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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Overnight Music video - George Harrison - My Sweet Lord

Netanyahu, Barak refuse to see US official with negative report on Baghdad talks.

Netanyahu, Barak refuse to see US official with negative report on Baghdad talks.(Debka).The rupture between the US and Israel over Iran’s nuclear program widened further Friday, May 25 when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided not to be available to hear the briefing brought to Jerusalem from Baghdad by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman who headed the US delegation to the Six Power talks. The report she delivered to National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror and Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi Barak was that no progress had been achieved in Baghdad due to Iran’s refusal to budge on its “right” to enrich uranium at low (3.5-5 percent) or high (20 percent) levels or shut down the Fordo nuclear plant near Qom. Although the participants agreed to reconvene in Moscow in three weeks, the Iranian delegation stressed there would be no progress until the US and the other five world powers (Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China) recognized Iran’s absolute “right” as a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium. Meanwhile, every day spent on diplomacy is thoroughly exploited by Iran to zip ahead with its nuclear plans.
The Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog (IAEA)’s quarterly report released Friday reveals that since February Iran almost doubled its stockpile of more highly enriched uranium which is close to weapons grade from 73.4 to 145 kilograms. The centrifuges at the Fordo facility, built into the side of a mountain, rose to over 500 from 300 in the last report. Using the IAEA figures, debkafile calculates that if Fordo goes on producing 23.9 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium per month, Iran will by the end of December have accumulated 336 kilograms of near-weapons quality uranium.
Friday, the Washington Post quoted Mohammad Hoseyn Moussavian of Princeton University as revealing that in 2004, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “I would resign if for any reason Iran is deprived of its rights to enrichment.” Moussavian is presented as an Iranian academic visiting Princeton to lecture and write a book on the Iranian nuclear issue. debkafile reveals that he was the contact man in one of the direct, back-channel negotiations taking place in Paris between the White House and Khamenei. His words therefore were intended to carry weight as a reminder to Obama that the supreme leader, like the US president, intended to come out of their dialogue strengthened – not undermined.
And therefore, for both their sakes, Washington must endorse Iran’s “right to enrichment.The gap between Israel and the Obama administration widened in the course of Washington’s direct, secret give-and-take with Tehran.Hmmmm.....As i always said what did Obama and Erdogan promise Iran?Read the full story here.

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Lieutenant Commander: Iran Can Target All Enemy Bases in Region.

Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Lieutenant Commander: Iran Can Target All Enemy Bases in Region.(Fars)."Today, there is no base in the region lying outside the reach of the Iranian missiles," Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, addressing a ceremony held in honor of Martyr Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, known as the Father of Iran's missile industry. "Wherever you imagine these bases are, they are within the reach of Iranian missiles," Salami reiterated, noting the range, power and high precision-targeting capability of Iran's ground-to-ground, ground-to-air and ballistic missiles. Iran has made giant progress in arms production, specially in area of missile technology, in the last decade. Iran has been pushing an arms development program in recent years in a bid to reach self-sufficiency. Tehran launched its arms development program during the 1980-88 Iraqi imposed war on Iran, to compensate for a US weapons embargo. Since 1992, Iran has produced its own jet fighters and armored vehicles as well as radar-evading missiles and other high-tech weapons. Yet, Iranian officials have always stressed that the country's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country. Each year Iran displays part of its advancements in missile technology, but its Shahab 3 and Sejjil missiles have notably worried the Israeli regime. The liquid-fuel Shahab 3 missile has a range of up to 1,250 miles (2000 kilometers) and is capable of carrying a 1,000-760 kilogram warhead. But Sejjil, which is considered as the third generation of Iran-made long-range missiles, is a solid-fuel, two-stage missile with two engines. It is capable of reaching very high altitudes and therefore has a longer range than that of the Shahab 3 model. The missile has boosted the Islamic republic of Iran's defense capabilities. Yet, western military experts believe that half of Iran's missile capability is still unknown to the West, and that Tehran holds many aces up its sleeve.Hmmmm........Salami says this and that,  to me sounds like a lot of Baloney?Read the full story here.

"Who cares about 7,5 Million Jews?" - Solana's Advisor: Obama Seeking to Secure Reelection through Continued Talks with Iran

"Who cares about 7,5 Million Jews?" - Solana's Advisor: Obama Seeking to Secure Reelection through Continued Talks with Iran.(Fars).Tehran - A senior advisor to former EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, who headed the delegations of the world powers in talks with Tehran before Catherin Ashton, reiterated on Saturday that US President Barack Obama wants the world powers' talks with Iran to continue in a bid to harness oil prices to secure a win in the upcoming presidential election."The Americans' motive for negotiation is keeping the situation calm to prevent Israel's unsolicited moves that might upset the electoral process in the United States," Alastair Crooke told FNA on Saturday, adding that the US policy on negotiations with Iran is an extension of Obama's reelection campaign. Iran and the G5+1 held several rounds of talks in Baghdad on Wednesday and Thursday. The Baghdad meeting came after Iran and the six world powers resumed talks in Istanbul, Turkey, last month and agreed to meet again in the Iraqi capital on May 23. The two sides are due to continue their negotiations in the Russian capital, Moscow, on June 18 and 19. Crooke said the US policy of continued talks with Iran is also aimed at "stopping increasing tensions in the Middle-East resulting in escalation in oil prices". "I think the increase in oil prices has a direct impact on particularly American thinking because it affects so much the constituencies that he is trying to win in order to get success in the presidential election," he said, adding that this is why the US and the Obama administration are attempting to prevent any tension in the region. The standoff between Iran, the world's second-largest supplier of oil, and the West over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program has always been seen as a flashpoint that could sharply increase world crude prices. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had warned in April that crude oil prices may spike by up to 30 percent if Iranian supplies were disrupted by sanctions imposed by the US and EU over the country's nuclear program, causing "serious consequences" for the global economy. "Clearly it would be a shock to economies if there was a major shortage of exports of oil out of Iran, it would certainly drive up prices for a period of time," (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.Hmmmm.....Who cares about 7,5 Million Jews....As long as i get Reelected? Read the full story here.

U.S., German Researchers Reveal Date of Christ's Death trough analyzed seismic activity near the Dead Sea and the earthquakes’ descriptions in the New Testament.

