Thursday 31 December 2015

How the East Was Won - WSJ

I posted about China's pillaging of coral and sea life in the South China Seas. Now a story on the raping, by China, of the forests in Russia's Far East.
I've been in Russia's Far East, in 2012, when I did a car trip with some fellow adventurers, from Vladivostok to Moscow. I can attest to the observation in this article that there are as many Chinese as Russians there. I was able to use my Chinese every day to get around.
By the way not mentioned in the article is that Black Dragon River = Amur. It's the transaction of the Chinese Heilongjiang. Also the name of their most north easterly province.
Mr. Ziegler, the Asia editor of the Economist, writes beautifully, and with the fervor of a naturalist, about the destruction being wrought on the boreal forests of Siberia, which he calls the world's largest terrestrial ecosystem, as he catalogs an immense variety of species: plant, mammal, fish and fowl, and he lingers fondly over the variety of cranes that migrate there. All this biodiversity is put at risk, he argues, by the extensive and largely unregulated logging. "The timber is all bound for China," he writes. "In 1996 merely half a million cubic meters of Russian timber, eighteen million cubic feet, made its way across the border." By now, he writes, an area equivalent in size to Iceland is being logged each year. Siberia's forests are being "raped."

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Tuesday 29 December 2015

Reliance of the Traveller—Sharia Law Manual | ConCit

Further to the link to Reliance in the post immediately below, this article has some interesting comment on the differences between sharia law and western law.

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The Reliance of the Traveller. The classic manual of Islamic jurisprudence.

A new online facsimile of the book in its entirety.
The "Reliance" (Umdat Al-Salik in Arabic) is the authorised and authoritative compendium of Islamic sharia law as practiced by all five of the Islamic schools of justice.
[note to self: use this source to replace the link at left which I have been asked to take down]

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Sunday 27 December 2015

What I told a foreigner of the type of Islam practised here in Malaysia. "Malaysia Chronicle"

This is a good article. Took me a bit by surprise, outspokenness being so repressed in Malaysia.
Many apologist for Islam cite Malaysia as an example of a "moderate" Islam.  The truth is rather different. This article shows why.

It was about a decade after 9/11. Obama was in office. I was on a flight to Kuala Lumpur. Seated next to me was a Texan, and oilman, a talker. I'll call him Sam.
He'd travelled much. He'd had several extra-marital affairs. He'd spent a fortune on clothes and grooming. His wife had left him because of his life choices.
Sam got onto the subject of Islam. He said Islam had been hijacked by radical Muslims. He said bin Laden didn't represent Islam.
Sam said Malaysia was a model Muslim nation. His sole source of information seemed to be the speeches of President Obama.
Sam said Malaysia was stable. Investors could make money. He wished Middle Eastern countries would emulate Malaysia.
I was annoyed by the American's cock-sure condescension.
I asked him what he knew of Islam today in Malaysia." He gave a vapid reply. I told him about the Islam I knew in Malaysia.

I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia meant women could be government ministers, professors, even judges. But they had to cover their heads in public. They had to subject themselves to their husbands' views of Islam; they had to live in constant fear of being divorced or becoming one of several wives, because it's oh so easy.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia meant that a long-cherished public park in a housing estate could overnight become a building site for a state-funded mosque; that the mosque could thunder the call to prayer five times a day without regard for its neighbours; that non-Muslims struggled to get permits for places of worship.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia included government-funded Islamic missionary agencies; that they didn't answer charges that they used inducements to win converts; that even those who were converted through inducements couldn't relinquish Islam.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia recognised only one expression of Islam, the Shafie school within the Sunni branch; that there was no tolerance for other expressions of Islam, including the Shia Islam of Iran (America's enemy) and the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia (America's partner).
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia meant Islamic authorities broke up non-Muslim families when a member converted to Islam; that non-Muslim children were separated from their mothers if their fathers converted to Islam and decided to leave their wives; that "Muslim" corpses were snatched from grieving families by Muslim officials.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia meant Muslim authorities, groups and individuals railed against the alcohol, entertainment, gambling and tourist industries. Yet, they enjoyed the benefits from the investments, salaries, commissions, tips and taxes supported by these industries.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia blamed the problems in the Middle East on Western bloc nations and on Israel; blamed the problems in Malaysia on the long-departed colonisers and on the "inherited" characteristics of non-Malay-Muslims, principally the Chinese and Indians in Peninsular Malaysia.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia approved the "fixing" of the teaching of history in schools in order to exalt one ethnic group against others; replaced history books which featured changes in Malaysia over time with books which featured "Islamic civilization."
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia approved of using race as a key ingredient in decision making about employment and investment. I told Sam the Malaysian government's biggest industry was manufacturing Malay-Muslims – through encouraging births, conversions to Islam through marriage and claiming that Indonesians are Malays.
I said the Islam I knew in Malaysia placed the most bizarre restraints on publications. I told Sam of the various lists of Arabic and Malay words which non-Muslims were prohibited from using. I told him Malaysia was the only Muslim-majority nation which had such prohibitions.
Sam responded that since Malaysia doesn't amputate, behead or stone, Malaysia's moderate. He put on his headphones. We didn't speak again. - The AntDaily

