Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/20/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/20/2008I’m waiting for more news (in English) about the immigrant riots in Malmö. I hope to have some translations sometime tomorrow.

Thanks to AA, Amil Imani, Islam in Action, JD, Paul Belien, Paul Green, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- – - - – - – - -

USA
1 in 10 Jobs Tied to Autos? Not So Fast.
Biden: U.S. Economy in Danger of ‘Absolutely Tanking’
Clinton Foundation — Millions From Saudis, Bill Gates
Domestic Militarization Comes to San Bernardino County
Emanuel Talked Directly to Governor: Source
Franken Edges Ahead in Minnesota Senate Recount
Goldman Sachs Buys Into Carbon Offsets
Home Values Take a Dive
Houston Firm to Pay $21 Million to Dodge Immigration Charges
Is Obama Vulnerable to Blackmail?
Minn: Muslims Offended by Fast Food Toy
Our Federal Republic: Dangling by a Thread
Wall Street Sets the Stage for the Next Big Heist
Why Isn’t the Bailout Working?
 
Canada
7 Students Suspended for Refusing Anti-Christian Class
 
Europe and the EU
Germany Releases 1 of Last Red Army Faction Members
UK: I Quit, Says the Magistrate Fed Up With Seeing Criminals Walk Free
UK: Three in Four Councils Dump and Burn Recycled Rubbish
 
Israel and the Palestinians
The Politics to Watch in Europe
 
Middle East
Sexy Secrets of the Syrian Souk
 
South Asia
Baha’is: The New Jews
India May Still Strike at Pakistan: US Report
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Corsi Detention Orchestrated by Obama’s Political Friend
 
Culture Wars
Campbell’s Soup Promotes 2-Mommy Families
Fanning ‘Rape’ Flop to be Sold Online
No, Christ Isn’t Allowed in Christmas
UK: Audience Members Flee ‘Pornographic’ Sex Scene in Shakespeare Play
 
General
“Smart” Surveillance System May Tag Suspicious or Lost People
Jihadist Group Trying to ‘Invade’ Facebook Gets Shut Down
Plan Targets Shariah Ban on Leaving Islam
Shelters in the Emirates, Women’s Lib in Geneva
Three of Four Undersea Internet Lines Severed

USA


1 in 10 Jobs Tied to Autos? Not So Fast.

Bailout Backers Claim 13 Million Jobs Rely on Auto Industry, but Economists Say It’s 2 Million

In an effort to convince Congress to bail out the U.S. automakers, company executives, union leaders and politicians have made the compelling argument that the industry directly and indirectly supports one in every 10 jobs in the country. The only trouble is nobody wants to take ownership of that statistic, which is almost certainly false.

The figure is routinely attributed to the Center for Automotive Research, but officials at the nonprofit organization, which has ties to labor and government, claim they never said it and have no idea where it came from.

“It’s such an exaggeration. I kind of grit my teeth every time I hear it,” said Debbie Maranger Menk, a project manager at the center who researches the industry.

The Center, she said, estimates some 350,000 people in the United States are directly employed by automakers, both foreign and domestic, and that 2.1 million jobs are indirectly connected to the industry including suppliers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Biden: U.S. Economy in Danger of ‘Absolutely Tanking’

[Comments from JD: TRANSLATION: Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan et al. have not balanced their books yet, they need more free cash from the taxpayer.]

Vice President-Elect Joe Biden said the U.S. economy is in danger of “absolutely tanking” and will need a second stimulus package in the $600-billion to $700-billion range.

“The economy is in much worse shape than we thought it was in,” Biden told me during an exclusive interview — his first since becoming vice president-elect— to air this Sunday on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

“There is no short run other than keeping the economy from absolutely tanking. That’s the only short run,” Biden told me.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Clinton Foundation — Millions From Saudis, Bill Gates

The donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation include amounts of $10 million to $25 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and real estate mogul Stephen Bing, a personal friend of Clinton’s.

[…]

The governments of Kuwait and Qatar are also on the list, as is Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid, who has close ties to the Saudi royal family. Saudi Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi, reputed to be one of the richest men in the world, is among the donors as well. Both Saudis contributed in the $1 million to $5 million range. A group called Friends of Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Foundation appear in the same category.

Indian businessman Lakshmi Mittal also donated between $1 million and $5 million, as did the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Princess Diana Memorial Fund and the Open Society Institute, which George Soros founded.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Domestic Militarization Comes to San Bernardino County

Marine Corps Air and Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) Provost Marshal (head of a unit of military police) and the local California Highway Patrol office will begin working together 12/12 — and through the holiday season — in a joint effort to reduce accidents and drinking and driving. The combined mutual cooperation between the Marine Corps Military Police and State enforcement officers will begin somewhere along Highway 62. The CHP will set up DUI roadblocks with the presence of Military Police. A violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Emanuel Talked Directly to Governor: Source

President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had a deeper involvement in pressing for a U.S. Senate seat appointment than previously reported, the Sun-Times has learned. Emanuel had direct discussions about the seat with Gov. Blagojevich, who is is accused of trying to auction it to the highest bidder.

Emanuel talked with the governor in the days following the Nov. 4 election and pressed early on for the appointment of Valerie Jarrett to the post, sources with knowledge of the conversations told the Sun-Times. There was no indication from sources that Emanuel brokered a deal, however.

A source with the Obama camp strongly denied Emanuel spoke with the governor directly about the seat, saying Emanuel only spoke with Blagojevich once recently to say he was taking the chief of staff post.

But sources with knowledge of the investigation said Blagojevich told his aides about the calls with Emanuel and sometimes gave them directions afterward. Sources said that early on, Emanuel pushed for the appointment of Jarrett to the governor and his staff and asked that it be done by a certain date.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Franken Edges Ahead in Minnesota Senate Recount

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Democrat Al Franken edged ahead of Republican incumbent Norm Coleman today for the first time in Minnesota’s long-running U.S. Senate recount.

