News Feed 20120420

Financial Crisis
» Can Italy be Far Behind?
» Greece: Tourism Revenues Fall 17.5% in Jan-Feb
» Greece: Private Islands Sold for Bargain Prices
» Spanish PM: ‘We Have No Money for Health or Education’
» Speculation Has Pushed up Spread Says EU
» CAIR-PA ‘Concerned’ About Temple Univ Anti-Islam Hate Event
» Judge Sets Bail at $150,000 for Shooter in Trayvon Martin Case
» Stakelbeck: Media Matters vs. Christianity and Israel
» How the American and Canadian Far Left Won the Release of Terrorist Killer Omar Khadr
Europe and the EU
» EU Delays Vote on Labeling Oil Sands Oil Dirty
» France 2012: Sarkozy-Hollande, Socialist Candidate Ahead
» Italy: Diamonds Were Bought by Stiffoni and Rosy Mauro
» Italy: Berlusconi Calls House Parties ‘Burlesque Shows’ Not Sex
» Italy: Carabinieri Report Northern League Paid Calderoli’s Rent
» Ministers Ponder Creation of EU Super-President
» Norway: Breivik Studied Terror on Internet
» Norwegian Far-Right Extremist Anders Behring Breivik Used the Internet to Learn How to Carry Out a Bombing-and-Shooting Rampage, Studying Attacks by Al-Qaeda, Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Centre.
» Norwegian Gunman Describes Hunting Down Teenagers
» Scotland: Coastguard Helicopter Pilot Suspended Over Orkney Butcher Trip
» UK: “After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness?”
» UK: Lords Proposed Move to Salford Meets With Cautious Optimism
» UK: New Director Hired to Improve Student Life at University of East London
» UK: Tower Hamlets Mayor Rahman’s Candidate Beats Labour in Spitalfields by-Election
» UK: The Scandalous Lies of Hope Not Hate
» Young Israel’s New Love Affair With Germany
North Africa
» Tens of Thousands Protest Military Rule in Egypt
» Tunisia: 500 Million Dollar Loan From Qatar
Israel and the Palestinians
» Palestine: Quartet and UNESCO in Head-on Collision
Middle East
» Caroline Glick: The Elephant of Jew Hatred
» Qatar Holding Seals Costa Smeralda Deal
» Sri Lanka Woman Accused of Sorcery Could be Beheaded in Saudi Arabia
» Syria: First Assad Report to ICC for Crimes Against Humanity
» Yemen: CIA Wants Free Rein in Use of Drones Against Terror
South Asia
» Families of Imprisoned Marines Visit Indian Jail
» Sri Lankans Protest Mosque in Buddhist Sacred Area
» ‘The Asian Arms Race is Starting to Look Ominous’
Australia — Pacific
» Cola ‘Contributed to Woman’s Death’
Latin America
» The Tab for U.N.’s Rio Summit: Trillions Per Year in Taxes, Transfers and Price Hikes
» EU States Slam Swiss for Immigrant Worker Caps
» France Moves to Bring Back Border Checks
» Franco-German Schengen Proposal: A Vote of No Confidence in Europe
» Put Qatada on a Plane and Quit the European Court
» Sweden: Two Arrested for Asylum Home Male Gang Rape
» The Sun Says: Abu Bye-Bye
Culture Wars
» Genocidal Green Quotes

Financial Crisis

Can Italy be Far Behind?

What is going on in the Eurozone impacts, and will continue to some perhaps significant degree impact, everywhere else. Two recent articles, reported that on April 17 The International Monetary Fund released its 2012/2013 forecast for Italy. That forecast is reported as targeting:

  • Italy’s deficit as a % of output at 2.4% and 1.5% in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as contrasted with the Italian Government’s current forecasts of 1.6% in 2012 and a balanced budget in 2013;
  • Italy’s public debt, said to be 2nd highest to Greece in the Eurozone, at 123.4% in 2012, and 123.8% in 2013;
  • Italy’s economy to shrink by 1.8% in 2012, and by a further 0.3% in 2013;
  • Italy’s ‘primary balance’, being the budget balance excluding debt service costs, at +3.0% and +4% of GDP in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as contrasted to higher recent Italian Government targets of 3.4% and 4.9% respectively; and,
  • Italy’s ‘tax burden’, being fiscal revenues expressed as a % of GDP, at 48.3% and 49.0% of GDP in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as contrasted to lower the recent Italian Government target of 43.8% in both years.

Only about three months ago, shortly before Greece Sovereign Debt was restructured, I began to warn about Spain as the next Eurozone country to focus on. That has turned out to be ‘all the news’, and reports abound every day on Spain’s:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Greece: Tourism Revenues Fall 17.5% in Jan-Feb

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 20 — Revenues from tourism services in Greece declined by a considerable 17.5% in the first couple of months of 2012 year-on-year, according to data released on Thursday by the Bank of Greece and reported by daily Kathimerini. This is attributed to the 11.1% drop in foreign arrivals in January and February that left even popular resorts emptier than usual. There was also a 26.1% slump in Greeks’ travel expenditure abroad, the data showed. The country’s Central Bank further said that the current account deficit shrank by 44.1% year-on-year, dropping from 4.65 billion euros to just 2.6 billion in the first two months of 2012. There was also a net outflow in direct investment, amounting to 305 million euros.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greece: Private Islands Sold for Bargain Prices

Owners forced to sell due to high taxes

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — After a 3-year period without any activities, sales in the exclusive sector of Greek private islands saw a sharp increase. Experts active in this peculiar market, as newspaper Kathimerini recently reported, say that several owners, particularly those who have hired the islands, are trying to get rid of them because of the high taxes that were recently introduced by the government. As a consequence, prices have fallen substantially and owners are willing to give interesting discounts. This is also true in the case of the presumed sale of Oxia, an island that is owned by the Greek-Australian Stamoulis family, to a member of the royal household of Qatar. The island has a surface area of around 500 hectares (half the size of Capri) and was initially put on sale for 6.9 million euros. But the final sale price is said to be less than 5 million euros. The island is situated in the Ionian Sea, 38km from Itaca, the Homeric island of Ulysses.

