Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/30/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/30/2008Notice all the news stories about Gaza tonight: major trouble seems to be brewing there.

Also, the articles about the real estate situation in the Gulf reveal the depth of the current financial crisis.

Thanks to Andy Bostom, C. Cantoni, Conservative Swede, Gaia, Insubria, JD, Paul Green, RRW, Steen, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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USA
Big City Paper Finally Catches on to African Immigration Fraud Story
Obama Adviser Who Called Clinton ‘Monster’ Returns
Obama Appoints University of Starbucks Economics Department
Obama’s One-Trick Wizards
Social Engineering: National Suicide
 
Europe and the EU
EU Decides to Accept Total of 10,000 Iraqis for Resettlement
Muslim Convert Turns to Politics in Italy
Spain: Galicia and Portugal, Euroregion is Born
The UK, Conservative Party, and Modern Stalinism
UK Epidemic — Muslim Taxi Drivers Raping British Girls & Women
 
Balkans
Transport: Turkish Airlines Buys 49% Stake of Air Bosnia
 
Mediterranean Union
Commerce: Virgin and Carrefour in Syria From 2009
Made in Italy: Urso, Development Plan Focuses on Maghreb
Transport: Morocco; 625 Mln Euros From France for TGV
 
North Africa
Egypt: Abu Zayd, War on Terrorism Helps Radical Islam
In the Aftermath of Abu-Fana Crisis
Libya: Gaddafi Confirms Abolition of Ministries
Real Estate: Libya; Gulf Bank Launches ‘City of Energy’
Terrorism: Morocco; 10 Years Asked for Ex-Guantanamo Detainee
 
Israel and the Palestinians
‘Army Pays Price for Honoring International Law’
Hamas Prevents Muslim Pilgrims From Leaving Gaza
Israel: the New Route for Eritreans Refugees
Mid-East: Gaza; Wounded in University Campus Unrest
Vilna’i: Large-Scale Gaza Op Looming
 
Middle East
“Drivers” Shirt, Cake With Toy Car: Protest of Saudi Women Drivers
Crisis: Emirates, Bank Merger to Safeguard National Assets
Egypt-Saudi Arabia: Trade Up by 350% in 3 Years, Minister
Morocco: Kuwait Grants USD 1 Mln to Bayt Mal Al Quds Agency
Real Estate: Dubai Confirms Largest Projects, Some Others
Turkey: Public Buildings on Sale to Attract Gulf Capital
US Intelligence Agencies See Stronger, Islamic Turkey in 2025
 
Russia
Russia’s Communists: Crisis Will Help Us Regain Power
Russia: Gazprom Cuts Gas Production
 
Caucasus
Crisis Group Calls for Urgent Reforms in Post-War Georgia
Georgia ‘May Have Staged’ Kaczynski Shooting
Saakashvili Defends S Ossetia War
 
South Asia
“I Want to Live” Says Captured Terrorist
Armed Teams Sowed Chaos With Precision
Doctors Shocked at Hostages’s Torture
Hindus, Jews, and Jihad Terror in Mumbai
Liberalism Bombs Bombay
Mumbai Terrorists Trained by Renegade Westerners?
Pakistan Moves Army From Terror Front to India Border
Russian Expert Says Mumbai Attackers Trained by US Funded Pakistanis
 
Australia — Pacific
Macquarie Bank’s $500k-Plus Christmas Party in Sydney
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Hundreds Dead in Nigerian Clashes
 
General
Islam: Abu Zayd,West Should Get Rid of Fundamentalists Model

USA


Big City Paper Finally Catches on to African Immigration Fraud Story

Well, can you believe it! The Minneapolis Star Tribune, the hometown paper of the Somali capital of the USA, has finally written about the worldwide suspension of the State Department’s P-3 family reunification program—suspended due to widespread fraud in Africa. We told you about this bombshell story two weeks ago. Our very first mention was back in July here, but we didn’t know the full extent of the fraud until recently.

A day late and a dollar short, the Star Tribune published a report yesterday, November 28th, a full 12 days after the little Shelbyville, TN Times Gazette had the scoop. Wouldn’t you think that the Minneapolis paper, in light of the Somali terrorist investigation going on, might have been right on top of this story.

The Star Tribune doesn’t add much more than we already know, but our now favorite Somali mouthpiece is all over this story too. What, don’t you reporters have anyone else you can go to than a Somali guy who was convicted of lying to get into the US? Any chance he might not be straight with you now? Nah! Oh, yes, I forgot, the Star Tribune thinks this is the modern day West Side Story.

Omar Jamal with lots of column inches:

Immigrant groups in the Twin Cities acknowledge…

           — Hat tip: RRW [Return to headlines]



Obama Adviser Who Called Clinton ‘Monster’ Returns

Samantha Powers 1 or 14 members of ‘Agency Review Team’ for State Department

A former adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign who once called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton a “monster” is now working on the transition team for the agency that Clinton may lead.

State Department officials said Friday that Samantha Power is among foreign policy experts the president-elect’s office selected to help the incoming administration prepare for Clinton’s anticipated nomination as secretary of state.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama Appoints University of Starbucks Economics Department

Ever walk into a Starbucks and see a bunch of people sitting there debating textbook theories and solving all the world’s problems over a mocha java? If so, then you’ve visited a University of Starbucks campus.

These are precisely the kind of people who have gotten America into the current economic mess. That?s because when there’s a serious problem to deal with, their instinct is to theorize and philosophize. If their corduroys were on fire, they would sit there pondering the nature and deeper meaning of the flames.

Now, the sophisticated intelligentsia of Team Grande Venti — which means something like “large” and “bucket size” in Starbucks-Italian, but I prefer the French version of “grand” meaning “big”, and “vent” meaning “wind” — are about to set up campus in Obama’s White House to advise him on economic issues.

Let’s take a look at some of the players….

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Obama’s One-Trick Wizards

One wants to ask the Wall Street wizards who comprise the talent pool for the incoming administration, “If you so smart, how come you ain’t rich no more?”

Manhattan’s toniest private schools, harder to get into than Harvard, quietly are looking for full-tuition pupils now that the children of sacked Wall Street bankers are departing for public schools in cheaper suburbs. Harvard University president Drew Faust has warned of budget cuts to come due to “unprecedented losses” to its US$39 billion endowment.

[…]

The cleverest people in the United States, the Ivy-pedigreed investment bankers, have fouled their own nests as well as their own net worth, and persuaded the taxpayers to bail them out. If these are the best and the brightest of 2008, America is in very deep trouble.

The one-trick wizards of Wall Street had one idea, which was to ride the trend and pile on as much leverage as credulous investors and crony regulators would allow. It has gone pear-shaped, and those who didn’t cash out early along with the cynics are poor. Fortunately for them, Obama will let them play with the budget of the US federal government for the next four years.

Failed financiers run the Obama transition team. It used to be that the heads of great industrial companies got the top Cabinet posts. Now it is the one-trick wizards. After George W Bush fired former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, who had run Alcoa, the last survivor of the species was Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of Halliburton. Obama’s bevy of talent comes from finance. American industrialists have become figures of ridicule, like the pathetic chief executive of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, begging for a government loan…

[Return to headlines]



Social Engineering: National Suicide

Social engineering by government always ends in disaster.

Social engineering occurs when government passes laws and regulations that force citizens to behave the way government thinks they should behave. Prohibition is a great example of social engineering. In 1919, government decided that its citizens should not drink “intoxicating liquors.” This “government-knows-best” idea produced more than a decade of lawlessness far worse than citizen intoxication. Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

Free people in a free market always produce the best products, most efficiently, at the lowest price. Every time government “engineering” intrudes into the market, products, efficiency, price — and consumers — ultimately suffer.

Social engineering is always proposed with the best of intentions and sold with grandiose utopian promises. The promises are rarely realized, and the unintended consequences are never anticipated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


EU Decides to Accept Total of 10,000 Iraqis for Resettlement

European countries have decided to let a total of 10,000 Iraqi refugees from Syria and Jordan resettle on their territories. According to several participants of an EU interior ministers’ meeting on Thursday, the 27-member bloc agreed to respond to a demand by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for a permanent resettlement program for some of the most vulnerable individuals and families who were forced to flee Iraq in the aftermath of the American invasion in 2003.

Up to now, only the United States has given home to a greater number of Iraqi refugees. The US took about 11,000 in the period from 2007 to September 2008. Sweden was the biggest host in Europe; it sheltered 540 in the same period.

The number agreed on is a sign for an increased engagement by the EU. However, the figures of 10,000 includes about 5,000 refugees who are already part of different national programs. According to estimates by the Syrian and Jordanian government, between 1.5 million and 2 million Iraqis have taken refuge in their countries, most fleeing sectarian violence.

The UNHCR has repeatedly warned that the situation of Iraqis in Jordan and Syria was getting worse, as they had no right to work and their initial financial resources were depleted. An EU factfinding mission conducted to Syria and Jordan had confirmed the need for resettlement. The UNHCR estimates that about 75,000 Iraqi cannot remain in Syria or Jordan and cannot return home.

The EU’s decision follows months of discussion among member states. Initially, Germany’s government had proposed to only take Christians, but this was refused by the UNHCR and other EU members. […]

The EU’s fact-finding mission had also identified up to 3,000 Palestinians living in camps along the border between Syria and Iraq as particularly vulnerable. It remained unclear on Thursday if or how the EU was planning to help them.

Schaeuble defended his government’s stance on Christians on Thursday. “Nobody ever said ‘only Christians,’“ he said according to German news agency DPA. “But religious minorities in Iraq are rather Christians than members of other religious groups,” he added. According to sources familiar with the situation, the largest group of Iraqis accepted by the US were Christians.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Muslim Convert Turns to Politics in Italy

ROME (AP) — An Egyptian-born writer who renounced Islam and was baptized by Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he has formed a political party that would enter candidates in next year’s EU elections.

Magdi Cristiano Allam said his “Protagonists for Christian Europe” party would work to defend Europe’s Christian values, which he sees threatened by secularism and moral relativism. He said his new party would be open to people of all faiths and would be close to the conservative European People’s Party.

Allam built his career in Italy as commentator and book author attacking Islamic extremism and supporting Israel.

In March, Allam angered some in the Muslim world with a high-profile conversion during an Easter vigil service led by the pope in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Allam, who took the name Cristiano upon converting, has credited Benedict with being instrumental in his decision to become a Catholic and has said the pope had baptized him to support freedom of religion.

The 56-year-old Allam has lived most of his adult life in Italy, becoming a citizen in 1986. In recent years he was given a police escort after receiving death threats from radical Islamic groups.

While working to encourage tolerance between cultures he has also grown increasingly critical of his former faith.

He said in leading daily Corriere della Sera, where he has worked as deputy editor, that the “root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Spain: Galicia and Portugal, Euroregion is Born

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 23 — Galicia and northern Portugal as of yesterday are a little bit closer, after ratifying the birth of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC): a new cooperation entity envisaged by the legal order of the European Union, which mitigates the administrative borders between the two regions and represents an economic and technological engine for the area. This is the third Euroregion recognised by the EU, the first in the Iberian peninsula. The new cooperation tool, the media reported today, was officially presented by the president of the council of Galicia, Emilio Perez Tourino, and by the president of the regional coordination and development Commission of northern Portugal, Carlos Lage, in the eighth meeting of the work group of the Euroregion, which took place yesterday in Galicia. The Euroregion, with its own judicial autonomy, will allow the two administrations “to launch joint projects and to overcome the difficulties generated by the centralised nature of the Portuguese state”, the promoters explained. The new entity, which will be based in the ancient rectorate of Vigo, in Galicia, will have a budget of 97 million euro for four years, allocated by Brussels to finance cross-border projects in the sectors of innovation, transport, university research and environment. Through the technical Secretariat of cross-border cooperation, which will be based in Badajoz (Estremadura), the Euroregion Galicia-Northern Portugal will have to carry out by the end of October the first analysis of the 200 joint projects presented so far and select the financed ones already in 2009. But it is not just a matter of allocating the funds coming from Brussels, as sources of the Galician council explained. The Euroregion, in fact, has among its targets the alleviation of the consequences of the end of the allocation of the European structural funds in a bilateral logic, so that when the EU funds finish, the two countries will be able to channel investments through the new administrative tool. In presiding over the meeting for the setting up of the new entity, the European Commission representative Eusebio Murillo wished that Galicia and northern Portugal “become ambitious” in the planning of their projects and “do not limit themselves to the initiatives financed by the EU”. Perez Tourino assured that Galicia “will be a pioneer in the European construction with this second-generation cooperation model”. In tune with this position was the state secretary for regional development of Portugal, Rui Balairas, who pointed out that “the cooperation must go beyond EU funds”. The birth of the new European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation was attended also by the Spanish Public Administration Minister Elena Espinosa, who expressed “the enthusiastic support of the Spanish government for the initiative”, which will be “a future reference point for other communities with similar characteristics”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



The UK, Conservative Party, and Modern Stalinism

Stalin had lost his pipe, and ordered his police chief to investigate the matter, so goes one old anti-Stalin joke. After some time, however, the Soviet leader discovered it under the sofa, and called him back. On being told of its discovery, the chief remarked, “This is impossible! Three people have already confessed to this crime!” This joke — though not particularly funny — illustrates two points of relevance here: (1) the police of the USSR were politicized, and (2) that even in private, people under Stalin feared to criticize him directly.

A creeping McCarthyism — that has made any discussion of such subjects as immigration not only taboo but potentially very damaging to any political career — is showing the first signs of turning Stalinesque. The British public, it is probably true to say, has always been suspicious of that “American” notion of free speech without any restrictions. And as we dislike hate speech, calls for mass murder, etc., this appears to make sense. The general public is probably also largely unconcerned that British National Party (BNP) members are fired from their employment simply because of their membership of this legal party.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK Epidemic — Muslim Taxi Drivers Raping British Girls & Women

Recently a BBC announcer was sacked/fired for requesting a “non Asian taxi driver” to transport her young unaccompanied 14 year old daughter. (Out of concern for her daughter’s fears/mental well being & safety)

Of course, the “racist” club was trotted out by the mainstream media and others to verbally bludgeon Sam Mason for having the audacity to demand an “English driver”. But was Sam Mason really exposing her racism or was she reacting, as any mother would, to the facts that there is a ongoing epidemic of muslim taxi driver rapes in the UK? (Note: the media prefers the more vague term “Asian”)

Not surprising — the mainstream media, is aiding and abetting these rapes, by refusing to “connect the dots” and report on the clear evidence: The growing numbers of predatory muslim taxi drivers (some posing as taxi drivers)raping British girls and women.

Here are some — but far from all — examples of muslim taxi driver rapists…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Transport: Turkish Airlines Buys 49% Stake of Air Bosnia

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 24 — The Bosnian government approved the sale of a 49% stake in Air Bosnia to Turkish Airlines (Thy), Anatolia news agency reported. “We are still continuing talks with Bosnian counterparts to finalize the sale and the deal with Air Bosnia on the transfer of shares will be signed soon”, Thy’s chairman, Candan Karlitekin, said. “We expect to get a voice in the European aviation market with the Air Bosnia agreement and even if it’s a small company this deal represents an important step for bringing Thy closer to its goal of having an effective presence in the global market”, Karlitekin added. “Air Bosnia company has 14% market share in Bosnia and we expect to increase this threefold with the new investments that we plan to make”, Thy chairman declared. Thy will have three representatives in the Air Bosnia executive board and they do not plan to go beyond the 49$ share they are currently working on. Thy aims to increase flights between Balkan countries, as well as flights to London’s Heathrow Airport, the largest airport in England. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


Commerce: Virgin and Carrefour in Syria From 2009

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, NOVEMBER 18 — The English Virgin Megastores and the French Carrefour will enter the Syrian market at the beginning of 2009, when the Shahba Mall shopping centre opens in Aleppo. This is reported in a statement from the Italian trade commission in Damascus, which clarifies that the two chains will operate with a long-term contract signed with the Syrian Jordanian Company for Tourism and Real Estate Investment (SJC), which owns the shopping centre. Shahba Mall, which is SJC’s first project, includes: a four-star hotel with 250 rooms, a seven-storey shopping centre, an eight-screen cinema, business space and 36 restaurants and cafes. It is expected to open in the last quarter of 2009. Shahba Mall is located to the north of Aleppo, close to the motorway which links it to the Turkish town of Ghazi Intab, and it will be the largest commercial and entertainment complex in Syria. The total cost of the investment is estimated at USD 70 million. The total area covered will be 125,000 square metres. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Made in Italy: Urso, Development Plan Focuses on Maghreb

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 31 — “A commercial offensive is being launched starting with Tunisia to promote the Made in Italy label which will also spread to Morocco, Libya and Algeria over the next six months”. This is according to the undersecretary for economic development with responsibility for foreign trade, Adolfo Urso, who is leaving on a mission to Tunisia to promote Italian investments in the North African country and to sign an agreement in the fishing sector between the region of Sicily and the Tunisian ministry for fishing and agriculture. Urso will also meet a delegation of Italian manufacturers from the fashion district of Kelibia, where clothes and accessories are produced for large brands with the Made in Italy label and which provides work for 24,000 people in an area of 60 km. “The Maghrib”, states Urso, “is destined to become our preferred partner, it will be a bit like the Balkans were to Italian industry in the nineties. Prospects in infrastructure, opportunities in manufacturing and cooperation in the development of the fishing and tourism sectors”. In particular, the undersecretary emphasizes that “Tunisia represents an extremely interesting market for Italy. In the current year, the International Monetary Fund expects that the GDP will increase by 5.5% for Tunisia, which to all intents and purposes entered into the European free trade area in January this year. As of today, 760 Italian companies operate in Tunisia, most of which are concentrated in the textile and clothing sectors (260 firms). Italy is one of Tunisia’s main trading partners after France. In 2007, Italian exports to the country had a value of 2.9 billion euro, an increase of 13% compared to 2006, while imports from Tunisia were worth 2.5 billion euro, a rise of 17%”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Transport: Morocco; 625 Mln Euros From France for TGV

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 14 — France has agreed to loan Morocco 625 million euros for the payment of part of the machinery for the future high speed train line (TGV) that will allow travel between Tangiers and Casablanca (350 kilometres apart) in one and a half hours. The news was relayed by French diplomatic sources in Rabat. The agreement for the concession of the loan has been signed this morning by the French secretary of state for foreign trade, Anne-Marie Idrac, and the Moroccan economy and finance minister, Salaheddine Mezouar. An agreement over the construction of the train line (which will cost around two billion dollars up to Casablanca) goes back to the visit of the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to the country in October 2007. In 2030 the TGV will also connect Tangiers with Agadir (south of Casablanca). For the entire project the estimated costs are at around 100 billio dirham (around 9.1 billion euros) and will be half-financed by French partners, as indicated by the Moroccan Transport Ministry. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egypt: Abu Zayd, War on Terrorism Helps Radical Islam

(by Luciana Borsatti) (ANSmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 20 — The effect of the war on terrorism in Egypt, allied with US policy has “given greater power to radical Muslims” who are not terrorists, but draw on the same fundamentalist culture to “terrorise with words rather than actions”. Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, the Egyptian Islamic intellectual in Italy for a number of conferences organised by ResetDoc, sees this as how the country has changed since 1995, when a sentence for apostasy forced him to move to Holland. Since then, he says “the country has worsened, from the point of view of Islamic discourse: traditionalism has become stronger and the Government is competing with the fundamentalists to prove that it is also fundamentalist. This does not leave room for critical thought”. US policies in this period, according to Abu Zayd, have had an effect on relations between the Governments of Islamic countries with radical Islam and religious institutions. “Many Islamic Governments, even Saudi Arabia, are ready to follow the USA in the war on terrorism. But to do this needs the support of a religious debate, of the ulemas. But these gain greater social influence and the power “to hunt down intellectuals, a certain poetry, a declaration, and the government ends up under the control of orthodox institutions”. To the point which if the sentence undergone for his theses in favour of a historical-critical approach to Islam was passed today “I would only have 10% of the support which I had from intellectuals at the time”. Not that in Egypt you cannot read “critical articles on politics, economics, social problems, but when it is about Islam there is no freedom of thought”. And compared to then, says Abu Zayd, who has returned to his country now and then since 2000 “conversions, to Christianity or Islam, has become a real social problem”. If someone converts, it unleashes the rage of the religious community concerned, which accuses the other side of proselytism. Other religious minorities “are deprived of their rights, while people are identified not in terms of citizenship but of religion. A very worrying fact, with regard to Egypt as a nation. And Egypt is not an exception in the Arab world”. Abu Zayd, in Genoa today and Milan on Saturday, does not hide his pessimism over the new influence of radical Islam on Egyptian society. “You see it often on TV, even national channels, someone says that we don’t live according to Islam, that we are not Muslims, that we need to be re-islamised”. Discussions which influence so many “young people with lots of problems which indirectly inspire them to act as terrorists to change things”. With the inheritance of “the first terrorist groups in Egypt with the myth of Egira, the abandonment of this society to seek purification and fight to change it. This is the link between radical debate and violent action, terrorism”. A red line which began long ago, passing through the birth of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s. “In Egypt now there is a debate produced by fundamentalism and the Government. But the Bush administration, in its search for allies in the Arab countries over the new international emergencies, has stopped talking about the reform of Islam, democracy and human rights”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



In the Aftermath of Abu-Fana Crisis

Unjustly held

Despite a ruling by Minya Criminal Court on Saturday 15 November to release the detained brothers Rifaat and Ibrahim Fawzy on bail of EGP3000 each, and despite the fact that the bail money was paid, Minya security authorities are still holding the Fawzy brothers in detention. The Fawzys had been charged with killing Mohamed Khalil on the evening of 30 May, during the attack waged against Abu-Fana monastery in Mallawi, Minya, by the ‘Arabs’—the desert dwellers in the area, a date on which the Fawzys were not at the monastery in the first place. The charge was based upon the testimony of the dead man’s father and another Arab, but the after-death investigation on Khalil’s body proved the testimony false; the Fawzys could never have committed the murder.

The Fawzy’s lawyer Zakary Kamal told Watani, as the paper prepared to go to press, that he was filing a claim against the head of Mallawi Investigation, accusing him of falsifying official reports. The investigation officer had arrested the brothers with no legal warrant and questioned them on 1 June, as proved in the prosecution report, but wrote in his report that he arrested them on 4 June. Mr Kamal said he was also filing a claim of false testimony against the witnesses, and was demanding a recompense of one million Egyptian pounds for the moral damages the brothers had incurred.

Mr Kamal said that matters have taken a more complicated turn, since the family of Khalil was asking the Fawzys to pay five million Egyptian pounds in blood money but, he said, the Fawzys are adamant in not paying a penny to absolve themselves of a murder they never committed

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Libya: Gaddafi Confirms Abolition of Ministries

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 11 — Libya’s leader, Muammar Gadafi, has asserted that his resolve to abolish several administrative institutions, including some ministries, and to distribute oil revenues directly to the population, is ‘‘beyond discussion’’, says the country’s official press agency, Jana. ‘‘The decision to distribute oil revenues — its only resource — directly to the population, is beyond debate’’, stated Colonel Gadafi yesterday evening on receiving his Prime Minister, Baghdadi Mahmoudi and the General Secretary of the Popular Congress. ‘‘The administrative organism that managed this income in favour of the population wishes to re-assign the funds to the population’’, he added, admitting the operation would be ‘‘sensitive, complex and requiring a technical-administrative management to be enacted’’. Gaddafi had on 1 September announced his decision to close some administrative institutions as of the beginning of 2009 and to redistribute oil income directly. Since then regular meetings have been held at the ministries and various institutions to look into ways of applying this ‘‘revolutionary decision’’, a one-off of its kind. Speaking on the 39th anniversary of the revolution that brought him to power, (1st September, 1969), Libya’s ‘‘Revolutionary Guide’’ pointed out that, with the exceptions of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Ministry of Defence and Security and that of Justice, other departments would be annulled. In the opinion of Colonel Gaddafi, ‘‘worldwide, corruption is linked to administration’’. His solution is to enact a decisive suppression of the Ministries and the direct transfer ‘‘of money to the people so that they can manage their affaire on their own’’. He warned, however, that there would be some ‘‘confusion’’ for the first two years, but that, in his opinion, society would learn to organise itself a little at a time. In March, the Colonel called for the closure of the ministries in a drive against corruption. According to Libya’s leader, the country pays 37 billion dollars to each of these ministries, but management has run aground. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Real Estate: Libya; Gulf Bank Launches ‘City of Energy’

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 10 — The starting of a real estate project worth five billion dollars was announced yesterday by one of the primary Islamic banks in the Gulf, Gulf Finance House (Gfh). It will be built in Libya in an area of 600 hectares along the coast in the region of Sabratha, 80 km from Tripoli, and it will be called “The City of Energy”, Gfh’s president, Issam Janahi, said during a press conference. The financing for the project will be 60% supported by Gfh, which is based in Bahrein, and 40% by the Libyan Social and Economic Development Fund. Work is expected to begin in the first months of 2009 and the finish is expected for a period of time ranging from three to five years, Janahi specified, also emphasising the importance of this “regional project” in Libya. The Gfh has already financed other cities of energy in Qatar and India and has the intention of building another one in Kazakistan. For the project in Libya, a first phase of 18 months will serve to prepare the infrastructure, with an expected cost of 400 million dollars. To be built “respecting the environment and the characteristics of the Libyan coastline”, Hamed Al-Hadhiri, president of the Development Fund, emphasised, that which is defined as the “intelligent city” will consist of residential and office constructions, hotels, and shopping and cultural centres. Today, lacking the infrastructure to welcome foreign companies, Libya, as Africàs third producer of oil with over two million barrels a day, hopes to attract an ever increasing number of foreign investors. The objective, Al-Hadhiri declares, is to reach production of three million barrels by 2013. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Terrorism: Morocco; 10 Years Asked for Ex-Guantanamo Detainee

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 14 — The anti-terrorism magistrate’s court in Morocco has asked for a ten year sentence for an ex-Guantanamo detainee after having been accused of “acts of sabotage against the foreign interests in the north of the country”. Said Boujaadia, 39, was arrested in 2001 on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, for seven years he was detained in Guantanamo and then delivered to Moroccan authorities in May of 2008. According to the accusations of the prosecutor, Boujaadia, trained in Cecenia, was in contact with the leaders of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and with a cell of three Saudìs arrested in 2002 who were preparing an attack against NATO ships in the Strait of Gibraltar. The lawyer of the man asked for acquittal affirming that Said Boujaadia already served his sentence with the seven years in Guantanamo. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


‘Army Pays Price for Honoring International Law’

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog finally appeared in London on Wednesday, even if it was only to address a conference via a satellite link. In 2005, Almog avoided arrest at Heathrow Airport after he was warned not to disembark from his El Al flight, because British detectives were waiting to arrest him on war-crime charges.

Using a loophole in Britain’s Universal Jurisdiction Law, pro-Palestinian campaigners had filed a private criminal complaint, accusing him of committing a crime by ordering the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2002. On Wednesday, Almog addressed a conference in Westminster, central London, titled “Ending Impunity or Decreasing Accountability: Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction.”

To show that the IDF deferred to the judicial system, Almog said that while he headed the Southern Command, he requested the demolition of a certain house in Gaza. His request was turned down by the legal echelons of the IDF.

In June 2006, that house served as cover for the tunnel from Gaza into Israel that was used to kidnap Gilad Schalit.

Co-hosted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Henry Jackson Society and the Legacy Heritage Fund, the conference examined the status of “universal jurisdiction” and whether current the legislation is serving its purpose or being abused for political purposes. Experts from three continents joined senior politicians from both houses of Parliament, officials from the Foreign Office and nongovernmental organizations as well as legal experts and academics.

The Universal Jurisdiction Law has been used by pro-Palestinian activists to try to arrest former IDF personnel on war-crime charges when they visit the UK. The loophole affects military personnel, even if they are citizens of other countries and the alleged offenses were not committed on British soil.

Irit Kohn, former director of the Israeli Justice Ministry’s International Department, spoke about how controversial the law is in the legal world. She said it had been exploited to further political agendas.

In 2006, then-Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi was scheduled to study at the Royal College of Defense Studies in London. Warned by an IDF judge that he could be arrested on arrival, he canceled his trip. Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Avi Dichter, now public security minister, also canceled a trip last year out of concern that a warrant might be issued for his arrest.

