"A well-respected military analyst and author, Ralph Peters, is sure that Eurabia is a myth. I don’t know if he’s right but take a look at 'The Eurabia Myth'..."
-- from a reader
"Well-respected" by whom, and for what? One cannot simply attach an epithet, and expect others to salaam-salaam. Peters is sometimes sensible, sometimes wild, even ludicrously so. He has had a hard time of it with Islam, makes all kinds of pronouncements. I think he has been delicately dismembered by Andrew Bostom, but possibly also at this website. He says one thing, and then another thing, and they don't always make sense. For a long time he was a great supporter of the idiocy in Iraq. He still can't quite understand what the Americans should want to be the outcome -- clearly, a weakening of the Camp of Islam -- and still can't figure out, insists upon overlooking, the obvious way to achieve this, by exploiting (that is, by doing nothing to prevent) the sectarian and ethnic fissures that Iraq presents us with on a platter.
Hugh, I’m surprised at your rebuking of my description of Ralph Peters as “well respected”. “By whom and for what?”, you insultingly ask. --from the same reader
When I parried your adjective -- that epithet "well-respected" that you simply placed, without more, in front of the name "Ralph Peters" -- with those interrogatives "by whom?" and "for what?" I was indeed taking issue with the whole notion, as currently offered, of "authority." I have known professors of English who were incapable of writing a simple English sentence and knew very little of the corpus of English literature. I have seen professors of French who cannot speak French, and whose notion of what constitutes "French literature" bears no relation to what a well-educated French person would offer. And so on, all through much of academic life.
And I have seen, on the nightly news, all kinds of on-retainer "experts" on this or that, some of whom are the most oleaginous apologists (see Fawaz Gerges), or portentous summarizers of the absolutely obvious (see Anthony Cordesman), or military analysts who for some reason are called upon as "experts" on a place called "Iraq" (see O'Hanlon), not to mention kristols and kagans by the dozen.
I don't like to be told, by the press, or by anyone, that so-and-so is "well-respected." Is Jimmy Carter "well-respected" as an "international humanitarian"? Well, he thinks he is, and no doubt there are others who agree with him. Is Desmond Tutu, another of the self-described "Elders" who has gone to Darfur with Carter, a "great man"? He thinks he is. There are so many of these people. Is this or that magnate, who gives away a teeny-tiny bit of his fortune, to be hailed for his "generosity"?
And what about all those "experts on Islam"? Do you doubt that before the name "John Esposito" some will put the adjective "well-respected"? Or "the respected scholar of Islam, Noah Feldman, author of 'After Jihad'." You tell me if you think the adjectives there are misplaced. And you tell me if you think the telling of an audience that so-and-so is great, respected, or connected to a "prestigious university" (which prestige, like fairy dust, supposedly rubs off on all those who manage to teach at it, whether they are professors of elementary particle physics, or professors of hip-hop studies -- the latter, incidentally, being the new hire announced by the new President of Harvard, undoing, deplorably, what the deplorable -- in other ways -- Summers at least managed, during his brief tenure, to prevent).
Peters has a shtick. It is the "Military Man As Intellectual." Reporters interviewing him are inevitably treated to a view of all those German and Russian books in his library, and then they dutifully report this, being duly impressed, They fail to realize, as does their audience, that such being impressed merely demonstrates an unwitting condescension toward members of the military, as if it is quite amazing, worth reporting, that someone who was a career officer in the army could have such books, and presumably read them, in that German, in that Russian. What condescension toward the American military. I'm not having it.
Peter's' comments on Islam and Iraq have been a farrago of confusion. Here, I'll do just what you asked: I'll post below the thing he wrote, in 2006, pooh-poohing all those fearful cassandras, from Bat Ye'or on, whose numbers include Bernard Lewis, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Pavel Kohout, and Philippe de Villiers, and Ibn Warraq, and the late Oriana Fallaci, and a great many others who, "well-respected" or not, know a good deal more about Europe, and about Islam, and about Islam in Europe, than Ralph Peters, the sudden scholar of Islam and Eurabia.
I won't bother to criticize the article of his upon which you request comment. I find it best, in cases of obvious idiocy, to let the thing stand without comment. It's a technique used by the Austrian writer Karl Kraus, in his one-man (from 1911 to 1936) journal, "Die Fackel." Sometimes, No Comment Necessary is the best comment. But I'll put up what a writer in Belgium, Paul Belien, wrote in response to that crazed piece by Peters.
So look at Peters' article-- and indeed, let everyone have a look, at what Ralph Peters wrote -- he's the dismissive one, he's the complacent one one -- about all those who are alarmed, and with reason, with the demographic conquest of Western Europe by the forces of Islam. Just look, and see what you think, what in that article gives good grounds for that complacency and that dismissiveness, instead of the foreboding and alarm everyone of sense should by now be feeling.
'Dies Gloriae', XXI: From The Inventor Of The Question Mark To The Father Of English History Who Taught Us How To Number The Years
"Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei,
quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit."
(“And do not listen to those who keep saying, 'The voice of the people is the voice of God,'
because the tumult of the crowd is always close to madness.”) Alcuin of York.
There really isn’t much to say about this week’s crop of saints and holy men because their lives are pretty much self-explanatory. Some few of them are very much a part of our culture whilst some of the others were brave in the face of the enemy – the devil-inspired Mohammedans. The remainder were simply good men – and, heaven knows, there have always been few enough of them.
Those who were, and are, part of our culture demonstrate exactly why I am writing this series. You may be a believer, an agnostic or an atheist, but the one thing that you have to acknowledge, no matter what your position may be, is that the saints helped to make our world. They, just like the Christianity that they believed in, were instrumental in pushing us along the path of history that has inexorably led us to the free societies that we live in today, and some of them made contributions to the way that we thought and lived that influence us profoundly as we go about our daily round.
Those who fought, often hand to hand, to expel the Mohammedan mad dogs from Europe, and, unsuccessfully, from all the other lands that they have occupied illegally, deserve our endless thanks. Had it not been for them then we would be living in an unbelievably dark and horrendous world dominated by the satanic belief system of Mohammedanism – a system that places evil, and the worship of evil, at its very centre, and a system that is devoid of all the virtues and that doesn’t know the love of G-d.
In what follows you will find soldiers who fought bravely to free their lands, and priests who laid down their lives in their attempts to bring the pagan Mohammedan hordes to G-d. Tens of thousands of others who did the same things are unknown to us, so let those we do know about stand for all.
The first saint for the week – for the nineteenth of May – is the Blessed Alcuin of York, who sometimes gets called Albinus, Alrinus, Flaccus, or even Ealhwine. He was born circa AD730, probably at York, or somewhere near York (perhaps even in Northumbria), in England. We know next to nothing about his childhood and our records of him start when he went to School at York, to the school that had been founded by Saint Paulinus in AD627 and that operated out of the Cathedral, and that we know today as Saint Peter's School. He studied under Bishop Ecgbert and Saint Colgan during a very peaceful time when York was part of the territory of King Eadberht of Northumbria.
Bishop Ecgberht had been a disciple of The Venerable Bede, whom I’ve mentioned often in this series, and he had a great respect for learning and the ways of peace and Alcuin thrived there. It was at York that he developed his love of poetry of the Classical era. The York school was renowned as a centre of learning in the liberal arts, literature, and science, as well as in religious matters. He revived the school with the trivium and quadrivium disciplines, writing a codex on the trivium, while his student Hraban wrote one on the quadrivium. Eventually Alcuin became the headmaster of the school and a much-respected figure for his learning as well as his religious observance – he became a deacon of the Cathedral sometime around AD767.
The vast York Minster - the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York - as it is today.
The present Cathedral was built on this ancient site of Christianity about AD1080.
In AD781 King Ælfwald I of Northumbria sent Alcuin to Rome bearing a petition to the Pope asking for the elevation of the Metropolitan Diocese of York to an Archdiocese and also asking for the recognition of the election of the new Archbishop, Eanbald I. This proved to be a turning point in Alcuin’s life for he met the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne at the small Italian city of Parma. He was persuaded to join Charlemagne’s court as a member of a group of scholars that the Emperor had gathered around himself and that he used as expert advisors. These scholars were the driving force behind the Carolingian Renaissance and such luminaries as Peter of Pisa, Paulinus of Aquileia, Rado and Abbot Fulrad were counted amongst their number.
He was welcomed to the Palace School of Charlemagne in Aachen (Urbs Regale) in AD782. It had been founded by the Emperor's ancestors as a place for the education of the royal children (mostly in manners and the ways of the court). However, Charlemagne wanted to include the liberal arts and, most importantly, the study of the religion that meant so much to him, and to Alcuin, and from which he derived some of his authority as Emperor.
All that’s left of the Palace at Aachen that now serves as the Town Hall.
Alcuin obliged and from AD782 to AD790, he taught Charlemagne himself, his sons Pepin and Louis, the young men sent to be educated at court and the young clerics attached to the palace chapel. He brought from York his assistants Pyttel, Sigewulf and Joseph, and he revolutionised the educational standards of the Palace School, introduced the liberal arts that the Emperor wanted, and he created his own personalised atmosphere of scholarship and learning, to such an extent that the institution came to be known as the 'School of Master Albinus'.
In AD790 Alcuin went back to York. He stayed there for some time, but Charlemagne then invited him back to help in the fight against the Adoptionist heresy, which is too complicated to go into here. At the Council of Frankfurt in AD794, Alcuin upheld the orthodox doctrine and obtained the condemnation of the heresiarch Felix of Urgel. It seems also that he disapproved of the conduct of King Æthelred and so he never went home again.
He was back at Charlemagne's court by at least the middle of AD792, and he wrote a series of letters to Æthelred, to Hygbald, the Bishop of Lindisfarne, and to Æthelhard, the Archbishop of Canterbury, that dealt with the Viking attack on Lindisfarne in the July of AD793. These letters and Alcuin's poem on the subject, ‘De clade Lindisfarnensis monasterii’, provide the only significant contemporary account of these events. In his description of the Viking attack, he wrote: "Never before has such terror appeared in Britain. Behold the church of Saint Cuthbert, splattered with the blood of God's priests, robbed of its ornaments."
In AD796 Alcuin was in his sixties. He hoped to be free from court duties and he was given the chance, upon the death of Abbot Itherius, when Charlemagne put Marmoutier Abbey at Tours into Alcuin's care - with the understanding that he should be available if the Emperor ever needed his counsel.
Alcuin died at Tours on the nineteenth of May in AD804, some ten years before the Emperor, and he was buried at Saint Martin's Church in Marmoutier Abbey at Tours under an epitaph that partly read:
Dust, worms, and ashes now...
Alcuin my name, wisdom I always loved,
Pray, reader, for my soul.
Alcuin, needless to say, made the Abbey school into a model of excellence and many students flocked to it. He had many manuscripts copied using outstandingly beautiful calligraphy, usually the Carolingian minuscule based on round and legible uncial letters. Had it not been for the scribes at Marmoutier under Alcuin's close supervision much of the writings of Classical Rome, and earlier, would not have come down to us. Also, he and his scribes invented the cursive script – joined up writing – which made writing less time consuming.
He wrote many letters to his English friends as well as to people such as Arno, the Bishop of Salzburg, but above all he wrote to Charlemagne. These letters, of which three hundred-and-eleven have survived, are filled mainly with pious meditations, but they form an important source of information as to the literary and social conditions of the time. Alcuin was the most prominent figure of the Carolingian Renaissance, and he also developed manuals used in his educational work including a grammar and works on rhetoric and dialectics. These are written in the form of dialogues, and in two of them the interlocutors are Charlemagne and Alcuin himself. He wrote several theological treatises: a De fide Trinitatis, commentaries on the Bible and much else besides. He is renowned for having invented the first known question mark, although it didn't look much like the symbol that we use today.