Part of Oxia falls under the protection of environmental organisation Natura 2000 but the rest of the island is open for tourism development. Another sale, well-informed sources say that about to be concluded, regards the island of Patroclo, just 3km away from Cape Sounion, the beautiful promontory 70km south-east of Athens. Patroclo has a surface area of 260 hectares (half the size of Oxia) but, because of its position near the capital, the airport and the Greek coast (from which it receives drinking water), has an immense potential for tourism development and an official price of 150 million euros. The same sources add that the owner of the island (the Giatrakos family) are currently working together with a Canadian investor and the Greek authorities to find out exactly what part of Patroclo can be developed commercially. But earlier attempts to sell the island failed due to a lack of planning for the island’s use and building as well as the presence of several archaeological sites. The Giatrakos family are reportedly doing all they can to solve the existing problems and to find the island a new owner. The sale of another island has also encountered obstacles.

This island, Skorpios, is currently owned by Athina Onassis, granddaughter of the magnate Aristotle who bought it in 1963 for 15 million USD. Aristotle Onassis, his son Alexander and daughter Cristina (mother of Athina) lie buried on the island, which is situated in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Lefkada.

Earlier it was rumoured that Skorpios would sell the island for more than 200 million dollars and that Bill Gates was interested in buying it. In September 2010 Giorgio Armani denied having bought the island for 150 million euros. It is said that Athina Onassis wants to get rid of the island for financial reasons. But well-informed sources told the newspaper that the transaction was difficult because of a clause in the testament of her grandfather that forbids the sale of the island. The clause only allows it to be sold if its maintenance becomes impossible, which the Onassis heir now claims to be the case. Considering these legal complications, Athina’s lawyers are now reportedly studying the option of leasing the island to an investor for a period of 99 years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spanish PM: ‘We Have No Money for Health or Education’

Spain has approved €10 billion of spending cuts and higher fees for education and health in a bid to show investors it is getting its deficit under control. Speaking on the eve of the cabinet decision on Friday (20 April), centre-right Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he does not have enough money.

“It’s necessary, imperative because at this moment there is no money to pay for public services … There’s no money because we have spent so much over the last few years. So we have to do this so that in the future we can get out of this situation,” he told national media. Rajoy said people will have to pay “just a few euros a month” more for medication than they do now. The wealthy will pay more than the poor, while those who do not have a job and do not qualify for state aid will be exempt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Speculation Has Pushed up Spread Says EU

‘Confident’ about Italy’s ability to cope with debt crisis

(ANSA) — Brussels, April 20 — Short-term market speculation has pushed the spread between Italian and German bonds above 400 points, an EU spokesman said Friday.

The EU remains “confident” about Italy’s ability to cope with the eurozone debt crisis, he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


CAIR-PA ‘Concerned’ About Temple Univ Anti-Islam Hate Event

Muslim civil rights organization supports students challenging hate speech

PHILADELPHIA, April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia) today expressed concern about the hostile learning environment that may result from an upcoming event at Temple University featuring a speaker who claims Islam is a “poison to a society” and others who are leaders of organizations designated as anti-Muslim hate groups and who were cited by Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.

SEE: Occupy Activists to Protest Anti-Muslim Event at Temple

The April 23 “Islamic Apartheid Conference” features Nonie Darwish, a notorious Islamophobe who has stated that Islam must be “annihilated.” In a video of Darwish speaking at a protest in Florida, she states: “Islam is a poison to a society. . .Islam should be feared, and should be fought, and should be conquered, and defeated, and annihilated, and it’s going to happen. Ladies and gentlemen, Islam is going to be brought down. . .Because Islam is based on lies and it’s not based on the truth. I have no doubt whatsoever that Islam is going to be destroyed.”


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Judge Sets Bail at $150,000 for Shooter in Trayvon Martin Case

Judge Kenneth R. Lester Jr. of Seminole County Circuit Court set bail at $150,000 for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who was arrested last week in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The judge also set conditions, including a curfew, on his release.

Mr. Zimmerman will not be released from jail on Friday. The judge said that he wanted to make sure security measures were in place for Mr. Zimmerman, who has received death threats.

[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Media Matters vs. Christianity and Israel

The influential left-wing group Media Matters has a direct line to the White House and mainstream media.

Yet the group’s attacks on Christian organizations have been well-documented.

Now CBN has obtained an IRS document showing that Media Matters’ anti-Christian agenda is part of its very foundation.

My new report examines that and Media Matters’ anti-Israel rhetoric.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]


How the American and Canadian Far Left Won the Release of Terrorist Killer Omar Khadr

Breitbart’s Awr Hawkins is right on the money when he writes that …”the Obama administration is pushing the deal” to transfer convicted al-Qaida terrorist and American soldier killer Omar Khadr from Guantanamo to Canada, where he can be out on the streets on parole as soon as next year.

But it’s more chilling than even that: The return of Khadr to Canada by the end of next month is proof positive that the far left in the U.S. works— successfully—hand in hand with the far left in Canada with a Barack Obama now in the White House.

From the get-go, left wing politicians, their fellow traveller celebrities and the mainstream media portrayed convicted killer Khadr as a “child soldier”, and on Nov. 19, 2007, in a CBS newscast, as an “obedient son”. In a video showing the then 16-year-old being interviewed by Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) agents in Guantanamo Bay in February, 2003, the weeping teen begged the agents, “Promise you’ll protect me from the Americans”. (CFP, July 15, 2008).

It showed on hidden camera how the vulnerable victim act was dropped the moment Khadr realized that the Canadian agents weren’t there to help, but to fish information.


And now convicted terrorist and killer Omar Khadr is coming home to Toronto to a family aptly described by his brother Abdurahman as “an al Qaeda family”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU Delays Vote on Labeling Oil Sands Oil Dirty

The European Commission will delay asking members to approve a measure that would label oil from oil sands as worse for climate change than crude oil — a proposal that had been vigorously opposed by Canada, where such oil is produced.

The Commission will ask the EU’s 27 environment ministers to vote on the measure early in 2013 rather than this June, Isaac Valero-Ladron, a spokesman for EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, said Friday.

In the interim, the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will study the proposed fuel quality law’s impact on business and markets, as some EU countries had requested.

The delay reflects an attempt to build support for a proposal that has been the subject of intense lobbying by Canadian officials, and the recipient of only shaky support within the European Union. In February, an EU committee failed to reach a definite decision on the measure, neither approving it nor killing it.

“The idea is to present members an even more solid basis for decision,” Valero-Ladron said of the study. Canada’s minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, welcomed the proposed review and said Canada would cooperate with it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France 2012: Sarkozy-Hollande, Socialist Candidate Ahead

According to last polls 2 days before vote

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — A few hours ahead of the election silence imposed on the eve of the first round of the presidential election on Sunday, polls are being furiously unleashed and scenarios imagined in France, with the two favourites — Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande — preparing to go head to head.

