Wednesday, January 26, 2011
A falling out between partners in crime
Does Monday's carnage in Russia mean Islamist bombers are indiscriminate and irrational, and pose no special threat to free nations? You might as well ask whom Hitler hated more: Churchill or Stalin?
Should the dozens slaughtered and well over 100 injured by a suicide bomber at Moscow Domodedovo Airport on Monday identify with the American victims of 9/11? Some might say that the many tributes we've heard in the years since al-Qaida attacked the U.S. homeland preclude such a comparison.
On that very day, President George W. Bush began his address to the nation with the assertion that "our way of life — our very freedom — came under attack." He said, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world."
Certainly no one can say that about the Russia of Vladimir Putin, the former KGB operative who has done everything in his power to maintain an undemocratic grasp on power and darken his countrymen's opportunities for freedom — including his likely being behind the murder in London four years ago of dissident Russian journalist Alexander Litvinenko, courtesy of a radioactive isotope slipped into his tea.
While history may well record the Litvinenko killing as the first-ever act of nuclear terrorism, Putin's Russia has for years helped Islamofascist Iran achieve nuclear capability, the route to the kind of terrorism that leaves far more than a troublesome writer dead.
Moscow was instrumental in building Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant along the Persian Gulf coast, completed in 2009, and provided nuclear fuel for the facility.
It's no stretch to view the Moscow-Tehran alliance as a 21st-century version of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. There may have been immense differences between Nazism and communism, but both powers were united as enemies of U.S./British-style representative government, economic freedom, and the religious and philosophical values of Western civilization.
"By signing the pact with Germany, the Soviet Union opened the door to war" against Britain and France and "Germany was protected against a major conflict on its eastern front," Russian historians Mikhail Heller and Aleksandr Nekrich write in their Soviet history, "Utopia in Power." The August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop "non-aggression" treaty was followed a week later by Germany invading Poland.
The leaders of al-Qaida and the mullahs of Iran are similarly united with the reconstructed communist thug Putin as enemies of the West. And just as the Hitler-Stalin Pact did not stop those two bloodthirsty tyrants from ultimately going at each other, a selective Russian-Islamist alliance does not preclude jihadist suicide bombings against Russia — or Moscow's certain reprisals against Islamists.
Consider Russia's stubborn dominance of Chechnya, whose population of more than 1 million is Sunni Muslim. Stalin's 1944 deportation of ethnic Chechens, many to Siberia — officially declared "an act of genocide" by the European Parliament in 2004 — is but one of countless crimes committed against them by Moscow.
A nearly constant state of war has persisted there, and in that Islamists see opportunity. For a new Muslim nation to finally emerge from the ashes of the Soviet Union would be a resounding propaganda victory for jihadists.
It would give the impression that more of the world is coming under Islamic rule — an obvious counterpunch to Iraq going from seemingly permanent Baathist rule under Saddam Hussein to becoming a pro-Western state with freely elected leaders.
It was no neoconservative but President Bill Clinton who, in his 1994 State of the Union address to Congress, said: "Ultimately, the best strategy to ensure our security and to build a durable peace is to support the advance of democracy elsewhere; democracies don't attack each other."
Governments and groups who are opposed to political and economic freedoms, on the other hand, do attack each other — even when they work toward common ends in other areas.
Vicious murder by black gang in Britain
A 15-year-old schoolboy was killed in a ‘merciless’ knife attack planned on Facebook, during rush hour at Victoria station, a court has heard. GCSE student Sofyen Belamouadden was ‘hunted down’ by a heavily armed group of 20 teenagers before being stabbed, punched and kicked, jurors were told.
On the day of the attack in March last year two of the defendants were said to have left school at lunchtime to buy a block of knives from Argos, prosecutors said.
Sofyen was killed after tensions between pupils from two west London schools, some of whom saw the station as ‘home territory’, the Old Bailey heard.
Mark Heywood QC, prosecuting, said the attack on the schoolboy took place in ‘broad daylight’ in front of hundreds of commuters in the heart of London. Samuel Roberts, of Camberwell, Obi Nwokeh, of Bermondsey, Enoch Amoah, of Camberwell, and Victoria Osoteku, of Deptford, all aged 18, each deny murder. They have also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm and violent disorder. Four 17-year-old youths, two from Streatham, one from Stockwell and one from Brixton, also deny each of the charges.