"Absurd criticism of Islam". Arab News, 26 December 2015

Today, from Arab News, a classic in Islamic apologia, from Rasheed Abou-Alsamh.  I quote it in full as there's a password for entry.
I make comments in this colour, indented.
With the recent bloody attacks in Paris and San Bernardino by terrorists claiming to be doing these in the name of Islam, discrimination against Muslims has grown worldwide.
They are targeted by these new critics, many of them American, well-educated and from the middle of the political spectrum — who reacting with horror to the violence — will say the most absurd things. “Islam is a violent religion” and “Islam needs reform to become more liberal,” are two of the most frequent accusations thrown at our religion.
And we also have the demagogue Donald Trump, the American billionaire entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate in next year’s elections. He has a long history of saying absurd and xenophobic things from calling all the illegal immigrants from Mexico criminals and rapists, to saying in a recent speech that President Barack Obama should bar the entry of Muslims into the United States until the government finds a way deal with the threat of terrorism.
This preposterous statement brought back memories of the detention camps during the World War II into which Americans of Japanese origin were forcibly sent, even if they were born in the United States.
That Trump had the courage to say what he did, and most disturbing, that he was not forced to retract his words and apologize, shows that the American public is so afraid of more terrorist attacks happening that they are willing to sacrifice some of their constitutional rights. Not that the American president would have to get permission from Congress to begin such discrimination. The US executive branch has broad jurisdiction over immigration issues, which in theory would leave Obama with the power to stop the entry of foreign Muslims simply by invoking national security. But that would be bad for the freedom of religion and expression enshrined in the US Constitution, and certainly would lead to legal challenges in US courts.
One of the exponents of the concept that Islam is a violent religion is the American writer Sam Harris, who is the darling of late-night talk shows on US television where he spreads his poison. An avowed atheist, Harris is the perfect example of a supposed public intellectual that many liberal and well-educated Americans love to cite as if he were phenomenally wise. He does not speak the truth, so I refuse to listen to anyone who is so hateful of Islam. 
Sam Harris doesn't spread "poison".  He is a very knowledgeable critic of Islam.  Abouu-Alsamh "refuses to listen" to Sam?  So how does he know of Harris' views, and his wide knowledge?
 Unfortunately, a Brazilian friend of mine who I’ve known since we were both 11-years-old, asked me this week what I thought of Harris. He confessed to me that was enjoying more and more of Harris’ online speeches about the alleged “Islamic evil.” I said that Harris was wrong and tarnishing the reputation of Islam.
“But I thought all Islamists were terrorists,” he told me. I was shocked and saddened that this word has been associated only with terrorism by people in the West.
“Of course not! There are moderate Islamists and even democratic ones as those in Tunisia and Egypt,” I replied. But he did not seem convinced.
Another misunderstanding of Islam is that the religion needs a reformation such as the one Christianity underwent in Europe. Islam is an ancient religion, which is over 1,400 years old. In Islam, there are several strands of thought within the two largest branches of Sunni and Shiite followers. Just within the Sunni branch there are five schools of interpretation. Not to mention the Sufis, mystics who use poetry, music and dance to get closer to God.
Islam is far less "ancient" than Christianity or Judaism, both of which were plagiarised by Muhammad, for his warlordist ends.  Apologist Muslims love to cite mystical and poetical Sufis, but Sufis are a tiny fraction of Muslims, considered by many Muslims to be apostates.
As the British journalist Mehdi Hassan wrote in The Guardian in May this year, Islam has no clergy, nor a pope, as in Catholicism, for the supposed reformists to rebel against. And he says that Islam does not need to go through the bloody wars that Europe went through for 30 years in the 16th century, in which thousands of people died, only to reach a supposed “reform.” For him, Muslim extremists have to rediscover their heritage of pluralism, tolerance and mutual respect that have always been in Islam, embodied in the letter that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sent to the monks of the Saint Catherine monastery, and the peaceful coexistence of Catholics, Jews and Muslims in medieval Spain.
"Supposed reform"?  European Christianity really did go through reform, the benefits of which we see to this day.  The most critical was Matthew's report that god had said "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar and unto God that which is Gods".  Of course Islam needs to go through a reformation to separate Mosque and state.  Abou-Alsamh's denial of this speaks to his determination to maintain Islam as a complete ideology controlling all aspects of life, as is the case in Islamic majority countries (think Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan).
As for the "peaceful coexistence" of all faiths under Ottoman rule, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. Islam was "tolerant' of other religions in the sense that they "tolerated" them. But only if they paid a special non-Muslim "tax", recognised Islamic suzerainty, and did not build any church higher than a mosque.  Basically this story of Andelusian tolerance is a crock.  Otherwise, there would have been no fight to retake the land
The Turkish writer, Mustafa Akyol, recently reminded us of the concept of “Irja” or “postponement” in Islam, which means that we do not have to judge whether people are good Muslims or not, but that we have to leave it up to God to decide in the next life, as He alone can judge us. This is a too liberal concept for the fanatics of Daesh, who want to judge and execute all “unqualified” Muslims here and now.
“The scholars who put forward this concept became known as the “murjia,” or defenders of the trial postponement,” Akyol wrote in his column in the New York Times. He noted that in spite of this school of thought having been dismissed as a heretical sect, hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world still practice the concept. Even in the Gulf and other Arab countries the concept is used and applied regularly.
Islam is a dense, rich and complex religion. It is also full of love, peace, compassion and forgiveness. It is the beautiful side of this religion that is missing in the West’s imagination.
The "love, peace, compassion and forgiveness" in the Koran are reserved for Muslims.  Non-musims are looked down on, and marked out as inferior.  The stars that Hitler made jews wear were first demanded by Muslims of jews in areas they controlled. 
The writer is a Saudi-based journalist