The Socialist challenger has consolidated his advantage over Sarkozy, according to a poll by BVA, which puts him at 30% of voter intentions, against 26.5% for the outgoing President.

The National Front’s Marine Le Pen and the far-left Front de Gauche party’s Jean-Luc Melenchon have been left behind on 14%. Projections suggest that Hollande would earn 57% of the vote in the run-off, with Sarkozy on 43%.

The TNS-Sofres institute, meanwhile, says that Sarkozy and Hollande are level on 27%, with the Socialist 10 points ahead of Sarkozy in the run-off (55% against 45%).

A third pollster, IPSOS, gives Hollande a more significant first-round lead (29% against 25.5%), and a 12-point lead in the run-off (56% against 44%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Diamonds Were Bought by Stiffoni and Rosy Mauro

(AGI) Milan — The signatures of Rosy Mauro and Piergiorgio Stiffoni appear on receipts for payment of 300,000 euro for diamonds according to reports on investigations concerning electoral funds for the Northern League. Prosecutors are trying to discover with what money the precious stones were bought.

Documents acquired by the Financial Police indicate that the Deputy Speaker of the Senate and the Senator opened two bank accounts last January. It was using those accounts, created for that purpose, that they bought 300,000 euro worth of diamonds through an intermediary company; 200,000 euro worth for Stiffoni and 100,000 euro worth for Mauro. Certificates were signed personally by the two MPs. Investigators wish to understand whether these were personal investments or whether other funds were used.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Calls House Parties ‘Burlesque Shows’ Not Sex

Admits to paying money to ‘support ruined lives’ of guests

(ANSA) — Milan, April 20 — Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that alleged sex parties at his house were nothing more than entertainment. “They were burlesgue shows,” he told reporters during a court recess in Milan. Berlusconi is currently on trial for allegedly paying for sex with Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, an underage Moroccan-born runaway, after several of the parties at his villa at Arcore outside Milan and allegedly coercing police into releasing her after an unrelated theft claim to hush up the fact.

On Monday, Moroccan model Imane Fadil was the first witness to testify to attending a so-called ‘bunga bunga’ party and said she was offered 2,000 euros to stay the night. Fadil recalled an evening in which a model allegedly engaged in a strip-tease while dressed as a nun along with Nicole Minetti, Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist who is now a Lombardy regional councillor for his People of Freedom (PdL) party and is one of three people accused of supplying the premier with prostitutes.

“Minetti organized the evenings,” said Fadil, who described the performance as a sort of “Sister Act sexy dance in the bunga-bunga room,” with Minetti and Faggioli both dressed in “black habits with a white cross on the headdress”.

At another party she allegedly saw a young Brazilian model “with an AC Milan jersey and a Ronaldinho mask who stripped down to her thong”. The Brazil ace played soccer for Berlusconi’s AC Milan from 2008-2011. The other two accused of supplying prostitutes are bankrupt talent scout Lele Mora and long-time Berlusconi news anchor Emilio Fede, a close friend of the media magnate’s.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi had sex with 33 prostitutes at his villa over the course of several evenings.

Berlusconi, who says his parties were innocent and “elegant” affairs, has stressed that both he and Ruby deny having sex, and has quipped “33 women in two months is too many even for someone who likes pretty girls, like me”.

On Friday Berlusconi was confronted by journalists who noted bank records that show the ex-premier is still depositing money into the accounts of some of the women who attended his parties, now listed as injured parties in the case. “Yes, I’m taking care of all the girls whose lives have been ruined by the prosecution,” he said. “The only thing they did wrong was accept a dinner invitation to my home”. The ex-premier claims to be the victim of biased prosecutors who have allegedly been conducting a witch-hunt against him since he entered politics in 1994.

The charge of having sex with an underage prostitute carries a jail term of up to three years, and abuse of office 12 years.

The Ruby trial, which opened last April, is expected to run for years, with dozens of witnesses called by the prosecution and defence including George Clooney and soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Carabinieri Report Northern League Paid Calderoli’s Rent

(AGI) Milan — Within the framework of investigations carried out by prosecutors in Milan, Naples and Reggio Calabria concerning the Northern League’s electoral funds, the Carabinieri have reported that former Minister Roberto Calderoli’s rent in Rome was paid for using party funds.

Calderoli is one the party’s three leaders now that Umberto Bossi has resigned. Calderoli commented that, “For over a year and a half the Northern League has paid the rent for an apartment in Rome that was assigned to me as my residence and my office, so I could also meet privately with the party’s leaders and other politicians. Most of the decrees concerning fiscal federalism were studied and drafted there.” “In Rome I did not work just as a senator or a minister, or rather as four ministers since I was assigned additional responsibilities,” he emphasized, “but I also did my best to comply with requests from the party, hence its coordinating activities in the capital’s institutions, relations with other political movements, acting a spokesman for the party within the government, as well as complying with all other requests made by Umberto Bossi for the activities and good of the movement.” “One the basis of agreements with the Northern League I am also paid 3,000 euro a month by the party and I pay for the expenses i have has Party Coordinator. All this information has been openly supplied and can be proved and is also known to the Northern League’s current CFO.”

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

Ministers Ponder Creation of EU Super-President

BRUSSELS — Ideas kicking around in a reflection group of select EU foreign ministers include merging the roles of the EU Council and European Commission presidents. A senior EU source told this website following a meeting of the club in the Val Duchesse stately home in Brussels on Thursday (19 April) that the new supremo would have more power than either Herman Van Rompuy or Jose Manuel Barroso do today but also more “democratic legitimacy” because he or she would be elected by MEPs.

In other reforms, the new figure would “streamline” the European Commission into a two-tier structure. Every EU country would still have its own commissioner with their own vote in the college of 27 top officials. But as in some national set-ups, some commissioners would have more than one dossier while others would be the equivalent of ministers without portfolio.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik Studied Terror on Internet

Anders Behring Breivik acquired the knowledge to carry out a bomb and shooting rampage on the internet, he told a Norwegian court today.

He said he studied case studies of al Qaida and other attacks and read more than 600 bomb-making guides.

On day five of his trial in Oslo, the confessed mass killer said he studied the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York and Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 in particular.

Breivik said of al Qaida: “I have studied each one of their actions, what they have done wrong, what they have done right.”

He has admitted the July 22 attacks that killed 77 people, but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying his victims had betrayed Norway by embracing immigration.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Norwegian Far-Right Extremist Anders Behring Breivik Used the Internet to Learn How to Carry Out a Bombing-and-Shooting Rampage, Studying Attacks by Al-Qaeda, Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh and the 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Centre.

