Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bloodbaths and Martyrdom

Ramadan has ended and Eid al-Fitr has taken its place. Both profoundly important religious holidays in Islamic countries around the world. Piously and with huge respect recognized by Muslims no matter where they live to renew their covenant with Islam. The holiest of holidays in the Muslim calendar.

A time when Muslims struggle with their consciences and recognize their obligations to their maker.

In tradition, evidently, when great matters of huge moment can be accomplished. And more latterly, presenting occasions after Friday-night prayer solemnities of flooding the streets with protests against tyranny in the Middle East and the Islamic Maghreb. During these holiest of days in the Muslim calendar, the faithful are enjoined to re-dedicate themselves to their faith.

These, of course, are the Ummah, the vast population of Muslims of moderate mien and demeanour, temperament and faith. Those for whom their religion is a source of inspiration, aspiration and solace. Those for whom Islam points the way toward which those of faith aspire to become more refined, better individuals, accepting of others as people embracing a religion of peace.

On the other hand, there is the opposite element, those whose activities make the world sit up and take notice for it is hardly possible not to notice their embrace of bloodbaths and martyrdom. The young and the restless Muslim men and often women who satisfy their boredom with the world they inhabit by claiming to be doing the work of God through wholesale slaughter of the infidels.

And, of course, the greater slaughter of those who claim to be Muslims, but are truly apostates because they do not value the Salafist, the Wahaabist brand of Islam out of whose crucible was born al-Qaeda. These violently jubilant and jubilantly violent jihadists celebrate Ramadan and Eid al-fitre in their own, inimitable way, by the use of suicide vests and turbans and burkas, to invade mosques and mount memorable atrocities.

Even as al-Qaeda-linked militias in Africa and the Middle East, in Europe and Asia plot their psychopathic deadly assaults, the Syrian Arab Republic under its President, Bashar al-Assad takes up deadly fire to launch its defensive-offensive by the regime's security forces against the enemies of the state, those rebels whom al-Assad identifies as "armed criminal gangs", "Islamic terrorists", do the bidding of the United States and of Israel.

Doing his part as a responsible leader of an Arab state to protect his population from the predators among them, the foreign elements, the Zionists. In doing so, nobly helping to make the world a better place for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

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Companions in Statehood

Well, how about that? The misunderstood underdogs of the world, wholly innocent of any charged wrongdoing but guilty as charged of wishing to be respected, independent, sovereign, as good citizens of the world, take lessons from one another.

The Palestinian Authority, once more reconciled with Hamas in Gaza - the former covertly encouraging its citizens to violate the peace with Israel, the latter fomenting violence overtly with the unmistakable message of intending to obliterate the State of Israel - will no longer make its usual strenuous efforts to reach an amicable agreement with the Oppressor.

Come September 20, it will approach the United Nations General Assembly - to consolidate its prior extremely successful lobbying efforts among its various members now prepared to recognize the PA as a genuine government and its territories and people as comprising the newest sovereign nation to be welcomed into the United Nations' nest of respectable and respected members.

As for territory-and-border agreements with its neighbour; mutual agreements on the right of 'refugee' Palestinians to return to the new Palestinian state; an agreement on the prickly heritage of Jerusalem - well, it will all be ironed out eventually, without completely discounting the potential and possibility of border assaults and fully-engaged warfare.

Mahmoud Abbas, with the authority vested in him by the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, has assured Sudan's Omar al-Bashir that the PA and Abbas personally are behind whatever he may decide to do, in oblique reference to North Sudan's 'problems' with the upstart and newly oil-rich South Sudan which has deprived North Sudan of its oil income.

Taking its cue from the Palestinians' successful-before-the-fact foray into state-declaration to the United Nations, Sudan, whose president, al-Bashir, is wanted for genocide on an international warrant, has submitted an official complaint to the UN Security Council, disclosing the devious wrong-doing of South Sudan in causing instability in the geography.

Southern Kordofan state is in a marked state of tension. Predictable and certainly anticipated when the United Nations delightedly declared and welcomed its newest member to be the legally voted-for-secession-and-independence, South Sudan. Which has defiantly claimed its geographic possession of its own oil production.

When the Security Council claims to be gravely concerned about the prospect of ongoing violence in the volatile border territory, and complain that their officials are being restrained (by North Sudan) from entering and observing the area, they have in mind the frail condition of South Sudan to defend itself from well-armed North Sudan.

But then, vicious, psychopathic predators are not known for the sensitivity of their audacious self-entitlements. And the UN has been adequately forewarned.

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Made In China

There was once a time when goods made in Japan or in China had the reputation, post WWII, of being inexpensive, but cheaply made, notorious for swift obsolescence. These were the first throwaways.

If you were looking for quality you looked to Switzerland, to Germany, to the United States, Czechoslovakia for quality goods. Japan and China eventually gained a reputation for producing cheap and reliable products, of decent and durable quality.

Under communism in Russia and China, art was notoriously produced by committee, whether it was the plastic arts, music, paintings architecture. Art, like any other kind of production was made by the people for the people and the result was impressively mediocre.

Until it was realized that special talent and unique creativity did not occur by committee. Which, unlike industrial or agricultural production required special appreciation of unique capability.

But because no one other than the entitled state elite was treated special and everyone was expected to contribute what they were capable of, and individual dedication and performance was never recognized nor adequately compensated since everyone's efforts, regardless of quality was similarly recompensed, the system failed, abysmally.

China and Russia both eventually adapted themselves to a form of capitalism that suited their cultural ideology, a more relaxed, less Soviet-style of communism. Which enabled them both to begin prospering.

And China in particular became a prosperous power-house of capitalist-socialist enterprise. Quality could be had, of workmanship and materials, but cheap production and short-cuts were what the world ordered of China.

And suddenly countries of the world began to realize they couldn't compete; their labour and material and energy costs were greater than China's, and their profit expectations were higher as well. China was prepared to sacrifice immediate profit for future gain.

The realization set in eventually that national governments were increasingly ordering from China items that could and should have been produced internally rather than imported. Say, for example, items that exemplified national iconic symbols.

Now comes the most absurd revelation of all. That a national monument to one of the social icons of America, the civil rights champion, Martin Luther King Jr., meant to sit in a place of honour in Washington, was produced by a Chinese artist well known for his work of sculpture reflecting the heroes of the Chinese Revolution.

The Chinese artist and sculptor Lei Yixin, was contracted to produce a Memorial to the great orator and pacifist and civil rights champion, and the finished product now stands proudly in Washington flanked by much earlier-produced (proudly American) monuments to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

The sculpture itself of Martin Luther King Jr. appearing like a blunt, sombre, unadorned piece of Soviet-era art. Doubtless Mr. King never had a dream that he would be celebrated by Americans flocking to see his image as produced by a Chinese artist as a national monument.

But perhaps, symbolically, it would have pleased him, as a symbol of transnational co-operation.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bitter Enmities

This is what an inhuman regime can produce; men and women who prey on one another, and who are capable of performing the most savage acts of brutality against one another. There are Libyans living in Tripoli who claim that in their wildest nightmares they could never have envisaged people living in the same country, worshipping the same god, brutishly violating one another as has occurred in his country of late.

But one savage-minded tyrant who had succeeded in placing himself in the peoples' minds beyond criticism because he was the final and highest arbiter of human values to be respected under his regime, was capable of successfully draining humanity of its compassion and respect for each other. The human values that civilized societies consider to be immutable were overturned and to prey on one another overtook the social covenant.

How else explain that young Libyan women were proud to have been recruited as trainees in their country's militia, as sharp-shooters. Their families encouraged them to become an integral part of the state apparatus, without seeming to realize the extreme vulnerability of their daughters' positions once entrenched in the military, at the command of the regime.

Moammar Gadhafi had an obvious penchant for surrounding himself with female 'amazons'. Hand-picking women for their stature and physiques, recruiting women to undergo training to ensure they were capable of performing the kinds of protective services that a head of state requires. Enjoying the public spectacle of surrounding himself, particularly in foreign trips as a celebrated head of state, by 30 to 40 such Amazonian guards.

