should be in our thoughts, not just today but every day.
"They have paid the ultimate price, but they have achieved something of lasting value - helping turn a lawless region sheltering terrorists into an emerging democracy."
So give the troops decent wages and equipment then. They deserve no less.
A FORMER head of the SAS has quit the army after criticising the government for risking soldiers’ lives by failing to fund troops and equipment.
Brigadier Ed Butler, one of Britain’s most experienced and decorated special forces soldiers, is the most senior of three key commanders to have resigned in the past year amid widespread anger over lack of funding.
News of his resignation comes in the same week that General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the army, called for better treatment for the forces and more money to be spent on defence.
In a statement issued through the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Butler said he was leaving for “a number of factors and reasons” and singled out difficulties faced by service personnel.
But close friends said Butler was disappointed that the government put soldiers’ lives at risk by failing to pay for sufficient troops and equipment.
“He was very frustrated at the cuts going on in the army at present,” one close associate said. “Sadly, many of the concerns held by senior officers have not been resolved and, across the armed forces, there are a lot of officers and soldiers who are not happy.”
Six months ago the board of inquiry into the death of Captain Jim Philippson, the first British soldier to die in action in Helmand province, cited Butler’s criticism of the failure to provide troops and kit and blamed “political machinations” for his death.
Butler was highly critical of John Reid, then defence secretary, for keeping troop numbers low and of the failure of the Treasury under Gordon Brown to fund equipment.
Posted on 06/09/2008 3:43 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 9 June 2008
Posted on 06/09/2008 8:01 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 9 June 2008
Boris wants fountains to replace bottles
Bottled water is a rip-off, as I have argued a number of times. And there's the litter problem. Last but not least, there is the environment to consider - a plastic bottle takes a thousand years to biodegrade.
Boris to the rescue with his water fountains. From the London Evening Standard:
Water fountains could be put up in parks and public spaces across London under plans being developed by Boris Johnson.
The Mayor believes that providing free water for Londoners would help deter them from buying plastic bottles. He has instructed special adviser Sir Simon Milton to look into where the drinking fountains could go and how much they would cost.
Mr Johnson said: "If this place is generally getting hotter and people are going off buying bottled water I think we should have a new era of public fountains."
The move would be a major victory for the Evening Standard's Water on Tap campaign. Hundreds of restaurants, cafés and clubs are already willingly providing customers with free tap water. The campaign aims to end the practice of offering expensive and environmentally damaging bottled water without mentioning it is available on tap.
A spokeswoman for Mr Johnson said: "The Mayor is keen to see more drinking water fountains on the streets of London to help reduce the use of bottled water, the use of which causes unsightly litter and unnecessary waste."
Speaking of waste, Boris is uncovering Ken's wasted millions. From The Times:
INVESTIGATORS ordered in by Boris Johnson, the new mayor of London, have found endemic waste in the way millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was spent by the former regime of Ken Livingstone.
Huge sums are unaccounted for, have gone missing or were spent with little tangible benefit, according to the audit. And as the accountants got to work, Johnson discovered 39 bottles of fine wine, including Château-neuf-du-Pape, left in the mayor’s office by his predecessor.
A separate police investigation, led by John Yates, the Scotland Yard detective who headed the cash for honours inquiry, has uncovered evidence of corruption that it believes will produce criminal prosecutions.
Both inquiries focus mainly on the London Development Agency (LDA), a body overseen by Livingstone, which spent £1.5 billion in four years awarding grants to an array of “community projects”.
Posted on 06/09/2008 8:14 AM by Mary Jackson
Monday, 9 June 2008
Even When Not In Rome, Do As The Romans Do
Posted on 06/09/2008 9:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 June 2008
Enemies and Allies
Again we see the error of making assumptions about the long-term loyalty and friendliness of Muslim countries. We assume the "new" Iraq is our ally, since we liberated it from dictatorship and brought democracy. Iran assumes (and Maliki does not contradict Ahmadinejad) that Iraq and America are enemies since Americans are Infidels, the eternal enemy of all Muslims. We also assume Iraq will be our ally against Iran and will allow us to launch strikes against Iran from Iraqi soil if necessary. Iran assumes Iraq is now her natural ally, not only against America but also against the Sunni Arab states, after having come under Shi'a control. Who is right?
LATimes: BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, in a visit to Iran where he met Sunday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pledged closer ties between the two neighbors at the same time Baghdad is negotiating a long-term security agreement with the U.S.
The proposed pact with Washington would establish a legal framework for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq after the United Nations mandate expires at the end of this year.
Iranian officials have repeatedly expressed concerns in recent weeks that the agreement would simply formalize the presence of dozens of American military bases.
