“Over 15,000 domestic workers leave their families to come to Britain every year. Charities claim that many are not only badly treated but that they are living as slaves. This report investigates the plight of overseas domestic workers brought to the UK, and enslaved behind closed doors by rich and powerful employers in the upper levels of British society.” (thanks James)
“Its security forces brutally eliminated organized opposition. PA ministries staffed with Hamas-friendly technocrats drew up ten-year programs to shift production and agriculture from servicing export markets to meeting internal needs and achieving self-sufficiency. And despite — if not because of — the departure of Palestine’s traditional donors, Gaza’s government has introduced the measures they long advocated, heavily pruning the government wage bill, enforcing tax collection, and introducing a new system of license payments and levies on fuel and cigarettes entering the tunnels. Over time, internal stability coupled with the new trade routes triggered an economic rebirth of sorts. The tunnels absorbed about a fifth of the 100,000 workers who had once labored in Israel, and brought in the raw materials and spare parts for factories crippled by Israeli bombardments to restart production. Gaza’s large flour mill is producing two thirds of its pre-siege average of 6,000 tons per day. A plastics factory has even expanded its work force, thanks to inputs arriving from Egypt. The World Bank cites a rate of 29 percent unemployment in Gaza, significantly above the West Bank’s 19 percent. But the figure takes no account of the tunnel enterprise, Gaza’s largest private-sector employer, which the World Bank considers black-market activity despite Hamas’ efforts to formalize the supply lines.”
“Lebanon has been declared a “partially free” environment for labor unions, outperforming most of its Middle East neighbors but still falling short of human-rights standards, a report by independent watchdog organization Freedom House revealed.”
“Jordan’s military prosecutor at the State Security Court should immediately order the release of Hatim al-Shuli, a university student, and rescind charges against him, Human Rights Watch said today. Al-Shuli was arrested on July 25, 2010, and charged on July 28 with insulting King Abdullah (lese majeste) and “causing national strife,” over a poem he denies writing that criticized the king. The military prosecutor has since renewed orders for al-Shuli’s detention and denied his petitions for bail.”
Soviet scholar, Robert C Tucker of Princeton University, died while I was in Lebanon. I did not have a chance to say something about him. I never met him but he was a big influence on me while I minored in Soviet Studies, here in the US and even in my MA time in Lebanon. Soviet studies in the US was invaded by ideologues, very much like Middle East studies, but the at least Soviet studies ideologies, like Richard Pipes, knew Russian. Tucker (like Jerry Hough and Stephen F Cohen–and the latter was a student of Tucker at Princeton) was a reasonable man with reasonable approaches to the study of the Soviet Union. His approach to the study of Stalin was more psychological, so he did do the Homos Soveitecus stuff. He did not blame Russian culture or literature for Stalin. He also helped the incorporation of Marxist studies in the US academe when that was unacceptable. His Marx-Engels reader is the most widely used book of readings by Marx for example. He did not have, like many others of his generation, to blast Marx and Marxism before he begins his study of the subject. I liked him and liked reading all his books.
““There have been a number of cases reported to the FBI about Mossad officers who have approached leaders in Arab-American communities and have falsely represented themselves as ‘U.S. intelligence,’ ” Giraldi wrote recently in American Conservative magazine. “Because few Muslims would assist an Israeli, this is done to increase the likelihood that the target will cooperate. It’s referred to as a ‘false flag’ operation.” Giraldi’s piece continued, “Mossad officers sought to recruit Arab-Americans as sources willing to inform on their associates and neighbors. The approaches, which took place in New York and New Jersey, were reportedly handled clumsily, making the targets of the operation suspicious.””
“The CIA took an internal poll not long ago about friendly foreign intelligence agencies.