When the tide of events that began in Benghazi overtook Moammar Gadhafi's regime which has finally ended his 42-year reign as tyrant of Libya and Lion of Africa occurred, all of the regime's forces were brought into play to protect Gadhafi and restrain the efforts of the rebels, abetted by NATO forces. And the female branch of Gadhafi's Popular Guards underwent a protocol they may never have suspected would become an integral part of their training.

"All the girls in the Popular Guards were raped. The men sexually assault the female recruits and then train them in weapons. We have had four women in here as patients, all trained as snipers like Nisreen", explained a child psychologist, Dr. Rabia Gajum, who works at the Tripoli hospital where rebel forces are holding 19-year-old Nisreen Mansour al Forgani under guard. For her own protection, they say.

As well as to prevent her from escaping. There are many among the rebels who might wish to kill the young woman. For the simple reason that she was the instrument used to murder many young rebel men. She has herself helpfully described to her questioners that she used her AK-47 rifle to shoot ten or eleven rebels held by the regime's forces.
"I killed the first one, then they would bring another one up to the room. He would see the body on the floor and look shocked. Then I would shoot him too. I did it from about a metre away. They told me that if I didn't kill the prisoners then they would kill me. I tried not to kill them.... I turned and shot without looking. But if I hesitated, one of the soldiers would flick off the safety catch of his own rifle and point it at me. I killed 10, perhaps 11, over three days. I don't know what they had done."
She did, finally escape. She had witnessed the point-blank murder of a young friend and colleague, one of the thousand women who were trained as female Popular Guards, who out of curiosity at the entrance of Saif al-Islam when they were stationed at the 77 Brigade headquarters, got too close to Gadhafi's heir. "Faten went to have a closer look, and Saif's bodyguard shot her in the head. She had simply got too close."

Nisreen finally did manage to escape from Gadhafi's loyalists. She jumped, she explained, from the second floor of a building that the rebels had eventually taken. And they took her, as well. How, now, will young Libyans, those who represent the rebel side, and those who represent the loyalist side, manage to accept one another and set aside their bitter enmities and their roles during the uprising?

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Convinced, Conflicted, Unconvinced

Muslims are truly conflicted. About themselves, about their faith, about their place in the world. The majority of Muslims want nothing more than to live in peace, to be able to worship as their traditions have inclined them to. They do not wish to bring undue notice to themselves or to their religion. They chafe under the notice given them as a result of the damning work of their violent counterparts in their shared religion.

The result of violent jihad wreaking havoc the world over, and growing with the incorporation of various fundamentalist Islamist groups into the al-Qaeda doctrine of lashing out at the 'enemy', creating martyrs among themselves in the greater interest of serving Islam and in serving Allah by spreading the word of the Koran, has encouraged the Muslim community living in Europe to bemoan its beleaguered state as a result of "Islamophobia".

The violent jihadists do not represent them. They are law-abiding, respectful people more than willing to live in harmony with their non-Muslim neighbours. Most do not seem to be able to get their minds around, much less acknowledge, that the violent jihadists are busy preying on other Muslims. Simply because Muslims do not engage in brutal and atrocious acts of violence against other Muslims.

The conflicting emotions result from disbelief and pride. On one hand, it is not possible for Muslims to engage in violent acts because that would negate the reality of Islam as exemplifying the search for universal peace. Therefore, it is not at all true that Muslims were behind and involved in the 9/11 attacks. It is entirely feasible that the United States itself, aided by the Israeli Mossad planned and executed those attacks for the purpose of blaming and slandering Islam.

On the other hand, the September 11, 2001 attacks on Western capitalism and power represented a victory for Islam, and is a matter of justifiable pride in the Muslim world. Evidently 17% of British Muslims acknowledge Arab involvement in 9/11. And British Muslims have marched under posters celebrating the success of the "Magnificent Nineteen", responsible for carrying out 9/11.

Impressively contradictory.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Independent Status

They're lining up steadily to recognize the new "Palestine", the bulk of the countries comprising the United Nations. In South America every country but Colombia now recognizes the Palestinian Authority's legitimacy in approaching the United Nations unilaterally for sovereign recognition. Mahmoud Abbas is determined to proceed, bypassing the need to forge an agreement for peace with Israel. He has the tacit support of three-quarters of the General Assembly.

This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who has just assured Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, of his personal support, and that of Fatah. This is the very same Omar Hassan al-Bashir whom the International Criminal Court has charged with genocide in Darfur. Yet, Abbas wrote to the Sudanese president that he could be assured that he and those whom he represents "have complete faith in the wisdom of President Omar Al-Bashir."

Those crimes against humanity of which Al-Bashir is convicted include "murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape." There are international arrest warrants that have been issued for his arrest. A rather nasty inconvenience that Al-Bashir's colleagues in the Arab League choose to ignore, welcoming him as an honoured colleague at their conferences. And to whom Abbas wrote of his "complete willingness to stand with Sudan in everything it wants and in the way it wants."

For, according to a top PA functionary South Sudan's secession, which is to say its successful recognition by the UN body as an independent, separate state is representative of a dastardly plot launched by the United States and Israel in advance of their own interests in the region. The director of the PA bureau, Tayeb al-Rahim explained that the United States and Israel intend to profit from South Sudan's oil resources.

South Sudan comprised of mostly Black Christian and Animist Africans who have long suffered at the hands of mostly Muslim northern Sudanese, and after a long and life-costly civil war finally have achieved their independence. South Sudan voted in an orderly manner for separation. North Sudan had no wish to lose part of their territory, much less a wish to lose that particular part of a territory they claimed that was rich in petroleum resources.

The Palestinian Authority is confident that their approach to the United Nations in September will result in more than a declaration of an independent state. The PA's growing confidence with its growing support in the UN may translate into an attempt to re-occupy what it still claims to belong to it, and that is the entire footprint the State of Israel sits upon. It would be ill-fated.

It is not possible to look into the future, but the potential is there for that independent Palestinian state to launch a combined attack on its neighbour, garnering the enthusiastic support of Hamas in Gaza, of Hezbollah in Lebanon. And Syria cannot yet be entirely ruled out.

Nor, for that matter, any other Arab state in the Middle East which has never been capable of accommodating the indignity to Islam of the presence of the Zionist Entity in their midst.

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Handing Over Libyan Citizens

There was NATO, dedicated to aiding Libyan rebels in their determination to overthrow the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi. There is Canada, proud of its ability to "punch above its weight" and making a difference, as it were, with the number of its flights and bombing missions, even though NATO's air war has far more numerous and better-equipped members doing their bit, like France and England.

Canadian airmen flew quite a number of missions to attack the regime's tanks and military installations in protection of the rebels advancing slowly but surely on the towns and cities of Libya. Canadian fighter pilots aimed laser-guided bombs to hit their targets explosively. And then the no-fly zone - code for aiding a foreign civil war - became a campaign to assist the rebel army to unseat Moammar Gadhafi.

A Canadian warship aided in the blockade around Libya. Canadian CF-18s trolled for self-propelled artillery guns and tanks. And if they came across rebels being hard-pressed by government troops they moved in to bomb the troops and give the rebels a leg up. After their initial sea-to-land cruise missile bombing of the Libyan government air defences, U.S. forces withdrew to the sidelines.

Libya now has a new government, with the fall of the Gadhafi regime, and its principals' flight to Algeria. The National Transitional Council is asserting itself as the new, internationally-acknowledged government of Libya. Enquiries were being made of it with respect to a rather delicate topic: the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing who had served 8 years of a life sentence in Scotland, then was released on compassionate grounds and returned to Libya in 2009.

He had been tasked by Moammar Gadhafi to strike a blow at the West, and he had succeeded very well indeed. No one with the exception of Abdel Basset al-Megrahi had ever been revealed to have been involved in that terrorist atrocity. Gadhafi had surrendered al-Megrahi to Western justice after reaching an accord with the West, giving up his nuclear ambitions, declaring himself prepared to become an ally in the battle against 'terrorism'.

There's an absurdity, yet the Western governments fell all over themselves in praise of Gadhafi having found the road to Damascus at last. And therein lies another little irony. When al-Megrahi was released by Scotland which declared he had only three months left to live as a result of a rampant, deadly prostate cancer (and a covert deal BP made with Gadhafi) he was hailed countrywide as a returning hero.

