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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This, is perhaps how it commonly happens. A phenomina not restricted to the UK, but a movement seen throughout the world..
Five young British Muslim men have been jailed for downloaded and sharing masses of extremist material. During their trial they argued that they were not terrorists but intellectually curious. But what evidence convinced the jury they had gone too far..?
When Mohammed Irfan Raja quietly walked out of his family home in Ilford, east London, on 24 February 2006, he had dreams of becoming known for something more than the 18-year-old schoolboy he then was...
However, today.. as the 19-year-old and four men from Bradford University begin jail sentences.. his name becomes just another associated with the jihadi extremism of radicalised young British Muslim men.
In one of the first trials of its kind Raja, Awaab Iqbal, 20, Aitzaz Zafar, 20, Usman Malik, 21, and Akbar Butt, 20 have been jailed, for downloading and sharing extremist terrorism-related material.
When Raja left home that day, he left his parents a suicide note, in effect. His intent, he wrote, was not to be a terrorist on British soil, but rather he was going to Afghanistan to train and fight with the Muja'hadeen.
His parents, when they found the note, called in the authorities.. They were not the source of their son's new ideology.. Raja's grandfather had served with the British Indian police force.. the medal he'd had pinned on had been presented by Lord Mountbaten himself and is a family heirloom.. They are a British family, with unquestionably British attitudes..
Raja.. when questioned by police, told them he'd found Islamic extremist sites on the Net, and had met an American Muslim who had directed him to sites that showed, graphically, terrorists blowing themselves up. He mentioned the look of satisfaction in their eyes, as the bombs went off..
He had been depressed of late, said the family.. they said he had been expressing feelings of isolation and loneliness..
Their main contact had been a man in Pakistan, who told the four how to evade security and get to his house.. again, over the Net..
Lets profile.
An impressionable, 'isolated' young college student, looking for a future which had a meaning perhaps beyond that which his parents had achieved, with little idea as to how he could 'make his mark' on the world other than in the 'materialistic society' he'd become disillusioned with.. discovers religion.
And not just religion, but one which offered an extremist view.. offered a 'war' which was justified by his 'faith', as he was taught to understand it..
It gave him a purpose. And to a confused college student struggling with his own identity, this was salvation.
This is what we're actually fighting. Not only in those countries with experience with the carnage extremists can cause, but in all societies with yet another 'lost generation'.
Blame it on the media. Blame it on the Governments. Blame in on parents who've not spent enough time trying to understand and councel their own kids. Blame it on whatever you choose.
But the fact remains, there are kids out there searching for some meaning.. so manner in which they can express their innate anger with either what they have, or what others have and take for granted.
While it is certainly the job of the Muslim teachers and leaders to try and reach out to youth.. to try and instill in them the true meaning of the Q'ran.. It is also a trend we must reverse ourselves..
We, in countries the likes of Britain, must develop a sense of common identity that transcends extremist thought. And that is not the job of the Government.
It is the job of the Imams, of the parents, of society in general, to demonstrate we are not 'The Great Shaitan'.. but are working towards bringing a life of some degree of prosperity, to those who have never enjoyed it before.
It is the job of the media.. who sensationalise each and every 'terrorist' arrest..
Having been a long-time journalist, one cannot espouse gagging any medium, but one can demand that any story that is likely to incite some to distrust of an entire Community, and incite some within that Community to retaliate for what they might percieve as an 'attack' on their culture, and current beliefs..
It is time we stopped attacking those who would fight the threat, and the sources of terrorism and terrorists, and began explaining, in detail, not in documentaries and informational programs or articles which are for the most part, skipped by the majority of viewers and readers, within the daily newscasts we watch, and the tabloids we read.
And this must be seen.. it must be obvious to those who are impressionable..
If the extremists can recruit through giving a sense of 'identity and purpose'.. then we must be more persuasive in promoting our position, and more forcefull in our denunciation and exposure of those who would kill civilians, or fight for a group that fights the soldiers of the countries that 'nurtured' the possible volunteer..
It would be inherent on the media, to dispatch stories the likes of what we are doing to try and rebuild the Afghan and Iraqi infrastructure for the benefit of the people on the street in those countries, and the efforts of the terrorists to destroy that which we're trying to build. To put the emphasis not on those killed in random car-bombings around Baghdad, for that can easily be construed as being the fault of the 'invading' forces, but on the water purification plants, the hydro stations, the houses themselves that we have tried to build, and which terrorists have destroyed. The oil pipelines we have rebuilt, only to have them blown up, again by the terrorists. The efforts we are making, to establish a 'peace' for a land which has never realliy known that state, and the reciprocal efforts of terrorists who's purpose is to keep the common people on the street, without the basic services, and thus maintain their spurious arguments which try to demonstrate that 'we' are the enemy..
This was how it started. A few disillusioned students downloading terrorist information from the net, and becoming a 'part' of something.
It may well be said that it our own fault, that they don't feel a 'part' of the societies we've built..
If so, then it is we that must change. All our diverse components within our countries, must offer more than we have. Show more of the positive aspects of this lifestyle, both in what we have, and what we want to share, and what we're willing to do to introduce it to those who have traditionally lacked..

