April 2008

Student ‘Twitters’ his way out of Egyptian jail

(CNN) — James Karl Buck helped free himself from an Egyptian jail with a one-word blog post from his cell phone.

Buck, a graduate student from the University of California-Berkeley, was in Mahalla, Egypt, covering an anti-government protest when he and his translator, Mohammed Maree, were arrested April 10.

On his way to the police station, Buck took out his cell phone and sent a message to his friends and contacts using the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The message only had one word. “Arrested.”

Sometimes it’s good to be wired..

More about Twitter and other apps like Jott and Phone Tag

Via the Australian: Esteem for US rises in Asia

…in a world supposedly awash in anti-US sentiment, pro-American leaders keep winning elections. Germany’s Angela Merkel is certainly more pro-American than Gerhard Schroeder, whom she replaced. The same is true of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy.

More importantly in terms of Green’s analysis, the same is also true of South Korea’s new President. Lee Myung-bak, elected in a landslide in December, is vastly more pro-American than his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.

Even in majority Islamic societies, their populations allegedly radicalised and polarised by Bush’s campaign in Iraq and the global war on terror more generally, election results don’t show any evidence of these trends. In the most recent local elections in Indonesia, and in national elections in Pakistan, the Islamist parties with anti-American rhetoric fared very poorly. Similarly Kevin Rudd was elected as a very pro-American Labor leader, unlike Mark Latham, with his traces of anti-Americanism, who was heavily defeated.

Even with China, the Iraq campaign was not a serious negative for the US. Beijing was far more worried by the earlier US-led NATO intervention into Kosovo because it was based purely on notions of human rights in Kosovo…

…Green cautions that a US failure in Iraq, a retreat and leaving chaos in Iraq behind, would gravely damage US credibility in Asia.

What is clear from Green’s analysis is how different the Asian environment is from the European environment, or even from the US domestic debate.

It is a form of Orientalism, but not quite what Edward Said had in mind.

Patrick Lasswell wonders: if Congressman Broun is so worried about harmful addictive masturbation, why doesn’t he focus his attention on earmarks?

In the NY Times, Barry Gewen describes the similarities and the differences between “Muslim Rebel Sisters” Hirsi Ali and Irshad Manji:

Both Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Manji come from non-Arab Muslim backgrounds. By itself, this may be one reason for their opposition to Islamic orthodoxy, which they see as inherently Arab, or Arab-dominated. Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Somalia, and lived in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya before fleeing to the Netherlands when she was 22 to avoid an arranged marriage. When her family was in Saudi Arabia, she remembers her father’s complaining that the Saudis had perverted the true Islam. “He hated Saudi judges and Saudi law,” she writes. “He thought it was all barbaric, all Arab desert culture.”

Ms. Manji was born in 1968 in Uganda, but her family, part Egyptian and part Indian, moved to Canada when she was 4 to escape Idi Amin. She is even more insistent than Ms. Hirsi Ali in drawing a distinction between Islam and Arab tribal culture, its “dictatorship from the desert.” Who elected the Saudi monarch “to be Islam’s steward?” she asks. “We’re not in the Saudi sand dunes anymore.”

Ms. Manji has a broader and more flexible idea than Ms. Hirsi Ali of what Islam is and can be. Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “Saudi Arabia is the source of Islam and its quintessence.” Ms. Manji, on the other hand, is convinced that her religion can escape what she sees as its Arab domination. “We need a take-no-prisoners debate about Saudi Arabia, a cauldron of duplicity.” …

…No element more thoroughly informs the work of both women than feminism; its influence on their thinking can hardly be overstated, and in this sense they might be considered crown jewels in the history of the modern women’s movement. Yet because they are risking their lives for their beliefs — constantly, every day — they may have more in common with antitotalitarian dissidents like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn than with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. As feminists, Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Manji are demanding more than equality; they are very self-consciously challenging the foundations of an entire way of life….

…Clearly, this is a debate of importance not only to Muslims but to non-Muslims as well, and for a Westerner listening in, the best way to understand it may be to translate it into the language of European history. Irshad Manji sees herself as moving Islam into the 16th century; Ayaan Hirsi Ali wants to move it into the 18th. It’s as if Luther and Voltaire were living at the same time.

Comparing these brave women to Luther and Voltaire is more appropriate than comparing them to Steinem and Friedan. This is definitely an article worth reading.

[cross-posted at Solomonia]

Fighting terrorism by fighting terrorists. What a concept!

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) recently unveiled her “Wake Up America” agenda to a select group of media representatives, including Family Security Matters. Her agenda features a ten-point strategy to alert and educate Americans to terrorist threats posed by radical Islamic extremists here at home.

One of Myrick’s goals is to “explain to people what the roadblocks are” regarding the fight against terrorism in the United States. She also feels “very strongly about the infiltration” by those who would do us harm “that’s taking place in America.”

(and, no, she’s not talking about Mexicans crossing the border looking for jobs washing dishes)

A few of her proposals:

3. Will call for the Government Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the selection process of Arabic translators in the FBI and DoD.

4. Will call for the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) 501(c)(3) non-profit status which restricts “lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”

5. Introduce a bill to make the preaching, publication, or distribution of materials that call for the death of American citizens, attacks on the United States Government or Armed Forces, or the financing of the means and/or operations to accomplish these acts, acts of sedition and/or solicitation of treason.

6. Will call on the Government Accountability Office to conduct an audit to verify the total sovereign wealth fund investment in the United States.

7. Will attempt to cancel scholarship student visa program with Saudi Arabia until they reform their textbooks.


NYC, 2008

Hillary Clinton wants to extend our nuclear umbrella over our beloved Gulf state allies:

Asked if “it should be US policy now to treat an Iranian attack on Israel as if it were an attack against the United States,” Clinton astonishingly responded that she’d use American nukes not just to defend Israel, our traditional strategic ally, but also other neighboring states such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from an Iranian nuclear attack.

Hillary Clinton is willing to risk millions of American lives to protect the sponsors of 9/11 and the hub of world terrorism. This is a proposal that’s so stunningly drenched in idiocy, it transcends standard perceptions of logic and existence.

In contrast:

Barack Obama’s far more sensible answer was simply to commit to definitively and aggressively extend our deterrent protection to Israel – period.

Go Obama!

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