Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101002

Financial Crisis
»Beware of Phony ‘Economic Conservatives’
»The Man Who’s Made Billions by Selling Your Secrets: The Mail Meets Facebook’s £4.4bn Founder Aged 26
»A GOP Unknown is in Striking Range of Barney Frank
»A Liberal’s Awakening to the Reality of Obamacare
»J Street Loses Support Over Ties to Goldstone, Soros
»Mayor Bloomberg Blasts Tea Party, Describes it as Often Irrational, ‘Not a Political Movement’
»Religious Leaders Line Up Behind Ground Zero Mosque
»Rick Sanchez Fired at CNN After Outburst
»Shooting of Imam Ruled Justified
»Why Do Progressives Defend Communists and Terrorists?
Europe and the EU
»British Schools Where Girls Must Wear the Islamic Veil
»Dutch Party Gives Nod to Coalition Deal With Wilders
»Our Identikit Leaders and Why It’s Little Wonder the Gulf Between Politicians and Voters is Wider Than Ever
»UK: At Last! An End to the Elf ‘n’ Safety Madness as Meddling Officials Face Fines if They Ban Events
»US May Issue Terror Warning to Americans in Europe
Middle East
»Iran ‘Detains Western Spies’ After Cyber Attack on Nuclear Plant
»Iran the Score, The Options
South Asia
»Bin Laden Hits Out at Muslim Governments for Failing Pakistani Flood Victims
»Bob Woodward Says Barack Obama Doesn’t Have the ‘X-Factor’
Culture Wars
»You Can’t Advertise With Us — You’re ‘Christian’
»Daniel Pipes: Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules

Financial Crisis

Beware of Phony ‘Economic Conservatives’

There is a struggle underway for the hearts and minds of the tea-party movement, conservatism and the Republican Party.

So-called “economic conservatives” are doing everything in their power to limit the scope of the movement to take back America to fiscal issues in the narrowest definition of that term.

For instance, you will find that illegal immigration is not considered an economic issue by these phonies. Check the records of these so-called “economic conservatives” and you will usually find they support amnesty and/or open borders policies — both of which spell further cataclysmic economic, legal and cultural breakdown for America.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Man Who’s Made Billions by Selling Your Secrets: The Mail Meets Facebook’s £4.4bn Founder Aged 26

Worth £4.4bn at 26, Facebook’s founder lives in a rented house and drives an old Honda. He’s created a global network of friendships, but ruthlessly betrayed his own friends.


Since every message placed on Facebook is stored on the company’s vast computer mainframes, Zuckerberg has also been placed in a position of unimaginable power — the kind of power, incidentally, of which totalitarian tyrants could only dream.

His astonishing ascent is documented in an acclaimed new film, The Social Network, which opens in Britain this month. The big question is, should we trust a young man who has declared the age of privacy to be over — and who appears to be on some turbo-charged mission to redefine the concept of human friendship — to use this power responsibly?


Given that Zuckerberg now has access to the highly personal musings of half a billion people, another email exchange is even more disturbing.

‘Yeah, so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard . . . just ask,’ he boasts to his friend. ‘I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses . . .’

Friend: ‘What!? how’d you manage that one?’

Zuckerberg: ‘People just submitted it . . . they trust me . . . dumb f***s’

Zuckerberg strongly denies stealing the Winklevosses’ idea, insisting he was already forming plans for his own, radically different social networking site when they approached him.

And, as he points out, these emails were sent out seven years ago by a gauche 19-year-old student, not the head of a multibillion-dollar company.


‘All his friends from the early days have gone,’ says Nicholas Carlson, the Silicon Alley Insider’s deputy editor. ‘He may have no social skills, but don’t be deceived — he’s cut-throat and he never lets anyone forget that Facebook is his show.’

So will The Social Network harm Zuckerberg’s reputation and that of his cherished creation?

Certainly his PR advisers appear to fear as much. This week, he trumped the film’s U.S. release by going on the Oprah Winfrey show to announce he is to donate $100 million (£63 million) to an educational project for disadvantaged children, yet his largesse was interpreted as a damage limitation exercise.

