News Feed 20101104

Financial Crisis
» Indexes Rally on Fed Move and Strong Retail Sales; Dow Gains 2%
» Sen. Gregg Warns US: ‘We’re Greece’ in a Few Years
» Spain: 8 in 10 Spaniards Don’t Want Zapatero to Run in 2012
» UK: Northern Rock Chief Quits… But Taxpayers Will be Paying Him £82,000-a-Month Until April to Do Nothing
 
USA
» 34 Warships Sent From US for Obama Visit
» CAIR Sues Oklahoma for Banning Islamic Law
» Lawsuit Filed in Okla. Against Islamic Law Ban
» ‘Obama Comes Across as Cold, Arrogant and Elitist’
» Obama Doesn’t Rule Out Bypassing Congress and Using EPA Regulations to Cap Carbon Emissions
» Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Here to Stay
 
Europe and the EU
» Asylum Seekers: The Albanians Are Coming!
» Cherie Blair: It’s Wrong to See Muslim Women Who Wear the Veil as a Threat
» Enemies of Britain
» Europe Regains Its Pride
» Germany: First Woman Rabbi Since WWII Ordained
» German Muslim Leader Worried Over Growing Anti-Islam Hysteria
» Italy: Escort Claims She Had Sex With Berlusconi and Other Politicians
» Italy: Town Appeals to Supreme Court Over ‘Baby Bonus’ Ruling
» The European Court of Human Rights Must Not Override Our Democratically Elected Parliament
» UK: Curse the Judge, Shout Fanatics as the Muslim Girl Who Knifed MP Smiles as She Gets Life
» UK: Cherie Blair: It’s Wrong to See Muslim Women Who Cover Their Hair as a Threat
» UK: Date Set for Laura Wilson Murder Trial
» UK: Organised Squatters Inform Others on Gaining Legal Upper Hand
» UK: Revolving Door Justice: 3 in 4 Offenders Return to Life of Crime After Punishment
» UK: Radical Website Publishes MP ‘Death List’
» UK: Sex Abuse Trial: Two More Guilty Verdicts
» UK: Secret Double Life of a Police Sergeant Who Was Head of an Underworld Gang and Stored Machine Guns and Bullets at His Suburban Home
 
Balkans
» Bosnia: Eufor: Italian Contingent’s Mission Concludes
 
North Africa
» Algeria: Al-Qaeda ‘Shopping for Arms’ In Chad
» Algeria: Married Women More Exposed to Violence
» Sharia Considers Rape of Wife a Crime, Tunisia’s Mufti
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» UK: Hague on Collision Course With Israeli Government
 
Middle East
» Catholic Assyrians in Iraq Paid the Price for Muslim Fundamentalist Incitements in Egypt
» Former Iranian Revolutionary Guard: Iran Will Bomb Israel
» Iran Holds Four ‘UK-Linked Men’ For Killings — State TV
» Iranians Stage Mass Protest Against ‘Great Satan’ US
» Iraq-Egypt: Cairo Rejects Al Qaeda Ultimatum and Denies “Conversion” Of the Two Women
» Iraq: Christians ‘Lost’ After Attack, Says Baghdad Archbishop
» Salwa Al Neimi Exposes Hypocrisy of Arab Society
» Saudi Arabia: Saudi Women Are Forbidden to Work as Cashiers in Supermarkets
» Yemen Bomb Was 17 Minutes From Exploding
» Youtube Begins Removing Al-Qaeda Videos
» Youtube Yanks Cleric’s Jihad Sermon Videos: NY Times
 
Caucasus
» Attack on Christians in Russian Caucasus
 
South Asia
» Australia Will Spend $500m to Upgrade Indonesian Schools
» Qantas Grounds A380 Fleet After Engine Disintegrates
 
Immigration
» Australia: Magistrate Blasts Immigration Department
» Germany: Muslims Call for Public Service Immigrant Quota
» German Integration Summit Delivers Little
» Germany: Chancellor Wants to Expand “Integration Courses” For Immigrants
» Spanish Wages Keep African Island Afloat
 
Culture Wars
» Fast Food Inhibits Dialogue, Church Says
» Italy: Julianne Moore Calls Berlusconi’s Anti-Gay Remarks ‘Archaic’
» PLAN Spreads Feminist Virus to Third World
 
General
» ‘Snowball Earth’ Scenario Plunged Our Planet Into Million-Year Winters
» There is No Water Shortage
» ‘They All Look the Same’ Race Effect Seen in the Brain

Financial Crisis


Indexes Rally on Fed Move and Strong Retail Sales; Dow Gains 2%

Stocks rallied strongly in the United States on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve’s decision to buy more government securities to stimulate the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 219.71 points, or 1.96 percent, to close at 11,434.84, a two-year high, while the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 23.10 points, or 1.93 percent, in preliminary figures, and the Nasdaq composite gained 37.07, or 1.46 percent.

Equity markets have been rising steadily since early September, partly in anticipation of stimulative steps by the Federal Reserve, which announced on Wednesday that it would purchase $600 billion in Treasuries in an effort to push down long-term interest rates and spark lending. The Dow has risen more than 14 percent in the past two months, retracing its losses since the financial crisis took hold in September 2008, while the Standard & Poor’s index is up 16 percent.

[Return to headlines]



Sen. Gregg Warns US: ‘We’re Greece’ in a Few Years

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., warns that if the United States doesn’t quickly cut its deficit and debt, it will become like Greece in a few years.

“This nation is on a course where if we don’t do something about it, get federal situation, the fiscal policy [under control], we’re Greece. We’re a banana republic,” Gregg told CNBC.

“Our status as a nation is threatened by what we’ve got coming at us in the area of deficit and debt. And it’s only a few more years, at the most, that we have to work with here before the market says, ‘Sorry, your currency is something we cannot continue to defend.’

Last month, the U.S. government posted its second straight annual budget deficit in excess of $1 trillion as lingering unemployment constrained tax revenue. The shortfall totaled $1.294 trillion in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, second only to the $1.416 trillion deficit in 2009, the Treasury Department said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Spain: 8 in 10 Spaniards Don’t Want Zapatero to Run in 2012

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 1 — The anti-deficit measures launched by Spain’s socialist government have met with widespread negativity from the electorate, with 8 out of 10 Spaniards saying that they do not want the Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, to stand at the next general elections in 2012. The survey was carried out by the Noxa institute for today’s edition of the La Vanguardia newspaper.

An overwhelming majority of those questioned (80%) believes that Zapatero should not run for a third term in office, while only 18% think that he should. But the general lack of confidence is also affecting the leader of the opposition People’s Party, Mariano Rajoy, with 70% saying that he should stand down as head of the party, with only 27% wanting him to continue.

The stance against Zapatero’s running for election has become firmer in the last few months. The figure has grown by 15 points since January, from 63% to 78%. Of his potential successors, the deputy PM and Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, is the preferred choice for 1 in 4 Spaniards, while other candidates, such as the Defence Minister, Carme Chacon, and the Infrastructure Minister, Jose’ Blanco, are at least 20 points ahead of Zapatero in the opinion polls.

Pessimism towards the state of the economy is the order of the day, with 88% considering it “bad” or “very bad”, with 39% and 49% respectively, compared to 86% a year ago. Only 4% of those asked consider the economic situation to be “good” or “very good”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UK: Northern Rock Chief Quits… But Taxpayers Will be Paying Him £82,000-a-Month Until April to Do Nothing

The chief executive of nationalised bank Northern Rock will be paid more than £80,000-a-month by the taxpayer after quitting his job, it was revealed today.

Gary Hoffman, 50, has stepped down with immediate effect but will be on gardening leave for the next six months before joining NBNK Investments.

He is not being given a severance package but will reportedly carry on being paid his £58,000-a-month salary and £23,000-a-month pension contribution.

The company has also said he will continue to receive a £1,000-a-month car and petrol allowance.

His bumper pay packet for the bank, which is wholly owned by the taxpayer following a state bailout in February 2008, sparked fury at a time of drastic spending cuts.

Brian Cole, Unite officer said: ‘Unite is disgusted that Northern Rock has awarded Gary Hoffman a golden goodbye of £500,000.

‘The award of half a million pounds for Mr Hoffman to put his feet up represents a punch in the stomach for the 2,500 Northern Rock employees who have been sacked by Northern Rock during the last two years.’

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

USA


34 Warships Sent From US for Obama Visit

New Delhi: The White House will, of course, stay in Washington but the heart of the famous building will move to India when President Barack Obama lands in Mumbai on Saturday.

Communications set-up and nuclear button and majority of the White House staff will be in India accompanying the President on this three-day visit that will cover Mumbai and Delhi.

He will also be protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier, which will patrol the sea lanes off the Mumbai coast during his two-day stay there beginning Saturday. The measure has been taken as Mumbai attack in 2008 took place from the sea.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



CAIR Sues Oklahoma for Banning Islamic Law

Unindicted terrorist co-conspirator reacts after 70% of voters approve

The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced today it will file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state ballot measure that bars judges from considering Islamic law in any ruling.

On Tuesday, with about a dozen other states watching, Oklahoma became the first state to put before voters the proposition that Islamic courts, Islamic law — known as Shariah — and Shariah-based court decisions should be banned.

[…]

As a bill in Oklahoma legislature, the Shariah ban, called “Save Our State,” received the support of 82 of 92 members in the state House and 41 of 43 members in the Senate.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Lawsuit Filed in Okla. Against Islamic Law Ban

An Oklahoma Muslim filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday to block a state constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters that would prohibit state courts from considering international law or Islamic law when deciding cases.

The measure, which got 70 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, was one of several on Oklahoma’s ballot that critics said pandered to conservatives and would moved the state further to the right.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, seeks a temporary retraining order and injunction to block the election results from being certified by the state Election Board on Nov. 9. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges the ballot measure transforms Oklahoma’s Constitution into “an enduring condemnation” of Islam by singling it out for special restrictions by barring Islamic law, also known as Sharia law.

“We have a handful of politicians who have pushed an amendment onto our state ballot and then conducted a well-planned and well-funded campaign of misinformation and fear,” said Muneer Awad, who filed the suit and is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma. “We have certain unalienable rights, and those rights cannot be taken away from me by a political campaign.” About 20,000 and 30,000 Muslims live in Oklahoma, Awad estimated.

Legal experts have also questioned the measure.

Joseph Thai, a professor at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law, said the ballot measure is “an answer in search of a problem.” He said he knows of no other state that has approved similar measures.

“There is no plausible danger of international law or Sharia law overtaking the legal system,” Thai said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. He said courts only consider international law when deciding issues involving a federal treaty, a business contract or a will that incorporates international law.

Thai said the ballot measure “raises thorny church-state problems as well” and could even affect a state judge’s ability to consider the Ten Commandments.

“The Ten Commandments, of course, is international law. It did not originate in Oklahoma or the United States,” Thai said.

The measure is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1. It’s author, Rep. Rex Duncan, R-Sand Springs, said it was not intended to attack Muslims but to prevent activist judges from relying on international law or Islamic law when ruling on legal cases.

“The threat posed by activist judges is clear,” Duncan said. “It shouldn’t matter what the law in France or any other European country is.”

Duncan described the measure as “a pre-emptive strike” in Oklahoma, where he said activist judges are not an imminent problem. But some judges elsewhere, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, believe courts should look to the law of other countries for guidance when deciding cases, he said.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



‘Obama Comes Across as Cold, Arrogant and Elitist’

It was a failure of historic proportions. With US President Barack Obama’s Democrats having lost control of the House, there seems little hope for progress during his two remaining years, say German commentators. Obama himself, they say, bears much of the blame.

On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama and his Democratic party were issued a stinging defeat in the mid-term elections as the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives and installed themselves in 22 governor’s mansions.

Though the Democrats narrowly were able to keep control of the Senate, the Republicans, who rode the wave of anti-incumbent sentiment and populist anger over the economy into office, now have the power to determine the House’s legislative agenda — and to block Obama proposals. Indeed, Republican leaders in the House have already promised that their first order of business will be to repeal Obama’s health care reform — his signature achievement.

Several German opinion-makers were clear that the election was more of a referendum on the president, who comes across as “cold, arrogant, and elitist,” and less of an endorsement of the Republicans and their policies. There is widespread agreement in the editorial pages that Obama failed to make the case for his administration’s accomplishments, a fact that he himself has acknowledged.

The ‘True Victors’

But the biggest challenge for Europeans appears to be understanding the role of the Tea Party activists — described as the “true victors” of Tuesday’s elections — and predicting what kind of influence they will have over the next two years.

Congressman John Boehner, the Republican from Ohio who stands to be the next Speaker of the House — and third in line for the presidency — made his first call on election night to supporters of the Tea Party movement in southern Ohio, and according to The Washington Post, told them: “I’ll never let you down.”

The effect of the elections on US-German relations were downplayed in Berlin. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman told reporters on Wednesday that the German-American friendship doesn’t rest on the shoulders of just one person, namely Barack Obama, and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the American election was a vote on domestic policy, not foreign policy.

Still, the new balance of power has been cause for discussion.

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Obama Doesn’t Rule Out Bypassing Congress and Using EPA Regulations to Cap Carbon Emissions

In a White House press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama did not rule out using regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to cap carbon emissions in the United States without an act of Congress.

Meanwhile, on October 25, the EPA announced new regulations to limit “greenhouse gas” emissions by heavy-duty trucks and buses.

In the last Congress, the House of Representatives passed a “cap-and-trade” bill that would have forced carbon emissions caps on U.S. industry in the interest of protecting the planet against warming. However, the Senate never voted on the bill.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is Here to Stay

We have had a change in party control of the House and made some headway in the Senate but don’t expect to see a concentrated effort to rescind ObamaCare. We may see some minor changes in the health care act but do not look for it to be repealed. I say this because we will have the same GOP leadership in January that we had before this past Tuesday’s election. Because of this I only expect token change, just enough to make some people happy and to appear that the Republicans are trying to appease the tea party rabble.

In the House of Representatives there are currently six different bills all of which purpose to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…

[…]

…[neither] Congressmen John Boehner [nor] Eric Cantor’s names were on the list as cosponsors of a single one of these bills. These are the same two congressmen that will be in the top two positions in the House.

…they are only paying lip service when it comes to repealing ObamaCare and the best we can expect from them is to push for some minor changes in this already passed legislation.

[…]

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Asylum Seekers: The Albanians Are Coming!

27 October 2010 De Morgen Brussels

“Belgium fears a tidal wave of Albanian asylum seekers,” announces De Morgen. The Belgian daily believes that the waiving of the visa requirement for Albanians in December will prompt a surge in the number of migrants entering the Schengen Area: “One third of the country’s population [1.3 million people] have applied for passports in order to travel to the European Union.” Belgian authorities are particularly concerned because the number of asylum seekers there already stands at four times the European average. Only Sweden and Cyprus have higher figures. Worse still, Belgium does not have a stable national government. As De Morgen explains, the problem has been exacerbated by “the total lack of a policy” on asylum, which could end in “all kinds of inhuman consequences”.

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



Cherie Blair: It’s Wrong to See Muslim Women Who Wear the Veil as a Threat

Cherie Blair today launched a strident defence of Muslim women who wear a veil claiming that it was wrong to view them as a threat.

Speaking just two weeks after her sister Lauren Booth converted to Islam, the former Prime Minister’s wife stressed that it was essential to respect people’s right to dress how they choose.

‘We use the appearance of women as a metaphor of our fear of a supposed Islamic threat,’ she told Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

‘There are thousands of Muslims in Europe who participate in our way of life and intend continuing to do so and if they want to dress in a certain way because of their beliefs, we shouldn’t feel threatened.’

Asked about her sister’s recent conversion to Islam, she said simply: ‘It’s her choice.’

Mrs Blair’s comments were made in an interview ahead of the European Muslim Women of Influence Conference in Madrid.

She stressed it was important to fight against stereotypes that ‘above all affect Muslim women’.

‘We tend to believe they’re oppressed, insecure and incapable of thinking for themselves and that is not true,’ she said.

‘One of the things I try to do is help to explain that Islam is an open religion in which women have influence, whether they hide their hair or not.

‘I was educated by nuns who were completely covered up to their necks.’

Mrs Blair had previously attacked full face veils for women which she said failed to acknowledge ‘the woman’s right to be a person’.

She told Radio 4’s Today programme three years ago: ‘I think we can get very hung up about women’s clothes.

‘The question is whether we honour people’s religious beliefs or not.

‘I am happy to honour people’s religious beliefs, provided they are freely undertaken.

‘Women covering their heads, women dressing modestly, I have no problem with at all.

‘I think, however, that if you get to a stage where a woman is not able to express her personality because you can’t see her face, then you do have to ask whether this is something that is actually acknowledging the woman’s right to be a person in her own right.’

However, she appears to have rowed back on her previous comments.

Mrs Blair who has just returned from a speaking engagement in Brazil with her husband, also backed his controversial decision to invade Iraq.

She insisted former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and his wife Ana Botella — staunch allies of Britain and the U.S. in their controversial war on terror — remained close friends.

She said: ‘I think my husband took the correct decision on Iraq. And he had the support of Aznar.

‘He and his wife Ana are very good friends of ours. Supporting people out of goodwill is one thing.

‘Another thing is defending yourself if your way of life is under threat. Then you have to stay firm and show you will not tolerate it.

‘At times, so that it’s made clear, you have to show it.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Enemies of Britain

FURY erupted last night after police allowed Islamic bigots’ hate-filled demo at the life sentence on MP murder-bid student Roshonara Choudhry. They yelled “Curse the judge” from the public gallery of the Old Bailey after Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was sentenced.

The twisted trio then hurled abuse at a terrified Muslim female juror wearing a headscarf, screaming: “Shame on you, sister.”

Security men bundled the ranting bigots from Court Seven after the disgraceful scenes.

But the three were allowed to continue their poison rants in the street — yelling “British soldiers must die.”

n a vile insult to the former Labour minister stabbed by burka-clad Choudhry, they screamed: “Death to Timms.” They also wielded placards saying, “Iraq, graveyard for the British troops”, “Islam will dominate the world” and “Stephen Timms go to hell”.

Trial judge Mr Justice Cooke did NOT use his powers to order their arrest for contempt of court.

And police LET the men walk away after their protest outside the court. Tory MP Patrick Mercer — a former soldier who served in Northern Ireland — said last night: “The judge needed to get a grip.

“If there is evidence of a juror being intimidated, the judge should use his powers not just to clear the court but to prosecute. It seems like an open-and-shut case of contempt of court.” Former Scotland Yard commander John O’Connor said the men should have been arrested for incitement to kill or other offences.

He said: “They should not have been allowed to get away with this because it means others will turn up at the courts to try to bring justice into disrepute. These people have abused the privileges of freedom of speech which we enjoy in this country — and which they would never get in other parts of the world.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Europe Regains Its Pride

Il Giornale, October 18, 2010

by Fiamma Nirenstein

The speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the failure of the multi-cultural model, is not a defeat. It is a challenge. A momentous challenge, not in the form of a trumpet fanfare, but a quiet call to common sense. As the Chancellor is known to be a liberal and moderate, she certainly did not intend through her intervention to attempt to close the doors of Germany or Europe. Nor would it be possible to suddenly halt immigration and, more generally, the processes of globalization that are part of today’s world, our world. But it was precisely her round, yet stern face and her common courtesy that pose the question to us in such a civilized way: her expressing the worry of young people to be trained for a decent job; our children who don’t know what to do with themselves; speaking of the unease of a biblical Babel in a world in which your neighbors have no concept of your language; the creation of ghettos, all alien and totally diverse from each other, each nationality unto itself, where the question of integration does not even arise, only the survival and closed preservation of one’s self identified by one’s own culture… all this brings the problem into focus better than sheaves of sociological analyses.

The point is that certain cultures very often have no intention of mixing in with ours, despite our actions and best intentions. Paris has become a city in which more than 200,000 people live in families where polygamy is common practice. In Italy 30,000 women have been subjected to genital mutilation and Islamic courts—ninety-odd in London alone—inflict sentences that are inconceivable.

And it is, in fact, Angela, who has some hope of posing the problem because she doesn’t use the same tone as Geert Wilders who, despite his equally-good reasons, is rejected by politically-correct public opinion. The Chancellor could pose the problem as Alexis de Tocqueville would have. In 1830, as is well-known, he offered our world a sharp and amazed description of someone seeing for the first time in America a rapidly and crazily spinning world made up of a multi-colored mosaic around which gyrated all the individual tiles used to create a liberal and democratic society. Greed, competence and motivation, but also a common spirit. Herds of people who came from far away to the shores of New England, Tocqueville says, who would soon forge a unified language around a common English tongue, all interested in promoting education, the fact of belonging to well-off classes in their homelands despite their economic straits: in that vast wilderness they faced everything that was new with the conviction of making it work in the name of an ideal based on that of the Pilgrim Fathers…

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



Germany: First Woman Rabbi Since WWII Ordained

Germany’s first woman rabbi since World War II was ordained on Thursday in Berlin, marking another milestone in the resurgence of Jewish life in the country that perpetrated the Holocaust.

The last woman rabbi ordained in Germany, Regina Jonas — who is also thought to have been the first worldwide — was murdered in Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp where an estimated one million Jews died.

On Thursday, Alina Treiger, 31, who was born in Ukraine but moved to Berlin in 2001, was ordained alongside two fellow students before an audience that included President Christian Wulff and 30 top rabbis — including some women — from around the world.

However, she will not recognised as a rabbi by orthodox Jews, who reject the ordination of women.

Treiger said at a press conference that she found it somewhat irritating that there was so much hype around her appointment, according to daily Berliner Morgenpost.

“I am annoyed; I haven’t actually done anything yet,” she said. “It’s only important that a rabbi is good. It’s not important whether it’s a man or a woman.”

Treiger will now lead the Jewish communities in the cities of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony. She said youth work was important to her. Jewish life had to go on in a country that had once resolved to exterminate Jews.

“The Holocaust is for us a case of working through the grief process,” she said.

The Holocaust claimed the life of her predecessor Jonas, who was ordained in 1935 in Offenbach. She was transported to Auschwitz death camp and murdered there in 1944.

Treiger was born in 1979 in then-Soviet Ukraine, where communism prevented religion from playing any public role in life.

But after communism collapsed, Treiger went to Moscow at the age of 18 and studied social work. She then came to Berlin in 2001 and went on to study at the liberal Jewish seminary, the Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam. She learned German as well as Hebrew and completed her studies in Israel.

The Local/DAPD/dw

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



German Muslim Leader Worried Over Growing Anti-Islam Hysteria

A prominent German Muslim leader expressed serious concern over the growing anti-Islam hysteria in his country, fuelled by right-wing populist politicians and the media.

Meeting with the Berlin-based foreign press Wednesday evening, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek said, ‘I am concerned about the situation which we are facing.’

He pointed out the animosity towards Muslims was ‘the fastest growing form of racism’ in Germany.

Mazyek said Islam bashing had become ‘socially acceptable,’ even in German intellectual circles.

He added it was ‘frightening’ to note that most Germans would support restricting the religious freedom of Muslims, according to a recent survey released by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation, affiliated to the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Mazyek warned that this hysterical anti-Islam debate would ‘ultimately damage Germany.’

He criticized the nation’s media for not seriously questions some of the baseless assertions made about Islam.

The official emphasized that it was ‘the duty of German society as a whole to confront this form of racism.’

The activist lamented the fact that German Muslims were facing ‘daily discrimination and hostility.’

He referred to examples of an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim violence, including the recent brutal murder of an Iraqi Muslim by two neo-Nazis in the eastern city of Leipzig and the series of ‘almost monthly attacks against mosques’ throughout the country.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Italy: Escort Claims She Had Sex With Berlusconi and Other Politicians

Rome, 3 Nov. (AKI) — A 28-year-old prostitute has claimed she had sex twice with Italy’s flamboyant premier Silvio Berlusconi as well as with public administration minister Renato Brunetta and the mayor of the northern city of Parma.

Nadia Macri says she visited Berlusconi’s residences three times and slept with him twice, once at his holiday villa in Sardinia in 2009 and later at his home in Arcore near Milan in April this year, according to Italian media reports on Wednesday.

He personally paid her 10,000 euros cash for the encounters, Macri reportedly said. She claimed that she was among around 25 young women who were guests at Berlusconi’s Sardinian villa.

Sex sessions took place around the villa’s swimming pool, where the women took turns to service Berlusconi, news reports cited Macri as saying. Marajuana had been placed in every guest’s bedroom although Macri said she had never seen him “smoking”, according to the reports.

She made the claims to prosecutors who have questioned her in a prostitution probe centred on a prominent Italian show business agent, TV presenter and a councillor for the northern Lombardy region who is Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist.

Macri also told prosecutors she had sex with the mayor of Parma, Pietro Vignali, a Berlusconi ally, who paid her 500 euros for her services. She picked him up in an upscale hotel near Parma’s rail station and they had sex at his villa.

“When I need money, I go to Parma,” she was cited as telling prosecutors.

Macri, an aspiring showgirl claims she was introduced to Berlusconi through Italian TV presenter Emilio Fede and prominent show business agent, Lele Mora, who are both at the centre of the prostitution probe.

She also claimed to have had sex twice in 2006 with Renato Brunetta, now Italy’s public administration minister and a former economic advisor to Berlusconi and member of the European Parliament.

Macri reportedly said Brunetta paid her 300 euros and gave her jewellery and clothes. He introduced her to a leading Italian lawyer, Carlo Taormina, who she hoped would help her regain her young son in a custody battle.

Brunetta has strenuously denied having had sex with Macri and claims he only met her once at a conference in 2006.

Vignali denies having met Macri at all and says he has never paid for sex — a claim made repeatedly by Berlusconi, who has been embroiled in several previous sex scandals involving escorts and underage girls.

Last month, Italian media reports linked him to a Moroccan teenage belly dancer known by her stage name ‘Ruby’. The girl was quoted as telling prosecutors she attended parties at Berlusconi’s villa near Milan when she was 17 and that he gave her cash, jewellery, clothes and a car, but claims they did not have sex.

Ruby, whose real name is Karima Keyek, has reportedly been under investigation for prostitution since 2009.

Opposition politicians this week called for his resignation for abuse of office after he was accused of personally intervening to obtain Keyek’s release from police custody when she was arrested in May on suspicion of stealing cash and valuables from a female acquaintance in Milan.

The 74-year-old prime minister has claimed he only tried to help Keyek out of kindness. On Tuesday, he defended his apparent playboy lifestyle stating: “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.”

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



Italy: Town Appeals to Supreme Court Over ‘Baby Bonus’ Ruling

Initiative found to be discriminatory against non-Italians

(ANSA) — Tradate, October 27 — The center-right council of this northern Italian town near Varese decided on Wednesday to appeal to Italy’s supreme Court of Cassation against a Milan court ruling last month that the town’s ‘baby bonus’ could not be given exclusively to Italian couples.

The Milan court not only ruled that it was discriminatory not to give the bonus to non-Italian residents but ordered that the town compensate those who have been excluded from the initiative since 2007.

The court said the 500-euro bonus should have gone to all families of children whose births were recorded in the town registry starting in 2007 if at least one of the parents had been a town resident for at five years or more. The local council, composed of members of the national government partners the People of Freedom (PdL) party and Northern League, said it would take the matter “to the highest court in the land” because the measure was “adopted in good faith with no intention of being discriminatory”.

“We have decided to oppose the ruling because we know we are in the right and we are convinced the supreme court will agree with us,” Mayor Stefano Candiani of the Northern League said.

“We have no intention of paying back bonuses to non-Italian families because the motivation behind our initiative was to help the Tradate families,” he added.

According to the mayor, the Milan court ruling in favor of immigrant families was “politically motivated”.

The town administration has decided to suspend the baby bonus’ until there is a reply from the Court of Cassation. The town has already seen a previous appeal rejected, one which defended the ‘Italians only’ baby bonus on the grounds that it was aimed at “combating the sharp demographic drop among Italians”.

The center-right majority on Wednesday rejected two motions presented by the opposition in the town assembly that called for full application of the Milan court ruling and reactivating the bonus “without its discriminatory conditions”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



The European Court of Human Rights Must Not Override Our Democratically Elected Parliament

The Prime Minister was reported to be very angry indeed on receiving legal advice that in the light of prospective legal actions by prisoners in jail denied the vote, he had no option but to haul down the Union Flag, raise a white one, and surrender to the judicial imperialists of the European Court of Human Rights.

The only thing left to be decided is whether the surrender should be unconditional or whether our masters in Strasbourg will allow the United Kingdom to retain some shreds of dignity as we do their bidding.

Now, just how could this be so? In that rousing speech at the Conservative Party Conference the Foreign Secretary declared that Parliament was sovereign. Indeed it was he told us, “an eternal truth” that “what a sovereign parliament can do, a sovereign can also undo”.

I happen to think that those judges grossly abused their powers, which stem from the European Convention on Human Rights. That was designed to protect European people from the kind of atrocities and denial of rights to life and liberty that were perpetrated by the National Socialists, Communists and their like. Churchill and Attlee would not have envisaged that it would be used to over-ride a democratically elected sovereign parliament here.

Whether I am right or wrong about that, if William Hague is right in what he told the Conservative Party, a simple one-clause bill should be enough to assert that either this particular Court of Justice ruling, or all of its rulings, are null, void and without any effect in this Kingdom. Perhaps just to make sure, it might be best to implement Mr Cameron’s manifesto promise to repeal our own domestic Human Rights Act too.

So what is the problem? Have the lawyers told the Prime Minister that our sovereignty is, well, not quite as sovereign as it used to be? Or is that the Prime Minister has been overruled by the Deputy Prime Minister, who does not believe in all that old-fashioned nonsense of the sovereignty of the British people, or that of Parliament, over a ragbag of foreign lawyers in Strasbourg.

Oh, the ironies of history. The Court created to protect us from anti-democratic forces should now turn on its creators slapping down the longest lasting democracy in Europe as being unfit to manage its own affairs.

What will Mr Hague have to say to the Conservative Party Conference next year? That is, if anyone turns up to listen.

I am glad that my blog on “Women’s History” gave so many of you so much amusement. It is an essentially comical concept. Indeed, enough to make me think of joining Franks on his way to the straight white male shame parade. As Tanuki and Blackdog pointed out there is also transgender, lesbian, bisexual gay and black history being taught, which as Bersher and others said is no encouragement to boys in particular to read history.

Philgenes wrote well on the effects of forcing “Women’s History” on boys, something which also concerned Henrietta. I strongly aggee with Ooopiop that there is no such thing as “Women’s History”; just history which has involved both men and women, and with Daniele that it has to be taught as sequence of events. And how right was Surrey_puma to say that we should not apply our current standards to historical events. However, Benarnulfsen also spilled a bibful saying that there is no hope of rational dialogue with the adherents of “equally valid “ doctrines. As Valeriekal noted, those feminist historians dislike succesful women like Margaret Thatcher, whereas as Lickyalips reminded us some of the gay and women’s rights people support Islam. Perhaps Jaybee 001 should be thanked for reminding us that Lenin recognised the work of some of these people when he observed that “when you destroy the family, you destroy the country”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Curse the Judge, Shout Fanatics as the Muslim Girl Who Knifed MP Smiles as She Gets Life

A judge was subjected to a tirade of abuse in his own courtroom yesterday as he jailed an Al Qaeda-inspired Muslim woman for attempting to assassinate an MP.

Islamist protesters harangued Mr Justice Cooke from the public gallery at the Old Bailey, shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is great’), ‘British go to hell’ and ‘Curse the judge’.

The outbursts came as Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing former minister Stephen Timms. Choudhry smiled broadly as the judge told her: ‘You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr.’

Outside, a second group demonstrated as the judge told the high-flying student — who stabbed the politician twice in the stomach as ‘punishment’ for voting for the Iraq invasion — that she must serve at least 15 years behind bars.

The chaotic scenes unfolded as Home Secretary Theresa May dramatically revealed that the Al Qaeda gang behind last week’s ‘Lockerbie-style’ cargo plane bomb plot are already working in the UK.

In court the judge pointedly contrasted Mr Timms’ Christian beliefs with the ‘distorted thinking’ of his attacker, who refused to recognise the court and appeared by videolink for her sentencing.

‘I understand that he (Mr Timms) brings to bear his own faith, which upholds very different values from those which appear to have driven this defendant,’ he said.

‘Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God.

‘These values were the basis of our system of law and justice and I trust that they will remain so as well as motivating those, like Mr Timms, who hold public office.’

The stabbed MP yesterday backed calls for an overhaul of U.S. websites hosting terror videos.

University student Choudhry attacked Mr Timms after becoming radicalised by online sermons from the extremist preacher suspected of masterminding the recent airline ‘ink bomb’ plot.

The MP, attacked at a constituency surgery, said: ‘My real worry about it all is that a very bright young woman with everything to live for would reach the conclusion that she should throw it all away by attempting to kill the local MP.

‘It is puzzling and alarming that she seems to have reached the conclusion by spending time on some website.

‘That raises questions about what’s on the web. As I understand it, the material she accessed would be illegal if it were hosted in the UK.’

Hundreds of videos inciting violence, including clips by the U.S.-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki who inspired Choudhry to attempt to assassinate the MP, were removed from YouTube yesterday.

Their removal followed a private speech in the United States by security minister Baroness Neville-Jones in which she called on the White House to ‘take down this hateful material’.

Mr Timms, 55, describing the moment he was stabbed in East London in May by the smiling student, said: ‘I shouted out, “What was that for?”‘

‘That was the last thing that I expected to happen and there was absolutely no explanation to me. She didn’t say a word. It was a complete bolt out of the blue.’

After being disarmed by the MP’s assistant and held by a security guard, Choudhry told detectives the stabbing was ‘to get revenge for the people of Iraq’.

Sentencing Choudhry after she was found guilty of attempted murder and two counts of having an offensive weapon, the judge said that if she had succeeded in killing Mr Timms he would have given her a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never be released.

He told her: ‘You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in Government by doing so.

‘You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.

‘You are an intelligent young lady who has absorbed immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking and attitudes.

‘It is not only possible, but I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it.’

He added: ‘You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately.’

Choudhry, from East Ham, East London, spoke only to confirm her name when she appeared by videolink for sentencing yesterday.

Wearing a black headscarf, she sat placidly blinking behind her glasses as she watched proceedings on a screen in front of her.

The court heard she was a straight-A pupil and top university student at King’s College, London. She had hoped to become a teacher but dropped out weeks before carrying out the attack.

English language lecturer Alan Fortune said she was an outstanding student who had been expected to achieve a first class honours degree, adding: ‘The world was her oyster.’

But the judge told her: ‘There is no remorse on your part and you refuse to recognise the jurisdiction of this court over you in respect of your attempts to murder the person chosen by your fellow constituents in the East End of London, including Muslims, to represent them in the democratic institutions of government in this country.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: Cherie Blair: It’s Wrong to See Muslim Women Who Cover Their Hair as a Threat

Cherie Blair today launched a strident defence of Muslim women saying it was wrong to see those who cover their hair or their body as a threat.

Speaking just two weeks after her sister Lauren Booth converted to Islam, the former Prime Minister’s wife stressed that it was essential to respect people’s right to dress how they choose.

‘We use the appearance of women as a metaphor of our fear of a supposed Islamic threat,’ she told Spain’s El Pais newspaper.

[…]

‘I am happy to honour people’s religious beliefs, provided they are freely undertaken.

‘Women covering their heads, women dressing modestly, I have no problem with at all.

‘I think, however, that if you get to a stage where a woman is not able to express her personality because you can’t see her face, then you do have to ask whether this is something that is actually acknowledging the woman’s right to be a person in her own right.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Date Set for Laura Wilson Murder Trial

TWO people charged with the murder of teenage mum Laura Wilson appeared at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday morning.

Ishaq Hussain (21), Ferham Road, Rotherham, and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were remanded in custody until the next hearing to be held in February.

A trial, expected to last three weeks before a High Court judge, has been set for May next year.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Organised Squatters Inform Others on Gaining Legal Upper Hand

LONDON LETTER: Coming home from holidays to find people have moved into your home without your knowledge is a reality for some in the U.K.

CONNAN GUPTA returned from holiday to his home in Camberwell in London recently to find it occupied by five squatting Italians who had changed the locks.

The squatters, students who said they could not afford London’s high housing costs, refused to leave, leaving Gupta locked out of his home for a fortnight.

In May, Abu-Taher Ahmed (68) and his wife and four children came back to their property in Tottenham — which they had left while some building work was going on — to find eight Romanians inside. He told a local newspaper later that they refused to let them in, while sipping champagne, sunbathing and throwing a party. For comfort, they had even installed their own satellite dish.

Ahmed climbed through an open window where he was then confronted by the aggressive squatters, who ordered him to leave. He barricaded himself, his wife Iffet (52) and their children into the master bedroom for a weekend after police told him it was a civil matter. The eight demanded £3,000 to leave, but finally quit the property when police threatened them with arrest for breach of the peace.

Helped by internet forums, squatters have become more organised, even down to holding information evenings in a cafe in Hackney and another near Elephant and Castle every month.

Squatting itself is not a criminal offence in England and is covered by civil law.

It is illegal to gain entry by breaking in or damaging windows and doors — something which, squatters admit, is impossible to avoid unless someone has left a door or window unlocked.

Using utilities, such as electricity and gas, is also illegal, unless the squatters directly contact the suppliers — but the same courtesy does not under law have to be granted to the property-owners.

“When you move in you should note the reading on the electricity and gas meters and contact the suppliers telling them you wish to start paying for the fuel. A copy of such a letter can help show the police you are trying to pay. Don’t tell them you are squatting, as then they do not have a duty to supply you,” says the Advisory Service for Squatters.

Homeowners can ask the police to remove squatters from their home immediately without having to obtain an eviction order from the courts, though since it is a civil law matter, local constabulary can often be reluctant to get involved. However, the landlord or homeowner is the one in danger of running foul of the law if they force their way back in when there is someone inside.

The situation for the police is complicated because they themselves are in danger of breaching Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act if they violently enter a premises against opposition. Squatters are being told by some squatters’ advisory groups to “make sure you know the legal situation better than they do (not usually very difficult)”.

The occupation of family homes, obviously, brings squatters to greater, unpopular prominence. Sometimes their actions meet with a grudging approval — as long as they behave themselves once in occupation — given the large number of often large properties left vacant for years by wealthy owners in central London.

The squatters law is different in Scotland. By the Trespass Act (Scotland) 1865, it is a criminal offence to “lodge in any premises or encamp on” private property without the consent of the owner. The maximum penalty is a fine and up to 21 days in jail.

The 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act was supposed to improve owners’ rights by giving the opportunity to apply for “interim possession orders” (IPOs), though, in practice, it has changed little.

“This can be nasty, but has turned out to be not nearly so bad as everyone thought when it was going through parliament. It cannot be used on the majority of squatters, and so far there have been very few IPOs. Most IPOs which squatters defended have flopped and the owners have been forced to use the old procedures instead,” says the Advisory Service for Squatters.