Alcuin transmitted to the Franks the knowledge of Latin culture which had existed in Anglo-Saxon England. A number of his works still exist. His letters and his poetry are equally interesting. Besides some graceful epistles in the style of Venantius Fortunatus, he wrote some long poems, and notably he is the author of a history (in verse) of the church at York, ‘Versus de patribus, regibus et sanctis Eboracensis ecclesiae’.
The collection of mathematical and logical word problems entitled ‘Propositiones ad acuendos juvenes’ (‘Problems to Sharpen Youths’) is attributed to Alcuin. In a letter to Charlemagne in AD799 Alcuin said that he had sent "certain figures of arithmetic for the joy of cleverness," which some scholars have identified with the ‘Propositiones’. The text contains about fifty-three mathematical word problems, with solutions, in no particular pedagogical order. Among the most famous of these problems are: four that involve river crossings, including the problem of three anxious brothers, each of whom has an unmarried sister whom he cannot leave alone with either of the other men lest she be defiled (Problem 17); the problem of the wolf, goat, and cabbage (Problem 18); and the problem of "the two adults and two children where the children weigh half as much as the adults" (Problem 19). Alcuin's sequence, a mathematical discovery, is the solution to one of the problems of that book.
All in all, Alcuin was an all-round scholar who progressed the culture of his times and influenced an Emperor to kinder ways – he persuaded Charlemagne to get rid of the death penalty for paganism by force of reason - Alcuins argument was that Faith is a free act of the will, not a forced act and that one must appeal to the conscience, not compel it by violence, since one can force people to be baptised, but one cannot force them to believe. Contrast that with what the disgusting Mohammedans practice today.
He was buried in the church of Saint Martin at Tours but his grave – along with those of many others – did not survive the French Revolution when the Abbey and its church were razed to the ground in a misguided attempt by the revolutionary idiots to stamp out the cultus of Saint Martin. Saint Martin’s tomb was found again later on, and a new church to house it was built on part of the original site, but Alcuin’s tomb has yet to be recovered.
By the way, Alcuin College, one of the colleges of the University of York in England, is named after him. Alcuin also revised and reorganised the Latin liturgy, preserved many of the ancient prayers, and helped develop the plain chant that many of us know and love today. It’s amazing to think that the scholarship that the Church in England had carefully protected for generations was exported back to Europe and propagated by people like Alcuin. It’s easy to see why many of his contemporaries, and subsequent generations of scholars, thought him to be truly blessed. Their judgements are the ones that we accept today and we call him, rightly, The Blessed Alcuin of York.
Also on this day I am going to memorialise the Blessed Peter de Duenas. He was born in AD1378 at Valencia in Spain. He was a Franciscan, but we don’t know very much about his early years but we do know that in AD1396, along with his fellow Franciscan the Blessed John de Cetina, he very bravely began to preach the good news to the occupying Mohammedans in Granada. Naturally, they were both seized and imprisoned and tortured for the fun of it by their gaolers.
In AD1397 they were both beheaded at Granada and Peter is remembered to this day for his courage in trying to tell the truth to the devil’s minions called Mohammedans. He is, today, are rightly regarded as Blessed and a Martyr. John is remembered on the twenty-second of this month (below).
I am also going to remember on this day Saint Pudens of Rome. He was a layman of the Church at Rome and his father is the Pudens mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21, “Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren” – KJV. According to tradition, Saint Peter the Apostle stayed in the family house at Rome and Pudens senior was baptised by him. His father was called Quintus Cornelius Pudens and he was a Roman Senator, and our Saint Pudens, his son, had two sons of his own, Novatus and Timotheus, and two daughters, Praxedes and Pudentiana, who all became saints.
Cornelius Pudens, the father, was martyred during the reign of the Emperor Nero (reigned AD54 to AD68), but his son, whom we commemorate today, was martyred later, but his daughters were probably not martyred until about AD150, at which time it is generally believed that their brothers were martyred also. We don’t know where the male Pudens are buried – probably in a family space in one of the catacombs, but we do know that Pudentiana and Praxedes, revered as pure maiden martyrs, are entombed in the very ancient eponymous churches of Saint Pudentia and Saint Praxedes (Santa Pudenziana and Santa Prassede) at Rome, and both churches have some of the finest early mosaics, dating from the third and fourth Christian centuries, in existence. The church of Saint Pudentia on the Via Urbana was built on the site of the Pudens’ family home and is the oldest church at Rome – it was originally the home of the Popes until, in AD313, the Emperor Constantine offered them the Lateran Palace.
Church of Saint Pudentia at Rome. It is
the most ancient church at Rome dating back
to the time of the Apostle Paul. It was originally,
in ancient times, two smaller churches:
Titulus Pudentis and Titulus Pastoris, the latter
named after Saint Pastor, the brother of Pope Pius I
(reigned AD140 to AD155). A ‘titulus’ church is one
that a Cardinal is the titular priest of.
The unassuming entrance to Saint Praxedes. This church provided
the inspiration for Robert Browning's poem called 'The Bishop Orders
His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church.'
This family is frequently mixed up with that of Aulus Pudens, the centurion friend of Martial the writer, whose wife, Claudia Rufina, was immortalised in several poems by Martial and described in his ‘Epigrams’ at IV:13 (and that Claudia is frequently mixed up with other ladies called Claudia whom Martial also knew and wrote about). However, such mix-ups do a great disservice to the family who all died as martyrs for the Faith and who are all, today, rightly remembered as saints.
On the twentieth of May let us remember the Blessed Anastazy Jakub Pankiewicz who was a Franciscan priest and who was born in AD1882 at Nagórzany near Podkarpackie, Sanok in Poland. He was the son of Thomas, a farmer, and Tekla Lenio, and he attended elementary school at Nowotaniec (which was the headquarters of his home parish), then he went to the high schools at Sanok and Lviv (up to AD1899).
He was ordained AD1906, and after completing his theological studies he worked in the monastery of Mine, as well as holding other church offices. Between AD1932 and AD1939, with the help of numerous sponsors, he supervised the construction of the monastery and High School at Lodz. In AD1937 he helped to found the Congregation of the Sisters of Christ the King, Antonianek (see here for information about the Congregation).
On the sixth of October in AD1941, during the mass arrests of priests in Lodz and the surrounding area, he was arrested and taken to a transit camp at Konstantynów Lodz. On October the thirtieth, along with other prisoners from Konstantynowskiego camp, he was transported to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. During his incarceration he continued to be a priest for those around him, carrying out his calling in a most courageous way.
He died on this day in AD1942, on the road leading to the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre near Linz in Austria. Hartheim was a Nazi killing centre that was part of their euthanasia programme that was referred to as 'Action T4'. It was housed in Hartheim Castle at Alkoven near Linz in Austria, and, apart from almost one hundred thousand other victims, mostly all either mentally or physically disabled, a total of three hundred and ten Polish, seven German, six Czech, four Luxemburg, three Dutch and two Belgian priests were murdered. The Nazi's referred to the programme carried out at Hartheim as 'disinfection'.
Hartheim Castle (Schloss Hartheim). The castle was built by Jakob von Aspen in AD1600.
It is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Austria. In AD1898, His Highness
Prince Camillo Heinrich Starhemberg (AD1835 – AD1900) donated the castle as a gift
to the Upper Austria Charity Organisation. With the help of additional donations,
they used the castle from the beginning of the twentieth Christian century
as a psychiatric institution. Under the Nazis it became notorious as
one of a series of euthanasia for the disabled centres.
(I find the whole concept of the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre and what was done there to be completely unChristian, indeed anti-Christian, and very upsetting. Please go to this site for pictures, and an explanation, of the place, and to this site for an explanation of what was done there. Remember, Mohammedans to this day support these Nazi so-called ideals and treat their disabled in the most appalling way.)
Father Pankiewicz helped a fellow prisoner to board the collection vehicle and a German soldier deliberately closed the door of the ‘bus on him, almost cutting off both of his hands in the process. His body was burned and the ashes were scattered in the same manner as those of the other victims of the Hartheim facility. Pope John Paul II beatified him in Warsaw on the thirteenth of June in AD1999 along with one hundred and seven other Polish Martyrs. There is no doubt in my mind that today he is rightly remembered as Blessed.
On the twenty-first of May let us turn our attention to Saint Collen of Denbighshire, who is sometimes called Colan, or Gollen, of Denbigh and whose name means ‘hazel tree’ in Welsh. He was born sometime around AD600 in Wales and he is said to have died about sixty years later. His father was a Welshman but his mother, called Ethni, was of Irish extraction. The facts of his life are scant but the stories that have grown up around his memory are wonderful fairy tales in the allegorical model. What we know for certain is that he was a monk in Wales, in Brittany and in Cornwall. He made a pilgrimage to Rome in Italy and at one stage in his life he lived as a hermit in a small cave near Glastonbury Abbey. It seems certain that he was, at some time, the Abbot of a monastery in Wales. The Welsh town of Llangollen (Collen’s enclosure) in Clwyd (pronounced ‘Kloowid’) is named after him, and it generally reckoned that it formed around his hermitage and church.
The ruins of the enormous Abbey Church at Glastonbury.
The parish church of Saint Collen at Llangollen in Clwyd in Wales, which stands on the site of
the original seventh Christian century church that was likely built of wood.
The parish church of Saint Colan on the north coast of Cornwall, which was rebuilt in the time of Bishop Branscombe of Exeter, about AD1250, and that was given by him to the Canons of Glasney College which he had founded at Peryn, is dedicated to our Saint Collen. It is the only dedication to Saint Collen in England, but there is a church at Langolen near Briec in Brittany that is dedicated to him and he is, naturally, the patron of Llangollen in Clwyd, where he is buried.
The parish Church of Saint Colan near Quintrell Downs by Newquay in Cornwall.
This building was built over Saint Collen’s original church in AD1250.
However, the tales that have grown up around the life or Collen are lovely and they are strong indications of the troubles that he must have had in the process of evangelising his people. There are tales of him slaying a Welsh giantess to save the people of Llangollen (the church there still has an image of him in this triumph) and of him washing his sword in the Ffynnon Gollen spring (Collen’s Fountain), and other stories of him fighting a duel with a Saracen, a Mohammedan that is, in front of the Pope. We have mostly forgotten how to read these old allegorical stories – as I never tire of pointing out to you, but it is obvious that the giantess is supposed to stand for the old pagan ways and that the Mohammedan stands for the devil. The stories also have Collen being taken to the land of faerie, but always as a Christian, and always showing the power of God over the old ways.
Legend says that Collen was once invited to dine with the King of the Fairies; some versions say that he was asked by a man, some others say by a fairy, and some say by a talking peacock. The saint declined three times, but finally accepted. Although the king appeared to live in an enormous castle, and to be wealthy, and fair, and surrounded by courtiers and servants, and seated before a table groaning under the weight of good and fancy food, Collen knew him for the lying spirit he was. The saint reminded the king of the fate of the G-dless, then he sprinkled holy water in all directions and in an instant there was nothing left but an angry, demonic bird, flying away from the scene.