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A somewhat disturbing motion is likely going to be passed through the House of Commons in the very near future.. likely before it rises for the Summer..
It will provide for the detention of 'terrorist' suspects for 56 days, without charge.. and these 'prisoners' will be held in such centers the likes of Belmarsh.. a somewhat unpleasant place at the best of times..
Effectively, what Parliament is going is removing one of the basic tenets of British jurisprudence.. the concept that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty..
It is a fact of life these days, that there are factions that would cause as much disruption to our society and it's infrastructure as possible, and who would kill innocents in the name of their 'cause'.. But to remove what amount to civil rights through legislation that appears to target a specific group within our society, is only going to cause a kneejerk reaction from those who might have a predeliction towards taking up arms against what they percieve as 'opression'..
As previously mentioned, Britain has an Islamic population of over two million.. and some two thousand are thought to be possible 'security risks'..
We might be well to recall the old saw.. about 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater..'

In a move which might well be seen as historic, the two Arab Islamic countries who do have ties with Israel, have gone to Jerusalem to 'extend the hand of peace'..
The foreign ministers from Egypt and Jordan visited to present a plan backed by the Arab League, which, in itself, has no diplomatic ties with Israel.
The proposal envisages the recognition of Israel if it leaves occupied Palestinian land.
Israel's prime minister has said the Arab idea contains positive elements..
"We are extending a hand of peace on behalf of the whole region to you, and we hope that we will be able to create the momentum needed to resume fruitful and productive negotiations," said Jordan's Abdulelah Khatib..
Mr Khatib and Egypt's Ahmed Aboul Gheit are presenting a long-standing Arab League initiative that was readopted at a meeting in Saudi Arabia recently..
The initiative offers Israel normal ties with all Arab states in return for a full Israeli withdrawal from territory it occupied in 1967, the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said there was "a chance in the near future for the process to ripen into talks that would, in effect, deal with the stages of establishing a Palestinian state"..
Yesterday, the Israeli 'Haaretz' newspaper said Israel was considering an "an agreement of principles" with Palestinians that could establish a Palestinian state on 90% of occupied territory.. the paper also said Israel would propose a tunnel linking the West Bank and Gaza, while there would also be a territorial exchange allowing Israel to keep its main Jewish settlements..
And other moves, King Abdullah of Jordan met George at a private dinner in Washington..and Tony continued his tour of the region with visits toBahrain and Abu Dhabi..
It might be said, that perhaps Tony's mandate from the 'Group of Four' who sent him, has started a ball rolling..
If the eyes of the world could be taken off the Middle East for a while, then certain other pressing problems could be addressed..
However, there is always the sticking point of Iran, The Ayatollah Khameini, and Ahmadenejad to be considered. For while they may have well dropped out of the news, since the taking of the British hostages on the Sha'at al Arab, one can be sure they're still in power, and still working towards nuclear capabilities..
However, one problem at a time..

