Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her assessment of the poor state of the broadcast news industry in America. Saying,
“Viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because its real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”
GLOBAL PANIC POLL RESULTS: We told You So
Jordan Schachtel reports: In a recent survey conducted by AlJazeera.net, the website for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel, respondents overwhelmingly support the Islamic State terrorist group, with 81% voting “YES” on whether they approved of ISIS’s conquests in the region.
The poll, which asked in Arabic, “Do you support the organizing victories of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?” has generated over 38,000 responses thus far, with only 19% of respondents voting “NO” to supporting ISIS.
Al Jazeera Arabic’s television audience is largely made up of Sunni Muslims living in the Arab world. Its biggest viewership numbers come from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, along with a large amount of satellite
television viewers in the United States, according to research estimates.
AlJazeera.net is most popular in Saudi Arabia, the United States, Egypt, Morocco, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to the Alexa webpage analytics site. Al Jazeera claims that it has over 40 million viewers in the Arab world.
The news that an overwhelming majority of respondents to the Al Jazeera Arabic poll strongly support ISIS may not surprise long-time trackers of the controversial network. The news outfit, which is run by Qatar’s ruling family and headquartered in Doha, has a track record rife with allegations that the organization supports the narratives of Sunni terrorist groups. Read the rest of this entry »
FORBIDDEN WORDS: Internal Emails Show Al Jazeera English Banning Use of Terms ‘Terrorist,’ ‘Militant,’ ‘Islamist’Posted: January 27, 2015
Brendan Bordelon reports: Shortly after news broke of a deadly January 27 attack by Islamic terrorists on a hotel in Libya’s capital, Al Jazeera English executive Carlos van Meek shot out an email to his employees.
“All: We manage our words carefully around here,” the network’s head of output wrote to staff at the Doha-based news channel’s New York and Washington, D.C. newsrooms. “So I’d like to bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up.”
In an email obtained by National Review Online, van Meek warned the network’s journalists against the use of terms including “terrorist,” “militant,” “Islamist” and “jihad.”
From: Carlos Van Meek
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2015 10:06 AM
To: AJE-Newsdesk; AJE-Output; AJE-DC-Newsroom
Subject: Terrorists, Militants, Fighters and then some…
All: We manage our words carefully around here. So I’d like to bring to your attention some key words that have a tendency of tripping us up. This is straight out of our Style Guide. All media outlets have one of those. So do we. If you’d like to amend, change, tweak.. pls write to Dan Hawaleshka direct who is compiling the updates to the Style Guide and they will be considered based on merit. No mass replies to this email, pls.
EXTREMIST – Do not use. Avoid characterizing people. Often their actions do the work for the viewer. Could write ‘violent group’ if we’re reporting on Boko Haram agreeing to negotiate with the government. In other words, reporting on a violent group that’s in the news for a non-violent reason.
TERRORISM/TERRORISTS – One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter. We will not use these terms unless attributed to a source/person.
ISLAMIST –Do not use. We will continue to describe groups and individuals, by talking about their previous actions and current aims to give viewers the context they require, rather than use a simplistic label.
NOTE: Naturally many of our guests will use the word Islamist in the course of their answers. It is absolutely fine to include these answers in our output. There is no blanket ban on the word. Read the rest of this entry »
Brendan Bordelon reports: As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their owxn by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide email.
“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails leaked to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”
“I guess if you insult 1.5 billion people chances are one or two of them will kill you.”
— Mohamed Vall Salem
Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office (the full emails can be found at here at NRO).
“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well.”
— Salah-Aldeen Khadr
Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.”
“What Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!” Salem later wrote. “It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”
— Mohamed Vall Salem
“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate [sic]—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.”
His denunciation of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed didn’t sit well with some Al Jazeera English employees.
Hours later, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman sent an email quoting a paragraph from a New York Times’ January 7 column by Ross Douthat. The op-ed argued that cartoons like the ones that drove the radical Islamists to murder must be published, “because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”
That precipitated an angry backlash from the network’s Qatar-based correspondents, revealing in the process a deep cultural rift at a network once accused of overt anti-Western bias. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Egyptian Court Convicts 3 Al Jazeera Journalists to Seven Years in Prison on Terrorism-Related ChargesPosted: June 23, 2014
Three journalists working for Al Jazeera were convicted Monday by an Egyptian court to seven years in prison on terrorism-related charges, The Associated Press reported.
The three journalists for the network’s English-language channel — Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, an Egyptian-Canadian who has previously worked for CNN and The New York Times; Peter Greste, an Australian who has previously worked for the BBC; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian who has worked for other international news organizations — have been in jail since December. Read the rest of this entry »
Japan has actually done remarkably well in averting terror attacks and has never been the victim of lethal jihadist violence. Some have praised Japan’s effectiveness in forestalling Islamic violence, proposing it as a model for other nations.
“The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam.”
In 2010, over a hundred Japanese police files were leaked to the public, which revealed widespread monitoring of Muslims across Japan. The files reportedly showed that the Japanese government was keeping tabs on some 72,000 Japanese residents who hailed from member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Tokyo police had also been monitoring places of worship, halal restaurants, and “Islam-related” organizations, according to the documents.
“Along with surveillance, Japanese authorities also apply tight immigration standards. Muslims seeking a working visa or immigration permit, for instance, are subject to detailed scrutiny, which is credited with preventing the sort of terrorist activity that has plagued Europe. “
Soon after, 17 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit saying that their privacy had been violated, and challenging the extensive monitoring of followers of Islam in Japan.
