Archive | November 1st, 2010

WHO’S AFRAID OF SHARIAH?

NOVANEWS

November 1, 2010

 by crescentandcross

Most Popular Content All 

Speaking In Tongues–The Deadly Dialect of the Zionist Language

QuantcastBy Sumbul Ali-Karamali

Author of “The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing”

Hasn’t the whole notion of shariah in America gotten a bit out of control? No, it hasn’t — it’s gotten hugely, obscenely, ignorantly out of control. How many of those anti-Islam protesters holding “NO SHARIA LAW” signs (as if anyone were advocating shariah law in the U.S.) actually know what the word means? I’d say, oh, none. Roughly.

Shariah (also spelled shari’ah or sharia or shari’a) is the Arabic word for “the road to the watering place.” In a religious context, it means “the righteous path.” Loosely, it can mean simply, “Islam.”

There are six principles of shariah. They are derived from the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is the word of God. All Islamic religious rules must be in line with these six principles of shariah.

Aha! The six principles must be about killing infidels, veiling women, stoning people for adultery, honor killings and female genital cutting, right? Nope.

Here they are, the six principles of shariah:

1. The right to the protection of life.
2. The right to the protection of family.
3. The right to the protection of education.
4. The right to the protection of religion.
5. The right to the protection of property (access to resources).
6. The right to the protection of human dignity.

Well, bless me, as a pledge-of-allegiance-reciting, California-raised Muslim girl, these six principles sound a lot like those espoused in my very own Constitution of the United States. Except that these were developed over a thousand years ago.

This is the core of shariah — these six principles. The term “shariah law” is a misnomer, because shariah is not law, but a set of principles. To Muslims, it’s the general term for “the way of God.”

But how do we know what the way of God is? Early Muslims looked to the Qur’an and the words of the Prophet Muhammad to figure this out. They filled books of interpretive writings (called fiqh) about how to act in accordance with the way of God. They rarely agreed — the fiqh is not just one rule, but many differing opinions and contradictory rules and scholarly debates.

Sometimes, shariah also refers to the whole body of Islamic texts, which includes the Qur’an, the sayings of the Prophet, and the books of interpretive literature written by medieval Muslim scholars. The first two are considered divine. The interpretive literature, the fiqh, is not.

The fiqh was meant to develop and change according to the time and place — it has internal methodologies for that to happen. It is not static, but flexible. No religion gets to be 1400 years old and the second largest in the world unless it’s flexible and adaptable.

The Qur’an is old. The fiqh books of jurisprudence are old. To modern eyes, they can look just as outdated as other ancient texts, including the Bible and Torah. That’s why, just like the Bible and the Torah, the Islamic texts must be read in their historical context.

Assuming all Muslims follow medieval Islamic rules today is like assuming that all Catholics follow 9th century canon law. Islam, like Christianity, has changed many times over the centuries, and it continues to change. Focusing only on the nutcases who advocate a return to medieval times is ignoring the vast majority of modern Muslims.

For example, stoning for adultery is a punishment that appears in fiqh, as well as early Judaic law. But it does not appear in the Qur’an. In Islam, therefore, stoning was a result of cultural norms imposed on the religious texts. Moreover, in the fiqh, though the punishment for adultery was stoning, adultery was made such a fantastically difficult crime to prove that the punishment was impossible to apply. Historically, stoning was very rarely implemented in the Islamic world, which is ironic, since today the Saudi and Iranian governments apply it as though they’d never heard of the strict Islamic constraints on it.

The vast majority of Muslims today do not believe in stoning people for adultery, and many are working hard to eradicate it. Stoning is horrific and has no place in our world. The miniscule percentage of Muslims who advocate it are imposing the medieval penalty while ignoring all the myriad limitations meant to make it inapplicable.

As for other scary stories attributed to shari’a, like honor killings, veiling of women, and female genital cutting, these are cultural practices and not Islamic. They are practiced by non-Muslims of certain cultures as well as Muslims.

