Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100627

Financial Crisis
»G20 Leaders Agree to Disagree
»Islamic Banks Are Here to Stay
»Paul Krugman Now Laughingstock on Two Continents
»UK: NHS Suffering Devastating Cuts to Jobs and Services
»UK: Unemployed to be Told ‘Move to Parts of the Country Where There Are Jobs’
»You Say “Sovereign” I Say “Maybe Not”
»A Left-Wing Journalistic Plant in the Conservative Movement
»Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority
»Dozens of Americans Believed to Have Joined Terrorists
»How Much Costs Detroit’s Re-Prairiezation?
»Illinois Police Revoke 1st Muslim Chaplain’s Post
»Islamic Center Works to Open Hearts, Minds in Murfreesboro
»Islam: Dispelling the Myths
»Muslim-Turned-Preacher Out as Baptist School Dean
»Obama Internet Kill Switch Plan Approved by US Senate
»So What if McChrystal Lost His Job?
»The Appeal of Repeal: Efforts to Undo Obama’s Economy Wrecking Socialist Health Reforms Intensifying
»The Ground Zero Mosque and Media Conquest of Islam
»The Manchurian President: White House Scholar Funded Ayers Group
»The Things He Carried
»Video: Biden Calls Manager Who Told Him to Lower Taxes a “Smartass”
»White House Preparing National Online ID Plan
»Despite the Mayhem, Today’s G20 Protest a Big Flop
»Police: Over 400 Arrested in G-20 Summit Rioting
Europe and the EU
»French G8/G20 Summits Will Cost ‘10 Times Less’ Than Canada’s: Sarkozy
»Gender Quotas for German Business?
»UK: Return of Real School Sports: Tories to Bring Back Competitive Games in Bid to Turn Nation Back Into Sporting Champions
»UK: Shopkeepers’ Fury as They Are Told All Food Must be Weighed and Sold by the Kilo
North Africa
»Egypt: Anti-Trafficking Agency to Prosecute Yerima Over Child Bride
Israel and the Palestinians
»The Western Way of War
»US-Israeli Relations Suffer ‘Tectonic Rift’
»White House Announcement on Gaza Shows the Missing Element: Strategic Rationality
Middle East
»Awareness on Export Credit and Investment Insurance Rising in OIC Countries
»Prostitution Racket Busted in UAE
»Saudi Arabia: Zakat Dept to be Made Independent
»Stakelbeck Exclusive: Israeli Deputy PM Moshe Yaalon on Turkey, Iran, U.S.
»Turkey: No Non-Muslims in EU-Bond
»U.S., Israel Differ on Iran Nuke Intel
»Cameron Raised Ex-Spy’s Death With Medvedev: Official
»Russia Alarmed by CIA View of Iran’s Weapons
South Asia
»15 Insurgents Killed by Their Own Bombs in Afghan Mosque
»Fewer Than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: CIA Chief
»Headmaster Beheaded, Schools Torched in Afghanistan
»In Pakistan, Islamic Schools for Women Thrive
»Indian Held After Hindu Leader’s Murder in Nepal (Lead)
»Indonesia: Call to Arms Against Spread of Christianity
»Pakistan: Anti-Terror Court Convicts 5 Americans
»US Has Not Had Good Intelligence on Osama Bin Laden in Years
Far East
»China Bans Military From Blogging
»N Korea Seeks $75 Trillion in Compensation
Australia — Pacific
»Australia Shouldn’t Have a Big Population: Gillard
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Are Beards Obligatory for Devout Muslim Men?
»Sudanese Paper Publishes First Part of Investigative Report on Islamist Groups
»Britain’s Non-EU Immigration Cap May Face Hiccups
»Growing Foreign-Born Population to Forge ‘New Canada’
»Muslim Cleric Leaves Australia for Good
»Open Borders, Open Pit
»The U.S. Department of Illegal Alien Labor
»UK Set to Limit Migrant Workers
»UK: Tories ‘Back Down’ Over Immigrants’ English Test
Culture Wars
»Biggest Obstacle for China’s Gays: Social Pressure for Marriage
»Inclusiveness Programs Benefit Companies and Workers Alike
»A Grand Design Made to Order, Part 3
»Equality is Never Equal

Financial Crisis

G20 Leaders Agree to Disagree

Summit sets aggressive deficit-cutting targets and leaves bank tax choice to individual nations

TORONTO: Agreeing to disagree and abandoning the endeavor to have a common approach, leaders of the G20 nations agreed to have a “differentiated response” to the economic and financial crisis the world is facing today.

Accepting a compromise on post-recession economic policy, the G20 leaders agreed to aggressive deficit-cutting targets, yet allowed the respective countries to pursue their own approach in meeting their national objectives.

This was an apparent trade-off between US President Barack Obama, who favored continued economic stimulus spending to head off a double-dip recession, and the European leaders led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who wanted G20 countries to move swiftly to reduce debts run up during the 2008-09 economic slowdowns.

“Advanced economies have committed to fiscal plans that will at least halve deficits by 2013 and stabilize or reduce government debt-to-GDP ratios by 2016,” read the G20 communiqué. This was a compromise between the two positions as Obama had publicly expressed his concern that cutting stimulus spending too quickly could hurt the global recovery. The leaders also agreed to support economic growth policies and recognized that some countries will start cutting their budget deficits later than others.

“We are committed to taking concerted actions to sustain the recovery, create jobs and to achieve stronger, more sustainable and more balanced growth,” the communiqué said. “These (actions) will be differentiated and tailored to national circumstances.”

The G20 has also concluded it will be left up to individual countries to decide whether they want to impose a bank tax or establish some kind of a rainy day fund to offset another financial collapse that sparked the worldwide recession.

The final communiqué, while commenting on the issue of energy subsidies, emphasized the need to phase them out over time “based on national circumstances” and “taking into account vulnerable groups and their development needs.”

The leaders also called on the world’s emerging economies to allow their currencies to float more freely, so as to balance world trade.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, seated next to Obama, was seen in intense discussion with world leaders. With heads of state and government from 20 developed and developing nations gathered around a large round table at the Metro Toronto Convention Center, the summit’s host, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, early on Sunday laid out the challenge that confronted them, urging them to take decisive action on mounting national debts and warning that failure to act could derail a fragile recovery. He underlined the need to strike a proper balance between sustaining economic growth and pulling back fiscal deficits.

“The recent skittishness of markets is telling us they are awaiting our actions, actions that must be decisive but also coordinated and balanced,” Harper said. “Here is the tightrope that we must walk, to sustain recovery it is imperative that we follow through on our existing stimulus plans,” he added.

“But at the same time, advanced countries must send a clear message that as our stimulus plans expire, we will focus on getting our fiscal houses in order,” he underlined.

As the leaders debated key issues at the convention center, outside police arrested more than 500 people in a major crackdown in two areas. About 70 people were arrested at a University of Toronto building near Russell Street and Spadina Avenue for wielding “street-type weaponry,” police said. Officers seized black clothing, bricks, bats, sharpened sticks and bottles. Raids were carried out at the Bancroft Building, the Earth Science Center and the Graduate Students Center. Police also arrested four people after witnesses saw them emerge from a manhole near the G20 summit security zone early Sunday morning. A spokeswoman for the Integrated Security Unit said the safety of international leaders at the summit was never at risk.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Islamic Banks Are Here to Stay

LONDON: The headline in The Times of London a few days ago could not have been more explicit: “Shariah-compliant banking products a ‘huge flop’ in Britain.” It is a pity that the writer was not more discerning or informed about Islamic banking in Britain.

The two so-called industry insiders on whose views the story is based are neither experts in Islamic finance nor bankers. In fact, they are bit players. The one a self-styled ‘Baron’ Junaid Bhatti who goes around claiming that he was one of the team who established Islamic Bank of Britain (IBB), which erroneously claims that it is the first Shariah-compliant bank to be approved by the UK.

The other a well-meaning individual Mohammed Qayyum, Director General of the Institute of Islamic Banking & Insurance, an institution which has spectacularly failed to make any impact since its establishment by its founder, the late Muazzam Ali, because of serious organisational and corporate governance deficiencies.

The UK, as the Bank of England and the erstwhile Financial Services Authority (FSA) will confirm, does not authorise Shariah-compliant or Islamic banks, for neither the words ‘Shariah-compliant’ nor ‘Islamic’ appear in the UK Banking Act. In fact they could only appear through the passing of primary legislation.

The five so-called Islamic banks in the UK — IBB, European Islamic Investment Bank (EIIB), Bank of London & the Middle East (BLME), European Finance House (EFH) and Gatehouse Bank — are all authorised under the above Act, but their internal operations are conducted under Islamic banking principles and satisfy the provisions of the Act.

In fact, the first bank to operate under the above process was Al Baraka International Bank in the early 1990s, but unfortunately in the aftermath of the BBCI and INGs Baring banking collapses, Al Baraka was forced to surrender its licence because it could not satisfy the Bank of England on various new provisions that came into force especially relating to diffused ownership rules and new corporate governance and compliance regulations.

The assumptions in The Times article are fundamentally flawed. Islamic finance has been traditionally driven in the UK not by the demand of its 2 million or so Muslim population and those others who are interested in ethical or socially responsible finance and investment, but by high net worth Muslim investors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey, who were starting to demand from their private bankers in London, Geneva and New York, financial products that were consistent with Shariah principles.

At the same time, multinational companies in the early 1980s were starting to access millions of dollars of short-term liquidity requirements using Commodity Murabaha products based on underlying transactions on the London Metals Exchange (LME).

Of the five authorized banks operating under Islamic financial principles in the UK, only one is a commercial bank. The rest are all investment banks. As such, to expect a single commercial ‘Islamic’ bank to make any impact even after six years, a very short gestation period for any bank, is simply ill-informed. It is financially illiterate to talk about IBB in the same way as the other four ‘Islamic’ banks in the UK, because they have different product profiles and client constituencies.

IBB in fact is woefully under-capitalized. As such, its scope is limited. Its senior management were inexperienced and its business plan was flawed from the start. Michael Hanlon, the first CEO of IBB, in an interview with this writer publicly stated that he knew nothing about Islamic banking and therefore he was ‘learning on the job’.

Some of the founder members made small fortunes from the initial appreciation of IBB private placements, albeit the partial listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) was a major disappointment, because British Muslims were simply not interested in investing in such a high risk venture. IBB shares since then have failed to make any investment impact, with many small investors simply holding on to the shares either because of notions of Muslim solidarity or in the hope that the shares would eventually rally and perhaps they can recover some of the value of their initial investment.

IBB’s initial product profile was wholly inadequate, concentrating on current accounts based on the Wadiah concept and the odd savings products, usually based on the Commodity Murabaha transactions. In the first three years, the Bank was simply not interested in launching Islamic home financing and small ticket leasing (Ijara) products. This is largely due to its low capital base which would directly impact on its risk weighting (the money banks have to set aside under FSA rulings to cover any mortgage lending or financing). In the end, IBB was forced to white label the Alburaq Islamic Home Financing Scheme based on Diminishing Musharaka developed by ABC International Bank and Bristol & West, which is part of the Bank of Ireland Group.

Similarly, the Muslim business and small-and-medium-enterprise (SME) hardly featured.

At the same time, to headquarter the bank in Birmingham because it got a good real estate deal from the local Council was short-sighted, because London is the financial center of the UK if not the world and the Islamic finance hub of Europe. Endless commuting to London whether to meet regulators at the FSA, other allied services, shareholder meetings and customers simply bloated operating expenses.

For the above shortcomings, the FSA and the founding shareholders of IBB bear some of the responsibility. If IBB was well capitalised with an experienced Islamic banker at the helm and with a well-thought out business and product plan, then its position may have been much different. Perhaps the ideal would have been to establish a joint venture with an existing high street brand with a tailor-made distribution network.

The expectations that UK high street players such as HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays inadvertently raised were simply not realized. The community banking model under the UK’s financial inclusion policy, which is what IBB effectively is, was simply not attractive to the likes of the above three.

HSBC Amanah is spectacularly successful in its consumer banking operations in the GCC, Malaysia, Brunei and others, yet its similar operations have failed in the UK and the US. A few years ago it stopped its Islamic home financing offerings in the US market and in the UK they have failed to take off.

The mainstream banks are simply not prepared to allocate enough marketing resources to promote their Islamic finance products, which perhaps indicates that their commitment at least in the Western markets are half-hearted. These may be for political reasons or simply because that the development costs are too high to justify a profitable return horizon that is at best medium-term. In reality, HSBC Amanah and Lloyds give the impression that they are living in denial about their Islamic financial offerings in the UK.

Very often their customer advisers have very little clue about their Islamic finance product offerings, which hardly inspires any confidence or loyalty from potential clients. Indeed HSBC would struggle to live up to any pretensions of being ‘the world’s local Islamic bank’.

HSBC Amanah like others has reviewed its growth plans following the global financial crisis. “The growth aspirations are still there but there’s a greater sense of caution and prudence in managing future growth strategies. We would like to think that Islamic finance is here to stay in the UK, but it will not be a quick win,” stressed Amjid Ali, Senior Manager, HSBC Amanah and UK Head, in a recent interview.

With the world coming out of economic recession and on the path to recovery, it remains to be seen how the likes of HSBC Amanah deal with the above aspirations especially in community banking markets such as the UK. Perhaps here lies the fundamental flaw in the approach of the mainstream banks. In the core GCC and south east Asian markets Islamic banking is seen as mainstream activity, but in non-core markets such as the UK, US and perhaps the EU it is seen as a niche community banking activity. The one constant, however, that does not change is the cost of product development and the likely return on investment.

The universal challenges facing Islamic banking is not confined to the UK market — the lack of human capital and talented professionals; the poor level of product knowledge by customers of Islamic banking; and the lack of standardization.

The UK government, as the facilitator of Islamic finance in the UK, has played an admirable role. In fact, the UK has more Islamic finance product enabling legislation in place than most Muslim countries. The latest, Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities)

(Amendment) Order 2010: Alternative Finance Investment Bonds, was adopted in February this year.

Of course the new Cameron Government can be more proactive especially in accessing Islamic finance products such as Sukuk as off balance sheet financing in its debt reduction plans. Indeed that could be the biggest boost Islamic finance needs in an aspiring market such as the UK.

It was encouraging to hear David Bailey, Manager, Financial Services Authority (UK) reiterating at the IFSB Sukuk Seminar in London earlier this month that Sukuk have an important role for Islamic institutions and that the UK remains committed to provide a level playing field for Islamic finance. “Changes will continue to be made, where necessary, to achieve this policy goal,” he added.

Sukuk are important to meet the lack of availability of short term, liquid money market instruments (international issue). In fact, the FSA expanded the liquidity regime to incorporate Islamic Development Bank Sukuk. The UK approach is to provide a level playing field for issuance of Sukuk with comparable conventional products and to achieve the goal of facilitating Islamic finance within the UK without compromising regulatory standards.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Paul Krugman Now Laughingstock on Two Continents

Of late, Krugman has had his Irish up at Europeans who are resisting the Obama Administration’s plan to continue spending hundreds of billions on financial stimulus. (Not that he agrees with the administration, which Krugman has been arguing for the last 18 months should be spending trillions, not mere billions, on stimulus.)

And in the case of Bundesbank president Axel Weber — whom Krugman called out recently in the daily Handelsblatt for trying to shore up the falling euro at the expense of government job creation — it’s created a backlash. The Wall Street Journal reports that Krugman’s criticism has turned him into the anti-Hasselhoff and boosted Weber’s popularity as he pursues the top job at the European Central Bank…


Europeans have lost their appetite for digging deeper holes of debt for the same reason Americans have: because they don’t have a choice. As Margaret Thatcher predicted would happen, we have all run out of other people’s money. That reality explains a lot more than airy references to Germans’ anti-inflationary mass psychology.

We’re at the tail end of the largest economic intervention since World War II, and even on its own narrow, nebulous terms, it has been a colossal failure. The failure is obvious to working people. It’s obvious to unemployed people. It’s obvious to kindergarteners, to dogs and cats. Only Paul Krugman persists in thinking good things will happen if we just throw more money on the barbecue.

[Return to headlines]

UK: NHS Suffering Devastating Cuts to Jobs and Services

Thousands of doctors and nurses face being made redundant or not replaced if they leave, while many hospitals have cut treatments, the British Medical Association has found.