The question, mostly directed to employees of the clandestine service branch, was: Which are the best allies among friendly spy services, in terms of liaison with the CIA, and which are the worst? In other words, who acts like, well, friends? “Israel came in dead last,” a recently retired CIA official told me the other day.” (thanks FLC)
“Four generals from an African country were denied entry Friday to Herzliya Airport by the security chief there, even though their visit had been arranged five days earlier and they were accompanied by an Israeli official and a senior air force officer. After a long delay, the group was forced to depart after lodging a protest, and the Airports Authority has apologized.” (thanks Olivia)
“Yet the museum is being constructed on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery, desecrating the graves of the interred. Archaeologists believe the Mamilla (Faithful of God) Cemetery holds the remains of tens of thousands of Muslim soldiers of Salah ed-Din, the 12th century leader who reconquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders. The cemetery was actively used by prominent Palestinian families through 1948, when West Jerusalem fell to Israeli troops. Hence the site is immensely significant archaeologically, but is also culturally sensitive to Palestinians. An initial petition by Palestinian families and Islamic groups to the Israeli high court delayed but did not halt museum construction. Speed was the guiding principle of the project, not care for archaeological preservation nor respect for the dead, construction workers recounted to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper. The Israeli high court denied a second petition, ignoring evidence that the Israel Antiquities Authority had suppressed the opinion of its own expert in originally permitting the museum’s construction.
In fact, chief excavator Gideon Suleimani advised his Antiquities Authority superiors against construction on the site and has since characterized building there as “an archaeological crime.”
“A poll conducted by Ynet and the Yesodot Center for Torah and Democracy reveals that 58% of haredim and the religious public believe that rabbis should not be subjected to police interrogation. The majority of seculars and traditionalists, however believe that rabbis should report for questioning when called.”
So the US invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban. The US government (including the military) are now launching a campaign to beg the Taliban to come back to power. If that is not success, what is? Don’t you like the quality of brilliance of Middle East expertise of American Zionists?? I mean, would you not like to have Elliott Abrams or Jeffrey Feltman explain their brilliance?
“Some examples of Muslim openness, tolerance and courage are given by Gilbert. The bulk of the book, however, consists of examples of Muslim hatred, hostility and cruelty towards the Jews.” Of course, the author is not a Middle East historian and knows none of the languages of the Middle East. (thanks Nader)
I spoke to one of the top lieutenants of Wadi` Haddad this summer. He told me about the perception of Carolos (“the jackal”): that he was such a braggart and that he was never senior in the organization and Haddad as is known expelled him after the Vienna operation. Carlos, unlike the rest, loved the limelight and media and wanted to promote himself. But all those who knew him spoke of his incredible physical (and language) abilities especially in the early years in Jordan. He attracted the attention of commanders from his first training. I never knew him but I never liked him. An old Middle East intelligence hand showed me the chair where Carlos sat and negotiated with Saudi intelligence for an operation-for-hire.
I asked comrade Talal, a brilliant scientist, to assess the Israeli study about learning Arabic. He wrote me (I cite with permission): “I disagree with the conclusion that this makes Arabic more difficult. There are caveats to the study and its conclusions:
1) Recognition by adults of different written letters of different languages may show preferential utilization of one visual field/hemisphere (right visual field/left hemisphere for Arabic, Urdu and Hebrew, according to references) than say English. This does not, in my opinion, translate to ease or difficulty of language acquisition, but more likely to different attributes of the symbols involved.
2) The studies have been done on adults, and it is not known how it is for children. It is universally true that children learn languages much more readily than adults (with a so called language learning window in early to mid childhood).
In summary, while the data may be valid, I find the conclusion of the study erroneous.”
“The nine members of the delegation were about to fly to Tampa, Florida from Dulles when they were pulled off the plane and questioned for over two hours. The United Airlines flight crew had become concerned over a remark by one of the officers, a Pakistani official told AFP on Wednesday. The Pakistanis showed security authorities their passports and letters of invitation to the conference at Central Command, but by the time they were released they had missed their flight, the official said.”
“No better, no worse than previous utterances by the venerable rabbi, 90 in two weeks and still going strong. He has said similar things over the years about Arabs and other non-Jews, singling out for particular attention not only their leaders…”
“The Israeli head of a labor recruiting company accused of exploiting 400 workers from Thailand and forcing them to work on US farms is under arrest and pleading not guilty. Los Angeles-based Global Horizons Manpower Inc. CEO Mordechai Orian surrendered Friday in Honolulu, and he entered his not guilty plea in federal court shortly afterward.”
“The skepticism which plagued the Palestinian camp prior to the recent relaunch of direct Middle East peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has all but disappeared, aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arabic language London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on Saturday.” (thanks Olivia)
“A 2006 Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation into the purchase of child pornography online turned up more than 250 civilian and military employees of the Defense Department — including some with the highest available security clearance — who used credit cards or PayPal to purchase images of children in sexual situations. But the Pentagon investigated only a handful of the cases, Defense Department records show.”
