Holland has had Enough
By Dave Lindorff (about the author)
For OpEdNews: Dave Lindorff – Writer
By Dave Lindorff
The civilian death toll in the US media-hyped and much government-touted Battle of Marjah is now up to 21, about a third of them children. But that’s only part of this ugly story.
While the slaughter goes on in this pointless display of Marine power, civilians have been dying at American hands elsewhere in Afghanistan. On Thursday a US airstrike allegedly targeting “insurgents” ended up hitting and killing seven Afghani policemen. And yesterday, another airstrike, this time on a “convoy” of three vehicles, killed an astonishing 27-33 civilians and injured at least 12 more–and given the vicious nature of American weaponry, it’s a fair bet that many of those who were injured will end up dying of their wounds too.
Nice work Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Your newly professed “concern” about protecting civilians is working out nicely.
True to form, Gen. McChrystal’s response to these murderous outrages has not been to call for investigations and courts martial of those responsible for the deaths, but rather to express his concern that “inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their [the Afghan people’s] trust and confidence in our mission.”
Ah, the “mission.”
Oh yeah, this general who earned his rep running a huge death squad operation in Iraq, says he’s also “extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives.” What he didn’t say though, was that he is that he is extremely angry that American forces are continuing to shoot first and ask questions later, or that he plans to call some people on the carpet and strip some badges off them to ensure compliance with his orders to protect civilians.
Why would this be?
Because the professed “concern” about protecting civilians in this war is all talk and showmanship. It’s not about actually caring about and protecting civilians.
America is not in Afghanistan because of any real concern about the welfare of the people of Afghanistan. It is in Afghanistan because America wants to control Afghanistan. This is a war about geopolitics, not about liberation.
If America really cared about the ordinary people of Afghanistan, who have endured decades of war, it would forswear the use of antipersonnel weapons, which the UN has been trying to ban–over the opposition of the US and other benighted powers like China and Israel–weapons that leave unexploded bomblets littering the landscape to maim and kill innocent people, disproportionately small children. It would sign and obey the land mine ban. It would cease using pilotless drones, which have been killing far more innocent people than actual enemy fighters, and it would stop using airstrikes on “suspected” enemy targets when those targets are likely to have civilians in them.
In fact, if the US really cared about the people of Afghanistan, it wouldn’t be fighting there at all. It would be organizing a regional peace conference, under the auspices of the United Nations and involving all the surrounding nations–Iran, China, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan–and reaching an agreement among all the forces within the country, including the Taliban, to establish a government of national reconciliation. The US would be relying not on war but on the carrot of aid to get such a government to actually work for the peaceful reconstruction of the country. And it would withdraw all of its forces promptly.
But there is no talk of such an approach. Rather, in Washington all we hear is talk of “winning” and “completing the mission,” though nobody seems able to say just what “winning” or the “mission” in Afghanistan might be. That’s understandable since the government of Afghanistan is a corrupt narco-regime led by a family of gangsters, thugs and profiteers, and the military and police are a hopeless combination of inept and corrupt. According to a first-hand, on-the-scene report in the New York Times, which has been an editorial backer of this war, Afghan forces have played almost no role in the Marjah battle, which is supposed to be a test run of the new Obama war strategy. That might explain why only one Afghan soldier has died in the battle, compared to 12 US and other NATO soldiers.
Happily, there is a light at the end of this blood-drenched tunnel. That light is the people of the Netherlands, who have so soured on their nation’s support for this stupid, criminal war, that they have brought down their government. Technically what happened is that the Dutch Labor Party, which opposes Dutch military involvement in the Afghan War, has denounced the war and, this week, pulled out of the governing coalition, leaving the coalition with just 47 of 150 seats in the country’s parliament. It is likely that the 1600 Dutch troops serving in Afghanistan will soon be pulled out.
The war, never popular in Europe, Canada or Australia, has become increasingly less popular everywhere but in America. Now, like the famed story of the little boy who saved Holland by putting his finger in a leaking dike, only in reverse, this pulling out of a Dutch finger could lead to a flood of European nations ending their commitment of troops to the NATO participation in the War in Afghanistan, leaving just US and British forces alone there.