Another story has it that Collen, whilst he lived as a hermit near Glastonbury, was summoned to settle the eternal May Day struggle of Gwynn ap Nudd, Lord of the Underworld, with Gwyther, Lord of Summer, for the hand of the fair Creiddylad, the Maiden of Spring. Collen ordained that the quarrel would be resolved on Doomsday, and not before. Then with a sprinkle of holy water, the faerie folk and fortress disappeared.
They are all delightful stories but for us today they obscure the hard work done by the saint as he brought many to the Faith and helped the poor. Our ancestors would have understood them better than we do. They revered Collen as a saint also, and it is their judgement that we must trust and say that he is rightly so venerated.
On this day, also, I want to remember Saint Godric (sometimes spelled Godrick) of Finchale (pronounced ‘finkul’), who was born in AD1069 at Walpole in Norfolk in England. He was the oldest of three children born to a freedman Anglo-Saxon farmer called Ailward and his wife Edwenna. An adventurous seafaring man, Godric spent his youth in travel, both on land and sea, as a peddler and merchant mariner first along the coast of the British Isles, then throughout Europe. Sometime a sailor, sometime a ship’s captain, he lived the seafarer’s life of the day, and it was hardly a religious one. He was known to drink, fight, chase women, con customers, and, in a contemporary manuscript, he was referred to as a ‘pirate’. He was the captain of, and may have been the owner of, the ship that conveyed the great Crusader King Baldwin I of Jerusalem to the city of Jaffa in AD1102.
During one of his voyages he visited the holy isle of Lindisfarne off the north-east coast of England, and he was touched and converted to the Faith by the record of the life of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Thereafter he undertook pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the holy land, to the shrine of Saint James the Apostle at Saintiago de Compostela, to the shrine of Saint Gaul in Provence in France, and to Rome in Italy. As part of a self-imposed austerity, and as a way to always remember Christ’s lowering himself to become human, Godric never wore shoes, regardless of the season. He lived as a hermit in the holy land and worked in a hospital near Jerusalem. Later, on his return to England, he lived as a hermit at Finchale in County Durham in England, first in a cave then later in a more formal hermitage. It is said that he was led to its site by a vision from Saint Cuthbert. He gave himself a hard life. He went barefoot, lived in a wattle and daub hut, wore a hair shirt under a metal breastplate, stood in icy waters to control his lust and lived for a while off berries and roots. He was badly beaten by Scottish raiders who, strangely, thought he had a hidden treasure.
As the years passed his reputation grew, and Thomas Becket and Pope Alexander III both reportedly sought Godric's advice as a wise and holy man. However, Godric is best remembered for his kindness toward animals and many stories recall his protection of the creatures who lived near his forest home. One of these stories records that he hid a stag from pursuing hunters, and according to another story he even allowed snakes to warm themselves by his fire – but, once again, these might be allegorical stories that need interpretation.
Reginald of Durham recorded four songs of Saint Godric's and they are amongst the oldest songs in English for which the original musical settings survive. Reginald describes the circumstances in which Godric learnt the first song - apparently, in a vision the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Godric with "two maidens of surpassing beauty clad in shining white raiments" who pledged to come to his aid in times of need, and then the Virgin herself taught Godric a song of consolation to overcome grief or temptation ('Saintë Marië Viergenë' – listen here):
Saint Mary, Virgin,
Mother of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,
Receive, shield, help your Godric,
When received, bring him solemnly
With you into God's kingdom.
Saint Mary, Christ's bower,
Maiden's purity, mother's flower,
Destroy my sin, reign in my heart,
Bring me to bliss with the very same God.
He also wrote poetry in Medieval English and he brief song ‘Sainte Nicholaes’ by him is one of the oldest in the English language, and is believed to be the earliest surviving example of Medieval English lyric poetry. Incidentally, the novel entitled ‘Godric’ (AD1981) by Frederick Buechner is a fictional retelling of Godric's life and travels and it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Godric lived a very long life and he died in AD1170 in his hermitage at Finchale revered by all for his gentleness and wisdom. I see no need to disagree with those medieval Christians who considered him a saint.
Looking across the River Wear to the ruins of Finchale Priory. Saint Godric of Finchale was buried
in the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, the dedication that he gave to his hermitage, that was
built on the site of his hermitage immediately after his death. The Chapel was incorporated into
Finchale Priory and it still contains Godric’s tomb and can still be seen today.
That brings us to the twenty-second of May and on this day we must commemorate Saint Bobo of Provence, who is sometimes known as Beuvon of Provence. We don’t know exactly when he was born, but it was sometime around AD940 in the castle (no longer in existence) at Noyers-sur-Jabron, nor do we know very much about his life apart from that he was the son of Adelfrido and Odelinda who were the nobles in charge at Noyers. However, the records which have survived tell us that he was a soldier, quite probably a knight (a European cataphract), from Provence in France who distinguished himself fighting against the invading Mohammedan horde of thieves, pillagers, rapists and looters.
He fought victoriously alongside Count Guillaume I de Provence (William I of Provence) at the Battle of Tourtour in AD973 that finally expelled the appalling Mohammedan slave traders, raiders and pirates from Provence and from their occupied fortress of Fraxinet, which is sometimes known as Fraxinetum, or La Garde-Freinet, (for a fuller explanation of this please see my saint for the twenty-seventh of February, Saint John of Gorze, behind this link and see this site for the Massif des Maures and how to get to the commemorative, seven yards high Cross of the Moors).
La Croix Des Maures (The Cross of the Moors) on the Massif des Maures
near La Garde-Freinet in Provence in France. There is some scholarly debate
about whether or not the word ‘Moor’ as applied to the nasty Mohammedans
comes from the name for this area or if the name comes from some foul attribute
of those disgusting people.
Eventually Bobo grew tired of constantly fighting and felt himself called to a deeper expression of the Faith that he had spent his life fighting for. He retired from soldiering and lived as a hermit. He undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and died on the return journey at Voghera near Pavia in Lombardy in Italy in AD986. For some unknown reason, but probably because Voghera has been a cattle town since preRoman times, he is often regarded as one of the Patron Saints of cattle, but anyway he has been adopted as the Patron Saint of Voghera as well. He is widely venerated both in Provence and in Lombardy and, for his courageous battles against the Mohammedan brigands and for his love of G-d and the Faith he is, today, rightly remembered as a saint. He is interred in the church of San Pietro Borgo San Bovo at Voghera (263 Via Emilia - 27058 Voghera).
Today, we must remember also the Blessed John of Cetina. His details are the same as those for the Blessed Peter de Duenas whom I wrote about for the nineteenth of May (above). For his courage in defying the Mohammedans and attempting to teach them the truth he is, today, rightly remembered as Blessed and a Martyr.
On this day we must remember also Saint Peter Parenzi. We don’t know when he was born but we do know that he was born at Rome in Italy. He served Pope Innocent III who sent him to be the Governor of Orvieto in Italy in AD1199. He was charged with investigating, countering and, if possible, suppressing the Cathar heresy. However, he never got a chance to execute his Papal commission as the Cathar heretics murdered him soon after he arrived in Orvieto. Murdering people who they didn’t like was a well-known Cathar trademark at the time – they murdered my saint for the twenty-ninth of April, see here, for the same reason. Behind the same link you will also find some more details about the Cathars and their murderous ways.
Peter Parenzi died in AD1199 at Orvieto for, and in, the Faith and for that reason he is, today, rightly remembered as a saint and martyr.
On the twenty-third of May we must memorialise Saint William of Rochester, who is sometimes known as William of Perth. He was born sometime in the latter half of the twelfth Christian century at Perth in Scotland, which at that time was one of the important cities of Scotland, and by all accounts he led a wild and misspent youth. However, on reaching manhood he settled down and became a baker (though some accounts say that he was a fisherman, but one often finds that trade applied to saints as a pious fiction simply because some of the Apostles were fishermen), attended church regularly and customarily set aside every tenth loaf that he baked for the poor – many people, even some quite poor folk, took tithing seriously in those times.
Almost everything that we know about William comes from the ‘Nova legenda Anglie’ that was compiled by John of Tynemouth (died circa AD1290), John Capgrave (AD1393 – AD1464) and Wynkyn de Worde (died circaAD1534) and you can find the full text of that book behind this link. The text states that William cared especially for the poor and neglected children and that one day, on his way to church, he found an abandoned infant. Without any hesitation he took the child in and adopted him, naming him David. "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." – KJV, Matthew 19:14.
As the boy David grew up William taught him his trade. Some years later, in AD1201, the two of them set out on a pilgrimage, either to the Holy Land or to Rome. When they had gotten as far as Rochester in England David turned on his adoptive father, clubbed him, cut his throat, robbed the body, and fled. Apparently a local insane woman found William’s body, and plaited a garland of honeysuckle flowers for it. She placed the garland on William, and then took it back and placed it on herself whereupon, according to the story, her madness was cured. The local monks, seeing this as a sign from G-d, interred William in Rochester Cathedral and immediately began work on his shrine. His tomb, and a chapel at his murder scene called Palmersdene, soon became sites of pilgrimage and of donations, even by the crown. Remains of the chapel can be seen near the present Saint William’s Hospital in Rochester on the road leading by Horsted Farm to Maidstone.
William’s relics were lost, maybe even destroyed, at the Reformation, but to this day pilgrims who journey to the Cathedral still climb the Pilgrim Steps, now worn by the many thousands of pilgrims, ancient and modern, who have visited the place, and they usually light candles at the William of Perth prayer-station in front of the oratory. William was murdered whilst on a holy journey, and because of that, he is considered a martyr. He is rightly considered a saint because he followed Christ’s instructions about charity and children even though by doing so he died, and also because of the miraculous cures later reported at his tomb.
The Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary at Rochester in England. The present church
dates from AD1080 and it is the Cathedral for the smallest See, but the second oldest after Canterbury,
in England. The See was founded by Justus who was one of the companions of
Saint Augustine of Canterbury.
I think it apposite to remember William’s treatment of vulnerable, poor children and to contrast his behaviour with the behaviour towards vulnerable children that Mohammedan males are exhibiting in the U.K., and everywhere else, I have no doubt, today. The behaviour of the Mohammedans, behaviour countenanced, indeed ordered, by their vile belief system is stomach churning and intensely evil.
On the twenty-fourth of May we return once again to the Franciscan Order in the person of the Blessed John del Prado, or John of Prado. He was born at Morgobresio in what was then the Kingdom of Léon in Spain, but we don’t know exactly when. We do know that he studied theology at Salamanca in Spain and that he was ordained a priest. He was a member of the Barefooted Franciscans of the Strict Observance and he was sent by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith to missionise the Mohammedans in Mohammedan illegally occupied Morocco sometime around AD1634. He was extremely good at the task and his success attracted the attention of the Mohammedan occupying authorities. They imprisoned him and tortured him for the fun of it for many months before burning him to death on this day in AD1636 in Marrakesh in occupied Morocco with two other Spanish friars whose names, regrettably, have not come down to us.
For his courage in evangelising the vile Mohammedans and for his steadfastness in the Faith even under extreme duress, John of Prado is rightly remembered as truly Blessed.
On this day, also, I want to commemorate the Blessed John of Montfort. He was probably born in Brittany, although there is some little evidence to suggest that he might have been an Austrian from Vorarlberg, and he became a courageous Knight (a European cataphract) Templar of Jerusalem. In one of the never-ending series of battles that were fought to end the baleful influence of the pagan Mohammedans over the Holy Land John was wounded. This brave soldier underwent the rigours of a journey to Nicosia on Cyprus for medical treatment. However, he never fully recovered and he died there in AD1177. His name means the ‘gift of G-d’ and we should thank G-d for his bravery in laying down his life in a wonderful attempt to repulse the vile Mohammedan horde. He is still venerated on Cyprus and we should revere and remember him today as truly one of the Blessed.
