Friday 26 February 2010

The Muslim Brotherhood in the US

I've been meaning for some time to get some information "set in syber", for reference, on the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in the US.  As the Holy Land Foundation Trial of 2007 found, all major Muslim organisations in the US are fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The front for the Muslim Brotherhood are: the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Islamic Council of North America (ISNA).  In addition, the Muslim Student Associations in Colleges throughout the US are fronts for the Brotherhood.   Yet: all these organisations are viewed benignly by the American public and media and accepted as legitimate religious associations (when in fact they are political bodies) and, in the case of CAIR and ISNA they are the "go-to" guys for spokespersons representing allegedly "moderate" Islam in the US.  Their aim however, is the same as that of the Muslim Brotherhood, for that is who they represent.  They have set out a "General Strategic Goal" for the Brotherhood [1] in which the aim is to "settle" the US and that...
The process of settlement is a "Civilization-Jihadist Proecess" with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Brothers- ref 2] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.
If I'm criticised as being a conspiracy nut, I will make the following point: that conspiracies usually involve secrecy and intrigue.  While there's intrigue with the Brotherhood, there is no secrecy.  They are very clear on what they want to do: "... eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers...."  What can be clearer and more open-transparent?  And if we dismiss them as a bunch of extremist loonies, we should think again.  They have been a powerful force since inception and no government, not even Egypt when it was most keen to do so, has been able to crush them.

The Brotherhood is in the US.  It is there via the organisations listed above.  Each of these organisations is cozy with the US government and the US media.  These are facts.  Should they not be cause for concern rather than casual dismissal?
Update 2 Dec '11: The slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Allah is our objective
The Prophet is our leader
Koran is our law
Jihad is our way
Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.
Ref: Ayaan Hirsi-Ali

[1] An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood for North America.  Mohamaed Akram, Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood, May 1991.  This document also contains a list of all Muslim Brotherhood organisations in North America as of 1991.  (Ref here .)
[2]  Who are these people? Interesting little article on it here .  The picture above is courtesy that blog, and calligraphy means "In the name of God".  June 24, 2007.
[3]  The Muslim Brotherhood Project. I don't think this is a "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for Muslims.  The provenance seems sound.  It seems "kosher", as it were.

"Does anyone ever get it wrong?"

Alan Alanson in the South China Morning Post has a competition which really does test one's mettle.

Make four predictions in the business or economics area for the end of the year.  They have to be specific.  For example, his are:
So, first, a European or Eastern European government will default on or restructure its debt. Second, oil will hit US$100 again. Third, there will be a merger of two of the world's top media companies, and fourth, another one of the 50 largest American companies will face collapse.
My four:

[To Alan Alanson]:  Here are my four predictions for end Dec ‘10:
  1. The iPad will be a huge success, confounding the nay-sayers.
  2. Sharia-compliant Finance will be the subject of a US Congressional investigation
  3. The AusDoll will be worth more than one US$ by 31 Dec
  4. China will announce a major environmental policy — I don’t know what, but you’ll know what it is when you see it (in any case, you’re the judge!).
His article is here if you want to take part.

A pox on detox | Organic Foods

I've written before on the scam of "organic" foods.  Basically, there's no difference between the food you buy at the supermarket and the same stuff you pay three times as much for, which is labelled "organic".  No difference in amount of fertiliser or pesticides.   No difference in the amount of nutrition.

I thought the same about "detox" programs.  You know, the ones where you "get rid of poisons" in the body by "eating" only fruit juices and such like for a week or more.  That's supposed to rid you of toxins.  Problem is, there's zip evidence that it does.

And now we have a test to prove it. Last night BBC ran a program in which the premise was tested by taking two groups of randomly chosen young women, but with the same profile in terms of age, size, fitness, and so on.  They were tested in detail at the start: blood tests, urine tests, brain scans and so on.  Then they went on two diets, one of a normal balanced diet and one a standard "detox" program.
Result:  NO difference.
Of course, you may feel better eating "organic" foods, or going on a "detox" program and there's nothing wrong with that, for feeling better helps you to be better.  But it's all in the mind.

Should we get MAD again -- *AND* get even? | What to do if Islamists get the Bomb

Remember the MAD doctrine during the cold war?  It stood for "Mutually Assured Destruction.  

Sounds crazy, but it kept us safe in a post-war Nuclear world.  Simply put the doctrine was that "if you nuke me, I shall immediately retaliate with nukes in overwhelmingly destructive force."  Thus understood, both sides had a pretty powerful incentive to prevent any nuclear strike.  For what rational leader would want to press the button on the destruction, the annihilation, of his own people?  "None", is the answer.  For all the insanity of communism, post-war Soviet leaders had a natural antipathy to death, to commiting national suicide.  Ditto the US.  So this "MAD" doctrine, was sane and rational.

But what should we do if Al-Qaeda were to get hold of a nuclear weapon?  Given that they care nought for their own lives or those of their acolytes -- that death is simply "martyrdom", if the killing is done in the name of Allah -- there's no natural antipathy to death [1].  Indeed, they remind us often that "we love death more than you love life".  I was thinking of this when I came across a research piece by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, at the Harvard Kennedy School of the Belfer Center [2].