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A number of points of interest..
Some harsh comments from Vlad today about Britain.. perhaps the closest we've ever seen the Russian leader approach humour..
He's dismissed a UK request for Andrei Lugovoi's extradition as the remnant of a 'colonial mindset'...
"They have long forgotten that it is a long time since Britain was a colonial power," he told Russian TV.
This is a continuation of the exchange of words, following the expulsion of four Russian 'diplomats' from Britain..
Vlad being filmed meeting pro-Kremlin youth groups at the presidential residence at Zavidovo when he was asked about the diplomatic row..
He said 30 people sought by Russian law enforcement agencies "for serious and very serious crimes" were taking refuge in London and Britain did not "bat an eyelid and did not even think about extraditing them".
"They (that's us..) had the same problem, though to a lesser extent, with the USA, strange as it may sound, and with France and other countries," he said..
"They do not extradite to any country people who are hiding on their territory, including people who are suspected of and charged with terrorist activities."
And as though that wasn't enough.. he added that to other countries, Britain made "exaggerated claims", including "insulting advice" to "change our constitution"...
"They should get their heads examined rather than tell us to change our constitution," he said.
Yes. The Civil Servants behind the politicians and diplomats, call this 'bumf'..

And while farmers are bemoaning the loss of the European migrant workers they used to get on an annual basis.. those allowed into the country on temporary work visas..
figures seem to indicate those from the new EU are coming into the country, and are filling jobs slightly more lucrative..
Two and a half million foreigners have moved to the UK to work since 2002, National Insurance figures appear to suggest...
Now..these numbers, which include those who may only have been in the UK for a short time, have been getting larger each year, reaching 713,000 last year..
The Home Office stressed these were people coming to the UK to work, and said it now monitored social impact...
And the clear message to the British man on the street is..'there are jobs out there, if you're willing to work'..
While the Conservatives have moved quickly to suggest this trend is unacceptable, and the numbers must be drastically reduced.. it must be remembered that these workers pay taxes.. These are not 'political refugees'.. but people who will do what we ourself distain..
Hard to hold a moral high ground.. when one collects Government Benefits..
This is the breakdown, for last year:
Poland: 222,000.. India: 49,000.. Slovak Repub: 28,000.. Pakistan: 25,000.. Australia: 24,000.. Lithuania: 24,000.. France: 20,000.. S.Africa: 16,000
Germany 15,000.. China: 13,000..
'Source: DWP figures on NI numbers allocated in year to April 2007'
Realistically, we can only expect these figures to rise..
More on this, as the situation develops..

There have been reports in al Jazeera on the possibility of Tony having any success in the Middle East, and surprisingly, they're somewhat cautiously optimistic..
The Quartet, comprising the US, EU, UN and Russia, has asked Tony for an initial plan for building ruling institutions needed to establish a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, by September..
Good luck on meeting that deadline..
Tony's mission.. as expounded upon earlier here.. is complicated by the split between Hamas, who currently control Gaza, and Abbas' Fatah faction, who are in charge of the West Bank.
Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Ramallah, says Hamas officials insist Tony has to talk to them in some way else he is guilty of double-standards.
The difficulty, as also mentioned before, is getting Hamas to stop it's terrorist activities, and recognize..
And, as if Tony hadn't enough to contend with.. there comes the announcement today from Syria, that they have missiles capable of hitting any target within Israel..
A good way to start peace talks, that..
And lets complicate matters even further..
The US has accused Iran of increasing its alleged support of armed groups in Iraq in the two months since the two parties began talks aimed at finding a way to quell the fighting..
The comments by Ryan Crocker, the US envoy in Iraq, came after the second direct meeting in Baghdad between Tehran and Washington in 27 years..
Crocker said that since the last meeting in May "we have actually seen militia-related activity with Iranian support go up and not down"...
Ahh.. the delicate art of diplomacy..
In reply.. Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador, countered Crocker's remarks by saying that Tehran was helping Iraq deal with the 'security situation', but Iraqis were "victimised by terror and the presence of foreign forces" on their territory..
One does not think Qomi was talking of the Afghan.. Syrian.. or Iranian terrorists working against the Coalition Forces..
After the meeting Iraqi officials announced that the three sides had agreed to form a tripartite security committee to fight al Q'aeda in Iraq, support the Iraqi government and increase security along the Iran-Iraq border.
Yes. Bumf..