Saint Joanna the Myrrhbearer1 is also a saint who we must memorialise today. She was a first Christian century lay woman who was married to Chusa, the steward of King Herod Antipas. She was also a disciple of Jesus, and she is mentioned at Luke 8:3 (“And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto Him of their substance.” – KJV) as providing for Jesus and the Apostles.
There is a lovely ancient Eastern tradition says that she is the person who gave the head of John the Baptist an honourable and decent burial, and it’s such an ancient tradition that it may well have some truth in it. She was also one of the women of whom Luke says at 24:10 that they discovered the empty tomb on the first Easter when she went to anoint the body (“It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.” – KJV).
We don’t know when or where she was born and we don’t know when or where she died. The scholars Richard J. Bauckham and Ben Witherington III indicate that they think that the disciple Joanna is the same woman as the Christian Junia mentioned by Paul in his Epistle to the Romans at 16:7 ("Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." – KJV)2. Paul says that Junia was famous among the Apostles and that she was in the Lord before him, which must be therefore prior to AD34. She is likely to have been a witness of everything from the time of the baptism of John.
Apparently, an ossuary has been discovered bearing the inscription, "Johanna, granddaughter of Theophilus, the High Priest" and, naturally, that has given rise to some speculation that the woman so memorialised was maybe the Joanna whom I am writing about here – the one mentioned in the Bible. Joanna is one of the saints ‘bout whom we know nothing, or only a very little. We must, therefore, trust those Christians of the time of the Apostles, the time of the very beginnings of the Faith, and say that they rightfully regarded her as a saint and that we do so as well.
That brings us to the last day of this sennight – the twenty-fifth of May. This day is the Feast Day of one of the best known holy men in English culture – Saint Bede the Venerable, also known as The Venerable Bede, or The Father of English History. I have referred to his writings on numerous occasions throughout this series of Dies Gloriae posts. He was born in AD672 at Wearmouth in England, just about the time that England became fully Christian. He was raised from the age of seven in the joint monasteries of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth and its companion monastery, Saint Paul's in Jarrow and he lived there for the rest of his life.
He was a spiritual student of the founder of the twin monasteries, Saint Benedict Biscop, and he was ordained in AD702 by Saint John of Beverley. He was a teacher and a prolific author. He wrote about history, rhetoric, mathematics, music, astronomy, poetry, grammar, philosophy, hagiography, homiletics, and he found the time to write Bible commentaries. He was known as the most learned man of his day, and his writings started the idea of dating our Christian era from the birth of Christ – he didn’t invent the idea, the credit for that goes to a monk called Dionysius Exiguus (circa AD470 to circa AD544) – but he popularised it to such an extent that it has become almost universal.
Saint Paul’s Church and the remains of the Jarrow part of the twin monastery of
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow that Bede lived in.
The very ancient Saint Peter’s Church, which is all that is left of the Monkwearmouth part of the twin monastery.
Our knowledge of England before the eighth Christian century is mainly the result of Bede’s writings. Together with the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ (text at this site) the works of Bede are of fundamental importance to the study of medieval England (and, to a certain extent, the study of the medieval world in general) and his importance cannot be over estimated. He simply couldn’t stop writing and even on his deathbed he was dictating work to his scribe, a boy named Wilberht. At three o'clock in the afternoon on this day in AD735, Ascension Day as it happens, knowing that he was dieing, he asked for a box of his to be brought and he distributed among the priests of his monastery "a few treasures" of his: "some pepper, and napkins, and some incense" (quotes are from the letter of Cuthbert, a student of Bede’s, to Cuthwin, about whom nothing has come down to us). That night he dictated a final sentence to Wilberht, and died soon afterwards. He was canonised and declared a Doctor of the Church on the thirteenth of November AD1899 by Pope Leo XIII.
His ‘Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum’ (English translation in PDF here, original Latin at this site) confirmed him in the title of the Father of English History, but it is only one amongst a plethora of writings that has contributed to his lasting status and fame. It is safe to say that without the works of Father Saint Bede the Venerable the English people, and many of the English speaking peoples for that matter, would have a much lesser understanding of themselves and their place in history than they actually do. Bede, who today is the Patron Saint of lectors (lector – one who reads, usually, but not invariably, in church and out loud), was buried in the monastery church at Jarrow, but in the eleventh Christian century his remains were translated to Durham (pronounce ‘durum’) Cathedral. His tomb was looted at the Reformation in AD1541, but his remains were re-interred in the Galilee Chapel of the Cathedral. Today he is rightly regarded as a saint and a great Englishman and scholar. Raise a glass to his memory and be thankful for the long hours of effort that he undertook in his scriptorium long before the invention of word processors!
Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St. Cuthbert of Durham at Durham. Up until
the nineteenth Christian century the See of Durham was a Palatine See and the Bishops were
correctly referred to as the Prince Bishops of Durham. The Cathedral houses the remains of
The Venerable Bede (Father Saint Bede The Venerable).
That’s all folks. More next week, if G-d so wills it.
1) You can find the following paragraphs on the Myrrhbearers in the entry for my saint of the seventeenth of March in Dies Gloriae, XII.
In John's Gospel Nicodemus brought myrrh and aloes and in two of the Gospels Saint Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in linen before laying Him in the tomb and it’s generally accepted that myrrh would have been used during the wrapping. The Gospel of John in the King James Version at Chapter 19 in verses 38 to 39 reads: "(Verse 38) And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. (39) And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight."
Saint Joseph and Saint Nicodemus are listed amongst the Myrrh Bearers. These are customarily given as Mary Magdalene (often regarded as the same as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus), Mary, the wife of Cleopas, Martha of Bethany also Sister to Lazarus, Joanna who was the wife of Chuza the steward of Herod Antipas, Salome who was the mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee called “The sons of thunder” – KJV, Mark, 3:17), Susanna, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, and the Gospels also mention "Mary, the mother of James and Joses" (Matthew, 27:56 and Mark, 15:40). It is generally accepted that there were other Myrrhbearers whose names are not known. The second Sunday after Easter is called the 'Sunday of the Myrrhbearers' and they are all commemorated on that Sunday. The week that follows is called the 'Week of the Myrrhbearers'. Many of the Myrrhbearers also have separate feast days on which they are commemorated individually and Joanna’s occurs, as is obvious, on the twenty-fourth of May.
Bauckham, Richard J., 'Gospel Women', Grand Rapids, Mich. by Eerdmans, 2002, pp. 109-202.
Witherington, Ben, III, 'Joanna: Apostle of the Lord—or Jailbait?’, in Bible Review, Spring 2005, pp. 12 to 14+.
HASKELL COUNTY, Kan. — Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute.
Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past.
“That’s prime land,” he said not long ago, gesturing from his pickup at the stubby remains of last year’s crop. “I’ve raised 294 bushels of corn an acre there before, with water and the Lord’s help.” Now, he said, “it’s over.”
The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.
Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.
And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains.
This is in many ways a slow-motion crisis — decades in the making, imminent for some, years or decades away for others, hitting one farm but leaving an adjacent one untouched. But across the rolling plains and tarmac-flat farmland near the Kansas-Colorado border, the effects of depletion are evident everywhere. Highway bridges span arid stream beds. Most of the creeks and rivers that once veined the land have dried up as 60 years of pumping have pulled groundwater levels down by scores and even hundreds of feet.
On some farms, big center-pivot irrigators — the spindly rigs that create the emerald circles of cropland familiar to anyone flying over the region — now are watering only a half-circle. On others, they sit idle altogether.
Two years of extreme drought, during which farmers relied almost completely on groundwater, have brought the seriousness of the problem home. In 2011 and 2012, the Kansas Geological Survey reports, the average water level in the state’s portion of the aquifer dropped 4.25 feet — nearly a third of the total decline since 1996.
And that is merely the average. “I know my staff went out and re-measured a couple of wells because they couldn’t believe it,” said Lane Letourneau, a manager at the State Agriculture Department’s water resources division. “There was a 30-foot decline.”
Kansas agriculture will survive the slow draining of the aquifer — even now, less than a fifth of the state’s farmland is irrigated in any given year — but the economic impact nevertheless will be outsized. In the last federal agriculture census of Kansas, in 2007, an average acre of irrigated land produced nearly twice as many bushels of corn, two-thirds more soybeans and three-fifths more wheat than did dry land.
Farmers will take a hit as well. Raising crops without irrigation is far cheaper, but yields are far lower. Drought is a constant threat: the last two dry-land harvests were all but wiped out by poor rains.
In the end, most farmers will adapt to farming without water, said Bill Golden, an agriculture economist at Kansas State University. “The revenue losses are there,” he said. “But they’re not as tremendously significant as one might think.”
Some already are. A few miles west of Mr. Yost’s farm, Nathan Kells cut back on irrigation when his wells began faltering in the last decade, and shifted his focus to raising dairy heifers — 9,000 on that farm, and thousands more elsewhere. At about 12 gallons a day for a single cow, Mr. Kells can sustain his herd with less water than it takes to grow a single circle of corn.
“The water’s going to flow to where it’s most valuable, whether it be industry or cities or feed yards,” he said. “We said, ‘What’s the higher use of the water?’ and decided that it was the heifer operation.”
The problem, others say, is that when irrigation ends, so do the jobs and added income that sustain rural communities.
“Looking at areas of Texas where the groundwater has really dropped, those towns are just a shell of what they once were,” said Jim Butler, a hydrogeologist and senior scientist at the Kansas Geological Survey.
The villain in this story is in fact the farmers’ savior: the center-pivot irrigator, a quarter- or half-mile of pipe that traces a watery circle around a point in the middle of a field. The center pivots helped start a revolution that raised farming from hardscrabble work to a profitable business.
Since the pivots’ debut some six decades ago, the amount of irrigated cropland in Kansas has grown to nearly three million acres, from a mere 250,000 in 1950. But the pivot irrigators’ thirst for water — hundreds and sometimes thousands of gallons a minute — has sent much of the aquifer on a relentless decline. And while the big pivots have become much more efficient, a University of California study earlier this year concluded that Kansas farmers were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.
A shift to growing corn, a much thirstier crop than most, has only worsened matters. Driven by demand, speculation and a government mandate to produce biofuels, the price of corn has tripled since 2002, and Kansas farmers have responded by increasing the acreage of irrigated cornfields by nearly a fifth.
At an average 14 inches per acre in a growing season, a corn crop soaks up groundwater like a sponge — in 2010, the State Agriculture Department said, enough to fill a space a mile square and nearly 2,100 feet high.
Sorghum, or milo, gets by on a third less water, Kansas State University researchers say — and it, too, is in demand by biofuel makers. As Kansas’ wells peter out, more farmers are switching to growing milo on dry land or with a comparative sprinkle of irrigation water.
But as long as there is enough water, most farmers will favor corn. “The issue that often drives this is economics,” said David W. Hyndman, who heads Michigan State University’s geological sciences department. “And as long as you’ve got corn that’s $7, then a lot of choices get made on that.”
Of the 800 acres that Ashley Yost farmed last year in Haskell County, about 70 percent was planted in corn, including roughly 125 acres in Section 35. Haskell County’s feedlots — the county is home to 415,000 head of cattle — and ethanol plants in nearby Liberal and Garden City have driven up the price of corn handsomely, he said.
