Saturday, February 9, 2008

Your Healthy Video Addiction is Here: Laura Ingraham at CPAC

Laura Ingraham has the best talk radio program on the airwaves these days.

This week she had the honour of introducing Mitt Romney at CPAC.

Here's video of her brief introductory speech.

Boy did the New York Times get it wrong

Here's further proof that the U.S. State Department is and was inhabited by people who don't have a clue what the hell they're doing. Please note the date.

The Declining Terrorist Threat
Published: July 10, 2001
Judging from news reports and the portrayal of villains in our popular entertainment, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact.

. . .

The greatest risk is clear: if you are drilling for oil in Colombia -- or in nations like Ecuador, Nigeria or Indonesia -- you should take appropriate precautions; otherwise Americans have little to fear.

Although high-profile incidents have fostered the perception that terrorism is becoming more lethal, the numbers say otherwise, and early signs suggest that the decade beginning in 2000 will continue the downward trend.

. . .

I hope for a world where facts, not fiction, determine our policy. While terrorism is not vanquished, in a world where thousands of nuclear warheads are still aimed across the continents, terrorism is not the biggest security challenge confronting the United States, and it should not be portrayed that way.

Larry C. Johnson is a former State Department counterterrorism specialist.

(Hat Tip Atlas Shrugs)

Geert Wilders' surprise ending

In an interview with Dutch GPD news agency, MP Geert Wilders has revealed more details about his controversial upcoming film about the Koran.

Dutch authorities are concerned about riots breaking out because there are rumours that Wilders will burn a Koran in the documentary.

Wilders, however, gave a hint in his interview about what may cause Muslim anger, but it has to do with an image of Mohammed, not the Koran.

Wilders also gave some more details about what would be shown in the film, which for months has been causing concern in the Netherlands.

It would lead viewers through the Koran, Islam's holy book, he said, and show texts illustrated by documentary video images to show the Koran is not a symbolic text "but that Islam can take away our freedom unless we act against it".

In the end the film returns to the situation in the Netherlands and finishes with a picture of the prophet Mohammed, he explained. Muslims consider images of their religion's founder to be blasphemous.

"Something will happen to that picture but I won't say what," Wilders said.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Iran: Death penalty proposed for apostates

Why not? They already have it for suspected adultry.

From Compass Direct News

ISTANBUL, February 8 (Compass Direct News) – The Iranian parliament may mandate the death penalty for citizens who leave Islam, a human rights group announced this week.

For the first time in Iranian history, a proposed penal code demands the death penalty for “apostates,” according to a February 5 statement by the Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP).

“Apostasy was always illegal, but the court could hand down a jail term, hard labor or the death penalty,” said IRPP President Joseph Grieboski. “Now apostasy [would only] get the death penalty.”

Iran has used the “apostasy” law to target Muslim converts to Christianity, liberal thinkers and members of Iran’s Baha’i religious minority.

“This is not something new, they just want to be more harsh towards those who are leaving Islam,” an Iranian pastor told Compass.

No converts to Christianity have been convicted of “apostasy” since international pressure forced officials to drop the death sentence of Christian convert Mehdi Dibaj in 1994. But in the years following the convert’s release, Dibaj and four other Protestant pastors, both converts and those working with converts, have been brutally murdered.

The murderers of the Christians have never been brought to justice. Local believers suspect the government played a role in the killings.

“They began assassinating pastors and Christian workers,” said the Iranian pastor, who requested anonymity. “Legally, they did not take them to court, but they just killed them and said that they hanged themselves and gave some other excuses.”

‘Hardship’ for Women

The penal code proposal, already approved by the Iranian cabinet a month ago, appears to have the necessary parliamentary backing to be passed, an Iranian Christian told Compass.

Article 225 of the draft, posted on the IRPP website, stipulates two kinds of “apostasy,” “innate and parental,” both of which warrant the death penalty.

Innate “apostates” are those who grow up with at least one Muslim parent, are Muslims at the age of maturity and then later leave the faith, the article states.

“Punishment for an Innate Apostate is death,” section seven of the article stipulates.

Known as “parental apostates,” citizens who grow up in non-Muslim homes, convert to Islam as adults and then later decide to leave are to be given a chance to repent before their execution, the draft states.

“… After the final sentencing for three days, he/she would be guided to the right path and encouraged to recant his/her belief,” the article stipulates. “… If he/she refused, the death penalty would be carried out.”

Though sections of the draft appear to indicate that both men and women can be executed for apostasy, others limit execution to males who leave Islam. Section 225-10 states that convicted female “apostates” will be imprisoned for life.

The proposed law stipulates that “hardship” will be exercised on a female “apostate,” who will be immediately released if she recants. “The condition of hardship will be determined according to the religious laws,” the draft states.

Death Penalty for Drunkard

It remains unclear how far the government will go in implementing the revised apostasy law. In recent years no Christians are known to have been convicted of apostasy.

In May 2005 a former military officer and Muslim convert to Christianity was acquitted of apostasy by an Islamic court in Bandar-i Bushehr.

“This [new penal code] might open the hands of the fanatics to do more harm,” said the Iranian pastor. “It just depends which group [in the government] has more power, the radicals or the moderates.”

The new draft also extends the government’s jurisdiction to all actions taken outside of Iran, the IRPP reported. Article 112-3-1 of the draft refers to actions against “the internal and external security of the country,” but leaves the definition of “security” open to interpretation.

“Our concern lies in the fact that any movement anywhere can be tried if the government considers it being against Islam,” IRPP president Grieboski said.

A number of crimes, including repeated drunkenness, rape, murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, “apostasy,” adultery and male homosexuality are capital offenses in Iran.

Last week, a Tehran criminal court sentenced a 22-year-old man to death after he was caught a fourth time in possession of alcohol and in a state of drunkenness.

At least 28 convicts were executed in January, the BBC reported. According to the news agency, human rights groups said that Iran carried out the death penalty on nearly 300 people last year.

The Implausibility of Nuclear Terrorism

From Human Events.

Far from being plausible, argued Ohio State University professor John Mueller in a recent presentation at the University of Chicago, "the likelihood that a terrorist group will come up with an atomic bomb seems to be vanishingly small."

The events required to make that happen comprise a multitude of Herculean tasks. First, a terrorist group has to get a bomb or fissile material, perhaps from Russia's inventory of decommissioned warheads. If that were easy, one would have already gone missing.

Besides, those devices are probably no longer a danger, since weapons that are not scrupulously maintained (as those have not been) quickly become what one expert calls "radioactive scrap metal." If terrorists were able to steal a Pakistani bomb, they would still have to defeat the arming codes and other safeguards designed to prevent unauthorized use. As for Iran, no nuclear state has ever given a bomb to an ally -- for reasons even the Iranians can grasp.

Stealing some 100 pounds of bomb fuel would require help from rogue individuals inside some government who are prepared to jeopardize their own lives. The terrorists, notes Mueller, would then have to spirit it "hundreds of miles out of the country over unfamiliar terrain, and probably while being pursued by security forces."

Then comes the task of building a bomb. It's not something you can gin up with spare parts and power tools in your garage. It requires millions of dollars, a safe haven and advanced equipment -- plus people with specialized skills, lots of time and a willingness to die for the cause. And if al-Qaida could make a prototype, another obstacle would emerge: There is no guarantee it would work, and there is no way to test it.

Assuming the jihadists vault over those Himalayas, they would have to deliver the weapon onto American soil. Sure, drug smugglers bring in contraband all the time -- but seeking their help would confront the plotters with possible exposure or extortion. This, like every other step in the entire process, means expanding the circle of people who know what's going on, multiplying the chance someone will blab, back out or screw up.

Mueller recalls that after the Irish Republican Army failed in an attempt to blow up British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, it said, "We only have to be lucky once. You will have to be lucky always." Al-Qaida, he says, faces a very different challenge: For it to carry out a nuclear attack, everything has to go right. For us to escape, only one thing has to go wrong.

That has heartening implications. If Osama bin Laden embarks on the project, he has only a minuscule chance of seeing it bear fruit. Given the formidable odds, he probably won't bother.

None of this means we should stop trying to minimize the risk by securing nuclear stockpiles, monitoring terrorist communications and improving port screening. But it offers good reason to think that in this war, it appears, the worst eventuality is one that will never happen.

Hundreds in Toronto get extra welfare for polygamous unions

On the weekend, I was astonished to learn of a new policy approved in Britain that would give legal recognition to polygamy. I had a good chuckle.

Today, I'm shocked to discover, according to a Muslim community leader, that the same thing is already happening in my own province.

Hundreds of GTA {CG: Greater Toronto Area} Muslim men in polygamous marriages -- some with a harem of wives -- are receiving welfare and social benefits for each of their spouses, thanks to the city and province, Muslim leaders say.