On Friday, the fifth day of his trial, the confessed mass killer told a Norwegian court he paid close attention in particular to the World Trade Centre bombing in New York and McVeigh’s 1995 attack on an Oklahoma City government building, which killed 168 people and injured over 600.

Breivik also said he read more than 600 bomb-making guides.

About al-Qaeda, Breivik said: “I have studied each one of their actions, what they have done wrong, what they have done right.”

He called the Islamist group “the most successful revolutionary movement in the world” and said it should serve as an inspiration to far-right militants, even though their goals are different.

“We want to create a European version of al-Qaeda,” Breivik said.

Breivik has admitted to the July 22 attacks that killed 77 in Norway but pleaded not guilty to criminal charges, saying his victims had betrayed Norway by embracing immigration.

His lack of remorse and matter-of-fact description of weapons and tactics during his testimony have deeply disturbed families of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.

The 33-year-old Norwegian said he was deliberately using “technical” language as a way to keep his composure.

“These are gruesome acts, barbaric acts,” he said.

“If I had tried to use a more normal language I don’t think I would have been able to talk about it at all.”

A lawyer representing the bereaved, who are watching the proceedings in the Oslo court and in 17 other courtrooms in Norway, asked Breivik why he didn’t show any empathy for his victims.

“I can choose to remove the mental shield but I am choosing not to do it … because I would not survive,” he said.

Comparing himself to a Japanese “banzai” warrior during World War II, Breivik said too many Norwegian men were “feminised, cooking food and showing emotions”..

The victims’ lawyer noted that he showed emotions on the first day of the trial, when he cried as prosecutors showed an anti-Muslim video he had created.

“I wasn’t prepared for that film,” Breivik said. “It’s a film that represents the fight and everything I love.”

Breivik has admitted to the bombing in Oslo that killed eight people and the shooting massacre at the Labor Party youth camp that left 69 dead.

He claims to belong to an alleged anti-Muslim “Knights Templar” network. Many groups claim part of that name but prosecutors say they don’t believe the group described by Breivik exists.

The main goal of the trial is to figure out whether Breivik was sane or insane.

If declared sane, Breivik could face a maximum 21-year prison sentence or an alternate custody arrangement that would keep him locked up as long as he is considered a menace to society.

If found insane, he would be committed to psychiatric care for as long as he’s considered ill.

[Return to headlines]

Norwegian Gunman Describes Hunting Down Teenagers

OSLO, Norway — Norwegians who lost loved ones on Utoya island relived the horror Friday as far-right fanatic Anders Behring Breivik described in harrowing detail how he gunned down teenagers as they fled in panic or froze before him, paralyzed with fear. Survivors and victims’ relatives hugged and sobbed, trying to comfort each other during the graphic testimony.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Scotland: Coastguard Helicopter Pilot Suspended Over Orkney Butcher Trip

The pilot of a coastguard helicopter in Shetland has been suspended after dropping in on a butcher in Orkney to pick up meat.

The incident came to light after a video of the aircraft landing in a field was posted on YouTube.

It has emerged that the Shetland-based helicopter landed near Craigie’s butchers in the east of mainland Orkney to pick up a consignment of meat.

The aircraft’s operators, CHC, confirmed the pilot had been suspended.

Mobile phone footage — which has now been removed from YouTube — showed two crew getting out of the helicopter and walking over to a group of butchers, who handed over the bag of Orkney beef.

‘High standards’

A CHC spokeswoman: “We can confirm that a pilot has been suspended pending the results of a formal investigation.

“We expect high standards of professionalism from all our employees and, if we find these have not been met, we will take the appropriate action.

“While the aircraft was previously engaged in a training exercise, it was operating a non-revenue flight at the time of the incident in question.”

The butcher at the centre of the incident said he was horrified that the pilot had been suspended.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

UK: “After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness?”

by Bruce Anderson


There is another area in which the quality of government is under threat, and it is the most vital of all: national security. Despite all the evidence, there seems to be a widespread belief that we are not living in a dangerous world: that those responsible for security are deliberatley exaggerating the problems to justify their own salaries: that some of them may be James Bond manques who are confusing fantasy and reality. This is such a travesty. Those who live with dangers and warn of dangers are not like small children who are afraid that there is a monster lurking under the bed. They are outstanding public servants who have a firm grip on reality. We are menaced by lurking monsters.

In 1517, Martin Luther sparked off the Reformation. Within a very few years, Catholics and Protestants were killing one another, which they continued to do for decades and centuries. In Ireland, it is not yet certain that the wars of religion are over. Today, there is turmoil in much of the Islamic world, often accompanied by a growth in religious intensity. As a result, many Muslims have far more resemblance to John Calvin or Philip II than to the average modern Anglican who potters along to Church once a month for a pleasant service and a glass of sherry with the vicar. Many Muslims have come to hate the West, to believe that we are the authors of their misfortunes and that they are entitled to strike at us without restraint.

There is no easy response to all that. The natural Western instinct is to pursue dialogue: to negotiate; to see what scope there is for compromise and concession. There is nothing wrong with any of that, as long as we do not delude ourselves that all will then be well. If you are tempted to indulge in optimism, think Catholics and Calvinists in 1550. Whatever the outcome of any negotiations, there will be a sizeable residue of ruthless opponents, who simply want to kill us.


It is time for the elder statesmen to intervene again, warning the younger politicians that squeamishness is not an antidote to terrorism. There is a choice. Either the West responds realistically to the threats that we face, or our opponents will exploit our lack of realism.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Lords Proposed Move to Salford Meets With Cautious Optimism

Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South, gives backing to Lord Adonis’s suggestion to move the House of Lords

Lord Adonis’s comments about relocating the House of Lords 200 miles north in Salford or Manchester have been greeted with cautious optimism. Speaking from the Commons, Barbara Keeley, the MP for Worsley and Eccles South, said she welcomed the suggestion that the House of Lords should consider moving to Salford Quays. “The BBC move to its new base at MediaCity in Salford Quays has been a great success despite attempts by some to talk it down. “Debates on legislation can and should take place in areas outside London. With an important broadcasting base already at Salford Quays, those debates would be well covered in the media.” She said the Lords were very short of space so it seemed to make sense “to take a serious look at the idea”.

