Sunday, 7 June 2009

To all you millions reading my Blog, I have now moved to WordPress! << click to get re-directed!

The features and powerful customisation opportunities offered by Wordpress make it very appealing for someone who wants to take their blog “to the next level”. awaits you!

Saturday, 6 June 2009


I just hate it when it takes me so long to fill in applications-- its not me being slow, its all these silly questions asking the same thing in different ways! anyhow, I am working on getting this ISOC ambassadorship application..

As part of the ISOC Internet Leaders programme, the Ambassador programme is designed to involve members in ISOC's global engagement activities while providing valuable expertise and know-how to IGF meetings - read more on ISOC's Ambassadors help to explain and promote ISOC's positions on public policy issues related to the themes of the IGF. Ambassadors add their significant local and regional experience and insight to discussions and interventions during the sessions and workshops. The Ambassadors are also expected to take home first-hand experience of the IGF and to continue to drive local ISOC activities, particularly as they relate to Internet governance issues. The objective is also for them to continue participating in global discussions on Internet governance.

ISOC has participated at all stages of WSIS and the follow-on IGF. In this process we have succeeded in gaining significant recognition for our positions which support an open and globally accessible Internet. Much of this has been achieved through cooperation with our Chapters, members, and partner organizations from around the world. We believe that the IGF provides a very useful platform for open dialogue on the challenges and opportunities that face the Internet, its governance and the role it will play in empowering individuals and contributing to social and economic development around the globe.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Things will never change!

An official decree by Saudi Arabia has banned all forms of entertainment at women's charity events, according to press reports Thursday.

The Ministry of Social Affairs issued an urgent decree banning music, dancing, singing, and fashion shows at events held by women's charitable organizations, which make up 16 percent of the kingdom's 500 organizations, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported.

The decree came on the heels of the first fashion show, part of a designer contest for women, held in the kingdom last week.

Besides entertainment, the decree stipulates that all activities that contradict customs and traditions are banned. Fashion shows are only allowed if the clothes are displayed on mannequins, but no human models.

The ministry assigned its officials in each of the kingdom's 13 provinces the task of reviewing and authorizing all events organized by charitable associations and making sure the program does not include any banned activities.

Sharq Alawsat

Friday, 20 March 2009

Muslims offer to guard synagogue after attack

Scottish Muslim leaders have offered to stand guard at a synagogue in the capital city of Edinburgh following an attack by vandals who smashed up the Jewish place of worship's windows last week, press reports said on Friday.

The chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation voiced "revulsion and horror" at the attack in a letter to Rabbi David Rose of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Scotlands national newspaper, the Scotsman, reported.

"We wish you to know that the Muslim community stand full square with you in revulsion and horror at this vandalism. To violently damage any building is wrong. That this is a respected place of worship, faith and spirituality makes the crime even more heinous," chairman Ken Imrie said in the letter.

" We wish you to know that the Muslim community stand full square with you in revulsion and horror at this vandalism. To violently damage any building is wrong. That this is a respected place of worship, faith and spirituality makes the crime even more heinous "
Chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation

"We trust you have adequate security arrangements in place, in line with places of worship across the country. If not, such is our strength of feeling on this matter, we would wish to physically guard the synagogue ourselves," Imrie continued.

Imrie said Scottish Imans would address the matter in their sermons during Jumaa (Friday) prayer and would warn against attacks on places of worship.

The attack, believed to be carried out by two Muslim youths, comes amid a reported increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks across the United Kingdom following the recent Israeli assault on Gaza, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians dead in 22 days.

Two men, aged 22 and 17, appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in connection with the attack and were charged with "malicious mischief aggravated by religious prejudice," the Scotsman reported, adding both men pled not guilty.

Jewish reaction
" This statement and others like it around the UK will hopefully encourage both communities to regard each other as allies in the face of racism and extremism "
Jewish spokesperson

The paper said Rabbi Rose could not be reached for comment but said other Jewish leaders welcomed the Muslim offer.

"This was a disturbing incident. Scottish Jews do not expect to experience the relatively high level of anti-Semitism that has occurred during and since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza at the turn of the year," Mark Gardner, spokesman for an organisation that protects British Jews against anti-Semitic attacks, told the paper.

"This statement and others like it around the UK will hopefully encourage both communities to regard each other as allies in the face of racism and extremism," he added.

This is the second time the synagogue, which serves an estimated 700 memebers of the Jewish community in Edinburgh, has come under attack in seven years.

Muslims are the second largest religious group in Scotland, which has thirty mosques, catering to more than 50,000 Muslims.

To be honest, I don't know what loney thinks attacking another man place of worship is acceptable? Have they not read the book they preach from?

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Supporters of the new US president refuse to admit that the "man of change" is, in fact, changing very little. It's time the Obama lovers grew up

Growing up in an Antipodean society proud of its rich variety of expletives, I never heard the word b*ll*cks. It was only on arrival in England that I understood its magisterial power. All classes used it. Judges grunted it; an editor of the Daily Mirror used it as noun, adjective and verb. Certainly, the resonance of a double vowel saw off its closest American contender. It had authority.

A high official with the Gilbertian title of Lord West of Spithead used it to great effect on 27 January. The former admiral, who is a security adviser to Gordon Brown, was referring to Tony Blair's assertion that invading countries and killing innocent people did not increase the threat of terrorism at home.

"That was clearly b*ll*cks," said his lordship, who warned of a perceived "linkage between the US, Israel and the UK" in the horrors inflicted on Gaza and the effect on the recruitment of terrorists in Britain. In other words, he was stating the obvious: that state terrorism begets individual or group terrorism at source. Just as Blair was the prime mover of the London bombings of 7 July 2005, so Brown, having pursued the same cynical crusades in Muslim countries and having armed and disported himself before the criminal regime in Tel Aviv, will share responsibility for related atrocities at home.

There is a lot of b*ll*cks about at the moment.

The BBC's explanation for banning an appeal on behalf of the stricken people of Gaza is a vivid example. Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, cited the corporation's legal requirement to be "impartial . . . because Gaza remains a major ongoing news story in which humanitarian issues . . . are both at the heart of the story and contentious".