After two appeals, the case made it to Japan’s Supreme Court, which on May 31 concurred with a lower court that awarded the plaintiffs a total of ¥90 million ($880,000) in compensation because the leak violated their privacy.
Nonetheless, the high court dismissed the more general charges of police profiling and invasive surveillance practices, which a lower court had upheld as “necessary and inevitable” to guard against the threat of Islamic terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael J. Totten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.
ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.
Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.
[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com]
The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.
Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »
Amid Few Leader Directives a Mood of Resignation
HONG KONG—An absence of clear directives from organizers threw pro-democracy protests into confusion as some demonstrators called a retreat from two stronghold protest areas on Sunday evening.
“We are not afraid of the government and we are not afraid of the police. We just don’t want to see any more violent acts against residents.”
Many protesters ignored the call to decamp to the city’s main protest site near government offices, which came as the clock ticked closer to a government ultimatum to clear the streets.
But the division in the ranks appeared to drain strength from the crowds.
“They don’t represent me. It’s my own decision to come here to demonstrate and I’ll stay until the government answers our calls.”
— A 22-year-old university graduate, who identified himself only as Tin
In Mong Kok, a working-class neighborhood, police appeared to control the barricades leading to a crucial intersection where protesters had set up camp and where some of them seemed ready to make a last stand. One speaker said, “Tonight we’re outnumbered. We’re going to lose.”
“Frankly, I haven’t been able to sleep well… I’m worried that we will be on the verge of more serious incidents if this continues.”
— Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang
Protesters holding microphones and speaking to crowds and television reporters in Mong Kok and in the shopping district of Causeway Bay tried to get crowds to leave and join protests at the Admiralty government offices, the epicenter in the 10-day wave of protests. Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks to their cozy relationship with the Obama administration, a new class of super-wealthy oligarchs keeps getting more powerful while the country’s middle class shrinks.
Despite this administration’s occasional rhetorical flourishes against oligarchy, we have seen a rapid concentration of wealth and depressed conditions for the middle class under Obama. The stimulus, with its emphasis on public sector jobs, did little for Main Street. And under the banner of environmentalism, green cronyism has helped fatten the bank accounts of investment bankers and tech moguls at great public expense.
Detained since December 29: Peter Greste. Photo: AP
“Few of us would have the courage to practise true investigative journalism in places like Mexico, where your head can end up next to your laptop on a road as a message to others.”
— Investigative reporter Nick McKenzie
He says his case has become an emblem for the need for freedom of press worldwide.
In a message read by his parents in Sydney on Friday, Greste said the irony of his sending greetings from Mulhaq Al Masra Prison hardly needed mentioning.
“Yet here we are, the Al Jazeera three, facing our 126th day of detention and a seventh appearance before an Eygptian court on charges of terrorism,” he said.
Greste, a reporter with the Al Jazeera network, and television producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 on charges of helping terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. They will make their seventh request for bail on Saturday.
Greste said many local journalists were also in jail because of what Egyptian authorities described “as their own war on terror”.
His parents Lois and Juris Greste were “panic stricken” when they heard that nearly 700 members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been sentenced to death. Read the rest of this entry »
“As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years…”
It’s not an ideological dispute, the Observer says, but rather the sense that the paper’s editorials and columns are boring, ineffectual, poorly written and poorly read. The story was based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former Times staffers, mostly on condition of anonymity out of fear of editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal.
Rosenthal was described as a petty tyrant, and lazy in his supervision of an opinion staff that is widely seen outside the newsroom as the voice of the Left-wing establishment.
“Then there’s Maureen Dowd, who has been writing the same column since George H. W. Bush was president…”
‘The president likes to think of himself as an empiricist, a nonideological believer in what works…’Posted: January 30, 2014
Obamanomics: Missing the Obvious
AVIK ROY: On Inequality, Obama Fails His Own Test.
During President Barack Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address on Tuesday night, one section stood out. “After four years of economic growth,” said the president, “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.” But Obama left unstated the most important point of all: Under his watch and thanks to his policies, those at the bottom of the ladder face fewer and fewer opportunities to get ahead. Worse still, most of the policies he proposed during his address would make social and economic mobility even harder.
“Texas ranked 10th nationwide in a measure of states with the lowest costs of living. That is because the state has a predictable and relatively light regulatory regime that drives down the cost of doing business, and thereby the cost of consumer goods and services.”
I just returned from a three-day trip to Austin, Texas. Spend a few days in Austin and you feel as though you are in a different America from the one described by the president.
In the next two years, downtown Austin’s hotel capacity will increase by 57 percent. In the last 20 years, Austin’s population has increased by an astounding 71 percent. The state of Texas hosts four of the 11 largest cities in the country: Houston (4), Dallas-Fort Worth (5), San Antonio (8) and Austin (11). The biggest problem in Austin is not the economy or unemployment — it is the traffic.
Paradox: Conservatives Insisting SOTU Speeches are Boring, Nobody’s Watching, Obama is Irrelevant…Yet… We…Can’t…Stop…Talking About It…Posted: January 29, 2014
I was going to write about the contradiction between words and deeds, between message, and reality.
The message: “The State of the Union speech is a non-event, featuring an irrelevant president, on subjects that nobody cares about. America is tuning out.”
The reality: “We can’t stop talking about Obama’s State of the Union speech.”
The message, endlessly repeated by conservative talking heads, writers, and bloggers (count me among them) for the last three days, emphasizing boredom, fatigue, irrelevance, tuning out.
