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Sunday, September 30, 2012

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ahmad Faraz - convicted in Britain for publishing Muslim Brotherhood writings

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during his address to the United Nations
As the Muslim Brotherhood's first ever President addresses (picture) the UN about Islamophobia CagePrisoners explores the parameters of freedom of expression in a case that saw the first books banned in the UK since Lady Chatterley, in this exclusive interview

In December 2011 bookseller and publisher Ahmad Faraz was found guilty for possessing and distributing books that purpotedly promoted terrorism and was sentenced to three years in prison. 

The books in question included works by Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, written at a time when Britain was openly supporting Afghan and foreign mujahideen against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the famous 1950s work of Syed Qutb, Milestones. This particular edition of Milestones was deemed to 'support terrorism' because it included appendices of thirteenth century exhortations to jihad which themselves were taken from the pre-Qutb syllabus of the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the time of Faraz's trial the Arab world had just been rocked by a series of revolutions that ousted western-backed dictators and brought supporters of the same Muslim Brotherhood into influence and power from Tunisia to Egypt, whose publictions had also once been regarded as 'terrorist' by their rulers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

“On Psywar against the Innocent”

When freedom of expression is used to incite the public to hatred of a national, religious, racial or ethnic group it becomes a crime. According to Article 20 of the U.N.’s “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” :
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law.
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
                This doesn’t contradict rights of freedom of expression. It attempts to constrain agendas of hatred. It is possible that any program of military propaganda or psywar against groups or nations is fundamentally illegal. Attempts to defend extreme hate crimes as within our rights of free speech encourages censorship, which encourages repression.
A video of U.S. origin, “Innocence of Muslims,” the trailer to a film defaming and sexually deriding the Prohet Mohammed, has of course resulted in protest by Muslims worldwide. Why isn’t everyone protesting ? The trailer is intensively offensive to human values, lacks redeeming artistic merit, and is recognizably propaganda. In California a judge refused to ban “Innocence of Muslims” from youtube, on the grounds that suppression would violate U.S. guarantees of free speech.
In France Charlie Hebdo has published on its cover a cartoon caricature depicting Islam’s Prophet naked in a distorted sexual posture. The effect is despicable and intended. The original issue sold out and despite the anxiety of the country’s 4 million Muslims, Charlie Hebdo ran the cartoon again. While France is sensitive to religious laws (abortions don’t appear in French literature), it hasn’t charged the editors of Charlie Hebdo with a hate crime, and instead closed French embassies and schools in twenty countries. Domestically any protests against the Charlie Hebdo cartoon, or against the American video/film, are banned.  In Germany there are debates about whether the film should be allowed at cinemas or not.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The WINNER of the US President Election.

Political Ad Spending Doubled in 2012

Published on Sep 24, 2012 by PBSNewsHour : Political ad spending has doubled overall, but in critical battleground states the numbers are more drastic. In 2008, 519 presidential campaign ads aired in Colorado Springs, Colo. Four years later, the number has jumped to 1,445. Gwen Ifill talks to NPR's Ari Shapiro about the blitz of campaign ads in a Republican leaning city.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Private Prisons Spend $45 Million On Lobbying, Rake In $5.1 Billion For Immigrant Detention Alone

Nearly half of all immigrants detained by federal officials are held in facilities run by private prison companies, at an average cost for each detained immigrant is $166 a night. That’s added up to massive profits for Corrections Corporation of America, The GEO Group and other private prison companies:
A decade ago, more than 3,300 criminal immigrants were sent to private prisons under two 10-year contracts the Federal Bureau of Prisons signed with CCA worth $760 million. Now, the agency is paying the private companies $5.1 billion to hold more than 23,000 criminal immigrants through 13 contracts of varying lengths.
CCA was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2000 due to lawsuits, management problems and dwindling contracts. Last year, the company reaped $162 million in net income. Federal contracts made up 43 percent of its total revenues, in part thanks to rising immigrant detention. GEO, which cites the immigration agency as its largest client, saw its net income jump from $16.9 million to $78.6 million since 2000.
As the AP explains, these remarkable profits come in the wake of an equally remarkable lobbying campaign. In the past decade, three major private prison companies spent $45 million on campaign donations and lobbyists to push legislation at the state and federal level. At times, this money has gone to truly nefarious legislation. A 2011 report found that the private prison industry spent millions seeking to increase sentences and incarcerate more people in order to increase the industry’s profits. 30 of the 36 legislators who co-sponsored Arizona’s now mostly invalidated immigration law — which would have landed many more people in detention — received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or companies, including CCA and GEO. According to a report released last year, CCA spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent between $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span in 2011. $450,000 went to the Republican national and congressional committees, while Democrats received less than half that number. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) were also among the private prison lobby’s top benefactors.
Private prisons have also been found guilty of abuses ranging from understaffing facilities tobribing judges to sentencing juveniles with minor offenses to disproportionately long terms in privately-owned correctional facilities. A recent report found a Georgia prison run by CCA charges detainees $5 a minute for phone calls while paying them just a dollar a day for menial labor that keeps the facility running; immigrants in civil detention centers have been exploited by the same program.
view from source  |   By Aviva Shen on Aug 3, 2012

