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10401  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 13, 2009, 08:46:17 AM

Giving credit where it's due
April 12, 8:25 PM · Add a Comment

John F. Kennedy once observed famously that, "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan."

The lasting truth of that axiom was evident again today in the waters off Somalia--and in the halls of Washington. 

As word of the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips began to spread Sunday afternoon, members of the Obama Administration were quick to claim credit.  According to the Associated Press, officials said the President "twice authorized the use of force" to free Phillips, the captain of the merchant vessel Maersk Alabama, who was taken captive by Somali pirates on Wednesday.

While it is true that Mr. Obama gave the go-ahead for employing military force, the actual rescue began when the on-scene commander determined that Phillips faced imminent danger, and authorzed Navy SEAL snipers to open fire.  Three of the pirates, guarding Phillips in a 28-foot lifeboat, were killed by the sharpshooters firing from the stern of the USS Bainbridge, the guided missile destroyer that was the first U.S. Navy vessel to reach the area.   

Admiral William Gortney, Commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, told a Pentagon news conference that the order to eliminate the pirates came around 7:30 pm, east Africa time, when the SEALs saw the heads and shoulders of the three pirates clearly in the lifeboat--one of them pointing his AK-47 at Captain Phillips. Instantly, the snipers informed the on-scene commander, stationed on the Bainbridge, who gave orders to fire. 

The fourth pirate, who was aboard the destroyer and participating in negotiations aimed at freeing Captain Phillips, was taken into custody.  With the pirates on the lifeboat dead, other SEALS removed Phillips from the craft and took him to the Bainbridge.  He was later transferred to the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship which was also involved in the operation.

At the time of the rescue, the lifeboat was under tow by the destroyer, which was moving it to calmer waters.  Talks between the pirate and Navy officers on the Bainbridge became heated, and the on-scene commander determined hostile intent, based on the tone of the negotiations, and the weapons pointed at Captain Phillips.   

At the time the commander gave the order to fire, the lifeboat was about 80 feet behind the destroyer, well within range for the SEAL sniper team.  However, the shot was complicated by the small craft's pitching and bobbing in the wake of the Bainbridge, and the design of the lifeboat. 

John Konrad, the veteran merchant captain who blogs at reports that the Maersk Alabama was equipped with enclosed lifeboats.  As their name suggests, the craft have only a limited number of openings that would have allowed the SEALs to observe activity inside and target the pirates.  Under those conditions, the shots that eliminated the three pirates were remarkable, indeed. 

But the split-second decision to rescue Captain Phillips--and the superb marksmanship of the snipers--were soon overshadowed by a predictable round of credit-grabbing in Washington.  Administration sources pointed out that President Obama previously authorized the military to act on Friday and Saturday, when commanders on the scene also believed that Phillips' life was in jeopardy. 

But White House officials who spoke with the AP (on the condition of anonymity) declined to discuss the mechanics of the deliberation process.   

Truth be told, there really isn't much to discuss.  While another senior official, who spoke with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, bragged about Mr. Obama authorizing the use of special forces assets to assist in the operation, such directives are standard for this type of contingency.  And luckily for all concerned, U.S. special forces personnel have operated for years from the former French colony of Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa.  The presence of the Boxer, with its large complement of helicopters, facilitated movement of the SEALs to the Bainbridge.     

To be fair, President Obama made the right call, giving his commanders the authority to act swiftly--and decisively--to end the hostage standoff, when the opportunity presented itself.  But the successful rescue of Captain Phillips was hardly a triumph of executive decision-making from the White House situation room.  Instead, the real credit should go to the field-grade officer who accurately assessed the situation and gave the order to fire--and to the SEALs who took out their targets with customary efficiency.                                 
10402  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 13, 2009, 08:28:02 AM
Navy commander: Trio of shots ended sea standoff
April 13, 2009 6:57 AM EDT

WASHINGTON - Adm. William Gortney said Monday that it took only three shots for Navy snipers to kill the trio of pirates holding captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat drifting in the high sea.

Interviewed from Bahrain, Gortney said the takedown happened shortly after the hostage-takers were observed by sailors aboard the USS Bainbridge "with their heads and shoulders exposed."

Asked how the snipers could have killed each pirate with a single shot in the darkness, Gortney described them as "extremely, extremely well-trained." He told NBC's "Today" show the shooting by the snipers was ordered by the captain of the Bainbridge after the pirates "exposed themselves" to attack.

Military officials were widely praising the snipers for three flawless shots, which they described as remarkable, coming at night and from the stern of a ship on rolling waters.

Defense officials also indicated, speaking anonymously, that the Navy snipers got the go-ahead to fire after one of the pirates was seen holding an AK-47 so close to Phillips that the weapon appeared to be touching him. Two other pirates popped their heads up, giving snipers all three of their targets, one official said.

The military officials asked not to be named because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

They said that a fourth pirate who survived was believed to be between 16 and 20 years old, and had in effect surrendered before the sniper rescue.

One official said he jumped into a small craft that had been taking food to the lifeboat, and asked to be taken to the Bainbridge. He also needed medical help because he had been stabbed in the hand on the Maersk Alabama in the initial standoff with crew members when the pirates attempted unsuccessfully to take over the cargo vessel, officials said.

Shane Murphy, a crew member of the Maersk Alabama, told a news conference: "We are lucky to be out of it with every one of us alive. We never had to fight to take our ship back. We never gave up."

The Navy released images of the scene from an unmanned drone, Scan Eagle. It showed that the snipers had positioned themselves on the fantail of the Bainbridge. The snipers fired simultaneously. One of the pirates was in the pilot house.

The SEALS arrived on the scene by parachuting from their aircraft into the sea, and they were picked up by the Bainbridge, a senior U.S. official said.

He said negotiations with the pirates had been "going up and down. Discussions would be going well, and then they would get discouraged and real angry." This official, asking not to be publicly identified because he, too, was not authorized to discuss this on the record, said the pirates were "becoming increasingly agitated in the rough waters; they weren't getting what they wanted."

Just as it was getting dark, pirates fired a tracer bullet "toward the Bainbridge," further heightening the sense that the incident was ratcheting up, the official said.

He said that at the time snipers took their shot, Phillips' hands were bound.
10403  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / West warned on nuclear terrorist threat from Pakistan on: April 13, 2009, 06:26:45 AM

West warned on nuclear terrorist threat from Pakistan
Paul McGeough
April 11, 2009

The next few months will be crucial in defusing a global terrorist threat that would be even deadlier than the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, a leading Washington counter-terrorism expert warns.

David Kilcullen — a former Australian army lieutenant colonel who helped devise the US troop surge that revitalised the American campaign in Iraq — fears Pakistan is at risk of falling under al-Qaeda control.

If that were to happen, the terrorist group could end up controlling what Dr Kilcullen calls "Talibanistan". "Pakistan is what keeps me awake at night," said Dr Kilcullen, who was a specialist adviser for the Bush administration and is now a consultant to the Obama White House.

"Pakistan has 173 million people and 100 nuclear weapons, an army which is bigger than the American army, and the headquarters of al-Qaeda sitting in two-thirds of the country which the Government does not control."

Compounding that threat, the Pakistani security establishment ignored direction from the elected Government in Islamabad as waves of extremist violence spread across the whole country — not just in the tribal wilds of the Afghan border region.

"We have to face the fact that if Pakistan collapses it will dwarf anything we have seen so far in whatever we're calling the war on terror now," Dr Kilcullen told The Age during an interview at his Washington office. Late last month, when US President Barack Obama unveiled his new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, he warned that al-Qaeda would fill the vacuum if Afghanistan collapsed, and that the terror group was already rooted in Pakistan, plotting more attacks on the US.

As the US implements its new strategy in Central Asia, Dr Kilcullen warned that time was running out for international efforts to pull both countries back from the brink.

Special US Envoy Richard Holbrooke has been charged with trying to broker a regional agreement by reaching out to Iran, Russia and China. Dr Kilcullen spoke highly of Mr Holbrooke's talent as a diplomat: "This is exactly what he's good at and it could work.

"But will it? It requires regional architecture to give the Pakistani security establishment a sense of security, which might make them stop supporting the Taliban," he said.

"The best-case scenario is that the US can deal with Afghanistan, with President Obama giving leadership while the extra American troops succeed on the ground, at the same time as Mr Holbrooke seeks a regional security deal."

The worst case was that Washington would fail to stabilise Afghanistan, Pakistan would collapse and al-Qaeda would end up running what he called "Talibanistan".

"This is not acceptable; you can't have al-Qaeda in control of Pakistan's missiles," he said.

"It's too early to tell which way it will go. We'll start to know about July. That's the peak fighting season and the extra troops will have hit the ground, and it will be a month out from the Afghan presidential election."

Dr Kilcullen also cautioned Western governments against focusing too heavily on Afghanistan at the expense of the intensifying crisis in Pakistan, because "the Kabul tail was wagging the dog". Contrasting the challenges in the two countries, Dr Kilcullen described Afghanistan as a campaign to defend a reconstruction program.

"It's not really about al-Qaeda," he argued. "Afghanistan doesn't worry me. Pakistan does."

However, he was hesitant about the level of resources and likely impact of Washington's new drive to emulate the effectiveness of an Iraq-style "surge" by sending an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.

"In Iraq, five brigades went into the centre of Baghdad in five months," he said.

"In Afghanistan, it will be two combat brigades (across the country) in 12 months. That will have much less of a punch effect than we had in Iraq.

"We can muddle through in Afghanistan. It is problematic and difficult, but we know what to do. What we don't know is if we have the time or if we can afford the cost of what needs to be done."

Dr Kilcullen said that a fault line had developed in the West's grasp of the situation on either side of the Durand Line, the long-disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"In Afghanistan, it's easy to understand, difficult to execute. But in Pakistan, it is very difficult to understand and it's extremely difficult for us to generate any leverage, because Pakistan does not want our help.

"In a sense there is no Pakistan; no single set of opinion. Pakistan has a military and intelligence establishment that refuses to follow the directions of its civilian leadership.

"They have a tradition of using regional extremist groups as unconventional counterweights against India's regional influence.

"The (Pakistani) military also has an almost pathological phobia by which it sees al-Qaeda as 'this little problem', as distinct from what they see as the main game opposing India.

"In terms of a substantial threat, Pakistan is the main problem we face today.

"We don't have a responsible actor to work through in Islamabad. My judgement, to use diplomatic speak, is that Pakistan has yet to demonstrate genuine commitment."
10404  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness on: April 12, 2009, 11:00:39 AM
Tax activists have been mailing tea bags to the white house. I think tampons or sanitary napkins would be of more use to the empty-suit. It took Carter years to get his hostage crisis.
10405  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our Reprimitivized Future on: April 11, 2009, 09:16:45 PM
April 11, 2009, 2:30 p.m.

Our Reprimitivized Future
When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all.

By Mark Steyn

The Reuters headline put it this way: “Pirates Pose Annoying Distraction For Obama.”

So many distractions, aren’t there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an “annoying distraction” from Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a “distraction” — from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle’s wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration’s plans for federally subsidized daycare, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s dinner plans.

If the incompetent management driving the New York Times from junk status to oblivion wished to decelerate their terminal decline, they might usefully amend their motto to “All the News That’s Fit to Distract.” Tom Blumer of Newsbusters notes that in the last 30 days there have been some 2,500 stories featuring Obama and “distractions,” as opposed to about 800 “distractions” for Bush in his entire second term. The sub-headline of the Reuters story suggests the unprecedented pace at which the mountain of distractions is piling up: “First North Korea, Iran — now Somali pirates.”

Er, okay. So the North Korean test is a “distraction,” the Iranian nuclear program is a “distraction,” and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a “distraction.” Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled “Distractions.” Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities — Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague — but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen’s gardens ominously marked “Here be distractions . . . ”

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction, but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book America Alone, I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as “Indian Territory.” It’s a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands will one day be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today’s badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day. Half a century back, Somaliland was a couple of sleepy colonies, British and Italian, poor but functioning. Then it became a state, and then a failed state, and now the husk of a nation is a convenient squat from which to make mischief. According to Chatham House in London, Somali pirates made about $30 million in ransom and booty last year. Thirty mil goes a long way in Somalia, making piracy a very attractive proposition.

It’s also a low-risk one. Once upon a time we killed and captured pirates. Today, it’s all more complicated. The attorney general, Eric Holder, has declined to say whether the kidnappers of the American captain will be “brought to justice” by the U.S. “I’m not sure exactly what would happen next,” declares the chief law-enforcement official of the world’s superpower. But some things we can say for certain. Obviously, if the United States Navy hanged some eyepatched peglegged blackguard from the yardarm or made him walk the plank, pious senators would rise to denounce an America that no longer lived up to its highest ideals, and the network talking-heads would argue that Plankgate was recruiting more and more young men to the pirates’ cause, and judges would rule that pirates were entitled to the protections of the U.S. constitution and that their peglegs had to be replaced by high-tech prosthetic limbs at taxpayer expense.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, which over the centuries did more than anyone to rid the civilized world of the menace of piracy, now declines even to risk capturing their Somali successors, having been advised by Her Majesty’s Government that, under the European Human Rights Act, any pirate taken into custody would be entitled to claim refugee status in the United Kingdom and live on welfare for the rest of his life. I doubt Pirates of the Caribbean would have cleaned up at the box office if the big finale had shown Geoffrey Rush and his crew of scurvy sea dogs settling down in council flats in Manchester and going down to the pub for a couple of jiggers of rum washed down to cries of “Aaaaargh, shiver me benefits check, lad.” From “Avast, me hearties!” to a vast welfare scam is not progress.

