Sunday 26 October 2014

BBC nearly tells the truth about Islam

On BBC radio a few nights ago, listening in Hong Kong, a program on why it was converts to Islam who went on the rampage in Canada. What is it about converts that bends them to kill random civilians?
Well, fair enough question. And the Beebs gathered several worthies to discuss it under the baton of a young Beebianista whose name I didn't get.
Everything was going swimmingly along accepted routes: the first fellow said that "every religion has its terrorists" (yes, we all recall the rampaging Jainiasts, don't we?), and concluded that "Islam was not immune". ("Not immune"?? Only that it's been responsible for over 24,000 terror attacks since 911. See how many Christian terror attacks you can count in that time. And, no, you can't count drone strikes...).
An Imam then weighed in on cue to say that these new converts "misunderstood" the Religion of Peace, which was one of tolerance, warmth, mercy and so on.
Then the Outlier. A fellow who had once belonged to Al Qaeda until he'd reverted to his senses said that these Muslims rampaging in the name on Islam were NOT misunderstanding the religion. They were acting in accord with its doctrine and on the explicit example of Muhammad. He then started to quote scripture to support his point.
At which point the young Beebianista shut him down with "we're not going to get into scriptural argument".
Imagine. They're trying to work out what it is that's radicalizes new converts to Islam. And they ignore the single most important reasons: the scripture of Islam and the example of its "prophet".
Shame on the BBC.

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Afghan opium: turn it to morphine

I just read that the US has spent $7.5 BILLION dollars trying to eradicate the Afghan poppy crop. And the result?..... Afghanistan has just produced the biggest opium crop in history.
Imagine if that $7.5 billion had been spent in buying the farmers' crops (steady income) setting up proper factories to manufacture morphine (jobs and careers) and then buying the morphine and shipping it to Africa where there is a drastic shortage of analgesics (morphine is still the best pain reliever there is).
I'll bet there would be enough money left over from that seven billion to set up facilities to deal with the opium addicts, who are now simply a collateral cost of the misguided "war on drugs".

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(in Doha airport)

Friday 24 October 2014

Misrepresenting Islam? The strange case of CJ Werleman

There's been an interesting tussle between Sam Harris and C.J. Werleman (an Aussie, I'm sad to say).
Sam wins the tussle, but I wanted here to focus on one bit of it, namely Werleman's choice of a Gallup poll of Muslims to "prove" that only a small minority is radical.
At 7:30' he says that 99.9% of Muslims don't want an Islamic caliphate or don't want to impose Sharia law.  He's flat wrong on this.  A majority of Muslims, even in western countries, do indeed want to impose Sharia law.  See my page link above for extensive links to polls on Muslims in western and Islamic countries.
More egregiously, Werleman cricitices (08:00') Harris for "cherry picking" polls and quotes the Gallup poll which led to the book "What a Billion Muslims Really Think" by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed in 2008.*
This Gallup poll, though, was seriously flawed.  See Robert Satloff's takedown of it here.
The full data from the 9/11 question show that, in addition to the 13.5 percent, there is another 23.1 percent of respondents--300 million Muslims--who told pollsters the attacks were in some way justified. Esposito and Mogahed don't utter a word about the vast sea of intolerance in which the radicals operate. [ref]
Whichever way you look at it, there are between 100 million and 400 million Muslims worldwide who think that it's in some way justified to fly commercial planes into buildings. That it's just fine to randomly kill innocent civilians in the name of the Islam.