Nick Bowles, an MA student at Salford University, adjacent to the BBC at MediaCity, said: “It’s not very often I find myself agreeing with the privileged few at the House of Lords — indeed, I don’t agree with whole system — but Lord Adonis’s comments about the effects of such a centralised government are decades overdue.” He said there was a “metro-centricity” surrounding London and that “every other city” had been diminished by centralised government. “We can’t even build a bridge in Manchester without permission or change improve our transport to meet our needs. Housing projects have to signed off by central government. It’s ludicrous to allow so few people, often privileged people, to have such control over the majority of the country.”

Barbara Spicer, the chief executive of Salford city council, said: “The BBC’s relocation to Salford has proved that moving north can be a really positive experience for businesses.”

She said she had had some fantastic feedback from BBC staff who have come to MediaCity who are “really making the most of having a new base in the north”. Spicer added that the north has a lot to offer and said: “We welcome opportunities that will give the region an economic boost.”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: New Director Hired to Improve Student Life at University of East London

A new director’s post has been created to make student life better at the University of East London. The ‘Director of Student Life’ job beginning later this summer has been given to Gareth Smith, currently Head of London 2012’s Further & Higher Education unit. His responsibilities will include “corporate initiatives to improve the quality of student life and impact on the student experience.” The ex-National Union of Students executive member previously worked for Labour MP Gareth Thomas and the late US Senator Edward Kennedy.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tower Hamlets Mayor Rahman’s Candidate Beats Labour in Spitalfields by-Election

Labour has been narrowly defeated in a hotly-contested by-election at Spitalfields in London’s East End in its bid to regain a seat it lost on Tower Hamlets Council by defection.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s nominated independent candidate Gulam Robbani took the seat last night with 1,030 votes. Robbani, one of the Mayor’s former aides who had been contracted to advise him on social care before quitting in February, beat Labour’s Ala Uddin into second place by just 43 votes out of a total 2,315 cast. Labour had pinned its hopes on former council deputy leader Uddin to retake the seat it lost when Cllr Shelina Akhtar, who won it for them in 2010, defected last year to Mayor Rahman’s independent administration.

The by-election was caused by Akhtar being jailed in January for council benefit fraud. The Mayor was out campaigning himself in the week, door-knocking with Robbani who is now almost certain to be offered a place in his cabinet. Conservatives came third and Greens fourth, pushing Lib Dems into fifth place.

The results:

Gulam Robbani (independent) — 1,030 [elected]

Ala Uddin (Labour) — 987

Matthew Smith (Conservative) — 140

Kirsty Blake (Green) — 99

Richard Macmillan (Liberal Democrat) — 39

The turn-out was 31 per cent.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: The Scandalous Lies of Hope Not Hate

by Bruce Bawer

The list reads, in large part, like an honor roll of courageous truth-tellers. In the U.S., people like David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Ibn Warraq, Mark Steyn, Robert Spencer, and Andrew McCarthy. In Canada, Ezra Levant. In the U.K., Roger Scruton. In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders. In Denmark, Lars Hedegaard. And so on. But no, this isn’t meant as an honor roll. It’s a list of individuals — and organizations, too, among them the David Horowitz Freedom Center — that, according to a new “Counter-Jihad Report” by a British group called Hope Not Hate, make up a nefarious network of Islamophobic extremists who inspired the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring-Breivik.

It’s no coincidence that this “report” was issued to coincide with the beginning of Breivik’s trial, which started on Monday. For the people at Hope Not Hate seek to draw an explicit cause-and-effect connection between writings by various critics of Islam and the atrocities of July 22. One thing’s clear: Breivik has been a terrific gift to those who, for whatever reason, have long been eager to shift focus away from the danger of Islam and to argue that it’s the criticism of Islam that’s the real danger. It hasn’t been easy for these folks. Over the last decade, as a result of one brutal jihadist atrocity after another — 9/11, Madrid, London, Beslan, Bali, Mumbai, etc., etc. — Islam has been associated in the Western mind with bloodthirsty slaughter. Then, on July 22 of last year, a single man, acting alone, killed dozens of people, purportedly in the name of anti-jihadism. His actions provided everyone who’d like to whitewash Islam with an opportunity to associate not Islam, but its critics, with savage violence.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Young Israel’s New Love Affair With Germany

Marco-Urban.deGerman passports, Berlin DJs and language lessons: After decades of wariness, Israelis have discovered a new love for Germany. For a new generation of confident, young Israelis, the country has become one of their favorites.

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On his first night in Germany, Tomer Heymann, an Israeli, sleeps with a German. He met him — Andreas Josef Merk, blond and Catholic — at Berghain, a Berlin club. Heymann — film director, Jewish and gay — at first takes him for a Swede. He thinks Germans must look different, perhaps more sinister perhaps, jagged or cruder.

The next morning, the camera is already rolling, and the Israeli asks the German: Are you proud to be a German? Have you ever spoken with your grandparents about the Holocaust? No, says the German, but it’s very possible that they were Nazis. A long silence follows. It’s the only time they broach the topic.

Shortly thereafter, the German travels to Tel Aviv with two suitcases and a one-way ticket. The two men celebrate Passover and Christmas together. The German demonstrates how to flip pancakes in the air; the Israeli shows him how to stand still on Holocaust Remembrance Day, with your arms pressed tightly against your body while you observe two minutes of silence. These and many other scenes eventually become a film: a 56-minute record of the new, unencumbered way in which many Israelis and Germans are now relating to each other.

“I Shot My Love” is a declaration of love — that of an Israeli, whose grandparents fled Berlin in 1936, to a German dancer from Bavaria. The remarkable part: just how normal this love seems to be.

A New Stance toward Germany

Something has changed about the way Israelis and Germans interact, far removed from the endless German debates in which old men wrestle with their ghosts and politicians struggle to perform the mandatory rituals: the obligatory visit to Yad Vashem here, the obligatory visit to Dachau there. For quite some time now, there’s been a new Israeli-Germany reality beyond the routine of shock and dismay — primarily in Israel.

Nearly 70 years after the Holocaust, the last survivors are passing away, and this is changing how younger Israelis view Germany. Relatively free of historical taboos, they are redefining what this country means to them. This new generation no longer finds it odd that a company like Birkenstock promotes its products in Israel with “Made in Germany,” and a short trip to Berlin is the most normal thing in the world. For them, Germany is not just a country like any other — it also happens to be one of their favorites.

It mainly has to do with a feeling, a new Israeli self-assurance vis-à-vis Germany, one characterized by curiosity and a yearning for discovery. Young Israelis no longer insist on constant remembrance but, rather, on the right to be allowed to forget sometimes.