U.S., German Researchers Reveal Date of Christ's Death trough analyzed seismic activity near the Dead Sea and the earthquakes’ descriptions in the New Testament.(RN).The U.S. and German geologists claim they had discovered the exact date when Christ was crucified, the International Geology Review reported. According to the report, published in the academic journal this week, the scientists discovered that Christ had been crucified on Friday, April 3, 33 AD. 
Jefferson Williams from the U.S. Supersonic Geophysical together with his German colleagues, Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer analyzed seismic activity near the Dead Sea and the earthquakes’ descriptions in the New Testament’s first book, Gospel of Matthew. Matthew’s Chapter 27 says that as Jesus lay dying on the cross “the earth did quake, and the rocks rent.” The scientists, who had detected the signs of two earthquakes in the soil samples from the Dead Sea, revealed that the latter earthquake had occurred between 26AD and 36AD, at the time when Pontius Pilate was procurator of Judea and when, as all four canonical gospels say, Jesus was crucified. By putting together several clues from the Gospel of Matthew, combined with the Jewish calendar and astronomical data, the researchers revealed the date of the crucifixion with a fair degree of precision, the journal said.Read the full story here.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be closed to the public at 6 a.m. on May 28 and will reopen at about 3:30 p.m. After President Obama's visit.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be closed to the public at 6 a.m. on May 28 and will reopen at about 3:30 p.m. After President Obama's visit.(VietnamWar50th).Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta will host the President at a ceremony on Monday, May 28, 2012, at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to thank and honor America’s Vietnam veterans on behalf of a grateful nation. This is a special event for invited guests including thousands of Vietnam veterans, their loved ones, Gold Star families and leadership from the military services, Cabinet and Congress. There will be a limited viewing area open to the general public. The Memorial Day ceremony marks the beginning of the national commemoration of the Vietnam War’s 50th anniversary program and is a joint effort between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the National Park Service and the Department of Defense. The event will include remarks, a moment of silence, music and ceremonial elements, and a flyover of military aircraft that will include helicopters and a B-52 bomber, will begin at 1 p.m. EDT. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, secretary of defense and Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, and other dignitaries are scheduled to speak. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be closed to the public at 6 a.m. on May 28 and will reopen after the ceremony concludes at about 3:30 p.m. Road closures will include Constitution from the Memorial Bridge to 15th Street, Henry Bacon Drive, and 23rd St. from Constitution to Independence. It is strongly suggested that visitors use public transportation. More information on road closures will be announced by the National Park Service. There is limited seating for the public (approx 3,000 seats) in the “Blue” seating area near The Wall. All guests must show photo ID and arrive no later than 12:30 p.m. to pass through security check points near 21st and Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C. No bottled water or food, no knives, no weapons of any type, no sharp metal objects such as nail files, etc. will be allowed past the security screening points. For more information visit it's all about the President.According to a new book, Obama got sick of shaking the troops’ hands while on a trip to Baghdad. He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me.Read the full statement Here.

House to examine plan for United Nations to regulate the Internet

House to examine plan for United Nations to regulate the Internet.(TheHill).House lawmakers will consider an international proposal next week to give the United Nations more control over the Internet. The proposal is backed by China, Russia, Brazil, India and other UN members, and would give the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) more control over the governance of the Internet.
It’s an unpopular idea with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress, and officials with the Obama administration have also criticized it. 
“We're quite concerned,” Larry Strickling, the head of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said n an interview with The Hill earlier this year. He said the measure would expose the Internet to “top-down regulation where's it's really the governments that are at the table but the rest of the stakeholders aren't.” At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also criticized the proposal. He said China and Russia are "not exactly bastions of internet freedom." "Any place that bans certain terms from search should not be a leader in international Internet regulatory frameworks," he said, adding that he will keep a close eye on the process.
Yet the proposal could come up for a vote at a UN conference in Dubai in December.The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology will hold the hearing and hear testimony from Robert McDowell, a Republican commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); David Gross, a former State Department official; and Sally Shipman Wentworth, the senior manager of public policy for the nonprofit Internet Society. The Internet is currently governed under a “multi-stakeholder” approach that gives power to a host of nonprofits, rather than governments. Strickling said that system brings more ideas and flexibility to Internet policymaking. “We lose that when we turn this over to a group of just governments,” Strickling said.
In an op-ed earlier this year in The Wall Street Journal, McDowell warned that “a top-down, centralized, international regulatory overlay is antithetical to the architecture of the Net.” “Productivity, rising living standards and the spread of freedom everywhere, but especially in the developing world, would grind to a halt as engineering and business decisions become politically paralyzed within a global regulatory body,” McDowell wrote. He said some governments feel excluded from Internet policymaking and want more control over the process. “And let's face it, strong-arm regimes are threatened by popular outcries for political freedom that are empowered by unfettered Internet connectivity,” McDowell wrote.Hmmmmm........We all know what happens with 'freedom restricting proposals' that Obama is 'against' they have tendency to get approved!Read the full story here.

Islamist Parties in Power: A Work in Progress.

Islamist Parties in Power: A Work in Progress.(Carnegie Middle East Center).By Marina Ottaway, Marwan Muasher.The success of Islamist parties in countries in transition is causing a lot of angst, both among secularists in the region and observers in the West. The questions raised tend to be stark, demanding absolute answers. Is there such a thing as a moderate Islamist party, or do they all aim at eventually setting up a full-fledged Islamic state? Do they accept the values of democracy, rather than simply the electoral process, as a means of gaining power? Would they surrender power if they ever gained control of the government? Would they uphold personal rights or attempt to mold society after their own values?
There are no absolute answers, as ongoing research on the transitions and a recent encounter in Washington between Carnegie scholars and representatives of Islamist parties from Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco suggest. (Parties from Libya and Jordan were also represented in the meeting, but their stances will not be discussed here—they are not in a position of power, and the problems they confront are still quite different).
These largely moderate Islamist parties seem to be evolving rapidly as they learn to navigate through the difficult politics and the uncertain democratic processes of their countries. They are truly works in progress, and their evolution will likely be affected the way secular parties and to a lesser extent the international community react to them.

Islamist parties appear to be truly national. There does not seem to be an overarching “Islamist International” to which they all belong, and they do not even seem to be in limited contact with each other. At the conference in particular, we felt that we knew more about them than they know about each other.

The Islamist parties that participated in the encounter—the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt, Ennahda in Tunisia, and the Party for Justice and Development (PJD) in Morocco—have common ideological roots in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928. The ideas propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood spread quickly to other countries in the Middle East, and organizations inspired by it arose throughout North Africa and the Levant. Despite the spread of the ideology, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood remained a national organization, deeply involved in domestic proselytizing and charitable activities, and in periodic clashes with successive regimes.
Muslim Brotherhood–inspired organizations in other countries always had a similar domestic focus. It is only among the more radical, violent groups that international networks developed, for example to recruit volunteers for jihad in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Conference discussions showed that this domestic focus is still very evident today. Though Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt, and Morocco—which are now in the government or at least in parliament—face similar policy issues, there is no indication that they are consulting with each other on how to address them, or that they are particularly interested in finding out what other parties are doing. Each party is wrapped up in the domestic problems and the specific political dynamics of its own country.
The issue of sharia illustrates the point. Whether or how the constitution should mention sharia is the hottest ideological issue that Arab countries in transition face. It looms large in the relationship between Islamists and secular parties and is a major cause of anxiety among the secularists. Each of the three parties has different solutions, very much rooted in the politics of its country.
In Morocco, where the new constitution was written by a commission appointed by the king, the PJD did not lobby for the inclusion of sharia in the text. Instead it accepted the definition of Morocco as a Muslim state and Islam as the religion of the state as good enough—though some PJD officials claim that they would have preferred language defining Morocco as a “civil state with an Islamic reference.” They supported freedom for other religions as well. Ennahda also decided to forego any mention of sharia, settling instead for the neutral language of the 1956 constitution that simply states that “Islam is [Tunisia’s] religion.”
In Egypt, however, where the constitution has not yet been written, sharia will certainly be prominently mentioned as a source of legislation. The simple reason is that all major parties and all presidential candidates support the idea explicitly in their platforms.

Islamist parties, with the partial exception of the Moroccan PJD, still show signs of their previous isolation, both within their own countries and internationally. Government repression and the policies of the United States and European countries forced them to stay in their own bubbles. Not all Islamist leaders at this point are familiar and comfortable with the world outside the bubble.

