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FM newswire for 27 February, articles for your morning reading

27 February 2010

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis, collected from around the Internet.  If you find this useful, pass it to a friend or colleague. 

  1. A look at the increasing weirdness of American politics:  “It’s Not Politics, It’s Bonkers“, Michael Wolff, Newser, 23 February 2010
  2. Inside the mind of Newsweek on ‘terrorism’“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 23 February 2010 — “Terrorists are Muslims who dislike the U.S., while Americans — especially ones who are white and non-Muslim — cannot, by definition, qualify.”
  3. The Meaning Of Newsweek’s ‘Terrorism Debate’“‘, Ta-Nehisi Coates , blog of The Atlantic, 24 February 2010 — “In what instance could one commit an act of rape but not be a rapist?”
  4. Interview of National Journal’s Shane Harris, author of a new book on the rise of the surveillance state, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reason, 25 February 2010
  5. Watching the European Monetary Union fracture:  “German Banks Turn Their Backs on Greek Bonds‎“, Der Spiegel, 26 February 2010 — “Greece needs to refinance 20 billion euros’ worth of debt by May”
  6. Torture requires careful preparation:  “Where are the Yoo and Philbin Emails?“, Scott Horton, blog of Harper’s, 26 February 2010 — Attorneys know the importance of destroying evidence when committing crimes.  “‘Where are Mr. Yoo’s emails?’ Senator Leahy pressed, politely but firmly, before the sole witness, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler.”
  7. Analysis of Obama’s worst proposal to date:  “Insiders, Outsiders and Unemployment“, Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, 26 February 2010

Today’s Feature Article, describing how ruling by fear is easy — even in Australia

 “Coercive Solutions“, Ross McKibbin, blog of the London Review of Books, 26 February 2010 — Excerpt:

The Australian government has just published a white paper which assures its readers that the terrorist threat to Australia is stronger than ever. External threats remain but are now made much worse by the dangers of homegrown terrorism, a result of the spread of jihadist propaganda among Australia’s Muslim population. The government proposes to increase significantly the powers of the federal police – including the right to search the property of suspected ‘terrorists’ without a warrant – and to introduce further (and severe) visa tests on people coming to Australia from 10 unnamed countries.

Here is the white paper; carefully designed to excite the fears of Australians:  “Securing Australia – Protecting Our Community“, Department of the Prime Minister, Government of Australia, February 2010 — From the Executive Summary:

{This paper} explains the nature of the terrorist threat to Australia within Australia’s broader national security context; sets out the Australian Government’s strategy for countering terrorism; and details the policy settings by which the Government will implement its counter-terrorism strategy.

… The threat of terrorism to Australia is real and enduring. It has become a persistent and permanent feature of Australia’s security environment. The main source of international terrorism and the primary terrorist threat to Australia and Australian interests is from a global violent jihadist movement – extremists who follow a distorted and militant interpretation of Islam that espouses violence as the answer to perceived grievances. This extremist movement comprises al‑Qa’ida, groups allied or associated with it, and others inspired by a similar worldview. While the threat is persistent, the challenge has evolved since the last counter-terrorism White Paper in 2004 in two respects.

First, while there have been counter-terrorism successes (most notably pressure on al‑Qa’ida’s core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and action against terrorists in South-East Asia), these successes have been offset by the rise of groups affiliated with, or inspired by, al‑Qa’ida’s message and methods, with new areas such as Somalia and Yemen joining existing areas of concern in South Asia, South-East Asia, the Middle East and the Gulf.

A second shift apparent since 2004 has been the increase in the terrorist threat from people born or raised in Australia, who have become influenced by the violent jihadist message. The bombings in London on 7 July 2005, which were carried out by British nationals, brought into stark relief the real threat of globally-inspired but locally generated attacks in Western democracies, including Australia.

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