Despite ministers’ assurances that the health service would not face the same cuts as other departments, many hospitals are feeling the strain, according to the BMA


A survey for the BMA asked 361 doctors, who between them represent committees at all of Britain’s hospital trusts and some larger primary care trusts, how the NHS was being affected by the demand to make £20billion of cuts.

It comes as the Coalition faces political pressure to reverse its pledge to ring-fence health spending.

The BMA found that 43 per cent of those who responded said there was a freeze on recruiting doctors and nurses at their trust. Almost as many, 40 per cent, said that patient treatments, including varicose vein operations and blood tests, were being rationed.

GPs in Bedfordshire said they had been told not to refer patients with certain conditions, such as skin lesions and cysts, to hospitals except in exceptional circumstances.

Nearly a quarter of those who responded said that their trust was planning to make workers redundant. Although the majority of these would not affect frontline staff, the union warned that cuts to administrative workers could force doctors and nurses to spend more time on these duties and less time with patients.

The poll — to which 92 doctors responded — represents the first real evidence of how the NHS has been hit by the cuts. It found trusts were trying to make annual savings of six per cent on average. The Government has promised to guarantee NHS spending growth in real terms but the BMA says this will be “minimal”. The association called the cuts potentially “devastating”.

The Royal College of Nursing said earlier this year that about 5,600 jobs were under threat across 26 hospital trusts. In a “worst case scenario”, the true figure could be as high as 30,000, it said.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Alongside all the public services, the NHS will need to deliver significant savings over the coming years…

[Return to headlines]

UK: Unemployed to be Told ‘Move to Parts of the Country Where There Are Jobs’

The coalition Government is drawing up controversial plans to relocate the unemployed to areas of the country where there are jobs, it has emerged.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would be bringing forward proposals to make the workforce “more mobile”.

The comments, in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, echo the words of then-Tory minister Norman Tebbit in 1981 when he suggested the unemployed should “get on your bike” and look for work.

Mr Duncan Smith, the MP for Lord Tebbit’s former parliamentary seat of Chingford, said ministers wanted to encourage jobless people living in council houses to move out of unemployment blackspots to homes in other areas, perhaps hundreds of miles away.

He insisted millions of people were “trapped in estates where there is no work” and could not move because they would lose their accommodation.

The proposed scheme would allow them to go to the top of the housing list in another area rather than giving up their right to a home.

‘We have over the years, not us personally but successive governments, created one of the most static workforces in the western world,’ Mr Duncan Smith said.

‘In Britain now we have workforces that are locked to areas and the result of that is we have over five and a half million people of working age who simply don’t [work]…

[Return to headlines]

You Say “Sovereign” I Say “Maybe Not”

Because my career was banking, I have written much about the attack on America’s independent banks by a federal regime that apparently seeks global governance.

Attacks? How else do you explain that as of June 30, 2009, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said there were 6,898 commercial banks in the United States — but as of June 30, 1984, there were 14,369 commercial banks? In 1994, that number was pared down to 10,623. Now we have less than 6,898.

How do we stop the ever-growing power of the Federal Reserve System? Why are financial experts talking about a world run by central banks? There are answers but they must be implemented before the power to make changes at the State level is removed.

The capacity to control monetary policy at the State rather than federal level and a State currency distribution system are powerful tools.

When people hear the words “State Bank,” they may think it means “State-chartered bank.” A State Bank is quite different from a State-chartered bank. The 90-year old Bank of North Dakota is the only State-owned bank in America.

Think of a State Bank as a mini-Federal Reserve — only it’s State-owned rather than a Federal Reserve Bank. The Federal Reserve System, a privately-owned corporation that is not part of the federal government, has Member Banks — nationally-chartered (they usually have the word “national” in their name). The Bank of North Dakota has “Member Banks” — State-chartered banks. The Bank of North Dakota, for example, provides its own State deposit insurance coverage — like a mini-FDIC (call it NDDIC).

Nationally-chartered banks (those licensed by the federal rather than State government) can do business in states that have a State Banking system, but cannot be members because of their national Charters. The authority that Charters a bank determines whether it will be a Member of the Federal Reserve System or of a State Bank.

A State Bank (exemplified by Bank of North Dakota) is the official depository institution for all State collections and fees. It’s very beneficial to local economies. Such a controlled source of funds is called a ‘captive deposit base’. The State Bank pays the State Treasurer a competitive rate of deposit interest that can be used to reduce local tax burdens. In states that are part of the federal system, funds collected by the State leave the State. When a State owns a State Bank, loan policies are determined by the State, not the federal government or the banking cartel known as the Federal Reserve System.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


A Left-Wing Journalistic Plant in the Conservative Movement

A writer masquerading as a conservative who was supposed to be covering the conservative movement has quit his job under fire at the Washington Post. The writer, David Weigel, left after it came to light that he had made disparaging remarks about conservative personalities on a private email list of liberal journalists. The scandal involves The Washington Post, Reason magazine, and a network of “independent” on-line publications with funding from billionaire George Soros and multi-millionaire gay mogul Tim Gill.

In a major understatement, the Post ombudsman, or consumer advocate, says the scandal will affect the paper’s standing among conservatives. But the Post never had any standing among conservatives. This is why it is called the Compost.

Filled with profanity, emails from Weigel were leaked and publicized showing that he said Matt Drudge of Drudge Report fame ought to set himself on fire, ridiculed the first-rate reporting of Byron York of the Washington Examiner, called conservatives racist, suggested Tea Party members were stupid, and expressed the hope that Rush Limbaugh would die from heart problems.

Weigel was just the latest version of a Washington Post liberal hatchet man. He was supposed to have “conservative” credentials, which turned out to be based on his association with a group of Reason magazine libertarians committed to abortion, gay rights, marijuana and pornography. We are now learning that Weigel voted for Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Closing Guantánamo Fades as a Priority

When the White House acknowledged last year that it would miss Mr. Obama’s initial January 2010 deadline for shutting the prison, it also declared that the detainees would eventually be moved to one in Illinois. But impediments to that plan have mounted in Congress, and the administration is doing little to overcome them.


The White House insists it is still determined to shutter the prison. The administration argues that Guantánamo is a symbol in the Muslim world of past detainee abuses, citing military views that its continued operation helps terrorists.


The politics of closing the prison have clearly soured following the attempted bombings on a plane on Dec. 25 and in Times Square in May, as well as Republican criticism that imprisoning detainees in the United States would endanger Americans. When Mr. Obama took office a slight majority supported closing it. By a March 2010 poll, 60 percent wanted it to stay open.

[Return to headlines]

Dozens of Americans Believed to Have Joined Terrorists

“There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us,” said John O. Brennan, deputy White House national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Brennan said he would not talk about lists of targeted American terrorists. However, U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have been tracking down U.S. nationals and U.S. passport holders who pose security threats, like the Yemen-based al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, he said.

“They are concerning to us, not just because of the passport they hold, but because they understand our operational environment here, they bring with them certain skills, whether it be language skills or familiarity with potential targets, and they are very worrisome, and we are determined to take away their ability to assist with terrorist attacks,” Mr. Brennan said.

The remarks came in response to questions about procedures used by the president to order lethal strikes on U.S. citizens who have joined al Qaeda or other terrorist groups…

[Return to headlines]

How Much Costs Detroit’s Re-Prairiezation?

I am still obsessing about Detroit’s abandonment and regression to prairie. It is a large American city completely equipped with all the infrastructure, built up in three centuries, that has been given up by its owners and inhabitants. How many billions are being lost by destroying Detroit and returning it to “Nature”?

I know that in Israel, each new dwelling is charged about 50,000 dollars for municipal development. It includes pavement, and water and sewage connections. But this is not the real cost — the Municipalities calculate their “agrat pituach” (development tax) according to what the market will bear. Moreover, most of the infrastructure is built by the central government, such as the water supply system, water purification plants, the wastewater treatment plants, the connecting roads. Telephone, electricity, gas, etc. are built by private companies. The planning of the infrastructure costs about 8% of the total costs. All in all, I think you could not have the infrastructure of city like Detroit for less than 200,000 dollars per dwelling.

This sum does not include the cost of urban infrastructure such as schools, libraries, parks, cult buildings, theaters, markets, and other public buildings, which in Israel is about 15% of the surface and the total cost. Then it is the cost of the dwellings themselves, which in urban areas (at least in Israel) is equally divided between the cost of the land, and the cost of the building. I presume that the land’s worth — of undeveloped prairieland — is less than 1000 dollars per hectare, although it is obvious that a block of real estate in Detroit Downtown in its peak must have been worth many millions.

Presuming that Detroit has/had 400,000 dwellings, and the sunken cost of each one is 500,000 dollars, the prairiezation of Detroit destroys 200 Billion dollars. It is not a terrible loss for a rich country like the USA, which reminds me Edward Teller’s dictum that nuclear wars are thinkable and fightible, since the worth of the infrastructure is equivalent of only ten years GNP, so in less than a generation, the country could rebuild itself. Germany post WWII is a good example, by 1955 it was prospering. Of course Germany was not totally destroyed, far from it.

My calculation takes into account the sunk cost of Detroit, and not the commercial value of a working, inhabited, prosperous city. A large office building in Manhattan can easily fetch 100 million dollars, and Detroit in the fifties may have been no less valuable, but I am considering only the physical infrastructure. So please have in mind that I am talking about the cost of the building, irrespective if it is in Manhattan or central Ougadougou.

My conclusion is that the abandonment of Detroit means the loss of an investment of about 200 billion dollars. This loss is the consequence of the collapse of the original owners and inhabitants’s faith in their right to own and inhabit the city. Like wars, Detroit was lost because of moral collapse — that of the natives’s inner convincement that they were living in their city by right and they had the moral right to defend it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Illinois Police Revoke 1st Muslim Chaplain’s Post

The Illinois State Police has revoked the appointment of the agency’s first Muslim chaplain, citing only information revealed during a background check. A national Muslim advocacy group Wednesday blamed the move on Islamophobia.

Kifah Mustapha, a Chicago-area imam, was appointed the agency’s first Muslim chaplain in December. Community groups had praised Mustapha’s appointment as a nod to the growing diversity among the agency’s nearly 2,000 officers.

But within days, the appointment came under criticism from the Investigative Project on Terrorism, a Washington-based think tank.

The group alleged that Mustapha was linked to the Palestine Committee of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, a popular movement in the Muslim world that advocates the formation of Islamic governments in the Middle East. It also alleged he raised money for the Holy Land Foundation, a now-defunct Islamic charity whose founders were sentenced last year for funneling money to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The group cited internal documents and a list of unindicted co-conspirators.


“Due to information revealed during the background investigation, Sheikh Kifah Mustapha’s appointment as a volunteer ISP Chaplain has been denied,” ISP spokesman Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega said in an e-mail. “Specific details of background investigations are confidential and cannot be discussed.”

Ahmed Rehab, CAIR’s executive director in Chicago, called it discrimination against Muslims, especially since Mustapha hasn’t been formally accused of wrongdoing.

“The ISP is kowtowing to the run-of-the-mill fear-mongering that Islamophobes have devoted their careers in order to avoid a public relations controversy,” he said.

Steve Emerson, executive directr of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, on Wednesday defended the group’s original report, saying it merely published content linking Mustapha to fundraising for terrorists.

He said his group was prompted to investigate after news of the appointment was published on the website of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, one of the Chicago area’s oldest and largest mosques. Mustapha is an imam and director there.

[Return to headlines]

Islamic Center Works to Open Hearts, Minds in Murfreesboro

Ten-year-old Zaid Abu-Zahra made sure visitors attending the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s open house Saturday knew why his congregation needs something bigger.

“Sometimes we have to pray outside the mosque,” Zaid said while taking a brief break in helping his father direct visitors to parking spaces. “This center is very, very small for us. We’ve had the center for many years.”

Zaid wore a yellow vest as he directed cars and proudly showed off a blue metal button on his shirt with the white words: “Freedom of Religion For Everyone ICMTN.ORG.”

More than 100 people stopped by the existing 2,250-square-foot center on Middle Tennessee Boulevard about a block west of South Church Street for an open house, held to quell fears about intentions for a new mosque and answer questions about Islam.

After taking off their shoes before stepping on the carpet at the mosque, visitors greeted many of the 250 congregation families. Center members made sure their guests enjoyed food offered on long display tables, including hummus and pita bread.

“We’ve had an excellent turnout,” center spokeswoman Camie Ayash said.

The goal for the open house was to show the community why the Islamic Center plans to build a community center with a mosque on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike southeast of Murfreeboro. The Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission approved site plans for the 52,960-square-foot community center last month. Less than 10,000 square feet will be dedicated to the mosque area for prayer, Imam Ossama Bahloul said.

The remaining areas will include a pool, gym, administrative offices and classrooms not for a private school but more comparable to church Sunday school rooms.

The congregation, though, has faced fierce opposition. Many residents packed all three floors at the County Courthouse, and around 20 people told the County Commission that they opposed what they called a “training center” or a compound to teach Sharia Law at a June 17 meeting. A few mentioned Sept. 11 and terrorism threats.

We are not building a training center,” Bahloul said. “We are building a community center where kids can play and bring their friends.”

The congregation has also dealt with recent vandalism to a sign on the site of the proposed center.

“The stereotyping is wrong,” Bahloul added. “I don’t think it’s proper to stereotype any group. The KKK did not represent Christianity.”

Extremist groups exist in all religions, he added.

“Why can’t we all work together?” Bahloul asked. “We want to be a good neighbor. We have nothing in our heart but love toward everyone. If they get to know us, we’ll become good friends.”

The mosque, he said, will not cause major traffic problems. The congregation holds its main service between 1:10 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Fridays.

The congregation will adhere to all county, state and federal regulations for all of its plans, including the cemetery, he added.

“We don’t want to bring any harm to anyone,” Bahloul said. “We have reasonable people here.”

The center has existed at its Middle Tennessee Boulevard location since 1998. One of its members has lived in the community since 1981, and many others have settled here since then.

Among the visitors to the center Saturday was La Vergne resident Dan Smith, who is a friend with a family at the mosque.

“They are good, wonderful people I’ve known since 1997,” Smith said. “If people took a few minutes to study the Islamic religion, they will see it has good ideas to support the community. Muslims live peacefully and very prosperously in the United States.”

At least one critic of the proposed center did show up. George Erdel, a “tea party Democrat” running for the 6th District congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, attended the open house.

Erdel recently told county commissioners that planning officials were “duped” into approving a site plan for a religious institution because he contends Islam is a political system to enforce Sharia Law and not a religion.

Islamic Center member Saleh Sbenaty, an 18-year professor with tenure at MTSU who teaches courses in electronics and computers in the engineering technology department, said that’s “total nonsense.”

“This is not the mission of this Islamic Center or any Islamic Center anywhere,” said Sbenaty, noting that he grew up with Christian friends in Damascus, Syria, before becoming an American citizen who’s lived in Tennessee since 1982.

Erdel during a phone interview after the open house said he stands by his position.

“There’s nothing I saw tonight that would change my mind,” said Erdel, noting that he’s been studying Islam for more than 11 years. “They don’t say anything about the political side of Islam or the military side of Islam or the judicial side of Islam, which is Sharia Law.”

Erdel said he’s a Christian who attends Heartland Independent Baptist Church in the Walter Hill community north of Murfreesboro.

“Everybody (at the Islamic Center) has a soul created by God, and I care for their souls,” he said. “I have no problem being respectful to them, but I will never agree or embrace the military, political or judicial parts of Islam because they are contrary to what the Constitution of the United States stands for.”

Erdel plans to appear before the county commission at 9 a.m. Monday to invite the elected officials to attend an Act for America lecture about Islam from Dr. Bill Warner starting at 6:30 p.m. July 1 at Heartland Independent Baptist Church at 307 E. Jefferson Pike.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Islam: Dispelling the Myths

Part of Islamic teachings is mutual respect and acceptance, according to Hussam Ayloush, a speaker at the Islam in America symposium in Bozeman in February and a Muslim-American from Anaheim, Calif.

Some Muslims disagree with American policies, Ayloush said, but that doesn’t mean they hate Americans. “There are lines by the thousands in Muslim countries for visas to come to America,” he said. “People are proud to visit here. There’s no shame — it’s the opposite.”

MSU Adjunct Professor Thomas Goltz has spent years traveling in Muslim countries. “I have never, not once, felt uncomfortable going around the Muslim world because they were Muslim,” he said.

