Friday, 30 November 2012
Jabhat Al-Nusra At Work
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From The Daily Star, Lebanon:

Syria Jihadis slay captives in video
By Daily Star Staff

BEIRUT: New footage posted on the Internet appears to have been filmed by a Syrian rebel who points the camera along the barrel of his gun as he executes 10 unarmed prisoners.

The grisly video, posted on YouTube Thursday, shows 10 men wearing T-shirts and camouflage trousers lying face down next to a building and a lookout tower. Even before the shooting, two of the men are not moving and one has blood coming from his torso.

“I swear to God that we are peaceful,” begs one of the men to the camera, which is being held by the gunman. Cowering, the man gets up to plead with rebels. As he approaches a rebel off-screen, a shot is heard and he returns holding his bloodied arm.

“We swear to God we are Sunni,” another says while someone off camera chants “execution, execution!”

Another of the victims repeats that the men are “Sunni from Deraa” before the cameraman points the camera along the barrel of his Kalashnikov assault rifle and shoots the men.

“God is great. Jabhat al-Nusra,” he says, referring to the secretive Jabhat al-Nusra – Arabic for “the Support Front” – an Islamist rebel unit with links to Al-Qaeda that has claimed responsibility for several suicide bomb attacks around the country.

The gunman gets on the back of a pickup truck and the camera pans to show the man who had been shot in the arm still moving. More shots are fired and his body spasms.

The authenticity of the footage could not be independently verified. Comments accompanying the video said it was filmed in Ras al-Ain, a town on the border with Turkey where pitched battles have raged in recent weeks.

Syria’s uprising started with peaceful protests which were harshly suppressed by troops and has evolved into a civil war in which foreign jihadi fighters have joined ranks with defecting soldiers and armed civilians.

Separately Friday, a regional military commander for Al-Nusra in the northern Hasaka region told the Associated Press his men do not fear death and they are determined to form an Islamic state.

“Thanks to our strong faith we do not fear death, because we think that if you are killed at the hands of this regime, then we will be martyrs and we will go to paradise,” Sheikh Abu Ahmad said.

“We want Shariah [Islamic law] to be applied because it’s the right path for all humanity,” he added. “All these constitutional laws couldn’t realize the people’s happiness.”

It’s difficult to gauge how much power Jabhat al-Nusra has in the uprising. Although Abu Ahmad said only a tiny fraction of the group’s fighters are foreign, others have estimated that its fighters come from Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Balkans and elsewhere. Many are veterans of previous wars who came to Syria for what they consider a new “jihad,” or holy war, against Assad.

The fear of Islamic extremism resonates deeply among Syria’s many ethnic and religious minorities.

The Assad dynasty has long tried to promote a secular identity in Syria, largely because it has relied heavily on its own Alawite base in the military and security forces in an overwhelmingly Sunni country.

Islamist rebel groups in Aleppo province, including the two largest, Liwa al-Tawhid and Al-Nusra Front, have rejected the National Coalition of opposition forces acting to unify Free Syrian Army rebels in return for greater Western support. The rise in Islamist sentiment has worried Western powers mulling arming the rebel opposition.

In Aleppo’s eastern district of Shaar, where Islamist fighters have a strong presence, demonstrators booed the rebel Free Syrian Army Friday in videos posted on the Internet by activists.

“The Free [Syrian] Army are thieves, we want an Islamic army,” the demonstrators chanted angrily as they marched through the streets.

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Posted on 11/30/2012 4:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Boko Haram Wants To Join The World-Wide Jihad
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From Reuters:

Nigeria Boko Haram leader urges global jihad in video

Nvo. 30, 2012

By Tim Cocks

LAGOS (Reuters) - The leader of Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram praises jihadist movements across the globe and singled out the United States, Britain, Israel and Nigeria as enemies in a new video, according to a translation by the SITE monitoring service.

The 39-minute video "Glad Tidings, O Soldiers of Allah", posted in a jihadist forum, features a speech by sect leader Abubakar Shekau with an unusually international focus for a group that has often seemed more pre-occupied with local gripes.

Unlike previous video speeches, which he delivered in his native Hausa tongue, the one posted on Thursday is in Arabic. Shekau pledges solidarity with Islamist fighters everywhere.

"Nigeria and other crusaders, meaning America and Britain, should witness, and the Jews of Israel who are killing the Muslims in Palestine should witness ... that we are with our mujahideen brothers in the cause of Allah everywhere," he said, according to SITE's translation.

The video appears to confirm the fears of security agents that Boko Haram has ambitions to join forces with other Islamist groups pursuing a more explicitly global, anti-Western agenda - like al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), based in Mali.

Almost 3,000 people have been killed in fighting since Boko Haram launched an uprising in northern Nigeria in mid-2009, enraged by the death of its former leader Mohammed Yusuf in police custody during a crackdown on the sect.

