Thursday, 20 September 2018
CSE trial: Barristers claim rape accused men 'wrongly identified'

The authorities are allowing reporting of the latest Muslim rape gang trial; males from Rotherham on trial at the Crown Court Sheffield. There's not much coming into the newspapers but the Rotherham Advertiser has this part of the defence case this afternoon. 

BARRISTERS defending two men accused of rape have claimed the alleged victim has wrongly identified the pair.

Nabeel Kurshid (34), of Weetwood Road, Rotherham, (below left in grey) and Iqlak Yousaf (34), (below right in green) of Tooker Road, Rotherham, are accused of raping the girl between 2002 and 2003 when she was 14 or 15.

The prosecution say Yousaf was known as Iqqy and Kurshid as Nabby.

Another unidentified man, known as Shiraz, is also said to have been involved in the rape which allegedly occurred in a lay-by near Sherwood Forest. 

The woman, now aged 31, said she was confident she had identified the right men.

Ms Julia Smart, defending Kurshid, who she said was also known as Nabeel Akhtar Kurshid, claims the complainant has wrongly identified her client after seeing his Facebook account, which was under the name Nabeel Akhtar.

The woman disputed this and said the Nabby from her teenage years and the “Facebook Nabby” are the same person, adding: “I would never forget.”

Mr David McGonigal, defending for Yousaf said to the woman: “You told police that your memory had been affected by some drugs you had become addicted to and you took a lot of when you were 16 to 17 — cannabis and amphetamine.”

The woman replied: “Specific little details, the main bits, I never forget. It was just tiniest details — descriptions of body parts, scars, that were not coming back to me.”

Mr McGonigal suggested she had met Yousaf in 2004 — after the Sherwood Forest incident — while he was working as a taxi driver — which the woman denied.

Mr McGonigal said: “Are you mixing him up?” She replied: “Everything I am saying is correct.”

Mr McGonigal said: “You were not so comatose you didn’t know what was going on?”

She said: “Yes that’s correct.”

He said: “The next person has laid down with you — you have not said you didn’t want to have sex.”

She replied: “I didn’t say anything.

The barrister added: “You have made a mistake in relation to identifying Iqqy as the person you slept with and took you to Sherwood Forest.”

She answered: “I made no mistake. I am confident this is the person from the incident.”

Re-examining the woman, prosecutor Ms Michelle Colborne, asked: “How quickly after Nabby got off was the next man there?”

She replied: “Not even a minute.”

In other words, it wasn't my client but another man, but if it was my client it wasn't rape because you didn't say no. This sadly isn't a case where there would have been any DNA evidence taken and stored. 

Posted on 09/20/2018 12:03 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 20 September 2018
Professor Michael Rectenwald Joins Glenn Beck

Don't miss this excellent interview.


Posted on 09/20/2018 7:42 AM by NER
Thursday, 20 September 2018
An Unfortunate Outcome At Cargill

by Hugh Fitzgerald

DENVER (AP) — A big U.S. meatpacker has agreed to pay $1.5 million to 138 Somali-American Muslim workers who were fired from their jobs at a Colorado plant after they were refused prayer breaks, a federal anti-discrimination agency said Friday.

Every reasonable effort was made to accommodate these workers, but with a 24-hour round-the-clock schedule, a processing plant cannot continue efficiently if dozens of its workers suddenly disappear for a prayer break, or two, or three, each workday. They were “fired from their jobs” precisely because they refused to do their jobs, unless and until their prayer breaks were permitted.

Cargill Meat Solutions, a division of Minnesota-based agribusiness company Cargill Corp., also agreed to train managers and hourly workers in accommodating Muslim employees’ prayer breaks at its Fort Morgan beef processing plant, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.

Wichita, Kansas-based Cargill denies wrongdoing but agreed to settle to avoid further litigation, the federal agency said. The dispute dates back to the firings of the workers in late 2016 after management rescinded policies allowing Muslim employees to take short breaks for prayer.

Why did Cargill rescind its initial policy of allowing Muslim employees to take “short breaks” for prayer? It was not a sudden display of bigotry. Rather, Cargill’s managers learned from experience that those “short breaks” for prayers took, on average, between five and eight minutes for saying the prayer, depending on the suras that the individual Muslim chose to recite. In addition, time was spent — how much time? — getting to and from the place where the prayers were recited. Would two minutes going to, and two minutes coming from, the place of prayer in the giant Cargill plant, be about right? A total of ten minutes, then, would be a low average for each prayer. That is one thing that might have caused management to rescind its policy. It might earlier have been relying on the employees assuring Cargill that “these are very short prayers, they will take no time at all,” only to discover differently.

A second consideration for Cargill was the effect of those prayer breaks on the smooth functioning of the line of meat to be processed. Perhaps these prayers  turned out to be a much greater disruption of the meat processing than Cargill had initially assumed. Cargill’s change in policy about prayer at work, if it was — as it certainly seems to have been — prompted only by a concern for the smooth operation of the business, should have been allowed given how long, and how frequent, those prayers were.

Consider, too, not just the effect on the workings of the processing plant if Muslim workers were allowed to leave their places on the line, and disappear for 8-10 minutes. What happens to the line that is supposed o be in constant movement? Does it slow down, or is it shut down, until the Muslim workers return? How is this handled? And what is the effect on the other, non-Muslim workers whose activities are disrupted? And it’s not just the disruption in the processing line. There is also the harm done to company morale if the non-Muslim employees, who are not given time off for prayers, begin to resent what they see as privileging the Muslims, three times a day, over all other workers. This would likely not have been understood at first by the Cargill managers. But eventually they would realize that a three-times-a-day prayer break for Muslims unsurprisingly caused resentment among non-Muslim workers. This resentment of one group of employees by another group is not good for productivity.

In 2017, the agency found that the workers had been harassed and discriminated against for protesting the unannounced policy change that denied them opportunities for obligatory prayer. Hundreds of Somali-Americans work at the plant in Fort Morgan, northeast of Denver….

Like other U.S. firms that employ Muslim line workers at meatpacking and processing plants, Cargill managers must balance religious accommodations with demands of processing meat in an operation that frequently runs 24 hours. Managing possible disruptions not only slow production but can create safety issues for line workers.

This paragraph is certainly key, for it describes the need to balance religious accommodations with the demands of the business. The right to pray at work is not absolute. The question is: what is the nature of those disruptions to the business? How long do they last? How many of them are there? And what is the ability, if any, of the employer to cope with a slowing of the production line? It is most unlikely that with so many workers going on prayer break that the meat processing line could continue to move at the same speed as before. Furthermore, not only is each break about 8-10 minutes long (5-8 minutes for the prayer, 4 minutes for getting to, and returning from, the prayer space), but the Muslim workers will take such a break three times during an average workday, assuming they arrive after sunrise and leave work  before sunset. Finally, we would  want to know how serious are the “safety issues” created by workers leaving the processing line, and returning to it three times a day.

“Providing our employees with religious accommodation is an important part of engaging and supporting our employees, and our policy has remained consistent for more than 10 years,” Cargill Meat Solutions president Brian Sikes said in a statement.

Notice that in its settlement, Cargill did not admit of any wrongdoing. That is, it felt that it had made a sufficient case for the business need to keep the line running smoothly, and believed that it had proven that the disruption resulting from these prayer breaks was sufficiently extensive, given how meat processing plants work, to justify Cargill’s decision to not permit them. Cargill settled out of court because it estimated that the cost of dragged-out litigation would be too high, with no assurance the company would win.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, and Qusair Mohamedbhai, a Denver attorney who represented the workers praised the settlement.

Well, of course they did. Today Cargill, tomorrow the world.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 09/20/2018 6:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 20 September 2018
South Africa Steers Towards Ruin

by Theodore Dalrymple

In 1976, as a young doctor, I spent a few months in what was then still Rhodesia, soon to become Zimbabwe. I read up a little on the question of land distribution and came to the utopian (and false) conclusion that a reform in which white-owned commercial farmland was redistributed to African peasants could serve the cause of justice without reducing production.