The sheer scale of this transition is perhaps best expressed in figures: Two years ago, one-quarter of all Israelis were rooting for Germany to win the soccer World Cup. In a survey conducted in 2009, 80 percent of all respondents qualified Israeli-German relations as normal, and 55 percent said that anti-Semitism was no worse in Germany than elsewhere in Europe…

           — Hat tip: Hermes [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tens of Thousands Protest Military Rule in Egypt

Egypt’s Islamist and secular forces sought to relaunch the street uprising against Egypt’s ruling military Friday, packing Cairo’s Tahrir Square with tens of thousands of protesters in the biggest rally in months and accusing the generals of manipulating upcoming presidential elections to preserve their power.

But attempts by protest organizers to form a united front against the military were blocked by competing agendas. The protest was riven by distrust and resentments that have grown between Islamists and liberals during the rocky, military-run transition process since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago.

Liberals and leftists accuse the Muslim Brotherhood of abandoning the “revolution” months ago and allying with the military in hopes of securing power. In Friday’s rally, many said the Brotherhood was only turning to the streets after the generals proved more powerful in decision-making even after an Islamist-dominated parliament was elected. The liberal groups warned that the Brotherhood could accommodate the military again for a chance to govern.

“The Brotherhood are here for the throne, that’s all. We tried them before and they rode the revolution and the blood of martyrs,” said Mohammed Abu-Lazeed, an accountant who took part in a march to Tahrir led by communists and socialists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: 500 Million Dollar Loan From Qatar

Critics say interest rate is non privileged

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 19 — 500 million dollars have arrived into the Tunisian Central Bank’s account following a loan from Qatar. The announcement was given from the Central Bank itself.

The loan has sparked much criticism in the past few months due to the fact that it had originally been presented with a privileged interest rate, whereas sceptics say instead that it has actually been set with a rate of 2.5% which is not, after all, a particularly privileged one considering it is basically on a level with normal rates.

The loan will last five years and is to be sent returned within April 18 2017 “in one payment”, says a note by the Central Bank.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Palestine: Quartet and UNESCO in Head-on Collision

UNESCO’s recognition that Palestine is a State has now been totally refuted by the Quartet — America, the Russian Federation, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).

The Quartet — in its latest statement — has now endorsed the view of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (OTP) just a few days earlier — that Palestine is not a State.

“The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment, as expressed in its 23 September 2011 statement, to examine possible mechanisms it can actively support going forward, individually and together, to advance peace efforts and strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to meet the full range of civil and security needs of the Palestinian people both now and in a future state.”

The Quartet’s use of the words — “both now and in a future state” — was clear and unambiguous .

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: The Elephant of Jew Hatred

Hatred of Jews is the central animating feature of the political and strategic reality of the Middle East. It is hatred of Jews that dictates the legal regimes, foreign policies, military aspirations, cultural mores, educational themes and even public health policies of our neighbors from Ramallah to Tehran.

Despite the centrality of Jew-hatred in all aspects of public life in the Arab and Muslim world, our neighbors’ unrelenting and irrational abhorrence for Israel and the Jewish people remains a dirty secret that you aren’t supposed to mention in polite company. From Washington to Brussels, talk of the policy implications of Arab and Muslim Jew-hatred is prohibited.

Omar Abu-Sneina, a convicted terrorist murderer, is one of the thousand Palestinian terrorists that Israel released from prison in order to secure the release of Israeli hostage IDF Sgt.- Maj. Gilad Schalit. Originally from Hebron, Abu-Sneina was released to Hamas-controlled Gaza…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]

Qatar Holding Seals Costa Smeralda Deal

Jet-set properties injected with funds

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Qatari emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani has sealed a deal for the acquisition of luxury properties on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, ANSA sources said on Thursday.

Qatar Holding, the Gulf country’s 46-billion-euro sovereign wealth fund, now reportedly holds over 51% of the indebted Smeralda Holding, which manages five-star hotels, the majority of the yacht marina, the famed Porto Cervo villa, the Pevero Golf Club and 2,400 hectares of seafront land.

The properties were built in the 1960s by the hugely wealthy businessman Aga Khan. The deal is reportedly part of a plan for a relaunch, including recapitalization, in order to reel in Smeralda Holding’s 200-million-euro debt. Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda is one of the world’s most exclusive tourist areas, frequented by celebrities, business leaders and other affluent visitors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sri Lanka Woman Accused of Sorcery Could be Beheaded in Saudi Arabia

She was arrested after a man complained that his daughter started acting strangely during a trip to a shopping centre in Jeddah after they came close to the Sri Lankan. Since September, two people have been put to death for the same reason.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A Sri Lankan woman accused of casting a spell on a 13-year-old Saudi Arabian girl could be beheaded if found guilty, local Daily Okaz newspaper reported.

The case began when a Saudi man complained his daughter had started acting strangely during a trip to a shopping centre in Jeddah after they came close to the Sri Lankan. He then notified a specialised unit of the police, which acted swiftly and arrested the woman.

Police spokesman Mesfir al-Juayed confirmed the details of the woman’s arrest.

Saudi Arabia has no written criminal code. Court rulings are based on judges’ interpretation of Sharia, the Islamic code.

For crimes like sorcery, witchcraft or apostasy, the punishment is death by decapitation with a sword.

Conviction is also not unusual in the country. A Sudanese man was executed last September for sorcery; a Saudi woman was put death in December for the same reason.

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

Syria: First Assad Report to ICC for Crimes Against Humanity

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 20 — The first report against the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, has been presented to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a Lebanese lawyer, Tareq Shandab, in the name of 12 Syrian refugees on Lebanon, the lawyer has told ANSA today. The accusations levelled against Assad include “crimes against humanity”.

Shandab, who has a doctorate in international criminal law, practices in the city of Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, to where thousands of Syrian refugees have fled. The report filed by the lawyer last week to the ICC in The Hague is “against Assad, around 15 army officials and the political leaders of the regime,” who are accused of “crimes against humanity and war crimes”.

The lawyer says that he has gathered evidence and witness accounts of violations committed by the regime. Some of the 12 refugees whom he represents claim to have been kidnapped by forces loyal to the regime, 7 to have had siblings and children killed, while one other claims that his daughter was raped. The 12 are from the regions of Homs, Hama and Damascus. Shandab, a Sunni, said that his initiative “has the sole aim of defending the law, and has no religious or political motivation”. The majority of Syrians are Sunnis, though President Assad belongs to the minority Alawite branch of Shia Islam.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Yemen: CIA Wants Free Rein in Use of Drones Against Terror

No need to identify targets, suspicious behaviour enough

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — The CIA wants greater freedom in Yemen. The US secret service wants the authorisation to strike using drones, the lethal unmanned aircraft, even against presumed terrorists whose identities remain unknown. The CIA bases its demands on models of intelligence known as “suspicious behaviour”, such as images showing militants gathering in an Al Qaeda camp or during operations of loading or unloading explosives.