*Esposito and Mogahad are apologists of Islam. Esposito is a professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, funded by Saudi Arabia and Mogahed was head of the Islamic Society of North America, which is a Muslim Brotherhood front.  Hardly neutral on the issues here, and surely a case of "cherry picking", if there ever was one.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Islam: The Black Flag of ISIS Signifies the Military Tactics of Muhammad

Canberra drops plan to segrete veiled women

Race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane told Fairfax Media the original ruling meant Muslim women were being treated differently to non-Muslim women.
“No-one should be treated like a second-class citizen, not least in the parliament,” he said.
“I have yet to see any expert opinion or analysis to date which indicates that the burqa or the niqab represents an additional or special security threat.” [my emphasis] [here]
A couple of points:

  • "Second-class citizens": the women veiling are denoting themselves as second-class citizens.  That they should not be seen.  And if it's "modesty" they claim, then that's a horrid reflection on men -- that they can't be trusted to view unveiled women. If that were true, rapes in the middle east would be less than in the west, but they're not.
  • ".... special security threat": Race discrimination commissioner Soutphommasane shows himself ignorant here.  There are numerous reports of niqabs and burqa being used to hide criminal activities. 

... examples include the following:
  • .... Armed robberies. For example:

Tuesday 21 October 2014

The Islamic State and Islam

What relationship does the Islamic State have to Islam?
“Absolutely nothing” is the answer almost every Western politician gives.   For example, U.S. President Obama adamantly stated in a televised speech that the Islamic State “is not Islamic.”
This begs the question: How does one determine what is—and is not—Islamic?
The traditional answer, the Islamic answer, has been as follows
Read on....

Monday 20 October 2014

What China Means by ‘Rule of Law’ -

What China Means by 'Rule of Law'

NEW HAVEN — Two weeks ago, with the democracy protests in Hong Kong in full swing, China's official People's Daily newspaper labeled them "illegal" and called for protecting "the rule of law" in Hong Kong. Such statements left observers with little doubt about a central meaning "the rule of law" has in the People's Republic: the Communist Party's use of law to control and regulate society.
Yet there's plenty of evidence that China sees the rule of law in far more nuanced and complex ways. Today the Communist Party's 18th Central Committee starts its Fourth Plenum, and the main topic will be the rule of law in China — the first time in party history that a meeting with the authority of a plenary session will focus on the rule of law. And there are reasons for a measure of optimism that the plenum will demonstrate more complex views about the roles law can play and also take meaningful steps to advance new legal reforms.
Of course, legal reform has major limits in China's one-party authoritarian system. There won't be true judicial independence. All bets are off whenever the party sees a threat to its continued power; steps toward the rule of law don't mean steps toward multiparty political democracy, which China's current leaders totally resist. When the plenum issues its report, it will surely underscore that one central role of law is to maintain social order.
But, contrary to what pessimistic observers have predicted, the plenum is not likely to treat law as merely a tool for the party to control Chinese society, a throwback to the "Legalist School" of philosophy from 2,200 years ago which President Xi Jinping seems fond of quoting. Chinese society and its legal system have already changed too fundamentally for that, and the current regime led by Mr. Xi has already signed onto many reforms and even adjustments in ideology that represent positive steps toward a modern system of rule of law. These changes aren't just window-dressing; they reflect the leadership's recognition that it needs to improve governance, address widespread public grievances, and respond to public opinion.
Consider some legal reforms that have been made in just the last few years. Use of the death penalty has been cut roughly in half, with improved procedures for deciding on its use. A new Criminal Procedure Law has been adopted, providing significantly more protections to suspects and defendants. The odious system of "re-education through labor" has been abolished (though, to be sure, what will replace it is still not clear).
A sea change has taken place in government transparency, with important requirements of open government information changing the relationship between the state and citizens. Zhou Qiang, the strong new president of the Supreme People's Court, recently issued a five-year judicial reform plan promising to enhance court independence from interfering local governments, increase judicial openness and transparency, improve fairness to individual litigants, and further professionalize judging.
Some critics point to recent official statements demonizing "constitutionalism" and ask how can China be serious about legal reform if it denigrates or sidelines its own Constitution. In fact, "constitutionalism" has become a code word for a specific idea: importing Western political democracy, which China's leaders will not accept. But as for the Constitution itself, Mr. Xi recently called it China's "fundamental law" and said that to "govern the nation by law means to govern in accordance with the Constitution." China currently has no effective mechanism for enforcing its Constitution — a major deficiency — but at least that crucial topic is now being openly discussed.
China's leaders see improving the legal system not simply as a way to control society but as a way to rein in wayward bureaucrats, insist that local officials carry out national policies, establish rules of the road for a more robust economy, provide peaceful ways for citizens to resolve disputes and seek redress for grievances, reduce the corruption that's seen as the greatest threat to the Party's continued hold on power — in short, to constrain government itself, not just to control society and contain social unrest. Mr. Xi may have been playing to the crowds when he recently spoke of "locking power in a cage," but it was a recognition that the party needs to constrain some of its power in order to keep it.
Moreover, China's maturing legal community, as well as ordinary Chinese citizens, follow these developments carefully, so expectations have been raised. Failure to deliver and actually enforce reforms would create a destabilizing pushback on China's leaders. The most convincing reason for outsiders to be cautiously optimistic about these developments is that many legal figures within China, like the revered legal scholar and reformer Jiang Ping, have written about the plenum with cautious optimism.
This is not to say that China is about to abandon its preoccupation with "social stability," which too often means silencing or imprisoning peaceful dissenters and activists who blow the whistle on some of the country's many woes, including environmental degradation, abuses of power and needless policies against Tibetans and Uighurs.. But in the eyes of China's leaders, social stability is what enabled China to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in a mere few decades, generate huge economic growth, and peacefully re-establish China as a major power among nations. The prospects for legal reform will be greatly enhanced if China's leaders come to see how the rule of law itself contributes to social stability.
Above all, we should recognize that every reform made or promised in China, even in a regime that contains factions opposed to reform, provides an opening for a large group of scholars, activists, reform-minded officials, as well as ordinary citizens to push to implement the changes and to find new openings for reform. The constraints are real, but so are the dynamics for producing ongoing reforms.
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Saturday 18 October 2014