Franken opened up a slight lead on the fourth day of a state Canvassing Board meeting to decide the fate of hundreds of disputed ballots.

The change was notable because Coleman led Franken in election night returns and also held a 188-vote lead before the board took up challenged ballots. But its significance was limited, with the possibility the lead could change again before the long recount ends.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Goldman Sachs Buys Into Carbon Offsets

Goldman Sachs has recently bought pieces of two carbon-offset companies, in the latest sign of investment banks’ interest in the area.

On Monday E+Co, a company focused on bringing clean power to developing countries, announced that Goldman had purchased a majority of its carbon-offsets portfolio. In late October, Goldman took a minority stake in BlueSource, which is more focused on the tiny offsets market in the United States, and plans to market BlueSource offsets to clients.

Last December, Goldman also invested in APX, a California company that registers carbon offsets.

“These two deals show Goldman Sachs’ interest in the global carbon market and our commitment to assisting our clients who participate in these markets,” said Michael DuVally, a bank spokesman, in an e-mail message.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Home Values Take a Dive

[Comments from JD: This two part article on the economy is well worth reading.]

The upward price spiral in the housing market in the United States hit its peak in the spring of 2006. Buyers all over the United States struggled with financing options as they wondered if they could afford the mortgage payments on their new half million to million dollar home. But, as long as mortgage companies provided mortgage money and Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guaranteed the loans it made sense to buy homes they could not afford.

Most buyers who wanted into homes they couldn’t afford were obligated to take the toxic mortgages offered by giant corporate home builders simply because their incomes couldn’t justify a fixed-rate mortgage from a traditional mortgage bank. Buyers with acceptable credit scores seeking overpriced homes easily found exotic adjustable rate mortgages [ARM] from a traditional banks that were guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Buyers with exceptionable credit scores found fixed-rate financing with extended terms that stretched their traditional 30-year mortgage out for 50 years.

Most homeowners knew they would not live long enough to pay off their mortgages, but in the 21st century, that didn’t matter. They loved their new status symbol homes in the new status symbol subdivisions. When they sold their overpriced dream homes, the mortgage brokers assured them, they would profit immensely since the prices of homes everywhere would continue to skyrocket for at least the next decade. So, even if they paid more than they could afford on the front end, when they sold, they would benefit from the real estate boom windfall on the back end. Buyers were assured that when they sold their status symbol homes, the nest egg from the appreciation alone would provide them with a tidy down payment on their next home.

Mortgage-owners in 2008 discovered that the mortgage hawkers’ predictions of immense profits in a perpetual home seller’s market were just so much “who-shot-john.” US home prices are falling faster than a steel anvil testing gravity…and almost as fast as they fell during the Great Depression when close to 50% of all homes in the United States were in default. Today, only about 4% of US homeowners are delinquent. However, in one California community, Mountain Home, roughly 90% of the homes are “under water,” which places those homes in jeopardy. Underwater is a term applied when the outstanding balance on the mortgage exceeds the net worth of the dwelling.

Ninety-five percent of today’s delinquencies are from consumers who bought toxic mortgages that let them get into homes they simply couldn’t afford. Some of them were low-credit score buyers opting into the housing market through HUD-guaranteed mortgages to those with good credit scores who simply overbought because they were allowed to overbuy. Regardless of the reason, we have a housing disaster in the United States equal to that in the Great Depression when roughly 25% of the American people found themselves homeless.

From sheer numbers alone, the drop in home values today far exceeds the rate of decline in 1932. Home values dropped 10.5% in 1932. The latest Standard & Poor national home-price index shows a price slump of 14.1% during the first quarter, 2008. Adjusted for inflation, its an 18% drop. This is the worst decline in home values in two decades. In raw numbers, more homes went into foreclosure during the first quarter of this year than in the entire decade-long depression between 1929-39.

[…]

Cementing the Great American Dream into the marketing package at the community level were greedy county tax appraisers who turned a blind eye to the inflated home valuations since taxes are based not on the price you paid for your home 20 or 30 years ago, but the current value of the dwelling in the housing market — even though you have no intention of selling. It was the legal rape of the taxpayer by local governments who are allowed, by law, to increase your property taxes because some idiot paid too much for a home down the street.

[…]

BAPCPA [Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer protection Act] “rectified” nonexistent consumer abuses by protecting America’s lenders and merchant princes from potential debt default by the US consumers they were deliberately going to overload with credit in order to keep the economy afloat — and keep the Fed solvent. Congress insisted that BAPCPA was necessary because US bankruptcy laws had lost their power to shame. Filing bankruptcy, congressional leaders said, was no longer viewed as a stigma. For that reason, they insisted, bankruptcy laws needed to be updated to keep consumers from using bankruptcy as a “debt eraser.” Banks and other lending institutions which contribute millions of dollars to the campaign war chests of politicians on both sides of the aisle lobbied Congress for over a decade to toughen bankruptcy laws. They wrote the law they wanted passed, and in 2005, Congress enacted it.

[…]

During the mid-1990s, community activist and State Senator Barack Hussein Obama and the US Congressional Black Caucus spiked the Great American Dream by using the racist tactics employed by civil rights activist Jesse Jackson to force community banks to finance subprime mortgages for minorities with histories of not paying their bills. Obama, like Jackson, threatened to accuse the banks of racism for excluding minorities from consideration for home mortgages. Newly elected to the Illinois State Senate, Obama — whose US citizenship was never vetted by the Illinois Election Commission to determine if he was actually a US citizen and therefore eligible to serve in the State legislature — appealed to incoming Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines to guarantee the loans for working class blacks to buy homes, regardless of their credit scores. Many of the “incomes” guaranteed by Fannie Mae were actually welfare checks.