Wednesday’s conference looked at the inner workings of the law and examined the use of universal jurisdiction legislation in recent years, both in recognized war-zones and in areas where genocide or acts of genocide have occurred. It also reviewed cases where lawsuits have been initiated against Western political and military figures.

Almog spoke passionately about his case, reminding participants that he had been going to the UK at the time to raise money for Aleh, which provides residential and rehabilitative facilities for mentally and physically disabled adults and children in Israel. His son Eran was cared for at one of Aleh’s three facilities, the Moriah Center in Gedera, from age 13 until he died at age 23 in 2007. “I arrived in London because I wanted to build a better future for the weakest sectors in society,” Almog said.

Almog said that ironically, Israel based its military law on the British Mandate’s system. He also said that all IDF soldiers were taught to have a high respect for international law and that there were legal officers integrated at all levels of the army hierarchy.

Almog said Israeli groups were involved in the attempt to arrest him. “Groups like Yesh Gvul conspired with groups in London to bypass the Israeli legal system,” he said. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president and former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold spoke about how the Universal Jurisdiction Law created enormous dilemmas. “The law has to differentiate between those who are war criminals and those who combat terrorism,” he said.

Speaking on “Piracy and the Puzzle of Universal Jurisdiction,” Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, from Northwestern University, said universal jurisdiction was originally meant to deal solely with piracy. “For 400 years, piracy was the only crime under universal jurisdiction,” he said.. “Ironically, the UK has told its navy not to arrest pirates for fear of them requesting asylum once captured. “Piracy, the original cause of universal jurisdiction, has to be addressed before the more ‘sexy’ causes like genocide and crimes against humanity,” Kontorovich said..

The use of universal jurisdiction expanded in 1998, when a Spanish court issued an arrest warrant for former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet while he was in the UK for medical treatment. The House of Lords’ rejection of head-of-state immunity for Pinochet was seen at the time as a landmark in the acceptance of universal jurisdiction and the rejection of sovereign rights.

In years since, courts in some Western nations have invoked universal jurisdiction to entertain suits against senior political figures such as Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Ariel Sharon and Henry Kissinger, as well as participants in the Rwandan genocide and Argentinean death squads. Many of these cases have been set aside due to diplomatic objections.

Supporters have hailed the spread of trials and civil suits based on universal jurisdiction as the end of impunity for gross violations of human rights and terrible crimes. Opponents have attacked the burgeoning universal jurisdiction for undermining state sovereignty, selective and politicized prosecution, undermining human rights and peace-making efforts, and failing to deter future crimes.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Hamas Prevents Muslim Pilgrims From Leaving Gaza

Hamas police set up checkpoints across Gaza on Saturday to prevent pilgrims from leaving for a holy Muslim ritual in Saudi Arabia, beating some who tried to dodge barriers, witnesses said.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, was upset that the pilgrims had coordinated their journey with Hamas’ rival, the Palestinian Authority. The authority, based in the West Bank, is run by Hamas’ bitter rival, the Fatah movement. The crackdown on the pilgrims highlights the depth of the bitterness between the two groups. Egypt criticized Hamas’s actions as unbecoming of an Islamic movement.[…]

The Western-backed Palestinian Authority and the Hamas rulers of Gaza submitted separate lists of Gaza pilgrims to the Saudi authorities for visa approvals in the weeks leading to the pilgrimage, which will take place in December.

The rival Palestinian governments each claim to be legitimate, and their wrangle over who has the authority to send Gaza pilgrims to Mecca is a measure of sovereignty. So far Saudi Arabia has rebuffed the Hamas list. […] “They called us traitor pilgrims,” said a man who identified himself as a pilgrim to a Gaza television station.

Some pilgrims managed to dodge checkpoints by taking back roads to the Rafah crossing with Egypt. There, Hamas police beat up those who refused to leave, said pilgrims speaking on a call-in show on the pro-Fatah Palestine Television.

“They were beating us with sticks and their rifle butts,” said one man who identified himself as a pilgrim. “There was tear gas. It looked like an action movie,” he said. A woman called in, saying her mother, a pilgrim, was beaten on her hand and needed treatment. Witnesses would not give their names, for fear of retribution by Hamas police. Hamas police did not allow reporters into the area close to the border crossing. […]

“Regrettably, there is a dispute in Gaza,” said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki. “Hamas is dramatizing the issue …. and this can damage the reputation of an Islamic movement.”

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Israel: the New Route for Eritreans Refugees

ROME — At least 185 migrants and asylum seekers have died during the month of June 2008 along the EU borders, 173 of them just in the Strait of Sicily. Four people died in the Canary Islands, after their arrival. In Italy, two Iraqis were found dead in the port of Venice inside containers on two different ferries coming from Greece. In Turkey two migrants have died after the truck where they were travelling hidden had an accident in the eastern province of Dogubayazit, and a Somali was shot dead during a riot in the migrant detention camp of Kirklareli, near the Bulgarian border. Three other refugees were shot dead along the Egyptian border with Israel. One of the victims was a seven years old Sudanese girl, killed on June 28th.

Sinai confirms to be the new route for Eritreans and Sudaneses refugees, who instead of the Libyan prisons and the death in the sea prefer the Jewish state. In 2007, according to the UNHCR, about 5,000 asylum seekers entered Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt has reinforced its control devices, allowing the border police to open fire on the migrants. Since the beginning of 2008 at least 16 people have been shot dead. Since Israel asked Egypt for a greater effort to prevent the problem, a vast operation of arrests and deportations´has been launched, in particular against the Eritreans. According to Amnesty International 1,600 Eritrean have been arrested and 810 of them have already been deported in the second half of June. It is the biggest deportation program of the recent years in Egypt and it could represent the beginning of a new time of harsh repression against African refugees. Meanwhile who managed to cross the Sinai looks for a new life in Israel…

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Mid-East: Gaza; Wounded in University Campus Unrest

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, NOVEMBER 28 — Serious unrest has occurred in recent days on two university campuses in the Gaza Strip, according to what the Palestinian humanitarian organisation, PCHR-Gaza, reports. In a statement the non-government organisation reports on the behaviour of Hamas security forces which apparently resorted to violence. The first incident — specifies PCHR-Gaza — happened on the 24th of November at al-Azhar College at the University of Gaza, in the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood, where Islamic students clashed with political rivals. During the fray one Islamist student pulled out a pistol and shot in the direction of a rival without hitting him. The day after, adds PCHR-Gaza, other incidents between supporters of al-Fatah and Hamas occurred in Khan Yunes, at the University of al-Aqsa. Hamas security forces intervened with great force, added the Palestinian NGO, and as a result some of the students were injured. The spokesman for the Interior Minister of Hamas in Gaza, IsmailShahwan, told PCHR-Gaza that an investigation has been opened to shed light on the dynamics of the events and that various students are being held. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Vilna’i: Large-Scale Gaza Op Looming

Israel is quickly approaching a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said Saturday, in response to a mortar attack the previous night on an IDF base that wounded eight soldiers.

Two soldiers — one of whom lost a leg — were in serious condition after a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit inside the base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Saturday afternoon, a Kassam rocket struck a field south of Ashkelon.. Sgt. Noam Nakash of Beersheba, a member of the base’s C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) team, was seriously wounded in the mortar attack. Doctors initially feared they would have to remove both of Nakash’s legs but in the end they only amputated the right one.

Another soldier, who was initially reported to be in critical condition, underwent a number of operations overnight Friday, and on Saturday his condition was described as stable. Six other soldiers, including two women, were lightly-to-moderately wounded.

In response to the Kassam and mortar attacks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to close all the crossings into the Gaza Strip on Sunday. “The cease-fire [which expires on December 19] is important to us and to them since we are in control of the crossings and the other side is afraid of the IDF’s might,” Vilna’i said during a public appearance in Beersheba. “We must find the right time for action and their provocations do not leave us with many choices.”

Vilna’i said there was no doubt “that we are getting close to launching a wide-scale operation in Gaza.” He said it would be different than previous operations. Turning to negotiations with the Palestinians, Vilna’i rejected Hamas as a viable partner since the terrorist group refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Earlier Friday, Palestinian gunmen clashed with IDF troops along the Gaza border. The IDF said troops spotted a group of gunmen trying to plant a bomb along the security fence. The Gazans opened fire as the patrol approached, and soldiers shot back, hitting one of the gunmen.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Middle East


“Drivers” Shirt, Cake With Toy Car: Protest of Saudi Women Drivers

Women who want to drive protest in the only country in the world where this is prohibited. In their view, the question concerns the recognition of their liberties.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) — A shirt with the word “drivers” on it, a cake with a car on top, a group photo: this is how about fifty Saudi women demonstrated this year, commemorating the protest that on November 6, 1990, saw a group of 47 female drivers in a convoy that for half an hour drove around Riyadh. They were then stopped by the police, because Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are forbidden to drive, although this summer government officials maintained that they are studying the possibility of a decree that, by the end of the year, would abolish the ban.

The reaction of the authorities was harsh. All of the female drivers and their husbands (who fulfill the role of the “guardian” that every woman must have) were prohibited to leave the country for one year, and the women who were public employees were fired, but as Fawzia al Bakr, a professor who was one of the drivers, tells NPR, “wherever you work, you are labeled as a ‘driver’ and you will never be promoted, no matter how good you are.”

“I think it was worth it because we raised the issue of the women in Saudi Arabia and the consciousness about it,” says Aisha al Mana, a businesswoman. “We went through around a year of harassment because they thought we did something that is not acceptable by society.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Crisis: Emirates, Bank Merger to Safeguard National Assets

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 24 — The financial moves approved during the weekend by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are a clear signal of the will to safeguard national assets, agree sector analysts today in the local press. Between Saturday and Sunday, the federal government of the UAE approved the merger of Amlak Finance and Tamweel — the two most important Islamic financial institutions to distribute mortgages — into Real Estate Bank (REB) and then the merger of this bank with Emirates Industrial Bank, all which becomes Emirates Development Bank. The new entity, explains the periodical Emirates Business, can count on capital injections from the federal government which will become a significant stakeholder. It will have the ability to answer to three difficult issues: liquidity, financing and solvency, even if the definitive profile of the bank is still unclear as well as which mechanisms it will use to emit funds into the Emirate real estate market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Egypt-Saudi Arabia: Trade Up by 350% in 3 Years, Minister

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, OCTOBER 20 — The current international financial crisis has proved for one thing that the Arab region is safer for Arab investments, Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rashid Mohamed Rashid said. “Trade exchange between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has increased 350% over the past three years and I hope that the figure will be doubled in the coming period”, he added. Cairo and Riyadh should adopt a unified stand vis-a-vis the crisis at international forums, he said. There is increased keenness on boosting cooperation to encourage trade and investments in the coming period, he concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Morocco: Kuwait Grants USD 1 Mln to Bayt Mal Al Quds Agency

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 21 — Kuwait granted USD 1 million to Bayt Mal Al Quds Agency, offshoot of the Al Quds Committee which is chaired by king Mohammed VI of Morocco. As Map news agency reported, the grant was handed to the Director General of Bayt Mal Al Quds, Abdelkébir Alaoui M’daghri, by the ambassador of Kuwait in Rabat, Salah Mohamed Al-Baijane. In a statement, the Moroccan official said that this donation is “the fruit of efforts exerted by king Mohammed VI, Chairman of Al Quds committee, who asked me to request the support of the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, for Bayt Mal Al Quds Agency.” The favorable response of the Emir reflects the brotherly ties uniting the two leaders, he said, adding that this grant shows Kuwait’s support for the Palestinian cause and Al Quds (Jerusalem) inhabitants. For his part, the Kuwaiti diplomat hailed the initiatives of king Mohammed VI to preserve the Arab and Islamic identity of Al Quds Asharif and the efforts exerted to provide aid to the Palestinian people in both Al Quds and the other occupied territories. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Real Estate: Dubai Confirms Largest Projects, Some Others

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 10 — Dubai has enough credit to support its debts for at least another 21 months, but it is reconsidering priorities for future projects. This is what was declared by Mohammad Ali Alabbar, member of the executive city council of Dubai and president of Emaar Properties, the Emirate real estate giant which boasts, among other things, the construction of the Burj Dubai, the tallest skyscraper in the world. “The projects that are already underway will move forward at full speed, but we are reconsidering those that have yet to be presented,” Alabbar explained in a quotation from the newspaper The National, emphasising that the Emirate economy will not be influenced by the construction slow-down, because it is based solidly on import and re-export, tourism, trade, financial services and communications. In comparison with conditions on the global market, however, the most significant projects are guaranteed to proceed, especially those oriented to tourism, while the others will be re-evaluated and reoriented to the demand of the middle class. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Public Buildings on Sale to Attract Gulf Capital

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 19 — In an attempt to develop new financial instruments to attract interest-sensitive Gulf capital, Turkish government has almost completed its preparations for issuing rent securities which will provide their holders with continuous rent revenue from State-owned buildings, daily Today’s Zaman writes. Looking for new ways to handle liquidity problems during the current global economic crisis, the government has been working on a plan to create new tools to attract foreign capital from the Gulf region, where a huge accumulation of wealth has taken place thanks to soaring oil prices. A bill envisaging the creation of rent certificates and bills of real estate partnership has recently been sent to the Prime Ministry after being evaluated by the Treasury. The draft suggests that rent certificates be issued for public buildings with a total value equal to the value of the building. These certificates will be sold to domestic and foreign investors with a promise of continuous revenue from the buildings. An investor who buys a certificate will be the owner of a public building paper, but the public institution residing in the building will continue its operations there. The government will pay a reasonable rent for these buildings to certificate-holders. With this instrument, the government expects to reap revenue of at least $1 billion from the buildings on which rent certificates will initially be issued. Besides state office buildings, the government also plans to earn similar revenue from highways, bridges, unused land and even hydroelectric power plants. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



US Intelligence Agencies See Stronger, Islamic Turkey in 2025

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 24 — Turkey’s most likely course in the next 15 years involves a blending of Islamic and nationalist strains, according to a recent report titled “Global Trends 2025” by the National Intelligence Council, or Nic, which brings together all 16 United States intelligence agencies. Turkey, as Hurriyet daily reports, is likely to have a more prominent political and economic role internationally and economically in 2025, but it will also become more Islamic and more nationalist, the U.S. intelligence community predicted in a report released last week. According to Nic, the United States’ clout was likely to decline over the next 15 to 20 years, while China and India would have a strengthened position. Among Muslim countries, the NIC expected “to see the political and economic power of Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey increase. Over the next 15 years, Turkey’s most likely course involves a blending of Islamic and nationalist strains, which could serve as a model for other rapidly modernizing countries in the Middle East,” the report said adding that it expected secularism in the Middle East to decline in line with the Turkish example. “As in today’s Turkey, we could see both increased Islamization and greater emphasis on economic growth and modernization,” the NIC said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Russia


Russia’s Communists: Crisis Will Help Us Regain Power

‘The wind of history is blowing in our sails again … imperialism is starting to die’

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Russia’s Communists expect the global financial crisis will cause social unrest and help them challenge for power, the party’s leader said on Saturday.

Gennady Zyuganov told the party’s annual congress the Communists should make maximum use of the growing public discontent caused by the economic downturn to try to restore their political strength.

“The wind of history is blowing in our sails again … At this time of crisis the world of imperialism is starting to die. We are standing on the threshold of political and social shifts,” Zyuganov said in a 2-hour speech opening the congress.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Russia: Gazprom Cuts Gas Production

The economic crisis, lower industrial output and a warmer than usual fall have reduced European energy demands. This might lead to lower investments with the risk that production might prove insufficient in a few years.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Gazprom has decided to cut gas production projections for 2008 by about 10 billion m3. Russia’s leading energy producer said it was responding to the effects of the global economic crisis and an unusually warm fall which have reduce demand both in Russia and the European Union. Experts suggest instead it is trying to keep prices high.

Gazprom will produce 552-553 m3di gas this year, down from the originally planned figure of 561-563 m3. Unlike petrol, gas prices in the European Union have remained at their highest levels; in October, the average price of gas in Europe was above US$ 500 per 1,000 m3.

The impact of the world’s financial crisis on the metallurgic sector, the construction industry and power stations has forced companies to announce reductions in production volumes

Russian gas exports to EU countries have thus dropped; for example, by 19 per cent in Germany and 13 per cent in Poland.

Gas prices follow oil prices eventually, with a delay of several, and are expected to drop around February next year, another reason for buyers to put off purchases now.

But for the online journal EastWeek lower revenues from gas sales will exacerbate the problem of insufficient investments in developing new gas fields.

Indeed Gazprom has often been criticised for not investing enough in research and up scaling Russia’s gas fields, preferring instead to focus on foreign investment to ensure its leadership role in the world.

In Russia itself the authorities have given the energy giant a monopoly position at the expense of other gas producers.

Now its production cannot even cover the domestic market by 4 billion m3 which may reach 120 billion m3 in 2010 and 340 billion m3, this according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

On the short run, lower demand at present will allow Gazprom to create reserves, but without major investments the risk of a gas deficit in a few years will increase given the growing demands at home and in the European Union.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Crisis Group Calls for Urgent Reforms in Post-War Georgia

By VOA News

A leading international research group says Georgia must implement urgent reforms, if the government is to survive the global economic downturn and public discontent over its failed conflict with Russia.

The International Crisis Group, in a report, says President Mikheil Saakashvili’s position is now secure.

But it says his standing will be “severely tested” in the months ahead, as the opposition continues asking “pointed questions” about Georgian government decisions ahead of Russia’s devastating military invasion in August.

The report urges the Saakashvili government to restore political stability necessary to encourage foreign investment and development. It also says Tbilisi must provide more social assistance, ensure an independent judiciary and increase freedoms for the broadcast news media. Additionally, it calls on the government to eliminate high-level corruption and implement what it calls “vital changes” to the electoral process.

The Saakashvili government came under harsh criticism this week, for faulty decisions that a top ex-diplomat says triggered the Russian invasion August 7.

Envoy Erosi Kitsmarishvili said the Georgian leader misread U.S. messages of support earlier this year as an endorsement for the use of force to regain control of the country’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from separatists. The diplomat served as Georgia’s ambassador to Moscow in the months before the Georgia-Russia conflict.

Kitsmarishvili also told a parliamentary panel that Georgia was planning to invade South Ossetia as early as April, and that President Saakashvili discussed such an attack in 2004. Wednesday, the office of the president issued a statement denying the accusations.

The president is scheduled to testify before a parliamentary panel Friday on decision-making linked to the conflict.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]



Georgia ‘May Have Staged’ Kaczynski Shooting

By Georgian Daily

Georgia may have staged the shooting of a convoy carrying the Polish and Georgian presidents, say leaked Polish security service reports.

South Ossetian paramilitaries fired shots near a motorcade carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili to the border of the disputed Akhalgori district last weekend.

The incident highlighted the continuing presence of Russian-backed forces deep inside Georgia in violation of earlier peace treaties, but its impact has been dulled by suspicions that Tbilisi set up the events.

“At the current time and on the basis of the information obtained, the most likely scenario is that the situation may have been created by the Georgian side,” a leaked Situation Report by the Polish Internal Security Agency, the ABW, published in the Dziennik daily on Thursday (27 November), says.

The report points out that the Akhalgori visit was not consulted with Polish security services, that Mr Saakashvili stopped the convoy and asked Mr Kaczysnki to step outside the car near the checkpoint and that the Georgian president and his men showed no signs of distress when the shots rang out.

The ABW cites the “difficult situation of the Georgian president with the strengthening internal opposition in the country,” as a potential motive for any stunt.

The ABW report could further damage Tbilisi’s reputation among EU decision makers, amid a growing consensus in Brussels that Mr Saakashvili’s government was partly-responsible for the August war and has eroded its own democratic legitimacy by quashing opposition in the run up to the conflict.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]



Saakashvili Defends S Ossetia War

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has denied seeking a green light from Washington for his country’s assault on its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the conflict, Mr Saakashvili also denied planning the attack months in advance.

He insisted Russia made the first move, pouring tanks and men over the border.

There was an outcry this week when Georgia’s former ambassador to Moscow said Georgia started the war.

Erosi Kitsmarishvili also said Georgia believed it had received Washington’s approval for its attack.

The former envoy was condemned for his comments, and was nearly physically assaulted while giving evidence to the parliamentary hearing.

[…]

Even Mr Saakashvili’s fierce opposition critics swung behind him during the short war in August, but in recent weeks he has come under growing pressure.

Opposition parties have mounted rallies and called for early elections.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]

South Asia


“I Want to Live” Says Captured Terrorist

His swaggering image as he walked around Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus was captured by Mumbai Mirror photo editor Sebastian D’Souza, and was the first glimpse of the terrorists who have held Mumbai hostage over the last 48 hours.

Now we can also tell you who this man is and how he has become the vital link for investigating agencies to crack the terror plot. His name is Azam Amir Kasav, he is 21 years old, speaks fluent English, hails from tehsil Gipalpura in Faridkot in Pakistan, and is the only terrorist from this audacious operation to have been captured alive. An ATS spokesperson confirmed that the man captured was indeed the one photographed by us.

On the night of Wednesday-Thursday, Azam and his colleague opened fire at CST before creating havoc at Metro and then moving on to Girgaum Chowpatty in a stolen Skoda, and where they were intercepted by a team from the Gamdevi police station. Azam shot dead assistant police inspector Tukaram Umbale.

But in that encounter, Azam’s colleague was killed and he himself was injured in the hand. He pretended to be dead giving rise to the news that two terrorists had been killed. However, as the “bodies” were being taken to Nair Hospital, the accompanying cops, figured that one of the men was breathing.

According to sources, the casualty ward of Nair hospital was evacuated and the Anti-Terror Squad moved in to interrogate him. Azam who was tightlipped initially, cracked upon seeing the mutilated body of his colleague and pleaded with the medical staff at Nair to save his life. “I do not want to die,” he reportedly said. “Please put me on saline.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Armed Teams Sowed Chaos With Precision

One reason for the nervousness is that it seems likely that not nearly all the terrorists were caught or killed — and so far the whereabouts of the rest are a mystery. At least eight were confirmed dead on Friday, although more might be found as soldiers and the police combed through the two hotels. Security officials declared that they had taken control of the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower on Saturday morning, killing three militants.

Estimates of the number of attackers have ranged from 20 to 40, with the number depending to a considerable extent on the number of boats involved. As security forces seek to reconstruct how the gunmen managed to inflict so much carnage so quickly, they have been turning their attention to how so many assailants managed to reach the heart of Mumbai undetected and with such a large collection of guns, ammunition and explosives.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Doctors Shocked at Hostages’s Torture

They said that just one look at the bodies of the dead hostages as well as terrorists showed it was a battle of attrition that was fought over three days at the Oberoi and the Taj hotels in Mumbai.

Doctors working in a hospital where all the bodies, including that of the terrorists, were taken said they had not seen anything like this in their lives.

“Bombay has a long history of terror. I have seen bodies of riot victims, gang war and previous terror attacks like bomb blasts. But this was entirely different. It was shocking and disturbing,” a doctor said.

Asked what was different about the victims of the incident, another doctor said: “It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatised. A bomb blast victim’s body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words,” he said.

Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: “It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood,” one doctor said.

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: “Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]



Hindus, Jews, and Jihad Terror in Mumbai

By Andrew G. Bostom

Sixty hours of jihadist terror depradations throughout India’s financial capital, Mumbai — during which nearly 200 innocent victims were murdered, and 300 wounded — apparently ceased this Saturday, November 29, when Indian commandos slew the last three gunmen inside a luxury hotel, while it was still ablaze. Mainstream media coverage of these rampaging, cold-blooded murderous acts of jihad terrorism — perpetrated by a self-professed “mujahideen” organization (i.e., “The Deccan Mujahideen”) — consistently ignored the clear ideological linkage to Islam. Simply put, “mujahideen” are Muslim jihadists, “holy warriors,” because there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad, despite present day apologetics.

The root of the word jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries — from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam, to ordinary people — meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.” As described by the seminal mid-19th century Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers.” A contemporary definition, relevant to both modern jihadism and its shock troop “mujahideen” was provided at the Fourth International Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research at Al Azhar University, Cairo — Islam’s most important religious educational institution-in 1968, by Muhammad al-Sobki…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]



Liberalism Bombs Bombay

Who are these enemies of civilization? Yes, in India’s case, Islamic terrorists, but it goes deeper than that.

What cultural, societal, political philosophy allows a pseudo-religion like Islam to exist and grow in its midst? Liberalism. In my view the political madness of liberalism is the real culprit behind the bombs of Bombay.

How?

  • Liberalism preaches a brand of egalitarianism that places all religions, beliefs and ideas on the same intellectual plane, but this contradicts the principle of rationality because all ideas and religions are not equal — some are evil.
  • Nonetheless, under the liberal tenets existent at the founding of the League of Nations (President Woodrow Wilson, 1919) and United Nations (FDR, 1945), nations are mandated under international law to take the diplomatic route verses common sense tactics when their country suffers an unprovoked, naked act of religious-based terrorism.
  • Therefore, liberalism prevented India from taking common sense action against her Muslim enemies when, in 1947, the U.N. formed Pakistan out of whole cloth, trying to stem the tide of Islamic fanaticism against the nation of India, but effectively leaving the country to be overrun by the more than 115 million Muslims living in India today.

Conservative intellectual, Ann Coulter eloquently prophesied the world’s pathetic reaction to an international crisis:

There are only two choices with savages: Fight or run. Democrats always want to run, but they dress it up in meaningless catchphrases like “diplomacy,” “détente,” “engagement,” “multilateral engagement,” “multilateral diplomacy,” “containment” and “going to the UN.”

Instead of exporting throughout the world the elements of a representative democracy and a republic rooted in the Judeo-Christian traditions of intellectual thought, America has since FDR exported a bastardized socialism — a diabolical brand of liberalism that is more akin to Marxism and communism than it is to republicanism and freedom.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Mumbai Terrorists Trained by Renegade Westerners?

Mumbai killers’ tactics raise chilling prospect

LONDON — Agents for Britain’s MI5 intelligence service have concluded tactics used by the Mumbai terrorists have raised the chilling prospect that they were trained by someone who had acquired his skills in Western special forces — or had obtained its secret manuals on how to launch a full-scale surprise attack against one of the world’s largest cities, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

“We cannot rule out that the training of the killers could have been done by Muslims who had served in the Army, U.S. Special Forces or the Russian Spesnaz,” said an intelligence source.

While MI5 agents try to pin down if Britons actually were involved in the attack, a specialist team is working with the Ministry of Defense to comb the records of all those who served in the army and underwent specialist training.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Pakistan Moves Army From Terror Front to India Border

Pakistan is withdrawing troops from the fight against al-Qa’ida and the Taliban to redeploy them to its border with India as tensions between the two nuclear-armed nations escalate over the terrorist massacre in Mumbai. […]

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari urged India not to “overreact” after Indian and US officials suggested the militants could have been from the Pakistan-based LET. The group was behind the deadly 2001 assault on the Indian parliament that pushed New Delhi and Islamabad to the brink of war.

“If something happens (amid the rising tensions with India), the war on terror cannot be our priority,” a senior Pakistani official told a media briefing yesterday. “We’ll take everything from the western border (with Afghanistan — the main area of al-Qa’ida and Taliban activity). We won’t leave anything there.”

Indian army sources said forces near Pakistan had been placed on a raised alert before a meeting that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called with security chiefs in New Delhi today. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Russian Expert Says Mumbai Attackers Trained by US Funded Pakistanis

MOSCOW: A top Russian counter-terrorism expert on Sunday underlined that the Mumbai attackers were not “ordinary terrorists” and were probably trained by the special operations forces set up in Pakistan by the US intelligence prior to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The handwriting and character of the Mumbai events demonstrates that they were not ordinary terrorists,” said Vladimir Klyukin, an Afghan war veteran.

“Behind this terrorist attack there are ‘Green Flag’ special operations forces, which were created by the Americans in Pakistan, just an year before the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and in the initial period were under full US control,” stressed Klyukin, a veteran of the special “Vympel” commando group of the former Soviet KGB.

He said for such guerrilla operations at least two-three years of preparatory work with the involvement of experienced instructors is required.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Macquarie Bank’s $500k-Plus Christmas Party in Sydney

THE financial world may be in meltdown, but Macquarie Bank has splashed out between $500,000 and $750,000 on one of the most lavish Christmas parties held in Sydney.

