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Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Beheadings As US Condemns ISIS For Beheadings

By: Monday October 20, 2014 10:38 am

In the two months since the US and gulf state allies have begun attacking ISIS in Iraq and Syria the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has had a wave of executions. Like ISIS, the Saudis use the method of beheading for execution. The US has condemned ISIS’ use of the practice yet has remained silent on whether the Saudis’ use of beheading as a method for execution is inappropriate or not.

Saudi Arabia has already beheaded 59 people this year of those who have committed crimes under Saudi law. Among the crimes some have been beheaded for in Saudi Arabia is sorcery. Beyond the supernatural crimes that one can be beheaded for are apostasy and adultery. Yes, have a romantic relationship outside your marriage or question the extremist Wahhabisim of Saudi Islamic doctrine and you get your head chopped off.

Is there any real difference between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic State/ISIS besides oil agreements with US corporations? Saudi Arabia looks an awful lot like an Islamic state.

Of the 59 people executed by Oct. 16, 22 had been convicted for smuggling drugs, according to figures compiled by Human Rights Watch from Saudi media reports. One Saudi man, Mohammed Bakr al-Alaawi, was put to death for sorcery so far this year, the third such case since 2011. Although such cases are even rarer, judges can also demand execution for adulterers or Muslims who abandon their faith.

In Saudi Islamic law, charges of violent crimes like murder are usually brought under the system of “qisas”: retaliation on the principle of an eye for an eye. While a murderer would normally be sentenced to death, the victim’s family is permitted to accept “diyya”, or blood money, instead of execution. The lives of women are worth half those of men, and non-Muslims a fraction of the value of Muslims.

What an enlightened kingdom Saudi Arabia is. Clearly Saudi Arabia is nothing like ISIS. Though both the Saudi and ISIS military use US weapons, only the Saudis actually paid for them.

And, of course, unlike ISIS the Saudis have spawned numerous terrorists that have actually attacked America. Osama Bin Laden and his fellow Saudis not only bank rolled 9/11 and other terrorist attacks on US interests and persons, but the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. But for some reason ISIS is the real threat and Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important allies.

President Of Israel Says Israel Is A ‘Sick Society’

By: Monday October 20, 2014 7:30 am
Reuven Rivlin 2011 crop.jpg

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

After this summer’s gruesome military campaign in Gaza few in the international community would claim Israel is not in need of some serious self-reflection. By the end of the slaughter even Israel’s most steadfast ally, the United States, was condemning Israel for its savage behavior against a trapped civilian population. The killing of innocents to promote ethnocratic goals under the all encompassing guise of “self-defense” is a charade only those on the extreme right in Israel and the US are still willing to accept.

But one voice echoing popular global sentiment is surprising – the President of Israel. Israel President Reuven Rivlin says Israel has become a “sick society” that lacks human decency and is unable to engage in dialogue with Arabs due to racial animosity and prejudice – a rather stunning indictment by a head of state of his own country.

President Rivlin’s comments come after Operation Protective Edge which included Israeli strikes on civilian targets such as UN buildings and shelters. In all over 2,100 Palestinians were killed with over 11,000 wounded – over 70% of the casualties were civilians. Prior to the conflict a group of Israelis had tortured and killed a Palestinian teen. Israel also suffered casualties primarily as a result of a military invasion of Gaza.

The time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment, President Reuven Rivlin said at the opening session on Sunday of a conference on From Hatred of the Stranger to Acceptance of the Other…

Rivlin wondered aloud whether Jews and Arabs had abandoned the secret of dialogue.  With regard to Jews he said: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings. Have they forgotten how to converse?” In Rivlin’s eyes, the academy has a vital task to reduce violence in Israeli society by encouraging dialogue and the study of different cultures and languages with the aim of promoting mutual understanding, so that there can be civilized meetings between the sectors of society.

President Rivlin said he was looking to academia to help Israel deal with its problems of racial incitement and the inability for Jews to have positive dialogue with Arabs. Israeli scholars are set to explore both the causes of racial incitement and how it is possible to balance the policing of incitement with guarantees of free speech in Israel.

The president in the Israeli system, as in many other countries, is just the head of state not the head of government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still runs the show and can freely disregard anything President Rivlin says about Israeli society no matter how poignant and popular. And Prime Minister Netanyahu appears more than willing to accept a sick society regardless of the critiques and potential pitfalls of not making changes.

After all, that sick society put him in power.

Photo by Itzike under Creative Commons license.

Hong Kong Protests Continue With Major Crackdown Looming

By: Monday October 20, 2014 5:39 am

The pro-democracy protests known as Occupy Central have continued on despite constant attacks from Hong Kong authorities in the form of police or undercover agitators. But after weeks of depressed economic activity in one of the richest and most productive areas in the world it appears the authorities are preparing for a major crackdown after their more traditional methods have failed to break the protests.