[…]

The NAFTA jobs drain was largely concealed behind a counterfeit facade of prosperity in the United States. Inevitably, the fractures could no longer be concealed as the trade gap spiraled from 2002 to 2007. US exports fell like a rock in a river, and imports rose like a helium-filled balloon. Economists blamed the economic malady on “…a strong US dollar and slow growth in world markets.” The transnational industrialists, bankers, and the merchant princes were profiting so exorbitantly from the transfer of the world’s work force from the industrialized nations to the human capital-rich emerging nations that few noticed, or cared, that the collapse of the financial underpinnings of the industrialized economies was just around the corner.

In the minds of the global economists, US labor was resilient-enough to recover. However, adding jobs in the service-sector while continuing to lose jobs in the goods-producing sector was an omen of ill that should have warned the economists that American consumers were no longer investing in the US economy…even when they bought US-branded goods made elsewhere. They were investing in China’s economy, in Mexico’s economy, in Indonesia’s economy, in India’s economy and in the economies of those nations where America’s jobs were sent from 1995 to 2007, speeding up the erosion of the financial foundation of the United States, and explaining why the $800 billion bailout of the US banking industry did nothing to restore the ability of US consumers to utilize credit to grow the economy of the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Houston Firm to Pay $21 Million to Dodge Immigration Charges

A record-setting, nearly $21 million settlement that allowed a Houston-based pallet company to avoid criminal prosecution for hiring illegal workers should send a clear message to employers tempted to break immigration laws, federal officials said.

Prosecutors who handled the case against IFCO Systems North America said it “severely punishes” the nation’s largest pallet manufacturing company, which was caught with more than 1,100 illegal immigrants on its payroll in spring 2006.

The settlement agreement announced Friday should send a “powerful message that ICE will investigate and bring to justice companies which hire illegal workers,” said John P. Torres, a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official.

The agreement between ICE and IFCO easily eclipsed the next-largest settlement on record for a company accused of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. In 2005, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., paid $11 million to avoid prosecution for employing undocumented workers.

[…]

Seven IFCO managers were charged with crimes including knowingly hiring illegal aliens and transporting and harboring illegal aliens. All seven have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Five additional IFCO managers were indicted in February for similar crimes and are awaiting trial.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Is Obama Vulnerable to Blackmail?

Suppose you’re Bashir Assad or Putin, and you watch the Blago Blowup, a month before the next president even takes office.

What are you thinking right now?

First, Obama looks vulnerable to blackmail. His homey network is full of people who can’t stand the light of day. They know all kinds of things the leftist media suppress — people like Auchi (the Iraqi billionaire), Rezko (the corrupt Syrian multimillionaire), Emil Jones (the Godfather of Southside), and the whole Daley Machine.

That’s not even counting the freaky radicals or the pols Obama has surrounded himself with. Mayor Daley’s brother is one of the official transition leaders, for heavens’ sake, along with Valerie Jarrett and a whole, privately paid operation that doesn’t have to follow Federal rules on transparency, lobbying or accounting.

Leverage on the people around Obama is the first step. So you ask your handy secret agents in the US to beat the bushes for more blackmail material. Easy enough. Chicago is a Machine town, and there’s always a rumor mill in a town full of neighborhood taverns.

Here’s what else the spy masters are sure to be wondering.

1.   Is there an organized crime connection in the Obama network? Not just Chicago politics, but drug money, prostitution, extortion, racketeering, money-laundering, violent Soprano types. In a political monolith like Chicago wouldn’t you keep an eye out for that — if you were running China’s Red Army Intelligence, let’s say?
2.   Can Machine politicians be played to ask favors of their friends in the administration? Bill Clinton allowed the sale of missile launch secrets to the Chinese. Is there something China wants very badly that some Machine pols can get for them? Or the North Koreans? Or the mullahs? Or Putin?
3.   Even if the US prop-media won’t publish anything bad, Patrick Fitzgerald is investigating corruption on Obama’s turf. A financial record mailed anonymously could prove a valuable lead for investigators. Such threats could provide unbelievable arm-twisting power in DC.
4.   What about obvious DC corruptocrats like Harry Reid (Nevada real estate), Barney Frank (banking scandals), Chris Dodd (ditto), the folks at Treasury who are handing out a trillion dollars to favored banks in secret? Such men may have other secrets. And if they do, how can a ruthless foreign secret service exploit that?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Minn: Muslims Offended by Fast Food Toy

A Muslim family eating in a Long John Silver’s restaurant in the Mall of America is upset because their child’s meal came with a toy that had “Build with Jesus” written on it. As usual CAIR has gotten involved…

           — Hat tip: Islam in Action [Return to headlines]



Our Federal Republic: Dangling by a Thread

Democracy is often described as two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Democracy is mob rule. Democracy collapses when the majority discovers it can vote for itself treasure from the public coffers. Democracy is the last plateau of social order before anarchy.

America’s founders knew this and chose not to create a democracy, opting instead to create a federal republic. A cornerstone of this republic was the Senate, whose members were chosen by the state legislatures, while members of the House of Representatives were chosen by the people. This balance was destroyed on April 8, 1913, when the 17th Amendment was ratified, taking the election of senators away from state legislatures and submitting their election to the popular vote.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but the change stripped states of an important power to impose a check and balance on the expanding power of the federal government.

The last remaining vestige of a federal republic is the Electoral College, an ingeniously designed system to insure that small states are not overrun by large states in the election of the president. Now, there is a powerful movement afoot to bypass the Constitution, and the amendment process, and destroy the Electoral College, which would transform America into a pure democracy.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Wall Street Sets the Stage for the Next Big Heist

On the Change.gov website there was a news release about the Bi-partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, California. Among the attendees were Governors Rod Blagojevich (IL) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA). (The Terminator and The Auctioneer were playing their part in the birthing of the new “impending disaster” just as much as Condi Rice, Bush and Rumsfeld played their part in creating the “Mushroom Cloud” scenario with Iraq). Mr. Obama had prepared a speech to address the conference via video. From the speech:

“Few challenges facing America — and the world — are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.”