It’s Time to Take the Islamic State Seriously - Crisis Magazine

Yes. IS IS Islamic...
The Islamic State and the broader jihadist movements throughout the world that agree with it are, I think, correct in their basic understanding of Islam. Plenty of evidence is found, both in the long history of early Muslim military expansion and in its theoretical interpretation of the Qur'an itself, to conclude that the Islamic State and its sympathizers have it basically right. The purpose of Islam, with the often violent means it can and does use to accomplish it, is to extend its rule, in the name of Allah, to all the world. The world cannot be at "peace" until it is all Muslim. The "terror" we see does not primarily arise from modern totalitarian theories, nationalism, or from anywhere else but what is considered, on objective evidence, to be a faithful reading of a mission assigned by Allah to the Islamic world, which has been itself largely procrastinating about fulfilling its assigned mission.

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Tuesday 14 October 2014

The Mechanics of Defamation: countering Islam Apologists

The wonderful Sam Harris, has to fight non-stop to counter Islamopologists' smears...

Today in History: The Battle of Tours

Precisely 100 years after the death of Islam’s prophet Muhammad in 632, his Arab followers, after having conquered thousands of miles of lands from Arabia to Spain, found themselves in Gaul, modern day France, facing a hitherto little known people, the Christian Franks.
There, around October 10-11, in the year 732, one of history’s most decisive battles took place, demarcating the extent of Islam’s western conquests and ensuring the survival of the West.
Prior to this, the Islamic conquerors had for one century been subjugating all peoples and territories standing in their western march—including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. In 711, the Muslims made their fateful crossing of the straits of Gibraltar, landing on European soil. Upon disembarkation, the leader of the Muslims, Tariq bin Zayid, ordered the Islamic fleet burned, explaining that “We have not come here to return. Either we conquer and establish ourselves here, or we perish.”

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself? : Sam Harris

Another wonderful contribution to the Islam debate from Sam Harris. Islam the ideology as distinct from the Muslims one knows....

