Does NYT’s Top Israel Reporter Have a Son in the IDF?


I thinks that’s a fair question, and it was raised by several in the media.  The NYT doesn’t think it’s worth addressing.  Here’s the story

The New York Times refuses to confirm or deny a report that its Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, has a child who is an enlisted member of the Israeli Defense Force–even though such a relationship would pose a serious conflict of interest.

The Electronic Intifada website (1/25/10), following a tip, asked Bronner whether it was true that he had a son in the IDF. EI got a reply from Times foreign editor Susan Chira:

Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner’s son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At the Times, we have found Mr. Bronner’s coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case.

The decisions of Bronner’s son, however, are not the issue. What the Times needs to ask itself is whether it expects that its bureau chief has the normal human feelings about matters of life or death concerning one’s child.

Might he feel hostility, for example, when interviewing members of organizations who were trying to kill his son? When the IDF goes into battle, might he be rooting for the side for which his son is risking his life? Certainly such issues would be taken very seriously if a Times reporter had a child who belonged to a military force that was engaged in hostilities with the IDF; indeed, there’s little doubt that a reporter in that position would not be allowed to continue to cover the Mideast conflict.

Having a conflict of interest, it should be stressed, is not the same thing as producing slanted journalism; rather, it means that a journalist has outside motivations that are strongly at odds with his or her journalistic responsibilities. That a journalist has been “scrupulously fair” in the past does not excuse an ongoing conflict of interest; journalists should not be placed in a position where they have to ignore the well-being of their family in order to do their job, nor should readers be expected to trust that they can do so.

That said, Bronner’s reporting has been repeatedly criticized by FAIR for what would appear to be a bias toward the Israeli government. For example, Extra! (3/09) questioned an article that Bronner (1/13/09) wrote on Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza that claimed that unspecified “polls have shown nearly 90 percent support for the war thus far”; FAIR’s magazine noted that this was “a statistical unlikelihood in a country that is 20 percent Palestinian.” The same piece by Bronner claimed that “the largest demonstration against the war so far, with some 6,000 participants, was organized by an Arab political party”; an article by Agence France-Presse (1/3/09) had reported that “tens of thousands” of Israeli Arabs had protested against the war in the Israeli town of Sakhnin. (See also Extra!, 1-2/08, 7/09; FAIR Blog, 2/4/09).

As Electronic Intifada pointed out, the New York Times’ own policies acknowledge that the activities of family members may pose a conflict of interest: “A brother or a daughter in a high-profile job on Wall Street might produce the appearance of conflict for a business reporter or editor,” and such conflicts may require a journalist “to withdraw from certain coverage.” Given this policy, it is unacceptable for the Times’ foreign editor to take the position that the military status of Bronner’s children is of no concern. The question posed by EI must be asked again: Does the New York Times’ Jerusalem bureau chief have a son in the Israeli military, and if so, why doesn’t this pose a conflict of interest?

Europe’s Bad Muslim Terrorism Problem


Statistically, if you’re an Islamophobe, it’s even worse than America’s militant, jihadist, Islamofascist problem which was documented by the federal government as being 6% of all terrorism related attacks on America and American interests over the last 20 years!  According to Europol, the European Law Enforcement Agency which aims at improving the effectiveness and co–operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism for the last three years, of the 1596 acts of terrorism committed on the shores of European countries only 5 were related to acts committed by Muslims or which could be considered Islamic.  5! Doing the math means .3% of all Europe’s terrorism was committed by Muslims.  .3%! Yet there are still people, many of whom, unlike Miscellany101, who make a lot of money telling you the threat is catastrophic and existential in nature  to Europe.

Interestingly enough, for the year 2008 Europol  reveals that 18% of all arrests on terrorism charges were of Muslims who then made up 50% of the convictions for terrorism related charges.  The disparity in both the numbers arrested and the actual acts of terrorism committed versus the number of convictions makes a good case for how well fear contributes to the running of countries and setting of policy.  The next time someone comes to you with images of Islamic bogeymen lurking around every corner….pinch yourself and wake up from your slumber.  It’s only a dream.  Hat-tip to loonwatch.com

Where do they find these people?


I saw JD Hayworth do an interview with Chris Mathews on Hardball the other night and one of his comments really struck me as being typical of the last eight years of nonsense, lies and deception.  No, it wasn’t his remark about Obama needing to produce his birth certificate to prove to the American people whether he is a real American or not, and in the process avoiding Mathews question whether he, Hayworth, was a conspiracy theorist birther.  It was Hayworth’s dodging the question of whether he supported torture as an implement for policy by American agencies.  He went on to say that waterboarding, i.e. torture was responsible for stopping several planned terror attacks because of actionable intelligence derived therefrom.