Mowatt-Larssen says:
Al Qaeda's patient, decade-long effort to steal or construct an improvised nuclear device (IND) flows from their perception of the benefits of producing the image of a mushroom cloud rising over a US city, just as the 9/11 attacks have altered the course of history.
This lofty aim helps explains why al Qaeda has consistently sought a bomb capable of producing a nuclear yield, as opposed to settling for the more expedient and realistic course of devising a "dirty bomb," or a radiological dispersal device.[3]
The premise is that Al-Qaeda is bent on obtaining a full-scale nuclear weapon, not just the makings of a "dirty bomb".  They want one that will explode a mushroom cloud over an American city.  You don't have to be a signed up member of the paleocon Right, or of the loony-Left to believe that this aim of theirs is entirely in keeping with what we know of Al-Qaeda: their desire to deeply wound the "Great Satan" with the ultimate aim of creating a world Islamic Caliphate, ruled by Sharia law, and to do so by terror if necessary. 

So, would MAD work, if they got hold of such a weapon?  Not if dealing with Al-Qaeda itself, clearly.  But they are sheltered by elements in Pakistan, who we know about.  And who don't  say "we love death more than you love life

Shouldn't there be a clear message from the US?  That if anyone -- anyone -- sets off a nuclear weapon in the United States, the US will retaliate immediately with overwhelming attack on Islamabad, on Peshawar and on Swat.  No question, no waiting.  Then count on those who do have some sway with OBL and AQ to do what needs to be done to ensure they don't do something truly "mad.

Innocent civilians killed?  Of course, as there would be in the US.  But this was also part of the US-Soviet balance in MAD -- there would clearly have been huge civilian casualties in the case of the cold war's going hot.  But that did not stop the implementation of the MAD strategy, a strategy that sanely kept us safe.

[1]  A recent example:  "We are a nation that excels in the production of the art of death.... We should think how to die for the sake of Allah...."  Egyptian cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, Al-Aqsa TV, 4-14 February, 2010.  (Full transcript here. )
[2Al Qaeda Weapons of Mass DestructionThreat: Hype or Reality?  Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, January 2010.  (here at original link or here PF's download pdf)
[3]  Introduction and Summary of Paper at [1] above.  Here .

Tuesday 23 February 2010

"Koran on my mind", the doco.

From Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
The keyword here is blackwhite. Like so many Newspeak words, this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
– Part II, Chapter IX — The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
We critics of Islam – and that’s what I am, a critic of Islam – are sometimes criticised for being bigoted, “Islamophobic”, for -- don’t we know? -- Islam is a "Religion of Peace", one of the three great Abrahamic religions.  Those who kill in the name of Islam are but a "tiny minority of extremists" who have hijacked this great religion.  If the Jihadists, or we critics, quote the Koran, we are cherry picking, for -- don’t we know?  -- one can cherry pick equally violent verses in the Bible.  We critics, in short, misunderstand Islam.  We should learn more about it and then we shall understand, not be so bigoted, be tolerant, accept Islam as just another of the religions in the wonderful tapestry of our cultures.

What are we to make, then, of those Imams in the west who quote the Koran, who tell their students that every word of the Koran is true, the word of God, and that to doubt even one word, even one letter, is to immediately cease to be Muslim?   And,  more, tell their acolytes that it is indeed true that -- according to the Koran -- they should not take as their friends non-Muslims, that they are indeed to hate Jews and Christians.  Who tell them that it is indeed true that they should engage in warfare against infidels, in the cause of Islam, for that is set out in the Koran.  That it is their duty to promote Sharia law until it becomes the law of the land, wherever they may be living.  That Sharia is a “perfect law”, the law of God, that it supersedes the law of man; that it does indeed,  correctly, require the cutting off of the hands of thieves, the stoning of adulterers and the flogging of homosexuals.  That the acolytes should “think not, for it will make you lose your faith”.

What, then, are we to make of all this?  Are we to assume that these Imams and sheikhs are bigots, “Islamophobes”, just like we critics who point out these same things?  Are we to say that these men, well read in the Koran and Hadith, also “misunderstand” Islam?

The documentary below is 30 minutes of enlightenment on this topic, focussed on a Mosque and convert in Germany.  (You may find it easier to go to the original which is here , in three parts). 

ADDED (19/6/24): Neither one available, due to Link Rot.

Note how the acolyte Barino Barzoum goes from natural aversion to concepts such as giving up friendships with non-Muslims including his family, of making war on infidels, to gradual acceptance of them. What initially he took to be violation of common sense, he accepts as so natural in the end that he readily states that the aim of Muslims must be to war against unbelievers, and "what's wrong with that"?. 

It’s creepy.  There is nothing this compares to so well as to Winston Smith in Nineteen Eighty-four.  He manages to convince himself that black is white, he understands the concept of "blackwhite" (above). There is even in 1984 the concept of "perpetual war", which is what Islam conceives as the case until Islam reigns throughout the world, when there will be peace (for that is the meaning of “peace” in Islam).