Domestically, Islamist movements and political parties have experienced long periods of repression, with many of their leaders exiled or imprisoned repeatedly or for long periods. For example, in Egypt, Khairat al-Shater, deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood, was imprisoned for a total of more than twelve years between 1992 and 2011, while FJP vice chairman Essam el-Erian spent the equivalent of eight years in jail between 1981 and 2010. In Tunisia, the current prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, spent a total of sixteen years in jail after 1990, ten of them in solitary confinement. Ennahda Chairman Rached Ghannouchi was imprisoned in 1981 and again in 1987 for a total of four years, spending another twenty-two years in exile.
The exception to this history of repression and isolation is the PJD in Morocco, which was allowed by the king to become an officially registered political party in 1992 and has operated legally and openly since then, gaining exposure to the rest of Moroccan society and the world. But the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was never granted official recognition nor was it allowed to form a political party until after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. While it found ways to participate in elections through deals with other political parties or through independent candidates, it could not function as a normal political organization. In Tunisia, Ennahda, then called the Islamic Tendency Movement, sought recognition as a political party in 1981 but was rejected, and in response to its growing popularity, many of its leaders were exiled or imprisoned. The organization only started functioning normally after the overthrow of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, becoming a legally registered party in March 2011.
The forced isolation imposed on Islamist parties in the past makes it difficult to interpret whether some of the positions that most upset secularists in these countries and outsiders are truly radical statements, to be taken literally, or the result of naïveté about how certain statements resonate outside the confines of the Islamist community. Examples abound: Prime Minister Jebali, apparently in an attempt to reassure his audience that Tunisia would move toward a bright future, talked about the coming of the sixth caliphate, leading many to question Ennahda’s moderation and its commitment to the Tunisian state. And some officials in both the Muslim Brotherhood and in Ennahda suggested at one point that tourists would have to abide by stricter rules about attire and alcohol consumption, only to beat a hasty retreat after tourist operators set them straight about the realities of the industry.There are even starker differences among Islamist parties concerning their focus on policy issues. Both the PJD and Ennahda are governing their countries, although in coalition with other parties. The PJD is focused on how to translate the principles contained in the new constitution into policies—and how to maintain its political support in doing so. Ennahda is focused on getting the constitution approved and devising an economic policy to address pressing problems of poverty and unemployment. Their concerns are immediate and practical.
By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood and the FJP have not really begun to focus on policy issues, reflecting the political situation in Egypt, where the fundamental issue of the allocation of power among the military, an Islamist-dominated parliament, and a soon-to-be-elected president is still unresolved.
Islamist parties face mobilized populations in their own countries and need to take the views of the public into consideration. The possibility that Islamist parties will simply cancel elections in the future to perpetuate their position appears unfounded, the result of fear rather than a realistic possibility.
Read the full story here.

A US think tank 'Institute for Science and International Security'says that if Iran keeps enriching uranium, it will have enough for five bombs.

A US think tank 'Institute for Science and International Security' says that if Iran keeps enriching uranium, it will have enough for five bombs.(JPost).VIENNA - Iran has significantly stepped up its output of low-enriched uranium and total production in the last five years, which would be enough for at least five nuclear weapons if refined much further, a US security institute said. The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a think-tank which closely tracks Iran's nuclear program, made the analysis on the basis of data in the latest quarterly UN watchdog report which was issued on Friday.Progress in Iran's nuclear activities is closely watched by the West and Israel as it could determine how long it could take Tehran to build atomic bombs, if it decided to do so. Iran denies any plan to and says its aims are entirely peaceful. During talks in Baghdad this week, six world powers failed to convince Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program.
They will meet again in Moscow next month to try to defuse a decade-old standoff that has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East that could disrupt oil supplies.Friday's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a Vienna-based UN body, showed Iran pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment work in defiance of UN resolutions calling on it to suspend the activity. It said Iran had produced almost 6.2 tonnes of uranium enriched to a level of 3.5 percent since it began the work in 2007 - some of which has subsequently been further processed into higher-grade material. This is nearly 750 kg more than in the previous IAEA report issued in February, and ISIS said Iran's monthly production had risen by roughly a third. 
"This total amount of 3.5 percent low enriched uranium hexafluoride, if further enriched to weapon grade, is enough to make over five nuclear weapons," ISIS said in its analysis. It added, however, that some of Iran's higher-grade uranium had been converted into reactor fuel and would not be available for nuclear weapons, at least not quickly.Hmmmmmm......"Time is on my side".Read the full story here.

Obama Mistakenly Mentions THREE TIMES ‘My Sons,'

Obama Mistakenly Mentions THREE TIMES ‘My Sons,'.(InfidelBloggers -MFS).From this source, dated May 25, 2012: Obama Twice Mistakenly Mentions ‘My Sons,' While Defending Contraception Mandate In two campaign speeches over the last two days, President Barack Obama has twice mistakenly mentioned “my sons” when defending his administration’s regulation requiring virtually all health-care plans in the United States to provide women, without any fees or co-pay, with sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including those that can cause abortions...Hmmmm......Flashback Jan 12 2012..........Obama has sons?
(Politico).The Washington Post's Al Kamen catches this nugget in President Obama's address to supporters yesterday in Chicago: “The first bill I signed — a bill that said that we’re going to have equal pay for equal work because I want my daughters treated the same way as my sons.

It's not the first time that a rhetorical hypothetical has tripped up the president, as when a "Muslim faith" reference was taken wildly out of context.Read the full story here.

And According to a new book, Obama got sick of shaking the troops’ hands while on a trip to Baghdad. Via BuzzFeed:

He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me.

Look, I was excited to meet him. I wanted to like him. Let’s just say the scales fell from my eyes after I did. These are people over here who’ve been fighting the war, or working every day for the war effort, and he didn’t want to take fucking pictures with them?Source.Hmmmm.....Makes you wonder doesn't it?Read the full story here.

Egyptian-American writer Nonie Darwish analyzes failure of Arab revolutions.

Egyptian-American writer Nonie Darwish analyzes failure of Arab revolutions.(AA).Revolutions in the Arab world have always been a failure and Arabs should first contemplate why they are ruled by dictators before staging a revolution, Egyptian-American pro-Israeli writer Nonie Darwish said. “My new book, entitled ‘The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East,’ tackles this issue,” she told Al Arabiya’s weekly show of Noqtat Nezam (Point of Order) on Friday. Darwish, born Nahed Mustafa Hafez Darwish, explained that by the “dark side” she meant the reasons that led to the failure of all revolutions in the Arab world since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. “To answer this question, I pose other questions like why the Arab world is ruled by dictators in the first place and whether it is the dictators’ problem or that of the system of governance itself. Do we dare to ask ourselves these questions?” Darwish explained that the “failure” of Arab Spring revolutions is similar to that of the July 1952 revolution in Egypt which overthrew the monarchy and established the Arab Republic of Egypt. “The officers who staged the 1952 revolutions were from the Muslim Brotherhood, but members of the Brotherhood turned against them when they did not apply Islamic laws so they tried to kill Gamal Abdel Nasser and then killed Anwar Sadat.”
For Darwish, the same scenario is possible now since Egyptians might try to overthrow any elected president who does not apply Islamic laws. “Egyptians have to respect the result of the elections no matter what kind of president it will bring, but will this happen?
Darwish said that she was disappointed not to see banners in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the Egyptian revolution, calling for the separation of state and religion. “Nobody called for the removal of Article Two of the Constitution which states that Islamic laws are the main source of legislation.
For Darwish, the Egyptian people have the right to vote in a referendum about this article, but they have to be careful that if they choose to it keep they should no longer complain of dictatorship and lack of freedom of expression. “If religion is identified with the state, you will never be able to criticize the state and no laws will be above religious laws.
Darwish argued that Islamists are held accountable for the wave of Islamophobia sweeping Europe and the United States. “Several Islamist groups in the West call for applying Islamic laws in the countries they live in and this makes people fear Islam.” Darwish pointed out that the United States is home to a variety of ethnic and religious groups and none of them call for applying their own laws or religious teachings. “Why should Muslims in particular be an exception and demand that their laws be applied?”Darwish noted that even though she is against acts that aim at deriding Islam like calls by Florida pastor John Terry to burn the Quran, she still finds them a reaction to actions seen as “provocative” by Islamists. “The Quran burning initiative came after several Muslims stepped on the American flag in New York and called for implementing Islamic laws.”Hmmmm........"The Devil We Do Know".Read the full story here.