Anyone who knows anything about torture and its use during the last decade and all of the “actionable intelligence” that might have come about because of it would and should take such claims with a grain of salt.  Such claims of the importance of torture came from people like John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who affirmed that waterboarding quickly unloosed the tongues of hard-core terrorists.  His accounts were picked up by main stream media and pundits and published as gospel in an attempt to legitimize an internationally recognized crime.  Of course it turns out all of Kiriakou’s stories were lies made up to extricate a criminal administration and its agencies from criminal behavior.

On the next-to-last page of a new memoir, The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror (written with Michael Ruby), Kiriakou now rather off handedly admits that he basically made it all up.”What I told Brian Ross in late 2007 was wrong on a couple counts,” he writes. “I suggested that Abu Zubaydah had lasted only thirty or thirty-five seconds during his waterboarding before he begged his interrogators to stop; after that, I said he opened up and gave the agency actionable intelligence.”

“I wasn’t there when the interrogation took place; instead, I relied on what I’d heard and read inside the agency at the time.”

“Now we know,” Kiriakou goes on, “that Zubaydah was waterboarded eighty-three times in a single month, raising questions about how much useful information he actually supplied.”

Indeed. But after his one-paragraph confession, Kiriakou adds that he didn’t have any first hand knowledge of anything relating to CIA torture routines, and still doesn’t. And he claims that the disinformation he helped spread was a CIA dirty trick: “In retrospect, it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the fine arts of deception even among its own.”


Yet again, another lie about the effectiveness of our war on terror, from the people who too many of us depend on to protect us! It would behoove Hayworth not to mention this proven lie too many times as he stumps for John McCain’s senate seat for the state of Arizona, or else he might have to explain to those who are conscientious to want to know how it’s all a lie!

A No Comment Post with a Comment


This is an “I told you so” moment.

With arms outstretched, the congregation at National Evangelical Baptist Church belted out a praise hymn backed up by drums, electric guitar and keyboard. In the corner, slide images of Jesus filled a large screen. A simple white cross of wood adorned the stage, and worshipers sprinkled the pastor’s Bible-based sermon with approving shouts of “Ameen!”National is Iraq’s first Baptist congregation and one of at least seven new Christian evangelical churches established in Baghdad in the past two years. Its Sunday afternoon service, in a building behind a house on a quiet street, draws a couple of hundred worshipers who like the lively music and focus on the Bible.

“I’m thirsty for this kind of church,” Suhaila Tawfik, a veterinarian who was raised Catholic, said at a recent service. “I want to go deep in understanding the Bible.”

Tawfik is not alone. The U.S.-led toppling of Saddam Hussein, who limited the establishment of new denominations, has altered the religious landscape of predominantly Muslim Iraq. A newly energized Christian evangelical activism here, supported by Western and other foreign evangelicals, is now challenging the dominance of Iraq’s long-established Christian denominations and drawing complaints from Muslim and Christian religious leaders about a threat to the status quo.

The evangelicals’ numbers are not large — perhaps a few thousand — in the context of Iraq’s estimated 800,000 Christians. But they are emerging at a time when the country’s traditional churches have lost their privileged Hussein-era status and have experienced massive depletions of their flocks because of decades-long emigration. Now, traditional church leaders see the new evangelical churches filling up, not so much with Muslim converts but with Christians like Tawfik seeking a new kind of worship experience.

“The way the preachers arrived here . . . with soldiers . . . was not a good thing,” said Baghdad’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Jean Sleiman. “I think they had the intention that they could convert Muslims, though Christians didn’t do it here for 2,000 years.”

“In the end,” Sleiman said, “they are seducing Christians from other churches.”

Iraq’s new churches are part of Christian evangelicalism’s growing presence in several Middle Eastern countries, experts say. In neighboring Jordan, for example, “the indigenous evangelical presence is growing and thriving,” said Todd M. Johnson, a scholar of global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts.

Nabeeh Abbassi, president of the Jordan Baptist Convention, said in an interview in Amman that there are about 10,000 evangelicals worshiping at 50 churches in Jordan. They include 20 Baptist churches with a combined regular Sunday attendance of 5,000, he added. The organization also operates the Baptist School of Amman, where 40 percent of the student body is Muslim.

While most evangelicals in Jordan come from traditional Christian denominations, Abbassi said, “we’re seeing more and more Muslim conversions, not less than 500 a year” over the past 10 years.

Iraq’s Christian population has been organized for centuries into denominations such as Chaldean Catholicism and Roman Catholicism. While Hussein’s secular regime allowed freedom of worship, it limited new denominations, particularly if backed by Western churches.

During the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, American evangelicals made no secret of their desire to follow the troops. Samaritan’s Purse, the global relief organization led by the Rev. Franklin Graham — who has called Islam an “evil and wicked” religion — and the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, the country’s largest Protestant denomination, were among those that mobilized missionaries and relief supplies.

Soon after Hussein’s fall, they entered the country, saying their prime task was to provide Iraqis with humanitarian aid. But their strong emphasis on sharing their faith raised concerns among Muslims and some Christians that they would openly proselytize.