Shari’a is a set of religious principles and is not the law of the land anywhere in the world. The 50-some Muslim-majority countries are all constitutional states and nearly all of them have civil codes (many of these based on the French system). Being Muslim does not require a governmental imposition of something called “shari’a law,” any more than being a Christian requires the implementation of “Biblical law” (though there are, of course, a tiny minority of both Christians and Muslims who do advocate such things, including Sarah Palin).

As for Islam being a political system, there is nothing in the Qur’an about an “Islamic state,” and the Prophet himself never tried to implement an “Islamic state,” despite hysterical accusations to the contrary. Those under his leadership practiced a variety of religions.

Traditionally, in the Islamic world, the institutions that governed were always separate from the institutions that developed religion. In fact, they often checked and balanced one another. Although no civilization has been free from all conflict, every Islamic empire was a multi-religious, multicultural empire, in which religious minorities were governed by their own laws.

The term “Islam as a religion and a state” really only became popular in the 1920s, as a reaction to Western colonization of the Muslim world. In fact, Islam contains plenty of concepts consistent with modern democracy — for example, shura (consultation) and aqd (a contract between the governed and the governing). In other words, Muslims can be perfectly comfortable in America, following state and federal laws.

The Qur’an contains many verses advocating religious tolerance, too, though the anti-Islam protesters won’t believe it. The Qur’an says that: God could have made everyone into one people, but elected not to (11:118); God made us into different nations and tribes so that we can learn from one another (49:13); there is no compulsion in religion (2:256); and that we should say, “to you your religion, to me mine” (109:6).

The only verses about fighting in the Qur’an refer specifically to the polytheistic Arab tribes who were trying to kill the Prophet in the 7th century. So the Islamophobes who look in the Qur’an for the fighting verses and assume that these verses refer to them personally are simply being narcissistic. Contrary to counting Jews and Christians as “infidels,” the Qur’an repeatedly commands particular respect of Jews and Christians. It is established in Islam that you don’t need to be Muslim to go to heaven.

Repeating a lie over and over again doesn’t make it true; but it certainly results in people believing the lie. That’s what the Islam-haters are counting on. That, and the ignorance about Islamic tenets.

So the best thing to do is find out what Islam really is about. Talk to a Muslim in person. Read an introduction to Islam (try a fun one like mine). Read Loonwatch to read about the holes in the anti-Islamic rhetoric. Or take a look at the University of Georgia’s informational website on Islam, for some quick answers and further reading. If you read the anti-Islam fear-mongering websites, all you’ll learn will be tall tales.

Bigotry may be a human tendency, but America has never stood for bigotry. I believe in an America that stands for pluralism and multicultural understanding. The hysteria and hate toward Muslims – resulting in several acts of violence against Muslims just this week, such as a stabbing and arson – is un-American. We must stop it, and the first step is understanding and education.

Sumbul Ali-Karamali is an attorney with an additional degree in Islamic law, as well as the author of “The Muslim Next Door: the Qur’an, the Media, and that Veil Thing.”

Posted in EducationComments Off on WHO’S AFRAID OF SHARIAH?

WASHPOST: WAR WITH IRAN WOULD RESCUE ECONOMY

NOVANEWS

November 1, 2010

by crescentandcross Quantcast

Washington Post political correspondent David Broder has kind words for President Barack Obama in in his opinion column Sunday, arguing that it isn’t the president’s fault the economy is stuck in reverse.

But the four-decade-plus veteran of Washington politics offers a startling solution to the president’s political and economic woes: March off to war with Iran.

The president, who is “much smarter” and “more inspirational” than any of his opponents, could benefit from a confrontation with Iran because it would strike up a war machine that would pull the US out of economic stagnation, Broder argues.

He writes that there are “essentially” two ways that an economy can be grown: Through the natural economic cycle, and through war.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Story continues below…


Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

“I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected,” Broder qualifies. “But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century.”

Broder’s column has come in for almost instant criticism from economic and political policy experts. In a blog entry entitled “Has David Broder Lost His Mind?,” Foreign Policy managing editor Blake Hounshell writes that Broder’s proposal is “crazy for a number of reasons.”