Facebook’s media chief, Elliot Schrage, has also moved swiftly to dismiss large parts of the story as fiction.

‘Every creation myth needs a devil,’ he says.

In a strange way, however, I think the movie lends Zuckerberg a certain allure. Yes, he comes across as dorkish and emotionally stilted, but he is the super-brainy outcast fighting the might of the East Coast establishment.

He is also scripted with a razor-sharp wit (which those who know him say he doesn’t really possess) and, in the end, we feel rather sorry for him.

None of this concerns him, he insists. For, as he told me, he has no intention of watching the film that will complete his extraordinary transformation from faceless nerd to instantly recognisable celebrity.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


A GOP Unknown is in Striking Range of Barney Frank

Sean Bielat, the Republican candidate for Congress in Massachusetts’ 4th District, has had just one conversation with his Democratic opponent, Rep. Barney Frank.

It was in August, at a parade in New Bedford. “I went up to introduce myself and said, ‘Nice to meet you,’“ Bielat recalls. “He said, ‘I wish I could say the same, but you’ve made this personal. You’ve been attacking me.’ Then he turned and walked away.”

Bielat remembers thinking that was a little odd, since at that very moment Frank’s Web site featured plenty of attacks on Bielat. But the brief encounter set the tone for what has become an increasingly contentious campaign. The nervousness plaguing Democrats nationwide has touched even Frank, a 14-term incumbent who hasn’t faced a serious challenger in years.


Ask Bielat to name the three worst things Frank has done in office and you get an idea of what his focus would be, if elected. “You’ve got to start with Freddie and Fannie and his unending push to expand homeownership,” Bielat says. “He definitely played an enormous role in getting us where we are today in terms of the real estate bubble and the ensuing financial collapse.”

Number two? “Financial reform, because it doesn’t address Fannie and Freddie and vastly expands oversight of the financial services sector.”

Three? “His view on what government should and should not do.” Simply put, Frank wants an always-expanding federal government, and Bielat doesn’t.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

A Liberal’s Awakening to the Reality of Obamacare

As the media circus grew around this legislation, and accusatory fingers pointed toward both sides of the aisle, it seemed that no one had actually read the Bill. This became clear when Nancy Pelosi, the Leader of the Left, made the statement: “Congress has to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it, away from the fog of controversy.” She was advocating the passing of this Economic Giant of a Bill without even taking the time to read it. This was my first realization that something was very wrong beneath the streets of Obama Land.

Given this obvious attempt to pass this Historic Bill and advocating ignorance as the driving force for its acceptance, I decided to read the Bill to find the answers myself. The opening sections outline a beautiful system for providing Americans with health care that is not only affordable, but complete in order to achieve the purpose of, “building on what works in today’s health care system, while repairing the aspects that are broken.” In section (1) of the Bill, it states: “The purpose of this division is to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending.” This, I believe, is as far as most people decided to read, if they read it at all. After digesting the complexities of this Bill and after some serious self-reflection and swallowing of my Liberal pride, I came to a disturbing conclusion: The Republicans were right.

The Bill’s foreword (a simplified version of what is supposedly in the Bill) painted a picture of the very hope I had been expecting. The real purpose to the Bill, however, is quite different than that cryptically outlined in the foreword. The reality is that this Bill gives the President the freedom to set up Health Care Commissions to oversee the Health and Welfare of the People. The plan unfolding, generated by overzealous propaganda by the Left and now touted as the greatest health care reform of our time, is well beyond the imagination of even the most twisted, Marxist mind. The Health Care Reform outlined in the text is a collection of the most controlling, government expanding piece of legislation I have ever read.

The reality is that H.R. 3590 sets up a system of governmental oversight and control that boggles the mind. The numbers of panels and departments under the general cloak of this Bill are astounding. Commissioners, Administrators, Ombudsmen and Committees of all shapes and sizes are enacted to oversee the implementation and continuation of this Act. This Bill doesn’t just redefine Health Care; it completely redefines the structure of it. The Bill translates into a system that allows the creation and proliferation of programs like what is outlined in H.R. 875 and the Food Safety Administration. It is the very thing that I have heard a flurry of frustration about from the Left: control over organic supplements and foods without their first being checked and labeled by a government agency. H.R. 875 essentially sets up a system where people will not be subjected to foods or supplements that could pose a threat to their health.