Council properties, however, rather than private buildings, are the best target, since a surprising number are vacant: “Often quite reasonable properties are left empty because of mismanagement, bureaucracy or low demand on hard-to-let estates (as people do not want to move to them). If there are a lot of squatters the council will take longer to evict people,” says one internet guide.

Some council staff can be “unofficially sympathetic” to squatters and leave eviction until the properties are required, particularly if the people living there would simply have to rehoused by the local authority anyway. However, the councils, squatters’ organisations complain, have recently increased the numbers of “illegal or heavy-handed evictions”.

Repossessed houses are a favourite target, since the banks have to take the squatters to court as long as the previous occupants have been formally evicted. Meanwhile, pubs — a growing number of which are lying idle in the UK, some for years — have moved up squatters’ preference lists.

So far, the Gupta and Ahmed cases involving private homes would seem to be the exception. “Best avoided,” says one squatters’ guide.

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]



UK: Revolving Door Justice: 3 in 4 Offenders Return to Life of Crime After Punishment

Three quarters of offenders never leave their life of crime and go on to commit a further offence, figures showed today.

More than half of these were re-convicted within the first year alone, the Ministry of Justice said.

And offenders being monitored by the probation service went on to commit almost 600 serious further offences, including murder, rape and grievous bodily harm, in 2008/09.

In all, 74 per cent of offenders who were discharged from custody or started a court order between January and March 2000 were re-convicted within nine years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Radical Website Publishes MP ‘Death List’

A website which influenced a young Muslim to stab an MP has posted dozens more MPs’ names on a ‘death list’ with an exhortation to Muslims to follow her example.

Revolutionmuslim.com was named by Roshonara Choudhry in her police interviews as one of the sites which radicalised her. Choudhry was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday for attempting to murder the former Labour minister Stephen Timms.

The site praises her as a “mujaahidah,” or holy warrior, saying: “We ask Allah to keep her safe and secure, to hasten her release and to reward this heroine immensely.”

It published a list of all the MPs who voted for the Iraq war together with an instruction to Muslims to try to kill them, saying: “We ask Allaah for her action to inspire Muslims to raise the knife of Jihaad against those who voted for the countless rapes, murders, pillages, and torture of Muslim civilians as a direct consequence of their vote.”

It also appears to incite further attacks on Mr Timms, publishing details of his constituency surgery times and venues, and even a link which shows readers where they can buy a £15 kitchen knife, similar to the one used by Choudhry, from Tesco Direct.

The website adds: “If you want to track an MP, you can find out their personal website after typing their name in this website. In their personal website, you can usually find the time and location of their surgeries where you can encounter them in person.”

The site then lists the 139 Conservative MPs that voted for the war and the 244 Labour MPs. It said that no Liberal Democrats voted for the war but added: “They have now formed a coalition government with the Conservatives.” Accompanying the statement is a prayer in Arabic to “destroy your enemy and the enemies of Islam” naming Mr Timms and the judge in the Choudhry case, Jeremy Cooke.

The website is hosted in the US, where the White House has been urged by British ministers to take urgent action against similar sites.

Patrick Mercer, a former chairman of the Commons homeland security subcommittee and one of the MPs on the ‘death list’, said: “If they think this will change my opinions or my conduct in any way, they can think again. These sites are extremely dangerous, as the case of Choudhry has shown, and this one must be taken down immediately.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Sex Abuse Trial: Two More Guilty Verdicts

TWO more men have been found guilty of sexually abusing three teenage girls and three others have been cleared of similar charges at the end of a seven week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

It brings the total of convicted defendants to five out of the eight on trial. They were all remanded in custody before being sentenced tomorrow.

Razwan Razaq (30), of Oxford Street, Clifton, was found guilty by a jury of having sex with two 13-year-old girls in 2008.

His 24-year-old brother Umar Razaq, of the same address, was found guilty of sexual activity with a 13-year-old and not guilty of raping a 16-year-old.

The jury also found Mohammed Zafran Ramzan (21), of Broom Grove, Broom, guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl and twice having sex with her 13-year-old cousin.

He was found not guilty of two further counts of rape.

Adil Hussain (20), of Nelson Street, Rotherham, was found guilty of under-age sex with a 13-year-old, but acquitted of three other sex abuse charges.

Mohsin Khan (21), of Haworth Crescent, Moorgate, was convicted of one charge of under-age sex with a 13-year-old and found not guilty of two other charges of sexual activity with the same girl.

Khan and Shazad Akbar (23), of Shirecliffe Lane, Shirecliffe, Sheffield, were both cleared of four joint charges of rape on a 16-year-old girl.

Saeed Hussain (29), of Hatherley Road, Eastwood, walked free after he was acquitted of two charges of inciting a 13-year-old to have sex with other men.

Shalzaad Hussain (22), of Clough Road, Masbrough, also walked free after the jury cleared him of one count of sexual activity with a 13-year-old.

The jury of seven women and five men spent six days deliberating over the verdicts.

The three teenage victims of the sex abuse were aged between 13 and 16 at the time of the offences during 2008 and are now 15 and 17.

All eight defendants denied the allegations throughout the trial.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Secret Double Life of a Police Sergeant Who Was Head of an Underworld Gang and Stored Machine Guns and Bullets at His Suburban Home

A respected police sergeant who led a secret double life as head of a ruthless underworld crime family was behind bars tonight.

Salim ‘Sal’ Razaq, 31, became a ‘mob boss in police uniform’ after assuming control of a drug and dirty money racket when his brother went to jail over a vicious turf war.

Officers found two Uzi sub-machine guns and a 9mm Sten sub-machine gun hidden in a suitcase under the stairs, when they raided his suburban home.

They also recovered 224 live rounds of ammunition from a shed, £72,000 in cash plus a knuckle-duster, balaclava and bullet-proof jacket.

Inside the house was a ‘tick list’ of names and amounts of money which police believe refered to drug contacts.

It is suspected he had also been using the police national computer to check on the movements of rival mobsters.

Razaq’s amazing double life emerged at Liverpool Crown Court where he was convicted of misconduct in a public office, perverting the course of justice, possession of fireams and ammunition and money laundering.

Colleagues at Nelson Police station in Lancashire regarded Razaq as a ‘copper’s cop’. They had no idea he had turned his home in Chorley Road, Preston, into a gangland HQ.

He was eventually caught after officers routinely picked up on a prison telephone conversation between him and his brother, 25-year old Hafiz in which they talked about a key witness to a kidnapping ‘being taken care of.’

Hafiz was known in the Preston underworld as ‘The Enforcer’, ‘Big Haf’ and ‘The Muscle’.

Now in Manchester Prison, he admitted perverting the course of justice and money laundering. His mother Gulsham Razaq, 58, of Chester Road, Preston, also admitted the perversion charge.

After Razaq was remanded in custody for sentencing, Andy Cooke, Lancashire’s Assistant Chief Constable said: ‘Razaq was nothing short of a criminal in a police uniform.

‘I am appalled that a police officer could be involved at the level he was in this criminality.’

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Bosnia: Eufor: Italian Contingent’s Mission Concludes

(ANSAmed) — SARAJEVO, OCTOBER 29 — After 15 years the Italian military mission in Bosnia has come to a close, and in recent days the last soldiers and officials part of the contingent, which was initially part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force (IFOR/SFOR), and which since December 2004 operated under the European stabilisation force EUFOR, are making their return to Italy. After the withdrawal of the contingent decided upon in August, Italy will remain present with several EUFOR command officials and will continue to contribute at NATO headquarters in Sarajevo.

With the return last weekend of 40 Carabinieri of EUFOR’s Integrated Police Unit (IPU), the mission of the European Gendarmerie Force led by Italy also came to an end, and next week nearly 80 Italian Army soldiers and officials will leave Bosnia. The IPU, with the remaining Turkish, Romanian and Dutch members, moved from the Italian Butmir 2 base to Butmir 1, formerly the headquarters of the operative component and EUFOR command, as well as NATO’s general headquarters in Sarajevo.

Meanwhile, the possibility of the voluntary conveyance of the entire Butmir 2 structure where the final activities for the mission will take place in the coming weeks, carried out by a group of Carabinieri, to the Bosnian armed forces is being considered.

Since the beginning of the EUFOR Althea operation in Bosnia, which initially involved 6,000 soldiers and whose numbers today have been reduced to less than one-third, the general level of security in the country has constantly improved, also thanks to the contribution of the Italian soldiers. After arriving in December of 1995 with the NATO force to enforce the Dayton Agreement, the Italian soldiers leave a country that has been reconstructed for the most part and that is on the way towards membership in the European and Atlantic organisations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Algeria: Al-Qaeda ‘Shopping for Arms’ In Chad

Algiers, 2 Nov. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda militants in northern Africa have been shopping for arms in Chad, according unnamed Algerian intelligence agents who were cited by Algiers-based newspaper Ennahar.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is using the estimated 100 million dollars earned between 2003 and 2010 from ransoms and drug trafficking to purchase weapons for use in for terror operations in Algeria and Mali, the newspaper said.

Al-Qaeda is also laundering money from illegal activities by investing in real estate, the report said. They have bought large tracts of land and villas in Niger, Mali and Mauritania, the newspaper said.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in September claimed responsibility for the abduction of seven foreigners, including five French citizens in Niger.

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



Algeria: Married Women More Exposed to Violence

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 3 — Most women who suffer from violence are married and it is often the husband who is responsible for the rapes, kidnappings and physical and psychological violence. This is according to a report drawn up by the Algerian network of centres for violence against women, which was created in 2008 by the CIDDEF (Centre of Information and Documentation on Rights of Women and Children) in collaboration with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Of the 547 women who have turned to the 18 centres in the country over the last year, 65% are married, 10% are divorced, while 23% are single. In 75% of cases, husbands, ex-husbands and boyfriends are responsible for the acts of violence, while 24% are the work of fathers, brothers or other male family members. The remaining 1% of attacks are carried out by strangers.

University lecturers, women with degrees and illiterate women are all victims of violence, according to CIDDEF, though the more educated women do not put up with the situation for as long. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Sharia Considers Rape of Wife a Crime, Tunisia’s Mufti

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 1 — A husband who rapes his wife commits a crime according to the Sharia (Islamic law), said Tunisia’s Mufti Othman Batik in an interview with the Arab-language weekly Al-Akhbar, speaking out against the fatwa (religious opinion) by the head of the Islamic Courts of Great Britain, Sheikh Abou Assayd. “Rape,” said Batik, “is a crime. Those who suffer it are assassinated morally. Therefore the victim has the right to bring charges against her rapist husband, as well as requesting a divorce.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


UK: Hague on Collision Course With Israeli Government

William Hague’s decision to hold taboo-breaking talks with representatives of three groups at the forefront of the Palestinian civil disobedience movement has set him on collision course with Israel’s government.

The Foreign Secretary will meet the leadership of the increasingly assertive Palestinian groups on Wednesday, during his first visit to the Holy Land after taking office, and Israel fears the meetings could confer international legitimacy on the protesters.

Israeli officials declined to comment on the meeting because the identity of the Palestinian leaders involved has not yet been publicly disclosed. Privately, though, some officials voiced misgivings. “All I can say is that I hope he tries to get all opinions at hand from all sides,” one said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Catholic Assyrians in Iraq Paid the Price for Muslim Fundamentalist Incitements in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The attack by Islamic terrorists on the congregation of the Assyrian Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic church in central Baghdad, on October 31, resulted in killing of 52 catholic Assyrians, including two priests, 5 policemen, and wounding 75. 5 terrorists died either by detonating their explosive belts or being killed by the Iraqi security. The Martyrs Brigade of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a Sunni militant umbrella group affiliated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The gunmen had reportedly told the authorities from inside the church through a mobile phone that in exchange for setting the hostages free, they demanded the release of two Egyptian Christian women they insisted were Muslims and were being held against their will as prisoners by the Coptic Church in Egypt. They gave the Coptic Church 48 hours to respond to their demands.

A communique and an audio-video released by ISI, posted on radical Islamic forums confirmed that hostage taking in the Assyrian Catholic church was in part an action directed against the Coptic church in Egypt.

“In response to the call of Allah and the voice of the helpless women, Camelia Shehata and Wafaa Constantine and their sisters, held captive in the hands of the Cross Worshippers in Egypt, we, the suicide battalion of the Islamic State of Iraq have carried out this task. Our demands are simple and clear, our captive women in the hands of your Christian brethren in Egypt, in exchange for the Christians held by us in the Church.”

The chilling voice on the audio-video threatened the Vatican to “pressure them to release our captive sisters, or killing will reach all of you and [Coptic Pope] Shenouda will bring destruction to all the Christians of the region.” The audio went on to say “If you turn your churches into a prison for Muslim women, we will make them graveyards for you,” threatening to kill the Assyrian hostages if the group’s demand was not met.

Commenting on the Al-Qaida statements, Coptic activist Mark Ebeid said “My heart bleeds when I think of the possibility that over one hundred and twenty innocent Iraqi Christian brethren who went to Church on Sunday to pray, would pay the price for handing over to the Muslim fundamentalist two innocent Coptic women who never became Muslims, but some Salafi Sheikhs in Egypt decided to spread this unfounded allegations and convinced thousand of Muslims of their fabrications.” He added “Besides, the Coptic church would have never delivered two of its children, who sought refuge within its walls, to the fundamentalists.”

The audio ended by warning the Copts against not responding, otherwise, they would be opening the door to serious harm to Christians not only in Iraq, but also in Egypt, the Levant and other countries of the Middle East.

Coptic Pope Shenouda III was unaware of the hostage drama , as he was on a plane on his way back to Egypt from the Unites States. The 86-year old Coptic pontiff sent his condolences on Monday to the Assyrian Catholic Church in Iraq, expressing his “deepest sorrow for this tragic incident which killed a large number of innocent people in Iraq.”

The threats directed at the Coptic Church were covered by the majority of the Egyptian media, to assess its seriousness and possible danger to Egyptian Coptic churches.

President Mubarak and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar condemned the attack and the official spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Egypt categorically rejected the involvement of its name or its affairs in such criminal act.

Commenting on the incident, Bishop Marcos, chairman of the Coptic Church PR Committee, told the Egyptian media the Church is not afraid of the al-Qaeda threats which are issued by a group of terrorists, and that “God is the protector of the Copts.” He confirmed that the Coptic church has not imprisoned anyone and asserted that the two named Coptic women have never converted to Islam and were staying in monasteries for their safety. “All of these things are illusions in the minds of those sick people.”

Most analysts interviewed by the media downplayed the seriousness of the threat to the Coptic church in view of the absence of al-Qaeda off-shoots in Egypt, however, they all advised vigilance and precaution. Once more the conspiracy theory appeared, with either Israel or Iran as culprit.

Dr. Naguib Gobrail, head of the Egyptian Federation for Human Rights, asked the Interior Minister to take the threats seriously and held the Egyptian government responsible for the protection of its Coptic citizens.

Church sources said that church services are operating normally and the weekly Wednesday sermon given by Pope Shenouda, which is attended by thousands, will take place as usual.

It was reported that security around churches was stepped up in Egypt, and more security checking at the airports were carried out on citizens from Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other countries.

Thirteen fundamentalists’ demonstrations have taken place every Friday in front of mosques in Egypt , demanding the release of Wafaa Constantine and Camelia Shehata from church prisons.

In 2004, Wafaa Constantine, a mother of two children was married to Father Youssef, a Coptic priest in Abu Matameer, Beheyra province; she experienced serious marital problem because her husband’s legs were amputated after an accident, causing a change in his behavior. In order to get a divorce, she decided to convert to Islam. Ms. Constantine did not go to Al Azhar , but went to State Security with her wish to convert. At that time, the authorities were forced by law to inform the church about Constantine’s intention and to arrange for what was known as “Advice and Guidance Sessions” by priests in the presence of security, to ascertain her sincerity in converting to Islam.

Security had kept her in a safe place and three clergy met with her at intervals, answering her queries. She decided not to convert, and gave a statement to prosecution with her own hand writing giving her decision with an addition “ I was born a Christian and will live and die a Christian.”

The Church received her from the prosecution and took her to a monastery in Wadi Natroun “to keep her in a safe place and protect her,” said Metropolitan Bishoy, who was one of the Coptic clergy attending the “Advice and Guidance Sessions,” explaining that “we are afraid some people may accuse her of Apostasy or kill her.”

The Church held a press conference giving the whole story, asserting that Wafaa Constantine will remain in the monastery and will not return back to her husband. The Attorney General issued a statement to this effect. “Since that time she has been living in a monastery in Wadi Natrun, where she spends her time in reading and translating books” said Bishop Bachomius of Beheira in September 2010 to the newspapers. Her husband died in 2006.

Camelia Shehata, wife of Father Tedaos Samaan, priest in Deir Mawas, Minya Governorate, disappeared on July 19, resulting in Coptic demonstrations against State Security for refusing to help her husband find her. Five days later, according to the official version by State Security, Camilia had a row with her husband and left home, staying with one of her relatives in Cairo; security found her and handed her back to her family. Not wishing to go back yet to her husband, she stayed with her 18-month-old son in a house for women belonging to the church.

Surprisingly a few days later, a rumour spread by a fundamentalist shaikh that Camelia converted to Islam and that as they were on their way to Al-Azhar to authenticate her conversion, Camelia was taken by State Security (AINA 9-18-2010).. Muslim TV satellite channels were calling for her return to Islam and demonstrations went out in front of mosques calling for her freedom from her “captivity” and accusing the Coptic church and Pope Shenouda for holding her hostage. She appeared on a video confirming that she was a Christian and never thought of converting to Islam. Al-Azhar also denied she ever came there but the demonstrations continued (AINA 10-10-2010).

Hamdi Zakzouk, Minister of Endowment , during a lecture at Cairo University on November 2, asserted that Camelia never converted to Islam or went to Al-Azhar. He also heavily criticized the weekly Friday fundamentalist demonstrations which called for the return of “our Muslim sister.”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih [Return to headlines]



Former Iranian Revolutionary Guard: Iran Will Bomb Israel

[WARNING: Graphic and disturbing content.]

Speaking from an undisclosed location, with his voice digitally altered to protect his true identity, former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Reza Kahlili told Israel National Radio’s Yishai Fleisher that Iran would not hesitate to use nuclear bombs against Israel.

“[Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government] will use the nuclear bomb against Israel, they will use it against Persian Gulf countries, and they will use it against Europe to bring about that last hadith (Islamic commentaries on sayings and activities of Mohammed and his companions) that calls for total chaos, lawlessness, and havoc in the world, which creates the circumstance for Imam Mahdi (the Islamic messianic figure) to appear.”

Kahlili bemoaned the oppression of the Iranian people by their government, and told Fleisher about the circumstances which made him leave the Revolutionary Guards and become a spy against them for the American CIA. His new book, “A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran”, details his experiences fighting against a regime he says is tyrannizing his people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Iran Holds Four ‘UK-Linked Men’ For Killings — State TV

Iran says it has arrested four men allegedly paid by a man based in Britain to carry out assassinations, an official state TV station reports.

Press TV said the four “Britain-linked terrorists” were detained in the western city of Marivan.

The men are accused of carrying out five assassinations in the past two years for money, Press TV reports.

In London, the UK government dismissed the story as the latest in a line of “baseless Iranian allegations”.

‘Slur’ In a strongly worded statement, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the allegations were without foundation.

“The UK does not support or encourage terrorist activity in Iran, or anywhere else in the world and this claim will be seen as what it is: another in a long line of slurs against the United Kingdom from the Government of Iran,” it said.

The Iranian report, which comes on the anniversary of the day in 1979 when Iranian militants seized the US embassy in the capital, Tehran, was published on the English language TV channel’s website.

The four men are reported to have “confessed” to receiving orders while in the Iraqi city of Suleimaniya from a man Press TV named as Jalil Fattahi

The report said he was the group’s commander, and was now living in the UK.

Although promised some $20,000 (£12,400) per killing, the arrested men only received less than half that sum, Press TV says.

“The ministry says it has disclosed documents and confiscated weaponry from the terrorist group,” the report says.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Iranians Stage Mass Protest Against ‘Great Satan’ US

TEHRAN (AFP) — Thousands of Iranians chanted “Death to America” as they staged Thursday a mass protest against the “Great Satan” to mark the 31st anniversary of the capture of the American embassy by Islamist students.

Tehran, meanwhile, welcomed Washington’s decision to list shadowy rebel group Jundallah as a foreign terrorist organisation, saying it was the “right” move, but reiterated its allegation that the US supports the Sunni network.

Iran annually on November 4 marks the anniversary of the capture of the US embassy by Islamist students in Tehran in 1979, months after the Islamic revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Iraq-Egypt: Cairo Rejects Al Qaeda Ultimatum and Denies “Conversion” Of the Two Women

Egypt has rejected the request of the alleged terrorists who demand the “release” of two Muslim women, who according to Al Qaeda are being forcibly held in monasteries in the country.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — “We categorically reject that our name be linked to such criminal acts,” reads a note from the Foreign Ministry in Cairo, which “strongly condemns” the attack. The Iraqi cell of al Qaeda, responsible for the attack on the Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad that resulted in a raid by Iraqi forces which killed more than 50 people, gave Cairo an ultimatum of 48 hours.

The two Coptic women called into question in the attack on the Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad, have sought refuge in some convents or communities because of “‘the strong social pressure that they suffered’. These the words relayed over the phone by Samia Sidhom, Cairo editor of the El Watani, the Egyptian Copts historic weekly magazine based in New York. “They had left their homes because of family disagreements — says Samia Sidhom to ANSAmed — but there was no conversion to Islam, as confirmed by the highest Muslim religious authorities”, as confirmed by the Sunni authorities of Al Azhar, the journalist states. In reality ‘both (one of them, Wafa Constantine, already widow at the time of her disappearance in 2004) wanted to return to a normal life, explains Samia Sidhom, “but there was too much pressure on them” and therefore they were forced to seek refuge in two different places” (monasteries and community). Sidhom adds that she herself is unaware of their exact whereabouts. But both have been “victims of exploitation”, she adds, in the demonstrations that followed the spread of news of their conversion, as well as by those terrorists who claimed responsibility for the attack in Iraq.

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



Iraq: Christians ‘Lost’ After Attack, Says Baghdad Archbishop

Baghdad, 3 Nov. (AKI) — The deadly attack on the main Catholic church in the Iraqi capital is part of a deliberate campaign to drive all Christians from Iraq, according to the archbishop of Baghdad, Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka. He called on nations to help the country’s beleaguered Christian minority.

“We felt lost after Sunday’s attack against the church in Bagdad,” the archbishop of Baghdad, Athanase Matti Shaba Matoka, told Adnkronos International.

The attack by gunmen at Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Catholic church killed at least 52 people, mainly Christians who were taken hostage inside the church, and injured scores. Two priests were among the dead.

“Such attacks are clearly aimed at driving all Christians from Iraq. Once people lose a family member in such violence, they soon think of fleeing the country,” he said.

An Al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for the bloodbath in a message posted to an extremist website.

Matoka said he had received a letter from Pope Benedict XVI expressing his condolences for the attack.

The pope condemned the attack after his Angelus prayer in Rome’s St Peter’s Square on Sunday as “an absurd and ferocious attack on Christians in the Middle East”.

Around half a million Christians from ancient denominations remain in Iraq. Iraqi Christians have been leaving the country in droves since the US-led invasion in 2003.

“The indifference of the government, which has reduced security for Iraqi citizens, upsets us,” said Matoka, acknowleging that some politicians and government ministers had come to the church to express solidarity after the attack.

He called on the international community, especially the United States, to ensure Christians in Iraq could live there in safety.

“They (nations) are responsible for this situation and have to find a solution because we’ve been without a government for six months,” he noted.

Iraq is riven by sectarian divisions and its various political forces have failed to form a new government since parliamentary elections in March.

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



Salwa Al Neimi Exposes Hypocrisy of Arab Society

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — Illegal maternity and an unforgiving society; the hypocrisy of marriage, which often constitutes entrapment for women; domineering fathers; children as exchange currency; infidelity; sex without love and power controlling every single breath and movement of individuals.

With “The Book of Secrets” (published by Feltrinelli, 112 pages, 11 euros), her first book written in 1994 and only today available to Italian readers, the Syrian writer Salwa al-Neimi “strikes a blow” to contemporary Arab society, exposing its hypocrisy and its shortcomings, with no concern for the consequences, but rather proud and aware of the deep sense of shock that her writing provokes in readers. These are eight intense short stories in which the writer expresses herself with great strength and courage and a desire for freedom and redemption, not only for herself, but for all Arab women.

“These novellas were published for the first time in Egypt in 1994 and then in Damascus,” Salwa al-Neimi tells ANSAmed, surrounded by thousands of papers towering over her desk at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, where she has lived and worked since the mid-1970s. “At the time I thought that they would remain confidential and that perhaps only a few brave friends would read them”. Things did not turn out this way, though, and after finding a brave publisher, Salwa al-Neimi managed to unsettle readers halfway around the world, especially with her second book, “The Proof of the Honey”, which was released in Lebanon in 2007 (and brought to Italy by Feltrinelli in 2008) and later translated into 20 languages, the latest Japanese.

Yet in spite of her success, her writing has been censured.

“In some Arab countries, my books are sold under the counter and can be downloaded for free from the Internet, and I’m happy about that,” she says, smiling. The book trade in the Arab world is not yet ready to accept uncomfortable or ‘scabrous’ texts.

“Lebanon, but also Gulf states, are beginning to take steps with the creation of new literary prizes,” she says. The problem, however, lies in self-censure by writers. “To get their work published, they limit themselves, avoid tackling certain issues and write what those in power want to read”. Al-Neimi, too, who with great irony and critical passion mocks the framework surrounding Arab society, refuses to discuss certain topics.

“I don’t say everything that I think politically. Maybe I will in the future”. Neither does she like to talk about religion, even though issues such as marriage and sex recur frequently in her texts. “Arab society is multiple and I enjoy telling of this complexity,” she says.

Salwa al-Neimi is also involved in the emancipation of Arab women, although she is sceptical — as is the main character in her stories, who attends “conferences in which no concrete results are ever reached” — and continuously fights for them on the front line. “Figures suggest an improvement in the level of education, which is the basis for making them fully-fledged citizens”. She says that she is optimistic about the future.

“Power can do nothing against freedom of women”.

It is here, and not in religious figures, that she sees the real cancer on Arab society. “It is not movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that worries me, its power and nothing more”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Saudi Arabia: Saudi Women Are Forbidden to Work as Cashiers in Supermarkets

“Women should look for a decent job, that does not make it possible for them to attract or be attracted to men,” states fatwa. Dismay among the Saudi people (men and women) over the ruling, which bans women from working as cashiers because contrary to the rules on the separation of the sexes. The supermarket is considered to be a mixed environment.

Jeddah (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Saudis are shocked after the Committee on Scholarly Work the Ifta emitted a new fatwa prohibiting women from working as cashiers in the kingdom’s supermarkets. The statement was released on October 31. Unemployment among Saudi women is 28%, but there are places available in retail establishments, where they can be employed.

The fatwa reads: “It is not permitted for a Muslim woman to work in a mixed environment with men who are not related to them, and women should look for jobs that do not lead to them interacting with men which might cause attraction from both sides”. The ruling, issued by the Ifta under the Council of Scholars (the highest authority for Islamic affairs in the kingdom), came after a conservative preacher called for a boycott of supermarkets who have women cashiers on their payroll. The shops in question are: retail clothing chain Ted Tag, based in Los Angeles, Azizia Panda and Marhaba supermarkets.

Many people have reacted with dismay to the decision, calling it meaningless and unfair to those women who need work. Abdulrahman Fakhri, an entrepreneur of 32, says: “It is clear that the people who have issued this fatwa do not know the conditions these women work in. In addition, these women need money, otherwise they would not do this job. “

Haneen Kelani, a housewife, said: “Women will mix with men whether they remain behind the counter or in front. I always go to supermarkets with men cashiers, and am usually alone. Is this considered mixing? What harm is there if I and the male cashier changed places? “.

Nayef Abdulaziz argues that these cashiers do not work in conditions that violate Islamic rules, “Once I went to the supermarket to see how these women worked: there is a glass divider that separates them from customers. They are covered and do not socialize with anyone. I tried to go to a woman — he continues — but I was stopped and sent a male cashier, which means that employers have full control over what happens in supermarkets, and do not allow men and women to come into contact”.

Marhaba and Azizia Panda supermarkets have refused to comment on the fatwa.

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



Yemen Bomb Was 17 Minutes From Exploding

PARIS — One of two mail bombs sent from Yemen last week was defused just 17 minutes before it was set to explode, the French interior minister said Thursday.

Brice Hortefeux provided no other details in an interview on the state-run France-2 television channel and did not say where he got the information about the timing.

“One of the packages was defused only 17 minutes before the moment that it was set to explode,” he said.

One law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday that the U.S. cannot confirm the 17-minute timer claim by the French minister. U.S. officials have yet to conduct their own, independent analysis of the two bombs, which remain in the custody of U.K. and UAE investigators.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Youtube Begins Removing Al-Qaeda Videos

YouTube has begun removing al-Qaeda videos from its website after the British Government contacted the White House to complain about the material.

A number of clips by Anwar al-Awlaki, believed to have been the mastermind of the cargo bomb plot, were deleted from the video sharing site last night. However scores more, including incendiary calls to wage war on non-Muslims, remain.

A Google search for one of the most provocative videos — entitled 44 Ways to Support Jihad — on Google brings up more than a hundred results from YouTube. Two of the three top results have now been blocked although the bulk of the rest remain available.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Youtube Yanks Cleric’s Jihad Sermon Videos: NY Times

YouTube has yanked videos featuring calls by Yemen-based radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi for a holy war, The New York Times reported.

The American-born Awlaqi has been cited as a catalyst for terrorist attacks and was charged Tuesday in absentia in Yemen with incitement to kill foreigners under the banner of Al-Qaeda.

The move by Yemeni prosecutors came several days after parcel bombs destined for Chicago were traced to suspected jihadists in Yemen.

Removal of some of Awlaqi’s hundreds of videos at YouTube follows complaints from American and British officials, according the Times.

US Congressman Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York, dubbed Awlaqi the “bin Laden of the Internet” in a letter sent last week demanding removal of the videos.

“We are facilitating the recruitment of homegrown terror,” Weiner said in a message posted at his website.

“There is no reason we should give killers like al-Awlaqi access to one of the world’s largest bully pulpits so they can inspire more violent acts within our borders, or anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Awlaqi, a citizen of both Yemen and the United States, has appeared in more than 700 YouTube videos that have logged a combined total of 3.5 million views, according to the congressman.

Awlaqi has been connected to several terrorist plots and reportedly met with the 9/11 hijackers prior to the infamous attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

“I understand that YouTube is a clearing house for ideas and that your company aims to not infringe on free speech, but al-Awlaqi’s message, promoted via YouTube, has caused violence and is a threat to American security,” Weiner said in his letter to the head of the video-sharing service.

“I request that you remove this man and his hateful rhetoric from your website, as he poses a clear and present danger to American citizens.”

Google-owned YouTube declined to comment specifically on Awlaqi sermon videos.

The San Bruno, California-based firm said that it has removed a significant number of videos that violated guidelines prohibiting dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, and incitement to commit violent acts.

YouTube told AFP that it removes videos and terminates accounts registered by members of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations or officially used to promote interests of those groups.

“We’re now looking into the new videos that have been raised with us and will remove all those which break our rules,” said a spokesperson for YouTube, which received complaints about Awlaqi videos from several members of Congress.

“We will continue to remove all content that incites violence according to our policies. Material of a purely religious nature will remain on the site.”

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Attack on Christians in Russian Caucasus

Three churches in Karachayevo-Cherkessia set on fire, but Muslims are being targeted too: Imam killed in Dagestan. Attempts to “destabilize the inter-religious peace.”

Moscow (AsiaNews) — The North Caucasus is till burning and this time the target of violence are religious. Attacks on Christian churches and against Muslim leaders have taken place between 1 and 2 November in different parts of the region.

Local Christian leaders have been trying now not to foment tension and avoid pointing the finger at religious extremism, but the eyes of investigators and public opinion are all pointing in that direction.

At dawn on Nov. 1, three fires have occurred in as many churches in the Autonomous Republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia. According to preliminary reports, the attackers set fire to an Orthodox church in Orjonikidzevsky, almost destroyed, then continued on to another Orthodox and a Baptist church. In all cases, the buildings wee saved by the immediate intervention of pastors and faithful, who, after calling the fire department, started to put out the flames on their own.

According to the spokesman for the Interior Ministry of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kazim Baybanov, the fires were caused by flammable materials thrown into the churches through broken windows.

Christian leaders have taken steps to curb possible tensions with the Muslim community. Press and investigators immediately indicated the track of religious extremism, which infests the Russian Caucasus. According to statements by the Archbishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz, Feofan, there are no preconditions for talking about religious hatred in the region: “It was a well-orchestrated provocation, but we can not talk about inter-religious enmity, especially between Orthodox Christians and Muslims.” “We can not blame Muslims, we can not judge people by individual incidents. Even policemen and muftis are killed and the attack has the same matrix: the intention is to destabilize inter-religious harmony, but they will not succeed”, added the Orthodox bishop.

Almost to prove his words, news of the assassination of the imam of a mosque in Khasavyurt, in the Republic of Dagestan, with a gunshot to the head, authorities are investigating.

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

South Asia


Australia Will Spend $500m to Upgrade Indonesian Schools

Australia will spend $500 million building 2000 schools in Indonesia in an effort to improve the prospects of Indonesia’s youth and moderate the influence of the country’s religious schools.

The five-year initiative was announced yesterday at a joint press conference by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. A commitment to forge a broader economic relationship was endorsed, and people-smuggling and the fate of Schapelle Corby and the Bali nine were also discussed.

After Dr Yudhoyono urged Australia not to ‘‘pressure’’ it after a video showing Indonesian soldiers torturing Papuans became public, Ms Gillard did raise the issue but only to praise the Indonesians for bringing the soldiers to trial.

Ms Gillard has frequently expressed her passion for education, saying it trumped her interests in foreign affairs. In Jakarta yesterday, she combined the two as she announced the $500 million package for Indonesia’s schools.

“My firm belief is that the future of our two countries will be determined largely by what is happening in the schools of each of our nations today,” she said.

The program to build 2000 new schools — providing places for more than 300,000 junior secondary school students — and upgrade the curriculum of another 1500 Islamic schools builds on a successful program already being run by AusAID. Australia has already funded the construction of 2000 primary level schools.

Indonesia’s Islamic schools are largely moderate in outlook but there have been pockets of radicalism that have produced terrorists in Indonesia, most notably the cleric Abu Bakar Bashir’s school in Ngruki, central Java, where some of the Bali bombers studied.

The Islamic schools have been poorly regulated and the standard of education has been low.

By paying for 1500 madrasah, as the schools are also known, to adopt Indonesia’s national curriculum, students will receive a more traditional education in the sciences, history and humanities and not focus so heavily on studying the Koran.

The two countries also announced the commencement of negotiations for a “comprehensive economic partnership”, which aims to go beyond a traditional free trade agreement and build a “higher level and mutually beneficial economic partnership”.

The economic ties between the countries — while growing — have lagged behind other aspects of the relationship.

Diplomats said that while the agreement went beyond a traditional free trade agreement, negotiations could be tricky as Indonesia still has strong protectionist instincts.

As for the fate of the Australian drug smugglers imprisoned in Indonesia, Dr Yudhoyono gave little indication of whether he would grant Corby’s appeal to him for clemency.

However, he did say he was “optimistic” a prisoner transfer deal that would potentially see Corby and others serve their terms in Australia could be negotiated.

Such a deal has been negotiated on and off for five years and gone nowhere.

While Dr Yudhoyono gave it presidential endorsement, there is little prospect that the required enabling legislation could get through Indonesia’s notoriously work-shy and fractious Parliament.

Dr Yudhoyono backed away from endorsing Ms Gillard’s proposed refugee processing centre. He was “open” to the idea “but we need to discuss in depth to ensure, once again, this is a solution to our regional problem”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Qantas Grounds A380 Fleet After Engine Disintegrates

‘My whole body just went to jelly,’ passenger recounts

SINGAPORE — Qantas Airways grounded its fleet of Airbus A380s after one of the superjumbo jets’ engines disintegrated shortly after takeoff, forcing an emergency landing and showering debris onto houses and a shopping mall below.

Qantas said the Airbus A380 — which had stopped off en route from London to Sydney, Australia — suffered a “significant engine failure.” The carrier said there had not been any explosion and landed safely with no injuries.

However, passengers among the 459 people on board flight QF 32 variously reported hearing a “massive bang” or a “loud boom,” with one describing the incident as “the scariest thing I had seen.” The giant jet was forced to return to Singapore to make an emergency landing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Australia: Magistrate Blasts Immigration Department

A PERTH magistrate says the immigration department “effectively sabotaged” police investigations into a riot by detainees on Christmas Island and allowed key players to escape justice.

Magistrate Stephen Malley today ruled on whether five Sri Lankan Tamil detainees took part in a riot at the detention centre on November 21 last year.

He said it was “bizarre” that within 48 hours of the extremely violent riot, the immigration department shipped off 40 detainees to mainland detention centres, many of whom were heavily involved in the violence.

The actions of the immigration department “effectively sabotaged” investigations into the riot by the Australian Federal Police, Mr Malley said.

The court heard that Afghan detainees were violently set upon by Sri Lankan detainees following a dispute between the two groups.

Mr Malley said rioters had armed themselves with tree branches, pool cues, mop handles, chairs and parts of soccer goal posts that were dismantled during the violence.

He said that following the riot the immigration department showed “little or no regard whether those they were releasing committed serious or criminal acts”.

The department showed “reckless disregard” for the significance of the events, the magistrate said.

He found that the AFP had limited assistance from the immigration department.

But he said that the video interviews conducted by police were “poorly done and in most instances worthless”.

Photo boards used by police for identification during the investigation were also inadequate, the magistrate said.

He also found that staff employed by the firm Serco, charged with running the centre, were “not well trained in the manner in which to deal with these events”.

Mr Malley said the case had been frustrating for the court given the inadequacy of the investigations and the “considerable money” invested in bringing five of the lesser players before the courts.

Those more seriously involved were in effect “assisted to evade prosecution”, he said.

The magistrate found only two of the Sri Lankans guilty of rioting and three of them guilty of weapons possession.

Two were found not guilty on both charges.

The five Sri Lankans sat together in the dock in the Perth Magistrates Court listening to the judgments through an interpreter.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Germany: Muslims Call for Public Service Immigrant Quota

Germany’s top Muslim group called on Thursday for an immigrant quota in public services such as the police and the bureaucracy.

Central Council of Muslims chairman Aiman Mazyek told Thursday’s edition of the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that people with foreign names and immigration backgrounds were often passed over for public service jobs despite having the same or even better qualifications than native German candidates.

A quota would be an appropriate way to level the playing field, he said.

Germany’s police forces had already opened themselves up to immigrants, which had benefited the services — and could be improved with quotas — he said.