One is that markets don’t like tensions, and certainly not the kind that jack up oil prices. Second, World War II brought the United States out of the Great Depression because it was a massive economic stimulus program that mobilized entire sectors of society. Today’s American military has all the tools it needs to fight Iran, and there isn’t going to be any sort of buildup. Hasn’t Broder been reading his own newspaper? The Pentagon is looking to find billions in cuts as it confronts the coming world of budget austerity.

Writing at the same magazine, Marc Lynch argues that Broder’s column is “an interesting study in how really dumb ideas bounce around Washington DC,” and asserts that the Obama administration finds such an idea “ridiculous.”

[I]t’s not an idea which seems to have any support at all in the Obama White House. … [T]he Obama team can see perfectly clearly that the American people have no appetite for a third major war in the Middle East and that launching a war with massive strategic consequences for short-term political gain would be epically irresponsible. … Even if they were primarily interested in their electoral fortunes in designing Iran policy, they would quickly see that such [a strategy] would wipe out their support on the left and gain absolutely zero votes on the right.

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research argues that Broder’s idea for government-driven stimulus isn’t wrong, but it doesn’t need to be military in nature.

“If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids. Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit),” Baker writes.

But the harshest criticism comes from Matt Duss at ThinkProgress.

“Especially in light of what has just occurred in Iraq, what kind of moral degenerate seriously suggests we get ready to do it again in neighboring Iran, just as a way to spur job growth?” he asks. “The kind who writes a regular column in the Washington Post, apparently.”

Read Broder’s full column here.

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THE CHOSEN PEOPLE?

NOVANEWS

Were “the chosen people” picked for their virtues or vices?

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YEMEN BOMB PLOT IS A CIA SET UP

NOVANEWS

Hanan al Samawi, woman busted in Yemen for role in cargo plane bomb plot, was ‘set up’: lawyer

October 31, 2010

by crescentandcross Quantcast

By Michael Sheridan

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

October 31st 2010,

 
AP

Yemeni female students protest the arrest of female computer engineering student Hanan al-Samawi, 22, a student of the University of San’a, at the gate of the campus of the university.

Photo shows parts of alleged bomb sent to Chicago synagogues.
Dubai Police

Photo shows parts of alleged bomb sent to Chicago synagogues.

A woman busted in Yemen for sending explosives through the mail targeting Chicago synagogues was set up, her lawyer said on Sunday.

According to NBC News, Hanan al Samawi‘s lawyer claims she was nabbed by authorities because her telephone number was on the packages loaded with explosives.

However, the attorney argues that the fifth-year computer science student was not involved and the phone number was intentionally left to make her a suspect.

Terror groups such as Al Qaeda would not leave such a direct trace to one of their operatives, he argued.

The 22-year-old’s mother was also taken into custody, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways confirmed that at least one of the two packages flew on one of the airline’s passenger planes.

“Qatar Airways can confirm that a recent courier consignment was carried aboard one of its aircraft from Sana’a to Dubai via Doha International Airport,” reads a statement on the airline’s website.

According to The Associated Press, the package was then shipped on a separate Qatar Airways plane to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where it was discovered by authorities late Thursday or early Friday.

A second, similar package turned up in England on Friday.

The packages were headed for two Chicago synagogues, although British officials said they believe one of the bombs was meant to blow up a plane.

“I can confirm that the device was viable and could have exploded,” England’s Home Secretary Theresa May said on Saturday. “The target may have been an aircraft and had it it detonated, the aircraft could have been brought down.”

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BBC NEWS LIES

 

NOVANEWS

Tell ABC News: Don’t give Andrew Breitbart a platform to spread his lies.

Breitbart is a known liar and serial race-baiter.

Take action!

Clicking here will add your name to this petition:

Don’t give Andrew Breitbart a platform to spread his lies.

It’s appalling that ABC News’ election night coverage will include notorious propagandist and serial race-baiter Andrew Breitbart, who only months ago was publicly disgraced for falsely smearing Shirley Sherrod.