The whites were 5 percent of the population and owned half the land (the better half too). The commercial farmers among them were a small minority of a small minority. There was no doubt that at the historic root of their ownership (not very far back in time, either) was the ruthless use of force and fraud. There was also no doubt that they had turned Rhodesia into the bread-basket of the whole region.

Land expropriation, when it came, neither served justice nor preserved production. It was not the peasants who benefited from it, but the regime’s cronies. Production plunged by 90 percent and turned a country that had long been a magnet for immigration into one of mass emigration. The alternative to mass emigration was mass starvation.

The land expropriation played its part in Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, one of the most dramatic in history (I have a hundred trillion Zimbabwean dollar banknote). Farmers, however efficient, tend to be heavily indebted, but their debts are performing so long as they produce profitably. Expropriation of their land leaves the banks holding huge unserviced debt, for the new owners, producing much less or nothing at all, have no means to service them. The only way to prevent the banks from collapsing is drastically to increase the money supply and to keep doing so.

One might have hoped that the example of Zimbabwe, with its long border with South Africa to the north and its long stream of refugees to the south, would have been sufficient warning to South Africa not to embark on any similar policy. After all, the stakes are much greater in South Africa than they were in Zimbabwe. The population is many times larger than Zimbabwe’s, and moreover is vastly more urbanised, so that any last resort to subsistence farming is impossible. There is no south for the population to flee to. South Africa’s is already a much more violent society than Zimbabwe’s ever was, with more severe social problems. A major catastrophe could easily ensue.

A fifth of white land in South Africa has already been transferred on the basis of willing seller, willing buyer. This, of course, begs two important questions: why were the sellers willing to sell when they had been settled for so long, and have the persons to whom the transfers were made maintained former levels of production? In all probability, the sellers were willing because the longer-term prospects for them in South Africa are dim; many white farmers have been murdered and the political rhetoric towards them has long been of a threatening kind which sooner or later would have to be acted on if the rhetoricians were not to lose face and be discredited. As to the question of productivity, the data are not yet sufficient to decide it: but personally I should be surprised if productivity were not changed for the worse. Large-scale commercial farming is not something that is learned in the twinkling of an eye.

Commercial farms in South Africa, like those that formerly existed in Zimbabwe, are heavily indebted to the banks. For the moment, the debts are performing; but if the farms were expropriated without compensation, as is currently threatened, the state, or to whomever the state passed on the farms, would be taking on the liabilities as well as the assets. State farming does not have a very good record anywhere in the world, to put it mildly; and it is unlikely that people could be found to continue farming the land profitably. Thus, either the banks would be obliged to write off enormous debts, with the consequent possibility of collapse, or a Zimbabwean-type inflation would have to come to their rescue. And this is without mention of the severe food shortages that would almost certainly occur in the wake of such expropriation. To quote Marx, the expropriators (that is to say, the commercial farmers) are expropriated. The problem is that those in whose name the expropriations take place starve to death afterwards. They might experience a brief moment of gratification at the revenge taken on the farmers for having been the descendants of oppressors, but they will have decades of suffering subsequently to pay for it.

The very possibility of expropriation without compensation, even if not acted upon, will have a devastating effect on production, for who will invest if it is only to be expropriated later? That is one of the reasons why security of property is so important, and the South African parliament has shown that it does not understand this. The spectre of expropriation will encourage more commercial farmers to leave and they will not easily be persuaded to return. You can break an egg only once.

Expropriation without compensation is so obviously a bad idea that the wonder is that it has been voted as a possibility, all the more so as there is the recent experience of South Africa’s northern neighbour to draw upon.

Mere stupidity does not account for the proposal, however. The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is certainly not stupid. An explanation has to be sought elsewhere: and, as usual, it is to be found in sectional interest.

I happened to be in South Africa at the time of the unbanning of the African National Congress, which would obviously form the next government. I met some prominent members of the party, and I had a very strong impression that they were positioning themselves much as the Russian oligarchs – former apparatchiks – positioned themselves. Gone was the ANC’s belief in a command economy (it could no longer count on Soviet economic support as it once had). Now it was more a question of the division of the spoils in a corporatist state. The ANC leadership had learned a lot from the Afrikaner nationalists whom they were about to replace and they would set about disproportionate self-enrichment under cover of the rhetoric of dramatic change after an oppressive past.

The ANC’s flagging popularity as the dramatic change for the better, except for the elite in South Africa, has failed to materialise requires (as it required in Zimbabwe) a revivification of the party. There is now no realistic possibility or likelihood of rapid change for the better for most of the population; the task is to ensure the continued loyalty of the political class. There is no better way of doing this than by arrogating huge powers of patronage, both to confer and to confiscate property. Again, this can all be done under cover of the rhetoric of resentment; and the policy will be disastrous only if its aim is the betterment of the lot of the population. If its aim is the consolidation of power, at least for a time, it makes perfect sense.

The abstract question of the primacy of politics or politics still agitates the minds of intellectuals. They probably cannot ever be entirely separated; but at least in this instance, politics comes first.

First published in the Library of Law and Liberty.

Posted on 09/20/2018 5:00 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 20 September 2018
Westminster inquest: CCTV shows attacker's preparations

From the BBC and the Telegraph

CCTV footage showing Westminster attacker Khalid Masood's final preparations has been shown at the inquest into his victims' deaths. The clips show the 52-year-old buying knives and collecting the rented car he used in the March 2017 attack, which killed five people. The images were part of a compilation of videos showing Masood's preparations ahead of his deadly attack in the capital.

The 52-year-old was in Sussex on March 21 last year, the day before he drove a hired car across Westminster Bridge, mowing down pedestrians, and stabbed a police officer with knives he'd bought from Tesco days previously. The Westminster attacker picked up fish and chips from Brighton as his last evening meal the night before his murderous rampage.

On March 9, he visited a Tesco store in Birmingham where he bought knives.

On March 16, he picked up the keys to a Hyundai Tuscan at Enterprise Rent a Car in Birmingham and drove off.

Two days later, he carried out reconnaissance, driving down Westminster Bridge.

On the morning of the attack, he searched the internet for Prime Minister's Questions before carrying out a second recce in Westminster. He returned later, using the car park at St Thomas' Hospital before moving into the bus lane on the bridge poised for attack at 2.38pm.

The inquest heard he had previously talked to his children about Donald Trump and Theresa May, describing the "racism and rudeness" of the US president and accusing the Prime Minister of being a "liar" and "sick".

The court was told the attack came amid a failed attempt to target Westminster with knives and a foiled plot to murder Mrs May.

The inquest into his victims' deaths heard that during video calls to his younger children, who were living in east London while he stayed in Birmingham, he told them about dreams he had been having. Detective Chief Inspector Dan Brown told the Old Bailey: "He told them that he was going to die fighting for God."

In the days before he ploughed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed Pc Keith Palmer on March 22 last year, he also searched for Birmingham Calor Gas Centre. Mr Brown accepted it was "at least possible" that he had planned to use gas as a weapon.

The inquest heard Masood drove from Birmingham to Wales to visit his mother, Janet Ajao, and stepfather on March 16 after picking up the vehicle he used to carry out the attack. Mr Brown said investigators "believe this to be what we now realise was a goodbye visit". The detective added: "As he was leaving the house on March 17 he turned over his shoulder and said, 'they will say I'm a terrorist. I'm not."' 

Counter-terror officer Mr Brown said: "His mother suggested he exhibited normal boisterous behaviour, but his two brothers suggested he was a violent, disruptive person, who would not back down from a disagreement. . . She also described him as an angry person," Mr Brown said. "She was worried he would kill someone through fighting."

Earlier, the court heard how his mother feared he would kill someone while he was still a teenager. His failed relationships, violent criminal past, and conversion to Islam during the first of two spells in prison were laid bare in court. In May 2003, Masood plunged a carving knife through the nose of Daniel Smith, who had suggested Masood was an undercover policeman. In what was described as a "horrific incident", the blade went through the palate of his mouth, through the tongue and into his jaw with such force the last inch of the blade broke off.

Masood claimed self-defence and was acquitted of attempted murder, wounding with intent and having a bladed weapon. The inquest heard he credited his acquittal as well as the survival of his eldest daughter, who was later involved in a serious car accident, as the "miracles" that reinforced his Muslim faith after he had converted to Islam during his first spell in prison.