Then the security environment deteriorated in Iraq — four Southern Baptist missionaries were killed, Westerners were kidnapped and at least 21 churches were bombed — forcing most foreign evangelicals to flee. But Iraqi evangelicals remain.

“For Christians, it’s now democratic,” said Nabil A. Sara, 60, the pastor at National Evangelical Baptist. “It’s not like before. There is freedom now. Nobody can say, ‘Why do you start a new church?’ “

Some church leaders, however, are asking that very question.

“Evangelicals come here and I would like to ask: Why do you come here? For what reason?” said Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, head of the Eastern rite Chaldean Catholic Church, Iraq’s largest Christian community.

In interviews, Delly and Sleiman were torn between their belief in religious freedom and the threat they see from the new evangelicalism. They also expressed anger and resentment at what they perceive as the evangelicals’ assumption that members of old-line denominations are not true Christians.

“If we are not Christians, you should tell us so we will find the right path,” Delly said sarcastically. “I’m not against the evangelicals. If they go to an atheist country to promote Christ, we would help them ourselves.”

Sleiman charged that the new churches were sowing “a new division” among Christians because “churches here mean a big community with tradition, language and culture, not simply a building with some people worshiping. If you want to help Christians here, help through the churches [already] here.”

Still, the Roman Catholic prelate said he could not oppose the evangelicals because “we ask for freedom of conscience.” He also said he respected how they appear “ready to die” for their beliefs. “Sometimes I’m telling myself they are more zealous than me, and we can profit from this positive dimension of their mission.”

Some Iraqi Christians expressed fear that the evangelicals would undermine Christian-Muslim harmony here, which rests on a long-standing, tacit agreement not to proselytize each other. “There is an informal agreement that says we have nothing to do with your religion and faith,” said Yonadam Kanna, one of six Christians elected to Iraq’s parliament. “We are brothers but we don’t interfere in your religion.”

Delly said that “even if a Muslim comes to me and said, ‘I want to be Christian,’ I would not accept. I would tell him to go back and try to be a good Muslim and God will accept you.” Trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, he added, “is not acceptable.”

Sheik Fatih Kashif Ghitaa, a prominent Shiite Muslim leader in Baghdad, was among those who expressed alarm at the postwar influx of foreign missionaries. In a recent interview, he said he feared that Muslims misunderstand why many Christians talk about their faith.

“They have to talk about Jesus and what Jesus has done. This is one of the principles of believing in Christianity,” said Ghitaa. “But the problem is that the others don’t understand it, they think these people are coming to convert them.”

Robert Fetherlin, vice president for international ministries at Colorado-based Christian and Missionary Alliance, which supports one of the new Baghdad evangelical churches, defended his denomination’s overseas work.

“We’re not trying to coerce people to follow Christ,” he said. “But we want to at least communicate to people who He is. We feel very encouraged by the possibility for people in Iraq to have the freedom to make choices about what belief system they want to buy into.”

Sara said that if Muslims approach him with “questions about Jesus and about the Bible,” he responds. But the white-haired pastor said there was plenty of evangelizing to be done among Christians because, in his view, many do not really know Jesus. “They know [Him] just in name,” he said, adding that they need a better understanding of “why He died for them.”

His church appeals to dissatisfied Christians, he said, adding, “If you go to a Catholic church, for example, there is no Bible in the church, there is no preaching, and just a little singing.”

National congregant Zeena Woodman, 30, who was raised in the Syrian Orthodox Church, agreed. “Praising Jesus Christ in this church is not as traditional as other churches,” she said. “It’s much more interesting here.”

Sara, a former Presbyterian who started an underground evangelical church in his home after having a born-again experience, began working openly during the U.S. occupation. In January 2004, he was ordained pastor of his church in a ceremony attended by more than 20 Baptist pastors and deacons from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States. Baptist communities in these countries financially support National Evangelical, Sara said.

The church’s name and a white cross are visible from the street. The pastor said that no one has threatened the church and that it has good relations with its Muslim neighbors.

In fact, said Sara, “Muslims across the street came and asked us to pray for their mother.”

The Spread of Christianity Under Force of Arms


Hunting people for Christ has become a part time job in Afghanistan.  No doubt that is legal, whereas US soldiers are prohibited from proselytizing people, huntingk tracking down and killing adversaries  is something the US military is allowed to do.  No doubt it will be claimed that hunting them for Christ and then killing them after they have accepted Christ as their savior is far more humane than merely killing them before witnessing.

It is against military rules to proselytize — a regulation one of the soldiers filmed by the network readily acknowledged. “You cannot proselytize, but you can give gifts,” says the soldier. It is a crime in Afghanistan to attempt to convert anyone from Islam to any other religion. “I also want to praise God because my church collected some money to get Bibles for Afghanistan. They came and sent the money out.” The footage is said to be roughly a year old.