There are plenty of other conservatives who ABC News could turn to for analysis or commentary. By inviting someone like Breitbart to participate, ABC News is not only calling its own credibility into question, it is also serving to rehabilitate the credibility of Andrew Breitbart and legitimate more of his race-baiting lies.

I respectfully request that you rescind your offer inviting Andrew Breitbart to participate in your Election Day coverage.

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So it’s appalling that ABC News’ election night coverage on Tuesday will include notorious propagandist and serial race-baiter Andrew Breitbart, who only months ago was publicly disgraced for falsely smearing Shirley Sherrod.

We cannot let this go unchallenged. That is why CREDO is joining with our friends at Color of Change to put a stop to this and tell ABC to rescind its invitation to Breitbart.

There are plenty of other conservatives who ABC News could turn to for analysis or commentary. By inviting someone like Breitbart to participate, ABC News is not only calling its own credibility into question, it is also serving to rehabilitate the credibility of Andrew Breitbart and legitimate more of his race-baiting lies.

Tell ABC News: Don’t give Andrew Breitbart a platform to spread his lies. Click here to automatically add your name to the petition.

The saga that led to Breitbart’s very public identification as a liar who intentionally stokes racial animosity began when Breitbart released a heavily edited video of Sherrod, then an official with the USDA, which Breitbart claimed was “video evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP award recipient.”

In the hit piece Breitbart released, Sherrod (who is black) appears to be saying that she withheld aide to a white farmer because of his race. Breitbart’s stated purpose for releasing the video was to defend the Tea Party from charges of racism leveled by the NAACP, and to further claim that the video showed that the NAACP, Democrats and the Obama administration were comfortable with black people discriminating against whites.

The only problem was that Breitbart lied about what Sherrod actually said.

The full video of her remarks clearly demonstrated that Sherrod not only aided the farmer, but was using the story to illustrate how viewing the situation through the narrow lens of race was the wrong thing to do.

As Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” That’s what happened here.

After Breitbart’s post, the story gained steam as news organizations breathlessly hyped Breitbart’s video before verifying the basic story.

In the time it took for the truth to get out about the anti-racist message Sherrod very clearly both said and intended to communicate, Sherrod was publicly vilified and was fired from her job.

Multiple news organizations apologized on air and in print for the egregiously bad way they handled the over-hyped Sherrod incident-all of which was based on Breitbart’s horribly irresponsible video and the absolutely misleading ways he characterized it.

It is infuriating and absurd that a news organization, just a few months later, would give Breitbart another chance to spread his deceit.

Tell ABC News: Don’t give Andrew Breitbart a platform to spread his lies. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

One of the most disturbing implications of Breitbart’s participation is that it was his site that was the launching pad of the mendacious videos that ultimately led to the collapse of ACORN, an organization that helped register and turnout voters in poor communities and communities of color.

In the last couple of weeks, we have already seen Republicans and their conservative allies preemptively level wild-eyed accusations of voter fraud (much of which is laden with racial overtones). This not only serves to incite the intimidation and harassment of legitimate voters in communities of color by those who believe the voter fraud conspiracy theories, it also sets the stage for claims that Democrats “stole the election” if and when Republican candidates don’t win.

ABC News has a positive duty to spread true information and fight the spreading of lies. And that’s doubly true when the lies underscore the deeply harmful notion that people of color are somehow scheming on a massive scale to subvert our democracy.

Yet by including the likes of Andrew Breitbart, ABC News is failing this public duty in huge way.

By including Breitbart, ABC News is providing him the means to reach people he would otherwise not reach with a deceitful message that will seem much more trustworthy than Breitbart deserves.

Tell ABC News: Don’t give Andrew Breitbart a platform to spread his lies. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Thank you for working for a better world.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

P.S ABC has started to backpedal in the face of growing criticism. On Friday, David Ford of ABC News confirmed to Media Matters that Breitbart “will be one of many voices on our air” on election night. But yesterday, the network started to distance itself from Breitbart. Andrew Morse, executive producer for ABC News Digital, issued a clearly defensive statement explaining that “Mr. Breitbart will not be a part of the ABC News broadcast coverage” and that his contribution will only be aired online at ABCNews.com and Facebook.