Mumtaz Ali, president of the Canadian Society of Muslims, said wives in polygamous marriages are recognized as spouses under the Ontario Family Law Act, providing they were legally married under Muslim laws abroad.

"Polygamy is a regular part of life for many Muslims," Ali said yesterday. "Ontario recognizes religious marriages for Muslims and others."

He estimates "several hundred" GTA husbands in polygamous marriages are receiving benefits. Under Islamic law, a Muslim man is permitted to have up to four spouses.

However, city and provincial officials said legally a welfare applicant can claim only one spouse. Other adults living in the same household can apply for welfare independently.

The average recipient with a child can receive about $1,500 monthly, city officials said.


In addressing the issue of polygamous marriages, the preamble to the Ontario Family Law Act states: "In the definition of 'spouse,' a reference to marriage includes a marriage that is actually or potentially polygamous, if it was celebrated in a jurisdiction whose system of law recognizes it as valid. R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 1 (2)."

"There are many people in the community who are taking advantage of this," Ali said. "This is a law and there's nothing wrong with it."

Immigration officials said yesterday that polygamous marriages aren't allowed in Canada, but that contradicts the provincial law.

"Canada is a very liberal-minded country," Ali said. "Canada is way ahead of Britain in this respect."

He said Britain recently began permitting husbands to collect benefits for each of their wives.

The British government recently admitted that nearly a thousand men are living legally with multiple wives in Britain. Although the families are entitled to claim social security for each wife, the department for work and pensions said it has not counted how many are on benefits.

In Canada, Ali said, the man and his main wife and children enter Canada as landed immigrants. The other spouses are sponsored or arrive as visitors to join their husband to share one home.


The families receiving benefits didn't want their identities released because it can lead to questions by authorities on how they entered Canada and can mean an end to their benefits, Ali said.

Brenda Nesbitt, the city's director of social services, said benefits are only paid to one spouse and names and addresses are cross-checked for possible fraud.

"There may be polygamous cases we are not aware off," Nesbitt said yesterday. "They can apply as single people and we won't know."

Ontario Community and Social Services spokesman Erike Botond said a social assistance benefit may only include one spouse. "Other adults residing in the same dwelling place as a recipient and their spouse may apply as individuals."

"I can assure you that polygamy is not recognized under immigration legislation," immigration spokesman Karen Shadd-Evelyn said yesterday. "A conjugal relationship, whether involving marriage or a common-law partnership, must be exclusive."

Mark Steyn says:

It's clear Canada, Britain and much of Europe have boarded the Sharia Train. What makes you think it's a stopping service that'll allow you to disembark at a station halfway down the track, rather than an express service to an inevitable destination?

Romney the next Reagan?

Bryan at Hot Air is not ready to say that yet, but he's making a lot of suggestions that could make Romney the next leader of the conservative movement.

In dropping out of the GOP race Thursday, Mitt Romney showed a great deal of class and a flair for the dramatic. But what’s next? In particular, if he really does see 2008 as 1976, what does he have to do to convince conservatives that he could be the next Reagan?

Mitt Romney is not the next Ronald Reagan, at least not yet. That’s not a personal criticism of him, it’s just a reflection of the fact that Reagan spent a good 30 years prior to 1976 studying and speaking out on the Communist threat, he spent two terms as the governor of the country’s most populous state, and built and led a movement that was always larger than himself. Reagan was always about the battle of ideas and moving the country away from big government and toward smaller government. In a serious way, Reagan led an ideological war against Communism that culminated the year after he left office, when the Berlin Wall came down. There is no analogous political figure on the scene today, who has spent decades studying the threat we face now from al Qaeda and its ideological allies. There just isn’t. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that there is and no one at this point has earned Reagan’s mantle.

. . .

The good news for him is that he has a few years in which the conservative mantle is up for grabs. No one owns it or has earned it. It could be his if he chooses to earn it. Reagan changed his positions on some issues over time, so it’s not the case that an honest change of mind is permanent political poison. It’s not. But Romney has to prove that where he is now is where he will always be and that he’s a studied and worthy leader.

Depending on the outcome this fall, Romney either has 4 or 8 years to prove that he is in his ideological home for good. To do that, we’ll need to hear from him through the years. Reagan didn’t go away after 1976. He stayed active and kept ready for 1980.

Romney’s personal wealth gives him an advantage over a Mike Huckabee when it comes to establishing himself as a conservative center of gravity. He can and probably will hold summits with fellow conservatives, maybe his own version of Restoration Weekend or even a kind of CPAC, but he should also stay active in events and groups like that that already exist. Build your own but not at their expense to expand the conservative movement’s arsenal rather than create factions and fissures. He can use his wealth to engage in entrepreneurial conservatism, by building or publicly supporting new media alternatives to the Soros-backed MoveOn, Media Matters and the like. And he can also continue to generate more money for the conservative cause through private enterprise and personal persuasion.

But over and above that, he has to show conservatives that he’s engaged in the battle of ideas personally and not just throwing money at them. He has to study up, in a serious and patient way, on the jihadist threat, the broader security threat environment including the role that border insecurity plays not only in terrorism but in violent crime, drug and human trafficking and identity theft. And he has to show that his social conservatism wasn’t forged out of convenience.

"I guess it has to do with the mood in Europe, which is appeasement"

As Canada and the U.S. spend this week trying to convince their European NATO allies to ante up more troops for the mission in Afghanistan, a veteran diplomat from Singapore, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, sums up the situation best in this interview with UPI.

A: I'm surprised at NATO, some of whose members have such short memories. They can't seem to project into the future their experiences of the past. Do they believe the Russians have been defanged forever? Do they believe Europe is at peace and can remain at peace forever? This is a globalized world. So for NATO members to balk at casualties when America came to rescue them in two world wars, I simply cannot fathom. I guess it has to do with the mood in Europe, which is appeasement, and the shift from papa Bush to Madeleine Albright as the indispensable power with an uncertain trumpet, and then, of course, the neocons who persuaded the Europeans that it was America's show, and no longer theirs. Supposing America had kept to the papa Bush line of thinking and coalition building, Europe would have understood that while they are targeting America today, Europe would be next.

Q: So you do feel that NATO's future is at stake in Afghanistan?

A: No doubt about it. But you should also realize Afghanistan cannot succeed as a democracy. You attempted too much. Let the warlords sort it out in such a way you don't try to build a new state. The British tried it and failed. Just make clear if they commit aggression again and offer safe haven to Taliban, they will be punished.

The only point I disagree with is his assertion that "neocon" bullying alienated many European countries from being coalition partners. That is just hogwash. As was witnessed in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. tried coalition building with the Euros and Canada at the UN at the urging of Colin Powell. All that led to was an international platform for some European leaders to bash the U.S.

I also question his opinion that democracy will not succeed in Afghanistan. He may be correct. Democracy may or may not work in Afghanistan, but currently Afghanistan (and Iraq) has a faux democracy anchored in Shari'a law. It's hard to judge the effectiveness of democracies in those countries when their government institutions are not democratic but religious.

Sharia courts already in place in UK

Yesterday, I told you about the controversy involving the Bishop of Canterbury's call for Sharia law in the UK.
Today, the Times of London reports that Sharia courts are already is a fact of life in the UK and has been used even in violent disputes.

Sharia courts have already spread across Britain and are being used as an alternative and informal legal system by many British Muslims.

Unofficial Sharia courts, such as those run by the Islamic Sharia Council, hear cases across the country from Leyton in East London to Dewsbury in Yorkshire.

. . .

The first court started in Birmingham in 1982. There are now about ten courts, with three in London and others in Birmingham, Rotherham and Dewsbury. They cater to Muslims of various ethnic backgrounds, mainly from the Indian sub-continent, but also many from Arab and Somalian backgrounds.

Though their rulings have no basis in law, participants abide by them voluntarily and often settle their disputes without referral to British law authorities.

Most cases relate to matrimonial issues. An Islamic Council based in Leyton, East London, says that 95 per cent of about 7,000 cases the council had dealt with since it opened in 1982 dealt with divorce – specifically, with releasing women from bad or forced Islamic marriages.

Though rare, some British Muslims have used these courts as an alternative to English criminal law. Ayda-rus Yusuf, a youth worker from Soma-lia, told BBC Radio 4 last year that a stabbing case was decided upon by an unofficial “court” sitting in Woolwich, southeast London.

He told the Law in Action programme that a group of Somali youths were arrested on suspicion of stabbing another Somali teenager. The victim’s family told the police it would be settled out of court and the suspects were released on bail.