Nineteen Eight-Four brought us the slogans WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH (Think not, for it will make you lose your faith, Barino was told, and so he gave up thinking).  To those, we can add “ISLAM IS PEACE”.  Islam is peace.... while war is waged on infidels.  Doublethink.

Isolated case? Not at all; this is going on in Mosques all over.  Eg, in the US:
[1]  Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology invade American Mosques, Center for Religious Freedom, Washington, 2005.
[2]  Mapping Sharia in America Project: finds that almost 80% of US Mosques preach anti-West extremism.
[3]  There's also a study done by a Muslim Sheikh, which I'll reference when I find it.  It finds the same as [2] above.
Will Europe be any better?  Hardly, given that we are always told that Muslims in the US are better off and better integrated than those in Europe, so the figures will only be worse in Europe.
Radical non-representative Mosque?  Not at all.  As the Imam says, they only teach what is in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad (the Hadith), nothing else.

Skiing North East China - Yabuli

Being some of the few -- the very few -- foreigners skiing in Yabuli, North-east China, seems  I'd better note down some info.

Summary of Yabuli (亚布立): "Sun Mountain Resort" 2-3 hours by car from Harbin, Helongjiang province, NE China (near the Russian border): Cold, good snow, no lines, limited runs, even more limited après-ski.  Fun for a couple of days and good for beginners....


Yup, it's that.  Maximum temps each day were around -10 C (14 F).  Range each day was -25 to -10 C.  (-13 to 14F).  But for all that we weren't cold. It's a crisp, dry cold.  With your trusty Paddy Pallin under-longies and face mask, you're set to go.  Here's cold: the Harbin ice festival, with a whole city of ice....
Click to enlarge: Ice City, Harbin
Good snow: 

The cold keeps the snow very light.  None of that European or Australian business of melting during the day then freezing at night making for icy slopes.  The snow is smooth, light, well-groomed and the runs well-tended.  The last night before we left it snowed around 15 cm (6") and it was light and lovely -- you couldn't squeeze it into snowballs, it's that light -- and we would love to have hit the slopes again (though off-piste is limited).
The last day: fresh snow, light and lovely
No lines
We were there over Chinese New Year and on the most busy day of the year (Last Tuesday 16th Feb) and even then there were literally no lines.  On other days, you were often the only one on the lift, and you might even hang around waiting for some company... an excuse to catch your breath.  So, you get more skiing per hour than in other busier resorts.
The lifts at "Sun Mountain" are an 8-person gondola and a fast 6-person chair.  Each is new, installed last year, by Poma lifts of France, comfortable and fast.  They are both "heated", though not when we were there because it "wasn't cold enough".  When it is cold enough, they turn on the in-seat heaters; I'm sure they would work fine on this new equipment. As it was, we didn't really need the heating.

Limited Runs
A and B sections, Sun Mountain, Yabuli
There are only about 10 runs, most intermediate or advanced, though the bottom has a "slope" perfect for complete beginners.  You can knock off all the runs in a day.  Vertical drop is only a shortish 530 metres (1,740'), a bit below Buttermilk at Aspen, which at 618 m (2,030') is the shortest VD in Aspen.  On the plus side, you can do each run without stopping and without being buggered at the end (important for we older buggers...).   

No inventive run names here, no "Corkscrews, no "Short Snorts", no "Timber Doodle Glades", no "Widowmakers"; just practical Chinese names: A1 through A7 on the main mountain and B 1-5 on the other slope. A7 run is not open and hasn't been for years.  It may do so, but not for years, we were told.  Note the low elevation, at just a bit over 1,000 m (3,000 ft); the cold is all latitude, not altitude.

Limited après ski: 

Well, none,  to be precise.  There's one hotel -- the Grand Yabuli -- with two wings, known, again in practical Chinese-style, as Building One and Building Two.  You want to stay in Building One, which is nearer the lift and has the only restaurant(s).  I add the "s" like that, because to all intents there's really only one restaurant, a Chinese one.  The other is a buffet place, opened sporadically at someone's whim, rather arbitrarily.  The Chinese restaurant is not bad, specialising in Sichuanese, but you get a bit tired of Siji Dou and Mapo Doufu after a few days.  Weirdly, they don't have Dandan Noodles.  
The hotel is comfortable, claims to be 5-star, but isn't really.  It has an ATM and the ski hire is on the ground floor of the hotel.

There are some places -- including one on top of the mountain (see picture above) --  that would make wonderful spots to sit outside in the sun and have a beer or hot chocolate, but none was open, we didn't know why.  And there was a "Star Bar", which is huge, cold, uninviting and deserted because it was open at such quixotic times and was so hard to find one's way to -- they hid it well.  Also in the places you'd expect them to take advantage of the views to the mountain and to the south, they've instead put little-used banquet halls, or closed them off entirely.  That's a kind of China thing; though they do claim to have had Canadian involvement.