But if it’s so irrelevant, and everyone’s tuning out, why invest billions of pixels writing about it, and waste valuable broadcast time, evaluating it, discussing it, talking about it? It means that people are paying attention. Doesn’t it?
Then I saw this.
Falling just shy of the 2013 outing, Nielsen returns put President Obama’s Tuesday address as the least watched since 2000.
Apparently, they were right. America is tuning out.
It could be the only people paying attention were insiders, media people, speechwriters, White House staff members, friends and family of members of Congress, political operatives, cameramen, broadcasters, and editors who had no choice, but primarily, disgruntled conservatives; the people warning us that no one is paying attention.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
TV Ratings: State of the Union, With 33.3 Million Viewers, Hits 14-Year Low
The gross average audience of 13 networks airing President Barack Obama’s speech puts viewership at 33,299,172. That’s down from the 33.5 million that tuned in for the 2013 speech for its lowest showing since 2000. (President Bill Clinton’s final address in office averaged 31,478,000.)
Many Iraqis are alive today because of the Americans who died in Fallujah
At Business Insider, Paul Szoldra, a Marine, has written a powerful piece about the friend he lost during Operation Phantom Fury, the 2004 operation to clear insurgents from Fallujah. Szoldra argues that the current strife proves that his friends died only for one another, not for some greater cause. ‘‘I’ll never know why they died,” he writes. “It sure wasn’t for freedom, democracy, apple pie, or mom and dad back home.’’
I would never claim to know Szoldra’s pain. As much as I’ve informed myself about the human toll that Iraq has taken on thousands of American families (David Finkel is a must-read), I haven’t lost friends in the fighting there.
Russia said on Thursday former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died of natural causes, not radiation poisoning, but a Palestinian official called the finding “politicized” and said an investigation would continue.
Samples were taken from Arafat’s body last year by Swiss, French and Russian forensics experts after an al Jazeera documentary said his clothes showed high amounts of deadly polonium 210.
The Swiss said last month their tests were consistent with polonium poisoning but not absolute proof of the cause of death. The Russian finding was in line with that of French scientists who said earlier this month that Arafat had not been killed with polonium.
“Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes,” Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s state forensics body, the Federal Medico-Biological Agency, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Nicholas Lemann writes: People tend to have little sympathy with accounts of crisis in a trade or profession. It comes across as evidence of excessive self-preoccupation, or as a prelude to special pleading before government. Journalism’s difficulties seem to be drawing this kind of reaction from many people who aren’t journalists. Isn’t the press still a swaggering, even power-abusing actor in politics and society? Doesn’t it command vast attention and resources? Isn’t more news being read by more people than ever before?
Out of Print: Newspapers, journalism and the business of news in the digital ages hows that something really has changed quite suddenly and dramatically in the press industry. George Brock is a veteran newspaperman, and his main concern in this clear-headed, synoptic and never whiny book is with the institutions where he has spent most of his career. In the United States, newspaper advertising revenue – the main source of economic support by far – was $63.5 billion in 2000. By 2012 it had fallen to $19 billion. (During the same period, advertising revenue at Google went from zero to $46.5 billion.) Employment in the American newspaper industry fell by 44 per cent between 2001 and 2011. In the European Union, newspaper revenue is falling by more than 10 per cent a year. In the UK, newspaper circulation has dropped by more than 25 per cent during the twenty-first century. It would be hard to think of another industry that is going through such a sudden collapse.
Journalism operates, Brock says, at “the intersection between a social, democratic purpose and the market”. This makes it difficult to sort out the aspect of the industry’s economic crisis that is only a problem for media owners and their employees, and the aspect that is a problem for everybody else. As Brock rather gently puts it, “in the main journalists are convinced or easily persuaded that what they do is so good and important that someone should pay them to do it”, but this is too broad a conviction to be persuasive to non-journalists. A more carefully argued version of what journalists feel would be that, when done well, institutionally produced news has distinctive, socially advantageous qualities. It can pull together large groups of people with diverse perspectives and interests into a shared public conversation. Jürgen Habermas has presented the rise of the press as having been essential to the creation of the public sphere, and newspapers are also central to Benedict Anderson’s idea of nations as “imagined communities”. Journalism can provide verified, impartial information about public affairs, rather than offering up a cacophony of opinion and conflicting claims as the internet often does. Reporters can surface and present to the public important material that otherwise would not be available, for example about the misdeeds of the powerful.
“It would be hard to think of another industry that is going through such a sudden collapse”
One reason this view of journalism isn’t more widely accepted is that, as Brock says, it represents only a small, time-limited part of the overall history of the press. Brock’s account begins in the late sixteenth century. As he usefully reminds us, it wasn’t until the nineteenth century that a commercially supported, politically independent, fully staffed, mass-produced press came into being. Before that, the press was a medium for the printed dissemination of free speech and for making public basic information about government and business. The term “journalist”, denoting a full-time livelihood, wasn’t used in Britain until around 1830. Interviewing, a socially impertinent American invention, became a standard British journalistic technique only in the 1880s. Newspaper journalism as we know it also required the invention of fast rotary printing presses and the growth of cities, and the editorial content that made news into a successful business had a generous complement of crime, sports, human interest and entertainment, along with more elevated material. In the early twentieth century, the elite newspapers, at least, began to depend economically on advertising and long-term subscriptions rather than on street sales, and this dovetailed with a stated editorial creed of sober, dispassionate objectivity. But successful newspapers were never completely high-minded. As Brock puts it, “there has never been a mass audience for serious news”. The economically viable material paid for the socially valuable material.