Saturday 26 December 2015

I do hope the South China Morning Post continues its fearless reporting of China, under its new ownership

Letter to the South China Morning Post:
I agree with Tung Chee-hwa that Hong Kong youth should visit China more often to understand this vast country. (Op-ed, 15 December)
Like Mr Tung, I've been lucky enough to have witnessed China's meteoric rise since the beginning in 1976, when I first studied in Beijing. Since then I have visited every province in China. Like Mr Tung, I have seen at first hand the benefits that China's opening has had on ordinary citizens, now part of a growing middle class. 
But Mr Tung fails to note any of the downsides to this Great Leap Forward. Yes, he mentions corruption and pollution but these are "approved" criticism. What about the unmentionables?  The stifling of free speech, quixotic implementation of the rule of law, lax building codes that lead to disasters like the recent one in Shenzhen, hegemonic moves in the South China Seas. None of these is mentioned by Mr Tung.
Under its new ownership, I do hope that the South China Morning Post (the English language "paper of record for Asia" according to the BBC), will continue to cover these important issues and not become a resting place for puff pieces like Mr Tung's.
 Yours, etc 

Thursday 24 December 2015

Americans and Christmas: 5 facts | Pew Research Center

On this Christmas Eve, an interesting poll on Americans' views of Christmas.
One fact stands out as most interesting to me: large majorities of non-Christians celebrate Christmas: atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews. Spot the one religion not doing so!

How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS | The Syrian Intifada

I came across Kyle W Orton quite a while ago at Harry's Place and have meant for a while to post a link to his articles. They are very insightful.
So I'm pleased to be reminded of him by the International New York Times which finally got around to publishing a key article of his in today's Op Ed pages.
The key take-away: the rise of ISIS was not (or at least not only) the fault of the United States. Sadden Hussein was sponsoring their creation early on.
Now read on..

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Wednesday 23 December 2015

America’s clash of civilisations -

First up in the morning I line up the four newspapers I'm going to read: the International New York Times (left), the South China Morning Post (centrish) the Wall Street Journal (conservative) and the Financial Times (centre-leftish) Then I turn on the BBC (left). When the Beebs begins recycling stories I switch to Fox (right). Then back to the Beebs, and so on till I'm finished multitasking with the papers.
So I get views from right, left and centre.
Most people don't do that. I mean most will watch Fox OR BBC. Not both. They'll read the New York Times OR the Wall Street Journal. Not both.
I've even heard folk tell me they "never watch" Fox, because it's so bad. Which begs the obvious question as to how they know, to which their answer would be that they know from their friends so no need to watch.
But I reckon it's worth knowing what the other half thinks no matter which side you're on.
Then you might know something you wouldn't otherwise know. A recent editorial in the New York Times claimed that the Republican candidates didn't have any alternative to Obama's Middle East policy. But that's just not true, as you'd know if you'd watched Fox. Simple example: they call for no-fly zones and safe harbors in Syria. Those strike me as reasonable suggestions. And which are not on Obama's agenda.
Even in this article, Edward Luce makes the mistake of stating that the Republicans have no alternative Middle East policy. Not true. Perhaps Luce is guilty of the same sin he accuses both sides of: namely not speaking or listening to the other side.
Yet the things that divide the country are growing. If you listen to the Republican presidential debate, one message overrides all. Conservatives do not just disagree with President Barack Obama — they hate him profoundly. When asked if they would back a Donald Trump nomination, even the most moderate Republican says anyone would be better than this "feckless, weakling" president, to quote Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor.
Likewise, if you ask a liberal about today's Republicans, it does not take long before the word "stupid" is used. People who support Mr Trump are idiots. People who oppose him must be snobs. The two sides neither speak to each other, nor obtain their "information" from the same outlets. Facts are what you feel comfortable believing. No one in your social group is likely to challenge you.
/end snip
By the way I don't "hate" Obama. I'm disappointed by him. Had I been American I would have voted for him first time around. And second time around I would have abstained from having to choose between a feckless and weak president (accurate description I reckon), and a loony Mormon.
But I do hate Hillary. Not because she's a woman. But because of how she handled Benghazi. That showed her to be either a liar or incompetent. Or, more likely, I think, both. How she handled it was contemptible. It deserves the most thorough censure which is to keep her out of the presidency, for which she clearly lacks the character.

