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Muslims in America

"The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world." writes the PEW Research Center, but also points out: "A majority (53%) of all Muslim Americans say that, since the 9/11 attacks, it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the United States. This view is particularly prevalent among highly educated and wealthier Muslims."
Therefore, I recommend Morgan Spurlocks's funny and informative documentary: "A West Virginia Christian lives as a Muslim in Dearborne USA for 30 days." Spurlock has made a whole TV series about 30 day exchanges into a different culture. Other episodes are about living with minimum wage etc. As a Fulbrighter I find the concept of exchange programs very appealing. Video works, but you might have to click twice on play in Internet Explorer:

"One in four younger U.S. Muslims support suicide bombings at least rarely" writes the International Herald Tribune based on the PEW Research Center survey. More about this and US Muslim opinions on 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan below the fold: Continue reading "Muslims in America"

Germany has Europe's most Dirty Power Plants

"A new study revealed that six of the 10 dirtiest power plants are located in Germany, a country that claims it is at the forefront of the battle against climate change." writes United Press International (via Observing Hermann):
According to a survey called the "Dirty Thirty" by the World Wildlife Fund, Greece's Agios Dimitrios and Kardia plants (owned by DEH) are the continent's dirtiest power stations, followed by Niederaussem in Germany, which is owned by RWE. In 2006 the Dirty Thirty were responsible for 393 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or roughly 10 percent of all EU CO2 emissions. "The facts are clear: The power sector needs to phase out dirty coal as soon as possible," Stephan Singer, head of WWF's climate program, said in a statement. More than half of the Dirty Thirty are run by just four power-generation companies: Germany's RWE, Swedish firm Vattenfall, French group EDF and Germany's EON.

International Conference about the Collapse of Europe

California's Pepperdine University is hosting a conference about the Eurabia nonsense. Some of the topics of discussions have a few questionmarks, but it is clear in which direction they are going. Some samples:
1. What has been the role of Islam and the EU bureaucracy in fostering collapse?
2. Eurabia: Is Muslim domination of Europe inevitable?
3. Is Europe doomed to continued economic stagnation?
4. Civil Rights or Global Jihad? Are Muslims exploiting the democratic process to erode and destroy European democracy?
5. Collapse of Confidence; How much have Europeans Given Up on Their Own Civilization?
6. The end of the European Enlightenment and the growth of a closed thought society.
7. Europe’s post-Christian society and its mirror in the United States.
8. What steps can be taken in the United States to address the problems of Europe?
Dear readers, would you describe this conference setup as Anti-Europeanism and Islamophobia?
I am surprised that they don't have a panel about Rapture Readiness.

The list of speakers is extremely one-sided and includes many prominent supporters of the Eurabia myth. Wasn't California supposed to be liberal? What happened to academic standards of listening to both sides? The Polish consulate in New York got into trouble, when an NGO organised a discussion with Tony Judt about the Israel lobby in one of the consulate's rooms. The event was cancelled, but this conference probably will not get canceled because it is about Muslims and Europe rather than about Jews and Israel.

More criticism in Gideon Rachman's Financial Times Blog:
If you happen to be passing though Malibu next month, why not pop into an intriguing-sounding conference at Pepperdine University on "The Collapse of Europe". One of the early sessions is entitled - "Eurabia: Is Muslim domination of Europe inevitable?" My answer to this is "No" it's not inevitable. In fact, given that the Muslim population of Europe is just 4% at the moment, I would say it's highly unlikely. But don't trying telling that to an audience of American conservatives. The idea that Europe is about to be submerged by the Muslim hordes seems to be almost received wisdom over there. It is certainly a notion that has launched a great many books.
Related posts in the Atlantic Review: Financial Times: "US Prophets of Europe's Doom are Half Wrong"

Are the US Rules of Engagement too "Trigger Happy"?

Europeans complain that US forces kill too many civilians, while Americans complain about the lack of combat contributions from Germany, France, Spain etc.
Europeans consider US tactics and/or Rules of Engagement (ROE) inappropriate, while Americans consider the European caveats in Afghanistan and the ROE inappropriate.
Who's right? Can we find a compromise in order to turn the Afghanistan mission into a success, let NATO continue to be our primary defense organization and prevent the United States and large parts of Europe from drifting further apart? Or is that wishful thinking?

The Atlantic Review readers have turned the latest post Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Germany's Defense Minister Criticizes US Policy
into an interesting discussion. Our friend mbast has written a detailed comment based on his own experiences with US Air Force personnel.
Since there has been quite a bit of criticism of US tactics from European and Afghan officials, let's devote a new post on the topic of US and European Rules of Engagement (ROE).
The question for our readers, i.e. you, is: Are the US rules "trigger happy" compared to the European ROE? Or are they just less restrictive and more aggressive, because the US forces have tougher assignments than their European counterparts?
To get you started, please have a look at Mbast's five points below the fold:
Continue reading "Are the US Rules of Engagement too "Trigger Happy"?"

Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Germany's Defense Minister Criticizes US Policy

Afghanistan Watch reported on May 9, 2007 that Afghan officials blamed nearly 90 civilian deaths on Western troops in the previous two weeks.
The Army Times reported on May 14, 2007:
U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan need to change tactics to limit civilian casualties and prevent a backlash from locals, Germany’s defense minister said Monday, reflecting European unease about reports of high death tolls in incidents involving American units. “We have to make sure that in the future, operations do not take place in this way,” Franz Josef Jung told reporters at a meeting of EU defense ministers. “We don’t want the population against us. We have to prevent that.”
Personal comment: Such talk is cheap and inappropriate for the defense minister of a country that refuses to send combat troops to southern Afghanistan. If there would be more troops in southern Afghanistan, then many civilian casualties could be avoided.
Since most Germans are strongly against the deployment of combat troops and other NATO countries do not want or cannot send more troops either, NATO cannot achieve its objectives and cannot limit civilian casualties as much as it should. Less ground troops means more air strikes.
It makes less and less sense to conduct this war. NATO might as well withdraw from Afghanistan, if Germany and other NATO members are not willing to deploy more troops or do not have the resources to do so.
Continue reading "Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan: Germany's Defense Minister Criticizes US Policy"

Tom Tancredo in Republican Debate on Torture: "I'm looking for Jack Bauer"

Please let me generalize a lot in answering these questions:
Why are European leftists unpopular in the US? Because they talk so much about social justice, the welfare state and evil capitalists etc.
Why are American conservatives unpopular in Europe? Because they talk so much about family values, religion, gay marriage, abortion, torture etc. None of these issues is central to America's political problems and can be fixed by politicians.

When American conservatives read about European debates they can constantly shake their head in amazement about the strange ways in the old world. Europeans (and liberal Americans) shake their head in amazement, when they read the Los Angeles Times article about the second Republican presidential debate: "The GOP's torture enthusiasts":
IT WASN'T AN edifying spectacle: a group of middle-aged white guys competing with one another to see who could do the best impersonation of Jack Bauer, torture enthusiast and the central character on Fox's hit show "24." In Tuesday's Republican presidential primary debate, Fox News moderator Brit Hume — who appears to have been watching too much "24" himself — raised what he described as "a fictional but we think plausible scenario involving terrorism and the response to it." He then laid out the kind of "ticking-bomb" scenario on which virtually every episode of "24" is premised — precisely the kind that most intelligence experts consider fictional and entirely implausible.
Mitt Romney suggested: "My view is, we ought to double Guantanamo" and "enhanced interrogation techniques have to be used." And Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo said: "We're wondering about whether water-boarding would be a — a bad thing to do? I'm looking for Jack Bauer at that time, let me tell you." This remark was according to the LA Times "greeted by uproarious laughter and applause from the audience because, after all, who doesn't enjoy thinking about a hunky guy threatening to gouge out a detainee's eye with a hunting knife?" (Jack Bauer is supposed to be "hunky"?). Politicians appear stupid, when they look for help from TV show characters.
Dialog International shows excerpts of the FOX News video. And below is Stephen Colbert's take on the second Republican presidential debate; might take some time to load:

Conservative Americans, who blame Anti-Americanism for Europeans' harsh criticism of Republicans, might want to have a word with their own politicians and their eager bases and/or listen to McCain's honorable statement in the presidential debate. Though, I don't want to praise Saint McCain too much since he was joking about bombing Iran a few weeks ago. According to CNN, McCain answered
a question about military action against Iran with the chorus of the surf-rocker classic "Barbara Ann." "That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran," he said. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah ..." His audience laughed.
FOX News and some presidential candidates give US conservatism a bad name. Please, don't just blame your lack of popularity on European Anti-Americanism. If you want to be liked by Europeans, please elect serious politicians, who do not refer to Jack Bauer and sing Beach Boys songs, when they are asked serious questions about matters of life and death. They are reinforcing the worst stereotypes Europeans have about Americans. And I am saying this as a fan of both "24" and the Beach Boys.

Minimum Wage in Germany and the United States

"Unlike the US and many other EU countries, Germany has no statutory minimum wage, and debate has reignited over introducing one. One side says it's about social justice; the other calls it a job killer," writes DW World:
Traditionally, wages in Germany are set according to industry-wide collective bargaining agreements and detailed rules determine what kind of work receives what kind of pay. Because of the strength of trade unions in Germany, wage settlements were generally pretty favorable to workers.
While the American minimum wage, which dates from 1938, was put in place to keep employers from exploiting workers and giving them an income on which they could survive, Germany's generous social welfare system provided that protection. No one would work for wages that were under a certain level, because welfare benefits could give them a basic income.
"That has acted as a kind of virtual minimum wage," said Joachim Ragnatz, an economist at the Halle Institute for Economic Research.
But more and more holes have developed in that system. Welfare benefits have been cut back. Unions have lost clout and some sectors, especially in the service industry, have opted out of collective bargaining agreements. (...)
A study just released by Ragnatz and Marcel Thum from the Ifo Institute for Economic Research says increasing the minimum wage to 6.50 euros per hour, as the Social Democrats have called for, would result in a loss of around 465,000 jobs. Raising it to 7.50 euros would kill around 621,000 jobs, according to the report.
The governing Christian Democrats and Social Democrats were unable to reach a compromise on a minimum wage this week.

Related story on poverty: The Washington Post writes about four members of Congress, who have pledged to live for one week on $21 worth of food, the amount the average food stamp recipient receives in federal assistance. That's $3 a day or $1 a meal. They started yesterday:
McGovern and Emerson have introduced legislation that would add $4 billion to the annual federal food stamp budget, which was $33 billion last year and covered 26 million Americans. (...)
"We're trying to get this debate going," McGovern said. "There are more working people today getting food stamps than six years ago... There's not a member of Congress that doesn't have hunger in their district." According to the rules of the challenge, the four House members cannot eat anything beside their $21 worth of groceries. That means no food at the many receptions, dinners and fundraisers that fill a lawmaker's week.
Both lawmakers keep blogs about the experience, McGovern at Food Stamp Challenge and Ryan on his House website.
The above mentioned Washington Post article "Lawmakers Find $21 a Week Doesn't Buy a Lot of Groceries" is currently the most popular story on Technorati, which indicates the huge interest.