Bacteria that could pass as X-men: part 1
By S.E. Gould | December 15, 2011|
Reprinted from Scientific American
1) The Blob
Like many of the X-men, the Blob has gone through several incarnations of character but the one main continuous feature is that he’s big. That’s pretty much it. The size gives him supernatural strength, the ability to be ‘immovable’ (although you could probably shift him with a few tanks if it came to it) and occasionally he has his very own gravitational field. His name is usually Fred Dukes.
The Bacteria: Thiomargarita namibiensis
Thiomargarita means “sulphur pearl” and this bacteria is a gram-negative little beasty found in the oceans. It can grow up to 0.75 mm wide, which may not sound much compared to the bulk of Freddy Dukes, but bear in mind that even at his height the blob was no more than 10X bigger than the average person. Thiomargarita is over one million times larger than the majority of bacteria. Although it can drift around on the tides, it has no way of propelling itself around, which means that once it stops it’s pretty immovable as well.
The reason most bacteria don’t grow this large is because they rely on diffusion to get nutrients inside the cell, and 0.75mm is a very large distance in terms of diffusion times. In most bacteria, the inside of the cell would starve. Thiomargarita survives by having lots of large vacuoles which are filled with nutrients. These vacuoles are also what help to make it larger; they act as a nutrient-holding network inside the cell.
Magneto is one of the Big Bad of the X-men. His mutation allows him to manipulate metal and not necessarily magnetic metal either (that sort of varies with the plotline). Any metal he comes into contact with he can bend, shape and distort. He can manipulate bullets, twist up helicopters and in one memorable movie scene pull all of the iron out of a guys body through his torso.
The bacteria: Magnetosome-containing bacteria
I’ve written about this once before, and will in all likelihood cover it again sometime, but there are some bacteria that contain little organelles called “magnetosomes”. These particles contain magnetite crystals which although they don’t allow bacteria to attract metal, they can act like little compasses, which means the bacteria can all line up in the direction of the earth’s geomagnetic field.
Several species of bacteria are also capable of eating metal, including Halomonas titanicae which was found working it’s way through the remains of the titanic. There aren’t yet any bacteria that can make someone’s blood come flying out of their chest, but the Ebola virus comes pretty close.
Toad’s main mutational power is “being a bit like a Toad” so it’s not surprising that he’s gone through several different incarnations as the comics change and evolve. Since his original creation as a bug-eyed Renfield-like lackey he’s been an English punk in Ultimate X-men, a strange bald Shakespearian actor in Age of Apocalypse to finally being played by Ray Parks in the film. His powers vary; while he usually keeps the leaping ability and long tongue he can also occasionally spit slime, excrete slime, and stick to walls. Sometimes he is given the ability to speak to frogs, or to be really good with computers.
The bacteria: Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, leptospirillum ferrooxidans
Both of the above are iron-bacteria that live in stagnant water. They smell bad, they’re slimy, and they’re quite hard to get rid of once they establish themselves in a water-pipe.
It isn’t so much the bacteria themselves that are slimy, but the remains of the things they eat. In order to live and grow they oxidise dissolved iron in the water, producing ferric oxide. As ferric oxide is insoluble, it hangs around as a sort of brown gelatinous slime that gets stuck in the water and stains everything it comes into contact with. As the bacteria spread, they leave behind them a trail of brown slimy stuff that can build up inside pipes and plumbing.
It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s Toad-like enough, and Toad is my favourite X-men so I wasn’t about to leave him out.
Part two coming soon: Multiple Man, Berzerker and Mystique.
Credits: Source for fig. 1, NASA image in the public domain. Ref. for fig 2: Komeili, A. (2006). Magnetosomes Are Cell Membrane Invaginations Organized by the Actin-Like Protein MamK Science, 311 (5758), 242-245 DOI: 10.1126/science.1123231 Source for fig. 3 – all rights released by the NH estuaries project.
Financial Panic Sweeps Europe As The Head Of The IMF Warns Of A “1930s Depression”
16 Dec 2011 02:42 PM PST
Are we on the verge of another Great Depression? Christian Lagarde, the head of the IMF, said this week that if dramatic action is not taken immediately we could actually see conditions “reminiscent of the 1930s depression” and that no country on earth “will be immune to the crisis”. Right now, financial panic is sweeping across Europe, but most Americans are not too concerned about it because they simply don’t understand how important the EU is. The truth is that the EU has a much larger population than the United States does. The EU has an economy that is nearly as large as the economies of the United States and China combined. The EU has more Fortune 500 companies that the United States does, and the banking system of Europe is substantially larger than the banking system of the United States. Anyone out there that believes that a massive financial collapse in Europe would not dramatically affect the rest of the globe is being delusional. The European debt crisis is one of the biggest stories that we have seen in a long, long time and the coming financial meltdown is going to permanently change the global economy.
So far, politicians in Europe have held 19 high-level emergency meetings in an attempt to solve this crisis.
All of their efforts have failed.
Right now, this is the situation in Europe….
-Most EU governments are drowning in toxic levels of debt
-Bond yields have risen dramatically this year and this has caused borrowing costs for most EU members to soar
-In an attempt to get debt under control, governments all over Europe are implementing brutal austerity measures and this is causing European economies to slow down substantially
-There is a tremendous lack of confidence in the European financial system at this point and this is causing a massive credit crunch
-The credit crunch is causing the money supply to drop significantly in almost every nation in the EU
-Major banks all over Europe are massively overleveraged and are on the verge of failing
This is all so similar to what we saw back during the early 1930s.
In fact, things have gotten so bad that prominent world leaders are now using apocalyptic language when describing the situation in Europe.
Just check out what the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, recently said about Europe. Speaking at a State Department conference in Washington D.C. this week, Lagarde made the following very shocking statements….
*“The world economic outlook at the moment is not particularly rosy. It is quite gloomy”
*“There is no economy in the world, whether low-income countries, emerging markets, middle-income countries or super-advanced economies that will be immune to the crisis that we see not only unfolding but escalating”
*“It is not a crisis that will be resolved by one group of countries taking action. It is going to be hopefully resolved by all countries, all regions, all categories of countries actually taking action.”
*“No country or region is immune. All must take action to boost growth. Work must start in the eurozone countries and must continue relentlessly. The risks of inaction include protectionism, isolation and other elements reminiscent of the 1930s depression.”
*“This is exactly the description of what happened in the 1930s, and what followed is not something we are looking forward to.”
But didn’t the politicians in Europe recently reach a deal which was supposed to fix all this?
Well, unfortunately the deal basically did nothing to fix the underlying financial problems that Europe is facing.
In fact, global financial markets seem entirely unimpressed by this recent deal. A recent article by Professor Peter Morici detailed some of the problems with the deal….
Investors are rejecting the euro deal, because the agreement does not effectively meet the funding needs of Italy and other Mediterranean governments, address the weak balance sheets of European commercial banks, or fix the underlying structural flaws in the euro architecture.
The €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility is providing short-term funding—guaranteed by 17 Eurozone member states as a whole—to tide over the more troubled governments.
However, those bailouts impose huge cuts in spending and tax increases. Coupled with austerity plans also adopted by France and other healthier European states, those packages are pushing Europe into a recession that could last several years.