ABC is clearly wavering. We need to put the pressure on so that they drop Breitbart entirely.

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WITNESS TO ZIO=NAZI WAR CRIMES

Posted in Middle East1 Comment

IN MEMORY OF MOHAMMAD AL- DURRAH

NOVANEWS
October 30, 2010

by crescentandcross

 
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Ten years ago today a Palestinian child, aged 12 was killed by Israeli sniper fire. Literally adding insult to injury, the zionists claimed that this incident was ‘staged’ by the Palestinians as a publicity stunt. One often wonders how low the zionist can sink, this was truly one of the lowest levels ever.

Mohamed al-Durrah would have been 22 years old now, perhaps entering his second or third year at university or preparing for marriage, but he was murdered at 12…

Mohamed is not the only one…. From the start of the second Intifada in September 2000 until the end of this September, Israel has killed 1859 – one thousand eight hundred fifty nine – children   under the age of 18.
Mohamed al-Durrah: In Memoriam

By Agustin Velloso

September 30th, 2010 was the tenth anniversary of Muhammad al-Durrah’s killing by an Israeli army sniper

There have been thousands of Palestinian victims at the hands of Zionists like this little boy, martyred at the age of 12, some younger (even in their mothers’ wombs), some older (even while in bed), and all of them deserve to be remembered.

However, Muhammad al-Durrah’s murder took place on the second day of the 2nd Intifada and can be seen, during these days of yes/no peace talks and no more Intifadas, as the crux of the Palestinian plight ten years later.

No matter how many peace talks are held, no matter what the international community “contribution” is, or what the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah says and promises, Zionism keeps on killing, maiming, stealing… in short, practicing slow motion genocide in Gaza and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank.

How many more Muhammad al-Durrahs will face his fate in the next ten years?
From the start of the second Intifada in September 2000 until the end of this September, Israel has killed 1859 – one thousand eight hundred fifty nine – children   under the age of 18.

Even if they number in the thousands more in the future, they will only be missed by their families and friends.

The rest of the world, if the news manages to reach them, will only know what the wikipedias and other Imperialist/pro-Zionist media tell them:

What they are calling the “Muhammad al-Durrah’s incident”, i.e., “being caught in a crossfire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces”, excuses the IDF: “An IDF investigation in October 2000 concluded the IDF had probably not shot the al-Durrahs”, or better yet: “the scene had been staged by Palestinian protesters”, not to mention that “for the Israeli and Jewish communities the Palestinian allegations were a modern day blood libel, the ancient anti-Semitic association of Jews with child sacrifice”.

Thanks to U.S. friendship, Israel continues to pour salt on the wound.

Let us hope that resistance turns the tables before this continues another ten years.

Posted in EducationComments Off on IN MEMORY OF MOHAMMAD AL- DURRAH

REPUBLICANS URGE OBAMA TO PREVENT PALESTINIAN STSTE RECOGNITION

NOVANEWS

October 30, 2010

 

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As Congressional midterm elections approach, Republican representatives call on US president not to reward ‘Palestinian behavior,’ warn UN resolution on Palestinian state would hurt peace efforts

WASHINGTON – Republican members of the House of Representatives have written a letter to US President Barack Obama in which they urge him to veto any attempt to pass a Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, which they said would predetermine the results of peace negotiations.

A UN resolution would cause serious damage to peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, they said. 

The Republican representatives are blaming the president of causing the Palestinians to threaten to turn to the UN by publicly demanding Israel to halt settlement construction.

The letter was sent following recent reports on a Palestinian plan to turn to the UN for a vote on the establishment of a Palestinian state should direct talks reach a dead end.

It is estimated that the republicans will win a majority in the House of Representatives Tuesday at the Congressional midterm elections.

The letter noted that Israel’s decision to halt West Bank settlement construction for 10 months was not only a gesture of goodwill meant to encourage the Palestinians to resume negotiations, but was extremely unpopular with many in Israel.