Details of the trial were able to be published for the first time today after reporting restrictions were lifted.
Sofyen was stabbed nine times, including to the lung and chest. ‘He was given no chance of life,’ said Mr Heywood. ‘So brazen and confident were his killers that they openly carried the various weapons that they used with them as they ran towards him and together hunted him down.
‘Such was their arrogance that they carried out that kind of attack in the heart of the capital city, in a public place, a terminus station at the height of the rush hour, and in sight of scores if not hundreds of people passing by, people going to their own homes.'
Mr Heywood added: ‘They were so heavily armed that no other individual or smaller group or even police officer or member of station staff could withstand them or stop them.’
The attack on the schoolboy, in March last year, was said to have been in revenge for an ‘inconsequential’ skirmish at Victoria the previous day when a boy from a rival school had been left with a bloody nose.
During Facebook chats that evening, some of Sofyen's alleged killers discussed what was to happen the following day, and getting weapons, jurors were told. Later, at the station, witnesses saw youths with weapons including a samurai sword with a blade 20-30cm long (9-12in), a flick knife and a Swiss Army knife, and possibly machetes and screwdrivers.
Police based at Victoria station, aware of the possibility of trouble, had conducted higher visibility patrols the next day, he added.
At lunchtime on the day of the attack, Osoteku went out of school with one of the 17-year-olds to buy a block of five knives for £3.99 from Argos, jurors were told. Later when Sofyen's group was confronted at Victoria and a sword was produced, the victim and his friends turned and fled, the court heard.
Mr Heywood said: ‘They were hopelessly outnumbered. They had already lost the arms race and it was obvious that they had seriously underestimated what they were likely to meet at Victoria that afternoon. ‘They did not expect the kind of weapons and they almost certainly did not expect the level of ferocity.’
One witness described looking up the stairs from the Underground station to see a group of 10 to 15 teenagers pushing someone from the top, said Mr Heywood. ‘The level of aggression was indescribable,’ he added.
Jurors were told that seven of the eight defendants were among those who went down into the District and Circle line ticket hall where the attack took place. Some left the scene on a bus where they were later arrested.
A number of knives, including one found wrapped in a newspaper on the bus, were found to have the victim's blood on it.
Other members of the initial group of 20, including one with the sword, were said to have peeled off before the attack on Sofyen and chased another youth. All have been charged with the same offences but for practical reasons cannot be tried at the same time.
Town hall spies curb as British councils stopped from abusing terror powers to snoop on families over 'bin crimes'
Town halls will be banned from spying on the public over ‘bin crimes’ and school catchment area rules. In a victory for the Daily Mail, Home Secretary Theresa May will say that only offences which carry a jail term should be subject to the intrusive surveillance powers. Even then, councils must first seek the formal approval of a magistrate before they are allowed to make use of the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
It will end the scandal of councils using Big Brother ‘direct surveillance’ tactics against people suspected of the most minor misdemeanours. Spying for dog fouling, leaving out the rubbish on the wrong day and other offences which carry only a fine will no longer be allowed.
The only exception to the rule – which states an offence must carry a sentence of up to six months or more before RIPA can be applied – will be undercover operations for underage sales of alcohol and tobacco.
In reality, it will restrict councils to going after more serious criminals, such as benefit cheats, con-artists and industrial fly tippers. Civil liberties campaigners will view it as an end to the ‘tyranny of the town hall Stasi’.
The announcement, which will be made in a statement to MPs, is part of a string of changes to anti-terrorism laws – which also include the scrapping of abused stop and search powers, and the replacement of the control order regime. It follows revelations by this newspaper about over-zealous officials training hidden cameras and even undercover agents on the law-abiding public. These include spying on people suspected of dropping litter and attempting to cheat school catchment area rules.
Council staff – who have been accused of having James Bond delusions – have been secretly taking photographs and videos. In some cases, cameras have been hidden in tin cans, or inside the homes of the neighbours of their ‘target’. It has provoked public outrage and undermined faith in the RIPA regime, which was passed by Labour in 2000, ostensibly to fight terrorism.
The legislation will remain available to the police and the security services.
The Coalition – expecting a backlash over the decision to retain curfews for terror suspects – will point to the hacking back of RIPA as proof that it is serious about restoring civil liberties.
