Sunday, April 21, 2013

Were Boston Marathon bombers followers of Harry Potter-hating Australian sheik and pro-al-Qaeda preacher?

A YouTube page reported owned by one of the Boston Marathon bombers reveals that they may have been followers of two radical Muslim sheiks - one  who preached against the 'corrupting evils of Harry Potter' and another who advocates for al-Qaeda in their native Chechnya.

A user called Tamerlan Tsarnaev - the name of the alleged bomber killed in a shootout with police in Boston last night - has posted several videos of sermons of fundamentalist sheiks.

One video is from Abdel al-Hamid al-Juhani, a Russian sheik who reportedly preaches a form of Salafist Islam that is usually associated with al-Qaeda.

Al-Juhani is 'is an important ideologue for al Qaeda in Chechnya and the Caucases,' Mary Habeck, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who studies radical Islam, told the Daily Beast.

He also posted a video about 'The Black Flags From Khorasan,' which Habeck said is shorthand for al-Qaeda.

The other holy man that Tsarnaev's YouTube page advocates is Sheik Feiz Mohammed - an Australian-born Lebanese preacher whose fundamentalist teachings include condemnations of Harry Potter for teaching paganism.  Tsarnaev posted a video of the sermon on his YouTube page.  He later labels Harry Potter an idolator and an enemy of Allah.

Tsarnaev also posted a video of Sheik Feiz Mohammed teaching that Muslims are not good followers of the faith if they don't adhere to all of the Sunnah - or rulings of Islamic scholars. These rules are not listed in the Koran.

He has also urged his followers to behead the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, for his campaigns against Islam in the Netherlands, according to a Dutch newspaper.

Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who are both from the Russian breakaway region of Chechnya, are believed to be behind the bombing that killed thee people and left dozens maimed and at least 170 injured.


Green laws set to jeopardise mining work

MAJOR mining and resource projects could be delayed indefinitely and existing projects seriously impacted if Federal Government environmental laws were passed by Parliament, leading businesses have claimed.

The Federal Government has announced changes to the laws, which will allow it to intervene in developments where there is a significant impact on groundwater like the Great Artesian Basin.

But resource companies complained that the laws were so prohibitive that if they were in force today, they would still be waiting for approvals that were granted for the LNG projects in Gladstone and were approved in 2010.

In a submission to a Senate committee investigating the changes, QGC said the amendments could mean its existing project could be radically amended by future approvals.

It said the changes could even mean the currently lawful exploration for gas could become unlawful and the environmental impact statement process could be delayed by another two years.

It would also mean an "ongoing and unlimited information loop".

"Even though the QCLNG project has already been referred to the Federal Environment Minister and approved, any amendments to the project and any complementary project required to feed the already approved LNG trains will be caught by the Bill," QGC said.

"The Bill does nothing to protect proponents from the risk that conditions may be imposed in the context of an amended approval, which might necessitate changes to how existing production activities are carried out," QGC said.

"Supply planning will now need to factor in the likelihood of substantial delays in approval and the impact of a change from adaptive management."

BHP Billiton said the changes could also impact its existing operations.

"Given the large number of approvals, licences and permits that relate to mining operations and the frequency that these are renewed, amended or extended, the practical outcome will be that current operations will very quickly no longer qualify for prior authorisation exemption," the company said.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said if the resource companies believed that the current processes had captured community confidence "then they have been living under a rock".

"Australia's water resources are among our most vital natural resources and it is important that we ensure they are protected," Mr Burke said.

"The proposed amendments will ensure that coal seam gas and large coal mining developments must be assessed and approved under national environment law, if they are likely to have a significant impact on a water resource.

"Realistically, whenever I have made a decision on coal seam gas, the Australian public would expect that we are taking into account all the impacts on our precious water resources."


The academics who hate free speech

by John Speer

The Labor Government’s recent abandonment of Senator Stephen Conroy’s proposed media-regulation laws has brought an end to the greatest assault on free speech in Australia yet attempted. However, the battle is nowhere near over and it rages on in the most trivial of places.

For an an example of just how determined the left is to silence those with whom it disagrees, consider the  recent experience of the the Melbourne University Liberal Club. The MULC is a conservative student organisation that represents a clear minority in the political ecosystem that prevails on campus. Whilst not being directly affiliated with the Liberal Party, the club has adhered to and promoted the values of liberalism since 1925.

In the University of Melbourne’s Orientation Week in February of 2013, the MULC did as it has always done, and set about promoting itself to attract new members. Orientation Week has traditionally been our biggest recruitment drive of the year. In addition to manning our allocated booth at the Clubs & Societies Expo, we also set up a number of stalls around the Parkville campus. These stalls are generally decorated with various Liberal Party corflutes [plastic signs], publications, stickers, and various other promotional giveaways.

Merv Bendle's submission to a Senate panel looking into academic freedom

This year one of the corflutes, kindly donated to us, originated from the 2001 federal election campaign. This particular corflute pictured then-Prime Minister John Howard and his quote “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.” On one particular day of O-Week, The Club displayed this corflute proudly at our stall, a reminder of one of the Howard government’s most successful policies.

