Friday 29 October 2010

BBC reports on anti-Muslim attacks; not one mention of the rising tide of crimes against Jews

My post headline above: that's the strength of the just-aired piece on Malmo, Sweden, reported by Tim Mansell.  Not one single mention of what's been going on there for some years: namely the flight of the small community of Jews, attacked in rising number of incidents, by "immigrants" (aka Muslims).  That's people like Judith Popinski, above, who has been in Malmo for 60 years, but is now threatened.

As far as I know, there has not been one single report of this in recent years -- and I listen to the BBC every day.  As soon as there's a nutter out there, shooting at Muslims, it's all stops out.  Of course shootings are crazy, stupid, reprehensible, abohorrent, and all that.  Also more newsworthy. I grant all that.  But the burnings of synagogues? The desecration of Jewish cemetaries?  They don't count for even a mention?

A billion just ain't what it used to be....

Kind of related to the post immediately below, about the Hong Kong and ASX/Sing exchanges, there's the news that China minted 49 new US Dollar Billionaires this year: mostly because of huge IPO's all via Hong Kong -- accounting to so much now of the HKex turnover and size.
49!  That's 49 new ones!  In one year!! I wonder how many in total there are in Oz.  I could google, but I'm rather too lazy.  I feel sure we don't have 49 in total.....
It's no wonder we're feeling the influence: eg in the property markets in Hong Kong and Australia.  In Oz, not always pleasantly, as a mate here from Oz tells me that there's a lot of angst about the soaring price of property there, pushed by Chinese money (media reports seem to confirm that) -- often not even to live in or to let out, just to buy and hold.
That's a fair concern, I reckon, even as we've been recipients of the benefits, owning property in Hong Kong.  But what about the poor folk just coming into the market.
I read that the Australian government made changes to policy just last year, to make it easier for foreigners to buy property in Oz.  I wonder why?

Aussie-Singapore Stockex merger not threat to Hong Kong

There's been a fair bit of publicity about the proposed merger of the Singapore and Aussie exchange.  Actually, it seems more like the Singapore exchange is buying the company that runs the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).  Much of the comment here is on the threat it may pose to Hong Kong's exchange.  Well, for a start, even the so-called "merged" exchange is not as big as Hong Kong; and in any case, they continue to operate independently, not really "merged".
That's pointed out by Tom Holland, in the South China Morning Post, always worth reading his Monitor column. 

I'm copying herewith, with thanks to Mr Holland:

Wednesday 27 October 2010

"A foundation of fear", comment on "Dutch culture wars"

The letter clipped in the photo here (click to enlarge), might, at first glance, seem very reasonable, a call for tolerance and an attack on "hatred" and "xenophobia".  But that's only if one knows nothing about Islam and the sorts of issues Europe is now dealing with.
My letter to the International Herald Tribune, the international version of the New York Times, below.  There's no chance they'll run it, but one hopes that many write in, so that in time they might carry some of the valid, cogent and logical criticisms of Islam and Islamism.

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Roger Cohen: "Turkey steps out"

Perhaps a better structure of the above sentence might be "Turkey out of step".  For it is out of step with European values and culture.  Whatever Cohen says.

Roger Cohen
International Herald Tribune (international edition of the New York Times) 26th October 2010:

Cohen shills for Turkey yet again: Turkey "can be the West's conduit to the Muslim world", if it is allowed to join the EC.But this is "wish as policy", just the same as British PM Cameron's, wish/hope that Turkey can form a "bridge".  To wish it to be so, does not make it so, no matter how powerful might be the bridge metaphor might seem to be, when you look at the map....

James Carroll "Xenophobia on the Rise"

James Carroll "Xenophobia on the Rise".
International Herald Tribune, international edition of the New York Times. 26 October 2010.  (here, in the Boston Globe, as "The rising tides of xenophobia").

Carroll says
"...anti-Islamic prejudice [in the US] has been sparked by the war on terror,...".  

"Prejudice" means to pre-judge (Latin, praejudicium -- to judge before), to judge before you have all the information.  If Americans are "anti-Islamic" (I'd prefer "anti-Islamist"), it is not a matter of pre-judging, but of post-judging. Judging after the attacks of 911, after the earlier attacks on the USS Cole, after the earlier attacks on the WTC, after the  many attempts on US soil by Muslims, killing Americans, or trying to kill their fellow Americans, and calling out "Allahu Akhbar" and stating, clearly, explicitly and repeatedly, before and after the events, that their acts are done in the name of Islam.  It's only after all that that Americans -- indeed citizens in all countries -- are post-judging Islam and finding it wanting.

