North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Nigeria to Brunei - Islamic extremism in the news

Teatree assumes that most reasonably informed folks have picked up on the [latest] debacle in Nigeria. Boko Haram in northern Nigeria raided another school, but this time, took over 200 young girls away, with the intent of providing their Islamic warriors with "wives."

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Picture purportedly taken at the scene of the school raid and kidnapping ... from

Time Magazine ran this piece written by a Charlene Alter, and the first few paragraphs puts things into perspective rather well. "We were fascinated with the search for the Malaysian plane and the search for survivors on the South Korean ferry. Why wasn't the media also focused on searching for the missing girls?

There’s nothing the media loves more than a good hunt. So for the past few months, news coverage has been dominated by the hunt for the missing Flight #MH370, the hunt for survivors on the South Korean ferry accident, even the hunt for 2016 presidential candidates. But when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped more than 230 Nigerian girls from their school on the night of April 14, Wolf Blitzer and his fancy graphics were nowhere to be found.

Eighteen days ago, the girls were just high schoolers trying to get an education. Now they’ve been kidnapped by terrorists and likely sold into “marriages” to men in Chad and Cameroon.

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The Boko Haram extremists seem to have the ability to attack at will, while the Nigerian government shows the inability to even get the kidnapping story straight, much less do anything about it. Photo from

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, who runs a shelter for girls abducted by Joseph Kony’s LRA in Uganda, says that’s just a euphemism for systematic rape. “This is not marriage,” she says. “They are being given in sex slavery. This is human trafficking. We should call evil by its name.” Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 16% of the 29.8 million enslaved people in the world, and now these girls have likely joined their ranks."

The piece goes on, leaving it for us to ponder, "It’s atrocious that the Nigerian government has made almost no publicized effort to find the girls. Mausi Segun, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Nigeria, said that people who live near the group’s suspected camps haven’t seen any security forces searching for the students, nobody from the government has reached out to the families, and the government even lied and said that most of the girls had been returned.

But the media enabled the government to sweep the whole thing under the rug by ignoring the story for weeks. The kidnapping was mentioned for the first time on American nightly news on May 1st, more than two weeks after the girls were taken, according to Andrew Tyndall, who runs the Tyndall Report analyzing TV news. NBC Nightly News ran the first story Thursday night, CBS ran a piece Friday morning, and ABC has been mum. The story never made the front page of the National Edition of the New York Times."

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Nigerian women protesting in Nigeria's capital - photo from

Teatree can only add that, once again Islamic extremists - right? - have found a way to justify all they do. (A 2013 book written by a Canadian woman Amanda Lindhout, titled "A House in the Sky", describes in more detail her own treatment at the hand of Islamists in Somalia, including the religious thought and verses in the Koran that give the men free rein). The Nigerian government remains a mystery, if not a travesty, to the concept of honest and competent governance. And more often than not, western media picks through to choose, often insanely, what are the stories to receive obsessive coverage, while giving minimal and tardy coverage to others.

On to Brunei

So, the Taliban and Boko Haram are savage throwbacks to the 7th century but with modern weaponry. But how does one assess the latest example of choosing a retrograde judicial code, in this case, the strange little country of Brunei, which has just imposed Sharia law on its citizens.

Brunei, half the size of the US state of Connecticut, similar in size to Prince Edward Island in Canada, and 2/3s the size of Corsica in France. Population over 410 thousand, nearly 70% ethnic Malay, and 11% Chinese. Graphic from

As an article from The Diplomat puts it, "Brunei has ignored a chorus of international pleas and imposed Sharia law on the 416,000 people who live in the tiny, oil-rich country, which has been ruled by an absolute monarch, Hassanal Bolkiah, for almost half a century.

The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. Photo from

Bolkiah had attempted to justify the introduction of the strict Islamic penal code, arguing it was a type of special assistance from God to protect his Sultanate from outside, decadent influences, commonly found on the Internet.

“It is because of our need that Allah the Almighty, in all his generosity, has created laws for us, so that we can utilise them to obtain justice,” he said. He also recalled the long gone days of the Divine Right of Kings, when he said that God himself “has said this law is indeed fair.”

Stiff penalties, normally associated with countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan, that include stoning to death, floggings and the amputation of limbs are to be introduced for theft, adultery and gay relationships. Sodomy, along with blasphemy, drinking alcohol and pregnancy outside of marriage are also illegal. Penalties can be imposed on people who were under the age of 18 when a Sharia crime was committed."

So, let's consider:

From Wikipedia, "Brunei regained its independence from the United Kingdom on 1 January 1984. Economic growth during the 1990s and 2000s, averaging 56% from 1999 to 2008, has transformed Brunei into a newly industrialised country. It has developed wealth from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields. Brunei has the second-highest Human Development Index among the South East Asia nations after Singapore, and is classified as a developed country.[13] According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Brunei is ranked fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity. The IMF estimated in 2011 that Brunei was one of two countries (the other being Libya) with a public debt at 0% of the national GDP. Forbes also ranks Brunei as the fifth-richest nation out of 182, based on its petroleum and natural gas fields."

The country is rich, Muslim, good health coverage, etc. We will see how Sharia law plays out- the more draconian aspects - stoning, amputations, etc - are supposed to come in as part of phase two next year.

One thing we might note is that our Sultan has certainly appropriated the good life for himself.

He has a collection of 5,000 cars.

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As the song goes, "these are just a few of my favorite things ..." Photo from

He lives in a palace, though lots of other getaways as well.

The Istana-Nurul-Iman palace has 1778 rooms, reportedly, and apparently a nice little boat in front.

And the official Rolls Royce car - purely for government functions ...

Photo from

What does the Sultan of Brunei (perhaps the world's richest man), and the Boko Haram have in common - a desire to impose Sharia law on citizens or those around them.

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