Within minutes of displaying this corflute, members of the MULC were approached by university academics who believed it to be ‘racist’ and ‘disgusting’. In addition to this, they insisted we had no right whatsoever to display it at our stall. Senior members of The Club explained that whilst they were free to hold those opinions, we were perfectly within our rights to voice our own beliefs and display a piece of official election material.

With the debate ending rather quickly, our stall was soon approached by the University of Melbourne’s security staff, who stated they had received “complaints” about the corflute. They then ordered the MULC booth off campus.

After it was explained that all present were both MULC members and students of the university,  thus having a right to be present on university grounds, the security staff then attempted to remove the corflute from the grounds of the university.

Upon members reminding them that the corflute was the MULC’s private property, they placed it back on the stall.

In a desire not to inflame the situation, MULC members transported the stall off campus and onto public property in order to continue our membership drive.

Whilst this incident may seem trivial, it typifies the difficulties and harassment experienced by conservative and libertarian student organisations. The mentality of the left in the practice of freedom of speech, equating to “I don’t want to see it therefore it can’t be displayed”, is arrogant and abusive. We might also call it absurd, if not for the chilling glimpse of the totalitarian mindset determined to crimp and control all conversation and thought on campus.

And remember, it was not left students who complained about our display but academics, who should be dedicated to the free and unfettered discussion and dissection of ideas.

Not only do such attempts to gag fly in the face of the right to free speech and freedom of expression,  they demonstrate the unwillingness of the left on campus, and generally everywhere, to adhere to the basic principles of democracy. I am drawn to a quote from Voltaire’s biographer, Evelyn Beatrice Hall, and often attributed in error to the philosopher himself. It is this: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Whilst the fight for freedom of expression and speech may be at a temporary ceasefire in Canberra, it continues to escalate in the tertiary institutions of this nation.


Bureaucratic defamation

A RETIRED Territory cop and sailor was shocked to discover a federal government database had 40-year-old convictions for assault and rape on his rap sheet - despite not having a blemish on his record.

Dallas Graetz, 63, said NT Police documentation proved he had no criminal history.

But the ex-navy petty officer said he received an email from the Australian Electoral Commission - where he works as a casual - asking him why he hadn't disclosed his criminal record.

"I just thought it could have been a speeding fine or something," Mr Graetz said.

"I phoned the commission and they told me that a criminal history check done by CrimTrac had revealed I had been sentenced to three years jail for assault and 10 years for rape.

"I said: 'I must have been a very busy boy' - I was in the navy from 1966 to 1981 and 13 years of that was apparently spent in jail. I then rang my wife and told her to be careful because there was a rapist in the house."

But all jokes aside, Mr Graetz said it was concerning that there was paperwork floating around the government "branding me as a convicted rapist".

CrimTrac is run from the Attorney-General's department in Canberra and collects records from every state and territory to keep in a central database.

Mr Graetz, who was with the police force for more than two decades after his navy service, said CrimTrac had the convictions recorded in Bairnsdale, in eastern Victoria, in 1975 and 1977.

But he said he was working at HMAS Coonawarra, in Darwin, during that time.  "It's a really bad stuff-up," Mr Graetz said.

He said his full name, date of birth and place of birth were correct but the convictions were not his.

Mr Graetz said the AEC called him last night to apologise for the error.

He said CrimTrac had also apologised and amended his record in the database.  But he still wants to know how the error occurred in the first place.


Justice system unfair: poll

QUEENSLANDERS believe the justice system is unfair and inconsistent, and they disagree with criminal matters being settled in secret.

More than 2000 readers of The Courier-Mail responded to an online poll yesterday about the fairness of the state's legal system after two criminal cases were highlighted.

The details about a mother who was fined $400 for a crash that killed her teenage daughter are on the public record but the circumstances behind the criminal charges being dropped against Wallabies star Kurtley Beale will remain confidential because he and his victim underwent mediation.

Beale was charged with allegedly striking a bouncer outside a Brisbane nightclub in June.

Eighty-one per cent of respondents - or 1749 voters - said they did not believe the legal system was fair, transparent and consistent.

Two-thirds of 1778 online readers said the details of mediation should not be confidential and 83 per cent of 1662 voters disagreed with laws that ensured confidentiality if a perpetrator paid a victim after the process of mediation.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said the Government was considering ways to make the justice system more open and transparent, including naming and shaming laws under the Youth Justice Act.

" Since changes to the legislation in 2002, the publication of identifying information relating to children has occurred only three times," Mr Bleijie said.

Queensland's top judge Paul de Jersey said the majority of the public did not understand how court processes worked but the judiciary strived to increase the public's awareness.

Chief Justice de Jersey defended mediation, especially for minor offences, but acknowledged the importance of the principle of an open court.

"I am not surprised that negative assessments are made where a complaint has effectively been determined behind closed doors with public knowledge of the process withheld," Justice de Jersey told The Courier-Mail.

"If following a mediation the police inform the court that the prosecution offers no evidence, the court proceeding cannot go any further.

"The open-court principle is critically important (and) I expect that if people were asked about their confidence in the justice system by reference to cases which have actually proceeded in court, a much more positive result would arise.

"That would especially be so if those who were surveyed had actually sat in on court proceedings to an appreciable extent," Justice de Jersey said.


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