In a letter to Thompson, David Bracewell, a licence-fee payer, illuminated the deceit behind this. He pointed to previous BBC appeals for the Disasters Emergency Committee that were not only made in the midst of "an ongoing news story" in which humanitarian issues were "contentious", but also demonstrated how the corporation took sides.

In 1999, at the height of the illegal Nato bombing of Serbia and Kosovo, the TV presenter Jill Dando made an appeal on behalf of Kosovar refugees. The BBC web page for that appeal was linked to numerous articles meant to stress the gravity of the humanitarian issue. These included quotations from Blair himself, such as: "This will be a daily pounding until he [Slobodan Milosevic] comes into line with the terms that Nato has laid down." There was no significant balance of view from the Yugoslav side, and not a single mention that the flight of Kosovar refugees began only after Nato had started bombing.

Similarly, in an appeal for victims of the civil war in the Congo, the BBC favoured the regime led by Joseph Kabila by not referring to Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and other reports accusing his forces of atrocities. In contrast, the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was "accused of committing atrocities" and ordained the bad guy by the BBC. Kabila, who represented western interests, was clearly the good guy - just like Nato in the Balkans and Israel in the Middle East.

While Mark Thompson and his satraps richly deserve the Lord West of Spithead B*ll*cks Blue Ribbon, that honour goes to the cheer squad of President Barack Obama, whose cult-like obeisance goes on and on.

On 23 January, the Guardian's front page declared, "Obama shuts network of CIA 'ghost prisons'". The "wholesale deconstruction [sic] of George Bush's war on terror", said the report, had been ordered by the new president, who would be "shutting down the CIA's secret prison network, banning torture and rendition . . ."

The b*ll*cks quotient on this was so high that it read like the press release it was, citing "officials briefing reporters at the White House yesterday". Obama's orders, according to a group of 16 retired generals and admirals who attended a presidential signing ceremony, "would restore America's moral standing in the world". What moral standing? It never ceases to astonish that experienced reporters can transmit PR stunts like this, bearing in mind the moving belt of lies from the same source under only nominally different management.

Far from "deconstructing the war on terror", Obama is clearly pursuing it with the same vigour, ideological backing and deception as the previous administration. George W Bush's first war, in Afghanistan, and last war, in Pakistan, are now Obama's wars - with thousands more US troops to be deployed, more bombing and more slaughter of civilians. Last month, on the day he described Afghanistan and Pakistan as "the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism", 22 Afghan civilians died beneath Obama's bombs in a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds and which, by all accounts, had not laid eyes on the Taliban. Women and children were among the dead, which is normal.

Far from “shutting down the CIA’s secret prison network”, Obama’s executive orders actually give the CIA authority to carry out renditions, abductions and transfers of prisoners in secret without threat of legal obstruction. As the Los Angeles Times disclosed, “current and former US intelligence officials said that the rendition programme might be poised to play an expanded role”. A semantic sleight of hand is that “long-term prisons” are changed to “short-term prisons”; and while Americans are now banned from directly torturing people, foreigners working for the US are not. This means that America’s numerous “covert actions” will operate as they did under previous presidents, with proxy regimes, such as Augusto Pinochet’s in Chile, doing the dirtiest work.

Bush's open support for torture, and Donald Rumsfeld's extraordinary personal overseeing of certain torture techniques, upset many in America's "secret army" of subversive military and intelligence operators because it exposed how the system worked. Obama's newly confirmed director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, has said the Army Field Manual may include new forms of "harsh interrogation" which will be kept secret.

Obama has chosen not to stop any of this. Neither do his ballyhooed executive orders put an end to Bush's assault on constitutional and international law. He has retained Bush's "right" to imprison anyone, without trial or charge. No "ghost prisoners" are being released or are due to be tried before a civilian court. His nominee for attorney general, Eric Holder, has endorsed an extension of Bush's totalitarian USA Patriot Act, which allows federal agents to demand Americans' library and bookshop records. The man of "change" is changing little. That ought to be front-page news from Washington.

The Lord West of Spithead B*ll*cks Prize (Runner-Up) is shared. On 28 January, a nationally run Greenpeace advertisement opposing a third runway at Heathrow Airport in London summed up the almost wilful naivety that has obstructed informed analysis of the Obama administration.

"Fortunately," declared Greenpeace beneath a Godlike picture of Obama, "the White House has a new occupant, and he has asked us all to roll back the spectre of a warming planet." This was followed by Obama's rhetorical flourish about "putting off unpleasant decisions". In fact, the president has made no commitment to curtail America's infamous responsibility for the causes of global warming. As with George W Bush and most other modern-era presidents, it is oil, not stemming carbon emissions, that informs his administration. His national security adviser, General Jim Jones, a former Nato supreme commander, made his name planning US military control over the exploitation of oil and gas reserves from the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Guinea off Africa.

Sharing the B*ll*cks Runner-Up Prize is the Observer, which on 25 January published a major news report headlined, "How Obama set the tone for a new US revolution". This was reminiscent of the Observer almost a dozen years ago when liberalism's other great white hope, Tony Blair, came to power. "Goodbye xenophobia" was the Observer's post-election front page in 1997 and "The Foreign Office says 'Hello World, remember us?'". The government, said the breathless text, would push for "new worldwide rules on human rights and the environment" and implement "tough new limits" on arms sales. The opposite happened. Last year, Britain was the biggest arms dealer in the world; currently, it is second only to the United States.

In the Blair mould, the Obama White House "sprang into action" with its "radical plans". The president's first phone call was to that Palestinian quisling, the unelected and deeply unpopular Mahmoud Abbas. There was a "hot pace" and a "new era", in which a notorious name from an ancien régime, Richard Holbrooke, was despatched to Pakistan. In 1978, Holbrooke betrayed a promise to normalise relations with the Vietnamese on the eve of a vicious embargo ruined the lives of countless Vietnamese children. Under Obama, the "sense of a new era abroad", declared the Observer, "was reinforced by the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state". Clinton has threatened to "entirely obliterate Iran" on behalf of Israel.