Venezuelan state goes from bad to worse -

Wherever socialism has been implemented with rigor, the result has been a disaster. Collapsing economies and penury for their people.
I remember China of the seventies. I lived there as a student then worker. In China's self-described socialist economy, food was rationed by coupons ("fan piao") and variety severely limited. In winter there were piles of cabbages on the streets. That was it. Just cabbages. The only clothing drab grey pants and cotton shoes.
Since opening up to capitalist forces China's economy has (mixed metaphor alert) rocketed by leaps and bounds, truly Great Leaps Forward. There are now vast choices and mountainous supply of every conceivable consumer good, unimaginable to those brought up under socialism. Moreover people are much happier now than they were when China was socialist. I know. I spoke to them over the years.
China's lurch to the right brought 500 million people out of poverty. Imagine that! Never before in the history of mankind have the conditions of so many people been so vastly improved in so short a time. All by abandoning the rigidities of socialist planning.
Yet here we have are the socialist thugs of Venezuela's Maduro regime, faced with reality and staunchly denying it.
It's one of the many things in life I just don't get.
Why are there so many hard-lefties in the west, pushing Marxist-Maoist-Maduran policies, despite the utter, complete, unarguable, abject, disastrous failure of such policies *everywhere* they've been tried? Policies which bring penury and pain to the people. Why?

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Tuesday 22 December 2015

Germany, refugee nation. Or the beginning of the end of enlightenment Europe?

I enjoy reading Roger Cohen's columns in the New York Times.
But I wonder about his latest, "Germany, refugee nation".
He says:
As a result [of mass Muslim immigration]  over the next generation, Germany will become a stronger, more vital, more dynamic, more open country. Abdulfattah Jandali, a Syrian immigrant known as John, was the biological father of Steve Jobs. Perhaps a future Syrian-German Jobs has just entered school.
What evidence does Cohen have for the "result" that "Germany will become stronger, more vital, more dynamic, more open country"? Why, none.

Christopher Caldwell in "Reflections on the Revolution in Europe" shows that it is not the first generation of Muslim immigrants to Europe that are the problem. It is the second generation, those born in Europe, who become (for complicated reasons I won't go into here, but which Caldwell investigates) more attracted to Islamism, Sharia and Jihad than their parents.

I would't care two hoots if the migrants flooding into Europe were Nigerian Christians, Arabic Copts or Persian Zoroastrians. I only care because they're Muslim. Bigoted? Well, the figures are in and they're damning. About 50% of Muslims living in the west want to see the west ruled by sharia law. A significant minority -- 2% to 20% depending on the survey -- support Islamism or violent Jihad. Therefore, it is a statistical certainly that as more Muslims settle in Europe there will, in time, be more jihadi attacks and more pressure to introduce sharia. (See "Islam in figures" above.  There are plenty of surveys on this topic, too many for me to reference all and they tell the same, sad, story: substantial numbers of Muslims  -- large minorities to majorities -- hold views that are antithetical to our enlightenment beliefs in the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, gender equality and the equal rights of women and minorities).

Moreover the majority of migrants are economic migrants, and not truly refugees escaping the violence in Syria. That is to say, they are jumping the queue of other would-be economic migrants who are trying to get into Europe though normal channels.

A Danish Minister recently said that the reason Denmark didn't want to take in any more Muslim migrants was not because (or not only because) they were concerned about violent jihad, but because they knew that in any thousand migrants there would be about 500 who believed that Denmark should not have the right to practice its freedom of speech to publish the sort of Muhammad cartoons they did in 2005. They don't want that.  And why should they?  It's a valid concern.