“Why should the experiences of the police not be applied elsewhere?” Mazyek asked.

His remarks followed a national “integration summit” held on Wednesday and attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, immigrant community leaders — including Mazyek — and state and municipal officials.

The meeting, which was held to discuss how immigrants could be better integrated with mainstream German society, focused on recognition of foreign qualifications — currently seen as one of the best ways to improve immigrants’ job prospects and therefore their integration.

After the summit, Mazyek accused Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, of using immigration and integration as election weapons, rather than tackling them seriously.

He said integration would “not be improved by a multiplication of summits.”

The real work would have to happen in the field, and that including an opening up of the job market, public offices and political parties to immigrants.

Turkish Community in Germany (TGD) chairman Kenan Kolat also lavished the summit with faint praise.

“Integration summits are all very well, but this to me was a preparation for the worst,” he said.

The summit had been less a dialogue than a series of monologues, he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Integration Summit Delivers Little

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and the German government’s Integration coordinator Maria Böhmer (second from right) at Wednesday’s integration summit in Berlin.

The German chancellor is calling for greater accountability for all parties when it comes to pulling her country’s immigrants from the margins to the center of society. But so far, Merkel’s annual Integration Summit has failed to deliver the goods. This week’s Berlin meeting proved to be no exception.

Germany’s recent integration debate has been far from civil. Former German Central Bank board member Thilo Sarrazin kicked it off with his book portraying foreigners as welfare freeloaders who have little intention of integrating into German society.

It has been downhill from there. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone on record as saying that multiculturalism has been a dismal failure in Germany. The Bavarian sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats — the Christian Social Union — has demanded a stop to immigration from “alien cultures.” And the head of the center-left Social Democrats has demanded that tougher measures be taken against immigrants who refuse to integrate.

As such, all eyes were on Merkel’s annual integration summit on Wednesday, the first such meeting to be held after the most recent spate of German hand-wringing over its immigrant population.

An open letter to Merkel released in the run-up to the summit made clear how immigrants in Germany feel about the current debate. “We do not want to be reduced to the level of youth gangs who beat people to death on the subway,” the letter read. “We are sick of sweeping prejudices against us.” “The debate as it has been conducted up until now has harmed and damaged us.” Even some of the best integrated immigrants in Germany have been left feeing unwelcome in the country.

Three Decades of Failure

On Wednesday, Merkel sought to turn down the heat on the debate. At the summit, 120 participants from business, public life, organizations representing the interests of immigrants and politicians convened to discuss issues including language acquisition, education, social welfare issues as well as the economy and labor market.

One of the most important aspects of Germany’s program to bring immigrants to the center of society is through government-sponsored language and integration courses. Merkel said the classes would help Germany accomplish in 10 years what it had failed to do for over three decades. “In five to seven years, we will have offered all those who are interested the chance to take an integration course,” the chancellor said.

In addition, each immigrant is to be given an individual plan, a kind of contract that will codify the support and help an immigrant can expect. “But also what our country expects of them,” said Maria Böhmer of the CDU, the government’s coordinator for integration. Böhmer said that would lead to a greater commitment from both sides. She added that the expectations for an immigrant’s language skills, level of education and professionalism would be anchored and that, at the same time, an individual offer of support would be given to each. Böhmer said the government would begin testing the integration agreements in 2011.

German Education and Research Minister Annette Schaven of the CDU also presented draft legislation that would improve the recognition of foreign degrees and training certificates. The government believes that as many as 300,000 qualified immigrants will profit from the law. Many foreigners living in Germany have trouble getting their academic qualifications and degrees from abroad officially recognized by German authorities.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Chancellor Wants to Expand “Integration Courses” For Immigrants

Germany intends to expand the program of courses to help immigrants to integrate. Chancellor Merkel pointed to successful examples of integration and said society should put more effort into working with immigrants.

By 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to give every immigrant the opportunity to take part in integration courses. The government estimates that by that time around 1.8 million people will have attended the courses since they were first introduced in 2005.

“We’re catching up in 10 years on what we failed to do in the previous 30 years,” Merkel said at the end of an integration summit in Berlin on Wednesday.

“We want to be more concrete.” That was the message of German chancellor Angela Merkel at the Berlin integration summit. She wants to set clear standards to make it easier to assess what Germany has achieved, and what is still to be done on the issue of integration.

‘Multiculturalism has failed’

Merkel said the notion that integration could be achieved simply by different living next to one another was outdated.

Merkel, who said in a speech last month that “multiculturalism has failed,” set out to prove that integration would not happen by itself. She said that true integration required much more energy and engagement from all of society.

The chancellor praised the atmosphere at the summit as being “the right working environment.” The 120 participants, including politicians, economists, and representatives of the police and the media apparently exchanged “controversial opinions” with one another. Merkel said they had spoken openly about “what had yet to be achieved.”

For example, she pointed out that there was a lot of work still to do on the issue of violence in schools.

“There’s still a long way to go on this journey,” Merkel commented.

The government says it will spend about 400 million euros (560 million dollars) by 2014 on improving German language skills among the children of immigrants so they can perform better at school.

It is also seeking to help immigrants get their foreign qualifications recognised in Germany, and to have more people from immigrant backgrounds working in the civil service and in the police force…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spanish Wages Keep African Island Afloat

Niodior is an African village that exists in two different places: in Senegal, where the families live in poverty, and in southern Spain, where their sons live together after making the perilous journey north. They work illegally and wire their earnings home, as a form of private development aid.

The sentence is still there, written on the dusty wall of his room in Niodior. It’s a little faded by now, but the letters are still as curved and rounded as ever: “The strength of a man does not lie in his freedom, but in the ability to fulfill his duty.”

The old women sit outside in the courtyard, nodding as they shell mussels and spread the yellow meat out to dry. Yes, Mamadou Ndour, they say, they remember him. He’s a good boy. He wrote the sentence on the wall with a piece of white chalk. Then he got into a wooden boat and headed out into the ocean.

Any of the boys from this island could have written the same sentence. It’s what they believe in, the young men of Niodior, a speck of land off the coast of Senegal. It’s the reason they have to leave their village, and the reason they get into boats and risk their lives on the open seas. This sentence explains why the village of Niodior exists in two incarnations, one in Spain and one in Senegal.

Every year tens of thousands of illegal immigrants land on Europe’s shores. Several boats reached the Canary Islands two weeks ago, for example. When the coast guard pulled the last of the boats out of the water off the island of Lanzarote, there were 26 West Africans on board, many of them minors. The boats represent the modern migration that Europe fears and is trying to fend off, and yet needs: the countless sons and daughters who systematically export their labor, the workers in Spanish greenhouses, the dishwashers in French restaurants, the cleaners in German households. Some arrive on boats or hidden on trucks. Others arrive by air on tourist visas, and when it comes time to leave again, they disappear into the cracks of a society that doesn’t want them and yet cannot function without them.

Those who believe that there are too many foreigners in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain perceive someone like Mamadou Ndour — a man who has left Niodior Island for Europe’s coast — as a threat to peace and prosperity on the Old Continent.

‘It’s Hard Work’

Ndour works in a gigantic greenhouse in Roquetas de Mar on the Spanish coast, where he is currently crouched over, cutting zucchini from low-growing vines. “You cut one off, throw it in the box and look for the next one. You spend the whole day bent over.” The French words in his head have gradually given way to Spanish ones. He laughs when he confuses the two languages. “€30 ($42) for eight hours,” says Ndour. “This isn’t what I had expected in Europe.”

Ndour, 31, a tall young man, is wearing a light-brown T-shirt that’s frayed around the collar. He has been living in Spain as a clandestino, or illegal immigrant, for the last three years. “It’s hard work,” he says, as he tosses the green vegetables into crates under the watchful eye of a Spanish farmer. He says that he was able to send his parents €150 ($214) recently.

Ndour was a fisherman back in Niodior. The little money he earned was enough to pay for food, but not enough to buy medication for his parents. And it wasn’t enough to make a wife happy one day, he adds.

Then he saw Europe on television. It had clean cities, tall buildings and neon signs. He pauses to reflect for a moment. “Here between the greenhouses,” he says, “I feel like I’m not in Europe, but in a second Africa.” There are no streetlights at night, no shopping centers and no restaurants. Only dust, heat and work, says Ndour, as he snips off the next row of vegetables. “We have to do this,” he says.

He is referring to himself and the two other workers crouched in the greenhouse with him. He is also referring to the many other young men from Niodior who work together between rows of plastic tarps in Spain and send money home to their island.

There is Almamy Sarr, who trained to be a tailor. There are the brothers Seyny and Aliou Thiare, who are trying to earn enough money to send their mother on a pilgrimage to Mecca. And there is Moussa Thiare, who, by working in Spain, is supporting his father, his father’s two wives and his nine younger siblings.

They attended school together, played together under palm trees as children and went fishing together as teenagers. They are neighbors, cousins, brothers or otherwise related. They live in small houses that they have rented from the farmers for a few hundred euros a month. In the biggest of the houses, “la grande maison,” 25 young men share three rooms, a kitchen, an outside bathroom, a few discarded sofas and a few beds. “There must be 100 guys from Niodior here by now,” says Ndour.

Remittances Exceed Development Aid

It’s as if this collection of young men, almost the entire able-bodied work force on the island, had traveled together to Spain to establish a second Niodior. They are the bank accounts that their parents never had, they represent the hope of obtaining refrigerators and mobile phones.

There are a billion people living in Africa, and about 22 million have left their homes. In 2009, economic migrants like Mamadou Ndour sent about $316 billion (€227 billion) back to their native countries. In Senegal, the money coming from Europe represents close to 10 percent of the gross domestic product. The flows of capital generated by these migrant workers already exceed the foreign development aid Senegal receives.

How does the life of a family change when one of its sons has made it to Europe?

Niodior is a test case of sorts, an island whose sons working in Roquetas de Mar in southern Spain are its most important source of income. Month after month, more of Niodior’s young men disappear, traveling in their wooden boats to the Canary Islands, where they are then taken to the Spanish mainland. Almost every mother in the village now has a son living in Spain.

The island they have left behind is considered to be one of the most beautiful in all of Senegal. It lies in the delta of the Saloume River, where the river water mixes with the saltwater of the Atlantic. There is a poem children there learn before they even go to school. The verses paint a picture of Niodior as a place of fishing boats bobbing in the water, coconut palms lining the shore and a white carpet of shells crunching underfoot.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Fast Food Inhibits Dialogue, Church Says

Meals offer a sense of communion

(ANSA) — Vatican City, November 3 — The ‘golden arches’ of a well-known fast food chain are unlikely to go up anywhere inside the Vatican any time soon given that the Church considers this form of eating as a “negation of dialogue”.

According to the Holy See’s ‘culture minister’, soon-to-be cardinal Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi, “fast food has become the negation of dialogue through eating. Let us not forget that a meal is at the center of the Liturgy in which food is used as a symbol”.

Msgr Ravasi made his remarks to the press Wednesday during the presentation of the upcoming plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which he heads, that will be dedicated to the theme of “the Culture of Communication and New Languages’.

One day of the November 10-13 council session, he said, will see participants treated to a full-course Renaissance meal “in order to study the language of food, how it is a form and means of communication”.

“Each course, prepared using Renaissance recipes, will be presented in a way to demonstrate how esthetic taste and the communication of meaning can go together,” Msgr Ravasi explained.

Communication and a sense of communion through eating, he added, needs to be restored in celebrations of certain church rites, not only weddings but also funerals, as is the case in the tradition of the Eastern Church.

Next Wednesday’s opening of the plenary session will exceptionally take place at Rome city hall, on the Capitoline Hill, in order to “provide a meeting point with society,” the soon-to-be cardinal said.

The first day will include a discussion entitled ‘In the City, Listening to the Language of the Soul,’ with the participation of Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno.

Other guest speakers during the plenary session will include composer Ennio Morricone, who will speak on the language of music; Microsoft Italia CEO Pietro Scott Jovane, who will discuss marketing; and Msgr Gerhard Mueller, the bishop of Regensburg, who will open a session with an address on an anthropological theme.

Msgr. Ravasi, 68, will be ordained as a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI at a consistory on November 20 along with 23 others.

He is a a recognised Biblical scholar, theologian, expert on Judaism and an archeologist.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Julianne Moore Calls Berlusconi’s Anti-Gay Remarks ‘Archaic’

Rome, 2 Nov. (AKI) — American movie star Julianne Moore on Tuesday criticised Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for making “unfortunate, archaic and idiotic” anti-gay comments. She was holding a news conference on her recent film ‘The Kids are All Right’.

“We live in a time that sexual orientation is about biology — we are who we are…to say that is embarrassing,” the 49-year-old actor told reporters during a Rome press conference.

The two-time Oscar nominee was responding to a question about 74-year-old Berlusconi’s comments at a Milan motor show earlier in the day when he said, “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful women than to be gay.”

Berlusconi is embroiled in a fresh scandal that links him to a teenage Moroccan bellydancer and suspected prostitute.

Moore is the guest of honour at the International Rome Film Festival where her comedy about a lesbian couple’s teenage children who seek out their biological father is being screened.

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko, it debuted in January at the 2010 edition of the Sundance Film Festival and also stars Annette Bening as Moore’s partner and Mark Ruffalo, the biological father to their two children.

Moore told reporters, “we are seeing more and more homosexual families in the United States and certainly my kids, who go to school in New York see families with two moms or two dads.”

She cited a study that followed gay families for 24 years. “They found the children were well adjusted and well educated, they were loved,desired, socially adept and they were, you know, basically wonder families and wonderful children.”

In Cholodenko’s film — in fact — the couple portrayed by Bening and Moore resembles any “mainstream” couple with the director taking pains to present them as any regular couple, regardless of being a same-sex one.

Later on Tuesday, Moore will receive Rome’s Marc’Aurelio acting award at a gala ceremony in her honour. Previous recipients of the award include Sean Connery, Sophia Loren, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep.

The Rome Film Festival closes November 5th.

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



PLAN Spreads Feminist Virus to Third World

“Because I am a Girl” is a campaign that undermines marriage and family by empowering young females at the expense of young males. It pretends to believe that empowering girls (but not boys) is the key to eliminating poverty and creating a better world. See here:http://plancanada.ca/Page.aspx?pid=2270 .

It doesn’t just infect girls around the world. It infects thousands of participating Canadian and American girls with self destructive lesbian-feminist dogma.

The Campaign is sponsored by PLAN which is recognized as a “unified global entity.” Founded during the Spanish Civil War as “Foster Plan for Children in Spain”, PLAN worked in Europe during WWII, and in the 1950’s opened new programs in developing countries. In 2000, PLAN International became simply PLAN.

PLAN/Canada, pretends to be a grass roots movement. The website states they are not affiliated with any religious or political entity. However, they are supported by the United Nations and the Green Party. Revenues come from private and corporate donors as well as Government grants. They also partnered with the World Health Organization.

See the “Because I am a Girl” documentary trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S14gc27FVgI . See more of the “dot in the circle” symbolism here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5fat9YCqMI. I was surprised to hear young girls making statements such as, “I am no different than a guy”.

Oh really? Then you must have a penis and ten times the testosterone of a girl.

The traditional role of men is fast disappearing in the West. Men and boys seem to be given second place to females.

This western model of destabilizing society is being used in the third world. The result is a decline in marriage family and the birth rate.

Again, in the West, young men no longer seem encouraged to assume the traditional role of husband, father, protector and provider. Males are routinely ridiculed in western media. Girls rule and Boys drool.

Part of heterosexual masculine identity is protecting and providing for women and children.

As a woman, I feel uncomfortable with the over-promotion of females. For instance, “Because I am a Girl/Canada,” is currently sponsoring an e-petition to declare Sept 22 as THE DAY OF THE GIRL. What about boys? Who’s helping the boys?

As a mother of an adolescent son , I can see what this does to a young boy’s self-esteem. As my son has often said to me, “mom, why is it always about girls?”

Over empowering or over-glorifying females, at the expense of males, creates an imbalance that effects us all. Historically, male-female unity has been our source of strength as humans.

[Return to headlines]

General


‘Snowball Earth’ Scenario Plunged Our Planet Into Million-Year Winters

These days the climate news is all about global warming, but global freezing was the biggest climate worry in Earth’s distant past.

Long periods of severe cold — like Ice Ages on steroids — brought glaciers down to the equator and froze much if not all of the oceans.

Scientists still debate what triggered these so-called Snowball Earths, but equally uncertain is how the Earth unfroze itself. One research group is studying the hyper-greenhouse warming that would be needed to end a million-year-long winter.

The evidence for Snowball Earths comes from paleomagnetic data taken from ancient glacial deposits. From their magnetic properties, geologists can tell that some of these ice-induced rocks originated from low latitudes. This surprising result implies a cold planet that only would get colder as the ice reflected away more heat.

“Once you have ice cover in the tropics, it all ‘Snowballs’ from there,” says Alexander Pavlov of the University of Arizona.

Ice reflects more than twice the sunlight of bare ground and more than five times that of water, so as the ice spread, less heat was retained at the surface. The average global temperature is estimated to have dropped to minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit).

“This is why it is so hard to escape a Snowball,” Pavlov says. “There is much less radiation being absorbed to warm the planet.”

But escape the Earth did. Pavlov and his colleagues are modeling the necessary conditions that would push the icy Snowball temperatures back to a more comfortable level.

As part of NASA’s Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program, they also will be considering the implications in the search for habitable planets. If breaking out of a Snowball event turns out to be very difficult, then other worlds that we would expect to have liquid water instead may be permanently frozen.

Deep freeze

The geologic record bears the signatures of three Snowball Earths, although there may have been more. The first event occurred around 2.3 billion years ago and seems to roughly coincide with the rise of atmospheric oxygen.

The other two happened more recently at 710 and 640 million years ago. Scientists have proposed several theories for what caused the Snowball Earths. The most well-known of these involves a decrease in heat-trapping carbon dioxide when too many continents drifted near to the equator.

It might seem strange that atmospheric levels of CO2 might be controlled by continental position, but the connection is through the chemical weathering of rocks. Carbon dioxide in the air dissolves into rainwater, creating carbonic acid that dissolves rock minerals like silicate. Through the reaction, the carbon dioxide s transformed into carbonate, thus reducing the amount of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Typically, this weathering is faster where the climate is warm, so having most of the continents along the equator should increase weathering and lead to a significant drop in CO2 that will chill the planet.

There is some debate among scientists over just how much of the Earth was covered in ice during Snowball episodes. Many biologists do not think life on Earth could have survived being locked under a kilometer-thick sheet of ice, so they argue that there was open water somewhere in the tropical seas.

However, Pavlov believes that it is very hard to prevent ice from going everywhere once it reaches around 35° latitude. Moreover, there is geologic evidence that suggests the ocean was effectively cut-off from the atmosphere during the extended glacial periods.

Breaking the ice

Assuming that the planet did freeze over completely, how did the temperature trend ever reverse?

Previously, researchers suggested that the Earth could re-warm itself by turning back the dial on carbon dioxide. Volcanoes would be constantly releasing CO2, and there would be virtually no weathering on an ice-covered planet to consume this greenhouse gas.

Calculations have shown that once the atmosphere has accumulated 0.2 bars-worth of CO2 (over 600 times what we have now), the greenhouse warming would be enough to start melting the ice.

However, there are some holes in this warming model. Carbon dioxide will condense into “dry ice” at around minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 112 F). The wintertime polar temperature should drop below this limit during a Snowball episode, so a large fraction of CO2 could end up being trapped in seasonal ice caps at the poles (similar to what happens on Mars).

Pavlov and his colleagues are currently redoing the models to account for CO2 condensation and evaporation. They also will be looking at whether clouds of CO2 might form that could block some of the sunlight from reaching the ground.

It may turn out that carbon dioxide from volcanoes won’t be enough to thaw out the planet. His group will therefore consider the effect of other greenhouse gases, such as methane released from ice deposits, or sulfur dioxide emitted from volcanoes.

The team also will be readdressing the reflection, or “albedo” of the ice. Often this is treated as a single parameter, but Paul Hoffman from Harvard University says that the buildup of dust or salt on the surface, as well as the daily melt cycles, can have a big effect on just how much of the Sun’s heat gets reflected away rather than absorbed.

“Tropical ice albedo is the ‘elephant in the room’ in Snowball modeling,” says Hoffman, who is not involved in this project.

Snowballs elsewhere?

Our planet was able to escape its Snowball events, but would other planets be so lucky?

“The more landmass a planet has, the better it is protected from runaway Snowball,” Pavlov says. “It is much harder to build a glacier inside a large continent if it is not at the pole.”

So a watery planet with little or no dry land might get itself stuck in a Snowball and never escape. Astronomers eventually may have to consider that too much water can be a bad thing when it comes to the habitability of a planet.

“I would say that the main conclusion is that we should not be focused so much on the water-rich planets,” Pavlov says. “Dry planets with some water can be habitable at farther distances from their stars.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



There is No Water Shortage

Water: The next political frontier

There is no shortage of water. Amounts available vary regionally and change over time as precipitation amounts vary. Demand also changes with increases in population and economic development. Crude estimates indicate water use per person is 15 liters in undeveloped countries and approximately 900 liters in developed countries. Throughout history humans have developed remarkable techniques and technologies to deal with these issues. Few of these attempted to reduce demand, most worked to increase supply.

Some societies went to great lengths. The extent of the Roman Empire is delineated by the construction of aqueducts and lead mines developed to produce pipes to carry their water.

Major advances, considered important turning points in human development, are technological controls over weather. Fire, housing and clothing created microclimates and the ability to live in more extreme conditions. Irrigation was first introduced in the Fertile Crescent (Figure1) driven by a climate change. A region that produced crops gradually became drier with the onset of a warm period called the Holocene Optimum. Besides the decrease in precipitation there is, at least initially, an increase in variability.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



‘They All Look the Same’ Race Effect Seen in the Brain

Why do people so often have trouble telling those of a different race apart? Now psychologists have identified the brain mechanism responsible for this “other-race effect”, and say their work could be used to improve the reliability of eyewitness evidence in criminal trials.

Previous studies have identified the brain region responsible for the phenomenon, but the mechanisms underlying it have been unclear. So Roberto Caldara and colleagues of the University of Glasgow, UK, showed 24 Caucasian and East Asian volunteers pairs of photos, one after the other. The pictures were either of two different people of the same racial group — either Caucasian or East Asian — or the same person with different facial expressions. At the same time they recorded the volunteers’ brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures electrical activity produced by the firing of neurons in the brain.

Normally, showing someone the same face twice generates a similar EEG pattern each time, although the activity levels is lower the second time. Different faces spark different activity patterns.

When Caldara’s volunteers were shown faces of people of a different race to their own, their neurons responded as if they were the same person, whether they were or not. The results were the same whether Caucasian volunteers were looking at East Asian faces or vice versa.

Universal failure

“That suggests it’s a universal phenomenon in our perception,” says Caldara, who adds that people who live among people of other races can learn to identify individuals better.

Caldara says his team’s techniques could help identify unreliable witnesses in criminal trials. “If a witness has a really clear other-race effect, we could not be sure that they had really recognised a defendant of another race,” he says.

The research is “fascinating”, says John Brigham of Florida State University in Tallahassee, but he thinks that the technique is far from ready to be used in court.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20101103

Financial Crisis
» Catherine Austin Fitts: The Looting of America
» Obama to Spend $200 Million Per Day on Mumbai Boondoggle While Wounded Soldiers Beg for Donations
» Out of Touch and Out of Favour: The Future Looks Bleak for Barack Obama
» Saudi Arabia: Gold Crisis, 85% of Goldsmiths Close Shop
» Vatican: Pope Will Implement Banking Rules
 
USA
» Air Force Brainstorms Ways to Dumb Down Enemies
» Did Harry Reid Steal Nevada?
» FDA Tests Confirm Listeria at Texas Food Plant
» It’s Morning in America
» Rising Rancor: One Nation, Divisible by Politics
» Sharia Law Banned: Oklahoma to Become the First U.S. State to Veto Use of Islamic Code
» Special Report: Soros Vote Counters
 
Canada
» Jew-Hatred Infects Muslim World, Activist Says
 
Europe and the EU
» Asylum Rights: Refugee System is Collapsing
» ‘British Go to Hell’: Public Gallery Erupts as Student Inspired by Al Qaeda Who Tried to Kill MP is Jailed for Life
» German Far Right Emerges From Shadows to Join Cologne Campaign Against Mosque
» Germany: CSU Party Newspaper Offers Holidays to ‘Occupied East Prussia’
» Germany’s Freiheit Party Joins the Fray
» Greece Halt International Mail Deliveries After Militants Send Bombs to Euro Leaders Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi
» Greek Authorities Focus on Radical Left
» Italy: ‘Better to Like Women Than be Gay’ Says Berlusconi
» Italy: Parcel Bomb Addressed to Berlusconi Ignites
» Italy: Sex Worker Questioned in Palermo Over PM’s Sardinian Parties
» Main Finnish Parties Engineer Removal of True Finn Representative From Nordic Council Meeting in Reykjavik…….
» Netherlands: AIVD: ‘Extreme Right Following Halved’
» Poll: Strong Support for Common Nordic State
» Spain: Persecuted for Refusing to Wear Veil, Imam Sentenced
» Spain: Increasingly Secularised Country Awaits Pope
» Stakelbeck on Terror Show: “Eurabia” Rising
» Sweden: Sahlin and Åkesson Clash in First Riksdag Duel
» Swedish King to Face Book’s Love Affair Claims
» Swiss Poised to Vote on Controversial Immigrant Law
» UK: MCB Reaches Out to the Turkish Muslim Community
» UK: MCB: Statement on Stephen Timms, MP
» UK: National Demonstration and Carnival to Say No to Racism, Fascism and Islamophobia
» UK: Student Smiled Before Stabbing Me, Says MP Timms
» UK: The Mayor With His Own Fate
» Wokingham British Legion Club Closes After 89 Years
 
Balkans
» Serbia: Muslims in the Region of Sandzak Want Autonomy
 
Mediterranean Union
» Tunisia Joins the Enterprise Europe Network
 
North Africa
» Egypt: Coptic Pope Beefs Up Security Amid Al-Qaeda Threat
 
Middle East
» Iran Responds to Alarm on Woman Sentenced to Stoning
» Phyllis Chesler: Is the Timing Any Accident?
» Turkey: Christian Graves Vandalised on the Island of Imvros
 
Russia
» Ahmadinejad Accuses Russia of Giving in to American ‘Satan’
 
South Asia
» In India, Cellphones Abound, Toilets Don’t
 
Far East
» China Plans Space Station by 2020
» Top U.N. Official Honors Tiananmen Square General
 
Australia — Pacific
» Patient Too Shocked to Complain of Surgery
» Perfect Applicant Not Indigenous Enough for Job
» Valley of Tears
 
Latin America
» Brazilians Now Face Newspeak
 
Immigration
» Sweden Ends Asylum Seeker Returns to Greece
» U.N. Investigator: Migrants Suffer Worst Racism
» UK: Ministers Vow to Curb Every Migrant Route… But MPs Warn Cap on Arrivals Will Have Little Effect
 
Culture Wars
» ‘Bill’s New Frock’: Teaching Gender Confusion
» Switzerland: Catholic Condom Campaign Sparks Controversy
 
General
» Airport Body Scanners ‘Could Give You Cancer’, Warns Expert
» UK: Scariest Speed Camera of All… It Checks Your Insurance, Tax and Even Whether You Are Tailgating or Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Financial Crisis


Catherine Austin Fitts: The Looting of America

Former Assistant Secretary of Housing under George H.W. Bush Catherine Austin Fitts blows the whistle on how the financial terrorists have deliberately imploded the US economy and transferred gargantuan amounts of wealth offshore as a means of sacrificing the American middle class. Fitts documents how trillions of dollars went missing from government coffers in the 90’s and how she was personally targeted for exposing the fraud.

Fitts explains how every dollar of debt issued to service every war, building project, and government program since the American Revolution up to around 2 years ago — around $12 trillion — has been doubled again in just the last 18 months alone with the bank bailouts. “We’re literally witnessing the leveraged buyout of a country and that’s why I call it a financial coup d’état, and that’s what the bailout is for,” states Fitts.

Massive amounts of financial capital have been sucked out the United States and moved abroad, explains Fitts, ensuring that corporations have become more powerful than governments, changing the very structure of governance on the planet and ensuring we are ruled by private corporations. Pension and social security funds have also been stolen and moved offshore, leading to the end of fiscal responsibility and sovereignty as we know it.

[Return to headlines]



Obama to Spend $200 Million Per Day on Mumbai Boondoggle While Wounded Soldiers Beg for Donations

[…]

Yesterday, amid the swirl of midterm election news, it was announced that President Obama’s trip to Mumbai, India would cost $200 million per day. His retinue includes 3,000 people including Secret Service agents, US government officials and journalists, 40 aircraft, and three Marine One choppers that will be disassembled in the US, flown to Mumbai, and reassembled in India to ferry the president and his family and to evacuate them in case of any emergency. Also included is military personnel to ensure his safety.

He has reserved the entire Taj Mahal Hotel. All 570 odd rooms, banquet halls, restaurants, etc. In addition to hundreds of rooms in other 5 star hotels around Mumbai. Obviously no expense will be spared.

It seems to me that this is a fabulous expenditure of taxpayers dollars for a trip that has been described by The Global Post in this way:…

[Return to headlines]



Out of Touch and Out of Favour: The Future Looks Bleak for Barack Obama

The extent of the kicking the Democratic party has received in the mid-term elections will be clear by the time you read this. America has been concentrating in recent days not on who would win — that seemed obvious — but on how big the Republican gains would be among the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the 36 Senate seats, the 37 governorships and the 6,118 seats in state legislatures being contested. There is a more striking consideration, however: why has the Obama phenomenon imploded with the force it has, just two years after the President’s stunning triumph? For it is so mighty a fall that it is something of an achievement.

In recent days both the President and his rather clumsy Vice-President, Joe Biden, have been touring America trying to get the Democratic vote out.. They do not appear to have been very successful. Two years ago, hundreds of thousands of people turned up for great outdoor rallies for candidate Obama. When he went to Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday the indoor sports stadium he spoke in was a little over half-full. The media here are full of former Democratic voters voicing different degrees of disappointment with him.. The greatest criticism is about his failure to improve the economy; the second greatest is about his apparent inability to modify foreign policy. In this lies the truth of what the difficulty is: a fundamental failure to manage expectations. — that seemed obvious — but on how big the Republican gains would be among the 435 seats in the House of Representatives, the 36 Senate seats, the 37 governorships and the 6,118 seats in state legislatures being contested. There is a more striking consideration, however: why has the Obama phenomenon imploded with the force it has, just two years after the President’s stunning triumph? For it is so mighty a fall that it is something of an achievement.

On the morning after Mr Obama’s election two years ago, I watched on television an Illinois woman weeping with relief at the outcome, on the grounds that her house would not now be foreclosed upon. She made it clear where she got this idea from: the Democrats had promised prosperity and, she believed, to protect the homes of those facing foreclosure on their loans. I hope that woman still has the same roof over her head, but I wouldn’t bet on it. The wild economic promises and the failure to damp down some of the inferences drawn from them have proved disastrous for the Democrats’, and the President’s, reputation and credibility.

Many states are going broke. Nevada, home of the Senate leader Harry Reid, is $3 billion in the red. The combined level of their debt is $134 billion. That is a drop in the ocean compared with America’s total debt, which is around $15 trillion, a figure incomprehensible to most people. Unemployment nationally has risen from 7.7 per cent two years ago to 9.6 per cent today. The President’s own economic advisers said it would peak at 8 per cent and Mr Biden recklessly said it would fall month-on-month. Last month, 96,000 more people joined the dole queues. Unemployment has risen disproportionately among young people, black people and the white working class, precisely the groups who supported Mr Obama two years ago. The President has a particular problem in northern rust-belt states where he was supported heavily in 2008 because he represented the last hope. He and Mr Biden have been again and again to the states around the Great Lakes trying to maintain that support. There, as elsewhere, they appear to have failed. There is no real anger against them, though: just a fog of disappointment.

Some of the obloquy against Mr Obama is unfair. The economic mess was not of his, or his party’s, making. Turning that particular ship around in under two years was never going to happen. However, in two respects his management of it has made it worse, and for that he must take the blame. The first was his failure to communicate adequately with his people about the reality of the situation, and to advertise his own limitations in improving things quickly. He failed adequately to address their fears about it, perhaps because he felt those fears were exaggerated and being whipped up by people Mr Obama and his circle regard as “the far Right” — the Tea Party and its supporters.

The second has been the failure to understand that high state spending is not an inevitably efficient or effective way to stimulate recovery. Tea Partiers have made the point that in the 1980s, 60 per cent of total spending was made at local level. Now, it is around 33 per cent. This centralism has bred the accusation that Mr Obama and his friends are socialists; but it is the level of spending, wherever it is made, that is the real problem, not least for the way it obstructs the type of tax cuts that might stimulate enterprise, consumption and growth.

The combination of corporatism and overconfidence, and the economic failure it brings, are familiar to Britons from Leftist governments of both main parties since the war. Harder for us to understand is how the head of government has, in the past two years, become a prisoner of Congress, particularly since it is a Congress that, until today, his own party dominated. Self-interest on the part of many in the American political class ensured that the $787 billion stimulus package was spent unwisely and unproductively. Mr Obama should have dealt more firmly with his congressmen, but he didn’t. His failure to communicate with his electors has been matched by a failure to engage with his colleagues, many of whom spent the election campaign trying to distance themselves from him in the hope of being returned.

He has a historically low 37 per cent approval rating. Towns all over America are blighted by poverty and dereliction. The black community, which so closely identified with Mr Obama, is especially hard hit. But the suffering is widespread. In the past three years, 2.5 million homes have been repossessed and average incomes have come down by five per cent. Fifty million people have no health insurance, a 25 per cent increase in 10 years. Mr Obama’s apologists maintain that he has prevented a second Great Depression. However, the problem is that his supporters in 2008 expected more than that. There has been a haemorrhage of confidence in America’s future. The surge of the Tea Party reflects the common observation by formerly apolitical middle Americans that “we’ve forgotten who we are”. Such people imagine they have lost their national identity. They see a culture of freedom being wiped out by what they call “socialism”: an ideology of which the health care act is the prime symbol.

Last week the President went on television. When reminded of his campaign slogan from 2008 he modified it to “Yes we can, but…”. It was an admission of his failure of expectation management. He had, in the simplicity of his message during his highly effective campaign two years ago, taken people in. Now many who voted for him suspect it is not a question that he “can, but”, rather a question that he can’t at all. He has never learnt how to govern in prose. His inability to communicate properly was exacerbated by his own aloofness and his poor choice of people to help disseminate the message: notably his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who has recently resigned in order to run for mayor of Chicago.

They all failed to understand the real reason why Mr Obama was elected. It wasn’t because he was the new Messiah. It was because he wasn’t a Republican. America is not like him: it is not generally aloof, sophisticated and highly educated. He struggles to lead the sort of the people America really has. Yesterday’s debacle was only the first, shattering instalment of their reassessment of him.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Saudi Arabia: Gold Crisis, 85% of Goldsmiths Close Shop

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 26 — 85% of Saudi goldsmiths terminated their activities and fired their employees because of the crisis that hit the Saudi processed gold sector. The report was made by Abdellatif Alnimer, president of the gold and jewellery commission of the Chamber of Commerce of the eastern area of the Saudi kingdom, who was quoted by daily newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

Many gold processing facilities shut down their production lines because of the decline in sales. Alnimer warned gold trades about the negative consequences of monetising their investments to deal with operational expenses and wages. He stated that “Choosing to transform owned gold into liquidity means opening, without rules, the doors to foreign investors on one side and, on the other, allowing gold to ‘emigrate’ towards the Countries of the investors”.

In 2005 the price of a kilo of pure gold was equal to 48,000 Saudi riyals (slightly more than 9,000 euros), while now the price has increased to 169,000 riyals.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Vatican: Pope Will Implement Banking Rules

Vatican City, 29 Oct. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Pope Benedict XVI will bind the Vatican to implementing European Union laws against money laundering and financial fraud, the European Commission said, after the Holy See’s bank was tainted by a series of scandals.

The Vatican is “fully committed” to putting relevant EU legislation into effect by the end of 2010, as stipulated by a monetary accord the Vatican signed with the commission 17 December last year, Amadeu Altafaj, spokesman for EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, said in an interview in Brussels.

A joint EU-Vatican committee, set up under the agreement, “discussed in detail” a draft Vatican law “approximating” the EU rules at an 15 October meeting, Altafaj said. By an “act of the pope,” the law will become applicable to “the institutions of the Holy See, including the Institute for Religious Works,” as the Vatican Bank is called, Altafaj. The information was confirmed today by a high-ranking Vatican official, who declined to be identified, citing Vatican policy.

After scandals that included IOR involvement in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982, the Vatican is seeking to embrace financial openness after a push by the Group of 20 nations for greater transparency in the wake of the economic crisis.

The Vatican’s efforts came under scrutiny last month when Italian prosecutors seized 23 million euros from a Rome bank account registered to the IOR and opened an investigation into the Vatican Bank and its top two executives for alleged violations of money-laundering laws.

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

USA


Air Force Brainstorms Ways to Dumb Down Enemies

Disabling or dumbing down opponents’ brains may sound like an unusual way to fight a war, but that’s one possible idea being sought by the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force’s $49-million call for research proposals focuses on ways to boost brain power among U.S. warfighters. But it also makes this suggestion: “Conversely, the chemical pathway area could include methods to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm enemy cognitive capabilities.” Our brain cells communicate with one another by using both chemical and electrical signals. Presumably the Air Force is suggesting some weapon that could disrupt that, but it’s a bit too early to tell just what form it would take.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Did Harry Reid Steal Nevada?

5 point margin of victory highly suspicious given pre-election polls showing Angle ahead.

A serious investigation into potential vote fraud needs to be launched immediately in Nevada, after incumbent Harry Reid beat Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle by a clear five points, despite pre-election polls showing Angle four points ahead, amidst suspicious evidence of vote flipping and other dirty tricks on behalf of the Reid campaign last week that were dubbed “criminal” by Angle’s campaign attorney.

Angle clearly had the momentum going into the election, having come from behind to take the lead over the Senate majority leader.

Four separate Rasmussen polls prior to the election had Angle ahead. Two weeks before Super Tuesday, she held a 50% to 47% lead over Reid. One week prior to voting, on October 26, her lead was extended to four points, with Angle at 49% and Reid at 45%.

The race was tight, but surveys clearly showed that Angle was gradually extending her lead as each week went by.

To have a nine point swing, from Angle enjoying a four point lead just a week before the election, to Reid winning the seat by a clear five points, is highly suspicious, especially given the chicanery that came to light just last week. Nine points is not within the margin of error for polls, especially those conducted by Rasmussen, which is considered to be one of if not the most credible polling agency.

When early voting started last week, reports out of Clark County, home to three quarters of Nevada residents, indicated that electronic voting machines were automatically checking Harry Reid’s name on the ballot.