Friday 22 October 2010

Workers of the world -- take aim: shoot foot!

Actors' Unions in New Zealand demanded wage levels for local actors in the new "Hobbit" films be the same as their "international colleagues", rather than accepting those based on local standards.  Sound logical?  Well, yes.... if you're greedy.  
Warner Bros have quite rightly told them to stuff their "Hobbit" up their Frodo, and will take the production elsewhere.

In a stunning piece of insight and self-reflection, Actors' Equity committee member, Robyn Malcolm, says  

       "If it does go offshore, it's going to have nothing to do with New Zealand actors.".  


An Associated Press report sums up the background to the dispute:

Thursday 21 October 2010

Laundering a TRILLION dollars through Saudi Banks...

"The fraud and money laundering that I wish to address 
involves the sluicing of approximately $1 trillion since September 11...."

Attorney Eric Lewis
House Financial Services Hearing, Sep 28 2010

Wow!  A trillion dollars and no red flags!! Thanks to Money Jihad for the lead, which seems to have been ignored in the MSM, apart from one report in the BBC.

Terrorists are not Muslims..... Except for the 94% that are

98% of religiously-based designated
organisations are Islamic.
Later: 98% of religiously-based designated terrorist organisations are Islamic.
It may not be seemly to argue over which religion or ideology is responsible for the most number of terrorist acts in the world.  But I didn't start it!
This post is in response to an article by blogger Danios of  His piece is titled "All Terrorists are Muslims.... Except the 94% that Aren't".
He comes to this conclusion by drawing on an FBI report "Terrorism 2002-05".[which actually covers 1980 to 2005]
One of his key conclusions is that Jews are responsible for 7% of terrorist acts, Muslims for 6%.  So Jews commit more terrorist acts than Muslims!!  And Latinos for more than either.
Problem is that the stats go back to 1980 and the Jewish terrorist acts ended in 1986.  (moreover, those acts were aimed at specific targets, not randomly at innocent citizens).  And the so-called "Latino" terrorist acts ceased in 1998.
It would make about as much sense as taking the stats back to the seventies and concluding that the crazies of the left, the Baader-Meinhof Gang and the Red Brigades, were responsible for most terrorist acts. [I guess he's been reading the book above, though maybe he's just a natural at massaging the figures...]
A more detailed critique of Danios' claims follows:
Today there’s a major effort to paint Islamist extremists as an “extreme minority”, despite the fact that 25% of Muslims around the Muslim world – according to the impeccably left-liberal Pew Research Centre – think that Osama bin Laden is “good for the world”.  (For bin Laden's world view, see “The Al-Qaeda Reader”).   
Allied with that effort is a new effort: to suggest that most terrorist acts are not carried out by Muslims: for example, the post “All terrorists are Muslims.... Except the 94% that Aren’t” by Danios at
Drawing on figures from an FBI report, Danios concludes that of all terrorist acts in the period covered 6% were Islamist and 7% Jewish.  Actually, that’s true, for the period (I’ve checked and get 7% and 8% respectively, so that's close enough).  
But the leap he makes is the implication that Jewish terrorism is something that is being underreported today:

Danios says:
According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%).  These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion.  These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.

Yet notice the disparity in media coverage between the two..... It is to such an extent that the average American cannot remember any Jewish or Latino terrorist; why should he when he has never even heard of the Jewish Defense League or the Ejercito Popular Boricua Macheteros?  Surely what he does not know does not exist!

These seemed pretty strange stats and statements to me.  "No media coverage of Jewish terrorism"? What was going on here??  I had a close look at the figures he drew on.  They’re available in raw form here.  And in pdf of the spreadsheet I have made of them here.

Here are my conclusions:

Old News

Why would we never have heard of the Jewish Defence League?   Why is there a “disparity in media coverage”, as Danios claims?
Well, it could have to do with the fact that the last time the Jewish Defence League carried out any terrorist act in the United States was in 1986.  Now it’s true that there are those who will never forgive Jews –   “the descendants of apes and pigs” according to the “prophet” –  but even for the New York Times, bombings of 25 years ago are hardly “news”.
As for the “Ejercito Popular” movement, the last time it carried out a terrorist act was in 1998, so again, 12 year-old-story does not news make.  Moreover, the Ejercito was very much a locally-based separatist organisation: aiming for the independence of Puerto Rico – all but two of its acts were in Puerto Rico.  It was a territorial-independence outfit.  It was not  based on the aim of subverting the Constitution of the United States and overthrowing western enlightenment culture, as are today’s Islamist ones (eg, see Times Square Bomber court statements).