The challenge now is for the somnolent and co-opted peace movement in the US to throw off its narcophilic embrace of the Democratic Party and of President Obama, to take heart from the Dutch people, and to demand that the US too end its war making, not just in Afghanistan, but around the globe.
By Jason Hamza van Boom (about the author) Page 1 of 1 page(s)
For OpEdNews: Jason Hamza van Boom – Writer
Original article here
Daniel Streich was a member of the Swiss People’s party (SVP), the political party that pushed the minaret ban initiative. Streich is a military instructor in the Swiss Army and a local politician in the commune of Bulle. Formerly a devout Christian, he converted to Islamand kept it a secret for two years.
Streich has left the SVP, made his conversion to Islam public, and has denounced the SVP’s anti-Muslim campaign as a witch hunt. As far as I can tell, this story has not broken in the English language press. So, I translated a news article on Streich from German to English, published at the Swiss news site Twenty Minutes Online. Here it is:
Daniel Streich, military instructor and, until recently, a Swiss People’s Party (SVP) politician in the city of Bulle, has left the party. The reason: He converted to Islam. For two years he kept this secret from his ex-party. Now, with the “witch hunt against Islam,” this situation has become unbearable for him.
He was a true SVPer and Christian. He read the Bible and regularly went to church. Now Daniel Streich, military instructor and community council member, reads the Qur’an, prays five times a day and goes to a mosque. “Islam offers me logical answers to important life questions, which, in the end, I never found in Christianity,” says Streich.
Because he could no longer stand the “SVP’s witch hunt against Islam” Streich left the part two weeks ago (around November 10, 2009) and has made his conversion to Islam become publicly known two years after his conversion. Now he’s participating in the building of the new Civil Conservative Democratic Party in the canton of Freiburg. The former churchgoer is vehemently against the minaret initiative: “If the initiative passes, it will be an absolute deep blow for me. I would have to ask myself, why I applied myself professionally and politically for over 30 years for this political system.” In contrast, Switzerland urgently needs more mosques. “It is not worthy of Switzerland to force Muslims to practice their faith in back alleys.”
Reactions in the SVP were mixed. “Everyone can believe what he wants to,” says General Secretary Martin Baltisser. SVP-National Council member Alfred Heer had a less friendly reaction. Politcal scientist Georg Lutz: “The SVP and Islam stand closer to each other than people suppose. Both advance a conservative worldview.”
With all due respect, I disagree with Lutz’ position. Muslims tend to have political attitudes that are similar to the social teaching of the Catholic Church: “progressive” on economic, environmental, and foreign policy issues, while being “conservative” on sexual ethics. But, a more accurate approach would be to say that Catholics and Muslims frequently do not fit within the stereotypical left/right divide.
If anything, I would say that both Catholicism and Islam are more to the Left. The Right emphasizes particularity (whether the micro-particularity of capitalist individualism or the macro-particularity of nationalism). The Left, on the other hand, tends to stress universality. A balanced political position will address both universality (we’re all members of the same species living on the same planet) and particularity (we are shaped and live in particular communities that have their own traditions, political needs, and strengths and weaknesses). How one falls on the left/right spectrum (assuming such a spectrum exists) would be a function of his or her relative stress on universality vs particularity. Since both Catholicism and Islam (along with other great world religions) say that what unites human beings is more important than what divides them, their fundamental tendency is somewhat to the Left (IMHO).
Anyway, there’s a sidebar item about an SVP politician trying to frame Streich’s conversion as a national security risk, implying that all Muslims in Western militaries are like the lone nut gunman at Fort Hood. (Ironically, in doing so he confirms Streich’s allegation that the SVP’s minaret ban is a “witch hunt” against Muslims). Here’s the piece:
Alfred Heer: Anxiety over the convert Daniel Streich?
Because Daniel Streich converted to Islam when he was an active professional member of the armed forces leads certain politicians to think: “That could be a security risk for the country. We’ve just seen what happened in the USA,” says SVP-National Council member Alfred Heer, referring to the shooting spree of a Muslim military psychiatrist at Fort Hood. Army spokesperson Christopher Brunner responded, “That is an absurd accusation.” The Swiss military is neutral on religious affiliations. Brunner: “it is totally irrelevant which religions our personnel belong to.” Performance, not belief, is what matters.