What the childish fawning over Obama obscures is the dark power assembled under cover of America’s first “post-racial president”. Apart from the US, the world’s most dangerous state is demonstrably Israel, having recently killed and maimed some 4,000 people in Gaza with impunity. On 10 February, a bellicose Israeli electorate is likely to put Binyamin Netanyahu into power. Netanyahu is a fanatic’s fanatic who has made clear his intention of attacking Iran. In the Wall Street Journal of 24 January, he described Iran as the “terrorist mother base” and justified the murder of civilians in Gaza because “Israel cannot accept an Iranian terror base [Gaza] next to its major cities”. On 31 January, unaware he was being filmed, Tel Aviv’s ambassador to Australia described the massacres in Gaza as a “pre-introduction” – a dress rehearsal – for an attack on Iran.

For Netanyahu, the reassuring news is that the new US administration is the most Zionist in living memory, a truth that has struggled to be told from beneath the soggy layers of Obama-love. Not a single member of the president's team demurred from his support for Israel's barbaric actions in Gaza. Obama himself likened the safety of his two young daughters with that of Israeli children but made not a single reference to the thousands of Palestinian children killed with American weapons - a violation of both international and US law. He did, however, demand that the people of Gaza be denied "smuggled" small arms with which to defend themselves against the world's fourth-largest military power. And he paid tribute to the Arab dictatorships, such as Egypt, which are bribed by the US treasury to help the United States and Israel enforce policies described by the UN special rapporteur Richard Falk, a Jew, as "genocidal".

It is time the Obama lovers grew up. It is time those paid to keep the record straight gave us the opportunity to debate informatively. In the 21st century, people power remains a huge and exciting and largely untapped force for change, but it is nothing without truth. "In the time of universal deceit," wrote George Orwell, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Biden’s speech not reassuring

THE early reaction to US Vice President Joe Biden’s Munich foreign policy speech has been one of mild disappointment. This was the first opportunity for the new Obama administration to set out its stall before a high-powered international audience. Much was expected — even an announcement that Bush’s provocative missile defense shield was to be scrapped. In the event, as one commentator noted, the Biden speech could very well have been delivered word for word by the former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

All the talk of a “new tone” was fine as far as it went but in one particular area the tone was anything but new. Biden parroted the old carrot-and-stick Bush approach to the Iranians. Being willing to talk, as Obama said in his campaign for the White House is a start, but it is how Washington chooses to talk to Tehran that is important. If as Biden also said, the new administration is pressing the reset button on foreign policy, then that reset ought to apply across the piece. Moderate opinion in Iran, according to some US observers, has become concerned at the militant and uncompromising approach of the Ahmadinejad administration. They also claim the Iranian president’s widespread economic failures have added to discontent. Now that former President Mohammad Khatami has announced he will run again this June, there is a chance that Obama will have a less strident Iranian leader to deal with in five months’ time. It, therefore, might seem foolish to give Ahmadinejad the same belligerent Bush rhetoric for the Iranian president to push back against. Biden was equally disappointing on Gaza. Obama intends to keep the Bush policy of excluding Hamas from talks. Indeed Biden even echoed Bush ignorance when he stated blithely “Hamas represents a small — and I believe a very small — number of violent extremists (who) are beyond the call of reason”. Does he not know that just over three years ago, Hamas won an outright majority in a free and fair election throughout the Palestinian territories? Despite this disappointingly tentative start elsewhere, Biden’s speech clearly did chime with the Russians. The warmth with which Biden and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ivanov greeted each other yesterday seemed testimony to this.

Maybe too much was expected of this first exposure of White House foreign policy intentions. Of considerable interest, however, is the fact that it was the vice president, not the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who came to Europe to deliver the message. Biden is clearly not going to be a sleeping partner in the administration. Clinton, meanwhile, has yet to define her role. Obama has appointed George Mitchell as his special Middle East envoy and Richard Holbrooke has the same job with Pakistan and Afghanistan. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is reportedly fighting to maintain his department’s long-standing control of Chinese relations. The US foreign policy portfolio does not, therefore, rest entirely with Clinton. Given Clinton’s views on Israel (or Palestinians) and Iran, the people in the Middle East may welcome this. But a softer version of Dick Cheney is not going to reassure them.

West’s next move in Zimbabwe

THE West should do what it can to hasten the success of Zimbabwe’s unity government, said the Christian Science Monitor in an editorial yesterday. Excerpts:

A sliver of light is shining in Zimbabwe, once a star nation in Africa that’s been brutally mismanaged by dictator Robert Mugabe. This week, Mugabe’s rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to become prime minister in a new power-sharing government. Few give the deal much hope, yet it must be given the opportunity to succeed.

How big an opportunity? Africa’s leaders, as voiced by the 53-member African Union, say the new unity government is cause for the international community to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe. Now’s the time, it argues, to help to its feet a country staggering under hyperinflation and near-total joblessness, hunger and severe health problems — including a cholera epidemic. Not so fast, caution the United States and European Union. They’re lukewarm to the new political arrangement, and want to see proof of power-sharing and effective governance before they’ll ease sanctions. But doing nothing also leaves Tsvangirai with nothing — no leverage to succeed.

What the West can and should do is publicly offer limited humanitarian assistance to Tsvangirai, channeled through the ministries that the opposition in theory will control. Food, medical assistance, and temporary shelter could be funneled through the Health Ministry, for instance. The West should demand accountability along with this help, then be willing to pull the plug if the aid is blocked by Mugabe and his supporters, or diverted to them — as it has been in the past.

With such a strategy, Tsvangirai has something to work with, and, if he can deliver, perhaps show even Mugabe’s supporters that he’s the one to back.

A unity government in Zimbabwe may last only weeks. But the West should do what it can to hasten success — not failure.