Masood, 52, was shot dead by police after stabbing Pc Palmer, 48, and ploughing his rented 4x4 into Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, on Westminster Bridge, causing fatal injuries.

Masood was born Adrian Elms and used the name Adrian Ajao, his stepfather Philip’s surname, during his school years. According to police, Masood was not the subject of any current investigations and there was “no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack”.He was, however, known to police and security services, with previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences.


Posted on 09/20/2018 2:31 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Only the People Can End This Democratic Horror Show

by Conrad Black

It is impossible for the Democrats to plumb more profound depths than those they have in accusing President Trump of causing hurricanes while being responsible for thousands of hurricane-related deaths in Puerto Rico, even as they impugn a Supreme Court nominee at five minutes to midnight because of an uncorroborated, and vehemently denied, drunken grope 36 years ago.

President Trump is correct that when he left Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria had come through last year, the reported deaths were six to 18, every one a tragedy but not a high number for such a terrible storm striking such a vulnerable place. The manner in which it grew to about 3,000 deaths in the aftermath and propelled the unfeasibly obnoxious mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, to accuse the president of genocide, is questionable. The ”excess mortality,” as post-crisis deaths allegedly caused by crisis events are called, moved the number to 3,000 and higher, and includes mainly people who died indirectly from lack of electricity and other services after the event. There is a great deal of surmise and wild guesswork in these numbers and the number can be taken as an ambitiously high citation of the number of deaths Hurricane Maria actually caused in Puerto Rico. Not all of the post-storm clean-up is the responsibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the multiplication of the number of people apparently dead when the storm had departed Puerto Rico by a factor of nearly 200, is highly suspect.

It is illustrative of the low, churlish, unedifying tone of public discussion that any such controversy should arise. It was in questionable taste and was poor judgment for the president to congratulate himself on brilliant handling of the Maria crisis in Puerto Rico last year, as Hurricane Florence bore down on the Carolinas. Even if his self-directed praise was justified, and the federal relief performance in Puerto Rico has been generally reported as fairly effective, it was untimely and unseemly.

But as so often with this president, a self-serving comment that may have been somewhat accurate, was no comfort to those fleeing their homes in the hundreds of thousands or hunkering down in fear of Florence, and it gave the president’s numberless enemies another irresistible target to fire at, down to the harridan-mayor of San Juan. The claim that the president’s policies have aggravated hurricanes is reserved to the demonstrably insane in the nether regions of Sandersism. This might work for the precociously spent meteor, Bronx congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to accompany her theory that universal health care would end the need for funerals.

No Shame Evident
The Kavanaugh affair is, to cite that Lincolnian pillar of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), the Spartacus moment of all the Democrats. They can all claim to lead a slave revolt against the tyranny of the Constitution, the service and retention of which is all that Judge Kavanaugh and his supporters are seeking.

There has already been ample reference to the fact that Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) waited tactically to the last minute before raising this matter of Kavanaugh’s alleged drunken grope of a fellow high school student 36 years ago, of which the senator became aware in July. Neither in public nor private hearings nor in a private one-hour meeting did she bother to raise the subject. Kavanaugh denies it, no one corroborates it, no illegality is alleged, no subsequent claimants of like behavior have come forward, and scores of women who have known the judge for decades have attested to his irreproachable behavior and character.

It is nonsense; many men have done such a thing, and so have many women, and it absolutely does not, in itself, even if the incident happened, disqualify this nominee or anyone else, at this remove in time, from any office, even in the celibate clergy.

The supporting evidence is the notes, contradictory in places, of the complainant’s psychotherapist from a psychoanalytic session, 26 years ex post facto—i.e. the complainant herself a generation later from a psychiatric couch. This has as much probative value as Hillary Clinton’s citations from the Steele dossier, which she commissioned and paid for, and when exposed, described as “campaign information.” Where is the shame? Where does this demeaning idiocy stop? Obviously nothing is now sacred, but must every act and every public office, be profane?

A Revolution Against Both Parties
That this preposterous red herring should even be taken into account is indicative of the fragile condition of the Washington process.

The immense tragedy of Vietnam: the ill-considered entry, mismanaged war strategy, poorly focused dissent, and outright betrayal of all Indochina once peace had been made by leaving the non-communist majority defenseless, helped shatter public trust in government. Watergate, both the tawdry behavior of several echelons of the Nixon campaign and administration, but also the bloodless assassination of a distinguished and overwhelmingly reelected president, scarred the whole process more deeply. Neither the well-intentioned dithering of President Carter, nor even the hugely successful focus on the incentive economy and a tighter containment and preparedness strategy that successfully ended the Cold War under President Reagan restored faith in the ultimate decency and commendable motivations of most people in public life.

These problems could only be aggravated by charlatans like Ross Perot, and by the peccadilloes and untruths of the Clintons, the terrible failures of the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. In most policy areas, President Trump is doing what he promised and he is generally succeeding. The economy is splendid, there is progress in the North Korean peninsula, trade renegotiations are generally progressing, and the Western Alliance is inching away from the intercontinental free pass on the American deterrent that it had become.

But President Trump led a revolution against both parties, and is opposed by most of the entrenched elements of both parties, and a take-no-prisoners atmosphere is becoming reciprocally more intense. The public hearing pitting Judge Kavanaugh against his high school accuser, and the declassification of the FISA material and FBI texts and documents escalates the pre-electoral atmosphere to the ultimate state of combat. The obscenely sociopathic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) says Trump only attacks her because she is black. The inimitable bumbler Joe Biden, whose nose grows when he isn’t saying something foolish, disparaged a large section of the president’s supporters as “the dregs of society.”

American history can be ransacked to find such widespread contumely. The people will have to decide, as is appropriate in a democracy. The country wants an end to the riven animosity in Washington and wants its legislators and national office-holders to behave like disinterested leaders of a great nation. To make this happen, the voters will have to elevate one side over the other.

At this point, I believe there is no practical choice, nor any valid counterargument, to giving the president the mandate he needs to complete his program. No president since Nixon has absorbed a greater partisan and media onslaught, yet in the absence of anything except the bile and distaste of his enemies, his record supports him at a barely viable level in public opinion.

Now is the time for the honeymoon that was withheld two years ago. And if he receives it, he will have a legitimate mandate to govern with dignity and calm in the bipartisan national interest. It is time for the people to announce the end of the Terror and the dawn of Thermidor. Even bloodless revolutions must end.

First published in American Greatness.

Posted on 09/19/2018 12:56 PM by Conrad Black
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Spies: Enticing and Otherwise

by Michael Curtis

Former British Labour leader Michael Foot in 1983

Espionage is as old as history with individuals sent on missions to obtain information or secrets, political and military, or to sabotage the activity of opponents. This was done by personal relations, and usually by physical presence at the site of information gathering or interaction with informants. Now the new art form is cyber espionage, obtaining secrets, classified information from individuals, companies or governments using Internet, networks, or computers. It is largely impersonal, being performed by electronic or digital means from remote offices, far from the site of information retrieval.

Cyber spying and computer hacking have been present at least since 2008 when China was suspected of trying to affect the US Presidential elections, and different actors, Islamic activists and Latin American operators, for economic, political, and financial reasons, have engaged in attacks on political organizations, government institutions, and political personnel.  

However, it is mainly the dramatic activity of Russian nationals in committing murders in Western Europe and espionage in the U.S. in recent years that has indicated the magnitude of the problem. Other countries are involved in nefarious activity. In September 2018 the Swiss government summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded a stop to espionage. On September 14, 2018 it had arrested two Russian agents of GRU who were trying to hack into the Swiss laboratory in Spiez that provides protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical threats, and was testing traces of the nerve agent Novichok used in Salisbury.

A North Korea computer program was guilty of major cyber-crimes including hacking thousands of emails from Sony Pictures in 2014, Bangladesh Bank $81 million heist in 2016, the Wanna Cry ransomware attack in 2017 that affected 300,000 computers in 150 countries, and the attack on Lockheed Martin, US military contractor. 