In a world of legalisms, resistance is futile. The Royal Navy sailors kidnapped by Iran two years ago and humiliated by the mullahs on TV were operating under rules of engagement that call for “de-escalation” in the event of a confrontation. Which is to say, their rules of engagement are rules of non-engagement. Likewise, merchant vessels equipped with cannon in the 18th century now sail unarmed. They contract with expensive private security firms, but those security teams do not carry guns: When the MV Biscaglia was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden last year, the Indian and Bangladeshi crew were taken hostage but the three unarmed guards from “Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions” in London “escaped by jumping into the water.” Some solution. When you make a lucrative activity low-risk, you get more of it.

As my colleague Andrew McCarthy wrote, “Civilization is not an evolution of mankind but the imposition of human good on human evil. It is not a historical inevitability. It is a battle that has to be fought every day, because evil doesn’t recede willingly before the wheels of progress.” Very true. Somalia, Iran, and North Korea are all less “civilized” than they were a couple of generations ago. And yet in one sense they have made undeniable progress: They have globalized their pathologies. Somali pirates seize vessels the size of aircraft carriers flying the ensigns of the great powers. Iranian proxies run Gaza and much of Lebanon. North Korea’s impoverished prison state provides nuclear technology to Damascus and Tehran. Unlovely as it is, Pyongyang nevertheless has friends on the Security Council. Powerful states protect one-man psycho states. One-man psycho states provide delivery systems to apocalyptic ideological states. Apocalyptic ideological states fund non-state actors around the world. And in Somalia and elsewhere non-state actors are constrained only by their ever increasing capabilities.

When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever-bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don’t be surprised if “the civilized world” shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a “distraction” but a portent of the future.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online -
10406  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Community Organizers seize another boat, crew on: April 11, 2009, 11:10:39 AM
**Hey, Bush isn't president anymore. What's Obama going to do, talk smack on Leno? Open season on America and the west.**

Pirates seize U.S.-owned, Italy-flagged tugboat
11 Apr 2009 14:39:44 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds quote, NATO)
By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Pirates seized a U.S.-owned and Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew on Saturday in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway, a regional maritime group said.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the crew were believed to be unharmed on the tugboat, which he added was operated from the United Arab Emirates.
He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details on their cargo.
"This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent," Mwangura told Reuters by phone.
NATO alliance officials on board the Portuguese warship NRB Corte-Real, which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden, said a distress call came from the MV Buccaneer tugboat but communications were lost six minutes later.
They said 10 of the tugboat's crew were Italian citizens.
Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in March after a lull at the start of 2009.
International interest has focused this week on the plight of an American hostage, Richard Phillips, held by four pirates on a lifeboat flanked by U.S. naval warships in a high seas standoff since Wednesday. (Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi and Alison Bevege on the NRB Corte-Real)
10407  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Interesting question on: April 11, 2009, 10:33:45 AM

Choosy choicers choose back-alley abortions in China

Legal Insurrection notes an interesting contradiction at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  In response to the demographic distortion that China’s one-child policy has produced, the CPR has called for an end to forced abortions and government imposition of reproductive policy.  So far, so good; we can broadly agree on those goals.  However, CPR also opposes gender-selective abortion, which is astoundingly hypocritical (emphases mine):

Our shadow letter underlined many areas of concern, including: harmful effects of the one-child policy such as forced abortion, coerced sterilization, and increased trafficking and abduction of women; limited access to infertility treatment; maternal mortality; sex-selective abortions; and deficiencies in sex education. The Committee, through its Concluding Observations, expressed concern over rights violations ensuing from these practices. It advised the Chinese government to investigate and prosecute instances of forced sterilization and abortion and to strengthen and enforce existing laws outlawing sex-selective abortion and female infanticide.

First, why not just protest infanticide in general?  Is it only a problem when female infants are killed through direct action or purposeful neglect?  I understand that the problem in China is focused on female infants, but if infanticide’s the problem, then we shouldn’t have to get gender-specific about the objection. Their objection looks specifically outcome-based rather than principled.

It seems CPR has a problem with choice that disproportionately disfavors females.  They don’t object to abortion, unless the woman chooses to abort in order to avoid giving birth to a female. But how is that choice any less legitimate than any other reason to procure an abortion?  For some, the gender relates to economic status and potential, criteria which in other contexts pro-abortion groups hail as rational considerations.

And doesn’t this negate the knee-jerk argument against outlawing abortions in general?  If women want to abort because they carry female babies, then won’t they get back-alley abortions if CPR succeeds in keeping gender-specific abortions illegal?  Shall we round up and arrest the mothers?  The doctors?  And if we can justify doing that for gender-specific abortions, why not do it for all abortions and stop the wholesale slaughter of human life altogether?

If one argues for a pro-choice position, then one would support all reasons for the choice.  If CPR and its allies support abortion based on outcomes rather than the supposed ideal of choice, then it’s fair to argue what outcomes they’re really supporting.
10408  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 10:15:52 AM
April 09, 2009
The End of Fair Elections?

By Tom Hoffman
Anyone who believes Hugo Chavez's presidency is the result of a free and fair election should stop reading and go protest against global warming.  For the rest of us, it may come as a surprise to some; we may have witnessed the last free and fair election in this country. How long ago that election was does not matter now; there will not be another one.

Remember when "B1 Bob" Dornan lost his House seat to a woman named Sanchez? The election was stolen by Hermandad Nacional Mexicana a group that made a concerted effort to register illegal aliens. Since then, the art of rigging the vote has been refined and perfected by the likes of ACORN and other community activist organizations.

The modus operandi is clear. First, there must be a team of lawyers to challenge any efforts to determine voter eligibility. What we end up with here in California is "motor voter" registration.  This means DMV workers urge anyone getting a driver's license to go ahead and register to vote. Lawyers and Democratic state legislators have made it illegal to require documentation regarding immigration status; it's the honor system. If an illegal feels uncomfortable lying to a bureaucrat at the DMV, he or she can apply by mail and receive an absentee ballot. This way they need not even have to show up at the polling place; just mail it in.

It's just too easy to cheat. Of course, at the polling place there is no need to prove who you claim to be; honor system again. Sign in and vote with no questions asked.  The lawyers and legislators paved the way for the "undocumented worker" to vote like a native born citizen by doing away with need to document anything, let alone citizenship.  All that is necessary is a mailing address; and, no kidding, the same culprits are busy doing away with that so the "homeless" can now register.

Registering as many fraudulent votes as possible and making it as difficult as possible to disqualify voters is only front end of the strategy. Once an election has been made close enough to allow for disputes and recounts, whole new machinery has been put in place. Here is where the big money comes into play. The secretaries of state, whose duty it is to oversee the election process, must be beholden to the community activists. Large campaign donations to the secretary of state candidates assure the community organizers a voice in all "recounts". Their squads of well-trained lawyers will likely get sympathetic rulings in their efforts to disqualify eligible voters and qualify the ineligible.

Is it any wonder that, as the rules get watered down again and again, the number of "get out the vote" organizations has multiplied?  There has always been some fraud in our electoral system: but until recently, the scale has not been sufficient to succeed in stealing a national election.  We've passed that line. Once passed, the line can never be redrawn.

ACORN is but one instance of a well financed nationwide effort to institute voter fraud. It is the financing of the likes of George Soros and the organizing skills of the likes of Bill Ayers that assures us of rigged elections from now on. Take the recent U.S. Senate election in Minnesota. The community activists registered thousands of new voters. Given that ACORN has already admitted to voter fraud (by mistake of course), it is certain a fair number of these were fraudulent. It is also certain that nearly all were Democrat votes. The Republican still managed to win by a few hundred votes on the initial count. The margin was too close to rule out a recount; mission accomplished for ACORN and their ilk. In come the lawyers to disqualify Republicans. With the full sympathy of the secretary of state, the radicals manage to turn the tide in favor of the Democrat; game, set, match.

With a proven game plan and large numbers of "community activist" organizations spread out across the country, all that is necessary to rig state and national elections from now on is a large and reliable source of funding. That has already been assured in the "Stimulus" bill. George Soros will now be helped by the U.S. Taxpayer; helped big time. Community activist organizations will find themselves flush with taxpayer cash. They are the grass roots agencies in charge of "neighborhood stabilization." I suppose we could get Jimmy Carter to certify the fairness of the 2010 elections.

Page Printed from: at April 11, 2009 - 11:13:29 AM EDT
10409  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 09:41:27 AM
Ok, it appears not to be law, but California's policy interpreting federal law. I'm looking for where CA DMV has issued a policy forbidding DMV clerks from asking about citizenship prior to registering voters.

This problem has been exacerbated by many states' interpretation of a HAVA provision that requires a citizenship question on the federal mail-in voter registration form. The provision, in 42 U.S.C. § 15483, requires the following question: "Are you a citizen of the United States of America?" If an applicant fails to answer this question, HAVA provides that the local election official must notify the applicant of the failure and "provide the appli cant with an opportunity to complete the form in a timely manner to allow for the completion of the registration form" prior to the election.[64]  Under the threat of lawsuits by organizations like the Ameri can Civil Liberties Union, states such as Ohio, Iowa, and South Dakota will register an individual even if he fails to answer the citizenship question. The Justice Department so far has failed to sue these states to force compliance with HAVA.[65]

HAVA also imposes an identification require ment for first-time voters who register by mail.[66]  Many states, including California, have interpreted this provision to apply only to registration forms received through the U.S. mail, so the requirement is easily avoided by turning in the registration form directly to election officials. Additionally, docu ments named in the law as acceptable forms of identification for voter registration, such as utility bills and bank statements, are easily obtained by non-citizens. HAVA also requires applicants to pro vide a driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number but allows an indi vidual to register even if he has neither number.[67]
10410  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 11, 2009, 09:19:13 AM

The Pirates Challenge Obama's Pre-9/11 Mentality
Distinctions between lawful and unlawful combatants go back to Roman times.


When Somali pirates hijacked the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama this week and took 20 Americans hostage, President Barack Obama refused to comment. It seems that our new president is desperate to do everything he can to distance himself from his predecessor, which is why his team has launched a campaign to rebrand the War on Terror. The results are mystifying. "Overseas contingency operations" is the new name for the war, while "man-caused disasters" is a euphemism for terrorist attacks.

AFP/Getty Images
In this new rhetorical regime, the administration criticizes President George W. Bush for his "illegal" policies with respect to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and claims that the treatment of the detainees themselves constitutes "torture."

But while they've certainly made cosmetic changes, many claim the Obama administration has left the substance of Bush's approach intact.

Attorney General Eric Holder added to this perception when, after visiting Guantanamo, he acknowledged that the facility is very well run and that implementing Mr. Obama's promise to close it down will be difficult. While renouncing the term "enemy combatant," the Obama administration acknowledges the reality that no matter what we call those detained at Guantanamo, the detainees are still not entitled to prisoner-of-war status because they have violated the laws of war by killing civilians and fighting out of uniform. Instead of calling the detainees enemy combatants, the administration has opted to refer to them as "individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations," or "members of enemy forces," or "persons who [the president] determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks."

Though these changes might seem superficial, unfortunately, they represent a substantive shift. They signal a return to the policy mindset that existed before 9/11, and the consequence will be material harm to U.S. security.

First, in holding that the president's power to indefinitely detain without legal charges is derived from Congress's authorization for the Use of Military Force Act (passed in the aftermath of 9/11), the Justice Department has undercut the president's own war power under the Constitution. This is an inherent executive power that has been recognized since at least the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

As Lincoln wrote to James Conkling in August 1863, "I think the Constitution invests its commander-in-chief, with the law of war, in time of war." In addition to the commander-in-chief clause of Article II, Lincoln found his war power in his presidential oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Second, the various new substitutes for "unlawful enemy combatant" abolish an important distinction in traditional international law. As the eminent military historian Sir Michael Howard argued shortly after 9/11, the status of al Qaeda terrorists is to be found in a distinction first made by the Romans and subsequently incorporated into international law by way of medieval and early modern European jurisprudence. According to Mr. Howard, the Romans distinguished between bellum (war against legitimus hostis, a legitimate enemy) and guerra (war against latrunculi, pirates, robbers, brigands and outlaws).

Bellum became the standard for interstate conflict, and it is here that the Geneva Conventions were meant to apply. They do not apply to guerra. Indeed, punishment for latrunculi, "the common enemies of mankind," traditionally has been summary execution.