Arab News

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The all-seeing eye of state surveillance

The all-seeing eye of state surveillance
Comments (75)

* Editorial
* The Guardian, Friday 6 February 2009
* Article history

It is not any one cigarette or one extra drink that is ruinous to the health. The damage is done over the years, almost imperceptibly. Grave threats to the health of democracy can also accrue so incrementally that they draw little attention. A committee of peers diagnose one such danger today in a report on the steady creep of surveillance. The charge of hysteria is routinely used to sweep aside such talk when it comes from crusading journalists and pressure groups. The Lords constitutional affairs committee, however, cannot be dismissed the same way. A more dignified band of dignitaries would be hard to imagine - it includes a former attorney general who is a conservative champion of that antiquated role, a Tory expert on the constitution, and a founder of that force of militant moderation that was called the SDP.

Their insistence that mundane data collection "risks undermining the fundamental relationship between the state and the citizen" may be dramatic, but it is rooted in careful argument. Privacy is not only a precondition to a life of any quality, it is part of the meaning of liberty. The rule of law in Britain is not codified in a constitution, but underpinned by shared support for the twin ideals of executive restraint and individual freedom. Under the gaze of 4 million CCTV cameras, and in the face of the burgeoning electronic tabs being kept on citizens, both ideals are strained. Bit by bit the state - and private firms - cease to believe that the courtroom is the place to hold individuals to account, and instead grow used to monitoring them in all sorts of contexts in the name of convenience. Bit by bit, meanwhile, individuals learn to live with the ubiquitous prying eye.

Technical change rather than political choice explains much of this drift. As collecting information gets cheaper and easier, it starts being collated in ways that no one would have dreamed up in the past. The committee does not dispute that this can bring gains, from cracking crimes to ensuring patients receive consistent treatment. As with complex derivatives in the City, however, the great problem has been that regulation has not kept pace with innovation. The peers suggest sensible steps to redress the balance - for instance, a new requirement on public bodies and firms to encrypt the personal data they hold to cut the risk of it falling into the wrong hands. An independent review of the proclaimed but largely unproven benefits of CCTV could help ensure it is used only where it really does make a difference. Automatic assessment of what government announcements mean for privacy - something already required for race equality and red tape - would build a prompt into the system so that Whitehall would get into the habit of considering the issue, a prompt that could help to turn the tide.

Failure to think is not always the problem - sometimes it is bad deliberate decisions. The peers rightly insist that it is just not acceptable for the state to hang on to the DNA of individuals never convicted of a crime, purely on the arbitrary basis that they once came under suspicion. Strasbourg recently said the same thing, in a ruling that must now be given effect. The wide powers to snoop that council officers have been handed need to be trimmed. Judicial oversight is part of the answer; another part is making sure the powers are used proportionately. Following someone suspected of a violent crime is one thing; following a parent suspected of fibbing about their address to get their child into the right school is quite another.

One of the few shortcomings of the Lords report is its silence on those threats to privacy that ministers are currently pushing, notably the super-database on mobile communications. That silence may be the price for achieving all-party consensus. Even after that price has been paid, however, the committee has done invaluable work. It has nailed the age-old lie on surveillance - by asserting that those with nothing to hide can still have a great deal to fear.

The Guardian Editorial

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Saudi firm to build $85m polo resort in Morocco

Saudi-based developer SIAMA said it will begin construction this year on a $85m polo resort and hotel in Morocco, reported The National. General Manager Ammar Abdelhadi said the company could save up to 30% on costs if construction began this year. Scheduled to open in 2011 and spread over 40 hectares, the Jnan Amar Polo Retreat is being promoted as an exclusive polo and spa retreat.

Saudi prince says U.S. ties at risk over Mideast

A member of Saudi Arabia's royal family warned U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday the Middle East peace process and U.S.-Saudi ties were at risk unless Washington changed tack on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel had come close to "killing the prospect of peace" with its offensive in Gaza, Prince Turki al-Faisal wrote in an article published on the Financial Times's website.

"Unless the new U.S. administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the U.S.-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk," said Turki, a former Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the United States and Britain.

About 1,300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed and 5,000 wounded during the 22-day offensive, which ended with a ceasefire on Sunday.

Israel said the campaign was designed to root out Hamas militants who fired rockets into the Jewish state. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians, hit by cross-border rocket fire, were killed.

Obama, sworn in as president on Tuesday, named former Senator George Mitchell on Thursday as an envoy with the brief to try and jump-start moribund Arab-Israeli peace talks.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush's administration had left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East, Turki wrote, singling out the Iraq war.

The Bush administration had also contributed to the "slaughter of innocents" in Gaza, said Turki, who currently holds no official government position in the world's top crude oil exporter.

"If the U.S. wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact -- especially its 'special relationship' with Saudi Arabia -- it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine," Turki wrote. He said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had written to Saudi King Abdullah last week urging Saudi Arabia to lead a "jihad", or holy war, against Israel.

This call for jihad would, if pursued, create "unprecedented chaos and bloodshed" in the region, said Turki.

"So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain," he said.

Turki urged Obama to condemn what he called "Israel's atrocities" against the Palestinians.

Human rights group Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes on Monday over its alleged use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated areas of Gaza. Israel has said all weapons used in Gaza complied with international law.

Turki said Obama should condemn Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza and should call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the disputed Shebaa Farms area claimed by Lebanon.

He urged Obama to strongly promote a 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which calls for full recognition of Israel if it gives up lands occupied in a 1967 war and accepts a solution for Palestinian refugees.

LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters)(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

Friday, 16 January 2009

Cinema ratings and web sites

British Culture Minister Andy Burnham was widely reported over the Christmas break for remarks in an interview to the Daily Telegraph in which he said he was considering giving film-style ratings to individual web sites, before adding:

“If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.”

He went on to tell the Telegraph that he is currently considering a range of new safeguards. Initially, as with copyright violations, these could be policed by internet providers. However, new laws may be threatened if the initial approach is not successful. He pointed to the success of the 9pm “watershed” on television, and said that his goal was for Internet providers to offer “child-safe” web services.