Professor of Islamic Civilization Mehrdad Kia said the Muslims on campus at the University of Montana have been nothing but grateful to America.

“One thing I can generalize is overwhelmingly they love this town and this university,” he said. “This is the means through which they start a new life in their country.”

The root of the word Islam is the Semitic “slm,” meaning submission to a higher power.

Ayloush explained that al-Qaida is so unwanted in Muslim countries the terrorist organization must hide. “Eight out of 10 victims (of al-Qaida) are Muslim,” he said. “Every political leader has spoken out against (them).”

Terrorists are perceived unfavorably by the majority of Muslims, MSU graduate Raima Amin said.

“It’s a common misconception that Muslims condone terrorism, but in reality the majority of Muslims are peace-loving citizens who hate such acts, especially when they are wrongfully associated with Islam,” she said.

A recent Gallup poll, which surveyed 50,000 Muslims in 35 countries, showed that only 7 percent supported the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“What was more surprising to many, was that among this 7 percent ‘extremist’ population, the majority cited their hatred of the U.S. on disagreement with political ideologies, U.S. foreign policies towards Israel, etc.,” Amin said. “They did not cite Quranic verses or Islamic teachings in their support of such terrorist acts. This further proves that Islam can in no way rightfully be associated with violence, terrorism or other harmful actions.”

Amin said most Islamic scholars agree the hijab — a scarf covering the woman’s hair — is mandated by Islamic law but not forced, while the burqa — which covers everything but the woman’s eyes — is a step above that.

“We believe God asked us to dress modestly to force others to judge us not by our bodies, but by our hearts and minds.”

The oppression of women in some countries that is widely criticized and associated with Islam, she added, actually has nothing to do with their Islamic-influenced dress and everything to do with the culture they were born into and the misguided members of society who may claim to do things in accordance with Islam, while their actions have no base in Islamic teachings.

Muslims worship Allah, which is the standard Arabic word for God.

It is against the Muslim religion to worship Muhammad, Ayloush said.

One of the Five Pillars of Islam is repeating the shahada, which can be translated as: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God.”

“Jihad” is a term used to describe “inner struggle” and striving for the sake of God, according to Ayloush. It is “not holy war,” Ayloush stresses.

The inner struggle means controlling one’s passions and avoiding vices.

Arabic has no word for “holy war,” and the phrase was developed as a way to translate the word “crusade,” a Latin word and Christian idea.

The Quran surfaced about 1,400 years ago, Kia said, and there are no verses about the United States because the country did not yet exist.

The United States has gone to war in Afghanistan and Iraq because of those countries’ policies, not religion. They just happen to have a majority Muslim population, according to Kia.

The Sept. 11 attacks were committed by a minority group of extremist Muslims affiliated with the terrorist organization al-Qaida, which has small networks all over the world.

Christians have committed acts of terror both present-day and throughout history.

“The irony is that Christianity fought its holy war against Islam in the middle ages,” Kia said. “There was a Christian ‘holy war,’ there was a Christian ‘jihad.’“

There are terrorist organizations throughout the world. A full list of designated groups can be viewed at, and a list by country at

The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.

In a March 2009 Gallup Poll, 35 percent of Muslims in the United States were found to be African-American.

Kia said Muslim students at UM hail from Morocco, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and parts of Central Asia.

Less than 20 percent of the 1.6 billion Muslims (according to a Pew study in 2009) in the world are Arab, Ayloush said. “It’s a religion,” he said. “Not an ethnicity.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Muslim-Turned-Preacher Out as Baptist School Dean

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — A Baptist minister who toured the country to talk about his conversion from Islam to Christianity is no longer the dean of Liberty University’s theological seminary following allegations he fabricated or embellished facts about his past, the school said Friday.

The university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell said that a board of trustees committee concluded Ergun Caner made contradictory statements. Although it didn’t find evidence that he was not a Muslim who converted as a teenager, it did discover problems with dates, names and places he says he lived, a statement said.

Caner will remain on the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary faculty, but won’t be dean when his term expires on June 30.

“Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review,” the school said.

A phone number listed for Caner in Lynchburg, where Liberty is located, was not in service.

An unlikely coalition of Muslim and Christian bloggers, pastors and apologists led the charge to investigate the preacher with video and audio clips they claim show Caner making contradictory statements.

Caner has been a celebrity in evangelical Christianity since 2001, when he and his brother began appearing on news shows and other venues to discuss Islam in the aftermath of 9/11.

The author and charismatic speaker became dean of the seminary at Liberty in 2005. Since then, enrollment has roughly tripled to around 4,000 students.

He told The Associated Press in 2002 that he was born in Sweden to a Turkish father and Swedish mother, who brought the family to Ohio in 1969, when he was about 3 years old. He said he accepted Christ as a teenager at a Baptist church in Columbus, and then pursued ministry, getting a degree from Criswell College, a Baptist school in Dallas.

Since questions arose about contradictory, he changed the biographical information on his website and asked friendly organizations to remove damning clips from their websites. But the questions didn’t go away, leading to the Liberty investigation.

While few doubt that Caner was raised as a Muslim, they question changing biographical details in his speeches and whether he was a believer to the extent he told audiences.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Obama Internet Kill Switch Plan Approved by US Senate

President could get power to turn off Internet

A US Senate committee has approved a wide-ranging cybersecurity bill that some critics have suggested would give the US president the authority to shut down parts of the Internet during a cyberattack.

Senator Joe Lieberman and other bill sponsors have refuted the charges that the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act gives the president an Internet “kill switch.” Instead, the bill puts limits on the powers the president already has to cause “the closing of any facility or stations for wire communication” in a time of war, as described in the Communications Act of 1934, they said in a breakdown of the bill published on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee website.


One critic said Thursday that the bill will hurt the nation’s security, not help it. Security products operate in a competitive market that works best without heavy government intervention, said Wayne Crews, vice president for policy and director of technology studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an anti-regulation think tank.

“Policymakers should reject such proposals to centralize cyber security risk management,” Crews said in an e-mail. “The Internet that will evolve if government can resort to a ‘kill switch’ will be vastly different from, and inferior to, the safer one that will emerge otherwise.”


On Wednesday, 24 privacy and civil liberties groups sent a letter raising concerns about the legislation to the sponsors…”Changes are needed to ensure that cybersecurity measures do not unnecessarily infringe on free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties interests,” the letter added.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

So What if McChrystal Lost His Job?

..Even McChrystal’s most egregious “insubordination,” as media ecstatically called it, came down to secondhand descriptions of the general’s distress over the time it took for Obama to approve McChrystal’s “surge” of 30,000 troops (not 40,000 as requested), and Obama’s apparent unfamiliarity with the Stanley McChrystal Story (“He [Obama] clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was” said an aide describing Obama’s and McChrystal’s first face-to-face meeting. “The boss was pretty disappointed”).


More significant is the fact that the article revealed no policy difference where it counts between McChrystal, a self-declared Obama voter and zealous adherent of counterinsurgency doctrine (COIN) — the nation-building, hearts-and-minds strategy Obama inherited from President Bush and, after review, approved and intensified — and Obama himself.

In other words, this was all so trivial. No life and death issues here; no philosophical divide. It was just a collision between vanity and coarse indiscretion. And with or without McChrystal, with or without his mouthy staff, the COIN nightmare continues.

[Return to headlines]

The Appeal of Repeal: Efforts to Undo Obama’s Economy Wrecking Socialist Health Reforms Intensifying

“THE longer you look at it, the worse it smells.” That is how Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, recently described America’s new health-reform law to an audience in Washington, DC. His opinion matters, and not just because he is a likely Republican contender for the presidential race in 2012. His words threw petrol on a bonfire, since a growing chorus of conservatives is now clamouring for the outright repeal of Obamacare.

Of course, Republican leaders in Congress have long detested the new law. Since its passage in March various bills—including a new one this month from Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch, the American Liberty Restoration Act— have been introduced in both chambers with the aim of overturning the legislation. More than 20 states have also joined lawsuits that challenge the law’s “individual mandate”, the requirement that everyone should buy health insurance, as unconstitutional.

Grass-roots opposition to health reform has been strong too. The tea-party movement has been pushing conservative candidates to sign up to its goal of repealing the president’s bill. Heritage Action For America, a lobbying group allied with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, wants to foment similar unrest at the “grass tops” level of politics.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Ground Zero Mosque and Media Conquest of Islam

Two faced indeed! The Imam, who is behind the controversial mosque at Ground Zero, dreams of Islamizing the United States. And, that very dream is exposed in his book, written on 9/11.

Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf’s 2004 book had two different titles — one in English and the second in Arabic. In the U.S., his book was called, ‘What’s right with America is what’s right with Islam.”

The same book, published in Arabic, bore the name, “The Call from the WTC Rubble: Islamic Da’wah from the Heart of America Post-9/11.”

Here we see the two faced Imam, who actually is assigned to “spread Islam right from the WTC rubble”.

Now, let us have a look at the funders and backers of this mosque project. According to information, a scholar and charity head appointed to President Obama’s White House Fellowships Commission is closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind this proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks. The White House fellow, Vartan Gregorian, is president of Carnegie Corp. of New York.

Gregorian also serves on the board of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. The museum is reportedly working with the American Society for Muslim Advancement, whose leaders are behind the mosque, to ensure the future museum will represent the voices of American Muslims.


While Imam Faisal is gradually moving ahead with his master plan of constructing the Mecca of Islam in NYC, unknown patrons are continuing to put huge amounts of cash to gradually have a strong Islamist grip over world media.

In the United Kingdom, newspapers like Islamic Times, The Muslim News, The Muslim Weekly, or radio stations like Radio Apni Awaz, Radio Dawn or TV channels like Islam Channel, Muslim TV are only few examples. According to information, Muslim ‘entrepreneurs’ are gradually buying shares in several news outlets in the UK with money received from unknown sources. Hundreds of millions of dollars are flowing into such projects with the ultimate goal of virtually waging Islamic Jihad over global media.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Manchurian President: White House Scholar Funded Ayers Group

Obama served as chairman of organization that promoted radical causes

TEL AVIV — A scholar and charity head appointed to President Obama’s White House Fellowships Commission served as a point man in granting $49.2 million in startup capital to an education reform project founded by Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers and chaired by Obama.

Documentation shows the White House fellow, Vartan Gregorian, was central in Ayers’ recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the project, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC — a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers.

Obama also later touted his job at the CAC as qualifying him to run for public office, as WND previously reported.

Autographed! Get the real lowdown on Obama in the best-selling book by Aaron Klein, “The Manchurian President”

Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. charitable foundation, was appointed by Obama last year as a White House fellow. Born in Tabriz, Iran, Gregorian served for eight years as president of the New York Public Library and was also president of Brown University.

In his role as Brown president, Gregorian served on the selection committee of the Annenberg Foundation, which funded Ayers’ CAC with a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years. Ayers was one of five founding members of the CAC who wrote to the Annenberg Foundation for the initial funding.

Steve Diamond, a political science and law professor and a blogger who has posted on Obama, previously posted a letter from Nov. 18, 1994, in which Gregorian, serving as the point man on Annenberg’s selection committee, asked Ayers to “compose the governing board” of the CAC’s collaborative project with “people who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Chicago.”

Ayers and other founding CAC members then recruited Obama to serve as the CAC chairman.

WND was first to expose that Obama and Ayers used the CAC grant money to fund organizations run by radicals tied to Ayers, including Mike Klonsky, a former top communist activist who was a senior leader in the Students for a Democratic Society group, a major leftist student organization in the 1960s from which the Weathermen terror group later splintered.

National Review Online writer Stanley Kurtz examined the CAC archives housed at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago, finding Obama and Ayers worked closely at the CAC.

The documents obtained by Kurtz showed Ayers served as an ex-officio member of the board that Obama chaired through the CAC’s first year. Ayers also served on the board’s governance committee with Obama and worked with him to craft CAC bylaws, according to the documents.

Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Obama. Ayers also spoke for the Chicago School Reform Collaborative before Obama’s board, while Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the collaborative, the CAC documents reviewed by Kurtz show.

WND reported Obama and Ayers also served together on the board of the Wood’s Fund, a liberal Chicago nonprofit that granted money to far-left causes.

One of the groups funded by the Woods Fund was the Midwest Academy, an activist organization modeled after Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky and described as teaching tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation.

WND recently reported Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, was on the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama training for volunteers aiding Obama’s campaign through the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Camp Obama was a two-to-four day intensive course run in conjunction with Obama’s campaign aimed at training volunteers to become activists to help Obama win the presidential election.

Obama scholar linked to ‘Ground Zero’ imam

Meanwhile, WND reported Gregorian is closely tied to the Muslim leaders behind a proposed controversial Islamic cultural center to be built near the site of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Gregorian also serves on the board of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. The museum is reportedly working with the American Society for Muslim Advancement, whose leaders are behind the mosque, to ensure the future museum will represent the voices of American Muslims.

“[The Sept. 11 museum will represent the] voices of American Muslims in particular, and it will honor members of other communities who came together in support and collaboration with the Muslim community on September 11 and its aftermath,” stated Daisy Khan, executive director of the society.

The future Sept. 11 museum’s oral historian, Jenny Pachucki, is collaborating with the society to ensure the perspective of American Muslims is woven into the overall experience of the museum, according to the museum’s blog.

Khan’s husband, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is the founder of the society as well as chairman of Cordoba Initiative, which is behind the proposed mosque to be built about two blocks from the area referred to as Ground Zero.

With Gregorian at its helm, Carnegie Corp. is at the top of the list of society supporters on the Islamic group’s website.

Carnegie is also listed as a funder of both of the society’s partner organizations, Search for Common Ground and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Gregorian was a participant in the U.N. body’s first forum, as was Rauf.

Rauf is vice chairman on the board of the Interfaith Center of New York, which honored Gregorian at an awards dinner in 2008.

World domination

Gregorian is the author of “Islam: A Mosaic, Not A Monolith.” According to a book review by the Middle East Forum, his book “establishes the Islamist goal of world domination.”

A chapter of the book, “Islamism: Liberation Politics,” quotes Ayatollah Khomeini: “Islam does not conquer. Islam wants all countries to become Muslim, of themselves.” Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is quoted stating it “is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”

Gregorian himself recommends for Muslims a system he calls “theo-democracy,” which he defines as “a divine democratic government” that, according to the book review, “would have a limited popular sovereignty under the suzerainty of Allah.”

Rauf, meanwhile, has caused a stir with his proposed $100 million, 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque near the corner of Park Place and West Broadway — about two blocks from Ground Zero.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

The Things He Carried

Airport security in America is a sham—”security theater” designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease.

If I were a terrorist, and I’m not, but if I were a terrorist—a frosty, tough-like-Chuck-Norris terrorist, say a C-title jihadist with Hezbollah or, more likely, a donkey-work operative with the Judean People’s Front—I would not do what I did in the bathroom of the Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport, which was to place myself in front of a sink in open view of the male American flying public and ostentatiously rip up a sheaf of counterfeit boarding passes that had been created for me by a frenetic and acerbic security expert named Bruce Schneier. He had made these boarding passes in his sophisticated underground forgery works, which consists of a Sony Vaio laptop and an HP LaserJet printer, in order to prove that the Transportation Security Administration, which is meant to protect American aviation from al-Qaeda, represents an egregious waste of tax dollars, dollars that could otherwise be used to catch terrorists before they arrive at the Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport, by which time it is, generally speaking, too late.