“The Special Forces guys, they hunt men. Basically, we do the same things as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the Kingdom. That’s what we do, that’s our business,” he says.

If you think this is just an isolated phenomenon, check out this article which mentions even more examples of US military personnel behaving in the most un-christian like way while claiming to be Christ’s representatives on earth.  Evangelical notions of behavior have infiltrated the US military and manifest themselves in ways that are threatening and intimidating to believers and non believers alike.  Most likely the response to group which barges into your house with  guns  in one hand and a book in the other most probably will be to do whatever the person says who has the gun, even if it means taking the book they’re “offering” you which might be against your religious beliefs.   Of course, the people who are making this offer know that,  which is why proselytizing is illegal, so skip the formalities and say you’re hunting down your enemy to kill them.  That excuse is much more convenient and easier to say without having to lie and getting caught in your lies.  US forces have even been known to use special equipment which helps them spot the prey they are hunting in order to hound them into hell; the irony of this all is it’s happening under the “Muslim” administration of Barack Obama which begs the questions, when will these same US military forces set their “sights” on him?

Why Are We Still In Afghanistan?


In an amazing bit of candor, but not for American consumption it is important to note, US Defense Secretary had this to say about what’ s going on in Afghanistan

the Taliban (are) part of the “political fabric” of Afghanistan, but said any future role for it would depend on insurgents laying down their weapons.

“The question is whether they are prepared to play a legitimate role in the political fabric of Afghanistan going forward, meaning participating in elections, meaning not assassinating local officials and killing families,” Dr Gates said in Pakistan yesterday.

“The question is what do the Taliban want to make out of Afghanistan? When they tried before, we saw before what they wanted to make and it was a desert, culturally and every other way.”

The above statement seems to be an admission that what’s taking place is a civil war in Afghanistan within the Taliban movement between who are going to forsake armed struggle versus those who are willing to work towards political solutions to the problems of Afghanistan.  The president, Hamid Karzai has made similar statements over the years of the political viability of the Taliban movement and has even tried to incorporate many followers of that movement into his government.  The kicker for this observer is that many people on the outside looking in seem to think there’s not much difference between a Karzai run government and its predecessor the Taliban, except for the presence of an American occupying force propping up the latter.  Otherwise issues of intertribal warfare persist, the economic blight affecting the country and the status of women…..something always used to bring about change, but usually in the wrong direction, remain the same under Karzai.

Why then do American forces remain in Afghanistan?  There’s nothing in Gates’ comments which would legitimize a US military presence in Afghanistan, and especially an escalation of forces the likes Obama suggests is necessary.  It would appear the more the US attempts to rout Taliban forces by force of arms, the more precarious Karzai’s position becomes in Afghan society, which is no doubt why he, Karzai, is appealing to the Taliban himself without the good blessings of American policy makers in his attempts to bring Taliban under his wing.  What you have in Afghanistan therefore are two conflicting ideologies that are mutually exclusive; a military foreign occupier fighting a nationalistic movement that has been embraced by the government put into power by that military authority.  This scenario looks even more difficult than what the Russians faced during their occupation of that country.  The answer is not in escalation but rather in de-escalation, and for all those who say it’s about capturing OBL, I would remind them some of the biggest names in the al-Qaida hierarchy were caught not by US troops but by the CIA.

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Good government, bad government


Sometimes there is reason to be hopeful that our Nation can self-correct and return to the principles it has finely tuned over the generations, of liberty, social responsibility and good citizenship.  The decision of the US Department of State to overturn the ban on academics Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib are examples of hope and perhaps light at the end of the tunnel of darkness we have surrounded ourselves in over the last decade.  We’ve written extensively about Ramadan in the pages of Miscellany101 in what can only be termed an act of revenge against him and his family to keep him out of the mainstream of political, social and contemporary  dialogue.  When given the full weight of a judicial system, albeit imperfect, but still forming and trying to correct itself while being universally applicable, Ramadan’s visa revocation was first overturned by the judicial system in 2009  and then by the US Department of State just last week.  Initially he had been hired for  the Henry R. Luce Chair at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, but extremists who managed to infiltrate policy making positions in government were able to get the US government to revoke a visa they had originally granted him.  The reasons for it were spurious at best, lies at worse and so transparent that when given the light of day were thrown out post haste.  You can read one of Ramadan’s more recent musings here.  Good government.

Along with Ramadan’s decision the State Department overturned the revocation imposed on Adam Habib, a South African academic who is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation & Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. It goes without saying the case against him was as empty and irrational as the one made against Ramadan. In fact, it seemed the only people afraid of Habib, besides American Islamophobes, were South African communists, which should have made Habib a significantly important figure with a right wing conservative administration the likes of George  Bush’s.  Habib’s case, like that of Ramadan, was wrapped up in the Islamophobic notions of Campus Watch, the Daniel Pipes led organization. You can read about them here and here.   It didn’t take a Clinton led State Department very long to overturn her predecessor’s revocation for either of these two men; in fact less than a year after being in office.  Says alot about a fanatically led Bush administration and even more about “good government”.