In analysing this proposal, it is important to be fair-minded. One needn’t make too much of the fact that when he says “This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it”, that’s precisely what it is. Nor should we dwell on the fact that truly objectionable content (like the routine bogeymen child pornography and terrorist material) are already illegal and would never get an age certificate under this scheme. Nor even should one be overly taken, as is the Telegraph editorial, with the notion that the Internet is impossible to regulate: if the government decide to pass a law demanding age certificates on web sites, then web sites based in Britain at least will indeed have to carry age ratings.

Burnham’s proposal isn’t completely absurd. It may be inconvenient to BBC iPlayer to have to apply age ratings to its programme content. It may make it delay even further American video services from launching in the UK. And it may make some video sites based on user-generated content untenable (although, curiously, it wouldn’t cause the (NSFW) pornography specialists much trouble). But it’s not impossible: some services even do this already.

The problem with the proposal is that much of the web isn’t about delivering a TV-like experience to the surfer. How would you even begin to classify a service like Google? Or Rapidshare? It’s not just a problem with user-generated content either: simple user voting can change the character of sites like in a moment, as was apparent when Digg lost control of an irate user base.

If your service is actually a tool for allow end users to express themselves (like, say, Facebook) you’ve another problem: it is quite likely people under 18 who using the kind of language that Mr Burnham might find objectionable. Presumably Mr Burnham’s rating wouldn’t only be applied for bad language: racism, sexism, and cynicism about politicians are also matters of concern. But, like it or not, these sentiments do exist in society, and as such they are expressed in bars and bulletin boards, churches and chatrooms. We can use regulation to drive them out of our top-down broadcast media. From a regulatory point of view though, at least part of the Internet is more like a pub, football crowd or playground than it is like a TV programme.

“Cinema ratings for online content” sounds like an implementable policy. “People shouldn’t be allowed to talk online without a responsible adult present to make sure they don’t misbehave” does not. Unfortunately, they are the same policy.

Linx PA

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Proud of my sister...

Dear Faisal,

I write to you, as you have covered the Saudi-British Youth Forum in your last article in the Arab News. My concern is with regards to the role news agencies in shaping public opinion. Please excuse me for not taking the regular root of praising your newspaper (although, I actually think it’s the best source of diverse news in Saudi today).

Okaz newspaper paper today, as you did, wrote an article on the Saudi-British Youth Forum which featured my younger sister( Post the online publication of the article, an array of comments appeared from readers. The first said, “let her about covering her self up, and worry about her religion first” then second, made a sarcastic comment regarding her stance (at the forum) with the Palestinian people, and commented “and half an hour in from the forum, the Jews apologised and paid al diya on the souls of the dead Palestinians… “and he goes on. The rest of the comments from there were regarding why we are holding such a forum with the British. And how it’s there fault. And why are we debating with these people etc.. You get the gist. Some of the remarks are very anti-semetic too, but that a whole other story.

So I guess your wondering by now, why am I writing to you? when this whole episode happened at a different newspaper. And there is nothing new in what I just wrote, the general public have this attitude of scepticism towards the west during normal times, let alone when Israel is killing innocent civilians and the world watches.
You’ll be happy to know I am not writing regarding the scepticism or the anti Semitism, as I guess you’ve heard it all before! I write to you today because of how my sister (as a Saudi female), who cares so much about her country and her religion can be bombarded with such remarks. Earlier this year, she appeared again in a Saudi newspaper regarding a campaign she started regarding caring for our heritage sites. Soon after, my farther (who is a university lecturer and a level headed man) started to get hate messages (sms), and threats to. Some telling him, he has no shame and other on a similar note.

This is the part where you come in. Would it be possible for you to write an article, on this trend? These people discourage young Saudi women like my sister in doing the right thing and speaking up. Luckily, my sister is a very stubborn girl and she will continue doing the right thing, but sometimes she and the people around her are hurt in the process. I am very proud of my sister, and I applaud her! However, I also believe that the Saudi news agencies bare a responsibility in taming public opinion. In understanding that pluralistic ignorance is not the way of life nor did the prophet ever encourage such ignorance. Anyhow, I think you see where I am going with this..

I eagerly await your response.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Archbishop apologises for priest's attack

The Archbishop of Wellington has apologised for the actions of a clergyman who attacked a memorial to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.

In a statement released yesterday, Archbishop John Dew moved to distance the church from Father Gerard Burns' actions during a Gaza conflict protest in the capital on Tuesday.

"Father Burns was acting on his own initiative, and did not carry out his protest as a representative of the Catholic Church in New Zealand," Archbishop Dew said.

"I offer an apology for Father Burns' actions and make this apology to all those who were offended at the desecration of the Rabin monument."

Auckland's Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn has also joined calls for Father Burns to apologise for desecrating the memorial to Mr Rabin.

Father Burns - the parish priest of Te Ngakau Tapu in Porirua - splattered red paint with a drop of his own blood over the memorial during a 1000-strong protest in Wellington on Tuesday.

The protest was against Israel's air and ground offensive in Gaza. Demonstrators were calling on the New Zealand Government to end its neutral stance.
Father Burns' actions have been criticised by the newly formed group Kiwi Friends for Israel, which says although he was entitled to an opinion, he crossed the line in putting blood and paint on the memorial.

The group has called for him to apologise, a call that is backed by the Bishop of Auckland, the Most Rev Patrick Dunn.

Speaking as a long-time advocate for interfaith dialogue and co-operation, Bishop Dunn told the Herald Father Burns' actions were "irresponsible and have potentially done great damage".

"I believe that Father Gerard Burns owes an apology to the New Zealand public, the Jewish community and to his colleagues in the Catholic clergy."

David Zwartz, a former honorary Israeli consul to New Zealand, has reportedly lodged a complaint with police over the vandalism.

Kiwi Friends for Israel said although the damage was already done, Father Burns should do the decent thing and apologise.

They said Father Burns' actions had been reported internationally and were not a good look for New Zealand.

Father Burns could not be reached for comment last night.

Protesters at the ASB Classic tennis tournament yesterday called on Israeli player Shahar Peer to quit the competition over the Gaza offensive.