Whether Switzerland remains true to its democratic heritage, or follows the paranoia that feeds the extremism that devastated Europe in the 30’s and 40’s, depends on whether its citizens, in the long run, will think like Brunner or Heer. As for myself, I hope that some day I can see the Swiss Alps again without being harassed for my Islamic faith. Man denkt, Gott lenkt.
Follow-up article here:
Nevertheless, it is a verifiable fact that a Swiss elected official belonging to the Swiss People’s Party- the principal backer of the minaret ban- converted to Islam. Daniel Streich, who holds an elected local office and was a long time member of the Swiss People’s Party, announced his resignation from his party. He had been a devout, Bible-reading and church-going Christian. Two years ago, however, he converted to Islam. He kept his conversion under wraps. The Swiss People’s Party’s recent campaign against minarets, however, became too much for Streich. He made his conversion public, and denounced the campaign as a “witch hunt”.
The story, based upon a report in the Swiss media, first appeared in the English language at Tikkun Daily on December 4, 2009, with an immediate cross-posting on OpEdNews. After the story broke, it started getting some circulation on Muslim blogs and news aggregation sites. On January 30, 2010, the Pakistani paper The Nation publicized it on its website–with a lot of embellishments. It depicted Streich as a very big, major Swiss politician who specialized in campaigning against Muslims and minarets! After allegedly spreading tons of anti-Muslim propaganda, he had a sudden conversion and now renounced his evil ways:
“RENOWNED Swiss politician Daniel Streich, who rose to fame for his campaign against minarets of mosques, has embraced Islam. A member of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and a well-known politician, Daniel Streich was the first man who had launched a drive for imposition of ban on mosques minarets, and to lock the mosques in Switzerland. The proclamation of Streich’s conversion to Islam has created furore (sic) in Swiss politics, besides causing a tremor for those who supported ban on construction of mosques minarets. Streich propagated his anti-Islamic movement far and wide in the country, sowed seeds of indignation and scorn for Islam among the people, and paved way for public opinion against pulpits and minarets of mosques. But now Streich has become a soldier of Islam. His anti-Islam thoughts finally brought him so close to this religion that he embraced Islam. He is ashamed of his doings now and desires to construct the most beautiful mosque of Europe in Switzerland.”
This is a complete fabrication. Streich happened to belong to a political party that had a wide-ranging political platform, dealing with much more than “minarets of mosques.” Streich did not “rise to fame” on the basis of Islamophobia. And there is no evidence that he’s planning to build any mosque, beautiful or not.
Peeling away the distortions, what remains are three significant facts. First, although anti-Muslim sentiments are strongest on the political Right, conservatives can become opponents of Islamophobia. Second, Western converts to Islam seem come from all parts of the political spectrum, not just from the Left. Third, a politician took the bold move of leaving his political party, and putting much of his political and social support at risk, for the sake of his conscience.
The notion that a conservative Christian politician could become a Muslim and denounce anti-Muslim campaigns naturally causes irritation for Islamophobes. For example, a forum on the anti-Muslim site FaithFreedom.org has begun discussing the story. Some of the commentators are dismissing it, since the idea that he was a crusader against minarets isn’t consistent with his converting to Islam two years ago.
If anyone has any doubts, he or she can look at these sources from the Swiss media:
http://www.20min.ch/news/schweiz/story/27286120 (German language Swiss news site, and the source for my original post)
Many Muslim scientists like Ibn Sina (Avicenna), al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham, known in the West as Alhazen, and Muḥammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (Algorithmi), made great contributions that shaped the modern world. In the 9th century, Muslim inventor Abbas ibn Firnas was the first to design and test a flying machine, hundreds of years before da Vinci drew plans of his own. Hospitals as we know them today believed to have come from 9th century Egypt.