Though they don't often employ the term, many legal experts agree that al Qaeda fighters are latrunculi -- hardly distinguishable by their actions from pirates and the like. Robert Kogod Goldman, an American University law professor has commented: "I think under any standard, the captured al Qaeda fighters simply do not meet the minimum standards set out to be considered prisoners of war." And according to Marc Cogen, a professor of international law at Ghent University in Belgium, "no 'terrorist organization' thus far has been deemed a combatant under the laws of armed conflict." Thus al Qaeda members "can be punished for all hostile acts, including the killing of soldiers, because they have no right to participate directly in hostilities." But the Obama administration is about to extend legal rights -- intended to protect civilians -- to the very latrunculi who want to blow them up by considering the possibility of trying them in U.S. courts. Indeed, Attorney General Holder did not rule out trying the Somali pirates.

Some in Congress want to go further than the Obama team. Rather than focusing their attention on the terrorists, these politicians wish to criminalize the behavior of Bush administration officials for actions they took to protect Americans, and that fell well short of those taken by Lincoln in suppressing the Rebellion of 1861. Thus Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), aided and abetted by my own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), have begun hearings on Mr. Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies.

The mantra of Bush critics has been that the previous administration "tortured" detainees. But this is nonsense. At issue is the CIA's waterboarding of three high-ranking latrunculi who had been instrumental in planning and executing attacks that killed thousands of Americans. These individuals had been trained to resist conventional interrogation methods and were thought to have information about impending attacks.

What makes the Leahy-Whitehouse show trials most appalling -- and hypocritical -- is that Congress was briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods in September 2002. At the time, according to the Washington Post, members of Congress from both parties -- including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- wanted to ensure that the interrogations were tough enough to get the necessary intelligence from the captured terrorists. As the Post reported, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing," and according to a U.S. official present during the briefings, "the attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'" But of course, according to a source looking back on that period, "the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic."

And therein lies the problem. Too many of our leaders have forgotten that we are at war with latrunculi who wish to destroy us. Anyone who doubts this need only read the recent statement by the five detainees at Guantanamo charged with planning the 9/11 attacks in which they describe the charge that they murdered Americans very clearly -- as a "badge of honor."

Mr. Owens is a professor at the Naval War College and editor of Orbis, the journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
10411  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The electoral process, vote fraud (ACORN et al), corruption etc. on: April 11, 2009, 09:08:33 AM
And, like California, the federal law will forbid the gov't employees for asking if the person they are registering to vote is a citizen.
10412  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Interrogation methods on: April 11, 2009, 09:05:57 AM
Ohhhhh nooooooo. Poor jihadis.  rolleyes
10413  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Big Picture WW3: Who, when, where, why on: April 10, 2009, 11:01:38 PM

America The Patsy?
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, April 08, 2009 4:20 PM PT

National Security: Russia tells the U.S. not to worry about a nuclear Iran and not to punish nuclear North Korea. Fidel Castro wants to help the president, Russia's "new comrade." Are we being set up?

Some of the most obvious threats to life and liberty in the historical record were, at the time they were happening, vehemently denied by those in positions of decision-making.
Isolationists and pacifists believed that Hitler's imperialism could be appeased by territorial gains. During the early Cold War, American Soviet spy Alger Hiss' integrity was vouched for by U.S. officials reaching a level as high as future Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter.
Those, such as Sen. Joseph McCarthy, suggesting that Hiss was only one of a massive group of Communist spies within the U.S. government were targeted (in McCarthy's case literally targeted for elimination by the CIA, as noted in Pulitzer-winning journalist Tim Weiner's book "Legacy of Ashes"), marginalized, even ruined.
M. Stanton Evans' 2007 book "Blacklisted by History" convincingly and meticulously exonerated McCarthy on most counts, but in other such episodes scholarly review has been unnecessary. Three decades of the ugly reality of Islamist revolution in Iran, for instance, have indelibly discredited the belief in 1979 by Andrew Young, the Carter administration's United Nations ambassador, that the Ayatollah Khomeini was "some kind of a saint."
Today, it takes willful blindness not to recognize Iran as the greatest threat to life and freedom in the world. Tehran is apparently now on the verge of announcing that it has mastered the final, most technically challenging stage of nuclear fuel production: the industrial-scale enrichment of uranium, which allows nuclear fuel to be generated in large quantities.
The Islamofascist regime in Iran has denied inspectors from the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency access to its Arak heavy water reactor, which could be geared to produce plutonium from spent uranium fuel rods.
Yet we heard soothing words this week from Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Sergei Kislyak.
"I don't see any threat to the United States coming from Iran anytime soon," he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace — ironically, the organization Hiss was president of when Whittaker Chambers testified in 1948 that he and Hiss committed espionage together.
In a similar vein, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "any threat of sanction" against North Korea in response to its Sunday launch of a multistage rocket over Japan, a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, "would be counterproductive."
More talk for a regime possessing as many as eight nuclear warheads after it sends up a missile reaching twice as far as anything it has launched previously?
Clearly, Russia wants to lull us into complacency regarding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among hostile regimes. Do Moscow and other adversaries of the free world sense an uncommon opportunity in the year 2009?
With an unprecedented financial crisis battering the West's economic system, and a man of the left in the White House, is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's description of Barack Obama as "my new comrade" more than a clever sound bite?
Ailing Cuban dictator Castro, having granted an audience to members of the Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday, seemed to share Medvedev's sentiment, asking, "How can we help President Obama?"
When longtime foes of the world's lone superpower behave in such fashion, it isn't because they've been converted to the cause of world peace; it is because they see a chance to change the dangerous global power game in their favor — and at our expense.
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, always unguarded in expressing himself, claimed this week on a visit to Beijing that "the power of the U.S. empire has collapsed."
"Every day, the new poles of world power are becoming stronger: Beijing, Tokyo, Tehran," he said. "It's moving toward the East and toward the South."
Toward danger and away from security would be a more accurate description.
10414  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:54 PM
I've been corrected. It's wrong to call them pirates. They are just community organizers from ACORN-Somalia.

10415  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 10, 2009, 10:28:38 PM
I guarantee that the current pirate hostage scenario will hold the seeds of future wars within it, if Obama acts the way I expect him to.
10416  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / President Pantywaist on: April 10, 2009, 12:06:10 PM

President Pantywaist

Charles Krauthammer and Gerald Warner take up where Jackson Diehl left off in analyzing Barack Obama’s Grand Tour this month.  Both men sound warning alarms over Obama’s tendency to surrender large swaths of the American agenda in return for getting nothing at all.  And while Krauthammer wonders whether Obama has a sense of his own American identity, Warner wonders whether Obama has any sense at all.

First, Krauthammer:

Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.

And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.

He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing.

From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea.

And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, pop. 64 million, will take one prisoner. One! (Sadly, he’ll have to leave his swim buddy behind.) The Austrians said they would take none. As Interior Minister Maria Fekter explained with impeccable Germanic logic, if they’re not dangerous, why not just keep them in America?

When Austria is mocking you, you’re having a bad week. Yet who can blame Frau Fekter, considering the disdain Obama showed his own country while on foreign soil, acting the philosopher-king who hovers above the fray mediating between his renegade homeland and an otherwise warm and welcoming world?

I thought that would win the Scorn Award for the week, but that’s just a warm-up for Warner.  The British columnist for the Telegraph has a new name for Obama — well, two, actually:

So The One retired triumphant, having secured a massive contribution of 5,000 extra troops - all of them non-combatant, of course - which must really have put the wind up the Taliban, at the prospect of 5,000 more infidel cooks and bottle-washers swarming into the less hazardous regions of Afghanistan.

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l’il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air. …

President Pantywaist is hopping mad and he has a strategy to cut Kim down to size: he is going to slice $1.4bn off America’s missile defence programme, presumably on the calculation that Kim would feel it unsporting to hit a sitting duck, so that will spoil his fun.

Watch out, France and Co, there is a new surrender monkey on the block and, over the next four years, he will spectacularly sell out the interests of the West with every kind of liberal-delusionist initiative on nuclear disarmament and sitting down to negotiate with any power freak who wants to buy time to get a good ICBM fix on San Francisco, or wherever. If you thought the world was a tad unsafe with Dubya around, just wait until President Pantywaist gets into his stride.

The White House says it will take more than a few days for Obama’s impact to be felt, but I think they’re underestimating their President.  Obama’s impact was plain to see.  He drew great crowds for his American Humility Tour, and it played well — as bowing and scraping always does to those whom one bows and scrapes.  Europe might like the whiff of surrender coming from Obama, but they made it plain that it would result in no movement on the American agenda.  Actually, that’s not entirely true; as Diehl points out, Obama mostly neglected to even mention the American agenda.

John Kennedy had the insight to realize that he blew his performance with Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.  Newt Gingrich allowed for the possibility that Obama might come to the same realization after this disaster of a foreign tour.  Will President Pantywaist recover, a la Kennedy, or wallow in the self-delusional spin his White House provided this week, a la Jimmy Carter?  Let’s hope it’s the former, because the world is far too dangerous a place for America to have a President Pantywaist.
10417  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Piracy on: April 10, 2009, 11:54:19 AM

Obama's latest international test.
10418  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Media Issues on: April 10, 2009, 10:44:26 AM

Gee, if I didn't know better, I'd think Obama was an inexperienced buffoon.  rolleyes
10419  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / What's worse than having Obama as president? on: April 10, 2009, 10:20:05 AM

Imagine this sociopath in the job.
10420  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Unorganized Militia on: April 09, 2009, 11:09:03 PM

To me this article ties into others posted about the hollowing out and de-legitimizing of the state.

**I agree. This is just a glimpse of what's to come.**
10421  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Military Science on: April 08, 2009, 06:28:13 PM
Who needs a military? Obama is gonna make sure everyone wuuuuuvs us!
10422  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Obama boot-licking tour on: April 08, 2009, 03:25:53 PM


April 8, 2009 --
THE real climax of President Obama's Spring Apologies Tour wasn't his photo op with our troops in Baghdad or even his "American Guilt" concerts in Western Europe.

While fans in the press cheered wildly at every venue, the real performance came in Turkey. And it was a turkey.

Obama means well. Just as Jimmy Carter, his policy godfather, meant well. But the road to embassy takeovers and strategic humiliation is paved with good intentions -- coupled with distressing naivete.

On every stage, Obama draped Lady Liberty in sackcloth and ashes, drawing plentiful applause but no serious economic or security cooperation in return. Then, in Turkey, he surrendered our national pride, undercut our interests and interfered in matters that aren't his business.

On the latter point: Suppose the European Union president went to Cuba and insisted that the world's sunniest concentration camp should be welcomed into NAFTA? That's the equivalent of what our president did in Ankara on Monday when he declared that he supports Turkey's bid for EU membership.

The Europeans don't want Turkey in their club. Because Turkey isn't a European state, nor is its culture European. And it isn't our business to press Europe to embrace a huge, truculent Muslim country suffering a creeping Islamist coup.

The Europeans were appalled by Turkey's neo-Taliban tantrum on-stage at last week's NATO summit. The Turks fought to derail the appointment of a great Dane, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, as the new NATO secretary general. Why? Because he didn't stone to death the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Mohammed.

Which brings us to the even bigger problem: Obama has no idea what's going on in Turkey. By going to Ankara on his knees, he gave his seal of approval to a pungently anti-American Islamist government bent on overturning Mustapha Kemal's legacy of the separation of mosque and state.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP, means headscarves, Korans, censorship and stacked elections. The country's alarmed middle class opposes the effort to turn the country into an Islamic state. Obama's gushing praise for the AKP's bosses left them aghast.

Obama's embrace of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (now orchestrating show trials of his opponents) was one step short of going to Tehran and smooching President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

What was Obama thinking? He wasn't. He relied on advice from State Department appeasement artists who understand neither Turkey, Islam nor the crises raging between the Bosporus and the Indus. State's answer is always "More love, more humility, more aid."

Well, I, for one, don't think our country has anything to apologize for, either to Turkey or to Europe.

Insisting that America's always guilty, Obama omitted any mention of Turkey's wartime betrayals of our troops, its continuing oppression of its Kurd minority or the AKP's determination to turn a state with a secular constitution into a Wahhabi playground.

When it came to the Armenian genocide, Obama bravely ducked: He never dared use the g-word.

And Obama's disdainful remarks about President Bush were just shabby.

After those overpriced tour T-shirts have shrunk in the wash (trust me -- they will), what will we have gained from Obama's superstar act?

He told the Europeans that the global economic crisis is all our fault. No mention of European greed, overleveraged governments, destructive Euro-loans or Chinese currency manipulation. We did it. Whip us, please.

In return, the Europeans gave him . . . nothing.

Even though Obama was right when he said that Europe faces a greater terror threat than we do, the entire continent only ponied up 2,500 short-term non-combat troops for Afghanistan. The Europeans know we'll do the heavy lifting.

He gave the Russians yet another blank check, too. (Meanwhile, in Moscow, Putin's thugs beat an aging pro-democracy dissident to a pulp.) In return, the Russians promised to . . . well, actually, they didn't promise anything.