A group of about 15 people waved shoes and shouted for Israel to "free Palestine" and to take their "hands off Gaza", but were told to "go home" and "get a life" by spectators.

taken from

Kanoute facing fine for showing Palestine T-shirt

MADRID, Spain (AP) - Sevilla striker Frederic Kanoute is facing a fine from the Spanish football federation for revealing a T-shirt expressing support for Palestine during a match.

Kanoute lifted his Sevilla shirt over his head after scoring in the team's 2-1 Copa del Rey win over Deportivo La Coruna on Wednesday to display a black T-shirt on which the word "Palestine" was printed in several languages.

Sevilla's Frederic Kanoute (left) shows a t-shirt in reference to the Israeli offensive in Gaza. (Jose Manuel Vidal / Associated Press)

The federation's Competition Committee is expected to study the incident on Friday.

Kanoute, who was born in France but plays internationally for Mali, is a practicing Muslim.

Kanoute's action, which has been interpreted as a response to Israel's recent attacks on Gaza that have killed nearly 700 people, was met with a yellow card from referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz.

Lahoz said in his post-match report that he'd cautioned Kanoute for raising his shirt over his head in accordance with federation rules, while also noting the message of the striker's T-shirt.

Raphael Schultz, Israel's ambassador in Madrid, told Radio Marca on Thursday that Kanoute's gesture "had gone beyond his profession and FIFA rules to this respect."

"I saw the match and the T-shirt bore nothing more than the name of Palestine. It was not an incitement against Israel. I don't think it extolled violence," Schultz said.

Meanwhile, Palestine embassy official Mahmoud Aluanen told the same station that Kanoute "has shown himself to be a very brave person to support our people at a public event."

"Sportsmen are human beings and cannot contain their feelings. They have all the right in the world to express their opinion about matters which contravene human rights. I'm sure that all Palestinian children, those who love football, will be happy about this gesture," Aluanen added.

The incident came a day before Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas paid a visit to Madrid for talks with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and King Juan Carlos.

From Fox sport on MSN

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Saudis are “arrogant and racist,”

JEDDAH: The majority of Saudis and non-Saudis agree with Labor Minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi’s statement that Saudis are “arrogant and racist,” according to an Arab News survey. Al-Gosaibi made his controversial comments on Dec. 28, while addressing the heads of labor departments in Saudi provinces.

“In the past we adulated foreigners for they would be doctors from whom we sought treatment, or teachers from whom we sought knowledge, or accountants who we’d ask to organize or run our businesses,” said Al-Gosaibi, who was criticized by some for the comments.

“It is disappointing that we have been infiltrated by some arrogance and even more racism. We have started to picture ourselves better than those who come to participate with us in our development,” he said.

In a survey conducted by Arab News, 8 out of 10 non-Saudis (including Arabs, Asians and Westerners) and 9 out of 10 Saudis agreed with Al-Gosaibi’s statement that Saudis are “arrogant and racist.” However, a similar number of respondents disagreed with the minister’s view that there has been a shift in Saudi attitudes toward foreigners: that professional non-Saudis who were treated with respect in the past are now treated as if they are laborers.

Those surveyed said Saudis trust non-Saudi doctors, especially Western doctors, more than their Saudi counterparts.

Ahmed, a Saudi physician, said, “Yes, we have to admit that some arrogance and racism has entered Saudi society. One cannot generalize but it’s there. It’s sensed.”

Hamed, a Kenyan national of Yemeni background who has lived in the Kingdom for more than 30 years, said, “Discrimination hasn’t always been the case ... but over the past years it isn’t the case that just the one-on-one treatment that has changed, even the system has. You feel it whether you’re buying a water truck or getting your iqama renewed. This contradicts Islamic teachings, which the Kingdom’s supposed to represent.”

Hadi Al-Fakeeh, managing editor of Okaz newspaper, agreed with Al-Gosaibi. “In the past, the majority of Saudis were illiterate and so people looked at foreign professionals with the utmost adulation. They used to settle for anything. Today, with the power of knowledge and public awareness, citizens have a more critical eye. Therefore, their bar of standards has raised and they do not settle for anything but the best,” he said.

Badr Al-Mutawie, a prominent Saudi journalist, described the minister’s comments as “harsh.” He suggested the comments should be the topic of discussion in a future national dialogue.

“You’re shown attitude even when going through standard procedures,” said Salim, 43, a foreigner who has been married to his Saudi wife for 14 years. “When my wife’s traveling alone and is passing through immigration and customs, I have to be present even though she has a document permitting her to travel. Why? Because her husband isn’t Saudi. It’s as if being non-Saudi makes me a non-man.”

The survey showed that 9 out of 10 non-Saudis agreed that all non-Western foreigners are presumed to be laborers or are treated as such. All 10 stated that non-Saudis are treated differently according to their nationalities with Westerners getting preferential treatment when it comes to attitude and jobs.

“Almost 10 years ago, while working in a private communication company, a colleague and I had exactly the same job. He, however, was paid double my salary. He was German and I was Indian,” said Imran, 39.

“I’m now back in the Kingdom working for another company but I’ve obtained a Western nationality. The difference in treatment and in package is vast. But I see other Indians suffering the same situation I was in years ago. It’s unfair. It’s merit that matters, not nationality.”

A Saudi advertisement agency recently launched a series of TV and newspaper advertisements, entitled Rahma (Mercy), encouraging people to show mercy to foreign workers. One newspaper advert showed a housemaid crouching on the floor with a dog bowl in front of her and a woman’s shoe heal dangling near her face.

The adverts were controversial with some Saudis agreeing with the theme and others disapproving saying they were exaggerated and presented a bad image of Saudis who treat workers with respect.

The Human Rights Watch issued a report in July 2008, entitled “As If I Am Not Human,” about the abuse of Asian domestic workers in the Kingdom.

The report stated that while many domestic workers enjoy decent work conditions, others endure a range of abuses, including nonpayment of salaries, forced confinement, food deprivation, excessive workload, and instances of severe psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch documented dozens of cases where the combination of these conditions amounted to forced labor, trafficking, or slave-like conditions.

from Samir Al-Saadi | Arab News

Saturday, 3 January 2009

President Obama… Lookout… Trap… Israel’s latest carnage on Palestinians in Gaza is not really for Peace but to force your hand after you are sworn in.