But this year he will grow milo in that section, and hope that by ratcheting down the speed of his pump, he will draw less sand, even if that means less water, too. The economics of irrigation, he said, almost dictate it.
“You’ve got $20,000 of underground pipe,” he said. “You’ve got a $10,000 gas line. You’ve got a $10,000 irrigation motor. You’ve got an $89,000 pivot. And you’re going to let it sit there and rot?
“If you can pump 150 gallons, that’s 150 gallons Mother Nature is not giving us. And if you can keep a milo crop alive, you’re going to do it.”
Mr. Yost’s neighbors have met the prospect of dwindling water in starkly different ways. A brother is farming on pivot half-circles. A brother-in-law moved most of his operations to Iowa. Another farmer is suing his neighbors, accusing them of poaching water from his slice of the aquifer.
A fourth grows corn with an underground irrigation system that does not match the yields of water-wasting center-pivot rigs, but is far thriftier in terms of water use and operating costs.
For his part, Mr. Yost continues to pump. But he also allowed that the day may come when sustaining what is left of the aquifer is preferable to pumping as much as possible.
Sitting in his Ford pickup next to Section 35, he unfolded a sheet of white paper that tracked the decline of his grandfather’s well: from 1,600 gallons a minute in 1964, to 1,200 in 1975, to 750 in 1976.
When the well slumped to 500 gallons in 1991, the Yosts capped it and drilled another nearby. Its output sank, too, from 1,352 gallons to 300 today.
This year, Mr. Yost spent more than $15,000 to drill four test wells in Section 35. The best of them produced 195 gallons a minute — a warning, he said, that looking further for an isolated pocket of water would be costly and probably futile.
“We’re on the last kick,” he said. “The bulk water is gone.”
Ralph Peters, Chastened, Wisely Restrained On Syria But Not Yet Willing To Recognize The Iraq Folly
Ralph Peters steadily supported, to the hilt, and up until yesterday, the fantastic American effort in Iraq, an effort based on a goal both unattainable and unwise -- that of creating a unified and prosperous Iraqi state. It was untattainable, because the violence, aggression, conspiracy theories, and inability to compromise fo those raised in societies suffused with Islam will not come to terms, and it was not possible for the Sunnis to acquiesce in their loss of power to the despised Shi'a, and not possible for the Shi'a to truly share their newly-gained -- thanks to the American military -- power over Iraq's government with the Sunnis whose rule they had rejected back in the 1920s, with a revolt by Shi'a tribesman, and had never really accepted, and had been murdered by Saddam Hussein's Sunni-officered army by the hundreds of thousands after the Gulf War.
And that goal -- of a unified and prosperous Iraqi state -- was unwise because it was exactly the wrong goal. The Americans, and all non-Muslims, should be thinking of ways to exploit the pre-existing fissures -- sectarian, ethnic, and economic -- within the Camp of Islam, instead of trying at great cost to narrow those fissures, as they did with Sunnis and Shi'a in Iraq. It was a policy that makes no sense.
Ralph Peters continues to be unable to be admit that the Iraq venture, a decade of squandering of men, money, materiel, and morale, was folly. I have put in bold, below, in an otherwise perfectly reasonable article the sentence that shows his inability to admit that the Iraq business was wrong -- much less be able to detail the two reasons (given above) as to why the Iraq business did not make sense.
Here's his article:
The Arab collapse
By RALPH PETERS
May 19, 2013
The Arab Spring has unleashed the Arab Collapse. Everybody still standing in the region is picking the flesh of the helpless. The Islamist cancer proved more virulent than Arabs themselves expected, while dying regimes behave with unrestrained ruthlessness.
And our diplomats still think everyone can be cajoled into harmony.
We’re witnessing a titanic event, the crack-up of a long-tottering civilization. Arab societies grew so corrupt and stagnant that violent upheaval became inevitable. That’s what we’re seeing in Syria and Iraq — two names, one struggle — and will find elsewhere tomorrow.
We can’t stop it, we can’t fix it, and we don’t understand it. But we can stay out of it.
When the US is in the Middle East, the Arabs want us out. When we’re out, they want us in. But our purported Arab (and Turkish) allies consistently agree that Uncle Sam should pay the party bill, while they take home all the presents.
Yes, Syria’s humanitarian crisis is appalling. And no, I don’t like to see innocents dying or suffering. But the calls from the region for American action are nakedly cynical.
Turkey has the largest military in NATO after our own, but cries “helpless” crocodile tears over Syrian refugees — while dreaming of rebuilding the Ottoman Empire upon their ruined lives. Our Saudi “friends” spent decades building the most-sophisticated military arsenal in the Middle East, apart from Israel. Now the Saudis wring their hands over Syria’s misery — but won’t intervene directly to stop the killing.
The Saudi position is always “You and him fight!” As long ago as Desert Storm, Saudis joked about renting the American army and our bumpkin gullibility. (Try to find one US officer who’s worked with the Saudis and doesn’t hate their guts. . .) Now they want Washington to spend our blood and treasure to open the mosques of Damascus to their Wahhabi cult.
Well, the Assad regime is horrible, but not al Qaeda horrible. Better poison gas than poisoned religion, as far as our own security’s concerned. This is an Arab struggle (with Turkish and Iranian vultures overhead). This time, we need to let them fight it out.
The region’s outdated order is disintegrating. But Washington’s still mesmerized by the artificial boundaries on the map.
Nine decades ago, the diplomats at Versailles ignored the region’s natural fault lines as they carved up the Middle East, forcing enemies together and driving kin apart (while Woodrow Wilson turned his back on the Kurds). Only brute force and dictators kept up the fiction that these were countries. Now the grim charade has reached its end.
Iraq was carved out for British interests, while Syria was France’s consolation prize. Now Syria’s collapsing in a too-many-factions-to-count civil war. And Iraq’s in the early stages of its own dissolution; even a would-be dictator — another of our one-time “friends,” Nouri al-Maliki — can’t keep the “country” together.
We don’t even know how many new states will emerge from the old order’s wreckage. But the Scramble for the Sand is on, with Iran, Turkey, treacherous Arab oil sheikdoms and terrorists Sunni and Shia alike all determined to dictate the future, no matter the cost in other people’s blood.
We had our chance to extend the peace and keep both Iran and Wahhabi crazies at bay after we defeated Iraq’s insurgencies. But a new American president, elevating politics over strategy, walked away from Baghdad, handing Iraq to Iran. Now it’s too late. If George W. Bush helped trigger the Arab Spring, Barack Obama made this Arab Winter inevitable. [this paragraph shows that Peters still maintains that "the surge worked" -- worked to do what? -- and indicates that he thinks the Americans should not have "walked away" but remained in Iraq]
We must not be lured into the current fighting — centered, for now, on Syria — by cries of humanitarian necessity. The local powers could step in to stop the killing. But they won’t. Once again, they want us to pay the bill. (It’s time for the Saudis, especially, to give their own blood.)
We’ve paid enough. Rhetoric and red lines notwithstanding, we need to back off from Syria, if for no other reason than a strategist’s golden rule: If you don’t understand what a fight’s about, stay out.
Arabs attack non-Arab Muslims -- Kurds, Berbers, black Africans in Darfur -- as they are now attacking Tuaregs in northern Mali. In Afghanistan, the Arabs of Al-Qaeda treated the Afghans with contempt, which caused great resentment. For the Arabs, it is not Muslims but the Arabs themselves who are the best of peoples, and it is the non-Arab Muslims who must turn toward Arabia to pray five times a day, must read (and memorize) the Qur'an in Arabic, must take Arab names and, ideally, adopt the manners and customs of the Ansar, the 7th-century Arabs who were Muhammad's supporters.
These Arab attitudes, and this Arab behavior, cannot be denied by any non-Arab Muslim who has been on the receiving end. And that is a wedge between Arabs and non-Arabs that deserves to be exploited. If the Western world were better run, its leaders would be talking openly, loudly, about all the ways that Islam has been, is, and always will be a vehicle for Arab supremacism.It's a useful way to shake the faith of non-Arabs in Islam, a way to make them reconsider their devotion, often fanatical and unshakable, to Islam, the "gift of the Arabs."
The report. from Reuters, of Tuareg-Arab clashes in northern Mali:
Armed Tuareg and Arab groups clash in northern Mali
BAMAKO (Reuters) - Fighting has broken out in northern Mali between Tuareg separatists and local Arab-led gunmen, only days after the African country won a $4.2 billion aid pledge to help it recover from a conflict with Islamists affiliated to al Qaeda.
Rebel and military sources both confirmed the clashes, although they differed over precisely which groups were involved.
The violence highlights how pockets of fighters who escaped a four-month French-led offensive against the al Qaeda-linked militants in the north are undermining efforts to restore state authority ahead of a presidential election set for July 28. France said this week the 'terrorists' had been defeated.
The MNLA, a Tuareg rebel group, said its forces were attacked in the town of Anefis by a column of Islamist fighters on Friday. Its Paris-based spokesman, Moussa Ag Acharatoumane, said fighting continued on Saturday morning, with two of the group's fighters and at least seven Islamists killed so far.
The MNLA said it was fighting MUJWA, an Islamist group that occupied the town of Gao for months until earlier this year and has launched a series of guerrilla-style counter-attacks on the town since it was retaken in the French offensive.
A Malian army officer, who asked not to be named, confirmed there had been heavy fighting, likely stemming from long-standing rivalries between Tuareg and Arab communities that make up northern Mali's array of armed groups.
However he said the clashes were between the MNLA and the MAA, a group made up of Malian Arabs based north of Timbuktu. It was not possible to independently confirm the information.
In a sign of the outside world's concern about stability in Mali, international donors promised 3.25 billion euros ($4.22 billion) on Wednesday to help the country recover and prevent a resurgence by the Islamist rebels.
French President Francois Hollande dismissed comparisons between Mali and Afghanistan, which provided safe haven to al Qaeda when it was preparing the September 11 attacks and is still fighting a Taliban insurgency 12 years later.
"In Mali, the terrorists have been beaten. I don't say there are none left, I don't say there is no risk, but there is no longer any fighting," Hollande said.
The Tuareg MNLA launched a rebellion in January last year, citing years of marginalization by the government as justification for carving out an independent desert state from Mali's north.
It initially fought alongside a mix of al Qaeda-linked Islamist forces seeking to impose Islamic law on Mali's north, and the uneasy coalition swept aside government troops in March 2012.
The MNLA was later sidelined by the better armed Islamists, but has now taken advantage of the French offensive to re-occupy several northern towns it had lost to them. Having watered down independence claims, it is demanding talks with the government over a degree of autonomy.
French forces are reducing their numbers and are due to hand over security responsibilities to a United Nations peacekeeping mission that will be rolled out in July.
NABI CHIT, Lebanon — At the entrance to this village in Hezbollah’s Bekaa Valley heartland, under a sign welcoming visitors to “The Citadel of Resistance,” workers on Monday hoisted a freshly printed banner honoring a young man the group called one of Hezbollah’s latest martyrs — killed in battle not with Israel, the foe the group’s guerrillas train to fight, but with Syrian rebels.
Down the road, another dead fighter’s uncle, Fayez Shukor, welcomed mourners under a tent overlooking the valley as the sun set on a day that had seen Hezbollah’s death toll rise to unexpected heights as the group joined Syrian forces trying to storm the rebel-held Syrian city of Qusayr. His nephew, he had said earlier, died on Sunday alongside 11 other Hezbollah fighters killed in a single rebel attack.