Most of the 259 victims of Pan Am Flight 103 were American citizens. The prevailing fact is that this act of terrorism was, and still is seen as a victory for Libya over the West. And Abdel Basset al-Megrahi celebrated as a patriot, a Libyan hero. And the National Transitional Government has made it abundantly clear that they have no intention whatever of returning the man to Scotland. For Libyans do not surrender Libyans to the West.

Nor does Scotland have any intention itself of requesting his return. Never was it resolved who had joined al-Mehrahi in that atrocity, nor who authorized it, although the assumption is well entrenched that it was Gadhafi, needless to say. Al-Mehrahi was a loyal Libyan and will take his secrets with him in death. Libya celebrates him as a martyr.

What is the West celebrating Libya for? What has NATO, in fact, achieved in liberating Libya from Gadhafi and helping to ensconce another regime it knows nothing about? Libyan rebels were happy to use NATO. And, having done so, and having achieved their victory, not on their own, as they originally boasted they would, but with the considerable assistance of Western auspices, the contempt that Libyans have for the West appears to be seeping into view once again.

"Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again. We do not hand over Libyan citizens. Gadhafi does." Thus advised Mohammed al-Alagi, a minister in the new National Transitional Council.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Advantaging The Revolution

Now that the heavy lifting by NATO forces has been concluded, and the spectacle of rebel forces in Libya vying with the regime's military forces for exacting carnage on one another, perhaps it is time for NATO to sit back and seriously evaluate the relevance of its decision-making. Apart from the need seen to aid and protect the rebel factions of one country and not another in very similar circumstances.

There is the need to contemplate the reasons why one tyrannical dictator is considered to be more abhorrent than another. In the case of Libya and Syria, both regimes sponsored and encouraged terrorism. Both regimes manipulated and oppressed their people. Both regimes were grievous human-rights abusers. Both regimes posed as a potential danger to the international community.

Both regimes cultivated deliberate alliances with other like-minded, societally-destructive regimes. Both had attempted to build nuclear installations that would result in their ownership of nuclear weaponry. Both had a clearly disruptive effect within the world community. And both had launched surreptitious attacks on international targets. Both championed violent military action against a neighbour.

But it was rebels in Libya exclusively, not in Syria, that NATO chose to become involved with. With the blessing of the United Nations. In both Syria and Libya, as elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, Islamist and Salafist jihadist groups were both allied with the government and attempted to overturn it to install a fully Sharia-based national infrastructure.

With the upheavals completed or at a standstill in each country, as has occurred in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, with more minor protests occurring in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, and lurking in the background of each of those countries, Islamists awaiting their opportunity to reveal their agendas, like that of the Muslim Brotherhood. The area remains a tinder-box of political activity.

Western countries should ask themselves what, precisely, they are doing. The fact is those Western countries are held there, in contempt. There has been ample time for reflection with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the background, and the illustrative effects of sectarian violence, tribal belligerence, and Islamist surges to inform that these are events that must be faced and solved by the countries involved themselves.

In Libya, the United States, France, Britain and Canada have played a major role within NATO, while other NATO members have held back, contributing little-to-nothing to the original pledge to ensure that slaughter did not ensue with the well-armed Libyan armed forces (who, just incidentally, procured their military hardware from the obliging West) mercilessly putting down the insurrection.

The result has been the U.S. withdrawing from its front-and-center-role after dispatching the original rocketry, leaving the airspace defense of Libya to France, Britain and Canada primarily. A leader who was once wined and dined, despite his defiantly anti-Western and pro-terror agenda, was now being hounded by the very same countries that had given him respect as his due.

And now that the regime of Moammar Gadhafi is finally well routed, the spectacle of the rebels torching, looting, murdering in the very same manner as government troops, is most instructive indeed. While waiting in the wings for their opportunity to bring themselves forward is possibly a contingent of al-Qaeda-associated groups prepared to mount their bid to form the next government.

Which is a problem in the Middle East and North Africa with majority-Muslim populations led by fundamentalist Islamists, is it not? It is the old question of making do with the devil you know, rather than inviting a devil far more devious and destructive to make his entrance.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Sin Of The West Expunged

"More attacks are on the way, and by the will of Allah we will have unfettered access to wherever we want to attack. We have more than 100 men who are willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Allah."
How many times do humanitarians have to be viciously and violently attacked before they understand the message that among those whom they are dedicated to helping lurk those whose hatred for their efforts are unassuagable? Or assuagable by means of destruction of their very lives.

Incessant attacks by growing numbers of jihadist militias against humanitarian groups seeking to improve the lives of people living in combat zones, in drought areas continue to grow. In Somalia, the Islamist al-Shabaab would not permit humanitarian groups to operate; in Sudan the Islamist government that created a humanitarian disaster in Darfur threw out humanitarian aid workers.

Far better that people die of starvation and treatable diseases than have their lives improved through the dedication of foreign aid workers. Those who portray themselves as servants of God, as the true inheritors of God's good work have no compassion for those upon whom they prey, believing them to be little better than infidels in the modesty of their Islamic values.

Local Nigerian Islamists like Islamist militias everywhere are becoming increasingly infused with the deadly al-Qaedra doctrine. The United Nation's humanitarian and development agencies, staffed by people from all over the world, and dedicated to alleviating dreadful living conditions in countries of Africa are increasingly under attack by jihadist groups.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is making itself the primary agent of disparate jihadist groups, encouraging them toward increasingly despicable assaults on those dedicating themselves to the cause of humanity and world peace. In the attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja, two suicide bombers successfully annihilated the lives of 18 people, injuring countless others.

In the diplomatic area of the capital city considered to be a relatively safe and protected zone, an enormous blast tore a gaping hole in the four-storey building housing 400 UN workers, associated with 26 UN development agencies.

The message should by now be abundantly clear: Allah will not permit his faithful to have any truck with foreign invaders who seek to impose their values on an Islamic society.

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Violent Jihad

Without repeating ad infinitum that violent and vicious Islamists are not totally representative of those who worship Islam, the prevailing facts on the ground are that Islamists express many of Islam's inherent values, interpreting them to validate their attacks on non-Muslims as perfectly justifiable. And they do so, moreover, with the generally silent support of far too many other Muslims who believe that the lash-back from the international community against violent jihad is unfair to Islam.

The truly eerie thing about all of this is that it is Muslims themselves around the world, who are primarily targeted by jihadists. Muslims who practise a more tolerant version of Islam, who are obviously less at odds with the non-Muslim world and who accommodate themselves to those differences, and yet who cannot seem to bring themselves to believe that fellow Muslims mean them harm. Even when the evidence is close up and personal, they deny that Muslims could commit such heinous crimes against other Muslims.

And they continue to support the belief that violent jihad is a response to the phenomenon which they have named "Islamophobia". And this is the way that the cycle is recognized, that non-Muslims express a distrust and hatred of Islam for no reason whatever other than that they seek to degrade Islam and so so at every opportunity. The need to more closely examine the response to violence as a self-protective device, is shunted aside.

And it is not just 'moderate' Muslims in their huge numbers who are so likely to overlook the malevolent and deadly attacks that take place in an increasing number of countries both against them and non-Muslims. It is also the countries of the world which are attacked whose populations steadfastly also refuse to subscribe to the alienating idea that a religious group might wish them serious harm.

Those enlightened thinkers, the guilt-laden of former colonialist countries find reason why jihadists lash out at their perceived enemies. Choosing to believe that they have been pushed by events outside their control, by their poverty, by their lack of opportunities, of education, to struggle against their tormentors.

Overlooking the inconveniently-revealed reality that fierce Islamism was born and continues to be manifested and spread by the educated, and the wealthy looking for a cause. And finding it in the allure of violent jihad.

Jihadists cite the Koran permitting deceit as a useful device when it will service the purpose of jihad, and they practise what they preach. While inciting to violence against the West, they purport to pose as enlightened themselves, concerned with the struggle against terrorism. They inveigle themselves into the receiving non-Muslim society as scholars, interpreters, advisers, clerics, gaining the respect of those whom they deceive.

And while attacks are ongoing against Muslims who have no interest in practising a Salafist-style of Islam, and who reject the advances of the jihadist militias insistent on imposing Sharia law, stealth invasions of political office, academia, union posts, and any other useful positions of potential influence take place in Western, democratic countries, to gain the trust of those permitting themselves to be deceived.

A slow, but steady and exceedingly patient, cleverly-devised exercise in helping to erode Western democratic values, systems of law, societal standards and mores takes place, with those in the West assisting the Islamists in their efforts feeling proud of extending these entitlements in a generosity of spirit extended to equalize opportunities for immigrants, while diminishing those of the indigenous populations.

This twofold approach, of attacking both the Muslim aggregate who do not adequately adhere to fundamentalist Islam, and of subverting democratic ideals to more closely resemble Sharia-led Islam creates a creeping, inevitable alteration of cultural values, universal laws of protection of human rights, toward the eventual, hoped-for completion of a plan to create a global Caliphate.

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African Unity

Africa never fails to demonstrate time and again how troubled a continent it is. Justifying the by-now low expectations of the world community that African states will ever become fully self-reliant, responsibly governing, human-rights-observing, forward-looking communities. They are bloated with self-serving bureaucracies that espouse a mealy-mouthed equality, while holding out their sweaty palms to be greased by ever-greater hand-outs from international humanitarian sources.

Their populations have become heavily reliant on the ongoing goodwill and guilt of foreign countries outside their continent to provide fundamental essentials like health care, adequate food, educational opportunities, and small loans for individual start-up businesses to aid families to cope with the cost of life. Intra-country warfare, and civil wars pop up with regularity as tribal and clan conflicts erupt with bitterness and ferocity.

When drought situations occur, exacerbated by civil wars, creating populations fleeing violence and hunger it is the international community and humanitarian NGOs that fund a life-line for the refugees. Somehow, the African Union cannot seem to take its obligation to itself quite seriously enough.

African values have echoed too long to the primitive imperatives of taking care of No.1 above all; they balk at the prospect of being their brother's keeper.

Faced with the presence among them of a tyrant intent on enriching himself and his cronies at the expense of the livelihoods and health of millions of his people, through policies that ruined the country's agriculture and economy, they shuffle their collective feet, and do nothing. For no one wishes to invite a spotlight of enquiry to focus on their own pathetic activities.

The United Nations World Food Programme issues a dramatic warning of mass malnutrition, starvation and death in the Horn of Africa, pleading for funds from the international community. And that community responds, at the governmental level and at the private charitable level. The African Union calls a summit finally to raise funds to tackle the famine in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.

Of the African leadership of the African Union's 54 members, a mere four heads of state show up to the summit: Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Equatorial Guinea. Those whose countries are facing starvation turn up to the conference, all other African leaders are too busy elsewhere. "Just 21 countries made pledges out of 54 and, of the $46-million, $20-million came from three states - Algeria, Angola, and Egypt."

Nigeria and South Africa, the two wealthiest nations on the continent pledged $2-million and $20-million respectively. An 11-year-old boy from Accra, Ghana, on his own raised $4,000 on donations from friends, family and sponsors, his contribution larger than that of Lesotho's at $2,500. The former president of Ghana, current AU representative for Somalia had "expected better" of the African Union response.

Meanwhile, the U.S. pledged $574,987,214, the U.K. $187,997,248, Japan $95,786,480, Australia $82,219,415, Canada $80,307,245, China $68,734,845, Sweden $58,744,337, Saudi Arabia $50,744,137, Germany $42,825,234, France $40,530,428.

As opposed to the 54 countries of the African Union's grand total of $46,000,000.

But there is no shame, because Africa is entitled to the world's guilt and charity.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

State Assets

Rebel fighter poses for a photo as he sit on a two seater couch that framed by golden mermaid with the face of Aisha Gadhafi the daughter of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in her house in Tripoli, Libya, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed Wednesday to fight on "until victory or martyrdom," as rebel fighters tried to end scattered attacks by regime loyalists in the nervous capital. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)Sergey Ponomarev - Rebel fighter poses for a photo as he sit on a two seater couch that framed by golden mermaid with the face of Aisha Gadhafi the daughter of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in her house

As the rebels take charge of Libya, and in particular, at the present time, Tripoli, having, with the considerable assistance of NATO bombing missions, routed their long-reigning tyrant, they are amply demonstrating the kind of civility that Libya is mired in as a society. There are concerns expressed that rebels will reciprocate in kind the barbaric brutalities that regime loyalists have to date demonstrated.

And there is the very public airing of Libyan rebels looting from the lavish and grand, now-abandoned homes of the elite loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, and more specifically, Gadhafi's own palaces, and the stately homes of his family members. Expensively appointed homes are proving irresistible to the rebel forces who feel it is their right to take home 'souvenirs' of their conquest.

The seized assets, some of which are quite valuable indeed, should of course, remain with the state. In fact, the rebels enjoy stating that "the money of the Libyan people is now going to the Libyan people", and those making those pious statements are busy making off with goods and appliances and arms that will enrich them personally.

As they enter the homes of the wealthy ruling family they are astonished at the extent of the grandeur and the lavish items that enhanced the lives of those family members. Including costly European sport vehicles, alcohol, clothing, electronics and ornaments. Some claim they are liberating items to ensure that they don't fall into the hands of looters.

Others are more specific about what they collect, looking for one-of-a-kind items, because they are "businessmen". The caches of weaponry that are being revealed and made off with become a worrying concern. Shopping carts stuffed with desirable items are being wheeled and carried off to be considered rewards for choosing the right side.

"They are only stealing and looting Bab Aziziya, not banks or even government institutions", said one rebel supporter, holding aloft a newly-acquired assault rifle. "We took things because, for 42 years, he took everything from us." That must make it all right, then. Just so it is understood that what they are engaging in is actually "stealing and looting".

Obviously these are the circumstances in which "stealing and looting" become something other than what they are. All hail a new society, released from inconvenient restraints.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Urgent: Restore Security

The boast of the Libyan rebels that they would welcome NATO airstrikes on Moammar Gadhafi's troops battling their inexorable advances toward removing their tyrant from office, came with a partnering thrust that they would not accept foreign troops on the ground. They were determined to oust their tyrant on their own, and needed no foreign intervention beyond covering them from the air.

That was in the early, headily intoxicating days of the revolution to unseat the King of Africa, when the ragtag rebel militias made common cause with one another, and marched ill-equipped but certain of the success of their mission. It didn't take all that long before the militias got bogged down with problems inherent in facing off against a well-armed and -trained professional army.

And, despite the considerable assist from NATO bombing missions to destroy the regime's military assets: tanks, artillery and aircraft, the advance was agonizingly slow. And the retreats were most certainly sobering and no little bit humiliating. But the bombastic boasts, as is typical of such tribal societies, kept coming fast and furious from both sides.

No one in the West, nor did the rebel army and its commanders, anticipate that Moammar Gadhafi and his loyalists would hang on as tenaciously as they have. NATO members were becoming impatient with the rebels, and the rebels were defiantly critical of NATO strike crews, particularly when they were themselves inadvertently struck through mistaken identity.

The decision of NATO, against its better instincts, to throw in its lot with the rebels, despite concerns about the make-up of the rebels; the hints and rumours that among them were al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamist groups, was initially heralded as a right and just decision, backed by the UN. There have been second, and third thoughts. Not, however, by NATO brass.

And now, as it seems the rebel army has finally routed Gadhafi and his sons and his supporters from Tripoli - with the considerable assistance of NATO bombers - British special forces, wearing Arab civilian garb, have been dispatched to assist in wiping up the remains of the loyalists, and discovering the whereabouts of the country's leader who continues to taunt his pursuers.

The rebels are triumphant, filling the air with shouts and celebratory ammunition fired at random. What remains is a mop-up operation. What remains is the need for NATO to collect weapons it distributed to the rebels. Good luck with that one; demobilization is a wonderful idea, but extracting those weapons from the rebels will not be easily accomplished.

Even if some of the weapons are handed back, there is no accounting for the plenitude of weapons seized from the regime's raided depots that ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda groups. NATO is still coordinating air strikes on key military targets, while the British SAS have been ordered to hunt down Col. Gadhafi. Foreign troops with their boots on the ground? Yes indeed.