Intoxication Nation: Blackout Parties and Beyond

Published on Sep 21, 2012 by ABCNews : Part 1: "Blacking out" after drinking alcohol is a goal for some young people.

Part 2: After too much imbibing, even a simple walk can turn embarrassing or dangerous.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mapping Drone Proliferation: UAVs in 76 Countries

The main international agreement that controls the transfer of drones is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)

A new US Congress report on the proliferation of drones has confirmed a huge rise in the number of countries that now have military unmanned aerial systems.  The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has published an unclassified version of its February 2012 report on the proliferation of UAVs.  The report examines both the proliferation of UAVs, commonly known as drones, and examines US and multilateral controls on the export of drone technology.  
The report states that between 2005  and December 2011, the number of countries that posses drones rose from 41 to 76 (see here for full list).
(Countries that have drones according to GAO report)
According to the report:
“The majority of foreign UAVs that countries have acquired fall within the tactical category. Tactical UAVs primarily conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and typically have a limited operational range of at most 300 kilometres. However, some more advanced varieties are capable of performing intelligence collection, targeting, or attack missions. Mini UAVs were also frequently acquired across the globe during this period.”
It should be noted that currently only the US, UK and Israel are known to have used armed UAVs.
The report goes on: “Currently, there are over 50 countries developing more than 900 different UAV systems. This growth is attributed to countries seeing the success of the United States with UAVs in Iraq and Afghanistan and deciding to invest resources into UAV development to compete economically and militarily in this emerging area.”
While the report fails to highlight the danger of growing drone proliferation to global peace and security it does emphasize the danger of drone proliferation to “US interests”.  The report states that “the use of UAVs by foreign parties to gather information on U.S. military activities has already taken place” and “the significant growth in the number of countries that have acquired UAVs, including key countries of concern, has increased the threat to the United States.”
Despite this, the report states “the U.S. government has determined that selected transfers of UAV technology support its national security interests”, thus highlighting the contradiction at the heart of current arms control measures.  ‘Private sector representatives’  told the reports authors that “UAVs are one of the most important growth sectors in the defense industry and provide significant opportunities for economic benefits if U.S. companies can remain competitive in the global UAV market.”
Table 1: US drone sales Fiscal Year 2005-2010
source here | Sept 18,2012  >>>

Make sure your party do not end up like this?

Facebook party sparks riots in Holland

Published on Sep 22, 2012 by itnnews : A Facebook party turns into a riot as over 3,000 people descend on Haren, northern Holland, after a girl accidentally set her invitation to public.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Breast Implant Nightmares gone wrong

Uploaded by TheRantChannel33 on Oct 31, 2011 ;

The RM20m country, what a laugh!