The goal of the protests was to force Beijing to back off its plan to control the 2017 elections in Hong Kong by having the Chinese Communist Party decide who could and could not be a candidate. Thus far Beijing has refused to reconsider the plan and has officially denounced the protesters

With Beijing doubling down and the protesters refusing to give up despite being tear gassed and pepper sprayed the Hong Kong authorities appear ready to escalate the violence.

After a flare-up of violence between Hong Kong police and pro-democracy demonstrators Saturday, government officials and protest leaders alike warned that the situation was heading toward a breaking point. Demonstrators remained encamped around government headquarters in the Admiralty district and had reoccupied streets in the dense commercial Mong Kok area. Police had cleared the Mong Kok sit-in early Friday, but demonstrators returned later in the day and took back control of several key streets, clashing with officers throughout the night.

Speaking out after 26 people were arrested and dozens injured in Mong Kok early Saturday, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said police had been “extremely tolerant” and that protesters’ increasingly “illegal acts are undermining the rule of law.” “These violations are … destroying Hong Kong,” he said, adding that schools, businesses and hospitals had been disrupted.

How long can the elite of Hong Kong afford to have commerce shutdown and how long will Beijing allow itself to lose face? The statements from the police commissioner and analysis from leaders on both sides suggest the status quo of shutdown highways and nightly police clashes is not sustainable much longer. The protesters have so far refused to give up.

A video of police beating a protester has forced Hong Kong authorities into talks with protesters, but the central issue is not really something the Hong Kong authorities can do much about unless they are willing to break an agreement with Beijing. But breaking such an agreement would likely lead to dire consequences for the Hong Kong authorities as well as the same outcome – the selection of political leaders in Hong Kong by Beijing.

Beijing seems to be losing patience with the Hong Kong authorities who, in turn, seem to be recognizing that their traditional methods of breaking up public meetings are failing against determined protesters. For the authorities in Hong Kong breaking up Occupy Central is now a matter of survival.

The Weekend Roundup for October 18-19, 2014

By: Sunday October 19, 2014 3:14 pm

Hey folks, what are you doing today? It’s the start of a whole new week. International Politics Overall – The British ambassador to Israel said the recent symbolic vote for Palestine represented a shift in public opinion – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan refused to send U.S. aid to Kurdish rebels against the Islamic State since [...]

The Roundup for October 17th, 2014

By: Friday October 17, 2014 1:41 pm

Hey folks, how are you doing this evening? Tomorrow, the FDL Book Salon will have authors Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny for their new book, #Newsfail. On Sunday, author Helen Caldicott stops by to talk about her new book on nuclear energy post-Fukushima, Crisis Without End. International Politics Overall – Pew: On each continent, civilians [...]

Obama Appoints Ebola Czar, Third Health Worker Isolated

By: Friday October 17, 2014 10:50 am

After the CDC had some early missteps with communication and management of the Ebola virus, President Obama announced today that Ron Klain will be the Ebola czar. Klain will be responsible for coordinating the entire federal government’s response to the Ebola outbreak and will be reporting to to the President’s Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco [...]

Google Now Giving More Political Contributions Than Goldman Sachs

By: Friday October 17, 2014 8:08 am

So much for Don’t Be Evil. Google has now overtaken Goldman Sachs in campaign contributions this year. Google’s PAC, NetPAC, has given $1.43 million to candidates this year compared to Goldman Sachs’ $1.4 million. While the difference may be small, the symbolism could not clearer – Silicon Valley has become a major force in legally bribing [...]

Vice President Biden’s Son Was Discharged From Navy Reserves For Cocaine, Now Is Ukraine Energy Executive

By: Friday October 17, 2014 5:50 am

Hunter Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden, was discharged from the US Navy Reserves for testing positive for cocaine according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Hunter received two waivers to enter the Naval Reserves – one for being older than a typical applicant at 43 and one for a previous [...]

The Roundup for October 16th, 2014

By: Thursday October 16, 2014 2:00 pm

Hey there folks, what are you doing today? International Politics Overall – Despite $5.4 billion raised to help Gaza rebuild, the Palestinian Authority does not expect to get half of it. Rather, it will go to Israel. Middle East – The economic platform of the Palestinian Liberation Organization is somewhat like the African National Congress [...]

Silicon Valley Meritocracy Myth Takes Another Blow As Qualified Minorities Not Hired

By: Thursday October 16, 2014 10:37 am

Silicon Valley’s image to the outside world is that most American of conceits – a meritocracy where people are rewarded for what they know not who they know. The meritocracy myth has taken a series of hits lately as major firms have disclosed that the companies are overwhelmingly owned and operated by white men with [...]

Obama Administration Wants New Fantasy Rebels In Syria

By: Thursday October 16, 2014 7:34 am

The fantasist is a hard creature to tame, if for no other reason than he or she always has somewhere outside of reality to escape to when the facts get harsh. So it is with President Obama’s self-admitted fantasy of having moderate Syrian rebel forces aligned with US interests that can alter the reality on [...]

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