 In July 2018, the U.S. Special Counsel charged 12 Russian military intelligence officers, associated with the GRU, with computer attacks intended to undermine the 2016 presidential election. For attempts to murder former Russian spy double agent, Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on March 4, 2018 the UK charged two Russian agents, also part of GRU intelligence.  

Distinction between old fashioned spying, often amusing and entertaining, and less enjoyable impersonal acts like election sabotage and cyber war is significant. Everybody loves absurd James Bond, code name 007, the creature invented by Ian Fleming, the flamboyant and irresistible pride of MI6 with his sports cars, electronic gadgets, special drinks, impeccable clothes, and Bond girls, if also hedonistic and amoral. Almost equally admired are two other characters. One is George Smiley, the deliberate anti-Bond figure, short, bald, overweight, seemingly bland, career intelligence officer in the Circus, overseas intelligence agency, created by John Le Carre. The other is Harry Palmer, the character in films made from novels by Len Deighton. Palmer is working class, dull, bespectacled, insubordinate, lacking glamor. 

Non-fictional spies of the past have similarly become legendary, intriguing figures. Christopher Marlowe, Elizabethan playwright who is said to have been killed in a tavern brawl in May 1593, and so did not write Shakespeare as some claim. Nathan Hale, who volunteered to go behind the enemy British lines in Long Island, was captured and executed in September 1776 and who may have said he regretted he had only one life to give for his country. Mata Hari, the bewitching Dutch exotic dancer who spied for Germany and was executed in France in October 1917. Moe Berg, Princeton graduate who spoke ten languages, major league baseball catcher, who acted for the OSS in Yugoslavia, and Italy. Richard Sorge a Russian agent who posed as a Nazi journalist in Japan, and obtained accurate evidence of Hitler’s operation Barbarossa 1941, evidence which was ignored by Josef Stalin, because it contradicted his assumption about Nazi intentions.  

The U.S. and UK have been penetrated by spies. In the U.S. during and after World War II some like Klaus Fuchs, German physicist and atomic spy, and Julius Rosenberg were ideologically committed to the cause of communism, Others, like John Walker and Aldrich Ames, appeared more interested in financial or some form of psychological reward.

In the UK, the “Cambridge Five,” graduates of the University of Cambridge, were true believers in Marxism-Leninism, for them the best defense against fascism, who spied for the Soviet Union from 1934 through World War II. All had positions in security operations, the Foreign Office, MI5, Secret Intelligence Service. The most important of them, Kim Philby became a member of British Special Operations Executive, SOE, and the head of British intelligence in Washington, D.C.  None of the Five was ever prosecuted. Curiously, though the Soviet Union penetrated UK security, and U.S. security and the atomic program, neither the U.S. nor the UK penetrated Soviet intelligence or seemed to have had working agents in Moscow.  

There is more than a “sausage of evidence” that Russia in recent years has been using chemical weapons to deal with individuals regarded as traitors, or enemies of Russia. What is surprising are allegations about the past in Britain. The issue of Britons spying or alleged to have spied for the Soviet Union or its allies has surfaced with recent revelations about British sympathizers, a number of whom in the Labour Party were sympathetic to communism. Two of the targets, Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Foot are particularly important.

Corbyn, present leader of the British Labour Party since 2015, is alleged in 1986 and 1987 to have met with a Czech spy named Jan Sarkocy, and shared at least a cup of tea together in the House of Commons in November 1986. Corbyn was regarded by the Czechs as a “person of interest.” In 1986 he expressed negative views towards the U.S. and positive ones towards the Communist bloc countries. Given the code name COB, Corbyn was said to be well informed about persons who were in contact with anti-communist agencies. According to Czech sources, Corbyn met again in the Commons with a Czech agent on October 24, 1987 to “strengthen mutual recognition,” and discussed the policies of the U.S. regarding the Persian Gulf: however, Corbyn claimed to be elsewhere at a conference on that date and time. In similar fashion, Corbyn could not remember sharing a meal with Hamas in 2010.

Most surprising, in a new book The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre on Oleg Gordievsky the former KGB Soviet spy, head of the London station, 1974-1985, the charge is made, eight years after his death, that Michael Foot was an KGB agent in 1982. He was not regarded as a spy or conscious agent, but was paid, relatively small amounts, for disinformation purposes, feeding false information. The Soviet Union saw him, nicknamed Agent Boot, as a confidential contact and met openly with him in his favorite restaurant the Gay Hussar in Soho, London.

No doubt the Soviet Secret Services infiltrated factions of the Labour Party that had become increasingly left wing. But the charge against Foot seems absurd. Foot, a prominent journalist, co-author of Guilty Men, a scathing polemical attack on British public figures and politicians whom he considered appeasers of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Foot was editor and managing director of the left wing The Tribune for a number of years, partly subsidized by Lord Beaverbrook. He was an M.P. 1945-92 with an interval of 5 years, a government minister, and became leader of the Labour Party, 1980-1983.

The search for true spies must continue but Foot is unlikely to have been one.

He was always an opponent of the Soviet Union, and was critical of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. He sued the Sunday Times successfully when similar allegations against him were published 23 years ago.  Personal allegations of this kind have their amusing side, but the real danger is the less amusing cyber warfare. The U.S. and the UK both know they must prevent this impersonal spying from getting deep in the heart of things, getting under the skin of security authorities. They can do without that very well.

Posted on 09/18/2018 12:57 PM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Police force reveals uniforms for Muslim women in UK first

From Metro. Pictures from West Yorkshire Police Federation

A new police uniform has been developed specifically for Muslim women in an attempt to recruit more black and minority ethnic officers. West Yorkshire Police is the first force in the country to launch the new loose fitting uniform ‘designed not to show the female form’, bosses said. It is hoped the uniforms will improve race equality among applicants after police chiefs were told to do more to appeal to BAME recruits.

The force – like many across the country – already allowed female officers to wear the hijab. Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams said: ‘For the last month we have been trialling a new uniform for women which is designed not to show the female form. This was suggested by a Muslim female officer and was designed by our Clothing Manager in conjunction with the officer. The tunic is a looser and longer fit, and has full sleeves. This has been well-received from officers in the force and we have now made further supplies of this uniform for other officers to trial it if they wish. . . I hope this uniform will encourage people from underrepresented groups to consider a career in policing if they had previously been put off joining the force due to the uniform.'

Bradford-based PC Firzana Ahmed became the first to wear the new uniform which, she said, had attracted ‘positive feedback from the local community’.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel had quizzed police chiefs on Friday about what they were doing to boost the number of BAME recruits. Panel member Roger Grasby said the force had seen some success in boosting the number of staff who were female, disabled or lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) but ‘less so with BAME’.

It isn't that long since West Yorkshire Police changed their uniform to a gender neutral black nylon shirt which according the the Federation (police union) was "a hit with officers" They admitted it wasn't smart like the traditional white shirt, collar and tie, but hey, what did smartness ever have to do with a uniformed force? And as the new vests are more comfortable under body armour, and "Due to their dark colour the new shirts are more suitable for the day-to-day rigours of active duty" (blood? dirt? what sort of dirt?) that speaks volumes for the sort of area they have allowed West Yorkshire to become under their protection. 

Above from left to right, at the Muslim Women’s Council in Bradford a policewoman wears the old uniform which is being phased out in favour of a 'doesn't show the blood' black nylon top, and PC Firzana Ahmed wears the newest of the new uniform in sharia compliant modest form. The woman in between isn't, so far as I know a copper. Right Chief Constable Mark Gilmore models the new, all ranks, roles and unisex black casual police top. 

Posted on 09/18/2018 6:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwaxe
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Activist journalism in the age of Trump

The media never seemed to care when Obama’s weak foreign policy enabled Russia’s takeover of Crimea and entrenchment in Syria.

by Matthew Hausman

Donald Trump’s relationship with the media has become increasingly hostile as many journalists have aligned themselves with the anti-Trump “resistance” and sacrificed professional objectivity in the process.  The president uses the term “fake news” to delegitimize the press and play to his base, while members of the mainstream media accuse him of criticizing them unfairly. Not all news is false, but it is not unreasonable to question when dubious stories are “fake” or merely slanted, whether there is a difference, and whether Mr. Trump bears any responsibility for instigating journalistic backlash. These are fair questions that demand honest responses, not rote denials by reporters who claim to be objective but cannot credibly refute the existence of bias, or who hysterically claim that Trump’s criticisms threaten their rights under the First Amendment.