Then Obama went to Turkey, undercut secular political parties, infuriated the Europeans -- and disclaimed our country's Judeo-Christian heritage. (Did Turkey's leaders respond by denying Islam's importance to them? Naw.)

In Turkey, Obama got . . . nothing we didn't already have.

Then he went to Iraq and told its prime minister that Iraq would get nothing.

I believe that our president wants to do the right thing. But he doesn't have a clue how. For now, he's enraptured by the applause. But he hasn't tried to charge his fans for their tickets. And they've already made up their minds they won't have to pay.

Ralph Peters is Fox News' strategic analyst and the author of "Looking for Trouble."
10423  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Biden takes a hard line! on: April 08, 2009, 02:43:57 PM

So, does AIPAC get it's money back?
10424  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: April 08, 2009, 02:28:53 PM
Hero Pittsburgh Police Officer Speaks
Posted: April 8th, 2009 12:45 PM GMT-05:00
Story by
The city of Pittsburgh is mourning for three police officers, killed by a gunman in Stanton Heights.
On Wednesday, one of the police officers who tried to save one of the fallen spoke for the first time.
"He started firing again with much more firepower than I even could begin to put out," said Officer Timothy McManaway, who spoke on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday morning.
Officers Paul Sciullo II and Stephen Mayhle were shot responding to a domestic call on Fairfield Street. The officers were responding to a call about a domestic dispute on Saturday. When they entered the home of Richard Poplawski, Poplawski opened fire, police said, killing both men.
Officer Eric Kelly was on his way home when he stopped to help. He too was shot. McManaway said he saw the shooting and tried to help.
"He just raised his arm when I was up there. I noticed he was alive, so I figured there was a chance," McManaway said.
Timeline according to police statements: Shortly after 7 a.m. - Two officers respond to Stanton Heights domestic call. Sciullo enters house; is shot and killed. Mayhle backs him up; is shot and killed. On way home, Kelly decides to help; is shot and killed. McManaway shot in hand trying to help Kelly. Jones tries to secure back of house, jumps fence, breaks leg. SWAT arrives, comes under fire. Poplawski continues firing out of bedroom window. Negotiators convince Poplawski to surrender. Poplawski taken into custody; charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault.
Running into the line of fire, McManaway was shot in the hand. But he pulled his fellow officer behind a car to try to save his life. McManaway said Kelly asked him to deliver a message to his family.
"He wanted me to give a message to his wife and kids. I told him I wasn't going to deliver the message, he has to do it himself," McManaway said. But Kelly was too badly wounded.
"The injuries went way beyond anything I could have done to get him to stick around," McManaway said.
Another officer, Brian Jones, was also injured while trying to secure the scene.
The memorials for the fallen officers continue in Pittsburgh.
A viewing at the City-County Building will be held for law enforcement only from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. Starting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, continuously until 10 a.m. Thursday, the public is welcome to pay their respects at the City-County Building.
Poplawski, 22, is charged with three counts of criminal homicide.
10425  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics on: April 08, 2009, 12:51:55 PM

Sobering graphs.
10426  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Politics of Health Care on: April 08, 2009, 11:06:10 AM
Who thinks that this should be done with food? It's only "fair".....
10427  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 07, 2009, 06:51:32 PM
"Both sides are committing abuse". Really? Did an MP accidentally brush against a qu'ran? No aromatherapy and pilates classes? The halal meals didn't offer free range chicken?
10428  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 06, 2009, 10:51:25 AM

Gitmo May Be One of the Toughest Prisons on the Planet--for the Guards

The Washington Post story (linked below) declares that Guantanamo is "one of the toughest prisons on the planet."
Last May, in an attempt to put to rest some of this nonsense about Gitmo, Rear Admiral Mark Buzby, then commander of Joint Task for Guantanamo, explained the difference between "the Guantanamo that exists in ... pop culture and the media and most people's minds" and the "Guantanamo that exists here, the one that I see every day".
Our Camp 5 and Camp 6, which is where 75 percent of our population -- detainee population lives, those two buildings are actually models of a facility in Indiana -- a prison in Indiana and a prison in Michigan that were brought down here and built, so that the very same conditions that U.S. Bureau of Prisons prisoners live in are what our detainees live in, in terms of their place of incarceration.
Every detainee, no matter what their compliancy status is -- in other words, how well they behave and everything else -- they all get at least two hours of outdoor recreation with other people every day, every single day. They also get a shower every single day, which is actually more than the Bureau of Prisons offers their high-security folks. For those other 25 percent that are in highly compliant status -- in other words, they behave very well and follow the camp rules -- they are in a place called Camp 4, which is a very open-air, communal sort of facility, where they live in groups of six in a bunk room, if you will. And they have access to recreation about 22 hours a day, including group recreation and group prayer and all that sort of thing.
So to say that our conditions are especially arduous or different than ... what a normal prisoner might find in the Bureau of Prisons systems ... I think is probably twisting the truth quite a bit.
So life in Gitmo doesn't seem too hard for detainees, especially considering that most of them are accused of fighting with al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Life for the guards, however, is not so easy. See this detainee activity report from last April. Just a few statistics on what the Gitmo guards endured in 2007:
135 physical assaults
132 assaults with bodily fluids
1,734 incidents of failure to comply with orders
That means there was about one assault against the guards for every detainee held in Gitmo. Contrast that with New York state prisons. Erik Kriss, a spokesman for New York's Department of Correctional Services, tells me that in 2008 the rate of inmate assaults against staff throughout the state was 9 for every 1,000 inmates. So the assault rate is 100 times higher at Gitmo than the New York prisons.
Posted by John McCormack on February 23, 2009 04:30 P
10429  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Legal Issues created by the War with Islamic Fascism on: April 06, 2009, 10:08:15 AM
Ever been spit on? I had an inmate spit a mouthful of bloody saliva into my face/eyes and had to spend a year going through HIV and Hep testing.

10430  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: April 06, 2009, 02:36:09 AM

Obama and anti-gun lies.
10431  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Obama: Loser on: April 05, 2009, 10:23:13 PM

SUNDAY, APRIL 05, 2009

And the Winner Is....
Maybe it's the influence of sports in our lives.

Or that human desire to measure everything in terms of who came out on top, and who got left behind.

Whatever the reason, there's no doubt that life, love and international relations are often defined in terms of winners and losers. And, with that in mind, we're pleased to announce the world leader who emerged triumphant at this weekend's EU summit in the Czech Republic.

May we have the envelope, please? (drumroll)

Taking top honors without so much as showing up, the top prize for grabbing global attention--and embarrassing the U.S. in the process--goes to Kim Jong-il of North Korea.

Think about it. With today's launch of a Tapeodong-2 long-range missile, Mr. Kim achieved a slew of political goals in less that 15 minutes--the time required for his rocket to fly from North Korea, to splashdown in the Pacific.

First, the DPRK dictator once again thumbed his nose at international convention. Virtually everyone from President Obama to Kim's Asian neighbors warned him against the missile test, but the TD-2 went off as scheduled. Did we mention that many of these same leaders still favor diplomacy as the preferred method of engaging Pyongyang?

In fact, the new U.S. envoy to the Six Party talks--aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program--has suggested that Washington may be prepared to "overlook" the missile test, if Mr. Kim will return to the bargaining table. Fire off a long-range missile and get Washington to beg for a resumption of negotiations? That's a win-win by any one's standards.

But it gets even better. Not only did Kim Jong-il put his regime back in the global spotlight (and score an impressive propaganda victory to boot), but there's virtually no chance he'll be punished for his actions. While Mr. Obama is talking about additional sanctions, North Korea's friends on the U.N. Security Council--China and Russia--have veto power over any measures, and both are urging "restraint" in any new resolution against Pyongyang.

That means the likely "punishment" for the DPRK is another meaningless diplomatic warning. They haven't deterred North Korea in the past, and this time is no different.

While the diplomats haggle over language, Pyongyang will press on with its missile and nuclear weapons efforts. An Iranian delegation was present for today's launch, and the ICBM technology being developed in North Korea will quickly find its way to the Middle East.

By some accounts, at least one stage of the TD-2 is built in Iran, another testament to Mr. Kim's worldwide proliferation program. From Damascus to Caracas, there is no shortage of willing customers for North Korean weapons technology, including petro-states who will underwrite his development efforts.

Not bad for a guy who was supposedly on his death bed just a few months ago. You know, the same, two-bit dictator who has been written off time and time again. As we've noted before, various experts in the State Department and the intelligence community have been predicting the demise of North Korea for decades. Clearly, the DPRK's economic and political models are unsustainable. But it's naive to believe that Pyongyang will disappear anytime soon, or make significant concessions on its most important issues.

Obviously, if Kim Jong-il was the big winner this weekend, then there had to be a loser of equal proportions. Our vote goes to President Obama, who has been ignoring or downplaying the North Korean issue for more than a month. Refusing to use missile defenses to shoot down the TD-2, Mr. Obama then expressed surprise and outrage over the test. His response? Get the U.N. to pass another, empty resolution.

We would imagine that Mr. Kim is genuinely looking forward to the next four years. His country is bankrupt and millions of his citizens are starving, but suddenly, North Korea's global prospects seem particularly bright.
10432  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Nasty! on: April 05, 2009, 09:28:52 AM

April 04, 2009, 7:00 a.m.

Feel Like Getting Nasty?
The G20 wants international regulation that will export their mistakes to the entire planet.

By Mark Steyn

During the Obama administration’s foray to London this last week, officials provided a special telephone number to journalists interested in discussing foreign-policy issues in an “on-the-record briefing call with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.”

Unfortunately, as part of the curious run of bad luck currently afflicting our new Secretary of State, upon dialing the number the gentlemen of the press were greeted by a honey-voiced seductress, presumably not Secretary Clinton, offering them “phone sex” and seeking their credit-card number if they “feel like getting nasty.”

No, it’s not a White House April Fool’s gag. This was April 2nd.

Alas, what with the collapse of the newspaper industry and major metro dailies filing for bankruptcy every 20 minutes, sticking phone sex on your expense tab isn’t as easy as it once was. So many of these big-shot correspondents were forced to hang up, call the White House Press Office, get given the correct number, and listen to Hillary droning on about the NATO summit for half an hour. The deputy press secretary, Bill Burton, insisted that the White House handing out sex-line numbers was no big deal and only Fox News would make a fuss about “a corrected phone number.”

I’m not sure why the White House needed to correct it. It’s the perfect radio ad for the administration. Call 1-900-OBAMA and Timothy Geithner will demand your credit-card number and ask whether you feel like getting nasty, because he certainly does. He’ll be wearing a steel-tipped basque, and the squeals in the background will be an AIG executive or the former CEO of General Motors hanging upside down in the Treasury Department basement while he feels the firm lash of government “regulation” from Barney Frank and Mistress Pelosi.

Well, we all hate “the rich,” don’t we? Last week, David Paterson, the governor of New York, said that if he’d known his latest tax increase would persuade Rush Limbaugh to sell his Manhattan apartment and leave the city, he’d have raised taxes earlier. Ha-ha. Very funny. In New York City, as Mayor Bloomberg has pointed out, the wealthiest 1 percent contribute 50 percent of municipal revenue. How tiny a number of people does Governor Paterson have to drive out before it causes significant shortfalls in the public coffers?

On the other hand, the rich can only be driven out if they’ve got somewhere to be driven to. At the ludicrous G20 summit in London last week, the official communiqué crowed over a “clampdown” on tax havens — those British colonies in the Caribbean and a few other offshore pinpricks in the map. “The era of banking secrecy is over,” the G20 proclaimed.

Does anyone seriously think a Swiss bank account or a post office box in the Turks and Caicos are responsible for the global meltdown?

No, but the world’s governments have decided to focus on irrelevant scapegoats. In the current crisis, Japan, Germany, and Italy (plus Russia) are in net population decline that’s only going to accelerate in the years ahead. So, unlike the U.S., they can’t run up the national debt and stick it to their kids and grandkids, because they don’t have any kids and grandkids to stick it to. If New York is running out of rich people, Germany is running out of people, period. The Chinese and other buyers of Western debt know that. If you’re an investor and you’re not tracking GDP versus median age in the world’s major economies, you’re going to lose a lot of money.

If government has a role in this crisis, it ought to be to reverse the combination of unaffordable social programs and deathbed demographics that make a restoration of real GDP growth all but impossible in many European nations. But that would involve telling the citizenry unpleasant truths, and Continental politicians who wish to remain electorally viable aren’t willing to do that. President Sarkozy, the Times of London reported, “said that the summit provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience.” What he means by “a conscience” is a global regulatory regime that ensures there’s nowhere to move to. If you’re France, which has a sluggish, uncompetitive, protectionist, high-unemployment business environment whose best and brightest abandon the country in ever-greater droves, it obviously makes sense to force the entire planet to submit to the same growth-killing measures that have done wonders for your own economy. But it’s not good news for the rest of the world. The building blocks for a global regulatory regime and even a global central bank with an embryo global currency (the IMF and the enhanced role of “Special Drawing Rights”) are an ominous development.

Let it be said that in recent years in America, the United Kingdom, and certain other countries the “financial sector” grew too big. In The Atlantic, Simon Johnson points out that, between 1973 and 1985, it was responsible for about 16 percent of U.S. corporate profits. By this decade, it was up to 41 percent. That’s higher than healthy, but it wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near that high if government didn’t annex so much of your wealth — through everything from income tax to small-business regulation — that it’s become increasingly difficult to improve your lot by working hard, making stuff, and selling it. Instead, in order to fund a more comfortable retirement and much else, large numbers of people became “investors” — albeit not as the term is traditionally understood: Instead, you work for some company and they put some money on your behalf in some sort of account that somebody on the 12th floor pools together with all the others and gives to somebody else in New York to disperse among various corporations hither and yon. You’ve no idea what you’re “investing” in, but it keeps going up, so why do you care? That’s not like a 19th-century chappie saying he’s starting a rubber plantation in Malaya and, with the faster shipping routes out of Singapore, it may be worth your while owning 25 percent of it. Or a guy in 1929 barking “Buy this!” and “Sell that!” at his broker every morning. Instead, an exaggerated return on mediocre assets became accepted as a permanent feature of life.

It’s not, and it can never be. Especially given the long-term structural defects in many Western nations. A serious G20 summit would have seen France commit to the liberalization of its economy; Germany to serious natalist incentives; Britain to a reduction of the near-Soviet size of state spending in Scotland and Northern Ireland; and the United States to allowing its citizens to keep more of their hard-earned money and thus reduce both the dependency on ludicrous asset inflation as the only route to socio-economic improvement, and the risk of a Euro-style decline in birthrate caused by the unaffordability of kids.

Instead, the great powers are erecting a global regulatory regime to export their worst mistakes to the entire planet.

As they say on the State Department phone-sex line, it’s going to get nasty.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone. © 2009 Mark Steyn
National Review Online -
10433  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in Islamic Countries: on: April 03, 2009, 09:29:19 PM
And why would Karzai support such legislation?
10434  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: BO's National Civilian Voluntary (sic) Service on: April 03, 2009, 09:18:02 PM
The funny part is that young Obama voters will be the ones drafted. Justice!
10435  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / More arrogant bumbling from the Empty-suit on: April 02, 2009, 08:56:09 AM

Imagine if Bush had done this....
10436  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 08:05:49 PM
Islam's doctrines of deception
by Raymond Ibrahim
Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst
October 2008

To better understand Islam, one must appreciate the thoroughly legalistic nature of the religion. According to sharia (Islamic law) every conceivable human act is categorised as being either forbidden, discouraged, permissible, recommended, or obligatory.

"Common sense" or "universal opinion" has little to do with Islam's notions of right and wrong. Only what Allah (through the Quran) and his prophet Muhammad (through the Hadith) have to say about any given issue matters; and how Islam's greatest theologians and jurists – collectively known as the ulema, literally, "they who know" – have articulated it.

According to sharia, in certain situations, deception – also known as 'taqiyya', based on Quranic terminology, – is not only permitted but sometimes obligatory. For instance, contrary to early Christian history, Muslims who must choose between either recanting Islam or being put to death are not only permitted to lie by pretending to have apostatised, but many jurists have decreed that, according to Quran 4:29, Muslims are obligated to lie in such instances.

Origins of taqiyya

As a doctrine, taqiyya was first codified by Shia Muslims, primarily as a result of their historical experience. Long insisting that the caliphate rightly belonged to the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali (and subsequently his descendents), the Shia were a vocal and powerful branch of Islam that emerged following Muhammad's death. After the internal Islamic Fitna wars from the years 656 AD to 661 AD, however, the Shia became a minority branch, persecuted by mainstream Muslims or Sunnis – so-called because they follow the example or 'sunna' of Muhammad and his companions. Taqiyya became pivotal to Shia survival.

Interspersed among the much more numerous Sunnis, who currently make up approximately 90 per cent of the Islamic world, the Shia often performed taqiyya by pretending to be Sunnis externally, while maintaining Shia beliefs internally, as permitted by Quranic verse 16:106. Even today, especially in those Muslim states where there is little religious freedom, the Shia still practice taqiyya. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, Shias are deemed by many of the Sunni majority to be heretics, traitors and infidels and like other non-Sunni Muslims they are often persecuted.

Several of Saudi Arabia's highest clerics have even issued fatwas sanctioning the killing of Shias. As a result, figures on the Arabian kingdom's Shia population vary wildly from as low as 1 per cent to nearly 20 per cent. Many Shias living there obviously choose to conceal their religious identity. As a result of some 1,400 years of Shia taqiyya, the Sunnis often accuse the Shias of being habitual liars, insisting that taqiyya is ingrained in Shia culture.

Conversely, the Sunnis have historically had little reason to dissemble or conceal any aspect of their faith, which would have been deemed dishonorable, especially when dealing with their historic competitors and enemies, the Christians. From the start, Islam burst out of Arabia subjugating much of the known world, and, throughout the Middle Ages, threatened to engulf all of Christendom. In a world where might made right, the Sunnis had nothing to apologise for, much less to hide from the 'infidel'.

Paradoxically, however, today many Sunnis are finding themselves in the Shias' place: living as minorities in Western countries surrounded and governed by their traditional foes. The primary difference is that, extremist Sunnis and Shia tend to reject each other outright, as evidenced by the ongoing Sunni-Shia struggle in Iraq, whereas, in the West, where freedom of religion is guaranteed, Sunnis need only dissemble over a few aspects of their faith.

Articulation of taqiyya

According to the authoritative Arabic text, Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam: "Taqiyya [deception] is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it. We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream...Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era."

The primary Quranic verse sanctioning deception with respect to non-Muslims states: "Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah – unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions." (Quran 3:28; see also 2:173; 2:185; 4:29; 22:78; 40:28.)

Al-Tabari's (838-923 AD) Tafsir, or Quranic exegeses, is essentially a standard reference in the entire Muslim world. Regarding 3:28, he wrote: "If you [Muslims] are under their [infidels'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them, with your tongue, while harbouring inner animosity for them... Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believers – except when infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them act friendly towards them."

Regarding 3:28, the Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373) wrote: "Whoever at any time or place fears their [infidels'] evil, may protect himself through outward show."

As proof of this, he quotes Muhammad's companions. Abu Darda said: "Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them." Al-Hassan said: "Doing taqiyya is acceptable till the day of judgment [in perpetuity]."

Other prominent ulema, such as al- Qurtubi , al-Razi, and al-Arabi have extended taqiyya to cover deeds. Muslims can behave like infidels – from bowing down and worshipping idols and crosses to even exposing fellow Muslims' "weak spots" to the infidel enemy – anything short of actually killing a fellow Muslim.

War is deceit

None of this should be surprising considering that Muhammad himself, whose example as the "most perfect human" is to be tenaciously followed, took an expedient view on the issue of deception. For instance, Muhammad permitted deceit in three situations: to reconcile two or more quarreling parties; husband to wife and vice-versa; and in war (See Sahih Muslim B32N6303, deemed an "authentic" hadith).

During the Battle of the Trench (627 AD), which pitted Muhammad and his followers against several non-Muslim tribes collectively known as "the Confederates", a Confederate called Naim bin Masud went to the Muslim camp and converted to Islam. When Muhammad discovered the Confederates were unaware of Masud's conversion, he counseled him to return and try somehow to get his tribesmen to abandon the siege. "For war is deceit," Muhammad assured him.

Masud returned to the Confederates without their knowledge that he had switched sides and began giving his former kin and allies bad advice. He also went to great lengths to instigate quarrels between the various tribes until, thoroughly distrusting each other, they disbanded and lifted the siege. According to this account, deceit saved Islam during its embryonic stage (see Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam; also, Ibn Ishaq's Sira, the earliest biography of Muhammad).

More demonstrative of the legitimacy of deception with respect to non-Muslims is the following account. A poet, Kab bin al-Ashruf, had offended Muhammad by making derogatory verse about Muslim women. Muhammad exclaimed in front of his followers: "Who will kill this man who has hurt Allah and his prophet?"

A young Muslim named Muhammad bin Maslama volunteered, but with the caveat that, in order to get close enough to Kab to assassinate him, he be allowed to lie to the poet. Muhammad agreed.

Maslama traveled to Kab and began denigrating Islam and Muhammad, carrying on this way till his disaffection became convincing enough for Kab to take him into his confidences. Soon thereafter, Maslama appeared with another Muslim and, while Kab's guard was down, they assaulted and killed him. They ran to Muhammad with Kab's head, to which the latter cried: "Allahu akbar" or "God is great" (see the hadith accounts of Sahih Bukhari and Ibn Sad).

The entire sequence of Quranic revelations are a testimony to taqiyya and, since Allah is believed to be the revealer of these verses, he ultimately is seen as the perpetrator of deceit. This is not surprising since Allah himself is often described in the Quran as the "best deceiver" or "schemer." (see 3:54, 8:30, 10:21). This phenomenon revolves around the fact that the Quran contains both peaceful and tolerant verses, as well as violent and intolerant ones.

The ulema were uncertain which verses to codify into sharia's worldview. For instance, should they use the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims until they either convert or at least submit to Islam (9:5, 9:29)? To solve this quandary, they developed the doctrine of abrogation – naskh, supported by Quran 2:105. This essentially states that verses "revealed" later in Muhammad's career take precedence over those revealed earlier whenever there is a discrepancy.

Why the contradiction in the first place? The standard answer has been that, because Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by the infidels in the early years of Islam, a message of peace and co-existence was in order. However, after Muhammad migrated to Medina and grew in military strength and numbers, the militant or intolerant verses were revealed, urging Muslims to go on the offensive.

According to this standard view, circumstance dictates which verses are to be implemented. When Muslims are weak, they should preach and behave according to the Meccan verses; when strong, they should go on the offensive, according to the Medinan verses. Many Islamic books extensively deal with the doctrine of abrogation, or Al-Nasikh Wa Al-Mansukh.

War is eternal

The fact that Islam legitimises deceit during war cannot be all that surprising; strategist Sun Tzu (c. 722-221 BC), Italian political philosopher Machiavelli (1469-1527) and English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) all justified deceit in war.

However, according to all four recognised schools of Sunni jurisprudence, war against the infidel goes on in perpetuity, until "all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah" (Quran 8:39). According to the definitive Encyclopaedia of Islam (Brill Online edition): "The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorised. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict."

The concept of obligatory jihad is best expressed by Islam's dichotomised worldview that pits Dar al Islam (House of Islam) against Dar al Harb (House of War or non-Muslims) until the former subsumes the latter. Muslim historian and philosopher, Ibn Khaldun (1332- 1406), articulated this division by saying: "In the Muslim community, holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defence. But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations."

This concept is highlighted by the fact that, based on the ten-year treaty of Hudaibiya , ratified between Muhammad and his Quraish opponents in Mecca (628), ten years is theoretically the maximum amount of time Muslims can be at peace with infidels (as indicated earlier by the Encyclopaedia of Islam). Based on Muhammad's example of breaking the treaty after two years, by citing a Quraish infraction, the sole function of the "peace-treaty" (hudna) is to buy weakened Muslims time to regroup for a renewed offensive. Muhammad is quoted in the Hadith saying: "If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath (see Sahih Bukhari V7B67N427)."

This might be what former PLO leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat meant when, after negotiating a peace treaty criticised by his opponents as conceding too much to Israel, he said in a mosque: "I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraish in Mecca."

On several occasions Hamas has made it clear that its ultimate aspiration is to see Israel destroyed. Under what context would it want to initiate a "temporary" peace with the Jewish state? When Osama bin Laden offered the US a truce, stressing that "we [Muslims] are a people that Allah has forbidden from double-crossing and lying," what was his ultimate intention?

Based on the above, these are instances of Muslim extremists feigning openness to the idea of peace simply in order to bide time.

If Islam must be in a constant state of war with the non-Muslim world – which need not be physical, as radicals among the ulema have classified several non-literal forms of jihad, such as "jihad-of-the-pen" (propaganda), and "money-jihad" (economic) – and if Muslims are permitted to lie and feign loyalty to the infidel to further their war efforts, offers of peace, tolerance or dialogue from extremist Muslim corners are called into question.

Religious obligation?

Following the terrorist attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001, a group of prominent Muslims wrote a letter to Americans saying that Islam is a tolerant religion that seeks to coexist with others.

Bin Laden castigated them, saying: "As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarised by the Most High's Word: 'We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us – till you believe in Allah alone' [Quran 60:4]. So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility – that is battle – ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [a dhimmi – a non-Muslim subject living as a "second-class" citizen in an Islamic state in accordance to Quran 9:29], or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable [a circumstance under which taqiyya applies]. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity and hatred, directed from the Muslim to the infidel, is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them."