Cohen mentions the late Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian.  For every one in a million Steve Jobs, there are 20,000 to 200,000 would-be jihadis. Is that the balance we want?

I think all of this is a cause for concern, and don't call me a bigot for it.

Do We Need a ‘Safe Space’ from Donald Trump? - The New York Times

Fresh from just now posting about the thankless task of liberal (aka "moderate") Muslims critiquing Islam, I come across this interesting article by Kenan Malik. 
Malik looks into the issue of why the left so often supports radical Islam. For example, attempts by the Islamic Society at the University of London to shut down a talk by secular humanist, ex-Muslim Maryam Namazie. Scandalously, this was supported by feminists and the LGBT communities at the UL. 
These groups would be the first to be suppressed and killed if the likes of the Islamic Society had their way. 
Malik makes the point that liberal Muslim critics, attempting to reform Islam, are often ridiculed and shut down (hence "Sisyphus"), not just by Muslims, but by the western left as well. The would-be reformers are labelled "porch monkeys" and "native informants", or worse. They are attacked and reviled. Little wonder, then, that they're so few in number. 
So, good on you, Mustafa and Kenan. Brave voices.
Quoting Kenan Malik:
All this reveals the odd relationship that many on the left have with Islam. They view all Muslims as helpless victims, and regard any criticism of Islam as a form of bigotry. A columnist for The Guardian, David Shariatmadari, called the attempt at Warwick to muzzle Ms. Namazie "reasonable" because "we don't want to have any part in the further stigmatisation of Islam." Some academics disdainfully dismiss liberal Muslim critics of Islam as "native informants" — defined by one academic as "insiders" who "air the dirty laundry of Muslim communities."
Malik is one of those rare beasts: a real leftie (he used to be a member of the Socialist Workers Party), who stands four square behind freedom of speech, even if it offends, and for the right to criticise Islam. The doctrine of Islam, not the people who follow it, aka Muslims.

A Medieval Antidote to ISIS -

I have quoted Mustafa Akyol a couple of times before, in 2011 and 2012. He promotes a more liberal and tolerant Islam.
In this article he introduces us to the concept of "irja" or "postponement". Earthly judgements and punishment -- like those of ISIS -- should be "postponed" until the after life when they will be done by God.
Sadly this is a Sisyphean task. And Akyol doesn't have a good track record. He said for example, in his 2011 article, that Islamic extremism was in the wane, whereas it was just about to take off. Immediately after that judgement Syria erupted in civil war and ISIS began their rampages.
Oh well, someone has to try to find a way to move Islam in a more tolerant direction. There are all too few Muslims like Akyol, given over to this largely thankless task.

Monday 21 December 2015

Comments | The Soft Power of Militant Jihad -

I read this article by Thomas Hegghammer in the New York Times with very mixed feelings. On the one hand, interesting, as I did know a lot of what's reported here. And yet, and yet, it risks humanizing a barbaric outfit and making it more attractive.
I note the comments are mostly negative. As in "why did the Times allow this to be published?

Sunday 20 December 2015

Taki's High life, Speccie 19-26 December

Letter to the Editor of The Spectator
The venerable Taki clearly revels in his role as teaser, polemicist and scallywag-in-chief of the Speccie. And for that he earns our warm esteem.

But did he have to round on we atheists, especially at this time of peace and goodwill to all men (and women)? [High Life, 19-26 December]

Taki claims the late Christopher Hitchens "had very little to say against Allah...", and hints that he was a coward. Not true. And a calumny. The very title of Hitch's best book "God is not Great" negates Islam's infamous war cry "Allahu Akbar". In that book Hitchens spends at least as much time criticizing Islam as other religions.

YouTube has countless videos of Hitchens robustly criticising the "Religion of Peace". In "don't waste my time with Islam", for example, he says that Islam is currently the most toxic of the major religions. Hardly the words of a coward.

Atheists are ugly, Taki? Really? Just google "beautiful atheists" and spend a pleasant few minutes perusing famous and truly beautiful non-believers.

"Most intelligent people believe in God", Taki? Not true. Nearly 90% of the members of the Academy of Sciences are non-believers.

And as for needing God to know the difference between good and evil: well we think we're good folk, our family, and know good from evil. We treat our neighbours as well as we do our dogs. That's good. Spreading falsehoods? That's evil.

Just kidding, Taki, but please do lighten up on we non-believers. And accept our best wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


When You Believe In Nothing, Islam Becomes Something

One of the reasons that, although I've been an atheist since the age of nine, I now call myself a Christian Atheist is that I like to live in a society whose values are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition. Tolerance, separation of church and state.
As this article eloquently lays out, if you believe in nothing then Islam becomes something. Because they certainly believe in something. And that something is poisonous when laid out in its religious code of sharia law.