Coffee, computers and piston engines – could we imagine a world without them? These are intricate parts of every day life for most of us and the knowledge that led to them was either invented by or passed down through the ancient Muslim world. That is the theme of an exhibit in London’s Science Museum and it’s a far cry from the view held by some that the Muslim and Western World represent a “clash of civilizations.”
A simple cup of coffee has become an intricate part of so many cultures. It’s called “Kawha”- where it was first developed as a drink – in the Arabian Peninsula, in today’s Yemen.
Professor Salim al-Hassani of the University of Manchester explains the coffee beans were actually brought to Yemen from the Horn of Africa, from Ethiopia.
“Well of course, coffee was invented in the very early years of Islam – a guy called Khaled in Ethiopia, a young man looking after his sheep,” al-Hassani said.
The sheep seemed to like the beans. So the young man took the beans to Yemen – the story goes – and the drink was developed and spread like wildfire.
And there were many other inventions or innovations passed on by the early Muslim world from the 7th Century onward, says Hassani.
“One of them is the invention of the university. This was done in the year 850 by a young lady called Fatima al-Fihri in the city of Fez in Morocco,” al-Hassani said. “The first university as we know it in the world, giving degrees and so on.”
And that’s the theme of this exhibit at the London Science Museum. It’s called 1001 inventions: the Muslim Heritage, a bit like “1001 Arabian Nights,” the well known fairy tale.
The exhibit in London focuses on scientific or technological inventions and advances that changed our world – from some of the earliest universities, to innovations in medicine, hygiene, pumps, and water wheels.
Some says these important achievements have been forgotten amid the news often coming out of the Muslim world today that focuses so much on strife and terrorism. But, ask just about anyone on the streets of, say, Cairo or Damascus today and they haven’t forgotten – they’ll readily tell you about Islam’s glory days – not just its conquests but its cultural, scientific and technological innovations.”
These advances came at the height of the Islamic empire’s glory when it spread from the Middle East, across North Africa to southern Spain and beyond.
A time when Muslim scholars and inventors were at the forefront, says Hassani.
“During that time, there were enormous contributions in science and technology that we have forgotten about and that comes to us from other civilizations,” al-Hassani said. “And, it came to use over a very important civilization and that is the Muslim civilization.”
Muslims absorbed knowledge – from India, China, the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians – and passed it on. One exhibit exemplifies that mixture – a giant clock featuring an Indian elephant and Chinese dragons and using ancient Greek water works. The one here is a replica of the original designed by the Muslim inventor, mathematician and engineer al-Jazari in the early 13th Century.
Anne Marie Brennan teaches forensic biology at London’s South Bank University and is fascinated by these innovations.
“Everybody has to love the elephant clock,” Brennan said. “The elephant clock is wonderful because it is like a United Nations clock. It has all the elements of different civilizations and I like it as a scientist because it shows that science doesn’t have to be boring and sterile and plain, but it can be decorative and it can also pay homage to the cultures that bring it forward.”
And then there is mathematics and algebra. In general, our numbers are known as “Arabic numerals” today, but it wasn’t always so, says professor Hassani.
“The numbers that we have today – 1,2,3,4 – they’re called Arabic numerals, but actually the Arabs at the time called them Indian numerals,” al-Hassani said.
And, the number “0” for example – “zephir” in Arabic – was used first by early Arab scholars as an integral part of mathematical equations. And that’s part of the all important formula of zeros and ones that was crucial to the development of computers and other new technology.
CAIRO – A Church of
“Wives are to submit to their husbands in
“This is the way God has ordered their
MacLeay, a member of the General Synod,
“It would seem that women should remain
The comments were backed by MacLeay’s
“We know marriage is not working. We only
“Wives, submit to your own husbands.”