A hearing was allegedly held with elders deciding that the assailants should compensate the victim.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

McCain press spokesman fired for alleged assault

Earlier this week, The Washington Post wrote about McCain's temper with his colleagues in the Senate.

It would be dishonest to say it seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree at the McCain campaign as this staffer also worked for Mitt Romney when he was governor.

BOSTON - A 30-year-old man who worked as a press spokesman for John McCain has been arrested for allegedly punching his girlfriend, breaking one of her ribs.

Barry Flynn was fired by the McCain campaign after it learned about his arrest on Wednesday.

Flynn pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault and battery at his arraignment at Boston Municipal Court later Wednesday and was released on $500 bail.

Flynn had been a spokesman for the McCain campaign since August.

According to court records, Flynn also was arrested in 2003 on charges of domestic violence against the same woman.

After that incident, Flynn was fired from his job working for Mitt Romney, who was then governor of Massachusetts and is now McCain's rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

Police went to Flynn's Marlborough Street apartment early Wednesday and found him standing outside. He told police he'd had an argument with his girlfriend and he feared she was destroying his belongings, according to a police report.

She told officers she "was afraid of her boyfriend and that he had repeatedly beaten her during their five-year relationship," according to the report. She told them that on Jan. 10 Flynn punched her in the shoulder and ribs, breaking one of them.

Shep Smith attacks Naomi Wolf on Fox

This is great.

Sharia law unavoidable: Archbishop of Canterbury

Jewish tourists being stoned, legalized bigamy, death threats against bishops and now this. What is going on in the UK?

THE adoption of Sharia law in the UK is 'unavoidable', according to the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4's World at One that some of the UK's citizens do not relate to the British legal system and that the nation must "face up to that fact".

Muslims should be able to choose whether to have issues like marital disputes or financial matters dealt with in either the existing legal system OR in Sharia-complain proceedings, Dr Williams proposed.

He added Muslims should not have to choose between the "stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".

But Dr Williams also stated the proposals rely on Sharia law being better understood.

Last month the Bishop of Rochester The Right Reverend Dr Michael Nazir-Ali said non-Muslims may find it hard to live or work in some areas of the UK due to multicultural divides.

He has since received death threats and has been placed under police protection.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

McCain not comfortable with Pentagon trying terror suspect

Reason number 1,023 why conservatives are not crazy about John McCain.

GUANTANAMO BAY–A U.S. senator who backed the military law under which Toronto detainee Omar Khadr is charged has told the Wall Street Journal that he is "not comfortable" with the Pentagon trying a minor.

Khadr was 15 when captured in Afghanistan following a firefight with U.S. Special Forces. He's charged with five war crimes including murder for the death of Delta Force soldier and medic Christopher Speer.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a principal backer of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, said while he supports military justice for suspected terrorists he leans against trying juvenile offenders.

"I'm not comfortable on an issue like this with minors," Graham told a Wall Street Journal reporter on board Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign plane.

When asked about his position on the issue McCain didn't answer directly but said "I do rely on Lindsey to a large degree," regarding detainee issues.

Reagan at 97

Today mark's the 97th anniversary of the birth of the greatest president of the second half of twentieth century, Ronald Reagan.

I recently read a number of Reagan biographies and absorbed as much information available about the former preisdent on the Internet.

What I discovered was the before he became president Reagan wrote virtually all of his speeches and all of his daily radio addresses that were syndicated nationally in the late 1970s.

Reagan was a very intelligent man and a great writer.

However, after reading most of his speeches, I found this impromptu speech given off-the-cuff at the closing of the 1976 Republican convention my favourite.

'76 Convention Closer
Remarks of the Honorable Ronald Reagan
At the 31st Republican National Convention
August 19, 1976

This speech was delivered impromptu at the Republican National Convention at the urging of President Gerald Ford. 798 words

Thank you very much. Mr. President, Mrs. Ford, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Vice President to be--(Applause and laughter)--the distinguished guests here, and you ladies and gentlemen: I am going to say fellow Republicans here, but also those who are watching from a distance, all of those millions of Democrats and Independents who I know are looking for a cause around which to rally and which I believe we can give them. (Applause)

Mr. President, before you arrived tonight, these wonderful people here when we came in gave Nancy and myself a welcome. That, plus this, and plus your kindness and generosity in honoring us by bringing us down here will give us a memory that will live in our hearts forever. (Applause)

Watching on television these last few nights, and I have seen you also with the warmth that you greeted Nancy, and you also filled my heart with joy when you did that. (Applause)

May I just say some words. There are cynics who say that a party platform is something that no one bothers to read and it doesn't very often amount to much.

Whether it is different this time than it has ever been before, I believe the Republican Party has a platform that is a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades. (Applause)

We have just heard a call to arms based on that platform, and a call to us to really be successful in communicating and reveal to the American people the difference between this platform and the platform of the opposing party, which is nothing but a revamp and a reissue and a running of a late, late show of the thing that we have been hearing from them for the last 40 years. (Applause)

If I could just take a moment; I had an assignment the other day. Someone asked me to write a letter for a time capsule that is going to be opened in Los Angeles a hundred years from now, on our Tricentennial.

It sounded like an easy assignment. They suggested I write something about the problems and the issues today. I set out to do so, riding down the coast in an automobile, looking at the blue Pacific out on one side and the Santa Ynez Mountains on the other, and I couldn't help but wonder if it was going to be that beautiful a hundred years from now as it was on that summer day.

Then as I tried to write--let your own minds turn to that task. You are going to write for people a hundred years from now, who know all about us. We know nothing about them. We don't know what kind of a world they will be living in.

And suddenly I thought to myself if I write of the problems, they will be the domestic problems the President spoke of here tonight; the challenges confronting us, the erosion of freedom that has taken place under Democratic rule in this country, the invasion of private rights, the controls and restrictions on the vitality of the great free economy that we enjoy. These are our challenges that we must meet.

And then again there is that challenge of which he spoke that we live in a world in which the great powers have poised and aimed at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive at each other's country and destroy, virtually, the civilized world we live in.

And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge. Whether they have the freedoms that we have known up until now will depend on what we do here.

Will they look back with appreciation and say, "Thank God for those people in 1976 who headed off that loss of freedom, who kept us now 100 years later free, who kept our world from nuclear destruction"?

And if we failed, they probably won't get to read the letter at all because it spoke of individual freedom, and they won't be allowed to talk of that or read of it.

This is our challenge; and this is why here in this hall tonight, better than we have ever done before, we have got to quit talking to each other and about each other and go out and communicate to the world that we may be fewer in numbers than we have ever been, but we carry the message they are waiting for.

We must go forth from here united, determined that what a great general said a few years ago is true: There is no substitute for victory, Mr. President. (Applause)

If you want to hear more of Reagan's speeches, someone on YouTube has assembled an audio collection, including the Evil Empire speech.

These speeches are testement to just how great a politician Reagan was.

Al Qaeda has plans to attack the White House

Lost in all the stories about the CIA admitting it waterboarded some terrorists was this testimony to the Senate.

Senior al Qaeda leaders have diverted operatives from Iraq across the globe and are increasing preparations to strike the United States, senior intelligence officials told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday. They said the terrorists had plans to attack the White House as recently as 2006.

"Al Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S. — the identification, training and positioning of operatives for an attack in the homeland," said Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, which oversees all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Mr. McConnell revealed that al Qaeda had plans to specifically target the White House.

"It [al Qaeda] probably will continue to devote some effort towards honoring bin Laden's request in 2005 that al Qaeda attempt to strike the United States, affirmed publicly by current al Qaeda leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri in a November 2006 threat against the White House," he said.

White House officials would not comment on specific security threats to the president or the White House.

Mitt Romney: NRO's John Kerry

Mark Steyn is blaming Mitt Romney's super Tuesday meltdown on the disconnect between conservative media elites and the GOP political machine created by Karl Rove.

Oh, dear. Mitt is beginning to feel like the conservative media's version of John Kerry, the guy the MSM thought they could drag across the finish line. Except we have a tougher problem, which Lisa and Stanley touched on. The default mode of the culture is liberal; the key levers of society are liberal. Bush-era strategists have largely ignored that reality in favor of get-out-the-vote and other organizational techniques. The defects of that approach seem increasingly apparent.

Meanwhile, Joe Scarborough blames the media, which he says is anti-Romney.

Here's a shocking thing, and I know it's going to stun a lot of people, and I hate to make a leap of faith here, but from where I come from, 207 [Romney's delegate count] is higher than 142 [Huckabee's ]. Now I am not being a smart aleck, but I can read numbers and the news media can read numbers, and if the news media looked past the end of their nose, and looked past the narrative that they wanted to tell, they would also bring up something else, Mika: they would bring up the fact that Mike Huckabee had a wonderful night last night, but the only other state in the Deep South, that is his home base, from now till the end of the process: Mississippi . . . I have to point this out time and time again: I am not in the tank for Mitt Romney.