During the second half of the twentieth century, now remembered in the newspaper business as a golden age, the position of newspapers was already weakening, Brock argues, mainly because of the advent of radio and television. In the US, newspaper sales per thousand people fell by 55 per cent from 1950 to 2008. The trouble wasn’t obvious at first, because economies in the developed world were generally growing, populations were rising, advertising revenues were increasing, and the losses in newspaper audience came mostly in the form of the weaker papers going out of business (London had more than fifty daily papers 200 years ago) while the more established papers grew. By, say, 1975, it had become just about impossible for a new entrant to start a big daily newspaper or a television station, because of prohibitively high costs and regulatory barriers. Protected from competition, news organizations, for one historical season, were able to assemble, print and deliver a big collection of information people wanted and could not get from anywhere else – sports scores, movie times, stock prices, as well as more conventional news – into an unbreakable package. This allowed them to charge substantial fees to advertisers and subscribers.
Mona Charen writes: Consistent with the Obama Administration’s first term bullying of Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry has been issuing veiled threats in the past few days, including this invitation to Palestinian violence. This is not moral equivalence, this is adopting the Arafat-style of “negotiation,” namely, do as I say or I will launch terror again.
Further, Kerry has been repeating the false Palestinian contention that Israel’s settlements are “illegitimate.” Here is an open letter to Kerry from a former Israeli diplomat:
Dear Secretary Kerry,
After listening to you declare repeatedly over the past weeks that “Israel’s settlements are illegitimate”, I respectfully wish to state, unequivocally, that you are mistaken and ill advised, both in law and in fact.
Pursuant to the “Oslo Accords”, and specifically the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995), the “issue of settlements” is one of subjects to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. President Bill Clinton on behalf of the US, is signatory as witness to that agreement, together with the leaders of the EU, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and Norway.
Your statements serve to not only to prejudge this negotiating issue, but also to undermine the integrity of that agreement, as well as the very negotiations that you so enthusiastically advocate.
Natalie Ornell reports: After waiting for eight months in Berkeley, California, award-winning veteran China journalist Paul Mooney learned yesterday that the Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected his visa application to start a new job as a reporter for Thomson Reuters, a move which will “certainly add to the anxieties of foreign reporters in China.” Andrew Jacobs reports for The New York Times:
(AP) Possible evidence of Arafat poisoning is reported
By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH
RAMALLAH, West Bank
Swiss scientists have found evidence suggesting that Yasser Arafat may have been poisoned, adding new fuel to long-standing allegations about the Palestinian leader’s death, a TV station reported Wednesday.
hed what it said was a long-awaited 108-page report by a team of Swiss experts who tested Arafat’s remains. The scientists wrote that “the results moderately support the proposition that the death was the consequence of poisoning with polonium-210,” according to the pan-Arab satellite channel.
Thieves hit central bank van in daring raid
The bandits attacked a van as it was transporting the money from the airport to a central bank branch in Sirte. The van was reportedly escorted by one security vehicle; however, the accompanying guards were unable to fend off the heavily armed thieves. According to the AFP, robbers hit two banks in Sirte in July and stole approximately $400,000.
Following the collapse of the Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011, the weak central government has failed to rein in the myriad armed militias active across the country. Earlier this month, a former rebel group briefly kidnapped interim Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in the increasingly lawless state.
Dr. Susan Berry reports: Social media giant Twitter is blocking six accounts linked to the al Qaeda terrorist group al Shabaab from using its service to spread propaganda. Three of these accounts have been created within the past two days.
The Washington Free Beacon reported Monday that just one day after the terrorist group’s official Twitter account was blocked, al Shabaab created two other accounts that were blocked as well. By Tuesday morning, however, the group re-emerged with yet another account, @HSM_PR, that tweeted a propaganda post at 10:12 EDT, referring to the deadly attack on Nairobi, Kenya shopping mall as a “new dawn.” Read the rest of this entry »
Where is the mob of Muslim-hating Americans going crazy after Boston? Its a figment of liberals imaginationsPosted: April 25, 2013
Whenever a bomb goes off in America or Britain, some liberals’ first reaction is to wonder whether stupid white people will go crazy and attack Muslims. Even while the dust of said bomb is settling, a certain breed of heartless commentator will shift his attention from those who were hurt in the attack to those who might be driven mad with racially tinged fury upon observing the attack: that is, the allegedly Islamophobic mob, the unenlightened public, for whom every Islamo-bombing is apparently a sign that Muslims are evil and must therefore be shouted at, spat on, and possibly punched.
So just hours after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, even before we knew who was responsible, there was media handwringing over the masses’ potentially intolerant response. Part of the reason David Sirota of Salon infamously hoped the Boston bomber would turn out be a white American is because he was fearful of the “societal response” if the bomber were a Muslim, concerned there would be “collective slandering” of Muslims by Americans. Likewise, two days after the attack, the Guardian published a piece implying America is already a country where the ill-educated think “all Muslims are terrorists”, so things could get really hairy if “the perpetrator of the Boston bombings turns out to be a Muslim”. There was a tsunami of post-Boston commentary about “the damage that Islamophobia can cause”, about the “ignorance and prejudice [that emerge] in the aftermath of a terrorist attack”, about Americans undergoing a “collective freakout steeped in Islamophobia”.