The comments drew ire of women
“How can they talk that way in the 21st
“No wonder the Church is losing touch if
The parishioner vowed to shun the Church
“I will not be going back to that church
The Church of England preachers were also
“What kind of medieval sermon is that? We
“I have already cancelled my direct debit
But the Church of England preachers
“I am passionate about helping people to
“I did not set out to unnecessarily offend
MacLeay, the Church Vicar, also defended
“There are times when the Bible challenges
“It recognizes that women are fully equal
The Magenn Power Air Rotor System (MARS) is a patented high altitude lighter-than-air tethered device that rotates about a horizontal axis in response to wind, efficiently generating clean renewable electrical energy at a lower cost than all competing systems. This electrical energy is transferred down the tether to a transformer at a ground station and then transferred to the electricity power grid. Helium (an inert non-reactive lighter than air gas) sustains the Air Rotor which ascends to an altitude for best winds and its rotation also causes the Magnus effect. This provides additional lift, keeps the device stabilized, keeps it positioned within a very controlled and restricted location, and causes it to pull up overhead rather than drift downwind on its tether.
All competing conventional wind generators use bladed two-dimensional disk-like structures and rigid towers. The Magenn Power Air Rotor system is a closed three-dimensional structure (cylinder). It offers high torque, low starting speeds, and superior overall efficiency thanks to its ability to deploy higher. The closed structure allows Magenn Power to produce wind rotors from very small to very large sizes at a fraction of the cost of current wind generators.
The distinct advantages of the Magenn Air Rotor System design are as follows:
- Magenn Air Rotor System is less expensive per unit of actual electrical energy output than competing wind power systems.
- Magenn Power Air Rotor System will deliver time-averaged output much closer to its rated capacity than the capacity factor typical with conventional designs. Magenn efficiency will be 25 to 60 percent. This is hugely important, since doubling capacity factor cuts the cost of each delivered watt by half.
- Wind farms can be placed closer to demand centers, reducing transmission line costs and transmission line loses.
- Magenn Air Rotors are operable between 2 meter/sec and in excess of 28 meters/sec.
- Magenn Air Rotors can be raised to higher altitudes, thus capitalizing on higher winds aloft. Altitudes from 400-ft to 1,000-ft above ground level are possible, without having to build an expensive tower, or use a crane to perform maintenance.
- Magenn Air Rotors are mobile and can be easily moved to different locations to correspond to changing wind patterns. Mobility is also useful in emergency deployment and disaster relief situations.
These points are mutually inclusive. The advantages above combine to make Magenn the most cost-effective wind electrical generation system.
google_protectAndRun(“ads_core.google_render_ad”, google_handleError, google_render_ad);google_protectAndRun(“ads_core.google_render_ad”, google_handleError, google_render_ad);
Misuse of Wakf properties: Who is Responsible for It?
Submitted by admin on 9 February 2010 – 11:26pm.
* Indian Muslim
By Syed Sultan Mohiddin
The Outlook (September 21, 2009) made a shocking revelation about the colossal delinquency by the Wakf Boards. The cover page printed these shameful letters: WAKF – INDIA’S BIGGEST LAND SCANDAL. Followed by this it said: “4,00,000 acres – 3,00,000 properties. Wakf boards around the country are doling out land meant for poor Muslims for a pittance.” Inside the glossy magazine, the cover story by Saba Naqvi has unveiled the height of dishonesty and lackadaisical attitude of the Wakf Boards.
The report has exposed as to how the Wakf Board officials, far from being the guardians of the Muslim properties worth thousands of crores of rupees, have allowed the encroachments, given the occupation of prime lands on ridiculously low rents and even resorted to outright sale of priceless properties. All these disgraceful acts they are doing, the author alleged, “to fill their pockets”. Some examples cited in the article would surely boil the blood of even a suave Muslim. The Maharashtra Wakf Board sold 4,532 square metres plot at the posh Altamount Road in Mumbai to Mukesh Ambani, for a measly Rs.16 lakh. He is building a 27-storey skyscraper on it. By any mean standards, the land would have fetched Rs.21 crore in the market. The 90,000 sq ft prime property at Lal Bagh in Bangalore with market value of about Rs.90 crore was sold for just 1 crore. In Aurangabad, 14 acres of land worth Rs.60 crore was sold for Rs.8 crores. [Courtesy: The Outlook].
Though one should categorically blame the Wakf Boards for the misuse of wakf properties, there are other factors too which have contributed to the hopeless situation. The snail’s pace in the justice-delivery system where cases are not cleared for decades on end, and the callous attitude of the local authorities that never bothered to execute the judicial orders are equally responsible. Even the Wakf laws do not have sufficient teeth to bite the offenders.