And one more issue here..
Another study on the human impact on climate change indicates that we have affected global rainfall over this past century..
The people in the South and Midlands of this island will take some comfort, one is sure, in hearing that..
Researchers said changes to the climate had led to an increase in annual average rainfall in the mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere..
But while Canada, Russia and northern Europe had become wetter, India and parts of Africa had become drier..
The findings will be published in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday, and we'll have a closer look at them then..
Interesting to read, and watch the slant American news has taken on the flooding we've been having throughout England..
It has been bad, and that's undenyable, and the damage will run into the billions, and there are entire villages under some 15 feet of water in places..
What's more, it's expected to continue raining for another couple of days, at least, displacing more than 150 thousand people..
And, that this is the second time in 4 years a large portion of the Midlands and the South have been innundated..
But it's perhaps difficult for the average American, who's country is comparitively vast, that Britain is a very small island, and at the moment about a third of it, is either under water, or in danger of soon being so..
It would be difficult to imagine the equivalent of, say, the Mississippi bursting it's banks and flooding all that to the east, to the Atlantic.. which proportionately is what has happened here..
All a matter of perception..

Tony starts in earnest today, with a visit to the West Bank, and then on to Israel..
But the one faction he will not be meeting with.. the one place he will not be going, is Hammas and the Gaza..
Now Tony's job is just beginning, but as has been discussed before here, he must find a formula for agreement, if not reconcilliation, between firstly, Hammas and Israel, and secondly, between Fatah and Hammas..
It's not as though Tony's not had some success in the past with bringing religiously separated groups together.. Northern Ireland springs to mind.. But the job he has set for himself, could, and more likely will, take years.
It may well be, that Tony has more success getting Israel to offer concessions.. and thus offer a quid pro quo to the Palistinians..
But one of the first problems he is going to face is again, Hammas, and the stricture demanding that group recognize Israel and cease attacks, for before that condition is met, Tony seems to hold to the American and British policy, of not dealing with 'terrorist' groups.
It took the IRA quite a while to realize that they could effect more change, and forward their cause, through a Parliamentary process than they could be blowing the UVF up, and being blown up in return. Perhaps Tony has, with this experience under his belt, the ability to convince Hammas to disarm as far as is needed to convince the International Community that they would consider ending their association with terrorism, if Fatah agreed to do the same.. and Israel brought something of it's own to offer..
Perhaps Hammas can be brought to the table, by lifting some of the economic sanctions on the Gaza, and allowing some of the literally starving masses access to a regular food supply..
But, the pride of a fervently religious man is immense, and that of a fervently religious group.. immeasurably greater..
Perhaps Tony is the man for the job..but whether he has the time, is moot.
Look for a Nobel Peace Prize for Tony in the next few years, in recognition of his even taking this job on..
It is more than likely though, that Tony himself realises the scope of this process, and would be happy if he could leave the job to someone else, once he's done his best to lay the foundation upon which a 'process' can be developed..
A relationship with Hammas is an inevidability, and this is what Tony must begin to lay out.. A plan wherein all benefit.. no-one loses face.. and the Palistinians have a future..
A bold undertaking, even for a British diplomat and politician..

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A number of points this morning..
We'll start with the admission of the admission from Jaqui Smith, the Home Secretary, that she had smoked cannabis back in the 80's.. Now Gordon has said, that MP's personal lives, especially when it went as far back as their University years, was their own business.. and frankly, the use of the drug obviously didn't impare Jaqui's advancement, or compromise her ability to think coherently..
It is a fact, that we of the 60's, 70's and 80's, likely the majority of us, have used or still do use cannabis as the recreational drug of choice. There are several reasons.. it's far less harmfull to one's physiology than alcohol.. it's much easier to do without, in that it is not addictive in those who are not already prone to an addictive personality.. and it does not lead to a habit for those whom Old Spice can, and is, a viable replacement for the 'drink' when the cash runs low..
And perhaps most telling, is the role our old friend Harry Anslinger had on the vilification of the drug from the 30's through the 60's, when he was the Head of the American Drug Administration. Reading his justification for his stance, is reading a litany of racial stereotypes, and condemnation of those who used, to be politically correct, a 'black' drug..
If we were truely concerned about controling those recreational drugs our various societies use, it would seem to make sense that topping the list of 'dangerous drugs', would be alcohol.
But, money talks.. and we all know what walks..