The technicians that serviced those electronic voting machines were the pro-Reid SEIU (Service Employees International Union), the same corrupt union that was behind thousands of bogus voter registrations across the nation. The SEIU spent $44 million during this election cycle, nearly all of which went to Democrats.

“White House political director Patrick Gaspard is formerly the SEIU’s top lobbyist, and former SEIU president Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House last year,” adds the Gateway Pundit.

Furthermore, the county commissioner for Clark County is none other than Harry Reid’s son Rory.

[Return to headlines]



FDA Tests Confirm Listeria at Texas Food Plant

Federal health officials found the listeria bacteria at a San Antonio food processing plant that Texas authorities have linked to four deaths from contaminated celery, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The federal agency said it found the pathogen in multiple locations in the SanGar Produce & Processing Co. plant, confirming the testing announced last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The Texas health authority shut the plant down Oct. 20 and ordered a recall of all produce shipped from there since January. A hearing on the case is set for Nov. 17 in Austin.

“It comes as no surprise to us,” Texas health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said Wednesday of the FDA’s findings. “If there was any doubt out there, this erases it. It’s another layer of confirmation that this plant had serious issues.”

FDA spokeswoman Patricia El-Hinnawy said in an e-mail the agency would not comment on the results.

Jason Galvan, an attorney for SanGar, said he couldn’t immediately comment on the FDA report.

“The FDA and the state have not turned over to us the documentation supporting their findings. We cannot comment on these most recent findings until the documentation is provided for independent evaluation by our experts,” Galvan said.

After the closure of the plant, which also produced lettuce, pineapple and honeydew, the company alleged the state health inspector who took samples on Oct. 11 could have contaminated them by being dressed improperly and touching surfaces — an assertion the state department denied.

SanGar has said its own tests would disprove the health department’s findings. Galvan said Wednesday that analysis done Oct. 26 by a Texas laboratory hired by SanGar returned negative results for listeria.

The state health department initially traced six of 10 known cases of listeriosis during an eight-month period to celery processed at the SanGar plant, including four deaths. The department last week linked a seventh case to SanGar, Williams said. The agency is investigating the origins of the other three cases.

An FDA report also released Wednesday included 18 observations from inspectors, including failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food and food contact surfaces; failure to store raw materials in a way that protects against contamination; failure to take apart equipment as necessary to ensure thorough cleaning; and failure to take effective measures to protect finished food from contamination by raw materials and refuse.

Others observations included failure to keep foods that can support rapid growth of “undesirable microorganisms” at a temperature that prevents food from becoming adulterated and failure to provide adequate screening or other protection against pests. The report also stated that the plant is not built in a way that allows floors and walls to be adequately cleaned and kept in good repair.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 people die of listeriosis each year in the U.S., and about 2,500 people become seriously ill.

Those with weaker immune systems — including pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those battling serious illness — are most at risk of becoming seriously ill or dying because of listeriosis, the CDC says. Healthy adults and children occasionally are infected with the disease but rarely become seriously ill.

The health department has prohibited SanGar from reopening the plant without agency approval.

“We’re working with them to clean up their business so that they may be able to reopen in the future,” Williams said. “The bottom line is we need to be sure the company can produce safe food before it reopens.”

[Return to headlines]



It’s Morning in America

“The cause of America,” wrote my countryman Tom Paine, “is in great measure the cause of all mankind”. That statement now has a practical, financial truth which Paine couldn’t have imagined in 1776. The US is the world’s leading economy, the dollar its reserve currency. American prosperity is especially critical to Britain, the single largest overseas investor in the US.

That, above all, is why Britons should take satisfaction from the return of candidates committed to restoring order and sanity to the federal budget. Virtually the first thing John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House, said in his acceptance speech was that Congress would “cut government spending”. Not before time. Under Barack Obama, US debt has risen from 40 per cent of GDP to 62 per cent and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it was on course to rise to 87 per cent by 2020, 109 per cent by 2025, and 185 per cent by 2035.

Yesterday, American voters reminded their politicians that they are servants, not rulers: that elected representatives are there to carry out the will of a people who, as the experience of many ages shows, are generally wiser than their leaders. Americans understand that governments, like individuals, must live within their means.

The Founders knew what they were doing when they put Congress in Article One of the Constitution, before the Presidency. The House of Representatives is supposed to control spending: its failure to discharge that duty properly is what brought America to its present predicament. Two years ago, this blog predicted that voters would punish those Congressmen who backed the bail-out; and so they have. The US is at last returning to the sublime principles on which it was founded: principles, as I never tire of pointing out, inherited from this country. I leave the last word to Thomas Jefferson, whose bust stares at me from my desk as I type this blog:

I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Rising Rancor: One Nation, Divisible by Politics

Researchers agree that the public’s political views are less polarized than those of elected officials. Still, the gaps between liberals and conservatives can run deep. That’s because political ideology is rooted in morality, Haidt said, and conservatives and liberals have very different understandings of what “moral” is.

Across cultures, there seem to be five foundations of morality, Haidt said. Liberals care about the first two, harm and fairness. Conservatives care about harm and fairness too, but they also worry about the other three foundations: in-group loyalty, respect for authority and purity or sanctity, which ties into religious views. (Haidt’s study website, yourmorals.org, allows you to test where you fall on the spectrum.)

People’s moral foundations are partially influenced by heritable traits, like a tendency toward disgust (which has been associated with conservatism) or empathy (reflected in the “liberal bleeding heart” stereotype). A study published this month in the Journal of Politics finds that a gene related to a love for novelty may be associated with a liberal outlook. People with the gene who had many friends as teenagers were more likely to be liberal as adults, revealing a gene-environment interaction, the researchers reported.

Once someone’s emotions predispose them toward a political philosophy, they tend to pay more attention to information that reinforces their position, said Peter Ditto, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, who has collaborated with Haidt. Ignoring contradictory information is easier than ever, given the proliferation of partisan news sources and blogs.

This fundamental gap is why liberals and conservatives often hit a wall while arguing issues with one another, Ditto said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sharia Law Banned: Oklahoma to Become the First U.S. State to Veto Use of Islamic Code

Oklahoma is set to become the first state in America to outlaw Sharia law.

Voters were expected to rule it illegal for judges to rely on the Islamic code when ruling on cases following a state-wide ballot.

Proponents of the ban said it was a ‘preemptive strike’ to stop Oklahoma suffering the same fate as European countries such as Britain, where Sharia is routinely used in Muslim communities.

Even though Oklahoma has a very small proportion of Muslims — just 15,000 out of a population of 3.7million — they want to stamp out the problem before it begins.

Around a dozen other states will be watching closely to see if the proposition is approved amid heightened anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by row over the Ground Zero Mosque.

The Republican-controlled state legislature in Oklahoma has already passed State Question 755, or ‘Save Our State’ with an 82-10 vote in the House of Representative and a 41-2 vote in the Senate.

It is aimed at ‘cases of the first impression’, or legal disputes where there is now law to resolve the issue at hand.

In these instances, judges might look to other jurisdictions for guidance, but the proposed amendment would block judges in Oklahoma courts from drawing on Sharia, or the laws of other nations.

Supporters of the proposal acknowledge that they do not know of a single case of Sharia being used in Oklahoma.

They also admit that the state has not suffered at the hands of Islamic terrorists, although in 1995 Timothy McVeigh, who was not a Muslim, blew up a building in Oklahoma City and killed 168 people, including 19 children.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Special Report: Soros Vote Counters

After helping Al Franken steal a U.S. Senate seat in 2008, Soros’s ultra-wealthy buddies in the Democracy Alliance, a billionaires’ club that funds left-wing political infrastructure, are spending money to level the playing field for vote fraudsters. (Soros is also funding an effort to take away democratic elections for state supreme courts, as John Gizzi notes in a new Capital Research Center paper.)

Their money is flowing to secretary of state candidates directly and to the Secretary of State Project, a “527” political committee that can accept unlimited financial contributions that it doesn’t have to disclose publicly until after the election. The SoS Project, which has raised at least $170,836 in this election cycle, is an officially approved Democracy Alliance grantee. Not surprisingly, members of the Alliance are opening their wallets to help secretary of state candidates across America endorsed by the SoS Project.

The purpose of the SoS Project is to destroy the remaining vestiges of electoral integrity. The group endorses left-wing, Democratic secretary of state candidates who have no respect for clean, honest elections.

Political observers know that a relatively small amount of money can help swing a little-watched race for a state office few people understand or care about. Once elected, a leftist secretary of state can help deliver a close election to Democrats as Minnesota’s Mark Ritchie accomplished through skullduggery in the 2008 contest between Franken and incumbent Norm Coleman. Both Franken and Ritchie, by the way, were endorsed in 2008 by ACORN Votes, ACORN’s federal political action committee.

[Return to headlines]

Canada


Jew-Hatred Infects Muslim World, Activist Says

Tarek Fatah turns 61 on Nov. 21, but the controversial, Pakistani-born Muslim, a fierce and unrelenting activist and critic of Islamist extremism, doesn’t expect to make it to 71.

Tarek Fatah Speaking last week at Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation as part of a tour to promote his second book, The Jew is Not My Enemy, Fatah described how at a book signing earlier in the day, he was spat on and insulted by a young Muslim.

The insults included calling Fatah “a Jew.”

The incident was consistent with the type of treatment the Toronto writer and broadcaster has come to expect, part of the “cancer that can’t be excised” from an ever-increasing number of fanatical Islamist Muslims who see Jews as vile, subhuman creatures, and the entire West and Israel as entities to be destroyed.

“And it is getting worse,” Fatah warned a receptive audience, despite several thousand enlightened, tolerant Muslims that he cites as being like-minded supporters of an authentic Islam rooted in humanism, tolerance, and faith.

Over and over again in his talk at the synagogue, Fatah emphasized that there’s nothing in the text of the Qur’an or genuine Islam that speaks against Jews, and nothing that justifies the hatred of Jews, Israel, and the West that started to develop three centuries after Muhammad died.

“Islam is not Islamism,” Fatah stressed.

A founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Fatah said Islamism is rooted in a centuries-old myth that Muhammad committed mass killings of Jews — an act that therefore remains not only justified but praiseworthy — combined with eight and ninth century shariah laws and “European anti-Semitism.”

“It is all based on a legend that does not exist,” Fatah said, adding that it’s now part of an “Islamo-fascist agenda” encroaching on so many nations.

Fatah has noted that Islamic radicalism, ironically, also grew out of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency providing massive funding to Saudi Arabian-based jihadi groups after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan 30 years ago.

As Fatah describes it, it is all a “toxic mixture” that threatens the world.

Never was this clearer to an incredulous Fatah, he recounted, than when he visited his native Pakistan in 2006 and attended a swank gathering of elites, where he heard “Harvard-educated, secular Muslim nationalists” tell him how “Jews had brought down the twin towers,” that the bird flu was a “Jewish conspiracy,” and that even the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 was an “Israeli attempt to destroy Indonesia.”

Now, he said, Pakistan has become a place that produces terrorists who target not only its usual arch-enemies, Hindus, but Jews, as in the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, where a Jewish centre family was tortured and murdered.

In Pakistan today, he said, “falling in love is a sin,” and women can be whipped, beaten, or even conceivably beheaded for allegedly breaking shariah law.

“It is a tragedy of enormous proportions,” Fatah said.

He added that the world has one billion Muslims, 60 per cent of whom are illiterate, and they deserve the world’s — including the Jewish community’s — empathy for being so subjugated and shielded from the forces of modernity.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Asylum Rights: Refugee System is Collapsing

“Breach of torture ban stops deportation,” headlines Die Presse, in the wake of a decision by the Austrian Constitutional Court, which rules that a family of Afghan refugees should not be returned to Greece. The crux of the matter is the collapse of Greece’s system for processing asylum seekers, which now means that it can no longer be considered “a safe country.” Der Standard remarks that this is the first ruling of its kind in Austria, but similar decisions have already been endorsed by courts in other European countries.

“The United Kingdom does it. So does the Netherlands, and so too do Belgium, Norway and Denmark. Following a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, all five of these European Council countries are refusing to comply with the Dublin II regulation, which stipulates that asylum seekers have to wait for their asylum applications to be processed in the country where they enter the EU,” notes the Viennese daily.

According to a UN human rights expert, the asylum system in Greece has been overwhelmed to the point where refugees of all ages are likely to spend six months behind bars. Conditions in the detention camps are degrading and represent a potentially fatal risk to health, and the backlog of cases in the judicial system has meant that asylum seekers must wait for months to have their claims heard.

“The asylum crisis in Greece has become a painful problem for the EU,” points out Der Standard, because the EU27 will now have to find a solution to “humanise” the Dublin II system. On 28 October, the German Constitutional Court is to begin deliberations on the issue of whether Berlin has the right to automatically expel refugees to other EU countries without allowing them a hearing. Since 2009, the Karlsruhe court has ruled against 13 deportations to Greece, and the country’s appeal courts have also found in favour of refugees in more than 300 other cases. The Constitutional Court’s decision is expected in 2011.

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



‘British Go to Hell’: Public Gallery Erupts as Student Inspired by Al Qaeda Who Tried to Kill MP is Jailed for Life

A courtroom erupted in protest today after a student who tried to murder a Labour MP was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, stabbed Stephen Timms twice in the stomach after being inspired by a radical Al Qaeda cleric linked to the air cargo bomb plot.

Her attack on the former Treasury minister is thought to be the first Al Qaeda-inspired attempt to assassinate a politician on British soil.

After the sentence was passed, a group of men began shouting in the public gallery ‘Allahu akbar’ (‘God is great’), ‘British go to hell’ and ‘Curse the judge’. A demonstration was also taking place outside the court.

Choudhry knifed East Ham MP Mr Timms as he held a constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe community centre in east London on May 14 after watching online jihadi sermons by US-born extremist Anwar al-Awlaki.

Mr Justice Cooke, sentencing Choudhry, said: ‘You said you ruined the rest of your life. You said it was worth it. You said you wanted to be a martyr’.

The judge said Choudhry would continue to be a danger to Members of Parliament for the foreseeable future.

The judge said that if Choudhry had succeeded in killing Mr Timms he would have given her a whole-life sentence, meaning she would never be released.

He told her: ‘You intended to kill in a political cause and to strike at those in Government by doing so.

‘You did so as a matter of deliberate decision-making, however skewed your reasons, from listening to those Muslims who incite such action on the internet.

‘You are an intelligent young lady who has absorbed immoral ideas and wrong patterns of thinking and attitudes.

‘It is not only possible, but I also hope that you will come to understand the distorted nature of your thinking, the evil that you have done and planned to do, and repent of it.

‘You do not suffer from any mental disease. You have simply committed evil acts coolly and deliberately’.

Her sentence came after Britain’s security minister urged the U.S. to shut down websites hosting Al Qaeda videos.

Baroness Neville-Jones said websites which try to radicalise members of the public would ‘categorically not be allowed in the UK’ and would be torn down.

Thousands of postings featuring Awlaki’s videos are available to view online.

In one sermon, entitled 44 Ways To Support Jihad, he says: ‘Jihad today is obligatory on every capable Muslim’.

The Home Office has confirmed that pressure is being put on the White House to remove the sermons.

In private comments to the Brookings Institute in Washington, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Lady Neville-Jones said: ‘When you have incitement to murder, when you have people actively calling for the killing of fellow citizens and when you have the means to stop that person doing so, then I believe we should act.

‘Those websites would categorically not be allowed in the UK.

‘They incite cold-blooded murder and as such are surely contrary to the public good.

‘If they were hosted in the UK then we would take them down but this is a global problem.’

Student Choudhry told detectives she attacked Mr Timms as a ‘punishment’ and ‘to get revenge for the people of Iraq’.

After her arrest she was revealed to be in possession of a hit list of other politicians who had voted for the war.

The 21-year-old was believed to have been acting alone after becoming radicalised watching online sermons by Awlaki, who has been linked to the cargo plane bomb plot sent from Yemen.

She had been a moderate Muslim student looking forward to a career in teaching before watching the videos.

Awlaki is also thought to be behind a mass shooting at a US army base in Fort Hood, Texas, as well as the failed Deroit underpants bomb plot on Christmas Day last year.

The court heard that Choudhry was a high-flying university student at King’s College London who had hoped to become a teacher but dropped out weeks before carrying out the attack.

English language lecturer Alan Fortune said she was an outstanding student who had been expected to achieve a first-class honours degree, and added: ‘The world was her oyster’.

Choudhry lived at home with her parents, who were not particularly religious and said to be devastated at her actions, and her four younger siblings.

Today, wearing a black headscarf, she spoke only to confirm her name when she appeared by videolink.

She sat placidly, blinking behind her glasses, as she watched proceedings on a screen in front of her.

Some of the 11 jurors who came back to court to hear the sentencing craned their necks to get their first glimpse of the woman they had already tried and convicted in her absence.

She did not appear for the trial because she refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the court.

After the stabbing, Mr Timms was given first aid before being taken to the Royal London Hospital.

He had suffered two small lacerations to the left of his liver, and a small perforation of the stomach — injuries which could have been life-threatening due to possible loss of blood and infection had he not been treated.

The judge expressed his best wishes to Mr Timms, saying he continued to represent his constituents faithfully ‘albeit with heightened security’, and referred to the MP’s Christian beliefs.

He said: ‘I understand that he brings to bear his own faith, which upholds very different values to those which appear to have driven this defendant.

‘Those values are those upon which the common law of this country was founded and include respect and love for one’s neighbour, for the foreigner in the land, and for those who consider themselves enemies, all as part of one’s love of God.

‘These values were the basis of our system of law and justice and I trust that they will remain so as well as motivating those, like Mr Timms, who hold public office’.

Academic high-flier Roshonara Choudhry planned to become a teacher before she ruined her life trying to kill Stephen Timms but told police: ‘It was worth it.’

She was just months away from completing her degree at Kings College London when she began watching radical online lectures in November 2009.

Her mother described her as ‘affectionate and helpful’ and teachers said she was ‘quiet and pleasant’ as well as lauding her outstanding performance.

One lecturer said that ‘the world was her oyster’ but Choudhry decided that she would rather become a martyr.

She dropped out of university and, egged on by the online preaching of suspected terror mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki, she plotted to bring terror to the heart of the UK political world by trying to murder Mr Timms in May this year.

Jeremy Dein QC, defending, said that her radicalisation had taken place ‘over a short period’ before buying two knives for £1 each from an east London kitchen ware shop and taking a bus to carry out the attack.

He said she was a young woman trying to find a sense of ‘individuality’ when she came across radical website preaching, but she never became part of any wider terrorist organisation.

Choudhry, who had no previous convictions and was said to have been of ‘exemplary character’, was in the third year of an English and Communications degree, where lecturers described her as ‘quiet and pleasant’, said Mr Dein.

But she dropped out three weeks before the attack.

Her tutor had already noticed her work dropping off and she would later tell police she quit the college because it was involved in ‘things where they work against Muslims’.

Choudhry had lived with her parents — described by Mr Dein as ‘not especially religious’ — and four younger siblings in east London.

Her mother Nometha Rahman said that her daughter was ‘affectionate, helpful and hard-working’.

In February this year, she began working as a teacher in tuition centres in east London, providing private tutoring to primary school children.

Before starting university in 2007 she was at Newham sixth form college where a teacher said she ‘related warmly and generously to other pupils, and teachers’.

Alan Fortune, a senior lecturer at Kings College, described her as a ‘standout pupil who consistently achieved the highest grades, one of the most talented and respected students, on course to reach a first class honours degree’.

The court heard that Mr Fortune said: ‘The world was her oyster.’

Four days before the stabbing, she looked at an online jihadi book which said that ‘fighting the non-believers is mandatory’ and that ‘whoever kills non-believers is rewarded with paradise’ Mr Dein said she had initially begun looking on the internet to learn more about her Muslim faith in search of ‘not radicalisation but education’.

But he added: ‘Having watched and listened to lecturers and preaching, she came to conclude that those who offend her faith deserve punishment. In this background, she felt constrained to act as she did.’

She admitted to police that she had ruined the rest of her life but also told them: ‘It was worth it.’

Mr Dein said: ‘Miss Choudhry’s mother described how her actions had had a devastating effect upon the whole family and how their hopes and dreams for their extremely intelligent daughter had been shattered.’

The court heard that a draft letter to her mother found on Choudhry’s computer said she hated living in Britain and did not want to spend the rest of her life in a non-Muslim country.

She said she could not live under the British Government, which she described as an ‘enemy of Islam’, and that she could not pay taxes to it or work as a teacher in its education system.

Four days before the stabbing, she looked at an online jihadi book which said that ‘fighting the non-believers is mandatory’ and that ‘whoever kills non-believers is rewarded with paradise’.

Choudhry told police she thought she would be arrested or killed for killing Mr Timms, the court heard.

Sentencing her today, Mr Justice Cooke said: ‘You said you wanted to die because you wanted to be a martyr and that it was Islamic teaching that to fight and die for your religion is the highest honour.

‘You said that you thought you had fulfilled your obligation and your Islamic duties to stand up for the people of Iraq and to punish someone who wanted to make war with them.’

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



German Far Right Emerges From Shadows to Join Cologne Campaign Against Mosque

A populist party fighting the building of a Turkish cultural centre has found willing allies among Austrian extremists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: CSU Party Newspaper Offers Holidays to ‘Occupied East Prussia’

Bavaria’s Christian Social Union was embarrassed this week by flyer included in the conservative party’s newspaper advertising holidays to “occupied East Prussia,” using German names for territory now belonging to Russia and Poland.

The offending flyers were distributed inside the Bayernkurier over the weekend at the CSU’s party convention, daily Die Welt reported.

“After breakfast go to Russian-occupied East Prussia,” the travel offer read. “Along the Amber Coast to Cranz in Samland and to the capital Königsberg with its 700 years of German history.”

The antiquated references to German lands divided between Russia and Poland after the Second World War would be enough to ignite a diplomatic crisis had they been published in the wrong place, the paper said.

“It’s one of the most annoying things in the world,” chief editor of the Bayernkurier Peter Hausmann told Die Welt, adding that no one at the paper had probably proofread the ad before publication.

“The producer created and printed it, then it was distributed, and that shouldn’t have happened.”

The gaffe is particularly painful because the CSU had debated whether it wanted to continue spending some €1.15 million per year to fund the weekly paper, Hausmann said.

With not a single place name in the ad reflecting its post-1945 status, it is clear that Wembacher Reisen, the Waging am See-based travel company behind the ad, was intentionally calling up WWII-era nationalist sentiments, the paper said.

“When the Bayernkurier offers a trip to ‘Russian-occupied East Prussia,’ one remembers a time well before the peace and reconciliation policies of Willy Brandt,” said centre-left Social Democratic parliamentarian from the travel company’s electoral district, Bärbel Kofler.

“It is conceptually linked to the darkest chapter of German history,” she added.

Meanwhile the family behind the travel company, which has worked with the CSU for 20 years on the party paper, claims it made a mistake with the ad’s wording.

“I simply forgot the word ‘former.’ I was never good in history,” said Lydia Wembacher, who is filling in for her husband while he leads a tour in Rome. “As in — Russian-occupied former East Prussia.”

The family said it was sorry for the mix-up.

“We in no way want to change history,” she said.

Ironically, the blunder occurred the same weekend that CSU leader Horst Seehofer lauded the party’s modern policies following the implementation of a quota for women in the party’s leadership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany’s Freiheit Party Joins the Fray

A new German political party, Die Freiheit (The Freedom), had itsinaugural meeting on October 28 in Berlin. I was in town, so its leadership invited me to be the only non-member of the nascent party to witness and report on its founding constituent assembly.

As a reminder of how freedoms have eroded in Europe in this age of Islamist terror, a political party that resists Islamization and supports Israel cannot come into existence in broad daylight. So, like the other 50-plus attendees, I learned of the event’s time and location only shortly before it took place. For good measure, the organizers operated undercover; the hotel management only knew of a board election for an innocuously named company. Even now, for security reasons, I cannot mention the hotel’s name.

Much of the time was taken up with the legalisms required to register a political party in Germany: Attendance was taken, votes were counted, organizational procedures explained, steps enumerated to contest Berlin elections in September 2011, and officers elected, including the chairman, René Stadtkewitz, 45. Of East German background, he is a member of the Berlin parliament who belonged to the ruling conservative Christian Democratic Union party until his expulsion a month ago for publicly hosting the Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

For me, of chief interest was Stadtkewitz’s oral summary of party policies plus the distribution of a 71-page Grundsatzprogramm (“Basic Program”) setting out party positions in detail. Stadtkewitz explained the need for a new German party on the grounds that “the established parties, unfortunately, are not ready to take a clear stand but instead abandon the people to their concerns.” The program neither minces words nor thinks small. Its opening sentence declares that “Western civilization, for centuries a world leader, faces an existential crisis.”

The new party, whose slogan is “The party for more freedom and democracy,” speaks candidly about Islam, Islamism, Islamic law, and Islamization. Starting with the insight that “Islam is not just a religion but also a political ideology with its own legal system,” the party calls for scrutiny of imams, mosques, and Islamic schools and for a review of Islamic organizations to ensure their compliance with German laws, and condemns efforts to build a parallel legal structure based on sharia. Its analysis forcefully concludes: “We oppose with all our force the Islamization of our country.”

Freiheit robustly supports Israel, calling it “the only democratic state in the Middle East. It therefore is the outpost of the Western world in the Arab theater. All democratic countries must show the highest interest in Israel’s living in free self-determination and security. We explicitly commit ourselves to Israel’s right to exist, which is not open for discussion.”

However clear these passages are, as well as the rejection of Turkish accession to the European Union, they constitute only about two percent of the Basic Program, which applies traditional Western values and policies generally to German political life. Its topics include German peoplehood, direct democracy, the family, education, the workplace, economics, energy, the environment, health, and so on. Offering a wide platform makes good sense, fitting the anti-Islamization program into a full menu of policies.

Despite this, of course, press coverage of the founding emphasized Freiheit’s position vis-a-vis Islam, defining it as a narrowly “anti-Islam party.”

The establishment of Freiheit prompts two observations: First, while it fits into a pattern of emerging European parties that focus on Islam as central to their mission, it differs from the others in its broader outlook. Whereas Wilder’s PVV blames nearly every societal problem on Islam, Freiheit, in addition to opposing “with all our force the Islamization of our country,” has many other issues on its agenda.

Second, Germany is conspicuously behind most European countries with large Muslim populations in not having spawned a party that stands up against Islamization. That’s not for lack of trying; previous attempts petered out. Late 2010 might be an auspicious moment to launch such a party, given the massive controversy in Germany over the Thilo Sarrazin book ruing the immigration of Muslims, followed by Chancellor Angela Merkel announcing that multiculturalism has “utterly failed.” A change in mood appears underway.

The Freiheit party has been conceived as a mainstream, earnest, and constructive effort to deal with an exceedingly complex and long-term problem. If it succeeds, it could change the politics of Europe’s most influential country.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Greece Halt International Mail Deliveries After Militants Send Bombs to Euro Leaders Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi

Greek authorities have halted international postal deliveries for 48 hours in the wake of a militant bombing campaign.

At least 11 mail bombs were sent to embassies in Athens yesterday, while devices were also sent to the offices of French PM Nicolas Sarkozy and his German counterpart Angela Merkel.

Another addressed to Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was discovered on a plane forced into an emergency landing at Bologna last night.

The airport was closed for several hours after the TNT cargo craft was asked to deviate when company officials back in Greece realised there was a suspect package aboard.

A ‘little flame sparked’ when bomb experts opened the parcel.

Greek militant groups are suspected of mounting the unprecedented two-day wave of attacks. If that is confirmed, it would mark a dramatic escalation for organisations that have never before attempted to strike targets abroad.

Packages were also directed to the embassies of Bulgaria, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Mexico, Chile, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The attacks began Monday when a mail bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy exploded at a delivery service in central Athens, lightly wounding one worker.

Police arrested two men in their twenties shortly after the blast. They were allegedly carrying mail bombs addressed to Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches.

The two — Panagiotis Argyros, 22 and Gerasimos Tsakalos, 24, were charged with terrorism-related offenses. Both refused to cooperate with authorities, declining to give their names and claiming to be political prisoners.

Police say Argyros was already wanted for alleged membership in a radical group called Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, which has carried out crude arson and small bomb attacks in the past.

The German chancellory was evacuated yesterday afternoon after one suspect package arrived at Angela Merkel’s office. It was unclear whether the bomb sent to Germany was delivered by land or air.

‘If they have been flown, then it rather begs the question whether European freight air security is up to muster at all,’ said UK-based aviation security consultant Chris Yates.

But transportation industry officials also said there are few if any security checks on packages transported within the European Union by road or rail.

‘Once they’re in Europe, the goods are free to move around,’ said Robert Windsor, manager of trade services at the British International Freight Association.

UPS, which transports mail in Europe both by ground and air, said it was aware of reports it had delivered the package to Germany but could not confirm them.

‘We’re working closely with authorities to investigate,’ UPS spokesman Norman Black said by e-mail.

Sarkozy added: ‘The threat is very serious. We are extremely vigilant and I am following it very closely.

Bombs addressed to embassies and state leaders were not likely to reach their intended targets, said Andrew Silke, Director Terrorism Studies at the University of East London. But the bombers probably achieved their aim by generating worldwide publicity.

‘If they had just left the devices on the streets of Athens it wouldn’t have got nearly anything like the attention it got internationally,’ Silke said. ‘This happening so close to the Yemeni attempt to get bombs into the United States means it probably has more of a resonance that it would otherwise.’

Mail bombs are also easy to put together, he noted.

‘It’s a very simple way to cause an awful lot of disruption,’ Silke said. ‘The devices are usually very simple to make. The ingredients needed to make them are cheap.’

He added: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if this would lead to a significant increase in this type of attacks in the coming months.’

No connection has been made to the mail bombs from Yemen that were found on aircraft in Britain and Dubai, and Greek authorities are focusing on domestic groups.

Radical groups have long been active in Greece. After a few years of relative quiet, such groups stepped up attacks following riots that hit Greek cities in December 2008, sparked by the deadly police shooting of a teenager in Athens.

Four people have been killed in bombings or shooting attacks since 2009.

Much of the unrest harks back to the sharp postwar divide between right and left, which led to a civil war and a seven-year military dictatorship.

Although a student uprising succeeded in ending military rule in 1974, tensions remain between Greece’s security establishment and a phalanx of deeply entrenched leftist groups that often protest against globalization and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The government condemned the attacks, vowing to catch the culprits.

‘We stand firm, unyielding against anyone who tries, in vain, with terrorist actions to disrupt social peace and harm our country’s image internationally during a particularly difficult time,’ Prime Minister George Papandreou said.

The country is in the midst of a debt crisis, and only avoided bankruptcy in May after securing billions of euros in emergency loans from its European partners — led by Germany — and the International Monetary Fund. In exchange, the government made painful spending cuts, slashing pensions and salaries and hiking taxes.

The cuts have led to a backlash of anger from workers who have seen their income cut and spending power curtailed.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



Greek Authorities Focus on Radical Left

Norwegian Infidel: The series of package bombs originating in Greece continued late on Tuesday with officials discovering an explosive parcel addressed to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Athens authorities are focusing on left-wing militant groups in the Greek capital. The list of package bombs is long. Every day so far this week, authorities have discovered new explosive devices concealed as parcels and bound for addresses both in Athens and across the European continent. All of them are thought to have originated in Greece.

Left-wing extremists in Greece have become more active ever since the police shot dead a 15 year old in the leftist-alternative Athens quarter of Exarchia in December of 2008. Indeed, there are a number of radical leftist cells active in the Greek capital, including a group calling itself the Revolutionary Sect which staged an armed assault on an Athens police station in February of 2009. In a statement claiming responsibility for the assault, the group wrote: “The bodies of the police are perfect for target practice. They are like the donuts they eat: without a hole in the middle they are good for nothing.” The painful austerity measures passed by the government in response to the debt crisis have given leftists an additional boost.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Italy: ‘Better to Like Women Than be Gay’ Says Berlusconi

Premier defends ‘act of solidarity’ in helping ‘Ruby’

(ANSA) — Milan, November 2 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday defended himself from allegations of impropriety in his private life and said it was “better to like pretty women than be gay”.

Rebutting claims that he abused his office to have a teenage Moroccan belly dancer who went to one of his famously lavish parties released after accusations of theft, the premier said: “I have a gruelling work schedule and if I happen to look pretty girls in the face now and then, well then, it’s better to be a fan of pretty women than to be gay”.

The premier said people should stop reading newspaper reports of the alleged scandal, saying “you’ll see, in the end it’ll all come out as a storm of paper”.

He described his intervention on behalf of the girl, Karima El Mahroug aka Ruby, as an act of “solidarity that I would have been ashamed not to do, and so I did it, I continually do these things because that’s the way I am”.

El Mahroug was released after an alleged phone call from the premier which Milan prosecutors are investigating.

The centre-left opposition and Berlusconi’s uneasy ally, House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, have said Berlusconi should resign if it is proven he phoned and, as widely claimed, told police El Mahrough was Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s granddaughter.

Analysts say the affair threatens government stability but Berlusconi insisted Tuesday: “We have the numbers to govern, and we shall do so until the end of our term (in 2013)”.

He added that the government intended to re-present a law to curb police wiretaps and their reporting in the press, limiting their use to crimes like terrorism, mafia, murder and paedophilia cases.

GAY GROUPS OUTRAGED.

Gay groups were outraged by Berlusconi’s comments.

Long-standing gay leader Franco Grillini said Berlusconi’s “bar-room quips fuel homophobia” while the leading Italian gay association, Arcigay, said “Berlusconi should apologise to gays and to women”.

Arcigay’s long-time leader Aurelio Mancuso said: “Berlusconi should be ashamed of that remark, which highlights his difficulty over the Ruby affair”. “It is an undescribable comment and I hope gays on the right and the left rise up and condemn (him)”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Parcel Bomb Addressed to Berlusconi Ignites

Rome, 3 Nov. (AKI) — A parcel bomb addressed to Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and linked to a series of similar devices posted in Greece caught fire on Tuesday at Bologna airport in northern Italy.

The package burst into flames when a police bomb squad tried to open it but no-one was injured. It was intercepted on a flight by the private TNT courier company that was re-routed to Bologna from Paris after fears a bomb was on board.

The remains of the bomb were taken for analysis.

Greek authorities suspended all airmail deliveries for 48 hours, after another parcel bomb reached German chancellor Angela Merkel’s office and one intended for French president Nicolas Sarkozy was found in the Greek capital, Athens on Monday.

Greek authorities have blamed a far-left group for the attempted bombing campaign in which booby-trapped packages ignited at the Swiss and Russian embassies in Athens on Tuesday as staff tried to open them. No one was injured, police said.

Greek police on Monday arrested two men, aged 22 and 24 over the parcel-bomb campaign. One is a suspected member of Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, a far-left group that appeared in 2008 and has carried out a wave of arson and minor bomb attacks on the offices and homes of politicians.

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



Italy: Sex Worker Questioned in Palermo Over PM’s Sardinian Parties

Investigation began with former PDL parliamentary assistant’s arrest on drugs charges

ROME — Perla Genovesi was supposed to be talking about drugs. The Parma-born 32-year-old had been arrested by Palermo magistrates in the course of investigations into alleged international cocaine trafficking. >From her cell, Ms Genovesi said that she wanted to co-operate with magistrates, who duly arrived expecting to hear about routes used by traffickers. She did not let them down, except that she didn’t stop at cocaine. Or rather, she identified as one key figure another woman, 28, who was then called in for questioning. The second woman had relatively little drug-related information but quite a lot to say about her activities as a sex worker. She confirmed what Ms Genovesi had referred to in vaguer terms: her visits Silvio Berlusconi’s Costa Smeralda summer residence, Villa Certosa.

The second woman is believed to have claimed she was recruited for these occasions. Questioners are understood to have listened to the same stories about swimming pools, scantily clad women and other details that they had heard from Ruby, the Moroccan who celebrated her 18th birthday only yesterday and was released from Milan police headquarters in May when Mr Berlusconi stepped in personally. It is thought that the same intermediaries who contacted the sex worker and former cube dancer for her visits to Mr Berlusconi’s Villa Certosa in 2009 also got in touch with Ruby.

The woman’s statement is understood to mention several names, including Lele Mora, the entertainment entrepreneur already under investigation in Milan for complicity in prostitution in the Ruby case. Magistrates at the Palermo public prosecutor’s office have taken a statement from her and are set to send this part of their inquiry to Milan for territorial competence, again on suspicion of complicity in prostitution committed in the Lombard capital. Milan is where the former cube dancer claims to have been hired to attend parties at the Berlusconi residence.

Perla Genovesi, the alleged trafficker arrested in July, had been told various details about the Villa Certosa parties by the sex worker. Ms Genovesi, the former parliamentary assistant of Forza Italia senator, now People of Freedom (PDL) deputy, Enrico Pianetta, said she had introduced the woman to civil service minister Renato Brunetta to ask for help in solving an issue related to the custody of her son. According to Ms Genovesi, the contact enabled the woman to get into “the prime minister’s party circle”, as the aspiring police informer put it…

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

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



Main Finnish Parties Engineer Removal of True Finn Representative From Nordic Council Meeting in Reykjavik…….

Raimo Vistbacka: Oh, but they reminded me on the way out that it wasn’t anything personal

This is how politics work in the social democracies of Europe, when you belong to a party that threatens the voter base of the established parties because you’re working against their policies that the people reject, don’t believe for a moment that you’ll be allowed to participate with them in international meetings, let alone on an equal footing. This was engineered by the Center Party with a wink and a nod from the SDP and National Coalition. KGS

Vistabacka approaches from the rear, mulling over where to plant his shoe

Terhi Tikkala: Vistback was evicted, but I’m just the one who pointed the finger

True Finns representative evicted from the Nordic Council meeting

An exceptional event was seen today in the Nordic Council meeting in Reykjavik, as MP Raimo Vistbacka (True Finns) was kicked out of the Nordic Council meeting in the middle of the meeting.

The backdrop according to the Secretary-General of the group, is the right-wing assault of populist parties in Finland and Sweden.

[…]

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: AIVD: ‘Extreme Right Following Halved’

THE HAGUE, 03/11/10 — The number of active members of extreme right groups or rightwing extremists in the Netherlands has dropped to below 300. This is half the total of 600 three years ago, says the AIVD intelligence service in a report published yesterday.

“In the Netherlands the threat from the extreme right and rightwing extremism to the democratic rule of law is limited,” concludes the AIVD. The power of the movements is dwindling because they are so fragmented organisationally, have a small following and have big differences of opinion among themselves.

The AIVD makes a distinction between ‘extreme right’ and ‘rightwing extremists”. There is no question of a movement towards terrorism from one or other movement. Resistance to the movements within society is strong and it is unlikely that a leader will arise in the short term.

Among the extreme right are groups with a xenophobic or nationalistic body of thought, who use democratic means for their aims. Examples of these are Voorpost and the National People’s Movement (NVB). They are specifically opposed to Islamisation.