It was stated that the Palestinians never conditioned direct talks with a freeze of settlement construction.

The republicans said that a UN resolution regarding a Palestinian state would have a devastating effect on peace prospects. By turning to the UN the Palestinians are trying to avoid meeting their commitments and advancing negotiations with Israel, they said. “The US must not reward such behavior,” the letter noted.

They also called Obama to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand from the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

source–ynet.com

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ZIO=NAZI EXTREMIST SETTLERS BURN JERUSALEM CHURCH

NOVANEWS
October 30, 2010

by crescentandcros Quantcast

Jerusalem – PNN – Extremist settlers burned a church on Prophets Street in Jerusalem on Friday.

 Zachariah al-Mashriqi , one of the leaders of the church, condemned the crime and said it was intended to destabilize relations between the religious groups. He said the attack should be seen in the context of others by extremist settlers as a way of baiting Palestinians.

The church was built in 1897 and housed the Palestinian Bible College until 1948, when most parishioners fled the old city during the Nakba.

Al-Mashriqi explained that the information he received indicated that extremist settlers broke several back windows and threw Molotov cocktails into the first floor of the church. He appealed to the political sector and the public to act quickly to protect the city’s sacred sites and called on all priests and holy men to pressure the Israeli government to pursue justice.

Al-Mashriqi also stressed the need for an international authority in Jerusalem to protect the holy sites and the Palestinian population from violence and promote interfaith dialogue.

Source: Wafa (Palestinian News and Information Agency)

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on ZIO=NAZI EXTREMIST SETTLERS BURN JERUSALEM CHURCH

A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS


Serco and G4S can’t believe their luck in a brave new world

01 Nov 2010

Britain’s future is a privatised world of guards managing and monitoring “undesirables”. Australia and much of the world is following suit. Company G4S may have lost a contract to remove asylum seekers from Britain but its employees will inevitably be working elsewhere soon, possibly doing this to people:

A Zimbabwean asylum seeker whose deportation from Britain was halted after his wrist was broken while he was being restrained by security guards is to be flown back to Africa tomorrow on a British Airways plane.

Khu Mlotshwa, 31, claims he was assaulted by security guards in June when the UK Border Agency first attempted to deport him from Britain.

During the struggle on the Virgin Airways flight, Mr Mlotshwa, who was handcuffed and wearing leg locks, alleges he was punched and kicked by guards and had his wrist twisted back.

A Home Office investigation has now exonerated the two G4S security officers – even though one of the guards can be heard on CCTV saying that Mr Mlotshwa “put up a good fight”.

Earlier this month Jimmy Mubenga, 46, an asylum seeker from Angola, died when he was being deported by G4S guards from the UK. That death is being investigated by Scotland Yard, who have arrested three G4S guards.

Mr Mlotshwa now says he is terrified of being forcibly removed from the UK again. “It was a terrible and frightening experience which I fear will be repeated tomorrow,” he told The Independent. “These escorts are evil, they are really evil. They do these things to you and then the whole thing is covered up so that they get away with it.”

Meanwhile, another multinational making money from the imprisonment of people, Serco, is forced to take stock (via the Financial Times):

Serco has withdrawn a demand for a 2.5 cent “cash rebate” from its leading suppliers and apologised unreservedly to them after the government ordered it to explain its actions.

The outsourcing company, which runs prisons, nuclear facilities, schools and ports for the government, had written to its 193 largest suppliers demanding that they make the payments or risk losing future contracts, in an effort to meet the coalition’s request for multimillion-pound savings on procurement contracts.

But the decision angered Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of the government’s efficiency drive, who wrote to Serco seeking an explanation of the action.

Mr Maude believed he had received an undertaking from Chris Hyman, Serco’s chief executive, that the savings it would put forward would not come from suppliers’ payments. The government wants smaller companies to get a bigger share of government business.

Serco said on Monday that it had now told the Cabinet Office that its most recent offer of savings to the government would not result in any of the cost saving programme being passed on to suppliers.

The company said in a statement that it had a continuing procurement process with its supply chain partners, which has been underway for more than five years.