This hostile world view is traceable to Islam's schools of jurisprudence. When addressing Western audiences, however, Bin Laden's tone significantly changes. He lists any number of grievances as reasons for fighting the West – from Israeli policies towards Palestinians to the Western exploitation of women and US failure to sign the Kyoto protocol – never alluding to fighting the US simply because it is an infidel entity that must be subjugated. He often initiates his messages to the West by saying: "Reciprocal treatment is part of justice."

This is a clear instance of taqiyya, as Bin Laden is not only waging a physical jihad, but one of propaganda. Convincing the West that the current conflict is entirely its fault garners him and his cause more sympathy. Conversely, he also knows that if his Western audiences were to realise that, all real or imagined political grievances aside, according to the Islamic worldview delineated earlier, which bin Laden does accept, nothing short of their submission to Islam can ever bring peace, his propaganda campaign would be compromised. As a result there is constant lying, "for war is deceit".

If Bin Laden's words and actions represent an individual case of taqiyya, they raise questions about Saudi Arabia's recent initiatives for "dialogue". Saudi Arabia closely follows sharia. For instance, the Saudi government will not allow the construction of churches or synagogues on its land; Bibles are banned and burned. Christians engaged in any kind of missionary activity are arrested, tortured, and sometimes killed. Muslim converts to Christianity can be put to death in the kingdom.

Despite such limitations on religious freedom, the Saudis have been pushing for more dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims. At the most recent inter-faith conference in Madrid in July 2008, King Abdullah asserted: "Islam is a religion of moderation and tolerance, a message that calls for constructive dialogue among followers of all religions."

Days later, it was revealed that Saudi children's textbooks still call Christians and Jews "infidels", "hated enemies" and "pigs and swine". A multiple-choice test in a book for fourth-graders asks: "Who is a 'true' Muslim?" The correct answer is not the man who prays and fasts, but rather: "A man who worships God alone, loves the believers and hates the infidels". These infidels are the same people the Saudis want dialogue with. This raises the question of whether, when Saudis call for dialogue, they are merely following Muhammad's companion Abu Darda's advice: "Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them"?

There is also a philosophical – more particularly, epistemological – problem with taqiyya. Anyone who truly believes that no less an authority than God justifies and, through his prophet's example, sometimes even encourages deception, will not experience any ethical qualms or dilemmas about lying. This is especially true if the human mind is indeed a tabula rasa shaped by environment and education. Deception becomes second nature.

Consider the case of former Al-Qaeda operative, Ali Mohammad. Despite being entrenched in the highest echelons of the terrorism network, Mohammed's confidence at dissembling enabled him to become a CIA agent and FBI informant for years. People who knew him regarded him "with fear and awe for his incredible self-confidence, his inability to be intimidated, absolute ruthless determination to destroy the enemies of Islam, and his zealous belief in the tenets of militant Islamic fundamentalism", according to Steven Emerson. Indeed, this sentiment sums it all up: for a zealous belief in Islam's tenets, which, as has been described above, legitimises deception, will certainly go a long way in creating incredible self-confidence when deceiving one's enemies.

Exposing a doctrine

All of the above is an exposition on doctrine and its various manifestations, not an assertion on the actual practices of the average Muslim. The deciding question is how literally any given Muslim follows sharia and its worldview.

So-called "moderate" Muslims – or, more specifically, secularised Muslims – do not closely adhere to sharia, and therefore have little to dissemble about. On the other hand, "radical" Muslims who closely observe sharia law, which splits the world into two perpetually warring halves, will always have a "divinely sanctioned" right to deceive, until "all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah" (Quran 8:39).
10437  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 08:00:52 PM
So, as usual, the American Criminal Liberties Union will only use it's resources to undercut America while assisting the global jihad.
10438  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 07:58:35 PM
Power Line Blog: John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, Paul Mirengoff

Doing that wudu that they do so well

June 19, 2007 Posted by Scott at 6:08 AM
The Detroit News reports from Dearborn on the University of Michigan's plan to spend $25,000 for the installation of footbaths on campus: "Muslims won't fund footbaths." The article reports that "Muslim leaders in metro Detroit have decided not to raise private money to pay for two footbaths" on campus. For them, it clearly seems less to be about religious observance than about the submission of public authorities to their observance. If you've followed our series on wudu you know, to paraphrase Creedence Clearwater Revival, that there's a bad dhimmitude rising.

The Detroit News also reports that the ACLU finds nothing constitutionally objectionable in public support for the footbaths. Just in case you were wondering, Detroit ACLU director Kary Moss explains:

"We view it as an attempt to deal with a problem, not an attempt to make it easier for Muslims to pray," said Moss, who likened the plan to paying for added police during religious events with huge turnouts.
"There's no intent to promote religion."

The unholy alliance between the radical left and radical Islam continues unabated.
10439  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 31, 2009, 07:41:53 PM

June 9, 2007

Fitzgerald: No public funds for Islamic footbaths

DEARBORN -- The University of Michigan-Dearborn plans to spend $25,000 for foot-washing stations, making it easier for Muslim students to practice their religion but sparking questions about the separation of church and state.
The university claims the stations are needed to accommodate Muslim students, who must ritually wash their bodies -- including the feet -- up to five times each day before prayers. But critics hit conservative blogs and radio airwaves Monday to argue public money shouldn't cover the cost. -- from this article

I have been in airport bathrooms when someone will come up, paying no attention to right or left, and start performing his wudu, while water flies all over the place as that person places his feet, one after the other, in the sink and washes them. While these -- to many -- nauseating public ablutions take place, most people hasten away without going near even the empty sinks.

There is no god-given right to come to other countries and inflict one's behavior, in fulfilling some kind of faith-based mandate, in public places. The nurses who were arrested for singing Christmas carols behind closed doors, in their own apartments in Western apartment complexes, in Saudi Arabia, were not inflicting this on anyone: it was the religious police checking up, as they do everywhere they can. But, for example, the slitting of a sheep's throat, and letting it bleed to death on the street, can and should be banned -- whether or not this is considered "part of Islam."

If Muslim students wish to have foot-washing sinks available, then they can certainly pay for them. After all, there is hardly a mosque or a madrasa in this country that does not receive, when it needs it, all kinds of financial support from those who, across the seas, batten on the unmerited oil trillions, and by this point have used, collectively, more than one hundred billion of it (the estimate for Saudi Arabia alone) to pay for mosques, madrasas, armies of Western hirelings, and propaganda of every sort.

A mere $25,000 shouldn't faze the Saudis. And you might argue that $25,000 is so little -- why not spend it ourselves? But it is a symbolic act, an act that will be, and is, taken by Muslims not as a kind act, an act of accommodation (as those behind it might naturally think, for they think in terms of sweet reason, and compromise, and all that), but instead is taken in quite a different spirit, as one more indication (see the postings at Jihad Watch of the commenter who calls herself “Naseem,” passim) that Islam Is On the March, that here and there, little by little, the Infidels are yielding. It is of great symbolic value to Muslims. And it will not result in gratitude, but merely in a swelling of the sense that obstacles, one by one, to the spread of Islam are being removed. And that, after all, is what Jihad is partly about: the removing of those obstacles, and of obstacles of all kinds wherever they are, so that Islam may spread and dominate, and eventually Muslims come to rule. The dismissal of this as merely an alarmist fantasy shows that the dismisser has not been paying attention -- not to the tenets of Islam, not to 1350 years of Islamic history and the subjugation of non-Muslims, and certainly not to what has happened, over just the last 2-3 decades, in the lands of Western Europe.

Every concession, every misuse of public funds, every Muslim employee of city or state government who has been permitted undiscovered or unpunished to be relentlessly pushing for special deals in order to promote Islam or to make sure that fellow Muslims are hired here, and here, and here -- all of this, every single act, needs to be noisily (and also quietly) opposed. (See that Boston Redevelopment Authority employee, working to get city-owned land sold in a sweetheart deal for a mosque, and see what else that employee did on his still-unexplained trip or trips to Saudi Arabia.) "We must fight them over here so we don't have to fight them over there" would be an apter description of what needs to be done, although in truth there is no place where such "fighting" (not necessarily of the conventional, military variety) will not have to take place.
10440  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: March 28, 2009, 06:23:13 PM

Honoring the fallen.
10441  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: China on: March 28, 2009, 10:33:15 AM

From The Times
March 28, 2009
One billion souls to save

Christianity in China is booming. With 100 million believers, far more than the 74 million-member communist party, Jesus is a force to be reckoned with in the People’s Republic. We talk to the new faithful who love China – but love God more
Jane Macartney
A murmur of “Amen” echoes softly down a corridor in a luxury Beijing hotel. Dozens of young Chinese are gathered in a beige-carpeted conference room to listen to the word of God. After helping themselves to hot water or tea at the back of the room, they find a seat and chatter with friends. They tuck Louis Vuitton and Prada handbags under their seats, switch their mobile phones to silent and turn to listen to a young woman who takes the microphone to ask for silence and recite a prayer.

A casually dressed, grey-haired Chinese man takes to the podium. “Let us begin with a look at the Gospel of Saint John.” There is a rustling of pages as converts and curious open their Bibles. Almost everyone in the room is scarcely a day over 30. Most look as if they are in their early twenties. They are fashionably dressed – girls with high-heeled boots, men sporting trendy knitted hats. This is Friday night Bible class in Beijing. And it is a weekend venue of choice for growing numbers of well-off middle-class city sophisticates.

The fact that this class is technically illegal, run by pastors lacking approval from the state-sanctioned Protestant church, is not the attraction. These are not young people seeking a frisson of excitement from some underground activity. They are at the forefront of a movement sweeping China – the search for spiritual satisfaction now that Marx is démodé.

No attempt is made to conceal what is, in effect, an underground religious gathering. A sign in Chinese outside the conference room reads: “Hill of Golgotha Church meeting”. A board outside the hotel lift directs visitors to Hall 5. There is not a nod towards secrecy or even discretion. There is no sense of anxiety, let alone fear, that officials could burst in to break up this illegal assembly even though police do still frequently raid house churches run by underground Protestant pastors.

A spectacular success

In fact, across China religion is undergoing a defiant and extraordinary revival. Millions of Chinese are turning to familiar traditional faiths such as Buddhism and Taoism – a mystical belief with about 400 million adherents that is China’s only indigenous creed. Taoist believers, like Buddhists, visit temples across the country to burn incense, present offerings and request readings from fortune tellers. Others are finding comfort in Confucius, but it is Christianity that is leading the battle for China’s 1.3 billion souls.

Many regard religion as a new force, unaware that missionaries – Protestant for the most part but also Roman Catholics – tried to spread Christianity across China in the 19th century and met with fierce opposition during the anti-Western Boxer Rebellion in the early 1900s. But it was former leader Deng Xiaoping, who effectively endorsed freedom of worship, and gave Christianity the chance to take hold, with his sweeping market reforms in 1978.

Today, two Christian faiths are allowed to operate within carefully prescribed limits: the Catholics, who must worship in churches run by the State’s Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and number about six million, and the Protestants, who operate under the aegis of their government-sanctioned religious body, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement – standing for self-governing, self-teaching and self-supporting. Their numbers are estimated at 21 million – about the population of Australia. All other Christian associations are illegal.

Those who participate in non-sanctioned churches run the risk of police raids, a beating or even jail. The situation is more fraught for the underground Catholic churches than it is for the Protestant get-togethers. An unknown number of Catholic priests, and even bishops, languish in jail, serving lengthy prison terms for their temerity in preaching allegiance to Rome. Beijing’s Communist Party rulers are wary of an organisation that is so well organised and also headed by a leader – the Pope – who can command the loyalty of millions.

But that doesn’t seem to put off the growing congregations. Indeed, official numbers fall far short of the actual total. Recent surveys calculate the number of Christians worshipping independently of the State churches in China to be as high as 100 million. That means that almost one in every ten Chinese may now be a Christian, making Christianity bigger than the 74 million-member Communist Party.

Bring Christianity into the conversation and everyone seems to know someone who is a convert. I heard how many of the executive staff at one smallish Beijing hotel were keen Christians. A manager at an international bank mentioned that many of his employees shared a common faith.

Visiting an elderly woman who had been taken as a child to serve as a “comfort woman” to soldiers of the invading Japanese army in the Second World War, I was astonished to see a cross hanging on the wall of the simple home she shared with her son just across the road from the local Communist Party offices. Without embarrassment or fear, her son explained how each Sunday he attends services in a house church nearby. He proudly pulled out his hymnal and sang for me, while curious neighbours peered through the window.

I learnt of the Communist Party secretary of a village not far from Qufu, the home town of Confucius, who sleeps with a crucifix above his bed. His wife, he explained, was a Christian, as were his sons. Indeed, he went on, pretty much everyone in the village of about 3,000 was a believer. Almost all, it seems, belong to illegal house churches, small congregations that come together in private homes in cities, towns and villages across China.

Why Christianity has such a hold remains something of an enigma. Many Chinese are looking to fill the chasm left by the collapse in Marxist ideology’s credibility in the wake of the disastrous ultra-leftist 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. It’s also possible that a religion from the West holds a particular attraction for Chinese looking for a more modern faith to complement the stunning success of capitalist-style economic reforms. But the sense of belonging may be the best way to explain why Christianity has been such a spectacular success story in China in the past few years.

