Chris Tryhorn, Guardian Unlimited (UK)
Last night Newsnight broadcast a 17-minute investigation into some of the evidence used for Policy Exchange's report The Hijacking of British Islam, published in October. This was followed by a heated interview between presenter Jeremy Paxman and the thinktank's research director, Dean Godson, a former chief leader writer for the Daily Telegraph. The Newsnight report included forensic analysis of five out of 25 receipts allegedly recording the sale of extremist literature to a number of British mosques. It featured a forensic expert who cast doubt on the integrity of the receipts by highlighting the alleged use of inkjet printing and handwriting similarities between receipts supposedly from different mosques. Earlier today Newsnight's editor, Peter Barron, defended Newsnight's journalism on a BBC blog ... "I had a brief and inconclusive conference call with Policy Exchange and one of the researchers on the day we planned to run the original report [in October]," he wrote. "When we started to investigate the discrepancies, Richard Watson asked to speak to the researchers who gathered the material but was told that wasn't possible." ... Policy Exchange defended its original report strongly in today's statement. "The substance of the report is unaffected by Newsnight's allegations about a small minority of the receipts," and that it had "acted in good faith", voluntarily handing receipts to Newsnight.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Chris Tryhorn, Guardian Unlimited (UK)
Ghania kamraoui, Ech-Chorouk (Algeria)
Sharzef Mouloud the father of Sharef Al Arbi, the real name of the kamikaze who carried out the attack on the constitutional council, staunchly denounced the barbarous act that his son perpetrated on innocent civilians that led to the death of dozens. He said that he couldn’t imagine one day that his son would carry out such heinous deeds, especially that he had benefited from the "Mercy" law initiated by the Algerian authorities in April 2006. in addition to that his son passed the Baccalaureate exams while which enabled him to pursue his studies and graduate from the university. According to his father, Sharef al Arbi was a quite young man he has always avoided to fuss with his brothers and sisters; he helped in feeding the family members through the distribution of medicines here in Algiers. He further added that his son went two times to Saudi Arabia for religious purposes the first time, he accompanied his aunt whereas the second time he went alone. He brought with him stuffs to sell as everybody does here.
Hiba Dawood, UPI
The Saudi-based Al Basaer newspaper [see heading "The Uncovered Lie"] said Thursday it wasn't surprising that President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced an "agreement" that "obliges" the United States to "help" Iraq and provide economic, political and military assistance ... The paper said the oil and gas law and this agreement are the goals and results of the invasion of Iraq, a plan the United States adopted before it imposed sanctions. "According to the agreement, military bases will be set up in Iraq to keep the U.S. domination," it said. The editorial said that taking Iraq out of Israel's "circle" of enemies is another goal that was achieved as a result of accomplishing the oil and gas laws and signing the agreement that allows the United States to keep its bases in Iraq. It said if this was to be translated, it would mean a series of construction and demolition procedures -- demolishing the Iraqi military institutes, and instead build sectarian forces that are unable to secure themselves, which makes them in constant need of the U.S support. "The political parties the occupiers set up and the militias that are supported are all means of achieving the U.S. goals," the paper said. The paper, run by the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, concluded that the matter should have been resolved via a referendum.
Eli Lake, The New York Sun (US: NY)
A Saudi Arabian re-education program that treats terrorists as victims of a misguided ideology and not criminals to be warehoused for life in a cell is winning praise from America's top ambassador for counterterrorism, Dell Dailey ... But according to two American intelligence officials who have reviewed these contracts, the agreement carefully makes no mention of jihad outside of Saudi Arabia. Ambassador Dailey yesterday said, "I can't say specifically if in the program they are allowed to go off and do jihad in other countries." He later said that if he found this to be the case, he would ask the Saudis to reform the program he had praised ... The director of the Gulf and Energy Policy program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Simon Henderson, yesterday said, "The Saudi rehabilitation process is really being judged at the moment by what the Saudis say about it, and I personally look for a more neutral assessment. I remain to be convinced that the Saudi program is the best model for combating jihadists. Saudi Arabia has had a long tradition of exporting its radicals. Think Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia. It has also happened in Iraq. Has the tradition really ended? And has this program cured the problem? I am not yet convinced."