Similarly, Senate Bill 425: Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, performs the same control over our choices of foods. This particular Bill plans to: “Amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the establishment of a traceability system for food, to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspections Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for improved public health and food safety through enhanced enforcement, and for other purposes.” It is essentially the control and inevitable destruction of free organics in America, courtesy of the Lobbyists for corporations like Monsanto. The irony is that these same people standing against organics are allowing genetic, antibiotic, and steroidal manipulation of our food without even a second thought.

The recent Bills and Executive Orders being implemented in the after-hours workings of the Obama Regime are all interconnected, purposeful moves to control the “health” of the population. Our entire food system, and thus our health choices, are being decided without public knowledge in a land called Democratic; our vote has not been counted. Unbeknownst to most Americans, H.R. 3590 specifically requires a committee to list the priorities for “lifestyle behavior modification” that the government will pursue. This translates into control of our choices of diet. Is this what Liberals were thinking of when we all together stood symbolically with Obama to bring Health Care to America? Is this what we foresaw as the solution to our collective Health Care dilemma? Control over choices?

[Return to headlines]

J Street Loses Support Over Ties to Goldstone, Soros

The far-left, United States-based, Israel lobby J Street is losing support both within the Obama administration and from its own members, according to the Washington Times. The change was attributed to J Street’s connections to Judge Richard Goldstone, and to the recent revelation that most of its funding comes from two far-left donors.


Virginia Republican Representative Eric Cantor told the newspaper that the sources of J Street’s funding prove that “they are not reflecting the mainstream position of the pro-Israel community in America.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mayor Bloomberg Blasts Tea Party, Describes it as Often Irrational, ‘Not a Political Movement’

Mayor Bloomberg went on for quite a while about immigration reform, and about Washington’s roadblocks to progress in general during his WOR-AM radio show with host John Gambling, before turning the topic to the Tea Party.

“The wake-up call, John, is called the Tea Party. That’s what the Tea Party is. It’s funny, it’s not a political movement. They don’t, they’re not pro-choice or pro-life. They’re not pro-gun or anti-gun. They’re not pro-gay-rights or anti-gay-rights. They’re not with any of the social issues.”

And then, Bloomberg, the registered Independent, put the Tea Party in some historical context. “They are a group of people, and you see this every eight, 10 years, there was a Perot boomlet if you remember, and then there’s the, there was a McCain boomlet eight, 10 years ago.

“And it’s, ‘I’m sick of it.’ That’s what people are saying. ‘I don’t know what the answer is, your job is to figure it out, Mr. Congressman, Mr. Senator, Miss President, whatever it is. But I’m just telling you, I’m annoyed. I’m not going to do, I don’t want to take this anymore.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Religious Leaders Line Up Behind Ground Zero Mosque

‘We have the right to the free exercise of our faith’

The Anti-Defamation League, responding to the public rejection of the idea of an Islamic mosque near Ground Zero in New York, has assembled an “Interfaith Coalition on Mosques” to offer support for the right to build religious facilities.

The group includes clergy from a multitude of faith traditions, including Executive Director Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rick Sanchez Fired at CNN After Outburst

CNN fired Miami homeboy anchor Rick Sanchez Friday, a day after he said on a radio show that Jews control U.S. television networks. “Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company,” a CNN spokesman said. “We thank Rick for his years of service and we wish him well.”

Sanchez’s outburst about Jews came during a rant against Jon Stewart, who often makes fun of Sanchez on his Comedy Central show. Sanchez was being interviewed on comedian Pete Dominick’s XM Sirius Radio show when the conversation went off the rails.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shooting of Imam Ruled Justified

DETROIT — Federal agents who killed a Muslim leader in Dearborn, Mich., last year did not break any law, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said.