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Hong Kong wins the game

It seems that Xi Jinping reads my blog and took my advice to follow "Wu Wei" (the Taoist philosophy of "do nothing" to solve many problems).
Thomas L. Friedman talks about Islamic bodies and quotes Fukuyama, thus:
“But before power can be constrained, it has to be produced. ... Government is not just about constraints. It’s about providing security, infrastructure, health and rule of law. And anyone who can deliver all of that” — including China — “wins the game whether they are democratic or not. ... 
I thought that applies to Hong Kong too. We have a genuinely free society, freedom of speech, of conscience and of religion, equal rights for men, women and minorities.  There are some democracies that don't have that.  In any case, Hong Kong is far more democratic than many know. I've been the chairman of an election committee, working to get a local District Commissioner elected a few years ago.  The campaign was everything that they are in the west: torrid, tough, open and fair (we lost...).  And that's for District Councillors who have more to do with what the average people care about -- garbage collection, security, town planning, that sort of thing.

It can frackin' be done...

Joe Nocera, a thoughtful analyst on the New York Times, points out:
... lowering methane emissions [in tracking] does not require enormously expensive new technology. It can be done with technology that already exists and at fairly minimal cost. I’ve seen estimates that it would add a penny to the current price of natural gas. What’s more, a 50 percent reduction in methane emissions is the equivalent to closing 90 coal-fired power plants, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. [Joe's article here]
Fracking is here to stay. Best make it as friendly as possible.  And it seems not to be too hard or even expensive.

How Obama’s Arab Spring Created the Islamic State

Raymond Ibrahim, in good form, as always....
/snip: Obama was thoroughly warned what troop withdrawal would lead to: the Islamic State.

Bill Maher and Sam Harris Educate Affleck about Islam

A fine article, proving once again that facts won't get in the way of prejudice.  In this case the prejudice of Ben Affleck, that Islam is the religion of peace, no matter the carnage in the world done in its name, specifically in the name of its ideology: The Trinity of Islam.
I don’t usually stand with comedian Bill Maher, but last week on hisReal Time program the provocateur once again was a voice of reason addressing the Islam Problem. His guests were atheist author Sam Harris, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, New York Timescolumnist Nicholas Kristof, and actor/director Ben Affleck of the Oscar-winning Iranian hostage crisis flick Argo. As you might expect from such a lineup, the discussion swiftly degenerated into the usual stalemate between facts and politically correct defensiveness.  Read on
Affleck in idiot mode
Dumb Affleck
Affleck, Harris, Maher, Kristof: squabble about Islam

Islam explained: "don't feel sorry for the non-Muslims"

This is said by well-known UK Imam Anjem Choudary, in Clarion's report: "I don't feel sorry for those beheaded".
"Allah said very clearly in the Koran 'Don't feel sorry for the non-Muslims.'
"So as an adult non-Muslim, whether he is part of the Army or not part of the Army, if he dies in a state of disbelief then he is going to go to the hellfire.
"That's what I believe so I'm not going to feel sorry for non-Muslims.
"We invite them to embrace the message of Islam. If they don't, then obviously if they die like that they're going to the hellfires.
This is him speaking as an authority on Islam.  If I say it, I'm an Islamophobe who doesn't understand the Koran.  Choudary says it.  Does that make him an Islamophobe?

Tuesday 7 October 2014

What will it take for us to stop doing business with Qatar? » The Spectator

On the category of allies (or "allies") we shouldn't have: Qatar.
Others, at least, are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Qatar's case is shocking: in a the extent to which we've allowed them to buy the West. While it tries, at the same time, to destroy the west.
No doubt one is the obverse of the other. All part of the same plan. Islam Uber alles.

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Saturday 4 October 2014

Hong Kong pushes Islam off the front pages...

... well for a day or two at least. For the so-called "Umbrella revolution".  But we don't really want "revolution", surely, as the experience of those in the past has been less than glorious.  