While other companies cancel or downgrade their end-of-year bashes as 2008 ends in financial disarray, the so-called “millionaire factory” spared no expense, hiring Cockatoo Island on Sydney Harbour to stage a gothic extravaganza last Thursday.

The company, which may be forced to shed jobs as the share price and the value of mum-and-dads’ portfolios crumble, transformed a huge hall into an eerie cathedral, complete with candelabras, coffins and church pews.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Hundreds Dead in Nigerian Clashes

Hundreds were killed and thousands forced to flee their homes in the central Nigerian city of Jos when Christians and Muslims clashed over the result of a local election. About 400 bodies were brought to the mosque following the worst sectarian riots since President Umaru Yar’Adua took office last year, said Khaled Abubakar, imam of the central mosque in Jos.

“Families are coming to identify and claim the bodies, while those that cannot be identified or nobody claims them will be interred by the mosque,” he said. Road links to Jos from the Muslim-majority north were sealed yesterday, and flights to the city were cancelled. […]

Locals said several churches and mosques were razed in the violence, which started with a rumour that the All Nigerian Peoples Party had lost the local election to the federal ruling People’s Democratic Party. The ANPP is perceived in Jos to be a predominantly Muslim party, and the PDP to be mainly Christian. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

General


Islam: Abu Zayd,West Should Get Rid of Fundamentalists Model

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 20 — “It is necessary for both Muslims and Westerners to get rid of the reference model which uses the monolithic talk of Islam, created indeed by the fundamentalists”. So stated the Egyptian intellectual Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd. He repeated the need for both parties, in the West as well as in the Islamic world, to go back to using those skills for rational and critical analysis which forms part of the histories of both. Since 1995, he has been living in Holland after being sentenced for apostasy in his homeland. If this liberation does not take place, continued Abu Zayd, who was speaking at a meeting yesterday evening, promoted in Rome by ResetDoc and by the Centre for American studies, “we are destined to cultivate a mistaken idea of Islam, confusing it with the prevailing speech of the integralists, or rather combining an unrealistic and apologetic position, by de-contextualising Islam from past or present circumstances”. “In this way we should be convinced”, he added, “that this is a religion only of peace, detached from the violence that is so often perpetrated in its name”. A criticism, made by Abu Zayd, explicitly targeting the film Fitna by the Dutch member of parliament Geert Wilders, with his “mirror image of the ideology of Osama Bin Laden”, but also involving politicians and western media who deny voice and visibility to the vast majority of Muslims. Against the traps of “demonization” or “idealization” of Islam, according to Abu Zayd, there is no other path than placing Islam “in the correct historic context” and bringing the Koran closer by means of an “objective historical prospect”, in a “mature, spiritual and contextualised” vision of the holy text. Only in this way, he maintains, can pluralism and tolerance become the “prevailing voices” in all Muslim societies. In these societies, he emphasizes “accusations of blasphemy and apostasy still represent crucial weapons in the arsenal of the fundamentalists” to prevent a path of reform of those same Muslim societies, and “they create a serious obstacle to the use of reason in exploring the contemporary ‘significance’ of the Koran’s message”. Thus releasing the ‘profound substance’ of the holy message. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Impact of Western Medicine

The Fjordman Report


The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.


This post is adapted from two comments left on last Thursday’s post.

I will probably republish the full history of medicine here at some point, with a few changes from the first five posts.

I think I can draw a conclusion by now: The first civilization in human history to establish a truly scientific understanding of both the human body and the real causes of diseases was European civilization. I haven’t seen any indication that any other nation or culture was close to achieving a similar breakthrough independently.

The one exception I can find is the case of an early use of general anesthesia in Japan in the beginning of the 1800s. But this was inspired by Western medicine, through translations from Dutch, and it didn’t have any long-term effects outside of Japan or even within Japan itself. In the year 1800, surgery was extremely painful and dangerous anywhere in the world. By 1900, it was fully possible to undergo a major operation in a relatively painless and secure manner.

Technically speaking, the development of general anesthesia and of antiseptics were two separate events, but they happened within a few decades of each other in the West. General anesthesia by ether or chloroform was related to advances in chemistry and had been established while there was still powerful opposition to the germ theory of disease. The germ theory was proved after substantial scientific and technical advances in microscopy during the nineteenth century.

Improved microscopes also made it possible to study the actual composition of the human body down to the cellular level, chromosomes, genes etc. By the mid-twentieth century, following the invention of the electron microscope, it was possible to see individual virus particles, which was again achieved after massive advances in physics and other branches of science. Most modern hospital equipment runs on electricity, yet only European civilization, as far as we know, ever invented the battery, the dynamo and the generator.

Not all medical advances were necessarily dependent upon better technology, though. Theoretically speaking, a person in India, Korea, Vietnam or Egypt could have done the studies on inheritance that Mendel did, yet nobody outside of Europe actually did so, at least not that I am aware of. If somebody did, he was a lonely genius whose work was not followed up by others. The remarkable thing about Europe and the Western world at this point was not only that gifted individuals made new discoveries, but that these discoveries were shared and followed up by other gifted individuals.

This is far from self-evident, as those reading about for instance Chinese scientific history would know.

In response to a commenter on the same post:
- – - - – - – - -
I actually believe medicine was one of the stronger points of ancient Egyptian science, which influenced Greek and thus Western medicine later. I am aware that certain types of anesthesia were in use for thousands of years, as I also stated, but general anesthesia as we know it today was a product of the nineteenth century.

I choose to write about medicine because practically all human cultures had some form of healers or physicians, which makes it possible to compare the level of medical knowledge. I couldn’t compare the level of knowledge in, say, electrodynamics, thermodynamics or the study of subatomic particles since these sciences didn’t exist before nineteenth century Europe.

I’ve never said that we exist in a vacuum. We got knowledge from other cultures, but in the modern West the advances in medicine, which are linked to advances in other sciences, were nevertheless several orders of magnitude beyond what any other civilization had achieved before.

And yes, a truly scientific understanding of the human body and of diseases was the product of European civilization.

A Report From Lund

AFA counter demo in Lund


A reader in Skåne emailed us this report on today’s events in Lund, where a venerable tradition revived by Swedish nationalists (including the neo-Nazis) was met with an “anti-racist” counter-demonstration. See last Thursday’s report for background on this event.

Here’s what happened today:

Lund MonumentFor the officially permitted demonstration honoring Carl XII, approximately fifty individuals collected around this monument at the northern outskirts of Lund between 4 and 5 pm. The monument memorializes one of the worst bloodbaths, “the Battle of Lund” between the Swedes and the Danes around 1676, and has got nothing to do with Carl XII. Carl XII died on the 30th of November 1718 in Norway, fighting the Norwegians.

The counter-demonstrators, who had no official permission, were throwing stones and grave-candles at the police (the monument is 300 meters away from the big Lund cemetery).

The police strategy was to keep the groups apart. Roads and streets were blocked all around the monument — lots of riot police, but no dialogue police were seen. Some twenty mounted police, etc.

There were many counter-demonstrators, 1000-1500, lots of them with masked faces, lots of trash — medium age late teens through say 25. One strange thing: there is no mention of Nazis, only about nationalists, also on the radio. Very significant — there must be a dog buried here!

- – - - – - – - -

On the radio, the 6 pm news had nothing exceptional to report.

I include the latest from Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter, nothing special.

There may be fights when the Nationalists try to go back to town. The Monument is about a kilometre from central Lund. In that case it must happen just about now…

In all haste!

No word yet on any further trouble. I’ll post an update tomorrow if any more news arrives.

The material from the newspapers was in Swedish, and our correspondent translated only a little bit (sorry, no URLs available):

4 arrested — 52 in custody

AFA counter demo in Lund […]

Police attacked by counter-demonstrators

The counter-demonstrators tried to start fights at the train station in Lund earlier in the day, 1400-1500.

Jew-Hatred in Norway

A heated discussion has emerged recently in Norway about the strength of anti-Semitism in that country and other parts of Scandinavia. Rolf Krake has translated a couple of articles on the topic from the Norwegian.

First, from Dagsavisen:

Claims the hatred of the Jews is growing in Norway.

Anti-Semitism is growing in Norway, and Norway is the only country which is demonizing Israel to such a degree, claims the Author Manfred Gerstenfeld. Yesterday [25 Nov 2008] a conference on the specific theme was held in Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM (Dagsavisen): Never before have academics in Israel gathered to a conference to discuss something as uncommon: The anti-Semitism in Norway and Sweden. But yesterday it happened in Jerusalem.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, the chairman of the conference, claims that in the Norwegian media Israel gets vilified, criticized and scorned to such a degree, “as if the state was the representative of evil”, while other countries with a lot worse record scarcely get similar attention.

“I have never seen such a phenomenon, only in Norway, just Norway, is Israel to such a degree pointed out as the unique villain,” says Manfred Gerstenfeld to Dagsavisen.

Getting Demonized

Until recently Norway’s reputation in Israel has been associated with democracy, a well-functioning society, the Nobel Peace Prize, and not least the Oslo peace process. But now the rosy Norwegian picture begins to fade.

In all, 65 academics, diplomats and others gathered yesterday [25 Nov 08] at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and the accusations from the stage were very serious.

To back up his case Gerstenfeld provides a long list of cases, including the author Jostein Gaarder’s infamous contribution in Aftenposten [Norwegian mainstream daily] during the Lebanon war. Gerstenfeld is equally unimpressed with the contents of the criticism from Norway.

“To criticize Israel is of course legitimate, this is not what this is about. This is about such a biased focus that it has as an end result become a demonization, a dehumanization,” says Gerstenfeld, a Dutch-born environmental protection expert who in recent years has worked as a political correspondent.

Other criteria

- – - - – - – - -

Not long ago Gerstenfeld published a book called Behind the Face of Humanism, which raises the issue of the relations of Norway and Sweden with Israel. In the book he claims that in Norway the state of Israel is judged using criteria different from those used with other countries. It is exactly these which, according to Gerstenfeld, are the reasons for his accusations that anti-Semitism is growing in Norway.

Among the participants on the conference yesterday were Zvi Mazel, former ambassador to Sweden, and Ephraim Zuroff from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Zuroff added that Sweden still allows Nazis who participated in war crimes during the Second World War protection against extradition. Zuroff is in possession of a list of 21 such men who still live in Sweden.

New form of racism

Manfred Gerstenfeld is not surprised that a growing anti-Semitism is to be found in Scandinavia, in countries with outspoken anti-racist and humanistic traditions. He says he is well aware of the human rights work in Norway, but thinks that these traditions, paradoxically, have opened the way for a new form of racism.

“A common notion here is that non-white people always are victims. And if you say that, you remove the ability to take responsibility for your own life, to be responsible, which is a basic human characteristic. You make people less human, they have become inferior. And this becomes racism against non-white people whom you started out to help, he says.

Gerstenfeld says that it is first and foremost the case Africans, and not with Israelis, who are exposed to this kind of racism. But the Israelis in the Middle East are instead demonized “where they the greatest criminals against human rights, something they are not”, he says, and warns that this has opened a door to a new legitimization of anti-Semitism.

Anti Israeli

It is difficult to measure the degree to which Israel officially supports the accusations which have been expressed, but it is no secret that diplomats with the Israeli Foreign Ministry have claimed that it is Norway of all the countries in Europe in which the mood has become most anti-Israeli.

The Israeli Foreign Department was very restrained criticizing foreign minister Jonas Gahr Stoere who earlier this month published a book, in which it is claimed that he compares the Jewish settlers with Nazis. Recently the Foreign Department in Oslo arranged a conference which goal was to increase trade between Israel and Norway.

A translation of a second article from Dagsavisen:

Not true

There is no reason to claim that the Norwegian [public] opinion has become more anti-Semitic, according to research director Odd-Bjorn Fure at the Holocaust Center.

“It is unquestionable that opinion on the political level and among the Norwegian public has become more skeptical towards Israel in recent years. But to say it is an expression of anti-Semitism does not hold — It has got nothing to do with anti-Semitism,” says Fure to Dagbladet.

“The press on guard”

He points out that the increased criticism from public opinion is directed against Israel’s policies. “It is totally legitimate to criticize the Israeli state and the various Israeli governments when Israel breaches international human rights and practice a brutal reign of occupation, says Fure; he does not think Norwegian press can be accused of anti-Semitism [emphasis by the translator — it echoes the media propaganda which is the whole point].

“I would rather say on the contrary. The Norwegian press is on guard against anti-Semitism,” he says.

Fure believes that the Israeli side from time to time has made unjustified accusations of anti-Semitism.

“I don’t think it is the case with the current [Israeli] government, but in the government of Ariel Sharon you saw attempts to delegitimize legitimate criticism. You can claim that the Norwegian criticism of the Israeli government is currently one-sided, undifferentiated, and massive, but not that is anti-Semitic, says Fure.

No more sludge

He underscores that nevertheless opinions and expressions of anti-Semitism occur in Norway.

“In certain situations anti-Semitic sludge comes to the surface, when you mix together the actions of the Israeli state and the Jewish people. But that is not at all representative of general Norwegian public opinion, and I do not have the impression that it has increased the last years, says the research director.

In an article in Aftenposten [Norwegian daily] recently it was claimed by a Norwegian school pupil in Oslo that “Jew” was among the worst slurs in the social circle.

“I have heard the same from other places and this is a deep, deep cause for worry. I do not have any information about how common this is, but if one person is using it as a swear word, it is one of many who uses it as a swearword,” says Fure, who nevertheless points out that the usage of the wording is not reflected in the public sphere.

“But it is clear that this phenomenon demands a special vigilance in the light of history,” says Odd-Bjorn Fure.

The Other Albania

We received an email this morning from a reader in Albania. With his permission, I’m posting it below:

Baron and Dymphna,

Let me introduce myself:

I’m “Albkrist” from Albania, 28 years old, Catholic descendant. I have been a reader of your site Gates of Vienna. I congratulate you for the great work on supporting our Christian identity.

One thing to clarify with you, then afterwards you can verify it.

We Albanians have had a bad presentation in Europe. Europe identifies us as an Muslim nation! This is not true. This label is given to us by Serbian and Greek propaganda, and because we are a small uninfluential voice in Europe.

Myself, I am Catholic and hate Islam, and anything that has to do with it. I’d rather fight against this threat to Europe. I consider myself a European citizen.

SkanderbegI just want to clarify that the majority in Albania, more than 90%, are pro-European. We lived under the Turks for more than 600 years and thus these damn invaders left their sign on this nation. But now that they are gone all of Albania wants to turn its face toward Europe. We are ashamed of being converted to Islam and now everybody (the majority, and after some decades all of Albanians) wants to turn the page.

Don’t confuse Albanians of Albania, Albanians of Kosovo, and Albanians of Macedonia. Albanians of Albania are 90% pro-European and pro-Christian. In Kosovo it’s 50%. In contrast, the Albanians of Macedonia — I can say they are all Muslims!! And maybe they (pure Talibans) hate Christianity, too.

Albania is the motherland of all of them so now or later they will be with us or against us.

The two most well-known personalities of Albania are both Catholics:

- – - - – - – - -

1)   Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), National Hero
2)   Mother Theresa. Our Pride.

Skanderbeg protected Europe from the Ottoman threat; just read about it if you don’t know.

Check this site financed by Austrian Foundations: Official Website of the Commune of Kelmend, North Albania.

This zone has 100% Catholic descendants; they never submitted to Islam even after 600 years..

What I intended with this letter is to say that Skanderbeg the protector of Christianity is not mentioned in your site.

I think that he deserves this.

Hope to see his contribution to Christianity in your site.

Regards,
Albkrist

I’m glad that Albkrist brought this matter to our attention, and I hope that his email will help repair our lack of information about Albania’s Christians.

If any other Albanians want to supply additional material, please feel free to leave it in the comments.

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/29/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/29/2008Besides the latest from Mumbai, the most interesting news tonight concerns the BNP. The Labour government’s policy of overt persecution towards the BNP and other dissenters has backfired, and the BNP is gaining in strength. There are a couple of reports below about yesterday’s BNP demonstration in Liverpool, which was mounted as a response to the arrest of three party members for handing out leaflets.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Conservative Swede, Diana West, Gaia, GLT, Insubria, JD, Paul Green, Steen, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- – - - – - – - -

USA
Doublespeak and American Socialism
 
Europe and the EU
Energy: Spanish Gov’t Won’t Prevent Lukoil Entering Repsol
Europe: Draft Manifesto Pse, ‘People First’
Geert Wilders: ‘Our Culture is Better’
Islamic Finance and Sharia, Europe’s Suicide
No Two Ways About it
Rioting in Iceland
Salsa-Dancing British Army Corporal Jailed for 10 Years for Spying for Iran
Sweden: Pre-Teen Joyrider Bitten by Police Dog
UK: BNP Claims the Streets of Liverpool
Victory for BNP as Liverpool Police Drop All Charges Against Activists
 
Balkans
Serbia: Italy Donates 6 Million Euro of Medical Equipment
Serbia: Car Collectors Want Last Yugo (Zastava)
 
Mediterranean Union
Med: Spread of Knowledge in Arab World Key to Sharing
Planes: Italy’s Storm Aircraft Heads for Tunisia
 
North Africa
Islam: Egypt; Doll With Veil for Muslim Girls
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Finmeccanica: Interest in Israeli Defence Industry Projects
Made in Italy: Marcegaglia, Israeli, Hi-Tech Excellence
Middle East: European Union Extends Palestinian Police Training
 
Middle East
Defence: Turkey Manufactures Fuselage of Military Plane
Energy: EU to Speed Up Nabucco Project, Says Commissioner
Jordan: Gov’t Allocates USD 65 Mln to Subsidize Heating Gas
Saudi Minister: Teachers and Students, Reject Extremism
The Worrying Tayyip Erdogan
 
Caucasus
Georgia: We Started War in South Ossetia — Georgian Diplomat
 
South Asia
India: Al-Qaeda Websites Rejoice Over Mumbai Attacks
Indonesia: MUI Leader Cholil Ridwan Says Kompas Newspaper is a Western Papist Tool for Attacking Islam
Mumbai Photographer: I Wish I’d Had a Gun, Not a Camera
Pakistani Girls Reclaiming Virginity
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
British and Irish Anti-Piracy Experts Rescued — After Pirates Attack
Foreign Africans, White S. Africans Face Genocide — Expert Warns
South Africa: Two Port Elizabeth Girls Raped Because They Were White
Young Whites Emigrate, Young Blacks Die of TB-AIDS in S. Africa
 
Immigration
Immigration is a Resource Say African and European Migrants
 
General
Berlusconi: No-One Feels the Need for Another Cold War
Sociology is Not a Science
Turkish Aerospace to Cooperate With Grumman for New Fighter
UN General Assembly President Accuses Israel of Apartheid
We Triggered Financial Crisis — Al Qaeda

USA


Doublespeak and American Socialism

“Mortgage Rates Fall as U.S. Expands Rescue” was the page-one headline in the November 26 Wall Street Journal. The story concerned a promise from federal officials to “pump” another $800 billion into the economy, bringing the grand total of the cost of various bailouts to something over $8 trillion. The term “rescue” is laughable but is used for the obvious purpose of confusing people about the calamity that has befallen our nation. If we’re not bankrupt now, we will be someday because we are being “rescued” by the federal government. This is the ultimate in what William Lutz, in his 1997 book of the same name, called “doublespeak.”

Ronald Reagan always warned of government officials who said they were there to help you.

I would have written that Journal story under the headline, “U.S. Plunges Deeper into Socialism.” But, of course, I’m biased.

It’s not fashionable these days to tell the truth about our financial and economic problems. The reason is simple — the media want to keep the American people in the dark about what is happening to their country. It is a catastrophe of historical proportions. And the obvious danger is that the loss of political liberty will follow the loss of economic liberty…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Energy: Spanish Gov’t Won’t Prevent Lukoil Entering Repsol

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 26 — Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has once again said today in Congress that the government would support and defend Repsol and its Spanish shareholders, but would not intervene to hinder the entrance of the Russian company Lukoil as shareholder in the Spanish oil group. “The criterion is very clear,” said Zapatero, quoted by the agency EFE, “it is our obligation to defend and support Spanish companies”. However, he did not explain how, and he stressed that the government would be retaining this position despite “the harsh criticism received.” The premier replied in this manner to the opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy of the Peoplés Party, who said that the government had the tools to intervene in the sales operation for the share of Repsol in which Lukoil is interested and that, if it were not to do so, then it would be accusing the head of the government of “being responsible for an enormous scandal.” Zapatero also ruled out public intervention by way of a state presence in among Repsol shareholders. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Europe: Draft Manifesto Pse, ‘People First’

(AGI) — Rome, 28 Nov. — ‘People first. A new direction for Europe’. This is the title of the new socialist manifesto of the PSE that socialist leaders from around Europe will sign on Monday in Madrid in preparation for the upcoming European elections. For Italy the manifesto will be signed by Riccardo Nencini (Socialist Party) and Mercedes Bresso (President of the Local Socialist Administrators in Europe). The Democratic Party will not sign the manifesto. There will be the signature of Piero Fassino, but as the representative of the Democratic Socialists. The manifesto — according to what is understood — will have the objective of creating a single message for the PSE for all of Europe for the upcoming election campaign. In the draft, the primary points are listed for the socialist policies. “In the last five years — as read in he draft of the manifesto — conservatives have had the majority in Europe. What have they done? Have they addressed the global financial crisis? Have they done some thing about increasing food and energy prices? Have they fought against poverty and inequality? Is society better than it was five years ago? Have they encouraged our initiatives to develop and improve work? They follow the market alone and leave the rich to become ever richer at the expense of everyone else. We believe in solidarity among the generations, not in the individualism of the right wing”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Geert Wilders: ‘Our Culture is Better’

Champion of freedom or anti-Islamic provocateur? Both.

By his own description, Geert Wilders is not a typical Dutch politician. “We are a country of consensus,” he tells me on a recent Saturday morning at his midtown Manhattan hotel. “I hate consensus. I like confrontation. I am not a consensus politician. . . . This is something that is really very un-Dutch.”

Yet the 45-year-old Mr. Wilders says he is the most famous politician in the Netherlands: “Everybody knows me. . . . There is no other politician — not even the prime minister — who is as well-known. . . . People hate me, or they love me. There’s nothing in between. There is no gray area.”

To his admirers, Mr. Wilders is a champion of Western values on a continent that has lost confidence in them. To his detractors, he is an anti-Islamic provocateur. Both sides have a point…

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



Islamic Finance and Sharia, Europe’s Suicide

The plan to bring Islamic finance to Great Britain caters to a great bluff. But it is a sign of false European tolerance which is submitting itself ever more to sharia. The Catholic project alone can save what is good in the West.

Islam is invading Europe, with millions of immigrants, but also with the millions of dollars of Muslim countries. It was reported yesterday that the British government is preparing legislation that will encourage the development of Islamic finance.. The Treasury Ministry defined this project as a “top priority.”

In a statement to AFP, Treasury Secretary Ed Balls said that it is necessary to ensure that “the tax system and rules encourage the development of sharia-compliant products” and to make the United Kingdom “a centre for international Islamic finance.”

Lebanon and Great Britain are also working to revitalize and create the most important Islamic bank in the United Kingdom. Both moves are certainly measures for attracting Islamic capital, but they are also yet another sign of bowing down to sharia demands, which show to what extent Europe has become a prey to the Islamization project of Muslim fundamentalists.

The British tradition of welcoming, the generosity of its asylum rights, its religious tolerance and its attachment to freedom and cultural diversity have made London the political and financial capital of international Islamism for more than 20 years. In fact, it is very easy to finance networks throughout the world, from a country that protects 4000 charity associations and some 50 Islamic banks. Zakat, the legal Muslim tax, amounts each year to some 5 million euros, without counting sadaqa, private donations. Furthermore, British policy is to not stand in the way of extremists, but to keep them under observation. Such a project is intrinsically irrational for at least two reasons.

The first is that Islamic banks are a big bluff. They are based on the principle that the Koran prohibits loans requiring interest payments. Actually, though, that sacred book does not accept “riba”, loan sharking (interest was not known at the time of the Koran!). For that matter, the Church too condemns loan sharking.

The second reason is that the founders of Islamic banks — which appeared about 50 years ago — are two fundamentalist figures who were not well-versed in economics. They are Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-1979) and Sayyed Qutb (1906-1966), an ideologue of the Muslim Brothers.

Not knowing much about contemporary economics, they made an enormous mistake, because they did not put inflation into the calculation, therefore a loan without interest always results in a loss. Their modern followers developed the theory that there is no interest, but rather co-participation, in Islamic banks. Thus, at the end of the year, the overall profits are divvied up.

Actually, though, the Islamic world has always had to find tricks for repaying debts and interest. There have also been, in the past, big scandals, particularly in Egypt, subsequently covered by Saudi Arabia, to safeguard the Islamic bank principle…

           — Hat tip: GLT [Return to headlines]



No Two Ways About it

by Diana West

What Robert Spencer calls “the reliably dhimmi Wall Street Journal” lives up to its reputation this weekend in an interview by James Taranto of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, one of the great and brave and precious few defenders of Western civilization to fight against its existential and intertwining enemies, cultural relativism and Islam.

The WSJ headline reveals the soft, gooey underpinnings on which the interview is premised: ‘Our Culture Is Better’—a quote from Wilders—over the following subhead: “Champion of Freedom or Anti-Islamic Provacateur? Both.” Taranto writes:

By his own description, Geert Wilders is not a typical Dutch politician. “We are a country of consensus,” he tells me on a recent Saturday morning at his midtown Manhattan hotel. “I hate consensus. I like confrontation. I am not a consensus politician. . . . This is something that is really very un-Dutch.”

Yet the 45-year-old Mr. Wilders says he is the most famous politician in the Netherlands: “Everybody knows me. . . . There is no other politician — not even the prime minister — who is as well-known. . . . People hate me, or they love me. There’s nothing in between. There is no gray area.”

To his admirers, Mr. Wilders is a champion of Western values on a continent that has lost confidence in them. To his detractors, he is an anti-Islamic provocateur. Both sides have a point.

“Both sides have a point”?

Ahem: To his admirers, Winston Churchill is a champion of liberty on a continent that has seen the end of liberty. To his detractors, he is an anti-Nazi provacateur. Both sides have a point….To his admirers, Ronald Reagan is a champion of Western freedom to peoples yearning to be free. To his detractors, he is an anti-Communist provacateur. Both sides have a point…Or, to flip it around: To his admirerers, Adolph Hitler is a champion of Aryan values on a continent that has grown soft from cosmopolitan impurities. To his detractors, he is anti-Semitic provacateur. Both sides have point…

Need I go on?…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]



Rioting in Iceland

[…] Completely unreported outside Iceland: Icelanders are rioting [Iceland Riots Precursor To U.S. Civil Unrest?; video: Protestors clash with police in Iceland] in reaction to government mismanagement of the crisis.

Gudrun Jonsdottir, a 36-year-old office worker, said: “I’ve just had enough of this whole thing. I don’t trust the government, I don’t trust the banks, I don’t trust the political parties, and I don’t trust the IMF. “We had a good country and they ruined it.”

These aren’t the actions of unwieldy mobs in third world countries, we’re talking about a country that had one of the highest living standards in Europe and a relatively wealthy and sedate population, the vast majority of whom are now in revolt over mass redundancies and the fast disappearing values of their paychecks and savings.

The EUnion is ‘helping’ our economies, but doesn’t want you to know about it. Probably with good reason: ECB Adopts New Collateral Guidelines, Leaves Public In Dark. Having warned of a sinking quality of the ECB’s balance sheet in January that were followed by an update of collateral guidelines in September, this move signals another milestone on the road to monetary hyper inflation. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Salsa-Dancing British Army Corporal Jailed for 10 Years for Spying for Iran

Security chiefs faced serious questions last night over how an Iranian-born immigrant suspected of marrying to obtain a UK passport could have been given a highly sensitive job in the Army.

Daniel James, jailed for ten years for spying yesterday, threatened the lives of British soldiers in Afghanistan by becoming an informant to an Iranian handler.

As an interpreter to General David Richards, British commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan at the time, he was in a unique position to obtain intelligence that would benefit Iran and indirectly the gunmen targeting Allied soldiers.