This would be the very same British PM, now ordering his troops to discover Gadhafi's whereabouts, who had given his consent/order to Scottish authorities to effect the return to Libya of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, because a BP/Libya oil contract was so irresistibly appealing and enriching to Britain.

Al-Megrahi has joined his benefactor in escaping the potential of recapture and penalty.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hope Springs Internal

There are altogether so many failed states in the world in which we live, that take our attention and impress upon us the need to do what we can to assist in whatever way we can. We embrace this collective attitude because in the Western democracies we like to think of ourselves as privileged - as indeed we are - and responsible to a larger world vision. We are enlightened and we have compassion for those who live elsewhere in the world, and whose opportunities in life simply do not exist.

We believe ourselves to be our brothers' keeper. And our sisters. And all their progeny. We are assailed by guilt, that we live well, and they do not. We are continually being bombarded by the advertisements of aid agencies exhorting us to be generous and become regular donors to all their humanitarian aid projects. It is our responsibility to help those who can nor or will not help themselves.

Living in developing countries whose governors are self-interested, and act as tyrants, violating their own peoples' human rights. Living in countries where tribal and clan-originated traditional antipathies ensure that unrest continues unabated. Living in countries where medical treatment is erratic at best, absent in the worst-case scenarios. Living where tropical diseases run rampant through the population.

International aid is a given as the advanced countries of the world are exhorted by the United Nations, by NGO humanitarian aid groups to advance the cause of improving life for the world's vast unfortunates by donating funds both through government auspices and private subscription. Humanitarian assistance is doled out and small advances are made with health clinics, education, small bank loans.

Slowly and steadily the world's billions who eke out their existence with subsistence farming, living in the edge of malnutrition, and whose children succumb to dread, easily treatable diseases with methods and medications unavailable to them unassisted, gradually improve. What does not improve is their condition relative to their governing bodies, the upper echelon of their society which has grown accustomed to siphoning off foreign aid to line their own pockets.

Because people naturally have compassion they are charitable and given to helping aid organizations. Those same aid organizations have become international corporations of power and repute whose focus is on the extraction of funding from sources that can be impelled to give, toward their own growing aid-corporate interests and the servicing of a clientele that has grown accustomed to aid.

In Africa, failed states whose maniacal, egotistical rulers milk the international community while failing to lift their people out of poverty, and where other states have completely lost control of government structure and all that is left is tribal, religious, ideological and criminal warfare, victimizing the most vulnerable, the women and the children; abducted, raped and mutilated.

We are exhorted to our duty to fund the aid agencies to lift the afflicted out of their miserable condition of squalid living conditions and starvation. We are told that if countries like Somalia where lawlessness and violent Islamism has run amok, are allowed to continue to fester, they will become a terror-producing cancer that will consume the free world. To save ourselves we must save Somalia.

And Sudan, and Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe and so many other malfunctioning, malevolently-ruled countries. We must urge our governments to make those countries' futures our business, a foreign aid priority. While they, like the non-oil-profiting states in the Middle East are dependent on foreign aid, while deploring and detesting the hated democratic countries that prop them up, produce nothing of value for their populations.

When will it become time for these failed states intent on continuing to manipulate and to violate their own populations' human rights to be expected to be responsible to and for themselves? When will they be informed, unequivocally that if, like North Korea, the government continues to invest in nuclear arms and space projects their international aid will be cut off.

Why does it make sense for them to be willing to sacrifice their indigent populations to the oblivion of early and desperate deaths, but we must not be so cruel as to allow them to do this? Why is it that the United Nations eschews the whip and the cudgel, but gently chides these brutal regimes, while urging the democracies to maintain an open, understanding line of credit?

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Partners in Peace and Security

Certain signs that a) there is a misunderstanding within Arab countries about what diplomatic relations means, and b) any peace treaties signed with a non-Arab country with majority Jews in residence is not worth the diplomatic ink that went into the process. Savage, exclusionary tribalism lives on ecstatically in the minds of a cultural tradition that denies equality with other ethnicities and faiths.

‘Zionist Envoy, Leave Egypt or Die,” Demonstrators Demand

by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ‘Zionist Envoy, Leave Egypt or Die’

The Muslim Brotherhood has threatend to kill Israel's ambassador to Cairo if he does not leave the country. The radical Muslim group has been leading daily protests at the Israeli embassy in Cairo, demanding the expulsion of the envoy and a break in relations between Egypt and Israel.

Hundreds of demonstrators surrounded the embassy Monday as armored military and police officers prevented them from repeating Saturday night’s incident when rioters broke down the gate. One firebomb smashed through a front window of the embassy’s office.

One anti-Zionist, now referred to as ”Spiderman,” became an instant hero throughout Egypt by scaling the multi-story wall and replacing the Israeli flag with one of Egypt. The Israeli flag was burned.

“Revolution,” cried out Muslim Brotherhood activists. “Revolution is stronger than the Zionist attackers. The entire Egyptian people are Hamas.”

One hostile placard threatened that the ambassador must “get out [of Egypt] or die here.”

The demonstrators also proclaimed, “Oh Zionist traitor, blood and fire are between you and us.“ They charged that “Zionists mock us with calls for peace, and their principles offend Muslim.”

The refusal to use the word “Israel” is similar to the policy of Iran, Hamas and other Muslim terrorist organizations.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 24 August 2011

The New And Improved Egypt

Lest there be any doubts in the minds of the naive about the direction the new and improved Egypt is taking ...

Islamist Cleric: Meet an Israeli? Kill Him

by Gil Ronen Egyptian Fatwa: Kill Israelis

A senior cleric in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has declared that ordinary Egyptians are obligated to kill 'Zionists' whom they encounter. According to Arutz Sheva Arab affairs expert Dalit Halevy, the pronouncement is part of a general wave of incitement that directly endangers Israelis who are currently in Egypt.

This follows Muslim Brotherhood calls to end the peace treaty with Egypt and threats to kill Israel's ambassador if he does not leave the country. Although there are many benefits for Egypt if it continues its relations with Israel, not the least of which is continued American aid, that is not always what counts in the MIddle East where hatred is often stronger than logic.

Dr. Salah Sultan, a lecturer on Islamic law in Cairo University and head of the Al Quds Committee in the World Federation of Islamic Scholars, declared Friday that an Egyptian citizen who encounters a "Zionist" should kill him. This should be done because Israel "killed" the Camp David Accord, he explained. Sultan said that Israel provokes Egypt by pointing its jet fighters at Egyptian soldiers.

Sultan spoke at a protest outside Israel's Cairo embassy, before about 200 members of the Freedom and Justice Party (a front for the Islamic Brotherhood), the Islamic Brotherhood movement, and other extreme groups.

In an April interview Sultan said that "the liberation of Palestine will come from Tahrir Square."

When the Crusaders invaded Jerusalem, the liberation began from Egypt, he said. Similarly, when Mongols reached Syria in the 13th century CE, Egyptians were the ones who organized and blocked them. "The next campaign [against Israel] will be launched from Egypt," he said.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 24 August 2011

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From Criminal to Civil Suit

Justice Michael Obus has ruled. There will be no trial for Dominique Strauss-Kahn to face of sexual assault. Case dismissed. Free to leave. Constraints and restraints released. Back to France it is. And a still-bright future for the brilliant politician-economist. He may no longer be chief of the International Monetary Fund, but he's been there, done that. He's never been French president, however, so there's that milestone to be tucked into.

And it does appear that he will return home to France in triumph. The French are, after all, cosmopolitan, casual about casual flings. Relations between the sexes, and spontaneous spurts of sexual energy are rewarded and celebrated in France, not condemned. The French are not straitlaced, they are unbound, culturally free from prejudices against sex freely offered, freely given.

Except, of course, for the disgruntled French women for whom Strauss-Kahn's advances were nasty experiences. Who describe him as a grubby, grabby-handed menace to women.

But the charges of rape brought by the Manhattan hotel maid, dismissed. Nafissatou Diallo's lawyer is truly incensed at the insult of justice denied his client. "The Manhattan district attorney, Cyris Vance, has denied the right of a woman to get justice in a rape case. He has not only turned his back on this victim, but he has also turned his back on the forensic, medical and other physical evidence in this case."