I am flabbergasted that people in the media are as blinded by hatred for one candidate. I know all the other candidates have said they hate Mitt Romney: it's everybody against Romney, and that's fine: they can hate him if they want. But the news media is supposed to report dispassionately. If they did, they would look at the future calendar and say this . . . as we move forward friends, right now, John McCain is not the presumptive nominee, but he is close to that. A couple of more big wins for John McCain and he will represent the Republican party this fall.

But as we move forward, the states that are going to be on the calendar are states where Mike Huckabee will not be as strong unless he expands dramatically past his evangelical base. What does that mean? That means Mitt Romney finally has what Mitt Romney has wanted since Iowa: a one-on-one where the conservative runs against the moderate. One other thing that Mitt Romney has: money.

Now if you look at the calendar, if you look at what's coming up in the future, you don't say that this is Mitt Romney's to lose. But you sure as hell don't say he should drop out of the race. We heard that Mitt Romney should drop out of the race after Iowa, after New Hampshire, after Florida. It continues, over and over again, and I'll be damned if we didn't hear it again last night. We've been beating this drum -- look at all the states the man won. He won Maine, he won Massachusetts, he won Michigan. He won all of those states; he's got the second most delegates; he's got the most money. And yet the media continues to scream: "drop out."

I couldn't help but notice that on Fox Tuesday night, Bill Kristol, who I hear is a a McCain supporter, said that Romney had to get out of the race, but nothing about Huckabee who won fewer delegates.

I agree with Scarborough up to a point. I believe this race is mathematically over and is McCain's.

After last night, there are 1,333 delegates still up for grabs. Romeny has 244 and needs 947 to reach the magic number of 1,191 delegates to win. In effect, Romney needs to win 71 per cent of the remaining delegates, with just five winner-take-all states remaining. Given his current performance and no sign Huckabee will drop out it's not possible.

I think Romney will stay in this race for two reasons.

1. By default, Romney has become the candidate of movement conservatives, including influential talk radio hosts Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. There's no doubt that Romney will be the star when he attends this week's CPAC convention. Ingraham will introduce him when he speaks tomorrow afternoon.

2. However, as the movement conservative's candidate, Romney is now in a position to solidify these new allies within the party for a bid in 2012 -- whether or not McCain wins the 2008 election.

The New York Times reports that Romney's team is not giving up and is even considering stealing Huckabee delegates who are not technically committed.

As an example of the Romney campaign’s hurriedly revised calculations, aides had begun discussing an unlikely strategy that relies on delegates who are pledged to other candidates but who are not technically bound to them. Under that plan, the advisers envision that conservative fears continue to work against Mr. McCain, buying time and fueling a series of big victories for Mr. Romney. That would place him at a point where he has enough momentum to wrest some of the promised but not bound delegates into his column at a contested convention.

“Anybody who says it’s all going to be a mathematical exercise is wrong,” said Tom D. Rath, a senior adviser in the Romney campaign. “The math will follow the politics.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday

Here's what to watch for when the results role in tonight for Super Tuesday results on the Republican side.

First let's look at the current delegate count (1,191 needed to win)

Delegates already won
McCain 97
Romney 92
Huckabee 29

Now let's look at the states which are first-past-the-post or winner-take-all and who is leading based on the Real Clear Politics Average of recent polls. We will see McCain has a huge edge here.

Winner Take All States RCP AVG
*New York 101 McCain +31
*Missouri 58 McCain +5.5
*Arizona 53 McCain +16
*New Jersey 52 McCain +26
*Utah 36 Romney (no polling)
*Connecticut 30 McCain +22
*Montana 25 McCain +18
*Delaware 18 McCain +18

So if these polling numbers hold, McCain will lead Romney 434 to 128
The best-case scenario looking at these numbers is Romney steals Missouri from McCain (Arizona is the only other state in play and no one thinks McCain is going to lose on his home turf).

So if Romney wins Missouri, the standings look like this 376 to 186. McCain still has a 2-1 advantage.

Proportional States RCP Average Delegate breakdown
California 173 McC 37 Rom 37 Huck 10 McC 64 Rom 64 Huck 10
Georgia 72 Mc 32 Rom 29 Huck 25 McC 23 Rom 21 Huck 18
Illinois 70 McC 39 Rom 23 Huck 15 McC 27 Rom 16 Huck 11
Tennessee 55 McC 29 Rom 23 Huck 26 McC 16 Rom 13 Huck 14
Alabama 48 McC 38 Rom 19 Huck 33 McC 18 Rom 9 Huck 16
Colorado 46 McC 24 Rom 43 Huck 17 McC 11 Rom 20 Huck 8
Massachusetts 43 McC 32 Rom 54 Huck 5 McC 17 Rom 23 Huck 2
Minnesota 41 McC 41 Rom 17 Huck 22 McC 17 Rom 7 Huck 9
Oklahoma 41 McC 37 Rom 23 Huck 32 McC 15 Rom 9 Huck 13
(a)Arkansas 34 McC 20 Rom 35 Huck 45 McC 7 Rom 12 Huck 15
(b)West Virginia 30 McC 43 Rom 25 Huck 18 McC 13 Rom 8 Huck 5
(b)Alaska 29 McC 43 Rom 25 Huck 18 McC 12 Rom 7 Huck 5
(b)North Dakota 26 McC 43 Rom 25 Huck 18 McC 11 Rom 7 Huck 5

a) No polling. Gave Huck the win
b) No polling. Based results of RCP National numbers

Total McCain 256 Romney 215 Huck 125

In total, McCain is expected to have 632 Romney Romney 401.

The only way for Romney to catch McCain tonight would be to have a 16 per cent swing in his favour at McCain's expense in each of these other states. Not likely.

Video: Sean Hannity stumps pro-Obama focus group

Courtesy Hot Air

Hesham Islam does it again

Steve Emerson has the latest allegations against the high-ranking Pentagon official accused of running an "influence operation" on behalf of U.S. Muslim groups fronting for the radical Muslim Brotherhood.

At the urging of a subordinate, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England scheduled at least two meetings with foreign emissaries in direct contradiction of U.S. policy at the time. The meetings date back to 2005. They involved a Lebanese ambassador considered a proxy for the Syrian government and a leading member of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood.

U.S. policy at the time was not to engage in talks with either man, because they represent groups with whom the United States was not to communicate. The meetings were organized by England's special assistant for international affairs, Hesham Islam.

An invitation to Muslim Brotherhood official Husam al-Dairi was canceled in late 2005 after a senior State Department official heard about it and insisted it not take place. That official, J. Scott Carpenter, told IPT News he was shocked that such an invitation was issued, let alone that it was done without anyone consulting the State Department.

Carpenter was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs at the time and knew the meeting went against U.S. policy toward the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I said, ‘what are you talking about?'" he remembered in an interview last week. "It was a bad idea."

Without due deliberation, it is easy to send the wrong message "broad and near," Carpenter said. "If something like that were to come up and be blindsided … it's not just a procedural foul up. It could unwittingly create bigger problems for the United States government."

"When you have somebody who has a controversial background," Carpenter added, "you don't want to give the impression that the United States government is standing behind them."

Two discussions should have taken place, he said. One would debate whether the meeting should take place at all. If it was agreed it should, the next question should determine the level of government appropriate to meet someone from the Brotherhood. Deputy Defense Secretary is far too high, Carpenter said.

After Carpenter relayed his concerns to England's office, a staff member called back. She told him it would be "a huge hassle to postpone it" and if that happened, England's office would make it clear this was the result of the State Department "putting its foot down and [saying] the meeting should not take place."

Carpenter said that was fine by him. The episode, including the serendipitous way he learned about it, made him wonder whether other meetings like that took place without State Department consultation, he said.

"When the United States is meeting with dissidents, it is important to know who those dissidents are and what message we send by meeting with them. It is incredibly important that the wrong signal not be sent," Carpenter said.

That may have happened earlier in 2005, when England met with Farid Abboud, a Lebanese ambassador to Washington. Viewed as a proxy for the Syrian government, Abboud was frozen out by U.S. government officials working to isolate Syria, especially as tensions rose following the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The attack is widely suspected of having been orchestrated by Syria.

David Schenker, a former adviser in the Secretary of Defense's office on Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs, described Abboud's influence in Washington in an article column published last March in the Weekly Standard. Schenker described Abboud as "unabashedly pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah" and explained his diplomatic isolation resulted from that perception.

