Monday, September 29, 2008

Muslim gang tries to firebomb British publisher of Allah novel

Scotland Yard's counter-terrorist command yesterday foiled an alleged plot by Islamic extremists to kill the publisher of a forthcoming novel featuring sexual encounters between the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. Early yesterday armed undercover officers arrested three men after a petrol bomb was pushed through the door of the north London home of the book’s publisher. The Metropolitan police said the target of the assassination plot, the Dutch publisher Martin Rynja, had not been injured.

The suspected terror gang was being followed by undercover police and the fire was quickly put out after the fire brigade smashed down the front door. The foiled terrorist attack recalled the death threats and uproar 20 years ago following the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, and the worldwide protests that followed the publication in a Danish newspaper in 2005 of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam, in which more than 100 people died.

Security officials believe Rynja was targeted for assassination because his firm, Gibson Square, is preparing to publish a romantic novel about Aisha, child bride of the Prophet Muhammad. The Jewel of Medina, by the first-time American author Sherry Jones, describes an imaginary sex scene between the prophet and his 14-year-old wife. It was withdrawn from publication in America last month after its publisher there, Random House, said it feared a violent reaction by “a small radical segment” of Muslims. It said “credible and unrelated sources” had warned that the book could incite violence.

Random House reacted after Islamic scholars objected to its contents, saying it treated the wife of the Prophet as a sex object. One of them, Denise Spellberg, of the University of Texas at Austin, described the novel as “soft-core pornography”, referring to a scene in which Muhammad consummates his marriage to Aisha. She called it “a declaration of war” and a “national security issue”.

At the time, her warnings were dismissed by the author. “Anyone who reads the book will not be offended,” said Jones. “I wrote the book with the utmost respect for Islam.” However, Jones admitted receiving death threats after the book was withdrawn.

It was soon after this that the Met appears to have received a tip-off that the British publisher who had subsequently agreed to print it could be the target of an attack. A Met spokesman said three men had been arrested in “a preplanned intelligence-led operation” at about 2.25am on Saturday. Two of the suspects were arrested in the street outside Rynja’s four-storey townhouse in Lonsdale Square, Islington, while the third was stopped by officers in an armed vehicle near Angel Tube station. They were being questioned yesterday on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, a spokesman said.

Rynja, 44, could not be contacted yesterday. He is believed to be under police guard. Yesterday, Natasha Kern, Jones’s agent, said she was shocked to learn of the attack. She said the book had been misinterpreted by its critics and did not contain sex scenes, as had been alleged. “I honestly believe that if people read the book they will see it is not disrespectful of Muhammad, and moderate Muslims will not be offended. I don’t want anyone to risk their lives but we could never imagine that there would be some madmen who would do something like this. I’m so sad about this act of terrorism. Moderate Muslims will suffer because of a few radicals.” Kern said it was too early for her to comment on whether the book should be withdrawn. “That’s up to Martin, and I still need to absorb the fact that he was at risk. I’m just so glad he has not been hurt.”

Residents said they saw armed police break down the door of Rynja’s house, helped by firefighters. Francesca Liebowitz, 16, a neighbour, said: “The police couldn’t get the door open so the fire brigade battered it down.” Another neighbour, who declined to be named, said: “I was woken at about 3am and I looked out the window and I saw several unmarked cars with what I now think were police officers in them. These officers came out of the cars and there was huge screaming and shouting. Some of the police officers were carrying sub-machineguns. “I then saw a small fire at the bottom of the door at the house. I heard the police officers shout and scream and try to get neighbours out of the house.”

The Jewel of Medina is due to be published next month.


The moronic British ID card

The long-dreaded day has finally arrived: Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, revealed the first UK identity card last week. I have to admit that it didn't look particularly threatening. It was just an ordinary piece of plastic, the size of a credit card, with the holder's name, date of birth, immigration status, and a chip that holds fingerprints and a digital facial image.

As civil libertarians like to remind us, one of Hitler's first acts as chancellor was to impose compulsory ID cards on every German citizen. If the smiling Ms Smith's ID card was the beginning of the totalitarian state in Britain, it came not with a bang but a simper. Still, it has taken six votes in the Commons, and five defeats in the House of Lords, for the Government to get this far. And the price of getting around the legislative obstacle course has been that ministers had to give up their original hope of making ID cards compulsory.

Under the legislation that was passed by Parliament, they will be compulsory only for foreign nationals (people such as my Californian wife), who will need one to enter the UK, to work and to claim benefits. UK citizens will not be forced to carry one: the Home Secretary hopes that most of us will pay the £30 required to get one "voluntarily".

Dream on, Jacqui! Having dropped the requirement that the ID card be compulsory, the Government has destroyed its case for them, because it has ensured that ID cards can't possibly work as an effective tool for catching terrorists or criminals. Obviously, no self-respecting jihadi will carry an ID card voluntarily. There will be other refuseniks, such as those who object on principle to the idea of ID cards (and they include senior members of the judiciary, the House of Lords and all three political parties, as well as thousands of ordinary citizens). So the police won't be able to take your failure to produce an ID card as an admission that you are planning to detonate a suicide bomb.

How, then, will ID cards help the cops track the terrorists? The Government hasn't provided an answer - which may be why the Home Secretary insisted last week that their primary use is to control illegal immigration. And perhaps ID cards will make it more difficult for those not entitled to be in Britain to get through immigration control, although since many illegal immigrants are indeed illegal - that is, they arrive smuggled in lorries and do not come into contact with any of UK's border agencies - it is not obvious how much difference ID cards will make.