Journalists should make it their business to report on the doings of government, and the press is protected for that very reason by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”  But with great rights comes great responsibility, and the media’s responsibility is to be a nonpartisan watchdog of government. The Constitution does not delineate the press’s functions, but it does provide essential protections to enable journalists to report on government without interference. The founding fathers envisioned a press free of regulation because politicians and elected officials could not be expected to report on themselves objectively.

The Constitution’s protections also apply to editorial opinions that are critical of government.  However, journalists should maintain a bright line between fact and opinion to report truth as it is, not as they would like it to be. Unfortunately, journalists today are frequently blinded by ideological loyalties that undercut their neutrality; and news reports are often skewed to put this president in a negative light by ignoring his economic and foreign policy successes, offering political diatribes as objective analysis, and, yes, sometimes reporting false claims as news without adequate (or sometimes any) fact checking...




Posted on 09/18/2018 5:07 AM by Matthew Hausman
Tuesday, 18 September 2018
Thilo Sarrazin Confounds His Critics with Common Sense (Part IV)

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Von Schwerin claims that “it’s his [Sarrazin’s]  basic thesis that appears the most questionable, in which he claims that all the Muslims’ social and economic problems can be blamed on their religion — or as the second part of his book’s title states: “How Islam Impedes Progress and Threatens Society.” Nowhere does Sarrazin make the maximalist claim that “all” the Muslims’ social and economic problems are to be “blamed on their religion,” but he thinks that it would be silly to deny,  given that Islam is an all-encompassing faith, a religion and a politics, not to attribute much of Muslim behavior to that very faith. He has spent the last eight years, since his first book, studying the texts and teachings of Islam and relating them to that behavior.

This is, incidentally, a distinctly un-racist point of view: he does not see Muslims as innately violent or backward; they are so only insofar as they follow what their texts — the Qur’an and hadith — inculcate, that is, command or prohibit. This is the very opposite of the “racism” charge so often made against Sarrazin. Among his leading  defenders is the German-Turkish and Muslim sociologist Necla Kerek, who has supported his views. She is just as critical as Sarrazin of the attitudes of Muslims in Germany:

“Being a Muslim is becoming a self-sufficient identity. And this identity consists only of being different — different from the Europeans, different from the Africans, different from the Indians. And this frightens me. [Others] do not state their difference in terms of an utter rejection of the society that hosts them, preparing to take over one day. I often hear those Muslim youngsters bragging that one day this country will be theirs.” She also criticizes those who see themselves as victims, saying “Today, the Turks, or Muslims, are given full access to civil rights, to democracy and liberty — and they reject all that. They have access to good education, healthcare, social welfare, but they voluntarily choose to keep out, to stagnate in parallel worlds. […] How can they still consider themselves as victims, as the Jews once were in reality?”

Von Schwerin ends his tendentious review with a claim that should surprise:

Hardly a Muslim bases his actions primarily or even exclusively on Islam. But even if Islam were the cause of all problems, what would be the solution? That all Muslims give up their culture and their faith? That’s not likely.

Where is the evidence that “hardly a Muslim bases his actions primarily or even exclusively on Islam”? We have had more than 100,000  members of the Islamic State, from all over the world,  who have claimed that they were, or are now, acting solely according to the teachings of Islam. There are many other terrorist groups — Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Jadhat al-Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah — whose members claim to be following the Qur’an and the example of Muhammad. How many of the 1.5 billion Muslims does Von Schwerin think do not base their actions primarily on Islam?

And how does he who is so dismissive of Sarrazin’s statistics arrive at his self-assured remark that “hardly a Muslim bases his actions primarily on Islam”? What research has he conducted to arrive at this counter-intuitive result? How many Muslim women wear at least the hijab as cover? How many Muslim men, in Islamic countries, practice polygyny, divorce using the triple-talaq, and punish disobedient wives? How many Muslims believe that they are the “best of peoples” and non-Muslims the “most vile of creatures,” and act accordingly? How many Muslims work to spread Islam, by whatever means are both available and effective, until it everywhere dominates?

Von Schwerin then addresses a question to Sarrazin: even if “Islam were the cause of all problems” — which Sarrazin has never claimed — “then what would be the solution”?

And he ends:

Sarrazin does not present a solution to this dilemma, as he is not even interested in finding solutions. His whole book shows that he is not concerned with helping shape peaceful coexistence, but rather with the strict separation of peoples and stopping the immigration of Muslims.

Note the tell-tale repetition: “what would be the solution” and “does not present a solution” and “finding solutions.” Sarrazin does not offer a “solution” because, unlike Von Schwerin, he doesn’t think about Islam in such terms. There is no “solution” to the ideology of Islam, but the threat its adherents pose can be decreased if certain measures are taken. He thinks that Germans ought to educate themselves about the ideology of Islam, so that they will not be oblivious to the danger it poses, nor be misled either by taqiyya-and-tu-quoque apologists for Islam, or pollyannish politicians who refuse to recognize a worrisome reality.

The Germans need to understand the 109 Qur’anic verses commanding Believers to wage violent jihad against the Unbelievers, and especially the verses telling Muslims to “strike terror” in the hearts of those Unbelievers. Sarrazin thinks Germans have a perfect right, given the ideology of Islam, to decrease drastically the number of Muslim immigrants, who have become such a burden both on Germany’s social welfare state and on its criminal justice system.

The experiment with mass Muslim migration has been tried in Germany, and to a lesser extent all over Western Europe, and nowhere has it been anything but a dismal failure. Integration has failed not because of the indigenous non-Muslims but because Muslims don’t want to integrate into Western societies; they want Western societies to change so as to better accommodate them.

Angela Merkel cannot admit her colossal mistake in having admitted so many Muslims — more than a million  in 2015 alone. Others, however, who were not in her government and therefore not to blame, now are in a position, and indeed have the duty, to call for putting an end to Muslim immigration. That requires of German political figures and populace alike that rarest of qualities, singularly lacking in the likes of Ulrich von Schwerin, that quality so misleadingly called “common sense.”

First published in Jihad Watch. 

Posted on 09/18/2018 4:37 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 17 September 2018
Israel mourns Ari Fuld

From the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel and our friend Brian of London. Photograph from Algemeiner

Ari Fuld was assistant director of Standing Together, an organization that supports IDF soldiers. 

Fuld, a 45-year-old father of four from the Efrat settlement, left his home for a routine shopping trip, and was stabbed to death shortly before noon on Sunday by a Palestinian teenager outside the Harim Mall at the Etzion junction. Despite his wounds, Fuld chased and shot at his attacker, preventing further casualties in the attack, before collapsing to the ground. He was rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Brian says that two civilians and a security guard at the shopping centre also shot at the terrorist who was taken alive. It is not known whether Mr Fuld was his specific target because of his work in support of Israel and the IDF, or whether he was a random target from a terrorist seeking his jihad any way. His stabbing spree was cut short by Mr Fuld's last action in this world and there were no other casualties. This murderous boy is just 17 years old.

The father of four, Fuld was the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and had miraculously dodged a bullet while serving as an IDF soldier in Lebanon. Born in New York, Fuld, 45, immigrated to Israel in 1994. The dual US-Israeli citizen lived in Efrat with his wife Miriam, and was the father of Tamar, 22, Naomi, 21, Yakir, 17, and Natan 12. He served as a sergeant in an elite paratroopers unit in the IDF reserves, and also served on the Efrat emergency squad.

A well-known pro-Israel advocate his Facebook page stated: “Living the dream! I have a love for the Nation of Israel, Land of Israel and Torah of Israel.”

In accordance with Jewish and Israeli custom his funeral was held very quickly yesterday night. Brian attended. He described so many people attending that their cars were parked 4 kilometers away from the cemetery while they walked the rest of the way in the dark, protected by army helicopters overhead, patrolling also in darkness. Thousands stood quietly outside for hours waiting for it to begin. He has provided a Face Book video link here of the speeches given, some in Hebrew, some in English. 