Alas, the forensic, medical and other evidence in the case doesn't trump other evidence that outlines Ms. Diallo's propensity to embroider reality to suit her purposes. Her entry to the U.S. as a refugee was enabled by her story of gang rape, which evidently never did occur. And the forensic, medical and other evidence to which her lawyer referred might readily be construed otherwise.

As, for example, the results of a consensual sexual tryst; brief and opportune. Opportune for Ms. Diallo whose conversation with an incarcerated boyfriend laid out her plans for a potential windfall, because of her having asserted "words to the effect [that] this guy has a lot of money. I know what I am doing."

Hence a separate civil suit, which is still on, despite the dismissal of a criminal suit.

Perhaps. Someone is lying. Or perhaps simply embellishing the truth to suit their public persona. Neither is an innocent babe in the woods. One is morally blemished, the other both morally and criminally so, but the devil's keeping the details close to his vest.
"The nature and number of the complainant's falsehoods leave us unable to credit her version of events beyond a reasonable doubt, whatever the truth may be about the encounter between the complainant and the defendant. If we do not believe her beyond a reasonable doubt, we cannot ask a jury to do so."
Completely reasonable.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Justice, Iran Style

Iran continues to go out of its way to prove to the world at large how independent it is from universal values of human regard and decency. The Islamic Republic continues to be eager to represent itself as a persistently bad-tempered, human-rights-abusing state, entitled to treat people as nuisance objects to be disposed of as the state sees fit.

Those who have purportedly been claimed to have entered the country in an unauthorized manner are instantly charged with crimes against the country. As has been done with three Americans, young people with a sense of adventure and curiosity, along with an unfortunate lack of common sense, who ventured inadvertently over the border into Iran from Iraq.

The lack of rational judgement of three young adventurers, who felt free to wander as hikers and tourists through a country undergoing a widespread and violent change from life under a vicious tyrant which left sectarian violence in its wake, is more than evident. These three young people felt themselves immune to harm, and capable of looking after their interests, obviously.

It likely never occurred to them how vulnerable they were, to travel about either in Iraq or Iran. Perhaps the presence of foreign troops, their own country's military presence, gave them a sense of entitlement and presumed safety. The revolutionary court of Iran, however, chose to emphasize its belief in their presence in Iran as intent to spy, to do harm to the country.

One of their members, Sarah Shourd, was released last year on humanitarian grounds. No such grounds can be found for her companions, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, whose incarceration in the dread Evin prison in Tehran has lasted for 751 days. And whom an Iranian court, ignoring the pleas on behalf of the two young men emanating from international sources, has found them 'guilty' as charged.

Charged with espionage and illegal entry, the two men have been sentenced to eight years in continued confinement in Evin prison. No evidence was ever presented to 'prove' the state's 'case' against the two accidental intruders. Nor has their lawyer been permitted to see them.

This is justice, Iran-style.

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Scarcity Calling The Shots

Those things that do not present in abundance but which hold great attraction are valued to a greater degree because of their rarity. Diamonds - which are crystalline carbon, where atoms have bonded tightly to produce under great pressure over time a hard substance that refracts light and when expertly cut reveals great beauty - represent a rare substance held in costly high esteem.

Females, in China, as a result of one-child policies of the state, and the aborting of female foetuses, and infanticide of girl babies, are like diamonds; rare and precious when they come of nubile age. Young Chinese men who, because of the lop-sided imbalance resulting from Communist China's interference with human biology through its legalized, institutionalized one-child policy, are over-represented in the population.

The relative paucity of young, marriageable Chinese women has created a situation where those young Chinese women are able to pick and choose among their anxious suitors. And anxious parents of those anxious suitors do their best to try to make their eligible young sons attractive as marriage prospects to young women who know their value and plan to make the most of it.

Their favour doesn't come cheaply. Young, marriageable Chinese women now have aspirations to wealth. And there is wealth now within Chinese society as a result of the blend of capitalism and Communism which has resulted in a large and growing upper middle class. Parents who have the wherewithal buy houses for their sons to attract a wife.

If a marriageable young man is to be considered truly eligible to draw the approving attention of a young woman he will have a good salary, own a home and a car. Which leaves quite a large demographic of hopeful males without the attraction of ownership of a home and a car, and with a salary in the doldrums of disinterest, without the prospect of a mate-for-life.

Moreover, the divorce rate in China has grown exponentially; in the major cities a third of all marriages end in divorce. These are cultural changes; young women looking for rich husbands, and a soaring divorce rate - that has raised alarm in official circles. The family has always been a fundamental unit of stability within Chinese tradition.

The growing materialism manifested by young women aspiring to live richly-endowed lives that will buy them whatever they want has resulted in love placing a distant second to wealth. A marriage without a house in the background is characterized in the vernacular as a "naked marriage", with dim prospects for the future.

In a country where the average salary is $10,000 annually, China's property rates in Shanghai have risen to $7,000 per square metre. "Most pretty girls now try to trade on their beauty. It is an unhealthy trend and the government is now trying to restrict it." (Beijing-based consultant)

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Direct Line

Nature must be delivering a rather dreadful message to us. She is not enthralled, perhaps, with the kind of popular music to which people tend to throng, outside of theatres and concert halls which tend for the most part to indulge in the kind of music we acclaim as classical. It is the outdoor theatres with their massive knock-down stages that enthuse the young who vibrate to the music of their times that the atmosphere appears to be taking exception to.

In the process, causing inadvertent deaths among concert-attendees who thought they were turning out in their droves for entertainment, and the time of their lives, little understanding that some of them would, in the process, be giving up their lives. And while it's true that weather events across the world have become unpredictably and extremely violent, who might anticipate such a series of innocent events would turn so horribly deadly?

The first such event occurred in Canada, at the site of Ottawa's annual, successful Bluesfest on July 17th, when a sudden storm chugging down the Ottawa River overtook events as the sky turned darker by the second and a monstrous wind blew down the main stage while a band named Cheap Trick was concluding their performance.

Three people suffered the misfortune of injury as the crowd of thousands made their mildly panicked, but orderly progression to safety, to wait out the storm's conclusion. The manufacturer of the rented stage admitted to having had a previous stage collapse, even though the design of the stage was said to have been guaranteed to be able to withstand high winds.

In the United States a week ago, at the Indiana State Fair, a heavy wind gust had the similar effect of bringing down the stage rigging for a Sugarland country music concert. On that occasion, five people were killed, and another 45 people were injured. The deaths and injuries far surpassed the fearsome outcome of the Ottawa Bluesfest's catastrophe; in Indiana carnage ensued.

And just a few days ago a horrendously violent windstorm complete with hail destroyed what was to have been an outdoor rock music festival in northern Belgium. There, three people were killed outright as two stages collapsed, one of which fell on the concert-goers. Forty other people were injured, eleven of them seriously.

In each of these events there were tens of thousands of people who had come out to annual outdoor concerts. In each of these events people explained:
"The sky suddenly turned pitch black and we took shelter waiting for the rain. Then suddenly, there was a downpour. The wind blew violently. There were hailstones bigger than a centimetre falling. Trees toppled over. It was unbelievable, the end of the world."
And then, there is this other event, in Spain, billed as World Youth Day, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered from across the world to converge on Madrid, to greet Pope Benedict XVI. He was to have led a prayer vigil on an immense esplanade just outside the city. The esplanade the size of 48 football fields. People gathered there were assailed by extreme heat.

"Water, Water, Water!" pilgrims shouted as firemen sprayed the tiny field hospital tending to people who had suffered dizziness, fainting and heatstroke as a result of the torrid temperature. When the pope ascended the stage to speak to the faithful, the heavens parted to unleash a storm of hugely torrential proportions. There was wind too that lashed the area.

When the rain finally ended, the Pope exclaimed: "Thank you for your joy and endurance. Your strength is greater than the rain. The Lord with the rain has given us many blessings. In this, too, you are an example. The crowd chanted "Long live the Pope", while a 200-member choir and orchestra played the event's special anthem.

Nature moves in mysterious ways.Walking Faithful

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Anniversary Events

Adversarial events, in fact. Almost a century will have gone by, but memories are long, very long, in places like Afghanistan. This is a country where the 13th Century lives alongside the 20th Century; its inhabitants may never access the 21st Century. But they do have long, very long memories.