September 21, 2012 | ― Jaleel Hameed
SEPT 21 ― How cheap is Malaysia? Power is cheap, labour is cheap, the KR1M shops make sure household goods are cheap. And today, we hear it only takes RM20 million to destabilise the government of the day.
Is this a joke, newspaper and television editors? Is this a cheap joke, even?
That’s all for a government that has been in power since Merdeka? A measly RM20 million in a country of billion-ringgit projects and IPOs?
Cheap isn’t even the word to use if this report is to be believed. That foreign agencies ― and Germany’s RM21,400 ― is all that it takes to make the Najib administration wobbly enough to be taken down.
This, a government that is bullish enough to say it can win all states and its two-thirds majority in the next election that seems further away every day.
How do we believe a report using figures plucked out of thin air and without attribution? How do we believe that there are cheap people out there willing to pay such low rates to people willing to bring down a government for next to peanuts? How, sir?
How is it these mainstream newspapers and television stations even report this without checking their facts, sir? That a government that dispensed RM2 billion in direct cash aid called BR1M can be toppled with just RM20 million?
That SUARAM, Malaysiakini, Seacem, LoyarBurok and Centre for Independent Journalism have such great powers against the might of a civil service and media friendly, if not beholden, to Barisan Nasional?
You know what it is, sir? It’s a cheap shot before the general elections, sir.
It shows Barisan Nasional has run out of bogeymen, and it’s easy to tag these groups as agents of foreign groups either jealous of our success or wanting to put in a liberal, Western-friendly government.
And it shows desperation in getting a coherent storyline to tell to Malaysians to be beware of such groups and their message.
But this is what you get on the cheap, sir. A cheap storyline with a lousy plot worse than a B-grade movie.
And a government cheap enough to resort to such base tactics to remain in power, sir.
Sir, thank you for the cheap laugh today. Tell your journalists to come up with more jokes like this to keep us happy in these gloomy hazy times.
RM20 million to destabilise a government..... What a laugh, sir!
* Jaleel Hameed reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

US accused of creating three more computer super-viruses.

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images / AFP
Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images / AFP
Two independent teams of researchers studying the Flame computer virus believe that the maker of the malware — all but certain to be the United States — has architected three additional programs to conduct clandestine cyberwar or espionage.

Both Symantec Corp of the United States and Kaspersky Lab of Russia acknowledged on Monday that their research of Flame has led them to believe that whoever had a role in creating that virus has also put their efforts behind three other similar programs.
A team of engineers at Kaspersky released new information on Monday collected during forensic analysis of Flame command-and-Control servers that were examined with the assistance of Symantec, ITU-IMPACT and CERT-Bund/BSI. Researchers had first disclosed in May that Flame, a sophisticated espionage virus, targeted computer systems in Iran and was likely the product of a nation-state, specifically the US. With this week’s update, however, it appears as if the United States’ endeavors in cyberwar may have stretched past even what researchers had imagined.
“Based on the code from the servers, it can be said that they were working with at least three other programs similar to Flame. The code names of those programs are IP, SP and SPE,” Kaspersky Lab chief security expert Aleks Gostev told RT. 
Although the United States government has not gone on the record to take credit for either Flame or Stuxnet, a similar computer worm that targeted Iranian nuclear facilities first discovered in 2010, experts have long maintained that the US is involved in both viruses, perhaps even enlisting Israeli scientists for assistance.
Speaking at a TED Talk in 2011, researcher Ralph Langner said, "My opinion is that the Mossad is involved but that the leading force is not Israel. The leading force behind Stuxnet is the cyber superpower – there is only one; and that's the United States."
In January of this year, Mike McConnell, the former director of national intelligence at the National Security Agency under George W Bush, told Reuters that the US had indeed attacked foreign computer systems at one time or another, and confirmed that America has “the ability to attack, degrade or destroy” the e-grids of adversaries. When the New York Times followed up with a report of their own only five months later, members of US President Barack Obama’s national security team admitted on condition of anonymity that the White House continued cyber-assaults on Iran’s nuclear program through Stuxnet, which Mr. Obama himself endorsed.
Once compared with coding from Flame, security experts saw an immediate correlation.
“Stuxnet of 2009 had a large piece of code similar to that of Flame, so apparently creators of Stuxnet and Flame were working in close collaboration,” Gostev from Kaspersky Lab said. 
With America all but confirmed as the culprit behind both viruses, this week it’s revealed that the United States may have crafted another three coded programs to target Iran and its allies. Speaking to Reuters, researchers involved in the latest analysis say they are still trying to figure out the basic facts about the three new viruses, but believe that the same entity responsible for Stuxnet and Flame are at it again.
"We know that it is definitely out there. We just can't figure out a way to actually get our hands on it. We are trying,"Symantec researcher Vikram Thakur tells Reuters.
Also in their report, Kaspersy say that the heavy encryption and nature of the newest programs “fits the profile of military and/or intelligence operations."

Aging US nuclear arsenal set for multibillion-dollar revamp.