Danios says (referring to the Ejercito Popular movement):

Can you imagine the reaction if I said that Latinos should be profiled because after all they are the ones who commit the most terrorism in the country?

Why would anyone want to profile Latinos, when the last “Latino” terrorist act was in 1998? 

Non-Islamic terrorism in the news

As for other acts of “non-Islamic terrorists”, that Danios says are not covered in the media, in recent times these are the so-called “eco-terrorists”.  Any quick search will reveal that they get plenty of coverage, including in the New York Times.  A Google search of “Earth Liberation Front”, or the wonderfully-named “Revenge of the Trees” will reveal this.

Types of terrorism: tree spiking vs mass murder

Then look the types of terrorism.  The only non-Islamic terrorism that appears to be happening in this decade is “eco-terrorism” such as of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF and its cutesy “Elves”), the Earth First Organisation or Revenge of the Trees(!).  And what are they up to?  Apart from fire-bombing the real estate of the hated “globalist-capitalist” system – and trying specifically "not to cause harm to animals, human or non-human” --  they spike trees and release minks into the wild.
Now, my friend says that freeing minks can cause real damage to indigenous fauna.  And I worry about that; I do.  But somehow, to me, that doesn’t seem to present the existential threat of an ideology that seeks the world dominance of its own religion or death to the non-believer.  I’m somehow not as worried that a tree (or "Tree") will seek to wreak its Revenge on me -- not even a Banyan tree with its creepy aerial roots ("Roots") --  as I am by airplanes used as missiles, or by bombs in the Subway.
I also note that while the "eco-terrorists" may have been responsible for 22% of terrorist "acts" (and one could argue whether or not they should have been classified as "terrorism" at all, but still...) they were responsible for 0.0% of deaths in the period (and none since).

The fallacy of range

A big problem with the stats Danios quotes is their range: 1980-2005.  Admittedly this is not his fault; it’s the way the FBI has reported them. And they do not appear to have a more recent report in the same format: the only one being a report of terrorism internationally, of 2008.
In the early eighties there were plenty of left wing and a few right wing organisations, some carrying out terrorist acts.  Omega 7 is one such (they're the Cuban paramilitaries, not the fatty acids, though of course they may be the same thing....).  But even when it was active, Omega 7 apparently only had a handful of people -- "less than 20" [!] according to Wikipedia. It’s been out of action since the mid eighties.  Ditto the Ku Klux Clan and various other sorry outfits of Left and Right.  But they do bulk up the number of terrorist acts.  And the only way Danios has counted terrorist acts –as if they are all the same – is in number.
The stats could have gone even further back, to the seventies, and taken in the Baader Meinhof Gang, and the Red Brigades. 
That would have bulked up the numbers even more and diluted the Islamic numbers.  But it would have diluted the Jewish numbers as well. Making a range that goes back to the eighties does the job: it dilutes the Islamic numbers and brings in the Jewish Defence League of the eighties, resulting in numbers that allow Danios to claim that Jews commit more terrorist acts than Islamists. 

The results of terror acts – measure by death….

Even using the FBI report and its accepting its range (1980-2005), we have the following figures:

Number of Islamist terrorist acts: 6% (Danios), 7% (me)
Deaths by Islamist terrorist acts: 94%
Last Islamist terrorist act: Yesterday, Today (and tomorrow).  Average 5/day since 2001 (source).

Number of Jewish terrorist acts: 7% (Danios), 8% (me).
Deaths by Jewish terrorist acts: 0.09%
Last Jewish terrorist act (FBI stats): 1986

Latest FBI Report on terror acts: international 2008

Danios does not refer to the latest FBI figures on terrorism worldwide.  They show the clear majority of Islamic terrorism.
Here’s what they report for worldwide terrorist acts:
FBI Report on Terrorism, 2008, p45

Total: 15,765 dead.(some double counting, due to joint claims).

Update, 3 Feb 2012: FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, 2011 Report on Terrorism, 30 April 2011.