"Essentially, Abboud has spent the last six years of the Bush administration largely isolated, having little or no contact with executive branch personnel. Since 2003 Abboud has met with only one senior administration official--then Deputy Secretary of Defense-designate Gordan England--but the meeting happened only because of negligence on the part of one of England's junior staffers. As a matter of policy, the administration has treated Abboud as a Syrian official and has studiously avoided contact."

Schenker declined to discuss the controversy in England's office or Hesham Islam. But he confirmed that Islam is the "junior staffer" referenced in his article.

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said news of the invitations was a cause for concern.

"You have to wonder, what do you have, freelancers out there?" Hoekstra asked. "Clearly it's sending a conflicting message to some of these groups. When you have a lack of clarity it always creates problems."

Emmerson is also reporting that the dismissal of Pentagon Islam expert Stephen Coughlin and Islam's role could soon be the subject of a Congressional hearing.

Whatever the cause, Coughlin's pending departure from the Pentagon has generated concern on Capitol Hill. U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC, indicated she may try to organize an inquiry by the bipartisan House Anti-Terrorism Caucus.

What would Reagan do? Human rights in Iran edition

Michael Rubin notes how Ronald Reagan fought for freedom in Eastern Europe and contrasts that with the current Bush administration's handling of human rights abuses in Iran.

On April 9, 2007, Iranian security forces arrested Mahmoud Salehi, the former president of the Bakery Workers' Association in Saqez, a town in the Kurdistan province of northwestern Iran. They transferred him to prison in Sanandaj, the provincial capital, where he remains.

. . .

What a contrast there is between the silence greeting Salehi's pleas and those of Polish trade unionist Lech Walesa, who in August 1980 led a strike that the autocratic government in Warsaw deemed illegal. Rather than ignore the striking workers, U.S. president Ronald Reagan and various European leaders spoke out on Walesa's behalf. In 1983, Walesa won the Nobel Peace Prize and, upon communism's crumble, assumed Poland's presidency. Rather than enable history to repeat in Iran, though, U.S. and European silence condemns a new generation of Iranian Walesa's to rot in prison.

Malaysian airport customs seizes Bibles

Last week, I told you that a government ministry in Malaysia announced that 11 books critical of Islam had been banned.

This week, airport security authorities took their cue from the government and confiscated that dangerous Bible.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian customs officials seized 32 Bibles from a traveler, a church federation said Monday, adding its voice to a raft of complaints that the Muslim-majority country is becoming less tolerant of other religions.

The Royal Malaysian Customs department, however, said it was only trying to determine if the Bibles were imported for commercial purposes.

Custom officials at an airport in Kuala Lumpur took the Bibles from a Malaysian woman Jan. 28 on her return from the Philippines, according to the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia. She was carrying the Bibles for a study group, he said.

The woman was told that all religious materials had to be sent to the Internal Security Ministry's publications control unit for clearance, Shastri said, adding that he had never before heard of anyone being told to do this when bringing English-language Bibles into the country.

"It's getting from bad to worse," Shastri told The Associated Press. "This either points to a concerted effort to undermine the current practice of religious tolerance, or the religious enforcement authorities have been given a free hand and they are having a field day."

About 60 percent of Malaysia's 27 million people are Muslim Malays, who have generally lived peacefully with Christians, Buddhists and Hindus in the minority Chinese and Indians communities.

Ban on 'Allah'
However, the minorities have become increasingly worried that their constitutionally guaranteed right to worship is being gradually eroded. In a recent case that undermined minority confidence, the government banned the word "Allah" from Malay-language Bibles and other Christian publications, saying the word can only be used by Muslims.

Indians have also been enraged that their Hindu temples have been demolished by state authorities. Many legal disputes involving Muslims and non-Muslims have been ruled in favor of Muslims.

There is no evidence that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is encouraging the rise of Islamic tendencies in the country, and some critics have suggested it is the handiwork of overzealous Muslims in positions of authority.

However, Abdullah has been criticized for not reining in the Islamization process, which is threatening to tear the carefully nurtured racial peace in this multiethnic society.

In a statement, the Council of Churches called on Abdullah to publicly reassure Christians of their rights, and urged authorities to release the Bibles and issue a formal apology.

Customs department spokesman Iskandar Jaafar denied the Bibles were confiscated because of religious intolerance.

"It's the normal procedure" to check if so many books were being imported for commercial purposes, Jaafar said, adding that the Bibles had been sent to the Internal Security Ministry for vetting.

Bangladesh elderly convert dies of burns

From Compass News

DHAKA, Bangladesh, February 4 (Compass Direct News) – A 70-year-old woman convert from Islam died on Friday (February 1) from burns she suffered when unknown assailants in a Muslim-majority area about 150 miles northwest of the capital set her home on fire last month.

Rahima Beoa of Cinatuly village suffered burns over 70 to 80 percent of her body after the bamboo and wood home she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, also converts, was set ablaze on January 7, said Khaled Mintu, Rangpur regional supervisor of the Isha-e-Jamat (Jesus’ Church) Bangladesh denomination.

“Before her burial, the family members forgave those who set fire in the house and prayed to God that this kind of incident not occur anymore in this country,” Mintu told Compass. “They also prayed for a situation where Muslims and Christians can practice their own religion side by side peacefully.”

Family members did not file charges with police over Beoa’s death because they could not trace anyone to the arson, Mintu said. He added that filing charges would also hamper evangelistic efforts.

Area Isha-e-Jamat pastor Abdul Mabud Chowdhury said villagers were not only upset over Beoa’s planned February 13 baptism but angry with her daughter and son-in-law, 40-year-old Ashraful Islam, for converting to Christianity and for his evangelistic efforts.

“When he [Islam] went to the church more than two kilometers away from his house, some unknown people set ablaze his house,” Chowdhury said. “His mother-in-law and elder son were present in the house, which was also used as a place of worship and Bible study. The local people also came to know that his mother-in-law is a believer and would be baptized in the next month. So all the factors worked together to take revenge by burning his house.”

Isha means “Jesus” in Bangladesh and Jamat is an Islamic term for “church.” Thus, said a Christian in Bangladesh, in the local context the Isha-e-Jamat church name refers to Jesus’ church of people raised as Muslims. Ashraful was baptized at the end of 2003, and his wife was baptized in 2005, Mintu said.

Beoa received burns on her hands, legs, waist and other areas, Mintu told Compass. He added that she was given a Christian burial attended by about 100 people, including some Muslims.

Noting that Cinatuly village is in Rangpur district on the border with Lalmonirhat district, Mintu said that on the night of the attack, Beoa’s son-in-law Islam had gone to the Isha-e-Jamat church with his wife and two smallest children. The attackers set the home on fire while Islam’s 9-year-old boy and Beoa were sleeping, but the child managed to escape.

No relatives or neighbors came to put out the fire, he said, and the family also lost two head of cattle in one corner of the structure.

In 2006, Mintu said, more than 7,000 Muslims vandalized houses of area Christians. There are 50 Christian families of mostly Muslim upbringing within two miles, he said, including 18 families in the immediate area of Beoa’s home.

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Hollow platitudes about 'mutual understanding' and 'conversation' must end"

Gary Bauer says:

It is time for those interested in peace between Muslims and Christians to face some cold, hard facts. This is not the first Jihad. This is not the first Holy War. And any road to peace and mutual understanding must first travel back in time to acknowledge the historical truths about how conflicts between radical Islam and the rest of the world have been resolved. In the meantime, hollow platitudes about “mutual understanding” and “conversation” must end.

. . .

Recently, over 300 evangelical, mainline Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders sponsored a letter seeking “reconciliation” and “common ground” with Islam. The letter, “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” was issued as a response to a similar letter written to Christians by 138 Muslim leaders last fall. The Christian letter expressed regrets for the Crusades and for excesses of the “war on terror,” acknowledged Allah as the God of the Bible and insisted that, “without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.”

But while inter-faith dialogue can be useful, the letter failed to appreciate that a real conversation can take place only when both sides negotiate in good faith, in a spirit of mutual respect and with a willingness to address the truth of the disagreements at hand. One truth Christians must come to terms with is that Muslims are not looking to be one of many respected faiths active in the world. To the jihadists and their sympathizers, Islam’s place in the world is a zero-sum affair -- they will impose Islam on the world or die trying -- and pretending otherwise does no good in achieving understanding.

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, explained why he signed “Loving God and Neighbor Together,” by stating that “not signing could be damaging to these Christian brothers and sisters who live among Muslims.” Which is precisely the problem. If by not signing a letter that acknowledges, and asks forgiveness for, Christian crimes but that remains silent on those of Muslims Anderson feels he may provoke a backlash against Christians in Muslim nations, then clearly reconciliation is illusory.