This 28 March, 2004 composite image shows the LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) (L) and the LG-118A Peacekeeper missile(R). (AFP Photo/US DOD)
This 28 March, 2004 composite image shows the LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) (L) and the LG-118A Peacekeeper missile(R). (AFP Photo/US DOD)
Washington is set to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade to overhaul its aging nuclear arsenal. The daunting task comes as Capitol Hill is faced with $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the same period.
Despite nearly two decades of avoiding costly and politically unpopular modernizations of the American nuclear weapons complex, the Washington Post reports that plans for a full-scale overhaul of the country’s arsenal are underway.
The modernization of the US nuclear weapons complex – which includes an inventory of some 5,113 warheads, their strategic delivery systems and production facilities – has been conservatively estimated at $352 billion over the coming decade by nonpartisan think tank the Stimson Center the Post reports. However, that figure could rise, especially if the hugely vital but publicly undervalued task is put off any longer.
But in an age of asymmetrical warfare, where the Pentagon is facing massive cuts to its conventional force, spending hundreds of billions to refurbish the country’s nuclear arsenal is a tough sell as the United States remains embroiled in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Further complicating matters, Congress is facing an astounding $1.2 trillion in automatic, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget over the next ten years under the highly contentious 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).
Apart from slashing 9.4 per cent from defense discretionary funding – $54.7 billion from the Pentagon for fiscal year 2013 alone – a further 8.2 per cent cut in non-defense funding is also slated, bringing the 2013 total to $109 billion.
That Washington will be forced to cut 11.1 billion from Medicare as billions more are allocated to the nuclear arsenal could be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow.
In fact, for fiscal year 2013, the Obama administration has already requested nearly $7.6 billion in funding – a five per cent increase from last year –  for weapons activities in the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which oversees the US nuclear stockpile and production complex, the Arms Control Association reported in August. Ironically, bad management, poor planning and waste on the part of the NNSA have been blamed for the exorbitant projected costs of modernization.
But the billions Obama has requested for the NNSA is only the tip of the nuclear modernization iceberg, as tens of billions will be necessary to renovate nuclear bombs and missiles, not to mention developing new technologies, replacing delivery systems and upgrading facilities.
For example, upgrading just one of the seven types of weapons in the stockpile, the B61 thermonuclear warhead, is likely to cost $10 billion over five years, the Pentagon estimates. Another $5 billion will be needed for the W78 bomb, while $4 billion will go towards the W76.
A $7 billion “life extension program” is also being proposed to keep the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles safe, secure and reliable until 2020, despite plans to develop a new generation of ICBMs.
As for delivery systems, the SSBNX, a new submarine currently being developed to replace the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, is slated to cost a whopping $100 billion dollars, the Congressional Budget Office reports.
Up to $60 billion has also been projected for the development of an as-yet unnamed long-range penetrating bomber.
As for the facilities, renovating the buildings and laboratories connected with the nuclear production complex could cost a further $88 billion over the coming decade.
At a time when Washington is lacking in either political or financial capital to sink into the country’s nuclear weapon’s stockpile, passing the modernization buck is simply not an option.
Ironically, US President Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize in 2009 after declaring “America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” to a jubilant crowd in Prague in April of that year.
Although a subsequent 2010 Nuclear Posture Review posited the United States was prepared to reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,000 warheads or fewer, Obama’s bold dream for a nuclear-free world is no closer to materializing two years on.
Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces, proposed reducing the total arsenal to 900 warheads, with only half of them deployed at any given time.
“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the Cold War,” he told The New York Times in an interview this past May.
And while the Obama administration remains unwilling or unable to determine just how large of a nuclear arsenal the US needs to achieve its strategic aims, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has lambasted it for signing the New START treaty with Moscow, which reduces US and Russian deployed strategic warheads and delivery systems.
Under these circumstances, the US might not get the nuclear weapons arsenal it can afford in these harrowing economic times, regardless of who takes the White House in November.

Saudi Arabia blocks Syrians from hajj

Saudi Arabia arms terrorists groups fighting against the Syrian government. (file photo)
Saudi Arabia arms terrorists groups fighting against the Syrian government. (file photo)

Saudi Arabia has blocked Syrian citizens from entering the country to perform the annual Muslim pilgrimage of Hajj, Syrian state media says.