The video wishes "glad tidings" on Islamist warriors in "Islamic Maghreb" (the Sahara) and "the Islamic State in Mali", as well as Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and "usurped Palestine".

He list "martyrs" in the global fight against world powers like Britain and the United States, including Osama bin-Laden.

"Don't think that jihad stops with the death of imams, because imams are individuals," he tells them. "Think how many sheikhs and men were martyred ... Did jihad stop? No. Jihad doesn't stop until Allah wills it to be stopped."

The video ends with footage of fighters undergoing military training, then cuts to weapons and equipment it alleges were taken as spoils from the enemy, SITE's translation says.

Boko Haram's favourite targets are usually local in character: Nigerian security forces, Christian worshippers or any politicians and clerics who speak out against it.

It has only claimed responsibility for one attack on a Western target - a bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Abuja that killed 24 people in August last year - but security analysts fear it could soon carry out more attacks like this.

Security sources say Boko Haram has for years been sending fighters to train with AQIM in the Sahara. Some set up camp in Timbuktu after Malian Islamists seized control of it in June.

"Boko Haram may be Nigeria-centric with respect to its attacks, but it clearly sees itself as part of the broader international jihadist movement," said Jacob Zenn, analyst at the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation.

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Posted on 11/30/2012 4:11 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Lebanese Sunni Gunmen Killed By Syrian Army
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From Reuters:

Lebanese gunmen killed by Syrian army: sources

12:33pm EST

BEIRUT (Reuters) - At least 12 Lebanese gunmen were killed in a Syrian army ambush in the central Syrian province of Homs, a security source and people close the men's families said on Friday, a sign that Lebanon is getting further tangled in Syria's war.

The sources said the Lebanese men were killed near the town of Tel Kalakh and were from northern areas of Lebanon which are sympathetic to the majority Sunni-led revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 30 Lebanese fighters had gone missing and a second security source said they were accompanied by nine Syrians as well as Libyans, Egyptians and Yemenis.

The 20-month-old crisis in Syria, which started with peaceful protests but descended into a civil war with sectarian undertones, has deepened divisions in Lebanon.

Lebanon's Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah sided with Assad - whose Alawite sect is close to Shi'ite Islam - and clashed with Sunni fighters in the southern city of Sidon this month. There have also been intermittent clashes between Lebanese Alawite and Sunni residents in the port city of Tripoli.

The small country is still rebuilding after its own 15-year civil war.

Syrian troops were garrisoned in Lebanon until 2005 when anti-Syrian demonstrators took to the streets, accusing Damascus of assassinating former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, a Sunni.

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Posted on 11/30/2012 12:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Thermopylae by Constantine P. Cavafy
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Translated by Len Krisak  (December 2012)


Honor to those who in their lives define    

And guard Thermopylae; to all those who        

Have never failed to do what they should do;           

Upright and just in all their actions, too,  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 12:20 PM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Laura Norder
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by Esmerelda Weatherwax (December 2012)


Laura Norder.

Or law and order. Not to be confused with an antique shop I once saw called Junk and Disorderly.

Pub signs with a legal system theme.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 12:16 PM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Mayor Michael Bloomberg?
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by Richard Kostelanetz (December 2012)

  
As people looking at New York City from afar frequently ask me about our mayor for the past decade, I penned some notes. First of all, as a profound democrat, I regard the 2009 New York City mayoral election as subtle testimony to both the power and the limitations of the people. The initial surprise was that Michael Bloomberg, the incumbent, got only 51% of the vote, with approximately 200,000 fewer fans than he had won only four years before.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 12:00 PM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Homage to Pascal
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by Thomas Scheff (December 2012)


Blaise Pascal was a theologian and also one of the earliest scientists. In his book Pensees (Thoughts, 1660) some of his comments are relevant to our current dilemma: what should be the relationship between science and religion?  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 11:55 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Is Art Inevitably Tainted by Politics?
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by Norman Berdichevsky (December 2012)


An issue that has been debated at least since the time of Socrates is “Can art or philosophy be divorced from politics?” Self-proclaimed defenders of what they like to call "pure art" have chosen as a classic example of political censorship the informal ban over many years by Israeli radio and television on the operatic works and symphonies of Richard Wagner, a composer whom the Nazis idealized.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 11:46 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
The Shuk and the Kotel: A Gathering-In
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by Moshe Dann (December 2012)


Friday afternoon in Jerusalem, the day seems different as people prepare for Shabbat. Public offices, banks and post offices in Israel are closed. Stores close early and traffic is sparse. The city slows down, gradually enveloped in a cloak of calm silence, a question waiting to be asked. That transformation is exemplified in Machane Yehuda, the shuk, Jerusalem's central marketplace, and the Kotel, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 11:41 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
“The Freest Journalist in Canada”: An Interview with Ezra Levant
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by Jerry Gordon (December 2012)


Ezra Levant is not your typical Canadian. He is outspoken and driven to seek out the truth about dangers to free speech and homeland security in our neighbor to the north. Fortunately for Canadians his truth telling appears nightly on his program, The Source on the Sun News Network.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 11:31 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Sweet FA
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by NB Armstrong (December 2012)


Scooters are abandoned amidst last night’s takeaway trash outside the university’s big iron gate. At 8:40am on Saturday morning no one wants the 4,000 Korean won coffee-and-waffle set available through a hole in the wall. Nevertheless, it feels like a day of days. We are going somewhere to watch something, be part of something, and, I feel sure, celebrate something. It’s not often you get to do that, and it is why football (soccer) supporters will travel the length of their countries to expend otherwise coffee-and-waffle set disposable income on watching a match. Let’s go.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 11:25 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Dogs and the Joy of Living
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by Rebecca Bynum (December 2012)


If ever there was an animal perfectly designed and placed on earth to remind human beings that life is short and it should be enjoyed, it is the dog.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:57 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
A Portrait of Elizabeth: Shona Farmer from Zimbabwe
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by Geoffrey Clarfield (December 2012)


Elizabeth was born in 1964. She is a tall, high cheek boned Shona speaking daughter of farmers in the central plateau area of Zimbabwe. To get to her house you walk five kilometers from the nearest city centre. Her one room house beside the beehive kitchen/reception room is set among green farms and rocky brown outcrops, streaked with dark black lines and perforated with tufts of trees. Chickens and chicks run around her compound. That is her “income generating project” as it is labeled in development jargon, as she farms about four acres with maize and vegetables, some which will be eaten and some which will be sold in the local market.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:52 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
The Middle East in Turmoil
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by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates (December 2012)


November 2012 in the Middle East left the world wondering if the worst was yet to come. Casualties in the Syrian rebellion had reached over 40,000. Syrian opposition forces had taken over missile bases and were in battle with the beleaguered Assad regime's forces along the demilitarized zone with Israel on the Golan Heights. Exchanges of shelling occurred with IDF units stationed there and cries of “allahu akbar” could plainly be heard.   more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:43 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
"Not the Time to Conquer Gaza": Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense
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by Jerry Gordon (December 2012)


Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense was basically a rocket war against Iran and Hamas that did not achieve the objective of destroying the military capabilities of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Palestine Resistance Committee. It demonstrated the superb technical capabilities of Israel’s Iron Dome system that intercepted a virtual onslaught of rockets from Gaza. Rockets supplied by Iran had expanded their reach to cover Southern and Central Israel and over half of the country’s population of 3.5 million people who had to seek shelter in less than 20 seconds given a red alert.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:38 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Why the Left Frequently IS Right....And Vice Versa
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by Fergus Downie (December 2012)


In Arthur Koestler’s wartime novel Arrival and Departure, there is a striking scene where the author introduces a prototypically modern Nazi diplomat who expounds on the intrinsically modern and revolutionary character of the Third Reich, before descanting on a vision of Europe, in which history and tradition are rendered a junkyard. It is worth quoting at some length as it highlights a feature of the fascist imagination which is rarely explored with any intellectual rigour and consistency.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:33 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
The World View of Hasan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood
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by Joseph S. Spoerl (December 2012)


Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a force to be reckoned with, not only in Egypt and the Gaza Strip, where it has won elections and assumed power, but also in Europe and North America, where it has been very successful at forming national Islamic organizations claiming to represent Muslims in non-Muslim countries.1 It is more important than ever to understand this group and its ideology.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:28 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
Hannah Arendt, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel
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by Richard L. Rubenstein (December 2012)


2006 marked the centennial of the birth of Hannah Arendt, one of the best known twentieth-century German-Jewish thinkers.[i] Arendt was a participant in what Harvard’s H. Stuart Hughes characterized as “the most important cultural event - or series of events- of the second quarter of the twentieth century,” namely, the flight of German-trained scholars - both Jewish and non-Jewish-from Hitler’s Europe to the United States and England.[ii] I personally was a grateful beneficiary of Adolf Hitler’s unintentional gift to America. When in 1942 I began to study with the newcomers, I realized that they possessed a level of scholarly authority, knowledge, thoroughness, and insight that was new to me.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:23 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
A Word to the Wise
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by Theodore Dalrymple (December 2012)


Recently I read a slim volume that makes you tremble for humanity as you read it, and this is so even if it presents only a one-sided account of its subject matter as some critics allege: for that one side is more than terrible enough to induce the said trembling.

The book is Golden Harvest: Events at the Periphery of the Holocaust by Jan Tomasz Gross, written with the help of his wife Irena.  more>>>

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Posted on 11/30/2012 10:18 AM by NER
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Friday, 30 November 2012
An Egyptian Cleric Takes A Great Interest In Internet Pornography
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The brimstone and treacle of the haggard masturbator can be seen here.
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Posted on 11/30/2012 8:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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