I could have ripped up these counterfeit boarding passes in the privacy of a toilet stall, but I chose not to, partly because this was the renowned Senator Larry Craig Memorial Wide-Stance Bathroom, and since the commencement of the Global War on Terror this particular bathroom has been patrolled by security officials trying to protect it from gay sex, and partly because I wanted to see whether my fellow passengers would report me to the TSA for acting suspiciously in a public bathroom. No one did, thus thwarting, yet again, my plans to get arrested, or at least be the recipient of a thorough sweating by the FBI, for dubious behavior in a large American airport. Suspicious that the measures put in place after the attacks of September 11 to prevent further such attacks are almost entirely for show—security theater is the term of art—I have for some time now been testing, in modest ways, their effectiveness. Because the TSA’s security regimen seems to be mainly thing-based—most of its 44,500 airport officers are assigned to truffle through carry-on bags for things like guns, bombs, three-ounce tubes of anthrax, Crest toothpaste, nail clippers, Snapple, and so on—I focused my efforts on bringing bad things through security in many different airports, primarily my home airport, Washington’s Reagan National, the one situated approximately 17 feet from the Pentagon, but also in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (which is where I came closest to arousing at least a modest level of suspicion, receiving a symbolic pat-down—all frisks that avoid the sensitive regions are by definition symbolic—and one question about the presence of a Leatherman Multi-Tool in my pocket; said Leatherman was confiscated and is now, I hope, living with the loving family of a TSA employee). And because I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded knickknacks, I’ve amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really). All these things I’ve carried with me through airports across the country. I’ve also carried, at various times: pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening four times—out of dozens of passages through security checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving cream…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Video: Biden Calls Manager Who Told Him to Lower Taxes a “Smartass”

Joe Biden calls a custard store manager a “smartass” after he asks the Vice President to lower taxes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

White House Preparing National Online ID Plan

The proposed system for authenticating people, organizations and infrastructure on the web at the transactional level will require an identity ecosystem.

The Obama administration is set to propose a new system for authenticating people, organizations and infrastructure on the Web. The online authentication and identity management system would be targeted at the transactional level — for example, when someone logs into their banking website or completes an online e-commerce purchase.

Making such a system effective, however, will require creating an “identity ecosystem,” backed by extensive public/private cooperation, said White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, delivering the opening keynote speech at the Symantec Government Symposium 2010 in Washington on Tuesday.

“This strategy cannot exist in isolation,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us working together.” Furthermore, “we should not have to dramatically change the way we do business — this should be a natural path forward,” he said.

That path forward will hinge on a new draft of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, due to be released Friday for the first time to the public, for a three-week comment period. Formerly known as the National Strategy for Secure Online Transactions, the report offers specific strategy and implementation recommendations, and may also recommend more sweeping policy and privacy changes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Despite the Mayhem, Today’s G20 Protest a Big Flop

My first notes were written in my office at York and Adelaide in the heart of the downtown core… and it did not seem premature to pronounce today’s big demo as a big flop.

I left my apartment and headed over to Gerrard and University to watch the big demonstration march by… I’ve seen many larger ones, even in Toronto. My estimate was 11,000 all told; the police think it was 10,000 and even Sid Ryan apparently described it as only 10,000. We had more protestors out for the G-7 back in 1988 and had 50,000 for the ‘Days of Rage’ against Premier Harris. The big protest has been a flop.

The parade held no surprises. Dozens of causes were endorsed, although I note that the Tibetan Freedom and Vietnamese Anti-Communist marchers were given a wide berth by the other marchers. I saw many familiar old faces of people I have seen marching for one thing or another over 25 years. OPSEU and CUPE passed a lot of their flags out, mostly to students who don’t seem to be union members; Greenpeace hauled in a number of children, but there were aging Hippies a-plenty strewn through the march. Iranian Communists, some honest-to-god Maoists and plenty of other political fossils were shuffling along under banners of Marx and Engels.

The Black Bloc anarchists seemed younger than usual and furtive, but bike helmets, hoods and face masks were common and many seemed to be carrying backpacks. There were five or six hundred all told.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Police: Over 400 Arrested in G-20 Summit Rioting

Militant Protesters Spark Violence Near Site of Toronto Economic Conference; Police Cars Torched, Windows Smashed

(CBS/AP) The streets of downtown Toronto were quiet early Sunday morning just hours after rioting by militant protesters threw the city’s core into chaos.

Police securing the G-20 leaders’ summit now say they’ve arrested 412 people in connection with yesterday’s violence.

Const. Michelle Murphy said there are also people who have camped overnight outside the prisoner processing center to protest the arrests.

She said police are still dealing with the aftermath of yesterday’s activity which lasted till about 3 a.m.

On Saturday black-clad demonstrators broke off from a crowd of peaceful protesters and torched police vehicles and smashed windows with baseball bats and hammers.

Police used shields, clubs, tear gas and pepper spray to push back the rogue protesters who tried to head south towards the security fence surrounding the perimeter of the Group of 20 summit site.

Some demonstrators hurled bottles at police.

“These criminals attach themselves to legitimate protests for the sole purpose of engaging in acts of violence and destruction,” Toronto Police Chief William Blair said.

“They deliberately provoke violent confrontation to draw the naive and the curious into their mob mentality,” Blair told reporters.

The roving band wearing black balaclavas shattered shop windows for blocks, including at police headquarters, then shed some of their black clothes, revealing other garments, and continued to rampage through downtown Toronto.

Protesters torched at least three police vehicles in different parts of the city, including one in the heart of the city’s financial district.

One protester jumped on the roof of one before dropping a Molotov cocktail into the smashed windshield.

Blair said the goal of the militant protesters was to draw police away from the security perimeter of the summit so that fellow protesters could attempt to disrupt the meeting.

Blair apologized for the destruction and added that police were aware of the identities of many members of the groups taking part.

“Over the past several days we have apprehended many of their leaders,” he said, but added that many suspects remained at large.

Blair said officers had been struck by rocks and bottles and had been assaulted, but none were injured badly enough to stop working.

A stream of police cars headed to Toronto to reinforce security there after the smaller Group of Eight summit ended in Huntsville, Ontario, about 140 miles away.

Security was being provided by an estimated 19,000 law enforcement officers drawn from across Canada, and security costs are estimated at more than US$900 million.

Surveying the damage, many local residents spoke of their shock at witnessing the destruction.

“Well, this is pretty crazy, it’s… I’ve never seen anything like this in Toronto before,” one man said, saying it was more the kind of thing you would expect in places like Afghanistan.

The vandalism occurred just blocks from where U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders were meeting and staying.

Police in riot gear and riding bikes formed a blockade, keeping protesters from approaching the security fence a few blocks south of the march route.

Police closed a stretch of Toronto’s subway system along the protest route and the largest shopping mall downtown closed after the protest took a turn for the worse.

Dozens of police officers later boxed in a number of protesters from both sides of a street in a shopping district. The protesters encouraged the media to film it and they sang “O Canada,” Canada’s national anthem, before being allowed to disperse.

At another location at the provincial legislature police also boxed in demonstrators before tackling some and making arrests.

Saturday’s protest march, sponsored by labor unions and dubbed “family friendly,” was the largest demonstration planned during the weekend summits.

Its organizers had hoped to draw a crowd of 10,000, but only about half that number turned out on a rainy day.

Toronto’s downtown resembles a fortress, with a big steel and concrete fence protecting the summit site.

On Friday, hundreds of protesters moved through Toronto’s streets, but police in riot gear intercepted them, preventing them from getting near the summit security zone downtown.

Previous major world summits also have attracted massive, raucous and sometimes destructive protests by anti-globalization forces.

In 1999, 50,000 protesters shut down World Trade Organization sessions in Seattle as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

There were some 600 arrests and $3 million in property damage.

One man died after clashes with police at a G-20 meeting held in London in April 2009.

At the September G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke and rubber bullets at marchers.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

French G8/G20 Summits Will Cost ‘10 Times Less’ Than Canada’s: Sarkozy

France will slash the cost of staging the G8 and G20 meetings next year after Canada’s 2010 bill shot up to almost $1 billion for the two summits, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Saturday.

In March, Canada allocated $179 million for security costs at the summits, but the government then shocked lawmakers by revealing the overall cost would total many hundreds of millions of dollars more.

Asked to comment on the 800 million euro cost of the Canadian summits, Sarkozy looked to sidestep a diplomatic minefield by saying he had not seen anything overly “opulent or luxurious” at the Canadian summits.

“With regard the French G8/G20, even if I can’t confirm the figures that you are talking about in Canada, I can say that in France they will be 10 times less,” Sarkozy told reporters at his closing news conference at the Group of Eight summit of rich nations in Huntsville, Ontario, north of Toronto.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gender Quotas for German Business?

Justice Ministers Want More Female Managers

Justice misters met on Wedensday in Hamburg to discuss whether to draft laws to help more female managers advance to the top in German companies.

Germany’s Justice Minister has called on companies to increase the number of women in top positions. On Wednesday, however, the 16 states’ justice ministers proposed going further. They want to impose specific quotas for female managers.

The German chancellor may be a woman but in the German business world it is still extremely difficult for women to rise to the top. In companies listed on the German stock exchange, or DAX, women are still trailing their male co-workers on the career path.

This is not a new problem for Germany. In 2001, the Justice Ministry established a governmental commission to develop a Corporate Governance Codex. Many big companies such as Adidas, Deutsche Bank and Siemens now subscribe to the document, which was recently amended to explicitly call on companies to increase the number of female managers in the future.

But while German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, a member of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), has faith in the newly strengthened codex, her counterparts in Germany’s 16 states are skeptical. On Wednesday, they announced the creation of a study group to examine the possibility of forcing businesses to advance women’s careers by implementing quotas.

Bavaria’s Justice Minister Beate Merk, whose Christian Social Union (CSU) is one of three coalition parties governing at the federal level in Berlin, proposed measures that would require a gradual increase of female board of director and governor members from 15 to 40 percent over several years.

Lack of progress

“In spite of the commitment companies made nine years ago, significant progress has not been made,” Merk told reporters on Wednesday. Small family-run businesses, as well as companies operating in industrial sectors that don’t employ a great number of women, would be exempt.

However, these considerations are not enough to ease the fears of critics. “The framework in Germany is just not conducive for women to make it to the top,” Anne Zimmermann, who deals with social policies for the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. While her organization also believes measures have to be taken to improve women’s career prospects, Zimmerman argues that Germany should make it easier for women to combine family life and a career first, before thinking about making new laws.

In a speech Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger gave to members of the Corporate Governance Commission on June 16, she stressed that amending the codex to explicitly include opening up opportunities to female employees at all levels of the economy may very well be the last chance businesses have to solve the problem on their own before the government takes action.

‘Utilize potentials better’

“A better participation of women in leadership positions of companies is more than pure family-friendly politics. The goal has to be to utilize potential better and be economically more successful,” Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told her audience.

Last month, Family Minister Kristina SchrÃder argued that companies could be forced to adhere to quotas and report on how they implement them. She told business daily Handelsblatt that while companies could decide for themselves how high the number of woman in leadership positions should be, their success or lack thereof would become public knowledge and make them receptive to public pressure.

Some companies in Germany such as Deutsche Telekom back in March and energy giant E.on this week, have recognized that incorporating more woman into their hierarchies is beneficial to their organization as a whole. Deutsche Telekom was the first DAX company to pledge to raise the percentage of women at mid to high level management to 30 percent. E.on followed suit, with Regine Stachelhaus, the company’s new personnel director, telling Handelsblatt that she wanted to boost the number of women managers from the currently low level of 12 percent.

But the state justice ministers are still not convinced that the amended codex will achieve what the previous one failed to or that companies can be relied upon to voluntarily add more women to the top managerial level. In their eyes, improving career chances for women in high-level positions in big DAX companies will require legislative action.

At the moment, only 21 members of the board of directors and governors at German companies registered on the stock exchange are women. This means that only 3 percent of top level managers are female. Proponents of the law implementing quotas are hoping the new study group will arm them with the necessary material to convince the federal minister in Berlin.

“We hope that reasonable arguments and suggestions will prevail — even in politics,” Stefan Heilman, spokesman at the Bavarian Justice Ministry told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

UK: Return of Real School Sports: Tories to Bring Back Competitive Games in Bid to Turn Nation Back Into Sporting Champions

Competitive games are to be revived in schools in a bid to turn Britain back into a nation of sporting champions.

As the country holds its breath over the World Cup and Wimbledon, ministers want their new ‘School Olympics’ programme to end the culture of ‘prizes for all’.

The sports championships are intended to give every child experience of hard-fought competition.

They will reverse a decline in competitive sport brought about by Left-wing councils that scorned it as ‘elitist’ and insisted on politically correct activities with no winners or losers.

The competitions will involve a wide range of sports including football, rugby, netball, golf, cricket, tennis, athletics, judo, gymnastics, swimming, table tennis, cycling and volleyball.

Schools will be able to nominate any sport in any age group as long as they can find opponents.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Shopkeepers’ Fury as They Are Told All Food Must be Weighed and Sold by the Kilo

For the first time, eggs and other products such as oranges and bread rolls will be sold by weight instead of by the number contained in a packet.

Until now, Britain has been exempt from EU regulations that forbid the selling of goods by number. But last week MEPs voted to end Britain’s deal despite objections from UK members.

The new rules will mean that instead of packaging telling shoppers a box contains six eggs, it will show the weight in grams of the eggs inside, for example 372g.

Or that a bag of white rolls has 322g inside instead of half a dozen. The rules will not allow both the weight and the quantity to be displayed.

Last night, Britain’s Food Standards Agency said it was opposed to the move, putting the UK on a potential collision course with Brussels.

It could be the first test of David Cameron’s pre-Election promise to stand up for Britain’s interests in the EU.

The move could cost retailers millions of pounds because of changes they will have to make to packaging and labelling, as well as the extra burden of weighing each box of food before it is put on sale.


food industry experts said the EU plan was ‘bonkers’ and ‘absolute madness’.

Federation of Bakers director Gordon Polson warned that it may be too late to change the rules, even though they will be debated further in the European Parliament.

He revealed that lobbyists had already tried to rectify the regulations, discovered in the 174 pages of amendments to the initial 75-page proposal, but there was not enough time to convince MEPs before the crucial vote.

The British Retail Consortium, which represents 90 per cent of UK shops, will ask Government Ministers to press for the decision to be reversed.

Andrew Opie, the consortium’s food director, said: ‘This is a bad proposal — we need to help consumers, not confuse them. We’ll be talking to the Government to encourage them to make sure these plans don’t come into force.’

[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Anti-Trafficking Agency to Prosecute Yerima Over Child Bride

In order to cover his tracks, Ahmed Sani Yerima, a senator from Zamfara State, took elaborate schemes to ensure that his marriage to a 14-year-old minor would not be detected by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria and Egypt, a preliminary investigation report by the National Agency for Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related crimes (NAPTIP) has revealed.

The report, which was submitted to the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bello Adoke, at the end of last week, detailed a number of steps taken by the controversial former state governor in a bid to evade legal scrutiny over the marriage.

Mr. Yerima, according to NAPTIP, was fully aware that the Egyptian law prevents union with minors as well as marriage between persons with more than 25 years age difference. Hence, he moved the venue of the marriage ceremony to Nigeria, where the enforcement of child rights regulation is seemingly lax.

The father of the minor, who found himself a rich man overnight, no thanks to the generous $100,000 dowry given to him by the Nigerian senator, was also faced with the dilemma of convincing immigration officials that he was wealthy enough to transport himself, his daughter, as well as a horde of 32 friends and relatives into Nigeria with the abysmal pay of a ‘workman’, as indicated in his international passport, number A01086511, issued in 2009.

“Taking into cognizance the issue of dowry of $100,000, which draws inference of debt bondage and inducement to have unlawful carnal knowledge of the victim, the necessity to change the profession of the father from that of an ordinary workman to an influential business mogul became not only imperative but also desirable, so as to conceal the real intent of the marriage to the underage victim,” the NAPTIP investigation report, exclusively obtained by NEXT, said.

Maged Saleh Mohammed Eladly, the father of the child bride, Marim, promptly obtained another passport, number A01403462, this time indicating his profession as an ‘Import and Export Office Owner’. It is not clear whether the Nigerian senator was aware of, or involved in, this elaborate scheme by his soon-to-be father-in-law. But NAPTIP officials are already roping him into the scheme.

“The Senator not only held our law with disdain, but encouraged foreigners to break same,” the report says.

Getting married

On March 15, 2010, Mr. Elady bundled his 14-year-old daughter onto an Egypt Air, flight MS 877, en route Abuja. On board the flight were his 32 guests. The Nigerian lawmaker, Mr. Yerima, according to NAPTIP, sponsored the flight. On the 17th of March, 2010, barely two months after her 14th birthday, Marim was dressed up for the marriage. Her groom, the 49-year-old father of 26 children, later wedded her according to Islamic jurisprudence in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

The marriage was conducted at the Abuja Central Mosque by the Chief Imam of the mosque, in the presence of Mr. Yerima’s guardian, Moktar Ahmed Anka, and the bride’s guardian, Maged Saleh Mohammed.

