Friday, April 29, 2011

Washington Times columnist assesses radical Islam aims

Jeffrey Kuhner (president of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal , link) has a rather confrontational op-ed on p. B3 of the “Opinion” section in the Washington Times, April 29, link (with a title that might be problematic to repeat here).  

He notes, about the threat from radical Islam, which seems unashamed to bully speakers, “western freedoms are therefore assaulted regularly by a more self-confident culture than hours: Burning Korans, publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, and now Muslim actresses posing nude – what we consider freedom of expression, many Muslims provide provocative and blasphemous.”

Peter Bergen and other journalists after 9-11 had credibly written than Osama bin Laden and others were most concerned about western “occupation” of their lands, not Western lifestyles.  That assessment could at least be challenged.  There’s one observation about “self-righteous” sexual and religious morality (whatever extremes it gets carried to in some cultures) that sounds like an inconvenient truth:  men seem to be able to stay committed to “it” when they believe others have to, and when they believe that “righteousness”, when adhered to by everyone, gives an otherwise humdrum world meaning.  Remember the writings of Sayyid Qutb.  In his view, those who do not obey are to be brought low.  This was a 2002 article by David Brooks in the Weekly Standard, which I found online at the University of Buffalo here in Brooks’s piece about the “bourgeiosieophobes”.   I see I had mentioned this on Sept. 11, 2007 here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wikileaks shows many al-Qaeda operatives had been placed in Karachi around 9/11

In an odd twist, I think, WikiLeaks documents have apparently pinpointed the movements of many Al Qaeda operatives right on and around the day of 9/11/2001.

Many of them were in the Indian Ocean coastal city of Karachi, Pakistan, site of the film “A Mighty Heart”.

The city has been overshadowed by attention to Islamabad and the mountainous areas. But the report rings a bell with me because a few years ago I was told by someone born in Pakistan (and raised in Europe, apparently as Catholic) that he had met Osama bin Laden as a boy at a “party” in Karachi in December, 2000, about nine months before 9/11.

Karachi has a population of 15-18 million with a tropical climate. 

Sometime after 9/11, the media reported of major Al Qaeda “meetings” in Malaysia in January 2001.

The Washington Post story on the front page, Monday April 25, is by Peter Finn with link here

It’s never been conclusively shown that Osama bin Laden could not have escaped completely via the Indian Ocean after surviving Tora Bora in Dec. 2001. 

I still remember a standing “joke” after my layoff from my main “career” in December 2001. “Take your severance, take your time off, and try to earn the $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of UBL”. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Karachi transportation map. 

(Replacement picture below; see May 7, 2011 posting)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Even with high gas prices here, Saudis suddenly back down on oil production

Saudi Arabia has confirmed a production cut in oil in recent days, contradicting the earlier increases to make up for uncertainties caused by unrest in Libya and other MidEast countries.  Crude oil futures are slipping, due to prospects for weaker demand from Japan after the earthquake and concerns that action in China to reduce inflation will lead to less demand. A link is for a widely circulated WSJ story by Jerry A. DiColo is here

Will this mean that prices at the pump will soften, or will the cuts inspire fears that the Middle East is simply less willing to supply a “thirsty” and careless West dependable crude given the fear of political instability?

Maybe "Atlas Shrugged" has it right.  High speed rail needs to come back. 
Also, Donald Trump has been telling ABC News that as president, he would consider seizing Middle Eastern oil fields as "pay back" for the $1.5 trillion we put into the region!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Facebook takes down at least one international posting about the Middle East deemed too inflammatory

Aron Heller has an AP story about Facebook’s deciding to take down a controversial page allegedly calling for more Palestinian uprising, after the comments on the page became more provocative.  A Pennsylvania TV station site affiliated with ABC carries the story now, (website url) here.

The story discusses the “power” that social media companies have around the world in becoming agents of change, and the dilemmas companies face in trying to enforce their “terms of service” in tense international situations. No one even a year ago anticipated the “power” these companies would have.  Around the world, there are calls for more "regulation".  

The story appeared on my own Facebook news feed today. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Will a "secret deal" calm things down in Libya?

Okay, it seems as though the Gadhafi regime is conducting secret talks in London on a “way out”, at least according to the Guardian, Friday (Beaumont, McGreal, Watt), link here

There is talk that Saif al-Islam Gadhafi,  the second son, would “take over”.  Is there a reason he would be more acceptable? Remember Saddam’s sons?

In the meantime, a NATO strike accidentally knocked out some rebels with friendly fire.

It’s a good question as to whether a split-country would be stable enough for oil exports to continue normally, as rebels would hold most of the oil resources.

The latest scuttlebutt Saturday was that a cease-fire had been “rejected”.