Terrorist acts stopped

In the FBI reports, you can read about terrorist acts that have been thwarted.  They don’t summarise those in tabular format, but in the reading of them, they are all, bar one or two, Islamic.  
That's not to mention those acts that simply failed because of incompetence of the Islamic bombers, but which would have killed thousands if "successful": the underwear bomber, the Times Square bomber, the Dallas bomber.  And the one that did succeed, Nidal in Fort Hood, bringing up the Islamic average with 13 deaths...

29 of 30 "Most Wanted Terrorists" are Islamists.

Only one on the Most Wanted Terrorist List is non-Islamic. Check out the list here.

Of course, at the end of the day, the numbers of people killed by terrorist acts in the United States is minuscule – just one or two a year. Without downplaying the threat, it’s also clear that one should keep the actual danger of death by terrorism in perspective.
It is clear, however, that to the extent that terrorism is a threat to life – as opposed to property, which is the eco-terrorist focus ---  it’s almost entirely Islamic.
More important is this point: that the Islamic threat is much more than just terrorist.  More insidious, quieter and yet just as determined, is the threat of “stealth jihad”, the slow and steady pressure to insinuate Sharia into the west, which is documented in many books and blogs.

The bottom line story on terrorism and the threat of stealth jihad is pretty simple: it’s Islamic, stupid.

Saturday 16 October 2010

"Criticism not a crime", from "Islam in Europe", SCMP

A report today in the South China Morning Post (not in the New York Times; I wonder why?), that the prosecution in the hate crimes trial of Dutch MP, Geert Wilders, who is on trial for having criticised Islam, will seek acquittal on five of the charges.  Note: his criticism is of Islam, not of Muslims, he's been careful to make that clear, telling stories about his "gap-year" travels in the Muslim world, during which, he recounts, he was treated kindly and warmly by Muslims from Turkey to Pakistan -- and weren't we all treated kindly, those of us who travelled to those parts?  I was.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

10:10's spectacular own goal....

Have you heard of this outfit before -- the "10:10" organisation?  (Founded by Franny Armstrong, left).
Not likely if you're outside the UK.  But now millions do know and not for the better!
The 10:10 aim: to get people to commit to reducing their carbon emissions by 10%. I'm not sure what the other "10" is and can't be bothered to find out, Actually....  BOOOM!  What?  Well read the piece and watch the video, you'll see what I mean.  This video is a spectacular own goal!  Blew up in their faces, you might say....

On the furphy that "Muslims are the new Jews"

I just posted an article by John Vinocur, which is a more subtle argument of the sort we hear increasingly, as a counter to criticsm of Islam: intolerance stalks the land, Muslims are being demonised, just like jews in Nazi Germany, if we're not careful it's the ovens all over again;  Muslims are the new Jews.  Yikes!

"Germany risks a lurch to the right"

John Vinocur, NYT
If all you knew of the issues of immigration and assimilation were from the mainstream media, the likes of the New York Times, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, then your take on John Vinocur's piece in today's New York Times ("Germany risks a lurch to the right") would be to sympathise with his views: "intolerance, unmistakably, is part of the stock in trade of the new far-right outside Germany", and worry, with him, about the possibility that a new racist nationalism might stalk the land.
But his article is but the latest in a new Islamist formulation, albeit a bit more subtly structured by Mr Vinocur. It's part of the effort to paint concern about Islam in the west as a new form of anti-semitism, that Muslims are "the new jews".  Spectres of Auschwitz are raised. (Postscript: more on the issue here.)

But look more closely at the issue and you see that the comparisons are a fraud.
The jews in 1930 Germany were blamelesss.  They got on with life, integrated and productive.  The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" -- the supposed jewish conspirace to rule the world -- were a fraud.  And yet Hitler targetted them, rounded them up and murdererd them.
By contrast Islam has a unique ideology -- a religion with a "whole of life" approach -- with Sharia law as an integral part of its system.  In its religious doctrines it explicitly, repeatedly and unmistakeably seeks domination over all other religions and political systems in the world.  In the guise of the Muslim Brotherhood, it seeks that hegemony by political and military means.  The Muslim Brotherhood has said that its primary purpose in the west is to "destroy its miserable house from within".  Islam is explicitly and repeatedly: supremacist, sectarian, anti-semitic and antipathetic to freedom of speech, freedom of consciencce, and the rights of women, minorities and non-Muslims.
The likes of Geert Wilders in Holland point out these policies of Islam the ideology.  He stands for freedom of speech. He is not racist.  He points out the dangers of an intolerant ideology to the hard won freedoms of the west.  And for that -- for pointing out the obvious evil of intolerance -- he is the one who is smeared and excoriated.  He is the one who is called a racist (recalling, as ever, that islam is not a race).  There is no clearer case of shooting the messanger (and in this case not "The Messanger", aka Muhammad....).
Don't be fooled by the slickly suave sophistry of Vinocur.  The danger is not the likes of Wilders, but of an intolerant Islamic ideology.

