A young Iranian blogger, Ahmad Seyyed Saraj, who has been imprisoned since 29 June in a jail in Tabriz, the capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, has received 30 lashes of the whip as part of his sentence. Seyyed Saraj has been charged with offending the authorities and revived a sentence of 30 lashes, while for the accusation of attacking the security of the state, he is still awaiting judgement.
Ahmad Seyyed Saraj is a journalist who has been running a blog after the newspaper where he was working closed down. Before him, another four Tehran bloggers were punished with whipping, for the contents of their sites.
After the closure of most of the independent newspapers and magazines in Iran, blogs have been the only possibility for many unemployed journalists to continue to express their opinions and truthfully report what cannot be found in the official media.
Persian is the third largest language used by bloggers, due to the more than 75,000 blogs generated in Iran.
An anti-Christian demonstration by a thousand or so Muslims outside the Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt last week earned only a few lines in the Arab dailies and was largely overlooked by the Western media. But this religious flash-point did not escape the notice of the jihadi groups linked to al-Qaeda, in fact they have turned it into anti-Christian video-propaganda on the Internet. Footage of the demonstration at Muharram Bik, near Alexandria, has appeared on forums used by al-Qaeda linked groups, with an exhortation to follow this example and attack Christians."Oh Islam, we will defend you with our body and soul!; "Christians and Jews, the army of Mohammed will return": these were just two of the slogans shouted by the crowd who staged a rally outside the church in Muharram Bik, after unconfirmed rumours that it had hosted a theatre performance that offended the prophet Mohammed.EGYPT: WEB VIDEO INCITES ATTACKS AGAINST CHRISTIANS
Video film of Wednesday's protest appeared on Friday on a forum much used by al-Qaeda aligned groups. The five-minute sequence follows various stages of the demonstration, which was prevented by riot police from getting near the church.
After this protest, a statement threatening the clerics of the church, signed "mujahadeen of Egypt", appeared on the Internet on 18 October. The Islamist group , which has also claimed responsiblity for the Sharm el-Sheikh bombings, incited Muslims to take action against Christians in revenge for the alleged offence against Mohammed. "After hearing this news, we had decided without hesitation to destroy that church," it said, noting that the "government dogs" - the police - had surrounded the place of worship to protect it.
However the group goes on to make further threats, adding: "Any Christian from that church who reads a sermon there will become one of the targets."
Someone was taking heed, as two days later the Al-Quds al-Arabi paper headlined: "Muslim student stabs nun in the church of Alexandria". On 19 October, a student brandishing a knife entered the church shouting anti-Christian slogans. The man, later identified as Ali al-Jani, wounded the nun and a person who intervened to protect her.
The Coptic Christian minority in Egypt is numerically the largest Christian community in the Arab world and percentage-wise, the second after Lebanon. Copts make up ten per cent of the Egyptian population and were present in the country prior to the arrival of Islam. Normally tranquil relations between Egypt's predominantly Muslim population and the Copts occasionally become tense, particularly over allegations of forced conversions.
Nuclear proliferation is a serious issue, if only because the more countries obtain nuclear weapons, the more likely it is somebody will use them. (And then there is the nightmare scenario, where Islamic terrorists set off a nuke on an American city.) Nukes are the best hope weaker countries have of warding off an attack from the United States, or of obtaining economic giveaways from a scared international community. To make matters worse, any pitiful dictator with delusions of grandeur will love to have them as a status symbol. That's why I suspect Hugo Chavez is looking to build the bomb. Signs are not encouraging: Brazil in talks with Venezuela on nuclear energy assistanceThe outlook for freedom is gloomy. Fascist regimes and dark forces are taking ominous steps forward in Asia (Russia & China). South America's left-wingers are ambitious and resurgent, impoverishing their people, snubbing Uncle Sam and courting China, and pursuing nukes. Don't even bother with Europe (the EU: a farce for democracy!). And Mexico and Canada don't look so hot. Communism didn't end with the USSR; that was just a failed learning experience. Now it's taking new forms globally, with three major models competing for viability: the Chinese one, the European one and the South American one.
It gets even worse. Brazil is governed by leftist President Luis Ignacio "Lula" da Silva, who is also an enemy (or at least an "opponent") of the United States. Chavez gets the headlines, but Lula has been more effective in derailing American interests in the region (such as the apparent sinking of the Free Trade Area of the Americas), not to mention showing hostility (for an example, see here) against "American arrogance." Lula, in short, sees the U.S. as the enemy, and his strategic thinking might be dictated by those views, as well as his leftist hatred of "Capitalism". He might, then, be inclined to help Chavez in his hypothetical quest for nuclear weapons.
A Muslim woman who was refused a job because she would not wear a headscarf is taking her case to the Dutch Equal Opportunities Commission.I hope she loses her case, and here's why: this wouldn't even be an issue in the US, as religious institutions are free to discriminate for religious reasons. As the Europeans grapple with Islam using only the tools they have, postmodern fascism, this kind of thing will be common. Nothing entitles Samira Haddad to a job in a religious institution if she claims the religion and flouts its edicts; it's like saying that sexually active Catholics should be entitled to jobs with the Church, even though they behave in a way the Church prohibits.
It is the first such case before the tribunal and another side of the Europe-wide debate on Muslim clothing.
Samira Haddad's case before the Equal Opportunities Commission is the first of its kind. It focuses on the obligation for Muslim teachers to wear a headscarf, while their non-Muslim colleagues do not have to.
Samira Haddad was turned down for a post as Arabic teacher at the prestigious Islamic College in Amsterdam because she refuses to wear a headscarf.
She claims the college is discriminating between Muslim and non-Muslim staff. Under Dutch law all employees must be treated equally in religious institutions.
Israel has put on hold a large arms deal with Venezuela following a US demand to curb military cooperation with the regime of Hugo Chavez, who has been a vocal critic of the Bush administration.
According to Israeli sources, the American demand was presented several months ago at a time when military ties between Israel and the US were troubled because of the sale of "Harpy" UAVs to China.
The deal that was stopped includes the upgrade of F-16 fighter jets of the Venezuelan air force. The upgrade was to have been done by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), but Israel asked the Pentagon for consent because the F-16 is an American-made platform.
The Israeli sources added that it was not clear yet if the deal was only delayed on a temporary basis or if it would be canceled altogether.
American and Israeli representatives held talks in the past weeks in an attempt to clarify the US position regarding the Venezuelan deal and to allow it to go through.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is scheduled to visit Washington next month and is expected to raise the issue of Israeli arms sales with his American counterparts.
I could probably come up with a list of reasons if I were pressed to do so, but NewsMax already has a story on how China United Airlines purchased a US made Boeing 747 commercial airliner and converted it into an Advanced Military Command Aircraft for the Chinese PLAAF.The Chinese army has converted a U.S.-made airliner into an advanced military command aircraft. The conversion is a direct violation of U.S.-Sino trade agreements and U.S. export laws. Officials at the U.S. State and Commerce departments refused to comment on the illegal Chinese modification.Not only does this further illustrate China's ambitions for projecting power outside of its borders, but it also serves as an example of its blatant disregard for international trade agreements. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of the Clinton Administration:
....The aircraft now serves the Chinese army and is intended to fly PLA commanders during war. The 737 is intended to allow a PLA crew of generals and staff to fly close to a battlefield, issuing commands to their army, navy and air force from the airborne headquarters.China United Airlines currently operates a fleet of ten Boeing 737-300 airliners as troop and VIP transports. According to Aviation Week and Space Technology, the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) obtained the U.S. jet transports in 2000 through a purchase approved by the Clinton administration.
....According to a 1994 U.S. military report, the Clinton administration was aware that China United Airlines was owned by the PLAAF. Documentation obtained using the Freedom of Information Act shows that China United Airlines is actually one of several businesses wholly owned and operated by the PLAAF.