Christians living in Muslim countries often face discrimination, and those who practice openly can be thrown in jail and even killed. Last July, 23 Christian Koreans were taken hostage, and a number were killed, by the Taliban in Afghanistan. But these Christian missionaries weren’t even trying to spread their faith, only providing aid and medical care to poor Afghans.

. . .

What’s more, while it’s fashionable to refer to Islam as the “religion of peace,” the truth is that Islamic terrorists invariably cite faith as the motivation behind their deplorable acts. And when some Muslim leaders insist non-Muslims must “convert or die,” it’s clear that Muslims are not ready to negotiate in good faith. Even dedicated Muslim leaders like Benazir Bhutto pay with their lives when they are willing to talk candidly with Westerners about reaching a peaceful co-existence.

I caution against the false hope of letters like “Loving God and Neighbor Together.”

At the end of the day, an enemy committed to the total destruction of western civilization must be defeated. It is essential that Christians recognize that any attempts at finding “common ground” or “mutual understanding” with Muslims will be fruitless unless and until Muslims stand up to confront their co-religionists’ use of faith to justify violence and the annihilation of the west.

Shadow Warriors on WMD in Iraq

From Human Events.

Timmerman Exposes Saboteurs in Our Government
by Larry Kelley

Kenneth Timmerman’s new book, Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs, and the Party of Surrender, is a potent assault on the enemy within. The late great U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeanne Kirkpatrick once reflected upon her role in the war against the Communist bloc and its sycophants by remarking, “We understood that our words were weapons.” Now, in a world where ubiquitous Internet-bound words penetrate every private salon from Tehran to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Timmerman has detonated a rhetorical bunker buster.

. . .

Thanks to an unprecedented four-year propaganda offensive, most Americans have concluded that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had no relationship with al Qaeda and that it had no programs aimed at developing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. Timmerman easily eviscerates this version of conventional wisdom by quoting King Abdullah II of Jordan, who, on April 17, 2004, informed the world that his intelligence agency foiled a plot by al Qaeda to bring in from Syria 20 tons of Iraqi-made sarin gas and detonate it in the capital city of Amman. Estimates were that it would have killed 20,000 people, seven times 9/11, and eliminated the American embassy as well. It was stunning evidence that Iraq had not only moved stockpiles of WMD to Syria before the invasion but that the remnants of Saddam’s regime retained an operational link to al Qaeda. “It was a major, major operation,” King Abdullah said. “It would have decapitated the government.”

Some passages in Shadow Warriors take on the aspect of a John LeCarre Cold War thriller. For example, the book makes public for the first time reports that were sent to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense John Straw (one of the book’s few good guys) by a British spy, Stephen, a self-styled “Lawrence of Arabia,” who was on the ground inside Iraq in the weeks prior to the U.S.-led invasion and who saw the evacuation, cleanup and transportation of WMD stockpiles and production equipment. Stephen was able to observe the operation being conducted by non-uniformed Russian special forces (Spetsnatz) who loaded the drums of chemicals and biotoxins on huge 18-wheelers and shipped them to destinations inside Syria and Lebanon. Amazingly, Stephen’s network was so good that he was able to track the shipments to specific villages in Syria or to hospitals in Beirut and, in some cases, even to the specific doctor who received the drums. Straw also got corroborating reports of the Russian evacuation operation directly from the Ukrainian head of intelligence, Gen. Ihor Smeshko, whose agency refused to work with the CIA or any conventional U.S. intelligence agencies for fear of leaks that would, in turn, result in great political peril. The Ukrainians reported to Straw that the former head of the KGB, Yevgeny Primakov, who had a long-standing business relationship with Saddam Hussein, headed up the WMD evacuation operation and even learned its code name, Sarandar (Russian for emergency exit).

While the true import of the Amman interdiction and the King’s statements went largely underreported by the Western media, it gives extra gravity to Timmerman’s thesis because it demonstrates just how treacherous are the shadow warriors—the Bush enemies who, for much of this decade, have sought to undermine the administration’s war effort from their shadowy positions inside the CIA, State Department, Justice Department, the media, congressional staffs and even the Pentagon. Among other things, the book makes clear that these shadow warriors have no moral standing, because they have been guilty of working to undermine a legitimate war, a war in which Iraq is only one theater and in which the West is pitted against a very lethal enemy.

. . .

Someone noted that running U.S. foreign policy has a level of difficulty roughly equal to that of playing chess in three dimensions. Many of Timmerman’s readers will likely wonder why Bush did not make use of the reports sent from the British spy Stephen, documenting the Russian WMD evacuations, or the reports from Gen. Georges Sada, the former head of the Iraq air force, who, after the fall of Baghdad, returned to his native land and interviewed numerous pilots who flew WMD’s into Syria.

Why would President Bush have wanted the information to be buried when it could have vindicated him after suffering such a massive propaganda offensive waged by the media and their allies, the shadow warriors? The question might be answered definitively only by future historians, but Shadow Warriors poses a chilling and timely theory—Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney thought the reason was Iran. “With Iran moving faster than anyone thought in its nuclear programs, the administration needed the Russians, the Chinese and the French, and was not interested in information that would make them look bad.”

Video: An interview with the Salman Rushdie of Kurdistan

Mariwan Halabjaee has been called the Salman Rushdie of Kurdistan. As an established writer and prolific intellectual of Iraqi Kurdistan, Halabjaee in 2005 published the book "Sex, Sharia and Women in The History of Islam". Deemed blasphemous by the Kurdistan High Comission for Fatwa, the Islamic League of Kurdistan issued a "conditional" fatwa to kill him if he did not repent and apologize for writing his book. Thus forced to flee his home country, taking three children and a pregnant wife along with him, Mr. Halabjaee was granted asylum in Norway, were he now lives in hiding

"They are thinking, 'How's that gonna play on al-Jazeera?'"

UPI reports U.S. forces in Iraq are operating under rules of engagement that forbid troops from entering mosque without permission.

These rules are from 2005 and may have changed. I don't know what's more outrageous. The rules themselves or the fact they have been leaked?

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. military's rules of engagement in Iraq in the fall of 2005 forbade troops from entering mosques, even during a firefight, without the permission of senior commanders who would consult Iraqi authorities.

. . .

A copy of the rules, which are classified, was posted on the Web at the weekend by the organization Wikileaks, which says it aims to provide a secure way whistleblowers can "reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations" and favors government transparency.

In a special section on mosques and religious structures, the rules specify that -- though commanders on the ground may return fire, or even call in airstrikes, against a mosque that is being used by enemy forces -- U.S. troops will not enter such buildings, even during fighting, "without the approval of the (senior regional commander) in coordination with (the Iraqi ministries of defense and interior)."

If approval is granted, the rules say, Iraqi security forces will enter the building, "with cordon support from U.S. forces."

Similar restrictions govern the detention of clerics or imams.

. . .

Exum said that the Geneva Conventions allowed military action against so-called dual-use structures.

"Anything you are using (to fire from) … even a hospital, becomes a dual-use structure" and can be targeted, he said.

The U.S. rules went "above and beyond the requirements of international law," he said. "They are thinking, 'How's that gonna play on al-Jazeera?'"

Iranian sisters face stoning for adultry

It's bad enough Iran is developing a nuclear program and its leader wants to wipe Israel off the map, but isn't this sort of thing more than enough to make the nation a bigger pariah than South Africa was during the apartheid era?

There are also questions about whether adultry was even committed.

TEHRAN (AFP) - Two Iranian sisters convicted of adultery face being stoned to death after the supreme court upheld the death sentences against them, the Etemad newspaper Monday quoted their lawyer as saying.

The two were found guilty of adultery -- a capital crime in Islamic Iran -- after the husband of one sister presented video evidence showing them in the company of other men while he was away.

"Branch 23 of the supreme court has confirmed the stoning sentence," said their lawyer, Jabbar Solati.

The penal court of Tehran province had already sentenced the sisters identified only as Zohreh, 27, and Azar (no age given) to stoning, the daily said.

Solati explained that the two sisters had initially been tried for "illegal relations" and received 99 lashes. However in a second trial they were convicted of "adultery."

The pair admitted they were in the video presented by the husband but argued that there was no adultery as none of the footage showed them engaged in a sexual act with other men.

"There is no legal evidence whereby the judge could have the knowledge for issuing a stoning sentence," Solati said, adding that he had appealed to the state prosecutor.

"The two sisters have been tried twice for one crime," Solati protested.

Under Iran's Islamic law adultery is theoretically punishable by stoning, although in late 2002 judiciary head Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi issued a writ suspending such executions.

However in July 2007, Jafar Kiani was stoned to death for adultery in a village in the northwestern province of Qazvin in a rare execution by stoning that provoked a wave of international outrage.

Capital offences in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, serious drug trafficking and adultery. Iran currently makes more use of the death penalty -- almost always by hanging -- than any other country apart from China.

Zohreh's husband -- who accused his wife and her sister in January 2007 of having extra-marital affairs -- had planted a camera in his house in a bid to catch them in the act.

"She did not treat me well and her actions made me feel she did not want to live with me any more," said the husband, who was not named.

"To make sure I planted a camera in the house... When I watched the tape two days after, I found out that she and her sister brought over men after I left and had relationships with them," he said.

Zohreh said she had an edgy relationship with her husband because of the strict limits he imposed on her life.

"I was a teacher and loved my job but my husband did not let me work... he was always suspicious of me and thought our differences were because I had an affair," she was quoted as saying by the daily.

"I do not approve the confessions that I made in the investigation phase and I deny what I said," she said.

Etemad reported that the husband of the other sister, Azar, had not filed any complaint against her.

UPDATE: Nine minors condemned to death in Iran are waiting in prison for their 18th birthday when they will be executed.

h/t konservo at LGF

100,000 attend pro-secular rally in Turkey

From Turkish Daily News

More than 100,000 demonstrators flocked to Anıtkabir Saturday to demonstrate their opposition to the government’s headscarf move. Similar demonstrations took place in other provinces including İzmir, Antalya, Kayseri, Adana, Mersin, Sivas, Bartın, Bolu, Denizli, Çanakkale, Samsun, Bodrum and Zonguldak

The meeting led by women's organizations aimed to condemn the efforts of the government and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to lift the headscarf ban in universities turned into a huge pro-secularism rally in the capital Saturday with the participation of around 60 NGOs.

The protest came a few days after a large number of academics warned that lifting the ban would lead to chaos and clashes in universities and pave the way for Turkey to become a religious state.

More than 100,000 demonstrators led by the Republic Women's Association and the Association in Support of Contemporary Life (ÇYDD) flocked to Anıtkabir, the mausoleum of the Republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, to demonstrate their opposition to the headscarf in universities, expressing their faith in Atatürk and his reforms. The crowd chanted slogans against the alliance between the government and the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a move that will likely pave the way for women to wear the Islamic headscarf in state universities.

The images similar to those of the “Republican meetings” held last April and May in an effort to protest the possible presidential candidacy of President Abdullah Gül.

Protests spread throughout country

Similar demonstrations against the government's headscarf move have also spread to many other regions of the country including İzmir, Antalya, Kayseri, Adana, Mersin, Sivas, Bartın, Bolu, Denizli, Çanakkale, Samsun, Bodrum and Zonguldak over the weekend.

Crowds from every age group and gender gathered in Anıtkabir Saturday and chanted: “Tayyip, use headscarf to cover the head of Bahçeli (MHP leader)”; “Turkey is secular and will remain secular!” and “We are the soldiers of Atatürk,” while waving Turkish flags and denouncing Erdoğan's Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The representatives of the NGOs, led by ÇYDD Ankara Chairman Ülkü Günay, paid homage to Atatürk in front of his tomb where they placed a wreath of red and white carnations saying ‘For secular Turkey.' The group then sang the Turkish national anthem.

Günay wrote the following in the Anıtkabir visitors' book: “The reforms of the Republic are being abused by the ruling party [AKP] and its supporters for political reasons…Turkish women who managed to survive in dark times thanks to the republican reforms are now doomed to the headscarf, a symbol of captivity, which is now being dispalyed as a freedom. We are aware of this plot. We won't sacrifice our country to anti-revolutionary actions…”

Following the demonstration in Anıtkabir, some people wanted to march to the parliamentary building but police stopped them.

Meanwhile, the number of academics supporting the freedom to wear the headscarf reached 1,300. “We believe that universities are institutions which should exhibit a libertarian manner toward the freedom of speech, thought, faith and religion as well as basic human rights such as education,” they said in a written statement.

Erdoğan accuses opponents over plans to end headscarf ban:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, accused opponents of the government's plans to end a ban on Islamic headscarves in universities of dividing society and making politics of Atatürk and his philosophy.

"Are you not dividing society by accusing those who do not think or dress like you of being enemies of secularism and the regime?" Erdogan said late Saturday in a certificate award ceremony in Istanbul. "Are you not contradicting the fundamental philosophy of the republic... by thinking that universal values, freedoms and liberties are only valid for you? Are you not doing the most harm to the regime by abusing our uniting common values such as the republic, secularism and Atatürk for the sake of your ideological and political arguments?”

Erdogan argued that secular forces had nothing to fear from the pious masses and said the AKP would make sure that everyone's rights, regardless of their religious convictions, would be protected.

"People who are devout and who cover their hair are in favor of secularism just like anyone else. They are committed to the values of the republic," he said, adding, “"If anyone sees their lifestyle under threat and feels social pressure, they should know that the secular system and we, the protectors of secularism, are their guarantee."

The AKP has won the support of the MHP for the planned changes and the two parties have the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to amend the Constitution. Parliament is expected to vote this week on the AKP-sponsored reform which seeks to amend the constitution to ease the decades-long ban on headscarves for university students.

Norway firms gives ultimatum on prayers at work

From Islam in Europe.

Abdullahi Mohamed Yabarow and Mustafa Ali Hussein got an ultimatum from their employer: stop praying during work hours or lose your job.

The two friends Abdullahi Mohamed Yabarow (32) and Mustafa Ali Hussein (30), originally from Somalia, felt they had no choice. Hussein and Yabarow say they are believing Muslims and that it's very important for them to pray five times a day. It takes them 10 minutes of work time to pray and it's Islamophobia that they don't get permission to do so.

For close to two years Mustafa Ali Hussein got 314.70 kroner (~$58) less in pay a month for praying during work time. That was the agreement between him and his employer. Workplace laws allow an employer not to pay a salary for the time an employee does other things, such as prayer.

Hussein and Yabarow worked for Nor Tekstil in Drammen, which rents and washes textiles for companies and institutions all over Norway.

Operations manager Edith Støa says the two quit voluntarily and that they were allowed to pray at work but only during the lunch break. Støa says that she understand that not allowing Muslims to pray during work hours might look discriminating but she also has employees who smoke and they don't get breaks either.

The reason the company had chosen to ban prayers during work time after several years of allowing it for a reduction in salary is that they now have more clients.

Støa says they have an assembly line and she can't have employees suddenly disappearing. In the past they've been considerate of Muslims but now there are so many that they can't continue to allow prayer during work time.

Hussein and Yabarow know more employees in the same situation, where the employers doesn't allow prayer or reduces their pay.

Hussein says his problem isn't in finding a new job but to accept that he's not getting the possibility to practice his religious rituals during work-time, despite going down in salary. He feels religiously discriminated. He has never gotten complaints about his work.

Akhenaton Oddvar de Leon of the council of immigrant organizations in Oslo thinks that prayer has never been socially accepted among Norwegian employers, equal to smoking breaks and small-talk. Leon says it's not about discriminating but about morality. Employers should have more tolerance and be a little pratical when it comes to such challenges in the workplace.

The equality and discrimination ombudsman says that generally employees can't demand to pray during work-time and that it isn't automatically discriminating to prevent prayer during work hours. Margrethe Søbstad of the equality and discrimination ombudsman says that they can't rule out in concerete cases that there's an objective reason to refuse an employee to pray during worktime. The ombudsman asks all employers allow Muslims and others to pray during work-time as much as it's practically possible.

Abdullahi and Mustafa are currently looking for a job and hope they'll find one that allows them to pray during work. Hussein says he's not interested in praying in hiding at work. He's chosen to be faithful to his religion and he's proud of that.

UK Immigrants to be taught how to behave

Give me your huddled masses of budders, spitters, litterers and grabbers.

IMMIGRANTS should be given welcome packs advising them on social rules such as not touching people without their permission, according to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears today.

The welcome packs - which would be given out by local councils - will set out how to behave in the UK and contain information on social rules.

They will set out social rules like queuing in shops, not playing music loudly, not spitting, not touching people without their permission and not littering.

Ms Blears also set out new guidance aimed at making sure public money is being used for projects targeted at whole communities - not just one ethnic group.

The Government believe projects such as separate youth clubs for black or Asian children could establish division between different communities.

The guidance was suggested in response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion which conducted a 10-month review into the major challenges caused by increasing diversity.

Councils will be urged to produce information packs for new migrants telling them their duty to integrate into British life and contribute to the economy to help avoid community tensions.

Under the new guidance, people awarding taxpayers’ money to projects will have to consider if schemes provide opportunities for people from different backgrounds to mix or whether they inadvertently create divisions.