US prepares for civil war and WW III.

US prepares for civil war and WW III.(TheNation).By Mujahid Kamran.The cabal of international banking families that controls the US and the UK by controlling their money-line through privately owned central banks, the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve System, and by utilising the subversive services of secret and overt societies and bodies established and funded by them, is rapidly taking mankind to the third, and presumably the final, world war.
Their objective is the establishment of a global dictatorship under their iron control and they are not willing to back off one inch from the target set by them over a couple of centuries ago. In order to achieve their target, they have passed laws that have done away with civil liberties and freedom of speech in the Western countries.
Simultaneously, they are destroying the middle class of the US and other advanced countries because it is the middle class that fight for values of freedom of speech and expression. Religious faith has been on their hit list for decades because religion makes people strong and gives them the ability to resist dictators. Ironically, it is the middle class that has been, through its creativity, the source of most power that is now in the hands of this elite. In the US, over eight million homes have been foreclosed since 2007, driving tens of millions out into tent cities or streets, leading vagabond lives. The number of foreclosed homes is expected to rise to 10 million by the end of 2012. This tragedy in which tens of millions have been rendered homeless and hungry by design is unreported by the mainstream media. The great propaganda organs of the elite, like New York Times and Fox News, are silent! The editors and reporters know who owns them and pays them. They can concoct, distort and merge fact and fiction without batting an eyelid! In this propagation of falsehood, they have the guidance of the most sophisticated scientific institutes. All they want to do is to frighten people and raise war hysteria, so that the agenda for dictatorship at home and war abroad can be pursued.
It has been reported that recently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of the USA has placed an order for 450 million bullets, enough for a seven-year war! These bullets, purchased at the expense of US taxpayers, will be used to quell hungry and rioting masses. Some of the riots will be incited by the agencies. This will be done under the command of the banking cabal so as to unleash repressive measures after confusing the public. The bullets ordered are “hollow point” bullets that offer “optimum penetration for terminal procedures.” The US Ambassador to Israel has recently stated that the plans to attack Iran had been completed. The Congress is considering legislation that has a clause, whereby the US may attack Iran if it achieves nuclear “capability”. The word “capability” is vague and once the legislation is passed, the road to attack in Iran will be open - regardless of whether or not it becomes a nuclear power.
It has also been reported that Russia anticipates an attack on Iran during the current year and has drawn plans to move its troops to Iran through Georgia to Armenia. The former Russian Ambassador to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, has clearly stated that an attack on Iran “is a direct threat to our security.” China has already said that it might have to wage war to save Iran. 
On May 7, 2012, it was reported that President Dmitry Medvedev had stated that Russia will retaliate militarily if does not arrive at any agreement with the US and Nato on the Missile Defence Shield being erected near its borders. General Nikolai Makarov, the Russian Chief of General Staff, was quoted as having stated: “A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens.”
On May 14, 2012, it was reported that Mr Putin has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Obama and has announced that he will not attend the G-8 Summit. The announcement was made after an Obama security aide told Putin that the “the world may be about to end.” This is, obviously, a veiled threat of a world war. In a tit for tat, it was announced that Obama would not attend the annual Asia-Pacific Summit being held in Vladivostok in September 2012. It is clear that the controllers of the US are determined to attack Iran come what may and this will mean the inevitable involvement of Russia and China in the conflict. This conflict is not likely to end quickly, nor will anyone be able to control the outcome. Russia and China cannot sit idly by and let the ‘controllers’ capture every major energy resource and cripple them. The writer is the vice chancellor of the University of the Punjab.Read the full story here.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Overnight Music video - Vangelis - 1492 Conquest of Paradise

"OBAMANOMICS" - The New Math of Renewable Energy: $50 = $100.

"OBAMANOMICS" - The New Math of Renewable Energy: $50 = $100.(Heritage).Suppose you could produce $50 of electricity but it cost you $100 to do so. Would that make any sense? It would if you work at the White House. In a speech at a wind-turbine blade manufacturer in Iowa, President Obama called for extending two sets of subsidies that turn energy economics upside down and force higher costs on consumers and taxpayers. The first extension is for the production tax credit (PTC), which is set to expire at the end of the year. It provides wind-energy producers with a subsidy of about 40 percent of the wholesale cost of electricity. So, when a wind-energy producer sells $50 worth of electricity, Uncle Sam adds another $20 for a total revenue of $70 to the producer. The second extension is for the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Credit—originally funded in President Obama’s “stimulus” bill. This 30 percent credit cuts the cost of $100 worth of equipment to just $70. So there you have it. Fifty dollars of actual revenue is bumped up to $70 with the PTC and $100 of costs are cut to $70 after the special tax credit. That is, $50 = $100 after taxpayers make up the difference. When wind-energy advocates claim that wind power is on the verge of being competitive, they mean that after the PTC and the manufacturing credit, wind is almost, maybe someday soon, or maybe later (and only if you ignore transmission costs and fickleness of supply problems) on par with conventional power. What a deal. Perhaps not all of the costs of the wind farm will qualify for the manufacturing credit, but don’t despair. There is more. Many states and regions have renewable power mandates that force consumers to buy renewable electricity—regardless of costs. So there is almost no limit to how expensive renewable electricity can be and still generate a profit for the supplier. And even that’s not all. Many renewable energy projects and manufacturers receive federal loan guarantees that cut millions of dollars off their costs. In green-energy math, $50 may be greater than $100. No matter how slick the financial shell games may be—subsidies on top of subsidies on top of mandates—overpriced electricity cannot boost the economy. It may seem like a boost if you are the one getting the subsidy…at least for a while. The workers at the Iowa plant better hope their presidential green-energy photo op works out better for them than it did for Solyndra’s employees.Hmmmm.......'Snake oil' business.Read the full story here.

Video - Matthew Vadum joins Ezra Levant to outline the ties between the Tides Foundation and convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin.

HT: EzraLevant.

Priest Removed From Ministry Due To Sex Abuse Allegations Now Works as TSA Supervisor At Philadelphia International Airport.

Priest Removed From Ministry Due To Sex Abuse Allegations Now Works as TSA Supervisor At Philadelphia International Airport.(CBS).By Ben Simmoneau.PHILADELPHIA – The CBS 3 I-Team has learned that a Catholic priest who was removed from the ministry over sex abuse allegations now holds a sensitive security post at Philadelphia International Airport. The security checkpoint between Terminals D and E is a busy place where thousands of people – including lots of kids – pass through every day. But you might not believe who the I-Team observed working as a TSA supervisor at that checkpoint this week: Thomas Harkins. Until 2002, Harkins was a Catholic priest working at churches across South Jersey. But the Diocese of Camden removed him from ministry because it found he sexually abused two young girls. Now, in a new lawsuit, a third woman is claiming she also is one of Harkins’ victims. The I-Team asked Harkins about the suit as he was leaving his shift at the airport. “I have nothing to say,” was Harkins’ reply.A TSA official tells the I-Team Harkins’ title is “Transportation Security Manager, Baggage,” meaning he deals mostly with luggage, not passengers. “Sure, that’s his title,” Polesir said. “That doesn’t mean that’s where he stays, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fill other roles when necessary.”Read and see (Video)the full story here.