Saturday 19 December 2015

By the Numbers: How Demographics Reveal the True Nature of Islam — Charisma News

What I've been saying for a long time: that many Muslims in the west may not be willing to strap on the suicide vest, but want to see us ruled by sharia law. A majority or plurality of Muslims in the west want that, many studies show. And here we have that borne out again in another Pew study. Pew being a highly regarded and neutral polling organization. 
Quoting a Muslim reformer: 
Equally shocking, Raza adds, is the large percentage of Muslims who want Sharia law, which calls for stoning of adulterers and chopping off the hands of thieves, to be the law of the land.
"Of course not every Muslim believes in these things, but hundreds of millions do. The numbers are right here for all to see," she said.

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Harry's Place » The High Level Military Group’s Assessment of the 2014 Gaza Conflict

Well this High Level Military Group is set up by the "Friends of Israel", so pro Palestinians will dismiss its report out of hand.
But surely one should look at the evidence presented. Which is damning of Hamas.
And supported by other independent evidence that the would-be genocidally anti-Semitic Hamas is the constant provocateur.
The High Level Military Group (HLMG) is a project of the Friends of Israel Initiative comprising 12 former generals and high-ranking officials from 9 NATO and allied democracies. Formed in early 2015, the HLMG tasked itself with producing an analysis of the war on terror and the challenges faced by nations engaged in asymmetric warfare with terror organisations and hybrid state/non-state actors who do not adhere to the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC). The HLMG's first report, released on 11 December, is a detailed analysis of last year's 50 day conflict between Hamas and the State of Israel – a case study upon which subsequent reports will build a broader analysis of the strategic and tactical challenges faced by democracies. The report begins by summarising the conflict's background and the strategic aims of its principle actors. Responsibility for the conflict, the authors conclude, "must be squarely ascribed to Hamas"

Friday 18 December 2015

The Battle Within Islam and President Obama | The Weekly Standard

Kind of longish, but a solid and well balanced article on the threat we face.

Pakistan Military Deals a Blow to Jihadists but Not to Ideology -

We are constantly assured by the western Left and Islam apologists of all stripes that the number of extremists Muslims is a "tiny tiny minority".
Leave aside the fact that a tiny minority of 1.5 billion votaries of Islam is still a number into the millions. Take just two of our so-called allies, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In Saudi, the mullahs of hard-line Salafist Wahhabism are vocal, untouchable and hard-driving their ideology throughout the world with funding for jihad. In Pakistan, Talibanist ideology is equally widespread and untouchable.
The horror, the poison of Islam.
And let's not ignore all those "moderate muslims" here in the west. Poll after poll shows high and rising support for sharia law, Islamism, jihadism and martyrdom. Support for sharia law to be implemented in western countries is a plurality of western Muslims and in some cases an outright majority (see "Islam in figures", tab above.)
Read the article here, by Rod Norland in the New York Times and weep for a world future ruled by misogynist maniacal mullahs.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Beijing unveils new cutting-edge, high-tech public toilets called '5th space': Shanghaiist

Only just came across this article. The Fangshan Toilet blocks in Beijing, with Wifi, Internet screens, ATM outlets, vending machines, showers and electric-car charging stations. Like, wow!
I remember Beijing's public facilities of the 1970s, and would rather forget them....
Never doing things on a small scale, Beijing plans more than 57,000 Fangshan-style loos by 2018.
What a relief!

Wednesday 16 December 2015

They’re ‘so nice,’ until they get religion and want to kill us | New York Post

It's puzzled me that the FBI and others in the Obama administration are puzzled. They're puzzled at how some Muslims become "radicalised". It puzzles them as to what what motivates newly radicalised Muslims to kill their fellow citizens.
The reason I'm puzzled that they are puzzled is that it's simple, really. You just have to read the Koran. And the Hadith too, if you wish. And cap it off with the Sirah, an account of the life of the illiterate merchant warlord, Muhammad. Read these, believe in them, and bang! you're there. Next step, do what these core books of Islam enjoin you to do.  Kill infidels. Be a jihadi. Go to heaven.
This article makes my point at somewhat more length.