Rightwing extremists, like the Netherlands People’s Union (NVU), have antidemocratic aims and can use undemocratic means to achieve them. Rightwing extremists are anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitic Muslims are not considered as among rightwing extremists.

According to the AIVD, it cannot be ruled out that isolated individuals driven by extreme right or rightwing-extremist ideologies could use violence. Among rightwing extremists, there is a fascination for weapons. The AIVD does not however have any indications that weapons are being assembled for such a purpose.

All in all, it is not likely that the threat of extreme right and rightwing extremism will flare up in the Netherlands in the short term, according to the AIVD. It is more likely that the threat will decline further, the service says in its report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Poll: Strong Support for Common Nordic State

Nearly half of all Danes, Finns, Norwegians, Swedes and Icelanders would like their countries to unite in a federal state, according to a poll published as members of the Nordic Council met Tuesday. When asked what they thought of the idea of creating a common Nordic state, 11 percent said they were “very favourable” and 31 percent said they were “favourable,” according to a poll conducted by the Oxford Research institute on behalf of the Nordic Council. A majority of the 1,032 people questioned meanwhile remained sceptical to the idea, with 40 percent saying they were “opposed” and 18 percent saying they were “very opposed.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spain: Persecuted for Refusing to Wear Veil, Imam Sentenced

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 2 — The Court of Tarragona (Catalonia) has sentenced the imam of the Islamic community of Cunit, Mohamed Benbrahim, to one year in prison for serious threats against Fatima Gahilan, a 31-year-old Moroccan woman and cultural mediator for the municipality, who refused to wear a veil and stop driving her car. A 9-month sentence, cited by Publico, was also handed out to the president of the Islamic Association of Cunit, Abderraman el Osri. A 730-euro fine was also issued to the imam’s daughter, Hafssa Ben Brahim, for having repeatedly insulted and threatened the cultural mediator.

The wife of the Muslim spiritual leader, Zohra Aalalouch Ahmaddach, was acquitted. The judge also issued a restraining order on the three individuals, who are banned from coming within 500 metres of Fatima Ghailan or communicating with her for the next two years, and must pay 1,500 euros in compensation for moral damages.

During the trial, it was learned that the four people accused made Fatima’s life impossible, constantly insulting and threatening her. The imam and his wife and daughter even collected signatures in the Muslim community against her in November two years ago, falsely accusing her of forging reports so Muslims would be denied social assistance. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Spain: Increasingly Secularised Country Awaits Pope

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 1 — As the country awaits the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona on November 6 and 7, Spain is becoming less and less Catholic.

Disenchantment with religion is being recorded in young people in particular, according to analysis of surveys carried out by the CIS sociological research centre, which were conducted between the Pope’s previous visit — to Valencia in 2006 — and today. The findings have been published by the progressive newspaper Publico.

Over the last five years, the percentage of young people between 15 and 29 who claim not to be Catholic has risen to 50%, with many experts saying that Spain might no longer be a majority Catholic country in the next twenty years, though this does not necessarily mean that Catholicism would be replaced by another religion.

Catholicism, which was obligatory under Franco, was strongly rooted in the country as recently as the early 1990s, with the percentage of the population considering themselves to be Catholic close to 90%. This percentage, however, has fallen progressively, with a particular acceleration between 1992 and 2010, during which time the percentage of the population claiming to be Catholic has fallen from 87% to 73%.

The percentage of young people professing themselves to be Catholic, however, has fallen dramatically from 82% to 52%, a drop of 30% in 18 years, according to the latest CIS barometer.

Kerman Calvo, a political expert at the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies and a researcher on the Europe-wide religion and politics programme, says that the speeding up of secularisation in the country coincides with the arrival of Jose’ Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at the head of the government, and with the idea that the new generations no longer consider religion to be a part of Spanish identity.

Indirect confirmation of this comes in the figures on the number of people choosing to get married in religious ceremonies. The latest figures suggest that last year there were more civil weddings (94,993) than Catholic religious unions (80,174), for the first time ever. Only ten years ago, in 2000, 163,636 couples chose to marry in religious ceremonies.

In the last fourteen years, therefore, there has been a collapse in religious weddings (-46%) and a significant rise in civil ceremonies (+112%). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Stakelbeck on Terror Show: “Eurabia” Rising

With mid-term elections now complete, it will be fascinating to see how the new members of Congress deal with the threat from jihadist Islam.

From Al Qaeda, to homegrown Islamists to the menace posed by Iran and its proxies, the threats are numerous and imminent.

We tackle some of them in the latest edition of the Stakelbeck on Terror show. You can watch it at the above link.

—We kick off the show with a look at how Janet Naploitano recently appointed an outspoken Islamist to the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

—We then head to Vienna for an exclusive look at how one Austrian woman is facing prison time…for criticizing Islam (2:38 into the show).

—Then it’s off to Sweden for another shocking exclusive. We visit a Scandinavian city that has become a hotbed of jihad and anti-Semitism (6:29 into the show).

—In our Inside Israel segment, we’re joined by former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who discusses his new Emergency Committee for Israel (14:13 into the show).

—The Sharia Flaw segment looks at how Somali jihadists recently executed two teenage girls for alleged “spying” (22:22 into the show).

— The Muslim Brotherhood Declares War on America. A very overlooked recent development out of Egypt (23:49 into the show).

—Why Leftists embrace radical Islamists (26:14 into the show).

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Sahlin and Åkesson Clash in First Riksdag Duel

Social Democratic leader Mona Sahlin and the Sweden Democrats’ Jimmie Åkesson traded barbs on the floor of the Riksdag on Wednesday in the first party leader debate since Sweden’s September 19th general election.

Sahlin charged that it is a big loss for democracy that a party with racist roots has a place in Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag.

Her attacks on the Sweden Democrats came as she opened the first debate between party leaders in the Riksdag since the country’s September 19th general elections.

In his debut at the Riksdag’s platform, Åkesson retorted, “Mona Sahlin alleges that my party has racist roots, but it was not my party that initiated eugenics research.”

Between 1935 and 1975, a period of nearly uninterrupted rule by the Social Democrats, Sweden sterilized a total of 63,000 people, mostly women, as part of a programme based on eugenics research with the aim of weeding out “inferiors” to create a stronger Swedish race.

Åkesson added that Sahlin should clean up the debate instead, but that did not deter her attacks.

“The Sweden Democrats are an un-Swedish phenomenon and should remain so. The Sweden Democrats are a party sprung out of the white power and racist movements,” she continued.

She also argued that the Sweden Democrats are a simple-minded party with a single agenda: to pit group against group and attack immigration.

Sahlin also pointed out that the country is now led by a minority government that needs to seek support in the Riksdag.

“We are prepared to work with the government when it benefits the country. However, we will offer strong opposition when the government’s policies are heading in the wrong direction. One such issue is decent health insurance, another is jobs,” she said.

Other parties continued with the attacks against Åkesson.

Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund wondered why the Sweden Democrats are against government efforts to create entry-level job for immigrants, under which the state would provide a large part of the employer’s contribution.

The Sweden Democrats called the proposal “discrimination against Swedes.”

“There are no jobs and they do not seem to create enough jobs either,” said Åkesson, arguing that the major issue is immigration.

“The single most important integration policy measure is to stop the influx of newly unemployed, then we can begin to integrate in a sensible way,” he added.

However, Björklund could not understand the Sweden Democrats’ reasoning.

“The result of your policy will increase unemployment among immigrants and it is incomprehensible, unless you think that increased unemployment benefits your policy,” he said.

Sweden would be a poorer country without diversity and the multitude of impressions that have influenced Sweden throughout the years, said Green Party spokesman Peter Eriksson, who accused the Sweden Democrats of attacking free and open society with their policies.

“The Swedish culture is good when it is open and accepting, not when the maypole and folk costumes become a straitjacket that shrinks with every wash in the Sweden Democrats’ laundry room,” he said.

Åkesson countered that the Green Party is an extremist party with regard to immigration issues and wondered if the party intends to use blackmail against the government, which it has for a number of years, to get amnesty for refugees.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swedish King to Face Book’s Love Affair Claims

Sweden is bracing for the release of a controversial book detailing the private life of King Carl XVI Gustaf, who has announced he will comment on the book during a Thursday press conference.

While the King usually holds a press conference at the conclusion of his annual elk hunt, which ends on Thursday, this year’s event is expected to draw more journalists than usual as it coincides with the release of a new, controversial book about the Swedish monarch.

The book, entitled “Den motvillige monarken” (‘The reluctant monarch’), reportedly provides a rare and detailed look into the King’s private life, including details of love affairs, wild parties with Swedish models, and connections to the underworld.

Written over the last two years by a team of three investigative journalists and authors, Thomas Sjöberg, Tove Meyer and Deanne Rauscher, the book has sparked numerous and wide-ranging debate in Sweden about the limits of the free press and how the Swedish media have covered the King.

After word of the book’s impending release broke earlier this week, Swedish Royal Court officials admitted that the press conference following the annual elk hunt at the Halle- och Hunneberg reserve on the shores of Vänern in western Sweden may be the busiest ever.

As of Wednesday, the Royal Court of Sweden had not yet received advance copies of the book, according to press director Nina Eldh, so it had no comment on the publication.

However, the King has agreed to a press conference on Thursday afternoon, where he is expected to be inundated with many questions unrelated to the elk hunt.

“The King will certainly comment on it in any case,” said Eldh, who is fully aware that there will be many additional journalists at the press briefing this year.

“We have been here before. However, the King is not holding the press conference for the book. It is a press conference for the hunt,” she added.

Anticipation is so great and sensitivity so high that the editor of the Aftonbladet newspaper, which on Wednesday published a summary of some of the allegations detailed in the book, also published a defence of the paper’s decision to publish entitled “Truth or libel”.

“Much of what is claimed in the book has been rumoured for years, but it hasn’t been possible to verify,” wrote Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin.

“It’s relevant to give the public knowledge — not only that Sweden’s head of state has been charged in a new book, but also of what.”

According to the newspaper, the book contains a number of details about the King’s wild parties, an alleged affair, as well as claims that Swedish security service Säpo pressured women to turn over compromising pictures of the Swedish head of state.

One of the book’s chapters tells of the King’s numerous private parties hosted at a Stockholm club run by gangster Mille Markovic in the early 1990s.

According to the book, the King and a group of friends regularly had the club to themselves on Monday evenings for nights filled with elaborate meals and capped with liaisons in a whirlpool with scantily clad women aspiring to be models.

According to Markovic, he enjoyed having the King as a patron because it minimized the chances of unwanted visits by the police.

The book also tells of alleged year-long love affair the King had with a Swedish singer and model. According to the Expressen newspaper, the object of the King’s affection was Camilla Henemark, who was born to a Nigerian father and Swedish mother and who was once a founding member of the band Army of Lovers.

In 1994 she also hosted an erotic-themed programme on Sweden’s TV3 called Seventh Heaven.

The relationship reportedly lasted about a year in the late 1990s and with the knowledge of Queen Silvia.

According to the book, the King was quite smitten by Henemark, who goes by the stage name La Camilla.

“The King sometimes looked like a love-crazed school boy and on one occasion they talked about running away together to an isolated exotic island,” reads the book.

The book also touches on some of the measures employed to ensure the King’s alleged wild side remained hidden from the Swedish public.

In some instances, Säpo agents were deployed to search the homes of different women in order to confiscate pictures and negatives from the King’s private parties.

According to the Aftonbladet report about the book, Säpo agents secretly snooped around in various flats and otherwise pressured women who partied with the King.

“If the rolls of film and pictures and negatives aren’t turned over some unpleasant things will happen,” reads the book.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Swiss Poised to Vote on Controversial Immigrant Law

Switzerland is poised to vote on a controversial law that will allow for all immigrants — EU citizens included — to be automatically expelled from the country if they commit a crime.

Allan Hall in Berlin

Even benefit fraudsters and burglars are targeted by the proposed new law, which polls show is likely to be passed in a referendum scheduled for November 28.

The pro-expulsion campaign involves posters featuring a black sheep being kicked out of the country by several white sheep. The referendum will be held almost exactly a year after a previous plebiscite banned minarets on mosques.

The referendum proposal began to gain traction two years ago when three foreign-born men from the Balkans beat a young carnival reveller to death in Locarno.

Switzerland’s parliament, fearing repercussions from the EU and the wider world, has released an amended “counterproposal” with a list of serious crimes that would qualify a foreigner for expulsion.

But the Swiss People’s Party, which has spearheaded the campaign for the law, is against any “dilution” of the proposals. “Switzerland can’t become a land of milk and honey for foreign criminals,” said Walter Wobmann, an MP.

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



UK: MCB Reaches Out to the Turkish Muslim Community

In a large gathering of community leaders from the Turkish Muslim community living in the UK, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain has called for the renewal of ties and friendship between the MCB and the Turkish community.

The roundtable discussion organised by the Islamic Community of Milli Görüs (ICMG), an affiliate of the MCB, was held on Sunday 10 October 2010 in Cyprus Kitchen.

In his opening remarks, Mr Ufuk Secgin, a member of MCBs Central Working Committee and Chairman of the Islamic Community Milli Gorus said “most of us are often very internally focused with the problems and challenges within our own organisations, but we should not forget the bigger picture and the dialogue amongst ourselves, the Turkish organisations, as well as with the other Muslim and non-Muslim organisations, because only through dialogue and close relationships we can tackle and solve the common challenges in our society today”.

He continued “the MCB is doing an enormous job in this respect and unites all the organizations and people from various nationalities, colours, and races under one roof and works united for the common good. It plays a leading role in representing the Muslim community within the UK, but also builds bridges to organisations and countries abroad. Having said that the MCB is not a one man show or made up by one organisation. The MCB is made up of hundreds of organisations; actually we all form the MCB”.

As well the leadership of the MCB, the meeting was also addressed by the Counsellor for Religious Affairs at the Turkish Embassy in London Prof. Dr. Seyfettin Ersahin, Chairman of the Turkish Union Sener Saglam, Muttalip Unluler and Mehmet Macit of the Aziziye Education Center. Also in attendance were community leaders of Ramadan-i Serif Mosque Gonul Guney, representatives of the Association of Turkish Women in Britain, Turkish businessmen and representatives of other organizations and associations.

In his keynote address welcoming the gathering, Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain emphasised the need for greater meaningful co-operation between the MCB and the Turkish community.

He said “sadly we are living in small clusters, lack co-ordination and articulation of our position. Our voice is often hijacked by extremists, sidelined and misrepresented by the media. We are underachieving, disadvantaged, and discriminated. We are unable to stand up for our rightful position, vulnerable and lack influence”.

“Our claims of our faith being a mercy, a message of peace, path of reason, of progress, of freedom will remain mere claims. Our hopes of seeing a vibrant, confident, achieving rather than underachieving, and contributing community will remain mere hopes, our wishes to be full partners in our democratic and civil society will remain wishes, and our demands for equal rights and equal treatment will remain demands until we stand up to be counted, sieze our future by our own hands and become active builders and investors”.

The Secretary General ended with an appeal to the Turkish and Cypriot Muslim community for greater cooperation and to become more involved in the daily activities of the MCB.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: MCB: Statement on Stephen Timms, MP

In response to the conviction today of Roshonara Choudhry, 21, for the attempted murder of the Labour MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, the Muslim Council of Britain released the following statement:

‘The Old Bailey has heard that Roshonara Choudhry stabbed the Labour MP for East Ham, Stephen Timms, because he voted for the Iraq war. The MCB is appalled by this reasoning which reflects an aberrant personality. Political differences must be resolved in forums of discussion and debate and not by such mindless acts’.

‘The MCB has had the privilege of Mr Timms attending its events, and he has been a keynote speaker at our Islamic Finance conferences. Stephen is a well-known and trusted MP within his very diverse constituency, including many Muslims, who feel deeply hurt by this incident and he remains in our prayers’.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: National Demonstration and Carnival to Say No to Racism, Fascism and Islamophobia

Date: Saturday 6th November

Timing: Assemble at 12noon

Venue: Assembly point at Malet Street, London WC1 then marching to Westminster

Summary: This demonstration is called by Unite Against Fascism and is backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, the Trade Union Congress and many other organisations and individuals.

This is our chance to bring together thousands of people together against racism, fascism and Islamophobia, and in celebration of our unity and multiculturalism. There is transport to the event organised from around the country, please see uaf.org.uk for details.

Description: We are witnessing a disturbing rise in fascism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and racism. The racist thugs in the English Defence League (EDL) have organised events across the country, stirring up hatred, Islamophobia and racism — running riot in some cases and provoking violent attacks on Muslim, black and Asian communities and on Mosques and Hindu temples.

Alongside this, the British National Party (BNP) has received unprecedented electoral support for a fascist organisation in Britain. Despite losing many council sears in the elections this year, the BNP’s share if the vote overall continued to rise and it has two elected members of the European Parliament.

This is in the context of a wave of Islamophobia and racism in Europe and the USA, including threats to burn copies of the Qur’an, attacks on Mosques and Islamic cultural centres, bans on Muslim women’s full-face veils and the construction of minarets. In France, the Roma people have been singled out and subjected racist mass expulsions. Now more than ever we must unite to turn back this tide of hatred. Make a stand against the rise of racism, fascism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Support the demo on Saturday 6 Nov.

We will be marching through central London accompanied by floats with top artists from our sister organisation Love Music Hate Racism, including Jerry Dammers, founder of The Specials, Drew McConnell from Babyshambles, Kid British and radical rapper Lowkey.

For further information see www.uaf.org.uk or email info@uaf.org.uk or call 020 7801 2782

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Student Smiled Before Stabbing Me, Says MP Timms

An MP stabbed by a student has said she smiled and pretended to shake his hand before knifing him in the stomach.

Stephen Timms said Roshonara Choudhry, 21, of East Ham, appeared friendly and studious as she reached out her hand.

Choudhry was jailed for life at the Old Bailey for trying to kill the MP at his surgery because he backed the Iraq war.

Mr Timms said he was “alarmed” that such a bright woman could “throw it all away” by becoming radicalised via the internet so quickly.

The MP, 55, told Radio 5 live: “It was quite early on in the surgery and everyone who comes has an appointment. Roshonara Choudhry was the second person due to see me.

“She specifically asked to talk to me, rather than my assistant, which people are perfectly entitled to do and I was sitting on one side of a desk.

‘Studious’

“She was due to sit opposite me and instead of sitting there she came round to my side of the desk.

“I thought she was coming to shake my hand… but having put out her hand for that purpose, she then pushed her other hand out with a knife in it and stabbed me in the stomach.”

The Labour MP added: “She appeared friendly. I think she was smiling, if I remember rightly. She was quite a slight young woman, looked studious, she looked like a student.”

He said he was totally unprepared for the attack and felt no pain as his security guard and others rushed forward to help him.

Once the knife was removed from her hand, he said, he went into the toilet to examine himself.

He said: “I went into the loo, actually, lifted my jumper up and discovered there was quite a lot of blood there so at that point I realised I had been quite seriously injured.”

The attack took place at his constituency surgery at the Beckton Globe community centre in east London on 14 May.

Choudhry, who was described as an outstanding student, dropped out of her English degree at King’s College London weeks before the attack.

The Muslim student is understood to have become radicalised watching online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent.

Mr Awlaki has been linked to a series of attacks and plots across the world.

Mr Timms said it was “alarming” that Choudhry could become so radicalised “simply by spending time on the internet”.

He told 5 live: “I think it’s clear that the kind of material we’re talking about would be illegal if it was hosted on servers in the UK.

“It isn’t, it’s clearly hosted elsewhere, but there may be legal mechanisms that can be applied — internationally perhaps — to see if some of it can be removed.”

Mr Timms, who has made a full recovery, described his attacker’s life sentence as “appropriate”.

He also thanked the hundreds of constituents who got in touch to wish him well and said he was particularly heartened by the large number of Muslims who prayed for his recovery.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: The Mayor With His Own Fate

by Neil Berry

In recent weeks the British media’s obsessive focus on coming government expenditure cuts has eclipsed almost everything else. Not least has it diverted attention from a news story which might otherwise have provoked a plethora of inflammatory headlines: the election as mayor of the east London borough of Tower Hamlets of Lutfur Rahman, a Bangledeshi-born Muslim lawyer who grew up in Britain and who has stood accused of being bankrolled by the Islamic Forum of Europe, a body identified with Islamic supremacism.

The matter has not gone entirely unnoticed. The influential commentators Melanie Phillips and Andrew Gilligan are flagging up Rahman’s election as a sinister development, as is the political editor of the weekly newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle, Martin Bright. In a week which saw the conversion to Islam of the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair and the British government’s decision to send a minister to Islam Channel’s Global Peace and Unity Conference, Bright declared that events in Tower Hamlets added to the sense that ‘totalitarian Islam’ is now acceptable to a ‘significant proportion of the political classes’.

In a strident editorial, the Jewish Chronicle deplored the mainstream media’s ‘muted response’ to the election of Rahman, who controversially stood as a Labour Party mayoral candidate before being elected as an independent. Claiming it was rooted in fears of being accused of racism, the editorial asserted that Rahman, with his alleged Islamist backing and ties with George Galloway’s extreme left Respect Party, was the ‘mirror image’ of the far right British National Party.

It remains to be seen how Lutfur Rahman — who defines himself a progressive social democrat — conducts himself. What is certain is that right-wing pundits like Gilligan and Phillips will miss no opportunity to exploit the smallest indications that he is turning his east London mayoralty into a British power-base for radical Islam and seeking to upstage moderate Muslim opinion. There is, in short, a distinct danger that Rahman’s status as a mayor with Islamist affiliations could furnish Islamophobes with ammunition with which to foment a sharp and very general backlash against Muslims. The white nationalist, virulently anti-Muslim English Defense League, is already showing signs that it could become rather more than a nasty fringe movement, and it is not hard to see how current heightened concerns about national security could interact with rising unemployment and pervasive public anxiety to spawn a witch-hunting mentality, an impulse to subject Muslims to systematic demonisation.

None of this is peculiar to the UK of course; at a time of deepening recession, alarm on the part of the non-Muslim majority about Islamisation is sweeping the whole of Europe. And fuelled by the bitter controversy over the proposed building of an Islamic centre near to New York’s Ground Zero, popular perceptions of Islam as a subversive force are plainly assuming a fresh pitch of intensity on the other side of the Atlantic. One way or another, concern about whether Islam is compatible with Western values, and whether therefore Muslims can possibly be ‘good’ citizens of Western societies, is threatening to permeate the Western mindset to an extent without precedent in modern times. It is growing ever harder to evade the disquieting question: just where is all this heading? Is the prospect looming of a catastrophic breakdown of trust and understanding in Western societies between Muslims and non-Muslims?

Yet the future does not hold only lurid scenarios for Western Muslims, and in Britain the predicament of Muslims is perhaps less beleaguered and potentially more hopeful and constructive than in some other countries. From the point of view of social cohesion, it represents no small measure of progress that the leader of Britain’s Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, Prime Minister David Cameron, has appointed an articulate and very ‘British’ Muslim woman, the Yorkshire-born Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, in the high profile role as Chairman of the Conservative Party. This is a development that would scarcely have been conceivable when the Conservative Party last held power in Britain in the 1980s and 90s. What is more, Cameron’s much-trumpeted commitment to rolling back the British state and inviting British people to become involved in organising their own affairs, his so-called ‘Big Society’ project, constitutes a challenge to which Britain’s Muslims may be able to respond with more enterprise than most.

The fact is that Muslims make a multi-billion pound contribution to British GDP, a contribution out of all proportion to their numbers. And because of its emphasis on charity and relatively high degree of familial and social solidarity, the Muslim community could be especially well-equipped to turn Cameron’s exhortation to establish a new civic-mindedness into something more than mere rhetoric. A smaller British state sector seems inevitable. The new mayor of Tower Hamlets has the opportunity to confound his detractors and set an example to the rest of Britain by demonstrating what his east London borough with its many Muslim inhabitants can do for itself.

Neil Berry is a London-based commentator

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



Wokingham British Legion Club Closes After 89 Years

British Legion club set up in Wokingham in 1921is to close due to dwindling numbers of members.

The club plans to merge with another popular British Legion club in Winnersh.

But the charity’s Berkshire branch says it is not concerned about the closure, and is looking ahead and helping the Afghanistan generation of soldiers.

Mark Weldon, who represents the Royal British Legion in Berkshire, said: “We no longer have World War I veterans.

“We find more and more who we are serving is the Afghanistan generation, and we have introduced a number of new services for them.”

Inquest advice

Mr Weldon said the Legion has introduced a new inquest advice service for bereaved families, and has been working with Citizens Advice Bureau since May 2007.

“The British Legion financesm together with the RAF Benevolent Fund, a free benefits and money advice service primarily delivered by the Citizens Advice Bureau, resulting in financial outcomes so far of £42m,” he said.

The Legion assists veterans and dependents to claim what is rightfully theirs in benefits, as well as helping with debt management and charitable assistance.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Serbia: Muslims in the Region of Sandzak Want Autonomy

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 1 — The Mufti of Serbia’s Muslim community, Muamer Zukorloc, has reasserted his request for autonomy for the south-eastern Serbian region of Sandzak, which has a majority Muslim population.

Zukorlinc lives in Novi Pazar, the main town in Sandzak, and is involved in an ongoing feud with Muhamed Jusufspahic, the official representative of the Muslim community of Serbia, who lives in Belgrade, is more moderate and has maintains good relations with the Serbian authorities.

In an interview with the Arab channel Al Jazeera — which has been widely reported in the Belgrade press today — Zukorlic complains of the continuing ethnic and religious discrimination against Muslims in Serbia. The Mufti reserves particular accusations for the Serbian secret services and two Muslim Ministers in the Belgrade government, Rasim Ljajic, the Employment Minister and head of the council of cooperation with the International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ), and Sulejman Ugljanin, a minister without portfolio. Zukorlic believes that both men support Belgrade’s plans for a new regional sub-division of the country, which would see the Sandzak region fragmented into two or three of the country’s regions, causing it to lose strength and compactness.

Zukorlic, who is accused by Belgrade of excessive political posturing, said that he hoped that the next elections would see the success of a new political force aware of the fact that the autonomy of the Sandzak region “is a pillar of Serbia’s stability”.

With 230,000 mostly Muslim inhabitants, Sandzak has recently been the setting for rallies and demonstrations against the Belgrade government. Particular controversy was caused by the scenes of joy, complete with cars flying Turkish flags, after Serbia’s defeat to Turkey in the world basketball championships held a few weeks ago in Istanbul. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union


Tunisia Joins the Enterprise Europe Network

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 29 — Tunisia is the first Northern African country and the second African nation to join the Enterprise Europe Network, created by the European Commission in order to inform SMEs about activities and opportunities offered in the EU. The addition of Tunisia was formalised yesterday with a convention between the European Commission and a consortium formed by 8 Tunisian institutions. The consortium will provide Tunisian SMEs with detailed information that will allow them to become more competitive by developing their potential for technological cooperation and innovation through partnerships in the industrial and services sectors. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa


Egypt: Coptic Pope Beefs Up Security Amid Al-Qaeda Threat

Cairo, 3 Nov. (AKI) — The seat of Egypt’s Coptic Pope is bolstering security on the heels an an Al-Qaeda threat that called followers of the Orthodox faith “legitimate targets” for allegedly holding women captive rather than permitting them to convert to Islam.

Coptic Pope Shenuda III is considering cancelling a ceremony at Cario’s St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral to mark the 39th anniversary of his ordination on 14 November, according to a source close to the Coptic papacy.

Al-Qaeda said it will target Middle Eastern Christians following an attack on a Catholic church in Baghdad that killed 58 people and wounded nearly 80 when militants stormed the church during Sunday Mass.

The Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the bloodbath saying it was carried out in retribution for female Muslim converts they claim are being held by Egypt’s Coptic church.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq gave the church 48 hours to release the women and threatened the lives of Middle Eastern Christians if they were not freed.

The threat prompted Egyptian police to boost security for a two-week Coptic festival held in the ancient city of Luxor in the southern part of the country that began on Tuesday and was expected to attract 2 million people.

The Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaa Islamiya, the two largest Islamist groups in Egypt, distanced themselves from the threat

“The attacks on churches and the killing and kidnapping of their followers is prohibited by Islamic law,” said Najih Ibrahim, the Jamaa Islamiya spokesman via a message posted on the group’s web site.

The Muslim Brotherhood on its web site referred to the Al-Qaeda threats as a “stupid” act “that puts Islam is a bad light.”

The group asked Egyptians to help protect churches and religious sites.

“We reject these threats and call on the entire Egyptian population to protect places of worship of all religions.”

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

Middle East


Iran Responds to Alarm on Woman Sentenced to Stoning

France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, said that his Iranian counterpart had assured him on Wednesday that Iran’s judiciary has not yet decided to execute a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

On Monday, the director of a European human rights group, the International Committee Against Stoning, said that she had obtained information suggesting that the woman, Sakineh Ashtiani, who was initially sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, would be executed on Wednesday in Iran, despite an international campaign to save her.

Mr. Kouchner explained, in a statement posted on the French foreign ministry’s Web site, that he called Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, to express his “dismay” at the possibility that Ms. Ashtiani would be executed and his counterpart “assured me that Iranian legal authorities had not yet reached a final verdict in the case of Sakineh Ashtiani and that the information regarding her execution did not correspond to reality.”

Reuters reported, “Officials in Iran were not immediately available to comment.”…

[Return to headlines]



Phyllis Chesler: Is the Timing Any Accident?

The Iranian Islamic government is about to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Teheran for the crime of committing “adultery” (which presumably occurred after her husband’s death). She was also charged for allegedly conspiring in the death of her husband.

Sakineh’s death is set for tomorrow, November 3. After torturing her for four long years, including lashing her 99 times in the presence of her 17-year-old son, Sakineh’s death is now set for a time when Americans will be totally occupied with our own midterm elections.

The story of her legal ordeal is as byzantine and treacherous as that of Alfred Dreyfus who was falsely accused of treason in France and sentenced to life on Devil’s Island.

Her so-called “confession” was obtained under torture. She was lashed 99 times—twice. Sakineh’s family has been threatened. Her lawyer had to go into hiding. Her sentence: Death by stoning. Her Sharia-compliant death verdict has merely been delayed—never countermanded. How they plan to kill her remains unknown…

[Return to headlines]



Turkey: Christian Graves Vandalised on the Island of Imvros

The island, birthplace of the Ecumenical Patriarch, although inhabited almost exclusively by the Orthodox population, was handed to Turkey in 1923, which did not comply with the rules imposed by the Treaty of Lausanne. Bartholomew: vandalism is due to the “usual known-unknown suspects.” It seeks to undermine the government new openings.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) —On the night between 28 and 29 October the feast day of the Republic founded by Kemal Ataturk, unknown assailants entered, in the cemetery of the island of Panagia Imvros (Goikocea in Turkish) and seriously vandalised 78 graves (see photo). A similar act had been committed in these parts 20 years ago.

The incident, it is rumoured on the island, indicates an attempt to create panic among about 350 Christians left on this island.

The island of Imvros, where the current ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew was born, along with the nearby island of Tenedos, were 99% inhabited by the Christian Orthodox population, but with the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923 granted them to Turkey under the condition that the Ankara government allow their full administrative autonomy.

But neither then nor in the years to follow did the Kemalist regime respect the agreements signed at Lausanne, suspending the autonomous regime provided for in this Treaty and with various methods of coercion such as the forced expropriation of property, school closures and suspension of teaching the Greek language, encouraged the shift of populations from Anatolia — which has altered the demographic structure of the island — and the creation of a prison for convicts with a license to commit acts of violence against the Christian population, this forced their final abandonment of their lands to seek refuge first in Istanbul and then across the five continents.

According to Nikos Maginas, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on hearing about the serious incident that occurred on his own native land, charged this act of vandalism to the “usual known-unknown suspects”. Bartholomew himself in his sermon in the parish of St. Demetrius in Kurtulus Istanbul, referring to the incident said: “Ours is a continuous struggle for our survival and our ancient traditions in these lands. After much difficulty we started to see some glimmer of light, of hope for our long-standing problems. But again unpleasant facts emerge, such as those that occurred in the cemetery of the island of Imvros, where the usual known-unknown suspects were responsible for breaking the crosses on the graves of the cemetery. Our battle will never end .. But always with the grace of our Lord — concluded the Ecumenical Patriarch — with perseverance, with Turkey’s European perspective and the efforts of its leaders, we are confident that those long desired results will one day arrive”.

The Interior Ministry condemned the episode and ordered the magistrate of Imvros to carry out prompt investigation for the arrest of those responsible.

Such acts demonstrate that there are still strong pockets of intolerance towards minority groups in Turkey there, which seek to undermine the openings of the government towards them. An executive which, in turn, despite having the wind in its favour, lacks the necessary political will to solve the problems of minorities, preferring to defer them indefinitely.

As noted in Istanbul, Turkey’s European perspective should not only consist in claims for rights, but also the immediate application of the Union’s rules.

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

Russia


Ahmadinejad Accuses Russia of Giving in to American ‘Satan’

Tehran, 3 Nov. (AKI) — Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday condemned Russia for “selling” the Islamic Republic to the United States after Moscow pulled out of a deal to sell Tehran S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.

“There are some who are under the influence of Satan, and believe that they have the ability to one-sidedly forgo a defence agreement,” Ahmadinejad said in a speech aired by Iranian state television.

“They think they can hurt the Iranian people this way.”

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in September announced that his country would scrap the deal, giving in to pressure by the US, as the S-300 is considered extremely advanced and could allow Iran to effectively defend its nuclear facilities from attack.

The agreement between Russia and Iran was inked in 2007. Iran said it may sue over Russia’s violation of the agreement.

In comments broadcast on Iranian television, Ahmadinejad said the contract Tehran remains valid and warned that Russia must pay compensation and penalties for unilaterally cancelling the deal.

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

South Asia


In India, Cellphones Abound, Toilets Don’t

When President Obama visits India on Nov. 6, he will find a country of startlingly uneven development and perplexing disparities, where more people have cellphones than access to a toilet.

MUMBAI, India — The Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.

And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.

Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cellphone. Some have three.

When President Obama visits India on Nov. 6, he will find a country of startlingly uneven development and perplexing disparities, where more people have cellphones than access to a toilet, according to the United Nations.

It is a country buoyed by a vibrant business world of call centers and software developers, but hamstrung by a bloated, corrupt government that has failed to deliver the barest of services.

Its estimated growth rate of 8.5 percent a year is among the highest in the world, but its roads are crumbling.

It offers cheap, world-class medical care to Western tourists at private hospitals, yet has some of the worst child-mortality and maternal death rates outside sub-Saharan Africa. While tens of millions have benefited from India’s rise, many more remain mired in some of the worst poverty in the world.

The cellphone frenzy bridges all worlds. Cellphones are sold amid the Calvin Klein and Clinique stores in India’s new malls and in the crowded markets of its working-class neighborhoods. Bare shops in the slums sell prepaid cards for as little as 20 cents.

The Beecham’s cellphone dealer in New Delhi’s Connaught Place is overrun with lunchtime customers of all classes looking for everything from a $790 Blackberry Torch to a basic $26 Nokia.

Store manager Sanjeev Malhotra adds to a decades-old — and still unfulfilled — Hindi campaign slogan promising food, clothing and shelter. “Roti, kapda, makaan” and “mobile,” he riffs, laughing. “Basic needs.”

There were more than 670 million cellphone connections in India by the end of August, a number that has been growing by nearly 20 million a month, according to government figures. Yet U.N. figures show that only 366 million Indians have access to a private toilet or latrine.

“At least tap water and sewage disposal; how can we talk about any development without these two fundamental things?” says Anita Patil-Deshmukhl, executive director of PUKAR, an organization that conducts research and outreach in the slums of Mumbai.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far East


China Plans Space Station by 2020

UNDAUNTED by NASA’s cool response to its interest in the International Space Station, China is going it alone. It has announced plans to build its very own crewed space laboratory by 2020.

The news comes hot on the heels of a visit to China by NASA administrator Charlie Bolden that failed to produce any plans for cooperation with the US in space.

Some US lawmakers, including congressmen Frank Wolf and John Culberson, oppose forging closer space ties with China. Such critics question the intent of its space programme, which appears to be run by the military, and note the dual-use nature of much space technology.

China, meanwhile, has been expanding its space capabilities, and, on 27 October, officially launched a project to develop a space station by 2020. The station will have research applications, including studying living conditions for astronauts, reports the Xinhua news agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Top U.N. Official Honors Tiananmen Square General

As Ban Ki-moon finalized his preparations for his visit this week to Beijing, one of his top advisors, Sha Zukang, traveled to China to present an award to a retired Chinese general who had authority over troops that fired on unarmed civilians during the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Sha, the U.N. Undersecretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the World Harmony Award — a glass plaque cut in the shape of a dove — to former Chinese Defense Minister, Gen. Chi Haotian, in honor of his unspecified contributions to world peace, according to a report in Chinese state media. The World Harmony Foundation, a private charity headed by a Chinese businessman named Frank Liu, established the award…

           — Hat tip: DS [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Patient Too Shocked to Complain of Surgery

Carolyn DeWaegeneire was “shattered” and in a state of shock for years after a doctor cut out her genitals, unable to complain about the unauthorised surgery, a jury has heard.

Told that she would be in hospital for about three days for a “simple” procedure in August 2002, the then 58-year-old woke from her anaesthetic in pain with stitches that felt “like barbed wire”.

The doctor who performed the surgery, and cannot be named for legal reasons, is standing trial before a jury at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court after pleading not guilty to charges of inflicting grievous bodily harm on Ms DeWaegeneire and excising her clitoris.

[His name may be found in this 2008 article:

www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw-act/former-bega-doctor-graeme-reeves-faces-new-sex-claims/story-e6freuzi-1225810476287

“Former Bega doctor Graeme Reeves faces new sex claims”]

Court orders also prevent publication of the location or region where the alleged offences occurred.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, the mother-of-two, who was widowed in 2001, recalled giving consent to the doctor only for the removal of a small piece of skin on her vulva, identified to be a form of pre-cancer.

“If I had known that my clitoris was going to be cut off there is no way I would have walked through that hospital door,” Ms DeWaegeneire said of the procedure, which left her in a NSW hospital on painkillers for six days.

Ms DeWaegeneire said in evidence the doctor told her of his intention when she was “helpless”, about to pass-out from anaesthesia on the operating table.

“His face came close to mine and for my ears only he said ‘I’m going to take your clitoris too’ with which I slid under the anaesthetic,” Ms DeWaegeneire said.

Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC asked: “Did you have the opportunity to respond?”

“I was gone,” Ms DeWaegeneire replied.

Ms Cunneen: “Had the accused ever told you that he intended to take your clitoris?”

Ms DeWaegeneire: “If that had been mentioned you would not have seen me for dust”.

She said when she woke from surgery “I knew what had happened and I was shattered”.

The doctor’s barrister, John Stratton SC, told the jury his client “honestly believed what he was doing was necessary for the treatment of his patient”.

He said the comments allegedly made before surgery were not correct and that evidence would show none of the other four people in the small theatre heard those words.