“An Armenian bishop recorded around A.D. 660 that the first governor of Muslim Jerusalem was Jewish. The documentary evidence suggests that the term “Muslim” came into common use only in the eighth century. The earlier word, “Believers,” described a community that embraced many faiths.”
The level of dirty tricks by the Mubarak regime is getting lower and lower. As long as the Mubarak family has the endorsement of the Likud in Israel, Mubarak feels confident–up to a point. So one of the goons of the Mubarak regime snuck into the Facebook account of Muhammad Al-Baradi`i’s daughter, Layla, and posted in the Egyptian state press pictures of her in a bikini and her characterization of her faith as “agnostic.”
Bigotry is bigotry but it seems that the New York Times now reserves a special word, anxiety, for anti-Islam bigotry. Can you imagine if the paper labels anti-Semitism as “anxiety”? And notice how this bigotry is justified: “Nearly nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks ignited a wave of anxiety about Muslims, many in the country’s biggest and arguably most cosmopolitan city still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. One-fifth of New Yorkers acknowledged animosity toward Muslims. Thirty-three percent said that compared with other American citizens, Muslims were more sympathetic to terrorists. And nearly 60 percent said people they know had negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11.”
“Egyptian political activists are furious at fellow democracy and human rights campaigner Saad Eddin Ibrahim after the sociologist signed a petition urging President Hosni Mubarak’s son, Gamal, to run in the 2011 elections.“
“Did you write the book for money?
Of course, I do everything for money. Dr. Johnson is correct when he says that only a fool writes for anything but money. It would be useful to keep a diary, but I don’t like writing unpaid. I don’t like writing checks without getting paid.”
““As a mother and a grandmother, I worry,” Ms. Serafin said. “I learned that in 20 years with the rate of the birth population, we will be overtaken by Islam, and their goal is to get people in Congress and the Supreme Court to see that Shariah is implemented. My children and grandchildren will have to live under that.” “I do believe everybody has a right to freedom of religion,” she said. “But Islam is not about a religion. It’s a political government, and it’s 100 percent against our Constitution.””
“A 90-year-old Saudi man will be lashed 100 times with the whip after he was convicted of smashing the windscreen of a judge’s car to retaliate against a previous verdict against him, a local newspaper reported on Tuesday.“
“A senior Palestinian source told Haaretz that the American administration renewed its pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to stay in direct negotiations with Israel, even if some construction in the settlements resumes after the end of the current moratorium. The source warned that Abbas would not be able to agree to a renewal of construction and will be forced to withdraw from the talks.“
“Dubai’s police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, said that fears of espionage and information sharing by foe Israel — as well as UAE allies United States and Britain — helped prompt the possible limits on the popular BlackBerry. Tamim told a conference on information technology that the proposed BlackBerry curbs are also “meant to control false rumors and defamation of public figures due to the absence of surveillance,” according to a story posted Friday on the website of the UAE newspaper Al-Khaleej.” (thanks Sarah)
“ABC on Tuesday published on its website what seemed to be a major exclusive story by Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross: Law enforcement officials, according to Ross, had been “on a heightened state of alert to a possible hijacking of U.S. carrier flights from the Middle East” — and as a result the number of air marshals on overseas flights, particularly to Dubai, had in the last few weeks been “greatly ramped up.” But then, just like that, it was gone.” (thanks Layali)
“C’est un fleuron de la francophonie au Maghreb qui disparaît dans le silence général. Le lycée privé Louis Pasteur de Tunis ne rouvrira pas ses portes à la rentrée prochaine. Ainsi en ont décidé les autorités locales, sans fournir la moindre explication aux intéressés, familles en tête. En visite cet après midi à Tunis, Nicolas Sarkozy aurait pu s’émouvoir de la fermeture brutale de cet établissement renommé qui accueillait plus de 1.000 élèves. Mais le sujet ne figure pas au menu de ses entretiens avec son homologue Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Trop sensible. L’épouse du président tunisien, Leïla Ben Ali, et son amie, Souha Arafat, la veuve de l’ancien dirigeant palestinien, lancent justement en septembre un lycée international, “International School of Carthage” qui proposera un double cursus américain et français. Par simple oukase, les voilà débarrassées de leur principal concurrent. Elles peuvent même espérer récupérer ses élèves désormais à la rue. “On est au courant du background, explique-t-on au Quai d’Orsay. Mais c’est une affaire tuniso-tunisienne dans laquelle on ne peut pas intervenir”. Le lycée Louis Pasteur avait pourtant été créé en 2005 en partenariat avec l’Institut français de coopération et venait d’entreprendre des démarches auprès du ministère de l’Education, à Paris, pour être conventionné.” (thanks Khelil)
“In his latest book, The Grand Design, an extract of which is published in Eureka magazine in The Times, Hawking said: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.” He added: “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.””