Indicting the Senator

Mr. Yerima, who was granted bail on grounds of self-recognisance in the sum of N5 million, following his arrest by NAPTIP officials, may find himself no longer at ease, as the agency has now recommended to the Attorney General’s office and the Nigerian Police that the senator be prosecuted.

The lawmaker has been found to have violated Sections 21, 22 (1&2) and 23 (a-d) of the Child Rights Act 2003, which is operational in the FCT and Sections 12(a&b), 13(1&2), 14 (1) and 17(a&b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act 2003.

“It is worthy of note that the behaviour of Senator Ahmed Yerima is a clear negation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of 1989 and that of African Union Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (CRCW) 1990. Nigeria ratified these instruments in 1990 and 1991 respectively,” the NAPTIP report stated.

Furthermore, for withholding information from the NAPTIP officials, the agency has declared the senator unwilling to cooperate with the law enforcement agency.

“Senator Ahmed Rufai Yerima violates the above mentioned provisions both in Egypt and Nigeria. A senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose responsibility and allegiance is to the federation and the constitution, should not fragrantly abuse same. He should be made accountable for his misdeeds,” the agency said of Mr. Yerima, who has continued to justify his actions as being in accordance with the tenets of the Sharia code.

The Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Roland Ewubare, said his agency would support the recommendations made by NAPTIP.

“I am aware that NAPTIP has conducted an extensive and rigorous investigation of the Yerima child bride matter. I am also aware that the investigation was done with the active support of the Egyptian authorities,” he said.

“If NAPTIP has now made a recommendation, one way or the other, then at a minimum, such a recommendation must be given maximum deference and implemented fully. Anything short of this will be tantamount to a cover up and non-adherence to the principle of equality of all Nigerians (senators and non-senators) before the law.”

Senator’s woes

At the time of this report, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Adoke said he was yet to go through the report, which had just been brought to his table and, therefore, cannot make any comments on the next move.

Mr. Yerima’s woes is likely to continue outside the shores of this country, as NEXT gathered that even the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) has written to the National Assembly to take a strong chance against such a practice.

The IPU is an international organisation of parliaments of sovereign states, which works for the peace of cooperation amongst people. IPU is also committed to responding to, promoting, and implementing international human rights instruments and standards, particularly in regards to the protection of children.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

The Western Way of War

Caroline Glilck

In recent months Obama and his advisers have repeatedly attacked Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his problematic positions on the Taliban. But their criticism is unfair. They cannot expect loyalty from a man America is set to abandon in a year. It is up to Karzai and his fellow Afghans to cut deals with the Taliban while they still have something to bargain with.

By all accounts, until he was fired Wednesday, McChrystal had a better relationship with Karzai than anyone else in the US government. And this is not surprising. As White House and State Department officials signaled their willingness to cut deals with the Taliban, McChrystal and his forces have fought the Taliban.


SINCE OBAMA is commander in chief, it is reasonable for criticism of this losing strategy to be directed towards him. But the truth is that for the better part of the last several decades, with occasional important exceptions, this sort of “half pregnant” strategy for war fighting has been the template for Western armies.


The important story this week was not about a US general with abysmal judgment about the media. Rather, the story is that in Afghanistan, the US is repeating a sorry pattern of Western nations of not understanding — or perhaps not caring — that if you are not willing to fight a war to victory, you will lose it.

The stakes in Afghanistan are clear. NATO forces can defeat the Taliban, or the Taliban can defeat them. To win, all the Taliban needs to do is survive. Once NATO is gone, like Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the Taliban will be crowned the victors and from their failed state, they will be able to again attack the US and its allies.

There were only two instances in the last 10 years where Western forces fought to victory.

Israel defeated the Palestinians when, in the wake of Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, it retained security control over Judea and Samaria. The US defeated Al-Qaida and Muqtada el-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq in 2007 and 2008 by taking and retaining security control over Iraq. Both countries’ victories have been eroded in recent years as they have removed their forces from population centers and restricted them to more static positions. In both cases, the erosion of the Israeli and American achievements is due to waning political will to maintain military control.


… the truth remains that by effectively committing career suicide, McChrystal has posed a challenge to his country — and to the Western world as a whole. Now that you know the truth, what is it going to be? Are you willing to lose this war? Are you willing to see the Taliban restored to power in Afghanistan?


McChrystal’s final act as US commander in Afghanistan was to show us where this leads. But it also reminds us that there is another choice that can be made. The Western way of war needn’t remain the path of defeat. That, still, is for the people of the West to decide.

[Return to headlines]

US-Israeli Relations Suffer ‘Tectonic Rift’

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, told foreign ministry colleagues at a private briefing in Jerusalem that they were facing a long and potentially irrevocable estrangement.

Sources said Mr Oren told the meeting: “There is no crisis in Israel-US relations because in a crisis there are ups and downs. [Instead] relations are in a state of tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart.”

Mr Oren’s privately-voiced pessimism stands in stark contrast to public declarations in both Jerusalem and Washington that differences between the two states amount to nothing more than “disagreements” between allies.


Unlike his previous encounter with Mr Obama in March, when he was given a stern dressing-down and denied permission to hold a joint press conference, Mr Netanyahu’s visit to the White House next Tuesday is likely to be cloaked in civility.

The Israeli prime minister is being promised photo opportunities with his host in the White House Rose Garden and perhaps even an invitation to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

But the show of unity is being seen as a sop to members of Mr Obama’s party who afraid of angering Jewish American voters ahead of November’s midterm elections than as a sign of genuine rapprochement…

[Return to headlines]

White House Announcement on Gaza Shows the Missing Element: Strategic Rationality

by Barry Rubin

“As a general rule, you should assume that the more unlikely the action I lay upon this stage for you, the more likely it is that I have evidence of its having happened.” —Clive Barker, Galilee.

Everyone will probably view the just-released official document, “White House on Israel’s Announcement on Gaza,” as purely routine government rhetoric that means nothing. But that just shows how much people have become used to taking for granted the lack of any strategic sense in this U.S. government.

The June 20 White House statement opens thusly:

“The President has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and has made clear that it demands fundamental change.”

One would expect that a rational policy would use the words “unsustainable” and “demands fundamental change” to mean that the president demands the overthrow of Hamas. In fact, it signifies the exact opposite: he demands the stabilization of that regime.

The statement continues:

“On June 9, [Obama] announced that the United States was moving forward with $400 million in initiatives and commitments for the West Bank and Gaza. The President described these projects as a down payment on the U.S. commitment to the people of Gaza, who deserve a chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank.”

Just think of the calm insanity of that paragraph. The United States is going to pump money into Gaza. That money is a “down payment on the U.S. commitment,” that is, it is not an act of generosity for which the United States deserves to get something in return. No, the phrasing makes it seem that the United States owes them the money.

Moreover, giving this money does not really advance the cause of building a Palestinian state but retards it by shoring up a Hamas government which is against the Palestinian Authority, against peace with Israel, and against a two-state solution.

Note, too, that Hamas is put on an equal plane with the Palestinian Authority.

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Awareness on Export Credit and Investment Insurance Rising in OIC Countries

LONDON: One of the unintended consequences of the global financial crisis is the increasing awareness of risk and how to manage risk in business, trade and investment.

One risk management option is export credit and political risk insurance, and exporters, importers and the banks that finance them, in the developing countries are now increasingly discovering these products. However, the export credit and investment insurance culture in the 56 member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), has traditionally been at best under-developed although there are signs that this has started to change. The prime mover behind this industry in the OIC countries is the Jeddah-based Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), a standalone member of the IDB Group. Here Dr. Abdel Rahman Taha, CEO of ICIEC, who has been at the helm of the organization since its establishment 16 years ago, discusses with Arab News, the credit and political risk challenge for the IDB member countries; why this industry has assumed an even greater importance in a post-financial crisis era; the latest developments at ICIEC and the IDB Group; and the potential for credit and political risk insurance going forward.

What sort of year has 2009 been for ICIEC?

2009 did a lot of damage to the credit and political risk investor. The big three — EuroHermes, Coface, and Traders were badly affected and sustained huge losses.

We paid about $1.6 million in claims which is a minor part of our business, but we recovered some of the money. At the time when the loss ratio (the percentage of premium income used to pay claims) for the industry was over 80 percent, ICIEC’s loss ratio was only 15 percent.

ICIEC’s volume of insured business in 2009 was reduced substantially by 29 percent. The actual implementation of credit limits we approved (declared shipments or implemented projects) declined from $1.4 billion in 2008 to $1.03 billion in 2009. However, the new approvals increased from $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion for the same period, thus suggesting that our customers had the intention to do new business and applied for credit limits which we approved.

In your medium term business is there a bias towards certain countries not because of design but because of market conditions and strengths?

Normally short term business accounts for 75 percent of our business. But in 2009, medium term business increased substantially to account for 40 percent of our total underwriting business. It is a demand-driven business. The biggest demand for project business and long term investment insurance is in countries like Sudan. We are also supporting a new breed of companies from our member countries which I call ‘Third World Multinationals’ such as SABIC, Saudi Aramco, Etisalat, Orascom, and others such as the Egyptian Suweidi Electric Group.

ICIEC contributed to Suweidi and others’ transformation into a multinational company because by using our political and investment risk insurance they were able to enter countries and markets which otherwise they would not have been able to do business in and therefore enabling them to investment and trade in countries which otherwise are perceived as high risk countries.

Is there a greater awareness of the need for export credit and investment insurance in your member countries?

Yes it has improved, but awareness and utilisation of these products are still very low. One of the unintended benefits of the financial crisis is raising the awareness of risk and how to manage the risk. A good way of managing risk is through export credit insurance. In 2008, the fifty major ECAs of the world who are members of the Berne Union did $1.3 trillion of export credit and political risk insurance. In contrast, in our member countries — the 56 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), have only about twenty ECAs. All of us — ICIEC, Turkish Eximbank, MECIB in Malaysia and the members of Aman Union (the union of Arab and Muslim ECAS) — together we have only $14 billion of export credit and political risk insurance.

So is this heightened awareness reflected in your figures for First Quarter 2010?

The new commitments for the first quarter 2010 compared with the same period in 2009 have increased by 50 percent from $474 million to $710 million. The actual business insured increased by 77 percent from $228 million to $403 million. Previously we had a lot of trouble convincing banks in our member countries to accept our policies as security and collateral for their credit. Now the banks are starting to come on board because they are realizing that export credit and political risk insurance works, and it does enable them to expand their business, This process was also helped by the fact that ICIEC was rated last year AA3 by Moody’s Investors Service, which was re-affirmed in November after the impact of the crisis.

With this increased volume of business, are you planning an increase in your capital to support your new underwriting?

That is a very good question, because if the business continues expanding at this rate we are predicting that by the end of 2010 we are going to exhaust our capacity. Our subscribed capital is $250 million. This gave us a capacity of about $2 billion. We also use reinsurance so on average we cede about 40 percent to the international reinsurance industry especially to Lloyds and others.

You have to strike a balance between the money you cede and the risk-sharing you gain. Up to now we feel that the 40 percent ceding of our income is the right balance and we do not want to increase this, because if we do we just become a market agent for the reinsurers.

In addition to the increased results for the First Quarter 2010 we have a huge pipeline of new business. The size of some of the projects is amazing. They have increased from $20 million a few years ago to projects of more than $300 million.

We are working on some new products such as launching a Letters of Credit (LC) Insurance Fund and a Sukuk Guarantee Fund. Sukuk by its very nature cannot be guaranteed by the issuers, but can be guaranteed by a third party. This puts ICIEC in an ideal position to be able to provide political and credit enhancement risk insurance.

We have estimated that once the market returns to normality, Sukuk issuance will top $30 billion. If we assume that a third would actually go to the market we are talking about $10 billion of issuances. Even if you leverage your insurance fund 10 times, you need at least a $1 billion fund.

Takaful policies are effectively receivables especially since the LCs are related to trade. Is it possible to securitize these Takaful policies?

Yes, theoretically it is possible to do so. In the last 10 years we have underwritten over $10 billion of insurance business. Of this we have facilitated $8 billion of trade finance backed by our insurance. We paid $24m million of claims. We recovered half of that. The unrecovered claims are only $12 million, which is nothing when you compare it with $8b billion The trick is to have the capability to manage the risk.

Do you foresee a bigger connect between ICIEC and the rest of the IDB Group?

The IDB Group has been undergoing a reform process which is aimed at developing the IDB into a world-class institution. One of the elements of this process is to develop synergies between the various parts of the Group. In 2009, a task force was formed at the IDB, which I chair.

The mandate of this task force is to promote synergies between the Group entities. We are now implementing the proposals in this respect especially between ICIEC, Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD).

We are also embarking on a Member Country Partnership Strategy (MCPS) within the Group where the IDB engages with a member country and discusses at the very highest level what the IDB strategy would be to help that country. We also cooperate closely with ITFC because ITFC increasingly is financing ‘clean financing’ which is without bank guarantees. For unsecured business you need some sort of security and credit insurance is an obvious option. We have issued a specially-designed insurance policy for the ITFC which is already in use.

With the ICD again they never develop a project by themselves. They always work with some private sector partner. In certain countries, these partners may require credit risk insurance.

How many member countries have acceded to ICIEC membership?

We have 39 member countries. The latest country is Albania, which becomes the first European country to join ICIEC. All the Arab countries except Iraq are members.

You have also liberalized your underwriting regime.

The way it was envisaged in the IDB Articles of Memorandum was to insure intra-trade between member states, which is very little. For insurance business this pool is very small. Whether a member country exports to another member country or to the US, the economic benefit is the same. Some of the changes also enabled us to insure the political risk of investment coming into our member countries irrespective of their source.

We are also keen to insure imports from member countries to member countries of strategic goods machine tools, development of infrastructure, for food security of the country etc.

We are also looking to insure part of the domestic sales of our policy holders such as Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), which is one of our customers. Currently we only insure the exports of SABIC for sales outside Saudi Arabia. SABIC also sells in the Kingdom on credit. My customer would ideally like to cover his entire portfolio.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Prostitution Racket Busted in UAE

Abu Dhabi, June 27 : At least 10 people have been detained in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for allegedly forcing 17 women into prostitution and filming pornographic videos.

The 10 suspects detained in Abu Dhabi have been charged with human trafficking, forced prostitution and physical and psychological torture of the victims. They were also charged with making pornographic videos as well as running a fake commercial enterprise as a cover for their involvement in prostitution.

The suspects promised the victims jobs as beauticians and masseuses. However, they confiscated the victims’ passports once they entered the UAE and forced them into prostitution, a prosecutor at the Abu Dhabi criminal court said.

The accused used a restaurant and an antiques and gift shop to disguise their real business, he said, adding that the victims’ passports as well as a huge number of pornographic movies were found there.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Zakat Dept to be Made Independent

RIYADH : The Shoura Council unanimously approved a motion to allow the Department of Zakat and Income Tax to function as a separate authority, at the council’s 37th session presided over by its Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh in Riyadh on Sunday.

Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed Al-Ghamdi told reporters on Sunday the decision was taken following discussions after the annual report of the Department of Zakat and Income Tax was presented. At present the department functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Finance.

Al-Ghamdi said that the members felt that such a body should function independently which would help it carry out its functions without bureaucratic delays. The council also suggested that those private sector companies that deal with a capital of more than SR500,000 should be compelled to maintain their book of accounts to show their income and pay their zakat accordingly.

The council requested the Ministry of Water and Electricity to form a separate body to oversee the functions of the bottled-water plants, ice-manufacturing factories and the scheme of distribution of water to individual and corporate clients. “The ministry should ensure that all these plants and factories maintain the required standards of operation and obtain licenses from the government,” the members said, pointing out that severe penalties should be imposed on companies that operate without licenses.

The council also suggested that the efforts to develop sports in the Kingdom should be further intensified with coordinated efforts between the Ministry of Education and the General Presidency For Youth Welfare. While encouraging sports among school students, the members also suggested that a mechanism should be devised to spot students with extraordinary sports skills in different fields. The council also said that such students should be identified and given all assistance to improve their skills for the greater good of the country.

In the morning Al-Asheikh received Faisal Muallah, Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, Turki Al-Madi and Abdurrahman Aba Nami, the Saudi ambassadors-designate to Sudan, the Czech Republic, Argentina and Venezuela respectively. During the meeting, he urged them to work in their respective stations to promote bilateral relations and to uphold the image of the Kingdom.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck Exclusive: Israeli Deputy PM Moshe Yaalon on Turkey, Iran, U.S.