“He was not trying to mutilate or harm Ms DeWaegeneire, he was trying to save her life,” Mr Stratton said.

He questioned why Ms DeWaegeneire didn’t raise any queries about the surgery until two years after it occurred.

“I had lost my husband, I had now lost my anatomy, I was in shock, I could not replace what was gone,” she said.

Asked what is left of her genital region, Ms DeWaegeneire replied “nothing”.

“I’ve been told I could have reconstructive surgery but I said ‘no way is anyone coming near me again’,” she said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Ms Cunneen told the jury of seven men and five women they would hear evidence from a theatre nurse who questioned the doctor’s actions at the time.

The nurse allegedly told police she asked the doctor: “That’s fairly radical surgery. Why are you taking so much?’“

He allegedly replied: “If I don’t take it all the cancer will spread.”

Nurse: “You would not be taking my clitoris no matter what.”

Doctor: “Her husband’s dead so it doesn’t matter anyway.”

The jury trial before Judge Greg Woods continues on Thursday. It is expected to take three weeks.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Perfect Applicant Not Indigenous Enough for Job

A YOUNG Aboriginal woman was “humiliated” to hear she might not look indigenous enough for a job promoting the Aboriginal employment initiative founded by mining entrepreneur Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest.

Tarran Betterridge, 24, a Canberra university student, applied for the post through ACT company Epic Promotions, which had been asked to find five people of “indigenous heritage” to staff a stall at Westfield in Canberra handing out flyers for Mr Forrest’s GenerationOne.

Ms Betterridge was interviewed for 20 minutes on October 20 and told she was “perfect”. However, the interviewer, Emanuela D’Annibale, said she first had to check with her client, an agency called Let’s Launch, because of guidelines specifying it wanted “indigenous-looking” people for the job.

Ms Betterridge’s mother is white and her father a Wiradjuuri man from the Dubbo area.

When Ms Betterridge phoned the next day, Ms D’Annibale told her she was not needed as Let’s Launch had already found enough employees.

Ms D’Annibale yesterday confirmed working to guidelines that required at least some recruits to “look” indigenous. Ms Betterridge was “lovely”, she said, but “if you’re promoting Italian pasta, and you put Asians there, how’s that going to look? Wouldn’t you pick an Italian to promote the Italian pasta?”

She would have liked to hire Ms Betterridge anyway, because “she was really nice, she had so much knowledge … but the reason we needed at least one person who looked indigenous [was] so that it would be friendlier to indigenous people”.

“I wouldn’t have picked her for Aboriginal at all … to me she looked like an Aussie girl.”

She said in the end Ms Betterridge hadn’t been hired because the agency decided it didn’t need five people.

Ms Betterridge says her family is outraged and she is “shocked that a company that wants to increase indigenous employment would question hiring a person because they do not meet the colour standard”.

GenerationOne chief executive Tim Gartrell said he had instructed those responsible to apologise and would no longer use the recruiting contractor.

“The comment made by a recruiting contractor is completely inappropriate and doesn’t reflect the views, practice or ethos of anyone in GenerationOne,” he said.

Despite this, the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council accused GenerationOne of abetting “ staggering” discrimination against Ms Betterridge.

Let’s Launch was unavailable for a formal response, but unofficially denied issuing the guidelines quoted by Ms D’Annibale.

The incident comes as the issue of Aboriginal identity plays out in the Federal Court. Nine Aborigines are suing Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt for racial discrimination over referring to the “fashion” of light-skinned people identifying as Aborigines.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Valley of Tears

As victims of the doctor dubbed “the Butcher of Bega” seek solace for their pain, an entire community is left wondering why no one in the medical profession knew something was wrong. Drew Warne-Smith reports.

In the dimly lit foyer of the Bega RSL club, next to the entrance of a dormant pokies den, a Sydney-based law firm has put up a large sandwich-board sign touting for business. “When winning is everything!” the sign screams above pictures of a dying woman and a car crash. “No win, no fee. Don’t settle for less.”

The none-too-subtle appeal is directed at a group of ashen-faced local women who file silently inside. They are former patients of the so-called “Butcher of Bega”, the gynaecologist and obstetrician being blamed for scores of hideously botched operations and cases of sexual assault.

This Wednesday morning a public meeting is being held in the 200-seat auditorium of the RSL club so that residents of the Bega Valley can “find out their rights”, as the event’s organiser, the Medical Error Action Group’s Lorraine Long, puts it. Dozens are expected, maybe even a hundred. But by 10am, the scheduled starting time, only about 25 women have braved the presence of a large media contingent to listen to Long and another law firm she has invited along.

Start of sidebar. Skip to end of sidebar.

End of sidebar. Return to start of sidebar.

Of those scattered throughout the hall this morning, most are angry, some are afraid and others are confused. They sit in twos and threes, young and old, some with partners and boyfriends, many with pens and paper in their lap. Many are also bearing the physical and emotional scars that have become the trademark of doctor Graeme Stephen Reeves. Clitorises cut out, vaginas mutilated, uteruses reshaped. Sex lives ruined, relationships battered. Depressed and debased. And, until recently, most shamed into silence, too. These disparate women from a tight-knit shire all thought they were the only ones.

But now they want answers. They want to know how Reeves was allowed to practise, despite bans and previous complaints. They want to know how to get justice for themselves and each other.

And, much like the wider community of the Bega Valley, a district numbed by the endless revelations of hurt, they are casting around for someone to blame: the now-deregistered and bankrupt Reeves, the NSW Medical Board, the area health service, and even — rightly or wrongly — the medical community…

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Latin America


Brazilians Now Face Newspeak

Brazilians have just elected die-hard Marxist Dilma Rousseff as President. Had the other candidate won (José Serra, a life-long Fabian socialist masquerading as “conservative” to make the political scenario appear balanced), Brazil certainly would not have been saved from becoming a NWO-streamlined socialist republic.

Much more importantly, the Brazilian people are about to be gang-raped by a cultural and judicial revolution which goes by the innocent name of “National Program of Human Rights” (PNDH-3), the first edition of which was proposed in 1996 by Serra’s mentor and former president Fernando Cardoso. The current version of the program, approved by president Lula in December 2009, is said to be the outcome of “50 conventions and 137 meetings attended by 14,000 participants”. I must have been absent that day!

The document (portal.mj.gov.br/sedh/pndh3/pndh3.pdf) is a tour-de-force in tricky newspeak and typically Brazilian brain-congesting poppycock, things like “promoting actions stimulating efforts at implementing improvements in processes and structures…” Could mean “nothing will be done” or “watch it, sucker, we will steamroll you real good”.

Below is a translation (the ugly style preserved) of some of the items in the PNHD-3 which Brazilians should start worrying about. I have made no comments because I believe readers are familiar with the true meaning of euphemisms like civil society and human rights. The headings are mine…

[Return to headlines]

Immigration


Sweden Ends Asylum Seeker Returns to Greece

Sweden announced on Tuesday that it has stopped sending asylum seekers back to Greece, due to a “deteriorating” situation for the EU partner state’s overwhelmed immigration system.

“We started from 5:00 pm to refrain from sending asylum seekers back to Greece,” said Dan Eliasson, director general of the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

“The reasons are, firstly, that the situation in Greece is deteriorating constantly for asylum seekers,” he said.

“Secondly, the European Court for Human Rights has asked member states to refrain from sending asylum seekers back to Greece.”

Under the European Union’s much-criticised Dublin II regulation, illegal immigrants must be sent back to the country where they entered the EU.

About 75 percent of more than 40,000 people caught illegally entering the EU in the first half of this year did so through Greece.

Eliasson said the decision would affect about 100 people who would otherwise have been returned to Greece.

“We have not decided what to do with them,” he said.

Sweden follows Norway and Austria in this decision.

On Tuesday, a force of 175 EU guards began arriving at the porous Greek-Turkish border, seen as the primary entry point for illegal immigrants into the EU.

Greece has sustained continued criticism in recent months over its treatment of new arrivals with a harsh regime and sub-standard housing in what critics have argued appeared a deliberate attempt to scare asylum seekers away from its shores.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



U.N. Investigator: Migrants Suffer Worst Racism

Report cites xenophobic intolerance in U.S. and Europe

Migrants in Europe, the United States and many other parts of the world are subjected to the worst forms of racial discrimination and xenophobia, a U.N. independent investigator said Monday. Githu Muigai, a Kenyan lawyer, said many other groups are also victims including ethnic minorities attacked because of their minority status, individuals stopped and searched because of their perceived religious or ethnic background, and soccer players insulted because of their color.

He reiterated his opposition to Arizona’s controversial immigration law because it compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to. Muigai, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s special investigator on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, spoke to reporters after presenting reports to the General Assembly on efforts to eliminate these practices.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



UK: Ministers Vow to Curb Every Migrant Route… But MPs Warn Cap on Arrivals Will Have Little Effect

Immigrants face an unprecedented crackdown on every route into the UK amid a warning from MPs that the Coalition’s cap on foreign workers will make ‘little difference’.

A report claims the plan for an annual limit on non-EU work permits could reduce overall immigration levels by just one per cent.

Only 20 per cent of the 500,000 migrants who come here each year will even be covered by the cap, let alone be barred, the Commons home affairs select committee says.

It also claimed the cap would be damaging to British business and concluded the only way to slash net migration is to also cut the number of foreign students.

Ministers responded by saying it had always been their intention to impose restrictions on every different route migrants use to enter the UK.

[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


‘Bill’s New Frock’: Teaching Gender Confusion

Recently I worked as a teaching assistant in my old primary school, here in Warwickshire UK, helping 7-8 year olds.

It was my first time back since I was a child. I found the atmosphere to be one of paranoia. It was very quiet, full of stifled laughs and fear. I saw room after room full of identically dressed, bored children ruled by disciplinarians.

What I found most shocking was how the school alienated boys. It was overt and disgusting.

The boys in class were buzzing with energy, desperate to do something physical or practical. Instead they were burdened with menial tasks: endless writing, math exercises, drawings. Their blood was boiling.

As a helper, I had to deal with the ‘troubled’ children, i.e. a table of six boys. The girls on the other hand followed every order like robots and were rewarded with stickers. The boys were disciplined and humiliated for being boys.

BILL’S NEW FROCK

My outrage peaked during ‘reading hour’ when I was ordered to read ‘Bill’s New Frock’ by Anne Fine to the boys.

I picked up the book. It was about 100 pages in length. The front cover was a picture of a boy wearing a pink dress. I turned the book over to find this quote, ‘A gloriously feminist romp… The result is a gem. Don’t miss it.’ Chris Powling, Times Educational Supplement.

Kids absorb information like sponges at that age. They are incredibly naïve and trusting. The boys didn’t like their teacher, but I joked with them and acted like their friend. They looked up to me.

This book teaches boys to see the world through girls’ eyes. The protagonist Bill wakes up one morning to find everyone treating him like a girl. His mother dresses him in a pink dress and he has to wear it to school.

The novel teaches a series of feminist lessons. For instance, the class read the fairy tale Rapunzel. Bill is ordered to read the princess’s lines. He complies but halfway through protests to the teacher:

‘I don’t see why Rapunzel just has to sit and wait for the prince to come along and rescue her. Why couldn’t she plan her own escape? Why didn’t she cut off all her lovely hair herself, and braid it into a rope, and knot the rope to something, and then slide down it? Why did she have to just sit there and waste fifteen years waiting for the prince?’

So Rapunzel was not imprisoned by the witch but by her dependence on men.

Bill is also traumatized to find that he cannot play football because he is a girl. The boys take up the whole playground playing while the girls must sit at the edge of the playground. Bill tries to get involved:

‘The footballers gathered in a circle around him. They didn’t look at all pleased at this interruption of the game. In fact, they look rather menacing, all standing there with narrowed eyes, scowling. If this was the sort of the reception the girls had come to expect, no wonder they didn’t stray far from the railings. No wonder they didn’t ask to play.’

The message is clear: doing anything physical and aggressive, i.e. natural to boys, is intrinsically cruel.

FEMININE CLOTHING A BURDEN

Incredibly, five pages are spent illustrating the impracticality of dresses. Bill is asked to carry many objects BUT without pockets in his frock he can’t balance them all. He drops everything and makes a big mess. Afterwards he vents his frustration on the dress:

‘He couldn’t help muttering something quite rude, and quiet loudly, about the sort of person who would design a pretty pink frock with no pockets, and expect other people to go around wearing it.’

The pink dress is portrayed like shackles around a slave’s feet.

In another part, it rains during lunchtime and the children have to stay inside and read comics. Bill is given a girls comic and is very upset. He hates girls’ comics.

He starts reading the stories including one ‘about the brave gypsy girl who led her lame pony carefully at night through a dangerous war zone.’ To his surprise he starts to enjoy it and in the end is reluctant to swap for a boys’ comic.

The boys are being asked: How do you know you will not enjoy girls activities until you try them?

I had no desire to spoon feed the children this propaganda, so I read little parts of the story in between asking them about football, which they already seem to recognize as the only outlet left for masculinity.

But apart from a little fidgeting, they listened intently and followed the story and presumably accepted the feminist lessons. I saw enough to believe this form of indoctrination will have an effect. I finished the reading hour by telling the boys to never wear a dress. I decided to leave the school at the end of the week.

[Return to headlines]



Switzerland: Catholic Condom Campaign Sparks Controversy

The Catholic church of Lucerne has launched a controversial Aids prevention campaign which includes the distribution of condoms.

At the same time, a Catholic mission is hosting a road show that educates young people about Aids in Africa.

From Monday until Wednesday, a multimedia exhibition staged in a truck outside the main railway station illustrated the harsh reality of life in Uganda and in South Africa, where HIV and Aids are a severe problem.

Small rooms represented African huts, a classroom, a market and a clinic. An accompanying audio guide tells the story of two young people affected by Aids.

Flavio Moresino, responsible for Missio’s youth-related activities in German-speaking Switzerland, said that the exhibition had enjoyed a good response.

Fourteen school classes signed up to visit the exhibition in Lucerne. Over the next three weeks, the truck will travel to other parts of Switzerland.

“We are really very happy about it — the HIV/Aids situation in Africa has had quite an impression on the schoolchildren. This exhibition makes the problem more concrete and interesting for them,” Moresino told swissinfo.ch. He added that somebody in the world is infected with HIV every 12 seconds.

Love thy neighbour

The Catholic church of Lucerne set up a stand to coincide with the Aids truck’s stay in the city. As part of its campaign, the church produced 3,000 custom-wrapped condoms to distribute.

Reactions have been mixed, with criticism from other branches of the Swiss Catholic Church.

The condom packaging features a stylised skyline of the city’s Catholic churches under a rainbow-coloured spray of condoms. The motto reads: “Forgetfulness is contagious. Protect your neighbour as you would yourself.” The church’s URL is printed on the back.

“We want to discuss this problem with youths and other people and show that we are from this millennium and that they can talk about this openly with us — there are no taboos,” said Florian Flohr, spokesman for the Catholic church of the city of Lucerne.

Flohr told swissinfo.ch that he was impressed by the young people he had spoken to.

“They respect their partners and are conscious of the fact that they have to think about Aids when they have sexual relationships,” Flohr said.

He emphasised the fact that he and his colleagues had not simply been passing out condoms to everyone who walked by. As of midday on Tuesday, he estimated that about 150-200 condoms had been given away — but only after a conversation about the importance of safe sex.

Although the Roman Catholic Church is officially against the use of condoms, pastoral workers supporting the Lucerne campaign say that it is unethical to ignore them when addressing the danger of HIV.

Youth workers will continue to broach the subject in and around the parishes of Lucerne.

It’s cool

Reactions to the Aids campaigns — in particular the one involving free condoms — have been mixed. The diocese of Chur has expressed its dismay in the Swiss media.

“It sends the wrong signal,” diocesan spokesman Christoph Casetti told Swiss television. He added, “From a medical point of view, I also think it’s wrong because we know that condoms don’t provide absolute protection.”

Diocese of Basel spokesman Guiseppe Gracia told swissinfo.ch the bishopric had not yet formed an opinion but was planning to issue a formal statement soon.

“It’s not a condom distribution campaign — it’s an information campaign,” Gracia pointed out. He added that most of the people who had reacted negatively had only informed themselves through the media.

The story has been picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in international newspapers including the Boston Globe and the London-based Telegraph.

Around the train station, swissinfo.ch found the responses to be quite positive.

“I think it’s cool,” said 17-year-old Tatjana Jud. “It’s surprising,” added her friend Valerie Beschwanden, 19. Seventeen-year-old Stefan Rogenmoser said he didn’t know much about the campaigns, but that he would feel comfortable talking to a church group about sex and Aids.

Alda Beck, an older woman waiting for her train, also spoke well of the project.

“I find it good — young people have sex and need to protect themselves. It’s high time that the church did something like this.”

Susan Vogel-Misicka in Lucerne, swissinfo.ch

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

General


Airport Body Scanners ‘Could Give You Cancer’, Warns Expert

Full body scanners at airports could increase your risk of skin cancer, experts warn.

The X-ray machines have been brought in at Manchester, Gatwick and Heathrow.

But scientists say radiation from the scanners has been underestimated and could be particularly risky for children.

They say that the low level beam does deliver a small dose of radiation to the body but because the beam concentrates on the skin — one of the most radiation-sensitive organs of the human body — that dose may be up to 20 times higher than first estimated.

[Return to headlines]



UK: Scariest Speed Camera of All… It Checks Your Insurance, Tax and Even Whether You Are Tailgating or Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Even the most law-abiding driver might feel a shiver down the spine when spotting this speed camera at the roadside.

For as well as detecting speeding, it is packed with gizmos that check number plates to make sure insurance and tax are up to date.

It also measures the distance between vehicles to spot tailgating and takes pictures of the inside of the car — to make sure you are wearing a seat belt.

[Return to headlines]

News Feed 20101102

Financial Crisis
» Italy: Libya’s Strategy to Take Control of Unicredit is ‘Obvious’
 
USA
» Caroline Glick: the Age of Dissimulation
» Out of Suburbia, The Online Extremist
» Providence College Newspaper Censors Dr. Trifkovic
» SOS: Save Our Society, Vote on the Issues
» The Jewish Defence League is Calling on Followers and Supporters of Rabbi Meir Kahane From Canada and America to Gather at Ground Zero on Sunday November 7 at 3:30 PM
» The Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens) Controversy Continues to Grow
 
Canada
» ‘Weak, Opportunist’ Islam Will Fell West, Steyn Says
 
Europe and the EU
» Berlusconi Vows to Clear Naples Trash Fast
» Britain and France to Share Nuclear Secrets as Cameron and Sarkozy Sign Historic 50-Year Military Agreement
» Denmark: Proposal to Ban Arabic Stations Meets Resistance
» Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds
» Four Arrested for Murder of Swedish Footballer
» France: Assaulted for Being Blond
» Germany: Suspicious Package Sparks Massive Security Operation at Angela Merkel’s Office
» German Minister Criticises Muslim Youths
» Greece: Mail Bombers Target Foreign Embassies During Wave of Attacks in Athens
» Italy: ‘Ruby’ Phone Call Probed
» Italy: Five Thousand Euros for Going to a Party
» Italy: Ruby: “Silvio Showed Me the Audi and Said: It’s for You”
» Netherlands: Police Figures Show Only 25 Percent of Actual Crime
» Sex Abuse Victims Meet Vatican Spokesman
» Sweden: Verdict Reached in Malmö Teen Pimping Trial
» Sweden: Racial Shootings in Malmö Continue, Putting Residents on Edge
» The Entente Frugale: Cost-Cutting 50-Year Deal That Will See French Take Command of the Sas and Britain Share Nuclear Secrets
» UK Far-Right Group Boasts Tea Party Links
» UK: ‘Smiling’ Woman ‘Stabbed MP Twice in Stomach After Confronting Him About Iraq War’
» UK: Air Passengers Face New Pre-Flight Crackdown as Security Chiefs ‘Profile’ High-Risk Travellers
» UK: Cameron’s Fury as Prisoners Get the Right to Vote After Coalition Loses Out Yet Again to Europe
» UK: the Moment Muslim Student Inspired by Al Qaeda Ink Bomber Pulled a Knife on an MP Before Stabbing Him as ‘Punishment’ For Voting for the Iraq War
» UK: Three Men Found Guilty of Child Sex Offences.
 
Balkans
» Bosnia: Two Catholic Cemeteries Vandalised
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Olmert: Terror’s Origin is Islam
 
Middle East
» Al Neimi Exposes Hypocrisy of Arab Society
» Crisis Widens Gap Between Gulf, Rest of Arab World
» Frank Gaffney: Saudi Friends and Foes
» Iran: Adulteress ‘To be Executed Wednesday’
» Iran: Now Ahmadinejad Comes Under Fire From the Revolutionary Guards Elite Force… Formerly His Most Staunch Supporter
» Iranian Woman Who Faced Death by Stoning ‘Will be Hanged Tomorrow’
» Kuwait Sheikh: Integral Veil is Unacceptable
» Kuwait: Furious Public Occupies Private TV Station
» Lebanon — Iraq: In Lebanon, Religious Leaders React Unanimously to Baghdad Attack, Politicians Divided
» Missing in the Rise of Islam in Turkey and Iran: A U.S. Strategy
» Series of Rapid-Fire Blasts in Iraq Kills 76
» The Christians Criticize Israel, But Turn a Blind Eye to Islamic Violence
» U.S. Government “Threatens” Syria: Promote Terrorism, Take Over Lebanon, Block Peace, And We Won’t Let You Make Apple Ipads!
 
South Asia
» Pakistan: Killings of Taliban Militants ‘Show Weariness With Insurgency’
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Mauritania: Govt Forum for Charter Against Aqim
 
Immigration
» Berlusconi: Protracted EU Summit to Discuss it
» Christians and Jews Once Again in the Muslim Line of Fire
 
Culture Wars
» UK: Schools Given Right to Sack BNP Teachers by Tories
 
General
» Biologist: Space Travelers Can Benefit From Genetic Engineering

Financial Crisis


Italy: Libya’s Strategy to Take Control of Unicredit is ‘Obvious’

Verona, 29 Oct. (AKI) — Libyan investors sought control of UniCredit as they built up stakes in Italy’s largest bank, Flavio Tosi, mayor of the northern Italian city of Verona, told la Repubblica in an interview published on Friday.

“It’s obvious” there was an attempt to take over the bank, Tosi told the newspaper.

Verona-based Fondazione Cariverona’s almost-5 percent stake inUniCredit makes it one of the company’s biggest shareholders.

The banking foundation was among critics of former UniCredit chief executive Alessandro Profumo who oversaw the company as Libya built up its stake becoming the banks largest investor.

Tosi is a member of the Northern League party a close ally of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi — which had been vocal in its criticism of Profumo, who resigned in September.

The Libyan Investment Authority and the Central Bank of Libya together own about 7.6 percent of UniCredit.

UniCredit internal auditor Ranieri de Marchis is preparing a report that will be presented in coming days to a company committee on the possibility that UniCredit investors from Libya and Abu Dhabi are linked and together own 12.6 percent of the bank.

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

USA


Caroline Glick: the Age of Dissimulation

Years from now, when historians seek an overarching concept to define our times, they could do worse than refer to it as the Age of Dissimulation. Today our leading minds devote their energies and cognitive powers to figuring out new ways to hide reality from themselves and the general public.

Take US President Barack Obama’s senior counterterrorism advisor for example. On Sunday, John Brennan spoke on Fox News about the latest attempted Islamic terrorist attack on American soil.

Since the Obama administration has barred US officials from referring to terrorists as terrorists and effectively barred US officials from acknowledging that Islamic terrorists are Muslims, Brennan simply referred to the Islamic terrorists in Yemen who tried to send bombs to synagogues in Chicago as “individuals.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick [Return to headlines]



Out of Suburbia, The Online Extremist

For months, the radical young Muslim convert had been waging war online, championing violent jihad from his computer in Northern Virginia.

Zachary Adam Chesser often wrote scathingly about people who voiced support for the mujaheddin but who made no move to join them. The fact that he remained safely in the United States clearly troubled him as 2009 gave way to 2010.

In March, Chesser begged the fighters already abroad to “not forget those of us who have lagged behind.”

“Your fingers glide over cold steel whilst mine merely grace the empty plastic of my keyboard,” the 20-year-old white suburbanite posted to his Web site, themujihadblog. “If I die in this land then what will I say to Allah? ‘O Allah I was just going to wait until the mujahideen reached America. I swear I would have joined them, but they took too long.’ “

Chesser, who pleaded guilty in federal court Oct. 20 to supporting Somali terrorists and threatening the creators of “South Park” for mocking the prophet Muhammad, hadn’t been a Muslim long. He converted to Islam in 2008, soon after graduating from Oakton High School in Fairfax County.

His emergence online as a Muslim extremist followed at warp speed. By the time federal agents arrested him in July for trying to travel to Somalia and join the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, he’d gone from breakdancing high school kid to bearded radical in little more than two years.

For Chesser, it was the latest — and perhaps most unlikely — in a series of identities he’d experimented with, then discarded.

Other attempts to define himself had proved harmless. “If he’d lived in L.A.,” observed one person close to him, “he would have been a Scientologist.”

Instead, Chesser faces up to 30 years in prison and a label that will haunt him for the rest of his life: terrorist.

While much about what prompted Chesser’s transformation remains a mystery, he illustrates a growing phenomenon in the United States: young converts who embrace the most extreme interpretation of Islam.

Of the nearly 200 U.S. citizens arrested in the past nine years for terrorism-related activity, 20 to 25 percent have been converts, said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. More than a quarter have been arrested in the past 20 months. The center provided The Washington Post with saved copies of Chesser’s postings, most no longer available on the Web.

“Many of these converts are basically white kids from the suburbs” in search of a community, said Segal, whose group has produced numerous papers on those arrested, including Chesser. They are overwhelmingly male, frequently in their 20s and eager to “become something more than they are, or be part of something greater,” he said.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Providence College Newspaper Censors Dr. Trifkovic

On October 21, members of the Providence College chapter of Youth for Western Civilization along with fifty of their peers attended a presentation by Dr. Srdja Trifkovic. As reported on the YWC site, the event was officially hosted by the College Republicans and was an eye opening talk that revealed the complex inner nature of Islam and its inherently antagonistic relationship with Western civilization.

Dr. Trifkovic veered away from the politically correct script that conservatives typically spout based upon egalitarian, assimilationist premises, and instead deconstructed the first principles of Islam to expose the danger it poses to Western civilization. Although a few leftists tried to derail Dr. Trifkovic’s focus by either theatrically crying during the middle of the presentation, or belittling his stellar credentials during the Q&A session, the majority of the crowd was in overwhelming support of his message.

Given the significant turnout for the event, I was under the naïve impression that Dr. Trifkovic’s presentation would receive some fairly significant coverage from the student run weekly newspaper, The Cowl, whose representative attended the speech to take notes and observe the lecture. A few days later I ran into the writer who attended the presentation who informed me that The Cowl would not be running an article relating to the event, with some vague mumblings about it being too controversial. I later on emailed him asking for a more clear reason why the event would not be covered. Some excerpts from the email response I received from this writer stated that…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic [Return to headlines]



SOS: Save Our Society, Vote on the Issues

by Phyllis Chesler

Call me narrowly partisan, call me a flaming fanatic—actually, I am neither—but given what I know, there is simply no way that I can vote for any American candidate who supports President Obama’s position on Israel or on the Islamic world. I am thinking of Obama’s low bow to King Abdullah, his maiden-voyage speech in Cairo, his 2010 public shaming of the Israeli delegation at the White House, going so far as having refused to feed them or to pose with them for photos—but of course, there is more, so much more. Doing absolutely nothing to stop Iran or to help Iranian dissidents is among the next 50 important issues that our president has either not grasped or has, indeed, handled as if he truly is either an empty suit or a Muslim Manchurian candidate. Or both.

I am not talking about his race. I am talking about his administration’s policies.

Obama’s administration has also invited “J” Street, a Soros-funded anti-Israel lobby, into its inner circle as a “pro-Israel” group; suggested that Israel has been the cause of American military deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq; demanded that Israel stop building on sovereign Israeli soil; and has refused to say that Israel is, indeed, a Jewish state.

America’s foreign policy in terms of both Israel and the Muslim world is a matter of the most profound national and international security, and the fact that I may not agree with conservatives or Republicans on certain issues is of lesser importance at this moment in history. All our precious and hard-won universal human rights, including women’s rights, will remain tattered pieces of paper if the pro-Islamist and anti-Israel agenda triumphs. Sadly, under Obama’s reign, this is well underway.

Further: Scapegoating Israel for the crimes of Muslim regimes will not help Muslim citizens who yearn to live free of terrorism and barbaric tyranny nor will it help Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents or infidels who are being savagely persecuted, exiled, murdered, blown up by Islamists in Muslim and Hindu countries. Islamic religious apartheid is real and growing. Israel is not an apartheid country—but both Islamic gender and religious apartheid are real apartheid practices.

President Obama has yet to suggest that he realizes this.

I cannot vote for someone who supports a civilian trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as many candidates do. I am indebted to Janet Lehr at Israel Lives, for listing the candidates’ position on this. For example, Lehr mentions the following pro-civilian trial candidates for the Senate: NO NAMES WERE MENTIONED IN THE NRB VERSION OF THIS PIECE BUT THEY APPEAR IN THE ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS VERSION In Florida, Kendrick B. Meek, and in Indiana, Brad Ellsworth. Their opponents are Republicans Marco Rubio in Florida and Dan Coats in Indiana.

I am not talking about voting Republican because you are already a Republican or because you are so disgusted with Obama that you will vote Republican for the first time. I am talking about the issues that matter. If one party turns out to have the wiser position, then so be it…

[Return to headlines]



The Jewish Defence League is Calling on Followers and Supporters of Rabbi Meir Kahane From Canada and America to Gather at Ground Zero on Sunday November 7 at 3:30 PM

NEW YORK, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ — It has been 20 years since Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered. He was the first Al Qaida target on American soil. And his vision is more important today than ever. Political Islam must be stopped. The forces of Political Islam built a Mosque on the holiest site of the Jewish People -The Temple Mount. And today, the forces of Political Islam are determined to build a Mosque at Ground Zero. The forces of Political Islam represent a clear and present danger. KAHANE WAS RIGHT!

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



The Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens) Controversy Continues to Grow

Salman Rushdie: He (Jon Stewart) Said He was Sorry it Upset Me, but Really, it was Plain that He was Fine with It

The Yusef Islam controversy, brought about by an appearance of the Muslim singer at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, just keeps growing. Now Salman Rushdie, the author of “Satanic Verses” who had a fatwa issued against his life, has weighed in.

Apparently, Rushie talked to Jon Stewart to complain. Yusef Islam had publicly approved of the fatwa, issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, that called upon Muslims of good will to kill Rushdie for what he considered the blasphemous nature of “Satanic Verses.” What transpired is quoted in Verum Serum:

“I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam’s appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.”

One can only imagine what Jon Stewart would say if a Tea Party celebrity, say Sarah Palin, suggested that someone should be killed for blasphemy against Christianity. One suspects that he would not “be fine with it.”

A lot of people remember Cat Stevens fondly as the singer of “Peace Train” (which he performed at the rally), “Moonshadow” and many other songs of love and peace in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is hard, therefore, to equate Cat Stevens with Yusef Islam, who while still an artist of considerable talent, wants to kill people out of religious frenzy. It’s not just Salman Rusdie. Islam has said that he is agreeable to stoning women to death for adultery.

That last has no doubt broken the hearts of millions of women who grew up to the songs of Cat Stevens with the usual fantasies young women have for handsome, articulate pop stars.

Of course anyone has the right to go crazy, no matter how disappointing it is, though Islam bears watching in this era of terrorism. And Stewart has the right to use Yusef Islam as an act at his fake rally.

But no one is excused from advocating murder, nor is anyone excused from tacitly approving of that advocacy by using him as a music act.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Canada


‘Weak, Opportunist’ Islam Will Fell West, Steyn Says

It’s the end of the world as we know it — so warns Mark Steyn, who spoke Monday in London about a western society he believes is ready to crumble in the face of Islam.

The conservative commentator came to the city’s Centennial Hall with a history of stirring supporters and opponents alike, a legacy organizers hope to repeat with a speech he calls, Head for the Hills: Why Everything in Your World is Doomed.

About 900 people — mostly an older crowd — filled the hall, with no pre-speech protests or demonstrations.

While Steyn’s views are well known as a best-selling author whose writings have led to clashes with Islamic leaders in Canada, he spoke more specifically of his planned talk in London during an Internet interview with the conservatives sponsoring his visit at StrictlyRight.com.

“If the Western World believed in itself, it wouldn’t be falling to such a weak but opportunist enemy as Islam,” Steyn said last month.

While Steyn was born in Toronto and came to age in England, his focus now is mostly on his adopted homeland — the United States.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Berlusconi Vows to Clear Naples Trash Fast

‘No more rubbish on streets in three days’

(ANSA) — Acerra, October 28 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday vowed to quickly clear up a month-long Naples garbage crisis.

Speaking at a new incinerator here, the premier voiced confidence that local mayors and residents would rally round a plan to approve a contested dump outside Naples after the satisfactory results of toxic tests.

A new, even more controversial landfill in the Vesuvius National Park would be put on hold “indefinitely,” he confirmed.

As for the piles of uncollected refuse in Naples itself, he said they would be cleared away by the start of next week.

“There will be no more (uncollected) rubbish in Naples in three days,” Berlusconi told a press conference.

Striking the same upbeat tone he used in resolving a similar emergency shortly after coming to power in 2008, he said there was “no alternative” to the dump at the town of Terzigno, where tests have so far shown “no data outside the norms”.

The premier stressed that the tests, which began earlier this week, were being carried out “not just by us but also by the Higher Health Institute, by the Ispra environment agency and by experts from the towns involved”.

The tests at the dump are already “giving excellent results,” he insisted, adding that the foul smell at the site had been 90% eliminated and would disappear for good “within 3-4 days”.

The stench, he explained, had been caused by a refuse firm being temporarily unable to “stabilise” waste before it got to the dump. As for the minority of mayors who have not signed the clean-up accord, “we have good reason to think an accord can be accepted within 10 days,” he said. He said he would return to the Naples area then and hopefully clinch the deal with the mayors.

Turning his attention to the anti-dump clashes in which several policemen were hurt and a number of youths arrested last week, Berlusconi said peaceful residents’ protests had been infiltrated by agents provocateurs, “who appear to have been organised”.

The premier also stressed the importance of recycling and said a key new incinerator would be completed “in a year and a half”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Britain and France to Share Nuclear Secrets as Cameron and Sarkozy Sign Historic 50-Year Military Agreement

Britain and France have signed a new entente cordiale today agreeing to unprecedented military cooperation including the joint testing of nuclear warheads.

Nuclear secrets — which have been preserved for five decades — will be shared under the plans.

Britain will surrender testing of nuclear warheads which will be done at Valduc, near Dijon, from 2015. The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston will instead focus on developing new technology.

The ground-breaking agreement will even see French generals taking command of the SAS as part of a rapid reaction force.

Senior defence officials claim the historic deal, dubbed the ‘Entente Frugale’, will save millions and boost the fighting power of both countries.

But critics claim that the pact has been forced on Britain by budget cuts and will leave the Armed Forces dependent on their historical rivals, who opposed conflicts in Iraq and the Falklands.

David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarzoky will sign two treaties designed to end years of mutual suspicion and bind the Armed Forces of both nations together for 50 years.

The historic deal will see Britain and France share aircraft carriers from 2020, so that at least one is at sea at all times, leaving Britain dependent on French support to defend the Falkland Islands.

The countries will launch a brigade-sized Combined Joint Expeditionary Force — about 6,000 troops — including the SAS, SBS, Marines and Paras, to deploy on civil and military operations together and share more intelligence, air-to-air refuelling and cyber-warfare capabilities.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox insisted the move makes ‘perfect sense’ and stressed: ‘This is not a question of our military assets coming under the control of any other power than the United Kingdom.’

He claimed it would not stop the UK acting alone if it had a disagreement with France over policy.

‘There is nothing in this treaty that restricts either country from acting where we want to in our national interest,’ he told the BBC.

‘We’re talking about joint expeditionary forces with our forces in all three services working together to develop common practices, better inter-operability and to look to see where we get better common equipment. That makes perfect sense in a world where resources are tight but our interests are increasingly common.’

Dr Fox said the deal was not the same as allowing the European Union to have responsibility for defence.

‘Defence has to be a sovereign capability,’ he said. ‘If we decide to make a defence deal with France, where we operate together when it’s in our interest to do so but retain our capabilities to act independently when our nations require it, that’s very different from having a European Commission rule in our defence.’

Two years ago, a leaked French government document revealed most of France’s tanks, helicopters and jet fighters were unusable and its defence capabilities were on the verge of ‘falling apart’.

Under the terms of the defence pact, Britain’s only aircraft carrier capability for the next decade will be the French flagship the Charles de Gaulle.

From 2020, when the UK has its own new carrier, the two countries will agree to keep one of the two at sea.

But that means when Britain’s carrier is in refit, about 30 per cent of the time, the defence of the Falkland Islands could depend on help from the French government, which sold Exocet missiles to Argentina during the 1982 war. And they could simply say: ‘Non.’

Commander John Muxworthy, a Falklands veteran who is chief executive of the UK National Defence Association, branded the plan ‘utterly irresponsible’.

He said: ‘This compromises our operational integrity completely. If we need to send a carrier to protect one of our territories, and ours is in refit, and the French say, “Well, we don’t agree — you’re not using ours”, we’re not going to be doing much protecting.

‘It is not in the best interests of the nation. The Government is trying to paint the picture that this is the smart way to do defence, but the reality is that ministers are trying to disguise the cuts and have defence on the cheap.’

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Proposal to Ban Arabic Stations Meets Resistance

Danish People’s Party leader backs down following criticism

Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the Danish People’s Party (DF), has stuck to her guns in the face of harsh criticism following her proposal to ban access to two prominent Arabic news channels, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

Kjærsgaard would ban satellite dishes in public housing areas in order to prevent residents from receiving what she labelled “anti-western” channels.

“I thought it was an April Fool’s joke,” Naser Khader, the Conservative MP, told Politiken newspaper, proposing that the DF instead come up with a democratic response. He added that labelling Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya as “hateful Arabic TV-stations” shows that the DF does not have a proper understanding of the Arabic media.

Conservatives spokesperson Rasmus Jarlov stressed that a ban would “nourish the conspiracy theories that Denmark is attempting to repress Arab views”.

Henrik Dam Kristensen of the opposition Social Democrats urged Kjærsgaard to participate in a dialogue about integration, rather than discuss bans. He asserted that she is making a desperate attempt to “keep a debate going”.

Following criticism, Kjærsgaard acknowledged to Politiken newspaper that it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to implement the proposal.