“For the moment, there does not seem to be much prospect of a moderate Islam in the Muslim world. This is partly because in the prevailing atmosphere the expression of moderate ideas can be dangerous—even life-threatening. Radical groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, the likes of which in earlier times were at most minor and marginal, have acquired a powerful and even a dominant position.”
“Huge numbers of migrant domestic workers, mostly from Asia and Africa, are employed throughout the region. Some 1.5m work in Saudi Arabia, 660,000 in Kuwait and 200,000 in Lebanon. Many work very long hours and receive little food, no time off and pay that is a fraction of any minimum wage, if it materialises at all. Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based group, says at least one domestic worker died every week in Lebanon between January 2007 and August 2008. Almost half were suicides and many were as a result of falling from high buildings, often while trying to escape their employers. Mistreatment is so widespread that the Philippines, Ethiopia and Nepal no longer let their citizens go to Lebanon to work as maids, though such bans have had little effect.” (thanks Khelil)
“An Ethiopian soldier serving at an Air Force base in southern Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice Thursday over racial slurs hurled at him by a senior officer. The soldier asked the court to order IDF officials to explain why disciplinary action was not being taken against a major whom he claims called him an “annoying nigg*r.”” (thanks Olivia)
Abbas was so uncomfortable today that his grammatical mistakes while reading were as bad as those of Arafat. He said that he “not only condemns” the killing of the armed settlers yesterday but that he will chase the Palestinian attackers and kill them with his bare hands, if ordered to do so by his Israeli handlers.
“The biggest failure of all is political. Building a state with a democratic government and institutions that work was central to President George W. Bush’s vision of the new Iraq. The country has ended up with a travesty of good governance. Positions in the bureaucracy are awarded on the basis of family or sectarian allegiance rather than merit. Partisan interference so mars elections that no Western diplomat will call them “free and fair”. The watchdog Transparency International reckons that corruption is endemic. More than anywhere else in the world, Sunnis and Shias still fear each other in Iraq. Trust even between moderates is minimal, and national reconciliation non-existent. Five months after inconclusive elections, Iraq still has no new government. Parties are deadlocked in negotiations. The most obvious coalition partners are the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, a moderate Shia whose block won 89 seats in the 325-member parliament, and Ayad Allawi, a former prime minister who is mainly supported by Sunnis and controls 91 seats. Yet the two men dislike and distrust each other so much that they rarely speak.”
Don’t you love it when White House Middle East experts (I mean, the two top Middle East hands, Feltman and Shapiro are horrible caricatures of classic DC Arabists who have been shunned from policy making since the Clinton administration) in Washington, DC invite King PlayStation and Husni Mubarak on the assumption that they would add legitimacy to the presence of the PA gang??? I really mean that: those experts think that those two are popular in the Arab world. But then again: those same people thought the people of Iraq were destined to restore monarchy after the American invasion. By the way, the descendant of the Hashemite family in Iraq is back in London, I am told, and has abandoned all his dreams that were fed to him by American neo-cons.
The success of Syrian TV serials in this Ramadan TV season has been phenomenal. I only have a chance to follow Bab Al-Harah (the fifth part this season). The characters are most interesting and Syrian actors and actresses are full of charm and skill. They have buried the Egyptian TV production, it seems. But the messages of Bab Al-Harah are horrible: promotion of narrow, particularlistic identities (even based in Harah–locality or neighborhood), and the justification of traditional roles of women and the portrayal of polygamy as funny. The show also praises stupid traditional notions of machismo behavior and gestures. But…I cant wait for today’s episode.
“Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor who gained worldwide fame for decades as a one-man Nazi-hunting operation, was in fact frequently on the payroll of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, a new biography asserts.”
“On the charts that the American military provides, those numbers are seen as success, from nearly 4,000 dead in one month in 2006 to the few hundred today. The Interior Ministry offers its own toll of war — 72,124 since 2003, a number too precise to be true. At the morgue, more than 20,000 of the dead, which even sober estimates suggest total 100,000 or more, are still unidentified. This number had a name, though.“