We are presented with a doomsday scenario that seems to pale in to insignificance compared to the current Financial Armageddon which is approaching with ever greater speed. Action must be taken or otherwise we will be paddling canoes to the food shelter next year. The statement is meant to scare the population in to accepting more control over their lives by presenting themselves as the Saviors. The statement is actually a motley collection of disproved assumptions. The consensus on Global Warming is seriously fragmented and former IPCC scientists are coming out of the organization in droves. They attest to political manipulation, gross misrepresentation of scientific studies to comply with the official line and a Heretic hunt for the unbelievers reminiscent of the Dark Ages. Climate skeptics have been likened to “Flat Earthers”. The irony in this is that the Earth was found to be round by using scientific deduction whereas Global Warming has been concocted through the selective manipulation and outright falsification of scientific data.

[…]

If we assume that Global Warming is indeed a political potpourri of half truths and lies, then we have to see why so much trouble has gone in to its creation. One simple answer — Money. When we look at the campaign donors to Obama’s campaign, you could be forgiven your inevitable cynicism when we see the list contains the biggest players on Wall St.

JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have already benefitted enormously from the T.A.R.P… JP Morgan Chase used some of it to buy Washington Mutual for $1.9 Billion and Bear Sterns $1.1 billion. JPMorgan along with Goldman Sachs control the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation which is responsible for reporting on the derivatives market. Citigroup after receiving Billions in taxpayer money to try and get them out of a hole, have been using the money to create new derivatives that will be overseen by the DTCC. The interdependence between these Wall St. giants and their revolving door with Government power has been amply demonstrated by the policies of Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson. While there was unlimited money for the banking giants, the taxpayer was ignored and robbed. These are the same players who financed the new administration and packed the ranks of Obama’s transition team with its acolytes. Remember Obama voted without hesitation for the Bailout Bill and encouraged his fellow democrats to do likewise. So what does Obama owe his benefactors?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Why Isn’t the Bailout Working?

Fed Remains Mum on Billions Already Sent to Banks

The word “bailout” was one of the most-searched-for terms on the Internet this year. It’s been all over the news. It’s been discussed everywhere from Congress to American living rooms.

But what happened to that money that was already handed out? What happened to that first chunk of change from the $700 billion bailout that was supposed to increase lending?

The plan didn’t exactly work. The Dow has dropped 2,000 points since Congress approve those confidence-restoring funds.

[…]

The panel’s job is to see that the bailout money is put to good use, but so far there’s no mechanism to track how the banks are spending the money.

“If taxpayer dollars are going to be stuffed into these banks, then there are responsibilities that go with that,” Warren said.

Some in Congress are now mad about how the bailout’s working — or not working.

Rep. Carolyn Malone, D-N.Y., called it a “dismal failure.” Rep. Virginia Brown-Waite, R-Fla. said that “we are going down a rat hole.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Canada


7 Students Suspended for Refusing Anti-Christian Class

Officials are ‘veering into creepy Orwellian political territory here’

Seven Christian students in Quebec have been handed suspensions in the last few days — and could face expulsions — for refusing to participate in a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course that, according to a critic, is a “superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes” with the goal of convincing children that “all religions — including pagan animism and cults — are equally ‘true.’“

Canada’s National Post has reported on the developing confrontation between educators who have ordered students to take the course and students and their parents who object to what they see as a virtual indoctrination into a social and moral relativism.

While seven students already have been targeted for punishment, hundreds more are demanding to be relieved of the obligation to attend the classes, and several parents have begun legal actions over the course.

[…]

Under the course requirements, “it is the state deciding what religious content will be learned, at what age, and that is totally overriding the parents’ authority and role,” Jean Morse-Chevrier, of the Quebec Association of Catholic Parents, told the newspaper.

In 2005, a change in the law eliminated a family’s right to choose among “Catholic,” “Protestant” or “moral” instruction in classrooms, a change that took effect last summer.

Quebec Education Department spokeswoman Stephanie Tremblay told the newspaper school boards have gotten more than 1,400 requests from parents for their children to be exempted from the instruction, which emphasizes feminism over Christianity, and suggests Raelians are centuries ahead of other beliefs.

She also confirmed school boards have rejected every request for an exemption.

She explained it is not “religious instruction.”

“It is religious culture,” she stated. “We introduce young people to religious culture like we introduce them to musical culture.”

[…]

In the National Post, columnist Barbara Kay took school officials to task for teaching what she described as “a chilling intrusion into what all democratically inspired charters of rights designate as a parental realm of authority.”

She continued, “ERC was adopted by virtual fiat, its mission to instill ‘normative pluralism’ in students. ‘Normative pluralism’ is gussied-up moral relativism, the ideology asserting there is no absolute right or wrong and that there are as many ‘truths’ as there are whims.”

“The program is predicated on the worst worst possible educational model for young children: the philosopher Hegel’s ‘pedagogy of conflict.’ As one of the founders of the ECR course put it, students ‘must learn to shake up a too-solid identity’ and experience ‘divergence and dissonance’?

“The curriculum is strewn with politically correct material that openly subverts Judeo-Christian values. In many of the manuals, ideology and religion are conflated. Social engineering is revealed as the heart of the ECR program; in the most recently published activity book, for example, Christianity is given 12 pages, feminism gets 27 pages….”