Lebanon reeled Monday from the twin realizations that Hezbollah, the nation’s most powerful military and political organization, was plunging deeper into a war the country has tried to stay out of, and that the group was taking unaccustomed losses. Mr. Shukor, a former government minister from Lebanon’s Arab Socialist Baath Party, walked a careful line between supporting Hezbollah’s declaration that Syria’s fight is its fight and acknowledging the contradiction of fighting fellow Arab Muslims instead of Israelis.
“I wish all this blood had been shed in the south, fighting Israel,” he said, but added that the rebels battling Hezbollah’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, were “infidels and garbage” serving Israel; the West, he said, should recognize that they are Al Qaeda-linked extremists and help wipe them out.
He then repeated the charge that extremists among the Sunni Muslim rebels have flung at Hezbollah’s Shiites. “They are not Muslims,” he said.
Lebanon and the region have been electrified by the fierce fighting in Qusayr and the role of Hezbollah. Fighters on both sides said rebels continued to hold the north of the city against Hezbollah, the Syrian Army and pro-government militias.
Ali, a Lebanese Shiite with ties to Hezbollah, said that a relative and other fighters, updating him by text message from the battlefield, were struck by the rebels’ tenacity. One Hezbollah fighter, he said, told him that even after being shot, rebels “got up and attacked in a brutal way.”
The growing stream of funerals suggests that in Qusayr, Hezbollah is asking followers for their deepest sacrifice in Syria yet, one that it has no choice but to embrace and explain. The exact toll is unclear, as Hezbollah does not always announce deaths right away or specify dates and locations.
At least 14 Hezbollah fighters were killed over the weekend, according to Hezbollah Web sites and relatives of fighters. Phillip C. Smyth, a University of Maryland researcher who studies Hezbollah, listed on the Jihadology Web site 20 fighters whose deaths were announced by official and unofficial Hezbollah sites, a number he said could grow. Syrian opposition activists, eager to claim an underdog victory, say more than 40 have died.
Either way, the numbers stand out. In its 34-day war with a stronger foe, Israel, in 2006, Hezbollah acknowledged losing 250 fighters, about 8 a day. (Outside estimates hover around 500 total.) Hezbollah supporters explain the toll in Syria by noting that Hezbollah trains to defend its own territory, not to attack opponents who are defending their own turf.
The scale of the fighting — among the most intense ground battles in Syria’s war — has forced Lebanon to contend anew with a perennial problem. Hezbollah, stronger than the Lebanese Army, has the power to drag the country into war without a government decision, as in 2006, when it set off the war by capturing three Israeli soldiers.
Hezbollah’s critics also complained that the Lebanese Army’s seeming complicity in allowing a large Hezbollah force to cross the border could be viewed as Lebanon’s entering the war — a charge that Hezbollah and Mr. Assad’s supporters have leveled for the opposite reason, as Lebanese Sunnis flow into Syria to join the rebels.
An official with the March 14 movement, Hezbollah’s main political rival, said that with Hezbollah’s help Mr. Assad could probably take Qusayr, a crucial area because it lies near the border and links Damascus with the rebel-held north and the government-held coast. But, the official said, it could cost Hezbollah hundreds of fighters.
He questioned why Hezbollah would want to sink itself into “Dien Bien Phu,” a barbed suggestion that the group would endure the fate of French troops defeated by Vietnamese insurgents in 1954 in a decisive blow to French colonial power.
The Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit rebel umbrella group backed by the United States, issued a statement bound to fuel its frontal battle with Hezbollah, attacking the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. “We are today calling Nasrallah a killer of the Syrian people,” a spokesman, Louay Mekdad, told the Al-Arabiya channel.
The battle also increasingly seemed to pit Hezbollah, the region’s most battle-hardened Shiite force, head-on against Sunni jihadis, some accused of affiliation with Al Qaeda. Rebels flying the black banner often used by Al Nusra Front, the extremist rebel group — listed, like Hezbollah, as a terrorist group by the United States — filmed themselves attacking armored vehicles at close range with machine guns and taking deadly fire.
The heat of the fighting brought into sharp relief the danger of a regional nightmare, all-out war between Shiites and Sunnis. [why would an "all out war between Shiites and Sunnis" be a "nightmare"? It wouldn't be a nightmare for America, Europe, Israel, or for non-Muslims anywhere. Why use such a word? Why not write: "The heat of the fighting brought into sharp relief the possibility -- or likelihood -- of all-out war bertween Shiites and Sunnis." Doesn't that make better sense for American readers?]Some rebel supporters urged on the fighters against the “impurity” of Hezbollah, a phrase that resonates as a slur against Shiites.
Echoes of the fight rippled across Lebanon, divided between supporters and opponents of Mr. Assad roughly, though not entirely, along sectarian lines. In the northern city of Tripoli, which supplies Sunni fighters to rebel ranks, three Lebanese soldiers were killed Monday in clashes with rebels.
In Shiite areas, people prayed for relatives fighting with Hezbollah, and for victory in a battle the group has framed as both a proxy fight with Israel and an intervention to defend Lebanese and Syrian Shiites and other minorities from an uprising they view as driven by Sunni extremists.
In the Bekaa Valley, Hezbollah’s normally airtight public-relations machine seemed momentarily off balance. The party has vowed never to “hide our martyrs,” and Mr. Shukor proudly invited reporters to his nephew’s funeral. But Hezbollah operatives politely barred them and escorted them out of town. They were allowed back only after Mr. Shukor raised a fuss.
Bouquets of roses lined the marble banisters leading to a terrace where a dirge played quietly for the fighter, Hassan Faisal Shukor, 23. Mr. Shukor said he was the son of his favorite sister, “like a son to me.”
“This is a very deep loss for us,” he said. “But it’s an honor.”
NYPD Operation nets Palestinians including one involved in 1994 Brooklyn Yeshiva Student Death
Credit New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly with busting mega million cigarette smuggling ring. Tagged Operation Tobacco Road, the operation captured 16 Palestinians including the king pins in the network arrested in New York and Maryland, with connections to the Muslim Brotherhood Blind Sheik Omar Abdel- Rahman and Hamas. One of those ensnared in the raid may have been an accomplice after the fact who supplied the weapon in the 1994 attack on a van crossing the Brooklyn Bridge sprayed with automatic fire. That attack resulted in the death of 16 year old Ari Halberstam All but two of the Palestinians ensnared in the scheme entered the US illegally.
The ring had purchased more than $55 million in cigarettes in both Virginia and Maryland and wholesaled the contraband cigarettes to bodegas in the outer boroughs of New York City avoiding more than $80 million in state taxes. A significant portion of the profits may have been funneled to Hamas, to further Jihad. The NYPD counterterrorism program may have trumped the FBI on this bust of Hamas funding. The DOJ and the ACLU have defended Muslim Charities. See the NER story: “Zakat and Terrorism”.
Some of those arrested in the bust have links to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind sheik, and Rashid Baz, who opened fire on a van of Yeshiva students on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing Ari Halberstam. “We're concerned because similar schemes have been used in the past to help fund terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah”.
Note this from the NY Daily News Story about the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas connections of the network:
All 16 of those charged are Palestinian and all but two were living illegally in the U.S. One managed to flee to Jordan before the arrests late Wednesday.
Kelly said the group included several “individuals on our radar with links to known terrorists,” starting with Mohammad Seif, 39, a cigarette reseller from Brooklyn.
Kelly said Seif lived in the same three-story walkup with the personal secretary of Hamas’ main fund-raiser in the U.S., Mousa Abu Marzouk, who was deported from the U.S. in 1997. Marzouk continues to raise money for Hamas in Egypt.
Note this about the extent of illegal profits made in the cigarette smuggling scheme:
Investigators in the case, dubbed Operation Tobacco Road have so far found evidence the group pocketed $22 million in profits, of which authorities have found only $7.8 million in cash and bank accounts.
The Jewish Press had details on the 1994 Brooklyn Bridge Van attack that resulting in four injuries including the death of Yeshiva Student, Ari Halberstam:
On March 1, 1994, Lebanese-born immigrant Rashid Baz shot many rounds of automatic fire at a van carrying 15 Lubavitch students on the Brooklyn Bridge. Four students were hit, two were very seriously injured. Ari Halberstam, 16, died four days later from a shot to the head. Another student, also shot in the head, suffered permanent major speech impediments. Muaffaq Askar, Baz’s “Palestinian uncle,” has long been suspected of supplying the weapon to convicted killer, according to the NY Daily News.
Now Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has announced Askar’s arrest as part of a multi-state cigarette smuggling ring with terrorist ties.
The Baltimore Sun Crime Blog story, referred to by Corcoran in her RRW post, has more on the two Palestinian brothers living in Ocean City, Maryland:
The Palestinian immigrant and his brother lived next door to each other in homes in West Ocean City, over the years opening a number of businesses throughout the area — three pizza shops, a Mexican restaurant, a liquor store, gas stations, and development companies, court records show.
This week, however, authorities in New York alleged that Basel, 42, and Samir Ramadan, 39, were also at the top of a multimillion-dollar cigarette-smuggling ring and said they believe members of the organization may have funneled some of their proceeds to terrorist groups.
[. . .]
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said the case highlights that cigarette smuggling is a booming business. His office is working with New York authorities to track down additional Maryland businesses that may have been involved in the ring.
"Cigarette smuggling in the past has always been a mom-and-pop operation, but because it's so lucrative — more lucrative than smuggling heroin — and the penalties are so small, organized crime is moving into it," Franchot said Friday.
New York's Attorney General said that one Brooklyn distributor being listened to on a wiretap boasted to Basel Ramadan, "This business is better than selling drugs."
The Maryland brothers were being held without bond in Worcester County, awaiting extradition to New York. Attorneys were not listed, and phone numbers for their various businesses were disconnected.
Each of the 16 defendants faces charges of enterprise corruption, money laundering, and related tax crimes in New York, and if convicted could be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
How much of the $14.2 of missing cash found its way to Hamas is the obvious question? Moreover, which agency at the federal level should have been monitoring the cigarette smuggling operation.
The US Secret Service has been the spear point in investigation of similar Food Stamp scams as the US Department of Agriculture is involved. Note this recent report of the arrest of a Daytona, Florida convenience store owner and his son, Bassam Sale Abu Diab 55 and Matthew Bassam Abu Diab. Given the expansion of the Food Stamps program over the past several years, at issue is how much of that expansion could have been similarly used to coin illegal profits for funneling funds to Hamas and other terrorist Groups.
The most disturbing element of this criminal enterprise is how 14 Palestinians could have entered this country illegally, without detection by the ICE over several years. The US Department of Home Land Security and the FBI may have to provide answers at a possible Hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee chaired by Rep. Michael T. McCaul (R-TX).
Ann Corcoran noted this in her RRW post:
We don’t know how these Palestinians got into the US (the mainstream media is rarely curious about that), but readers here at RRW should know that the US State Department and refugee contractors are now taking some Palestinian “refugees” to your towns and cities (101 so far this fiscal year)
Note this graphic illustration on how the Palestinian cigarette smuggling scheme worked:
Tensions over Syria convulse Lebanese city again, 5 killed
May 20, 3023
TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - Five people have been killed and about 50 wounded in two days of fighting in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, security sources said on Monday, a spillover of violence from the civil war in Syria.
Rocket-propelled grenades and heavy gunfire shook the city on Sunday night but exchanges tapered off into sporadic sniper fire by daytime.