Hurrah! It’s Everybody Blog About #BrettKimberlin Day.

Hurrah! It’s Everybody Blog About #BrettKimberlin Day.(BookwormRoom).Brett Kimberlin is not a nice person. Indeed, he’s a singularly un-nice person and one who, sadly, has a huge war chest. I’ll let Robert Stacy McCain explain:
Kimberlin was convicted of multiple federal felonies in 1981 and sentenced to 50 years in prison after he terrorized a small Indiana town in a brutal crime weeklong bombing spree. Law enforcement officials told the Indianapolis Star they believed the bombings were committed in an attempt to distract authorities investigating the 1978 murder of a 65-year-old grandmother, a crime in which Kimberlin was a suspect.
In recent months, Kimberlin has used a strategy of legal intimidation and workplace harassment in an apparent attempt to silence his critics, including blogger Seth Allen, Virginia attorney Aaron Walker and Los Angeles deputy district attorney Patrick Frey.
Convicted of drug smuggling and forging documents as well as numerous violent felonies, Kimberlin claims to have ceased his lifelong criminal career after being released from federal prison in 2000. Yet his habitual dishonesty – Kimberlin was first convicted of perjury at age 18 – appears unchanged. As recently as 2007, Time magazine reported that Kimberlin was gaining notoriety on progressive blog sites by “repeatedly asserting as fact things that are not true.” According to Walker, Kimberlin falsely accused him of assault after a courthouse encounter in which Kimberlin attempted to photograph Walker in violation of court policy. Walker says Maryland officials have refused to investigate his complaints of criminal actions by Kimberlin, and has asked his blog readers to contact those officials to demand action:
Attorney for Montgomery County
50 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor
Rockville, Maryland 20850 240-777-7300
In far-Leftist land, though, being an unrepentant criminal convicted of violent crimes just isn’t that big a deal. As McCain explains, Kimberlin is “employed as the director of a 501(c)3 non-profit that has collected $1.8 million in contributions since 2005.” Indeed, Kimberlin has a lot of interesting contacts:
Kimberlin is a known associate of Neal Rauhauser, a Democrat campaign consultant who has described himself as a computer “hacker.” Kimberlin, director of the tax-exempt Justice Through Music Project, is also involved in another tax-exempt group, Velvet Revolution, which has gained national attention by demanding criminal prosecution of high-profile figures including Republican strategist Karl Rove, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, and the late Internet news entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart.
For many people, that would be a lifetime and a half of criminal behavior and sleazy associations. For Kimberlin, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. He’s lately embarked upon a full-time career of harassing, both legally and illegally, those conservatives writers who have had the temerity to repeat the verified facts about his unsavory life. Michelle Malkin explains:
Over the past year, Aaron Walker (who blogged as “Aaron Worthing”), Patterico, Liberty Chick, and now Stacy McCain have been targeted by convicted Speedway bomber Brett Kimberlin because they dared to mention his criminal past or assisted others who did. The late Andrew Breitbart warned about Kimberlin and company.
This is a convoluted, ongoing nightmare that combines abuse of the court system, workplace intimidation, serial invasions of privacy, perjury, and harassment of family members. McCain was forced to move with his family out of his house this week, and has just gotten a small taste of what Aaron and Patterico have been enduring over the past year. Aaron and his wife were fired from their jobs after their employer feared the office would be targeted next. Convicted bomber Kimberlin has filed bogus “peace orders” against Aaron, when it is the Walkers who are the victims, not the perpetrators.
And Patterico’s plight will send chills up your spine when he is ready to tell it.
Institutional inertia, incompetence, and apathy among law enforcement officials on both coasts have exacerbated the victims’ suffering. It has moved far beyond a partisan or political story to a bottomless, Kafka-esque morass. And, via investigative journalist Matthew Vadum, it certainly doesn’t help that “progressive,” left-wing foundations that have funded Kimberlin continue to look the other way.
When faced with this situation — a criminally vindictive vexatious litigant with a violent history, a full purse, and a legal system that refuses to act — there’s only one thing to do: make it practically and financially impossible for the bad guy to continue his damaging ways. If Kimberlin wants to go after bloggers, we’ll give him bloggers . . . hundreds of bloggers. Good luck to him trying to turn his efforts and energies, as well as his friends’ deep pockets, to the task of silencing every one of the individuals willing to re-print his record of lawlessness, imprisonment, harassment, and abuse of the civil justice system.
Welcome to the Blogburst of all Blogbursts! If you haven’t joined in the May 25, 2012 “Everybody Blog About Brett Kimberlin” party, what are you waiting for? This is the place where the elite meet and where the witty play. It is the ultimate venue for those committed to free speech, justice, honor, and the strength that comes from many individuals joining together.Read the full story here.

Did Muhammad Exist?An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins

Did Muhammad Exist?An Inquiry into Islam's Obscure Origins.(MiddleEastForum).By Robert Spencer
ISI Books, 2012. 254 pp. $27.95