She continued, “Paganism and cults are offered equal status with Christianity. Witches ‘are women like any other in daily life;’ ‘Technologically [the Raelians] are 25,000 years in advance of us.’ And considering that of the 80,000 ethnic aboriginals in Quebec only 700 self-identify with aboriginal spirituality (the vast majority of ethnic aboriginals are Christian), aboriginal spirituality (falsely equated with environmentalism) is accorded hugely disproportionate space and reverence.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Germany Releases 1 of Last Red Army Faction Members

[Comments from JD: He will make a fine addition to the EU politburo.]

BERLIN: Christian Klar, one of the last members of the terrorist far-left Red Army Faction to remain in prison, was released Friday after serving 26 years of a life sentence, according to the Justice Ministry in the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

The Red Army Faction, which was also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, carried out a series of assassinations of leading German figures during the late 1970s and early 1980s, killing 34 people. It disbanded in 1998, several years after renouncing violence. It subscribed to a Marxist-Leninist ideology and sought to overthrow the capitalist West German government and to fight perceived American imperialism.

A German court announced the pending release of Klar, 55, last month, after ruling that he had served the minimum 26 years of a life sentence for killing three prominent West Germans and their bodyguards and trying to kill a U.S. Army general. He was released a few weeks earlier than planned after the authorities in Stuttgart said he no longer posed a threat. He will remain on parole for five years.

(..)

While public interest the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Red Army Faction have waned in recent years, a certain fascination with the groups’ motives and background has been rekindled by a new film, “The Baader-Meinhof Complex.” Critics and the victims of families have slammed it for its facile attitude to violence.

The film — produced by Bernd Eichinger, who won fame with “The Fall,” his portrayal of Hitler’s last days in his besieged Berlin bunker — is based on a book by Stefan Aust, who until recently was editor of Der Spiegel magazine.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: I Quit, Says the Magistrate Fed Up With Seeing Criminals Walk Free

A senior magistrate has resigned in protest at Government policies that impose soft punishments and undermine the courts.

Dr Dick Soper says criminals are walking free from prison after serving just a quarter of the sentences he and his colleagues impose.

Others are being handed fixed fines or police cautions — taking justice out of the hands of the courts and away from public scrutiny.

Dr Soper, 64, a GP, has served 26 years on the bench at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

He used his final session yesterday to deliver an angry broadside, saying: ‘Although I could serve for another five years I no longer feel my time is being usefully spent in court.

‘I feel that this long-standing system which has served the public well for centuries has, in recent years, been more and more interfered with by politicians.’

He told how he recently jailed an offender for six months but saw him walking about the town just six weeks later.

Dr Soper said: ‘My greatest frustration and that of my colleagues is the very early release of prisoners.’

He said virtually all offenders are released automatically halfway through their sentences, while emergency measures to tackle prison overcrowding means many have another 18 days knocked off their sentences. Yet the judges and magistrates who heard their cases have no say over their early release.

Dr Soper said magistrates considered ‘very hard’ how to punish criminals, and added: ‘It is frustrating when that careful thought seems to be undermined. It has certainly reduced my confidence in the system.’

He also complained that sentencing guidelines appear to be increasingly influenced by Whitehall.

Dr Soper said: ‘The heavy hand of the executive seems to run through them and you get the feeling that greater central control is being exerted over this previously independent organisation.’

Community service and unpaid work have been trumpeted by ministers as punishments to help ease jail overcrowding, but Dr Soper said his own research locally showed only 60-65 per cent of offenders bothered to turn up.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: My Horror at Police Blunders, by Headmistress Who Survived Next Attack by Rachel Nickell’s Killer

A former headmistress who survived an attack by Rachel Nickell’s killer has spoken of her horror at the catalogue of blunders which allowed his reign of terror to continue.

Sandra Miller was attacked by psychopath Robert Napper in circumstances which bear a frightening similarity with the killing of Miss Nickell on Wimbledon Common 16 years ago.

Yesterday, she described the moment she escaped with her life just a month after Miss Nickell was stabbed to death.

And, as the sheer scale of the missed opportunities to stop Napper’s reign of terror was laid bare, she said she was horrified to discover the full extent of the blunders that could have saved lives.

“I am absolutely appalled at the near misses when he should have been picked up and he wasn’t,” said Mrs Miller, 63, who escaped the psychopath’s clutches only because her dog bit him.

“There was so much evidence, somebody should have made the link. People died who didn’t need to die, people were terrorised who didn’t need to be terrorised and that is so sad.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Sex Offenders Win Landmark Ruling That Being on Register ‘Indefinitely’ Breaches Their Human Rights

Rapists and paedophiles must be given the chance to erase their names from the sex offenders register, judges ruled yesterday.

The law which puts serious sex offenders on the register for life violates their human rights, three High Court judges said.

The decision, reached over the rights of a child rapist and an adult paedophile, was greeted with ‘extreme disappointment’ by the Home Office, which runs the register.

It came less than a fortnight after Justice Secretary Jack Straw told the Daily Mail of his ‘frustration’ with the courts’ use of the Human Rights Act.

Sex offenders now join a list of apparent wrongdoers who seem to have benefited under the Act and in particular its eight article.

Beneficiaries of the article, which guarantees the right to privacy and family life, include murderers protected from deportation.

Police and experts believe many paedophiles and rapists are unlikely ever to cease being a danger. The test cases involved a teenager known as ‘F’ and Angus Thompson, a paedophile from Newcastle.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Three in Four Councils Dump and Burn Recycled Rubbish

[Comments from JD: Government at work: heavy fines and spying on citizens for the slightest infraction in their recycling habits yet dumping and burning the recycled trash collected.]

Three out of four councils are dumping recycled household rubbish in landfill sites or sending it off for incineration, it emerged last night.

As much as 20,000 tonnes of rubbish put out for recycling was dumped over the last year after it had been separated into designated bins.

Amid the increasing threat of fines for taxpayers who do not follow recycling rules, councils have failed to recycle over 10 per cent of glass, paper, plastic and other materials.