The practice, known as “Signature Strikes”, is widely used in Pakistan, and the head of the CIA, David Petraeus has asked for it to be applied against the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda, which is currently seen as the greatest terrorist threat to the US, the Washington Post reports.

For the Obama administration, though, agreeing to such a demand could be a serious risk, given the complexity of the current political situation in Yemen, where it is hard to distinguish between international terrorism and internal uprising.

Although Obama has said on several occasions that drones are a fundamental instrument for the fight against terrorism, he has also recognised that “there is a perception that we are carrying out a series of random raids”, underlining recently that “these are targeted efforts, concentrated against people who feature on a list of active terrorists who are trying to strike against Americans”.

Recent estimates by the Obama administration suggest that since the President took office in the White House, more than 1,500 presumed terrorists have been “eliminated” by drones in Pakistan alone. Eight of the 20 supreme Al Qaeda leaders have also been taken out thanks to the remote-controlled aircraft, while around 60 civilians have lost their lives in so-called “collateral damage”. In Yemen, the use of drones dates back to last year and has been more contained, with a total of 8 attacks in the last 4 months.

Thanks to the use of drones in Yemen, however, the CIA has been able to eliminate one of Al Qaeda’s most senior figures, the ideologist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was born in America and had been hiding in a remote mountainous region in the country. Some senior officials, who preferred to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the issue, say that the CIA’s request has also been presented to the National Security Council, but no decision has yet been taken. The White House has refused to comment, but plenty of people remember Obama’s assertion that everyone should understand that drone operations are conducted “on a tight leash”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Families of Imprisoned Marines Visit Indian Jail

Parents express ‘deepest condolences’ to slain fishermen’s kin

(ANSA) — New Delhi, April 19 — Two imprisoned Italian marines in India who allegedly shot two Indian fishermen last February were visited in jail in Thiruvananthapuram by family members on Thursday.

Five family members spent over two hours with Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who are being held in a special section of a jail.

Maria Ferrara and Michele Girone, Girone’s parents, and his wife Vania Ardito, as well as Latorre’s sister Franca Latorre and his nephew Christian D’Addario were “moved and emotional,” said the Indian press.

Speaking to journalists following the meeting, Girone’s parents expressed their “deepest condolences” to the families of the two Indian fisherman who were killed.

The anti-piracy marines have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India since being detained in February after an incident that took place while they were guarding an Italian merchant ship.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sri Lankans Protest Mosque in Buddhist Sacred Area

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-Thousands of Buddhist monks and lay supporters have protested the construction of a mosque and a Hindu temple being built in an area designated as a Buddhist sacred zone. Local journalist Kanchana Ariyadasa says about 2,000 protesters, including 300 monks, shouted slogans and waved the Buddhist flag Friday in the central town of Dambulla. Monk Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thera said that the construction area was inside the Buddhist sacred zone and that erecting houses of worship for other religions there was illegal. He demanded the authorities stop the construction immediately. About 7 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people are Muslims. About 74 percent are Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists, while about 18 percent are Tamils, who are predominantly Hindus or Christians.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

‘The Asian Arms Race is Starting to Look Ominous’

India added itself to the short list of nuclear-armed countries with ballistic missile capability on Thursday. More importantly, though, the country’s successful test marks a new chapter in the developing Asian arms race. German commentators express deep concern on Friday.

Conservative daily Die Welt writes:

“There is much movement on the multi-dimensional, Asian chess board. Just a few weeks ago the United States distinctly said that they are, and plan to remain, players in this game. But amid all the saber rattling, the basic structure of this chessboard remains stable so far, with the exception of Pakistan, which is plagued by internal fighting.”

“All of the Asian powers are playing their own game. … Unlike the Cold War, this is a multi-polar system, where arms controls and trust-building measures are foreign words. It is an Asian power system unlike any ever seen before — an open-ended one. And, incidentally, one without any kind of participation from the Europeans.”

Left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:

“India isn’t joining an arms race. It is arming itself but slowly. Its military budget is at most a quarter of China’s. It is as far behind China as China is behind the USA. That’s why nobody in Delhi wanted to celebrate the rocket test as a challenge to Beijing’s power. Rather, the test resulted in a naïve outbreak of patriotic pride: Finally, the country sees itself as belonging to the club of nuclear powers.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Cola ‘Contributed to Woman’s Death’

A New Zealand woman’s two-gallons-a-day Coca-Cola habit probably contributed to her death, experts have said.

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old mother of eight, from Invercargill, died of a heart attack in 2010.

Fairfax Media said a pathologist has now said she probably suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which was caused by excessive consumption of Coke and overall poor nutrition.

Ms Harris’s partner said she drank up to 2.6 gallons (10 litres) of regular Coke every day. He also said she ate little and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day.

The coroner’s office is compiling a final report on Ms Harris’ death.

A spokeswoman for the soft-drinks giant said its products are safe and pointed out that even water can be deadly in excessive amounts.

           — Hat tip: Nick [Return to headlines]

Latin America

The Tab for U.N.’s Rio Summit: Trillions Per Year in Taxes, Transfers and Price Hikes

The upcoming United Nations environmental conference on sustainable development will consider a breathtaking array of carbon taxes, transfers of trillions of dollars from wealthy countries to poor ones, and new spending programs to guarantee that populations around the world are protected from the effects of the very programs the world organization wants to implement, according to stunning U.N. documents examined by Fox News.

The main goal of the much-touted, Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, scheduled to be held in Brazil from June 20-23, and which Obama Administration officials have supported, is to make dramatic and enormously expensive changes in the way that the world does nearly everything-or, as one of the documents puts it, “a fundamental shift in the way we think and act.”

Among the proposals on how the “challenges can and must be addressed,” according to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

  • More than $2.1 trillion a year in wealth transfers from rich countries to poorer ones, in the name of fostering “green infrastructure, “ “climate adaptation” and other “green economy” measures.
  • New carbon taxes for industrialized countries that could cost about $250 billion a year, or 0.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product, by 2020. Other environmental taxes are mentioned, but not specified.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


EU States Slam Swiss for Immigrant Worker Caps

Many of the eight EU countries whose citizens have been singled out by Switzerland for immigration restrictions have reacted with fury to the move.