Things to do if not skiing: 

Nothing much other than to walk over to the other mountain to the East of "Sun Mountain", which has one lift serving a few runs, and is the centre of the Chinese olympic training team: has two full-sized ski jumps and a nice-looking cross country ski track which had Olympic parathletes training when were there.  It's owned by the Heilongjiang Sports Commission (体育委员会 or"Tiwei").  Best to get there by walking direct, east from Sun Mountain, heading towards a grand structure on the hill which turns out to be an hotel.  You have a little hill climb up a short ski run, unless you can talk the guy into letting you up on the slow fixed two-chair, which we did.  That's one slope, one lift, owned and run by the Guangdong Power Company, 广 电 (!)

You can also rent a car and driver to take you to the town of Yabuli about 30km away, half hour by car, and wander the town of about 50,000.  We were there at Chinese New Year so there were still fireworks for sale everywhere, but most other shops were closed.  Ground frozen hard.  Had lunch at a Mutan Hotpot (木炭火锅) which was fantastic, a lovely experience while it snowed outside and chatting with Lao Zhang, our driver, who joined us for lunch.  

You can also take a horse-sleigh ride.  Mongolian ponies, really.  Wrap up well, it's colder than skiing.  There's tyre-sliding run, and one in Tiwei, quite fun.  

Oh yes: the Winter Olympics!  China's CCTV 5 covered them well, from Chinese perspective of course, so we saw -- many times -- Wang Meng's gold in the 500 m. speed skating. And we all loved the Curling, especially -- one for the men -- the ladies Curling teams, Japan, China, UK and France being particularly comely...

Prices high

the cost for a day is about $US 100 -- more than Aspen! -- though this does include rent of skis and boots.  They don't do multiple-day hires.  The idea seems to be that people will come up for a short time, kit themselves out with all the gear including clothing, and go off for a two-hour to one-day ski session. 


They plan to join up "Sun Mountain" with the "Tiwei" mountain and open up new runs on both.  That would give two mountains, with about 10 lifts and maybe 30 runs.  Vertical drops would be around 700m on the Tiwei mountain, not at all bad, a bit more than Buttermilk in Aspen.  The plan is over ten years.  Given China's record of doing things they say they'll do, they'll make this one happen as well, so I'd keep an eye on it.


We all spoke Mandarin, but they do have English speaking instructors and the people at the hotel would be fine too.  I'd say that there would be less trouble with English in Yabuli than in Japanese resorts.
Getting there

We took Hong Kong Airways, which flies to Harbin three times a week and is of good international standard, on time and comfortable. We then took a pre-booked car, a journey of about 2 and a half hours, each way.  The road is four lane expressway all the way, not crowded and very safe, even with the car hurtling along at a steady 130km/hour.  It would also be possible to take a train to Yabuli town, though we didn't explore that.  You'd then have to arrange a car to get you to the resort about 30km away to the south. 


We were impressed with safety on the slopes.  They've covered all the sticky-out bits like the gondola supports, and they have regular paramedics, good skiers, patrolling the slopes.  
We were also impressed with the fact that along the Harbin to Yabuli road there was none of the filthy coal-smoke emanating from houses, as there was last time we were in China's countryside in winter.  Houses still had chimneys, but they're not belching smoke: they have all been electrified for heating and supplied by a nuclear power station near Harbin, which we passed on the way back.  Result: the skies are clear.   People we talked to were aware of environmental issues.  Surely something China can be proud of, up in the cold reaches of northeastern-most China.
The expressway itself is one impressive example of what China has done throughout the country: joined up all major cities with super-smooth and very high-quality expressways.  Given how the growth of the US was enabled by Eisenhower's freeway projects in the 1950s, one wonders what further economic benefits will be underwritten by China's own dramatic surge of highway building in the past decade.

Culinary "other": Heilongjiang is the production base of some of China's most famous fungi, especially the Black Wood-ear Fungus (黑木耳).  Make sure you pick some up to bring home (that's if you're not Aussie-resident!).  The "Mountain Monkey Head" fungus (山猴头) is also great.  

In sum: 

We did enjoy our time at Yabuli, considering it a bit of an adventure.  We would have preferred to leave a few days earlier; three days is enough, really.  We ended up staying for five days, which meant a day off wandering over to the Tiwei's area, and going into Yabuli town, both fun if you're at a stretch for something to do.  I would recommend Yabuli for someone living in China wanting a few days exercise,  good snow and simple runs.  

Saturday 13 February 2010

Off to China... | Skiing in Yabuli, Northeast China

We're off to Harbin for a week's skiing, so no blogging for a while....
Cheers and Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger to all!

Postscript: that's Yabuli, the resort we went to, and it's just like that!

Thursday 11 February 2010

The ABC's "inner struggle" to understand the Jihad

I started listening to Australia's ABC Radio a while back.  A recent discussion with a Muslim spokesperson on Islam prompted my letter to them re the meaning of "Jihad".  I'm posting this here now rather than tossing out, as it may come in useful for reference.  The simple conclusion is that "Jihad" means "Holy war to spread Islam".  Any other meaning (eg "inner struggle for self improvement") is very much secondary.

Sent to ABC Encounter. 3 February 2010.

I'm here in Hong Kong listening to the program, which is very good, thanks!

Your interviewer did at least challenge the fellow when he claimed that Islam has all the human rights that other religions have, by querying the rights of women in Islam. 

The interviwee (I'm sorry I don't recall his name) did not really answer that question, but that's what one would expect.  He did admit that in Islamic countries the rights were not the same for all people, and I thought this could have been pursued a bit more: eg the issue of "dhimmies" in those countries.

My main comment, though, is that he was allowed to get away with the line that "jihad" means an "inner struggle", some kind of spiritual effort to improve oneself.  This is technically true, in that Mohammad referred in the Hadith to a “lesser” Jihad (war) and a “greater Jihad” (striving for improvement).   However Jihad as holy war is the overwhelmingly predominant meaning.  It is this meaning -- Jihad as "holy war" --  that counts.  For example, in the Hadith of Bukhari, Jihad refers to “holy war” in over 90% of its references.  Islam was spread by Jihad and it is in the DNA of Islam. This meaning is confirmed in all of Islamic jurisprudence (including specifically the Hanbali school he quoted), its doctrine and its theology [1]. It is also confirmed by authoritative voices for Islam, such as Sheikh Abdullah Azzam:

“Every Muslim on earth should unsheathe his sword…. Jihad means fighting…. You must fight any place you can get…. Whenever Jihad is mentioned in the Holy Book, it means the obligation to fight.   It does not mean to fight with the pen or to write books or articles in the press, or to fight by holding lectures.” [2] (Emphasis added)
That seems pretty clear.  No doubting the context there, no cherry picking.  For your interviewee to claim the innocent sense of Jihad (striving for self-improvement) is the main meaning is pure Taqiyya. (Islamic deception).  That's to be expected from an Islamic apologist, but it could have and should have been called out by your interviewer, had he had more knowledge of the subject.

(PS: It seems to me that saying “Jihad” means “to struggle for improvement”, is rather like saying Australia is Christmas Island.  Well, yes, it is -- though strictly it ought to be "Christmas Island is Australia --  but it's only 170 sq km out of 7.6 million of it)

[1]   Three examples defining "Jihad":
(i) Umdat Al-Salik.  The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, authorized by the Al-Azhar University in Cairo:  “Jihad means to war against non-Muslim, and is etymologically derived from the word mujadada signifying warfare to establish the religion.” (o.8 8-9).
(ii) The Hadith Sahih Bukhari: 71 mentions of Jihad, 66 of them relating to warfare in the name of Islam.
(iii) The Britannica Encyclopedia:  “Jihad: a religious duty imposed on Muslims to spread Islam by waging war.”  (I quote the Britannica because one would expect it to be particularly sensitive to Muslim opinion, as it is “mainstream”and carefully, scrupulously, authoritative; it has given this definition because that is what the plain evidence indicates the meaning of "Jihad" really is).

[2]  Sheik Abdullah Azzam, Ph.D. in Islamic Jurisprudence, al-Azhar University, Professor at King Abdul Azziz University, Jeddah.  Speaking at “Conference of Jihad”, 1988, reported in “Willful Blindness”, Andrew C. McCarthy, Encounter Books, 2008, p 80Sge

Wednesday 10 February 2010

One Law for All, Fundraiser

Maryam Namazie (click photo to her website)
This is surely unarguable, isn't it?  One Law for All?  Even for my leftie relatives and mates?  The point Ms Namazie has made in several of her presentations is that the expansion of Sharia Law courts in the UK (there are already nearly one hundred!) is bad for women and bad for children....

Bad for women because they are treated unequally in divorce and custody cases, and bad for children because they are given to the men in custody cases without regard for the best interests of the child.  And the rulings of these "courts" are binding; there is no come-back under Common Law.  What foolishness, for the country of the Magna Carta!

Ms Namazie has been criticized in some blogs for being an American-hating Chomskyist.  I've read some of her stuff, and it does seem that she is an American-hating Chomskyist.  But here's the thing (as Monk would say): we need someone on the Left to take up the cause of anti-Sharia action.  That battle is waged too much, in my view, by the Palin-lovin' (how could they??), gun-totin, abortion-hatin', tea-baggin' members of the Right to far-Right.  I'm on side with the whole anti-Islam thing, I support Geert Wilders, I think resurgent Islam the greatest threat to our western civilisation in my lifetime, right up there with global warming; but I don't feel entirely comfortable with some of the company there, pace some of my rellies who think I've gone over to Genghis.

So, Ms Namazie is making the running on the Left in this anti-Sharia space.  Anyone  -- whether card-carrying Chomskyist, squishy-left, pusillanimous-middle, crusty-Right or Rush-Right -- anyone, that is who cares for freedom of speech, for women's rights, for the rights of gays, for freedom of religion, for tolerance, for the freedom even to offend even, all should support One Law for All.