A sharp rise in the amount dumped is predicted next year as councils struggle to find buyers for recyclable waste, which has fallen in price during the economic slump.

The use of these controversial tactics will provoke outrage among the millions of people who divide their rubbish between up to five bins prior to collection.

The disclosure comes as families prepare for the Christmas period when they are expected to generate the greatest amount of waste from wrapping paper, bottles and cardboard packaging.

Councils are understood to have returned to such methods in a bid to meet national waste disposal guidelines.

Half have already scrapped weekly bin collections to ensure people recycle more.

Next spring the government will trial a scheme of imposing fines on households which throw out too much rubbish.

Most councils collect recycling from the kerbside and then pay for contractors to take it off their hands.

The contractors are responsible for processing the materials.

While the economy was booming there was high demand for recycled products.

But in recent months the global downturn has crippled prices for scrap metal and recycled plastic and other materials, making dumping waste a more attractive option.

Environmental experts last night said that the actions of the councils may undermine attempts to encourage households to recycle more waste.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


The Politics to Watch in Europe

by Paul Belien

Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe. This cannot be denied, although the media prefer to downplay one of its main causes: the Islamization of Europe. Last week’s Economist referred to the problem (though only in passing) in an article on Muslims in Europe where it mentioned fights between Muslims and Jews in rough parts of northern Paris.

Denis MacShane’s column about “Europe’s Jewish Problem” in last week’s Newsweek, refers to Jewish kids from North London afraid to go home on public buses on account of anti-Jewish attacks.

Mr. MacShane, a Labour MP and Britain’s former Europe minister, states that the British National Party and Islamist ideologues are the two anti-Semitic groups in Britain, He does not mention that the North London buses are being terrorized by Muslim gangs and not by BNP thugs.

When addressing the problem of rising anti-Semitism in Spain, he refers to a third cause for the rise of anti-Jewish feelings: “the anti-Israel language of Spain’s liberal-left intellectual and media elites.” The anti-Israeli bias of the intellectual and media elites exists in Britain and other European countries too.

In my opinion, the main causes for the surge in anti-Semitism in Europe are, first and foremost, the growing appeal of Islamic ideology on immigrant populations in West-European urban areas, and, secondly, the anti-Israeli bias of Europe’s intellectual, political and media elites who, eager to please Muslims, blame the latter’s anger for the West on the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians…

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Sexy Secrets of the Syrian Souk

Just off the crowded central market in Old Damascus, a sales assistant called Mahmoud is giving me my first introduction into an unusual Syrian speciality — musical knickers.

The garments come in many different shapes and colours, and play little tunes — or other extraneous noises like telephone ringtones — all made by small electronic devices hidden in the lining.

Singing underwear isn’t the only item on sale at the “Fatin Shop for Ladies Indoor Clothing”, where Mahmoud is proudly showing off his product lines.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Baha’is: The New Jews

By Amil Imani

[…]

During a span of thirty years of Islamic rule, Iran has achieved the dubious distinction of being on the top or near the top on numerous indices of misery. People are fed up and frustrated. The conniving parasitic mullahs are loath to give up their privilege and power, hence, the need for homegrown target of blame.

The power-intoxicated corrupt-to-the bone-ruling mullahs need further scapegoats to divert people’s attention, to fuel the fire of enemy-making that would rally the faithful and keep them in line. Baha’is are perfect for the part. They are so handy. Some 300,000 of them live right in Iran itself. While Ahmadinejad fires blanks of hot-air volleys at Israel, the local mullahs victimize the innocent Baha’is in towns and cities throughout the land.

The mullahs justify their horrific deeds by labeling the Baha’is as enemies of Islam, spies for Israel, and outright heretics worthy of death. What makes the Baha’is “heretics?” Well, in truth, much of the Baha’i beliefs and practices are indeed heretical to the Islam of the mullahs.

These turbaned villains and their hired thugs have done a great job of basically eliminating all internal oppositions by their brutality. They have also chased the majority of the Iranian Jews out of the country by making their life as miserable as possible. The few remaining Jews are still used as whipping boys from time to time. Yet, the Baha’is with their much greater number and their steadfast resistance to the pressures of the Islamofascists, present much more attractive target. In a real sense, the Baha’is who have always been brutalized by the Shi’a Islamists have now doubled up as Jewish substitutes…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani [Return to headlines]



India May Still Strike at Pakistan: US Report

NEW DELHI: India may have ruled out the military option against Pakistan in the aftermath of Mumbai terror attacks but the international intelligence community continues to believe that strikes in PoK and elsewhere could still happen.

Global intelligence service Stratfor, in its latest report, said, “Indian military operations against targets in Pakistan have in fact been prepared and await the signal to go forward.”

It added, “These most likely would take the form of unilateral precision strikes inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir, along with special forces action on the ground in Pakistan proper.”

The private sector intelligence service said that unlike the massive movements of 2002 during Operation Parakram, India’s preparations this time were more under the radar and not visible to the world at large. Its only indication was the fact that the Border Security Force (BSF) has been put on high alert on the western sector as well as the eastern sector, this paramilitary force’s main mandate would be to prevent infiltration.

“Sources have indicated to Stratfor that New Delhi is going through the diplomatic motions in order to give Pakistan the opportunity to take care of the militant problem itself — but the Indians know that Islamabad has neither the will nor the capability to address their concerns,” Stratfor said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Corsi Detention Orchestrated by Obama’s Political Friend

The Kenyan official who reportedly orchestrated the detention of WND senior staff reporter Jerome R. Corsi when he visited Kenya to investigate President-elect Barack Obama’s close ties to the nation’s prime minister, Raila Odinga, was Odinga himself, according to WND sources inside Kenya.

