Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Islamic Violence Building Through Six Incidents

An interesting Op-Ed article from the Jerusalem Post reflectsupon the increasing quality and quantity of violence erupting from Islamic circles since 1989.

"Six times since then Westerners have done or said something that has triggered death threats and violence in the Muslim world. Looking at them in the aggregate offers useful insights.", says writer Daniel Pipes.

"--1989 - Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses prompted Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a death edict against him and his publishers, on the grounds that the book "is against Islam, the Prophet and the Koran." Subsequent rioting led to more than 20 deaths, mostly in India.

--1997 - The US Supreme Court refused to remove a 1930s frieze showing Muhammad as lawgiver that decorates the main court chamber; the Council on American-Islamic Relations made an issue of this, leading to riots and injuries in India.
2002 - American Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a "terrorist," leading to church burnings and at least 10 deaths in India.

--2005 - An incorrect story in Newsweek reporting that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay "in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Koran down a toilet" was picked up by the famous Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan, and prompted protests around the Muslim world, leading to at least 15 deaths.

--February 2006 - The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of Muhammad, spurring a Palestinian imam in Copenhagen, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, to excite Muslim opinion against the Danish government. He succeeded so well that hundreds died, mostly in Nigeria.

--September 2006 - Pope Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine emperor's views that what is new in Islam is "evil and inhuman," prompting the firebombing of churches and the murder of several Christians. "

Pipes continues, "These six rounds show a near-doubling in frequency: eight years between the first and second rounds, then five, then three, one and none.THE FIRST instance - Khomeini's edict against Salman Rushdie - came as a complete shock, for no one had hitherto imagined that a Muslim dictator could tell a British citizen living in London what he could not write about. "


"These incidents also spotlight a total lack of reciprocity by Muslims. The Saudi government bans Bibles, crosses and Stars of David, while Muslims routinely publish disgusting cartoons of Jews. "


"The basic message - "You Westerners no longer have the privilege to say what you will about Islam, the Prophet and the Koran; Islamic law rules you too" - will return again and again until Westerners either submit or Muslims realize their effort has failed."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Pakistani President And The Bungling Booktour

Sounds like a cute little children's story, doesn't it? With maybe the man with the yellow hat and Curious George stopping by to get a store-bought copy signed?

Well kids, I wish it was. Instead, it appears that President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan (suffering suckatash!) has gone ahead and written his memoirs, a not-so-cute book that:

" expected to counter the biography of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which the deposed leader, who was unseated by Musharraf, charged him with plotting the Kargil conflict without obtaining permission from the government.

Besides providing an insight into his childhood and his rise in Pakistani army and later as military ruler, Musharraf IS expected to respond to Sharif's charges in detail and provide his version of Kargil conflict as well as his role when Sharif along with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed the Lahore accord."

Indeed, while innocent women are raped and killed in his country for the crime of not marrying their appointed husbands, or for other reasons that 'require' honor killings, President Musharraf is traipsing around on book tour, visiting shows like "The Daily Show With John Stewart".

And thats not all, folks. Have you noticed a larger news presence of the Pakistani President lately, and more articles about him? More comments, such as when an emissary of Bush supposedly told him that if Musharraf didn't support his "War On Terror", that he would be "bombed to the stone age."

Gen V N Malik has described Pervez Musharraf as a ‘timid general’. In his view, there is a ‘lot of fabrication’ about the Kargil conflict in Pakistan President’s autobiography, which the Karachi daily The Dawn, says, ‘could well go down in the Guinness Book of Records for many firsts’ like promotion of the book at the expense of Pak exchequer. The daily dubs as a publicity gimmick Musharraf’s ‘bombed to the stone age’ comment. It notes that Gen Musharraf was soft on Benazir Bhutto while being very harsh on Nawaz Sharif in the book.

So, I'm not sure what President Musharraf's end goal is, but I really think it is shameless for a seated leader to tout their memoirs. Because, in the case that they are still politically active (unlike former Governor James McGreevey), their book is politically charged and probably serves a purpose other than generating book sales. President Clinton's memoirs certainly told his side of the story, and was meant to bolster the Democratic Party, but it wasn't meant to effect the current political situation. Which I am inclined to believe Musharraf's book is.

Let's see what else comes out of Curious Musharraf's trap in the near future...

(I'm not sure if you also find it amusing to refer to Musharraf in the vein of Curious George, which is a common theme in making light of our current President's common Gaffe's, i.e., Curious George and Missing WMDs."

Sex Trafficking - Old News

The title of this post is not to denigrate the importance of abolishing sexual slavery by any means, however it is meant to comment on the recent words of a 'local congresswoman' who is trying to prosecute sex traffickers.

I laud that goal. But, when she says that sex trafficking is a, "21st century form of human slavery", I have to disagree. I understand the concept of making this topic contemporary, but some form of 'sexual slavery' has been ongoing probably as long as the human race has existed.