Euphoria however is quickly dashed when one reads about the US Justice Department’s quick reaction to the story of the three “suicides” at Guantanamo Bay and especially the reporting of that story by MSNBC’s  Keith Olbermann.  Olbermann reported on his show how Justice was upset with his coverage of the story that was reported extensively by Scott Horton of Harper’s magazine and picked up by a lot of people on the blogosphere, including here at Miscellany101.  It seems the Justice Department is only willing to comment negatively about the story, that is, to say Olbermann did a sloppy job of reporting it, but doesn’t see the need to comment on the essence of the charges made by US military men who have gone on record to say the series of events are not consistent with what they observed or were told later when promised an investigation.  This is the worse case scenario for bad government.  The leader of the free world, a designation we have heaped upon ourselves and which we wear proudly,  and which is acknowledged by others the world over, doesn’t need to engage in this type of intimidation and stonewalling with a free press.  Transparency, something promised by the Obama administration, means making all the facts available of  investigations and going on record to actively and judiciously clear the name of government when tarnished by accusations the likes of which are in the Harper’s story.  To do anything less than that is bad government….something  we’ve been used to for the last decade.

Another Nail in the Islamophobia Coffin


I’m sure they’ll resurrect some scary headline grabbing anecdote of how Muslims are somehow a threat to the rights of non Muslims, but they can’t find it in the tragedy of the churches being burned in Malaysia.

Muslim groups in Malaysia are offering their help to prevent any further attacks on Christian places of worship amid a spree of attacks on churches in the multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority Asian country, The Star reported on Sunday, January 10. “This is an offer of peace and goodwill,” Nadzim Johan, the executive secretary of the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM), told a news conference.

“We don’t want our Christian brothers to be in danger.”

PPIM is one of 130 Muslim NGOs that vowed to become the “eyes and ears” of the government to shield churches against attacks.

Seven churches have been fire-bombed or vandalized since Friday in an escalating row over a court ruling allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” as a translation for God in their publications.

The High Court overturned two weeks ago a government ban on the use of the word “Allah,” stirring protests by many Malay Muslims.

The NGOs would be offer volunteers who would be on the look out for any suspicious behaviors and alert the authorities.

“What is important that these people know that they are watched,” insisted Nadzim.

“This has got to stop.”


Somewhere there’s an Islamophobe who must be wringing his/her hands and shouting out ‘damnit’ at what can only be described as an unanimous response by the Muslims of Malaysia against this tragedy in their country.  Damnit indeed!

There is no Islamic militancy on American shores


Or so says this report out of Duke University.  I must say this is rather apparent to even the uninitiated in demagoguery; but unfortunately it’s not enough to stop people from making a profitable  cottage industry from fear and raising the frightening specter of  the menacing hordes of Muslims ready to pounce on and forcibly convert all who stand in their way.

The events came in rapid succession last year: Eight Raleigh-area men indicted on federal charges they conspired to commit terrorist acts. A Colorado man accused of conspiring to carry out a bomb attack in New York. An Army major who killed 13 fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas.By all accounts there appeared to be a spike in the number of radicalized U.S. Muslims in 2009. Yet a new report from Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill says the problem of homegrown terrorism is “serious but limited.”

The report, issued this month, argues there is no widespread radicalization among American Muslims. Instead, it says American Muslims are becoming more American by engaging the political system and creating advocacy organizations to further their political goals.

“The level of the threat has been exaggerated,” said David Schanzer, a Duke professor who leads the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security and is one of the report’s three authors.

Perhaps it’s what is highlighted in red that scares people the most, much like the slave owners who wanted their slaves not to have the right to vote and thereby force a legislative end to their enslavement.   Having an accepted, respectable and respected American Muslim population that seeks legal redress on behalf of all Americans from the tyranny of big government, it’s invasive surveillance and abrogation of citizenship rights is not something people in power, and especially those in government want.

UPDATE:

LOONWATCH.COM does an excellent job of dispelling this myth of a militant Islam on the shores of America even further with some rather startling statistics gathered from a rather startling source.  Turns out the FBI and the Justice Department figures show that Islamic terrorism is at the bottom of the threat level barrel when it comes to Americans, only communist terrorists are lower in terms of the damage they have done on the shores of America since 1980.  If you want to know who are more terror inclined than Muslims check out loonwatch and ask yourself what is it government is trying to do by scaring you about Muslim terrorists and why.

What is it with racism among Semites?