Clearly, some observers fear ordinary Americans more than they do terrorists; they fret more over how dangerously unintelligent and hateful Yanks will respond to bombings than they do over the bombings themselves. But where is this Islamophobic mob? Where are these marauding Muslim-haters undergoing a post-Boston freakout? They are a figment of liberal observers’ imaginations. In the years since 9/11, the American public has been admirably tolerant towards Muslim communities. According to federal crime stats collected by the FBI, in 2009 there were 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes; in a country of 300 million people that is a very low number. In 2010, a year of great terrorism panic following the attempt by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in NYC, there were 160 anti-Muslim hate crimes. In 2011, there were 157. To see how imaginary the Islamophobic mob is, consider a state like Texas, fashionably mocked as a backward Hicksville full of Fox News-watching morons: there are 420,000 Muslims in Texas, yet in 2011 there were only six anti-Muslim hate crimes there. It simply isn’t true that mad racist Yanks are biting at the bit to attack Muslims.
There were similarly wrongheaded fears of an outburst of mass Islamophobic hysteria in the wake of the 7/7 bombings in London, too. Policemen were posted outside mosques. NHS trusts encouraged doctors and nurses to keep their eyes peeled for anyone who expressed anti-Muslim hate. Trade union officials warned of a “backlash” against Muslims. But the backlash never came. Brits did not rise up in spite and fury against Muslims. Crown Prosecution Service crime figures for 2005-2006, covering the aftermath of the 7/7 attacks, showed that only 43 religiously aggravated crimes were prosecuted in that period, and that Muslims were the victims in 18 of those crimes. Eighteen prosecutions for anti-Muslim crimes – all those crimes are unfortunate, of course they are; but this was far from an “Islamophobic backlash”. As the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, said: “The fears of a [post-7/7] rise in offences appear to be unfounded.”
Time and again, Left-leaning campaigners and observers respond to terror attacks in the West by panicking about the possibly racist response of Joe Public – and time and again, their fears prove ill-founded and Joe Public proves himself a more decent, tolerant person than they give him credit for. What this reveals is that liberal concern over Islamophobia, liberal fretting about anti-Muslim bigotry, is ironically driven by a bigotry of its own, by an deeply prejudiced view of everyday people as hateful and stupid. The anti-Islamophobia lobby poses as the implacable opponent of bigotry, yet it spreads a bigoted view of ordinary white folk as so volatile, so brimming with fury, that they are one terrorist bombing away from transforming into an anti-Muslim pogrom. Yes, some prejudiced things have been said about Muslims post-Boston; but far more prejudiced things are being said or implied about ordinary Americans.
via Telegraph Blogs
Protestors carry colonial flags on July 1, 2012. Photo credit: AP/ Vincent Yung.
It was a sight not seen in over 15 years: in the annual July 1st Hong Kong Handover Day protests, the colonial flags of British Hong Kong were hoisted well above the crowd. The reappearance of the “Dragon and the Lion” shocked news outlets around the world.
A former British colony for over 150 years, Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region under the People’s Republic of China on July 1st, 1997. Although Hong Kongers have protested annually since the Handover, the protests this year were marked with a noticeably pro-British and anti-PRC sentiment. Mainlanders in Hong Kong have been accused of illegal goods smuggling, giving birth in order to obtain citizenship, and causing inflation.
The increased tensions over the past year between Hong Kong and the Mainland have been fueled by several online videos gone viral. Initially, it was a video of Hong Kongers on the subway confronting Mainland tourists over littering, then it turned personal when a professor from Peking University attacked Hong Kong people on national television…
- Hong Kongers Raise British Flag, Tell Mainlanders to Get Lost (chinasmack.com)
- Hong Kong SAR 15 years on: Is it still Special? (cnn.com)
- Gray Market iPhones Already in Beijing, 70% of Hong Kong Phones Go to Mainland (techinasia.com)
- What images spring to mind when you think of Hong Kong? (eslschoolforenglish.wordpress.com)
BEIJING (AP) — China said Saturday that it will not renew press credentials for a French journalist, effectively expelling her following a harsh media campaign against her for questioning the official line equating ethnic violence in China’s western Muslim region with global terrorism.
Expecting the move, Ursula Gauthier, a longtime journalist for the French news magazine L’Obs, said late Friday night that she was prepared to leave China.
“They want a public apology for things that I have not written,” Gauthier said. “They are accusing me of writing things that I have not written.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said that Gauthier was no longer “suitable” to be allowed to work in China because she had supported “terrorism and cruel acts” that killed civilians and refused to apologize for her words.
“China has always protected the legal rights of foreign media and foreign correspondents to report within the country, but China does not tolerate the freedom to embolden terrorism,” Lu said in a statement.
Gauthier on Saturday called the accusations “absurd,” and said that emboldening terrorism is morally and legally wrong. She said that she should be prosecuted if that were the case. Read the rest of this entry »
Al Jazeera reports: Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former deputy prime minister and foreign minister, has died in prison aged 79 years old.
Iraqi officials said Aziz, who was one of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s top deputies, died on Friday afternoon after suffering a heart attack on Thursday.
Al Jazeera has learnt that Aziz’s son, Ziad, expressed outrage that Iraqi officials had not informed him of his father’s death, and he had instead found out through local media reports.
Aziz was Iraq’s foreign minister between 1983 and 1991 and deputy prime minister between 1979 and 2003.
He was sentenced to death by the Iraqi High Tribunal in 2010 for his role in human-rights abuses committed under the former government, which was overthrown in 2003 when Iraq was invaded by a US-led alliance.