His brother spoke of their early life and promised that his family would be looked after. His wife made a speech of impressive dignity and love. His children spoke of their father very movingly. No one spoke of revenge, retaliation or retribution. They spoke of love, and how their love for Mr Fuld, and his for them will ensure they all support each other, in love.

However, "We welcome the stabbing attack in Bethlehem," said Hamas spokesperson Abd Al-Latif Kanaoueu. "It came at the cost of sacrificing our people in the March of Return, emphasizing the importance of Jerusalem's Intifada and the right of our people to all forms of resistance against the occupation."

Islamic Jihad praised the "heroic stabbing against the settlers' terror in Bethlehem," adding that "this is a natural response to Jewish terror, aggression, and its crimes against Arabs, the land, and our holy places."

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, and the Resistance Committees also welcome the attack, stressing the necessity of resistance "against settlements, Judaization of the land, and occupation crimes.".

They are wrong. Love will conquer hate. 

As the organisation Stand With Us, who I have met in London while opposing the Al Quds parade tweeted yesterday

"May his memory be a blessing."

Posted on 09/17/2018 1:24 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 17 September 2018
Assad killed Bashir Gemayel in 1982 and triggered Sabra and Shatila massacres to trap Israel and its Lebanese allies

by Hameed Ghuriafi

Ba'athist Syrian President Hafez al Assad (left) and his son and successor Bashar

On every September 18, pro-Iranian and pro-Ikhwan Arab and international web-based news agencies rush to unveil the “bloody record” of Lebanese Christians and Israelis in what was to be known allegedly as those “responsible for the massacre of Sabra and Chatila” Palestinian camps in September 1982. While it is hard to dispute the bloody character of these killings of Palestinian civilians, many questions remain surrounding the responsibility of the party behind the Sabra and Chatila massacres.

Notable Lebanese-American historians who have researched the tragic events that occurred at the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982, flatly dismissed allegations of Israeli direct involvement in the killings or Lebanese Forces official involvement. Dr. Franck Salameh, Professor of Near Eastern studies at Boston College, revealed in his article titled “Syrian Responsibility for The Sabra and Chatila Massacres”, republished in, that the troops who conducted the massacres were selected by a Kataeb (Lebanese Forces) military commander Elie Hobeika who had established secret contacts with the Syrian Baathist regime of Hafez al-Assad.

Hobeika’s henchmen were reportedly instructed to kill men, women, infants and elderly Palestinians indiscriminately and to place the blame for the horrific massacres on the late Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel and then-Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon. It certainly was not a pure coincidence that the killings took place 48 hours after the Syrian-engineered assassination of Gemayel. Salameh’s startling revelation was eerily reminiscent of the allegations made in 1999 by Elie Hobeika’s former bodyguard, Robert Hatem.

In his highly controversial book titled, From Israel to Damascus, Hatem shed an interesting light on the Sabra and Chatila massacres. He claimed that the former Head of Syria’s Security Apparatus in Lebanon General Ghazi Kanaan (who was later murdered by the Syrian regime’s security apparatus to hide President Bashar al-Assad’s role in the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri) gave Elie Hobeika direct orders to dispatch militiamen to the Palestinian camps and commit the massacres. Hatem added that Ariel Sharon and Hobeika had a major altercation at a building overlooking the camps as soon as the Israeli defence minister found out about the large human atrocities carried out by the Lebanese Christian militiamen ordered by Syria’s agent.

Hatem later commented on the 2002 assassination of his former boss, saying that President Bashar al-Assad was notified of Hobeika’s intention to testify before a Belgian court about Sharon’s role in the Sabra and Chatila massacres and clear his name. The Syrian president was keen not to let the genie out of the bottle. He thus decided to eliminate Hobeika and bury the Assad’s family dirty secrets with him.


Hameed Ghuriafi is a senior writer at the Kuwaiti daily As Siyasa and a former editor of several publications in Lebanon, Cyprus and London.

Posted on 09/17/2018 12:47 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 16 September 2018
Thilo Sarrazin Confounds His Critics with Common Sense (Part III)

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Anyone who has ever been to Istanbul, Granada or Cairo can only be astonished to read Sarrazin’s declaration that “an independent Islamic building culture never developed.” Anyone who knows Iran’s impressive Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can hardly agree with his statement that Muslims do not know anything “about urban planning with axes and public spaces.

Is Sarrazin not referring, when he claims that “an independent Islamic building culture never developed,” to the fact that such architectural advances as the squinch and the pendentive, which are such outstanding and indispensable features of Muslim mosque architecture, in fact were taken from Sassanian, that is pre-Islamic, Persia?

He [Sarrazin] also reveals an almost astounding ignorance when he claims that Muslims, “apart from a few fairy tales,” have never developed their own literature — as if poets such as Hafis, Saadi or Mevlana had never existed.

Out of 1400 years of Islamic history, Von Schwerin brings forth the names of exactly three poets, all of them Persians, all of them mystics, and all of them born within a century of one another. Von Schwerin does not mention a single Arabic-language writer. One may well be prompted to ask if those three constitute a magnificent record of literary achievement or if, rather, invoking the names of only those three underscores the lack of such achievement. If one were to list, for example, the great writers in English or in French, many dozens of names, both English and French, would come at once to mind. Beyond the three Persian poets, what are the other great Muslim writers he would have had Sarrazin mention?

Revealing the full force of his deeply Eurocentric perspective, he cites the lack of symphonic orchestras as evidence of the cultural backwardness of the Islamic world. He apparently cannot imagine that there are other concepts of culture and beauty than the ones developed in Europe. Instead of appreciating the richness, complexity and elegance of the ornaments on carpets, tiles and facades created in Muslim countries, he only sees the absence of portraits and sculptures. You can almost feel pity for Sarrazin for such narrow-mindedness.

Why is it illegitimate to note that for many Muslims, musical instruments are haram —  hence  the lack of symphony orchestras in many Muslim societies. I wrote “many Muslims” because some choose to ignore the prohibition. But the prohibition remains, based on a handful of hadith:

Muhammad said: “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance.” [Abu Dawud]

The evidence against musical instruments, in particular wind and string instruments, is irrefutable. There are many hadith from the most authoritative collections that forbid the use of musical instruments. The Sunni schools of fiqh all prohibit wind instruments (e.g. flutes, trumpets) and string instruments (e.g. violins, guitars) categorically, while they differ in their ruling on percussion instruments (e.g. drums). “The Islamic Ruling On Music And Singing In Light Of The Quraan, The Sunnah, And The Consensus Of Our Pious Predecessors,” by Abu Bilal Mustafa Al-Kanadi, is a detailed treatment of the subject.

A hadith in Bukhari, on the prohibition of musical instruments, contains this: “From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk (by men), the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful…. Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

Why should it be considered  “Eurocentric” to suggest that the lack of orchestral, or indeed of any instrumental music, is a sign of cultural underdevelopment or, as Von Schwerin deliberately puts it (though Sarrazin carefully does not) “backwardness”? Plenty of non-Europeans have appreciated, and excelled in, Western orchestral music — see the musicians steeped in classical music now emerging from China and Japan. Only among Muslims does the “haram” label, the result of a handful of hadiths in which Muhammad condemns the use of instruments, deprive an entire culture, over 1400 years, of possibilities of musical expression, and of enjoying what should be a universal musical heritage. Thilo Sarrazin deplores this prohibition on musical instruments in Islam, and believes it contributes to the arrested cultural development in Islamic societies. Ulrich von Schwerin appears to find the severe limit on any musical expression in Islam — save for the occasional exceptions sometimes made for the tambourine and oud, especially at weddings — unremarkable. But no other civilization denies itself so many forms of music, and offers nothing in its place. Sarrazin is not wrong to consider this a sign of cultural underdevelopment.

Von Schwerin suggests that Sarrazin denies Islam any forms of cultural expression. In fact, Sarrazin does not ignore what ornamentation is allowed in Islam. He mentions those very means of expression deemed acceptable in Islam — the  fruits, flowers, and geometric patters of oriental carpets, and the Iznik and other tiles used so copiously in decorating Islamic buildings, including both the facades and the interiors of mosques and palaces. Ulrich von Schwerin is so busy lambasting Sarrazin for his supposed failure to appreciate those forms of Islamic art (the carpets, the tiles) that he himself fails to mention that most important of Islamic art forms  — calligraphy, and specifically, Qur’anic calligraphy.