Reviewed by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Go to a high-street or online bookstore, and one can find numerous biographies written about Muhammad -- the reputed founder of Islam -- by the likes of Karen Armstrong and Tariq Ramadan. These works -- generally apologetic in nature -- wholly rely on the traditional Islamic accounts of the Prophet's life, and if they ever delve into the question of the reliability of those sources, it is only in the hope of explaining away incidents in Muhammad's life that might come across as unsavory to modern readers.
Such an approach, however, simply will not do for genuine historical research. One cannot adopt a pick-and-mix method to determining what aspects of Muhammad's life actually occurred on moralistic grounds. It is in this respect that Robert Spencer's latest book differs from the writings of Armstrong and Ramadan.
Without indulging in polemics or pushing a partisan political agenda, the author simply investigates the question of whether we can really trust the traditional Islamic accounts for the life of Muhammad and the supposed early days of Islam during the Arab conquests.
To be sure, serious scholarship on Islamic historiography dates back to the latter half of the 19th century -- with the works of the Belgian Jesuit Henri Lammens and the acclaimed Geschichte des Qorans by Theodor Noldeke, to name just two pioneers of the field -- and Spencer makes no pretense to originality.
Yet a traditional problem with Islamic historiography has been the intended audience: that is, the academic specialist assumed to have extensive background knowledge, rather than the general reader. Thus, Spencer's book serves a useful purpose, for it flows nicely while providing the reader with a firm grounding for delving deeper into the subject. Indeed, the author provides a handy "Further Reading List" (pp. 239-40) for anyone interested in consulting specialist works. Spencer also deserves credit for integrating his sources nicely into his writing, avoiding the practice of simply quoting verbatim large chunks from other authors.
SO WHAT ARE THE MAIN arguments against the historicity of the traditional Islamic accounts of Muhammad's life and the subsequent rise of Islam through the Arab conquests?
To begin with, contemporary non-Muslim sources of the 7th century do not corroborate the canonical story. For example, the Doctrina Jacobi (a document dating to 634-40 CE and probably written by a Christian living in Palestine; p. 20), an account of the Arab conquest of Jerusalem by Sophronius -- the patriarch who is said to have surrendered the city in 637 -- and a letter written in 647 by the patriarch of Seleucia make no reference to the Arab conquerors as Muslims, or show any awareness of a religion called Islam.
The earliest account that can reliably be taken to refer to Muhammad is a chronicle by the Armenian bishop Sebeos, dating either to the 660s or 670s but containing material that sharply diverges from the traditional Islamic accounts: thus he has Muhammad "insisting on the Jews' right to the Holy Land -- even if in the context of claiming that land for the Ishmaelites, acting in conjunction with the Jews" (p. 32).
Only by around 730 CE, nearly one hundred years after Muhammad's death in 632 CE according to the canonical story, do we see an account by John of Damascus make detailed reference to parts of the Qur'an, but even then he does not name the Qur'an or allude to the existence of a complete holy book for those he calls "Hagarians," "Ishmaelites" or "Saracens" (but not Muslims).
Instead, we have reference to Qur'anic chapter titles like "The Women" (this is the fourth Sura of the Qur'an today), implying that he was drawing on fragments of text that were later incorporated into the Qur'an.
Arabic epigraphic evidence from the 7th century similarly fails to validate the canonical account. An inscription attributed to the first Umayyad caliph -- Muawiya -- in 677 or 678 CE makes reference to belief in God but gives no indication of belief in Muhammad as his messenger or the Qur'an as revealed scripture.
On coins from this period, we do find the word "Muhammad" inscribed, but curiously the inscription comes under kingly figures bearing a cross, a symbol of Christianity that is totally antithetical to traditional Islam (pp. 43-4).
Bearing in mind that "Muhammad" can also mean "the chosen/praised one," the coins could well be conveying the idea that the ruler is praised or chosen in God's name (p. 45). Alternatively, they could be referring to Jesus -- at a time when the religion of the Arab conquerors was still a vague monotheism -- or a proto-Muhammad figure still very much unlike the man depicted in the traditional accounts of his life.
Even the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock -- completed in 691 CE and often thought to be the first elaborations on traditional Islamic theology -- could be referring to Jesus, explaining how he ("Muhammad") is a mere messenger and not divine as orthodox Christianity held (pp. 56-7).
IT IS ONLY TOWARDS the middle of the 8th century (735 CE onwards) that we begin to see very clear epigraphic evidence referring to Muhammad as we know him from the Ahadith (plural of hadith) and Sira (pp. 61-2). This observation leads nicely to an examination of the reliability of biographical material from the Ahadith and Sira concerning the sunna (i.e. example) of Muhammad. The centrality of the Ahadith and Sira in interpreting various Qur'anic verses, whose meaning would otherwise be entirely obscure, cannot be overstated.
However, as Spencer points out, it is notable that the invocation of Muhammad's example begins with the same caliph who had the Dome of the Rock built and issued the first coins invoking Muhammad as the Prophet of God: Abd al-Malik (p. 69), whose successors would do likewise.
Since Muhammad now became such an important figure as a paragon of moral virtue, there naturally arose a need for people to know what the Prophet said and did in various matters of life. The Ahadith in particular then became political weapons, liable to be completely fabricated. Even in the first half of the 8th century, one Islamic scholar wrote that the "emirs forced people to write hadiths" (p. 71).
Factionalism is an especially noteworthy phenomenon here behind the invention of Ahadith.
For example, in the midst of the dispute between the followers of the caliph Muawiya, who Shi'a believe usurped the place of Ali's son and designated successor Husayn, and Ali's followers who would later become the Shi'a, a hadith arose in which Muhammad declared that Ali's father was burning in hellfire (p. 73), while Ali's partisans invented a hadith in which Muhammad declared, "I go to war for the recognition of the Qur'an and Ali will fight for the interpretation of the Qur'an."
It is little surprise that in light of all these disputes, the Ahadith are riddled with contradictions.
To be sure, Muslim scholars did try to devise criteria by which to separate forgeries from Ahadith they deemed to be authentic: for instance, how well a hadith is in accordance with the Qur'an. Yet however reasonable such a criterion may be, "it doesn't get us any closer to what Muhammad actually said and did" (p. 81).
Another devised standard was the supposed reliability of an isnad (chain of oral transmission from the Prophet to the narrator), but this is even more dubious.
While Arabia may well have had "an established practice of memorizing poetry" (p. 84), the Ahadith are not pieces of poetry, and in any event must have been plagued by "embellishment, clarification, or alteration of any kind until the hadiths were finally collected and written down in the ninth century" (p. 85).
In fact, I would add that even if we suppose that we are dealing with poetry in an oral culture, it is erroneous to think that oral poets can transmit verses with perfect recall, word-for-word. Oral poetry is constantly subject to reworking and improvisation.
Hence, for example, the Iliad and the Odyssey were certainly not transmitted through generations of oral poets until they were finally written down. Rather, we understand each of these epics to be the work of a single poet, who would have picked up numerous "formulaic phrases" and stories and then improvised and reworked his material numerous times, while striving for an artistic structure.
In all probability, the poet had his work dictated to a scribe. If the Iliad and Odyssey were subsequently memorized wholesale by bards, the bards were working from written texts, not via oral transmission of the poems.
If the Ahadith cannot be taken as a reliable guide to what Muhammad said and did, then what are we to make of Ibn Ishaq's Sira? It is often noted that Ibn Ishaq's biography, which does not in fact survive intact and is only partially preserved by later transmitters, dates over 100 years after Muhammad's death in 632 CE. Tradition tells of earlier historians, but their purported works have not survived and little is known about their lives.
That Ishaq's work dates so long after the time in which Muhammad supposedly lived is not proof of the Sira's unreliability, but the fact is that Ibn Ishaq would undoubtedly have been working from oral material that would have been embellished and fabricated.
Many of the stories transmitted by Ibn Ishaq would have been tailored to convince the audience that Muhammad was a prophet of God, hence tales of Christians already recognizing him as a prophet in his youth before his prophetic career began (p. 96).
NOW COMES A CRUCIAL PART of the book. One of the key reasons many critics of Islam think that the traditional accounts of Muhammad's life are rooted in historical reality is the argument from embarrassment: that is, Muhammad is presented as doing things that might be deemed abhorrent to pious sensibilities. Ibn Hisham states that his own transmission of Ibn Ishaq's work omits "things which it is disgraceful to discuss" (p. 88).
Even in the traditional accounts, there are still events recounted that have embarrassed Muslim apologists of the modern era: perhaps most notably, Muhammad's marriage to his daughter-in-law Zaynab.
Yet as Spencer notes, "what constitutes a negative depiction is not necessarily constant from age to age and culture to culture" (p. 111). This is certainly true, for example, of the tradition that Aisha married Muhammad when she was six and consummated the marriage with him when she was nine: no one in the traditional accounts is shown having a problem with this betrothal (p. 112).
In any case, Spencer shows that the Zaynab incident is likely to have been a much later invention to explain the fact that there is an apparent doctrine in the Qur'an of a "prophetic bloodline": that is, "the prophetic office is handed down from father to son" (p. 115).
Since Muhammad is regarded as the final prophet, it had to be emphasized that he did not have any sons -- biological or adopted -- who reached puberty. Thus, the status of Zayd as Muhammad's adopted son had to be marginalized, hence the attendant Qur'anic doctrine delegitimizing adoption (Qur'an 33:4) and the emphasis that "Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men" (Qur'an 33:40).
Nevertheless, if the Sira and Ahadith are unreliable, the question arises of where the Qur'an came from. A superficial reading -- noting the consistent message of uncompromising monotheism -- might suggest that the book is the work of a single author.
On closer examination, however, there are good grounds to hypothesize that the Qur'an developed over the 7th and 8th centuries in the religious and cultural milieu of the Arab conquests, rather than just within Arabia itself during Muhammad's purported lifetime (570-632 CE).
For one thing, the Qur'an displays a lack of careful organization: frequently there is an abrupt shift in subject matter and grammatical persons, suggesting at the minimum a rather clumsy process of redaction.
Islamic tradition itself hints at early losses of parts of the Qur'an, with one hadith as follows: "Let none of you say, 'I have acquired the whole of the Qur'an.' How does he know what all of it is when much of the Qur'an has disappeared? Rather let him say, 'I have acquired what has survived'" (p. 137).
Also of interest here is the Qur'an's repeated emphasis that it is a work of "pure" Arabic. This could only be in response to claims that the Qur'an was not wholly Arabic. Indeed, there is evidence of a substantial non-Arabic substrate, as evinced by numerous loan words in both religious and cultural vocabulary. Even the word for God -- Allah -- is thought to derive from Syriac (p. 156).
What follows in Spencer's book is a nicely summarized exposition of the arguments of recent scholars like Christoph Luxenberg who have theorized that the Qur'an was originally -- at least in part -- a Syriac Christian liturgical text. This hypothesis does explain many of the linguistic obscurities of the Qur'an.
I am still unsure what to make of this theory, but even if we suppose a text wholly derived from Arabic oral traditions, the canonical accounts of the Qur'an's origins are not vindicated, for reasons outlined above in this review as regards oral transmission and poetry.
In light of this research vis-à-vis the Qur'an, taken together with the fact that the conquered peoples had no idea of the existence of a Muslim holy book in the mid-7th century, it seems unlikely that the third caliph -- Uthman (579-656 CE) -- was responsible for the compilation and distribution of the Qur'an as we know it today, despite the claims of Muslim orthodoxy.
There are reputed Qur'anic manuscripts dating back to the 7th century, but since they lack the diacritical marks that are integral to the Arabic alphabet, we cannot tell whether they were written as the Qur'an in the first place, or separate documents later adapted as part of the Qur'an (p. 192). There is also no complete Qur'an dating from the first century of the Arab conquests.
Moreover, it is possible that the Qur'an's second and longest sura (chapter) was originally a separate book. As late as 730 CE, John of Damascus referred to the "text of the Cow" (p. 196: "The Cow" being the name of the Qur'an's second sura), implying it was a separate text, which in turn suggests that the Qur'an "was not yet fixed in its present form" even towards the mid-8th century (p. 197). It was noted earlier that the first caliph to invoke Muhammad as a messenger of God was Abd al-Malik.
Thus, "from the historical records available to us, it makes sense that the Qur'an was not collected until Abd al-Malik's reign" (p. 197), as part of a collaborative effort between Abd al-Malik and Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, the governor of Iraq (661-714 CE). The work of Hajjaj in collecting the Qur'an is in fact attested in many Ahadith. The compilation was then traced back to Uthman in an attempt to give the project an authentic feel.
From all these findings, the most plausible conclusion to draw is that Islam as we know it emerged over a protracted period between the 7th and 8th centuries, developed in such a way as to (i) unify the vast empire created by the Arab conquests that conquered a vast amount of territory (stretching from Spain to Sindh by 750 CE) and (ii) justify the expansionism.
This "imperial theology" (to borrow Spencer's term; p. 208) was based on a monotheism that perhaps was more tolerant towards Judaism and Christianity in its very early days (hence Qur'anic verses such as 2:62 that include Jews, Christians and Sabaeans in the fold of salvation; p. 209). Yet from the end of the 7th century onwards, Islam takes on a much more distinct identity, with a separate prophet and holy book, supplanting Judaism and Christianity.
SPENCER'S EXPLANATION FOR THE ORIGINS and development of early Islam is significantly corroborated by analogy with the rise of the Roman imperial cult after Augustus' creation of the Principate.
Needing to hold the Roman state together with concentration of power in his hands, he made much of the reputed divine descent of his family line (the Julian line), and commissioned Virgil to write an epic celebrating the founding of the Roman race by his supposed ancestor Aeneas. In the same way, we have Muhammad as the founder of Islam and the Muslim ummah. For the first time, we see a coherent and emphatic articulation of an expansionist outlook:
tu regere imperio populos, Romane, memento
(hae tibi erunt artes), pacique imponere morem,
 parcere subiectis et debellare superbos
Remember, Roman, to rule the peoples with your power (these will be your skills), to impose mos on peace, to spare the subdued and war down the proud' -- Aeneid 6.851-3.
Here we have ideas that closely parallel Islamic expansionism in the concept of jihad, as articulated in the classical theology that developed from Muhammad's life and example as a warrior prophet: the notion of establishing peace through warfare and bringing civilization to the subdued.
Though the above lines are instructions from Aeneas' father Anchises to the hero, they have the force of emphasizing the Romans' destiny. The divine mandate to rule the world is corroborated by the chief god Jupiter's famous saying: "imperium sine fine dedi" ('I have given empire without end' -- Aeneid 1.279). Like Mohammed, Aeneas engages in fierce warfare, becoming master of Latium in central Italy.
While the Aeneid's borrowings from earlier epics are apparent, the text also drew on the value system promoted by Augustus and his inner circle (in particular Maecenas) that drew on Stoicism. Thus, the poem had a paradigmatic function, becoming a virtual school-text for Roman boys, and Aeneas himself soon became an idealized figure in the same way that Muhammad came to be seen as a moral paragon among Muslims.
The point of this comparison is not to say that the Arab conquerors borrowed ideas of expansionism and the like from the Romans (they didn't), but rather that Spencer's explanation of the rise of Islam should not be implausible from a historical perspective. It is therefore hardly shocking that Islam was bound with politics from the beginning (p. 214).
As for the question of Muhammad's existence, Spencer gives a concise answer to round off his book: "the full truth of whether a prophet named Muhammad lived in seventh-century Arabia, and if he did, what sort of a man he was, may never be known" (p. 216), but for too long, the topic of Islamic historiography has been confined to highly specialized academia, with the growing problem of Islamist intimidation.
Thus, an accessible primer on the subject as we have here is most welcome. In addition, the project of translating this book into Arabic is to be commended.
In the years to come, it would be good to see Spencer's book prescribed as introductory reading for courses on Islam in schools and universities. I myself have taken the step of donating his book to Brasenose College's library, and hope that others will similarly distribute the work upon reading it.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University, and an adjunct fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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UN nuclear agency finds ‘higher enrichment’ at Iranian site.