Syrian activists say the latest fighting in Tripoli, where an Alawite minority lives on a hill overlooking the mainly Sunni Muslim port city, was ignited by tension over an assault by Syrian troops backed by Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah militia on the rebel-held Syrian border town of Qusair.
Three people were killed in the Sunni district of Bab Tabbaneh and another in the adjacent Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, the security sources said. The fifth fatality was a Lebanese soldier.
Sunnis in Lebanon mostly sympathize with the Sunni-led revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Lebanese militants are believed to be crossing the border to join fighting in Syria on both sides of a conflict which has sometimes bubbled over into Lebanon, especially in Tripoli.
The Syrian army offensive in Qusair is an attempt to recapture a town that straddles routes from Lebanon to the central crossroads city of Homs, which links Damascus to the north, as well as to Alawite strongholds on the coast.
Each side accuses the other of using Tripoli as a base for sending fighters and weapons in and out of Syria.
Radical cleric Abu Qatada must remain behind bars until he leaves Britain after an immigration judge heard "jihadist files" were found on digital devices in his home. Refusing the terror suspect bail, Mr Justice Irwin said a recent pledge by Qatada to voluntarily return to Jordan did not stop him from being a major flight risk. Qatada was locked up in Belmarsh prison in March after breaching a bail condition which restricts use of mobile phones and other communications devices.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) heard that a USB stick understood to belong to Qatada's oldest son contained videos made by the "media wing of al Qaida".
Handing down his ruling, Mr Justice Irwin said: "A serious matter relating to the breaches of bail was revealed during the hearing. In his witness statement, the appellant assured the commission that nothing would be found on any of these items other than school work or other innocent material. This assurance has proved untrue. Significant jihadist material has been found on a USB stick seized."
A total of 17 mobile phones, three USB sticks, one SD card, five digital media devices and 55 recordable CDs or DVDs were found. Mr Justice Irwin said: "This appellant has in the past fled in order to avoid a court order, equipping himself with a false passport. He is highly intelligent, has a range of sympathetic and supportive contacts, and his risk to national security is undiminished. We reject the submission that he can, even now, be relied on to comply with his legal obligations and not to attempt to abscond."
Qatada is also being investigated by Scotland Yard over suspected extremist material found during the search of his home. The Metropolitan Police passed on the material to Danish authorities to reportedly investigate a connection with a controversial Islamic publisher. Copenhagen police said they had subsequently arrested a man, who is understood to be Said Mansour, a Moroccan-born Dane who was jailed for three-and-a-half years in 2007 for promoting terrorism. Copenhagen's chief prosecutor Dorit Borgaard confirmed that the case concerns alleged encouragement of acts of terrorism.
Russia’s FSB has foiled a terror attack in Moscow as they managed to kill two and detain one of the militants planning it, the National Anti-Terrorism Committee said.
"Our forceful actions prevented an attempted act of terror in the capital," the National Anti-Terror Committee said in a statement. “According to some information, the militants were under surveillance during the past month,” a source from one of the intelligence agencies told RIA Novosti.
The three men are “Russian citizens, arrived from Afghani-Pakistani region, where they have been trained,” the committee said. All three are said to practice Islam.
Some reports suggest that the militants underwent training in Pakistan's Northern Waziristan, however, it is unknown which group they belong to.
“The information about their possible involvement in the ‘Islamic movement of Uzbekistan’ is being checked. Moreover, special forces are trying to find out if there were contacts and connection with militants among Moscow regions residents,” RIA Novosti reported, citing an intelligence agency source.
According to Russian special services, Waziristan is a hotbed of Taliban extremism.
It was not specified where the terror attack was planned to take place. But, a source in one of Russia’s intelligence agencies told RIA Novosti, it was to be in central Moscow.
In 2010 Telford police allowed cameras to start filming what was to become one of the biggest child sex abuse cases in the UK.
The investigation, Operation Chalice, eventually encompassed over 100 victims, and around 200 suspected perpetrators.
The Hunt for Britain's Sex Gangs follows - with unprecedented access - a live police investigation, showing just how difficult it is to secure justice for victims of sexual abuse, especially when some girls were just 11 when they were first abused.
As the police work with the victims, they begin to understand a vicious cycle of grooming, which starts with flattery and friendship, then moves on to a more overtly sexual relationship, and finally becomes exploitative as the groomers pass the girls around their networks of friends and family for sex.
Readers will recall the work that the Dispatches team did with previous programmes on Sharia Courts and most famously Undercover Mosque. I am awaiting the beginning of the trial of the men arrested in High Wycombe under Operation Ribbon which is due soon, hence the mistake for which I apologise. Ciccio's comment and my reply remain valid.
Berlin has long had an anti-capitalist bent, part of its countercultural charm. But before the war, it was a more enterprising and bustling place, due in no small part to the nearly 50,000 Jewish-owned businesses located there. What happened to those businesses under Hitler is at the core of meticulous research by Humboldt University historian Christoph Kreutzmüller. While most of us are familiar with images of Nazi boycotts and smashed storefront windows, Kreutzmüller and his research team have assembled less familiar details about the escalating campaign of violence and administrative harassment that led to the demise of Jewish enterprises and, ultimately, the demise of the idea of Berlin as a center of industry and commerce.
Kreutzmüller’s findings were on display earlier this month in an exhibit at the Berlin Chamber of Commerce as part of the city’s yearlong reckoning with the 80th anniversary of Hitler’s rise to power. They can also be found (in German) in his new book, Final Sale: The End of Jewish Owned Businesses in Nazi Berlin, and in an online database of thousands of companies that used to exist in the city. Reporter Brian Zumhagen visited Kreutzmüller in Berlin to talk with him about his research and to visit several sites where Berlin’s forgotten Jewish enterprises once stood. [Running time: 13:28.]
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Fighting raged on Monday in the strategic Syrian city of Qusayr, as the government unleashed new airstrikes and rebels resisted fiercely in parts of the city even as their makeshift hospitals overflowed with the wounded, Syrian opposition activists said.
The toll of dead and wounded also continued to rise for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which is fighting its biggest battle yet on the side of President Bashar al-Assad. Both sides have depicted the fighting in Qusayr as a turning point in the war that is raising regional tensions as Hezbollah plunges more deeply into the conflict.
Funerals for Hezbollah fighters were being planned in the group’s strongholds in the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon, relatives of the dead said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition watchdog group, reported that at least 23 Hezbollah guerrillas had died in the fighting. If confirmed, that would be by far the largest toll for Hezbollah in a single Syrian battle.
Echoes of the battle rippled across neighboring Lebanon, which is deeply divided between supporters and opponents of Mr. Assad. In the northern city of Tripoli, from which many Sunni Muslim militants have joined the Syrian rebels, residents held a candlelight vigil late Sunday in support of Qusayr’s rebels. In Shiite areas, residents worried about relatives fighting in Syria and prayed for victory in a battle Hezbollah has framed as a proxy fight against its main foe, Israel, and an intervention to defend Shiites in Syria, of both Lebanese and Syrian descent, and other minorities they say are threatened by the uprising led by Syria’s Sunni majority.
The Joint Command of the Free Syrian Army, the loose-knit United States-backed rebel umbrella group, issued a rallying cry that supporters of Hezbollah were bound to see as inflammatory, calling the group “impure,” in a phrase that could resonate as a sectarian slur against Shiites.
It congratulated rebels holding out in Qusayr, calling them “brave heroes whose victories will be highlighted by history in letters made of light as they have defended their land and their honor from the impurity of the criminal terrorist members of Hezbollah.” It also taunted Hezbollah’s leadership, saying, “We know very well how their gang is constructed and we know how to take it apart and we will take it apart. We see heads that are ripe for the picking.”
In a dig at Lebanese families sending Hezbollah fighters to the battle, the Free Syrian Army said, “We can now say that every single family or neighborhood in Baalbek or Hermel has a dead family member among their sons who fought in Qusayr.”
One relative of a slain Hezbollah fighter spoke in equally strong terms about the battle, saying in an interview that it was as crucial for the party as the struggle against Israel.
Rebels said they destroyed seven armored vehicles and killed dozens more government and Hezbollah fighters, according to an activist in Qusayr.
The Observatory also said that at least six rebels had been killed on Monday, including a commander, but activists say the toll could be higher because not all bodies have been recovered. The joint command of the rebel forces also said that hospitals in Baalbek and the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut had accepted many Hezbollah wounded.
On Sunday, Syrian government troops backed by Hezbollah fighters pushed into parts of Qusayr, hammering the city with airstrikes and artillery, killing at least 52 people and wounding hundreds as civilians cowered, unable to flee, activists said. By the end of the day on Sunday, about 60 percent of the city, which is in Homs Province, was under the army’s control for the first time in months, one activist said.
Mr. Assad, according to people who have spoken with him, believes that reasserting his hold in the province is crucial to maintaining control of a string of population centers in western Syria, and eventually to military campaigns to retake rebel-held territory in the north and east. Many analysts say that it is unlikely that the government will be able to regain control of those areas, but that it could consolidate its grip on the west, leading to a de facto division of the country.
The Hectic Vacancy Of Kerry's Frequent Flyerdom, And Not A Stop To Think
Kerry, out far and in deep, busily busying himself in the manner of his much-travelled predecessor. He ought, rather, to put to cease to rely on the frighteningly ill-informed and banal executive summaries prepared for him by young aides fresh out of Johns Hopkins or Yale, and stay in one place, and read in order to grasp the nature, scope, and duration of the threat that adherents of the ideology of Islam pose, and how best to weaken the Camp of Islam. But that would require a different mental makeup. That would require patience, and the habit of study. He doesn't have them. How, in his years of glad-handing as a politician, his eyes furtively glancing around to make sure he spent time only with those who could be of greatest value to him, rather than with those who might be the most informed or most interesting, or in his life on the town (as, for example, at the Hotel Carlyle's bobby-short bar), or putting on his furrowed-brow statesman act that apparently worked on Obama in order to obtain this coveted, career-capping position, could he have retained, if he ever had it, that necessary habit of study? He couldn't. He didn't.
Kerry to Mideast to Advance Struggling Syria Plan
By BRADLEY KLAPPER Associated Press
WASHINGTON May 20, 2013 (AP)
Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East this week to press his case for peace talks between Syrian rebels and President Bashar Assad's regime amid increasing signs the new U.S. strategy to halt the war is being undermined by Russia.
Kerry departs Monday for discussions with the sultan of Oman. He then goes to Jordan to gather with 10 of America's closest European and Arab partners to discuss how to advance a political transition and end more than two years of bloodshed in Syria, before traveling on to Israel.
For the Syria negotiations to succeed, the Obama administration is banking on Russia's help.
The U.S. and Russia have wrangled repeatedly while more than 70,000 Syrians have died, but they now say they're working together to start direct talks between Syria's government and the opposition in Geneva next month. Washington demands Assad's ouster, while Russia continues to provide the Syrian leader with military aid and diplomatic cover, but President Barack Obama this week said the meeting "may yield results."
The optimism echoes the message of Kerry, who during his Moscow visit earlier this month declared that the old Cold War foes, by rejuvenating Syrian peace hopes, were demonstrating how they "can accomplish great things together when the world needs it."
For all the heady talk of cooperation, however, Russia has continued to rebuff American demands that it cut off military support for Assad.
Moscow is preparing to give Syria state-of-the-art ground-to-air missile systems, Israeli officials say. It is beefing up its naval presence near its base in northwestern Syria, reports suggest. And, in the latest revelation, U.S. officials say Russia has provided the Assad regime with anti-ship cruise missiles.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the transfer of the advanced anti-ship missiles is "an unfortunate decision that will embolden the regime and prolong the suffering."