In 1919, the country became independent from its colonial overseer, Great Britain. The day of independence following a series of wars, has long been seen as a national holiday. The Taliban in particular loathe the presence of British military in Afghanistan: "Now the British have invaded our country again and they will recognize our independence day again."

There was a well planned and executed Taliban attack on the British Council, located in Kabul on Friday. The British Council, in operation since 1934 - with its focus to promote cultural connections with other countries also teaches English in Afghanistan. There had been no threats issued beforehand, the attack was sudden and unexpected.

At dawn Taliban attacked, bombing the facility, killing a New Zealand Special Air Service soldier and ten Afghan guards, policemen and people passing by. There were five attackers dressed in suicide vests, carrying assault rifles, heavy machine guns and grenades. Once inside the compound walls, one of the terrorists held Afghan police at bay for hours.

Three Afghan guards were killed along with three Gurkhas - and three Afghans were injured in the many long and anxious hours that passed before the attack was finally over. Two female teachers and a guard were released unharmed from a safe room where they had waited out the frightening hours of the attack.

The Taliban released a statement confirming the timing of the attack to recognize the 92nd anniversary of the country's release from British rule. Afghans are notorious for their suspicion and detestation of foreigners among them; understandable for a country and a population that has experienced, as fiercely independent people, one occupation after another.

British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the assault. It was indeed most uncivilized. However, "it will not stop the British Council and indeed our whole effort in Afghanistan to bring stability and peace to that country."

That sounds noble, but then this is the British way; nobility of purpose and thought. Despite that England has proven incapable of instilling stability and peace within its own domain.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Deadly Israeli Intransigence

The Arab League has condemned Israel for its air strikes on the Gaza Strip. There is no indication that the Arab League condemns the attacks by Palestinian terrorists on unarmed Israeli civilians. There is no hint given that the Arab League is remotely concerned that the IDF strikes result from ongoing mortar barrages from Gaza into Israel, nor that Israel cannot sit idly by while its citizens continue to be attacked.

The terrorists, representing the Popular Resistance Committee, entered Israel by way of the Egyptian Sinai border, entered from Gaza, to give them access to a highway close to Eilat where the atrocities took place. But it is intolerable to Jordan and to the Arab League and to Egypt that Israel has responded to these deadly provocations with deadly force.

As is usual, the Arab League has turned to the United Nations to 'deplore' Israel's aggressions, to force Israel to cease its military action. "We issued a statement condemning the Israeli offensive on Gaza ... and Egyptian land", the Arab League Secretary-General informed reporters in Cairo. "The United Nations has to take procedures to stop the Israeli offensive", he stated with the full force and dignity of his position.

Lebanon, holding sway in the United Nations as a member of the revolving 15-member temporary Security Council used its influence well, to prevent a condemnation of the terrorist attacks upon Israel. While Secretary General Ban Ki Moon saw fit to deplore the carnage in Israel with the death of eight Israelis at the hands of its neighbours, the United Nations was withheld from issuing a statement.

It's fairly ironic, in fact, that an Arab state, divided by sectarian antipathies and tribal animosities, and partially ruled by a terrorist organization whose mandate, like that of Hamas and its sister terrorist brigades, would have influence in the United Nations. Clearly demonstrating the value of that institution as a purveyor of universal values in its ongoing mission to support human rights and peace in the world.

India, the United States and Europe condemned the attempts by Lebanon to once again isolate Israel and hold it responsible for the attacks committed upon its soil and its people; to overlook the reality of constant vicious bombardments of Grad and Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, and to focus on Israel as "occupier" of Arab land.

Lebanon claims it will support a motion to condemn the violence against Israel only if an equal condemnation is issued by the UN of Israel, for its response.

Not to be outdone, the Palestinian Authority issued its own scathing condemnation of Israel's defensive response to the terrorist attacks at Eilat. A senior Fatah official took pleasure in accusing Israel of the commission of 'war crimes', holding that Israel alone is responsible for an escalation of regional tensions.

And the other half of the PA equation in Gaza condemned the Israeli "massacre" that targeted the commander of the Popular Resistance Committee and four of his men who had planned and executed the series of deadly attacks within Israel.

As always, in the Middle East, the cards are stacked with the world riveted on the enticing slanders and accusations that paint one country as the progenitor of all that ails the world, including war.

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In the Name of ...

It's difficult for the ordinary person not exposed to values unknown traditionally in democratic, North American or European society to understand quite how it is possible for a wide-spread, somewhat unified religious inheritance to become so unhinged from life's existential absolutes. It does not matter where a human being lives, we are human beings.

We share, as Shakespeare's Shylock so acutely poignantly put it, human needs and characteristics:
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.
Shylock was deploring an age and a system and a society that set Jews apart, held them to be different, inferior, with values unlike those of the superior society they were surrounded by; Jews held to be imbued with with ulterior, crassly rapacious motives. He was bemoaning a misery that he must live with, despised and deprived of equal treatment given others, the lack of respect and honour that was meted out to him.

In this modern world we live in, we inhabit the early years of the 21st Century, an enlightened age, one where increasingly countries of the world are adapting to some form of democratic rule and ethics. Yet of course there are other countries of the world that remain mired in 16th Century social and religious habits and values. Where the value of human life is minimized, empathy and compassion absent; life brutish and short.

What is amazing is that a world religion of approximately 1.4-billion followers whose faithful cling to its belief, its precepts and its values as a religion of peace and harmony, has spawned a significant following within the larger body of those who have dedicated themselves to violent jihad under the conceived impression that this is how they may best serve their sacred beliefs in a high spiritual order.

And so, suicide bombers during the sacred month of Ramadan enter mosques full of worshippers, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, and liquidate into oblivion men, women and children who hold their faith in Islam. Men wear the protective coverings of women's garments to shield them from suspicion and enter the sacred precincts with suicide vests. Men place explosives in the cavity of their turbans to blow themselves and dozens of innocents with them into smithereens.

Hundreds of innocent Muslims are injured horribly in one incident after another. In the name of the religion that they share with those whose having accepted their obligation to please Allah by indulging in violent jihad to make the world a better place, worshipping children who attend mosque with their fathers and their mothers suffer grave injuries, and death.

These atrocities, a hideous affront to humanity, are said to represent, by their followers, an esteemed and cherished entry by the perpetrators, the martyrs, the 'shaheed', to Paradise, where beautiful virgins await their presence, to help them celebrate their divine victory.
Pakistan: mosque suicide bomb kills 43
A child injured in a blast lies on a bed at a hospital in Peshawar Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES/Hasham Ahmed

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

War With israel

Since Egypt's military assumed responsibility for its (emergency) 'temporary' governing of the largest Arab country in the Middle East formerly cool-but-cordial relations with Israel in an alliance that served both well, to defend themselves against terrorist attacks, have cooled without cordiality. When Egyptian protesters were gathered in Tahrir Square demanding the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, many of those present vocally abhorred his peace agreement with Israel.

Since President Mubarak's imprisonment and the consolidation of power among the Armed Forces Supreme Council, despite the initial declaration that Egypt would continue to honour its peace agreement with Israel, there have clearly been second thoughts and tertiary actions. The ongoing demands of the protest movement, seeing its revolution in jeopardy as the Muslim Brotherhood gains in authority with future prospects in the potential, continues to agitate.

There are certain things that the Armed Forces Supreme Council may be prepared to cede, to the demands of the street; its full governing authority is not one, but an abrogation of its peace treaty with Israel may represent one that could be seen as handily expendable. Under President Mubarak's rule, the agreement with Israel when the Sinai was released back to Egypt was that Egypt would be vigilant against terrorist activities launched from its border against Israel.

Police manned the border checkpoints, not the military, to avoid potential prospects for misunderstandings. But during the uprising the hated police were targets of the protesters who resented being shot dead, and the police began to abandon their posts, leaving a temporary vacuum where anarchy began to assert itself, prison breaks occurred, and violent criminal acts took place in the streets of Cairo. Subsequently, the police presence on the border was thin, and Israel agreed to a military presence.