"The Syrian High Committee of hajj has announced the halt to the pilgrimage this year, due to a failure to reach consensus with the Saudi authorities," the official SANA news agency reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the Syrian committee "took all necessary steps for the 2012 hajj season, but the relevant ministry in Saudi Arabia did not sign the accord as it does every year".

The hajj to Mecca -- the world's largest annual human assembly -- is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be performed at least once in a lifetime by all those Muslims who are able to.

Saudi’s move would be the latest in a string of measures adopted by Riyadh against the government of Syria.

Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many security forces.

Damascus blames “outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, asserting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and several other Arab countries are funding and arming terrorists groups fighting against the Syrian government.

source here  >>>

Monday, September 17, 2012

Whose Innocence?: Thoughts on Copts, Muslims, and a World Gone (Temporally) Mad

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 [Muslims and Christians mingle at the Feast of St George in Mit Damsis, August 2007. Photo by Anthony Shenoda][Muslims and Christians mingle at the Feast of St George in Mit Damsis, August 2007. Photo by Anthony Shenoda]
As I was preparing to go to bed on 11 September, I suddenly discovered the news about the American Embassy in Cairo being stormed by angry Egyptians ostensibly offended by a film (Innocence of Muslims) that they claimed was not only an affront to the Prophet of Islam but one made by Coptic Christians in the United States. Little did I know that I would wake up the next morning to what still feels like a Ramadan television serial gone bad.
Since the film fiasco began, a good deal has been written about who made or did not make the film. It makes no sense now to rehearse the chaotic revelations (chaotic, it seems, by design) over the last several days regardingwho produced the film and who directed it, what actors and actresses actually thought they were doing, how it managed to make it into Egyptian and, in turn, Middle Eastern media, and how it was linked or not to the killing of the United States Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in BenghaziJuan Cole offers a succinct summary. And The Atlantic also offers a timeline of sorts of the chaotic revelation. And now, "protests" have spread throughout the region and continue to rage in Cairo. What I want to do here is to offer some raw thoughts about why I think all of this matters to Copts and to Muslims.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Terry Jones, Sam Bacile: The men behind the movie (VIDEO)

Outraged by an amateur film said to denigrate the Prophet Mohammad, militants attacked US diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya on the anniversary of Sept. 11. Four Americans were killed, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. GlobalPost brings you the latest.

Terry jones pastor

Sam Bacile and Terry Jones (Picture above) are the two men behind "Innocence of Muslims," the controversial low-budget film behind the attacks on US Embassies in Cairo and Benghazi that have resulted in the death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others so far. 

The D-list movie portrays the Prophet Mohammed as "as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug," as the New York Times explained.
A 14-minute trailer of the movie was posted on YouTube in July, but it spread widely on the Internet after a version was dubbed over in Arabic. 
But who are Bacile and Jones, exactly? And how did their movie end up wreaking international havoc? 
Sam Bacile: The film's creator
Written, directed, produced and edited by Israeli American Sam Bacile (who is now reportedly in hiding over the ensuing outrage, the National Post reported), the movie seeks to show Bacile's view that "Islam is a cancer," as he told reporters.  
“This is a political movie,” Bacile told the Post. “The US lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”
Bacile, a 50-something-year-old California real estate developer who is originally from Israel, made the film for $5 million, which he raised from 100 Jewish donors, he told reporters. 
The full film has not been screened yet, and he is currently declining offers to distribute it, Bacile told the Times of Israel speaking from "a California number." 
“My plan is to make a series of 200 hours” about the same subject, Bacile told the Times of Israel
source here  |  September 12, 2012   >>

Filmmaker Sam Bacile in hiding after anti-Muslim film sparks violence in which American diplomat was killed

A still of an actor from the movie 'Innocence of MuslimsA still of an actor from the movie 'Innocence of Muslims'.

An Israeli filmmaker based in California went into hiding Tuesday after his movie attacking Islam's Prophet Muhammad sparked angry assaults by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya, where a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

Protesters angered over Bacile's film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others on Tuesday. In Egypt, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner.

"This is a political movie," said Bacile. "The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're fighting with ideas."

Bacile, a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world.

"Islam is a cancer, period," he said repeatedly, his solemn voice thickly accented.

The two-hour movie, "Innocence of Muslims," cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Bacile, who wrote and directed it.

source here : September 12, 2012 Associated Press   >>