Archive for November, 2007

News and Analysis (11/22/07)

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

In spite of last-ditch efforts to avoid a power vacuum in Lebanon, various parties to the talks say an agreement over a consensus presidential candidate is unlikely before current president Emile Lahoud leaves office on Nov. 24th, leading to a possible constitutional crisis and violence:

In a statement decrying foreign intervention and showing nationalist sentiments, 300,000 Iraqi Shi’a sign a petition denouncing “Iranian influence” in southern Iraq:

A sign of waning influence among ordinary Iranians and hardline supporters, an editorial in a newspaper tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei attacks President Ahmadinejad for attacking opponents to his headstrong drive to attain nuclear power:

In a blatant and illegal attempt to inject fearmongering into the national election, Australian Prime Minister John Howard fights for his political career as members of his party are caught red-handed distributing leaflets attributed to a fake group of Muslim extremists and falsely linking them to the country’s main opposition party:

Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, the Saudi lawyer defending a recent gang rape victim, has his legal license revoked but nonetheless is optimistic, viewing the heavy-handed action as signaling “‘the death throes of the judiciary’s old guard’”:

An emasculated judiciary clears the sixth and final legal challenge to legalizing Musharraf’s farce election as president:

News and Analysis (11/21/07)

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

New York Times editorial praises some members of congress for trying to pass a bill that would restore some oversight to the ongoing NSA spying program and argues that “red lines” must be drawn on establishing clear sunset provisions, giving the FISA court oversight powers and denying amnesty to telecoms’ that collaborated with the government spying program:

A federal judge threatens to declare a new trial for convicted Muslim leader Ali Al-Tamimi unless greater transparency in government information on evidence to support the conviction is opened to both the prosecution and defense:

Musharraf attempts to pull a political sleight of hand by freeing over 3,400 political prisoners, but detains 150 Pakistani journalists and keeps former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry under house arrest; meanwhile Pakistani military officials announce a 15,000-man troop buildup to repel Taliban forces in the Swat valley:

Government-rigged elections in Jordan hit the country’s leading Islamist opposition party hard in the polls, falling far short of even the party’s own modest expectations for representation in the next parliament:

Intensified violence takes its toll on Somalis as it forces one million people to flee their homes, including approximately sixty percent of Mogadishu’s population:

Inverting Islamic tenets of justice, a Saudi Arabian judge further punishes a gang rape victim and her lawyer for speaking out against an earlier unfair verdict punishing the victim and giving lenient sentences to the rapists:

        

News and Analysis (11/20/07)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

The uproar over the Los Angeles Police Department’s planned use of blatant racial profiling to prevent terrorism, civil society activists scrutinize department’s actions further and force law enforcement officials to try a different method—reaching out to Muslim community leaders:

With better security, some Baghdadis begin a slow return to normalcy, however the sustainability of such calm is in question as this may have to do with militants moving their operations elsewhere in the country, while others take note that only a small fraction of the 5.4 million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes:

As General Musharraf heads to Saudi Arabia, he eases martial law by releasing over 3,000 political prisoners, while questions emerge over how loyal Ashfaq Kayani, the man slated to be the next head of the Army, is to the Musharraf and how Kayani will handle domestic unrest and Taliban militancy:

Lebanon delays its presidential election for a fourth time as heated negotiations between competing factions continue, meanwhile the Army is called in to tighten security around government buildings:

News and Analysis (11/19/07)

Monday, November 19th, 2007

With little preparation and big expectations, the Bush administration is trying to get key players in Palestinian-Israeli conflict to begin first-round of “final status” talks at the upcoming one day-long Annapolis conference:

Turkish human rights researcher Didem Cakmakli finds that long-term solutions of political representation and economic development, not military retaliation, is ultimately the best solution for ending political violence with Turkish Kurds and watering down support for extremists like the PKK:

Emasculated of its independence, the new Supreme Court bench under Musharraf dismisses five out of six challenges to the general’s farce re-election while singer and Pakistani political activist Salman Ahmad finds that a strong civil society, “would provide stability and a powerful institutional deterrent against violence and extremism. It is the best hope for discouraging future political and military actors from grabbing power unilaterally.”

Hezbollah seeks to enhance its standing among Lebanese Shi’a not only through military posturing, but large-scale reconstruction of neighborhoods after last year’s war with Israel:

News and Analysis (11/18/07)

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

George Mason economics professor Tyler Cowen looks at the hidden opportunity costs of the Iraq war and argues the price tag is much more than the $1 trillion estimated by the Congressional Budget office:

Bush’s personal liking of Musharraf for his supposed opposition to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have led to muted criticism of the general’s martial law and ongoing authoritarianism, meanwhile military forces are being dispatched to put down sectarian violence between Shi’as and Sunnis in northwest Pakistan, but a journalist argues that the Taliban has been “reconstituted into a force for mischief by … the government–of  Pakistan, as a proxy fighting force to advance Pakistan’s long-cherished agenda: to control all or part of Afghanistan”:

Unlike its occupying power, the Iraqi government says that Iran has contributed to stability in the country by dissuading Sadrist militias from committing more violence:

Seeking to assuage international concerns over its nuclear program, Iran says it is willing to discuss having uranium for its power plants enriched in a neutral country such Switzerland:

The Jordanian State continues to gerrymander its electoral districts so it can marginalize Islamist and liberal secular opposition parties and keep pro-government parties in power:

Both the disbarred lawyer and rape victim plan to continue fighting a dubious Saudi legal verdict:

News and Analysis (11/16/07)

Friday, November 16th, 2007

While the House of Representatives passes a bill that restores some oversight powers to regulate the unrestrained NSA spying and contains an “exclusion provision” barring immunity for telecoms, the Senate Judiciary Committee releases its own bill that also leaves out telecom immunity:

A leaked 2003 Gitmo manual states—in writing—the prison’s intentional policy of trying to “ ‘exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee’ by denying access to the Koran and preventing visits to Red Cross representatives”:

Homeland Security and the State Department continue to deny South African Muslim sociologist Adam Habib an entry visa to the US for unknown reasons, but the ACLU speculates it is because of his vvocal criticism of the Iraq war:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visits Lebanon to help avert the country’s worst internal political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war:

Despite of latest IAEA report that Iran’s nuclear program shows little evidence to suggest it is being used for military purposes, the White House continues to press ahead with more sanctions; a lack of agreement among UN Security Council members, however, makes a third round of penalties against Tehran unlikely, at least for now:

News and Analysis (11/15/07)

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

After intense outcry from Muslim and civil libertarian groups as well as facing practical obstacles, Los Angeles Police Department scraps its program to “map” Muslim communities in the city:

Although Musharraf pledges to step down as head of the army at the end of November, his martial rule has put at risk“…the constitution, the independence of the judiciary, a demoralized army and bureaucracy, a collapsing economy and [forced] acute polarization between the army and the political parties and civil society.”

In spite of ongoing saber rattling with Iran over its nuclear program, the Bush administration says it will not allow even parts of its latest national intelligence estimate to be declassified and open to public scrutiny:

Fifteen Iraqi lawyers plea with Bush administration that you can’t establish the rule of law by building prisons while you ignore judges:

News and Analysis (11/14/07)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Bush finally stops stonewalling Justice Department inquiry on NSA domestic spying and grants the necessary security clearances to investigators:

Report from some members of Congress puts current price tag of Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts at $3.5 billion over the next decade when “[h]igher oil prices, treating wounded veterans, and the cost to the economy of pulling reservists away from their jobs have been taken into account”:

in the ongoing inquiry into the recent Blackwater shooting incident in Iraq FBI agents have already concluded “use of deadly force rules” were violated in at least 14 of the 17 civilians killed:

Human Rights professor Alison Brysk draws on a number of historical and contemporary examples, ranging from uprisings in Algeria, Northern Ireland and Palestine, to the current “War on Terror” to conclude that torture is immoral, ineffective and counterproductive:

“We cannot meet, we cannot rally, and when we try to bring the people to the streets they are gassed, beaten and shot at with rubber bullets. This is not only a military dictatorship, it is a classic police state.”—Benazir Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People’s Party

Controversial fatwas and close links with the Egyptian government have some calling for the  resignation of the Grand Mufti of Egypt:

Bombing in Philippine House of Representatives kills former Muslim militant-turned-lawmaker Wahab Akbar; with no clear suspects at the moment, terrorism or routine political rivalry are main suspected motivations for assassination:

News and Analysis (11/13/07)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

European human rights watchdog slams UN and EU methodology for blacklisting terrorism suspects as “totally arbitrary” and finds recent attempts to modify the process are “just as flawed as the previous ones”:

Musharraf continues to slip on political and military fronts in Pakistan as Bhutto calls for his resignation from politics and opposition parties finally seem to be unite on issues of judicial independence; meanwhile Taliban militants continue to overrun local police and take over more towns in northwestern Pakistan:

Secular Egyptian law forces religious minorities to suffer under un-Islamic discrimination of being forced to identify themselves as Muslims on national ID cards despite practicing another faith:

Iraqi who helped push America to war in Iraq appears to have gained a political second wind, but has difficult road ahead as minister in charge of reconstruction efforts in Baghdad area:

News and Analysis (11/12/07)

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Big Brother makes a big push on both sides of the Atlantic: In Britain lawmakers push for legislation allowing terrorism suspects to be detained for up to 56 days without criminal charges, while a top US intelligence official states in Congressional testimony that privacy no longer means anonymity, but trusting that the State and businesses safeguard their information:

Using tactics and ideology similar to Nazis, Denmark’s far-right party whips up anti-Muslim sentiment to gain seats in the run up to next week’s parliamentary elections, however such tactics hold little resonance with Danes and instead a centrist party led by a politically astute Danish Muslim that may end up being the real kingmaker:

A country led an impotent, fragmented and corrupt government, suffering from a deadly insurgency and living with a highly unpopular occupation, Somalia is the second deadliest place in the world for journalists to do their work, after Iraq:

Musharraf makes an oxymoronic promise of continuing ahead with January elections, but giving no specific date when martial law ends, meanwhile opposition leader Bhutto predicts more street clashes between her supporters and police if they are prevented from attending a rally against the current suspension of democracy:

Work hard, pray hard: Sengal’s Mouride Sufi order blends together “A unique mix of militant capitalism and moderate Islam” with a “central doctrine of hard work as a means to paradise”: