There’s No Difference Between Bill Maher And Fox News When It Comes To Islam And Muslims

Loon Watch - 3 April, 2014 - 19:27


Bill Maher, a self-proclaimed “9/11 Liberal” has a history of Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, claiming falsely that Islam and Muslims are: uniquely more violent than practitioners of other faiths, the Bible is less violent than the Qur’an, there are “too many Mohammads” in the West and he is fearful they will “takeover,” Arab men (who he interchanges with Muslims) are all horrible to women, and women cannot vote in 19 out of 22 Arab states. Maher is also a staunch supporter of Obama’s drone assassination programand is on record defending Geert Wilders.

Video: Bill Maher or Fox News? “Am I, am I racist?”

Christians have a right to oppose gay marriage, but not to act against it | David Edgar

The Guardian World news: Islam - 3 April, 2014 - 17:25
Church leaders have forgotten that the freedom not to be discriminated against is one on which believers themselves rely

Is the whole question of gay marriage happily and finally now a done deal? Amid the joyous celebrations, a predictable grumble of discontent. Guidelines from the Equality and Human Rights Commission say businesses that refuse to provide services to gay weddings (including florists and photographers) will be in breach of the Equality Act 2010. For some Conservative MPs, this represents a chill wind of religious intolerance.

Meanwhile, and despite his best efforts, Nick Clegg failed to provoke Nigel Farage into a response on the subject during their BBC2 debate on Europe this week. In one sense, this was a surprise. In December 2012, Farage told the Guardian that the gay marriage bill "will present an affront to millions of people in this country for whom this will be the final straw", promising to place the issue at the heart of the party's 2014 European election campaign.

Why does Nigel Farage want us to follow the lead of countries that are smaller than Bristol?

Mahdi Hassan - 3 April, 2014 - 09:17

Eurosceptics harp on about the need for democracy. But the Swiss, like the Norwegians and the Icelanders, choose to eat food from a table at which they have no seat.

 GettyNigel Farage and Nick Clegg during first of the two debates on Europe. Photo: Getty

“If it is good enough for Iceland to do it,” Nigel Farage remarked in the first of his two televised debates with Nick Clegg, “I’m damned certain the British with 64 million can do even better.” The Ukip leader was referring to a free trade agreement that the Icelandic government signed with China in April 2013, despite the tiny Nordic country not being a member of the EU. Is this what proud British Euroscepticism has been reduced to – comparisons with Iceland? Together with Norway (population: five million) and Liechtenstein (population: 36,000) – those two powerhouses of the global economy – Iceland (population: 326,000) is a member of the snazzily named European Economic Area. The EEA is, in essence, the faux-EU, the geopolitical equivalent of a knock-off Gucci handbag. Rather than having all of the pros of EU membership with none of the cons – as some British Eurosceptics disingenuously suggest – EEA membership guarantees some of the pros and most of the cons.

Take Norway, often cited by the anti-EU brigade as a possible model for Britain. Despite being outside the EU, Norway has had to implement 75 per cent of its laws – 6,000 pieces of legislation. “We have been more compliant than many EU member countries,” the premier Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, has confessed. (In the 1990s, Norway was known as the “fax democracy”, with Brussels simply faxing new directives for the Norwegians to follow.)

It’s not a cheap deal, either. Norway’s total financial contribution to the EU each year is about €340m – which, per capita, works out to be slightly higher than the UK’s.

As for the “free movement” of workers that so upsets Tory backbenchers, the non-EU Norway, like the non-EU Iceland, is a signatory of the Schengen Agreement, which scrapped internal borders – unlike the UK, an EU member, which opted out. Is it any wonder that a government-commissioned report concluded in 2012 that Norway had seen “extensive Europeanisation” over the past two decades and that it was an “illusion” to believe it was outside of the EU?

Forget Norway, then. How about the wealthy, dynamic, free-market Switzerland (population: eight million), which arranges its own bilateral deals with all its trading partners, including the EU? The Swiss negotiate on an individual, case-by-case basis and are under no obligation to implement all of the EU’s internal market legislation. What’s not to like? Boris Johnson is so keen on the so-called Swiss model that he coined the term “Britzerland”.

But wait. First, Switzerland has a free trade agreement in goods with the EU but no agreement on services – including, astonishingly, on financial services. Remember that the UK accounts for a third of the EU’s wholesale finance industry. Want to try selling the Swiss option to the City of London now? No? I didn’t think so.

In 2009, the Swiss government ack­nowledged: “The existing [EU] barriers to market access place Switzerland at an economic disadvantage.” It added: “Switzerland loses out in terms of jobs, value creation and tax receipts.”

Second, whatever happened to no taxation without representation? Although it is outside the EU and outside the EEA, too, Switzerland contributes about €450m a year to the EU budget.

Third, Swiss sovereignty is overrated. The country relies on roughly 120 separate bilateral agreements with the EU and it is expected to adopt every single EU regulation in each of those areas – again, without any say on their shape, structure or content.

Eurosceptics harp on about the need for democracy. But the Swiss, like the Norwegians and the Icelanders, choose to eat food from a table at which they have no seat. They have no spots on the European Commission, no members of the European Parliament, no invitations to the Council of Ministers, no judges on the European Court of Justice. Yet, to varying degrees, they submit to EU legislation over which they have no votes, no vetoes and very little influence.

The simple truth is that whether the UK is inside the EU or out, we’ll have to follow EU rules and regulations. Eurosceptics say they like the EU’s single market but don’t like the EU’s regulations. What they seem unable – or unwilling – to understand is that there is no single market without regulations; it is the regulations that make it a single market, rather than a continent-wide free-for-all.

And it is the single market that gives EU member states power, clout and influence on a global scale. Do we want to negotiate with the Chinas and Russias of the world as part of a 28-member bloc of 500 million people? Or quit the biggest single market in human history in order to emulate Iceland, a country with a population smaller than Bristol? Eurosceptics bridle at being called “Little Englanders”. Yet their obsession with the likes of Norway, Iceland and Switzerland suggests the label may be an understatement. Tiny Englanders, perhaps?

The EU is far from perfect. It does need to change – to become less austerity-focused and neoliberal, for a start. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy needs reforming and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the US, which will empower unelected corporations at the expense of elected governments, needs rewriting. But you don’t win a fight by leaving the ring. You get in, stay in and keep fighting your corner.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer to the New Statesman and the political director of the Huffington Post UK, where this article is crossposted

Pat Dollard Incites Violence on Twitter: Slaughter Muslims, All of Them

Loon Watch - 3 April, 2014 - 08:25

Pat Dollard

Pat Dollard is an atheist who reflexively blames Islam for all violence perpetrated by Muslims. But if religion is what drives people to violence, why is he endorsing genocide?



Breitbart News’ Pat Dollard Wants to Slaughter Muslims in the Street

Loon Watch - 3 April, 2014 - 05:31

OK so this dullard wants to slaughter Muslims in the streets. This is acceptable speech on the Right-Wing regarding Muslims in 2014.

The sad fact is that through its two wars, dirty wars and drone program the US military has been slaughtering Muslims for quite some time now.

Conservative filmmaker Pat Dollard: “Time for Americans to start slaughtering Muslims in the streets”

Some days you feel like Twitter couldn’t get any worse. And then this happens:

The comment came as news swept Twitter of a shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, where former Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people in 2009. The offending tweeter, Pat Dollard, himself tweeted news of the shooting as it broke, before making the aforementioned hideous statement (which, perhaps surprisingly, he has not deleted at the time of this writing).

Dollard has a long and complicated history in the public spotlight. He originally “made his name as Steven Soderbergh’s agent,” according to a 2007 Vanity Fair profile, although he has since become a self-fashioned conservative firebrand. His Twitter account lists him as a “contributing journalist” at Breitbart — whose founder, Andrew Breitbart, he counted as a personal friend. Strangely, his profile page on the conservative news organization’s website includes no actual articles.

At this moment Dullard hasn’t deleted the tweet and it has received 436 retweets and 132 favorites.:

After seven years, exactly one person gets off the gov’t no-fly list

Loon Watch - 2 April, 2014 - 19:15


Imagine being on the “no-fly” list and not being able to visit your dying mother, your sons graduation or any other important life events. That is the reality for many Muslims on the “no-fly” list (h/t:Asif):

After seven years, exactly one person gets off the gov’t no-fly list

by  (arsTechnia)

A hearing in federal court Tuesday has apparently marked the conclusion of a drawn-out, costly, and, to use the judge’s own term, “Kafkaesque” legal battle over the government no-fly list. Malaysian college professor Rahinah Ibrahim sued the government back in 2006, after Dr. Ibrahim’s name mistakenly ended up on a federal government no-fly list.

Last month, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that Ibrahim must be removed from the government’s various watchlists. At Tuesday’s hearing, a Department of Justice lawyer said that the government did not intend to appeal the ruling. The ruling in Ibrahim v. DHS calls into question the government’s administration of its controversial no-fly list as well as other terrorist watch lists, but it leaves no clear roadmap for other people wrongly placed on such lists.

Ibrahim’s pro bono attorney, Elizabeth Pipkin, has asked for the government to pay more than $3.5 million to cover her legal fees and costs. Alsup didn’t rule on that motion, but said that the issue was “not easy,” while indicating that Pipkin is unlikely to be entitled to such a large payout.

No recourse

The Ibrahim case marks the first and only successful challenge to the terrorist watch-listing program, which arose following the 9/11 attacks. But Ibrahim’s case, as just one of hundreds of thousands of individuals who have been placed on such lists, shows the system’s opacity. First, the only surefire way to even determine if one is on such a list in the US is to attempt to board a flight and be denied. Even after that happens, when a denied person inquires about his or her status, the likely response will be that the government “can neither confirm nor deny” the placement on such lists.

The government’s surrender in Ibrahim comes on the heels of a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union that shows just how insanely difficult it is to contest one’s status on the government blacklists. The ACLU explains:

The ‘redress’ procedures the US government provides for those who have been wrongly or mistakenly included on a watchlist are wholly inadequate. Even after people know the government has placed them on a watchlist… the government’s official policy is to refuse to confirm or deny watchlist status. Nor is there any meaningful way to contest one’s designation as a potential terrorist and ensure that the US government… removes or corrects inadequate records. The result is that innocent people can languish on the watchlists indefinitely, without real recourse.

The report also includes several examples of people challenging no-fly determinations, and it’s a very murky procedure. Litigation is typically subject to sealed filings and a closed proceeding.

One of the secrets of the government’s watchlists is how big they are. No one outside of the intelligence community seems to know for sure. The ACLU report cites a National Counterterrorism Center Fact Sheet, which notes that the “consolidated terrorist watchlist” contained about 875,000 names in December 2011. It also described how the Terrorist Screening Center’s watchlist has grown significantly over time, from approximately 158,000 records in June 2004 to over 1.1 million records in May 2009. It cites an AP report from February 2012 documenting that there were approximately 21,000 people on the no-fly list (including about 500 US citizens and permanent residents) and saying that the list had more than doubled in the previous year.

Even after the drawn-out Ibrahim case, there’s still no good way to question the government’s determination besides going to court. The next person who wants to challenge a no-fly decision is probably going to have to retread the same path as Ibrahim. Taking a look back at her ordeal is instructive, if not inspiring.

The Ibrahim saga

Rahinah Ibrahim was admitted to the US on a student visa to study at Stanford’s graduate school in 2000. Five years later, when attempting to fly from San Francisco to Hawaii, she was denied entry onto the plane, was handcuffed—despite being wheelchair-bound at the time—and was placed in a holding cell, detained for two hours, and then questioned. During questioning, a police officer attempted to remove her hijab. Eventually, she was released and told that her name had been stricken from the no-fly list.

After flying back to Hawaii and then to Malaysia a few days later, her student visa was revoked, and she was denied reentry into the US. That was the beginning of a nine-year fight over whether she could travel back to the US, which Ibrahim said she considered her “second home.”

As explained in Alsup’s opinion, the whole dispute stemmed from an errant check placed on a form filled out by FBI agent Kevin Kelly. At trial, Agent Kelly admitted his mistake, and government lawyers actually conceded that Ibrahim doesn’t pose a threat to national security and never has. The mistake was not a small thing, Alsup wrote.

At long last, the government has conceded that plaintiff poses no threat to air safety or national security and should never have been placed on the no-fly list. She got there by human error within the FBI… the FBI agent filled out the nomination form in a way exactly opposite from the instructions on the form, a bureaucratic analogy to a surgeon amputating the wrong digit—human error, yes, but of considerable consequence.

Much of the litigation took place even while Ibrahim was unable to get much information about the government’s case against her. In December, Alsup denied Ibrahim’s request to see the classified evidence submitted by the government in its defense against her lawsuit.

Kafka today

Ben Wizner, Edward Snowden’s attorney at the ACLU, remarked at SXSW that problems with the no-fly list aren’t going away; the world we’re facing will look more like Kafka than Orwell. It will be a place where we simply can’t get answers. Wizner said:

We already have watch lists that say that some people can fly and some people can’t, or that they can go in this lane or they can go in that lane. But that’s only going to proliferate as there’s more and more data and faster and faster computers and more confidence that they can make these predictions about us. I worry about due process. I worry about basic fairness. And I worry about a world—not a world that looks like Orwell. The law professor Daniel Solove has said that maybe the better analogy for this, or metaphor, is not Orwell, but Kafka, where a big data state makes judgments that can be permanent and irreversible, and don’t seem fair, and we don’t have a chance to speak back.

In Kafka’s famous novel, “The Trial,” the protagonist, Josef K. awakens one morning to be arrested for an offense that is never explained and for which he is subsequently to be tried without ever learning of the nature of the charges.

The sense that it’s impossible to know what one is up against runs through the Ibrahim opinion. In one section, shown below, Judge Alsup orders the government “expressly to tell Dr. Ibrahim”—and then the remainder of the sentence is redacted.

Airport Security Tried to Yank Off Swedish Muslim’s Hijab

Loon Watch - 2 April, 2014 - 18:42


Airport security tried to yank off Swedish Muslim’s hijab

A Swedish woman wearing a Muslim headscarf claims security staff at a small northern airport tugged on her hijab in public rather than take up her offer to take it off away from prying eyes.

“The female guard asked me ‘What’s on your head’,” recalled state employee Saama Sarsour, who told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper about her treatment at Arvidsjaur airport in northern Sweden.

After the metal detector beeped, Sarsour was asked to remove the cloth. She responded by asking if the guard could first scan the rest of her body and if she could remove her scarf in a different room, not in public. “Then the woman grabbed the scarf and started yanking it,” Sarsour told SvD. “I was totally shocked.”

Sarsour, who works for the social security agency Skatteverket, and her employer decided to report the female guard to the police, who quickly decided not to open an investigation into harassment.

Read the rest…


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