The guidance for councils and other public bodies is being published today for consultation.

Ms Blears said: “Narrow focused single group funding risks creating communities that stand apart, not together.

“We need fresh efforts to strengthen what we have in common rather than risk using public money on projects that might create communities which may unnecessarily keep people apart.

“Diversity remains a real strength of this country enriching our national life but creating strong, united communities is something we need to keep working at.

“There maybe cases where it is legitimate and necessary to target resources at dealing with a specific issue like working with young men to tackle gun crime in the black community - but overall we need a rebalancing in how we focus resources with much greater importance placed on integrating different communities.”

McCain' temperament

Expect this to be a common media theme if John McCain wins the Republican nomination.

McCain's temper.

In a chamber once known for cordiality if not outright gentility, McCain has battled his fellow senators for more than two decades in a fashion that has been forceful and sometimes personal. Now, with the conservative maverick on the brink of securing his party's presidential nomination, McCain's Republican colleagues are grappling with the idea of him at the top of their ticket.

"There would be a lot of people who would have to recalibrate their attitudes toward John," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R-Utah), a supporter of Mitt Romney's who has clashed with McCain.

Many Senate Republicans, even those who have jousted with McCain in the past, say their reassessment is underway. Sensing the increasing likelihood that he will be the nominee, GOP senators who have publicly fought with him are emphasizing his war-hero background and playing down past confrontations.

"I forgive him for whatever disagreements he has had with me. We can disagree on things, but I have great admiration for him," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who has often argued with McCain over government spending.

But others have outright rejected the idea of a McCain nomination and presidency, warning that his tirades suggest a temperament unfit for the Oval Office.
"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), also a senior member of the Appropriations panel, told the Boston Globe recently. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
A former colleague says McCain's abrasive nature would, at minimum, make his relations with Republicans on Capitol Hill uneasy if he were to become president. McCain could find himself the victim of Republicans who will not go the extra mile for him on legislative issues because of past grievances.

"John was very rough in the sandbox," said former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who is outspoken in his opposition to McCain's candidacy. "Everybody has a McCain story. If you work in the Senate for a while, you have a McCain story. . . . He hasn't built up a lot of goodwill."

Santorum was a fierce advocate for the GOP's social conservative wing -- a group particularly hostile to McCain because of his apostasy on immigration and same-sex marriage -- while Cochran is considered one of the more genteel senators. Both men back Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, for president.

. . .

Last spring, however, McCain's confrontational side reappeared during a closed-door meeting of senators from both parties. After spending six weeks away from the Senate, he showed up for final negotiations on a fragile immigration bill, leading Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) to question where he had been. McCain responded by swearing at Cornyn loudly and repeatedly, according to witnesses.

The complainer becomes the complainee

The imam who filed a human rights complaint against Ezra Levant is now getting local media attention for a complaint against him.

h/t: WriterMom at LGF.

CALGARY - Three Calgary Muslim women have filed a human rights complaint against a local imam, alleging they were treated unfairly at a recent meeting.

Qasira Shaheen, Robina Butt and Shugufta Iftikhar say they were discriminated against by Syed Soharwardy at an open house in November at the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre.

"We were discriminated against as women and were treated poorly, differently, negatively and adversely," they wrote in the complaint, filed in December with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

They claim they weren't allowed to ask questions, were physically and verbally threatened, were made to sit in the back of the hall and were eventually forced to leave.

Shaheen said the women attended the meeting to ask questions about donations made to the mosque.

She said the women decided to launch the complaint because they feel they were treated unfairly and "differently from men" at the meeting.

"It's just to get justice," she said.

The incident at the centre was videotaped and a DVD was included with the human rights complaint.

Soharwardy was unavailable for comment on Saturday.

However, he is quoted in the Washington Times, a daily newspaper in Washington D.C., as denying any abuses and saying he supports women's rights in Canada's Islamic community.

He alleged the women's husbands - his "enemies in the mosque" - put them up to the complaint.

Iftikhar's husband, Iftikhar Ahmed, who was at the meeting, said the complaint was necessary to protect women's rights in the local Muslim community. He said he supports the women's actions.

"There's not any difference for women," he said. "I just want (Soharwardy) in the general public to apologize to the women."

As well, Butt's husband, Najeeb Butt, added he has no personal fight against Soharwardy.

"These women had serious questions about the mosque committee and possible misuse of funds. And they were not permitted to participate as equal members of the Muslim community."

Shadow Warriors.

I want to get a copy of this book. Here's a preview.

Timmerman begins Shadow Warriors with an especially illustrative incident. After Bush's re-election in 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, concerned about the open contempt for Bush policy (and a parking lot filled with Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers)called a town meeting to remind his employees of their constitutional duty to support the president. "We live in a democracy," he said. "As Americans, we have to respect the results of elections."

An assistant secretary of state in attendance became 'increasingly agitated," Timmerman reports, and once Powell left, she held a meeting of her own where she issued an "open call to insubordination," Her rationale? Timmerman says she told her staff: "Well, Senator Kerry received the second-highest number of votes in American history, and if just one state had gone differently, Senator Kerry would be president today."

Monday Morning Links

Mitt Romney has made a huge flip flop on Vietnam

Obama shares Web site with Muslim supporters with links to radical Islam

Explaing how McCain ended up on top

Santorum telling reporters about McCain temper

Pakistan says it's helping in the War on Terror, but how was a top Al Qaeda operative able to move freely around before he was killed last week?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

UK Hospital worker canned after prayer room run in with guess who?

Credit this story for not using the euphamism Asian.

A HOSPITAL porter has been sacked after a row over a crucifix being covered up in a prayer room.

Joseph Protano, 54, was suspended four days after the incident last month at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Pendlebury.

He has now been dismissed for gross misconduct, but intends to appeal.

Police quizzed him for four hours last month, on suspicion of religiously aggravated assault, but he was released without charge.

He denies the allegations and must wait to see if police take any action.

The row centres on a prayer room available to staff and visitors of all faiths at the hospital, which contains a Virgin Mary statue and a crucifix.

Mr Protano, a Roman Catholic who has worked two years at the hospital, entered the room when three Muslims were using it - two patients and a doctor.

An argument broke out after he asked them to remove a cloth covering the crucifix and statue and to turn a picture of the Virgin Mary face up.

He said he was unable to comment on his sacking as the police probe and his plans to appeal were ongoing.

But a friend said: "He was very shocked at the decision.

"He thinks he has been treated terribly.

"He loves his job and doesn't do it for the money - until recently, his employers were paying just £5.88 an hour.

"They are saying he should not have gone into the prayer room and it is alleged he used racist language, which he totally refutes.

"His pay has been stopped, even though he intends to appeal, and he has had to sign on for benefits."

The friend said Mr Protano went into the prayer room about six times a day to check the statue and crucifix were not left covered.

He said as a Christian, he felt it could be upsetting for visiting parents to find them covered up.

The case has angered many hospital staff, who think he has been treated unfairly.

Police said a file had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide on any further action.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time that Muslims tried to take over a prayer room.

It's happened in Salt Lake City and in Minnesota.

Koran kerfuffle leads to deadly riot in Nigeria

I'm not in favour of desecrating the Koran, but I'm also less in favour of burning down churches. Doesn't seem like a proportional response.

If you read this story, you'll see it's the third such incident in recent Nigerian history.

h/t Different Drummer at LGF

Abuja - One person was killed and dozens wounded in religious violence Sunday in the Shira council area of Bauchi State in Nigeria's north-east, the state Police Commissioner Adanaya Talman-Gaya has said. He said that the protesters burnt down a police station and many places of worship in the area.

Talman-Gaya said the protesters torched the police station because police office on duty refused to hand over a woman taking refuge in the station. The woman was accused by the riotous mob of desecrating the Koran, the holy book of Islam, which is the predominant faith in northern Nigeria.

A witness said the incident set off violent unrest, leading to the destruction of many places of worship.

"Sensing danger, the lady in the centre of the crisis rushed to a nearby police station for refuge, but the angry mob besieged the station to demand for her release," the witness said.

"When the policemen on duty refused to succumb to the request, the mob became violent, making the police to open fire. In the Pandemonium which ensued between the rioters and the police, one person was killed."

The killing irritated the angry mob, who set the police station ablaze, the witness said.

Bauchi Governor Isa Yuguda visited the scene Sunday. Four people were killed in a similar confrontation that erupted on December 11-12 in the Yelwa area of Bauchi.

No fewer than 30 people were also killed in February 2006 during a similar religious uprising following the alleged desecration of the Koran by a female teacher in a state-run secondary schools in Bauchi.

In 1991, about 200 people were killed in sectarian violence in Bauchi State.