Racism in any form is a crime against humanity, should be classifed as an international crime and dealt with in the most severe manner.  It’s especially appalling when it comes at the hands of people who claim to be somehow rightly guided, imbued with the essence of humanity who get that notion twisted in a manner which allows them to oppress whomever they like; America comes to mind, along with the chosen of Israel and the descendants of Muhammad.  All are nations or groups of people who have thrown out the essence of their beginnings and embraced their own self styled nationalism and cultural highhandedness which has become exclusive and oppressive.  They have to be reminded of where they came from when they get these high and haughty notions that have nothing in common with their “essence”.

Jonathan Cook has poignantly described the racism of political zionism existent in modern day Israel, against the black Jews of Ethiopia and it’s something those of us who are particularly sensitive to racism have read and seen all too often. I don’t think for a moment that the intent of the Israeli government is to control the birth rate of Ethiopians when sex has too often been used to experiment on people of color before.  In a country that needs people to populate a land and force other people out, limiting the births of Jews would seem to be counterproductive, or maybe the Israelis think they have a high enough birth rate to do that without the Ethiopians?  Go figure.

But the racism against people of color doesn’t stop with the Israelis.  It’s hard to say whether racism was imported to Iraq by western invading forces or was and has always been present there….the latter seems to be the case, but it’s abhorrent nonetheless and no less acceptable.  Reading the following text is almost like reading an American history book but it takes place in a land miles apart from America, but almost identical in its implication and result; the vision of dancing ‘darkies’ who seem to get their joy and happiness in providing it for others, as entertainers, troubadours, mimes, et.al.

The election of Barack Obama to the U.S. presidency was celebrated with special fervor by Iraqis of African descent in the southern port city of Basra.

Although they have lived in Iraq for more than 1,000 years, the black Basrawis say they are still discriminated against because of the color of their skin, and they see Obama as a role model. Long relegated to menial jobs or work as musicians and dancers, some of them have recently formed a group to advance their civil rights.

………

“People here see us as slaves,” says Jalal Diyaab, a 43-year-old civil rights activist. “They even call us abd, which means slave.”

Diyaab is the general secretary of the Free Iraqi movement. He sits with more than a dozen other men in a narrow, high-ceilinged room in a mud-brick building in Zubair, talking about a history of slavery and oppression that he says dates back to at least the ninth century.

“Black people worked on the plantations around Basra, doing the hard labor, until there was a slave uprising in the mid-800s,” says Diyaab. Black people ruled Basra for about 15 years, until the caliph sent troops. Many of the black rebels were massacred, and others were sold to the Arab tribes.

Slavery was abolished here in the 19th century, but Diyaab says black people in modern-day Iraq still face discrimination.

“[Arabs] here still look at us as being incapable of making decisions or even governing our lives. People here are 95 percent illiterate. They have terrible living conditions and very few jobs,” he says.

It’s interesting how  Obama is looked at as a role model by the dark skinned people of Iraq.  His presidency takes on  something of a world wide model for hope and good will.  I am distressed that Muslim Iraqis see something in common with a man who is the commander in chief of a military that still occupies their country and whose government seems intent on oppressing people merely because of the color of their skin or the religion they believe in.  Symbolism is frightening sometimes, isn’t it?

Be Very Aware of Government……Any Government!


Here are three very stark examples of where government that has politicians and their minions who don’t feel responsible to the people abuse their power and deny citizens their rights to liberty.  You’ve probably seen snippets of these news stories before, but I want to condense them to show how insulting power can become in the hands of the non approachable.

The internet, for now the only place where one can find a myriad of opinions, as well as a place of disinformation, has always been a sore spot for government, which can only monitor but not control it.  Well guess again.

In a 2008 academic paper, President Barack Obama’s appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs advocated “cognitive infiltration” of groups that advocate “conspiracy theories” like the ones surrounding 9/11.Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor, co-wrote an academic article entitled “Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,” in which he argued that the government should stealthily infiltrate groups that pose alternative theories on historical events via “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine” those groups.

Sunstein’s article, published in the Journal of Political Philosphy in 2008, states that “our primary claim is that conspiracy theories typically stem not from irrationality or mental illness of any kind but from a ‘crippled epistemology,’ in the form of a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources.”

By “crippled epistemology” Sunstein means that people who believe in conspiracy theories have a limited number of sources of information that they trust. Therefore, Sunstein argued in the article, it would not work to simply refute the conspiracy theories in public — the very sources that conspiracy theorists believe would have to be infiltrated.

One can only guess what government’s idea of “conspiracy theories” is or what Mr. Sunstein has in mind when he uses that term.  I doubt he wants to expand the number of sources available on the internet even though according to him there are a limited number which has caused this crippled epistemology, but instead he proposes infiltrating places where people talk about their limited sources.  Mind control comes to mind.  I hope Mr. Sunstein puts at the top of the conspiracy list the official/government’s  version of what happened on September 11, 2001, but I seriously doubt it.