How James, 45, an embittered and disillusioned Territorial Army corporal, came to be in such a position of trust and why alarm bells did not ring earlier are disturbing aspects of the case.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Pre-Teen Joyrider Bitten by Police Dog

An 11-year-old boy was bitten by a police dog on Friday evening after the stolen car that he was driving was stopped. The boy and his three accomplices tried to flee on foot but he was unable to outrun the chasing dog.

The four young people sat in the car in Bålsta north of Stockholm while the police checked the ownership of the vehicle. Police discovered that the car had been reported stolen, according to local media reports.

Police then challenged the children who tried to drive away from the police patrol. They got as far as a road barrier and elected to continue their flight on foot.

Police let loose a tracker dog which managed to find the 11-year-old driver and a 14-year-old female accomplice. The boy was bitten by the dog as he resisted its advances but is reported to have suffered only minor injuries.

Both children were admitted to hospital to get their wounds dressed.

Uppsala police expressed surprise at the age of the joyriders.

“I have never experienced, in my 25 years anyway, such young people,” said Tommy Rinaldo at Uppsala police to news agency TT.

Police know the identities of the other two youths involved in the incident. They are reported to be 14 and 15 years of age.

The 15-year-old is thus the only member of the gang of four that is of the age of criminal responsibility although police were unable to confirm on Saturday morning whether they were suspected of any offence.

The four children had by Saturday morning been handed over to their parents.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



UK: BNP Claims the Streets of Liverpool

Liverpool, previously one of the most militant leftist cities in Britain, today gave a rapturous welcome to a 150-strong BNP demonstration in support of free speech.

Thousands of ‘Racism Cuts Both Ways’ booklets and other BNP leaflets were distributed in a co-ordinated day of campaigning in the city centre, which saw the Truth Truck and three other A-frame advertising vehicles sweep through large parts of the surrounding suburbs, all proudly carrying the party’s message to thousands of well wishers.

The BNP activists on foot — which included party chairman Nick Griffin, deputy leader Simon Darby, Greater London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook — then converged on the city centre at around midday, occupying one of the major pedestrianised intersections.

There, with flags flying, the BNP activists, which included an age range spread from pensioners to youngsters, continued distributing leaflets and recruiting from members of the public. A small crowd of bussed-in leftists were kept at bay by a police presence.

After an hour and half, the BNP crowd moved to the steps of St. George’s Hall in the city centre, where Mr Griffin gave a short address, pointing out that it was the preparedness of the BNP activists to be arrested en masse which had driven the police to withdraw all charges against the ‘Liverpool 13’ earlier in the day.

“Those charges would have hung over our people’s families until February if it had not been for the fact that hundreds of BNP activists were quite prepared to be arrested today,” Mr Griffin said…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Victory for BNP as Liverpool Police Drop All Charges Against Activists

Police have dropped all charges against the BNP’s ‘Liverpool 13’, admitting that there is no evidence to substantiate any of the allegations of ‘racism.’

The remarkable move came early this morning, when all thirteen men were hand delivered letters by members of the Liverpool constabulary. The letters, which formally advised the men that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to pursue charges, were pushed through their doors by policemen, who then quickly left before being forced to talk to anybody to explain.

“The looming BNP demonstration in the city centre, set for this morning, was clearly too much for the political chiefs of the Liverpool police,” said Nick Griffin, BNP chairman.

“We knew all along that there was nothing wrong with the ‘Racism Cuts Both Ways’ booklets, but the rapidity of the police climbdown is testament to the boldness and dedication of BNP activists,” Mr Griffin said.

“The realisation that their Gestapo-like tactics had engendered a broad public revulsion and had energised the BNP, is probably the primary reason for their decision to drop all charges,” he continued.

“The final straw must have come when they realised there was nothing racist in the BNP’s material. In fact, the booklet in question is an anti-racist publication.”

Mr Griffin praised the dedication of all the BNP activists who had sworn to attend this morning’s protest meeting in Liverpool city centre, saying that this was obviously a factor in forcing the police’s hand as well.

“We are still going ahead with an activity today in Liverpool, even if it might be something slightly different,” Mr Griffin said…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Serbia: Italy Donates 6 Million Euro of Medical Equipment

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 20 — Medical equipment for a total of six million euro will be donated by Italy to Serbia as part of a cooperation project for development, aimed at modernising the health sector of the largest of the former Yugoslav republics. The Serb Government announced today that the ceremony to hand over the equipment will take place tomorrow in Belgrade in front of Health Minister Tomislav Milosavljevic, the Italian ambassador in Serbia Alessandro Merola, and the local head of Italian cooperation Anna Zambrano. The donation includes specialist gynaecological equipment and latest generation dialysis machines. Italy has worked on numerous cooperation projects in recent years with the new democratic Serbia (along with other Balkan states), from culture to social services, as well as consolidating its position as one of the main investors and western partners with Belgrade, and the standard bearer for a speedy process of integration for the country into Europe. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Serbia: Last Zastava Car Gets Off Assembly Line Today

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 21 — The last car produced by the Kragujevac-based car factory Zastava, type Zastava 101 with a serial number 1,045,258, got off its assembly line today, Zastava Deputy Director Dejan Markovic told Tanjug news agency. “The production of the basic line of cars of Zastava, which has produced more than 4.1 million vehicles since 1953, thus ended. During that period Zastava exported about 650,000 vehicles to 76 countries,” said Markovic. The production of YUGO ended last week with a serial number 794, 428, while the production of the Florida type cars ended earlier with a serial number 29,950. The end of the production of the basic program at the Zastava Automobili factory was agreed by the contract signed by the Serbian government and Italy’s Fiat, which set up a joint company which will start producing a completely new type of cars in early 2010. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Serbia: Car Collectors Want Last Yugo (Zastava)

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 27 — Since the announcement that the popular Yugo shall not be in production any more, many people showed interest to purchase the last unit of this car model, reports daily Blic. According to Zastava employees even more than 20 potential buyers called the factory interested in purchase the last unit. The price of it being rumored around is even 50,000 euro. Potential buyers expect to get an explicit factory certificate proving that the unit in question is really “the last one”. There are also rumors of possible auction to be held in the town of Kragujevac that would attract potential buyers from all over the world. In the meantime Zoran Radojevic, the general director of Zastava said that it has been agreed with the Fiat management that the last units of Florida, Yugo and 101 models will be exhibited in a museum.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


Med: Spread of Knowledge in Arab World Key to Sharing

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 14 — Does the Mediterranean really exist, or is it just a figment of our imagination? Is unification possible? And above all, will its citizens believe in the newly created Union for the Mediterranean? These are some of the questions to which the meeting “The Circulation of Men in the Mediterranean: Permanence and Rift”, organised by the French Embassy in Italy as apart of the ‘Quinzaine of the Mediterranean’ event, will try to find an answer. “It isn’t possible to deny the existence of the Mediterranean”, the philosopher and historian at the University of Rabat, Abdessalam Cheddadi, affirms. “Even with the many rivalries, the radical changes in the balance between Islam and Christianity over the course of the centuries — he sustained — the Mediterranean has always been present. Today, however, it is necessary to understand which role this political space wants to cut out for the future”. The historian Maurice Aymard agrees with this idea, already director of studies at the French School of Rome, who said: “today’s Mediterranean is a completely European construction, it is the product of the economic and cultural conquest of a maritime and geographic space, resulting from the movement of goods and men”. In the current epoch, the big problem for Europe is that of managing the flow of immigrants that come primarily from the southern coast of our sea. For Professor Predrag Matvejevic, teacher of Slavic literature at the University of Zagreb, Paris and Rome, and author of the famous ‘Mediterranean Compendium’, “when the theme of the circulation of people is concerned, of immigration, we speak too much of quantity and not enough of quality. More than thirteen years ago — he reminded — he proposed the institution of summer courses for training young people from the southern shores in Italy, to create a laic group of intellectuals able, once returned to their country of origin, to fight against fundamentalism, better than we as in their eyes we aren’t believable”. As for the knowledge that the countries in the basin should focus on: “To make it possible for the people who inhabit this area to believe in the Union for the Mediterranean — Cheddadi, who is also an expert on the important Arab thinker, Ibn Khaldoun, concluded — we have to aim at spreading knowledge throughout the Arab world. To the end that countries on both sides of the Mediterranean live in harmony, and the Arab middle class must have access to education”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Planes: Italy’s Storm Aircraft Heads for Tunisia

(by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 27 — It is considered one of the toughest competitors of the American colossal Cessna and, until now, had its portfolio, heart, head and hands in Latina (Rome). However, from January the future of Storm Aircraft, a factory of light-weight aircraft based in Latina, will resume its race from Mateur, Tunisia, where this company of excellence in Italian industry has decided to move its production plant. Others had set the precedent before it, even others in the aeronautics industry such as the French colossal Dassault, which for its factory in the North African country focused on components production. The history of the Italian company is unique in its own way since, as they say with pride in the Latina headquarters, it worked its way up to excellence through different productive experiences, from the “tubes and canvas” to the metallic plane and then on to compound materials. However, it always made use of its own patents. Nevertheless, it is not a case of total delocalization since, as Storm Aircraft managing director Giovanni Salsedo said, Latina will remain at the “heart” of its administrative and marketing activities, and will still be the place of a workshop for maintenance and servicing. The rest will be moving to Tunisia: about seventy people — its “specialized staff” — will still be Italians. All the other staff have already been recruited in Tunisia, with a level of professionalism that surprised even Salsedo himself: “We found personnel of the highest professional level, graduates prepared to go back to studying for an important job opportunity. The response that we had was surprising: they got through the training course in less time than we had optimistically predicted.” The transfer of Storm Aircraft production from Latina to Tunisia comes at the end of a project which got underway five years ago, which the construction of the Mateur plant finalizes. The company has a turnover of about seven million euro per year and, if we have to pick out a problem from which it suffers , it would be that of keeping up with the market in which it is present especially in the United States and Australia, with orders frequently over its productive capacities. Once up and running, the Tunisian plant will have a productive potential of about 300 aircraft per year. The choice to move production from Latina to Tunisa was not dictated only by logistical reasons, due to better transport conditions and therefore lower costs, but especially economic ones. Tunisia has now for years offered to the entrepreneurs choosing it for their productive activities tempting tax allowances; exemption form taxes for the first ten years, and 40% of that due beginning in the eleventh year. It is a “siren” to which ever more Italian companies are responding. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Islam: Egypt; Doll With Veil for Muslim Girls

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 27 — It has wide eyes, highlighted by brushstrokes which look like long eyebrows and long eyelashes, but the rest of the face is covered: the mouth to above the nose, from the neck of the flowered dress, and the hair is hidden under a beige scarf which crosses at the forehead and holds it under the light-coloured veil. It is a doll, made in China, to an Egyptian design and in the toyshops of Cairo at a price of 36 and 42 Egyptian pounds (around 5 euro) it is what Egyptian newspaper Al Badil (The Alternative) is talking about in its item “Islamic doll corners the market”. It is sold in three versions: one with a veil and normal clothes, one with the niqab, the veil which shows only the eyes, and one in a bridal gown with a veil. But it doesn’t have a name. “The sale of this doll is to get little girls used to wearing the veil, because usually girls copy the dolls they play with” said toy shopkeeper Ayman Salem. Another shopkeeper says he is proud of the Egyptian design: “the Chinese do not know our traditions so we sent them the design for our market”. More than a hundred a month are imported and around half have been sold in the last six months. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Finmeccanica: Interest in Israeli Defence Industry Projects

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 27 — Finmeccanica is interested in joint projects with some of the major Israeli military industries: IAI (aeronautics industry) Rafael (agency for war weaponry development) and Elbit (military and civilian electronics). Reports were found today in the Israeli economic daily paper the Marker, which cites sources involved in contacts between the two companies. According to these sources, the parties are interested in identifying future apparatuses in the military field, their development and production. Finmeccanica, as the paper reports, is also interested in a collaboration on world markets with its partners. In addition, Finmeccanica is in advanced talks with the office of the Head Scientist of the Israeli Industry and Business Ministry with an agreement to likely be signed soon, already underwritten by ten multinationals, with the aim of encouraging cooperation among large foreign companies and Israeli enterprises. The signing is to take place during the visit of a Finmeccanica mission scheduled in February 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Made in Italy: Marcegaglia, Israeli, Hi-Tech Excellence

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 24 — “For us, Israel is a symbol of excellence for everything regarding high technology and electronics, and Italian companies are interested in Israeli companies in the sector”. This was stated by Confindustria (Confederation of Italian Industry) President, Emma Marcegaglia in an interview appearing today in Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper for the arrival in Israel of a delegation of industrialists led by her. The interest of Italian companies, she added, extends to other sectors, like infrastructure and agriculture especially for irrigation and water desalinisation. In the delegation are also representatives from the fashion sector, textile industry, and real estate interested in the Israeli market. Italy, said Marcegaglia, “can be an excellent partner for Israel in the industrial phase of product technology. Israeli is strong in the field of technological renewal and we can offer our production experience”. Despite the complex and conflict filled regional political situation, stated Marcegaglia, “there is (in Italy) great interest in Israel which is an objective of investments and trade for the Italian market”. “There is no doubt — she added — that good political relations between Italy and Israel help”. To the question of how Italian industrialists would respond if the United Nations were to widen economic sanctions against Iran, she responded: “commercial relations between Italy and Iran are strong. The business world, from it’s point of view, will have to act with caution but it is clear that it will not be able to ignore the political and security problems”. On the crisis that is devastating the world economy, the Confindustria president said: “it is not an easy period to get out of. It is important to manage this emergency correctly. I am worried because the situation is difficult, but I am also sure that growth will return, and my responsibility is to help Italian industry in difficult times in a way that it is ready to reap the benefits that will arrive from economic recovery”. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Middle East: European Union Extends Palestinian Police Training

Brussels, 28 Nov. (AKI) — The European Union has decided to extend by two years its training mission of Palestinian police, mission chief Colin Smith told journalists in Brussels on Friday. Smith said he was satisfied by the level of training of Palestinian police achieved so far by the EU mission.

The European Union is helping Palestinians build the institutions of a future Palestinians state and strengthen the rule of law in the Palestinian territories, he said.

Smith described the situation in the besieged Gaza Strip as “very serious” and regretted Israel’s continuing blockade against the aid-dependent territory. But he said he was optimistic that a unified Palestinian police force could be created for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

When he began his mandate in 2005, the EU mission trained 18,000 or 19,000 Palestinian police, he said. This figure fell to 7,000 after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June last year.

The EU mission was set up in June 2004 with the goal of improving the Palestinian security forces and judicial apparatus.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Defence: Turkey Manufactures Fuselage of Military Plane

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, OCTOBER 27 — Turkish Aerospace Industries (Tusas) has been manufacturing fuselage of the Airbus A400M aircraft, Europe’s biggest and most modern military transport aircraft, the first plane to be ready for delivery in 2012, military sources revealed. The $20 billion project was initiated in 2003 by seven partner nations (Turkey, Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg) to renew their military cargo planes line. Designed by Airbus Military the A400M is a four engine turboprop military cargo aircraft equipped with new technologies doubling cargo capacity over existing airplanes both in payload and volume. The A400M has a capacity of 37 tons (120 fully equipped troops or paratroops, up to 66 stretchers accompanied by 10 medical personnel and 2 helicopters). Its Mtow (maximum takeoff weight) is 136.5 tons and maximum cruising speed 560 km/h.Under the program 180 aircraft will be delivered to seven partner nations and Turkey will receive 10 models. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Energy: EU to Speed Up Nabucco Project, Says Commissioner

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 6 — EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said Thursday that the Union would accelerate the Nabucco project, a pipeline project to pump Asian natural gas from Turkey to Europe, Anadolu news agency reports. Piebalgs, who held talks with Turkish energy officials in Ankara, stressed Turkey’s importance for the project and said that talks were going well with Turkey. The 3,300-kilometer Nabucco project is a planned natural gas pipeline that will transport natural gas from Turkey to Austria, via Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. It will run from Erzurum in Turkey to Baumgarten an der March, a major natural gas hub in Austria. Around 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year will be transported to Europe after the Nabucco project is completed. Turkish energy officials said EU and Turkey could sign a transit deal by the end of this year, adding that the Union attaches great importance to the project as EU leaders do not want to be energy dependent on Russia. The Nabucco project is also supported by the United States as it would be an alternative to natural gas supply from Russia, biggest supplier of Europe. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Energy: Turkey, Israel, India to Meet for Pipeline Project

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 24 — Turkey’s Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said he would meet his Israeli and Indian counterparts in the coming days for the Ceyhan-Red Sea oil pipeline project, as Hurriyet daily website reports today. “The highest amount of cargo allowed to pass from the Turkish Straits is set as 130 thousand tonnes while ships carrying 400 thousand tons of cargo can come to Ceyhan Port in southern Turkey,” Guler, who is currently in India to accompany Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters. “On the other hand, it takes 39 days for a ship to arrive in the Red Sea after passing from the Turkish Straits, and only 16 days from Ceyhan to India. These are significant advantages for India,” Guler added. He said he would meet his Israeli and Indian counterparts in the coming days to talk about the Ceyhan-Red Sea oil pipeline project. Guler also said Indian oil company had been cooperating with the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) in Libya, and similar cooperation should be made in other countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Jordan: Gov’t Allocates USD 65 Mln to Subsidize Heating Gas

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, NOVEMBER 27 — Jordan’s government has allocated nearly USD 65 million to fund subsidies programme that would help impoverished citizens purchase heating gasoline during winter, an official said today. The funds have been allocated in the 2009 budget, to be approved by the Parliament in the coming days, according to Esmael Zaghloul, head of the budget department at the Finance Ministry. “We will distribute money on needy people once it is approved by the Parliament and signed by the king,” said Zaghloul. Officials said the funds will be granted through smart cards given to citizens below poverty line during the winter season. At the start of 2009, the government lifted subsidies on fuel in a bid to end dependence on state aid and help trim growing budget deficit. The move lead to an unprecedented increase in cost of fuel, with the leading members of Parliament urging the authorities to find measures to help poor citezens during the winter period. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Saudi Minister: Teachers and Students, Reject Extremism

The task of Muslims is to spread the message of Islam in a convincing way. “Islam is a way of life that conforms to man’s nature. It’s suitable for all ages and places.” Teachers and students should make their contribution to resolve the problems and crises facing humanity.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) — An urgent appeal from the Saudi interior minister to teachers and students, to eradicate extremism and spread the teaching of moderate Islam, which promotes tolerance. Speaking to those working and studying at the Islamic University in Medina, Prince Naif affirms that those who are blessed with the eternal divine message have the duty of asserting peace, justice, and stability in the world.

“I have told King Saud and Imam Muhammad bin Saud universities some Saudis were drawn into terrorism and how we can solve this problem,” said the minister, as quoted by the Saudi Press Agency. Prince Naif has launched an online video channel for the universities, intended to combat distorted opinions and ideas.

The minister’s objective is to highlight the role of Muslims in spreading the message of Islam in a convincing way. “Islam is a way of life that conforms to man’s nature. It’s suitable for all ages and places.” Teachers and students should make their contribution to resolve the problems and crises facing humanity.

Saudi Arabia, which is one of the main targets for Islamic fundamentalism, is working hard against domestic terrorism. Together with hundreds of arrests, the government has launched a program to rehabilitate those who have been involved in fundamentalism, and in July, grand mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al al Sheikh called upon Saudis and foreigners to “not offer refuge and protection to the terrorists,” because this is “a grave sin.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



The Worrying Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s prime minister once promised big reforms to bring his country closer to the European Union. He seems no longer to be pushing them

WHEN Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Justice and Development (AK) Party narrowly escaped banning by the constitutional court in July, the big question was which Erdogan would then come to the fore. Would it be the non-ideological pragmatist, whose bold reforms had helped Turkey to secure the start of membership talks with the European Union in 2005? Or would it be the dogmatic and erratic leader who had provoked Turkey’s meddlesome generals, always anxious to undermine the AK Party because of its Islamist roots, by seeking soon after his election victory in July 2007 to ease the ban on the Islamic-style headscarf in universities?

The question of which version of Mr Erdogan is in charge has gained extra urgency because Turkey is grappling with mounting violence in the mainly Kurdish south-east. It also matters to the financial markets as the government tries to protect its fragile economy from the global financial typhoon. Worryingly, the answer seems to be: the second version. Mr Erdogan appears increasingly autocratic and out of touch. And because he lacks any credible political opponents, either within or beyond the AK Party, this is making Turkey look stagnant and adrift—and further away from EU membership than ever…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Georgia: We Started War in South Ossetia — Georgian Diplomat

Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia Erosi Kitsmarishvili has accused his own country of starting the war in South Ossetia. His comments almost led to a fistfight between politicians.

“It was the Georgian government that launched the military action. It doesn’t matter whether it was provoked or not,” he told the Georgian parliamentary commission analysing the August events. “As for the fact that Russia was prepared for it, Moscow was ready to perform the actions it did, because they were part of Russia’s overall plan. I am not saying Georgia is to blame for everything, because Russia was not an innocent lamb either.”

Erosi Kitsmarishvili was one of the founders of the ‘Rose Revolution’ and the former head of Georgia’s Rustavi-2 TV station. This, however, didn’t prevent the anger of one member of the commission on hearing his statement. He threw a pen at the former ambassador and seemed ready to fight.

“Today’s session is a vivid example of how the Saakashvili regime is collapsing,” commented Pikriya Chikhradze, a leader of the Georgian opposition party, New Rightists. “The behaviour of the commission members who assaulted Erosi Kitsmarishvili, shows that they are interested not in listening to a person who possesses really important information, but in publicly denying it.”

Kitsmarishvili had more revelations about his conversations with President Saakashvili.

“The President told me he wanted to relocate the Georgian capital to Sukhum in Abkhazia in August,” he said. “I told him there wasn’t any peaceful way to reach this goal in four months and asked how we could develop relations with such plans in mind?”

Kitsmarishvili’s controversial comments are seen by some as evidence of a growing battle in Georgian politics.

“A tough political fight is developing in Georgia between Saakashvili’s team and the opposition. And the Georgian opposition consists of former allies of the incumbent president,” said Vladimir Zharikhin, Deputy Head of the Institute of CIS countries. “The West knew that Saakashvili started the war. Yet there was an attempt to tell this story differently. But such distortion of the picture is possible only for a short term.”…

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]



Saakashvili Plans to Flee Country — Opposition Leader

TBILISI, November 28 (RIA Novosti) — A senior Georgian opposition party figure said on Friday that President Mikheil Saakashvili and his immediate circle were preparing to flee the country, and had already started transferring money into foreign banks.

“Saakashvili and his government have already packed their suitcases in the hope that they will be able to live abroad calmly and without any worries on the property they stole here,” Georgy Gugava, one of the Labor Party’s leaders, told journalists.

He also said that his party would request that world governments freeze “their bank accounts, as was done with the president of Zimbabwe.”

Gugava also said that Saakashvili’s brother had transferred last year “a huge amount of money made at the expense of the oil business to Indonesia.” He also said Georgian Defense Minister David Kezerashvili had transferred $80 million to Israel.

“Tens of millions of dollars were transferred by representatives of the ruling forces to banks in Mexico and Switzerland. The Labor Party has sufficient proof of this,” he went on.

“All this property belongs to the Georgian state and the Georgian nation, and when Saakashvili and his ministers come before the court, it will be returned to the people,” Gugava said.

Saakashvili came to power in the former Soviet republic on the back of the so-called rose revolution in 2003.

Last November, Georgia was rocked by opposition rallies for six days as protestors occupied central Tbilisi, demanding Saakashvili’s resignation over allegations of corruption and increasing authoritarianism.

The Georgian leader responded by sending in riot police to crack down on protestors on November 7. Over 500 people were injured, according to the U.S. group Human Rights Watch, when police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to break up the demonstrations.

Saakashvili subsequently called early elections for January and was reelected with 53% of the vote.

He has recently come under criticism in Georgia over a five-day war with Russia in August that began when Georgian forces attacked breakaway South Ossetia. Domestic critics say that Saakashvili acted recklessly in involving Georgia in a war which it could not possibly hope to win.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]



Saakashvili Says ‘We Started the War’

For the first time ever, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has admitted that his country started the military conflict in South Ossetia in August. But the Georgian leader is adamant the action was justified. He was testifying before a parliamentary commission investigating the five-day war.

According to Saakashvili, the attack on the South Ossetian capital, which involved night shelling of residential areas with multiple rocket launcher systems, was aimed at protecting Georgian citizens. He said it was a response to Russia’s “intervention” in the region.

“We did start military action to take control of Tskhinvali and other unruly areas. But we took this difficult decision to fend off our territory from intervention and save the people who were dying. It was inevitable,” Saakavili said.

[…]

Ex-ambassador’s allegations ‘groundless’

Mikhail Saakashvili dismissed as nonsense the allegations voiced earlier this week by the former Georgian ambassador to Moscow, Erossi Kitsmarishvili. The diplomat said Tbilisi had been preparing the military campaign against South Ossetia for several years and put the blame for the bloodshed on Mikhail Saakashvili.

“Kitsmarishvili’s allegations are groundless; his status was not high enough to attend the Security Council meetings where the country’s foreign policy was decided. He could not know our plans, and those certainly have nothing to do with his version,” the Georgian leader said on Friday…

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede [Return to headlines]

South Asia


India: Al-Qaeda Websites Rejoice Over Mumbai Attacks

Mumbai, 27 Nov. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda websites on Thursday were swamped with messages from people who were celebrating the devastating Mumbai attacks which have left over 100 people dead and 281 injured. “Oh Allah, destroy the Hindus and do it in the worst of ways,” was one of the comments that appeared on Islamist forums on the Internet immediately after the attacks.

“The battle that is underway in Mumbai is a battle for Allah between its servants and the infidels,” said another message published on the al-Falluja forum.

Several Al-Qaeda sites also posted several pictures of the victims in Mumbai and provocative statements.

Some media reports are saying that a group calling itself Deccan Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks, but this has not yet been confirmed.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Indonesia: MUI Leader Cholil Ridwan Says Kompas Newspaper is a Western Papist Tool for Attacking Islam

In early October the fundamentalist Islamic journal Suara Islam (Islamic Voice) published The Way Kompas Incites Hatred, in which Cholil Ridwan, co-chairman of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI; “Council of Muslim Scholars of Indonesia”), said: They will publish anything that harms the Muslim community, including attacks on the MUI.

Cholil Ridwan was quoted in para-phrase terms as saying that Kompas was a Roman Catholic “tool”, with a (religious) “mission”.

Kompas, Indonesia’s most widely read newspaper, is owned by the Kompas-Gramedia group, founded in 1965 by P.K. Ojong and Jacob Oetama, Roman Catholics. These days, Cholil said, many people were paid to advance western ideas and interests in Indonesia: If they’re not anti-MUI, if they don’t attack the MUI, they won’t get work.

Cholil was particularly annoyed by an 8th September 2008 story by Sumanto Al Qurtuby in which the MUI was said to be the prime mover and inspiration for sectarian violence in Indonesia, because of its hostile approach to heretical sects such as Ahmadiyah. […]

In general terms the article complained that Kompas never lost an opportunity to criticise the MUI, promote the liberal Islam cause, spread “syphilis” (sipilis, an acronym for secularism, pluralism and liberalism), oppose the new pornography law, and defend Catholic mass murderers Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwu*.

— Note from VH:

* Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva, and Marinus Riwu were executed for their supposed roles in “inter-religious” violence in central Sulawesi in 2000. In the aftermath of the executions in September 2006, Christians in various parts of the country staged a number of sometimes violent protests, both locally in and around Poso and in towns in Flores such as Atambua. In one such protest on 23rd September 2006 a mob of Christians set up a roadblock on the Trans Sulawesi road and stopped motorists to inspect their identity papers.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Mumbai: Preparations Began Four Months Back

The mission being carried out by the security forces to flush terrorists out of the Taj finally ended on Saturday morning. After more than 60 hours of intense encounter, the guns fell silent and the bloodshed stopped.

The encounter, that lasted the longest, ended with the killing of four terrorists holed up inside. But Mumbai has paid a heavy price for it.

Almost 200 people are dead and these numbers do not include the casualties at the Taj yet. At least 18 foreigners are among the dead.