On the diplomatic front, the situation isn't much better. There, Russia has repeatedly blocked a proposal for an expanded Security Council trip to Turkey and Lebanon to study Syria's refugee crisis, according to U.N. diplomats.
The continued friction between Moscow on the one hand and Washington and its partners on the other comes as the Obama administration is evaluating a range of options, including military ones, to break the stalemate in Syria's civil war and respond to evidence that Assad's forces used small amounts of chemical weapons in two attacks in March. Obama previously declared chemical weapons use his "red line" for a more forceful American intervention, though Kerry and other U.S. officials have since suggested that no such step would be taken while the new peace push still has hope.
Russia's missiles support significantly boosts Syria's capability to target manned planes, drones and incoming missiles after its systems were easily circumvented in 2007 when Israeli jets bombed a suspected nuclear reactor site along the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. Apparently successful Israeli strikes in recent weeks on weapons convoys to Hezbollah show the Syrian defenses are still far from impregnable, but the new weaponry adds further considerations as the United States tries to change Assad's calculation that he can prevail in Syria's civil war.
While more and better anti-missile systems wouldn't immediately change the fight between Syria's government and armed opposition, they would make it more dangerous for the U.S. and other governments to try to enforce a no-fly zone in the country or otherwise intervening militarily. And with Washington mulling over the options, the war continues. The refugee toll has topped 1.5 million people and much of the country has slipped into lawlessness.
Kerry's weeklong trip will also see him try to advance his two-month effort to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The secretary has convinced the Arab world to help by sweetening its deal of universal recognition for the Jewish state if it pulls out of most of the territory in east Jerusalem and the West Bank that it conquered in the 1967 Mideast war. But he has struggled to gain any public concession from Israel, which was accused of taking steps last week to legalize four unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank. The Palestinians see that land as part of its future state.
Kerry also will travel to Ethiopia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity, the precursor to today's African Union.
Former lieutenant general Michael Barbero says "Boston is not an anomaly."
WASHINGTON — The threat from homemade bombs — the top killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq — will persist for decades and likely become a more prevalent menace domestically, according to the former top Pentagon officer charged with fighting improvised explosive devices.
Michael Barbero, an Army lieutenant general who retired Friday, talked about IEDs and the threat they pose to U.S. citizens and their toll in Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere in a recent interview.
"This is here to stay," said Barbero, who led the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). "It's too cheap, too readily available, a whole generation of [MUSLIM] bombmakers. Boston is not an anomaly." -- The implied message is to just accept this new state of murderous affairs, and don't allow yourself to think of the obvious ways to diminish the threat, first by limiting the number of Muslims in the West, and second, by observing those already in the West so closely that they will want to leave, and third, by not treating these as isolated incidents for which only individuals are responsible, but treat them as acts of Jihad for which the Umma, the Community of Believers, should be made to suffer, so as to change the calculations of Muslim bombers.
Ken Burns Offers His "Hidden Gems" Of New England, Or, Infra Dig We Must
Did you know that the North Bridge in Concord, the Battle Green in Lexington, Mark Twain's house in Hartford, were all 'hidden gems" of New England that only a real native and travel-site connoisseur, such as Ken Burns, could unearth for your profit and pleasure? See here.
Six days of sightseeing -- all of which you could do on your own, but then you wouldn't have the illusion - not I assume the actual numinous presence -- of being somehow blessed by Ken Burns himself -- costs a mere $3,000. Ten, twenty, thirty such visitors, paying $500 a day, of which $150 a day should pay for room and the meals indicated, thus leaving $350/day pure profit, per visitor. If 20 tourists come to bask in the reflected glory of Burns via the tour operator, that's $7000 of profit a day. 100 days of such tours per year, and that's $700,000.
A rebuttal to Daniel Pipes' Washington Times op-ed on the question of "moderate Islam."
by Walid Shoebat
[the recorded debate between Pipes and Wafa Sultan can be found here]
May 18, 2013
“Our killer question is ‘How do you propose to defeat Islamism?’ Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it.”
This is what historian and Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks in his recent Washington Times article.
To support his argument, Pipes makes an unsubstantiated claim that a majority of Muslims are moderate and that Islamism is only, supported by 10-15 percent of Muslims…
So how and why did he come up with such numbers? Pipes uses different studies and surveys about which he himself confesses: “These ambiguous and contradictory percentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists.” Why then use such statistics? It is only to serve the major argument he made in my first paragraph.
And there are more “confessions.” Pipes writes: “Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists.” This is in itself contradictory and is even absolutely nonsense mathematically as he clearly admits. To further support this conservative number, Pipes adds:
Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists “is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population.”
He did this while he ignored his other statement:
In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting off the hands of thieves) and 52 percent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.
So here we have 52% of Indonesians are extremists, not 15%.
Yet even that doesn’t determine the correct percentages to separate Muslims from Islamists. To say that “views on 9/11″ or “supporting Hadd” (Islamic punishment) is the yardstick to measure the percentages is also absurd and mathematically false. What if a Muslim doesn’t support 9/11 or Hadd but supports the idea that it takes two women in a court of law to equal the testimony of a man? Will Pipes count him as a moderate Muslim or an extremist Islamist? If he chooses “moderate,” then Pakistan got it right. No matter what Pipes chooses, it debunks all his unsubstantiated claims about moderate Islam.
What if a Muslim couldn’t care less about Sharia, jihad, and 9/11, yet he kills his sister for marrying a Jew? Is he a “Muslim” or is he an “Islamist”?
And what if we even use terrorism as a yardstick as Pipes prefers; in Saudi Arabia and across the Muslim world, you have many who do not support al-Qaeda. Are these then counted as moderates? In Pipes’ view the answer is “yes.” But this is false. Last week I had an exchange with Sheikh Faisal Al-Harbi, who chastised me on such issues,stating that his clan (Al-Harbi) would not support terrorism. Indeed, on his clan’s official website they denounce al-Qaeda, adding:
Jihad for the sake of Allah is to go to war with the infidels and the polytheists to remove these and enforce Unitarianism. That is after inviting them to Islam and they reject the invitation (Da’wa). This Jihad is then organized and supervised by the Imam.
That cannot be placed in the moderate Islam camp. In light of this and my other arguments, Pipes’ percentages are escalating dramatically.
The true number for Islamists is 100%. Here, let me add more beef to my claim. What if a Muslim denounces today’s jihad, sharia, Islamic state and all? Is he then moderate?
Hardly. The Muslims who take this position take it by claiming that only the Khalifa or the Mahdi can establish these. Take Hisham Kabbani, for example, a Sufi Muslim scholar whose photo Pipes posted.
Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis.
Nonsense. Kabbani is Sufi and is in fact a Mahdist as all Sufi Muslims are. In his work Approach of Armageddon (page 231), he writes of an entire invasion of Israel and believes as Ahmadinejad does:
Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan [Iran] will signify [that] the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh.
The “black flags” from “Iran” mean the end of Pipes. Just name the Sufi scholar and I can usually find their Arabic writings and prove they are moderate for the time being. Sheikh Maulana Nazeem Kibrisi, another major Sufi scholar, was found in Turkish speaking with the fervor of Adolf Hitler (watch here). Kibrisi was no small-time Sufi either; in a speech given in Germany to Turkish students, with tens of thousands gathered – including then-prime minister-to-be Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Erbakan of the Refah Islamist party – Kibrisi is found saying:
Glory and blessing to the Lord of the two worlds who is the cause of these days. Definitely, the victory belongs to Islam. This flood of people here is a sign of the rise of the glorious Islam. Do they not think that this a great sign? When the great sign appears [Mahdi] the world will shake. Our forefathers made the earth tremble. This gathering is a memento from our forefathers… You are the grand sons of the Ottomans who will make the world tremble again. If the Ottomans do not come back the unbelievers will never be brought down to their knees…history is made of recurrences, certainly our glorious era has come, the day being born belongs to Islam…as long as we have Allah we do not need America, nor do we need the unbelievers in Europe, nor do we need the unbelievers nor will we go their path.
What about Al-Ghazali, the famous theologian, philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism whom the eminent W. M. Watt describes as “acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Mohammed, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity”? Scholars like Pipes know the truth, yet completely ignore it. Al-Ghazali said:
One must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year… one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…. If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book—Jews and Christians, typically] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked.… One may cut down their trees/…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…they may steal as much food as they need.
Pipes even went as low to claim that Muhammad was a “Muslim not an Islamist” and even distinguished him since, “Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology.”
By switching Muhammad from “Islamist” to “Muslim, Pipes must then answer a crucial question: is Islam defined by its founder or by Mr. Pipes? Muhammad defined Islam as “Al-Islamu deen wa dawla” (“Islam is a religion and a state”). Pipes then must remove the “and” to substantiate his false case.
Then Pipes makes even more blunders:
Islamism relies heavily on conspiracy theories to interpret the world, on the state to advance its ambitions, and on brutal means to attain its goals.
All this from an historian who ignores that much of Islam, including the Quran, the Hadith and Islamic history, is littered with “conspiracy theories” in order “to advance its ambitions” by “brutal means.”
So here is my answer to Mr. Pipes’ question: We will fight Islam with the bible, history, our Constitution, and our laws and even militarily if we must, while working with any Muslim to bring them on our side of the fence, including terrorists. I was one myself. We will not do this by creating an end that justifies the means. Pipes insists we provide a solution, which according to him is only done by mischaracterizing the problem at hand, which is: it’s Islam, stupid, and it’s 100% all the Muslims that believe in it. To add more from history — Mr. Pipes’ favorite subject — Islam was defeated when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled. And in those times, they didn’t use Pipes’ strategy of differentiating between Islam and Islamism. Sir Winston Churchill said:
Mohammedanism [Islam] is a militant and proselytizing faith.
Suspicions have grown that Muslim convert Samantha Lewthwaite, now known as the White Widow due to her fugitive status in East Africa, was actually one of the masterminds behind the killings in 2005. Immediately after the explosions which murdered 52 people on the London transport system, she said she "abhorred" the actions of her dead husband Jermaine Lindsay, whose bomb detonated near King's Cross on the Piccadilly Line.
However, the middle-class Muslim convert from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, has since risen to a senior status in the Al Shabaab movement in Kenya and Somalia, a terror group affiliated to Al Qaeda.
Believed to be behind its funding and propaganda, the 29-year-old has assumed cult status among her jihadi followers for her characteristic street-slang rants at non-Muslim "kuffar".
An arrest warrant was issued for her last May after she failed to appear in court in Kenya to face bomb-making charges.
The chemicals found in a raid on her home in Kenya in December 2010 included acetone and hydrogen peroxide, two of the key components of the terror attacks in London eight years ago. A security source said: "That raises the prospect that Lewthwaite may have been more closely involved in the 7/7 attacks than previously thought. It might also explain her seniority as a top-rank Al Qaeda leader and the suspected chief financier of Al Shabaab."
Lewthwaite is also a suspect for a grenade attack at a hotel bar in Mombasa, Kenya, in which three people were killed last June while watching an England football match on television during Euro 2012.
She is thought to be behind a "press office" Twitter account for the Muslim Youth Centre, which distributes announcements exhorting violent jihad . . . When confronted on Twitter last month by a journalist who suggested that the @MYC_Press account was being operated by Lewthwaite, the response was: "She's back in Luton :). In Bedford we take no prisoners."