Now, the Russian response to Britain's expulsion of the 4 Russian Diplomats from Britain in response to the refusal of Russia to extradite a man wanted here, as a suspect in the murder of Andre Litvenyenko in late 2006, is expected early this afternoon..
But again, the Kremlin has held back from a knee-jerk reaction for several reasons.. not the least the trade agreements and dependancies which have been established with the EU and Britain itself..
It will be interesting to see, how moderate Vlad will be with his reponse.. whether he wants an escallation of the 'Cool War'.. or whether he yearns more for Western money..
More this afternoon..

And.. today Tony will have his first shot at trying to do something about the Gaza problem, in his official capacity as Middle East Envoy..
This job is immense in it's complexity, and it's going to take perhaps more out of Tony than all his years as British Prime Minister. His is now the task of separating, and learning the particular deviations in faith of all the separate and disparate groups within the Islamic Community. He's going to have to try and reconcile Hammas, which by the way has driven Gaza to the brink of bankruptcy since taking over their part of their 'country'.. with Fatah, which seems to be doing quite well on the West Bank..
He will have to deal mano a mano with tribal leaders, each with their traditional differences and animosities, and do his best to settle the small differences, before he tackles the 'big ones'..
And then, he'll have to develop the patience to deal with watching any hard-fought agreement fall apart over the slightest disagreements between the tribal leaders..
It is a job that is in effect, requires the restructuring of an entire society, with a long long history of intractable 'pride' in one's particular affiliation, and 'distain' for any who do not belong to their particular Tribe.
Look for Tony to lose more hair.. not the least from tearing it out of his own scalp in utter frustration..
But, also, there is the chance that even though Tony's a known ally of Israel, he might be the man who can convince those involved in this conflict to see the advantages of a flexible societal structure.. One which includes, indeed, revolves around concession and mutual acceptance..
One wishes Tony the very best of 'British Luck'..
He's going to need it, along with the complete support of those nations who have embraced a change from tribalism, to a coherent society..
Money will be at the core of this.. the carrot so to speak..
As well as the very real temptation for the Islamic World, to enter the worldwide group of those who have resolved their problems..
For once that has been established, their push towards the acceptance of Islam by the rest of this world, might meet less resistance..
But the Islamic Heiarchy must lead the way, and must make the same commitment as that which has been pledged by the British Islamic Council..
Rather than inciting their impressionable youth to blow themselves up, a move must be made towards tolerance, and the ambition of a worldwide Caliphate shelved..
At least for the time being..

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Might be worth mentioning this early morning, that the refusal of Russia to allow the extradition of Andre Lugavoy, the prime suspect in the murder of former KGB officer Andre Litvenyenko in Britain in November 2006, has led to the expulsion of 4 Russian Diplomats from Britain..
Vlad is not happy, and said 'this will not go unanswered'.. or words to that effect..
So, what is expected is that a gaggle of British Diplomats will be sent home from Moscow later today..
There has been much talk of the development of what might be called a 'Cool War' between the West and Russia..
Vlad is not happy at the 'Westernisation' of his country.. he, as have all his predesessors, does not want the de-centralisation process to go too far..
Watch for rapid development of this issue..
And remember.. how much Russian gas Europe has become dependent upon..

Monday, July 16, 2007

There's not been much out of the ordinary over these past few days..
Gordon made his first appearance at this morning's Stormont meetings, the annual summit involving the leaders of those in charge of the various legislatures of the countries making up the Union, along with Bertie Ahearn.. the Teasach of the Irish Republic..
Not much of any importance.. Ian Paisley and his vice, Martin McGuinness made a statement of solidarity.. with Gordon implying the £2.5 in aid allocated for Northern Ireland depends on their forging a working relationship..
Seems to be working..

But what is worthy of note, is that the $American opened this morning in Lonson at $2.03 to the Pound Sterling..
This devaluation of the American dollar is a trend to be watched closely.. The US Treasury is allowing the slip 'in an effort to curb inflation'.. and that's precisely the rhetoric used by the Bank of England when it raised the Prime to 5.25%, much to the dismay of many of those who had floating mortages on first time ventures into the property market..
It's expected that our Prime Rate will be 6% by Christmas..
The Pound is being over-valued, as is the Euro.. for while Britain may well have the healthiest economy in Europe at the moment.. all economies in the West are balanced precariously on the scales of GNP v Trade Imbalance, and debt to the World Bank..
At this point, whether the British or the American man on the street understands it, neither country can afford to lessen their foreign efforts.. their wars must continue to keep those working, who's product is entirely desposable..
It's a deep hole..