Finding a family far from home

Pastor Ezra Jin heads the Protestant Zion Church, based above a karaoke club in one of the thousands of faceless apartment blocks that populate the suburbs of Beijing.

He prefers not to see Zion as an illegal underground Church but rather as private and independent, and in the two years since its inception, the church has never suffered a police raid. “Our Church offers people a feeling of belonging to a family,” explains Pastor Jin. “There are more and more contradictions in our society as different interest groups emerge and gaps open up between regions and between social groups. Christianity can help by providing comfort and spiritual strength.”

Dressed in a sharply cut dark suit with a white shirt and gold silk tie, Pastor Jin could be just another successful executive. Instead he runs a house church so large he conducts at least three services every Sunday in a room brimming with 300 to 400 people. Toddlers play in a glassed-off crèche while their parents stand to sing hymns and to pray. A choir in hot-pink robes leads the singing and a little band with an electric organ and two guitar players keeps the congregation in tune.

Liu Huan has been playing the guitar in church for nine years. The slight computer engineer in his thirties beams with delight at being asked to explain why he attends a house church. Although in this case sprawling, neon-lit office might be more appropriate. Apart from the main hall, the Zion Church seems to occupy most of the floor of the building with smaller offices and store rooms. “My wife introduced me to God and coming here gives me strength.” He fits one of the models that Pastor Jin described: the out-of-town worker who has found a place in a new community far from home through Christianity.

With his spiky haircut and a single earring, Wang Ye cuts a dashing figure in the congregation. The 21-year-old is a student graduating in online business who hails from the northern coal-mining province of Shanxi. His mother, who had moved to Beijing in search of a better job and was lonely, found comfort when friends introduced her to the church. “She brought me as well. Many of us have family problems and we find warmth here.” He strolls over to join a group of friends gossiping about their plans to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

“The future of Christianity in China is very different from in the West,” believes Pastor Jin. “In the West, Christianity is in retreat, especially in Europe, but in China it is growing by leaps and bounds.” He cites the stability the church offers to a population buffeted by decades of wrenching political change as one of most appealing aspects of the faith.

The first hymn on a wintry Sunday at his Zion Church echoes that refrain. A lay preacher leads the congregation. Projected on a screen on the wall behind him the words scroll down against a background of plum blossoms. Voices are raised in song. “There are many things I don’t know in the future. But I know who will hold my hand and who will be in charge.”

As readings from the Bible and prayers follow more hymns, the atmosphere in the room is charged. A verse reaches a crescendo, women in the congregation one after another raise their arms above their heads and sway. One or two sob quietly. The lay preacher leads a prayer. Each time he mentions “Our Lord”, a chorus of “Amen” swells up from the crowd. Nothing is allowed to disturb their evangelical reverie and there is little sense among these worshippers that they risk arrest.

Pastor Jin believes the most difficult times for house churches such as his may soon be over. He recently took part in the first meeting between government officials and leaders of the banned underground Protestant faith.

It was the most significant step towards reconciliation in decades, and could mark a turning point in the Party’s attitudes.

“I wasn’t surprised,” he said. “It was clear to me that sooner or later God would bring us to this.” In addition, the size of the underground Protestant church has now reached such proportions that it is an increasing challenge for the authorities or the police to control. “China is a very big country so there will still be examples of persecution, but the overall direction is gradually changing.”

He says the talks could be a sign that the Communist authorities have come to recognise that the Protestant church at least can be a force for harmony – the watchword of the administration of President Hu Jintao, the current head of the Party. It was President Hu himself who told an unprecedented Politburo study session on religion in late 2007 that “the knowledge of religious people must be harnessed to build a prosperous society”.

“The Government is anxious to work out the way to go forward,” believes Pastor Jin. “They have understood that the Protestant Church is not an opposition force but a force for stability.”

A constant fugitive

But there are others who would disagree. Pastor Jin may operate in effect outside the law, but he is grudgingly tolerated. Arranging to meet him required little more than a couple of telephone calls. He chatted happily in public over a lunch of spicy Sichuan food in his local restaurant across an alley from the building housing his church.

Pastor Zhang Mingxuan falls into quite another category. Expelled from Beijing before the Olympic Games last August, he is persona non grata in the capital. He attracts police attention wherever he goes and his telephone is constantly tapped. On his first return visit to the capital since his eviction, he got off the overnight train from his home in central Henan province and met me behind a department store near the railway station.

A short, blockish man dressed in a shiny suit and with a tie embroidered with crosses, his first order of business was practical. “We’ve been on an overnight train and we’re hungry. Let’s have lunch.” No sooner had he sat down, intoned grace over the food and gulped down a glass of hot Coca-Cola to counter the bitter chill on one of the coldest days of the winter than he launched into an account of his confrontations with the police. Zhang, who describes himself as a lay pastor, heads what he calls the Chinese House Church Alliance, bringing together a number of diverse congregations. Any form of organisation is anathema to the ruling Communist Party, jealous of any rival power. Beyond the pale is a grouping of illegal underground churches that could challenge its supremacy.

It is small wonder then that he recounts a convoluted tale of eviction from his Beijing flat, from the homes of friends, suburban hotels, even from guesthouses in the province that abuts the capital. Everywhere he tries to lay his head, the police track him in their dozens, moving him out of their jurisdiction. Zhang is undeterred. “My head is here. Let them take it if they want it. But God is in Heaven and he won’t allow them to take my head.”

A poorly educated barber and the product of an atheist Communist system, he had little time for the Christianity in which his wife believed. Or at least that was until a business deal went wrong in 1986 and a failed court case left him deeply in debt. He heard his brother-in-law recite Psalm 38: “They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.” The words cut to the heart. “I fell on my knees and in less than five minutes, I became a Christian.”

He was an enthusiastic convert. He does not hide his conviction that his mission now is to spread the word of God far and wide in China. His fervour contrasts with the measured tones of Pastor Jin. Leaping to his feet, he rolls up his trousers and points to scars on one leg. “Look! I was run over and I have two metal pins in my leg. But after 15 days I could walk again because of the Lord.” He spreads his arms wide and gestures to his stocky frame. “When they arrested me I fasted for 25 days. Nothing happened to me because God was with me.”

He does not bother to hide his contempt for the Communist Party. Fuelled with passion, his voice rises. “They hate me but I don’t hate them.” God, he says, is on his side and he will win. That passion must trigger anxiety among officials who for 30 years have guaranteed freedom of worship – but not worship conducted by unofficial ministers like Zhang.

The demolition three years ago of an illegally built Protestant church near the southern city of Hangzhou draws Zhang’s wrath. The building had been constructed on land intended for a commercial centre, and several hundred faithful in the town that is home to tens of thousands of Christians tried to stand in the way of the razing of the building. Secretly filmed video of the incident shows scuffles between worshippers defending their church and the police, with at least four people reportedly suffering broken bones as police wielding batons pushed back the crowd. Several were arrested and eight people were jailed for terms of up to three and a half years. For Zhang, such actions are evidence of the Communist Party’s fear.

“China is a land that has been chosen by God. If the government did not interfere then many more Chinese would become followers. Our hearts are thirsty.” Disturbed to learn that my Chinese colleague remains firmly atheist, Zhang leans forward across the table and tries to persuade her. “You should find faith as soon as possible so that we can all be brothers and sisters in God. God will save you. He makes so many miracles. He will protect you.” A day later, he was picked up by the Beijing police and shipped back to Henan province.

An understanding with the jailers Pastor Shen Quan was trained at an officially approved seminary – as was Pastor Jin – but he too left the government-sanctioned church in search of greater spiritual freedom. It has been more than two years since police last carried out a raid on one his services, during which members of his congregation were intimidated and warned not to attend, while he was taken away and questioned. He is not as optimistic as Pastor Jin that the recent inauguration of tentative talks between government and house church luminaries heralds an end to the persecution. “This is just not possible. As long as the house churches exist, the government must want to try to control them.”

But government raids on house churches have proved somewhat counterproductive. Underground Christians say that as soon as one house church is closed, its members split up and found their own small congregations, further multiplying the numbers.

One of the attractions of these churches is the personal care that a pastor gives to his flock, which is a world away from the more rigid approach of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Church. One such – the Kuanjie Church – was full by 9am for a Saturday morning service. A far higher proportion of the congregation were middle-aged or elderly and one woman made it her duty to patrol the aisles making sure that everyone, including curious first-time visitors, fell to their knees on specially provided foam cushions during the lengthy prayers. Even in this church, the tone was evangelical. Two women with microphones on poles moved between the pews, ensuring worshippers had a chance to offer aloud their prayers and to share with the rest of the congregation their stories of individual communion with God.

But such official churches lack the personal touch found in the small house churches, and perhaps because of that are growing more slowly. The challenge now for the government is to determine how it will handle the breakneck spread of the underground churches.

Zhao Xiao is a prominent economist, a professor of the University of Science and Technology and a one-time Communist Party member. He is also a Christian and something of an optimist. He sees the recent groundbreaking talks between the two sides as inevitable. As the Christian population has grown, the Party has recognised that Protestants are making no attempt to form an alternative organisation and are not questioning the rule of the party, he says.

This may have given the leadership greater confidence to liaise with them. It is also common knowledge that huge numbers of the volunteers who raced to help with the aftermath of last year’s devastating earthquake in southwest China were Christians. Many are still there, helping the survivors and, sometimes, preaching.

Familiarity, Professor Zhao believes, is another important factor. “It has taken many years to reach this point. Many meetings have taken place over the years between imprisoned pastors and their police jailers and this has bred a closer understanding. Those changes in attitude meant this day could come.” He adds: “I think that one day the Communist Party will even allow Christians to become members.”
10442  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Law Enforcement issues on: March 28, 2009, 09:47:52 AM
Thanks Rachel.

Funny enough, I narrowly avoided being seriously injured or killed yesterday trying to assist stranded motorists and direct traffic. The smallest of margins and it would have been my chief and a police chaplain at my door to awaken my wife instead of me.

The ritual of the police funeral has an importance that may not be understood by those outside the uniformed services world. Yes, we come together to grieve someone we may have never met, but in the grieving spouse, we see ours. But for the grace of god go we. A reminder that it could be us under the flag. We celebrate who they were and what they did. As it says on the nat'l law enforcement officer's memorial in DC, "It's not how that died that made them heroes, but how they lived".

The most important element to me, is seeing the public response to the fallen officers. The jobs burns you, and takes pieces of your soul. It's easy to become callous, cynical and jaded. To a degree, you have to just to survive in the job. It's easy to see the public you serve in the worst possible terms. No one calls the police when their life is good. Very few people bother to call to praise an officer, but those who wish to complain always seem to follow through.

When you see the vast numbers of the public that go out of their way to demonstrate their support, it recharges your soul.

A friend of a friend was murdered by a career felon several years ago. I attended the funeral in a large metropolitan area. The service was on one side of the metro area, the fallen detective was to be laid to rest in a cemetary on the other side of the city. I was dumbfounded to see citizens lining almost all of the route. Waving flags, holding signs of support, young and old.

They didn't have to be there. The escort to the burial started late and took a long time as the procession of police vehicles stretched for miles. And yet they stood there, saluted and waved for all of us.

A reminder there are a lot of good and decent people out there. So they can sleep peacefully, we gear up and go out into the darkness and they recognize and respect that. It gives us the strength to continue on.
10443  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 26, 2009, 08:39:48 PM

May 5, 2004
Irshad Manji: Islam's marked woman
Irshad Manji is a lesbian Muslim who says her religion is stuck in the Middle Ages. The outspoken author tells Johann Hari how she became a target for assassination

The death threats began six months ago. One morning,Irshad Manji opened her e-mail and read the first ofmany pledges to kill her. "It contained some prettyconcrete details that showed a lot of thought had beenput into the death-threat," she explains now,unblinking. She can't say how many she's received -"The police tell me not to talk about this stuff" -but she admits that "they are becoming pretty up-closeand personal."

"One story that I can tell you," she says, "a storythat I have the permission from the police to tellyou, is that I was in an airport in North Americarecently and somebody at the airport recognised me. Ihad a conversation with them. While I was engaged inconversation with a very portly, very sweetfifty-something man and his wife, an Arab guy came upto my travel companion and said, 'You are luckier thanyour friend.' As a nice polite Canadian she asked,'What do you mean?' and he didn't say anything. Heturned his hand in to the shape of a gun and he pulledthe make-believe trigger towards my head. She didn'tknow what to make of this, so she asked him to clarifyhis intentions. He said 'Not now, you will find outlater,' and then he was gone."

Sitting with Irshad in a London boardroom, it would behard for anybody to guess that she is the starattraction on jihadist death-lists. She has the small,slender body of a ballet-dancer, and a Concorde-speedCanadian voice that makes her sound more like acharacter in a Woody Allen movie than an enemy ofOsama Bin Laden's. So what has she done to earn abullet in the head?