Anyone who remembers the Massacres of Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut in 1982 ( Google search: Massacres of Sabra and Shatila) may recall that more than 800 women and children were slaughtered by right wing phalangist forces under the protection and direction of the Israeli forces who invaded Lebanon in an operation the Israelis called "Peace for Galilee" (Google Search: Peace for Galilee ) led and masterminded by none other than Ariel Sharon, Israel's defense minister then.

Sharon's aim was to eradicate the "terrorist threat" posed by the Palestinians' military presence in Lebanon with the purpose of removing the threat to Israel's northern settlements. He later became Israeli Prime Minister in recognition for his great service to Israel and as a reward for his military successes.

But did Ariel Sharon really succeed in his Lebanon invasion and massacres to give Galilee and Israel peace? Let’s see!

If he did, we should be able to see Galilee and Israel overall prospering today economically, socially, and of course in peace with the end of all hostilities against Israel from the Palestinians thru Lebanon, right?

In fact the real and direct result of Israel’s invasion in 1982 was the birth of Lebanese resistance to Israeli occupation which did not exist before. It pooled Christians and Muslims from all political sectors of Lebanese society who would be defiant to an invasion and occupation of their land by a foreign force - a globally accepted Principle of Human Rights. One of these newly created movements was called "Hezbollah".

Israel's 1982 invasion and subsequent occupation of Lebanon created Hezbollah.

Clearly, the Israelis failed miserably to bring Peace to Galilee and Israel with their 1982 invasion of Lebanon as they will fail more miserably in their current attacks on Gaza now 26 years on. And while Israel succeeded in eradicating Palestinian threats with death, destruction and massacres in 1982, Israel's Sharon created a Lebanese resistance force stronger and more resilient to his occupation than the Palestinians he aimed to eradicate. So instead of Peace, Israel's wars led them to more wars and needing to re-launch more invasions and incursions to correct their mistakes of the past as the problem was mushrooming as Peace became ever more elusive.

All of the above is based on the assumption that Israel’s actions are of course aimed at creating a long lasting Peace as they always stated and claimed. But were their aims really for Peace?

Israeli leaders re-invaded Lebanon in 2006, but now to eradicate the Hezbollah their invasion in 1982 gave birth to. The world recalls the extent of that Israeli military failure. (Google Search: Israel invasion of Lebanon, 2006)

Similarly, Israeli incursions and operations in Gaza and the west bank are too many to list and all were masterminded to bring peace to Israel from supposed Palestinian terrorists and aggressors who want to throw Israel in the sea, right? But none of them had delivered peace and Israel is nowhere near getting wet from being thrown into that supposed sea.

The ultimate failure or lie for peace can be awarded to the Bush administration. Bush invaded Iraq claiming he is giving Iraqis freedom because now they supposedly can vote freely (Many Iraqis thank him and can’t wait to see the back of him, some are so ungrateful they threw shoes at him. How rude?).

However, the Palestinians had an election in Jan 2006 (Google Search: Hamas elected to Government) which international community observers recognized to be free and democratic, an unknown alien phenomenon in Arabic countries since the 1950s. To everyone’s surprise, Hamas swept to election victory and became the new and legitimate Palestinian Government. It did not take the Israeli and US governments more than hours to make the statement that they do not recognize the newly elected Palestinian Governments nor will they work with it, US allies followed suit like sheep.

The US and Israel started plotting to overthrow the newly elected Palestinian Hamas Government (Google Search: US plot to overthrow elected Palestinian government ) . The US and Israel started to Plan for a Palestinian Civil war (Google Search: US and Israeli Plan to start a Palestinian Civil war

Did any of these invasions, incursions occupations, and plots to overthrow legitimately elected Governments deliver any peace for Israel? The Answer is a solid NO.

But was Peace the real objective?

To answer, let’s look at these wars and their failures to bring peace from a different angle and see what they really resulted into since they most clearly did not result in Peace.

The Lebanese and the Palestinians have been reading the Israeli invasions, the killings, assassinations, blockades, and incursions over the decades and the US blind support as bold messages that read and sound like this:
“We are stronger than you ".
“We are supported by America"
“We can have the United Nations give our actions legitimacy thru our American friend's veto power"
“We don’t have to abide by UN resolutions we do not like”
“You are not supported by anyone. Not even the Arab countries want to help you, except with nice words, and some charity money to rebuild after being decimated and pulverised "
"We can starve you anytime we want, for as long as we want, with help of other Arab countries to block any supplies coming in (Egyptian Government)
"We can kill you and any of your leaders anytime we want”
“Agree to our terms of peace with the leaders we choose and accept for you”
“If you don’t - continue to suffer and die"

Many Palestinians have died and continue dying as a result of Israeli might. But its might helped crate a new trend. This trend was created and started by Lebanese resistance fighters to the Israeli invasion and occupation in 1982. It was simply to take a few of their enemies with them while dying. They had little to fight with except their defiance and determination. So they started blowing themselves up to kill their occupier. In simple English it became known as "suicide bombing" of the enemy which has grown to become a global Phenomena sadly to Palestinians, Israelis and all victims. it is also inaccurately attributed to Muslims. The first suicide Bomber against Israeli occupation was a woman by the name of Sanaa Mehaidaly and she was Christian.

And just like Hezbollah was born as a result of Israel’s military invasion and occupation of Lebanon, Israel should take full credit and responsibility for creating the phenomenon and trend of suicide bombing.

Oh and I forgot, anyone knows what was one of Israel's answer to the suicide bombers it helped creating? Well, it build a wall more than 400 miles long and 8 meters high to stop Palestinian suicide bombers crossing into Israel (Google Search: Israel to build a wall ) and to do so it confiscated more Palestinian land to build it on, which resulted in more resistance to the Israeli occupation and more recruits to become suicide bombers. Does anyone see the vicious circle I am drawing yet?

