Thursday, September 23, 2004

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) barred entry to the US

This came as shocking news to many that Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was refused entry to the US. From the BBC: Mr Islam, who converted to Islam in 1977, was on United Airlines Flight 919 when it was diverted 600 miles (1000km), landing in Maine. After being interviewed by US officials, he was denied entry into the US. A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security, Garrison Courtney, told the AFP news agency that Mr Islam's name "was placed on watch lists because of concerns that the US has about activities that can potentially be related to terrorism." The Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a statement that the move "sends the disturbing message that even moderate and mainstream Muslims will now be treated like terrorists." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is also understood to have raised the issue with the US Secretary of State in New York. Here's a link explaining how Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam. This action by the Dept. of Homeland Security is indeed a dangerous precedent & gives a clear message to moderate Americans, why it is important to vote Bush out of office, so Kerry has a chance to appoint moderate cabinet members.

Signs of life at the UN? From The Jordan Times, "UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has caused a storm with hisrecent admission to the BBC that the US invasion of Iraq was "illegal." One ought to welcome Annan's comments as a belated attemptto redress his past dereliction. But he will need to follow up vigorously, as his words carry a responsibility for action. If the United States acted illegally, then he ought to spell outwhat consequences should ensue under the charter. Annan ought to remind those he has accused of conducting an illegal war that when Saddam Hussein committed the historic crime of invading and occupying Kuwait, not only did the UN endorse an international coalition to throw Iraq out, it also imposed and administered devastating sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of children by the UN's own estimates. Iraq was forced to pay compensation to every foreign national, corporation and statethat was harmed by its actions, and despite Iraq's devastated condition, it is still having such compensation subtracted from its meagre oil revenues."

Why should sympathizers of the Palestinian cause not support Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza? The reason Amira Hass, an Israeli actvist and columnist of the Israeli liberal newspaper, Haaretz, says, "the disengagement is a dangerous part of the plan because it enables Sharon and his partners in his world view to continue executing their real plan and to do so without public criticism, without protests, without effective opposition. Their goal is control over as much of the West Bank as possible, without Arabs or with as few Arabs as possible, and the continued expansion of settlements that separate Palestinian population centers from each other. In that vision, the Palestinians are not a nation with national rights over their land, which is entirely under Israeli control, but a collection of individual communities, and the Israeli ruler is preparing a different future for each one of those communities: two of them, in Gaza and the northern West Bank, will soon enjoy an Israeli "withdrawal." Sharon himself has made openly clear his intentions in the disengagement plan. As he said in the Rosh Hashanah issue of Yedioth Ahronoth, the disengagement "frees Israel from pressure to adopt one or another plan that would have been dangerous for it."

Did Bush lose a chance to woo other nations to support re-construction of Iraq at the United Nations? This NY Times editorial says, "We did not expect President Bush to come before the United Nations in the middle of his re-election campaign and acknowledge the serious mistakes his administration has made on Iraq. But that still left plenty of room for him to take advantage of this one last chance to appeal to an increasingly antagonistic world to help the Iraqis secure and rebuild their shattered nation and prepare for elections in just four months. Instead, Mr. Bush delivered an inexplicably defiant campaign speech in which he glossed over the current dire situation in Iraq for an audience acutely aware of the true state of affairs, and scolded them for refusing to endorse the American invasion in the first place." Sometimes I wonder how many of the officials supressed a sarcastic smile when Bush talked about how great everything is in Iraq now that the Iraqis have been liberated!!