I just returned from the 2010 Epicenter conference in Philadelphia, where Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Moshe Yaalon, made some newsworthy comments yesterday during a nearly one hour speech and 30 minute Q and A session afterwards. Some highlights:

  • In one of the strongest comments yet from an Israeli leader on Turkey, Yaalon said “in the last eight years, Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey…gradually moved Turkey from being a secular democracy to—in a way—even an Islamic republic.”
  • On the Israel/U.S. relationship, Yaalon said: “Divided we are weak, and our enemies can take advantage of us. Only through unity can we defeat the forces of radical Islam.”
  • Yaalon said there is “hope to believe” that the upcoming meeting between President Obama and PM Netanyahu on July 6th in D.C. will send a “message of closing the gaps” between the two sides.
  • Yaalon said that Iran is “mocking the West” with its nuclear program, and that “any American hopes of attracting Syria, Lebanon or Turkey away from Iran would effectively be dead” if Iran acquires the bomb.
  • Yaalon said he believes Iran’s regime is “not sure that there is a will” on the part of the United States to exercise the military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Read more at my blog.

[Return to headlines]

Turkey: No Non-Muslims in EU-Bond

Seeking to update the government’s terminology for the 21st century, Turkey’s chief negotiator for European Union affairs has announced a decision to use the term “different belief groups” instead of “gayrimüslim” (non-Muslim) in official EU correspondence.

Egemen BaðýÅŸ said the decision was taken after he received a letter from the vice patriarch of the Ancient Syriac Orthodox Church, Yusuf Çetin, daily Hürriyet reported Sunday.

According to Çetin, “Muslim” means “believer” in Aramaic, a northwest Semitic language used in ancient times as the everyday speech of Syria. As such, the term “gayrimüslim,” which has been the preferred term for non-Muslims in Turkey, implied “nonbelievers.”

“We were directed by the patriarch to make such a change,” BaðýÅŸ told daily Hürriyet, referring to his meeting with Çetin in 2009.

He also said Çetin explained to him how the Syriacs used the word “Muslim” to refer to believers in their language and that “gayrimüslim” thus mean entailed “infidel” in Aramaic.

“We noticed that we were making a mistake after such a linguistic explanation,” said BaðýÅŸ.

The government has already begun implementing the decision to use the term “different belief groups” instead of “non-Muslim,” BaðýÅŸ said, adding that he shared the vice patriarch’s remarks with other officials and they responded positively.

“We have discontinued using the term ‘gayrimüslim’ in correspondence with the EU General Secretariat,” he said.

Meanwhile, the weekly Åžalom reported that BaðýÅŸ recently met with representatives of Ä°zmir’s Jewish community.

According to the newspaper, BaðýÅŸ said during the meeting that he did not like the usage of the terms “minority” and “gayrimüslim” and that there needed to be research to define which population has the oldest roots in the country.

By doing so, people would then better discuss who was a minority and who was a majority, he said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

U.S., Israel Differ on Iran Nuke Intel

CIA Director Leon Panetta, in an EXCLUSIVE “This Week” interview, alluded to the differences between American and Israeli perceptions of Iran’s nuclear intentions. “I think they feel more strongly that Iran has already made the decision to proceed with the bomb,” he said. When asked the likelihood of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities within the next two years, Panetta said, Israel was willing to give the US time for diplomacy. “I think they know that sanctions will have an impact, they know that if we continue to push Iran from a diplomatic point of view, that we can have some impact, and I think they’re willing to give us the room to be able to try to change Iran diplomatically and culturally and politically as opposed to changing them militarily.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Cameron Raised Ex-Spy’s Death With Medvedev: Official

TORONTO (AFP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the highly controversial death of a former KGB spy in London in his first meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Downing Street said on Saturday.

“The prime minister made clear that there were still points of disagreement between the UK and Russia and he specifically raised the death of Alexander Litvinenko,” Downing Street said in a statement.

The 2006 poisoning death of Kremlin critic Litvinenko in London triggered the worst dispute between the two countries in recent years.

Russia has declined to extradite the chief suspect, lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi.

But after their first face-to-face talks Friday, Medvedev called for “more productive and more intense links” between the two countries.

Cameron also said there was a “real opportunity” to put ties on a new footing after years of frosty relations.

“This was a constructive meeting which represented the first step towards a renewed relationship between UK and Russia,” a Downing Street statement said of the 45-minute discussion.

Cameron also stressed “that the UK and Russia should work more closely together to build a better relationship focused around the economy, climate change and academic co-operation,” the statement added.

The two met on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Huntsville, Canada, ahead of a G20 summit in Toronto starting Saturday.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Russia Alarmed by CIA View of Iran’s Weapons

TORONTO (Reuters) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday he was alarmed by U.S. assertions that Iran may have enough fuel for two nuclear weapons and warned that if confirmed the Islamic Republic may face new measures.

Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta told ABC’s “This Week” television program that the agency thinks Iran has enough low-enriched uranium now for two weapons, but that Tehran would have to further enrich the material first.

“As to this information — it needs to be checked,” Medvedev told reporters in Toronto, where he was attending the Group of 20 summit of rich and emerging nations.

“In any case, such information is always alarming because today the international community does not recognize the Iranian nuclear program as transparent,” Medvedev said.

Russian leaders rarely comment on CIA statements and Medvedev’s sharp comments indicate the gulf that has grown between Moscow and Tehran over recent months.

The Kremlin and Tehran had a public row last month after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admonished the Kremlin for bowing to what he said was U.S. pressure to agree further sanctions.

Urged on by the Obama administration, the U.N. Security Council — which includes Russia — this month passed a resolution to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear development.

“If it is shown that what the American special services say is true then it will of course make the situation more tense, and I do not exclude that this question would have to be looked at additionally,” Medvedev said.

The United States, key European Union powers and Israel say Iran is trying to use its civilian nuclear program to hide an attempt to create an atomic bomb, an assertion Tehran denies.

Russia has repeatedly called on Iran to remove the doubts that the international community have and earlier this year one of Russia’s top security officials said that Western concerns were valid.

The CIA said that for Iran to have enough nuclear material for bombs, it would have to enrich its low-enriched uranium.

“We would estimate that if they made that decision, it would probably take a year to get there, probably another year to develop the kind of weapons delivery system in order to make that viable,” CIA chief Panetta said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

South Asia

15 Insurgents Killed by Their Own Bombs in Afghan Mosque

Kabul, June 27 : Eight Arab, five Pakistani and two Afghan militants were killed when bombs they were making exploded prematurely inside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan, the interior ministry said Sunday.

The insurgents were assembling bombs in Desi Mosque of Yousifkhela district in the south-eastern province of Paktika Friday, the ministry said.

Pakika borders the Pakistani town of Wana, where Taliban militants are said to have training bases. Afghan officials have repeatedly blamed Islamabad for not doing enough to clamp down on cross-border infiltration by insurgents.

In the northern province of Kunduz, several Taliban fighters including a foreign insurgent commander were killed Saturday by a NATO airstrike in Chardarah district, NATO said Sunday.

“After verifying insurgent activity and conducting careful planning to avoid civilian casualties and mitigate collateral damage, coalition aircraft were called in for the precision airstrike,” it said.

The targeted commander coordinated logistical support and operations “with the Taliban’s Pakistan foreign fighter cell leadership”, it said.

NATO also confirmed the death of one of its soldiers in a roadside explosion in southern Afghanistan Saturday. The alliance had already reported the deaths of five more troops killed in separate attacks in the country Saturday.

Saturday’s deaths brought the total of foreign soldiers killed in the war this year to 309, compared with the 157 deaths registered between January and June of 2009, according to

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Fewer Than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: CIA Chief

The CIA chief has estimated the Taliban’s numbers have shrunk dramatically in Afghanistan. (AFP: Banaras Khan, file photo)

Related Story: British army chief backs talks with Taliban Related Story: UK troops to leave Afghanistan within 5 years Related Story: G8 sets 5-year Afghan security target CIA director Leon Panetta has estimated there are only 50 to 100 Al Qaeda militants operating inside Afghanistan, as US forces work to “flush out” mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Mr Panetta said US forces had killed or captured at least half the Al Qaeda leadership, making the terrorist group the weakest it has been since the 9/11 attacks.

“We continue to disrupt them. We continue to impact on their command and control,” he said.

“We continue to impact on their ability to plan attacks in this country.”

The spy chief estimated Al Qaeda’s numbers have shrunk dramatically in Afghanistan.

“[Al Qaeda] is probably at its weakest point since 9/11 and their escape from Afghanistan into Pakistan,” he said.

“I think at most, we’re looking at maybe 50 to 100, maybe less.

“There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan. If we keep that pressure on, we think ultimately we can flush out bin Laden.”

Mr Panetta said bin Laden remained “in very deep hiding” in a tribal area in Pakistan surrounded by tremendous security and that the Taliban is “engaged in greater violence right now”.

“They’re doing more on IED’s (improvised explosive devices),” he said.

“They’re going after our troops. There’s no question about that.”

Mr Panetta admitted the war in Afghanistan was taking much longer and was much harder than anyone anticipated.

At the end of the deadliest month in Afghanistan for allied forces, Mr Panetta said progress was being made but there are still serious problems with governance and corruption.

“The key to success or failure is whether the Afghans accept responsibility and are able to deploy an effective army and police force to maintain stability,” he said.


           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Headmaster Beheaded, Schools Torched in Afghanistan

Kabul, June 27: Suspected Taliban militants beheaded a headmaster and torched two schools in southern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.

Sakandar Shah Mohammadi, head of Al Berooni School in Qara Bagh district of Ghazni province was beheaded Saturday, the education ministry said in a statement.

On the same day, dozens of militants, riding on motorbikes, came to Zardalo area of the district and torched two elementary schools, Muhibullah Khepilwak, district governor, said. One of the schools was a girls’ school and the other for boys.

The Taliban, which was driven from power in late 2001 in a military invasion led by the US, have yet to comment on the incidents.

During its 1996-2001 reign, the Taliban banned all girls schools in the country. Women were not allowed to be seen in public, unless covered from head to toe by veil and accompanied by male members of their families.

The Afghan government and NATO blames the Taliban for the destruction of dozens of schools and the death of students and teachers since the invasion.

Taliban spokesmen say the group’s leadership has, in a recent guideline, instructed its militants to refrain from attacking educational institutions and harming civilians.

Saturday’s attacks came two days after police in the neighbouring province of Uruzgan found 11 beheaded men in Khan Uruzgan district of the province. Although the provincial authorities blamed Taliban for the killings, officials in the interior ministry said they were still investigating.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

In Pakistan, Islamic Schools for Women Thrive

ISLAMABAD (AP) — To its detractors, the Al-Huda chain of Islamic schools across Pakistan is a driver of conservative Islam, especially among the secular elite. But to the thousands who attend its classes across the country, it is a blessing.

Take Mariam Afzal, who says she was once so selfish she would take up two spots in a parking lot without a second thought. Back then, she knew little about Islam beyond the basic rituals. A decade later, the 30-year-old credits Al-Huda with turning her into the veil-wearing Quran teacher she is today.

“It has really helped me become a better person,” she says.

Al-Huda’s popularity and rapid growth — and the criticism of it as a promoter of intolerance and gender segregation — is a sign of Pakistan’s swing away from the moderate, Sufi Islam-influenced sphere of South Asia toward the more conservative, Saudi-influenced Middle East.

That swing comes as religious observance is on the rise in many other Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Indonesia, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the U.S. put a magnifying glass on Islam and its adherents.

The appeal of conservative Islam to the Pakistani elite — the same elite that gave Pakistan a female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto — has been brought into focus following the attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square on May 1. The would-be bomber and most of a dozen others held were from educated, wealthier segments of the mostly impoverished country…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Indian Held After Hindu Leader’s Murder in Nepal (Lead)

By Sudeshna Sarkar, Kathmandu, June 27 : As Birgunj town, Nepal’s main hub for trade with India, simmered with tension Sunday after the murder of the chief of a newly formed militant Hindu organisation that had become involved in anti-Moist vigilante activities, police arrested an Indian during the hunt for the killers.

Kashinath Tiwari, the 45-year-old chief of Hindu Yuva Sangh, a militant group seeking the restoration of a Hindu kingdom in Nepal, was shot dead Saturday evening while he was visiting a Hindu monastery to inspect the construction of a dharamshala.

Police said four people borne on motorcycles fired at Tiwari and fled. No one had claimed responsibility for the killing till Sunday evening.

As a hunt began for the killers, police said they have arrested four suspicious people, including 18-year-old Arvind Singh from East Champaran in India’s Bihar state.

Tiwari came into prominence last month when he led an attack on a Maoist camp in the town.

In May, the former Maoist guerrillas had called an indefinite shutdown nationwide in a bid to topple the communist-led government.

As public protests began against the closure, Tiwari and his group attacked a camp set up for Maoist cadre, vandalising vehicles, smashing tables and utensils and carting away gas cylinders.

The Hindu group also attacked the Maoist cadre in the camp, injuring over two dozen, including two members of parliament.

Maoist MP Prabhu Shah, who was severely wounded in the May attack, issued a denial soon after Adhikari’s death, saying his party was not involved in the murder.

Since Tiwari was also a real estate dealer, police said business rivalry could not be ruled out as the motive.

Only last week, a businessman and his wife were shot dead in southern Nepal while dozens have been abducted.

The Hindu Yuva Sangh has called an indefinite general strike in Birgunj from Sunday to protest against the murder. Shops and markets remained closed while public transport was scarce.

Nepal’s only openly royalist party in parliament alleged religious reasons behind the murder.

Former home minister Kamal Thapa, whose Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal is seeking the restoration of monarchy as well as Hinduism as the state religion, said in a statement that the pre-planned murder was committed by people who did not want to see Nepal become a Hindu state again.

Till 2006, Nepal had been the only Hindu kingdom in the world. Though conversions were punishable, the tiny South Asian kingdom enjoyed harmony among its various religious communities.

After it became a secular republic, there are however growing reports of religious attacks.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Call to Arms Against Spread of Christianity

05:55 AM Jun 28, 2010BEKASI — A group of religious organisations has called on mosques on the outskirts of Jakarta to form militia units to brace themselves against the recent spread of Christianity in Bekasi, the Jakarta Globe reported yesterday.

The call was made during an Islamic Congress in Bekasi yesterday as a response to what was perceived to be the Christianisation of the city on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Mr Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front, told the Jakarta Globe that they were planning to invite Christians to a dialogue over attempts to convert locals to the faith.

“If talks fail, this might mean war,” he warned, as quoted by the Globe. Congress secretary Saleh Mangara Sitompul, a member of the Bekasi branch of the country’s second largest Muslim organisation Muhammadiyah, suggested that every mosque in Bekasi form their own paramilitary units, the Globe reported.

The congress also demanded that the local administration implement Sharia law in the city to respond to the increasing numbers of religious blasphemy cases, the Jakarta Post reported. The comments came a day after another church in Bekasi was closed by the government due to pressure from hardline groups, and three days after the administration pulled down the “Tiga Mojang”, or Three Girls statue, which they deemed offensive to conservatives.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Anti-Terror Court Convicts 5 Americans

Five American men were convicted Thursday on terror charges by a Pakistani court and sentenced to 10 years in prison in a case that heightened concerns about Westerners traveling to Pakistan to contact al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups.


The judge handed down two prison terms for each man, one for 10 years and the other for five. A copy of the decision seen by The Associated Press said the terms were to be served concurrently…

[Return to headlines]

US Has Not Had Good Intelligence on Osama Bin Laden in Years

The United States has not had good intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, in years, Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, admitted on Sunday.

Of greatest concern, he said, was al-Qaeda’s reliance on operatives without previous records or those living in the US.

Mr Panetta said the al-Qaeda leadership was at its weakest point since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, but admitted that he had not had reliable intelligence on the location of the group’s leader since “the early 2000s”.

“Since then, it’s been very difficult to get any intelligence on his exact location,” he said. “He is, as is obvious, in very deep hiding … He’s in an area of the tribal areas of Pakistan.”

Denying the world’s most wanted man safe haven on the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border has been an aim of Western policy since the Sept 11 attacks, when the Taliban in effect spurned a US demand to hand over the al-Qaeda chief.


Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst in the nine-year war, with the Taliban stepping up their campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations, particularly in their Kandahar heartland.