Below is email from Maryam Namazie, convenor of One Law for all, introducing A.C. Grayling, Professor of Philosophy, at the University of London....


Nearly 70 people gathered at a fundraising dinner on January 27 at a gastropub in West London to support One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.  
A C Grayling was the event’s keynote speaker. Guests also heard from comedian Nick Doody, Magician Neil Edwards, One Law for All activist Ismail Einashe, Singer/Songwriter David Fisher, campaign organiser Maryam Namazie and MC Fariborz Pooya.

You can see AC Grayling’s speech on the concept of one law for all at the videos below.  Part 1: 
Part 2:
You can see Maryam's brief speech here. 

One Law for All 100 Club was announced at the dinner. The Club aims to secure 100 donors willing to donate £10 or more a month towards the campaign.
The steady donations will be instrumental in allowing us to organise our activities for the coming year, including a March 8, 2010 seminar on Sharia law in Britain (see booking form below), an art gallery show in Spring, a June 20 rally, a concert in the Fall, a December 11 conference on apostasy and Sharia laws as well as a survey of women who have been to Sharia councils and tribunals and a ‘know your rights’ legal campaign.
We will also continue raising awareness via the media and various speaking engagements. To hear a recent discussion we had in support of banning the burka on Ireland’s Newstalk radio and read articles about a recent debate on women’s rights trumping religious laws at the UCD Law Society in Dublin, click here. We [One Law for All] will also continue writing about the issue whenever possible. You can read a recent article on Sharia law in the Independent World Report, here:
We rely solely on your support to push forward our campaign against Sharia and religious laws and in support of secularism and universal rights so please do take the time to help if you can. No amount is too little or too big for that matter.

Thanks again.

Best wishes

Maryam Namazie
One Law for All
BM Box
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731 

Radical rabble rousers in the UK

Well worth the nine-odd minutes it takes to watch this video.  And ask  yourself afterwards: what you would do if you happened to be -- heaven help you -- one of the British Law Lords or a member of the European Court of Human Rights.  What would you do with the Imams and Sheikhs in the UK who are being sought in other jurisdictions for terrorism activities. (Courtesy

UPDATE: Sorry, no Video, due to Link Rot

Tuesday 9 February 2010

China: "we have the technology"

(click image to enlarge)
China too coruscates!  Having written in the immediately preceding post about Israel's achievements and the mentality that helped achieve them, I'd better post a chart that's been sitting on my desktop for some time.  China's research.  I don't have the original article, but the chart tells most of the story.
"China's output of scientific reports started expanding dramatically in the mid-1990s and, in terms of annual output, the country now stands second only to the US."
That is a fantastic achievement, a stunning return on the investment of sending hundreds of thousands of students to study in the west since the seventies.

Twenty Facts about Israel

I haven't checked all the facts this list below, though the ones I know are correct.  Let me know if you find anything wrong at: and I'll pass it on.

It was put together by a website I stumbled on, Strategy Page, so hat-tip to them. 

Of course there will be objections that the US has pumped billions in military and civilian aid into Israel and continues to do so. True, but then oil-rich Arab countries have had Trillions (about seven Trillions by one estimate) pumped into them via oil revenues, and have nothing approaching Israel's achievements to show for it.  Israel's achievements have drawn the likes of Warren Buffet to invest, an unusual step for the Sage of Omaha. 

These achievements are the result of a mentality.  A mentality that rewards construction over destruction, innovation over immolation, learning over reciting, life over death, an economy that, as a result, coruscates in a crescent of corruption....

Twenty Facts About Israel's Economy and contributions to Science & Technology.  
Israel is the 100th smallest country with less than 1/1000th of the world's population.  And yet:
1. Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, compared with 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan and fewer than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions, Israel places first in this category as well. 

2. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world. 

3. Israel has the highest per capita ratio of scientific publications in the world by a large margin, as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed. 

4. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U.S. (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech). 

5. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for VC funds right behind the U.S. 

6. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita. 

7. Outside the U.S. and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies. 

8. Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 is over $17,500, exceeding that of Britain. 
[2022: $54,331].
9. With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and start-ups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world apart from the Silicon Valley. 

10. With an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16s, Israel has the largest fleet of the aircraft outside of the U.S. 
11. Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. 

12. The cell phone was developed in Israel by Motorola-Israel. Motorola built its largest development center worldwide in Israel. 

13. Windows NT software was developed by Microsoft-Israel. 

14. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. 

15. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. 

16. AOL's instant message program was designed by an Israeli software company. 

17. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the U.S. in Israel. 

18. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech start-ups. 

19. Israel has the largest raptor migration in the world, with hundreds of thousands of African birds of prey crossing as they fan out into Asia. 

20. Some 24% of Israel's workforce holds university degrees -- ranking third in the industrialized world, after the U.S. and Holland -- and 12% hold advanced degrees.