The security forces have managed to kill nine terrorists. One of them, Ajmal Amir Qasab, was caught alive and is currently being interrogated by Mumbai Police.

During his preliminary interrogation, Qasad believed to have reportedly told police, “I have done right and I have no regrets.” He has also admitted to being a member of the Lashkar.

Qasab also told the police that he and his associate Ismail Khan were the ones who shot Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar and Additional Commissioner Ashok Kamte.

According to the police, Qasab had booked rooms in the Taj where the explosives were kept.

Terrorists showed Mauritian ID Cards and posed as students to the hotel. Indian ID cards were recovered from two terrorists at the Oberoi Trident.

A recce of all the locations were done around four months ago by a different group of terrorists.

They studied the satellite pictures of the hotels, various locations and made detailed maps.

Qasab, 21, according to the sources, is from Faridkot in Pakistan, and was involved in the indiscriminate firings carried out at least three locations — Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Cama and Albless Hospital and Metro Cinema areas — all located within a radius of one km.

An unspecified quantity of arms and ammunition has been recovered from him.

He has been remanded to police custody till December 8.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Mumbai Photographer: I Wish I’d Had a Gun, Not a Camera

Armed police would not fire back

It is the photograph that has dominated the world’s front pages, casting an astonishing light on the fresh-faced killers who brought terror to the heart of India’s most vibrant city. Now it can be revealed how the astonishing picture came to be taken by a newspaper photographer who hid inside a train carriage as gunfire erupted all around him.

Sebastian D’Souza, a picture editor at the Mumbai Mirror, whose offices are just opposite the city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji station, heard the gunfire erupt and ran towards the terminus. “I ran into the first carriage of one of the trains on the platform to try and get a shot but couldn’t get a good angle, so I moved to the second carriage and waited for the gunmen to walk by,” he said. “They were shooting from waist height and fired at anything that moved. I briefly had time to take a couple of frames using a telephoto lens. I think they saw me taking photographs but theydidn’t seem to care.”

[…]

But what angered Mr D’Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,” he said. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back.”

As the gunmen fired at policemen taking cover across the street, Mr D’Souza realised a train was pulling into the station unaware of the horror within. “I couldn’t believe it. We rushed to the platform and told everyone to head towards the back of the station. Those who were older and couldn’t run, we told them to stay put.”

The militants returned inside the station and headed towards a rear exit towards Chowpatty Beach. Mr D’Souza added: “I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera.”

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]



Pakistani Girls Reclaiming Virginity

By Amir Mir

LAHORE: Hymenoplasty or the restoration of hymen in a female body has now turned out to be the latest fad in the booming medicinal sciences of Pakistan; a country where marital bliss on the wedding night amongst other factors deeply depends upon the ‘cherry popping’ of the bride. Howsoever fleeting one’s imagination can go about the concepts of modernity; a man will always want to be the first one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen many a times.

Hymenoplasty ruptured hymen was one medical secret most Pakistanis knew was practised clandestinely. They would whisper the addresses of doctors performing the surgery to harried girls keen to reclaim their virginity weeks before their nupital night. Call it the irony or hypocrisy of our times, but even as Islamists seek to impose their moral values on a schizophrenic society, hymenoplasty is witnessing a veritable boom time. Pakistani doctors now advertise in English newspapers, on the internet and walls of shops located on busy streets.

All this is good news for girls who have had pre-marital sex but didn’t, for one reason or another, marry their partners, as it is for those who tore their hymen accidentally. They dread marriage, and those persuaded or compelled into betrothal live in extreme fear of the wedding night. In a society where premarital sex is considered a social crime, and where family honour is popularly perceived to rest between the daughter’s thighs, many a women have paid with their lives for not bleeding on the wedding night, strangulated, stabbed or divorced for not being virgins.

For girls daring or liberal, restoration of hymen enables them to throw a cloak around their past acts that the orthodox considers inexcusable…

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


British and Irish Anti-Piracy Experts Rescued — After Pirates Attack

Two British and one Irish security guard were plucked from the sea by a military helicopter yesterday after they jumped from a tanker seized by pirates off Somalia, leaving behind more than two dozen crew members.

Their decision to abandon the vessel that their company was paid handsomely to protect attracted some criticism. One Western aid official in the region told The Times that after calls for commercial vessels to hire security guards, it was “somewhat ironic that they jump overboard to save themselves”.

Their British employer, however, insisted that the three former soldiers were heroes who had resisted a sustained attack by heavily armed pirates with great courage and would have been killed if they had stayed any longer. “They were unarmed. They had no other option. As far as I’m concerned they deserve a medal,” said Nick Davis, a former British Army pilot who runs AntiPiracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS) out of Poole, Dorset…

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Foreign Africans, White S. Africans Face Genocide — Expert Warns

South Africa ‘s black foreign Africans and white South Africans alike are being targetted by a renewed stream of murders, rapes, hate-speech, demonisation, terror and death threats.

[…] Both the burgeoning foreign African communities and the rapidly-shrinking Afrikaner minority in South Africa are increasingly targetted by such genocidal attack groups. Both groups are targetted by hate-speech and threats of ethnic-cleansing. In the case of the black Africans, it’s referred to as ‘xenophobia’. […]

To the north, in the country’s capital city of Pretoria, 2,400 Afrikaans children walked onto a rugby field this week, bearing white crosses, and laid down on the grass in silent protest.

These white Afrikaner children said they were now too terrified to even leave their homes or go to bed at night — because these working-class smallholders in greater Pretoria are being targetted by an unprecendented wave of armed attacks, murders and rapes. Thus far this year, 49 Afrikaners — mostly the male breadwinners — have been gunned down inside their barricaded, fortress-like homesteads in greater Pretoria. More than 1,5-million ‘whites’ — mostly Afrikaners — have already fled the country to get away from this violence. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



South Africa: Two Port Elizabeth Girls Raped Because They Were White

Two black knifemen risked being electrocuted while crawling through a 22-strand, high-voltage fence to reach the Afrikaans family at the high-security St Augustine complex in Mangold Park on Sunday at around 1am.

The two sisters, 21 and 25, had fallen asleep in front of the TV when they were attacked by the two knifemen. The black rapists told their white victims: “it’s your fault we don’t have jobs, because you are white…’ There’s no report that anything of any value was looted.

The two terrified girls now are battling to come to terms with their horrifying ordeal and have moved in with their mother at the family farm. They asked their mom to remove the couches they were raped on, their mother said. “The rapists entered through the sliding door in my room, which didn’t have a security gate. “They told my daughters it was their fault that they didn’t have jobs, because the girls are white.” […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Young Whites Emigrate, Young Blacks Die of TB-AIDS in S. Africa

Young, skilled white S. Africans are emigrating enmasse; and young black S.Africans are increasingly dying of AIDS, writes the SA Institute of Race Relations on November 26 2008.

The SA Institute of Race Relations noted in its annual demographic report that educated, young white families are emigrating from South Africa in a very distinct ‘pattern of emigration’. Its demographic researcher Gail Eddy says there has been a drastic reduction in the number of white South Africans when compared to the national average of 43.9 in this age group. […]

Fewer white babies, too:

The proportion of white South Africans in the age group 15-39 was 33.1% in 2008 — much lower than the national average of 43.9% in this age group, she noted in her report. This trend continued in the age group 0-15, with 18.3% of the white population being in this age group, compared to a national average of 32.2%. “The only explanation is emigration,’ Ms Eddy said. “This departure of the country’s best-educated working-age group has far-reaching implications for the growing South African skills shortage,’ she also warned. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Immigration is a Resource Say African and European Migrants

“The foreigner cannot be seen as a threat or a problem, but more (…) as a migrant or a refugee to be welcomed as a child of God….and as such one who possesses dignity and inalienable rights”, said the bishops at a seminar of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe (CCEE) and the Symposium of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). In the message published at the end of the seminar, entitled ““I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me”, the global character of the migration phenomenon was highlighted. “We are convinced — said the bishops — that the migrant is an opportunity from divine grace, which brings with tie a new wealth of culture, spirituality, intelligence, understanding and especially humanity”. The meetings in Liverpool, held between November 19 and 23, were marked by reflections on the nature of ‘welcoming’ and the pastoral care for migrants. “The Episcopal regional and national conferences must give priority to the study of this phenomenon — said the bishops — such as to discover the roots of migration and of the flows of migrants, exiles, asylum seekers and people without citizenship. We should concentrate on human rights and the social dignity of these people, who are our brothers and our sisters, and their families, their identity and their cultural treasure, which should in no way be compromised”. Monsignor Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants was also present at the Liverpool meeting. Marchetto opened the conference by stressing the need for an adequate education of priests and lay persons to confront “the problems raised by the pastoral care for migrants”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

General


Berlusconi: No-One Feels the Need for Another Cold War

(AGI) — Rome, 11, Nov. — The meeting of the G20 in Washington and the G8, now widened to members of developing countries, will take place next year on the island of Maddalena. These were the themes discussed by President Berlusconi and President Lula. “I placed attention on — the President explained during the Press Conference- the efforts Italy is making on the political-diplomatic level to put an end to the absurd conflict between the United States and the Russian Federation and between the Atlantic Alliance and the Russian Federation”. The President made reference above all to the ‘quarrels’ which broke out over the installation of missiles in Poland and Kaliningrad. “No-one feels the need to return to the Cold War.

We need to help the United States and the Russian Federation- Berlusconi continued — and I am happy that President Medveded and President Obama have, at our insistence, accepted to meet each other soon.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Sociology is Not a Science

Sociology is not a science. It is a system of strategies being used to reach a particular goal.

What is that goal?

“the entire systematisation of human life on the basis of the preponderance of the heart over the intellect.”

That is what Auguste Comte, the father of sociology, revealed in 1851 in the preface to the first volume of his System of Positive Polity

[…]

Later, he explained:

“ . . . what is meant is, that the intellect should devote itself exclusively to the problems which the heart suggests, . .” SPP. P. 15

That’s it! That is basis for the whole sociological dictatorship. Suggest problems for emotional involvement and demand the intellect devise social solutions. It can turn any personal problem into a social problem, a social problem into a national problem, and a national problem into an international problem belonging to all humanity. Social science treats life as a series of problems for “society” or united “Humanity” to solve. When all the problems the social scientists can concoct from any part of the world become social problems for the WORld Management System (WORMS) to solve, the sociological dictatorship will be complete.

The basic tactic for turning personal problems into social problems is to promote otherism. To be otheristic one must abandon all thought of self and think constantly of the problems of others. The French word Comte coined to explain this concept is “altruism.”…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Turkish Aerospace to Cooperate With Grumman for New Fighter

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 7 — Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), a major international supplier to Us Northrop Grumman Corporation on the F-35 Lightning II program, opened a new facility dedicated to producing composite subassemblies for the new international, multi-role fighter, a Grumman statement said. The opening of the 74,000 square foot facility represents TAI’s latest progress towards becoming a second source producer of F-35 center fuselages for Northrop Grumman. Under a Letter of Intent signed with Northrop Grumman in February 2007 TAI plans to produce and assemble at least 400 center fuselages. “This composites facility represents a significant investment by Turkish Aerospace Industries in the long-term success and affordability of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program”, Mark Tucker, vice president of tactical systems and F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector, said at TAI’s opening ceremony. Northrop Grumman, a principal and founding member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 Lightning II team, is responsible for the design and production of center fuselages for all three variants of F-35 aircraft: conventional take-off and landing; short take-off, vertical landing; and carrier-compatible. The F-35 Lightning II program expects to build more than 3,000 aircraft. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UN General Assembly President Accuses Israel of Apartheid

Calls for a Campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Against Israel [and left out the flag of the member state of Israel]

NEW YORK — The President of the UN General Assembly has launched an unprecedented attack on a UN member state from the Assembly podium. Going beyond even existing UN resolutions, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua accused Israel of apartheid and called for “a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions” against it. Reminiscent of a classic antisemitic slur, Brockmann (himself a Roman Catholic priest and one-time official of the World Council of Churches) also claimed our Palestinian “brothers and sisters are being crucified” by Israel.

His remarks were made on November 24, 2008 during the UN Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This annual event marks the adoption of the General Assembly’s partition resolution which called for the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state on November 29, 1947.

“Brockmann’s assault is a gross abuse of the position of Assembly President,” commented Anne Bayefsky, Editor of EYEontheUN. “He knows full well that his outrageous personal views will be translated into six languages and webcast around the world.” Brockmann assumed the Presidency in September 2008, having been nominated by the Latin American and Caribbean regional group.

Brockmann made the apartheid allegation twice in one day, once in the morning at the annual meeting of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and again in the General Assembly in the afternoon. […]

The adoption of the 1947 partition resolution, accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs, is now bemoaned by the UN. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan described Palestinian Solidarity Day as “a day of mourning and a day of grief.” This year, as in years past, the UN used the occasion to fly only two flags, that of “Palestine” and that of the United Nations. Though the resolution was ostensibly the UN’s first commitment to a two-state solution, today the flag of the member state of Israel is left out.

[picture] The Palestinian flag is on the left, the United Nations flag on the right. Speakers from left to right who voiced no difficulty with the omission of the flag of Israel:

Riyad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Palestinian Authority; Jorge Urbina, Representative of the President of the Security Council; Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly; Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, Chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; and the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



We Triggered Financial Crisis — Al Qaeda

Al-Qaeda is indirectly responsible for the financial crisis, one of the terrorist group’s leaders has said in a video posted on the internet. According to Reuters, Ayman al-Zawahiri said American taxpayers were paying the price for the U.S. military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda’s second-in-command and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad said: “The ones shouldering the burden are taxpayers, whose money was spent to rescue senior capitalists and to protect the fraudulent interest-based system from collapse.”

In the video posted on Islamist websites, al-Zawahiri described the crisis one of “the series of American economic hemorrhages after the strikes of September 11”. Bin Laden’s number two added that these “will continue as long as the foolish American policy of wading in Muslim blood continues.”

In the 80-minute long video, the Egyptian militant also claimed that the US military action against al-Qaeda-backed tribal regions of northern Pakistan would see no success even though more troops are being sent to neighbouring Afghanistan. “I challenge you [George Bush], if you are really a man, to send the entire American army to Pakistan and the tribal regions for it to end up in hell,” al-Zawahiri said.

In another video, which was released on November 19, Al-Qaeda’s deputy leader branded U.S. President-elect Barack Obama a ‘house negro’. An insult meant to underline Obama is a black man doing the bidding of whites. He also criticised his foreign policy and especially Obama’s plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. “Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them,” he said.

The 57-year-old is suspected of helping organise the 1997 massacre of 67 foreign tourists at Luxor and was indicted by the US in connection with the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa. The US has promised a $US 25 million reward for Bin Laden’s most senior lieutenant.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

An Interview With the Prophet

Ehsan Jami is an ex-Muslim in the Netherlands. His prominent public apostasy has put his life at risk, and he has been physically attacked for his lapse from Islam.

Last winter he announced that he was making a cartoon about Mohammed that included scenes of the Prophet with his child bride Aisha. The reaction from the usual suspects was swift and fierce, and Mr. Jami was forced to cancel his project. It was rumored at the time that the Dutch government had notified him that his security detail would be withdrawn if he proceeded with his movie, and that was enough to bring him to heel.

For a full list of previous articles on Ehsan Jami, see the bottom of this post.

A couple of months ago Mr. Jami announced that he was making a new movie. A release date has just been specified, and details about the movie are now available. Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated this report from Elsevier:

VVD: In case of censorship, Jami may offer his Mohammed film to us

By Robbert de Witt

It is still “too premature” to say whether the filmed interview with a masked prophet Muhammad will be shown in the “Freethinkers’ Area” in the parliamentary building, the VVD says. But if the movie is censored, the ex-Muslim Ehsan Jami may offer his “Interview with Mohammed” to the VVD, a spokesman of the VVD told elsevier.nl.

In the English-language movie that will be presented on December 10, Jami interviews the prophet Muhammad. In the film the prophet wears a mask.

Apostasy
Ehsan Jami Movie
In the ten-minute film, the subjects are women’s rights, Jews, and apostasy. Mohammed also looks back on his life of fourteen hundred years ago. The big question is whether Jami will get the opportunity to present his film to the public. Previously, broadcasters refused to air Geert Wilders’ Fitna.

One possibility is to show “Interview with the Prophet” in the “Freethinkers’ Area” that has been founded by the PVV [Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders’ party] and the VVD [People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy] in the parliamentary building [Tweede Kamer].

Censorship

The VVD lets it be known that it is too premature to say anything about it here. However, the spokesman for the fraction emphasizes that the Freethinkers’ Area is explicitly intended for censored cases. If his film cannot be shown anywhere due to censorship, then Jami may offer his film to the VVD. The VVD will then consult him on the showing, the party promises.

Threats

- – - - – - – - -

A previously announced film about the Prophet was cancelled by Jami. Jami had received threats from abroad when it became known there that he was working on the animated film “The Life of Mohammed”, about the life of the prophet. He further wanted to comply with “serious concerns” of Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin (CDA, Christian Democrats). Jami has now invited Hirsch Ballin for the premiere of his new film.

Sidebar:

Trouble

Dr. Afshin Ellian, a professor of Iranian descent in Leiden and daily blogger on elsevier.nl, thinks the Iranian media will certainly pay attention to the film: “Iran will be angry again. There will be trouble.”

“In the newspapers, which are actually controlled by the state security services, they will certainly make noise about it. Iran already has a problem with the Netherlands because this country chooses the side of Americans too much in the debate over Iran’s nuclear program,” says Ellian, who has advised Jami previously.

Ellian predicts that Islam critics in Iran will be in danger: “Because of the film, fundamentalist Muslims will distance themselves even more from critics of Islam.”

According to circles close to the Dutch intelligence service, powerful groups within Egypt will put the Muslim world under pressure to take action against the Netherlands when the film is released.



Previous posts about Ehsan Jami:

2007   Sep   8   Ex-Muslims Against… Ex-Muslims!
2008   Mar   27   Another Prophet-Insulting Dutch Movie
    Apr   1   Ehsan Jami Succumbs to Government Intimidation
        17   Ehsan Jami Closes His Organization
    Sep   19   Ehsan Jami’s New Movie

The Carnival of Homeschooling

I’m a little bit tardy with my homework, teacher…

SchoolmarmThe 152nd Carnival of Homeschooling has been posted by the Headmistress at The Common Room. If you’re a homeschooling parent, or considering becoming one, this is the place to pick up tips, links, and resources of all kinds.

Whenever I post excerpts from the Carnival, the first entries I look for are the ones from my own fields, Math and Art. Check out Number Bonds: The Key to Teaching Math Facts:

One of the strengths of one particular curriculum we used, Singapore Math, is their method of teaching basic math facts. Instead of teaching fact families by rote, Singapore illustrates fact families using number bonds. Now, I realize it’s just my unprofessional opinion, but as a self-professed, homeschooling-mom, math geek, I truly believe the number bond method is one the best ways to teach children their math facts. It’s simple, it’s visual, and it’s extremely effective.

Go over to Happy to be at Home to see the graphics illustrating the way number bonds work. I wish I had had them back when I was tormenting the future Baron with his basic arithmetic.

Art Resources for Homeschoolers — November 2008 takes a look at the art museum resources that are available online:
- – - - – - – - -

While the Newark Museum does not have the entire collection online for this exhibit (Paths to Impressionism), they still have some good examples and they have a series of short essays on the themes of Impressionism in America, particularly the precursor, The Barbizon School of painting.

Museum of Modern Art offers an online, searchable database of their collection. An excellent resource when you are looking for examples of modern era artworks.

A Ten O’Clock Scholar has more information and links on museum resources.

Here’s an interesting one — The Life Without School Community Blog answers a mother’s question:

Should I Homeschool My 16 Year Old?

“….basically boils down to this one question: How do I help my daughter succeed?”

Actually, this mother also had some confusion about the GED and a diploma — she is confusing homeschooling, which her daughter wants to do, with dropping out of high school, which she did. She fears that her daughter will experience the same closed doors that she did — but homeschooling is not dropping out and her daughter should make that clear. She can write her own diploma and take the ACT or SAT (there’s no need for the GED, and, in fact, my husband, who hires people for his company, strongly discourages it. GED, as unfair as it may seem, communicates ‘failure.’ Telling potential employers you graduated from a small private school or a home-school does not carry the same stigma).

Would-be dropouts be warned: that GED will not carry the same weight as a high school diploma.

Answers to other important questions can also be found. For example, SpunkyHomeschool asks, “Can Christian and secular homeschoolers find common ground in their desire to homeschool? Is it necessary?”

You’ll want to pay a visit to the Carnival for the answer, or just to see the Headmistress’ vintage illustrations, which along with everything else can be found at The Common Room.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


Despite the fact that no domestic pedagogy has taken place here at Schloss Bodissey for more than ten years, the web-based homeschoolers occasionally send us a tip about the Carnival of the Homeschooling. It’s good to be reminded that there are a lot of children out there who are escaping the behavioral sink of the public schools and getting their education at home.

The values being transmitted by homeschooling parents comprise the recessive genes of our culture. These used to be the common currency of polite society, but they are no longer displayed in our public spaces. Instead they are being held in reserve by families all across the United States until they are needed.

Even though Dymphna and I are no longer teaching our own child, we still try to do our part. Older children from homes such as those featured in the sites linked above are sent by their parents to Gates of Vienna to further their education in history, current events, and political economy. That’s why we ask our commenters to behave with civility and decorum: we want to encourage these young people to keep coming here.

So every time you get annoyed with having to restrain yourself, just pretend that an alert and well-informed twelve-year-old is here with you, paying close attention to everything you say.

Violence in Bangkok

Bangkok update: The peaceful phase of the demonstration in Thailand has come to an end. According to Reuters:

Grenade blast wounds 46 protesters in Bangkok

A grenade blast wounded 46 anti-government protesters in Bangkok, hospital officials said on Sunday, the latest escalation in the country’s increasingly violent political crisis.

The blast occurred around midnight at Government House, where thousands of supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have occupied the prime minister’s compound since August in a bid to unseat him, were attending a rally.

A spokeswoman for the Erawan Medical Center said at least 46 people had been wounded.

Channel 3 television showed footage of the wounded being rushed to hospital in pickup trucks. It said at least two people were in critical condition.



Hat tip: heroyalwhyness.

[Post ends here]

The Land of Smiles Doesn’t Smile

Bangkok Reporting


This post is the latest in a series from our Bangkok correspondent, H. Numan. Recent events in Thailand have been eclipsed by the carnage in Mumbai, but the crisis at the Bangkok airports has not yet been resolved.



The Land of Smiles Doesn’t Smile
by H. Numan

Let’s start at the beginning of the problems, and that was when Thaksin Shinawatra was elected Prime Minister. Thaksin was the richest man in Thailand. He made his fortune in telecommunications; all mobile networks in Thailand are his. Imagine Bill Gates getting interested in politics, and he buys a party. Now, in the US you have only two parties. In most other countries you have a whole bunch of them. So first he bought a party, and told the MS public relations and marketing department: promote the party, and do it well. Money is not an issue.

Very soon this small party (TRT, Thai Rak Thai = Thais love Thailand party) incorporated other parties won the elections by a landslide. For the first time one party had the absolute majority in parliament. +75% is pretty decisive.

Let’s be fair: Thaksin did a very good job. Thailand was bankrupt after the economic crash of 1997, and he made the country solvent in record time. The IMF loan was paid back before it was due. But he didn’t do it for free. Corruption is rampant in Thailand, but the level reached under Thaksin was unheard of.

Thaksin never liked the press. The feelings were mutual: the press didn’t like Thaksin very much. It became quite nasty when Thaksin started to use lèse majesté laws to get rid of his opponents and members of the press he didn’t like. Thailand has the toughest lèse majesté laws on the planet. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and/or a draconian fine. The principle Thaksin applied was that he is the representative of the king, and thus anyone insulting him is actually insulting the king. The king even had to personally intervene.

Matters became impossible when Thaksin sold his business Shinawatra Telecom to Thailand’s biggest competitor in business, Singapore. To top it off, Thaksin boasted he didn’t have to pay a cent in tax over it, due to a loophole in the law. That finished him off. Massive demonstrations asked for his resignation, and on 19 September 2006 the military carried out a coup d’état and kicked Thaksin out. The coup was committed with wide popular support and no bloodshed. In 2007 the military handed power back to the civilian authorities after elections.

The party that won the elections was the PPP, People’s Power party, actually the TRT under a different name after disbanding (Right after the coup the TRT was disbanded by court order). That didn’t sit very well with middle-class Bangkokians. The old proverb here says that governments get elected in the countryside, but get kicked out in Bangkok. The new Prime Minister was Samak Sundaravej, an old politician of the old-boys network. Not exactly a popular man. He was widely seen as a sock-puppet of Thaksin, preparing the return of his master.

The unrest that started under Thaksin reemerged once more. People marched on the streets demanding his resignation. Samak wasn’t impressed. He called in the army and declared martial law. Only it didn’t work. The army bluntly refused to act. Then something happened: completely unexpectedly, he was kicked out of office. What had happened? Samak likes to cook. He was invited to present two cooking shows on a commercial network and got paid $2500 for his performance. A senator went to court, and the court fired the Prime Minister for moonlighting!

Problem solved, one would say. Not so. The new Prime Minister is … the brother in law of Mr. Thaksin himself. That was replacing one problem with an even bigger problem. Samak could at least pretend (he didn’t, but he could) not to be working for Thaksin. Somchai Wongsawat, the new Prime Minister, cannot.

The popular movement that caused Thaksin to be kicked out of office is the PAD, the People Alliance for Democracy. After the coup they faded away somewhat, but never disappeared. It was, and now certainly is a important political force. The PAD is mainly middle class — middle aged Bangkok business man and women. Their color is yellow. When the PAD is holding a rally, everybody wears yellow shirts. From the moment Samak Sundaravej took office they worked very hard to have him removed.

This is the background of today’s events.
- – - - – - – - -
After Somchai Wongsawat took office on 18 September, he had to flee Parliament Building through the back door on 7 October because the PAD laid siege to it. This siege continues until this day. The government moved their location temporarily to Don Muang Airport, the old airport. Last Tuesday the PAD moved in, and laid siege to it as well. The Prime Minister was out of the country, in Peru. He was expected to return through Don Muang Airport on Tuesday evening.

The next day both Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports were stormed and completely taken over by the PAD. Nobody got hurt (as far as I know, that is), and travelers were not molested or harmed in any way. They just couldn’t leave the country anymore. This situation continues until today. Both airports are occupied by PAD demonstrators. The police doesn’t react. The army refuses to have anything to do with it. At best, they suggest that the Prime Minister offer the resignation of the cabinet and call for elections. A court order to leave the airport was ignored by the PAD.

It’s even more complicated: Thaksin and his wife were convicted in absentia for fraud. His wife was sentenced to two years in jail. Thaksin’s trial is pending, but it is not likely he will walk free. The couple fled to England and asked for political asylum. This request was denied. Thaksin then traveled to China. (His ancestors are of Chinese origin.) But everywhere he goes he is accepted at best on a tourist visa. A short-term tourist visa. He is not welcome in any Asian country, unless as a tourist. Currently he is staying in Dubai.

But Thaksin had several big rallies organized by the opposing PPP party. He can’t be present in person, but addressed the audience by telephone. His message: I will return! Let me come back home, and I’ll set everything straight within no time.

Given his past performance, he no doubt will. But who is willing to pay the price? Not that many, it seems. No, I’m wrong. Thaksin has lots of support from poor rural areas. That is a problem for the PAD, which is based in Bangkok and does not have that much support outside the city. In a new election the PAD would win massively in Bangkok, but nowhere else. Again the PPP would win a landslide victory. This is not acceptable for the PAD. Allowing the return of Thaksin would make Thailand look even more foolish than it looks right now. Thaksin may call for it, his voters may hope for it; but I seriously doubt if this option is possible.

Right now the PAD holds the government by the jugular. At least 100,000 tourists are stranded in Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi Airport is the main regional hub. So, shutting down both airports creates gigantic problems for the country and even internationally: Thai International Airways is practically shut down. International flights have been canceled, and the effects are widespread: lots of airlines use Bangkok as stopover for refueling.

The tourist industry is the second most important industry in Thailand. The siege of the airports causes immense damage nationwide. Especially since December is the peak month for tourism. Lots of tourists can’t come in, others can’t leave.