It is not only music that is limited in Islam, Sarrazin tells us, but painting and the plastic arts are restricted in their subject matter. Images of living creatures are haram, so that portraits of people, and sculptures of them, have no place in Islamic art. And he explains that this is because of a single hadith in which Muhammad says that angels will not enter a house where there is a dog or a picture. The word “picture” has  been taken to mean any depiction of a living creature, whether in a painting or in a sculpture. Thus, over 1400 years, the possibilities of artistic expression by Muslim artists have been severely limited as to both subject (no images of living creatures) and because of that hadith. Why shouldn’t Sarrazin have noted this, as he did, and in a spirit not of unalloyed contempt, as Von Schwerin implies, but of sympathy for the generations of Muslims who never had the chance to express themselves in the many ways they could have done had they not been born into, and constrained by, Islam?

Throughout the book, it is clear that he only takes into account anything that fits into his preconceived world view. He avoids mentioning that the credibility of the statistics he uses has been questioned — that would ruin his narrative. Beyond all the figures on birth rates, levels of education and economic performance, it’s his basic thesis that appears the most questionable, in which he claims that all the Muslims’ social and economic problems can be blamed on their religion — or as the second part of his book’s title states: “How Islam Impedes Progress and Threatens Society.”

Why is Sarrazin’s a “preconceived world view”? Isn’t it, rather, a view he arrived at after long pondering the observable behavior and attitudes of Muslims, which was the subject of his first book, and of studying the texts of Islam to see how they explained that behavior, and those attitudes, for his second book, which took eight years to write? Whatever else they may be, his views are not “preconceived,” but based on observation and careful study.

If you are going to challenge the “credibility of the statistics” Sarrazin uses then you ought to give at least a few examples of the statistics you, or someone else, has found doubtful. Von Schwerin does not provide even one. We have no idea  why their “credibility… has been questioned” (where? and by whom? based on what authority?) It is bad enough to allude to the criticisms of others without adducing examples we can perhaps then judge, but when Von Schwerin himself calls into question Sarrazin’s statistics on “birth rates, levels of education and economic performance,” he has an even greater responsibility to offer examples of Sarrazin’s statistics that he believes there is good reason to doubt. Von Schwerin thinks it’s enough to say that Sarrazin’s  “credibility” has been challenged. No, it isn’t.  Until we know what is being challenged, and the source of that challenge, we have no basis for judging its value. In the absence of such information, why should we not trust Sarrazin, with his long, sober, and distinguished career, most recently as a minister of finance for Berlin, and then as a careful banker with the Bundesbank, rather than some unidentified critic of his work, or than Ulrich von Schwerin?

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 09/16/2018 5:02 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 16 September 2018
Jihadis hijacked jail bible classes: Prison chaplain tells how he was terrorised by Muslim extremist inmates '

From the Mail on Sunday

Islamic militants hijacked a prison chaplain's Bible classes and physically assaulted and abused him because of his Christian faith. Pastor Paul Song today describes how he was left in a state of near- constant fear after Muslim gangs, acting with impunity, came to dominate Brixton Prison in South London. 

Mr Song describes how a hardline element grew increasingly powerful, threatening vulnerable inmates and telling them to convert to Islam for their own protection. The pastor says many of his fellow volunteer chaplains were driven out through intimidation, too. 'My colleagues couldn't take any more,' he said.

Mr Song's disturbing account of life inside Brixton Prison comes at a time of growing crisis in the prison service, which faces overcrowding and staff shortages. In the past nine months, four jails have been described as 'failing'. And on Friday thousands of prison officers walked out for six hours in protest at 'unprecedented' levels of violence. 

For part-time chaplain Paul Song, Brixton Prison's oak-beamed 19th Century chapel was an oasis amid the hectic clamour of penal life. Before emigrating to Britain, Mr Song, now 49, was a detective in the South Korean capital Seoul. He became a born-again Christian with a 'burning desire' to help those on society's margins, such as the homeless, drug addicts, and prostitutes, and for many years he ran a shelter in a Brixton vicarage.  

Pastor Paul, as he was known, became a popular, familiar and respected local figure. Outgoing and brimming with enthusiasm, he made friends easily. He is an evangelist but, as he pointed out, so too was Jesus. 'It doesn't make me an extremist,' he laughed. After the Church of England sold off the vicarage-turned-hostel he used to run, he decided to devote more time to voluntary work in Brixton Prison.

Relating to inmates, some of them highly dangerous, came naturally. 'I think my time in the police helped,' he said. His popularity spread and his courses were oversubscribed, attended by up to 80 prisoners. They met in the large multi-faith chapel, built in the 1850s when embracing Christianity was deemed essential to rehabilitation. 'I was happy that everyone used the chapel and I always got on with people from all religions,' Mr Song recalled. 'In the early days there was never any trouble.'

But that was before Islamic extremists hijacked his Bible classes. One afternoon three inmates appeared in the chapel, interrupting a discussion on divine grace to loudly acclaim the killers of Lee Rigby, whose murder by jihadis on a South London street shocked the nation.  To the disbelief of Mr Song and his fellow Christians, the interlopers insisted that hacking to death the 25-year-old soldier was justified since, in their eyes, it avenged the killing of Muslims by British troops. When Mr Song calmly tried to argue back, he was shouted down. Nor was it the only time his classes were to be similarly disrupted.

There were three full-time chaplains – one Catholic, one Muslim and one Anglican, the Reverend Phil Chadder, who led the chaplaincy. Mr Song began to feel the pressure soon after imam Mohammed Yusuf Ahmed was appointed as head chaplain in 2015. He said 'the imam's discriminatory agenda became clear from the outset', when he began scrutinising the material used in the Bible classes, claiming it was 'too radical' and that the Christian views expressed were 'extreme'. Elsewhere we hear that this was the Alpha Course, which I have been on. I have some constructive criticisms of the course, but radical and extreme it isn't.  'They are mainstream courses used by churches throughout the world. [The imam] said he wanted to 'change the Christian domination' within the prison,' Mr Song said. 

He described the intimidating situation inside the prison at the time: 'Prisoners told me of other inmates who were punched, roughed up, and threatened by Muslim gangsters who told them to convert to Islam for their own protection. They also said that if they refused they would make sure they didn't receive the good quality food, the halal meat, for instance, that was served every Friday.  

'They also tried to convert me. They'd scream in my face, Arabic things such as 'Allahu Akbar' – Allah is greatest. They'd also criticise Christianity, comparing it unfavourably to Islam.

'One day I was walking through a section of a wing housing many of the Muslim prisoners when one of them came at me from behind and hit me hard on the back. They were all laughing calling me a 'Chinky' and 'Crazy Christian'. It was very frightening and, from then on, I was very conscious of walking only where I knew there was CCTV.'

Reluctantly, Mr Song agreed to stop running his classes though he continued to work with individual prisoners. 'The imam said I couldn't use the chapel and effectively took control of it so I held a prayer meeting in a large holding cell but the imam got to hear about it and was furious. He is very big, physically intimidating and he kept urging me to just leave. I thought about it but I also thought, why should I give in?'

Following a visit to the jail in January 2017, prisons inspector Peter Clarke found high levels of violence and reported that 'a third of prisoners felt unsafe'. It was also noted that the jail had been without a full-time Anglican chaplain for 18 months. Mr Clarke said one should be recruited 'without delay'.

In August 2017 the imam sent an email to Mr Song warning him not to visit the prison without prior permission or 'you will be walked to the gate'. Mr Song thought there had been a misunderstanding. After all, he had long been so trusted he had his own key.  

He then received a letter from Graham Horlock, the prison official in charge of reducing offending, saying he had received allegations that he had called a prisoner a 'terrorist', made references to IS and had threatened the imam. All this Mr Song vehemently denies.The letter went on to say that the decision to remove him was 'permanent and with immediate effect' – with the ban coming before he had the chance to defend himself.