What is even worse is that there are signs that this recent deal is already unraveling. Some EU nations have decided that they are not sure that they want to go along with the program.
The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph….
Amid fresh warnings that Europe is triggering a 1930s-style global depression, the German chancellor faced open rebellion against the key plank of her Brussels accord. The leaders of Hungary and the Czech Republic told a joint conference in Budapest they were ready to reject the planned treaty changes and implied move towards a centralised tax system. Czech prime minister Petr Necas said he was “convinced that tax harmonisation would not mean anything good for us”.
In Poland, we are actually seeing people march in the streets to protest against this new agreement….
Poles marched under banners that read: “We want sovereignty, not the euro.” They were protesting against the Brussels deal that could see EU countries, including those outside the eurozone, face penalties for breaking tough centralised spending laws.
So not only does this new deal not address the fundamental problems that Europe is facing, there is also a tremendous amount of doubt about whether or not it will eventually be approved.
Meanwhile, the brutal austerity measures that are being implemented all over Europe are pushing many EU nations into recession.
The EU (led by Germany and France) and the IMF have been pushing financially troubled nations all over Europe to make incredibly deep budget cuts. But these very deep budget cuts have had a devastating economic impact.
In a recent article, I discussed how brutal austerity measures have already pushed the economy of Greece into a full-blown depression….
Just look at what happened to Greece. Greece was forced to raise taxes and implement brutal austerity measures. That caused the economy to slow down and tax revenues to decline and so government debt figures did not improve as much as anticipated. So Greece was forced to implement even more brutal austerity measures. Well, that caused the economy to slow down even more and tax revenues declined again. In Greece this cycle has been repeated several times and now Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. 100,000 businesses have closed and a third of the population is living in poverty. But now Germany and France intend to impose the “Greek solution” on the rest of Europe.
Right now, the flow of government money is drying up all over Europe and so is the flow of money from the banks. European banks are shrinking their balance sheets and have dramatically cut back on lending in order to meet new capital requirements that are being imposed upon them.
All of this has created an environment where there is not much credit flowing in Europe at all. When there is a credit crunch of this magnitude, it causes the money supply to start to shrink. This is already happening all over Europe as a recent article in the Telegraph noted….
All key measures of the money supply in the eurozone contracted in October with drastic falls across parts of southern Europe, raising the risk of severe recession over coming months.
Right now, we are seeing the money supply in each of the “PIIGS” nations fall at a staggering rate. The following comes from the same Telegraph article referenced above….
Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said “narrow” M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.
While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. “This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery,” said Mr Ward.
Those numbers scream “Recession, Recession, Recession“.
There may be one glimmer of hope on the horizon. The Federal Reserve has been lending huge amounts of money to the European Central Bank and the European Central Bank has been lending that money out to European banks. In turn, the European banks have been using much of that money to buy up European government bonds. It is a massive Ponzi scheme, but it has stabilized bond yields in Europe for now. This scheme was described in a recent article by Simone Foxman….
That’s because the European Central Bank may have already introduced roundabout measures that will solve some of Europe’s big problems—it’s making investing in peripheral sovereign debt a huge profit opportunity for banks.
Theoretically, financial institutions will be able coin money by borrowing ultra-cheap from the ECB and buying higher yielding sovereign debt.
Essentially, it appears the ECB might allow European banks to pledge everything but the kitchen sink in return for funds. First, the new policy allows European banks to hold far fewer assets as collateral in exchange for funding from the ECB—freeing up liquidity to the tune of €103 billion ($134 billion). More importantly, relaxing collateral restrictions could also allow European banks to use even somewhat risky sovereign assets as collateral for bond purchases.
But this Ponzi scheme cannot go on indefinitely. A lot of European banks are already starting to run out of collateral for these loans as one Australian news source recently explained….
“If anyone thinks things are getting better, they simply don’t understand how severe the problems are,” a London executive at a global bank said. “A major bank could fail within weeks.”
Others said many continental banks, including French, Italian and Spanish lenders, were close to running out of the acceptable forms of collateral, such as US Treasury bonds, that could be used to finance short-term loans.
Some have been forced to lend out their gold reserves to maintain access to US dollar funding.
So will the European Central Bank keep lending them money once they are out of collateral?
If they do, the ECB itself could potentially be in a great deal of danger.
The truth is that the ECB is already playing with fire. So far, the European Central Bank has spent over 274 billion dollars buying up European government bonds in an attempt to keep bond yields down.
How many toxic assets can the ECB buy up before they get into real trouble?
That is a very interesting question.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world is becoming increasingly concerned about the financial panic that is sweeping Europe.
For example, Australian banks have been given one week to perform a stress test that evaluates their ability to survive in the event of a European financial collapse.
Why all the urgency?
Do they know something that we don’t?
Just like back in 2008, we are seeing massive problems at some of the largest banks in the world.
On Thursday, Fitch Ratings downgraded a whole bunch of the world’s most prominent banks….
The banks included Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, as well as Europe’s Barclays, Societe Generale and BNP Paribas.
Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Switerzland’s Credit Suisse were also downgraded.
The global banking system is a giant house of cards. There is simply way too much debt, way too much leverage and way too much risk.
On average, major banks across Europe are leveraged 26 to 1.
If the value of the assets held by those banks declines by just 4 percent, they will be wiped out.
Yes, that is how serious things are.
And already we are starting to see major banks fail in Europe.
This week it was revealed that Germany’s second largest bank is going to need a bailout. The following comes from a Sky News report….
Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank, is reportedly in discussions with the German government about a bailout after regulators said it needed to raise more money to cope with a potential default on its loans to governments.
“Intense talks” have been going on for several days, according to sources who spoke to the news agency Reuters.
So if Germany’s second largest bank is failing, are any banks in Europe safe?
Just like we saw back during the 1930s, we are starting to see a run on banks all over Europe.
In fact, according to a recent Der Spiegel article, a run on Greek banks has been going on for a while now and is rapidly accelerating….
He means that the outflow of funds from Greek bank accounts has been accelerating rapidly. At the start of 2010, savings and time deposits held by private households in Greece totalled €237.7 billion — by the end of 2011, they had fallen by €49 billion. Since then, the decline has been gaining momentum. Savings fell by a further €5.4 billion in September and by an estimated €8.5 billion in October — the biggest monthly outflow of funds since the start of the debt crisis in late 2009.
If you can believe it, approximately 20 percent of all bank deposits in Greece have been withdrawn since the start of 2011.
It is going to take a miracle to prevent a massive financial collapse from happening in Europe in 2012.
Unfortunately, there do not appear to be any miracles for Europe on the horizon.
GAFFNEY: Stealth jihad in the Senate
Durbin seeks to silence religious freedom commission
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
The Washington Times
Monday, December 12, 2011
We have been hearing a lot about the Muslim Brotherhood lately – and none of it is good news. Get used to it. With the Brotherhood’s ascendancy in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and beyond, the world is going to be subjected to a crash course in Islamist supremacism – and what it means for the rest of us.
We were on notice even before the Egyptian elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and their allies secured upward of 60 percent of the votes in that country’s new, post-Mubarak parliament – and the murderous violence toward Coptic Christians that preceded them. A reminder came on Dec. 7 when a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit unanimously affirmed convictions of leaders of the MB-associated Holy Land Foundation. The earlier trial in 2008 did much to expose the totalitarian, supremacist nature and seditious objectives of that group, elsewhere and here in the United States.
Notably, evidence introduced (uncontested by the defense) in that case by federal prosecutors established that the Brotherhood has established myriad front organizations, including the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the North American IslamicTrust (NAIT), to pursue what it calls “civilization jihad.” This is a stealthy form of holy war, designed to “eliminate and destroy Western civilization from within … by their hands [i.e., those of the infidels].”
The Obama administration has greatly facilitated the efforts of such organizations to penetrate and influence the government of the United States. To cite but one example, on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened a meeting with representatives of the Brotherhood’s multinational official counterpart, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). As Phyllis Chesler points out in a brilliant essay published by PJMedia titled “The End of Religious Freedom,” the OIC’s stated purpose for this meeting was to counter “media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in nonmember states regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC member states under the slogans of religious freedoms and so on.”
Put simply, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other adherents to the Islamist politico-military-legal doctrine of Shariah seek to impose their practice of “blasphemy” laws worldwide. Accordingly, they seek to suppress information that “offends Muslims” or otherwise puts them, their agenda or their behavior in a negative light – no matter how accurately.
In recent years, the U.S. government has increasingly conformed to what amount to Shariah blasphemy laws. A singular exception has been the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Since its inception by an act of Congress in 1998, the unpaid commissioners have rendered incalculably important service monitoring and reporting on threats to freedom of religion emanating from Islamist and other sources.
USCIRF has, for example, documented the plight of Copts in Egypt and Christians and Jews in other parts of the Middle East. They have exposed how non-Shariah-adherent Muslims and “apostates” from Islam have been raped, tortured and killed for deviating from what is deemed to be the true faith by Brotherhood, OIC and like-minded forces.
The commission has also helped expose how Saudi government-supplied textbooks used, among other places, in American madrassas, extol violent jihadism and intolerance for people of other faiths. Interestingly, such texts explain three different ways homosexuals can be executed in conformity with Shariah’s treatment of their behavior as a capital offense.
Now that Team Obama has made promoting the radical lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender agenda what Mrs. Clinton calls a “U.S. foreign policy priority,” one would think the administration would be grateful for the work the religious freedom commission has done, among other things, to expose and demand changes in such Saudi textbooks.
To the contrary, the Obama administration has been working behind the scenes to do as its Islamist friends have demanded by shutting down the USCIRF. It has enlisted for this purpose Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat. Mr. Durbin is not only perfectly placed to do the deed stealthily, he has his own close associations with a number of the Brotherhood’s top fronts and operatives in his home state of Illinois, in Washington and elsewhere across the country.
As it happens, in addition to serving as the majority whip, Mr. Durbin is a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees – the panels responsible for reauthorizing and funding the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. He has used his leadership and committee positions to place what amount to secret “holds” on legislation that would extend the life of the commission.
Consequently, unless something changes before the current government funding bill expires, our nation’s sole official, independent and still-effective watchdog for religious liberty – and the most trusted and important American voice for those being denied it – will go out of business on Friday.
The majority whip’s role in this stealthy jihad against an agency that still dares to speak the truth about the Islamists’ power is all the more reprehensible since Mr. Durbin frequently excoriates his colleagues’ use of secret holds. In fact, he has co-sponsored legislation to bar the practice. Such rank hypocrisy simply adds to the venality of Mr. Durbin’s conduct in this matter.
So does the reported reason for the hold Mr. Durbin has yet to acknowledge he is exercising against the USCIRF. Evidently, he is trying to trick members of the House of Representatives into earmarking funds for the federal government to purchase a state prison in Thompson, Ill., that his home state can no longer afford to operate.
When the idea of a federal takeover of this facility was first floated last year, it ran into strenuous opposition on both sides of Capitol Hill. Not only was the deal deemed to be unaffordable at a time of yawning federal deficits. It turned out the Obama administration and its allies in Illinois’ Democratic machine in Washington and Springfield had in mind another, even more outrageous motivation: the Thompson prison could serve as the place to relocate terrorists currently held offshore at Guantanamo Bay, allowing Gitmo’s closure.
In other words, Mr. Durbin is seeking to secure by stealth an earmark that would overturn existing legislation barring the relocation of such detainees inside the United States – and the real risk that they would be granted constitutional rights, access to civilian courts and perhaps be set loose in our country by irresponsible federal judges. How many more reasons do the American people need to oppose and condemn Dick Durbin’s shenanigans?
Voters in Illinois and elsewhere need to call out Mr. Durbin’s contribution to the stealth jihad – both with his office and their own representatives. America needs to safeguard religious freedoms against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To that end, we must strengthen, not garrote, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom – the one official entity still performing that vital mission.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program “Secure Freedom Radio,” heard in Washington weekdays at 9 p.m. on WRC-AM 1260.
Internet piracy bill: A free speech ‘kill switch’
What began as an attempt to restrain foreign piracy on the Internet has morphed into a domestic “kill switch” on First Amendment freedom in the fastest-growing corner of the marketplace of ideas.
Proposed federal legislation purporting to protect online intellectual property would also impose sweeping new government mandates on internet service providers – a positively Orwellian power grab that would permit the U.S. Justice Department to shut down any internet site it doesn’t like (and cut off its sources of income) on nothing more than a whim.
Under the so-called “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) the federal government – which is prohibited constitutionally from abridging free speech or depriving its citizens of their property without due process – would engage in both practices on an unprecedented scale. And in establishing the precursor to a taxpayer-funded “thought police,” it would dramatically curtail technology investment and innovation – wreaking havoc on our economy.
Consider this: Under the proposed legislation all that’s required for government to shutdown a specific website is the mere accusation that the site unlawfully featured copyrighted content. Such an accusation need not be proven – or even accompanied by probable cause. All that an accuser (or competitor) needs to do in order to obtain injunctive relief is point the finger at a website.
Additionally, SOPA would grant regulators the ability to choke off revenue to the owners of these newly classified “rogue” websites by accusing their online advertisers and payment providers as co-conspirators in the alleged “piracy.” Again, no finding of fact would be required – the mere allegation of impropriety is all that’s needed to cut the website’s purse strings.
Who’s vulnerable to this legislation?
“Any website that features user-generated content or that enables cloud-based data storage could end up in its crosshairs,” writes David Sohn, senior policy council at the Center on Democracy and Technology. “(Internet Service Providers) would face new and open-ended obligations to monitor and police user behavior. Payment processors and ad networks would be required to cut off business with any website that rights-holders allege hasn’t done enough to police infringement.”
More from The Hill ♦ Google chairman: Online piracy bill would criminalize linking ♦ Issa seeks feedback on online piracy bill ♦ AT&T, DOJ put antitrust trial on hold ♦ Legal expert says online piracy bill is unconstitutional ♦ LightSquared calls for investigation of leaked report ♦ Kagan recuses herself from Arizona immigration case ♦ Obama, Al-Maliki vow U.S.-Iraq partnership after withdrawal ♦ Health mandates a big problem for Romney, Gingrich, Perry ♦ Veto threat looms over high-stakes talks on terrorism detainees
The Center’s president and CEO, Leslie Harris, points a bleak picture of the impact SOPA and its companion legislation in the U.S. Senate would have on the world wide web, arguing that the legislation would “(jeopardize) the continued development of powerful new forums for free expression and political dissent.”
“If these bills pass, there will be major collateral damage to Internet innovation, online free expression, the inner workings of Internet security, and user privacy,” Harris writes.
Google’s public policy director Bob Boorstin takes it one step further, arguing that the bills “would put the U.S. government in the very position we criticize repressive regimes for doing – all in the name of copyright.”
The proliferation of free expression on the Internet has spawned a vibrant new marketplace of ideas – toppling the old legacy media construct and ushering in an era of enhanced accountability in which thousands of new voices provide heightened scrutiny of our elected officials.
Obviously, silencing those voices and stifling the web’s innovative potential would exact a heavy toll on this new accountability – and on the U.S. economy. In a letter urging their colleagues to oppose SOPA, U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Darrell Issa speak to this very concern.
“Online innovation and commerce were responsible for 15 percent of U.S. GDP growth from 2004 to 2009,” Reps. Lofgren and Issa write. “Before we impose a sprawling new regulatory regime on the Internet, we must carefully consider the risks that it could pose for this vital engine of our economy.”
Safeguarding intellectual property is certainly an important goal. The ability to protect one’s work product is vital to the proper functioning of the free market – and key to preserving its innovative potential. However in enhancing property protections, we cannot permit the government to trample over our right to free speech and due process.
SOPA is the equivalent of curing a headache with a guillotine. It may stop piracy, but it would shut down our economy and unconstitutionally erode our most basic freedoms in the process.
Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government.
Netanyahu to Host Regular Bible Study Groups at Official Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence
December 12, 2011 at 7:20am by Sharona Schwartz
Scripture – Image from Wikipedia
In what’s almost certain to irritate separation of church and state advocates, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to start hosting a regular Bible study group at his official residence, where he plans to invite researchers and government officials.
In so doing, Netanyahu follows the lead of former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first prime minister, and Menachem Begin who served in the 1970s and 1980’s who both hosted Bible study groups regularly.
The Jerusalem Post quotes Netanyahu as saying his goal is “to perpetuate love of the Bible:”
“Ben-Gurion understood that the Book of Books is our mandate for our country […]” Netanyahu said. “He viewed the Bible as the wondrous story of the Jewish people, the unique spiritual, cultural and historic heritage of our people, and also as one of the cornerstones of all of human culture.”
Israel defines itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Unlike in the U.S., the government funds many religious institutions including synagogues and seminaries. There is a religious services ministry headed by a cabinet-level minister which provides services related to certifying kosher restaurants, running rabbinical courts mostly dealing with domestic issues, and supervising holy places, most notably in Jerusalem.
Avner Netanyahu, Prime Minister’s son (Image from Channel 23 via Jerusalem Post)
Though the prime minister does not identify himself as an Orthodox Jew, his son Avner is considered to be a Bible whiz, having beat 12,000 contestants to win the National Bible Quiz last year, a competition that in Israel gets as much hype as the National Spelling Bee does in the U.S.
The smiling, elder Netanyahu commented after the competition: “I don’t remember feeling this much tension since the [Likud] primaries. Jackie Levy, the emcee, said the howls of encouragement from hundreds of youths gathered in a Kiryat Shmona gym, gave the event “an atmosphere of a good derby.” Indeed, the ballyhoo seemed more suited to a sporting competition than a battle of wits among 12 teenagers who displayed exceptional knowledge of the Bible.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s wife Sara herself competed in the National Bible Quiz and her three brothers were all champions of the competition in their youth. After his son’s win, Netanyahu said:
“The Bible is the very essence and foundation of the existence and spirit of the Jewish people,” he said. “It is also the single most important, remarkable and moving piece ever written.”
Bible is taught in all Israeli schools to Jews, Christians and Muslims beginning with Genesis in second grade. It is widely believed by Israeli educators that to learn good citizenship and to achieve a high level of language skill, children must have a solid grasp of the the ancient Scripture, written in Hebrew and forming the cornerstone of Judeo-Christian ethics. It is also the basis for the connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel – including Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – which God promised to Abraham in the Book of Genesis.
Arab Spring Begins Weeding Out Christians
Islamic factions jockeying for position from out of the ashes of the Arab Spring are posing an increased threat to Middle East Christians, an international human rights group contends.
The British group Barnabas Aid says that Christians in Iran and Azerbaijan are coming under increased pressure from their governments.
Barnabas Aid wrote in its December prayer alert that there is cause for concern for Iran’s persecuted believers, because Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei recently urged more than 2.5 million Muslims on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia to form “an international Islamic power bloc.”
The Ayatollah Khamenei told the listeners the Arab Spring was guided by Islam and said Muslims worldwide should rally to the Islamic cause.
The prayer alert also said the Iranian leader called on Muslims “to make the most of the opportunity” created by the Arab Spring, as well as the anti-capitalist “Occupy” movement across the world.
International Christian Concern Middle East specialist Aidan Clay said the ayatollah’s call for a power bloc may be an attempt to distract attention from Iran’s domestic problems.
“In the 1979 revolution, many Iranians had thought Islam was the answer,” Clay explained. “However, 32 years later, Iranians have grown disillusioned, as their government has plunged them into economic stagnation and has isolated them from the international community.
“This has led many Iranian youth to seek answers outside of Islam,” he continued. “Thousands are now finding the hope and joy they had been longing for in the Christian faith.”
Clay added, however, that the climbing number of Christians in Iran is problematic for Iran’s leadership.
“The increasing growth of Christianity in Iran is viewed as a threat to the Iranian regime, which uses Islam to control its people,” he said. “In order to maintain control, the regime continues to try to weed Christianity out of the country.”
Clay said this is the likely explanation for the continued persecution of prominent Iranian Christians such as Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.
“In the past year, more than 130 Iranian Christians have been arrested and interrogated. A few of them remain in prison, including Behnam Irani, Mehdi Foroutan, Farshid Fathi, Noorollah Qabitizade and Youcef Nadarkhani,” Clay said.
Nadarkhani is the pastor who has been detained in jail for his reported conversion to Christianity. Human-rights groups say that his case is awaiting a final verdict.
Center for Security Policy senior fellow Clare Lopez said the Ayatollah Khamenei’s call for an Islamic power bloc fits together with the objectives of other Islamic groups and countries.
“Iran’s jihadist objectives are exactly the same as al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey. Indeed, the Iranian leadership was among the first, most consistent and most vocal of supporters of the ‘Islamic Awakening,’” Lopez said.
“Notice that the Iranians don’t call it the ‘Arab Spring,’ because the Iranians want to be the ones seen as the leaders of the jihadi movement,” Lopez said.
Lopez said the Iranians’ desire to lead the movement may run into a barrier with Turkey.
“Turkish leadership, seized with neo-Caliphate illusions, has decided on claiming that role for themselves. Moreover, the Turks are openly opposed to the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Alawites, which is an ally of Iran,” Lopez said.
“Plus, the Arab League has decided it wants Turkey to lead the next Caliphate, not a bunch of Shias who long for an Imamate and the imminent return of the 12th Imam Mahdi, together with Armageddon,” Lopez said.
Lopez said Iran is in a battle against the rest of the Muslim world.
“Iran is locked in a macro-level struggle versus the Sunni world that is lining up against it, out of pure fear, of course. Saudis are funding it for sure, the Turks think the next Caliphate is theirs for the asking. Assad may well be on his way out, but his death throes, and Iranian/Hizballah efforts to save him, could well ignite Lebanon,” Lopez said.
She said Iran has another problem with the series of explosions in its nuclear facilities.
“In addition to these external pressures, there is the matter of whomever it is blowing up Iranian Revolutionary Guard and nuclear weapons facilities, probably a combination of Mossad working with internal opposition,” Lopez said.
Lopez added the Iranian regime is not really a completely cohesive unit acting as one voice. She said there are internal “feuds.”
“There are the internecine feuds playing out within the Iranian regime itself: Supreme Leader versus the president, Ahmadinjad, plus various Iranian Revolutionary Guard factions and former regime factions, like those still following Moussavi, Karroubi, Rafsanjani,” Lopez said.
“Followers of the former presidents are still not accepting defeat and are working away at retribution and a comeback. Rising power of Jafari and Suleimani bears watching.”
Lopez said all of these factors add up to rough times ahead for the Iranian leaders, adding that U. S. intelligence hasn’t found a way to exploit the problems in Tehran.
Along with the political issues, ICC’s Clay said the Islamic regime in Tehran has to contend with another internal issue – a growing house-church movement.
Clay said the Iranian leadership is dedicating resources to go after the often underground Christians.
“Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi says the house-church movement in Iran is a threat to the country’s youth. If Iran’s regime loses the control of its youth, which is already happening, than it also loses control of Iran’s future,” Clay said.
“The regime has attempted to use propaganda to discredit the powerful house-church movement in Iran and to persuade youth to avoid it. However, the opposite effect is happening. Rather than fighting persecution, Iranian church leaders have accepted it and are using it to their advantage,” he said.
Clay added that in Iran, as in other countries, persecution isn’t harming the house churches.
“In fact, an Iranian pastor recently told me that the church is thriving under persecution,” he said. “And it is the youth who are among those the God is using to spread this incredible movement that is leading thousands of people to Christ in Iran.”
Rubin said Iran’s pragmatism had led it to deal with Sunni Muslim countries, including Sunni Azerbaijan, which recently instituted restrictions on religious liberty.
Clay said the restrictions increase prison terms.
“The government of Azerbaijan is adopting laws that will authorize five-year prison sentences or fines as high as nearly nine years’ official minimum wage on groups who produce or distribute religious literature without authorization,” he said.
“The amendments, which were proposed in late October, have already been approved by two parliamentary committees and may be adopted by the end of the year,” Clay said.
He also said, however, that Azerbaijan taking aim at religious minorities is nothing new.
“The amendments are merely adding to or increasing the punishments in laws that already exist which require those who sell or distribute religious literature to have a state license,” Clay said.
“ICC has received several reports that very few applications for licenses are approved, and booksellers are too afraid to complain, fearful of government reprisals. The system has also prevented thousands of Bibles and other Christian literature from entering the country. One Baptist pastor in Baku said that he must ask permission before he can receive even one book through the post,” Clay said.
“Meanwhile, persecution against religious minorities in Azerbaijan, including Christians, Muslims who follow the teachings of Said Nursi, and Jehovah Witnesses, has continued unabated in 2011. Services are routinely raided and members are detained or fined for worshipping without state authorization,” Clay said.
“During these church raids, religious literature is often confiscated and reviewed by the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations to decide whether or not the material is legal.”
Rubin said U. S. diplomats have inaccurately assessed the situation in Tehran.
“While American diplomats are interpreting Iranian pragmatism as a sign that they can reach a peaceful settlement with Iran, in reality, Iranian pragmatism means that Tehran is finding new and creative ways to undermine the United States,” Rubin said.
Lopez agreed with Rubin, but said U. S. difficulties are more severe than a simple matter of misperception.
“It’s too bad U.S. intelligence has demonstrated how totally outclassed it is in these ‘games’ by actually going on record publicly to admit that all those ‘CIA agents’ Hizballah and Iran claimed they’d caught, and, oh yes, they really were ours! Why on earth they’d ever admit such a thing, unless they know for a fact they’re all dead already, escapes me at the moment,” Lopez said.
He said this also spells trouble for Israel:
“Israel, understandably, is moving cautiously, but cannot wait forever, as forces both north and south of its borders gather strength and sophisticated armories. Note that Russia just delivered shore-to-ship cruise missiles to Syria.”
As California mandate looms, some Homosexual, Lesbian,
Transgender curriculum already in place
In 10th grade English at Los Angeles’ Grover Cleveland High School, Danielle Taklender’s students read the book “Luna” by Julie Anne Peters. It’s a story about a transgender teen.Taklender has been teaching the book for seven years without any fanfare or push back. It’s getting noticed now as her school district takes the lead in developing a plan to comply with the first state law mandating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history and social science curricula. The California law, which takes effect in January, stops short of dictating how schools are to comply and leaves that up to the districts and schools themselves to figure out.
The new law, called the California Fair Education Act, also requires schools teach about the contributions of Native Americans, and people with disabilities. It also bans instructional materials that adversely reflect on a person due to their sexual orientation. The requirements are actually an expansion to the education code already in existence, which requires lesson plans to include various ethnic groups.
Muslims Intimidate Their Way Across Europe
by Soeren Kern December 12, 2011
A mob of some 20 Islamists stormed a debate in Amsterdam that was featuring two Muslim liberals, the Canadian writer and Muslim feminist Irshad Manji and the Dutch-Moroccan Green Left MP Tofik Dibi.
Muslim extremists belonging to the group Sharia4Belgium, which seeks to establish Islamic Sharia law across Europe, yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is Greater”) and threatened to break Manji’s neck. Waving an Islamist jihadist flag, they then demanded that Manji and Dibi be executed for apostasy.
The December 8 debate on how liberal Muslims can prevent Islam from being hijacked by Muslim extremists was held at the De Baile venue in downtown Amsterdam, and was sponsored by the Brussels-based European Foundation for Democracy. The event resumed after police arrested several of the Islamists.
The incident highlights the increasing frequency with which Muslims are using intimidation tactics — including harassment and even murder — in an effort to silence free speech in Europe and to impose Islam on the continent.
Manji is touring Europe to promote her new book, “Allah, Liberty and Love.” She is also the author of “The Trouble With Islam Today,” which is critical of mainstream Islam and its deep-seated anti-Semitism.
The confrontation took place just days after a group of ten Dutch-Moroccan Muslim youths threw stones at a Santa Claus in the southwestern Slotervaart neighborhood of Amsterdam, where more than 30% of the population is Moroccan and another 20% is Turkish.
In recent years, Christian festivities celebrating the arrival of “Sinterklaas” to the Netherlands have been cancelled in several cities due to threats and violence by Muslim youths.
In Belgium, 40 members of Sharia4Belgium recently disrupted a speech about Islam by the Dutch author Benno Barnard. The lecture, entitled “The Islam Debate: Long Live God, Down with Allah!,” was part of a series of talks about the Enlightenment at Antwerp University.
Sharia4Belgium is a radical Muslim organization that denounces democracy and wants to turn Belgium into an Islamic state. The group has established an Islamic Sharia law court in Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium. The objective of the court is to create a parallel Islamic legal system in Belgium that will challenge the state’s authority as the enforcer of civil law protections guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.
In France, teachers in schools with a high proportion of Muslim children are being threatened on an almost daily basis by Muslims who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, and who demand halal [food "permitted" under Islamic Sharia law] meals and “reject French culture and its values,” according to a report published by the French government. Muslims are also trying to silence discussion of events related to Israel and the Palestinians, and American military actions in Muslim countries.
“Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity,” the report says. “Some think it amounts to evangelization.” The report also says “anti-Semitism … surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films” about Nazi concentration camps. “Tensions often come from pupils who identify themselves as Muslims.”
The report also says that although teachers can discuss the transatlantic slave trade without incidents, they face harsh criticism from Muslim pupils when they teach about the history of slavery within Africa or the Middle East.
During Ramadan, some Muslim students harass others who do not observe the annual daytime fast, the report says. Boys who identify themselves as Muslims and reject French values harass girls who do well in class as “collaborators” with the “dirty French.” Some girls ask to be excused from gym or pool sessions because they are not supposed to mix with boys, the study adds.
Elsewhere in France, Muslim youths used stones to attack Roman Catholics who were celebrating a religious event at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Virgin of Santa Cruz in the southern French city of Nîmes.
In Britain, radical Muslims attacked Conservative MP Mike Freer, who was attending a meeting with constituents at a mosque in Finchley in north London on October 28. Freer, who is not Jewish but who is a member of the Conservative Friends of Israel and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, said the protesters were “aggressive” and that he had been forced to call the commander of the Finchley police department to complain.
Also in London, a Christian employee at Heathrow Airport recently was fired for exposing a campaign of systematic harassment by fundamentalist Muslims.
In Leicester, a gang of Somali Muslim women who assaulted and nearly killed a non-Muslim passer-by in the city center walked free in November after a politically correct judge decided that as Muslims, the women were “not used to being drunk.” The Koran prohibits Muslims from consuming alcohol. The judge said: “Those who knock someone to the floor and kick them in the head can expect to go inside [prison], but I’m going to suspend the sentence.”
In Denmark, the Danish Islamist group Kaldet til Islam (Call to Islam) has dispatched 24-hour Islamic ‘morals police’ to enforce Sharia law in parts of Copenhagen. The patrols harass non-Muslims caught drinking alcohol, gambling, going to discothèques or engaging in other activities the group views as running contrary to Islam.
In Sweden, Muslim harassment of Jews has become so commonplace that the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has advised Jews against traveling there. “We reluctantly are issuing this advisory because religious Jews and other members of the Jewish community there have been subject to anti-Semitic taunts and harassment. There have been dozens of incidents reported to the authorities but have not resulted in arrests or convictions for hate crimes,” the center said in a statement.
In the Swedish city of Malmö, Muslim anti-Semitism has become so bad that some 30 Jewish families have left for Stockholm, England or Israel — and more are preparing to go.
Back in Holland, the Dutch-Moroccan MP Khadija Arib has called for Mohamed al-Maghraoui, a controversial imam (Muslim religious leader), to be banned from the Netherlands because of his support for the forced marriage of nine-year-old girls.
Al-Maghraoui (aka the Pedo Imam) issued a fatwa [religious edict] in Morocco in 2008 saying it is acceptable for girls to marry at the age of nine because the Islamic Prophet Mohammed consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was nine.
Al-Maghraoui was scheduled to attend a five-day conference in December 2011 to celebrate the opening of an extension to the As-Sunnah mosque in The Hague.
As-Sunnah is headed by the Imam Sheik Fawaz Jneid, a Lebanese-born Syrian national who also has a Dutch passport. In November 2004, Fawaz called for the murder of Islam critic Theo van Gogh, a wish that was carried out in Amsterdam a few weeks later by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan.
In a prayer to Allah, Fawaz said: “Cause Van Gogh a disease which all the inhabitants of the earth are unable to cure. Cause him suffering making him long for death. Blind the sight of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, give her brains a cancer. Give her tongue a cancer.”
Hirsi Ali, who made a controversial film, Submission, with Van Gogh about women in Islam, said Fawaz cannot be prosecuted because the Dutch legal system is “too rational.” She says Dutch courts prefer to uphold the freedom of religion rights enjoyed by Muslims rather than to clamp down on harassment or defamation perpetrated by those same Muslims.
Durch MPGeert Wilders says the As-Sunnah mosque should be closed down if Al-Maghraoui is allowed to speak. Dutch intelligence has identified the mosque as a radical Salafist center which attracts Muslim youths from all over the Netherlands.
Salafism is a fundamentalist sect within Sunni Islam that espouses a literalist reading of Islamic scriptures and adheres to a conservative and highly regulated puritan lifestyle. Salafism also seeks the destruction of Western democracy, which is to be replaced by a Universal Islamic Caliphate, a worldwide Islamic theocracy regulated by Sharia law.
The As-Sunnah mosque has been at the center of controversy for giving a platform to radical preaching, including its insistence that Muslims should not integrate into Dutch society.
Iran to Practice Strait of Hormuz Closure While Unlocking US Drone Secrets
Bigheaded from capturing the US stealth RQ-170 Sentinel drone, Tehran Monday, Dec. 12 announced plans to conduct a navy drill son for practicing the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the most important oil transit channel in the world for 40 percent of its fuel. Iranian lawmaker Parviz Sorouri, member of the Majlis national security committee, who announced the drill said, “Iran will make the world unsafe if the world attacks Iran.”
On Dec. 12, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called Iran “a very grave threat to all of us” and warned that any Iranian disruption of the free flow of commerce through the Persian Gulf “is a red line” for the United Sates.
Tehran’s announcement of a navy drill in Hormuz augments the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s mantra since his people rose up against him nine months ago, that an attack on his regime would start a regional blaze.
The Iranian lawmaker spoke at length about how his government planned to use the military and intelligence software mined from the top-secret US UAV on Dec. 4.
He said Iranian engineers and technicians were “in the final stages of “cracking” the drone’s secret technology, although he did not say when this research would be complete. “Our next action will be to reverse-engineer the aircraft,” he said and boasted: “In the near future will be able to mass produce it. Iranian engineers will soon build an aircraft superior to the American one.”
This data would also be used, the Iranian lawmaker said, in a lawsuit against the United State for the “invasion” by the unmanned aircraft. Sorouri did not say where the lawsuit would be filed but Tehran is thought to be preparing an complaint to the international war crimes court at the Hague.
debkafile’s Iranian and military sources note that the linkage Sorouri made between the capture of the RQ-170 and the naval drill in the Strait of Hormuz was intended to inform Washington that Tehran in possession of the drone no longer fears the ability of the naval air carriers the US has deployed in the Persian Gulf to prevent its closure of the strategic waterway.
In the last six months, Adm. Habibollah Sayyari has emphasized more than once that the Iranian Navy which he commands is master of the Persian Gulf and dominates the Strait of Hormuz. After trapping the American stealth drone, Iran is mounting a challenge to the warning issued by Panetta and testing the resolve of Washington and the Saudi-led Gulf Arab region to contest the Hormuz drill.
Mere verbal protest will not serve. It will just leave Tehran crowing over its possession of the US drone as the key to the military and intelligence mastery of the Persian Gulf waters and the ability to make US back down. However a real threat by the US and Gulf oil powers to stop the drill by force will send regional tensions shooting up.
In the meantime, Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council has arrived in Moscow to clinch a deal for the transfer of drone secrets to Russia in return for nuclear technology and sophisticated military hardware.
Study Shows U.S. Mosques Are Repositories of Muslim Brotherhood Literature and Preachers
- A random survey of 100 representative mosques in the U.S. was conducted to measure the correlation between Sharia adherence and dogma calling for violence against non-believers.
- Of the 100 mosques surveyed,
- 51% had texts on site rated as severely advocating violence;
- 30% had texts rated as moderately advocating violence;
- 19% had no violent texts at all.
- Mosques that presented as Sharia adherent were more likely to feature violence-positive texts on site than were their non-Sharia-adherent counterparts.
- The leadership at Sharia-adherent mosques was more likely to recommend that a worshipper study violence-positive texts than leadership at non-Sharia-adherent mosques.
- In 84.5% of the mosques, the imam recommended studying violence-positive texts.
- 58% of the mosques invited guest imams known to promote violent jihad.
- The leadership of mosques that featured violence-positive literature was more likely to invite guest imams who were known to promote violent jihad than was the leadership of mosques that did not feature violence-positive literature on mosque premises.
Lawfare: The War Against Free Speech – New Book Counters Campaign to Censor Speech About Militant Islam
Center for Security Policy | Dec 14, 2011
- “This book serves as a much needed primer on the First Amendment and is intended to educate and encourage Americans to speak freely and openly about real and imminent threats to our national security as well as issues of public concern. Despite the protections afforded by the Constitution, there have been a steady increase in the filing of frivolous and malicious defamation lawsuits designed to chill free speech about the threat of Islamist terrorism. Many have also fallen prey to false charges of ‘Islamophobia’ merely for exercising their rights. The cornerstone of any liberal democracy is the right to speak freely and critically about government and religion. Islamist lawfare is a direct threat to our freedom and must be stopped. This book will explain how.”
- Author Aaron Eitan Meyer stated: “Freedom of expression has always been critical in maintaining our freedom, and our national security no less so. There is a concerted effort already underway to hinder counter-terrorism and related efforts, by manipulating our own legal system against us. This book exposes the threat, and shows how the Constitution protects us more than we may know.”
December 14, 2011
Islamic World Tells Clinton: Defamation of Islam Must be Prevented — in America
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton welcomes Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to Washington this week, it is critical that Americans pay attention to what these two leaders intend to do. From 12 to 14 December 2011, working teams from the Department of State (DoS) and the OIC are going to discuss implementation mechanisms that could impose limits on freedom of speech and expression.
The OIC’s purpose, as stated explicitly in its April 2011 4th Annual Report on Islamophobia, is to criminalize “incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds.” Incitement is to be defined by applying the “test of consequences” to speech. Under this twisted perversion of falsely “yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” it doesn’t matter what someone actually says — or even whether it is true or not; if someone else commits violence and says it’s because of something that person said, the speaker will be held criminally liable.
The OIC is taking direct aim at free speech and expression about Islam. Neither Christianity nor Judaism is named in the OIC’s official documents, whose only concern is to make the world safe from “defamation” of Islam — a charge that includes speaking truthfully about the national security implications of the Islamic doctrine of jihad.
Incitement to hatred under the OIC definition includes artistic expression like the Danish cartoons, literary expression like Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, or Pastor Terry Jones’ burning of his personally owned copy of the Qur’an. According to the “test of consequences,” if Muslims feel compelled to burn, loot, riot, and kill in response to such exercises of free expression, under the laws the OIC wants the U.S. to enact, it would be the editor and cartoonist of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, Salman Rushdie, and Terry Jones who would be held criminally responsible for any damage or deaths that ensue.
Last March, the State Department and Secretary Clinton insisted that “combating intolerance based on religion” can be accomplished without compromising Americans’ treasured First Amendment rights. But if that were so, there would be no possible excuse for engaging at this level with an organization like the OIC that is openly dedicated to implementing Islamic law globally. This is why it is so important to pay attention not only to the present agenda, but to a series of documents leading up to it, issued by both the U.S. and the OIC. From 12 to 14 December 2011, the DoS and OIC working teams will focus on implementation mechanisms for “Resolution 16/18,” a declaration that was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in April 2011.
Resolution 16/18 was hailed as a victory by Clinton, because it calls on countries to combat “intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization” based on religion without criminalizing free speech — except in cases of “incitement to imminent violence.” But if the criterion for determining “incitement to imminent violence” is a new “test of consequences,” then this is nothing but an invitation to stage Muslim “Days of Rage” following the slightest perceived offense by a Western blogger, instructor, or radio show guest, all of whom will be held legally liable for “causing” the destruction, possibly even if what they’ve said is merely a statement of fact. The implications of such prior restraint on free speech would be chilling (which is precisely the point).
In fact, the “test of consequences” is already being applied rigorously in European media and courts, where any act or threat of violence — whether by a jihadist, insane person, or counter-jihadist — is defined as a “consequence” of statements that are critical of some aspect of Islam and, therefore, to be criminalized. Recent trials of Dutch political leader Geert Wilders, Austrian free speech champion Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, and Danish Islamic expert Lars Hedegaard (as well as the witch hunt for “instigators” that followed the murderous attacks by Norwegian blogger Anders Behring Brevik) all attest to the extent of these “hate speech” laws’ oppressive pall over what is left of the European Enlightenment. Now, if the OIC and the Obama administration have their way, it’s America’s turn.
Once it’s understood that under Islamic law, “slander“ is defined as saying “anything concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike,” the scope of potential proximate causes of Muslim rage becomes obvious. For instance, in the Preamble to the Resolutions on Legal Affairs Adopted by the 38th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC in Astana, Kazakhstan in June 2011, under paragraph 9, the OIC:
Denounces media campaigns and fabrications made by some quarters in non-Member States [i.e., the Dar al-Harb or West] regarding the mistreatment of non-Muslim minorities and communities in the OIC Member States under the slogan of religious freedom and so on.
Consider what is likely to be a bloodbath for Coptic Christians that will occur as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood and its Salafist allies are firmly in control of Egypt. This provision means that any Western media that accurately report that coming massacre could be legally charged with “incitement to imminent violence” under the test of consequences, in effect blaming those who raise the alarm instead of those who perpetrate the violence.
Clearly, the OIC feels some sense of urgency to get the rest of the non-Muslim world, and especially the U.S., on board with these objectives as Paragraph 10:
Expresses the need to pursue as a matter of priority, a common policy aimed at preventing defamation of Islam perpetrated under the pretext and justification of the freedom of expression in particular through media and Internet.
In this same document is the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers’ “Resolution No. 1/38-LEG On Follow Up and Coordination of Work on Human Rights,” which makes reference to the OIC’s new “Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights” and stipulates that it “shall promote the civil, political, social, and economic rights enshrined in the Organization’s covenants and declarations and in universally agreed human rights instruments, in conformity with Islamic values.” [Emphasis added.] This wording alone should set off alarm bells in view of the OIC’s 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI), which explicitly declared that when the Muslim ummah (as represented by the OIC) uses the term “human rights,” what is meant is Islamic law (sharia). “Universally agreed” or not, the CDHRI was served as an official document to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 1993, thereby creating an established instrument of reference on the Islamic definition of “human rights.”
The foundational documents upon which the Muslim ummah — the OIC — now relies to undergird its sharia agenda were drafted years ago. The 1966 U.N. Commission for Human Rights International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which entered into force in 1976, was based firmly on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and preceded the 1969 creation of the OIC by just a few years. The ICCPR’s Articles 19 (3) and 20 nevertheless foreshadow sharia Islam’s demand for restrictions on free speech in an explicit and chilling way — and, as will be seen, in a way the OIC is trying to exploit:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference
2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression: this right shall include freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of this choice
3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as provided by law and are necessary.
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
1. Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law
2. Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
Clearly, the OIC is trying to exploit these international standards, as shown in its April 2011 4th Annual Report on Islamophobia posted at its online Islamophobia Observatory. Given the ICCPR’s assertions above, the OIC’s objective has long since been entered into official U.N. language. It required only a narrowing of the focus from the generality of the ICCPR down to the OIC’s exclusive interest in protecting Islam from discrimination. It also required bringing the U.S. on board with the program to enforce Islamic law on slander. With the willing participation of the Obama administration, the OIC has tackled both of these challenges. In Section 6 of the Islamophobia Report, “Conclusions and Recommendations,” the language references the OIC goal of “removing the gaps in international legal instruments” to force the non-Muslim world to comply with its plan to criminalize “slander” of Islam (emphasis added):
d. Ensuring swift and effective implementation of the new approach signified by the consensual adoption of HRC Resolution 16/18, entitled ‘combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief’, by inter alia, removing the gaps in implementation and interpretation of international legal instruments and criminalizing acts of incitement to hatred and violence…
e. Constructively engaging to bridge divergent views on the limits to the right to freedom of opinion and expression, in a structured multilateral framework…geared toward filling the ‘interpretation void’ with regard to the interface between articles 19(3) and 20 of the ICCPR based on emerging approaches like applying the ‘test of consequences.’
Those “gaps in implementation and interpretation” refer to U.S. objections to criminalizing free speech (in violation of the First Amendment), and the “structured multilateral framework” would appear to be the agenda in Washington, D.C. from December 12 to 14 at the meeting between Clinton and OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu. It would not be overreaching to conclude that the purpose of this meeting, at least from the OIC perspective, is to convince the Obama administration that free speech that rouses Muslim masses to fury — as defined by the “test of consequences” — must be restricted under U.S. law to bring it into compliance with sharia law’s dictates on slander.
Clinton’s own statements reflect the OIC language on the “gap” (emphasis added):
… together we have begun to overcome the false divide that pits religious sensitivities against freedom of expression, and we are pursuing a new approach based on concrete steps … to use some old-fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming, so that people don’t feel that they have the support to do what we abhor.
Despite disingenuous protestations by Clinton, another OIC document likely to be on the table at the Department of State/OIC working sessions abandons all pretense that any other religion besides Islam is the point of discussion. The Resolutions on Political Affairs Adopted by the Thirty-Eighth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers at the June 2011 OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Kazakhstan (emphasis added):
5. Affirms that freedoms have to be exercised with responsibility and with due regard for the fundamental rights of others and, in this context, condemns in the strongest possible terms, all blasphemous acts against Islamic principles, symbols and sacred personalities, in particular, the despicable act of burning of the Holy Quran in Florida, USA on 20 March 2011, publication of offensive caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), all abhorrent and irresponsible statements about Islam and its sacred personalities, and screening of defamatory documentary about the Holy Quran [Wilders' Fitna] and dissemination of this hate material under the pretext of freedom of expression and opinion[.]
Subsequent sections in the same document stress “the need to prevent the abuse of freedom of expression and press for insulting Islam and other divine religions” and to reaffirm “that terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or group.” It furthermore:
[c]alls upon all States to prevent any advocacy of religious discrimination, hostility or violence and defamation of Islam by incorporating legal and administrative measures which render defamation illegal and punishable by law, and also urges all Member States to adopt specific and relevant educational measures at all levels[.]
It may be recalled that the Obama administration claimed, obviously incorrectly, that defamation was no longer part of these agreements. The language of these resolutions instead stresses “the importance of expediting the implementation process of its decision on developing a legally binding international instrument to prevent intolerance, discrimination, prejudice and hatred on the grounds of religion, and defamation of religions[.]”
The Department of State is not the only U.S. government agency committed to achieving compliance with the OIC’s “Islamophobia” censorship agenda. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security both have committed publicly to an overhaul of their training materials to ensure that nothing in the curriculum gives “offense” to Muslim Brotherhood affiliates such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) or the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), with which both departments maintain close relationships. Instructors who previously taught the intrinsic connection among Islamic doctrine, law, and scripture and Islamic terrorism henceforth will be blacklisted by the U.S. government. As documented by the intrepid columnist and author Diana West, the Department of Defense also has made its obeisance to Islam, with troop instructions on how to handle the Qur’an and avoid spitting, urinating, or sleeping with feet pointed in the direction of Mecca.
Capping the administration’s campaign to align U.S. national security policy within the parameters of Islamic law, the White House published “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” in December 2011. The plan makes clear that “violent extremism,” not Islamic terrorism, is the primary national security threat to the homeland. According to this “strategy,” the solution is partnership with “local communities” — the term used for the administration’s favored Muslim Brotherhood front groups, which already are using such relationships to silence their critics, both inside and outside government. These new rules of censorship state that the term “violent extremism” can no longer be used in combination with terms like “jihad,” “Islam,” “Islamist,” or “sharia.” And these new rules are already being taught to U.S. law enforcement, homeland security offices, and the military nationwide.
The agenda of this week’s Department of State/OIC meetings may mark an important “milestone,” as Sayyed Qutb might put it, on the pathway to sharia in America. If — under the “test of consequences” — those who speak truth about Islam, sharia, and jihad may be held criminally responsible for the violent actions of those who say they find such truth “offensive,” then, in the future, “violent extremists” could be just about anyone…anyone the government, in obedience to the sharia dictates of the OIC, decides they are.
Further, if the rubric is to be based on this “test of consequence,” then it creates a real temptation to any administration so inclined to “create” consequences that will justify a change in America’s free speech rights. By way of example, analysts have suggested that the motive for the Department of Justice’s “Fast and Furious” scandal, now under congressional investigation, may have been to create a “crisis” — a “consequence” — caused by U.S. guns shipped across the border to Mexican drug-dealers (and used in multiple homicides, including an American Border Protection officer) to “nudge” public consensus to expand gun control laws.
Even if Obama’s State Department seems fully enamored with a “test of consequences” on speech critical of Islam, most Americans across the political spectrum will realize that this perverts the traditional understanding of the First Amendment. It is to be hoped that dedication to the Constitution — rather than to the OIC’s definition of “slander” of Islam or the “test of consequences” — will prevail among the ranks of our national leadership. Regardless of what’s going on behind closed doors at the State Department this week, Americans should be aware — and outraged. An informed citizenry, as always, remains the final defense of the Republic.
Clare M. Lopez is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy and also at The Clarion Fund.