On a somewhat lighter note, one must ask those unfamiliar with the Conservative MP Boris Johnson, to Google the name..
Boris is, one would argue, an absolute genius.. has a work ethic which includes being the Editor in Chief of 'The New Statesman', a political magazine.. publishing books as fast as he can pump them out.. and being a longstanding MP for a London consituency..
Boris has thrown his hat in the ring as a candidate for Mayor of London..
Now, this man, in a way, seems to typify the worldwide view of the eccentric Englishman..
Some of his quotes would keep you chuckling for quite a while..

Monday, July 09, 2007

Confirmation from the head of the American Forces in Iraq.. Lt.General David Petraeus.. that the undertaking they've taken on, is one which will take 'decades' to effect..
Now, perhaps had this assessment been made two, perhaps three years ago, it might have saved Georges bacon.. But, with control of both Houses with the Democrats, big defence spending bills, and the issue of increasing the American presence on the ground.. George is fighting a lost cause..
The American public want their boys home.. and regardless of the political implications of yet another American withdrawal from Iraq, before stability is realised, they will have them home..
The complexion of the Middle East is about to radically change, and even the outrage of 911 had to die down, on a national level, eventually..
Now, whether we'll see a UN presence finally in place.. whether the British will be left to mop up the mess the best they can within their sphere of influence..
It really makes little difference..
It will demonstrate to those who preach the Hard-Line.. that the 'West' can be beaten.. that the countries they despise, lack in heart and commitment..
Worse than an exercise in futility..
If this is not seen to some successfull conclusion.. regardless of the cost or timeframe.. the international clout lost, would be irreparable..
Now, this could be compelling reading for those interested in what went on behind the closed doors of Tony's administration..
Alastair Campbell, Tony's closest aide and advisor, will release his published diaries later this morning.. and it promises to be interesting, to say the least..
Campbell speaks of the days leading up to Tony's decision to take us to war..
He specifically mentions the 'sucicide' of Dr. David Kelly, and the vindication of the Prime Minister by the Hutton Report..
You might recall Dr Kelly was the man who was 'outed' by the government, as the source of 'leaked documents' which proved government reports assessing Iraq's readiness for nuclear war were 'sexed up'..
Dr.Kelly wrote, in emails to friends hours before he was found, dead by his own hand apparently, about 'dark actors' in Whitehall..
Campbell's book will stir some mud..
And some of those involved, are still sitting in Parliament.. some of them are running the country..
Interesting, what spin will be put on this by Gordon..

Sunday, July 08, 2007

One cannot say the British Muslim Council isn't trying to do it's part in recaliming a peaceful image for their faith..
They are meeting this weekend.. an emergency meeting of imams and Muslim community activists to work out a strategy for combating extremism.
Their problem, and one they freely admit, is one that was brought to the public attention by a BBC Poll of all things, which showed that 70% of Imams preaching across this country, are not British-born.
They are recent immigrants from India and Bangladesh, and especially Pakistan..
These Imams may have a rudimentary grasp of English, but the sermons they preach are, for the most part, in Urdu.. and the doctrine they teach is 'medaeval' recitation of the Q'ran, with little or no scholarly accreditation.
This, admits the Muslim Council, is a definate problem, for these Imams are actually asked to come into Mosques to preach.. brought specifically by congregations..
There would appear to be some resistance to employing British Imams by British Muslims.. for their interpretation of the Q'ran is Seminary trained.. leaning towards a more 'modern' application of Islam.. a faith that addresses today's issues..
Imam Ajmal Masroor preached this week on the injustice of violent attacks against the innocent, a counterblast to terrorism that came straight out of the Koran.
His is a modern interpretation of the faith and its holy text suited to a modern, Western, secular, and multicultural democracy. It also included criticism of other mosques that restrict access for women.
Khayer Chowdhury, a student in east London, said of his Imam:
"To be fair he doesn't speak very good English... and he talks about things that interest older people, like the family..He doesn't talk about things that concern young people... like how to behave on the street, and integration."
Imam Ajmal Masroor points out an uncomfortable reality about Islam in modern Britain...
"In the Ottoman times, an imam's job was highly respected and would attract a high number of extremely talented people.. Today, on the contrary, an Imam's job is poorly paid and attracts the least talented people."
Now this may seem a harsh judgement on a body of people serving their communities.. and their Almighty.. to the best of their individual abilities..
But the social and political realities in which Imams now operate are themselves increasingly harsh.. The task before them, to bring those who are willing to turn to violence because of their social frustration, into an understanding that they are not the 'Muslim unemployed, frustrated and lost in the 'System''.. but they are the British unemployed, frustrated and lost in the 'System''..
It's a positive step from the Muslim Council to even refer to the BBC Poll, let alone that they accepted it and intend to do something about it..
One wonders if they'll take Sir Allan's comments to heart, and perhaps begin sending people to deliberately attend certain Imams sermons.. to watch for suggestions of sedition..
Who knows how far they'll go, to clean their own house..
And who knows what powers the Judiciary will have, to deal with those 'suspected' of spreading hate..
Ahh.. amazing how simple 'faith' can be complicated by so much religion..
Now, following a path already laid down by the United States, at least to some extent.. Gordon's appointed former Navy chief Admiral Sir Allan West, as our 'Security Minister'..
Kind of a one man Homeland Security Deprartment, one supposes..
Perhaps a bit of a knee-jerk reaction.. we've done without one so far..
But regardless.. here he is..
And one must wonder at what his purpose, and his scope, might be..
Sir Allan's a bit of the 'Old School' type.. excellent at his job in the Navy, both at sea as an active Commander and behind a desk arguing the Navy's cause at Admiralty Offices..
First interview as the new Security Minister went to the Sunday Telegraph.. and to quote that paper..
"He said the country was up against a "disparate core" of "racist" people - often based abroad - who wanted power.
And he urged people to be "un-British" by "snitching" to the authorities.
Sir Alan added that he "hated" the expression "war on terror", saying it was "totally wrong" for the current situation.
"It's not like a war in that sense at all. It demeans the value of a war and it demeans the value of a lot of things,". That again, to the Sunday Telegraph.
One must ponder this statement..
The interview continues..
" He said the new prime minister had asked him to help "sort out" the government's response to the terror threat, when he appointed him last week.
"We are not getting our message across properly," he added.
The most important aspect of countering the terror threat was prevention, he said, which the newspaper said referred to dealing with the radicalisation of young Muslims.
Assessing the threat to the UK as having grown, he said: "This is not a quick thing. I believe it will take 10 to 15 years.
"But I think it can be done as long as we as a nation apply ourselves to it and it's done across the board."
Done across the board.
One must wonder when the Government will realise that it will take a concerted and consolidated effort from all it's domestic agencies.. Social Affairs.. Education..
Law Enforcement.. Housing.. to effect any degree of change within the disaffected..
And let's say Sir Allan has a point.. that the word 'Community', when it refers to an ethnic group, is anathema.. that there needs to be an infusion of what it means to be British, while maintaining a sense of one's heritage..
Of course, having said that, Sir Allans job might well begin in Glasgow, with the 'disaffected Scots'..
Mind you.. it's not as though Gordon's new Cabinet hasn't thought of instilling new values into the classroom..
Schools in England are to get £13.7m more to teach pupils manners, respect and good behaviour...
New 'Children's Secretary' Ed Balls.. wants pupils in all primary and secondary schools to have lessons in social and emotional skills by 2011.
A programme already running in 60% of primary schools, which helps children deal with anger.. anxiety.. conflicts, is being rolled out right across the nation.
It has had a major impact on behaviour and attainment, the government says.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Interest rates haven't been this high in 6 years..
The Bank of England raised it trend-setting rate to 5.75%, in an effort to curb inflation..
Now, the main cause of the unprecidented rise in the rate of inflation, was fuelled almost completely by the housing market.. prices reaching unprecidented heights throughout the Isand and Northern Ireland..
Yet there have been those who have managed to get their foot on the property ladder, and it's these people who will feel the effects of this rise..
Those on floating morgage rates will be paying abywhere from £16 to £125 more a month.. an increase some are going to find difficult to handle..
It has been mentioned before here, that there is a good possibility that the Banks will soon be the primary owners of residential property in Britain..
Especially since forecasts indicate that rates could be at 6.5% by next Spring.. 6.0% by this Fall..