A more significant problem will be the inevitable proliferation of fakes. Anyone who claims that it will be impossible to copy or clone ID cards is not telling the truth: any system devised by a human being can, and will, be broken by another human being. The ID card system will not be "foolproof": if there is one certainty, it is that the criminal gangs who make fortunes smuggling illegal immigrants into Britain will find a way to clone and distribute fake cards. And that's without a government official leaving a data stick containing the ID details of 60 million people in Starbucks or on the train.

The system is currently projected to cost a cool $68 billion. You can be sure it will end up costing a lot more than that, and that it won't work as intended.

There is only one computer system in the UK on the same scale as the one proposed for ID cards: the National Programme, the system designed to centralise all NHS patient records. Almost a decade ago, when planning started, that system was budgeted at $10 billion. Then it went up to $12.4 billion. As of last year, it had cost $25 billion - and it still doesn't work properly. Its defenders cite "teething problems". Its detractors note that "some of the most senior officials in the NHS know perfectly well that the National Programme will never work properly - indeed, that many hospitals would now be better off if they had never taken part in the scheme in the first place".

The problems aren't limited to sudden crashes or disappearing data. Medical records have been inaccurately inputted with alarming frequency. Doctors routinely find that as much as 10 per cent of the information is wrong. Just imagine that degree of error transferred to the system for ID cards. If errors are not corrected, the system will be useless as a tool for fighting crime or curbing illegal immigration (never mind the number of innocents it will enmesh in criminal prosecutions). In the unlikely event that those errors are discovered, correcting them will clog the system to the point where it cannot function.

The objections to ID cards do not depend on positing mad, power-hungry politicians eager to snoop on all of us. We could have the most conscientious and morally decent rulers in the world: ID cards would still fail to be worth their cost, because human fallibility will inevitably intervene to ensure that the beautiful new system does not work. If there is one lesson we all should have learnt from the past 100 years, it is that even benign design can lead to pernicious practice.

Our present Government has not learnt that lesson - and it does not bode well for the future of liberty in Britain.


Australia: More government meddling in family life called for

We're getting perilously close to the point where children will be regarded as the property of the State. Uncle Adolf would approve. And who is to judge the "fitness" of a parent? When I was growing up over 50 years ago, my parents often did not know where I was for much of the day and nor did most parents in the small country town where I lived. Were my mother and the other mothers in the town "unfit" parents? No doubt it would be poor families principally targeted by the official Fascists but lots of kids in poor families grow up in unattractive circumstances and turn out fine -- while lots of kids from good middle class families just end up as druggies etc. I know a few

One in five Australian mums and dads is unfit to be a parent, according to child-health expert and former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley. [And how would she know and how does she judge that?] She says they either lack the means or the life skills to raise children or cannot devote enough time to their kids because of excessive work commitments.

Professor Stanley, an adviser to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has also slammed the Federal Government's policy on paid parental leave. She said a national effort - on the scale of the climate-change movement - was needed to protect the futures of Australian children. "We need an Al Gore for child development," the founder of the Institute for Child Health Research said.

"There are a worrying number of threats to children's health in society today. "If we don't respond to these challenges ... we will be looking at our generation, my generation, as being the last generation that lives longer than its parents. "If you look at the overall trend in many problems, they are actually showing no improvement - and some of them are getting dramatically worse."

Professor Stanley said paid parental leave, being assessed by the Federal Government, was crucial. "The fact we don't have maternity leave or parental leave in Australia is just indicative of our lack of valuing of parents," she said. A draft report for the Productivity Commission's inquiry into paid parental leave will be released tomorrow.

Professor Stanley said as many as one in five parents were financially and socially ill-equipped for child-rearing. "There's this increasing group of parents who are just not making ends meet. They don't have the capacity to be parents. "And they may represent as much as 20 per cent of the population when you add in Aboriginal people and the most disadvantaged in society. "There are a lot of people who are going to find it difficult to parent." Mental illness, obesity, asthma and substance abuse were the biggest risks for Australian children, Professor Stanley said.


Australia's Leftist government to devalue marriage and make most sex between singles into prostitution

De facto couples in Queensland are set to receive the same financial and property rights as married couples under a proposed new federal law. Queensland family law specialist Brett Hartley of Hartley Healy said the law could be one of the most significant pieces of relationship legislation in decades.

On June 25, the Federal Government introduced landmark legislation to allow de facto couples to access the Family Court, a federal body, to sort out property and maintenance matters. Since then, a report has been prepared by the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill is soon to be debated by Parliament. "If this becomes law, a de facto couple in Australia, whether of the same sex or different sex, will have the same rights and entitlements to property settlement and maintenance as a married couple," Mr Hartley said.

It will give de facto couples - including gay partners - the right to seek maintenance, claim on a partner's superannuation and draw up the equivalent of the prenuptial agreements available to couples intending to marry. Under current Queensland law, there is no right to seek maintenance from a de facto spouse. Queensland legislation also does not include superannuation interests as property of the de facto parties.

Mr Hartley said if a de facto couple with a child split up, they currently had to go to the Family Court to sort out child-related matters, and to the Supreme or District courts to sort out property disputes. The new law would allow the Family Court to deal with all problems, saving couples money dealing with different courts. While couples have to be in a de facto relationship for two years for it to be recognised, the law will set out a new definition of de facto relationship, based on circumstances.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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