“More recently we have also been working with the Cabinet Office as part of their efficiency programme, which has involved discussions with our leading suppliers. As a result our plans evolved and we decided not to seek or accept any contributions from our suppliers, who had recently received letters asking for rebates.

“As a company that values our relationships with all our supply chain partners, large and small, we deeply regret this action and apologise unreservedly to them for the concern that this has caused. We are now communicating this to our supply chain partners and retracting the letters.”

Mr Maude has been pressing the government’s biggest contractors to accept lower margins to help reduce the budget deficit, but to date only a handful have signed agreements to renew existing contracts. Serco has yet to finalise a deal.

A letter was leaked to the Sunday Telegraph, which quoted one supplier who received the demand as saying it was “brutal” and “absolutely appalling”.

In the letter, Andrew Jenner, Serco’s finance director, said the “cash contribution” was required to meet the Cabinet Office’s demands to cut Whitehall expenditure. He said Mr Hyman had given a “personal commitment” to the Cabinet Office that Serco and its supply chain would provide “total support” to the plan to save £800m from central government procurement this year.

The letter said: “I am asking you to offer us a rebate of 2.5 per cent [exclusive of VAT] on Serco’s full-year spend with you for the 2010 calendar year in the form of a credit note. Like the government, we are looking to determine who our real partners are that we can rely upon. Your response will no doubt indicate your commitment to our partnership but will also be something I will seriously consider in our working relationship as Serco continues to grow.”

 

Has the Left not explained why capitalism isn’t working well?

01 Nov 2010

Peter Beinart writes in the Daily Beast that the DC Rally for Sanity was a failure, and the Left just doesn’t understand why:

In his closing monologue, [John] Stewart did acknowledge that Americans have legitimate fears, but the thrust of the event was that Americans would soothe their rattled nerves if only the media and politicians stopped whipping them up. I don’t think that’s true. In the last year or so, the right has found a way of acknowledging Americans’ terror about economic decline. The left has not, and last weekend, Stewart barely tried.

In America today, as at past moments in our history, there’s a profound debate underway not just about how to right our economy but about the relationship between capitalism and freedom. Pretending it’s not a real debate is a great way for the left to lose.

Maybe it’s not fair to blame Jon Stewart for all this. He’s a comedian, after all. But he’s the left’s closest equivalent to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. And while they’re busy struggling to recreate the America of William McKinley, he’s acting as if our biggest problem is that people shout at each other on the tube. For a guy as talented as Stewart, that’s insane.

 

Rupert funds things that should raise an eyebrow

01 Nov 2010

The Murdoch press lacking transparency? Hold the front page:

The Fox Business Network focused on what it called “The War on Business” all last week, but on Tuesday its coverage was decidedly more focused — with a series of reports about a California ballot initiative that its parent company, the News Corporation, had spent $1.3 million to defeat.

Call it the War on Proposition 24.

The News Corporation is one of the many major media companies that have spent more than $1 million each seeking to defeat the proposition, which supporters say would repeal $1.7 billion in corporate tax breaks to help close the state’s budget gap.

Executives at media companies, which employ tens of thousands in the entertainment industry, say defeating the proposition is one of their biggest priorities in the midterm elections, and they question how they would continue to operate in the state if taxes go up.

In five consecutive hours of live reports on Tuesday, a Fox Business correspondent, Adam Shapiro, was stationed at Cambridge of California, a small furniture manufacturing facility in Gardena. Mr. Shapiro repeatedly said the proposition could drive businesses — specifically small businesses, not media titans — out of California, and he said “332,000 jobs” were “on the line.”

Tracy Byrnes, the anchor for one of the reports, expressed the opinion that “the proposition was setting up businesses to be destroyed, quite frankly.”

Yet in its expanded coverage of the issue, Fox did not disclose the News Corporation’s donation to a group working to defeat Proposition 24. Nor did Fox report that the small-business man it featured in the news reports was asked to do the interview by the same group, No on 24 — Stop the Jobs Tax.

A Fox Business executive said he had not known about the parent company’s donation. Industry observers, however, said the News Corporation’s contribution to the group, and the organization’s role in arranging the interview, raised a potential conflict of interest that warranted disclosure.

“There’s a trust between you and your audience, no matter what the medium is,” said Kevin Z. Smith, who holds the ethics chair for the Society of Professional Journalists and is a past president of that organization. “Not disclosing conflicts, to me, severely undermines your credibility.”

 

Aussie Jews are desperate to become the best Zionists in the world

31 Oct 2010

Australian Jews are overall regarded as being the Diaspora group most closely associated with Israel.

Discuss.

 

Paper trail of Serco’s detention centre millions raises accountability questions

31 Oct 2010

My following article, with journalist Paul Farrell, appears in today’s Crikey:

The recent suicide at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney again confirmed that the situation in Australia’s immigration detention centres has become critical. But what has remained largely unquestioned is the role of Serco, the British multinational that holds the $367 million contract to run detention facilities across the country (alongside a few prisons and a just won contract for a hospital in Western Australia).

The company said it was “preparing a report” on the suicide for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship just after the event and most journalists left it at that. But Crikey has taken a closer look at the extent that Serco outsources to other companies.

The paper trail shows how the tender process allows private companies to further outsource, limiting the abilities of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to scrutinise the fulfilment of their contracts.

 

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship says Serco employs two major subcontractors: MSS Security and Resolve FM.

Resolve FM is owned by the Norfolk Group and is a “facilities management” organisation that provides services across a wide range of areas.

The Norfolk Group was established in 2004, when it was bought from Tyco International by Hauraki Private Equity No.2, managed by the private equity firm JBWere (NZ). JBWere has given almost $1 million in donations to both the Liberal and Labor parties since 2000.

JBWere is also a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, which according to ASIX is the majority shareholder of the Norfolk group.

MSS Security provides security services in several detention centres and their guards have been involved in several notable incidents, including an officer allegedly caught in bed with an asylum seeker. Furthermore, foreign workers are working for MSS to guard asylum seekers and illegal fisherman at the Darwin detention centre. The Northern Territory News reported in early October that “the asylum seekers and illegal fishermen under detention in Darwin are being guarded by foreign students and “guest” workers”:

“A company payslip obtained by the NT News reveals MSS security pays its foreign staff $16 an hour plus penalties. One employee worked 66 hours during a 14-day period and took home $1554.00 after tax.”

MSS Security is actually owned by an Indian multinational security company, Security Intelligence Services (SIS) India Ltd, which also owns Chubb Security Personnel. It is one of the biggest security providers in India.

The paper trail doesn’t stop there. In January 2008 the global private equity fund DE Shaw bought a 14% stake in SIS. While this name may mean very little, the company that bought a 20% stake in DE Shaw in 2007 is more infamous; they trade by the name Lehmann Brothers.

This is the very same Lehmann Brothers that filed for bankruptcy in the US.

Mainstream media coverage, if it happens, rarely questions the ideological underpinnings of privatising asylum seekers, merely the effectiveness or otherwise of the services for them. At least some in Britain are questioning the morality and effectiveness of outsourcing the management of vulnerable people to unaccountable multinationals.

When Crikey requested the names of the subcontractors that Serco employs, a DIAC spokesperson said that not all the names of subcontractors were available. Serco employs more subcontractors, but they’re not reported to DIAC due to the size or duration of the contracts.

When asked about the specific guidelines for when a contractor had to be reported to the immigration department, a spokesperson said:

“The detention services provider has met its obligations to the department regarding the reporting of subcontractors. It would be inappropriate for the department to discuss in further detail the names of each individual contractor engaged, as it is a matter for that company … if it is a major subcontract (that being, total value greater than $1 million), IHMS (Serco) must seek prior written approval from the department … if it is a minor subcontract, IHMS (Serco) does not need to seek prior written approval from the department.  IHMS (Serco) must provide a copy of the subcontract to the department within 10 business days from the department’s request.”

*Paul Farrell is a Sydney-based freelance journalist. Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and author.

 

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