Postscript: read here about the experiences of a German convert to Islam.
Germany Risks a Lurch to the Right

HAMBURG — The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark: passionately democratic countries with strong creeds of tolerance, where parties of the right have now entered the political mainstream pushing anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic agendas.
Germany: an extraordinary neighboring democracy, strengthened by the brakes of a fearful history, and so far pretty much free of the hard right’s new handholds in societies to the west and north of here.
While a Dutch government, whose existence is based on the parliamentary tolerance of an anti-immigrant party, will be sworn in on Thursday, this question, a kind of ill wind off the North Sea, comes with it:
What are the chances that Germany escapes the emergence of its own version of the Sweden Democrats (who have just entered the Swedish Parliament), or Danish People’s Party (whose support props up a minority government in Denmark), or a figure like Geert Wilders, whose Party for Freedom now sits in third place as a Dutch vote-getter?
The instinctive and plausible answer is that its chances are good. But a close look suggests the odds are changing.
The facts say that postwar Germany has demonstrated remarkable immunity to extremism, with strong antibodies that kick in to fight ideologies or propositions of excess.
Those facts also show that confidence in and loyalty to the traditional parties of the German middle ground have markedly diminished.
These days, when it comes to the issue that has propelled anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic parties into greater power in Northern Europe — a sense among some citizens that Muslim newcomers are encroaching on their society without regard for its laws and standards — mainstream parties in Germany are starting to acknowledge they have not dealt with the concern anywhere near adequately.
“Obviously, we haven’t sufficiently led the discussion,” Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, of the Christian Social Union, said.
Obvious is the word. Since the publication at the end of the summer of a book by Thilo Sarrazin, “Germany Does Away With Itself,” which argues with a biologically and genetically based thesis that the nation is imploding as a result of millions of immigrants from Islamic countries, a fairly startling series of indicators has become public.
• A poll by the Allensbach Institute showed 55 percent of the Germans considered that Muslim immigrants cost Germany “more socially and financially” than what they contribute to the economy.
• When the president, Christian Wulff, described Islam in a speech as belonging to Germany in a manner similar to what he called its Judeo-Christian foundations, the newspaper Bild published a poll reporting that 66 percent rejected that view.
• Another public opinion survey by Allensbach found 60 percent describing Mr. Sarrazin, whose book has sold over a million copies, as saying “many things that are correct,” while only 13 percent disagreed. Last month, an Emnid poll gave a notional “Sarrazin party” 18 percent of a national vote — theoretically, a better score than any of the election results of the Dutch, Danish or Swedish right-wing populists.
I asked a member of the Christian Democratic Union’s national directorate for his private take on the voter potential of a “Sarrazin party.” The C.D.U. man’s answer: 10 percent. Much of it, 29 percent, according to Emnid polling, would come from the reservoir of the Left Party, at the far left of Germany’s electoral spectrum.
Intolerance, unmistakably, is part of the stock in trade of the new far-right outside Germany, but in most cases it does not replicate all of the classic rant of a party like France’s National Front: anti-capitalism, anti-American, and bigotry.
At the same time, there’s an important element separating what Mr. Sarrazin is telling Germans from the rough noise — basically no to Islamic immigrants — that resonates from the rightist parties in countries nearby.
Here’s the difference: the Sarrazin analysis of Germany’s discomfort with Islamic immigrants applies questionable biological and eugenic judgments to their capacities to integrate, essentially taking the issue out of the realm of a social or cultural problem. Before losing his job on the executive board of the Bundesbank, Mr. Sarrazin, a Social Democrat, even wandered into an affirmation on television that Jews, as well as Basques, have a “particular gene.”
For Frank Schirrmacher, cultural editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who has debated in print with Mr. Sarrazin, the author has tread into very dangerous territory. He told Mr. Sarrazin, “It’s possible your book is a break-point and an historical sign of the times showing that we no longer analyze theses [like yours] in terms of the direction to which they have historically led.”
Alongside this concern, there are seemingly parallel trends in German economic policy that Ulrich Beck, a sociologist at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, has described as revived nationalism. Such a Germany, he said, “no long personifies the most European of Europeans.”
Is this, taken together, the stuff of a potential right-wing political movement in Germany with the capacity to stoke fear and instability?
Last week, I asked two Germans, who often express critical views of their country’s difficulties with solidarity, about the specific possibility of an emerging populist party to the right of the Christian Democrats.
Helmut Schmidt, the 91-year-old former Social Democratic chancellor, who is often described as a national sage and has said his countrymen are more subject to emotionality than other peoples, and Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister and leader of the Greens, a party which now regards Islam as a fundamental part of German life, responded to the question.
Mr. Fischer argued that both the German federal system with its careful apportionment of powers and Germans’ notions of their country’s place in the world were serious barriers to such a right-wing party.
Sitting in his office, Mr. Schmidt said the Germans had not shown themselves capable yet of integrating four million Muslims. He also acknowledged the reality of a problem involving “how a modern society deals with the influx of people from a different civilization.”
“But so far,” he said, “we don’t have that [rightist] party.
“The reason is Nazism and Auschwitz. This is the reason for the time being, and hopefully for the future.”
In the current circumstances, that must pass for optimism.