Mr Song said the imam 'did not elaborate on which of my views he considered extreme, though I had only ever spoken the Bible's message on forgiveness and grace. 

He said he was aware of other Christian groups that went into Brixton and had their courses stopped and this led to Christian volunteers largely being shut out. Many inmates made witness statements in support of Mr Song.

One, Nigel Williams, praised Mr Song's work, saying: 'Hundreds of ex-prisoners have the highest respect and admiration for Paul and would say that his actions changed their lives for the better. The prisoners are devastated by his removal.' He added that while there was a 'lot of support for Muslims' little was being done for Christians, adding that violent Islamist gangs 'are trying to spread their religion by force' and radicalise inmates.

Another former prisoner, Jeremy Conlon, said in a witness statement: 'The Muslim prisoners created by far the largest gang that ruled the prison by threat of violence. The Muslims offered converts protection. With a shortage of guards this protection became invaluable.' Those who didn't convert, said Mr Conlon, lived in fear. He said it was impossible to 'speak out about the oppression without facing a genuine risk of being attacked.'

In despair over his situation, Mr Song turned to the Christian Legal Centre, which sought a judicial review of his ban. In May this year, Mr Song agreed to stay the proceedings after an independent investigation was promised.

Led by Sara Pennington, governor of Elmley prison, it said Mr Song should be reinstated, after training for dealing with a 'multi-faith community'. She said HMP Brixton's initial investigation was 'limited' and did not follow due process.

Meanwhile the imam has been suspended over a matter unrelated to Mr Song's case and the prison is now advertising for a new head chaplain. The imam could not be reached for comment.

Mr Song is now planning to restart his courses. 'This has been a very difficult time,' he said. 'Not for a moment did I think that something like this could happen in England.'


Posted on 09/16/2018 4:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 15 September 2018
Sweden, the Far-Right Did Not Win

by Michael Curtis

Don't know why, there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather. The concern about an increase in the popularity of the far-right political party and national populism was the theme song of forecasters and commentators of the parliamentary general election on September 9, 2018 in Sweden. The general belief was that the far-right Sweden Democrat party, anti-immigrant and anti-establishment, would increase its share of the vote, perhaps to about 30% and become the leading party in the country. The forecasts were only partly correct. The party did increase its share of the vote by 4.7% but obtained only just under 18%. Different conclusions may be drawn, but the optimistic one is that Sweden only partly followed the path of far-right parties in other European countries in recent years.

Far-right populist movements have grown in strength in European countries, in Italy, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and sizable amounts in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Austria, and France. The biggest threat to mainstream democratic systems comes from Viktor Orban, prime minster of Hungary who has ended check and balances in the country, restricted press and academic freedoms, and non-governmental organizations, limited judicial independence, refused to accept EU refugee quota arrangements and challenged the leadership of EU. Orban has been rebuked by the European Parliament which approved a report that he had threatened the rule of law by hampering press and academic freedom, and then voted to censure Hungary.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be with the arrival in Europe of immigrants bringing uncertainty and often violence. Sweden, if no longer a socialist utopia, with its broad liberal consensus, generous welfare state, and social peace, ruled for long periods by Social Democrats had seemed to typify Newton's law of inertia, an object at rest will stay at rest. For most of the world, Sweden is a country best known for Nobel Prizes, Abba, the pop group quartet, who started in 1972, Ingrid Bergman who left Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, film director Ingmar Bergman, playwright August Strindberg, for Ikea founded by a 17 year-old in 1943, the firm of modernist designs appliances and furniture and now the world's largest furniture retailer, delicious meatballs and pickled herring. 

Sweden is an affluent and progressive country with a strong welfare system, high tax rates, and policies to reduce inequalities, low unemployment of 6.7% compared with France 9.4% and Italy 11.2%, wealthy with GDP per capita of $43,000 (Germany $35,000, France and UK $32,000 and Italy $26,000). The country spends the second highest amount in the EU countries on education, and is active in environmental issues such as CO 2 emissions.

The country is now also one of fragmented political landscape and voter volatility. 

At the general election on September 9, 2018, about 41% of voters said they voted for a different party than in 2014. In a high turnout of 84% the result was inconclusive, with eight parties being represented in parliament, leaving the country in political uncertainty about the formation of a coalition government with the two major blocs almost equal, and the far-right Sweden Democrats an outsider. One bloc is Center-Left (consisting of Social Democrat, Left, Greens), getting 40.7% and 144 seats, and the other is Center-Right (Christian Democrats, Moderate, Liberals, Center), getting 40.3% and 143 seats. The Sweden Democrats, the far-right party outside the blocs, who got 6% in 2010, got 17.6% of the vote, in 2018, the third largest proportion, and 62 seats.

Both of the two blocs are short of a majority, and any government will need support from the opposite bloc for policy approval since neither wants support from the Sweden Democrats. The major parties all lost votes and seats in the new Riksdag of 349. The Social Democrats, the largest party among men, often got 45% of the vote in the past, this time received only 28.4% of the vote, down 3% since 2014, and won 101 seats, though it is still the largest party. The opposition Moderates, who adopted some of the far-right ideology, had 30% of the vote in 2010, but now with 19.8% lost 3.5%, and got 70 seats. Thus, there was less support for mainstream politics and parties, in spite of the fact that they had accepted a moratorium on asylum seekers, the deportation of illegal immigrants, and stronger rules for citizenship.

The Sweden Democrats did better, though its increase was less than the rise of 7.2% between 2010 and 2014, but less well than expectations. What then explains the rise in Far-Right support, the increase in populism, the dislike of globalization? A number of issues disturbed the country: shortage of doctors, teachers, police; violence in the city of Malmo, especially in the foreign populated Rosengard area, that some regard as a no-go area, with its violent antisemitic outbreaks, general lack of safety, increase in gangland shootings, crime, rape and murder. In 2017 there were 320 shootings and 7,226 rapes, over half committed by foreigners, the immigrants.

The key is immigration, stress on identity politics, and concern about crime and lack of law and order. One fifth of Sweden's 10 million have foreign roots, and many are not well integrated. Unemployment is 4% among natives, but 16% among foreign born, and 23% for non-European immigrants who are accused of a disproportionate number of crimes, terrorism, lack of Swedish values of tolerance, and openness.

Clearly the most important factor is criticism of immigration. In 2015 Sweden admitted 162,000 immigrants, the second largest number of migrants per capita of any EU nation. As a result of public criticism, the number dropped to 26,000 in 2017.

The Sweden Democrats, founded in 1988, is led by 39 year-old Jimmie Akesson, charismatic speaker, usually casually dressed, college drop-out, and heavy gambler.

He has never been personally linked to neo-Nazism, but the party has roots in fascism and neo-Nazism and white nationalist movements (Keep Sweden Swedish). It entered parliament in 2010 with 5.7% of the vote. Akesson has tried to limit those with racist views, but the party is strongly opposed to outsiders, to immigrants, as well as to the existing political elite.

The dilemma remains, for a period of negotiation, and the evidence is mixed because of the relative weakness of the mainstream parties which must now deal with the immigration issue. The country now has a fragmented legislature, and possibly weak government. It will take some time to agree on a new coalition government.  Already the present prime minister Social Democrat, Stefan Lofven, PM since 2014, has rejected a demand from Ulf Kristersson, leader of the opposition center right Moderates since 2017, to help form a coalition.

One problem is that if the two blocs joined in a grand coalition the Sweden Democrats can claim they are the only opposition group. But this does not indicate that the far-right will play a role similar to that in other European countries. Its leader since 2005 Jimmie Akesson still insists that the Muslim population is the biggest foreign threat to Sweden since World War II. With the existing concentration on immigration and opposition to refugees and migrants, the far-right will have some influence until the mainstream parties will deal with the issue. Sweden faces the problem. Will the mainstream parties, after agreeing on a government, try to appease the far-right on the key issues, as well as balance economic efficiency and social justice?

It is gratifying that the Sweden Democrats did not do as well as some had feared. The question for the country is whether the glass is half full or half empty. When the worst are full of passionate intensity, for a healthy political system the center must hold. As Mark Twain once wrote, if your job is to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning.

Posted on 09/15/2018 1:46 PM by Michael Curtis
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