Letter to the BBC, after just hearing from one Kwai Wong, a youngster who sounded so entitled and so "scared" of her shadow, that she came across as a jejune fantasist.  But the BBC was buying her story, giving it full read-out treatment....
Dear BBC "World Have Your Say"
I’ve just heard the Kwai Wong, one of the Occupiers, reading out her letter on the BBC World Service Radio here in Hong Kong.
It’s full of rather naive sentiments, and unattaible goals — civic nomination of candidates for the 2017 election is in contravention of the Basic Law, after all.  And many of the leaders of the Occupy/Student movement have admitted as much: that their two goals are unachievable: the resignation of CY Leung and the civic nomination of candidates.
Now: it seems to me that you’re clearly on the side of the Occupy people (well, so am I, just not their tactics).  You really ought to have someone on the other side of this issue on the show.  There’s a majority after all — around 75% — who said they don’t approve of Occupy/Scholarism’s aims.  Surely you need something to counter the jejune fantasies of the likes of Kwai Wong.
I can tell you, living and moving around this town (and I speak both Mandarin and Cantonese), that people are getting increasingly pissed off.  And so they should be: for life is being impacted and small business ruined for aims that all know (even the Occupiers) are not attainable — at least with these tactics…..
Today’s Michael Chugani article in the South China Morning Post is spot on — and that’s for a guy that’s on the Left and minded usual to side with anti-government forces..
By the way: the Occupiers are saying that population of HK is on their side. That’s false.  Before the occupations, the public was about 75% against it. Now that it’s happened, University of HK polls show a plurality are against them.  The “referendums” held earlier in the year, found that mare people voted agains than for.  So they’re in the minority, impacting business and the good name of Hong Kong. And for what?

Thursday 2 October 2014

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Hong Kong Is Losing Premium Over Shanghai’s Stock Market - Bloomberg

This article linked below -- to which I assume you were referring when you mentioned the parity of HK and Shanghai exchanges -- is duplicitous.

The Hang Seng AH China Index which tracks difference between A and H shares shows that Shanghai's A shares have been trading at a PREMIUM of average 80%, at times up to 100%, to Hong Kong's H shares since inception. Reason being that China so controls its capital account that Chinese can invest only in China shares, and pent-up demand drove the A-prices higher. These capital controls are not going to be eased soon. Alibaba considered only NY and HK. Not SH or SZ.

In recent times the A-H premium has dropped and gone positive to H-shares to tune of about 12%. That's just because the Shanghai exchange has performed so poorly.

Therefore, coming (back) to parity is not news. It's just business as usual. It could go back to Shanghai's A shares being 80% ABOVE HK's H-shares and that would just be normal. What WOULD be news is if H-shares again went to positive premium, not the reverse.

The Bloomberg article ignores all of this context.

That's why I say it's duplicitous.

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UK Home Secretary Theresa May: Islamic State’s actions “have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran” : Jihad Watch

TheresaMayThe imam Theresa May weighs in on a question about which her fellow imams, Barack Obama, John Kerry, David Cameron, Philip Hammond, Tony Abbot et al, have already spoken — a veritable ulama of renowned Islamic authorities. Her fatwa echoes theirs: The Islamic State's "actions have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran. What they believe has no resemblance whatsoever to the beliefs of more than a billion Muslims all over the world." What do you bet that Theresa May has never opened a Qur'an in her entire life, and would be abjectly incapable of defending these assertions?
The caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic theology. Who is likely to know more about Islam — al-Baghdadi or May? The Islamic State's actions of kidnapping and enslaving Infidel women are justified in several places in the Qur'an (4:3; 4:24; 23:1-6; 33:50); its practice of beheading is also justified in the Qur'an (47:4; cf. 8:12); its demand of tribute payments from non-Muslims is likewise in the Qur'an (9:29). Perhaps may could debate Anjem Choudary on this question. That will never happen, of course, but if it did it would open a great many people's eyes in ever so sleepy, blinkered, willfully ignorant Britain.

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