In a round-table public affairs program broadcast on Iranian television, one panelist compared American bases in Iraq to the installation of Russian missiles in Cuba during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
But Maliki, after his meeting with Ahmadinejad, said the U.S. agreement would help maintain and enhance Iraq's security situation, which remains fragile.
"A stable Iraq will be a benefit to the security of the region and the world," Maliki said, according to Ahmadinejad's official website.
The Iranian leader, however, indicated concerns that an agreement could lead to long-term American domination of Iraq.
"Iraq must reach a certain level of stability," he said, according to an Associated Press report, "so that its enemies are not able to impose their influence."
Maliki, after arriving in Tehran on Saturday, had said his government would "not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran," the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported...
Posted on 06/09/2008 9:56 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Monday, 9 June 2008
A Cinematic Interlude: From Dino Risi's "Una Vita Difficile" (Alberto Sordi)
Dino Risi died the other day. He got his start with Alberto Lattuada. He put the brilliant talents of Alberto Sordi to brilliant use in "Una Vita Difficile."
Here is a bit:
Posted on 06/09/2008 11:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 9 June 2008
Hate To Break This To You: Moderate Isn't Mainstream and Extremist Isn't Radical
Hard to decide what is more maddening in stories like these — the fact that there are ALWAYS stories like these, or the media's stubborn refusal to come to grips with the evidence of sense even as they describe it in real time.
In Indonesia, which sport's the world's largest Muslim population, the Associated Press reports that the government (in yet another of these Islamic "democracies" that "guarantees freedom of religion") has ordered a "moderate" Muslim sect to return to the "mainstream" of Islam or risk imprisonment for debasing Islam. The Ahmadi — whose persecution I have detailed previously — do not accept Mohammed as the final prophet or jihad as a divine injunction. Not withstanding the above, the AP blithely reports as fact its opinion that "the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderate" — as if the term "moderate" actually has a settled meaning and as if, even if it retained its commonly understood meaning, it would be possible for such a thing to happen if "the vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims" were actually "moderate."
Here's the report (italics are mine):
MUSLIM SECT TOLD TO RETURN TO MAINSTREAM ISLAM
Members of a moderate Muslim sect were ordered by the government Monday to return to mainstream Islam or face possible imprisonment for insulting the country's predominant religion.
Critics may see the step as a failure by the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to uphold the young democracy's secular values as it struggles to define its Muslim identity after decades of dictatorship.
The vast majority of Indonesia's Muslims are moderate, but in recent years an extremist fringe has grown louder. The government, which relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, has been accused of caving in to their demands.
The document signed Monday by two Cabinet ministers and the attorney general "orders all Ahmadiyah followers to stop their activities" or face up to five years in prison.
Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but many in the nation of 235 million consider it offensive that the sect does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet. [ME: Must be that darned fringe!]
"Is it still safe for us in this country?" Ahmadiyah spokesman Syamsir Ali said in an interview with national broadcaster tvOne. "Our houses are being targeted and those who don't like us feel it is acceptable to spill our blood." Ali said he hopes Indonesia doesn't "turn out to be like governments in the Middle East" where the movement is prohibited. [ME: "Moderate" governments, no doubt.]
Hard-liners have attacked Ahmadiyah members and torched their mosques since the government said in April it was considering banning the faith. Several dozen religious tolerance activists were beaten at a rally in Jakarta just over a week ago while police stood by.
A spokesman for the radical Islamic Defenders' Front — which has a long record of arson, stoning and vandalism against opponents and Western targets — said the decree falls short of its demands. "It is not enough. We will keep up the struggle until the president orders the disbandment of Ahmadiyah," he said in a telephone interview.
Earlier Monday, several thousands protesters wearing white Islamic robes and caps gathered outside the presidential palace to demand that the organization be outlawed.
The religion needs to be defended "from people who want to destroy Islam's teachings," said demonstrator Zairin, who like many Indonesian goes by a single name. The use of violence would be justified to force reluctant Ahmadiyah members to renounce their faith and "keep Islam pure," he said.
ME: Of course, as former Prime Minister Tony Blair learned when Britain's police authorities tried to investigate a Saudi corruption case, and as the EU is learning with Pakistan's "request" that Europe rethink that whole freedom-of-speech thing, no report on such a development in the Religion of Peace would be complete without the extortionate threat of terror: "Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, one of the ministers who signed the decree, said it 'is not an intervention into someone's faith, but to maintain order and safety.'"
In other words: surrender your principles ... for your own good, of course. After all, you'll otherwise have to deal with the wrath of those "extremists" and "radicals" who, it turns out, are defending "mainstream Islam."
Posted on 06/09/2008 3:44 PM by Andy McCarthy
Monday, 9 June 2008
A Musical Interlude: Sweetheart We Need Each Other (Ben Pollack Orch., voc. Scrappy Lambert)
Posted on 06/09/2008 7:07 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald