Iran

Three dead as siege ends in fire fight [UPDATED]

Different media are showing different levels of caution in extrapolating events.  Some of what you read below hasn’t had official confirmation.  Australian police will provide the next update at 7 am  (9 am NZ time).  This is what happened after 16 hours of the stand-off:

UPDATE:  More media are confident to report three are dead, the gunman and two hostages.  But no further details are available.  (One News says the third hostage died of a heart attack while in hospital)

Police have confirmed that three people have died following #sydneysiege. Four people were injured
The injuries are reported as not being life threatening.

Police storm in after gunman shoots a hostage

A swarm of heavily armed police stormed a cafe in the heart of downtown Sydney just after 2 am (4 am NZ), ending a siege where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours.

A police spokesman confirmed “the operation is over,” but would not release any further details about the fate of the gunman or his remaining captives.

It increasingly appears that police stormed the café after the gunman shot a hostage.

In the ensuing firefight, the gunman was killed and several hostages injured.

This has yet to be confirmed by police.

After a flurry of loud bangs, police swooped into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe shortly after five or six hostages were seen running from the building.

Read more »

Faces of the day

We need systematic change in the Muslim world

-Nazie Eftekhari

 

Nazie Eftekhari was born in Iran, and is a board member of the Iranian-American Political Action Committee as well as founder and CEO of The Araz Group. Hear her unique perspective on growing up in Iran, how the 1978 revolution impacted women and what she’s doing to continue to fight for equal rights for any and all oppressed communities.

She is one of a number of human rights activists who joined together to make the Honor Diaries:

  1. Sixteen year old Education activist, Malala Yousafzai who was shot in the head by the Taliban.
  2. Muslim-American human rights activist Raquel Saraswati
  3. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President of Stop Child Executions
  4. Raheel Raza,  the author of “Their Jihad…Not My Jihad,” professional speaker, President of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, and founder of Forum 4 Learning, which promotes learning in the fields of cultural and religious diversity and interfaith harmony.
  5. Manda Zand Ervin, Founder and President of the Alliance of Iranian Women, is an Iranian political refugee working to bring attention to the plight of Iranian women under Islamic Sharia laws.

You can listen to them all but if you only have time for one speaker, make it Malala Yousafzai the 16 year old who was shot in the head by the Taliban.

Mad mullahs threatening Israel again

The Mad mullahs in charge of Iran are threatening Israel again.

Only the truly stupid would threaten a country with superior weapon technology, including nukes, but there you go, who said Islamists were sane?

On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei directed another threat toward Israel using Twitter.

“US says that Israel’s security must be protected,” he Tweeted. “Know that whether or not a deal is achieved, #Israel will get more insecure on a daily basis.”

Read more »

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Whinging Poms seem to want to stop Israel defending itself

Me with the Iron Dome Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Pommy whingers and haters of Israel seem to want to stop Israel from defending itself by opposing the shipping of vital components for their defence forces.

Britain approved the sale of arms to Israel worth ÂŁ7m in the six months before its offensive on Gaza this summer, including components for drones, combat aircraft and helicopters along with spare parts for sniper rifles, according to figures seen byThe Independent.

The government data will raise fresh concerns that British-made equipment was used by the Israeli military during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in July and August, which led to more than 2,000 Palestinian deaths and 73 Israeli fatalities, 66 of them soldiers.

The Independent can reveal that ministers in the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) have also ordered a fresh review of military export licences to Israel granted prior to the outbreak of the conflict after officials found 12 instances where arms containing British components may have been used in Gaza by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

The refusal of the Government to suspend these licences caused a split in the Coalition and led to the resignation of Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi, who described Britain’s stance during the Israeli land and air assault as “morally indefensible”.

Official figures declared to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) show that Britain granted 68 export licences for ÂŁ6.96 of military-use items to be sent to Israel between January and the end of June this year.

The licences covered a broad range of weaponry, including parts for drones and combat jets as well as military radar components and £600,000 of “high-power RF weapon systems”, in effect energy ray weapons which can be used for purposes from air defence to disabling cars.

The licences also included armour plating, anti-armour ammunition, electronic warfare components, sniper rifle parts and technology for weapons sights. One licence for an unspecified amount of small arms ammunition was refused on grounds of “risk of diversion or re-export to undesirable end-users”.  Read more »

A besieged people

William Pollack discusses Israel in the wake of the killings by Palestinian terrorists in a synagogue in Jerusalem.

Just days ago, Barack Obama, the Commander in Chief and honorary Islamic Protectorate, stated the savage beheading of yet another American by ISIS, Peter Kassig, was not representative of “any faith, LEAST of all Muslim.” If Muslims are the “least” representatives of worldwide terrorism, whom might we expect to be more prominent, Lutherans?

Days ago and now vanished from the headlines, four Jewish worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue and a security guard were viciously attacked by Palestinian MUSLIM terrorists armed with meat cleavers, axes and guns. President Obama’s all-too-common response was to make a moral equivalence between Israel, a nation of laws, and a band of cold-blooded murderers. The Palestinian Authority’s leadership response was typically indifferent, coughing up a statement of regret that “any” citizens were harmed,  then blaming Israel for everything under the sun.

Reminiscent of the Palestinians celebrating dead Americans following the 9/11 attack on the United States, Palestinians handed out candy in honor of killing men dressed in prayer shawls. This horrific event followed weeks of savage Palestinian attacks on Israelis, including ramming cars into bystanders. One of the numerous casualties was a child.

The United Nations, a wasteful and irrelevant piece of real estate, paused momentarily from their relentless condemnation of everything Israel to offer stoic regret. With the notable exception of the sincere and meaningful comments by Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, worldwide statements of sympathy for the slain innocents were matched by the obligatory nod for more peace talks; as if Israel has a Palestinian peace partner; which they don’t.

Read more »

Sharia law…seems legit.

Ever heard the Old Testament phrase of an eye for an eye?

Christianity

You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
This saying of Jesus is generally interpreted as criticism of the Old Testament teaching, and often taken as implying that “an eye for an eye” encourages excessive vengeance rather than an attempt to limit it.

-wiki

 

Islam

The Qur’an mentions the “eye for an eye” concept as being ordained for the Children of Israel.The principle of Lex talionis in Islam is Qasas (قصاص) “O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution (Qasas) for those murdered – the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything, then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is an alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” Shi’ite countries that use Islamic Sharia law apply the “eye for an eye” rule literally.

-wiki

 

A court in Iran has ruled that a man who blinded a woman with acid after she spurned his marriage proposals will also be blinded with acid.

The ruling was reported in Iranian newspapers on Thursday.

The punishment is legal under the Islamic Sharia principle of qias, equivalence or analogy, which allows retribution for violent crimes.

The court also ordered the attacker, 27-year-old Majid Movahedi, to pay compensation to the victim.

The acid attack took place in 2004. The victim, Ameneh Bahrami, went to Spain for surgery to reconstruct her face but efforts to restore her sight failed.

The ruling was a response to her plea to the court in the Iranian capital Tehran for retribution.

-BBC News 28 November 2008

 

You may be interested to know that in the end the victim did not get her retribution.

 

Ameneh-Bahrami-holds-a-ph-007

Ameneh Bahrami holds a photo showing herself before she was blinded with acid by Majid Movahedi. Photograph: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Read more »

Comment of the Day

From the post about ISIS, Olivia Pierson writes:

I’m so glad you put this up Cameron. I have to say I felt a twinge of disgust when I read Andrea Vance’s op-ed; again with the staggeringly militant ignorance of NZ journalism on geopolitical issues which deeply matter!

Firstly – Vance says; “In the last two decades, Iraq has not been far off the military radar.

Military intervention to eliminate weapons of mass destruction was built on a fallacy, years of slaughter failed to remove the threat of terrorism or install democracy.”

The removal of the psychopathic Saddam Hussein Baathist regime was inevitable and appallingly long-overdue, a reality which Tony Blair knew along with President Bush – hence the Anglo-American coalition to overthrow it. The questions around WMD was only ONE of the reasons which put this coalition on the right side of history.

According to the United Nations, there are four egregious acts where breaking even one of them, can and should result in regime change; Saddam broke all four:
1 – committing genocide (against the Kurds),
2 – the invasion of a neighbouring state (Iran & Kuwait),
3 – proliferating nuclear weapons (Saddam himself boasted that Iraq was on its way to acquiring a centrifuge (we now know he only had a blueprint) and remember the 550 metric tons of yellow cake airlifted out of Iraq and shipped straight to Canada in 2008? Should the world have just taken a violent psychopath’s word that the enriched uranium was intended for peaceful purposes only?)
4 – aiding and abetting terrorism (Saddam was a renowned and prolific supporter of terrorism to many Islamist militant organisations, among them Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who moved freely between Afghanistan, Syria, Jordan and Iraq – a fact which obviates Saddam’s blessing.) Read more »

Not so happy in Iran, certainly no clapping along

The religion of peace strikes again.

Six Iranians who appeared in a video singing along to the American pop song Happy have been given suspended sentences of six months in prison and 91 lashes for obscene behaviour.   Read more »

An insiders guide to reporting on Israel/Gaza conflict

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot   Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Tablet has an essay about the media manipulations in reporting the Israel/Gaza conflict.

It is by  Matti Friedman who is a former AP correspondent who explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters. What she writes echoes what I saw in Israel.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

She looks at the disproportionate staffing and reporting on Israel compared with other countries.

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else.

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

That is an indictment in itself right there. That is a massive news imbalance.    Read more »

No support, Hamas is thrown under the bus by Arab neighbours

Seems Israel isn’t the only one tired of radical Islamists, as Arab nations normally opposing to the on again, off again conflict turned a blind eye to Israel pummeling the extremists launching rockets at Israel. Egypt’s own military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood and began a crackdown on the organisation hostile to Zionism in 2013:

CAIRO — Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting.

Not this time.

After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated cease-fire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.

“The Arab states’ loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu,” the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents.

“I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas,” he said. “The silence is deafening.” Read more »