Morning Report: 2009-02-22

Morning Report returns in its first post under the Obama administration, with updates on events around the world.

Clinton to Chinese dissidents, Tibetans: Drop dead. AFP via Yahoo News: 'Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China. Paying her first visit to Asia as the top US diplomat, Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet. "But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing. T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was "shocked and extremely disappointed" by Clinton's remarks. ...' The Belmont Club wonders why anybody is surprised:

Human society is not going to change any time soon. In a world where ideals are only roughly approximated, it is the occasional triumph of justice that provides the surprise. As a species we are sustained in our history by the one unselfish act in a thousand sordid ones. History is a catalogue of dark days occasonally punctuated by joy only because it can’t be locked down. The role of publics is to provide randomness: to supply the outbreak of heroism and generosity that the great can never be counted on to provide.

T. Kumar of Amnesty International USA said the global rights lobby was “shocked and extremely disappointed” by Clinton’s remarks.

He ought not to be. What was surprising was that he hoped in Hillary Clinton. Those in China who want their freedom must fight on to hope on. And when they get it, it won’t be a “gift” from Hillary Rodham Clinton. It will be entirely theirs.

Syria building chemical weapons plant? IRIS:

The Jerusalem Post reports extensive contruction of a chemical weapons plant in northwest Syria according to satellite images taken by several commercial sources between 2005 to 2008 and citing a Jane's defense analyst group report:

The images of a chemical weapons facility identified as al-Safir.... obtained by DigitalGlobe's WorldView-1 satellite shows that
extensive construction has taken place at the facility, as well as at an
adjacent missile base, the group wrote. In addition, the images showed that the site contained a number of the "defining features of a chemical weapons facility." ...

Irshad Manji to talk religion, politics with Christiane Amanpour. Irshad Manji:

For answers, Christiane’s the go-to gal. She’s dared to outrage Bill Clinton in front or her bosses. Yasser Arafat once slammed the phone on her during a live broadcast. And Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accuses her of rudeness. All of them got questions they didn’t want to hear.

In that spirit, I know Christiane and I don’t see eye to eye about Islam. She certainly acknowledges the life-and-death threats posed by fundamentalist Muslims — watch her analysis of last week’s troubling concession to the Taliban by the Pakistani government.

But the fact is that I view mainstream Islamic practices today as more corrupted, and thus more dangerous to human dignity, than she does. This difference might lead to a disagreement about one of the moral courage challenges facing media around the globe: Can stories about Islam be covered properly, knowing that journalists will be accused of bigotry for conveying information or opinions that some Muslims don’t want to hear — and knowing that they could engage in violence to silence the journalists?

To find out why Irshad is concerned about Islam and journalism, go to the link.

Another Lebanon war? Michael Totten:

The Lebanese-Israeli border has been calmer during the last two and a half years than it has been in decades. Hezbollah replenished its arsenal of rockets after the 2006 war, but has chosen to lay low in the meantime. Not one Israeli soldier has been kidnapped since the war’s end, and not a single Hezbollah rocket has landed in Israel. Nothing stays the same in the Middle East for long, though, and Israel and Lebanon may be headed for confrontation again.

One year to the day after Hezbollah military commander Imad Mugniyeh was assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Damascus, Alice Fordham published a piece at NOW Lebanon that makes for sobering reading. She quotes a number of analysts in both Lebanon and Israel who fear another round of violence is coming. Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah blames Israel for killing Mugniyeh, and he vows vengeance. His threat appears to be credible. Terrorist attacks against Israeli interests by Hezbollah cells have been foiled on three continents -- in Europe, Egypt, and Azerbaijan.

I wrote recently that Nasrallah appears to have been deterred by Israel’s devastating air and ground assault in July and August of 2006. “We did not believe,” he said on Lebanon’s New TV station, “even by one percent, that the captive operation would result in such a wide-scale war, as such a war did not take place in the history of wars. Had we known that the captive operation would result in such a war we would not have carried it out at all.” Not even during the recent war in Gaza, while the Israelis were busy and distracted fighting Hamas, did Nasrallah think it wise to risk a repeat of 2006. Unless every reported terrorist attempt since Mugniyeh’s assassination is fictitious, though, Nasrallah still seems to think it’s okay to attack Israel outside Israel.

Israel vows to retaliate inside Lebanon if Hezbollah inflicts any serious damage. ...

Wafa Sultan speaks out against oppression. Wafa Sultan:

When the Prophet Muhammad married the child 'Aisha, this was not an act of honor toward her childhood. When Muhammad married Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son, after seeing her naked and desiring her, this was not an act of honor toward married women. When Muhammad married the Jewish woman Safiya, upon his return from a raid in which he killed her father, brother, and husband, this was not an act of honor toward her. The same goes for all his marriages."

"Accusing women of being 'lacking in brains' is not an act of honor toward her. Human beings - whether male or female - are the property of their Creator. No human being has the right to own another. The subjugation of women reduces them to a level lower than beasts - not to mention the laws of inheritance, testimony in court, the beating of a wife who refuses to go to bed with her husband, and 'honor' crimes.

Via Muslims Against Sharia blog.

Netanyahu: Iran regime public enemy number one. AFP via Google: 'Hawkish Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday named Iran as Israel's main threat after accepting the task of forming a new government in the wake of the tight February 20 elections. "Iran is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon and constitutes the gravest threat to our existence since the war of independence," he said at a ceremony at President Shimon Peres's official residence.' The Spirit of Man adds:

I hate to say it but this confrontation, which by the way Mullahs have asked for, is getting more and more inevitable. Get ready for the doomsday.....

اولین سخنی که نخست وزیر جدید اسرائیل بر زبان اورد اشاره به دشمن درجه یک اسرائیل یعنی حکومت جنایتکار اسلامی ایران بود. من بعید میدونم اقای نتانیاهو به تاسیسات اتمی رژیم اسلامی حمله نکنه. و بهمین دلیل هم از دوستان و خوانندگان وبلاگ خودم در داخل ایران خواهش میکنم به فکر روزی باشند که تشعشعات و گرد و غبار اتمی حاصل از نابود شدن تاسیسات هسته ای رژیم باعث مریضی و کمبود غذا و اب در داخل کشور بشه. از همین الان غذا و اب برای روز مبادا ذخیره کنید و اماده بدترین سناریوی احتمالی باشید

Davis slave William Jackson gave Union secrets. CNN: 'William Jackson was a slave in the home of Confederate president Jefferson Davis during the Civil War. It turns out he was also a spy for the Union Army, providing key secrets to the North about the Confederacy. ...'