Iraq’s public face
Aziz surrendered to US forces shortly after the invasion and had been a prisoner since.
“There will be no eulogies for him, no day of mourning for him. He was hated as a member of the former regime,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama responded to this theory by saying the following: “Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations. You know, if you look at the history of anti-Semitism, Jeff, there were a whole lot of European leaders—and there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country—”
He really needs to point out America’s past sins and flaws whenever anyone points out vile behavior overseas, doesn’t he? Read the rest of this entry »
Airstrikes follow release of video purportedly showing the beheadings of Egyptian Coptic Christians
A spokesman for Egypt’s military said Egyptian aircraft had targeted Islamic State training camps and weapons and ammunitions stores in a bombing raid around dawn. The planes returned to their bases in Egypt safely, the spokesman said in a post on his Facebook page.
“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty.”
The announcement was accompanied by video footage that the spokesman said showed Egyptian fighter jets taking off at night in preparation for airstrikes on “ISIS in Libya,” according to text accompanying the video.
“We assure that we will take revenge for Egyptian blood and that taking punishment against criminal killers is our right and duty,” an announcer said in an official Egyptian military video posted on the same Facebook page.
“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side.”
Omar al Sinki, the minister of the interior in Libya’s Tobruk-based government, said Egypt’s air force had struck 7 targets in Derna early Monday. He added that the strikes had been coordinated with the anti-Islamist forces based in eastern Libya and that General Khalifa Haftar, the nominal leader of those forces, was in Cairo on Monday “coordinating” with Egypt’s armed forces and that the campaign would be sustained.
“There will be more coordinated airstrikes in the future with Libya and Egypt operating side by side,” he said
A spokesman for Egypt’s defense ministry declined to comment on Monday beyond what the military posted on Facebook, although a news conference was planned for later Monday.
— Tristan Lejeune (@TristanLejeune) February 16, 2015
Saqer al Joroushi, the commander of Libya’s air force, was quoted by Egyptian state media saying “at least 50” militants had been killed in the airstrikes, in addition to several being arrested. He said Egypt had conducted the strikes “with full respect to the sovereignty of Libya.” He also said Libya wouldn’t allow any ground operations by the Egyptian armed forces.
He separately told the Saudi Arabia-owned Al Arabiya television station that Libya’s own air forces had launched attacks on Islamic State targets in the coastal city of Sirte, a stronghold of those loyal to ousted longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and nearby towns. However, a resident of Sirte said he had seen no evidence of an aerial attack on the city.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Libya Dawn, a more moderate Islamist group that controls the Libyan capital Tripoli, “deplored the violation of sovereignty” and said children had been killed in bombing of Derna. Read the rest of this entry »
Mild-Mannered Software Engineer by Day, Passionate Cartoonist by Night: From the Streets of NY, Meet the Sikh Captain AmericaPosted: January 22, 2015
Most office workers stick to wearing a shirt and trousers. So why has a Sikh man in his 40s been talking to strangers in New York while dressed as Captain America?
“I want to challenge people’s perceptions, I want them to have a mind freak when they see me.”
So says Vishavjit Singh, a mild-mannered software engineer by day and passionate cartoonist by night.
“When I first put on the suit, it was one of the most amazing days of my life. It was like a switch had been flicked. Strangers were embracing me, cops were asking me for photos, I was being dragged into weddings.”
The 43-year-old’s fellow Americans have not always been so welcoming. A devout Sikh, complete with traditional turban and flowing beard, Vishavjit – or Vish as he is known – has always attracted attention.
“I’m still seen by many as the ‘ultimate other’ in American society -a radical Muslim. Harassment goes up and down depending on the news,” he says.
He turned to his hobby of drawing as an outlet, creating cartoons depicting what life in America was like for Sikhs – focusing on the patriotism he felt for the country he was born in and the pride for the religion he belonged to.
“I realised I had to draw something fresh and the new Captain America film gave me an idea. How about a superhero who has a beard and a turban and fights intolerance?”
A local comic book convention provided the perfect opportunity for him to get his work noticed and it was there that he met a photographer who suggested he bring the character to life – by dressing up as Captain America himself.
“My first response was, ‘no way’. I’d never worn a costume and I’m a skinny guy who’s been kind of teased and bullied all my life,” he says.
Then things changed. In August 2012, six people were killed after a US Army veteran with ties to white supremacist groups opened fire on worshipers at a gurdwara in Wisconsin while preparations for a service were under way.
[The film, ‘Red, White and Beard‘ is now available to watch online.]
The incident forced Singh to once again reassess the way minorities like himself were being perceived in America. His cartoons were a way of tackling the stigma faced by Sikhs, but the self-confessed introvert felt he still had to do more.
“I was trying out the uniform at home for the first time, stuffing sports pads in to make myself look bigger and trying to work out a plan.”
It was then that he remembered his earlier conversation at the comic convention. He swiftly ordered a bespoke Captain America suit tailored to fit his slender 5’9″, 130 pound (58kg) frame.
“My wife came over to me and said, ‘just be yourself’.”
Singh began visiting college campuses and youth retreats dressed in character – complete with Captain America’s trademark shield and an ‘A’ on his turban – giving talks about social identity and life as a Sikh.
“We put people in brackets of Muslims, Jews, right wing, left wing. I want to force people to get out of those labels, out of those boxes and to start a conversation.”
It was at one of these talks that he met three filmmakers – Ryan Westra, Ben Fischinger and Matthew Rogers – then students, who were intrigued by the message Vish had come to deliver.