A Muslim graveyard in Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh) is a classic case to prove the point in question. An extent of 1.10 acre was granted by the Nawab of Kadapa around 260 years ago for its use as the burial ground. The graveyard had been under the control and use by the Muslim community until 1966, when suddenly a few hoodlums occupied around 22 cents of the land by flattening the tombs and erecting some huts over them.
THE ENDLESS SAGA
The Muthavalli of the graveyard, Mr. Allabaksh Miah, promptly approached the District authorities and pleaded for removal of the encroachments. The Wakf Board also addressed several letters to the District Collector informing that the graveyard is the Wakf Board property and no part of the same can be allotted to private persons. In the year 1967, the then District Collector, Mr. R.M. Sastry, on receipt of a letter from the Secretary of Wakf Board, Andhra Pradesh state, Hyderabad ordered the Municipal authorities to remove the encroachments. The Muthavalli went from pillar to post, pleading for the implementation of the orders from the Collector but the concerned authorities did not take any action to remove the encroachments.
The hooligans resorted to further encroachment of land by demolishing a few more tombs in 1970. This time, the Muthavalli decided to seek justice from the Judiciary. It has taken 12 years for the Court to give its verdict. In the year 1982, the Sub-Court of Kadapa in its judgement clearly said: “The District Collector has the right to remove the encroachments if there are any, taking into consideration the sentiments of the Muslim community.” The High Court too upheld the verdict of the sub-court, Kadapa in its judgement of 1987. As the District Collector did not care to execute the court orders – the Muthavalli got frustrated and handed over the maintenance of the graveyard in the year 1988 to the Committee of Roshan Munawwar Mosque, which is also situated in the premises of the same graveyard.
Now it was the turn of Mr. Jaffer Baig, President of Roshan Munawwar Mosque Committee, to walk through a thorny and exasperating road. He was a high-ranking officer in the government service as the Superintending Engineer before he retired in 1985. Initially he thought of leading a hassle-free life after retirement, but gave up the thought when he knew about the illegal occupancy of a Muslim graveyard. He took up the cause of liberating the occupied land. During the past 20 years, he did not leave any stone unturned to secure the wakf land from the clutches of illegal occupants. A massive Dharna organised under his leadership in 1993, was participated by around 5000 Muslims and a large number of secular and peace-loving non-Muslims. It jolted the then District Collector to convene a meeting at his bungalow by summoning the Committee members and the encroachers. A promise was made to the Committee that the matter will be resolved in a few days. ‘That day’ never came. As the years rolled by, Mr. Baig approached the authorities tirelessly without renouncing hope. The Civil Court of Kadapa passed the buck to the Wakf Board Tribunal in April 2000. The case is pending for disposal in the Wakf Board tribunal for nine long years! When this writer met Mr. Jaffer Baig at his house, he was preparing to go to Hyderabad to appear for the 157th adjournment in the Wakf Board tribunal. He is doing too much at his ripe age of 84 years. “Do you see light at the end of the tunnel?” asked this writer. “Why not? I do have faith in the law of the land,” he retorted.
The Wakf properties are under the clutches of unauthorised hands – in the name of lease, tenancy or encroachment. As the statistics reveals, it is the government, which is in the possession of large wakf properties. What the Muslim leadership and intelligentsia should fight for is for the passing of a law on the floor of the Parliament that gives statutory powers to the Wakf Boards, to enable them to take possession of all the notified Wakf lands in the country on a time-bound plan. Besides, the State Wakf Boards should be cleansed of the political brats who shall be replaced with bureaucrats having impeccable integrity.
The Wakf properties in the country are more than sufficient to address the myriad problems faced by the Muslim community like illiteracy, unemployment and socio-economic backwardness. The trillion-dollar question is: Will the Muslim parliamentarians raise their voice in the parliament for a special law with statutory powers to the Wakf Boards?
First published in Radiance Viewsweekly Vol. XLVII No.30, 2009-11-01 issue.