“My office’s review found undisputed evidence that Mr. Abdullah resisted arrest and fired a gun first in the direction of the agents,” Cox said yesterday in a statement. “Under Michigan law, law-enforcement agents are justified in using deadly force in these types of situations, and therefore, we found no crimes.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why Do Progressives Defend Communists and Terrorists?

As incredible as it may seem, the giant labor federation, the AFL-CIO, used to be run by a staunch anti-communist. George Meany had his disagreements with conservatives on domestic issues but he mostly agreed with them on foreign policy. Indeed, Meany was so anti-communist that he was dubbed a “right-winger” by liberals in the media. He criticized détente with the Soviet Union. He didn’t like communists and refused to allow them into his coalitions.

All of this changed over time. When the AFL-CIO staged a “Solidarity Day” rally in 1981, in order to protest President Ronald Reagan’s domestic policies, then-AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland refused to tell communists they were not welcome.

When John Sweeney, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, became president of the AFL-CIO, the communists and their fellow travelers were officially welcomed in. He hired veterans of the Venceremos Brigades such as Karen Nussbaum and Karen Ackerman. These were the groups of radical young people who had gone to Communist Cuba for indoctrination sessions back in the 1970s. Some went for training in guerrilla warfare. The trips were arranged by Bernardine Dohrn of the terrorist Weather Underground.


The liberal media bias and dishonesty aside, the change reflects how the progressive movement has capitulated to the forces of the anti-American left, in order to swell their ranks. It is a terrible development that is ominous for the future of the United States because of the hold that the progressives now have on the White House and Congress. It makes sensational reports of a few extremists in the conservative-oriented Tea Party movement look silly by comparison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

British Schools Where Girls Must Wear the Islamic Veil

Hundreds of girls are bring forced by British schools to wear the Islamic veil in a move which has been heavily criticised by mainstream Muslims.

Islamic schools have introduced uniform policies which force girls to wear the burka or a full headscarf and veil known as the niqab.

Moderate followers of Islam said yesterday that enforcement of the veil was a “dangerous precedent” and that children attending such schools were being “brainwashed”.

The Sunday Telegraph has established that three UK institutions have introduced a compulsory veil policy when girls are walking to or from school. They are:

Madani Girls’ School in east London;

Jamea Al Kauthar in Lancaster;

Jameah Girls’ Academy in Leicester.

All three are independent, fee-paying, single-sex schools for girls aged 11 to 18. Critics warned that the spectacle of burka-clad pupils entering and leaving the schools at the start and end of the day could damage relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

Ed Husain, co-director of Quilliam, the counter-extremist think-tank, said: “It is absurd that schools are enforcing this outdated ritual — one that which sends out a damaging message that Muslims do not want to fully partake in British society.

“Although it is not the government’s job to dictate how its citizens dress, it should nonetheless ensure that such schools are not bankrolled or subsidised by the British taxpayer.”

He added: “The enforcing of the niqab on young girls is not a mainstream Islamic practice — either in Britain or in most Muslim-majority countries.

“It is a desert practice which belongs to another century and another world.”

Dr Taj Hargey, an imam and chairman of the Muslim Educational Trust of Oxford, said: “This is very disturbing and sets a dangerous precedent.

“It means that Muslim children are being brainwashed into thinking they must segregate and separate themselves from mainstream society.

“The use of taxpayers’ money for such institutions should be absolutely opposed. The wearing of the burka or niqab is a tribal custom and these garments are not even mentioned in the Koran.”

Philip Hollobone, the Tory MP who has attempted to bring in a Private Members’ Bill to ban wearing of the burka in public, also condemned the schools’ uniform policies.

“It is very sad in 21st century Britain that three schools are effectively forcing girls as young as 11 to hide their faces,” he said.

“How on earth are these young ladies going to grow up as part of a fully integrated society if they are made to regard themselves as objects at such a young age?”…

           — Hat tip: A. Millar[Return to headlines]

Dutch Party Gives Nod to Coalition Deal With Wilders

A pact to allow Dutch centre-right parties to form a government with the support of anti-Islamist populist Geert Wilders has cleared another hurdle.

The Christian Democrats (CDA) ratified the deal at a meeting on Saturday by 68% in favour, with 32% opposed.