The DF will now go directly to the Radio and Television Board to get Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya channels banned, but they will need to provide evidence that the two TV stations are a form of hate speech. In Kjærsgaard’s view, access to the two stations limits the integration capacity of residents who only get their news from these stations.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds

Yersinia Pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, originated in China 2,600 years ago, according to a new study by an international team of medical geneticists. “What’s exciting is that we are able to reconstruct the historical routes of bacterial disease over centuries,” said Mark Achtman of University College Cork.

Dr. Bramanti’s team was able to distinguish two strains of the Black Death plague bacterium, which differ both from each other and from the three principal strains in the world today. They infer that medieval Europe must have been invaded by two different sources of Yersinia pestis. One strain reached the port of Marseilles on France’s southern coast in 1347, spread rapidly across France and by 1349 had reached Hereford, a busy English market town and pilgrimage center near the Welsh border.

The strain of bacterium analyzed from the bones and teeth of a Hereford plague pit dug in 1349 is identical to that from a plague pit of 1348 in southern France, suggesting a direct route of travel. But a plague pit in the Dutch town of Bergen op Zoom has bacteria of a different strain, which the researchers infer arrived from Norway.

The Black Death is the middle of three great waves of plague that have hit in historical times. The first appeared in the 6th century during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinian, reaching his capital, Constantinople, on grain ships from Egypt. The Justinian plague, as historians call it, is thought to have killed perhaps half the population of Europe and to have eased the Arab takeover of Byzantine provinces in the Near East and Africa.

The third great wave of plague began in China’s Yunnan province in 1894, emerged in Hong Kong and then spread via shipping routes throughout the world. It reached the United States through a plague ship from Hong Kong that docked at Hawaii, where plague broke out in December 1899, and then San Francisco, whose plague epidemic began in March 1900.

The three plague waves have now been tied together in common family tree by a team of medical geneticists led by Mark Achtman of University College Cork in Ireland. By looking at genetic variations in living strains of Yersinia pestis, Dr. Achtman’s team has reconstructed a family tree of the bacterium. By counting the number of genetic changes, which clock up at a generally steady rate, they have dated the branch points of the tree, which enables the major branches to be correlated with historical events.

In the issue of Nature Genetics published online Sunday, they conclude that all three of the great waves of plague originated from China, where the root of their tree is situated. Plague would have reached Europe across the Silk Road, they say. An epidemic of plague that reached East Africa was probably spread by the voyages of the Chinese admiral Zheng He who led a fleet of 300 ships to Africa in 1409.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Four Arrested for Murder of Swedish Footballer

Four people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Swedish second division football player Eddie Moussa and his brother in Södertälje in July.

One of the four suspects is suspected of murder, while the other three are suspected of being accessories to murder, according to a statement from police.

The men were arrested without incident during a Tuesday morning police raid in Södertäjle, south of Stockholm.

The men are known by police for previously criminal activities, but had not previously been targeted by police investigating the murder of the Moussa brothers.

“We’ve had a short interrogation with the men in which they were informed of the criminal suspicions against them. I don’t want to comment on their view of the suspicions,” county police spokesperson Ulf Göranzon told the TT news agency.

The 26-year-old Moussa was and his 40-year-old brother Yaacoub were shot dead in Café Oasen, a known gambling club in Södertälje’s Ronna shopping precinct on July 1st of this year.

According to witnesses, three men came into the premises shortly after 2am in the morning and began firing automatic weapons, killing the two brothers and injuring a third victim.

At the time, police suspected the killings may have been a targeted killing orchestrated by elements of the criminal underworld.

Göranzon wouldn’t elaborate on possible motives for the killings or comment further on what specific roles the men may have had in the shooting.

Eddie Mousssa was a promising young football star of Lebanese-Assyrian extraction who held both Swedish and Dominican passports. He debuted for Assyriska FF, a Södertälje-based club which played one season in Sweden’s Allsvenskan top-flight after winning promotion in 2004.

The club, which was founded only in 1974, has a large following in Södertälje and is considered by many to be a substitute national team for the Assyrian people.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



France: Assaulted for Being Blond

Several days ago a reader sent me the story of a crime in Toulouse. It involves the attack on two blond teenagers, 16, by three female middle-school pupils. The French press does not give the names, race or ethnicity of the perpetrators, but the readers’ comments at numerous websites leave little doubt that this was an anti-white crime.

Many websites carried the story. It aroused a great deal of interest because the criminals made no bones about the fact that they hated blonds and that their motive was based entirely on hair color. Here is the version from La Dépêche:

Because they did not like blonds, three middle-school girls, ages 14-15, suspected of having senselessly assaulted two 16-year old high-schoolers in the middle of the street while filming the scene with their cell phone, were arrested Wednesday in Toulouse.

Note: The incident occurred several weeks ago. “Wednesday” would be September 29.

The French text uses “gratuitement”, which I have translated as “senselessly”. The MSM press, in France and elsewhere, often refers to crimes as being “senseless”, when in fact there is a clear motive behind the act: anti-white racism…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Germany: Suspicious Package Sparks Massive Security Operation at Angela Merkel’s Office

A massive security operation was underway in the office of the German chancellor in Berlin today after a suspicious package was delivered to Angela Merkel’s workplace.

Police said they could not rule out the possibility it was explosives.

The building was evacuated as teams of specialists moved in to deal with the latest in a spate of terror-attacks seemingly linked to the Greek debt crisis.

Chancellor Merkel was in Brussels on official business when the alarm went out at 1pm. By dusk the bomb disposal experts were still at the scene.

According to German media reports, it was personally addressed to her but metal and other elements in it triggered detection machines that screen all her mail.

The sender of the mail was listed on the courier inventory as the Greek economics ministry, according to Germany’s Bild newspaper.

The alert came after parcel bombs exploded at the Russian and Swiss embassies in the Greek capital Athens on Tuesday. Three other devices, believed to have been sent by left-wing extremists, were intercepted.

The immediate theory behind the German terror alert is Berlin’s hard-line on Greece putting its catastrophic finances in order.

Mrs Merkel underwrote billions worth of credit to save Greece from collapsing into chaos due to the financial crisis — but the price was savage austerity measures that has split Greek society.

She demanded that Greeks pay their taxes, end corruption and slash mammoth perks for civil servants — all measures that have earned her the hatred of leftists as the cuts begin to bite.

‘This bomb, whether real or false, is seen as payback for bringing tough times to Greece,’ said a senior officer with the Federal Criminal Office in Berlin that is handling the incident.

Small bomb and gas canister attacks have been frequent in Greece since 2008 when the police killing of a teenager sparked the country’s worst riots in decades.

The package delivered to the Swiss embassy in Athens burst into flames but no-one was hurt.

Bombs were also found at the Chilean and Bulgarian embassies and one was intercepted at the offices of a courier company addressed to the German embassy.

Greek authorities closed down sections of the capital and checked dozens of potential targets, while all embassies were given additional police security following the bomb wave.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which caused no injuries. No warnings were given and no link has been made with the recently discovered Yemen-based mail bomb plot, which used much more powerful devices.

The attacks began Monday when a mail bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy exploded at a delivery service in central Athens, lightly wounding one worker.

Authorities searched surrounding streets and arrested two suspects shortly after the blast.

They were carrying mail bombs addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



German Minister Criticises Muslim Youths

Berlin — German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder on Tuesday criticised Muslim youths for displaying hostility towards Germans.

“Such abuse is unfortunately commonplace amongst youths in certain areas — in the school yard, but also in the underground,” Schroeder told daily tabloid Bild.

“We are dealing with fundamentally hostile attitudes towards other groups — particularly against Germans and Christians,” the minister continued, adding, “We need to act as decisively against this as against xenophobia.”

Her comments come amid a fierce debate currently taking place in Germany about the integration of the country’s 4 million Muslims, the majority of whom are of Turkish origin.

Schroeder emphasised that she was criticising a small group of Muslim youths, and said their hostile behaviour was down to “poor education and bad friends, as well as macho norms and family violence”.

She also announced plans to set up additional facilities to help children learn to integrate and speak German at 4 000 nurseries across the country.

In recent weeks the family minister also drew attention to the fact that ethnic German children were being bullied in schools that had a high quotient of pupils from immigrant backgrounds.

           — Hat tip: SF [Return to headlines]



Greece: Mail Bombers Target Foreign Embassies During Wave of Attacks in Athens

Small mail bombs exploded outside the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens today and police destroyed at least three more as they tried to halt a wave of attacks on foreign missions blamed on far-left domestic extremists.

Authorities closed down sections of the capital and checked dozens of potential targets, while all embassies were given additional police security.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which caused no injuries. No warning was given.

No link has been made with the recently discovered Yemen-based mail bomb plot, which used much more powerful devices.

The attacks began yesterday when a mail bomb addressed to the Mexican embassy exploded at a delivery service in central Athens, lightly wounding one worker.

Authorities searched surrounding streets and arrested two suspects shortly after the blast.

They were carrying mail bombs addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Belgian Embassy, along with handguns and bullets in waist pouches. One wore body armour, a wig and a baseball cap.

Police detonated the bombs along with a fourth device found at a delivery company and addressed to the Dutch Embassy.

One of the suspects was wanted in connection with an investigation into a radical anarchist group known as Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire, which has claimed responsibility for a spate of small bomb and arson attacks over the past two years.

The explosions continued today with the detonation of a bomb in the courtyard outside a six-story building that is home to the Swiss Embassy.

Swiss Foreign Ministry official Georg Farago said Athens embassy employees regarded the package as suspicious after noticing ‘traces of metal’ on it.

The package burst into flames when the employees removed the external wrapping of the package.

‘At the same moment, there was an explosion. No one was injured,’ Farago said.

Soon after, a courier heading for another embassy became suspicious about a package and stopped at Parliament, where police explosives experts detonated a bomb.

Police then found explosive devices at the Bulgarian Embassy and a central Athens courier company — where the German embassy had returned a suspicious package — and set them off in controlled explosions.

A fifth bomb went off on the grounds of the Russian Embassy.

Sarkozy said his office took threat seriously and that French authorities were working with Greek police.

‘The threat is very serious. We are extremely vigilant and I am following it very closely,’

Sarkozy said during a joint press conference in London with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Italy: ‘Ruby’ Phone Call Probed

‘Italy in serious trouble if I go’, Berlusconi says

(ANSA) — Milan, November 1 — A phone call from Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s office to get a Moroccan teenage dancer out of a scrape in May was at the centre of an encounter Monday between a former Milan police chief and one of Italy’s best-known prosecutors.

Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini, a prominent investigator since the 1990s Clean Hands probes and more recently in several cases regarding the premier, questioned ex-police chief Vincenzo Indolfi for about an hour.

Indolfi has been reported as insisting the Milan police station “followed procedures” in releasing Ruby, 17, after she was accused of stealing from an acquaintance of hers.

Berlusconi last week appeared to confirm reports that he called the station in person to ask for preferential treatment for the girl, claiming she was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, though the premier has since retracted this admission.

Italian dailies have published wiretap transcripts apparently showing it was Berlusconi who made the call.

The Italian centre-left opposition has accused Berlusconi of abuse of office and called for his resignation, while centre-right House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, a nominal but uneasy ally, has said the premier “should go if (the phone call) turns out to be true”.

Berlusconi said in a book due for publication Friday that “any defection on my part would bring serious trouble for the centre right and the country”.

Ruby, who turned 18 Monday, has won international headlines with accounts of allegedly sexy parties at the premier’s Milan villa and claims she was given lavish gifts.

The premier has denied any impropriety as he did over a 2008-2009 friendship with a Neapolitan teenager and a summer 2009 night with a prostitute who secretly taped their encounter.

On Friday Berlusconi, 74, said he “loved life and women and no one could change his lifestyle”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Five Thousand Euros for Going to a Party

Investigation into “protection network” for minor. Berlusconi and Ruby — “I’m a man with a heart”

MILAN — For now, three details are certain in the story of parties, prostitutes and politicians at Silvio Berlusconi’s Arcore home as told, controversially, to the Milan public prosecutor’s office by a 17-year-old Moroccan girl. The main point to emerge is that the restless teenager — a runaway from home and shelters who has three charges of theft to her credit along with simulating sex in front of children in one shelter and swopping accusations of prostitution with other residents — really did go to Silvio Berlusconi’s Arcore residence. “I didn’t know the girl” and “I never so much as shook her hand” but “I could have met her a couple of times at dinner with the prime minister” confirmed the TG4 news bulletin director Emilio Fede yesterday. Mr Fede is under investigation on suspicion of complicity in prostitution, along with TV entrepreneur Lele Mora and Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti, as a result of the girl’s statements.

The second certainty is that the minor did receive cash payments even though she swears that she only met the prime minister at the parties and did not have sexual relations. The sums involved are not huge (gifts apart) but still run to multiples of the one thousand euros received by Patrizia D’Addario for spending a night with Silvio Berlusconi at Palazzo Grazioli. We are talking about five thousand euros a time, which it is suspected may have been paid out of Mr Berlusconi’s family “strongbox”, long administered by his trusted associate, Giuseppe Spinelli. Years ago, Mr Spinelli was investigated with Mr Berlusconi over the Medusa film company and the Macherio residence, and was a director of both the Dolcedrago holding company and the Idra real estate company that owns Arcore…

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

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



Italy: Ruby: “Silvio Showed Me the Audi and Said: It’s for You”

The young woman’s statements at the centre of the new investigation involving the Premier. The public prosecutors will hear the police officers regarding the Palazzo Chigi phone call

In order to avoid confusion and to remain anchored to reality, it is necessary to follow what the police officers “do.” And surrounding this “detective story” centrepiece certain fundamental details, however surreal, must be highlighted. Fact one: some detectives are on a mission in Genoa: they have gone there to search for Ruby, the minor invited to the Premier’s parties in Arcore, the girl of the moment in terms of the media (and perhaps also in historical terms). And to look for her “traces.” Fact two: other police officers, ordinary agents, ranking officers and officials, all on duty at Via Fatebenefratelli 11, know that a summons to the Court House is imminent. The magistrates intend to gain a slightly better understanding, and as soon as possible, of what happened on the night of 27-28 May last. That a sort of “diplomatic fraud” was perpetrated (Palazzo Chigi calls spreading the false news that “she’s Mubarak’s niece” in order to have the Premier’s female friend released from a public office) by now is a circumstance — however incredible — taken for granted. And even the Egyptian Embassy has made a point of informing us that any kinship between the President of Egypt and this self-possessed Moroccan girl passed off as his “niece” simply “doesn’t exist.”

Now we come to the details. The 17-year-old has many friends in the Liguria region. She has them especially on the “night” scene, notwithstanding her address at a home for minors. Websites are being filled with her photos and her discotheque performances. In Genoa, too, Ruby hardly has been discreet about the Premier’s image and about his life in Milan. A month ago she was detained at the Brignole station, following the usual procedures in cases involving minors, moreover in this case a girl wearing heavy make-up and carrying 5,000 euros in cash. Too much money, the police officers think, for someone who should be in a foster home. Question: What do you do? Answer: “Don’t think ill of me, I’m a model and I do fashion shows for Lele Mora.”…

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



Netherlands: Police Figures Show Only 25 Percent of Actual Crime

THE HAGUE, 02/11/10 — The crimes included in official police statistics represent around 25 percent of the actual number of crimes in the Netherlands.

Victims make a police report of about 26 percent of crimes, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS). The most important reason for not reporting crimes is that reporting “does not help anyway” (36 percent).

The most important reasons to do report an incident were that the police “had to know” this (25 percent) and for the insurance (23 percent). Making a police report is often a requirement for an insurance claim.

Property crimes (such as break-ins, theft and muggings) are the most reported. Among those having something stolen from their car, 70 percent make a report. Half (50 percent) report a break-in or attempted break-in to their home. If people’s bicycles are stolen, 40 percent take the trouble to report this.

Crimes of violence are seldom reported. Only 3 percent of sexual offences prompt a report, and this is just 11 percent in the case of threats and 35 percent for assaults.

Nor do the police get to know much about vandalism offences (damaging or theft from a car, other vandalism). About one in six of vandalism offences result in a report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sex Abuse Victims Meet Vatican Spokesman

Vatican City, 1 Nov. (AKI) — Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has met survivors of clerical sex abuse, Vatican Radio reported Monday on its website. Lombardi told the group the Catholic church could and must do more to support abuse survivors and ensure all children in its care were protected. But he said paedophilia was a wider problem that remained “an intense scourge in today’s world.”

“We know very well that what has happened in the Church is but a small part of what has happened and continues to happen in the world at large, “ Lombardi said.

Internet pornography, sexual tourism and trafficking which exploits the poverty of people in various continents, were havens for paedophiles, he noted.

Lombardi urged victims to unite with the Church to stamp out paedophile sex abuse.

Around 100 sexual abuse victims including Italian victims on Sunday marched in Rome near the Vatican to demand Pope Benedict XVI take firmer action against priests who committed abuse.

The protesters included about 55 deaf Italians from a notorious Catholic institute for the deaf in Verona, where dozens of students say they were sodomised by priests.

“Hands off our children” and “Church without abuse” the demonstrators chanted at the protest organised at the Castel Sant’Angelo by US victims’ organisation Survivors Voice.

Victims of paedophile clergy claim the pope has not done enough to help abuse victims or implement the greater transparency and accountability the Vatican has promised in abuse cases.

Lombardi rebutted these accusations.

“Not only the Pope,” he said, “but many Church communities in various parts of the world have done and are doing a lot, by way of listening to victims, as well as in the areas of prevention and formation,” he said.

The abuse of thousands of children by clergy in several continents over many decades was covered up in a scandal that has rocked the Catholic church and tainted the credibility of the papacy itself.

Sunday’s protest oganisers had tried to hold the march on Vatican soil but were forced to stage it nearby after the Holy See denied permission. About 25 police officers blocked the torch-bearing protesters from walking up the wide avenue that leads to St Peters, although Vatican Radio said the protesters were allowed to leave personal messages for the pope.

It is standard Vatican practice to ban non-Vatican-sponsored events from St Peter’s Square. When Lombardi approached the group to offer his solidarity, he was reportedly sworn and spat at. He later arranged the private meeting with the two protest organisers and several other victims.

Benedict himself has faced allegation that as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, when he headed the Vatican morals watchdog and earlier as Archbishop of Munich, he failed to defrock predator priests.

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



Sweden: Verdict Reached in Malmö Teen Pimping Trial

A court in Malmö in southern Sweden sentenced several men to prison on Tuesday for their role in selling a mentally handicapped 14-year-old girl for sex.

Threats force judge out of teen pimping trial (28 Sep 10)

Ten face trial in teen pimping scandal (27 Sep 10)

Ten charged in Malmö teen pimping scandal (15 Sep 10)

The 18-year-old man believed to be the ringleader of the teen pimping scandal was sentenced to one year in prison for aggravated pimping.

A 35-year-old man was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for child rape as well as aggravated pimping.

Prosecutor Ulrika Rogland had requested a sentence of eight years in prison for both men, who had been charged for taking advantage of the 14-year-old girl and taking payment from other men who then had sex with the girl.

A 51-year-old man was also sentenced to two years in prison for child rape.

A total of ten men were originally charged in the case, which related to how the 14-year-old girl, who had been diagnosed with learning difficulties, was in March drugged with alcohol and narcotics and then abused sexually by several men.

The case carried additional significance because it represented the first time prosecutors in Sweden attempted to classify pimping crimes as human trafficking, as the girl had been taken to several locations where she was taken advantage of sexually.

The start of the trial was also delayed after threats were made to the judge originally assigned to preside over the hearings.

“I’m not totally happy, but on the other hand, not totally unhappy either,” said attorney Jan-Anders Hybelius, who defended the 18-year-old that prosecutors had pointed out as the ringleader.

Hybelius explained that his client hadn’t been convicted of human trafficking, and was also freed child rape charges. But he 18-year-old was found guilty of aggravated pimping and sentenced to one year in prison.

“I’m going to speak with him and then we’ll make a decision about an appeal,” said Hybelius.

Four of the men originally charged in the case were freed of all charges.

A 27-year-old man was found guilty of aggravated fraud and sentenced to one year in prison, and a 17-year-old was fined for purchasing sexual services.

Prosecutors’ attempts to gain convictions for human trafficking were unsuccessful.

Rogland said that she plans to appeal at least certain aspects of the ruling.

“I very much to have a higher court rule on whether what has happened can be considered human trafficking,” she told TT.

Rogland also pointed out that a couple of the men who had sex with the 14-year-old were convicted of aggravated child rape, while others weren’t found guilty of the same crime.

“I don’t understand the logic,” she said.

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



Sweden: Racial Shootings in Malmö Continue, Putting Residents on Edge

Upwards of 18 shootings have occurred over the past year

Swedish police are investigating up to 18 apparently racially motivated shootings that have occurred in Malmö over the past year. There have been seven shooting incidents in October alone, with reports of shootings as recently as last weekend.

The one common thread is that all of the shooting victims have immigrant backgrounds.

Police have received upwards of 200 tip offs related to the case and have reason to believe they may have obtained a DNA sample stemming from a scuffle over the past weekend, in which an Iraqi tailor was headbutted and fired at by a man believed to be the gunman.

According to the Øresund Bridge Consortium, 25,000 Danes currently live in the Malmö area and over 20,000 commuters cross the bridge every day. Copenhagen Police have not issued any travel restrictions or warnings to residents travelling to Malmö.

The case has generated international attention, with media outlets in the United States,Canada, Australia, and the Middle East covering the story. The Swedish press has drawn parallels to a similar case in the 1990s in which 11 immigrants were shot in and around Stockholm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Entente Frugale: Cost-Cutting 50-Year Deal That Will See French Take Command of the Sas and Britain Share Nuclear Secrets

Britain and France will sign a new entente cordiale today which will put the security of the UK and her overseas territories in the hands of the French for 50 years.

The ground-breaking agreement will even see French generals taking command of the SAS as part of a rapid reaction force.

Nuclear secrets — which have been preserved for five decades — will also be shared under unprecedented plans to merge the testing of warheads.

Senior defence officials claim the historic deal, dubbed the ‘Entente Frugale’, will save millions and boost the fighting power of both countries.

But critics claim that the pact has been forced on Britain by budget cuts and will leave the Armed Forces dependent on their historical rivals, who opposed conflicts in Iraq and the Falklands.

David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarzoky will sign two treaties designed to end years of mutual suspicion and bind the Armed Forces of both nations together for 50 years.

The historic deal will see Britain and France:

  • Share aircraft carriers from 2020, so that at least one is at sea at all times, leaving Britain dependent on French support to defend the Falkland Islands
  • Launch a brigade-sized Combined Joint Expeditionary Force — about 6,000 troops — including the SAS, SBS, Marines and Paras, to deploy on civil and military operations together.
  • Britain will surrender testing of nuclear warheads which will be done at Valduc, near Dijon, from 2015. The Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston will focus on developing new technology.
  • Share more intelligence, air-to-air refuelling and cyber-warfare capabilities
  • Work more closely on counter terrorism, particularly with regard to the Channel Tunnel
  • Force British and French defence companies to collaborate on future missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles

Defence Secretary Liam Fox insisted the move makes ‘perfect sense’ and stressed: ‘This is not a question of our military assets coming under the control of any other power than the United Kingdom.’

He claimed it would not stop the UK acting alone if it had a disagreement with France over policy.

‘There is nothing in this treaty that restricts either country from acting where we want to in our national interest,’ he told the BBC.

‘We’re talking about joint expeditionary forces with our forces in all three services working together to develop common practices, better inter-operability and to look to see where we get better common equipment. That makes perfect sense in a world where resources are tight but our interests are increasingly common.’

Dr Fox said the deal was not the same as allowing the European Union to have responsibility for defence.

‘Defence has to be a sovereign capability,’ he said. ‘If we decide to make a defence deal with France, where we operate together when it’s in our interest to do so but retain our capabilities to act independently when our nations require it, that’s very different from having a European Commission rule in our defence.’

Two years ago, a leaked French government document revealed most of France’s tanks, helicopters and jet fighters were unusable and its defence capabilities were on the verge of ‘falling apart’.

Under the terms of the defence pact, Britain’s only aircraft carrier capability for the next decade will be the French flagship the Charles de Gaulle.

But that means when Britain’s carrier is in refit, about 30 per cent of the time, the defence of the Falkland Islands could depend on help from the French government, which sold Exocet missiles to Argentina during the 1982 war. And they could simply say: ‘Non.’

Commander John Muxworthy, a Falklands veteran who is chief executive of the UK National Defence Association, branded the plan ‘utterly irresponsible’.

He said: ‘This compromises our operational integrity completely. If we need to send a carrier to protect one of our territories, and ours is in refit, and the French say, “Well, we don’t agree — you’re not using ours”, we’re not going to be doing much protecting.

‘It is not in the best interests of the nation. The Government is trying to paint the picture that this is the smart way to do defence, but the reality is that ministers are trying to disguise the cuts and have defence on the cheap.’

British and French forces earmarked for the rapid reaction ‘expeditionary force’ will train together from next year.

The plans will have serious implications for Nato because Britain and France could carry out operations outside the alliance, but officials say it is better than allowing the EU to develop military capabilities.

Mr Cameron said yesterday: ‘I do seriously believe that this link-up with the French is in the long-term interests of both our countries.

‘And to those who worry that this might in some way lead to sort of European armies — that is not the point. The point is to enhance sovereign capability by two like-minded countries being able to work together.’

New Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards said: ‘From a purely practical military perspective, we have been working very closely with the French ever since the First World War, but particularly in Nato,’ he said in a BBC interview ahead of the summit.

‘We lost some of that in the 1990s and the last 10 years or so, so we are almost going back to the very close co-operation we had in the Cold War era.

‘It makes absolute sense, from my perspective, as we are going to fight alongside the French, which has been our plan for a long time, to be as good at it in training as we possibly can be.’

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: ‘I support the Government’s emphasis on international co-operation, taking forward the good work of the last government.

‘We share common threats with countries such as France, from terrorism to privacy to cyber-attack. Deepening military ties is an essential part of modern defence policy.

‘Interdependence, however, is different from dependence, and binding legal treaties pose some big questions for the Government.

‘We know British aircraft carriers won’t have a strike force on them for a decade. Is today’s treaty going to usher in an era where we are reliant on our allies to fill in the gaps in the Government’s defence policy?’

Will we ever really trust the French?

Commentary by COLONEL TIM COLLINS

Horatio Nelson famously instructed his officers that, ‘you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil’.

The Duke of Wellington proclaimed: ‘We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France.’

Well it seems now we are to be one with them — at least militarily. I must admit I am sceptical.

I have served with the French many times; in Berlin during the Cold War, with their special forces on numerous operations when I was in the SAS and in Bosnia, both with the UN under French command and with Nato.

I recall serving alongside the French Foreign Legion in Bosnia when I was deployed with the SAS. They could not speak workable English and our French was basic to say the least.

In the hunt for war criminals, joint operations with France often ended with the blighter getting away — almost as if he had been tipped off. Yet acting alone or with the U.S. we usually got our man.

But the language barrier is not the only potential snag. The ‘advantage’ of sharing aircraft carriers — which would allow us to have a carrier available to us when our own is in for refit — is in fact nothing of the sort.

The problem is that, if we want to use a French aircraft carrier, we then have to seek the permission of the French.

That could present insurmountable difficulties. If, for instance, the Falklands crisis were to flare up again, would they agree to their aircraft carrier braving the French-made Exocet missiles they sold to the Argentinians to recover our islands?

I very much doubt it. After all, they were opposed to our Task Force setting off to recapture the islands in the Falklands War.

As for sharing nuclear secrets and research facilities with France, and merging the testing of nuclear warheads, what impact will that have on our relationship with the United States?

The fact that our Trident submarines currently act as an integral part of a collective global nuclear deterrent with the U.S. is a main pillar of the special relationship.

We are told that the U.S. is relaxed about this new arrangement with France, and that they regard the new Anglo/French relationship as a means of bolstering France’s global military engagement.

But what if the people of France object to an enhanced role for the French military in world affairs? Has anybody told them what happens when the French government do something the French people don’t like?

Last week in Boulogne, the evidence of burning barricades was still very visible on the blackened roads around the town. And that was about an increase in pension ages — not an unpopular war in a faraway land.

The truth is that for years, the French have punched below their weight. They have committed far fewer troops to Nato’s UN-mandated operations in Afghanistan than the British.

We have more than twice the number of service men and women in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the British have 10,000 fewer full-time Army personnel than the French.

The U.S. commander of the first Gulf War ‘Storming’ Norman Schwarzkopf jibed that ‘going to war without the French is like going duck shooting without an accordion’.

In the second Gulf war against Iraq, it was the U.S. which dubbed our new best friends ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ and rebranded French Fries as ‘Freedom Fries’ when they failed to support the 2003 invasion.

I hope I am wrong. I hope the mutual suspicion that has existed through the centuries has gone — a mutual suspicion, incidentally, that hampered our operations in Bosnia where the French had a relationship with the Serbs we never fully understood. But I can’t be sure of it.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK Far-Right Group Boasts Tea Party Links

London, England (CNN) — If you believe the mood music, the Tea Party’s rise may mark a political watershed in the U.S.

The conservative grassroots movement, which has capitalized on right-wing frustration with Barack Obama’s administration and the political establishment, is already shaping the agenda of American politics.

Tuesday’s midterm elections could herald its arrival on Capitol Hill with Tea Party candidates such Rand Paul, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, having beaten more moderate Republicans in earlier primaries, all seeking election to the Senate.

But while the Tea Party’s fiscal and social conservatism has chimed a populist chord with a growing army of American supporters, its popularity risks being hijacked by far-right groups in Europe with a more extremist agenda.

At a rally outside the Israeli Embassy in London on October 24, supporters of the English Defence League march through the streets waving union flags and the red and white cross of St. George, chanting: “I’m England ‘til I die!”

The hardline group pushes an anti-Islamic message with provocative marches through neighborhoods with large Muslim populations. It has cultivated links with European far-right groups with a similar agenda, such as controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders’ anti-Muslim Party for Freedom.

English Defence League leader Stephen Lennon is open about the nascent links between the group and a handful of Tea Party activists in the U.S.

“Individuals from their movement have contacted individuals from our movement supporting what we’re doing, in the same way members from our group are supporting what they’re doing,” Lennon told CNN.

Lennon said EDL and Tea Party activists shared the common goal of fighting for freedom.

“Freedom is worth fighting for. And you’ll see people fight back for freedom,” he said. “That’s what you’re seeing in the U.S., you’re seeing in Britain, you’re seeing in Europe; the more Islam we have the less freedom we have, we’re opposed to it.”

Tea Party activist Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a surfing, hard-line Jewish politician from California who preaches a message of fear about Islamic extremism, is one of those who has embraced the EDL. Addressing the rally in London, Shifren said the group had “started the liberation of England.”

Shifren told CNN that a lot of people in the Tea Party movement were concerned by radical Islam, and said he had established some “outrageously beautiful relationships” with EDL members.

“We are absolutely on the same page,” said Shifren. “The EDL members tell me that they feel completely disenfranchised and out of the picture when it comes to their own government and I totally agree with them.”

But Board of Deputies of British Jews Chief Executive Jon Benjamin said Shifren was displaying “breathtaking naivete and ignorance” by associating himself with the EDL. He said the EDL was attempting to play minorities off against each other.

“Regrettably, this result will only embolden extremists at the other end of the spectrum, and particularly the insidious EDL, who want nothing more than to sow fear and mistrust in the hope of attracting greater support,” said Benjamin.

In the U.S., mainstream Tea Party activists deny they want links to extremists, either at home or abroad.

Adam Brandon of the conservative pressure group FreedomWorks told CNN the Tea Party was a “very peaceful non-violent movement” with no desire to court support among more extremist groups.

“Don’t let anyone who is angry, anyone who is violent, even come close to your movement because they will end up defining it,” Brandon said.

Those concerns are echoed by supporters of the British Tea Party, a loose alliance inspired by the success of the American movement which favors “lower taxes, less state interference, smaller government” — an agenda inspired by the grievances behind the original Boston Tea Party in 1773 which triggered the American rebellion against British colonial rule.

Acknowledging that heritage, British Tea Party supporters launched their campaign earlier this year by tipping tea off a bridge in Boston, Lincolnshire, in eastern England.

Simon Richards of the campaign group Freedom Association, said British Tea Party supporters had not desire to court the support of extremists and were “maybe a little more libertarian” than their American counterparts.

“It is a matter of grave concern because we’ve seen how the American Tea Party movement has been damaged by some small numbers of extremists and we’re very concerned that might happen here,” Richards told CNN.

Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the European Parliament and British Tea Party supporter, also said it was wrong to suggest there was any place for far-right extremists in Tea Party politics on either side of the Atlantic.

“I don’t think there is anything far-right about wanting lower taxes,” Hannan told CNN. “Americans are no more anti-tax, than Brazilians, or British, or Pakistanis or anybody else; nobody likes giving money to the government.

“Of course, there are going to be some nasty people in any large movement — that’s inevitable when you have a mass organization — but the essential idea that the government should live within its means is a remarkably moderate one.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Smiling’ Woman ‘Stabbed MP Twice in Stomach After Confronting Him About Iraq War’

A Muslim woman tried to kill a Labour MP by stabbing him in the stomach ‘in revenge’ for him voting for the Iraq War, a court heard today.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, is accused of knifing Stephen Timms twice in a shock attack during a constituency surgery meeting after she greeted the MP with a smile and offered him the hand of friendship.

A second later the accused allegedly lunged forward, repeatedly plunging a three inch kitchen knife into his stomach, sending the MP ‘reeling and staggering’ backwards, before staff jumped in to wrestle the blade from her grasp.

The Old Bailey heard how the young Muslim woman had plotted for weeks to kill her local MP, buying two knives in case one ‘broke’ when she enacted her ‘punishment’ for him voting in Parliament to invade Iraq in March 2003.

After the attack, she coolly told police: “I just pushed it (the knife) in like how it is if you punch someone.

‘I was trying to kill him because he wanted to invade Iraq.

‘I was not going to stop (stabbing him) until someone made me.

‘I wanted to kill him. I was hoping to get revenge for the people in Iraq.’

Mr Timms, 55, suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in the attack days after the general election in May this year.

The MP for East Ham underwent surgery at the Royal London Hospital after the knife punctured his liver and stomach, but he has now made a full recovery.

Choudhry was later charged with attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

But in an extraordinary case, she has refused to challenge the evidence, saying she does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court.

In what is thought to be the only case in living memory, the defendant has refused to appear in court for her trial and has instructed her lawyers not to offer any evidence in her defence or cross-examine any witnesses.

The attack on May 14 this year happened at a local constituency meeting in Beckton, East London.

Choudhry, who had earlier booked an appointment asking specifically to see the MP, arrived at the Beckton Globe community centre at 2pm armed with a three inch kitchen knife and a longer five inch blade she had stashed in her bag hidden in a scarf and towel.

Mr Timms told the jury that he initially thought she was going to shake his hand when the woman, wearing a full Muslim black dress and headscarf, approached him.

He said: ‘She didn’t go and sit down as she continued to come towards me where I was standing to greet her at that point.

‘I thought she must have been coming to shake my hand. She made as if she was coming to do that. She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly.

‘I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn’t normally be willing to shake a man’s hand, still less to take the initiative to do so, but that is what she was doing.

‘She lunged at me with her right hand.’

Mr Timms pointed at his stomach to show the jury where the knife had gone in.

He added: ‘I think I knew that I had been stabbed although I didn’t feel anything and I can’t recall actually seeing a knife but I think I said “She has a knife” or words to that effect.

‘I attempted to push away the second lunge but was not successful.’

Stunned, the MP doubled over in agony, asking her: ‘What are you doing?’

He told the court: ‘I retreated into the gents’ toilet and lifted up my jumper and realised there was quite a lot of blood there so I realised I had been stabbed.’

Choudhry was placed in a “bear hug” by a security guard before police arrived.

When she was interviewed by police, Choudhry is said to have remained chillingly calm, telling officers she had been planning to kill the MP for three or four weeks and had bought two knives at the end of April ‘in case one broke’.

She told Detective Inspector Simon Dobinson: ‘I made an appointment to see him and I went there and then when I was shaking his hand I stabbed him.’

Asked why, she said: ‘Because he voted for the Iraq war.’

She continued ‘I purposefully walked round the side of the desk so I could get close to him so I could, yeah, stab him.

‘He pointed for me to sit down on the chair but instead I walked towards him with my left hand out as if I wanted to shake his hand.

‘Then I pulled the knife out of my bag in my right hand and I hit him in the stomach with it.

‘I put it in the top part of his stomach.

‘I just pushed it in like how it is if you punch someone.

‘I was trying to kill him because he wanted to invade Iraq.’

Asked why, she answered: “Punishment.”

‘I think I stabbed him again. I think I did it twice. I tried to attack him again and then everyone starting to scream,’ she told detectives.

When asked what she was thinking or feeling, Choudhry replied: ‘I was not feeling anything’.

When questioned why she stabbed him in the stomach, Choudhry said: ‘I am not that strong I thought that the stomach would be soft enough to get the knife in.’

Today the jury were shown the bloodstained weapon and CCTV stills of the attack.

Jeremy Dein, QC said he would not be offering any evidence in defence of his client who is now in custody.

Prosecutor William Boyce, QC, told the jury: ‘Mr Dein has already indicated to you he will not be addressing you on behalf of the defendant and he will not be inviting you to find the defendant not guilty.

‘From this perspective it seems from the Crown’s point of view, acting conscientiously, you could not come to any verdicts other than guilty on the three counts.’

The court heard that Choudhry from East Ham is not suffering from any mental illness.

At an earlier hearing, her lawyers entered a not guilty plea on her behalf after she refused to accept the authority of the court.

The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: Air Passengers Face New Pre-Flight Crackdown as Security Chiefs ‘Profile’ High-Risk Travellers

Airline bosses have raised fears passengers could be subjected to ‘ludicrous’ new security checks in the wake of the cargo plane bomb plot.

The chief executive of Europe’s biggest short-haul airline said ‘pandering’ to terrorists would create more costly and time-sapping security measures for the industry.

It emerged today that millions of air travellers face sweeping new security tests, including passenger profiling and checks against a secret watchlist.

Searches could be carried out according to race, ethnicity, age and gender — a move certain to anger civil rights groups fearing Muslims will be disproportionately targeted.

The examinations will also check for criminal convictions, immigration problems and links to terror suspects.

But Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary warned against overreacting: ‘Every time we have a terrorist scare, the first thing that goes out the window is common sense,’ he said.

‘We in the aviation industry are all for effective security measures such as taking knives off passengers, but we are all opposed to ludicrous and ineffective measures.’

Mr O’Leary added that ‘pandering’ to terrorists would create more costly and time-sapping security measures for the industry.

‘They are laughing away in their caves at the prime minister and his security team meeting to discuss printer cartridges,’ Mr O’Leary, said.

The new checks, which could be introduced before the Christmas holiday rush, emerged as a US official revealed that similar suspect packages were intercepted in September in what is believed to have been a ‘dry run’ for for last week’s ink bomb plot.

US agents first found suspicious packages from Yemen back in September and linked them ‘several weeks ago’ to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a US official.