Irshad is a key figure in the civil war withintwenty-first century Islam. She is the Saladin ofprogressive Muslims, an out-rider for the notion thatyou can be both a faithful Muslim and a mouthy,fiercely democratic Canadian lesbian. As one Americanjournalist put it, "Irshad Manji does not drinkalcohol and she does not eat pork. In every otherrespect, she is Osama Bin Laden's worst nightmare."

"What I want is an Islamic reformation," she says,leaning forward, her palms open. "Christianity did itin the sixteenth century. Now we are long overdue. Ifthere was ever a moment for our reformation, it's now,when Muslim countries are in poverty and despair. Forthe love of God, what are we doing about it?"

We are all going to have to learn about this battlefor an Islamic reformation, because it will be raging- and occasionally blasting its way onto our citystreets - for the rest of our lives. Manji'sbest-selling book, 'The Trouble With Islam - a Wake-UpCall For Honesty and Change', is both a crash coursein its terminology and a manifesto for the progressiveside. The core concept in Maji's thought - and that ofall progressive Muslims - is 'itjihad'. It's a simpleidea, and devastatingly powerful. Itjihad is theapplication of reason and reinterpretation to themessage of the Koran. It allows every Muslim toreconsider the message of the Koran for the changedcircumstances of the twenty-first century. "What wastrue for ninth century Mecca and Medina may not be thebest interpretation of Allah's message today", Irshadexplains.

This seems obvious to post-religious European ears,but it is (literally) heresy to conservative and evenmost mainstream Muslims. "At this stage, reform isn'tabout telling ordinary Muslims what not to think. It'sabout giving them permission to think. We can't beafraid to ask: what if the Koran isn't perfect? Whatif it's not a completely God-authored book? What ifit's riddled with human biases?"

"We Muslims have to understand our own history," shesays. "Itjihad isn't some wacky new idea. When Muslimswere at their most prosperous, their most innovative,their most respected, it was when we practiseditjihad, in Islam's golden age from 750 to 1250 CE.The greatest Muslim philosopher, Ibn Rushd, championedthe freedom to reason."

"It was the closing of the gates of itjihad that ledto disaster for Muslims, not the Crusdaers or the Westor anything else. Sure, they were all bad, but thedecline started with us," Irshad says. "It's therefusal to believe in independent reason that hascontributed to a totalitarian culture in the Muslimworld. Of course if Muslims can't reason forthemselves, they become dependent on Mullahs andoutside authorities. Of course if you think all truthis contained in one book and all you have to do isreturn to it - a belief I call 'foundationalism' -then you won't be dynamic and seek new solutions fornew problems. Others have responsibilities as well,but we Muslims closed the gates of itjihad onourselves. We need to take responsibility for that,and turn it around."

It was in the twelfth century that Baghdad scholars"formed a consensus to freeze debate within Islam,"she explains, and "we live with the consequences ofthis thousand-year old strategy. They did it to keepthe Islamic empire from imploding - they thought allthis dissent and disagreement would lead us to fallapart. But I've got news for you: The Islamic empireno longer exists, and our minds still remain closed."

In case this sounds cerebral - how could this aridintellectual debate have such a drastic effect on theworld? - Irshad is quick to underline its practicaleffects. From the mass-murder of democrats in Algeriato the uprising of students against the Mullahs inIran, from the mosques of Finsbury Park to the ethniccleansing being perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalistsin Sudan, "this is the fight between progressive Islamand the Islamofascists."

Irshad does not just rant against Islamicfundamentalism. She offers a constructive long-termprogramme for undermining it, which she dubs'Operation Itjihad.' The solution lies with Muslimwomen. "At the moment, half the resources of Muslimsocieties - the women - are squandered. Yet investingin women makes amazing sense. Educate a Muslim boy andyou've educated a boy. Educate a Muslim woman andyou've educated a whole family. The multiplier effectof helping Muslim women is amazing."

So 'Operation Itjihad' would require us to redeploy alarge chunk of our aid and national security budgetsto small business loans for Muslim women."Micro-lending has an extraordinary 30year-track-record. For example, in Bangladesh theGrameen ('Village') Bank loans tiny amounts of moneyto people whom standard lenders consider untouchable -especially landless women. They have helped 31million people, and they have a staggering repaymentrate of 98%. Helping women achieve financialindependence en masse butresses their existing, oftenunderground, attempts to become literate. They won'tneed the oracles of the big boys if they can reachtheir own conclusions about what the Koran says.

"Empowering women is the way to awaken the Muslimworld," she continues. "If you are serious aboutundermining the culture that created al-Quaeda, thisis the way to do it. When women have money they haveearned themselves, they are far more likely to beginthe crucial task of questioning their lot. It willtransform a culture of hate and stagnation." Thisfeminism shouldn't be alien to good Muslims, she adds."Mohammed's beloved first wife Khadija was a self-mademerchant for whom the Prophet worked for many years. Isometimes point out to Muslim men that if they areserious about emulating the Prophet, then they shouldgo work for their wives." What do they say? "There isa dour, sour silence."

"Then I remind them that it was Ibn Rushd who said -way ahead of any European feminists - that the reasoncivilisations are poor is that they do not know yet,the ability, the full ability, of their women," shecontinues. So how did Islam get so entwined with amisogynist culture? "I think you have to distinguishbetween Islam and the Arabic culture of the ninth andtenth centuries that very quickly became entwined withit. We have to disentangle Islam from the norms of thedesert. Desert Islam was always opposed to thepluralistic, haggling life of the el-haraa - the urbanalleyway bazaars. It is fanatic. Islam was meant tomove the Arabs beyond tribe. Instead, tribe has movedthe Arabs beyond Islam."

Irshad is needlingly, constantly aware that she couldnot even begin to enjoy the freedom she currentlyenjoys in any Muslim society. Her family were refugeesfrom Idi Amin's West African tyranny, and the familywashed up in Canada when Irshad was four years old. "Iam also aware it wasn't Islam that fostered my beliefin the dignity of every individual. It was thedemocratic environment to which I and my familymigrated. In this part of the world, as a Muslimwoman, I have the freedom to express myself withoutfear of being maimed or tortured or raped or murderedat the hands of the state. You know, as corny as thismay sound, as a refugee to the West, I wake up everyday, thanking God that I wound up here."

She grew up with "a miserable father who despised joy"and exhibited the worst of the Mullah mentality. Thenin her local mosque - as an inquisitive, open-mindedgirl - she became aware of an attempt to "close mymind. It was a 'shut up and believe' mentality," shesays. "Even in a free society where nobody was goingto challenge us or hurt us for asking questions, eventhen our minds were still slammed shut. A crude, cruelstrain within Islam continues to exist in even themost cosmopolitan of cities. That shows it isn't justexternal evil influences that have done this. We have- I repeat - done it to ourselves."

Irshad knows that she is dragging into the open anargument many Western Muslims have confined to theirown minds for a very long time. She is critical ofthe "reflexive identification some Muslims in the Westunthinkingly offer to groups like Hamas or theTaliban. I met one person [like that] at OxfordUniversity last night. I asked, 'Do these womenrealise that the very groups and individuals whom theyare defending are the very people who, if they were inpower here, would frankly their daughters particularlyof their right to be at Oxford at all?'"

She is frustrated that more moderate Muslims do notfight. "At all of the public events I've done topromote this book, not once have I seen a moderateMuslim stand up and look an extremist in the eye andsay, 'I'm Muslim too. I disagree with yourperspective. Now let's hash it out publicly.' Yes,after the event people tip-toe up to me and say,'Thank you for what you are doing.' And there aretimes when I really want to say, 'Where was yoursupport when it mattered? Not for my ego. But to showthe extremists that they are not going to walk awaywith the show.'"

"It's insane that I get sometimes accused of'Islamophobia', or offering comfort to people who hateIslam," she quickly adds, anticipating my nextquestion. "I like to respond to that by talking aboutMatthew Shepherd [a young gay man who was recentcrucified and burned to death in Texas]. I say to mygood-hearted liberal friends, would you have let theseyahoos get away with insisting that gay-bashing ispart of their culture and as a result they deserveimmunity from scrutiny on that front? Well, why ismisogyny and homophobia in Saudi Arabia any different?No, it's up to us Muslims in the West to dropreactionary charges of racism against thewhistleblowers of Islam - people like me and yourheroic colleague Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - and lead thecharge for change."

She believes we are falling for a false kind of moralequivalence between democratic societies andtyrannies. "For example, the next time you hear anIslamo-fetishist, an imam of the ninth-century school,wax eloquent that Muslim societies today have theirown forms of democracy thank you very much, we don'tneed to take any lessons, right there, ask him a fewquestions. What rights do women and religiousminorities actually exercise in these democracies? Notin theory, but in actuality. Don't tell me what theKoran says, because the Koran, like every other holybook, is all over the map, ok. No, tell me what ishappening on the ground."

She continues, her voice hard and rhythmic, "Tell mewhen your people vote in free elections. Tell me howmany free uncensored newspapers there are in your'democracy'. There is I believe, such a thing as thesoft racism of low expectations. And I believe thatthere is more virtue in expecting Muslims like anybodyelse, to rise above low expectations, because you knowwhat? We're capable of it."

It will not ultimately be Western bombs or Westernmarkets that defeat Islamic fundamentalism. It will bewomen like Irshad, refusing to allow their religion tobe dominated by fanatics. But there are a lot ofpeople who want to stop her. "I actually don't live mylife in fear, no not at all," she says, not entirelyconvincingly. "In fact I'll tell you right now, Ideliberately did not bring my bodyguard to Britainwith me against the better judgement of many peoplewho want to see me alive."

"If I am going to convince young Muslims in particularthat it is possible to dissent, and live, I can't besending the mixed message of having the bodyguardshadowing me wherever I go," she says, her voice nowuncharacteristically low and soft. "Even if somethingterrible happens, I stand by the decision, because Ithink at this stage it is far more important to giveyoung people hope, to give them a sense of realoptimism that there is room to be unorthodox."
10444  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 26, 2009, 08:32:22 PM

A Canadian feminist, openly lesbian muslim trying to spur a reform in islam. She faces constant threats, and it ain't from rednecks in pickups.
10445  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: We the Well-armed People on: March 26, 2009, 07:41:06 PM
The Mexican cartels recruit open from the Mexican military and police. When they desert to go to work for the cartels, guess what they take along? Then there are Los Zetas....
10446  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 26, 2009, 07:36:59 PM
The crusades happened after 300 years of muslim invasion and oppression in europe.
10447  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 25, 2009, 11:29:58 PM

Start here, JDN.
10448  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 25, 2009, 11:25:57 PM
I'm not sure.  I think GM makes a good point about "those that go public tend to be killed or ...."
However, on the second point, let's substitute Christianity and Jesus.  If "Jesus" is the final prophet (son of God) and is the perfect embodiment of humanity and the "Bible" is the
direct word of God, then how do you ignore verses commanding that the non "Christians" be forced to submit to.... God. 

**The old testament had the Israelites waging war in a specific place and time. There is no part of the torah that Jewish theologians interpret as commanding Jews to wage war forever. The same with Christian theology and the old and new testaments. Not one endorses eternal war against non-believers. Jesus absolutely refused to be a political leader and taught "Render unto Caesar...."**

The Bible, especially the old testament is full of versus stating in essence, kill the infidels.
Not much different than a jihad.   

**Very different, as I previously pointed out.**

Yet, on another post (I forget by whom) it was mentioned that Christianity has "evolved".  I and I think most people will agree.  So isn't this possible for Islam?  And as BbyG pointed out, how do we "encourage moderates to take the path toward reformation?"

Well, to start we protect free speech. Unfortunately, the left allies it's self with jihadists to use "hate speech" laws to silence those that would scrutinize islam in the same way judaism and christianity are deconstructed.
10449  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Islam in America and the rest of the western hemisphere on: March 25, 2009, 10:08:29 AM
BbG said, "I think our response needs to be two pronged: take on the zealots and encourage moderates to take the path toward reformation. The last thing we need to be is as myopic as our opponent."

It has been awhile  grin  but I agree with you.  A lot of time and discussion has been spent "taking on the zealots" and I too support aggressive measures towards zealots, but what do you suggest or what have you read that is interesting and persuasive that will "encourage moderates to take the path toward reformation."  I think it was GM who commented about the noted silence of these "good" Muslims assuming GM believes there are any "good" muslims  smiley  He has a point; I too noted their silence.  So what can be done to encourage that moderates take the path toward reformation?

Those that wish to reform islam tend to hide as those that go public tend to be killed or live under police protection from their fellow muslims.

Aside from that, the core theological issue preventing the islamic reformation is changing the words and conduct of Muhammad. If he is the final prophet of allah and the perfect embodiment of humanity and the qu'aran is the direct word of allah, then how do you ignore the verses commanding that non-muslims be forced to submit to islam via jihad?
10450  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Kool-aid turning bitter-alert! on: March 24, 2009, 08:00:31 PM

The public starts to notice the empty-suit behind the podium.
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