As part of its programme, the government will ban the full Islamic veil in the Netherlands, parties say.

However, two CDA lawmakers remain opposed and could yet derail the deal when MPs vote on it later this week.

The agreement, which ends months of deadlock, includes plans for budget cuts of 18bn euros ($24bn; £15bn) by 2015; curbs on immigration; and an increase in the number of police officers.

The Liberals (VVD) and CDA, which hold 52 seats in the 150-member parliament, would rely on Mr Wilders’ 24 Freedom Party (PVV) MPs to get legislation passed.

“We want to give the country back to the working Dutch citizen,” said Liberal leader and Prime Minister-designate Mark Rutte on Friday.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Our Identikit Leaders and Why It’s Little Wonder the Gulf Between Politicians and Voters is Wider Than Ever

When Ed Miliband stood before his party faithful last week as their new leader, grinning nervously in the glare of the spotlight, did his mind flicker back to the men who preceded him?

From its very first leader, Keir Hardie, who started work at the age of just ten in the coalmines of Lanarkshire, to the perma-tanned, globe-trotting, book-flogging Tony Blair, it is safe to say that the self-described people’s party has travelled an awfully long way.

Yet listening to Mr Miliband joking awkwardly about boyhood battles with his defeated brother David, it was hard not to wonder what on earth Labour’s most famous names would have made of the state of their party.

What would self-made men such as Ernest Bevin and Jim Callaghan, who hauled themselves up by their bootstraps from poverty, think of a leadership election that asked members to choose between two privileged, Oxford- educated brothers from North London?

What would war heroes such as Major Clement Attlee and Major Denis Healey make of an election in which neither of the leading candidates had ever held a job outside the political arena?

And what, they might well ask, does it say about the sad state of British politics that our three major parties are led by smooth fortysomethings who might have been cast from exactly the same mould?

Look again at the scenes of delight and despair at last week’s Labour conference, and you see not just an astonishingly incestuous story of fraternal rivalry, but a damning indictment of the collapse of opportunity in modern Britain — and a depressing reminder of the extent to which we are now governed by a tiny, closed and thoroughly narcissistic political class.

And the one characteristic they all share is an overwhelming sense of entitlement that — despite having no knowledge of the real world — they believe gives them a preordained right to rule over us.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: At Last! An End to the Elf ‘n’ Safety Madness as Meddling Officials Face Fines if They Ban Events

Health and safety zealots blamed for creating a ‘national neurosis’ are finally to be reined in.

Meddling officials who attempt to ban events or activities on the grounds that they breach red tape will themselves be threatened with huge fines under Government plans.

And emergency workers, teachers and office workers are to be freed from the compensation culture where someone must be held to account for everyday mishaps and accidents.

Margaret Thatcher’s former trade secretary Lord Young, who has drawn up a string of proposals accepted by David Cameron, says a decade of Labour laws and regulations will now be torn up.

The assault on the excesses of the health and safety culture will form a key part of the Tory Party conference which begins tomorrow in Birmingham, and is seen as a potential vote winner.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US May Issue Terror Warning to Americans in Europe

The news agency said US officials believed the State Department may issue a travel warning on Sunday advising Americans to stay away from European tourist sites, transport hubs and other facilities because of new threat information. It gave no further detail on the move, which would have severe implications for tourism.

In Britain, a Whitehall official said: “There are no plans to change the threat level in the UK.” US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley declined to comment on the matter. But he said the Obama administration remains focused on al-Qaida threats to U.S. interests and will take appropriate steps to protect Americans. “We remain focused on al-Qaida’s interest in attacking us and attacking our allies,” Crowley said. “We will do everything possible to thwart them and will take steps as appropriate.” The implications of a blanket “travel warning” for all of Europe could be big. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans in Europe at any one time, including tourists, students and business travellers. AP said the language in the alert is expected to be vague. It said European officials told it the alert would not address a specific country or specific landmarks.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran ‘Detains Western Spies’ After Cyber Attack on Nuclear Plant

Iran says it has detained several “spies” it claims were behind cyber attacks on its nuclear programme.

The intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, said western “spy services” were behind the complex computer virus that recently infected more than 30,000 computers in industrial sites, including those in the Bushehr nuclear power plant, appearing to confirm the suspicion of computer security experts that a foreign state was responsible.

The announcement also suggests that the attack involving the Stuxnet worm virus, which computer experts believe may have been designed to spy on Iran’s nuclear facilities rather than destroy them, has caused more alarm in the regime than has so far been acknowledged.

In remarks carried on Iranian state television and the Mehr news service, Moslehi said Iran had discovered the “destructive activities of the arrogance [of the west] in cyberspace”, adding that “different ways to confront them have been designed and implemented”.

“I assure all citizens that the intelligence apparatus currently has complete supervision on cyberspace and will not allow any leak or destruction of our country’s nuclear activities.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Iran the Score, The Options

by Srdja Trifkovic

In recent weeks the proponents of an American war against Iran have been getting impatient with President Obama’s apparent unwillingness to get with the program. Joe Lieberman, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman, and Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, now press the President to impose a short time limit on the effectiveness of the most recent set of sanctions imposed on Iran. Lieberman told the FT the deadline should be the end of the year: “Our goal here is to convince Iran to stop its nuclear weapons development program by economic and diplomatic means if we can but (to make clear) that we are prepared to use military means if we must.”

The outcome seems preordained, as in the same breath Lieberman said he doubted the sanctions would prompt Iran to negotiate. Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations on September 29 he said that “it is time to retire our ambiguous mantra” about all options remaining on the table. A week earlier Howard Berman declared that the administration had “months, not years” to make sanctions work, and that a military operation was preferable to a nuclear Iran.

A more sophisticated interventionist case was summed up by Jeffrey Goldberg in “The Point of No Return” (The Atlantic, September 2010). Since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is convinced that neither diplomacy nor sanctions will work, Goldberg says, Israel will attack Iran soon if America does not do so. This may trigger a chain of dangerous events which would get America involved anyway, he warns; and since a nuclear-armed Iran is in any event a serious threat to the interests of the United States, “perhaps the best way to obviate a military strike on Iran is to make the threat of a strike by the Americans seem real.”

It is impossible, of course, to make a threat seem real without making it real; and once it is real, the issue is bound to be turned into one of America’s credibility as a great power. Far from being “the best way to obviate a military strike on Iran,” Goldberg’s recommended course is the best way to commit the United States to war without openly saying so.

Lieberman was advocating the same course more forthrightly when he told the CFR that it would be a “failure of U.S. leadership” if Israel launched a unilateral strike on Iran: “If military action must come, the United States is in the strongest position to confront Iran and manage the regional consequences. This is not a responsibility we should outsource. We can and should coordinate with our many allies who share our interest in stopping a nuclear Iran, but we cannot delegate our global responsibilities to them.” Lieberman’s line reflects rather neatly the view of Goldberg’s Israeli interlocutors that “our time would be better spent lobbying Barack Obama to do this, rather than trying this ourselves… We are very good at this kind of operation, but it is a big stretch for us. The Americans can do this with a minimum of difficulty, by comparison.”

The Pentagon begs to differ. Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has often warned that a military strike against Iran might open up a “third front” and have serious ripple effects throughout the Middle East. He has also warned Israel of the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran, just as he had done, repeatedly, under Bush II…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bin Laden Hits Out at Muslim Governments for Failing Pakistani Flood Victims

Osama Bin Laden has criticised Muslim governments for not providing enough relief for Pakistanis after their country was devastated by floods that killed hundreds and displaced millions.

The video message is the second said to be from bin Laden in the last 24 hours.

He has called for the establishment of a relief organisation to prevent flooding in Muslim nations, create development projects in impoverished regions and improve agriculture to guarantee food security.

His pronouncements come hours after US intelligence chiefs revealed the Al Qaeda leader had personally ordered Mumbai-style commando attacks on Britain.