Some 80 foreign troops have been killed so far in June, making it the deadliest month for international forces since the war began in late 2001. More than 300 troops have been killed this year compared with about 520 for all of 2009.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Bans Military From Blogging

BEIJING (AFP) — China has issued regulations banning its 2.3 million soldiers from creating web sites or writing web blogs, adding to the nation’s existing Internet curbs, state press said Saturday.

“Soldiers cannot open blogs on the Internet no matter (whether) he or she does it in the capacity of a soldier or not,” Xinhua news agency quoted Wan Long, a political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army, as saying.

“The Internet is complicated and we should guard against online traps,” it said, citing concerns about military “confidentiality”.

The new rules are laid out in revised PLA Internal Administration Regulations and went into effect on June 15, the report said. They ban soldiers of the PLA, the world’s largest standing army, from creating homepages, web sites or blogging.

China operates a vast system of web censorship, sometimes referred to as the “Great Firewall,” that blocks access to or censors content deemed unacceptable, ranging from pornography to political dissent.

Earlier this month, the government cited state security as it defended its right to censor the Internet and warned other nations to respect how it polices the world’s largest online population of 400 million web users.

At the same time, the government insisted it “guarantees the citizen’s freedom of speech on the Internet as well as the public’s right to know, to participate, to be heard and to oversee”.

The latest moves come after a very public row with Google over web freedoms earlier this year that prompted the US Internet giant to shut its Chinese search engine.

The spat over censorship and cyberattacks touched off a war of words with the United States, at a time when ties were already suffering due to US arms sales to Taiwan and trade and currency issues.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

N Korea Seeks $75 Trillion in Compensation

Related Story: Super drink creates brain cells, prevents wrinkles Cash-strapped North Korea has demanded the United States pay almost $US65 trillion ($75 trillion) in compensation for six decades of hostility.

The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, says the cost of the damage done by the US since the peninsula was divided in 1945 is estimated at $US64.96 trillion.

The compensation call comes on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the start of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

KCNA said the figure includes $US26.1 trillion arising from US “atrocities” which left more than 5 million North Koreans dead, wounded, kidnapped or missing.

The agency also claims 60 years of US sanctions have caused a loss of $US13.7 trillion by 2005, while property losses were estimated at $US16.7 trillion.

The agency said North Koreans have “the justifiable right” to receive the compensation for their blood.

It said the committee’s calculation did not include the damage North Korea had suffered from sanctions after its first nuclear test in 2006.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia Shouldn’t Have a Big Population: Gillard

Melbourne, June 27 : In an apparent policy shift on Australia’s ever-growing population, mainly due to immigration, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she does not believe in a “big Australia”, but supports the idea of controlled immigration for a population the country can support.

Breaking away from the policies of the Kevin Rudd administration, Gillard said the nation should not “hurtle down the track towards a big population”.

“We will still have an approach about getting the migration settings right, about meeting our needs for skilled labour, but I also want to see us do it sustainably,” the prime minister said.

Australia’s population was predicted to rise from about 22 million at present to 35.9 million in 2050, if current trends in overseas migration and fertility continued. Immigration was the biggest contributor to Australia’s burgeoning population, according to the treasury’s inter-generational report, published earlier this year.

“I don’t support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia,” Gillard was quoted as saying by the Age.

“I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our buses, our trains and our services can sustain,” the Australian prime minister said.

Gillard suggested the government could pursue different immigration policies for different parts of the country.

“Australia has this very difficult problem — parts of Australia are desperate for workers, but other parts are desperate for jobs. Having a smart and sustainable population, coupled with the right skills strategy, will help improve this imbalance,” she said.

“If you spoke to the people of Western Sydney, for example, about a big Australia, they would laugh at you and ask you a very simple question: Where will these 40 million people go?” she said.

Melbourne was predicted to be populated by seven million people, and Sydney would grow to more than 7.5 million.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd had earlier said he favoured a “big Australia”, but later backed away from his comment by appointing Tony Burke as population minister to develop a strategy to contain it.

Gillard said Burke’s job description would now change to “send a very clear message about this new direction”, and he would now be known as the minister for sustainable population.

Even though Gillard said the population growth should be limited, she stressed that it was “not about bringing down the shutters on immigration”.

In 2009, migration added around 300,000 people to the Australian population, which has been growing faster than many developing countries, including the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Are Beards Obligatory for Devout Muslim Men?

Hizbul-Islam militants in Somalia ordered men in Mogadishu this week to grow their beards and trim their moustaches.

“Anyone found violating this law will face the consequences,” a Hizbul-Islam militant said, announcing the edict.

But is growing a beard obligatory under Islam?

Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, says “this is not the only view expressed by Muslim scholars.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sudanese Paper Publishes First Part of Investigative Report on Islamist Groups

Jun 27, 2010 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) — The short white jalabiyah [flowing men’s robe], the thick beard, and the shaved head represent the typical image of the Salafis as they are known among the Sudanese. They have not changed since the Salafi advocacy was launched in the last century.

The advocacy started with one trend, namely Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiyah. Nearly 93 years after the appearance of Salafi ideology, there are now six groups that are active under the Salafi banners the last of which was the Aqum group [which said recently it has applied to form the first Salafi political party]. Some of these groups broke away from Ansar al-Sunnah and the others appeared in the 1990s, after the emergence of what has become known as the Salafi jihadi ideology.

The Salafi advocacy started from West Sudan in the first decade of the last century. Moroccan merchant Abd-al-Rahman Bin Hajar took it upon himself to promote it in bazaars after marrying and settling down there. He taught pioneer Salafists. But the government of the bilateral [British-Egyptian] rule deported him to Egypt. One of his disciples, Ahmad Hasan, the godfather of Ansar al-Sunna, established in 1917 a forum for the advocacy in the town of Al-Nuhud which is considered the first bastion of Salafi ideology. The group’s pioneers included Yusuf Abu-Abd-al-Baqi and Yusuf Al-Ni’ma who taught Muhammad Hashim al-Hidiyyah. After the mid 1940s the group was officially registered with the government under the name of Jama’at Ansar al-Sunna al-Muhammadiyyah, after the group which goes by the same name in Egypt. They had established contact with it through Al-Hady al-Nabawi magazine which they read regularly. The first head of the registered group was Muhammad Fadil al-Taqlawi. Other leaders who succeeded him were Abdallah Hamad, Abd-al-Baqi Yusuf al-Ni’ma, and Abdallah al-Fishawi. This was followed by the leadership of Muhammad Hashim al-Hidiyyah which represented a turning point in the group’s history.

Al-Hidiyyah was a Post Office employee who belonged to a family from the Khatmi sect but who joined the group. In 1957, he established the first mosque in the area of Al-Sajanah, in the place where the group’s general headquarters is now located. In 1960, Abu-Zayd Muhammad Hamzah joined the group after he came from Egypt, where he used to be close to Muhammed Hamid since he was 17 and continued to be close to him since the 1920s. He received his religious training at his hands and learned the principles of Salafi jurisprudence. He was originally transferred from Egypt to the region of Wadi Halfa to work as a teacher and launched his advocacy there. But he did not remain in Halfa more than six months and was transferred to Omdurman, where he established a mosque in the First Alley of Al-Thawra District and launched his advocacy. There is also Mustafa Ahmad Naji who appeared in the 1950s in Port Sudan. He had received his religious training at the hands of the shaykhs coming from Al-Hijaz [Saudi Arabia] and founded Jama’at al-Da’wa lil Tawhid. These three groups were the centres of Salafism which spread in Sudan.

Tariq al-Maghribi, a researcher on Salafi groups, told Al-Ra’y al-Amm that in 1960 there used to be activity in the garden adjacent to the mosque of Shaykh Abu-Zayd in the First Alley and he met there for the first time with Shaykh Al-Hidiyyah. He subsequently became an active member of the group. After the mid 1960s, the group’s relationship with Saudi Arabia began through Shaykh Al-Ubaykan, the Saudi Ambassador in Khartoum. According to Tariq’s account, Al-Ubaykan had gone by coincidence to the group’s mosque in Al-Sajanah to perform Friday’s prayers and heard the calls for purifying the faith in line with the Salafi principles. He became acquainted with the group and enthusiastic for it. Its official relationship with Saudi Arabia subsequently began. He facilitated matters for the group and opened doors for it with Muhammed Ibrahim Al Al-Shaykh, the general Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and after him the Mufti Bin Baz.

The group started by confining its task to advocacy, according to Yusuf al-Kudah, the head of the Islamic Al-Wasat Party, in addition to some learning seminars in mosques. Then it developed to form a bigger organization with various secretariats during the era of Shaykh Al-Hidiyyah after the graduation of cadres sent outside the country to receive their education. The group shifted to promoting its ideologies from bazaars to universities and began to attract students. It had an educational role through its ownership of various religious institutes and also had a role in voluntary and relief activities which it used to promote its message.

All this pronounced activity appeared in the 1980s. Was this the cause for the group’s entry into politics or what?

We shall continue.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Britain’s Non-EU Immigration Cap May Face Hiccups

By Venkata Vemuri, London, June 27 : Britain’s proposed cap on non-EU immigration to avoid a last-ditch influx into the country may run into rough weather as it is not applicable to non-EU migrants granted refugee status here or their dependents.

Labour has accused the coalition government of diluting the new immigration rules, including the compulsory English testing for non-EU migrant spouses, to get the Liberal Democrats to support them.

Home Secretary Theresa May is to announce Monday that just 24,100 workers from outside Europe will be allowed into the country before April. She will simultaneously launch a consultation process for deciding the level of the permanent cap.

Conservatives like London Mayor Boris Johnson have urged the government to rethink. His spokesperson said: “A crude cap could be very detrimental to the free movement of the talented, creative and enterprising people who have enabled London to be such a dominant global force.”

According to the Press Association, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Universities Minister David Willetts were both said to have expressed doubts about the immigration cap in cabinet discussions earlier in the week.

Former immigration minister Phil Woolas said rules relating to both the immigration cap as well as the compulsory English test for spouses wanting to marry British citizens had been diluted by exempting non-EU migrants with asylum status in Britain and their dependents.

He said the dilution was the Tory idea of getting support of the Liberal Democrats for the immigration cap and told The Daily Mail: “This means a British man who marries, say, a Brazilian girl who can’t speak English will not be able to bring her into this country. But an Afghan who gets here on the back of a lorry and successfully claims asylum can bring his Afghan wife, children and grandparents in — even if they don’t speak English.”

Labour MP and chairman of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz, retorted: “It was Mr. Woolas who started all this. So, why is he saying all this now? It’s a continuation of what the Labour government started. Even the Liberal Democrats are against the immigration proposals. We still don’t really know what the exact proposals are.”

Vaz said the cap could affect relations with countries like India.

“An arbitrary cap is not the way. It will devastate university overseas students admissions and have a severe effect on some very important areas of businesses, which will have a direct impact on Britain’s effectiveness. Since spouses of settled people are the third largest recipient of visas, it may mean that the state will be deciding who people should marry, which is hardly libertarian”.

“The entry clearance posts will be overwhelmed by the number of applications and no thought appears to be given to providing them with extra resources. This will also damage relations with countries like India at a time when the government has pledged to enhance them.

Meanwhile, IANS has found that in a written reply to an MP’s question, Immigration Minister Damien Green did say that the two rules do not apply to non-EU people staying in Britain as refugees.

According to a transcript of the written questions and answers from the archives of the House of Commons June 22, 2010, Green said: “The new language requirement will not apply to dependants of refugees and people granted humanitarian protection in the UK…

“The annual limit will apply only to non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. There are no plans to apply the limit to dependants of refugees and people granted humanitarian protection in the UK applying for family reunion…,” Green responded to another question.

The exemptions came because the rules go against the “right to family life” under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. A refugee could possibly argue that as they cannot return to their country, they can gain their “right to family life’ only by having it allowed in Britain — whether or not they speak English.

A Home Office spokesman said: “In compelling circumstances where a refusal of leave would amount to a breach of Article 8, we will consider granting discretionary leave outside the immigration rules.”

(Venkata Vemuri can be contacted at


           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Growing Foreign-Born Population to Forge ‘New Canada’

By 2031, at least one in four people in this country will have been born elsewhere, new population projections from Statistics Canada suggest, and just half the working-age population will belong to families that have lived in Canada for at least three generations.

Photograph by:, canada.comThere is a “new Canada” just over the horizon — home to a diversity of skin tones, birth countries, languages and religious faiths unprecedented in the nation’s history.

By 2031, at least one in four people in this country will have been born elsewhere, new population projections from Statistics Canada suggest, and just half the working-age population will belong to families that have lived in Canada for at least three generations.

“You look at the statistics and you can see it: who’s the bulk of the new population, who’s going to be our future,” says Henry Yu, an associate history professor at the University of British Columbia. “This is the strongest indication yet — obviously, it’s been developing for decades — that there is a new Canada.”

The federal agency says the foreign-born population in that new Canada is expected to grow four times faster than those who are Canadian-born over the next 20 years, which is projected to create the most diverse population since Confederation.

With the vast majority of newcomers settling in large cities, the country’s future and prosperity lie in its urban areas, says Yu.

And the “new Canada” is a Pacific Canada, he says, with its strongest ties and biggest portion of newcomers not coming from the European countries of old, but from our Asian and Latin American neighbours with whom we share a Pacific coast, and with Caribbean nations.

It’s expected that almost one in three newcomers will follow a non-Christian religion two decades from now, Statistics Canada says, and more than three-quarters will have a mother tongue that’s neither French nor English. But rather than embracing this linguistic diversity and the edge it offers in a competitive global economy, Canada has been “very pointedly obliterating the language skills of the children of immigrants,” Yu says.

They learn one of the country’s two official languages relatively easily as children, he says, but then they’re effectively rendered monolingual by years of English- or French-only schooling and the encouragement to leave their mother tongue behind.

“We have an incredible global human capital from this new Canada,” Yu says. “We need to think of ways to build upon it rather than being scared and saying, ‘Oh my God, we need to make them all into carbon copies of English migrants who came 200 years ago.”

Richard Day, a professor of sociology and global development studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., objects to using the “basically racist” term “visible minorities” to label a diverse group of people who are on the verge of becoming the majority in Toronto and Vancouver. It’s as though there’s a white, Christian “unmentioned normal person” that such diversity is being compared to, he says, but one that simply no longer reflects the face of Canada.

“If it were to go beyond the restaurant, to go beyond ‘Oh, nice spices you put on your food!’ — if it were to go to the level of values and how we treat each other and take on some of the really pro-community aspects of other cultures — that would be cool and I think it’s going to happen,” Day says.

Islam will be the fastest-growing religion in the next two decades, Statistics Canada says, with its numbers expected to triple and encompass about seven per cent of the Canadian population by 2031.

Other non-Christian religions such as Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism will double their numbers, while the proportion following Christian religions is expected to slip from about 75 per cent of Canada’s population to 65 per cent, with the proportion reporting no religion will rise to 21 per cent from 17 per cent.

There’s still too much that goes unsaid when it comes to racial and cultural tensions in Canada, says Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Reports tiptoe around the large and growing Muslim population, accompanied by a misinformed anxiety rather than a push to ensure Muslims are successfully integrated into Canadian society, he says.

And, Tarek adds, there’s no acknowledgment of the prejudice that exists between different visible minority populations.

“People want honesty, they are thirsting for frank language,” he says. “We need to abandon the notion of political correctness and abandon the fear of speaking.”

The Baitunnur Mosque in Calgary — one of the largest in North America — will be on the forefront of Canada’s growing Muslim population in the years to come.

Sultan Mahmood, an executive member of the mosque, says it’s a central tenet of his Ahmadiyya denomination of Islam that Muslims connect with and serve their community — meaning their doors are always open to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Mahmood points to the example of an artists’ group that has been using the brand-new mosque’s facilities while waiting for their own to be built, adding that other community groups drop in to use the gym and they regularly host inter-faith conferences throughout Alberta.

At the end of the day, Mahmood returns home to engage in a time-honoured ritual that knows no national boundaries: gossiping with the neighbours and sharing food in the yard.

“This is enriching our society,” says Mahmood, who moved to Calgary from Pakistan in 1992. “We’re getting good people and all the good things from all over the world, and I think this diversity has made Canada one of the best countries in the world, and I think Canada will remain one of the best countries in the world because of this diversity.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Muslim Cleric Leaves Australia for Good

A leading Muslim cleric, ordered to leave the country by immigration officials, says his spirit will remain in Australia forever.