"Test your savvy on religion"

Letter to International Herald Tribune (international version of the New York Times)
Your defender-in-chief of Islamism, Nicholas Kristof, is at it again in his own version of cherry picking ("Test your savvy on religion", IHT, 11 October).  It is not we "Islamophobes" who are rushing to "inflammatory conclusions", but the Islamist radicals who quote the Holy texts of Islam to justify their murderous acts (witness the trial statements of Shahzad, the "Times Square bomber").  As Kristof must surely know, the Koran is the inerrant and universal word of god, valid for all time and for all places. By contrast, the Old Testament has effectively been abrogated in Christianity, overtaken by the far more peaceable New Testament. Moreover the Bible, in its entirety is subject to exegesis and interpretation, unlike the Koran.  [Kristof's piece copied below]

Friday 8 October 2010

"Let's halt the destruction of historic Graham Street area for profit"

Since the handover in 1997, there has been a clear increase in local interest to preserve historic Hong Kong.  Witness the fights over the Queen's Pier, Wedding Card Street (Wanchai) and now Graham Street in Sheung Wan, west of Central.  In response, the government has even set up a Heritage Commission to try to identify those areas that ought to be protected.   This is all good news.

The bad news is that the government's knee-jerk reaction to "old" is to "rebuild" it: of course with the major developers making fat profits out of it (declaration of interest: we own shares in some of said developers.  Still, I'd rather they had a bit less profit, and hence slightly lower share price, than for places such as Graham Street to be destroyed in the name of "development”).

Today Katty Law, of the Central and Western Concern Group, writes a nice letter beseeching the government to save the best of the old,  the best of Graham Street. [go to her letter and vote 5-star for it!]
My letter in support is below, and her letter below that....

To the Editor, South China Morning Post:
I fully agree with Katty Law about the need to preserve the Graham Street area ("Let's halt destruction of historic Graham Street area for profit", Letters, 8 October”).  [see below]

When I show guests to Hong Kong around our city, one of their best and most abiding impression is of our vibrant, bustling streets and street markets.  Tourism is an important industry for us; let’s not spoil our best attractions.

We don’t need to do anything at all to them — just keep them as is.  If the government must do something then let it be the sorts of things already proposed by the area Concern groups: paving, pedestrianising, rehabilitating and so on.

The government needs to show that “consultation” really means something.  That when it consults and gets local input, that it will take it into account.  Only in this way can the government prove that it is not in the pockets of the big developers.