Labour repeatedly promised to tackle the legislation. In the meantime, town halls and other public bodies have continued to use the law on a massive scale. Notoriously, Poole Borough Council admitted spying on Jenny Paton and her family to find out if they were living in a school catchment area. They were put under surveillance for more than two weeks.
The Coalition’s review of RIPA laws considered a string of options for clamping down on such abuse. Ministers decided it would be best to set up a system of double checks.
Initially, council officials will require a magistrate’s approval to use any of the techniques available under the legislation – which also allows the checking of phone records – to establish a person’s location at a specific time. This requirement is then backed by the rule that surveillance tactics should be confined to cases where the offence under investigation carries a custodial sentence.
Today, it will also be announced that section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows police to search people without reasonable suspicion, will be scrapped. Those who have suffered include photographers taking pictures of tourist attractions.
Abortion's awful euphemisms
by Jeff Jacoby
GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRACIES and legal panels are not usually known for their vivid writing style. But "vivid" doesn't come close to conveying the driving force of the grand jury report released last week by the Philadelphia district attorney in connection with the Women's Medical Society, a long-established abortion clinic operated by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The report was issued on the same day that Gosnell and nine of his employees were arrested on charges including murder, infanticide, and abuse of a corpse. In 261 pages of shatteringly clear prose, the grand jurors laid out their findings.
The remains of dozens of dead babies were found amid appallingly squalid conditions at this abortion clinic in West Philadelphia.
"This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women," the report begins. "What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy -- and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels -- and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it."
The report goes on to describe a horror-show -- a squalid operation in which hygiene was ignored, equipment was broken, and late-term abortions were routine. Pregnant women coming to Gosnell's clinic were treated with callous disdain, often left for hours to sit, semi-conscious and in pain, on dirty recliners covered with bloodstained blankets. Untrained and unsupervised employees administered powerful drugs to induce labor, and heavy sedatives to keep women from screaming.
Time and again, the grand jury says, late-term babies were delivered alive -- fully intact and breathing -- and then killed. But Gosnell didn't use the word "kill" to describe what he or his employees were doing. "He called it 'ensuring fetal demise.' The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping.' Over the years, there were hundreds of 'snippings.'" The report describes a case in which one of the clinic employees played with a newborn before slitting its neck.
The grand jury report came out just days before the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the endlessly controversial Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in every state. By the usual newsroom calculus, that should have made the ghastly revelations of this "baby charnel house" -- the grand jury's term -- a huge story. But outside of Philadelphia, the story got only muted attention.
Even after the story broke, Philadelphia's local Planned Parenthood chapter could only bring itself to "condemn any physician who does not follow the law or endangers anyone's health," and said women in such cases should "complain to the Department of Health." But the grand jury found that Pennsylvania authorities knew what was happening at Gosnell's abortion mill, yet deliberately looked the other way. In 1993, with the accession of a pro-choice governor, Republican Tom Ridge, the Pennsylvania Department of Health stopped inspecting abortion clinics. "Officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions," the report says, and decided "to leave clinics to do as they pleased."
Kermit Gosnell, who ran the Women's Medical Society, an abortion clinic, for decades, has been arrested on multiple charges of murder, infanticide, and abuse of a corpse.
The blunt clarity of the grand jury's findings could not contrast more sharply with the abstract euphemisms preferred by abortion's supporters.
In a statement marking Roe v. Wade's anniversary, President Obama referred not to "abortion," but to "women's health and reproductive freedom" and the importance of keeping government out of "private family matters." Planned Parenthood and NARAL's Blog for Choice celebrated Roe for enshrining "a woman's right to choose." Rarely can those who extoll "choice" bring themselves to acknowledge openly that what is being chosen is death.
Since 1973, Roe has led to the destruction of more than 40 million unborn babies. It has led to a desensitizing debasement of our language as well. Americans have gotten so used to the idea of life in the womb being violently killed in part because they camouflage that killing with feel-good labels like "reproductive freedom" and "choice." So pervasive is the mindset such language sustains that even when an alleged butcher like Gosnell comes along, the champions of "choice" offer only muted criticism.
Abortion is always a violent and awful thing, whether it happens in a squalid cesspit or in an immaculate doctor's office. Reasonable people can debate whether abortion should be legal, and under what circumstances. But they ought to be able to do so without euphemistic evasions. Too many Americans have grown too comfortable with abortion's terrible reality. For that as well, we have Roe to thank.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.