[…]

However, investigations conducted for WND by members of Odinga’s own party, the Orange Democratic Movement, reported the links to Odinga. The investigators are being left unidentified by WND for their own safety.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Campbell’s Soup Promotes 2-Mommy Families

The Campbell’s Soup Company purchased a pair of two-page advertisement spreads in one of the nation’s leading pro-homosexual magazines, including an ad highlighting a lesbian couple and their son, reports the American Family Association.

The advertisement for Campbell’s product Swanson’s broth, the AFA reports, appears in both the December 2008 and January 2009 issues of The Advocate, a magazine that touts itself with the line, “For 40 years, setting the standard in LGBT journalism.”

The AFA, however, objects to the ad, particularly the frame that depicts the lesbian couple and their son, claiming that the soup company is contributing to homosexual advocacy.

“Not only did the ads cost Campbell’s a chunk of money,” writes AFA Chairman Donald Wildmon in an email alert, “but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Fanning ‘Rape’ Flop to be Sold Online

“Hounddog,” the Dakota Fanning flop that generated only a few thousand dollars nationwide when it was released in theaters following publicity about her controversial rape scene is being targeted now in a warning to parents by Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization.

The organization says it is launching an effort to have parents contact officials at Amazon.com, one the nation’s leading sources for media such as movies and books, because of plans to offer the Fanning project on DVD starting in February.

[…]

The movie has been in trouble ever since its production, when WND broke the story about objections to its content.

The film was subsidized by about $390,000 in tax money from the residents of North Carolina.

Days before the recent formal theater release blogger Steve Pill, was reporting on the apparent verdict from the public.

“I received a somewhat rueful message of congratulations from Eric Parkinson, the CEO of distribution for Empire Film Group,” he wrote. “According to him, more than 200 theaters across the country had cancelled their scheduled screenings of the motion picture ‘Hounddog,’ citing pressure from ‘vocal groups.’“

[…]

The movie had been the subject of several investigation requests and was targeted in a boycott launched by noted movie critic Ted Baehr of Movieguide and the Christian Film & Television Commission.

“These despicable movies promote pedophilia, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” said Baehr. “There should be a massive public outcry against them. The inclusion of children in sexually explicit films is inappropriate. There also is no excuse for the authorities to allow such material to be shown publicly.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



No, Christ Isn’t Allowed in Christmas

A public school teacher in Mississippi marked down an eleven-year-old’s Christmas poem assignment and told the boy to rewrite it because he used the word “Jesus,” which, the instructor explained, is a name not allowed in school.

Liberty Counsel, a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, reports that sixth-grader Andrew White of Hattiesburg, Miss., chose to write the poem on the assignment “What Christmas means to me.”

After White turned in his rough draft, however, his teacher circled the word “Jesus” and deducted a point from his grade. The teacher then explained that he needed to rewrite the poem without the offending word.

When White’s parents questioned the teacher, Liberty Counsel reports, they received a response email explaining, “[Andrew] and another child did a poem about Christ. I know we can’t discuss these type [sic] of things in school so I asked the two of them to do another poem of their choice.”

Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, expressed dismay that despite many legal clarifications on the issue, there are still educationl officials that mistakenly believe students can’t speak of their faith at school.

“Some educators need education that the story of Christmas is not banned from public schools,” Staver said in a statement.

Staver says he was “horrified that a sixth-grader was told by his teacher, ‘we can’t discuss these types of things in school.’ I don’t understand why some people don’t get it. Christmas is a state and federal holiday. Schools are closed to celebrate this holiday. Obviously, Christmas is constitutional.”

The principal at White’s Thames Elementary School agreed with Staver.

After White’s parents encouraged Andrew to turn in his first, unedited poem, Principal Carrie Hornsby changed the boy’s grade to a 100 and conceded that there was nothing improper in using Jesus’ name. Hornsby also coordinated a mailing to all the school’s parents, explaining that students’ religious expression is permitted under federal guidelines.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Audience Members Flee ‘Pornographic’ Sex Scene in Shakespeare Play

Outraged theatre-goers walked out of a performance of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, describing a simulated sex scene between two men as “pornography”.

Children as young as eight were among the audience at the performance of The Comedy of Errors at The Old Laundry Theatre, in Bowness, Cumbria.

Actors from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) took part in the show.

It featured one of the play’s characters Dromio guarding a door when a man dressed as a woman walked up to him, pulled down his pants and Dromio’s pants, before the pair simulated sex.

No genitals were on show, but buttocks were visible.

One theatre-goer Chrissie Greaves, 56, attended the performance with her husband and 15-year-old son.

She claims an elderly man was so disgusted at the scene he vaulted over a barrier in order to escape the auditorium.

“He landed with a bit of a jolt and I felt really sorry for him,” said Mrs Greaves, from Kendal.

“I applaud his lightning reaction. I only wish we and others had had the presence of mind to follow him.

“It lasted a long time. The portrayal of a sexual act was upon us without warning, before anyone realised, and there is no off-button at the theatre.

“There was nothing on the ticket that said it was unsuitable for children.

“There were other people expressing their disgust at what had gone on. There was a feeling of shock.

“There were definitely younger people than my son. In the row in front of where we were sitting I could see children aged between eight and ten.

“I don’t blame the Old Laundry or the young people acting in the show. I blame LAMDA.”

Peter James, LAMDA principal, said: “A careful reading of the text would demonstrate that we did nothing that was uncalled for by the Bard.

“However, it is never our intention to cause offence to any member of the audience and we fully support the comments that have already been made by the Old Laundry Theatre.”

The theatre’s general manager Richard Foster said: “The Old Laundry Theatre apologises wholeheartedly for any offence caused to the audience during Monday night’s performance of The Comedy of Errors.