Polish foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, was reported in the Polish newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, as saying that he was “deeply disappointed”.

The decision, he said, was “discriminatory and illegal”, since more than 90 percent of the EU nationals in Switzerland come from the “old” EU countries, rather than the eight new members from Central and Eastern Europe that have been singled out, newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

Sikorski also asked the Polish people to think twice in future before planning their holidays in Switzerland after the country invoked a “safeguard clause” in its bilateral agreements with the EU.

The move means Switzerland will reduce by two thirds the number of work permits it issues to citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia.

A joint statement was released on Thursday by Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, calling for Switzerland to reverse its decision.

“If in the future an agreement with Switzerland is negotiated by Brussels, I do not know if we Slovaks will enthusiastically support it,” Ján Foltín, the Slovakian ambassador to Switzerland, told NZZ.

Various EU politicians, including the EU president, German Social Democrat Martin Schulz, and a spokesman for the Liberals in Europe, as well as Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign representative, believe that the move infringes freedom of movement and breaches the bilateral treaties in place between Switzerland and the EU.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

France Moves to Bring Back Border Checks

France and Germany have begun moves to reclaim powers to close their borders for up to 30 days in a simmering battle over immigration pressures on Europe’s passport-free Schengen travel zone.

In a joint letter to the European Union’s Danish chair seen by AFP ahead of talks among interior ministers in Luxembourg on April 26, France’s Claude Guéant and Germany’s Hans-Peter Friedrich say the Schengen set-up, which abolished frontier controls in 1995, needs a radical revamp.

Schengen refers to an area that is home to 400 million Europeans and covers 25 states.

Guéant and Friedrich said that where a government within the area fails to meet its obligations to manage external frontiers — Greece for one is under intense migratory pressures at Europe’s south-eastern fringe — partners should have “the possibility, as a last resort, to reintroduce internal frontiers for a period not greater than 30 days”.

Currently, only the European Commission, or EU civil service, can decide short-term emergency blocks on individual frontier pressure-points.

The ministers also insisted that such decisions should not be left to permanent Brussels officials — but be left as the sole preserve of national ministers voting in the European Council of EU member states.

Fighting to hold onto power ahead of Sunday’s first-round election, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a rally last month that without “serious progress” on a rewrite of the Schengen treaty over the coming year, “France would then suspend its participation in the Schengen accords until negotiations conclude”.

Once inside Schengen, illegal immigrants can theoretically move freely between the participating states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Franco-German Schengen Proposal: A Vote of No Confidence in Europe

Germany and France’s joint proposal to allow Schengen-zone countries to temporarily reintroduce border controls as a means of last resort might sound harmless. But doing so would damage one of the strongest symbols of European unity and perhaps even contribute to the EU’s demise.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Put Qatada on a Plane and Quit the European Court

by Stephen Pollard

ENOUGH is enough. It’s time to put the Abu Qatada farce to bed, once and for all. Were David Cameron to stand up in the House of Commons and announce that the government had decided to pull the UK out of the European Convention on human Rights he would not only guarantee a cheer from the vast majority of the country, he would also do more for human rights than any prime minister since Churchill. Because in pulling us out of the wretched ECHR and telling the judges of the European Court of human Rights that we are no longer prepared to bow down before them, he would make a stand for the human rights of those of us who do not wish to live in a country that is prevented by a foreign court from protecting its citizens from terrorists. A sequence of events that had already become what Westminster wags dubbed an “omnishambles” has over the past few days entered another realm of idiocy altogether.


           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Two Arrested for Asylum Home Male Gang Rape

Police on Wednesday arrested two men in connection to a suspected gang rape of a 20-year-old man, carried out by three other men, in a home for asylum seekers in northern Sweden.

“All I can say is that they are all between 18 and 20, apart from one of the suspects who is under 18,” said Inga-Lis Adervall Åström, prosecutor at the Umeå prosecution chamber to local paper Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD).

Adervall Åström was unwilling to elaborate on the case or even confirm the sex of those involved due to the delicate nature of the on-going investigation.

According to the paper, the suspected rape took place in a flat in one of the apartment buildings that the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) rents house asylum seekers.

The berths in the apartments are divided into two asylum seekers per room, meaning that a three bedroom flat could house up to six asylum seekers of different nationalities and backgrounds.

The paper reports that there are five names on the door of the flat in question, which has been cordoned off by police.

The incident is said to have occurred in the early hours between Tuesday and Wednesday and according to a newspaper source, the attack could have been triggered by ethnic or religious motives.

According to the Migration Board’s Ann-Gerd Malmström, the agency tries to take these things into consideration when they allocate housing.

“But personal conflicts can break out between all people regardless of their ethnicity and religion. We are all individuals. I have no idea of this particular case and I have no wish to speculate into that,” said Malmström to NSD.

Police have arrested two of the three suspects so far. They are under suspicion of aggravated rape and robbery. The prosecutor must file remand orders by Saturday or the men will be free to go.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Sun Says: Abu Bye-Bye

THERE is one simple solution to the Abu Qatada shambles. Take him to Heathrow today and stick him on a plane to Jordan. Home Secretary Theresa May faces embarrassment over claims her officials got their dates muddled, leaving the door open for the hate preacher to escape the boot. But she should ignore lectures from Labour. They let in most of the fanatics here today. Let’s take a leaf out of France’s book. When it suits them they ignore Strasbourg and put terror suspects on the next flight out. David Cameron, limp-wristed as ever when it comes to Europe, bleats: “I sometimes wish I could put Qatada on a plane and take him to Jordan myself.”

Don’t just say it, Prime Minister. Grow a pair — and do it.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Genocidal Green Quotes

As Earth Day 2012 occurs on Sunday, April 22, I offer a selection of quotes from leading figures in the environmental movement that are worth reading so that you can draw your own conclusions.


Truth meant (and means) little to environmentalists.

“What we’ve got to do in energy conservation is try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, to have approached global warming as if it is real means energy conservation, so we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” — Timothy Wirth, former U.S. Senator (D-CO)

“It doesn’t matter what is true, it only matters what people believe is true.” — Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace.

Many of the environmental movement’s leaders harbored genocidal dreams as the best way to “save the Earth.”

“We have wished, we eco-freaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!” — Steward Brand, writing in the Earth Catalog.

“Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.” — Dave Forman, founder of Earth First

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]