UN nuclear agency finds ‘higher enrichment’ at Iranian site.(Yahoo).VIENNA (AP) — The U.N. atomic agency has found evidence at an underground bunker in Iran that could mean the country has moved closer to producing the uranium threshold needed to arm nuclear missiles, diplomats said Friday. The International Atomic Energy Agency has found traces of uranium enriched up to 27 percent at Iran's Fordo enrichment plant, the diplomats told The Associated Press. That is still substantially below the 90-percent level needed to make the fissile core of nuclear arms. But it is above Iran's highest-known enrichment grade, which is close to 20 percent, and which already can be turned into weapons-grade material much more quickly than the Islamic Republic's main stockpile, which can only be used for fuel at around 3.5 percent. The diplomats — who demanded anonymity because their information is privileged — said the find did not necessarily mean that Iran was covertly raising its enrichment threshold toward weapons-grade level. They said one likely explanation was that the centrifuges that produce enriched uranium initially over-enriched at the start as technicians adjusted their output. Calls to Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, were rejected and the switchboard operator at the Iranian mission said he was not available. IAEA media officials said the agency had no comment.Iran went into Wednesday's talks urging the West to scale back on recently toughened sanctions, which have targeted Iran's critical oil exports and have effectively blackballed the country from international banking networks. The 27-nation European Union is set to ban all Iranian fuel imports on July 1, shutting the door on about 18 percent of Iran's market. The diplomats said a confidential IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program to be released later Friday to the agency's 35-nation board will mention of the traces of 27-percent enrichment found at Fordo. Iran already has around 700 centrifuges churning out 20-percent enriched uranium at Fordo. The diplomats said the report will also note that — while Iran has set up around 350 more centrifuges since late last year, at the site — these machines are not enriching.While the reason for that could be purely technical, it could also serve as a signal from Tehran that it is waiting for progress in the negotiations.Hmmmm......."Time is on my side......Yes it is."Read the full story here.