Israel and the US need to accept and must come to terms that, (this can only happen when US support switches from being blind to being fair):
- Palestinians deserve equal human rights and respect no less than those of Israelis.
- Real Peace is the offer of Real hope of a Real future for Palestinians and their children to live for so that they could taste it and would want to savour and protect its flavor.
- Peace cannot be achieved without legitimate self rule.
- Peace cannot be achieved without the right for self determination.
- Palestinians to date have been offered phony hope and phony leadership.
- The Oslo Accord and the US Led Road Map to Peace have failed to offer any real hope, they offered US and Israeli puppet Palestinian leaders.
- Not having anything to live for breeds suicide bombers - the ultimate waste of human life.
- cooked up peace process will never deliver peace.
- Unfairly and unevenly brokered peace processes between a lamb and a lion will only deliver a meal to the lion and not a long lasting peace?

In fact if Israel has really been sincere in wanting peace in all its wars, invasions, incursions and assassinations the last three decades having failed totally and 100% to give Peace to its citizens, why do they continue in the same failed policies? they are not that stupid to see it has not worked to continue to problem solve with the same failing tools again and again and America continue to support it blindly.

But then, a bolt of lightning and a crazy idea came to me to ponder....

Is it possible however, that Israel's latest Gaza attack talks of peace for PR purposes but are really aimed at creating more resistance to its occupation by the Palestinians and fuelling renewed hatred to Israel and America and theri global interests by Arabs and Muslims worldwide ?

why? Sounds crazy? right?

If history tought us anything it tought us that the most likely outcome from the latest Israeli actions on Gaza will most definitely not be peace. Not now. Not ever - but more resistance, more rockets on Israel and more suicide Bombing and not only on Israeli soil and not only aimed at Israelis.

Not even temporary Peace for Israel can be achieved.

The most likely outcome will be more radicalism not only by Palestinians but by Arabs and Muslims throughout the world, more resistance and more suicide bombings I am sad to predict and exactly as sinisterly planned.

On face value, Israeli and US leaders appear so stupid to keep on making the same mistakes over and over again making Peace more and more elusive as if what I am saying is so alien and new to them.

Is it possible that they are so unaware of the cause and effect I have laid out and that they never considered what I am saying? And if they never did, what about their smart advisors? Let’s be real, you don’t become a leader of America or Israel by being stupid or at least have smart advisors. So suppose they knew all what I am saying all along then that means they always knew that peace cannot be reached the way they tried. So what was the purpose of all these failed wars and Peace Processes for decades?

Is it possible that the objective behind Israel’s over the top war on Gaza and the civilian Palestinians carnage is to create and renew the venomous mood of hate and resistance not only to Israel but specifically America by Arabs and Muslims worldwide?

Is it possible that the grand design is to breed and cause new attacks, perhaps suicide bombing, specifically on American Targets to rile up American public desire for revenge and forcing the new US president to respond with unequivocal strength and force to protect America and its interests overseas and thus prolong the era of war mongering Bush started and derail Obama's real plan? If such future attacks can be attributed to Bin laden, war mongering planners will be happy and feel " job well done". If new terrosit groups emerge, "even better".

This will most definitely force the incoming President Obama’s hand in changing the stance and strategy that brought him to the while house based on change from the last 8 years of Bush and with the mutual respect between cultures he talked about only to be forced to chnge strategic direction to appear strong in front of the world per the advice of his advisors in response to new attacks on US targets that only serve the real road blockers to world peace.

I hope to be wrong but I fear that future attacks on US targets will come as a direct response to US unconditional support of Israelis attacks on Gaza. President Obama’s hand will be forced on this not to lean on Israel for real Peace under the claim the time is not right, the time now is for solidarity against terrorism. This will only serve the warmongers who do not want long lasting Real Peace. It won’t serve Palestinians, Israelis or Americans who want real peace.


Israel knew that incoming US President Obama will not be like George Bush accepting whatever Israel demands as God's request of him to help Israel no matter what. Obama would have expected Israel to make real attempt at long lasting Peace with the Palestinians in return for continued US unwavering support (but no longer blind support at th cost of US intersts). The Israelis are not ready for this yet as it means concessions they feel unwilling to give to Palestinians, not yet anyway.

Obama is aware of the US cost of such unconditional US support to Israel. Obama will want to change it from blind to strong, unwavering support that does not come at the cost of US global interests and turn the tide that Bush started.

Obama was committed to changing this during his election but it can’t happen if Israel continues to abuse US loyalty and support dismaying international public opinions of America.

War against Gaza because of missiles landing in Northern Israel sounds reasonable enough, right? But the size of the force used has other purposes.

Obama might lean on Israel to accept Syria’s peace for a Golan Heights deal to separate Hezbollah from Syria and Syria from Iran and then squeeze Iran on the Nuclear power issue. This is in America's Interest but requires Israel to make Peace with Syria, and this is not what Israel is willing to do for its people or its ally although it will give secure Israel peace with Syria, if it really wanted one.

Obama is already aware that the Arab league has offered Israel a comprehensive Peace based on Peace for Land on more than 3 official occasions since 2001 and Israel declined these offers outright without any negotiations. (you Google it)

Is all this possible? Of course not I must be hallucinating. It sounds more fiction that reality. Right?

If any of my facts and conclusions are true, then the beneficiaries of Israel’s attack on Gaza are Usama Bin Laden and the war Mongers all over the world and specially in America and Israel.

More sadly, none of this is for peace, it is instead to satisfy the egos of the puppeteers who pull the strings and are ruining the real hope for peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike who are the real victims of all this to differing degrees.

The real victims of these attacks are not only the Palestinians who are dying now but also future Israeli and American innocent victims followed by more Palestinians who will pay with their lives as they fall to the reprisal attacks to follow perpetrated by all sides in the continuous vicious circle of violence if historical data is any predictor.

Let’s see if Obama can fulfill his historic words when he said “change has come to America”. Dare I dream for all Arab and Israeli children’s sake? Or will Washington change Obama?

This post was written by my friend Khaled Fattal on