Which of course says a lot about the authority of the present cabinet: they weren’t able to prevent the takeover of the Parliament Building, nor the takeover of both airports. Suvarnabuhmi Airport is occupied by about 4000 demonstrators. Not a big job for the police to disperse them.

When the Prime Minister returned from Lima he appeared on TV addressing the general public. But he didn’t do well. He looked haggard (not really surprising, given the stress he is under) and his speech was seen as pathetic. He stressed the importance of his trip to Lima in Peru: he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Pink Llama (or something like that). That the government did really well: pollution levels are at least a full micron less under his administration! As if people really care about his decoration or pollution at this moment. During an earlier meeting with foreign ambassadors he was asked — in diplomatic terms of course — if he was mentally insane or somewhat retarded.

What will happen now is anyone’s guess. Mine is as follows: the occupation of both airports cannot go on much longer. If it continues for another week the country goes bankrupt. Therefore, something must happen before that. I expect the government to resign early next week.

As the Prime Minister cannot call for support from the Army, he is trying right now to rally some Navy and Air force units to take action. It is questionable whether that will work. Next week, on 5 December, is the king’s birthday. I expect him to call all parties to the palace and tell them to stop. This has happened before.

Even though the government doesn’t want to resign, and technically doesn’t have to, I fail to see what other option they have. From a practical point of view: if the government resigns now, they would win the elections. If they try to hold on power it is not unlikely that the PAD will be able to make changes in the electoral system so that having a enormous vote reservoir upcountry won’t work. That is why I think the government will resign sometime early next week.

The armed forces will swear loyalty on 2 December to the King; they do that annually. From the annual parade on the second of December until after the king’s birthday on the fifth, political business usually halts. Monday, therefore, would be a perfect day to offer the resignation of the government.

Be aware that the PAD mainly consists of well-educated middle-aged businessmen and women. Of course there are some younger people amongst them, but definitely not the hooligan or Trotskyite scum you see in demonstrations in America and Europe. So far nobody got hurt. Not a lot, anyway. Which really is a kind of miracle: several times opponents of the PAD have thrown hand grenades.

The PPP action force is mainly recruited from poor rural areas, people without much education. They don’t expect to gain anything from the PAD, but in the past Thaksin was very generous to them. He could afford it, as he simply used tax money to present them with little gifts.

Tourists are not in any danger at all. They never have been. You may have seen violent action during the storming of the airport, but that was only for a few seconds. Generally, the PAD behaves very well towards foreigners. The only problem tourists have is how to get in or out of the country.

This was Bangkok reporting,
H. Numan.

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/28/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/28/2008Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/28/2008The major story of the day is still the situation in Mumbai. Once again, there are a lot of articles included. Scroll to “South Asia” and look at the AKI articles in particular.

A consensus is emerging that at least part of the attack was planned and launched from Pakistan. Needless to say, this will have major implications for the Indian response.

Thanks to AA, Andy Bostom, C. Cantoni, Holger Danske, Insubria, JD, Rolf Krake, Srdja Trifkovic, TB, VH, Yorkshire Miner, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- – - - – - – - -

USA
CAIR Bus Ads Urge Floridians to Learn About Islam
Campaign Warns Americans About Looming Shariah Code
Duo Take Obama Birth Challenge to Court
Google ‘Censoring’ Anti-Obama Bloggers?
Media Fiddles While America Burns
North American Union Supporter Top Obama Economic Adviser
 
Canada
Another Dam Breaks
 
Europe and the EU
‘Aboriginal Justice’ Comes to Norfolk, Where Village Elders Mete Out Punishments
British Hate Preacher Choudary Gloats Over Mumbai Terror Attacks
Czechs Apologize for Leak of Talks With Sarkozy
Danish Committee: Tear Down Ghettos
Dull ‘Jewel’
Finance: Islamic Banks in France From 2009
Living Will: Spain; Municipality Opens Information Counter
Netherlands: ‘Interview With Mohammed’ Out in December
Police State UK: Outcry as Anti-Terror Police Arrest Top Tory MP Over ‘Immigration Leaks to Media’
Spain: Bishops Spokesman, Cross Symbol of Liberty
Sweden to Launch Beetle Rescue Mission
UK: Wife ‘Paid for Her Muslim Husband to be Killed After He Made Her Wear Burkha’
Vatican Thanks Muslims for Returning God to Europe
 
Balkans
Albania: Italian Cooperation Invests 650 Mln Since 1989
Kosovo: UN Plan; Serbia Welcomes, Pristina Angry
 
Mediterranean Union
EU-Syria: Following Libya, Damascus Nears Europe
Morocco: Political Cooperation With Holland Strengthened
Rabat: Dutch Moroccans Are “Expats”
Tangiers Forum: Union a Leader Hemmed by North-South Divide
 
North Africa
Egyptian Clubs Father to Death to Cure Headache
Spain: Dentists in Morocco for ‘Smile Route’
Terrorism: Morocco; Eleven Arrests in Belgium
Tunisia-France: President Called as Witness in Torture Case
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Israel: Livni, Olmert Should Go Home at Once
Italy-Israel: Napolitano Condemns Anti-Israel Declarations
Mideast: Palestinians Must Recognize Israel, Napolitano Says
UN General Assembly Chief Calls for Israel’s Destruction
 
Middle East
Iran, Lebanon Sign 5-Year Security Pact
Iraq: Security Pact ‘Puts Detainees at Risk of Torture’
Mideast: First Arab Youth Parliament Urges Joint Arab Action
Mumbai: Modest Pan-Arab and Jihad Media Attention
Syria to Join Turkey in Sending Aid to Gaza
 
South Asia
Afghanistan: Drugs Financing Taliban War Machine, Says UN
Emanuele Defies Terrorists to Deliver Daughter’s Milk
India, Jihad’s Permanent Battleground
India, Long a Target of Terror (Overview)
Indonesian Media Reports Fair on Faith, Say Experts
Italy: Author Blames Al-Qaeda for Mumbai Attacks
Massacre in Mumbai: Up to Seven Gunmen Were British and ‘Came From Same Area as 7/7 Bombers’
‘The Most Dangerous Woman in the World’
The Legacy of Jihad in India
 
Culture Wars
Another Shephard Slain, But No Outcry Follows
 
General
India: Italian Leaders Pledge to Fight Terrorism After Deadly Attacks

USA


CAIR Bus Ads Urge Floridians to Learn About Islam

“Islam: Got Questions? Get answers” reads the ad plastered along the side of a south Florida bus. The ad campaign launched Tuesday by Muslims in South Florida includes colorful banners several feet high on more than 120 buses urging people to learn more about Islam.

The $60,000 Calling Islam campaign aims to get people to seek out accurate and objective information on Islam, according to its sponsor, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The ads, which include a website address and telephone number, urge people to seek out accurate and objective information about Muslims and highlight Islam as one of the three Abrahamic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism.

“ The main objective of this campaign to bring a positive awareness of Islam and the Muslim community to our fellow Americans “

Altaf Ali, CAIR”The main objective of this campaign to bring a positive awareness of Islam and the Muslim community to our fellow Americans,” said Altaf Ali, executive director the South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The eight-week campaign is aimed at countering the negative impact of a controversial DVD Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West that was distributed to millions of households in battleground states like Florida before the presidential election.

People can sponsor a bus with a tax-free donation from anywhere between $500 for eight weeks to $65 for one week.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Campaign Warns Americans About Looming Shariah Code

Detroit billboard says religious law imposed by Islam threatens rights

Shariah, or Islamic law, may be spreading around the world, but it isn’t going to be established in the United States without opposition, vow members of the United American Committee.

Officials with the non-profit have erected a 48-foot-long billboard just outside of Detroit, home to one of the largest groups of Muslims in the U.S.

“SHARIA LAW THREATENS AMERICA,” warns the sign.

The UAC says it’s “dedicated to awakening the nation to the threats of radical Islam” and works to “educate Americans on the nature of Islamic extremism.”

The group’s mission is to battle against “the ideological aspects of the war on terror to counter elements of radical Islam in America.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Duo Take Obama Birth Challenge to Court

When the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court meet on Dec. 5th, in their regular private conference to decide which cases to hear, two lawsuits that have captivated a segment of the blogosphere will be up for discussion. Both urge the court to consider claims that President-elect Obama is not qualified to be president, because he is not a natural-born American citizen. […]

Pennsylvania lawyer Philip Berg claims that the circumstances of Obama’s birth are vague and that he may have been born in Kenya. Obama’s mother, Berg asserts, later flew to Hawaii to register the birth.

Leo Donofrio, a New Jersey lawyer, contends that election officials in his state failed to ensure that only legally qualified candidates were placed on the ballot. Obama may have been born in the United States, Donofrio argues, but “natural born” status depends on both parents being American citizens. Obama’s father was Kenyan. […]

The Obama campaign had hoped to end the controversy last spring by releasing his actual Hawaii birth certificate. But that prompted further questions about its authenticity, which were compounded when state authorities in Hawaii said they could not vouch for it, because they were constrained by the privacy laws [recent analysis suggestes the document is not authentic].

Then, on Oct. 31st [a week after Obama visited his grandmother in Hawaii], the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health issued a statement, proclaiming that he had personally seen and verified that the state has “Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record,” which shows that he was born there.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Google ‘Censoring’ Anti-Obama Bloggers?

Writer claims Internet giant banning stories that expose president-elect

Pamela Gellar of Atlas Shrugs claims the search engine giant has banned her groundbreaking articles about Obama — a technique many people refer to as “sandboxing.”

“There was no warning, no notice, nothing,” Gellar told WND. “They have basically sandboxed me.”

“Sandboxing” happens when Google strips a website’s rankings from its search engine results. According to some theories, this happens to new websites when Google puts them into a holding area known as a “sandbox” until the site gains credibility.

However, Atlas Shrugs is not new, and Gellar believes her stories have been intentionally suppressed by the Internet giant — especially ones about President-elect Obama. She said her exclusive stories about Obama’s birth certificate that once received thousands of hits every day will not come up in Google word searches.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Media Fiddles While America Burns

by Cliff Kincaid

I got into trouble many years ago when I co-hosted CNN’s now-defunct Crossfire show and told an Ambassador from Libya, who was filibustering and denying his government?s links to terrorism, to “Please shut up.” The producer told me that I went too far, but at least I said “please.” On the other hand, CNBC?s Maria Bartiromo went too far when she concluded a Monday interview with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a major Citigroup investor who has been bailed out by U.S. taxpayers, by saying, “Thank you very much for your precious time.”

Precious time? This is a multi-billionaire foreigner whose financial firm has been bailed out with U.S. taxpayer money. Alwaleed ought to thank us for our precious money?money we don?t have to lend to foreign billionaires.

Bloomberg News, one of the few news organizations seriously examining the role of the Federal Reserve in the financial meltdown, now puts the cost of the various bailouts and other federal schemes to “save” the financial system at an incredible $7.7 trillion. And there is no reason to believe that the bailouts are at an end. At the end of it all, America could be reduced to the status of banana republic, without the ability to pay to import bananas.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



North American Union Supporter Top Obama Economic Adviser

Socialist activist Bonior reportedly being considered for Labor secretary

President-elect Barack Obama recently appointed to his economic transition team a known socialist activist who has previously urged the creation of a North American Parliamentary Union, a governing body to consist of Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

Former Rep. David Bonior, reportedly being considered for the Labor secretary position in the incoming Obama administration, has a longstanding close relationship with the Democratic Socialists of America, an organization dedicated to transforming America into a socialist society.

There is evidence indicating Bonior is a member in good standing of the DSA.

Earlier this month, the Detroit chapter of the DSA honored Bonior and his wife Judy at its annual dinner. Bonior has been honored at several DSA functions the past six years, including in 2003, where he was the keynote speaker at the U.S. socialist organization’s national convention in Detroit.

At the 2003 convention, Bonior laid out his plan for a North American Parliamentary Union, according to a DSA transcript of the event…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canada


Another Dam Breaks

Tonight, another dam breaks in the battle against the Canadian Human Rights Commission and its abusive censorship powers.

The Canadian Jewish News has done something I honestly never thought it would do. It ran a news story by staff reporter Paul Lungen, at some length, revealing the CHRC’s dirty little secret: CHRC staff regularly go online and post hundreds of anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-gay “hate messages”, all in the name of fighting hate. Here’s the story.

I’m impressed and I’m surprised. (That’s happening a lot these days!)

There are two major Jewish newspapers in Canada: the CJN, which tends to be more supportive of the Canadian Jewish Congress and has a liberal leaning, and the Jewish Tribune, which is the house organ of the B’nai Brith and tends to be more right-wing. For the CJN to publish such a balanced story is impressive, given their close orbit to the “Official Jews” of the CJC. And for them to break their silence on the neo-Nazi memberships of the CHRC is positively stunning. Again, here’s the full story, and here’s the startling excerpt:

           — Hat tip: Rolf Krake [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


‘Aboriginal Justice’ Comes to Norfolk, Where Village Elders Mete Out Punishments

Communities will choose how young criminals are punished under a pioneering form of justice based on that meted out by Aboriginal tribes. It is the first time neighbourhoods will have had a direct say in how criminals are punished. After an offender is arrested a specialist team of police officers will meet with neighbours to discuss how louts will be treated.

Ideas range from repairing the damage they have done, apologising to victims or working to improve conditions in the area, as an alternative to being dragged before a court. The aim is to make sure victims are happy with how their complaint has been handled while preventing troublemakers re-offending. […]

Mr Merry said: ‘We have been looking at a system which is based on the traditions of aboriginal tribes but, in a more modern context, has been widely used in Canada … It basically involves asking the elders what they consider justice to be. […] ‘None of this will detract from the court system and, if somebody is a persistent offender or commits a serious offence, we can still fast-track them straight to court. But often that is not the best solution.’

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Angry Tories Rally Behind Arrested Frontbencher Damian Green

A furious David Cameron said today that police and ministers had “serious questions” to answer after one of his frontbench spokesmen was arrested over Home Office leaks.

Damian Green, the Shadow Immigration Minister, was held in custody for nine hours last night as part of a Scotland Yard investigation into the leaks, prompting widespread anger. David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, said that the arrest was “reminiscent of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe”.

Mr Cameron said that he was especially concerned that at least nine counter-terrorism officers had been deployed to detain Mr Green and search his home in Kent and office at the Commons.

“I think there are some serious questions that have to be answered. If they wanted to talk to Damian Green, why not pick up the telephone and ask to talk to him?” he said.

“The police have to answer questions. Frankly, Government ministers have got questions to answer as well.”

           — Hat tip: Yorkshire Miner [Return to headlines]



British Hate Preacher Choudary Gloats Over Mumbai Terror Attacks

Anjem Choudary: “Any Brits killed had only themselves to blame.”British hate preacher Anjem Choudary blamed the Mumbai attacks on Great Britain.Choudary has spoken out about conquering Great Britain from the outside.The Daily Star reported:

HATE preacher Anjem Choudary last night praised the slaughter of 125 people in Mumbai.And in a vile rant he said any Brits killed had only themselves to blame for being on the “battlefield” in the war Muslims nuts are waging against the world.Extremist Choudary, 41, the right-hand man of exiled cleric Omar Bakri, 50, and former leader of banned hate group al-Muhajiroun, said the attacks were revenge for the West’s “crusades” against Islam.Outspoken Choudary, whose family live on £25,000-a-year benefits in London, raged: “Any Britons or Americans who visit Muslim countries are entering a battlefield and risk being used as hostages by al-Qaida to publicise its cause.”

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]



Czechs Apologize for Leak of Talks With Sarkozy

PRAGUE, Czech Republic: The Czech foreign minister says he has apologized to France after a magazine published the transcript of an alleged conversation between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

A statement by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says his office “obviously” made a mistake and that “the unacceptable incident” will be investigated.

Czech Ambassador Pavel Fischer says he was at the Oct. 31 meeting in Paris, and questions the transcript’s authenticity.

The text published Thursday in Reflex weekly quotes Sarkozy as saying in a discussion about a new European-Mediterranean organization that Arab leaders “are horrible.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Danish Committee: Tear Down Ghettos

Cities are being urged to rip down council housing in order to prevent the spread of ghettoes

Youth criminality, social problems and city planning would be best dealt with by tearing down council housing residences, according to the Social Affairs Ministry’s urban renewal committee.

The committee, Programbestyrelsen, recommended the government focus more on preventing the spread of ghettos and allow housing associations more freedom to demolish or renovate their buildings.

In addition, the report suggests the government place schools near low-income areas. Council flats should also be allowed to remain empty for up to six months after a tenant leaves, in order to find a renter who has full-time employment, states the report.

‘We’ve seen that it can help by ensuring a more varied make-up of residents,’ said Jesper Nygaard, head of housing association KAB.

The report indicates that demolition of council housing should not be done in the largest cities, however, due to their general lack of housing.

But in the west-Jutland city of Esbjerg, demolition and relocation has been a successful formula, according to Bente Bendix Jensen, the Liberal chairwoman for the city’s job market committee.

Jensen pointed to the demolition of housing block ‘Kridthuset’, whose residents were relocated in flats across the city.

‘It wasn’t a controversial decision for us at all,’ she said. ‘The entire committee agreed that there was no other solution and that the demolition helped these people have a better home.’

Programbestyrelsen’s report also recommends action from local councils and housing associations. They are advised to consider selling council flats individually and allow those with jobs to be first in line for rentals.

The committee’s figures suggest that the situation for council housing residents is gradually improving, however. In the 37 areas the committee studied during the past four years, the number of jobless dropped from 47.5 in 2004 to 40.8 in 2007.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Admiral Thrown Out of NATO

One of the mlitary’s top brass has been sent home from his job at Nato’s headquarters in the US state of Virginia, reports Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

According to the newspaper’s sources, Rear Admiral Torben Ørting Jørgensen was a bit too blunt and did not show his superiors enough respect.

Jørgensen never had any authority problems, but officers in the strict American military put far more emphasis on rank than their Danish counterparts. He was sent home by Nato leadership two months ago and told not to report back to work.

The Defence Ministry has remained silent on the case, citing its principle of not commenting on personal affairs.

Jørgensen is one of four successful brothers, his siblings include a high-ranking Interpol officer, a former Maersk CEO and a former Arla CEO.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Dull ‘Jewel’

Reviewers have had little good to say about the Danish translation of Sherry Jones’s ‘The Jewel of Medina’.

The book suggests one of the prophet Mohammed’s wives was only nine years old. News that American publisher Random House had dropped the book due to fears that it would incite Muslim anger generated gobs of free press earlier this year.

But with the novel’s release yesterday by Presto Publishing, the consensus is that the free press it got was entirely undeserved.

Berlingske Tidende newspaper called the book ‘a botch job’ and a ‘trivialised chick-lit jealousy drama’. Jyllands-Posten newspaper called the book’s prose ‘nauseating’ and the plot ‘implausible’.

Ekstra Bladet’s reviewer wrote: ‘It’s too bad it was this book that was published in the name of free speech’.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Finance: Islamic Banks in France From 2009

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, NOVEMBER 27 — >From next year Islamic banks conforming to sharia law, could be part of the panorama of the French banking system. Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said at the opening of the second French forum of Islamic finance that she had decided to “make a great welcome in Paris to this finance”. Le Parisien reports that there are at least three banks requesting accreditation: the Qatar Islamic Bank which already has offices in London, the Kuwait Finance House, and the Al Baraka Islamic Bank, from Bahrain. Their target is the more than five million muslims resident in France, an attractive market: according to a survey last year by IFOP at least half a million muslims would be interested in loans which respect Sharia law (which forbids loans with interest). From this point of view, said President of the French-Arabic Chamber of Commerce Hervé de Charette, “the arrival of Islamic finance in France would be an integrating factor”. According to Elyes Jouini, a professor of economics at Paris-Dauphine, it is still a frightening prospect because it is against religious integralism and aimed at financing terrorism. The global economic crisis is revolutionising the market though ad from New York to Hong Kong there is a rush for the billions of dollars of the rich oil producing countries of the Gulg. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Living Will: Spain; Municipality Opens Information Counter

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 27 — An advice counter for “a dignified death” has been set up for the first time by council offices and is financed by the government. This initiative is taking place in Rivas Vaciamadrid, a Spanish municipality located 15 km away from Puerta del Sol in Madrid which has 60,000 inhabitants, and is led by Izquierda Unida-Psoe. Introducing it, the councillor for Health and Consumption, Adolfo Garcia, first of all clarified, “that nobody should confuse the terms; this is not a counter for euthanasia. What we are proposing is to inform citizens of their right to die without suffering and without futile care in the case of terminal illnesses. These rights have for years been protected by the legislation of this country but have almost always been ignored”. The counter’s advice, Garcia explained to ANSAmed, will range from information about a living will “to specialized assistance from lawyers and medical experts in the most complex cases”, such as in the case where “a doctor refuses to abide by the living will of the patient”. The service has received the placet from the bioethics and medical planning authority and from the management of the municipality of Madrid’s basic care service. “The bioethics authority agrees with us about the necessity to inform citizens and hopes that the panel will also be established by other municipalities in the region”, said Garcia. Managed by a member of the association for the right to die with dignity (DLDM), which promoted it, the counter will show users the possibilities for indicating their final wishes in a “living will”, which was introduced in Spain in 2002 with the basic law for the autonomy of the patient. It regulated the right of the patient to formulate “preliminary instructions” regarding medical care and established the register of living wills. “Citizens”, explained councillor Garcia, “will be informed about the three formulas that they can choose between. There is the one drawn up by the Catholic Church, which refers to the main ethics of life, with the necessity of avoiding suffering but without going beyond palliative cures. Then there is the model drawn up by the municipality of Madrid, which implements the national legislation, on the basis of which the citizen indicates the clinical situations in which the living will should be referred to and gives instructions about any organ donation. Finally the third formula”, he continued, “is proposed by the association for a dignified death and authorizes the administration of palliative drugs even if these shorten life and it recognises the right to die quickly and painlessly, should euthanasia be legalized in the future”. A living will, in this final case, would go far beyond the legal limits of the current legislation. And indeed the municipality’s initiative has certainly provoked controversy. According to the conservative newspaper La Razon, the municipality of Rivas “is paying the assisted suicide, which is not regulated by the law, with public money”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: ‘Interview With Mohammed’ Out in December

Anti-Islam activist Ehsan Jami will premier his 10-minute film ‘Interview with Mohammed’ on December 10, Jami told magazine HP/De Tijd.

The clip features Jami asking questions of an actor playing Mohammad about women’s rights, Judaism and leaving the religion.

Jami abandoned plans to make a cartoon film about Mohammed on the request of justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, news agency ANP says.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Police State UK: Outcry as Anti-Terror Police Arrest Top Tory MP Over ‘Immigration Leaks to Media’

David Cameron today led a furious outcry at the arrest and detention for nine hours of the Conservative Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green. The Tory leader called the police operation ‘extraordinary and frankly rather worrying’, while former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis compared it with the arrest of opposition in Zimbabwe.

Mr Green had his home, his Commons and constituency offices searched over claims that he leaked confidential Government documents. The arrest, in an operation described by Mr Green’s colleagues as ‘Stalinesque’, plunged the Tories into an unprecedented row with the police and the Government. […]

Mr Cameron has called for explanations from both the police and Government ministers. He said: ‘The police have to answer questions. Frankly, government ministers have got questions to answer as well. If they didn’t know, why weren’t they told?

‘What do they think about in Britain today, counter-terrorism police are spending their time searching an MP’s office, arresting him, holding him for nine hours, all on a day when British citizens are being killed on the other side of the world and all because, as far as I can see, he made public some information that was in the public interest that the Government found uncomfortable. ‘Well, let’s hope that our democracy hasn’t come to that.

‘If they wanted to talk to Damian Green, why not pick up the telephone and ask to talk to him?’ […]

—- Caption:

Leaks at centre of drama:

November 2007:

Internal memos suggest Jacqui Smith was involved in covering up the licensing of 5,000 illegal immigrants as security guards;

February 2008:

A Border and Immigration Agency memo reveils an illegal immigrant was able to work at the Commons using a fake identity pass in a serious breach of security;

April 2008:

A secret blacklist emerges of Labour MP’s suspected of plotting to defeat Gordon Brown’s plans for 42-day detention of terror suspects without charge;

September 2008:

A draft letter from Miss Smith to Number Ten reveals ministers fear the recession will bring a rise in violent crime, theft and burglaries. The document also warns of hostiliy towards migrants.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Spain: Crucifix, Castile Council Challenges Ruling

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 27 — The local government of Spain’s Castile and Leon region, led by the Partito Popolare, has today announced that it will present an appeal against the ruling handed down by the Valladolid administrative court enforcing a removal of religious symbols from the classrooms of public schools. It points out that it intends neither “to eliminate nor to put crucifixes in place”. Council spokesperson, José Antonio de Santiago-Juarez, is quoted by agencies as defending “the independence of school boards in deciding whether or not to keep their religious symbols” and wondering whether the walls of school buildings have “a different democratic state of health to the table at which government ministers or the president take their oaths”, and on which a crucifix is to be seen. The spokesperson stressed that the council has always kept within the constitution and respected the independence of school boards, which it will now defend through this appeal to the High Court. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Spain: Bishops Spokesman, Cross Symbol of Liberty

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 27 — “The cross is a symbol of liberty when compared to totalitarianism”. This is what the spokesman for the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, affirmed referring to the Valladolid administrative court’s sentence that ordered the removal of the religious symbol from a public school. “No one has to be afraid of what the cross symbolises when it is present in the public sphere — Camino said, quoted in the newspaper El Pais — because it is the symbol of liberty and the distiction between Church and State”. The Jesuit, auxiliary bishop to Madrid, reminded that “he who is on the cross and says give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Sweden to Launch Beetle Rescue Mission

Sweden plans to employ helicopters to save an endangered species of beetle in the country’s far north, regional officials said Thursday.

“About 50 burnt pine stumps, which this species of beetle is particularly fond of, will be transported by helicopter and released … in the national parks in the region where it was observed,” Tomas Rydkvist, a wildlife official in the Västernorrland region, told AFP.

The beetle, a flatheaded pine borer or Chalcophora mariana, is shiny black and copper in colour and is about three centimetres (about an inch) long.

Rydkvist said the beetle’s natural habitat is made up of open, sparse forests with lots of dead trees. Ideally the trees would have burned in a forest fire.

“We thought the species had disappeared from Sweden, as fires are better controlled nowadays. But in the summer of 2007 several specimens were observed” in Västernorrland, Rydkvist said.

The total cost of the helicopter rescue is expected to amount to around 100,000 kronor ($12,533), Rydkvist said, adding that was “not a lot of money.”

“If the species disappears, we could spend all the money in the world but it wouldn’t help bring it back,” he said.

Rydkvist said it was hoped the operation would help to firmly reestablish the beetle in these areas.

The effort is part of government programme aimed at reducing the number of threatened species by 30 percent by 2015, Rydkvist said.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



UK: Wife ‘Paid for Her Muslim Husband to be Killed After He Made Her Wear Burkha’

It will not compensate for all the women killed by the demands of this violent religion for sartorial sobriety in its women folk, but it is at least a step in the right direction. We in the West have yet to learn that a society who uses violence to get its way only understands reciprocated violence. We have yet to shake off our collective guilt for the horrors of the Second World War. We stared into an abyss and found ourself wanting, It will take a while to learn the lesson, that unfortunately horror and violence is part of the human condition and not an aberration, and that however much you try and reprogram human nature to appease your guilt , you are bound to fail.

This link has far more ominous overtones coming as it does after the arrest of the 12 BNP members for distributing legal leaflets in Liverpool. Arresting an opposition politician for doing what every politician does is a sign that the Labour Government is losing it. It is a pity that we don’t have a patriot act then they could really have gone to town. The news out of Britain gets more and more depressing as the Labour Government desperatly trys to hang onto power as the economy spirals into a black hole. I think that Britain will be the first of the European countries to suffer a discontinuity as El Engles so eloquently puts it. Chaos is a better word.

           — Hat tip: Yorkshire Miner [Return to headlines]



Vatican Thanks Muslims for Returning God to Europe

PARIS (Reuters) — A senior Vatican cardinal has thanked Muslims for bringing God back into the public sphere in Europe and said believers of different faiths had no option but to engage in interreligious dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Catholic Church’s department for interfaith contacts, said religion was now talked and written about more than ever before in today’s Europe.