Read the rest of this entry »
The Inevitable Chilling Effect: Despite Its Stand Against the ‘Terrorist’s Veto’, France Treats Offensive Words and Images as CrimesPosted: January 19, 2015
Jacob Sullum writes: On Sunday, as more than a million people marched through the streets of Paris in support of the right to draw cartoons without being murdered, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication declared that “artistic freedom and freedom of expression stand firm and unflinching at the heart of our common European values.” It added that “France and her allies in the EU safeguard these values and promote them in the world.”
“In a free society, that is simply not the government’s job. When courts are asked to draw this line, artists and commentators must try to anticipate whether their work will pass muster, which promotes self-censorship.”
In the wake of last week’s massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, perpetrated by men who saw death as a fitting punishment for the crime of insulting Islam, these were stirring words. If only they were true. Sadly, France and other European countries continue to legitimize the grievances underlying the barbaric attack on Charlie Hebdo by endorsing the illiberal idea that people have a right not to be offended.
“Sacrilege may upset people, but it does not violate their rights. By abandoning that distinction, avowed defenders of Enlightenment values capitulate to the forces of darkness.”
It is true that France does not prescribe the death penalty for publishing cartoons that offend Muslims. But under French law, insulting people based on their religion is a crime punishable by a fine of €22,500 and six months in jail.
In addition to religion, that law covers insults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. Defamation (as opposed to mere insult) based on any of those factors is punishable by up to a year in prison, and so is incitement to discrimination, hatred, or violence. Read the rest of this entry »
Two suspected child suicide bombers blow themselves up killing six, in the latest assault involving young girls
At least six people have been killed after two suspected child suicide bombers blew themselves up in a market in northeast Nigeria, witnesses say.
“I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age…you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso.”
— A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum
Sunday’s assault was the second attack involving young girls strapped with explosives.
The blasts struck around mid-afternoon at an open market selling mobile handsets in the town of Potiskum in Yobe state, one of three northeastern states after Adamawa and Brorno that have been hit by the armed group Boko Haram.
A trader at the market, Sani Abdu Potiskum, said the bombers were about 10 years old.
“I saw their dead bodies. They are two young girls of about 10 years of age … you only see the plaited hair and part of the upper torso,” the trader said.
The town was hit by a suicide bomber in November when at least 48 people, mainly students, were killed during a school assembly.
On Saturday, a bomb exploded at a police station in Potiskum.
Who fucking does this http://t.co/AK9rbMSP7T
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) January 11, 2015
Sunday’s explosions came a day after a bomb strapped to a girl aged around 10 years old exploded in a busy market place in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 20, security sources said.
Boko Haram, which opposes Western influence and education, has been fighting since 2009 to establish an Islamic state in the northeast of the country. The the army’s inability to crush the movement has created problems for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is seeking re-election in February.
Last year more than 10,000 people died in the violence, according to an estimate by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.
The military lost ground in worst-hit Borno state last weekend after fighters took over the town of Baga and nearby army base, killing over 100 people and forcing thousands to flee. The defence headquarters said on Saturday that the army was regrouping to retake the area. Read the rest of this entry »
Out: Far Left 9/11 Truthers. In: Far Left ISIS Truthers
October 4th, 2014, Ed Driscoll writes:
Al Gore was driven (further) insane when he lost to GWB in 2000, going from a man who attacked Bush #41 in 1992 for not removing Saddam Hussein from power, to demonizing Bush #43 for removing Saddam Hussein from power, and smearing his supporters as “digital brownshirts.” Gore, whose political career was reborn in 1989, when he made an about-face from a relatively conservative Democrat in the 1980s to comparing global warming to “An Ecological Kristallnacht” in a New York Times op-ed, sold his Current TV channel to Al Jazeera, owned by the ISIS-funding petro-state Qatar, for $500 million at the start of 2013.
With her above Facebook post today, Naomi Wolf, legendary (if perhaps somewhat apocryphally) for advising Gore in 2000 to switch to earth tones to bring out his hot-blooded alpha male (no, really), has joined him in la-la land.
It shouldn’t be all that surprising. In August of 2009, the former self-described “third wave feminist” thought that Islamic women forcing women to cover their faces was totally groovy, and underneath, the Islamic world was as laid back about sex as say, your average, Greenwich Village coffee house. (No, really.) Or as Phyllis Chesler paraphrased Wolf’s essay in the Sydney Morning Herald, “The Burqa: Ultimate Feminist Choice?”
In the fall of 2008, she predicted that if John McCain won, we’d see the coming of the Palin-Rove Police State. (No, really!) Here’s Wolf’s fever-swamp rant at the Huffington Post in September of 2008:
Please understand what you are looking at when you look at Sarah “Evita” Palin. You are looking at the designated muse of the coming American police state.
You have to understand how things work in a closing society in order to understand “Palin Power.” A gang or cabal seizes power, usually with an affable, weak figurehead at the fore. Then they will hold elections — but they will make sure that the election will be corrupted and that the next affable, weak figurehead is entirely in their control. Remember, Russia has Presidents; Russia holds elections. Dictators and gangs of thugs all over the world hold elections. It means nothing. When a cabal has seized power you can have elections and even presidents, but you don’t have freedom.
I realized early on with horror what I was seeing in Governor Palin: the continuation of the Rove-Cheney cabal, but this time without restraints.