We covered the story of the “suicides” of three Gitmo detainees, prisoners, who were blamed by the Bush administration for their own murder, even though that murder was done by the hands of people within the Bush government.  (Talk about blaming the victim)  Now there is more information about this story reported in great detail by Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine with some very scary detail that is blood curdling, including the idea that Gitmo had horror/torture  chambers that even surpassed what was done at Gitmo itself.

According to the NCIS, each prisoner had fashioned a noose from torn sheets and T-shirts and tied it to the top of his cell’s eight-foot-high steel-mesh wall. Each prisoner was able somehow to bind his own hands, and, in at least one case, his own feet, then stuff more rags deep down into his own throat. We are then asked to believe that each prisoner, even as he was choking on those rags, climbed up on his washbasin, slipped his head through the noose, tightened it, and leapt from the washbasin to hang until he asphyxiated. The NCIS report also proposes that the three prisoners, who were held in non-adjoining cells, carried out each of these actions almost simultaneously.

The fact that at least two of the prisoners also had cloth masks affixed to their faces, presumably to prevent the expulsion of the rags from their mouths, went unremarked by the NCIS, as did the fact that standard operating procedure at Camp Delta required the Navy guards on duty after midnight to “conduct a visual search” of each cell and detainee every ten minutes. The report claimed that the prisoners had hung sheets or blankets to hide their activities and shaped more sheets and pillows to look like bodies sleeping in their beds, but it did not explain where they were able to acquire so much fabric beyond their tightly controlled allotment, or why the Navy guards would allow such an obvious and immediately observable deviation from permitted behavior. Nor did the report explain how the dead men managed to hang undetected for more than two hours or why the Navy guards on duty, having for whatever reason so grievously failed in their duties, were never disciplined.

……returned to Saudi Arabia was the body of Mani Al-Utaybi. Orphaned in youth, Mani grew up in his uncle’s home in the small town of Dawadmi. I spoke to one of the many cousins who shared that home, Faris Al-Utaybi. Mani, said Faris, had gone to Baluchistan—a rural, tribal area that straddles Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—to do humanitarian work, and someone there had sold him to the Americans for $5,000. He said that Mani was a peaceful man who would harm no one. Indeed, U.S. authorities had decided to release Al-Utaybi and return him to Saudi Arabia. When he died, he was just a few weeks shy of his transfer.

The difference in the account found on the pages of Harper’s and others we’ve covered is that there are now names, people who were in Gitmo at the time of the deaths who have come forward to describe in detail what they saw and participated in during the fateful night of the deaths of the three prisoners.  What’s particularly disturbing is the new government of Obama, packed full of career government bureaucrats is continuing the legacy of Bush’s assault on the US constitution and the rule of law, covering up the testimony of those soldiers of conscience….not just one, or two or three, but more who have gone on record to say what they witnessed.  At a time when we are asked to honor the troops, it is more than hypocritical to discount the recollections of those troops who allege government malfeasance….but we do and with a straight face.  Again, our government at work for you; all of this is done in the name of the United States of America.

Finally, comes word that despite all the shortcuts given to members of the government to carry out legal surveillance against citizens and others, it simply wasn’t enough to satisfy a government run amok with an unquenchable thirst for invasion of the privacy too many of us were willing to give up.  In the mother of all understatement, an admission that the government lied in order to surveil people should come as no surprise after living through a decade that was full of deception, lies and deception.

The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.

FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni said in an interview Monday that the FBI technically violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act when agents invoked nonexistent emergencies to collect records.

“We should have stopped those requests from being made that way,” she said. The after-the-fact approvals were a “good-hearted but not well-thought-out” solution to put phone carriers at ease, she said. In true emergencies, Caproni said, agents always had the legal right to get phone records, and lawyers have now concluded there was no need for the after-the-fact approval process. “What this turned out to be was a self-inflicted wound,” she said.

Until the citizens of the republic of the United States make it clear that government’s role is to protect the rights guaranteed under the Constitution and not abrogate them with phony wars and lies, one can expect government will continue its spiral into fascism, and this country called America will cease to exist.

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I have to keep reminding myself MSNBC is the network that got rid of Phil Donahue.  Keith Olbermann however,  is more than a suitable replacement.  Hat tip to Raw Story.com!

Talking Loud and Saying Nothing!!


Like a dull knife Just ain’t cutting Just talking loud Then saying nothing

You can’t tell me What I’m doing wrong When you keep driving and Singing that same old money song

You can’t tell me Which way to go Cause three times seven And then some more

You can’t tell me, hey You’re like a dull knife Just ain’t cutting You’re just talking loud And saying nothing

This should be the refrain sung by America to the Republicans who insist Obama isn’t doing anything to change the outcome of the war on terror, or whatever other euphemism one wants to use for these wars of military expansion and domination.  Theirs and the Nation’s selective memory should be refreshed with this rather sobering fact from the days, the year 2007,  of the Bush administration!