“It’s thanks to the Muslims,” he said in a speech printed in Friday’s L’Osservatore Romano, the official daily of the Vatican. “Muslims, having become a significant minority in Europe, were the ones who demanded space for God in society.”

Vatican officials have long bemoaned the secularisation of Europe, where church attendance has dwindled dramatically in recent decades, and urged a return to its historically Christian roots. But Tauran said no society had only one faith.

“We live in multicultural and multireligious societies, that’s obvious,” he told a meeting of Catholic theologians in Naples. “There is no civilisation that is religiously pure.”

Tauran’s positive speech on interfaith dialogue came after a remark by Pope Benedict prompted media speculation that the Vatican was losing interest in it. Some Jewish leaders reacted with expressions of concern and the Vatican denied any change.

The “return of God” is clearly seen in Tauran’s native France, where Europe’s largest Muslim minority has brought faith questions such as women’s headscarves into the political debate after decades when they were considered strictly private issues…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Albania: Italian Cooperation Invests 650 Mln Since 1989

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 25 — Investment projects in Albania approved by the Italian Development Cooperation from 1989 to today total 650 million euros, said Italy’s Ambassador in Tirana, Saba D’Elia, quoted by Informest, Service and Documentation Centre for International Economic Cooperation. For Albania, Italy represents the third largest donor after the World Bank and the European Union. Projects financed by the Italian Government are in the energy, transport and agriculture sectors, as well as infrastructure and services. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Kosovo: UN Plan; Serbia Welcomes, Pristina Angry

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE/PRISTINA, NOVEMBER 27 — “Great satisfaction” in Belgrade, anger and recriminations in Pristina. These were the reactions the day after the UN Security Council’s approval of the latest plan for deployment in Kosovo by the EU Eulex mission (made up of 2,000 troops), declared as “neutral” regarding the recognition of the controversial secession by Serbia proclaimed on 17th February by the former province of majority Albanians. “We receive the adoption of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s plan with great satisfaction” stated Serbia’s Prime Minister , pro-European Mirko Cvetkovic, outside a meeting in Belgrade with his Danish counterpart Rasmussen. It is “a very important decision for the future development of regional relations” in the Balkans. The comments by the Kosovar Albanian leadership were of a different tone, seeing the plan as giving in to Belgrade and a substantial partitioning of Kosovo. “We continue to oppose any solution which puts the sovereignty of Kosovo and its integrity” said Xhavit Beqiri, spokesman for the Kosovar President Fatmir Sejdiu. “We still welcome Eulex” added Begiri, stressing however that Pristina insists on recognising the mandate only in the channel of the old plan by mediator Martti Ahtisaari (also rejected by Belgrade as a sort of predictable justification of the February secession) and reject any exception as “unacceptable”. Ban Ki Moon’s plan, despite Kosovo’s protests, includes not only Eulex’s neutrality on the key topic of independence, but also its deployment as a leopard’s spots, placed side by side with the maintaining of the previous EU Unmik mission in the main remaining Serb-speaking enclave, Kosovska Mitrovica, recognised in its current regime as having total autonomy from Pristina. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


EU-Syria: Following Libya, Damascus Nears Europe

(by Chiara De Felice) (ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 27 — November of 2008 will go down in Brussels as the month on which the final barriers fell between the two shores of the Mediterranean: following the start of talks with Libya two weeks ago, today has been the turn of Syria to lay down its final resistance and give its nod to an accord of association with the EU, which has been gathering dust at the bottom of the Commission’s drawer for years while awaiting Damascus’ decision to add its signature. The green light to signing the accord come after two days of negotiations between EU Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero Waldner, and Syria’s Deputy Premier with responsibility for the economy, Abdullah Al Dardari, who has finally accepted Brussels’s invitation to review the conditions of the accord drafted back in October 2004. The Accord of Association, a document outlining the extent of cooperation between the EU and third countries, was ready for signing four years ago. But it was never signed by Syria and all talk of the matter was put on ice following the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005. ‘‘I believe that Syria has made significant progress, such as re-starting diplomatic relations with Lebanon and setting up indirect contacts for peace with Israel’’, stated Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner. The Commissioner went on to point out that Brussels technicians have prepared a new accord which takes into account recent developments in EU-Syria relations. The draft will be signed in Damascus by EU and Syrian authorities on December 14, to then be ratified by the respective authorities: the EU Council and Assembly and Syria’s President. ‘‘This is a historical achievement and a ground-breaking moment for EU-Syria relations, based on a common will and reciprocal interests’’, said Ferrero Waldner. The Association Accord will allow cooperation in various areas to be set up, from the economy to security, to trade and industry. The thaw between Brussels and Damascus began in July when Syria’s President Bachar al-Assad was once more offered a place at the international diplomatic table, at the Mediterranean Union summit, following isolation in the wake of Hariri’s killing and suspicions — to date still unclear — of a direct Syrian hand in the affair. Soon afterwards, in September, the EU Commission gave its green light to the 110-million-euro EU programme to support reforms in the country. The aid covers the period 2008-2009, and is aimed at reforming public administration and justice, the economy and the private sector, as well as social reforms. But decisive for the re-opening of Brussels credit was the resumption of diplomatic relations with Lebanon, a ‘‘historic step towards normalising relations’’ which did much to calm nerves in Brussels.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Morocco: Political Cooperation With Holland Strengthened

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 27 — To reinforce cooperation at a political level to fight more effectively against terrorism and illegal immigration, Moroccan and Dutch Foreign ministers Taieb-Fassi Fihri and Maxim Verhagen decided at the end of their meeting. The decision to make the regulations more efficient could also be linked to the recent statement by Dutch Interior minister Guusje Tar Horst, who believes that young Moroccan residents in Holland are responsible for the worst criminal episodes. This has obviously been rejected by Moroccans. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Rabat: Dutch Moroccans Are “Expats”

THE HAGUE, 28/11/08 — Morocco regards Moroccans born in the Netherlands as temporary residents of a foreign country. The High Council for Migrants calls them ‘expats,’, Trouw newspaper reported yesterday.

The term ‘expats’ is used by the Moroccan government’s advisory body in an invitation to meetings at which the council will present itself in the Netherlands next week, according to the paper. The migrants council has set itself the goal of increasing the participation of the ‘expats’ in “the political, economic, cultural and social development of Morocco.”

Earlier this week, the Moroccan government was stressing that it does not involve itself at all with Moroccan Dutch. Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen had travelled to Rabat to hear this and returned to the Netherlands pleased.

Also piquant is the fact that prominent Labour (PvdA) MP Khadia Arib is involved with the High Council for Migrants. To the annoyance of the Party for Freedom (PVV), she took a seat last year on a body that was preparing the establishment of the council for the Morrocan king. But a majority in the Lower House found this no problem.

Apart from this, Trouw claims that the Moroccan Dutch disagree completely with the council. They are “furious with their former fatherland due to its extreme meddlesomeness,” says the paper.

The council, to be set up next week, will make a trip through the Netherlands via meetings in Utrecht and The Hague. According to Trouw, there are four Dutch council members. These are historian Bouras, activist El Ouafrassi, Imam El Bakkali and welfare organisation EMCEMO executive Menebhi.

Another newspaper, De Volkskrant, wrote yesterday that Moroccans in Morocco are astonished by the behaviour of Moroccans in Europe, including the Imams in Dutch mosques. “With Europe, you think of civilisation, but these people are more radical in belief than in Morocco. I do not understand it. There is no poverty there,” the newspaper quoted Mostafa Abkari, chief editor of Moroccan newspaper Le Maroc, as saying. Taoufik Bouachrine, chief editor of another local newspaper, Al Massae, also says Muslims from countries like the Netherlands are often “more extreme than in Saudi Arabia.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Tangiers Forum: Union a Leader Hemmed by North-South Divide

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 27 — “The Mediterranean Union is up and moving and nothing can stand in its way,” said the Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Taieb Fassi-Fihri, speaking in Tangiers yesterday evening at the opening of ‘Medays 2008’, a forum dedicated to themes around political, economic and social integration for the Mediterranean area. Details of the first three days’ work have been reported by the AFP agency. In the presence of Ministers of Mediterranean countries and international businesses and entrepreneurs, Fassi-Fihri launched an “urgent appeal to the Maghreb countries, to political decision-takers, to economists, to enable a vision of the Arab Maghreb Union to be realised, to come forward and to progress”. Otherwise, said the Moroccan Foreign Minister, “the Mediterranean Union will be lamed by this absence and this division, whose symbol stands as the closed border separating two sister nations” he said, alluding to Algeria and Morocco. Attendees at the forum, which has been organised by Moroccòs Amadeus research institute, are making no secret of the obstacles lying in the path of a union of the area: “The biggest divide between global incomes” runs between the two shores of the Mediterranean and “the challenges weighing on economic development (in this region) are immense” said France’s Secretary of State for Economic Outlook, Eric Besson. While Kamal Nasser, Egypt’s Ambassador to Paris, speaking in the name of his nation, which shares the presidency of the Med Union with France, critically stressed how the EU allots only 2% of its foreign investments to the Mediterranean area. Talks this morning, however, covered peace in the Mediterranean. Invited to take part were the General Secretary of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, the US Undersecretary of State, William J. Burns, Moroccòs Interior Minister, Chakib Benmoussa and France’s Defence Minister, Hervé Morin. There will follow an exchange of ideas on themes covering education and research, with a contribution from the Deputy Speaker of the Italian Senate, Emma Bonino. Tomorrow’s plenary session will, be dedicated to economic development, transport and energy in the Mediterranean area; among others, contributions are expected from Antonio Tajani, EU Transport Commissioner, who will hold talks with his colleague responsible for the EU’s Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquin Almunia, as well as with Kema Unakitan, Turkey’s Finance Minister. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egyptian Clubs Father to Death to Cure Headache

An Egyptian man has been admitted to a mental hospital after he killed his father with repeated blows to the head to cure his headache, Egyptian state news agency MENA said on Wednesday.

Mustafa Said Khalil Ibrahim, 37, clubbed his elderly father over the head 25 times to “change the blood in his head and cure him of a chronic headache,” MENA said, adding the man said his father had requested the radical treatment.

The man had initially been charged with manslaughter by a prosecutor in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, but a doctor later declared him insane.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Spain: Dentists in Morocco for ‘Smile Route’

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 27 — The third expedition of the Smile Route left from the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid for Morocco, organised by the Vital Dent Foundation, which will travel through the south of the country giving free dental care to more than 9,000 children. Most of the care will be given in schools by 15 volunteer dentists from Vital Dent and about 20 NGOs, in the form of information and prevention advice using educational games. Along with medical supplies the team will take toys, clothes and sports equipment from Real Madrid for the children. The expedition, which will focus on the cities in the south of Morocco, in the High Atlas and on the border with Algeria, will return to Madrid on 7 December. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Terrorism: Morocco; Eleven Arrests in Belgium

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, NOVEMBER 27 — Belgian police made eleven arrests today in Brussels, Tongres, Nivelles and Arlon as they carried out international arrest warrants issued by the Moroccan court. Those arrested, including six Moroccans and one Algerian, are accused of being part of the Moroccan terrorist group led by Abdelkader Belliaj, who is currently on trial at the criminal court in Salé (a town a few km north of Rabat), which will pass judgement on crimes of terrorism. Files and computers were seized during the operation, as reported by the Moroccan press agency MAP. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Tunisia-France: President Called as Witness in Torture Case

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 27 — The President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been cited as a witness in the 15 December of Khaled Ben Said, the former Tunisian Deputy-Consul to Strasburg and former Police Commissioner in his home country who is facing torture charges. The accused, reports the AFP agency, will appear before Strasburg’s Court of Assizes to answer charges of having tortured a woman, a mother with a family, over a period of 24 hours, with the aim of forcing her to reveal information about her husband, suspected of acts of subversion against the head of state. The events are alleged to have taken place in 1996 inside the police headquarters where Ben Said held the post of Commissioner, located in the north-eastern Tunisian town of Jendouba. The alleged victim and accuser, who has been living in France for many years now, is Zoulaikha Gharbi. Tunisiàs authorities have labelled her accusations “imaginary”. An official Tunisian source told AFP that “they are not supported by any material evidence at all”. On the contrary, according to Zoulaikha Gharbìs lawyer, Eric Plouvier, there are “numerous pieces of evidence” to prove “the involvement of the former Deputy Consul”. The lawyer also added that the presence of President Ben Ali in court along with other diplomats from the country, “will provide Tunisiàs authorities with an opportunity to come and give an explanation, if that is what they want to do”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Israel: Livni, Olmert Should Go Home at Once

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 27 — A serious crisis at the top of Kadima, Israel’s main government party. The new leader of the party, Tzipi Livni, today asked outgoing Premier Ehud Olmert to go home at once without further waiting games. “He has no other choice” said Livni in a meeting with Kadima leaders. In her opinion Olmert cannot take government responsibility after Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz yesterday announced that he would bring charges against Olmert regarding the multiple reimbursement by several organisations of air tickets. Collaborators of Olmert already specified that he wants to stay in office until the elections in February 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy-Israel: Napolitano Condemns Anti-Israel Declarations

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 25 — Visiting Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has condemned “the insane proclamations’ against the state of Israel and has stated that Italy “can only react indignantly and strengthen its own commitment to banning such requests for good and making sure that humanity never again relives the aberrations of the past”. He said this in response to the welcome address by the Israeli president Shimon Peres. “The time for peace”, continued Napolitano to Peres, “can no longer be put off”. “Peace”, he added, “requires courageous choices and is not easy to achieve. But it is the best and only guarantee for the rights of the peoples in the region, including the right of the people of Israel to exist and prosper as a Jewish state. For the first time after many years, the recent courageous efforts have led to the renewal of the broken thread of dialogue and they are revealing for the first time after many long years a concrete horizon of hope”. Therefore, he concluded, we must “raise our sights and aim far, towards the unavoidable target of peaceful coexistence of two sovereign states, whereby the two peoples living on this land that is rich in history can finally realize, together with their legitimate and inalienable rights, their aspirations for peace and potential for development”. Napolitano, who is accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, emphasized the excellent relationship between Italy and Israel and Italy’s closeness to the Jewish people which has “suffered bitterly” in particular the “appalling tragedy of the Shoah (Holocaust)”. “Italy is close to them”, he said, “in defending their inalienable right to live in peace and safety next to other countries in the region”. Peres gave Napolitano a warm welcome and declared his “admiration and respect” for the character and personal history of the Italian president. “Italy”, added the Israeli president “is a splendid state which gives kindness to the whole world and has a creative talent which enriches our life”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Mideast: Palestinians Must Recognize Israel, Napolitano Says

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 27 — “We must never let matters slide as considers the delegitimization of Israel,” said Giorgio Napolitano at the Jewish University in Jerusalem, expressing his “concern” over the “harsh conditions in which people live in Gaza”, but adding that this “can never obscure,” for any Palestinian or Arab, “the issue of the full and unequivocal, consistent recognition of the state of Israel, its legitimacy, its right to exist and its security.” This part of his speech met with thundering applause in the auditorium. Immediately afterwards Napolitano left for Bethlehem where, this morning, he will be meeting with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). On the subject of the delegitimization of Israel, Napolitano spoke once again of the condemnation of the negationist and threatening statements made by Iranian president Ahmadinejad (whose name he did not mention, but only referred to him as ‘a head of state or government’). To these threats, said the Italian president, “we oppose the tormented history to which we have borne witness or have been active participants in, the ever-present duty of memory especially as concerns the tragedy of the Holocaust.” The duty of memory, said Napolitano, compels Italians to also remember the Italian Jews who are part of Italian history, since they were “among the leaders of the Risorgimento” and “suffered the vile persecutions in our country of the Fascist regime and the Nazi occupation,” as also Antonio Gramsci and Enzo Sereni and many other Italians who to the Jews “chose to give solidarity and assistance in the most dangerous moment.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UN General Assembly Chief Calls for Israel’s Destruction

“Brockmann’s call,” said Bayefsky, “was in effect, a call for the political destruction of Israel by means of the same strategy adopted against apartheid South Africa.” Brockmann said:

“More than twenty years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a non-violent means of pressuring South Africa…Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar non-violent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel…”

The adoption of the 1947 partition resolution, accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs, is now bemoaned by the UN. Former Secretary-General Kofi Annan described Palestinian Solidarity Day as “a day of mourning and a day of grief.” This year, as in years past, the UN used the occasion to fly only two flags, that of “Palestine” and that of the United Nations. Though the resolution was ostensibly the UN’s first commitment to a two-state solution, today the flag of the member state of Israel is left out.

           — Hat tip: Rolf Krake [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Iran, Lebanon Sign 5-Year Security Pact

Iran and Lebanon have signed a security agreement, according to which Iran will supply the Lebanese army with weapons and equipment over the next five years, the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported. […]

By supplying the Lebanese army with weapons, Iran will thus be responsible for arming Lebanon’s two major armed forces: the national army, and Hizbullah, The Media Line’s analysts indicate. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Iraq: Security Pact ‘Puts Detainees at Risk of Torture’

Baghdad, 27 Nov. (AKI) — Thousands of Iraqis detained by US forces will be at risk of torture or even execution if they are handed over to the Iraqi authorities, top rights Amnesty International warned on Friday. The warning came as the Iraqi Parliament overwhelmingly ratified a controversial security pact with the US under which around 16,000 prisoners held by the US will be transferred to Iraqi custody from the end of the year.

The pact (Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA) allows American troops to remain in the country for three more years. It has already been approved by the Iraqi Cabinet.

“The SOFA does not provide any safeguards whatsoever for prisoners transferred to Iraqi custody,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“These prisoners will potentially be moving from the frying pan into the fire,” said Malcolm Smart.

“We receive persistent reports of gross human rights violations — including torture — taking place in Iraqi prisons and detention centres. The US must ensure that no one is transferred to Iraq custody if they would face a real risk of torture or other human rights violations.”

The Iraqi authorities are already holding thousands of people, many without charge or trial, and often in appalling conditions, Amnesty said.

Many of these prisoner have no access to lawyers, while others have been sentenced to death after trials which failed to meet international fair trial standards, Amnesty stated.

The US is currently reported to hold around 16,000 prisoners in Iraq. Most are detainees who are held without charge or trial, some for more than five years and without recourse to any independent review of their detention.

Prisoners include former Baath party officials and former members of Saddam Hussein’s regime who could be at particular risk.

Ali Hassan al-Majid and two others sentenced to death for crimes committed under Saddam Hussein’s rule are likely to be executed if handed over to the Iraqi authorities.

Amnesty said it is also concerned that the agreement contains no reference to the more than 2,000 Iranians living in Iraq who are opponents of Iran’s hardline government.

The Iranians belonging to the People’s Mojahedeen Organization of Iran (PMOI), are based at Ashraf Camp in northern Iraq, where they have been under the protection of US forces for several years.

Some Iraqi officials have suggested that the Iranians will be forcibly expelled if they fail to comply with orders from the Iraqi government to leave the camp by 31 December 2008.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Mideast: First Arab Youth Parliament Urges Joint Arab Action

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 27 — The first Arab youth parliamentary conference called for giving an impetus to joint Arab action and promoting the efforts exerted by the Arab League to establish an independent Palestinian state, close Palestinians ranks in the face of the Israeli occupation and facilitate Palestinians’ movement in Arab states, the Egyptian Mena news agency reports. At the closing session of the conference today, Arab youth urged Arab countries to fill the Arab diplomatic vacuum in Iraq, reconstruct Iraq and Lebanon and step up efforts to expel foreign forces from Iraq. The conferees also called for rallying Arab efforts to confront calls by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to issue an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. They also called for putting an end to the phenomenon of piracy along the Somali coast without any foreign interference. Youth from Tunisia, Algeria, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Comoros, Lebanon, Libya and Egypt, took part in the event. The conference is organized by the Egyptian National Council for Youth. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Mumbai: Modest Pan-Arab and Jihad Media Attention

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 27 — Pan-arab satellite programs and their main internet sites have paid modest attention to the attacks in Mumbai which caused more than 100 deaths, while ‘jihadist’ sites limited themselves to scant comments of celebration. The Qatar broadcast al-Jazeera has had several link-ups with its correspondent there but without following events with a special broadcast. Al-Arabiya, the TV channel broadcasting from Dubai and financed by the Royal Saudi house, also reported the events in Mumbai using its journalists on the scene, but broadcast as part of the usual daily news. On its website Alarabiya.net, the attacks in India are in fourth place, after news on Lebanon, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Another important London-based Saudi news website, Elaph, opens with the Mumbai attacks but along with other photo news on Iraq, sport and medicine. Al-Jazeera has the attacks in India and Afghanistan as its headlines for ‘home in movement’. Islamic extremist forums also give it a low profile, in a ‘posting’ by some subscriber who adds laconically: “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great). (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Syria to Join Turkey in Sending Aid to Gaza

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 27 — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan plan to send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which is under Israeli blockade, daily Hurriyet website reports quoting Syrian ruling Baath party’s mouthpiece daily. The two leaders also agreed, in a telephone call, to work towards pressuring Israel to end the blockade of the impoverished Palestinian enclave which it imposed when the Islamist Hamas movement seized power in June last year, Al-Baath reported. Israel tightened its blockade after a November 4 surge in violence and has allowed food into Gaza only three times since. The border crossings which are the sole gateway for goods for the territory’s 1.5 million people were closed again on Thursday. Assad and Erdogan agreed to “work towards sending humanitarian aid urgently to the Palestinian people in Gaza and affirmed the need for combined international efforts to break the blockade,” the paper said. They also expressed their “deep concern over the suffering being endured by the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, who face a humanitarian catastrophe because of the blockade.” Syria remains technically at a state of war with Israel despite a 1974 armistice and the opening of Turkish-brokered proximity talks on a resumption of formal peace negotiations. Pro-Western Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab governments to have signed peace treaties with the Jewish state. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Afghanistan: Suicide Attack Targets US Embassy in Kabul

Kabul, 27 Nov. (AKI) — At least seven people were killed and 16 others were injured in a large explosion near the US Embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Thursday. Officials said a suicide bomber had targeted a convoy of foreign troops near the embassy entrance. Reports say the bomber detonated explosives about 200 metres from the heavily guarded entrance to the US compound.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast badly damaged several cars and a bus during the busy morning rush-hour traffic.

“The information we have so far is that four people have been killed and three wounded. It was a suicide attack,” a city police chief, General Alishah Paktiawal, told the media.

The US embassy was closed for the Thanksgiving public holiday and were unlikely to be out on the roads at the time, an embassy spokesman said.

The blast occurred on the last day of the visit by the United Nations security council delegation.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Afghanistan: Drugs Financing Taliban War Machine, Says UN

Kabul, 27 Nov. (AKI) — The Afghan Opium Survey 2008 released on Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime shows that opium has become less important to the Afghan economy due to a decrease in cultivation, production and prices. However, opium finances the Taliban war economy and is a major source of revenue for criminal groups and terrorists.

Opium cultivation in 2008 declined 19 percent to 157,000 hectares. Production was down by 6 percent to 7,700 tonnes.

The Survey shows that prices are also down by around 20 percent. As a result, the value of opium to farmers dropped by more than a quarter between 2007 and 2008, from 1 billion dollars to 730 million dollars.

The export value of opium, morphine and heroin (at border prices in neighbouring countries) for Afghan traffickers is also down, from 4 billion dollars in 2007 to 3.4 billion dollars this year.

The area of arable land in Afghanistan used to grow opium dropped slightly between 2007 and 2008, and one million fewer people were involved in opium cultivation this year. The Afghan opium problem is therefore shrinking in size and becoming more concentrated in the south-west of the country where 98 percent of the opium is grown.

Despite the drop in opium cultivation, production and prices, the Taliban and other anti-government forces are making massive amounts of money from the drug business.

In Afghanistan, authorities impose a charge (called ushr) on economic activity, traditionally set at 10 percent of income. Opium farming may have generated $50-$70 million of such income in 2008.

Furthermore, levies imposed on opium processing and trafficking may have raised an additional $200-$400 million. “With so much drug-related revenue, it is not surprising that the insurgents’ war machine has proven so resilient, despite the heavy pounding by Afghan and allied forces”, said the Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa.

Costa insisted on the importance of “keeping down both opium production and prices”. “If the Taliban can disrupt the market, so can NATO: drug production and trafficking would be slowed by destroying high value targets like drug markets, labs and convoys — which the Afghan army, backed by NATO, are starting to do.

“The downward trend in Afghanistan’s opium economy would gain speed with more honest government, more security, and more development assistance”, concluded Costa.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Emanuele Defies Terrorists to Deliver Daughter’s Milk

Italian chef managed to take milk to room in Oberoi hotel

MUMBAI — Out of the chaos in the aftermath of the Mumbai bombings comes the story of a father’s love. The father in question is Emanuele Lattanzi, the Oberoi’s Italian chef, who managed to take powdered milk to his six-month-old daughter in the terrorist-held hotel before she and the other hostages were freed. “An act of courage”, said Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, who described the incident to reporters on his arrival in Mexico City for a series of bilateral meetings.

FOOD PROBLEM — The daughter, who is Italian like her mother, is six months old. On Thursday, Emanuele had already made it known that the most urgent problem facing his wife since the terrorist attack was feeding her. Emanuele decided to risk it. He went into the hotel and took the milk to the room where his wife and daughter were staying. Five other Italians were also barricaded in their rooms in the two buildings that make up the Oberoi-Trident complex, and which are linked by an underground passage. The Italian consulate kept in touch with all of them by telephone throughout the siege. Mr Frattini assured the press that diplomats had already made arrangements to assist the Italians who left the hotel after the Indian army moved in.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



India, Jihad’s Permanent Battleground

by Srdja Trifkovic

Teams of heavily armed terrorists carried out seven coordinated attacks in India’s financial capital “Mumbai” (Bombay) on Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning. Over 120 people were reported killed by Friday morning and over 300 wounded, with the final toll likely to rise once the ongoing hostage crisis is ended. Similar attacks by Islamic terrorists occur with grim regularity in India (see Timetable at the end). The disputed province of Kashmir notwithstanding, militant Islam sees the second most populous country in the world as a piece of “unfinished business”: having been ruled by Muslims once, it cannot legitimately revert to Dar al-Harb.

The attacks represent a massive intelligence failure on part of the government in New Delhi. Even India’s business capital is now seen as a soft target for Jihadist terror, yet the ruling Congress Party continues its old habit of minority appeasement and automatic insistence that the problem is confined to an unrepresentative extremist fringe aided from abroad (i.e. Pakistan). This attitude indicates common ideological roots of India’s political and media elite and its Western role model. Both are supine, secularist and leftist to boot.

Now that the jihadists have targeted two luxury hotels and a top-tier restaurant frequented by visiting foreigners, now that they have brought their holy war to India’s upper crust and their Western business partners, the country’s elite class should wake up to the fact that India has a Muslim problem. That problem is fundamentally the same in each and every country in the world with a substantial Muslim minority. It would be there even if the government in Islamabad and its semi-rogue agencies like the ISI were to terminate all support for Islamic terrorist groups active across the Subcontinent (which will never happen, of course). The attacks remind us that global Jihad has India in its sights, no less firmly today than in the early centuries of the expansion of Islam’s bloody borders.

Prior to the Muslim invasions which started in the 8th century India was one of the world’s great civilizations. It matched its contemporaries in the realms of philosophy, mathematics, and natural science. It was a richly imaginative culture, one of the half-dozen most advanced civilizations of all time. Its sculptures were vigorous and sensual, its architecture ornate and spellbinding.

Muslim invaders began entering India in the early eighth century, on the orders of Hajjaj, the governor of Iraq. Starting in 712 the raiders, commanded by Muhammad Qasim, demolished temples, shattered sculptures, plundered palaces, killed vast numbers of men—it took them three days to slaughter the inhabitants of the port city of Debal—and carried off their women and children to slavery. After the initial wave of violence, however, Qasim tried to establish law and order in the newly conquered lands, and to that end he even allowed

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]



India: Kashmir ‘Key Issue’ in Terrorist Attacks

Rome, 27 Nov. (AKI) — The disputed territory of Kashmir is the underlying cause of the suspected Islamist terrorist attacks in India, a leading member of the Pakistani community in Italy, Ejaz Ahmad, told Adnkronos International (AKI). He was commenting on the Mumbai terrorist attacks that police say have killed 125 people and injured 327 others in the past two days.