Clouding that fact, and this issue, won't help the end goal of people trying to put a stop to this. And politically charging this horrid form of control to meet personal goals won't either. It's time to speak the truth about this, and not hedge your bets by claiming this is a new problem.

"CITY HALL — Proposed legislation that would use the tax code to prosecute sex traffickers could go a long way to end the “21st century form of human slavery,” a local congresswoman said yesterday.

The bill, H.R. 6107, would appropriate $2 million to establish an Internal Revenue Service office that would closely coordinate with the Department of Justice to put traffickers behind bars for violations of tax laws. It would also allow the newly created unit to keep criminal fines it collects from traffickers and to impose increased penalties — fines up to $50,000 and jail sentences of up to 10 years — for criminals who fail to file returns or pay taxes.

“Instead of realizing their dreams of better jobs and better lives, they become trapped in a nightmare of coercion, violence and disease,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across international borders each year. “Human trafficking is the 21st century form of human slavery and we have a moral responsibility to hunt down and prosecute the men and women who brutalize women and children for profit.”

Maloney, D-Manhattan/ Queens, said she introduced the bill last week and hopes to see it passed by the end of this legislative session.

“I know that changing the tax code may not sound like much, but you have to remember that the way that the FBI finally got Al Capone was through the tax code,” she said. “I believe this will be a valuable tool for the Justice Department to really crack down on those abusers.” "

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thailand - A Democracy No More?

I'm sure most of you have heard by now of Thailand's surprise Coup by the military leader, Genderal Sondhi, who took the opportunity to revolt when the nation's Prime Minister was in NYC, at the U.N.

The NYT reports, "As Thais awoke this morning to news of the coup, General Sondhi’s junta sought to consolidate its control, banning public gatherings, threatening to shut down or block telecommunications and urging “farmers and laborers” — many of whom are strong supporters of the ousted government — to stay out of politics."'

Here's the funny thing I'm trying to get my head around. If General Sondhi has seized power and eliminated the country's democracy and constitution, and told the nation's citizens to "stay out of politics" - how is that restoring democracy?

It seems to me that this is the farthest possible thing from democracy. Only time will tell, but I have my doubts that Thailand will revert to its old democratic self any time soon.

Oil Prices Dropping - Don't Gas Up The Car Just Yet

The news is that, Oh My God, oil prices are dropping! The world is saved! Oil will flow forever! It'll be cheap like the old days!

Unfortunately, my intrepid readers, the exact opposite is much more probably. The theory of peak oil is, in essence, that the world will reach a point where oil production tops out. No matter what, the amount of oil found, dug out of the ground, refined, and sold, will start to drop. Not by a alot, by a little, a few percentage points each year.

This will mean price wars, and there won't be enough oil to go around. That means that rich countries can out bid the poorer ones, who simply won't have enough of the oil they need to run their economies, infrastructures, armed forces, etc. And as the bidding wars increase, the price will only go up.

So, you are wondering, whats with the price drop? Well, here are some suppositions, summarized from Howard Kunstler's site,, especially from the week of 9/18.

1) Prices have dropped due to the not so bad hurricane season we're having so far - fears have eased.

2) The Israeli-Lebanon war has calmed down, and there doesn't seem to be an imminent region wide Middle East war.

3) Prices were driven up unbelievably high because certain rich countries were stockpiling, and they have currently stopped purchasing oil, driving the price down.

4. Poorer countries have simply been outbid, so that their demand has been reduced or eliminated. That means that less people can afford the oil, more supply, less demand, less price.

So, oil prices have dropped. But what about production?

Production is DOWN, around the world. By a few percentage points. That hints strongly at the world having not only reached Peak Oil - but also that we're starting to slide down the other side of the bell curve. If you want more details, check out, or the above link to Kunstler's homepage.

Also, some of you might be wondering, quietly - does Bush and his republican party have anything to do with the dropping oil prices, so close to election time?

The short answer is, possibly not, because oil prices are not controlled by singular entities, people, or countries - it is determined by oil companies, their producers, the market demand, and other economic conditions.

The longer answer is, quite probably. In short, it is possible that the U.S. Army stockpiled oil during the last half year, to ease concerns of any drop out in production, or crisis (on the surface.) The other side of this is, if the American Army helped to raise prices by stockpiling, and they now have enough, logically they would stop buying oil currently, which would drive prices down because they are such a large purchaser of refined oil.

So, perhaps the Army IS involved in a conspiracy to help the Republicans, or perhaps they are being used unwittingly. I'm not quite sure. All that is for certain, is that there IS a finite amount of oil, and all the statistics point to us finally reaching the turning point, when oil will stop being cheap, plentiful, and efficable - and will start being a highly prized resource that nations and armed groups will fight to procure.

I'd say thats a pretty good premise for WWIII. What do you think?