Electric boost for bicyclists

Roger Phillips, 78, uses an electric bicycle in Manhattan, 
although they are not officially permitted on New York streets.
(courtesy New York Times)
Attentive readers may recall that I have been running a sporadic campaign to have e-bikes legalised in Hong Kong.   In part that's involved my riding round on my own e-bike in an attempt to get arrested.  

I want to get arrested so that I can have its legality tried in court.  The issue is that e-bikes don't come under any one of the definitions of "vehicles" in the Road Transport Regulations and therefore they're by default classified as motorbikes, which they're clearly not and clearly cannot pass tests as motorbikes.

I put in a submission last year to the Transport Department in which I reported on tests I'd done comparing the speeds of an e-bike with a normal bike.  I did this with my son, using the boat's GPS, so I measured in knots.  My son on his normal bicycle was faster at every point of sail apart from uphill, where the e-bike was about a knot faster, but even then, we were both were slow -- about three knots, depending how hard on the hill we were.  My submission elicited a polite, non-committal response from the TD, but no shift in the classification of e-bikes.  Strangely enough, it doesn't seem to be a priority with the Hong Kong government, heavens knows why.   Perhaps they were busy trying to avoid the GFC.

In many other jurisdictions, e-bikes are classified as bicycles, if they're under 700 watts of power, which is all we want here in Hong Kong.

Meantime, there has been a number of articles on e-bikes, including this one  recently in the New York Times.

So, how's my campaign to get arrested going?  Not too well.  For a start, I live in a place in Hong Kong which is so safe that they removed the only police post some years ago, so we are only visited by the Old Bill on rare occasions.  And then, when they do visit, they're always too preoccupied with whatever it is they came for (rescuing lost cats, seeing to a domestic dispute), that they ignore this oversized Gweilo on his piddly e-bike, no matter how hard I try to gain their attention. 

If only all my problems could be those of failing to get arrested for committing a "crime"...
"Electric Bikes for Hong Kong", 2008.  PDF.

What if Palestinians had been Chinese?

In the early post-48 establishment of Israel, and after the failed attack on the new state by the Arab League, some of Israel’s neighbours indicated willingness to deal with the new state. These included Jordan, Lebanon and even previously belligerent Egypt. What happened?  The Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Huseini organized assassination of these moderate elements. Al-Huseini went on to mentor Yasser Arafat and his murderous reign, so disastrous for the Palestinians. (See “Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the rise of Radical Islam”)....

Think about what could have been if al-Huseini had not terrorized these acceptors of Israel into radicalism. Think of Hong Kong, where I live.

Here in Hong Kong, I contemplate the fact that the Communists in China killed millions on their way to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, sixty years ago last October. Many more millions fled to Taiwan and Hong Kong. That was pretty unfair too, just as the establishment of Israel was unfair on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. That also involved massive expropriation of property, just as it did for Palestinians.  

But what did these Chinese refugees do? Did they hunker down in a victimhood mentality, and fire rockets over the border to China?  They did not.  They got on with creating one of the most vibrant, tolerant, successful and wealthy economies in the world.  Part of a region that is now discussing the potential for a regional currency: will it be the Chinese Yuan, or should there be an Asian “Euro”?

Gaza is about the same size as Hong Kong. Think what they could have done with that land alone, or what they could have done with Gaza and the West Bank together, if they hadn’t attacked Israel in ’67 and if they hadn’t been mired in the victimhood mentality all these years; or even if they had used the hand-back of Gaza for some confidence building, rather than rocket launching, which could have led to the consideration of handing back the West Bank. Think of the possibilities if there had been one whit of recognition of Israel and its right to exist.

Had the “exiled” Palestinians done as the exiled Chinese did, would we debating the rights and wrongs of a nuclear weapons policy for Iran? We would not. We – or rather they, Israel and Iran, and Lebanon and Syria and Egypt – would be arguing about the details of the Middle East Economic Union and what to name the regional currency….

The Saudi "Peace Initiative": a massive protection racket

The man called "Fat Tony", he come by you restaurant and he make you a offer cannot refuse -- "youse pay us: youse restaurant, she be protect" -- why, that seems like a pretty good deal, insurance you tell yourself.   So you pay your money and you get your protection.

I ask: what's the difference between Fat Tony's protection racket and what the Saudis offer in a so-called "peace" initiative?  I answer: the difference is that you can trust Fat Tony to keep his side of the bargain.

I wrote about the Saudi's 2002 "Peace" initiative to resolve the Palestine-Israel issue here .  Below is a quick recap straight from today's International Herald Tribune, the international edition of the New York Times, which continues, shamefully and shamelessly to tout this lousy "bargain"....
The rational approach to a durable Mideast peace is for President Obama and the Quartet — the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations — to take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of its bilateral context into a regional framework based on the 2002 peace plan of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that all the Arab League States had endorsed. It calls for Israel’s complete withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, the establishment of a viable Palestinian State on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a fair settlement of the refugee problem in return for an unequivocal recognition of the state of Israel by all the Arab States and the normalization of relations among them. This offers a basis for a gutsy diplomatic activity that is more promising than a piecemeal approach. (from Samih Sherif in Switzerland)

The sum of this allegedly "gutsy diplomatic activity" is this: you give me your land and let me move my relatives into your house.  In return I don't kill you.  What a deal.  It gets worse: unlike the Mafia, you can't trust the Arab states to live up to their side of this "bargain", because Islam teaches that Islamic states, the waqf, can only ever, at most, have a "truce", not peace, with infidels and Jews.  And every truce is temporary.   Ask Hamas; it's in their Charter.