Sheikh Mansour Leghaei has lived in Australia for 16 years and is the force behind an Islamic centre in suburban Sydney.

Dr Leghaei was ordered to leave the country by Sunday night, following two adverse security declarations from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

With his wife and their 14-year-old Australian-born daughter Fatima, he will fly out of Sydney to Iran about two hours before his bridging visa expires at midnight.

“My body will depart Australia but definitely my soul and my spirit will remain here forever,” Dr Leghaei told ABC TV.

He said he had no firm plans for his life, beyond a reunion with his parents.

Fatima Leghaei also doesn’t want to leave.

“I feel sad because my friends, my brothers and school and everything is all here,” she said.

Dr Leghaei’s three sons — all in their 20s — are staying in Sydney, and one, Sadegh is convinced his family will return.

“They will come back, rest assured they will come back,” he said.

“When? (That) is in God’s hands. If? It’s not even a question.”

An immigration spokesman said Dr Leghaei was leaving Australia voluntarily but admitted he otherwise risked being put in detention and forcibly deported.

“Sheikh Mansour Leghaei has been given an adverse security assessment and as such he doesn’t meet the character requirement for a permanent residency visa, so he is required to leave the country,” he told AAP.

“Anyone who has an adverse security assessment against their name is not eligible for a visa to Australia.”

One of Dr Leghaei’s supporters, Anglican Priest Dave Smith, said the sheikh was very emotional about his impending departure.

Father David accused the Mujahideen of being behind Dr Leghaei’s adverse security assessments.

“I think there has been a variety of spurious accusations that have been levelled at him by certain members of the Mujahideen,” he told AAP, while heading to the airport to farewell the sheikh personally.

“Most of which are outrageous, they are almost laughable.”

Father David said Dr Leghaei played a peaceful role in the community, but that message had fallen on deaf ears.

“Certainly the work he’s done in the community just pastorally, and in terms of trying to build bridges between the faith communities and different ethnic communities, I think that’s well known,” he said.

Politicians including Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese even wrote him glowing references while in opposition.

Father Dave said they’d since turned their backs.

“We are deeply disappointed that our so-called elected representatives haven’t listen to us,” he said.

“The action taken certainly isn’t in the interests of the community.

“It’s a deeply disillusioning experience at that level.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Open Borders, Open Pit

It’s not exactly a big secret that the are two reasons we have open borders. The first reason is the Democratic party’s reliance on importing dependent minority groups to build a voting base. The second reason is that the Republican party spends too much time answering to corporations who want open borders. The Chamber of Commerce is a big proponent of open borders, which makes Bloomberg’s collection of CEOs from Disney (does the Mouse really need migrant workers?), Marriott, Hewlett Packard, Boeing, American Express, Morgan Stanley and the New York Times (migrants could probably do a better and cheaper job of writing their articles) and Rupert Murdoch of Newscorp.


I’m all for importing millions of bright and intelligent people, though perhaps not during a major recession. But that’s not what either Democrats or Republican big business advocates want. What they want are cheap and easy people, who can be exploited on the job and at the voting booth. That’s why immigration quotas look the way they do. That’s why it’s much easier for people from the Third World to move here than for Europeans. Immigration “reform” has become a euphemism for open borders with Mexico

Immigration “reform” has become a euphemism for open borders with Mexico. And you only need one look at some of what’s going on in Mexico and now in border states to see why that’s a bad idea. This doesn’t bother CEOs who live in gated communities, get driven to work in limousines and think they’re immune from the problem. Whose exposure to Mexico is through high end resorts and servile waiting staffs who are happy to have a job. And that’s exactly the culture they think they’re bringing to America. Cheap labor catering to their whims. They have no idea what reality is, and they don’t care.

Bloomberg more cynically makes the case that companies are outsourcing because of immigration restrictions

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The U.S. Department of Illegal Alien Labor

by Michelle Malkin

President Obama’s Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is supposed to represent American workers.

…this longtime open-borders sympathizer has always had a rather radical definition of “American.” At a Latino voter registration project conference in Los Angeles many years ago, Solis asserted to thunderous applause, “We are all Americans, whether you are legalized or not.”


While in Congress, she opposed strengthening the border fence, supported expansion of illegal alien benefits (including driver’s licenses and in-state tuition discounts), embraced sanctuary cities that refused to cooperate with federal homeland security officials to enforce immigration laws, and aggressively championed a mass amnesty.


…in the aftermath of the BP oil spill..Solis signaled that her department was going out of its way to shield illegal immigrant laborers involved in cleanup efforts.

[Return to headlines]

UK Set to Limit Migrant Workers

A temporary limit on the number of migrant workers from outside the EU allowed into the UK is to be introduced ahead of a planned permanent cap.

Home Secretary Theresa May will limit the number of workers to 24,100 — down around 5% — between now and April 2011.

The Conservatives’ election pledge to curb immigration survived the coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Labour said that the introduction of an arbitary immigration cap “is fraught with difficulty”.

The temporary cap is aimed at preventing a rush of applications before a permanent cap is set next April…

[Return to headlines]

UK: Tories ‘Back Down’ Over Immigrants’ English Test

The promise was a central part of David Cameron’s Election campaign. But it has now been disclosed that the families of asylum seekers allowed to settle in the UK will be exempt from the ban.

Labour MPs said the Conservatives had been forced to drop their hardline stance by their Liberal Democrat ­Coalition partners who support uncontrolled immigration.

The move came on the eve of the launch of Britain’s first-ever cap on immigration.

Mrs May will tomorrow disclose how a strict limit will be imposed on non-EU work permits.

Former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘This ruling means that a British man who marries, say, a ­Brazilian girl who can’t speak English will not be able to bring her into this ­country.

‘But an Afghan who gets here on the back of a lorry and successfully claims asylum can bring his Afghan wife, children and grandparents in — even if they don’t speak English.

‘The Tories gave the impression that the English speaking test would apply to all immigrants.

‘It is now clear that is not the case. It is absolutely essential that all immigrants speak English if they are to integrate with the rest of society. This is clear evidence that the Lib Dem tail is wagging the Conser­vative dog in this Coalition.’

When Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg formed the Coalition, the Lib Dem leader agreed to drop his commitment to grant an amnesty to illegal immigrants.

However, a little-noticed Commons written reply last week said: ‘The new language requirement will not apply to dependants of refugees and people granted humanitarian pro­tection in the UK.’

The Government granted the exemption after being warned that forcing refugees’ dependants to learn English breaks Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives everyone ‘the right to a family life’.

Lawyers say a refugee could argue that as they cannot return to their country, they can gain their ‘right to family life’ only by having it allowed in the UK — whether or not they speak English. Britons whose foreign spouses cannot speak English could get their right by emigrating.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘In compelling circumstances where a refusal of leave would amount to a breach of Article 8, we will consider granting discretionary leave outside the immigration rules.’

About 20,000 people a year apply for asylum in Britain.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Biggest Obstacle for China’s Gays: Social Pressure for Marriage

SHANGHAI — They had what they thought was the perfect solution, but it turned out that the men are just too picky.

They think that Yu Xiaofei, with her cropped black hair and dark-rimmed glasses, looks too much like a tomboy, and they think that Jiang Yifei’s distaste for children is suspicious.

So what are these young Chinese women to do? They’re 24, out of college, employed, living at home — and they’re in love with each other and desperate to find a way to stay together.

“The most important thing is that we cannot hurt out parents,” Yu said. “They put a lot on us.”

That means finding two men in a similar predicament. Their plan is simple. Yu and Jiang will find a gay male couple, arrange a living situation and lay down some ground rules. Then, they’ll pair off with the men and get married, just as their parents expect them to do.

They still have time, and they’re using it to take in every last kiss and touch before these gestures become even more complicated than they already are. Still, their proposed arrangement is no grand tragedy for the pair — it’s practical.

Beneath it all are the Confucian family values that still underpin Chinese society: As a son or daughter, it’s your duty to maintain and carry on the family line by having children.

“We have to — that’s tradition,” said Jiang, who sports long caramel-colored hair and clinking bangle bracelets. “That’s what (our parents) think we should do.”…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Inclusiveness Programs Benefit Companies and Workers Alike

In 2008, Michael Figueiredo told State Street Corp.’s human resources department that he wanted to start coming to work as a woman.

“I was very nervous,” said Figueiredo, 39.

To Figurado’s surprise, the HR representative said, “OK, we support this,” and started planning how to tell co-workers and clients.

“From their very first reaction… I have felt so empowered,” said Figuerado, who now goes by Michelle and is a member of State Street Pride, which has 150 members.

State Street is one of a growing number of companies that have employee programs to support different ethnicities, ages, religions, sexual orientations, and physical abilities — both in and out of the office. The programs not only help to retain talented workers of diverse backgrounds, but also can boost the bottom line.

“The more diverse an organization, the more potential for being creative,” said Mauricio Valesquez, president of the Diversity Training Group, a consulting business based outside Washington, D.C.

People of color made up 16 percent of the labor force in the state last year, according to the US Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey — up from about 10 percent in 1990; nationwide, the number is 32 percent.

This disparity, in part, reflects that Massachusetts is less ethnically diverse than the country as a whole. Minorities make up 34 percent of the national population, according to 2008 estimates from the US Census Bureau, but only 21 percent of the state’s.

The makeup of the state’s labor force needs improvement, according to the Commonwealth Compact, a project formed by business and civic leaders to promote diversity in Boston.

Commonwealth Compact’s 2009 report, based on data from 111 organizations that have signed the compact, found that nearly half weren’t satisfied with the diversity of their leadership team.

Gisele Michel, executive director of the Boston Center for Community and Justice, said many companies maintain diversity programs to buffer themselves from discrimination claims, but “there are very few places that actually incorporate it as a core business practice.”

Some firms are moving in that direction, though. State Street’s Global Inclusion program, which has 39 networking groups for everyone from military personnel to disabled workers, last month was honored at the Arnold Z. Rosoff Awards, an annual program by the Ad Club of Boston trade group that recognizes companies that achieve diversity.

One of the State Street groups, the 200-member Muslim Professional Network, put on an interfaith panel on fasting last year, open to all employees. The group also lobbied the company to turn eight empty offices and “quiet rooms” into prayer rooms for Muslims, who pray five times a day, and other faith-based groups.

“It helps people within the company who don’t practice Islam have a better understanding of minorities of faith,” said Shatha Al-Aswad, 32, who is Syrian. “It’s the reason why many of us stay at State Street.”

That kind of loyalty is one of the goals of diversity programs. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc.’s diversity initiative includes pairing new employees with a more senior “buddy” with a similar background to help new hires feel more comfortable.

Maggie Louie, 31, who works in finance, and Christina Khoo, 44, a research scientist, talk more about their children than about their shared Chinese heritage, but they have dis cussed where to find Chinese markets and the challenges of being a working mother in traditional Chinese culture.

“It has helped me feel more comfortable having a friendly face that I can smile or wave to,” Khoo said.

Sometimes, a company’s diversity program can help everyone — not just those with diverse backgrounds — feel more comfortable in the workplace.

In five years, Deloitte’s local Hispanic business networking group has grown from 4 to 35 members, who help recruit new workers and hold lunchtime events with Latin food and trivia. And as the firm’s awareness of Hispanic culture has grown, so has its understanding of cultural differences. At first, the partners at Deloitte didn’t know what to make of Andrew Rodriguez’s physically affectionate ways, which he said are more common among Hispanics. Now, he said, “it’s more visible and more accepted in the firm.”

Companies also know a diverse workforce can boost the bottom line. The law firm Goodwin Procter, for example, has had an increasing number of potential clients ask if female lawyers or lawyers of color will be working on their cases.

“Our clients care about diversity because they understand that diverse teams of lawyers solve their problems more effectively,” said Scott Westfahl, director of professional development.

Of the 440 lawyers in Goodwin Procter’s Boston office, 172 are women or people of color. In fact, the firm’s chairwoman and managing partner, Regina Pisa, was the first woman to head up a top US law firm.

Lawyers on Goodwin Procter’s Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, which is open to anyone and has 16 members in Boston, do pro bono work for immigrants becoming citizens — as well as catch the occasional Red Sox game together.

“It shows that the firm is supportive in recognizing that there may be unique issues or circumstances that diverse lawyers are facing in a predominantly white environment,” said senior associate Damian Wilmot, who is president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association.

CVS Caremark also knows about the economic benefits of programs geared toward retaining a diverse workforce.

In 2004, the Woonsocket, R.I., company instituted a “snowbird” program that allows employees, many of them older, to work in different locations throughout the year. Because stores in warm states are busier during the winter, the company has to add staff anyway, said Stephen Wing, director of workforce initiatives, and moving in seasoned employees makes more sense than training new ones.

“Even younger people will come to an older person to ask them for advice,” said Wing, who noted that CVS has 38 employees in their 90s.

CVS clerk Howard Yeaton, 75, from Portland, Maine, is working at a store in Ocala, Fla., where two of his eight daughters and five of his 50 grandchildren live, until the end of June. “I’ll do it as long as I can count the money right,” he said.

Likewise, Michelle Figueiredo plans to keep working at State Street for a long time. Figueiredo, who recently urged the state to follow her company’s example at a judicial hearing about transgender employment protections, said she’ll never forget the first day she came to work dressed as a woman. “I walked through the door and had goosebumps when my black pumps clicked on the lobby floor,” she said.

Now, Figueiredo, who manages a resolution desk in investment services, is scheduled to have a sex-change operation on Jan. 31, the day before her 40th birthday.

“It would not have been possible without State Street’s buy-in,” she said. “It’s made me just blossom.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


A Grand Design Made to Order, Part 3

Ta-ta Ta’a (Obedience to Islam)

By definition globalism is a collectivist one-world state that rejects the biblical worldview and ethic for enlightened group think distinguished by relative (as opposed to absolute) truth. Global citizens pledge allegiance to the world community, not to any specific nation-state.

In many respects, the Islamic Grand Design for world dominance fits the globalist model. Already, Islam is the world’s second largest religion after Christianity. While Pakistan is the only state explicitly established in the name of Islam, the Islamic impact on world culture is indisputable.

Its three-fold strategy of missions, presence, and force has left an indelible mark. Already, Muslims make up a majority in some seventy of 188 nations, and Islam has become the fastest growing religion in Europe.


To the globalist, harmonization is the elimination of state and national boundaries. Director of the London Muslim Institute, Dr. Kalim Siddique makes it abundantly clear that the objective of the modern Muslim movement is “to eliminate all authority other than Allah and his prophet; to eliminate nationalism in all its shapes and forms, in particular, the nation-state.”[1]

According to Islam expert Dr. William Wagner, ever since Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina in AD 622, Muslims have instigated what he calls the Four “C’s” of engagement — all of which serve this purpose.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Equality is Never Equal

Equality is a sacred word in the modern American lexicon. It’s the politically correct positive to the negative of discrimination. There’s a philosophy known as Egalitarianism based upon a belief in human equality in all social, political, and economic affairs. This philosophy advocates the removal of all inequalities among people. Egalitarianism is one of the foundational principles of the Progressives currently controlling the government of the United States.

There’s one major flaw with this philosophy. It doesn’t reflect reality. No matter what anyone wants to believe, hopes to encourage or pretends to see people are not equal. There are the physical differences of size, shape, appearance, intelligence and temperament. There are also differences in family environment, economic situation, education, and location. There’s no natural way to eradicate these inherent differences. This is where the progressive philosophy kings seek to insert the coercive actions of government to level the playing field creating what they believe is a perfect environment for human activity. However, perfect equality is impossible to create, for in the artificial hothouse of government enforced equality there are still those who decide what equal is, and as the privileged commissars of the USSR taught us everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.


Political and social philosophy cannot change human nature, and no matter how people wish for another reality all we have is the real one. It’s time people admit that once government acts to equalize the lives of all it must act unequally towards some. Equality of opportunity is based upon the idea of treating everyone the same. Equality of outcome is based upon the idea of redistribution. To prevent economic inequality take from those who produce and give to those who don’t. To prevent racial inequality make judgments based on race using racial quotas. In this drive to create an unreal reality the Progressives have manufactured an endless supply of special classes of people, giving some extra rights and privileges while encumbering others with added burdens and barriers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]