Senate Panel Cuts Off Navy’s Biofuel Buys, also sinks a half-billion dollar program to shore up a tottering biofuels industry

Senate Panel Cuts Off Navy’s Biofuel Buys, also sinks a half-billion dollar program to shore up a tottering biofuels industry.(Wired).The Navy’s ambitious renewable energy plans aren’t sunk quite yet. But they took a major hit Thursday, when the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to all-but-ban the military from buying alternative fuels.
The House Armed Services Committee passed a similar measure earlier this month. But the House is controlled by Republicans, who are generally skeptical of alternative energy efforts. Democrats are in charge of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And if anything, the Senate’s alt-fuel prohibition goes even further than the House’s. If it becomes law, if would not only sink the Navy’s attempt to sail aGreat Green Fleet,” powered largely by biofuels. It would also sabotage a half-billion dollar program to shore up a tottering biofuels industry.
Like their counterparts in the House, senators prohibited the Pentagon from buying renewable fuels that are more expensive than traditional ones — a standard that biofuels many never meet. In addition, the committee blocked the Defense Department from helping build biofuel refineries unless “specifically authorized by law” – just as the Navy was set to pour $170 million into an effort with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to do precisely that.
The measures — amendments to the Pentagon’s budget for next year — were pushed by two Republicans. Sen. James Inhofe has long been one of the Republican’s fiercest critics of renewable energy efforts; Sen. John McCain has in recent years turned away from long-held eco-friendly positions.
Adopting a ‘green agenda’ for national defense of course is a terrible misplacement of priorities,” McCain told National Journal Daily on Tuesday, calling it “a clear indication that the president doesn’t understand national security.”
Which Democrats joined McCain in passing the amendments is unclear; the vote was held in a closed session of the committee.This was supposed to be a moment of triumph for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who pledged to get half of the service’s energy from sources other than oil by 2020. Late next month, the Great Green Fleet was supposed to go on its inaugural, two-day demonstration voyage, with the destroyers plowing through the Pacific and F/A-18 jets will screaming into the air, thanks to a 50/50 mixture of bio- and fossil fuel. A full mission is planned for 2016.
“The Great Green Fleet doesn’t have an environmental agenda. It’s about maintaining America’s military and economic leadership across the globe in the 21st century,” Mabus told a Senate hearing in March, noting that every time the price of oil goes up by a dollar per barrel, it costs the Navy $31 million.”When anyone says we can’t afford to invest in developing alternative sources of energy, my reply is, ‘We can’t afford not to.’ We can’t afford to wait until price shocks or supply shocks leave us no alternative.”
In the short term, though, biofuels were going to cost significantly more than petroleum. After all, the biofuel industry is tiny, compared to the massive, century-old oil business. The science behind biofuels is relatively new. The Navy is still buying cupfuls off the stuff, compared to tanker-loads of oil it gets every day. In December, the Navy spent $12 million for 450,000 gallons of biofuel for the Green Fleet — paying about four times its price for fossil fuel.
Opponents pounced, calling it a waste of money in a time of relative austerity. ”Wouldn’t you agree that the thing they’d be more concerned about is having more ships, more planes, more prepositioned stocks?” Rep. Randy Forbes asked during a February hearing with Mabus. The alt-energy foes found justification in some of the Navy’s own studies, which openly questioned whether biofuels would ever be as cheap as oil products.Then came the House vote. And now, the Senate.Hmmmm.....Another 'Green Obamination'.Read the full story here.

Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory in Egypt Presidential Election.

Muslim Brotherhood Claims Victory in Egypt Presidential Election.(PJM).BY Barry Rubin.This article is based on Muslim Brotherhood statements and leaks. The information may not be accurate. We will not know for sure until Sunday when official tallies are provided.

According to the Brotherhood, the uncompleted vote counting for president looks like this.

Mohamed Mursi (Brotherhood) 28.4 percent
Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak era general) 24.6
Abdul Moeim Abul Fotouh (so-called “moderate Islamist” but supported by radical Islamist Salafists) 18.1
(Hamdeen Sabahi (radical anti-American “left” Nasserist) 17.1%
Amr Moussa (radical nationalist pragmatist) 11.6%.

The Brotherhood claims that this means it will win the second round. I’m not 100 percent sure but it seems very possible. A second round would be a straight contest between a secularist and an Islamist. How would voters choose?

After all, according to this the total Islamist vote is around 46 percent, not enough to win. The question would be where would the Sabahi voters go? (I am skeptical he could have gotten so many votes but we will see.)
Here are the two key points, assuming these numbers are correct:

--Once again we have been misled by “experts” and media who slanted coverage toward the alleged popularity of Abul Fotouh. They should have backed secularists and not “moderate Islamists.” There should be some apologies and rethinking but of course that won’t happen.

--Egyptian/Arab nationalism has revived, receiving about 52 percent of the vote! And that means Shafiq could win.
Again: Caution, this is based on figures that might not be accurate.
IF MURSI BECOMES PRESIDENT (winning second round run-off):

Remember that he and the Brotherhood are now not even trying to hide their extremism, openly demanding an immediate Sharia state and a Caliphate.

This would set off a crisis that will dominate the region for a decade or two. This would be a catastrophe equal to and perhaps greater than the Iranian revolution. No exaggeration. If there isn't a war with Israel within three years (Hamas backed by Egypt or even involving Egypt) it would be a miracle.

Note that what's most important is not the presidency in isolation but:

--Brotherhood control over parliament and president and writing constitution.

--Brotherhood triumphalism, which we have seen repeatedly, belief in victory leading to arrogance and more extremism.

There will be panic. Christians and liberals will start packing their bags.

IF SHAFIQ BECOMES PRESIDENT (winning second round run-off):

The Brotherhood and Salafists would still control parliament and constitution-writing, making for a relatively weak president. But Shafiq would try to limit the radicalism, maintain good relations with the United States, and avoid war with Israel.

If the military backed him—and that makes sense—he would be strong and might succeed.

In this case, though, watch for three things:

--The Brotherhood and Salafists will make life hard for Shafiq. There will be street violence and terrorism against Christians, “modern” women, liberals, tourists, and foreign installations. Will Shafiq call out soldiers to put down each disorder through repression? Would Obama and Europe back him or condemn the military as repressive and undermining democracy?

--The Islamists would help Hamas and very possibly try to stir up a Hamas-Israel conflict in which hysteria would sweep Egypt to fight Israel, painting Shafiq as a traitor for holding back?

--As the economic situation deteriorates, they would blame Shafiq and stir up disorder against him.
Again, remember that a constitution could well be written providing for a strong parliament and prime minister alongside a weak president. That would subvert the election results.Read the full story here.

MFS: I believe this to be the best prognosis of what's to come.

Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
The Rubin Report blog
He is a featured columnist at PJM
Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal
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