That's such a lousy deal that Israel, not noted for its stupidity, have wisely ignored it.  But it continues to rise up, like the zombies in the "Night of the Living Dead", eyeless and noisome, shuffling blindly through our lounge rooms, wrapped in the flapping, blood-stained bandages of the International Herald Tribune, and the Financial Times .

A detailed report in January 2010 by Just Journalism , which analyses all of last year's editorials in the Financial Times, reveals a consistent bias against Israel.  The FT touts the "peace" initiative of the House of Saud in no less than seven editorials.  Shame on them!

"How to land on your feet when speaking in public"

The BBC World Service has been replaying a broadcast of Lucy Kellaway from October 09, in which Lucy gives tips to would-be public speakers.  She says she finds public speaking more frightening than spiders or getting mugged in a dark alley.  Most people feel the same. Lucy skims for tips all books on the subject that cross her desk.  She ends with a couple of simple tips: (i)  Practice, practice, practice and (ii)  Junk all aids such as powerpoint.  Also "never read your speech".  All fine tips.  But what about the fear, Lucy?  

What about the spider on the  mind?

Most people hate the thought of public speaking because they get the fears: butterflies in the stomach, or worse, strong adrenaline rushes that can cause "brain freeze", or wobbling voice.  So why doesn't anyone mention the best way to overcome this: Beta blockers, such as Inderal.

I confess that 30-some years ago when I first had to speak in front of a room full of colleagues, I got nervous and got the voice-shakes.  A doctor mate of mine suggested Inderal.  Marvellous. This drug stops the reaction that causes the rush of unwanted adrenaline to the brain, too much of which causes the discomfort of hyper-nervousness, sweating, voice shakes, mental blanks and so on.

The knowledge that you could not, literally could not, get the adrenaline rush that causes the shakes and "brain freeze" was liberating, comforting and confidence building, so that you could concentrate on what you wanted to say, not worry if you were going to have a complete mental blank.

Ever since when I had a public speaking engagement I took a tab an hour before. Thus I went through a career in the latter half of which I did a lot of public speaking in front of large audiences, and was often complemented for my calmness and control. I didn't tell them, but I tell you: Inderal, baby.  I'm sure I could now speak in public if I had to, without the Inderal, but why take the chance. It's harmless and non-addictive (one bottle lasted me years).

All the Beta Blocker does is stop something happening (hence the name "blocker"); it does not give you any chemical to make something happen.

Inderal:  my number one tip to get that spider off your back. Don't get mugged again, Lucy. You heard it here.

Postscript: closer reading of Lucy's piece reveals that she does indeed mention a beta-blocker.  So I guess all I can say now is that I would have given it more prominence.

Monday 8 February 2010

"A symbol of Tyranny” | Che Guevara and Democracy in Hong Kong

I often wonder why there are some conceptions fixed in the public mind, quite at odds with the facts.  One of these is Che, a hero of the left, the subject of films, hagiographies, and T-shirts.  Che's the handsome revolutionary, a fighter for the people, for democracy, the one we all want to emulate. Not. See the letter below from today's South China Morning Post.

This is the same as the fixed in steel concept that Islam is the Religion of Peace™, despite the tsunami of evidence to the contrary, and the at best ambiguous stance of even the so-called "moderates”.

Letter on Che follows....
Returning to Hong Kong for a regular business visit, I was greeted on the morning of January 27 by headlines announcing the resignations of five lawmakers as an expression of support for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
Photos of the five featured League of Social Democrats legislator Leung Kwok-hung sporting a T-shirt bearing the image of "Che" Guevara, presumably intended as an expression of his support for democratic reforms.
In fact, Guevara's philosophies could not have been further from the notion that reforms can be brought about through democratic means. He co-founded a brutal regime that jailed many of its subjects. In 1959, with the help of Soviet agents, Guevara helped found, train and indoctrinate Cuba's secret police.
Fidel Castro and Guevara converted a nation with a higher per capita income than half of Europe, the 13th lowest infant-mortality rate in the world, whose industrial workers earned the eighth-highest wages in the world, whose peso was valued higher than the US dollar, into a pest hole that repels Haitians and keeps its own citizens virtual captives within their borders.
This "revolutionary" process visited upon Cuba a lower credit rating than Somalia, fewer phones per capita than Papua New Guinea and fewer internet connections than Uganda.
I do hope that Mr Leung will reconsider whether sporting an image of a brutal killer on his chest is consistent with his ideal of bringing about "democratic" reforms in Hong Kong.
Loretta Damron, Pennsylvania, US