Friday, October 30, 2009

Filial responsibility law in Singapore; Shariah in Banda Aceh; Hajj cautions on H1N1


On p. 106 of the book “Super Freakanomics” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, the authors mention that “some governments … require grown children to visit or support their aging moms and dads. In Singapore, this law is known as the Maintenance of Parents Act.” Singapore is one of the most “pro-family” capitalist states in the world.

I found a blog called “Spotlight on Elder Abuse” that discusses the Singapore law in a posting on Feb 29, 2008, here. The posting discusses the Tribunal for the Maintenance of Parents and indicates that fathers use the law more than mothers, but that pursuits are quite successful in Singapore. The blog posting (by Braema Mathi) says that Singapore is the only nation in the world with a law like this, but in the United States, about 28 states have “poor laws” or “filial responsibility laws”, as discussed on my “Bill Retires” blog, particularly in July 2007.

The text for the Singapore law is here.

Radical Islam is better known for extreme “family conservatism” (if you can include polygamy in some countries). Recently the New York Times, in an article Oct. 29 by Norimitsu Orishi, reported on the locally strict application of Shariah in Banda Aceh, the western tip province of Indonesia so hard hit in the 2004 tsunami. The story is “Extremism spreads across Indonesian penal code”, link here. Indonesian states have local options as to applying Shariah, and apparently in this province the possibility of stoning of adulterers is real.

Donal J. McNeil reports in the New York Times Oct. 30, “Saudis try to head off swine flu fears before hajj”, link here. Saudi Arabia is asking some people, including pregnant women, not to make the trip this year, where the event is held at the end of November.

(Look at "Bill Retires" blog Aug. 12, 2007 for filial responsibility in Canada and Australia; see Profile.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two men in Chicago arrested in connection with Danish Cartoon Controversy


The media reports the arrest of two men in Chicago for plotting an attack on the offices of a newspaper in Denmark that published the cartoons of Muhammed in the Jylands-Posten Muhammad Cartoon Controversy. A typical story is that of Warren Richey in the Christian Science Monitor, link here.

The FBI has a press release from the US Attorneys office, Northern District of Illinois, here

It seems amazing to westerners that some people would make so much of what seems like a trivial “insult”. But radical Islam worships its own idea of perfection.

Update: Nov. 21:

See the Newsweek story by Michael Isikoff, "FBI Probes U.S. Link to Mumbai Attacks", link here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Musicians seek to know if their work was used to torture prisoners at Gitmo


The National Campaign to Close Guantanamo has criticized the use of musicians’ songs to torture Muslim prisoners. The news story is by Audrey Hudson on o A5 in the Friday Oct. 23, 2009 Washington Times. The link for the news story is here.

The National Security Archive at the George Washington University files a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to discover the way the music is chosen. Music used in the past includes AC/DC, the Barney theme song, Marilyn Manson to Neil Diamond, Tupac Shakur to Sesame Street, Limp Bizkit to Christina Aguilera. GWU has an account of the story here.

Bernie Becker has a similar blog story in the New York Times here.

In 1978, an Italian prisoner (of Baader-Meinholf, as I recall) was tortured by having loud classical music blasted into his ears, causing deafness.

There is a site with an open letter to “Close Gitmo New”, by that name.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cuba denies "Generation Y" blogger right to travel


“Generation Y” is a blog for people in Cuba for people with names containing “Y”, with link here.

The Cuban government has refused Yoani S├ínchez permission to travel to New York to receive an international journalism award. The Amnesty International link for the story (“Blogger denied freedom to travel outside Cuba) is here. Cuba has also blocked access to the blog within the country, but reportedly there are many workarounds to the block, some of which have been covered here before (and by Electronic Frontier Foundation), in conjunction with similar blocks in Iran.

The story was also carried this morning Oct. 14 on CNN’s American Morning.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Are Pakistan's suitcase nukes secure from "militants"?



MSNBC has carried an AP story questioning whether Pakistan’s suitcase nukes are vulnerable, given a recent assault on Pakistani military headquarters by “militants”. The link is here.



The attacks come at a time when foreign policy makers debate whether the Taliban and Al Qeada are a single “enemy” or whether Taliban elements should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. John McCain addressed this point last night.

It's well to bear in mind Sam Nunn's "Nuclear Threat Initiative" and the film "The Last Best Chance" about accounting for radioactive waste around the world.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hillary Clinton talks about Twitter, cell phone technology in Iran, Afghanistan


Today, Saturday October 10, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the CNN Christine Amanpour on her “Power & Persuasion” hour that the State Department had worked with Twitter during the Iran election crisis to keep the site up, when it needed maintenance, so that dissidents could continue communicating. She also said that the department had place cell phone towers in Afghanistan in order to provide opposition to Taliban communications from FM broadcasts from mobile vehicles.

The CNN link is the “Amanpour eclusive interview with Clinton, Gates” here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize, apparently for expression or publication of an intellectual "concept"


President Obama spoke briefly this morning from the Rose Garden after learning that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His remarks are posted in his own blog (posting title "Building a World that "Gives Life to the Promise of Our Founding Documents") entry here.

Russia Today has a video on the award. There were 204 names on the committee’s shortlist. The award does not have the intrigue of the Irving Wallace novel or movie of “The Prize”. Most observers see the award as prospective, based on a concept that the president has laid out in his speeches and writings (generally following the steps of Jimmy Carter), not on positive accomplishments (resume-style) in the first nine months in office.



President Obama will address the Human Right Campaign national dinner in Washington on Saturday October 120.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wikileaks: British government suspicious of many journalists


Wikileaks has a complicated story suggesting that the British government regards journalists (and perhaps bloggers) as potential security threats, along with hackers, members of disaffecte groups, and the like. The link is here. The leak comes from the “UK MoD Manual of Security Volumes”, not exactly calling for a book review!

The document goes on to describe particular concerns with links to both China and Russia, in comparison to more often touted concerns about Muslim extremism in Britain.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Iran make have backed down on Uranium


According to major media sources, Iran has agreed to open its uranium enrichment facility near Qum to international inspection (the IAEA) and to export most of its uranium to the West and to Russia. Officials are concerned, however, that Iran could very well conceal stockpiles of enriched uranium.

Iran is thought to have enough enriched Uranium to make at least one conventional atomic weapon soon. Tehran says that its reactor is intended to make medical isotopes and these are well below weapons grade, and have not been shaped into rods.

The New York Times story by Scott Erlanger and John Lander is here.

However, Jimmy Carter has said that the United States should work carefully with Iran and not threaten it, link here.