Freedom of navigation exercises essential to preserve rights - The Straits Times

Pussy Obama once again shows what a pusillanimous president he is.
Fresh from assuring the world that he will do precisely nothing more than what he's been doing (or not doing) about the Islamist threat, now he announces that the US will "pause" its freedom of international navigation exercises in the South China Sea. (Apntly he's concerned to get Chinese support for the battle against Islamic State).
That's good news for the neo-hegemon, China, but bad news for just about everyone else in the world, especially the contesting regional states: the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.
40% of world trade goes through the region. China will have a choke hold on it of it succeeds in its monopolistic, greedy claims.
This article doesn't cover the latest news about the "pause", which was in today's South China Morning Post, but it gives good background and opinion from a Singaporean point of view.
And, related: today's BBC reported on reefs in the SCS being turned into "deserts", by China's expansion in the area.
Shame on Obama. I hope Australia continues its flights to exercise its international rights, as it did yesterday.
Apparently the damage to the reefs -- "plundering by looters", with permanent damage says the BBC -- is being done by poachers, but with the Chinese navy turning a blind eye.
Great reporting by the Beebs! On the spot, in the air and under water. And with its reporter, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, speaking to the poachers in fluent Chinese. (Yesterday he was in a light plane over Mischief Reef, on which the Chinese are building a huge island and airport. Again, great reporting.)

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Enlightenment - that is what Islam truly needs |

This relates to a ridiculous Islamapologist article, critical of ex Australian PM Tony Abbott's call for a reform of Islam. (Which I've yet to post).

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Saturday 12 December 2015

Trump: You Should Ban Islamists, Not Muslims :: Daniel Pipes

Professor Daniel Pipes is sound and knowledgeable on Islam. And this is fair comment re the Trump brouhaha on banning Muslims.
By the way, Prof Pipes is also good on the Council on American Islamic Relations which, for the mainstream media and Obama, is the go-to outfit for comment on Muslim/Islam issues. CAIR is, however, a deeply dubious outfit grown out of the Muslim Brotherhood and linked to the terror outfit Hamas (which is all a bit of by-the-by. Pipes' info on CAIR is on his home page)

Thursday 10 December 2015

Two charged, including 15-year-old, after anti-terror raids in Sydney this morning

None of the articles I've read about this mention anything about Islam.
But what are the chances? Go on, take a punt. Ya think that these guys, these would-be mass murderers of their fellow Aussie citizens, could be votaries of the Religion of Peace?

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Fighting Terror by Self-Reproach - WSJ

I've posted Bret Stephens' articles before. He is clear eyed and cogent. Here he savages a presidential address to the nation that deserves to be savaged. (The speech in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre).
"How did America become a country more afraid of causing offense than playing defense".
This refers to the fact that more than half of Obama's speech was about how we mustn't cause offense to Muslims. More than half! After Muslims had killed innocent Americans. Of which Obama was only able to admit, through gritted teeth, that it was a Radical Islamist terrorist attack.
And that attack, said Obama, was based on a "perverted" view of Islam. Quite in what way the killers' understanding of Islam had been perverted Obama did not care to say. Because he could not. And cannot. The California killers were observant, pious, Muslims. That's all it takes really. Just read, and believe in, the Koran and there's your motivation, complete with Allah's justification, for killing infidels "wherever you find them". Basic, doctrinal Islam.
Now, read on, Stephens' excellent article:
But as I showed in recent posts, the facts are that Americans have been remarkably tolerant of Muslims, even post 9/11. Most hate crimes in the US are anti-Jew.

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Wednesday 9 December 2015

Hate crimes

I thought I'd add a few words about the above chart, that I posted yesterday.

It's a chart created from stats I got from the FBI's Universal Crime Reports (UCR) from the first time they started reporting them in 1996, to the latest, 2014.  The Excel spreadsheets of that are here.
First: in my previous post I used these figures as a proxy for people simply being nasty to Muslims (as opposed to committing a "hate crime"), in the wake of the killings in San Bernardino.  Is this fair?  I don't know, but I suspect it is. One would expect that if hate crimes were to go up (or down), that would in some way be reflected in the extent to which, say, Muslim kids are bullied at school, and vice versa.  There's no evidence on this, to be sure, but then again, there are no figures on the amount of bullying, or saying nasty things to Muslims on the subway, other than anecdotal stories.  So for now these Hate Crime figures are the best figures we have on the extent of "anti-Muslim" prejudice.
Second: note that spike of anti-Muslim Hate Crimes just after 9-11, and the corresponding drop in anti-Jewish figures. Why is this?  I don't know.  Perhaps people were so consumed committing hate crimes against Muslims that they had no time for those against Jews.
Third: there's been a gradual drop in anti-semitic hate crimes in the last decade.  This is surely good.  There's been a slight upward trend in anti-Muslim hate crimes over the same period, but only slight.  They still account for only about 16% of all religiously based hate crimes, as opposed to nearly 60% against jews.
Fourth: overall religiously-based hate crimes are still very low.  In numbers, only about 1,300-odd per year on average of the last 20 years, and only 1,000-odd last year.  That's less than three per day over the whole of the US.
Finally: despite the drop in anti-semitic hate crimes and the slight increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes, there's still a yawning gap between the former and the latter.  If we're to be concerned by hate crimes, it still ought to be concern for those that are anti-semitic, not those against other religions, including Islam.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Muslim "backlash" is balderdash