“Until now, the foremost group fighting for Kashmir’s freedom has been Lashkar-i-Toiba,” said Ahmad, referring to the banned militant Kashmiri separatist group.

Lashkar-i-Toiba is the main separatist group operating in Indian-administered Kashmir, and is based in the Himalaya mountains in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

It has denied any role in the Mumbai attacks and said it has no links with any Indian group. A previously unknown group calling itself the Deccan Mujahadeen claimed responsibility for the attacks.

“Many of Lashkar-i-Toiba members and other Kashmiri freedom fighters are detained in Indian jails,” Ahmad said.

One of the militants involved in the Mumbai attacks on Thursday reportedly telephoned an Indian television channel to complain about abuses in Kashmir, over which India and its neighbour, Pakistan, have fought two of their three wars.

The suspected mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai attacks, the most destructive bombings in Indian history, Dawood Ibrahim, is still at large, Ahmad also noted.

The 1993 bombings in Mumbai were allegedly coordinated by Ibrahim, an Indian underworld boss turned terrorist, on behalf of Islamist terror groups based in Pakistan. The bombings killed up to 250 civilians and injured 700 others.

Those attacks are believed to have been carried out in retaliation for the destruction of a Muslim mosque by a Hindu nationalist mob in December 1992 and the massacres of Muslims in Mumbai the same month and in January, 2003.

Lashkar-e-Toiba and another Kashmiri separatist group, Jaish-e-Mohammed, were found to be responsible for two taxi bombings that killed 52 Hindus and wounded 100 in Mumbai in 2003.

The 2003 attacks in Mumbai are believed to have been in retaliation for the religious riots in India’s northwestern state of Gujarat in 2002 in which more than a thousand people, mostly Muslims were killed.

Police blamed Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Students Islamic Movement of India for the deadly July 2006 train bombings in Mumbai that killed the 209 people and injured over 700.

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday appeared to point the finger at Pakistan’s involvement in the latest Mumbai attacks without naming any country.

Pakistan’s leadership strongly condemned the attacks.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



India: Al-Qaeda Inspired Foreign Group Behind Attacks, Says Expert

New Delhi, 27 Nov. (AKI) — The deadly attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai bear the hallmarks of a foreign, Al-Qaeda-inspired group, a New Delhi terrorism expert Vikram Sood told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Thursday. Sood described the attacks as a “very serious” assault on the Indian state.

Suspected Islamist militants launched a series of coordinated gun and hand-grenade attacks late on Wednesday, killing over 100 people, injuring nearly 300. A number of hotel guests were also taken hostage in the attacks.

“I don’t believe it was the Deccan Mujahadeen at all,” Sood said, referring to a previously unknown group which claimed responsibility for the Mumbai attacks.

“The group doesn’t exist. It’s a red herring,” he told AKI.

Sood is the vice-president of the Observer Research Foundation’s Centre for International Affairs, a New Delhi public policy think-tank. He is also a former head of the Indian external intelligence agency’s research division.

The militant group that carried out Wednesday’s attacks in Mumbai appeared to be extremely well trained and well backed in terms of logistics, money and weapons, Sood said.

“From the TV shots of the terrorists, they are totally in control and have a long-term perspective” he said.

He described the Mumbai attacks as a “qualitative leap” compared with other recent attacks in India such as the May serial blasts in the western Indian city of Jaipur which killed at least 66 people and left about 200 wounded.

“They have made no demands but they are holding hostages and dragging it out. They are anti-Jewish, anti-American and anti-British,” said Sood.

The militants reportedly attacked a Jewish centre in Mumbai, took a rabbi hostage, and sought British and American citizens, asking to see their passports.

Sood declined to comment on whether a Pakistani militant group might be responsible, saying it was “too early to say”.

But he said: “This kind of attack needs careful planning, reconnaissance, knowing the behaviour of security personnel and those coming and going, and how to be inconspicuous.”

Wednesday’s highly organised attacks on ten mainly western and business targets in Mumbai are similar to the devastating serial blasts that killed 250 civilians and wounded 700 on 12 March 1993, Sood said.

The 1993 Mumbai attacks were the most destructive bombings in Indian history.

They are believed to have been coordinated by an organised crime syndicate in retaliation for the destruction of a Muslim mosque by a Hindu nationalist mob in December 1992 and the massacres of Muslims in Mumbai the same month and in January, 2003.

Asked if the Indian authorities could have prevented the latest attacks in Mumbai, Sood said: “It is hard to say without knowing what intelligence they had. But there have been lapses in the past.”

“This is a very serious assault on the Indian state. It must try to prevent future attacks,” he underlined.

“This means intelligence, counter-intelligence, response mechanisms, namely moving in commandoes and hostage negotiators, and the physical securing of vital installations.”

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



India, Long a Target of Terror (Overview)

At least 600 dead since 2002: this is the tally of terrorist attacks that have struck the country over the past six years.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Over the past six years, more than 600 people in India have been killed, and hundreds have been maimed by terrorist attacks. Those responsible include local groups of Muslim and Hindu extremists, but also suspects linked to terrorism in Pakistan, and to Al Qaeda. The following is a chronology of the major terrorist attacks in the country.

Mumbai, Nov 26, 2008: Several killed and many more injured in seven terror attacks targetting mostly foreigners’ hangout places.

Assam, Oct 30, 2008: At least 45 killed (figure can change) and over 100 injured in 18 terror bombings across Assam.

Imphal, Oct 21, 2008: 17 killed in a powerful blast near Manipur Police Commando complex.

Kanpur, Oct 14, 2008: Eight people injured after bomb planted on a rented bicycle went off Colonelganj market.

Malegaon, Maharashtra, Sep 29, 2008: Five people died after a bomb kept in a motorbike went off in a crowded market.

Modasa, Gujarat, Sep 29 2008: One killed and several injured after a low-intensity bomb kept on a motorcycle went off near a mosque.

New Delhi, Sep 27, 2008: Three people killed after a crude bomb was thrown in a busy market in Mehrauli.

New Delhi, Sep 13, 2008: 26 people killed in six blasts across the city.

Ahmedabad, July 26, 2008: 57 people killed after 20-odd synchronised bombs went off within less than two hours.

Bangalore, July 25, 2008: One person killed in a low-intensity bomb explosion.

Jaipur, May 13, 2008: 68 people killed in serial bombings.

Hyderabad, Aug 25, 2007: 42 people killed in two blasts, at a popular eatery and a public park.

Samjhauta Express, Feb 19, 2007: 66 people killed after two firebombs went off on the India-Pakistan friendship train.

Malegaon, Maharashtra, Sep 8, 2006: 40 people killed in two blasts.

Mumbai, July 11, 2006: 209 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.

Varanasi, March 7, 2006: 21 people killed in three blasts including one at a temple and another at a railway station.

New Delhi, Oct 29, 2005: 61 people killed in three blasts on the eve of Diwali.

Mumbai, Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.

Gandhinagar, Sep 24, 2002: 34 people killed in the attack on the Akshardham temple.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



India: Rabbi Among Dead Hostages Discovered at Jewish Centre in Mumbai

Mumbai, 28 Nov. (AKI) — Indian commandos ended the siege at a Jewish centre in Mumbai on Friday while fighting continued at one of the luxury hotels two days after the city came under attack from extremists. Reports citing an Israeli diplomat said that five hostages had been killed, among them former Brooklyn Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

The couple ran the ultra-orthodox Jewish centre, known as Chabad Lubavitch, located at Nariman House.

An Israeli rescue service run by Orthodox Jews also said its staff sent to Mumbai to help at the siege believed that hostages in the Chabad centre had died.

Two workers and a young child had escaped from the Jewish centre on Thursday.

The child was identified as the son of Rabbi Holtzberg. It was not clear whether the rabbi was among the dead on Friday.

A team of at least nine Indian commandos dropped onto the Jewish Centre’s roof from helicopters and stormed the building on Friday.

Late on Friday, police in Mumbai said the death toll had reached 143 with the discovery of 24 bodies in the luxury Oberoi hotel, where guests were set free on Friday as security forces took control of the building.

Elsewhere in the city, gunfire and grenade blasts were reportedly still being heard at the Taj Mahal hotel.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Indonesian Media Reports Fair on Faith, Say Experts

Mainstream Indonesian media is mostly judicious in taking into account religious sensitivities in its reporting, a discussion on press freedom and religion heard on Tuesday.

Elisabeth Karamat, an Austrian diplomat on exchange at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, said questions about the limits of media freedom would be raised whenever a media outlet ran stories on sensitive matters of religion. “The Indonesian media is very strict about reporting on religious issues and respectful in how they deal with religion,” Karamat told the discussion organized by the Center for Dialogue and Cooperation among Civilizations.

Karamat said that in Europe, public and political debates on cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad were dominated by a central argument that the freedom of speech allows them, and that Muslims there had to accept it if they wanted to live in Europe. “I personally do not agree,” Karamat said.. “This is not fair, and if we go on like this there will be clashes in society.”

She mentioned the case of Tyrol, Austria, in the 1980s and 1990s, when area Catholics were offended by a satirical film of Jesus and Mary. An Austrian film institute defended the 1982 film as a case of free speech, but in 1985 the Austrian government banned it. The dispute was taken to a high European court, which ruled in 1994 that the ban was justified, as the film was offensive to the Catholic faith.

Karamat said religious freedom was not just a right to practice faith, but also a right to practice it under state protection.

Abdul Mu’ti, head of CDCC, said that the Indonesia media had to tread carefully when writing about religious issues. “It’s an interesting question, how we should combine the very free media atmosphere in Indonesia with the issues of religion, which the government still considers untouchable,” he said.

Alois Agus Nugroho, a media expert from the University of Indonesia, said mainstream, high-circulation media was balanced in reporting on religious issues, since to maintain a wide readership they had to remain impartial and objective. “They still exercise self-censorship when it comes to reporting interreligious issues,” he said. As for the low-circulation media outlets, he said they had to draw readers by spicing up their reporting with provocative wording while still keeping the facts straight. “This is an example of market diversification, especially to attract the middle-lower class,” Alois said.

Karamat said anti-Islam sentiment was on the rise in Europe, and that this could lead to conflict, as Islam has become the second most practiced religion in most European countries. “On one hand you have the second biggest religion, and on the other hand you have the media bashing the religion of these people,” Karamat said. “Media workers in Europe have to get trained, and not only do they have to get to know more about Islam, but they have to be involved in interreligious dialogue as well,” she said.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]



Italy: Author Blames Al-Qaeda for Mumbai Attacks

Rome, 27 Nov. (AKI) — Top-selling Pakistani author and journalist, Ahmed Rashid, said Al-Qaeda was almost certainly behind the deadly terrorist attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in Wednesday. Rashid spoke to Adnkronos International (AKI) on Thursday, while in Rome to promote his latest book ‘Descent into Chaos’ about the failure of US and European policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“All the hallmarks of this attack seem to be Al-Qaeda,” said Rashid. “This was a very well-trained group, there were multiple attacks that were coordinated extremely well.

“There were multiple targets and this was a suicide squad, all the attackers were clearly prepared to die. It was certainly the most sophisticated kind of attack that we have seen in India so far. We’ve seen other bomb attacks but very amateur compared to this.”

He said it was significant that foreigners were the main focus of the attacks.

“I don’t think this has ever been the case in local bomb blasts and terrorist attacks,” he said. “This is the first time foreigners have been targeted in this way.”

Rashid said extremists were using terrorism to “create a crisis” between India and Pakistan so the Pakistani army would be diverted from its battles on the Afghan border.

He also criticised Indian intelligence for failing to effectively stop terrorist attacks.

“We’ve seen already the earlier bomb blasts that have taken place in India the culprits have not been caught,” he said.

“And there has been a lot of criticism by the Indian media and the Indian public against the lack of security and lack of information available to Indian intelligence.”

Rashid also made a grim prediction about the threat of future terror attacks.

“I think it is quite possible there will be more attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and in India. This is a very critical period we are passing through.”

Rashid also told AKI that although he had received a good response to his book in India and Pakistan, he expected a more critical response from militants.

“A lot of people will be interested in reading the book, but clearly the extremists are not going to like it. In fact, they have already condemned the book very strongly, especially in Pakistan.”

Rashid also stressed that ‘Descent into Chaos’ topped sales of non-fiction books in both India and Pakistan, a rare feat for a Pakistani author, he says.

“When it is translated into other local languages, I expect an even better response,” he said.

One of Rashid’s previous books, ‘Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia’ published in 2002 was a New York Times bestseller and translated into 22 languages.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]



Massacre in Mumbai: Up to Seven Gunmen Were British and ‘Came From Same Area as 7/7 Bombers’

British-born Pakistanis among arrested militants

British-born Pakistanis were among the Mumbai terrorists, Indian government sources claimed today, as the death toll rose to at least 150.

As many as seven of the terrorists may have British connections and some could be from Leeds and Bradford where London’s July 7 bombers lived, one source said.

Two Britons were among eight gunmen being held, according to Mumbai’s chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. At least nine others are reportedly dead.

The eight arrested were captured by commandos after they stormed two hotels and a Jewish centre to free hostages today.

One security official said: ‘There is growing concern about British involvement in the attacks.’

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



‘The Most Dangerous Woman in the World’

Aafia Siddiqui was once considered a brilliant scientist. Then the US government called her the new face of al-Qaida — a Pakistani woman who ranked among America’s top terrorism suspects. Now the MIT-educated mother of three is in custody, claiming her long disappearance was a wrongful abduction by the CIA.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



The Legacy of Jihad in India

By Andrew G. Bostom

The phenomenon of modern Islamic terrorism has forged an inchoate strategic alliance between the Israeli and Indian governments, while heightening the awareness of a common threat—the institution of jihad—among the civilian populations of these nations.

Rarely understood, let alone acknowledged, however, is the history of brutal jihad conquest, Muslim colonization, and the imposition of dhimmitude shared by the Jews of historical Palestine, and the Hindus of the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, both peoples and nations also have in common, a subsequent, albeit much briefer British colonial legacy, which despite its own abuses, abrogated the system of dhimmitude (permanently for Israel and India, if not, sadly, for their contemporary Muslim neighboring states), and created the nascent institutions upon which thriving democratic societies have been constructed. Sir Jadunath Sarkar (d. 1958), the preeminent historian of Mughal India, wrote with admiration in 1950 of what the Jews of Palestine had accomplished once liberated from the yoke of dhimmitude. The implication was clear that he harbored similar hopes for his own people…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Another Shephard Slain, But No Outcry Follows

‘Silence of homosexuals is deafening when it comes to their own murdering innocent people’

A pro-family organization in Pennsylvania is raising questions about the lack of outrage over the murder of a man named Shephard in a dispute involving homosexuality.

No, not Matthew Shepard, whose murder in Wyoming a decade ago has been used by “gay” activists ever since as a reason to demand enhanced “hate” crimes for anyone who perpetrates criminal activity against a homosexual.

This case involves an innocent man who was murdered by a homosexual when the victim resisted his attacker’s sexual advances.

The latest case involves Jason Shephard, 23, who was attacked and killed by Bill Smithson, an openly homosexual man, who slipped the victim the date rape drug GHD and attempted to rape him.

“When the young man resisted his sexual advances, he was strangled,” reported the American Family Association of Pennsylvania.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General


India: Italian Leaders Pledge to Fight Terrorism After Deadly Attacks

Tel Aviv, 27 Nov. (AKI) — The fight against terrorism is the key to achieving world peace, Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano, said on Thursday. Napolitano was speaking after the deadly attacks that killed at least 125 people and injured 327 others in the Indian city of Mumbai in the past two days.

“The fight against terrorism is essential for the peaceful development of international relations, and is of profound interest to all civilised countries,” said Napolitano (photo).

He was speaking at the end of an Italy-Israel business forum in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv.

Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, agreed with Napolitano. “The Mumbai attacks confirm that terrorism remains the top priority for world action,” he said.

Ministers attending a NATO summit in Brussels on Tuesday would discuss ways to fight terrorism, he said.

Frattini earlier on Thursday sent a message of condolence to India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, over the Mumbai attacks on behalf of the Italian Government and all Italians.

The message expressed “firm condemnation for such acts of inhumane violence”.

“These acts strengthen the international community’s resolve to act with the greatest determination in the fight against terrorism and to ensure the perpetrators of these vile acts are brought to justice,” he said.

The devastating Mumbai attacks against ten mainly tourist and business targets have drawn condemnation from world leaders and the United Nations.

India has suffered a string of attacks in recent years which are believed to have been carried out by militant Muslim groups.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni [Return to headlines]

Copts Under Siege in Cairo

Last weekend in the suburbs of Cairo, a congregation of Coptic Christians was besieged inside a newly-opened church by thousands of angry Muslims. It seems the Copts had had the temerity to open the church in a converted factory, and, as we all know, Islamic law forbids the establishment of new churches anywhere in Dar al-Islam.

The Muslim mob quickly converted the church into a mosque by praying there, and then went on a rampage against the church and the homes and businesses of Christians.

According to AINA:

20,000 Muslims Attack a Church in Cairo

One thousand Christians were today trapped inside the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in West Ain Shams, Cairo, after more than twenty thousand Muslims attacked them with stones and butane gas cylinders. The Church’s priest Father Antonious said that the situation is extremely dangerous.

The Muslim mob that attacked the church blocked both sides of the street and encircled the church building, broke its doors and demolished its entire first floor. The mob were chanting Jihad verses as well as slogans saying “we will demolish the church” and “We sacrifice our blood and souls, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Islam”, while the entrapped Christians chanted “Lord have mercy”.

The incident started on the occasion of the inauguration of the Church today, when the Muslims hastily established a Mosque in the early hours of this morning, by taking over the first floor of a newly-built building facing the Church and started praying there.

When the security forces tried to disperse the mob, they went to nearby homes and shops owned by Christians, and were armed with sticks, butane, knives and other sharp objects. Witnesses said the mob included children from as young as 8-years old to men of over 50-years old, in addition to women.

The Church building was originally a factory that was adapted into its present state, the matter which took over five years to complete and to get the necessary permissions from the authorities to have a Church established.

Human rights organizations and lawyers were refused entry into the besieged Church.

AINA also has video of the incident.

The Voice of the Copts provides an account of a simultaneous attack at another church:
- – - - – - – - -

Muslims Attack a Coptic Wedding In Cairo

11/26/08 Egypt (Voice of the Copts) Another Muslim attack was carried out Saturday evening on a wedding held in the Coptic Orthodox Church of the Virgin ‘Farid’, in Ezbet El Nakhl, Ain Shams.

During the wedding ceremony a bearded man and a woman went inside the Church and started using profane insults to the people present. When the clash was taken outside the Church to be resolved, a large number of Muslims who were waiting in a shop facing the Church and who were armed with knives and weapons attacked the Coptic wedding guests.

Five Copts were injured, two seriously, one with broken limbs and the other sustained head injuries resulting in concussion. However, in spite of their injuries, the police took them into custody. Mr. Said Fayez, a Coptic defense lawyer said that the injured were charged with causing bodily harm.

It is worth noting that this attack took place at the same time, as the attack which was carried out on The Coptic Church of the Virgin, Ain Shams, and in which 1000 Copts were besieged inside the Church while 10-20,000 Muslims surrounded the Church and threw them with stones and used butane gas cylinders. Lawyer Fayez advised that three Coptic lawyers, who were present in Church during this horrific attack, were charged with causing public disturbance!

Mr. Fayez added that the distance between the two attacked Churches is only a 10 minutes walk, and wonders whether this is a coincidence or some form of a Muslim deliberate and concerted attack on all churches in Ain Shams.

Notice that the injured victims of the attack were arrested for daring to be Christians in a Muslim land.

This is a reminder that all the recent self-congratulatory high-minded nattering about “interfaith dialogue” is meaningless. Islam engages in dialogue with other religions only where it is in the minority. All dialogue ceases when Muslims become a majority. No more time for talking!

Meanwhile, a cardinal at the Vatican is grateful to the Muslims who returning religion to a secular Europe:

Vatican Thanks Muslims for Returning God to Europe

A senior Vatican cardinal has thanked Muslims for bringing God back into the public sphere in Europe and said believers of different faiths had no option but to engage in interreligious dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Catholic Church’s department for interfaith contacts, said religion was now talked and written about more than ever before in today’s Europe.

“It’s thanks to the Muslims,” he said in a speech printed in Friday’s L’Osservatore Romano, the official daily of the Vatican. “Muslims, having become a significant minority in Europe, were the ones who demanded space for God in society.”

Cardinal Tauran is a bit confused: Muslims are not bringing God to European society; they are bringing Allah, which is not at all the same thing.

Across the Mediterranean things are different. There’s no room for God in Egypt, and there’s especially no room for the followers of Jesus Christ.

In the suburbs of Cairo, interfaith dialogue is conducted with sticks, butane, and knives.



Hat tips: ESW amd Holger Danske.

Destroy the Facts

Obama haloBy now most of our readers have heard about the question of Barack Hussein Obama’s birth certificate. We covered it briefly back before the election, and Pamela has been on the issue like white on rice.

Before you jump all over my case: yes, I know that this is pointless. I know that a lot of people consider the topic an obsession of the fringe.

And Barry Soetoro is going to be President of the United States. He is The One, and nothing can stop him now, especially not some stupid little piece of paper like the U.S. Constitution. Get used to saying “President Obama”, because come January 20th, that’s what we’ll all be saying.

Except when we have to say “The Dear Leader”, of course.

But it looks like there really is an issue about where Obama was born, because his supporters apparently were already thinking strategically about the problem as early as 2006. According to a post at Patriot Brigade Talk Radio forum:

While digging my way through the Internet last night, I came across the following paper [pdf], written by SARAH P. HERLIHY. It’s title

AMENDING THE NATURAL BORN CITIZEN REQUIREMENT: GLOBALIZATION AS THE IMPETUS AND THE OBSTACLE

caught my eye, and had to read it…

I had to ask myself, what would drive any American to want to change a clause in a document that is the very foundation of our government?

So, I kept digging, and found that SARAH P. HERLIHY is employed by Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Noting that this law firm is based in Chicago, the light bulb was shining a little brighter. Upon looking at the firm, and the partners, I found that Bruce I. Ettelson, P.C., is Member of finance committees of U.S. Senators Barack Obama and Richard Durbin. (towards bottom of the page)

In addition, Jack S. Levin, P.C., another partner who, in December 2002 was presented the “ Illinois Venture Capital Association’s lifetime achievement award for service to the private equity/venture capital community” presented by Sen. Barack Obama

So it sure looks like Obama’s people have looked into the matter of “Natural born” as far back as early 2006. What is even more disturbing is that it would appear that they are following the thought of :

“If the facts do not support the theory, Destroy the facts!”

Here is the introduction to the paper… It looks like a road map for Obama’s defense lawyers…And a precursor to a Socialist world.

AMENDING THE NATURAL BORN CITIZEN REQUIREMENT: GLOBALIZATION AS THE IMPETUS AND THE OBSTACLE

SARAH P. HERLIHY

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INTRODUCTION

The natural born citizen requirement in Article II of the United States Constitution has been called the “stupidest provision” in the Constitution,1 “undecidedly un American,”2 “blatantly discriminatory,”3 and the “Constitution’s worst provision.”4 Since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory in the California gubernatorial recall election of 2003, commentators and policy-makers have once again started to discuss whether Article II of the United States Constitution should be amended to render naturalized citizens eligible for the presidency.5 Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution defines the eligibility requirements for an individual to become president. Article II provides:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Of-fice who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.6

Although these sixty-two words are far from extraordinary, the natural born citizen provision is controversial because it prevents over 12.8 million Americans from being eligible for the presidency.7 In addition to Governor Schwarzenegger, the natural born citizen clause prohibits many other prominent Americans from becoming president, including Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm,8 former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao,9 and over 700 Medal of Honor Winners.10 Even though many of these individuals have served in high political positions or fought in a war on behalf of America, they are not able to become president simply because they were not born in the United States.11

The natural born citizen clause of the United States Constitution should be repealed for numerous reasons. Limiting presidential eligibility to natural born citizens discriminates against naturalized citizens, is out-dated and undemocratic, and incorrectly assumes that birthplace is a proxy for loyalty. The increased globalization of the world continues to make each of these reasons more persuasive. As the world becomes smaller and cultures become more similar through globalization, the natural born citi-zen clause has increasingly become out of place in the American legal sys-tem. However, even though globalization strengthens the case for a Constitutional amendment, many Americans argue against abolishing the requirement. In a recent USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken November 19—21, 2004, only 31% of the respondents favored a constitutional amendment to abolish the natural born citizen requirement while 67% opposed such an amendment.12 Although some of the reasons for maintaining the natural born citizen requirement are rational, many of the reasons are based primarily on emotion. Therefore, although globalization is one impetus that should drive Americans to rely on reason and amend the Constitution, this paper argues that common perceptions about globalization ironically will convince Americans to rely on emotion and oppose a Constitutional amendment.

Part one of this paper provides a brief history and overview of the natural born citizen requirement. Part two discusses the rational reasons for abolishing this requirement and describes why the increase in globalization makes abolishing the natural born citizen requirement more necessary than ever. Part three presents the arguments against allowing naturalized citizens to be eligible for the presidency and identifies common beliefs about glob-alization that will cause Americans to rely on emotion and oppose a Constitutional amendment.



Hat tip: Zenster.

Muslim Austrian Initiative Receives Democracy Prize Worth €15,000

Our Austrian correspondent ESW sent us the following report on the recent award of a democracy prize to an Austrian Muslim group:

Margarethe-Lupac-Prize for Parliamentarism and Democracy

Margarethe Lupac Prize


This year the prize for democracy, awarded biannually, was given to the Muslim Austrian Initiative, which announced that

We are striving for a positive social change in which social values should be anchored in greater general awareness. We (see it as our duty to) promote the social participation of Muslim citizens in the sense of general well-being in that we are open to various initiatives and directions. In this project both men and women who have adopted Islam, as well as migrants who were born Muslims and have found a second home in Austria, work together in a democratic way. We are witnessing the coming together with friends from other cultures and religions or beliefs as a very positive experience. With the help of our different professional backgrounds we can competently respond to specific issues. We are familiar with Austrian cultural structures and are insiders in matters relating to Islam and its cultural manifestations. This gives us a (special) role as mediators between religions and cultures which we would very much like to realize.

These words are outrageous. The fact that the award was given to a prominent Muslim group which includes the well-known Omar Al-Rawi and Carla Amina Baghajati, among others, can and must be considered a slap in the face, the ultimate slap, in the face of a democratic society.

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We all know that Islam and democracy are incompatible (see Fjordman’s treatise on Islam and Democracy for further details). The prize, incidentally, was presented by the (Socialist) president of the Austrian parliament; honorific words were said by Brigitte Beierlein, vice president of the Austrian Constitutional Court (speech here in German): Some excerpts:

“Do not talk about Muslims, but with them,” is a key theme of the initiative, which aims to boost social, political and cultural fields and to build bridges.

“The innovative media work of the organization is noteworthy; projects supporting equality specific to women, but also equality between women and men; the Open Mosque and school projects with dialogue sessions for students, but also for teachers and training sessions for the police force. I am particularly pleased that a new project in collaboration with the other recipient of the prize, the European primary school, was launched: a nice sign of the sustainability of the Lupac Foundation.

“A significant proportion of migrants are Muslims who come from countries with Islamic traditions. Islamic diversity has been brought to Europe in recent decades and it has also become a sizeable factor in Austria. Meanwhile, three generations of migrants have been living here and thus the “guest status” should be overcome. Immigrants have become an important part of the cultural, social and political life.

“The liberal constitutions in Europe form wide open spaces for individual life. Among the essential basics are respect for human dignity, democracy and the rule of law, separation of powers, majority rule, and the protection of minorities, as well as fundamental rights, such as gender equality, freedom of expression, belief and religion, and the protection of private and family life.

The last paragraph especially should have made the recipients shudder, or, which is more likely, made them jump up and down for joy on the inside. All these liberties mentioned by the vice-president of the constitutional court are precisely those that Islam is not compatible with, that Islam deplores and seeks to get rid of every single day, in every single non-Muslim country.