Abeer Mishkhas, Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
In a recent case reported in Arab News, two girls, aged 13 and 11, are said to have been sexually assaulted by their brother. They were taken to hospital where they remained for 11 days without being checked by the doctors to confirm the assault. The story goes on to say that one of the reasons the doctors did not check was because permission was required from either a judge or the legal guardian of the two girls who, in this case, is an alcoholic father. So what happened next? Nothing ... What I really want to know is why every woman in Saudi Arabia need to have a legal guardian? I understand the necessity to have some sort of a guardian for underaged girls and boys, although this right must be subject to some kind of control and certainly should not be absolute. The way things are in the Kingdom, the legal guardian owns his ward; his ward can do nothing without his approval or permission. If we leave childhood and move on to adulthood, the system remains the same. The guardian is able to exercise the same absolute rights and powers and no matter how old or educated the woman is, she has to have a man who is responsible for her. After all, according to Saudi thought, a woman with no guardian is a problem just waiting to happen.
European Parliament (France)
In a resolution on women's rights in Saudi Arabia, Parliament calls for the Saudi government to improve the lot of women in the kingdom, who it says "continue to face many forms of discrimination in private and in public life, are frequently victims of sexual violence and often face enormous obstacles in the criminal justice system" - even though Saudi Arabia has signed up to a range of international human rights conventions. Among the demands made in today's resolution, Parliament "insists that the Saudi Arabian Government take further steps aimed at lifting restrictions on women's rights, including women's free movement, on the driving prohibition, on their employment opportunities, on their legal personality and on their representation in judicial processes, eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in private and public life and promote their participation in the economic, social and political spheres."
Michael Weisskopf, Massimo Calabresi, TIME (US: NY)
The security firm within Giuliani Partners (GP) has provided advice and training in counterterrorism to the government of Qatar, an emirate on the Persian Gulf, though Qatar's Interior Minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani, is a controversial figure whom several former U.S. officials have suspected of protecting major al-Qaeda suspects. The head of GP's security arm, Pat D'Amuro, says the firm is helping protect American service members and private citizens in Qatar. Of al-Thani, he says, "We've never met him; we've never dealt with him. Our contract is not with him. He's not involved at all." Bracewell & Giuliani, a Houston-based legal and lobbying firm he joined as a name partner in 2005, represents Saudi Aramco, the Saudi national oil company. Thus far, Giuliani has refused to divulge a client list or many details of his work for either GP or Bracewell & Giuliani, and he has maintained his ownership stake in both companies as he continues his run for the White House. Ed Rogers, White House political director under the first President Bush, says the Giuliani campaign has to do better at handling his business situation "to keep it from becoming a real issue and something that may drive votes."
David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal (US: NY)
The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox, warned in a speech earlier this month, "For America to address one problem -- the special concerns that arise from government ownership of business -- with another one -- betraying our commitment to open markets -- would only result in more government interference in our own markets." No wonder U.S. officials are pleading with SWFs to subscribe to some sort of code of conduct. The second worry is that the SWFs is that they might not be in it just for the money. "The fundamental question presented by state-owned public companies and sovereign-wealth funds," Mr. Cox said, "does not so much concern the advisability of foreign ownership, but rather of government ownership." (Mr. Cox's concerns extend beyond SWFs. Eight of the 20 largest publicly traded companies in the world are state-controlled, he observed.) ... "The logic of the capitalist system," former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has said, "depends on shareholders causing companies to act so as to maximize the value of their asserts. It is far from obvious that this will over time be the only motivation of governments as shareholders." ... The third worry is klutziness. When really big investors make really big mistakes, the consequences rarely fall only on the investors. The world economy is shuddering from the mistake that very large, sophisticated investors and lenders made in buying securities linked to mortgages.