In the today’s 13-minute tape called ‘Help your Pakistani Brothers’, he said: ‘The (U.N.’s) secretary-general came to witness the catastrophe for himself, and yet no Arab leaders came to witness the disaster despite the short distances and claims of brotherhood.’

The tape was released by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi forums. It was aired along with a still photograph of a smiling bin Laden superimposed over pictures of flood victims.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Bob Woodward Says Barack Obama Doesn’t Have the ‘X-Factor’

President Barack Obama is letting down his troops and seems not to have the commitment and ‘X-factor’ to win the war in Afghanistan, Bob Woodward has told The Daily Telegraph.

This strong opinion is all the more stinging because it comes not from the US President’s usual vociferous critics but Bob Woodward, the legendary Watergate journalist who is normally scrupulous at keeping his views to himself. “I believe in neutral inquiry,” he tells The Daily Telegraph in an interview. “That is the core job of the journalist.”

Nonetheless, if any writer is entitled to an opinion on the war in Afghanistan, it is Woodward. He has just resurfaced from two years’ immersion in the subject, having interviewed 100 officials past and present, major White House players — many several times over — as well as the president himself during top level deliberations on the conflict’s future course. The resulting book, Obama’s Wars, is, as usual, an instant bestseller and an instant headline-grabber, chiefly because of the verbal fireworks and fractious policy debate among the protagonists in the US administration. The book — his sixteenth — is impeccably unbiased but the author now seems ready for candour. “The will to win is the X factor in lot of things — politics, war and journalism,” he says. “It can mean a lot, just because in any contest, the psychological dimension is important — it’s the ‘yes we can’,” he says, citing Obama’s vitalising slogan from 2008. Asked directly if Obama has that “X factor”, he checks himself and responds: “It’s not clear.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

You Can’t Advertise With Us — You’re ‘Christian’

Mere mention of bookstore’s name flagged as too ‘offensive, sensitive’

A bookstore in Kittanning, Pa., was told its advertisement in a local restaurant’s holiday menu was rejected by the ad publisher, simply because the store had the word “Christian” in its name.

Reverend Don Toy, owner of the Christian Book and Gift Shop, told The Kittanning Paper that a salesman entered his store and sold him a business-sized, $135 advertisement to run in a special Christmas menu at Garda’s Restaurant in nearby Ford City.

But, Toy said, the salesman returned a few hours later and told him, ““We have a problem. I contacted headquarters. Our company has rejected your ad. They told me I have to return your check. We don’t take religious advertising. They are exercising the clause in the contract you signed [stating] their right to cancel with you.’“


When Toy asked how his ad violated the clause, the salesman explained it was rejected because of its name.

“It has the word ‘Christian’ in it,” the salesman reportedly said, and it might be considered “offensive” to non-Christians.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Daniel Pipes: Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules

From a novel by Salman Rushdie published in 1989 to an American civil protest called “Everyone Draw Muhammad Day” in 2010, a familiar pattern has evolved. It begins when Westerners say or do something critical of Islam. Islamists respond with name-calling and outrage, demands for retraction, threats of lawsuits and violence, and actual violence. In turn, Westerners hem and haw, prevaricate, and finally fold. Along the way, each controversy prompts a debate focusing on the issue of free speech.

I shall argue two points about this sequence. First, that the right of Westerners to discuss, criticize, and even ridicule Islam and Muslims has eroded over the years. Second, that free speech is a minor part of the problem; at stake is something much deeper — indeed, a defining question of our time: will Westerners maintain their own historic civilization in the face of assault by Islamists, or will they cede to Islamic culture and law and submit to a form of second-class citizenship?

The cover of the book that prompted the Rushdie Rules.

The era of Islamist uproar began abruptly on February 14, 1989, when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader, watched on television as Pakistanis responded with violence to a new novel by Salman Rushdie, the famous writer of South Asian Muslim origins. His book’s very title, The Satanic Verses, refers to the Koran and poses a direct challenge to Islamic sensibilities; its contents further exacerbate the problem. Outraged by what he considered Rushdie’s blasphemous portrait of Islam, Khomeini issued an edict whose continued impact makes it worthy of quotation at length:…

           — Hat tip: AA[Return to headlines]