Letter to South China Morning Post:

Like the Obama administration, Joseph Ting frets about the "backlash against Muslims", saying that they have borne a "searing burden of living under the suspicion that ties them… to criminal atrocities" (Unfair to tar all Muslims with same brush, Letters, 8 December).
But the fact are otherwise.
The FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for hate crimes date back to 1996.  They show this:
Jews have been subject to an average of 68% of all religious hate crimes, Muslims just 10%. (and that's including post 9-11). 
Given the relative populations of Jews and Muslims in the US, Jews are roughly three times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than are Muslims.
Yet all we hear of is the backlash against Muslims.
Of course we must fight against both anti-jewish and anti-Muslim hate crimes.
In fact, the figures show that both anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim hate crimes are rather low, just 932 and 133 per year, respectively, or 3 per day and one-third per day, over the whole of the Republic.
My main point is this: that instead of engaging in victimhood on behalf of a non-existent "backlash" against Muslims,  let's hear political leaders saying something along the following lines:
"We know that the majority of Muslims are fine and peaceable folk.  But there's clearly something in the doctrines of Islam that motivates some Muslims ('an extremely small minority', if you wish), to murder their fellow citizens.  We urge all fine and peaceable Muslims to address this issue, to lead to a more moderate and secular Islam, so that all Muslims can live in peace in our secular society.  
Practice your religion freely and safely in the US.  But practice it in private ('without attempting to impose your religion on the rest of us, on pain of death' ... if you wish).  
In private: that's the key to our western/US secularism.  It is the key to our living well together."

Peter Forsythe
9 Siena One
Discovery Bay
Hong Kong
9308 0799

Muslim "backlash" is balderdash

The above chart is a screenshot from my Excel spreadsheet, in which I've gathered all the most reliable data on hate crimes in the US, from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. [1]
The clear message from the chart is that religious hate crimes in the US are overwhelmingly anti-Jewish, that is to say, anti-Semitic.  They are not anti-Muslim, even after 9/11, though there was a slight peak (remarkably slight, all things considered) after that atrocity. [2]
I post this, because there's a full-court press from the Obama Administration, from Obama, to his Attorney General and head of Homeland Security, to say that we must not give in to hatred against Muslims.  But the record shows that the US has been remarkably tolerant of Muslims (though not so much of Jews).  The concept of "backlash" is balderdash.
Rather, why don't Obama & Co concentrate on saying something along the following lines:
"We know that the majority of Muslims are fine and peaceable folk.  But there's clearly something in the doctrines of Islam that motivate some Muslims ('an extremely small minority', if you wish), to murder their fellow citizens.  We urge all you fine and peaceable Muslims to address this issue, to lead to a more moderate and secular Islam, so that all Muslims can live in peace in our secular society.  
Practice your religion, by all means.  You may practice it freely and safely in the US.  But practice it also in private ('without attempting to impose your religion on the rest of us, on pain of death' ... if you wish).  
In private: that's the key to our western/US secularism.  It is the key to our living well together."
But no, Obama & Co lazily lean low to link with the canard of a horrid "backlash against Muslims".
[1]: FBI statistics cover about 311 million US inhabitants, or 97.7% of the US population [Ref].
[2]: Religious hate crime statistics in the US reveal a remarkably small number: an average of just 1,355 per year over the last 20 years, a mere four per day in the whole of the Republic. Anti Muslim (Islam) hate crimes average just 133 per year, or one every three days. Hardly a scourge, let alone a "backlash".

Monday 7 December 2015

Pataki Demands That AG Lynch Arrest Him For Urging War Against Islam

A very useful reference of the violence inherent in the doctrines of Islam in the following paragraph from the article linked below. It relates to the US Attorney, Loretta Lynch, saying that her "greatest fear" was backlash against Muslims and that she'd be pursuing those who criticized Islam or Muslims in a "hateful way". 
Never mind the safety of those targeted by Islamic terrorists. Never mind that there's been not a hint of backlash against Muslims from the time of 9-11. FBI statistics on hate crimes show this. In fact the groups most targeted by hate crimes are, first, Jews, and, second, atheists. [Later: not it's not atheists.  They come off rather well.  Second largest after Jews is "other religions", then Islam, then Christians. See my later posts above]
"[Loretta] Lynch will have a long, long list of Americans to arrest, because traditional Islam promotes many ideas that are very unpopular among Americans. For example, orthodox Islam urges the murder of people who cause "mischief," targeted enemiespeople who give up Islamgaysnon-Muslimswomen who annoyed Mohammad, etc., etc., etc."