Obviously that presence was insufficient to deter Bedouin and terrorists who resented Egyptian gas being sold to Israel, from blowing up the pipelines that delivered gas to Israel and Jordan from Egypt. Another bone of contention for the angry Egyptian street taking issue with peace with Israel. That paucity of Egyptian military presence at the border brought an attack by al-Qaeda forces staged in Gaza, against an Egyptian military post.

And encouraged further freedom of movement from Gaza through Sinai into Israel, where terrorists aligned with al-Qaeda, the Popular Resistance Committees, staged a series of suicide attacks against civilian targets, private cars and buses carrying would-be vacationers to Eilat. One of the buses fired upon was full of IDF soldiers on leave, who responded to the attack. In the ensuing melee, five Egyptian security personnel were killed in cross-fire.

Egypt's ruling military government has seized this opportunity to express its anger at Israel for killing five of its citizens. Rather reminiscent of Turkey expressing rage that Israel killed seven militant Turks involved in a Gaza-blockade-busting flotilla which had attacked IDF naval personnel boarding the Marmora to apprehend it before it reached its Gaza destination, insisting on an apology, and bitterly castigating Israel for defending itself.

Egypt has chosen to recall its ambassador to Israel as a demonstration of just how furious it is over Israel's defense of its citizens and its territory. Rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars and suicide vests were all involved in the attempt by the Palestinian militias to destroy as many Israeli lives as possible. Israel's instant response, bombing targets in Gaza to destroy the lives of the commander and his henchmen who had planned and executed the attack demonstrated its firm intention to persevere.

Israel has Hezbollah in Lebanon, well stocked with military provisions to launch what it feels will be a successful attack on Israel. And it has Bashar al-Assad in Syria, anxious to divert his peoples' attention from his attacks on his own citizens, who will champion a mass incursion into the Golan Heights by troops, not refugees. And there is Egypt, standing by as Hamas and its allies prepare to make use of all the weapons of war it has amassed in preparation for a(nother) final war with Israel.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Withdrawing The 'Occupation'

"The people who gave the order to murder our people and hid in Gaza are no longer among the living. I set a principle: When someone harms the citizens of Israel, we react immediately and with force.
"If anyone thinks the State of Israel will resign itself to this, they are wrong." Benjamin Netanyahu
Surrender to the international community's demand that the West Bank be cleansed of Israeli settlements, and hand over the Old City of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall and the Temple Mount to the Palestinian Authority, and accept with good grace, the return of six million Palestinians who have resulted from the 800,000 Palestinian Arabs who fled the land at the creation of the State of Israel.

And then ... peace. Guaranteed by whom?

And what matter, in any event, for with those provisions demanded by the PA as a requisite for making 'peace' with Israel, Israel will no longer effectively exist. No Jewish state: !pouf! Over sixty years of turmoil and defence and growth come to nothing. While the Palestinians continued over all that time to be 'refugees', supported by the world community through the ministrations of UNRWA.

For argument's sake, say the West Bank was freed of any Israeli presence, East Jerusalem was ceded, Palestinian refugees welcomed. Does that halt Hamas's vow to destroy Israel? Will that transform Hezbollah into a welcoming committee for the transformed Israel? Is that meant to take the sting-and-intention from al-Qaeda, to allow whatever might be left of a Jewish presence in the Middle East to live in peace?

The recent co-ordinated triple attacks in Israel, near Eilat most instructive. The peace and quiet of only the occasional Kassam rocket careening into Israeli towns near the border of Gaze was too boring, and a message needed to be sent. Duly delivered, and civilians targeted to death. The compliment returned speedily, with the deaths of those who commanded the attacks, in Gaza.

It was civilians who were targeted, people driving their personal vehicles to a holiday destination, and buses en route to that same holiday destination. No one, evidently, informed the attackers that one of those buses might be full of IDF service people on leave and planning a holiday in Eilat, too. Military personnel capable of shooting back, defending themselves from assault.

How can the 'occupation' withdraw, when it is in place to protect the population of Israel from just such assaults?

How can the State of Israel contract to bargain for a peace agreement between itself and its neighbour when its neighbour is so fractured, representing groups who are relatively moderate, just wanting to delegitimize Israel, and others for whom no violent ferocity is sufficient to expunge their hatred for Jews?

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The Conspiracy is the U.S.'s and Israel's

Yes, records as evidence used by the United Nations special tribunal looking into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, link top Hezbollah operatives to that murder and the slaughter of 21 other people in Beirut in 2005. The investigation, which has a more-or-less forgone conclusion, took fully six years to wrap up.

Christian and Sunni Beirut could have informed the tribunal how things were and what their informed suspicions led them to. Shia-led Hezbollah denied then and continues to deny now. Claiming that implicating Hezbollah is an international conspiracy, one led by the United States and its ally, Israel. And Hezbollah has no intention whatever of acknowledging the findings.

Other than, of course, to deny them. There is no proof-positive.

Mr. Hariri's son, Saad al-Hariri, who, following in his father's footsteps, most latterly headed the government of Lebanon, was forced to exile himself to survive an assassination attempt himself. And leave the field to Hezbollah. And from exile has called upon Hassan Nasrallah to take a "historic stance" in response to the indictment.

Saad al-Hariri is not naive; he is, after all, Lebanese, and accustomed to the sectarian bitterness and division that wracked his country in a brutal civil war that almost destroyed Lebanon. But he recommends to Hezbollah that they bite the bullet and fully co-operate with the tribunal; extradite the suspects to face trail on charges of conspiracy to murder.

But Hassan Nasrallah is resolute; no Hezbollah members will face trial for any act they did not commit. The accusations are based on fabricated and completely circumstantial evidence. Never will the four named in the planned and successful assassination be given up to face international justice: "Even in 300 years".

Hezbollah would prefer to avoid civil war. Hezbollah would prefer to make use of all the weaponry it has zealously stored toward the day when it clashes with the State of Israel again.

Soon is not too soon for Hezbollah.

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Most Awful Scream

There are not many who will have experienced the horror of losing a spouse a mere few weeks after marriage, far fewer who will have done so with the gruesomely dreadful memory of hearing that loved one screaming in pain and terror as life ebbed from him, after a deadly shark attack. This, though, is the legacy that has been left to the wife of Ian Redmond, Gemma 27, after an ill-fated honeymoon in the Seychelles.

His funeral is to be held at the church were they married several weeks earlier. For 30-year-old Ian, married life was short and his end brutal. For his teacher wife, left now a widow, their choice of honeymoon may not appear to have been such a wonderful idea, after all. Sometimes what passes as Paradise-on-Earth may really be Hell-on-Earth.

It certainly was that way for Nicolas Virolle, a 36-year-old French teacher on August 1st, when he too was attacked and killed by a shark at the same beach. Although the first reports that came out in the local media were that the unfortunate death had been caused by a boat's propeller.

It is understandable that local authorities would wish to maintain a tight-lipped silence about anything that threatens their tourism industry. Is it ethical? Responsible? Trustworthy?

The couple was sunbathing on the beach on Praslin Island. Earlier there had been talk of killer sharks at large in the area. When Mrs. Redmond had asked the hotel receptionist what she knew of sharks posing a danger on the beach, she had been confidently given assurance that there were none in the waters off the island.

And her husband had laughed off the merest suggestion that there might be danger lurking in those awesomely beautiful waters. People do have a fanciful propensity to believe what they prefer to believe, not to succumb to a suspicion that would have the effect of ruining their expectations, so looked forward to.

"One of the reasons that we picked to come to the Seychelles was the beautiful waters, the fact that it's like an underwater aquarium and there's not really any dangerous animals", explained the bereft widow.

And though she is in mourning, she is also forgiving. "The last thing I would want is for any of these events to affect the Seychellois people, their livelihoods and the tourism in the area. It's a beautiful place, people must come. It's a one-off accident and I know that everyone is doing everything they can to ensure that the island is safe."

One must suppose that the previous death earlier that same month was another one-off accident. And that the deaths are incidental, unfortunate occurrences that must not interfere with the livelihoods of the people who live nearby, dependent on tourism.

This attitude ranks as typically forgiving noblesse oblige. Does it not occur to this woman that her husband's death might have been averted had they been fully apprised of the previous 'incident'?

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