More idiocy by militants.. this time in Nigeria where a 3 year old British girl has been kidnapped.. taken while she was being taken to her day care centre..
The Foreign Office has demanded the immediate release of the child.. but once again, the problem remains defining which particular faction has carried this act out..
This abduction follows the taking of five British oil workers Wednesday..
Her father is an ex-pat worker.. who's been in the country for ten years. The mother of the child is Nigerian..
there have been 33 kidnappings in Nigeria over this year.. almost all of them for ransom.. And there have been reports the father of the girl has been contacted..
But a three year old girl..?
Are there no lines that won't be crossed..?

And.. the British Muslim Community has moved exceedingly quickly..
It is leading a new campaign condemning the recent attempted car bomb attacks in London and Glasgow.
The campaign, titled "Not in Our Name", will be launched across the UK with adverts in newspapers.
It emphasises "the Muslim community's rejection of any attempts to link any such criminal attacks to the teachings of Islam", organisers said.
Muslims from various professions have backed the campaign, including doctors.
The advert, accredited to "Muslims United", also carries a quotation from Koran reading:
"Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind.
And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind."
Education.. and training for not just the Muslim 'disillusioned youth'.. but British 'disillusioned youth' in general..
This is a process that will literally take years to achieve any degree of success, but it is a direction we must steer ourselves towards..
'Pride' is perhaps the most difficult emotion to reawake in a nation.. in an individual..
But it is an absolute necessity.
Not 'hubris'.. not the development of the need to 'lord' it over others..
But a sense of contentment in the job one has done.. that which has been earned.. that which one has achieved..
It will take years.. but the process must start somewhere..

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A belated Happy Canada Day.. and a Happy 4th of July, to North America..
Just a couple of points of interest..
Was speaking to a contact in Canada yesterday, and the comment was made, that the British haven't lost that many men in Iraq.. had they? Seems the news they get from the US always reports on American casualties, but never mention the Brits..
Now it's true the Americans have passed the three thousand mark in men killed in this conflict, but, for those who might be unaware, more than two hundred Brits have fallen as well..
One might say that is, in comparison, a pathetically poor number..
But we're talking about dead men here, and regardless of the numbers, the British have maintained their position in the South of the country.. have stood 'shoulder to shoulder' where no other country would.. and our MoD has stretched it's resources beyond their capabilities..
Let us not forget, we're also in Afghanistan, and boxes come home from there as well..
It might do well to remind the American man on the street, that 'their boys' are not fighting alone.. if only to assure the British man on the street that this whole effort is worth it..
As a matter of interest.. now that Tony's no longer Prime Minister or a sitting Member of Parliament, if he's picked up his Congressional Medal of Honour yet..

Britain's Islamic Council has announced that they will begin to police their own.
They intend to weed out those Imams who teach those named as the 'disillusioned and impressionable' element, that the West is the enemy..
Perhaps more telling was a report taken from a Pakistani shop owner, who has been in the same place for more than 30 years, and who has raised a family of five, as 'British citizens'.
He recounts how his regular customers, regardless of country of origen, have expressed their condolences that he himself, might be branded with the same iron as those fanatics who seem to be popping out of the woodwork, and the NHS..
He expressed no fear.. felt no sense of isolation or discrimination..
He felt at home, as he should..

Our Security Level has been downgraded from 'Critical' to 'Serious'.. but the hunt for the man/woman behind the London and Glasgow bombing attempts continues..
Eight have been arrested so far under the 'Terrorism Act'.. with six of those arrests having been made within hours of the attempts..
As mentioned before..this country has not been put in a state of fear by these attacks..
But it has made us somewhat angry..

And after 114 days of being kept in virtual solitary confinement, BBC reporter Allan Johnston has been released.
Hammas is being given some guarded praise by the Foreign Office for it's part in assuring the same release of this man.. although it seems it was a dispute between Hammas itself and a local 'warlord' that sparked the incident in the first place..
But nevertheless, Allan is free..
But the Palistinian people have lost a valuable spokesman, for he will never set foot in the Gaza again..

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