Yours, etc,
Letter as printed, 11 October 2010

Let's halt destruction of historic Graham Street area for profit

Despite strong objections from members of the community, architectural and planning professionals, the secretary for development has decided to recommend to the Chief Executive in Council the resumption of land for the Graham Street market redevelopment scheme, which will effectively put a death sentence on the most historic street market in Hong Kong.
For many people who love this special place in Old Central, it's heartbreaking to see our government making such a decision. It is equally frustrating to hear the Urban Renewal Authority's line of defence: its argument that it will keep the market is unconvincing, when four towers, between 26 to 33 storeys high, have been planned for the site and the construction period, which will bring great disturbances, is estimated to last five to seven years.
The historic urban fabric of this area will be totally destroyed with this kind of large-scale, blanket redevelopment. The air and noise pollution that comes with it will affect a vast area in Central and Sheung Wan. And the small streets and lanes just will not be able to handle the additional traffic load that redevelopment brings.
Every day this market serves thousands of shoppers and restaurant chefs in the vicinity, and many tourists come especially to visit this market to feel the pulse of our city, to see local people doing their daily grocery shopping. It is another side of Central, a more human side. It is hard to understand why our government cannot understand the cultural significance of this area; that this sensitive zone is not a place for large-scale development.
This redevelopment project has little to do with public purposes - unlike land resumption for building highways, public facilities, etc. Its goal is largely profit-making - to squeeze more high-rise buildings into this area to make more money.
There are better, and more sensitive, options to regenerate the area. Streets could be repaved, electricity and water supply for the hawkers installed, market hygiene improved and the buildings rehabilitated or partially rebuilt in an appropriate scale. Concern groups have proposed feasible solutions to better conserve the historic urban landscape.
Although Graham Street market is a place with great cultural significance, a heritage impact assessment has never been done. The URA claimed that it had commissioned a heritage report, but it has never been made public. Besides members of the public, many architecture and planning professionals have complained about this project but their objections have been deliberately ignored. The URA claims it has fully engaged the public - yet it has overlooked the many objections to the scheme.
The government tells the world that the future of urban renewal lies in "regeneration" and "holistic planning", yet it contradicts itself by putting a death sentence on this historic street market. There is still a chance to find a better solution. It would be in our city's best interests if this plan were reconsidered.
Katty Law, Central and Western Concern Group

Thursday 7 October 2010

Jesus gets dissed, supported by Huffpost. But what of the dissing of Muhammad?

This is going to be interesting!  One rather hopes...
The left-wing Huffington Post is all huffy about some folk that are upset by a piece of art which pokes fun at Jesus.  Put a sock in it, they're saying, free speech trumps all.
("... the first amendment does give us the right, with or without governmental subsidy, to speak freely, even it that speech is desecrating [sic??] to someone else and their religion.") 
And quite right too.  But.....

Wednesday 6 October 2010

"The simple innovation that made travel smoother"

Son and I were discussing the wheelie suitcase during a recent wander along the corridors of Heathrow.  So simple, so sensible.  Why did it take so long to invent?  Why did it take so long to invent the wheel, then?  Why, indeed?
Then comes this article in today's International Herald Tribune, the international edition of the New York Times, headline above, by Joe Sharkey.  And it seems that it's men's fault again.  They were too "macho" to take to a thingie with wheels!

Article linked above and reprinted below, thanks to NYT....

Tuesday 5 October 2010

"Muslims remain calm after Ayodhya court decision"

Now there's a headline!  It's the updated version of "man bites dog".
"Dog bites man", of course, being represented by headlines that have become all too drearily common, the like of "Muslims run riot after latest insult..."
Note that the reason Ayodya Muslims remained calm was cause they thought they'd get beat up on if they didn't.... AND, that they are, apparently, a "negligible population" in the area.
Brief history of Ayodhya: Chinese influence, BCE, then one of India's most holy places for Hindus until the Mughals in the 16th Century built a mosque on the site.  Wikipedia delicately says "Ayodhya, like other Indian cities, came under Mughal rule." And opines -- in a seeming breach of its own guidelines to take a "neutral point of view" or NPV -- that "The cultural fabric was enriched with the coming of the Mughals."  In part, of course, by destroying an ancient temple...

[photo courtesy of SCMP: A Hindu holy man at the Ayodhya Temple]

The full article, in 4th October South China Morning Post:

Monday 4 October 2010

"Muslims in America"

I'm going to write something about "why write letters to the editor?" at some stage.  In the meantime, here's another, to the International Herald Tribune, the international edition of the New York Times.  They have a determinedly pro-Islamic stance, as apologists for its ideology.  They have at times printed letters of mine, critical of aspects of Islam, but more often have they run articles and letters which are staunch apologia.
The letter under the title of "Muslims in America" on 4 October is another such.

Sunday 3 October 2010

BBC Interview with "Pastor" Terry Jones

I wrote about the dopey "Pastor" Terry Jones, here.

The Beebs ran an interview with him on 1st October.  Link here.

Letter to the Beebs about it:

[above: Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of MI5; see below]