“Perhaps in hindsight the theatre should have put up a notice, warning the audience of the content of the play.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

General


“Smart” Surveillance System May Tag Suspicious or Lost People

[Comments from JD: How long before those street cameras in London, UK are outfitted with this?]

Engineers are developing a computerized surveillance system that, when completed, will attempt to recognize whether a person on the street is acting suspiciously or appears to be lost. Intelligent video cameras, large video screens, and geo-referencing software are among the technologies that will soon be available to law enforcement and security agencies.

[…]

In the third software component, the combination map/panorama is used for tracking. As a person walks across a scene, the computer can calculate exactly where the person is on the panorama and aerial map. That information can then be used to instruct a camera to follow him or her automatically using the camera’s pan-and-tilt control. With this system, it will be possible for the computer to “hand-off” the tracking task between cameras as the person moves in and out of view of different cameras.

“That’s the advantage of linking all the cameras together in one system — you could follow a person’s trajectory seamlessly,” Davis said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Jihadist Group Trying to ‘Invade’ Facebook Gets Shut Down

by Joel Mowbray

A quickly growing jihadist group that used Facebook to spread its radical message has been shut down by the popular Web networking site after FOXNews.com alerted the company to the group’s activities.

Facebook blocked the group, Fursan Ghazawat Alnusra — Arabic for “Knights in Support of the Invasion” — Thursday evening after the group swelled to about 120 members in just over one week.

The group had been exhorting its members to wage “Jihad to aid the religion of Allah and his Prophet.”

FOXNews.com, working closely with a former radical Muslim now dedicated to exposing cyberterror activity, was able to gain access to the group and its content.

Fursan Ghazawat Alnusra wrote that its purpose was “to support Jihad and Mujihadeen” and that it started the Facebook group “to invade this Web site” and to ask “Allah to grant us Jihad and martyrdom.”

It promised future action: “Today we invade your sites, tomorrow your lands and homes, o you cross worshippers.”

The site’s contents included three graphic videos…

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]



Plan Targets Shariah Ban on Leaving Islam

With Shariah law cited as the source of justice in most of the Islamic world, and new encroachments by the drastic religious rules into the West, a Christian ministry has launched a campaign to do away with punishment for apostasy, the act of leaving Islam for another religious faith.

The effort launched by the Barnabas Fund said in addition to those in other religions, there are brave Muslim voices already calling for the apostasy law to be abolished

“Although only Muslim leaders can make this happen, we as Christians can help the process, by speaking up for freedom of religion and belief and by encouraging others to do the same,” said Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director of the fund.

“We ask you to join us in our efforts and prayers to bring about change for those who choose to leave their Islamic faith, so that they are no longer subject to any penalty but are free to follow their new convictions without fear,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Shelters in the Emirates, Women’s Lib in Geneva

By Alexandra Colen

Last week, from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, I headed the Belgian delegation to the Interparliamentary Union’s annual conference in Geneva dealing with “gender equality.” The IPU represents the world’s 143 national parliaments and acts as a kind of United Nations Parliamentary assembly. This year, the conference’s topic was “A Parliamentary Response to Violence against Women.”

[…]

Violence against women is a global problem. Political correctness is so, too. Especially in international organizations such as the IPU. Hence, we all sat silently when told that “gender-based violence” affects all countries, including nations where one would not expect it, such as those on the Arabian Peninsula where a Prophet once preached a religion of peace which installed the ideal society for women to live in.

The (veiled) representative from the United Arab Emirates pointed out that, though the Muslim indigenous population in her country is not acquainted with the problem of violence against women, even her country today has shelters were abused women can find safety. These women, she explained, are from the expat population living in the Emirates. Since the expat population is booming in the UAE — it currently stands at 3.6 million as compared to only 860,000 locals — the problem of violence against women is growing, too.

I have been to a few of these international women’s conferences so far. When one observes the delegations from traditional Islamic countries, one is always struck by the fact that they consist of veiled women, invariably accompanied by male assistants. The women act as mouthpieces and read carefully prepared texts, which deny that their societies have any problems, unless imported by foreigners.

The political representatives of the world’s female population do not raise their voices against the charade staged in front of them. Violence against women will continue unabated as long as even the international forums established to combat it remain blind to women being humiliated before their very eyes.

Hon. Alexandra Colen, Ph D, is a Vlaams Belang member of the Belgian Federal Chamber of Representatives. She is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament and the chairperson of the Advisory Committee for Social Emancipation of the Parliament.

           — Hat tip: Paul Belien [Return to headlines]



Three of Four Undersea Internet Lines Severed

Interoute, the internet networks company, reports that three of the four internet sub-cables that run from Asia to North America have been damaged, according a post just published to the Times Online’s Tech Central blog.

The cables carry more than 75 percent of traffic between the Middle East, Europe and America. Clearly, if you’re reading this, it hasn’t reached you yet — but the AP is reporting mass outages in Egypt as of an hour ago.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

4 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/20/2008

  1. About the Marines working with the CHP. Without seeing more details than “they were off-base with the CHP” – it’s hard to come to conclusions about a violation of the PC act. I think the leadership of the base and unit commanders know the law well enough – heck, reviewing it was part of my mandatory annual training as a junior enlisted in my MOS – and I expect MPs have some of the same training.

    I think it’s much more likely that they were hanging out with the CHP and if the CHP pulled over a marine from the local base then the MPs would give them an additional separate ticket (happens sometimes) or something like that. At Ft. Drum there was a lot of cooperation between local law enforcement and MPs as well.

  2. I can also tell you the trick, and you could set up you feed channel (in Firefox or Opera) to use that instead.

    Here it is.

    Please not that the “magic” date In the URL above will have to be moved ahead once in while (so also for my govcomments page).

    However, since you might not want to fiddle with the definition of our feed channel once a week, you may use my page (and remind me if I forget to update the “magic” date).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>