(Read the whole thing; it’s quite a hoot.) In October 2011, Wolf got her wish, sort of, being busted by Mayor Bloomberg’s finest and held overnight after an Occupy Wall Street rally went awry. Read the rest of this entry »
Defenders of the Venezuelan regime would never allow the White House to arrest opposition leaders and shut down unfriendly media outlets. So why the double standard?
Dictatorship and Double Standard
Michael Moynihan writes: At the southernmost point of Central Park, on a small strip of sidewalk abutting 59th Street, hundreds of Venezuelans swarmed a statue of Simon Bolivar, the Caracas-born liberator of South America and a figure now most commonly associated with the bolivarian revolution of Hugo Chavez and his rechristenedBolivarian Republic of Venezuela. But it’s an association that when mentioned inthis crowd produces furrowed brows and narrowed eyes, quickly followed by a rapid-fire recapitulation of Chavez’s many crimes.
“Duarte was merely cataloging the massive shortages of basic goods (rice, milk, toilet paper) that have crippled Venezuela in recent years, not engaging in a bourgeois, fascist bakeoff.”
The necessary symbolism of the meeting point trumped practicality: the crowd quickly swelled, spreading like an inkblot from the small patch surrounding Bolivar into a lane of midtown Manhattan traffic. They banged pots. They shouted slogans about the Cubanization of their patria, from which many are exiled. They carried signs detailing spiraling crime rates (23,000 murders last year), many plastered with grim photos of those abused and murdered, and others with mordant slogans (“In Venezuela everything is scarce, except bullets”).
We are far from the bloody streets of Caracas; these protesters are ringed not by heavily armed and body-armoured National Guardsman, but are politely attended to by a handful of paunchy and bored New York City cops. There was no threat of violence here–with the single exception of a slobbering, toothless, and possibly blotto Spanish speaker who, while ambling past the crowd, shouted something that drew the ire–and very nearly the flying fists–of a man with a large Venezuelan flag tied around his neck–the anti-Chavez superhero.
As the Arab Spring enters its third year, events in the region remain fluid. Still, enough time has now passed that some preliminary conclusions can be reached.
Zachary Keck writes: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is one institution certainly drawing lessons from the Arab Spring. It is well known that the CCP studies political unrest in other parts of the world in search of lessons it can use to maintain stability at home. The most notable instance of this was the massive study the CCP undertook into the causes of the Soviet Union’s collapse. The lessons the CCP drew from its more than decade-long study into the Soviet bloc have since been incorporated into the curriculum at party schools, and are regularly referred to by senior Chinese officials.
Although the CCP’s study of the Arab Spring won’t be nearly as massive, the events in the Arab world are of significant interest to the party for a number of reasons. The first is simply their size and magnitude. Additionally, in its early days the Arab Spring inspired some Chinese to call for a Jasmine Revolution in China. Although nothing much came from these calls, there were a tense couple of weeks in China that saw the CCP on high alert.
Finally, Chinese leaders should be particularly interested in the Arab Spring simply because it provides an excellent case study. Although the protests seemed to be motivated by similar causes, they quickly diverged in terms of how each government responded, as well as their ultimate outcomes. Thus, the protests offer valuable lessons for how the CCP can maintain power in China. Four points from the Arab Spring seem particularly pertinent:
1) Get Ahead of Events
The regimes that have best weathered the Arab Spring have gotten ahead of events on the ground. At the first sight of unrest in Egypt, Saudi Arabia sought to preempt protests by significantly increasing subsides. The Gulf Cooperation Council contained unrest in Bahrain by using overwhelming force to smother the then-nascent protests. Only after order had been restored did the government begin offering small concessions. In other countries like Morocco and Jordan, governments quickly appeased protesters by offering at least cosmetic concessions, such as removing especially unpopular leaders. The new Chinese leadership seems to be pursuing a similar course by initiating highly publicized anti-graft and mass line campaigns that are partly aimed at reducing public anger over the party’s excesses.
Guy Sorman writes: Bill Gates is putting out a call to inventors,” the CNN story began last March, “but he’s not looking for software or the latest high-tech gadget. This time he’s in search of a better condom.” Incongruous as the story seemed, the former Microsoft titan had joined the struggle against sexually transmitted diseases. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was offering a $100,000 start-up grant to anyone who could design a condom that didn’t interfere with sexual pleasure. Rachel Zimmerman, host of public radio’s CommonHealth, called the Gates Foundation’s initiative “truly inspired.” But was it? After all, the latex industry has pursued the same goal for decades and devoted many millions of dollars to the effort. What’s the point of a philanthropist trying to do what the market is already doing?
Call this philanthropy for show, a kind of celebrity giving designed for a mediatized age, based on grand gestures, big dollars, and heartwarming proclamations—but too little concern with actual results, which often prove paltry, redundant (as with the condom initiative), or even destructive. The American media often revel in controversy, so one might expect that the gap between expansive promises and disappointing outcomes would prompt intense journalistic interest. But for the most part, would-be statesmen-humanitarians—such as Bill Clinton, Gates, and Al Gore, along with entertainment- world benefactors like Oprah Winfrey and academic superstars like Columbia development economist Jeffrey Sachs, have gotten a free pass for their good philanthropic intentions. They and their cohorts deserve closer scrutiny.
Oprah Winfrey is an icon of twenty-first-century American popular culture, a prominent supporter of Barack Obama, and the richest black woman in the world, with an estimated wealth of $2.8 billion, according to Forbes. She can serve as an early exemplar of the philanthropist for show: the celebrity savior.