A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaeda has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001.A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document — titled “al-Qaeda better positioned to strike the West” — called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.

………..

The findings suggests that the network that launched the most devastating terror attack on U.S. soil has been able to regroup despite nearly six years of bombings, war and other tactics aimed at dismantling it.

Guess the Republicans haven’t done such a good job after all, huh?  Hat tip to Suzy Q’s excellent blog!

My Light Bulb Moment


I was really trying my damnest to understand what was the motive behind the 1225 terror attack on the airliner besides the obvious of scaring the bejesus out of citizens and turning up the hatred of people towards Muslims and people of color.  I was right in that regard but I had a momentary lapse and didn’t extend the argument to the logical conclusion.  The intent of this attack was to make it possible for  the government to scare people enough to willing hand over  more of their rights and freedom.

After a recent attempted terrorist attack set off a debate about full-body X-rays at airports, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll finds that Americans lean more toward giving up some of their liberty in exchange for more safety.The survey found 51 percent of Americans agreeing that “it is necessary to give up some civil liberties in order to make the country safe from terrorism.”

…………………………

To stop terrorists, Americans look first to better governmental coordination and use of intelligence, the poll found, with 81 percent calling that effective and only 11 percent calling it ineffective.

Body scans or full body searches at airports ranked second, named by 74 percent as an effective way to stop terrorism. Nineteen percent called those measures ineffective.

Further restrictions on carry-on baggage ranked third, called effective by 57 percent, ineffective by 34 percent.

New in-flight restrictions such as banning the use of laptops and electronic equipment or restricting people to their seats ranked last, called effective by 50 percent and ineffective by 42 percent.

In other words this is the Obama administration’s attempt at picking up where the Bush administration left off in a somewhat kinder and gentler manner.  Change anyone??  Hand in hand with that is this bit of terrifying news about what could possibly happen to American citizens.  If you want to know what’s in store for you after you have so blindly handed over you rights as an American citizen read the story of Syed Fahad Hashmi, who like Jose Padilla another American citizen, has been brutalized by the government and had his citizenship discarded and ignored.  I wonder if all the tea baggers and birthers know about or feel any kinship with these two American citizens?

Liar, Liar, pants on fire! The NYT and its yellow journalism


We’ve chronicled many places here on the pages of Miscellany101 how the New York Times has been used by it’s racist, Islamophobic elites to falsely and misleadingly  incite public passions against the Muslim minority for the sake of public dissension and war, and they are at it again!  I really don’t understand how newspapers can keep finding harlots to lie and prostitute themselves for the good of the established elites but they somehow manage to keep up a pretty good stable of men and women willing to dispense and even take the kool-aid laced ethnic, religious and racial bigotry that keeps our country fueled for war.   This latest blunder began with  Elisabeth Bumiller’s piece that appeared in the NYT in May of  last year that erroneously stated a high recidivism rate among Guantanamo detainees.  Making stuff wholesale out of sack cloth and ashes Bumiller, like her predecessor, Judith Miller, created a story that was picked up and run with by the likes of Dick Darth Vader Cheney in such a blatant disregard for reality that even the NYT had to backtrack, retract and mea culpa themselves out of another embarrassing situation.

……the article on which he based that statement was seriously flawed and greatly overplayed. It demonstrated again the dangers when editors run with exclusive leaked material in politically charged circumstances and fail to push back skeptically. The lapse is especially unfortunate at The Times, given its history in covering the run-up to the Iraq war.The article seemed to adopt the Pentagon’s contention that freed prisoners had “returned” to terrorism, ignoring independent reporting by the Times and   others that some of them may not have been involved in terrorism before but were radicalized at Guantánamo. It failed to distinguish between former prisoners suspected of new acts of terrorism — more than half the cases — and those supposedly confirmed to have rejoined jihad against the West. Had only confirmed cases been considered, one in seven would have changed to one in 20.

Unfortunately, the NYT lied to us the public again.  Yes, their article was seriously flawed alright…..so much so that they decided to run it again and by the same person!  What’s worse, the Times buried this caveat deep in the article, “the White House had ‘been presented with no information that suggests that any of the detainees transferred by this administration have returned to the fight'” which appeared at the very bottom of the page, in the tenth paragraph of a twelve  paragraph piece.  Why is the NYT so intent in promoting war in as distant and remote a place as Yemen?  Do they think such a misadventure will increase their circulation at a time when advertising dollars and bureau budgets are tight?  Not hardly.  The NYT has an explicit interest like most of the other security consultants, analysts, contractors and assorted acronymed groups in keeping this Nation at war because if it’s not profitable for some of them, it’s profitable for others who in turn trickle down the profits they get from deceiving government and the Nation to fight in far away places.  It’s the old you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours symbiosis of truth, warfare and lies.  The NYT is pretty good at making that a seamless transition.  They’ve been doing it for far too long.

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