‘The boxes were stopped in transit and searched,’ the official said, confirming that the packages contained no explosives.

‘At the time, people obviously took notice and — knowing of the terrorist group’s interest in aviation — considered the possibility that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) might be exploring the logistics of the cargo system’, the official added.

‘When we learned of last week’s serious threat, people recalled the incident and factored it in to our government’s very prompt response’.

The dry run contained household goods including books, religious literature, and a computer disk and were shipped by ‘someone with ties to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’, the official said.

Passenger profiling has been resisted by previous Home Secretaries because it means far greater numbers of travellers will be stopped, searched and barred from flying.

The crackdown came amid further developments in the investigation into the cargo plane bomb plot.

It emerged the two ‘ink bombs’ from Yemen contained 300 grams and 400 grams of explosive PETN, 50 times more than is needed to blow a hole in a plane.

New restrictions will be also placed on freight planes coming from Somalia — the African state known to be home to Al Qaeda cells.

And toner cartridges larger than 500g will also be banned from hand baggage on flights departing from the UK, and on cargo flights unless they originate from a shipper cleared by the Government.

But under the prospective rules people could find themselves placed on enhanced Home Office no-fly lists, which will see them turned away when they arrive at the airport.

Alternatively, they will be added to a larger list of those who should be subject to special measures such as enhanced screening.

Many of the passengers will not know why they are being put through rigorous full body searches and other checks.

More controversially, Home Secretary Theresa May has refused to rule out the introduction of passenger profiling.

This will anger libertarian Tory MPs and Liberal Democrats who have made much of their wish to end the ‘Big Brother’ state.

But Mrs May told MPs: ‘We are in a constant battle with the terrorists. They are always looking for another way, another innovative way, in which they can try to get around our defences.

‘Our job, and the job of our security and intelligence agencies and the police, is to ensure that we are doing all we can to make sure that there are no gaps in our defences.’

Earlier Mr Cameron had stressed Britain must take every possible step to ‘cut out the terrorist cancer’ in the Arabian Peninsula.

He praised the work of police and intelligence agencies in preventing terrorists ‘killing and maiming many innocent people, whether here or elsewhere’.

The package found at East Midlands Airport surprised many experts by its size.

Tests in the U.S. have shown that just 50g of PETN can blow a hole in an aircraft and both ink bombs were far bigger than the 80g of explosives the Christmas Day bomber carried in his underwear.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian who studied in Britain, tried to detonate his device over Detroit.

.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: Cameron’s Fury as Prisoners Get the Right to Vote After Coalition Loses Out Yet Again to Europe

Prisoners are to have the right to vote after the Coalition conceded defeat in a long-running battle with Europe.

The Government has confirmed it will change the law to remove the voting ban on the 70,000 inmates of British jails.

It is being forced to do so after admitting it cannot win its fight against the European Court of Human Rights, which has been urging prisoners to seek compensation for being denied a voice in elections.

David Cameron is said to be exasperated and furious but accepts the government has little choice but to end the 140-year blanket ban.

The climbdown comes days after he faced criticism for failing to achieve a cut or freeze in the budget of the European Union.

Giving rapists and burglars the vote will be highly unpopular among many of his backbenchers, who believe criminals have forfeited their democratic rights.

But the policy will be more popular with Lib Dem members of his coalition.

The move comes after government lawyers advised that failure to comply with a 2004 ECHR ruling could cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds in litigation costs and compensation.

A representative of the government is expected to signal the move in a statement to the Court of Appeal tomorrow.

No decision is thought to have been taken on exactly how the change will be implemented and on which inmates are to be given the right to vote.

It is possible that the ban could be retained for murderers and others serving life sentences and that judges will have a say when passing sentence.

An unnamed senior Government source said: ‘This is the last thing we wanted to do but we have looked at this from every conceivable angle and had lawyers poring over the issue.

‘But there is no way out and if we continued to delay then it could start costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions in litigation.’

Convicted killer John Hirst, who took the case to the European Court of Human Rights, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The whole thing about this is that in this system where you’ve got a democracy, that people can put pressure and lobby in Parliament for changes in the law and improved conditions, but you can’t do that if you haven’t got the vote.

‘All prisoners can do is riot, if they’ve got a complaint, so you’ve got to give them this legitimate channel to bring their issue in.’

Sentenced prisoners were originally denied the right to take part in ballots under the 1870 Forfeiture Act, and the ban was retained in the Representation of the People Act of 1983. Prisoners on remand, fine defaulters and those jailed for contempt of court can still vote.

Following a legal challenge from prisoner John Hirst, the ECHR ruled in 2004 that the blanket ban was discriminatory and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

However the Strasbourg-based court said that each country can decide which offences should carry restrictions to voting rights.

The former Labour administration kicked the issue into the long grass with a series of consultations.

Former justice secretary Lord Falconer said he disagreed with the European Court of Human Rights ruling but accepted that the Government had to comply with it.

He said countries should be able to say that convicted prisoners cannot vote.

‘But in relation to the blanket ban right across convicted prisoners, the European Court of Human Rights said that’s not in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights’, he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

‘I disagree with that conclusion but it’s what their view is and we have ultimately got to comply with it.’

Lord Falconer added that it would be ‘incredibly disproportionate and wrong’ for the UK to simply pull out of the ECHR.

David Green, director of the think-tank Civitas, said the Government’s hand was being ‘forced by the European Court of Human Rights’.

‘It is another example of judges acting as if they were politicians,’ he said.

‘It is judicial empire-building.

‘The Government should make only the smallest possible concession — perhaps by giving the vote to prisoners sentenced to six months or less. The ban should remain for all the others.

‘If it leads to further legal action, so be it. In the longer term, Parliament should pass a law making the decisions of the British Parliament superior to any rulings of the European Court.

‘By implication, interpretations of the Convention by British courts should also have precedence over any external court.’

Losing the right to vote was part of the punishment of a prison sentence and making politicians more responsive to the concerns of criminals was ‘the last thing a law abiding society needs’, he said.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: the Moment Muslim Student Inspired by Al Qaeda Ink Bomber Pulled a Knife on an MP Before Stabbing Him as ‘Punishment’ For Voting for the Iraq War

This is the dramatic moment a student prepares to plunge a knife into Labour MP Stephen Timms during a visit to his constituency surgery.

Roshonara Choudhry, who was today convicted of attempted murder, was also revealed to be in possession of a hit list of other politicians who had voted for the war.

Choudhry’s attack on Mr Timms in May this year, was captured on CCTV cameras.

Although the exact moment she stabbed him in the stomach wasn’t picked up on film, our sequence of pictures highlight the events leading up to the horrific attack.

Student Choudhry told detectives she attacked Mr Timms as a ‘punishment’ and ‘to get revenge for the people of Iraq’, prosecutor William Boyce QC told the Old Bailey.

The 21-year-old was believed to have been acting alone after becoming radicalised after watching online sermons by Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to the cargo plane bomb plot sent from Yemen.

He is also thought to be behind a mass shooting at a US army base in Fort Hood, Texas, as well as the failed Deroit underpants bomb plot on Christmas Day last year.

A source said: ‘Choudhry had researched the voting records of a number of MPs around the Iraq war.’

She stabbed East Ham MP Mr Timms as he held a surgery at the Beckton Globe community centre on May 14.

The student smiled and pretended she was going to shake hands with the former Government minister before knifing him twice in the stomach.

Choudhry, of Central Park Road, East Ham, was convicted of attempted murder and two knife possession charges by an Old Bailey jury today.

The court heard that Mr Timms, 55, Labour MP for East Ham and a former Treasury minister, has since made a full recovery.

Choudhry is due to appear via videolink for sentence tomorrow.

The jury retired for just 14 minutes before returning the guilty verdicts, in what was described as an ‘unusual’ case by the judge, Mr Justice Cooke.

Choudhry, who refused to go to court, had told her barrister Jeremy Dein QC that she did not accept its jurisdiction, and did not wish him to challenge the prosecution case.

There were no closing speeches by Mr Dein or prosecutor William Boyce QC and the evidence was concluded in about half a day yesterday before the judge gave a short summing up and sent the jury out today.

The court heard that Choudhry was dressed all in black when she went to see the MP, for a pre-booked appointment, shortly after 3pm on May 14.

Mr Timms said: ‘She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly.

‘I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn’t normally be willing to shake a man’s hand, still less to take the initiative to do so, but that is what she was doing.

‘She lunged at me with her right hand.’

‘I think I knew that I had been stabbed although I didn’t feel anything and I can’t recall actually seeing a knife but I think I said “She has a knife” or words to that effect.

‘I attempted to push away the second lunge but was not successful.’

‘I retreated into the gents’ toilet and lifted up my jumper and realised there was quite a lot of blood there so I realised I had been stabbed.’

The MP’s assistant Andrew Bazeley prised the kitchen knife away from Choudhry and she was placed in a ‘bear hug’ by a security guard before police arrived. Another knife was found in her bag.

When asked by police why she had stabbed him twice, Choudhry said: ‘I was not going to stop until someone made me. I wanted to kill him… I was going to get revenge for the people of Iraq.’

The court heard that Choudhry was ‘anxious’ as she waited for the MP to arrive at the centre and asked security guard Faisal Butt where he was.

Mr Boyce, prosecuting, said that, when she went in to see Mr Timms, she ‘moved around the desk towards him’ and he thought it was to shake his hand.

‘He put out his hand accordingly. The defendant put out her left hand as if to shake his.

‘But it was a ruse, because in her right hand, which she had concealed behind her bag and/or clothing, she had a kitchen knife with a three-inch blade.’

Choudhry told police: ‘I purposefully walked round the side of the desk so I could get close to him.

‘He pointed for me to sit down on the chair but instead I walked towards him with my left hand out as if I wanted to shake his hand.

‘Then I pulled the knife out of my bag and I hit him in the stomach with it. I put it in the top part of his stomach like when you punch someone.

‘I was trying to kill him because he wanted to invade Iraq.’

Asked why, she answered: ‘Punishment.’

‘He shouted at me “What was that for?” I think I stabbed him again. I think I did it twice. I tried to attack him again. People started to scream.’

A knife with a five-inch blade was found wrapped in a red towel.

Choudhry said she had taken two knives — which were found to have been both newly purchased and ‘razor sharp’ — in case one broke during the attack.

She said she had chosen to stab him in the stomach because she was not strong and it was a soft part of the body.

Prosecutor Mr Boyce said Choudhry was not suffering from mental illness.

After the stabbing, Mr Timms was given first aid before being taken to the Royal London Hospital.

He had suffered two small lacerations to the left of his liver, and a small perforation of the stomach — injuries which could have been life-threatening due to possible loss of blood and infection had he not been treated.

Jurors were shown CCTV images of what happened featuring the ‘black figure’ of Choudhry and Mr Timms in a purple jumper.

The MP could be seen ‘courteously’ standing to greet her, said Mr Boyce.

‘He thinks she is there on constituency business.’

Mr Boyce said that, within seconds, a knife could be seen protruding from her right hand and the MP then ‘reeling and staggering’ away.

She could later be seen held in a ‘bear hug’ by Mr Butt, he said.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]



UK: Three Men Found Guilty of Child Sex Offences.

THREE men involved in a sex crime trial at Sheffield Crown Court have been found guilty of sexual offences against young girls.

Umar Razaq (24), of Oxford Street, Clifton, was convicted of one charge of sexual activity with a child and his brother Razwan Razaq (30), of Oxford Street, Clifton, was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a child.

Zafran Ramzan (21), of Broom Grove, Broom, was found guilty of two charges of sexual activity with a child and one of rape. He was found not guilty of two other rape charges.

Another defendant, Shalzaad Hussain, (22), of Clough Road, Masbrough, was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child and was discharged.

Verdicts are awaited on a further four men who all deny all the charges against them.

They are Adil Hussain (20), of Nelson Street, Rotherham, Saeed Hussain (29), of Hatherley Road, Eastwood, Mohsin Khan (22), of Haworth Crescent, Moorgate and Shazad Akbar (23), of Shirecliffe Lane, Shirecliffe, Sheffield.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Balkans


Bosnia: Two Catholic Cemeteries Vandalised

(ANSAmed) — SARAJEVO, NOVEMBER 1 — Two Catholic cemeteries have been vandalised in central Bosnia, which was the setting for bloody conflict between Catholic Croatians and Muslims during the war from 1992-1995.

The FENA agency reports that around twenty tombstones were destroyed and damaged in two small towns near Travnik, which has an ethnic Croat population. Its inhabitants returned to the town after the war years.

The vandals struck on the eve of All Saints Day and of the day dedicated to the memory of the dead, which are celebrated by Bosnia’s Catholics.

The war in Bosnia left around 100,000 people dead in three years and more than two million refugees, over half of the population before the war. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Olmert: Terror’s Origin is Islam

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign policy as well as Western nations, for their inability to fight terrorism effectively, and offered his solutions to this failure.

Olmert addressed the Israeli government’s role in the war on terror during a national security conference on Tuesday, organized by the Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute.

“One of the problems in the war on terror is not the knowledge or technology, but the readiness of governments to invest in the war on terror for political reasons,” he said. “I heard what the Shin Bet chief said about terrorists’ use of technology. This technology also allows those combating terrorism to fight, and that encourages us to develop new tools.”

‘Get out of political comfort zone’ Olmert blamed Western nations for lack of cooperation against terrorism. “The origin of terrorism is within Islam,” he said. “To fight terrorism, we need a judicial resolution that allows for the fight.”

“Governments must get over the political convenience and adjust themselves to reality,” he said. “Perhaps it would have been possible to prevent the attack on the Twin Towers if they would have looked into the places where it wasn’t politically comfortable to look. Those terrorists were educated in the US. We must decide what we want.”

The former PM also hinted that the responsibility for Israel’s political standing lies upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shoulders.

“The Goldstone Report came out a year after (I left office),” he said. “If there was a policy of peace in Israel, we wouldn’t have had the problems that occurred with Goldstone. I had an agreement with the UN that if the investigation takes place, it will not be published before Israel reads it. What happened later, I don’t know. I wasn’t prime minister.”

Olmert also slammed Israel’s current leadership over its testimony before the flotilla raid commission of inquiry.

“I recently heard that the political leadership is only responsible for approving the operation, and is not responsible for its technical details,” he said. “I’m telling you: There never was a defense minister who was unfamiliar with the technical details of an operation before approving it. Whoever said otherwise was not telling the truth, to put it mildly.”

‘Dialogue will end terrorism’ Olmert suggested that improving the dialogue with the Palestinians will allow Israel to get a better grasp on terrorism.

“The reason that terrorism in the West Bank is almost nonexistent, compared to Gaza, where they are armed, is because of our presence there, but also because there is a political leadership that is committed to dialogue and the war on terror. It doesn’t allow for terrorism. What happens in Judea and Samaria isproof that the Palestinians are building serious infrastructure and taking responsibility. It is a positive sign of a better political future.”

He also said Israel must work on its relations with any nation willing to join it in the fight.

“We must maintain close ties with the nations that want to fight terrorism even though they disagree with us,” he said. “At times you wouldn’t believe the nations that are in touch with us. Sometimes this connection is passive, and sometimes it goes against politics, but they are in touch with us and the security forces.”

“The reasons for terrorism are fantasies and hatred,” he concluded. “I believe that quality of life has an effect on terrorism. When I was in charge, we made efforts to change the reality in the West Bank, and also win legitimacy when we fought terrorism.”

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Al Neimi Exposes Hypocrisy of Arab Society

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, OCTOBER29 — Illegal maternity and an unforgiving society; the hypocrisy of marriage, which often constitutes entrapment for women; domineering fathers; children as exchange currency; infidelity; sex without love and power controlling every single breath and movement of individuals.

With “The Book of Secrets” (published by Feltrinelli, 112 pages, 11 euros), her first book written in 1994 and only today available to Italian readers, the Syrian writer Salwa al-Neimi “strikes a blow” to contemporary Arab society, exposing its hypocrisy and its shortcomings, with no concern for the consequences, but rather proud and aware of the deep sense of shock that her writing provokes in readers. These are eight intense short stories in which the writer expresses herself with great strength and courage and a desire for freedom and redemption, not only for herself, but for all Arab women.

“These novellas were published for the first time in Egypt in 1994 and then in Damascus,” Salwa al-Neimi tells ANSAmed, surrounded by thousands of papers towering over her desk at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, where she has lived and worked since the mid-1970s. “At the time I thought that they would remain confidential and that perhaps only a few brave friends would read them”. Things did not turn out this way, though, and after finding a brave publisher, Salwa al-Neimi managed to unsettle readers halfway around the world, especially with her second book, “The Proof of the Honey”, which was released in Lebanon in 2007 (and brought to Italy by Feltrinelli in 2008) and later translated into 20 languages, the latest Japanese. Yet in spite of her success, her writing has been censured.

“In some Arab countries, my books are sold under the counter and can be downloaded for free from the Internet, and I’m happy about that,” she says, smiling. The book trade in the Arab world is not yet ready to accept uncomfortable or ‘scabrous’ texts.

“Lebanon, but also Gulf states, are beginning to take steps with the creation of new literary prizes,” she says. The problem, however, lies in self-censure by writers. “To get their work published, they limit themselves, avoid tackling certain issues and write what those in power want to read”. Al-Neimi, too, who with great irony and critical passion mocks the framework surrounding Arab society, refuses to discuss certain topics.

“I don’t say everything that I think politically. Maybe I will in the future”. Neither does she like to talk about religion, even though issues such as marriage and sex recur frequently in her texts. “Arab society is multiple and I enjoy telling of this complexity,” she says.

Salwa al-Neimi is also involved in the emancipation of Arab women, although she is sceptical — as is the main character in her stories, who attends “conferences in which no concrete results are ever reached” — and continuously fights for them on the front line. “Figures suggest an improvement in the level of education, which is the basis for making them fully-fledged citizens”. She says that she is optimistic about the future. “Power can do nothing against freedom of women”. It is here, and not in religious figures, that she sees the real cancer on Arab society. “It is not movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that worries me, its power and nothing more”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Crisis Widens Gap Between Gulf, Rest of Arab World

(ANSAmed) — ROME, 25 OTT — The Arab World Competitiveness Review 2010 finds that the global economic crisis has further widened the competitiveness gap between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the rest of the Arab world region. The review, published ahead of the 2010 World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa due to kick off tomorrow in Marrakesh (Morocco), sees Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait outperforming other economies at a similar level of development in terms of competitiveness. In the overall ranking of 139 economies, they place 17th, 21st and 35th.

United Arab Emirates is the only economy from the region that has reached the most advanced innovation-driven stage of development because of its diversified structure. It places 23rd within this group and 25th overall. Kuwait places second among the factor-driven economies (lowest stage of development).

Tunisia and Morocco (efficiency-driven) rank 32nd and 75th in the overall ranking and outperform Egypt (81), Algeria (86) and Libya (100), which remain in the factor-driven stage of development. According to the report, the Arab world’s competitive strengths lie in sound and transparent institutions, macroeconomic stability and business sophistication. Countries will need to accelerate efforts in raising the efficiency of their labour markets, furthering the development and stability of financial markets, and reforming education. GCC countries have reached OECD levels on a number of categories of the index, such as institutions, infrastructure, as well as efficiency of goods, labour and financial markets.

North Africa outperforms the Levant region in terms of infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, market size and innovation. The Levant region outperforms North Africa in terms of education, efficiency of goods, labour and financial markets, and business sophistication.

As the special focus highlights, while the access to education has improved greatly, the quality lags behind best practice in OECD members in most countries. Reforms in the GCC economies have significantly improved the quality of education over the past years, while North Africa and the Levant stagnated.

Over the past five years, efforts on average have improved the region’s competitiveness and yielded better results in key areas such as health and primary education, higher education and training, and technological readiness.

“Uncertainty and the shifting balance of economic activity towards the developing world will require strategic responses from policy-makers across the Arab world to best place the region’s economies on a sustainable economic footing going forward,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, quoted in a press release on the subject.

“In such a global economic environment, it is more important than ever for countries to put into place the fundamentals underpinning economic growth and development.” Masood Ahmed, Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund, said, “Enhancing MENA’s competitiveness will be key for the region’s ability to grow faster, create more jobs and fully reap the benefits of globalization. This will imply improving the quality of education, developing a more favourable business environment, as well as deepening and diversifying trade flows.” Education is the key to the future competitiveness of all Arab countries, but although access to primary education is as good as in OECD countries, tertiary education remains elusive to the vast majority of young people and the progress has been slow with respect to the quality of education,” said Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, Senior Economist and Director, Centre for Global Competitiveness and Performance, World Economic Forum and co-author of the review. “On a positive note, the education gap between boys and girls has been closed, although this does not yet translate into higher labour market participation for women.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Frank Gaffney: Saudi Friends and Foes

It seems that, thanks to Saudi Arabia, the latest effort to kill Americans with sophisticated bombs failed. Thanks to Saudi Arabia, we are certain to be subjected to more such attacks in the future.

The preceding paragraph captures the double game we confront from a kingdom that, on the one hand, is routinely characterized by American officials as a reliable U.S. ally in the volatile Middle East, a crucial source of oil and a trustworthy recipient of sophisticated weaponry. On the other hand, it is also the wellspring of shariah, the supremacist totalitarian doctrine that is the law of the land in Saudi Arabia and that animates and enables jihadists worldwide — thanks to immense support from Saudi royals, government agencies, businessmen, clerics and “charities.”

In a report Sunday on the intercepted Hewlett Packard printers whose ink cartridges were transformed into potent bombs and dispatched from Yemen, the New York Times declared that Saudi Arabia in recent years had been forced to “wake up to a reality it had long refused to acknowledge. The puritanical strain of Islam fostered by the state, sometimes called Wahhabism, was breeding extremists who were willing to kill even Muslims for their cause.” Now, the paper concluded, “Saudi Arabia’s problem…has become the world’s problem.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]



Iran: Adulteress ‘To be Executed Wednesday’

Tehran, 2 Nov. (AKI) — An Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning after being found guilty of adultery and helping kill her husband, will be executed on Wednesday, according to a statement by a group that opposes stoning in Iran.

“The Islamic regime of Iran plans to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani immediately,” said a statement on the International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS).

The group didn’t give details on the method that will use to execute Ashtiani, but following an international campaign , Iran in July said a stoning sentence had been suspended.

Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and according to human rights activists forced to confess after being subjected to 99 lashes. She later recanted that confession and has denied wrongdoing.

Ashtiani’s son and lawyer have been arrested and tortured by Iranian authorities, ICAS has said.

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



Iran: Now Ahmadinejad Comes Under Fire From the Revolutionary Guards Elite Force… Formerly His Most Staunch Supporter

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come under unprecedented criticism from the Revolutionary Guards, the elite military force usually considered his most staunch supporter.

A harshly worded article in the Guards’ monthly magazine echoes criticism of Ahmadinejad from other parts of the Iranian establishment.

It also shows that attempts to mend rifts within the Islamic Republic’s ruling elite have yet to work.

Ahmadinejad and his close aides have faced criticism from lawmakers, the judiciary and some powerful clerics for saying parliament is no longer at the centre of affairs and is promoting an ‘Iranian’ rather than an ‘Islamic’ school of thought.

In an article entitled: ‘Is parliament at the centre of affairs or not?’ the magazine, Payam-e Enghelab (Message of the Revolution), asks: ‘Does being on top justify whatever action the government thinks is right, disregarding the law?’

Re-elected in June 2009, Ahmadinejad faced down huge demonstrations from an opposition movement which says the vote was rigged — which he denies.

Divisions among the hardliners have become more apparent in the months since the protests were put down, through sometimes violent repression.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has its own navy, air force and command structure separate from the regular armed forces.

Along with its voluntary militia, the Basij, it played a key role in quelling the post-election unrest which was the worst seen since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The rifts prompted Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to call for all branches of government to support the president whose government he has hailed as extremely successful.

‘National unity is very important and must be strengthened with every passing day… and by that I am addressing both officials and ordinary people,’ Khamenei said during his recent visit to the holy city of Qom.

But Payam-e Enghelab’s criticisms were similar to those voiced by parliament, the judiciary and clerics. ‘Dealing with marginal and unnecessary issues by some politicians has become the country’s main issue,’ the magazine said, referring to the controversy about the ‘Iranian’ school of thought which many of Ahmadinejad’s fellow conservatives say smacks of secular nationalism.

‘Adopting these kinds of stance has no benefit but creating separation and division in the Islamic Revolution front and casting doubt about fundamental stances,’ it said.

The harshest words were about Ahmadinejad’s remark about parliament’s reduced power, which some critics have said was a contradiction of the stance of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — the deeply revered late leader of the Islamic Revolution.

‘The superficial interpretation of Imam Khomeini’s remarks and changing them in a way that meets a few people’s interests for a short time is an irreparable mistake,’ it said.

Indignation about Ahmadinejad’s apparent disregard for parliament has pushed some former rivals within the legislature — in the hardliner ‘principlist’ camp and more moderate ‘reformists’ — closer together.

Ali Motahari, a prominent hardline MP who is an outspoken critic of Ahmadinejad, was quoted by the reformist Sharq newspaper as saying:

‘The prominent figures of principlists and reformists have formed an unwritten alliance.’

The pressures on Ahmadinejad from within the hardline camp at home comes as Iran faces tighter economic sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear programme which some countries fear is aimed at making a bomb, something Tehran denies.

Iranians are also bracing themselves for the impact of Ahmadinejad’s cornerstone economic plan: slashing billions of dollars of subsidies for essentials like food and fuel.

Economists outside Iran have said sudden hikes in prices of items like gasoline — likely to happen in the coming weeks — could reignite popular unrest.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Iranian Woman Who Faced Death by Stoning ‘Will be Hanged Tomorrow’

An Iranian woman who faced being stoned to death will hang tomorrow, a human rights group has claimed.

The International Committee Against Stoning said that the authorities had given the go-ahead for the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Her fate has provoked international outcry after she was sentenced to death by stoning for committing adultery.

Under huge pressure, Tehran eventually ruled that the 43-year-old mother-of-two would be hanged instead.

Ashtiani has been on death row ever since.

‘The authorities in Tehran have given the go-ahead to Tabriz prison for the execution of Iran stoning case Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,’ the human rights group said on its website.

‘It has been reported that she is to be executed this Wednesday, 3 November.’

Officials in Iran were not available to confirm or deny the report.

Ashtiani’s stoning sentence was suspended after prominent political and religious figures called it ‘medieval’, ‘barbaric’ and ‘brutal’.

Brazil, a close ally of Iran’s, offered to give Ashtiani asylum.

A government spokesman said in September Ashtiani’s adultery conviction was under review but a second charge of being complicit in the murder of her husband was still pending.

Under the Islamic law in force in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, murder is punishable by hanging, adultery by stoning.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fended off questions about the case from reporters when he attended the UN General Assembly in September, saying it had been fabricated by hostile Western media and called the United States hypocritical for its record on executions.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Kuwait Sheikh: Integral Veil is Unacceptable

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, OCTOBER 20 — “I understand European governments that ban the use of the niqab [the veil that covers the whole of the face] or that want to introduce rules forbidding its use. The integral veil is unacceptable and is not even a religious precept”. These are the comments of the Kuwaiti female Sheikh Hussah Sabah Salem al-Sabah, who is currently in Milan for the launch of the “Al Fann, the art of Islamic civilisation” exhibition, which is being held at Palazzo Reale until January 30.

“If a woman wants to cover her head with a hijab, she is free to do so. But the niqab is unacceptable. There is not a passage of the Koran in which it is written that a woman must cover her face,” the Sheikh told ANSAmed. It is, she says, “religious fanaticism that has nothing to do with Islam”.

In response to a question on the sad story of Sakineh, the Iranian woman accused of killing her husband and sentenced to death by stoning, Sheikh al Sabah said that “before being able to resolve a problem as big as stoning, we must remedy the issue of the veil”.

The wife of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister maintains that it is possible to ban the niqab by law. Indeed, it is the right thing to do. “It is a question of national security. We must know who is behind the veil”. There then follows an equally important issue: communication between human beings. With a symbolic gesture, taking a sheet of paper and placing it in front of her face, Sheikh Hussah asks “how can we communicate if in front of me there is a wall that separates us?”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Kuwait: Furious Public Occupies Private TV Station

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 18 — A group of “offended” viewers has attacked the satellite television channel Scope, accusing it of insulting certain members of the Kuwaiti royal family in one of its programmes. This is according to the satellite channel, Al Jazeera, which says that Scope was forced to interrupt the broadcast because the public had destroyed many transmitters. The director of Scope says that the attackers were armed with guns and knives and, as well as damaging material, also attacked television technicians.

Fajr Assad, the owner of the satellite channel and a well-known author, said that she had received death threats after the broadcast of the programme ‘Good and bad’, which went out last Saturday. The owner says that there were around 150 attackers and that they were looking for her, the director of the channel and the presenter of the programme.

The prosecutor’s office had previously accused Fajr Assad of inciting the overthrow of the Kuwaiti government in a television drama entitled ‘Your voice has arrived’. The presenter of ‘Good and bad’ had alluded to the possible involvement of the accusation of one of the members of the royal family, who has an important position in the Ministry of Information. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Lebanon — Iraq: In Lebanon, Religious Leaders React Unanimously to Baghdad Attack, Politicians Divided

Christians but also Muslims slam the attack. Among political leaders, some like Geagea call on the Iraqi government, the Arab League and Security Council to do “their duty” to protect the defenceless Christian minorities. Others, like Kalaban, consider the attack an “imperialist action”. For Hizbollah, it “bears the [. . ..] of hallmark of Zionism”.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — The hostage taking incident at Baghdad’s Saydet el-Najat (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) Cathedral and the subsequent bloodbath have confirmed some of the worst fears expressed by some of the ‘Fathers’ who took part in the recently concluded Special Synod of the Bishops of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. The whole region has become to some extent inhospitable for Christians, which means that Christians who opt for emigration are making the right choice.

As expected, Lebanese political leaders have reacted to the atrocities, as they are wont to do, with verbal condemnations that are as strong as they are gratuitous.

Iraq’s Chaldean Catholic Church, the largest Christian denomination in the country, has been more practical. Anticipating a new wave of Christians fleeing Iraq, a delegation that included a US Chaldean bishop, Mgr Ibrahim Ibrahim, has been touring the region. Its first stop was at the Maronite Patriarch’s Residence in Bkerke in Lebanon, followed by visits to Amin Gemayel and Samir Geagea.

The delegation asked the Maronite patriarch, former President Gemayel and Geagea to make sure that fleeing Christians are welcomed in Lebanon and treated with greater humanity. “In this country, there are 6,000 to 7,000 Iraqi refugees and their situation leaves a lot to be desired. However, we count on people of good will, in Lebanon, to help them overcome their difficulties and become self-sufficient,” Bishop Ibrahim said.

In his view, “the Iraqi government, the United States and the United Nations” bear “full responsibility” for the Baghdad massacre. “In the name of what religion are the meek of the earth massacred?” he asked.

After receiving the Chaldean delegation, Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces, appealed to the Iraqi government, the Arab League and the Security Council, urging everyone “to do their duty” towards Iraq’s “defenceless” Christian minorities.

“Imperialist action” for Kabalan

“Not in the name of Islam,” said Abdel Amir Kabalan, vice chairman of the Higher Shia Council, who said that his religion “condemns any attack or aggression against human beings.”

“In the East, Muslims and Christians must continue living together as brothers.” For this reason, he urged Iraqi Christians to “hang onto their land” and “not submit to people who are fighting Islam and Christianity by means meant to distract attention.” In his view, the attack is an “imperialist action”.

The speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri, said, “After the synod [. . .], the circles of dialogue will multiply. The East will once more show that it is a model of coexistence among religions. However, the attack has demonstrated [. . .] that some people are bent on destroying this civilised image of Islamic-Christian relations”.

In a communiqué released yesterday, Hizbollah said that such attacks “were unheard off before the Americans’ occupation, who are working to reawaken and expand confessional and sectarian sensitivities.” For the self-styled ‘party of God’, the attack “bears the clear and hypocritical hallmark of Zionism, because the Zionist project has always had as an objective e the fragmentation of the region in entities that are hostile to one another in order to impose a single hegemony.”

Meeting for concerted action in Saida

The Iraqi issue is the topic of discussion for today’s monthly meeting of Muslim and Christian religious leaders organised by Ms Bahia Hariri in the city of Saida.

The religious and secular leaders of Lebanon’s Syriac community, the leadership of the Kataeb party and the Higher Greek-catholic Council have also condemned the attack.

However, in an unusual statement, the Syriac Union, through its chief Ibrahim Mrad, urged Iraqi Christians to “arm and defend themselves” as they wait for a “realist” solution to their problem, a solution that would “include setting aside an autonomous territory for Christians” that “would enable them to remain attached to their land and history.”

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



Missing in the Rise of Islam in Turkey and Iran: A U.S. Strategy

It is now clear that the West has no coherent strategies to cope with Iran and Turkey, the two important powers in the greater Middle East.

Iran and Turkey dominate this zone of the greater Middle East, which extends from the Caucasus and Central Asia to the Indian Ocean, and from the Pamir Mountains to the Mediterranean. It is a region which contains perhaps 70 percent of the world’s known oil and gas energy reserves, is a major center of religious and ethnic rivalry; and is home to the Arab-Israeli dispute, international terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

If the West is to cope with this reality, then it needs to better understand both of these powers, historically, and to understand the nature of the force which essentially drives them: political Islam.

Iran and the Ottoman Turks experienced conflict and occasional wars for almost 250 years, but there has been no serious war between Iran and Turkey since 1747 (the battle of Kars). Border disputes, however, have persisted between them.

After World War I, the Ottoman Empire disintegrated and the Turkish Republic came into existence in 1922. When Reza Khan came to power in Iran and founded the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925, and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk came to power in Turkey, relations and cooperation between the two countries improved and it continues to the present day. During the Cold War, both were allies of the U.S. and formed a line — or, indeed, a “Northern Tier” — against the USSR. In 1953, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, during his trip to the Middle East, for the first time referred to the “Northern Tier” as a political/military concept aimed at a collective security region on the southern borders of the Soviet Union.

The situation changed, however, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Now, Iran and Turkey keep their distance from the U.S. and are close to Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Iran changed its direction in 1979 to the detriment of U.S. interests, and changed the balance of power in the region against the U.S. and the West.

This change also marked the beginning of the rise of political Islam and modern jihadist movement, often exemplified by international terrorism, and mostly as a result of the growing weakness and strategic miscalculations of several U.S. administrations.

Iranian history and Persian culture have been exemplified by tolerance and religious freedom, but the theocratic administration which emerged in 1979 in Iran was an aberration; it not only propagates radical Islam, but it also attempts to destroy and extirpate the roots of Persian history, civilization, and culture which, for three millennia, have been the strategic reserve and guardian of Iran. The theocratic administration continues to obliterate memories and appreciation of Iran’s past glories, and has consistently held a policy of indoctrinating students in schools and universities. Anti-democratic and anti-female behavior has become emphasized by the clerical leadership, as has enmity towards recognition of Iran’s non-Muslim past.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Series of Rapid-Fire Blasts in Iraq Kills 76

Rapid-fire bombings and mortar strikes in mostly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad killed 76 people and wounded nearly 200 on Tuesday, calling into question the ability of Iraqi security forces to protect the capital.

The blasts — at least 13 separate attacks — came just two days after gunmen in Baghdad held a Christian congregation hostage in a siege that ended with 58 people dead. Tuesday morning, hundreds of Christians gathered at a downtown church to mourn their lost brethren.

“They murdered us today and on Sunday, they killed our brother, the Christians,” said Hussein al-Saiedi, a 26-year-old resident of the Shiite slum of Sadr City where 21 people were killed in the most deadly incident of the day. He said he was talking to friends on a busy street, when the blast occurred.

“We were just standing on the street when we heard a loud noise, and then saw smoke and pieces of cars, falling from the sky,” he said. People were fleeing the site in panic, frantically calling the names of their relatives and friends. “They (the government) say the situation is under control. Where is their control?”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the coordination of the blasts, the complexity of the operation and the predominantly Shiite targets point to al-Qaida-linked Sunni insurgents. Iraq has been plagued by conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslim sects since the 2003 collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which was dominated by the minority Sunnis. It was supplanted by a Shiite-dominated government that remains in power until today.

The bombings began at about 6:15 p.m. The assailants used booby-trapped cars, roadside bombs, mortars and at least one suicide bomber on a motorcycle. Though most of the neighborhoods hit were Shiite-dominated, a couple struck Sunni neighborhoods as well.

The attacks stretched from one side of Baghdad to the other and were spread out over hours, indicating a high degree of coordination and complexity from an insurgency that just a few months ago U.S. and Iraqi officials were saying was all but defeated.

The casualty information all came from police and hospital officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Earlier Tuesday, hundreds of grieving Christians and other Iraqis packed a funeral service for members of the faith killed in the militant siege on a Baghdad church. The attack, which an al-Qaida-linked group claimed it carried out, left 58 people dead and dozens wounded.

The complex attack carried out Sunday evening on parishioners celebrating Mass at the Our Lady of Salvation church in an affluent Baghdad neighborhood emphasized the ease with which militants can still strike in Iraq and the particularly dangerous position that the country’s Christians occupy among Iraq’s sectarian structure.

Iraq’s top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, urged the government to protect the nation’s Christian community and not let their promises just be ink on paper.

“We are gathered here in this sacred house to say farewell to our brothers who were just the day before yesterday exclaiming love and peace,” Delly told a weeping congregation at the Chaldean St. Joseph Church in central Baghdad.

In a show of force, Iraqi security forces flooded the streets around the church where black-clad parishioners mourned for the dead parishioners.

But as the security forces concentrated their efforts in the central Karradah neighborhood where the funeral took place, militants appeared to have spread out in a ring across the capital where the evening attacks took place just hours later.

The immediate reaction from many Iraqis was frustration with the attacks that continue despite assurances that the city and country are safe.

“Where is the government?” said Adnan Anbar, a 42-year-old man from Sadr City who was crossing the street when the blast went off. “What are all these checkpoints about,” he said, referring to the hundreds of police and army checkpoints scattered all over Baghdad.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



The Christians Criticize Israel, But Turn a Blind Eye to Islamic Violence

Il Giornale, October 19, 2010

Religious leaders lay the blame for the situation in Palestine on Jerusalem. But the Jewish State is the only one where the followers of Christ are on the increase.

It’s not hard to imagine how worried the Catholic Church is about its Christians in the Middle East, and this is why it has dedicated a lengthy working session at the Synod of Bishops to problems in that area. Islam does not like Eastern Christians: it has forced them to flee and now they account for only 6% of the population in the Mideast. There is only one country where the number of Christians has grown. In Israel, from their 34,000 in ‘49, they have become 163,000 and will be 187,000 in 2020. In Muslim countries, on the other hand, Christians are on the wane, but the 50 churches present in the Holy Land seem not to notice. They prefer to dump on Israel, where they enjoy full freedom of worship and expression. It’s useless to hearken back to the time of Islamic conquest in the 7th century when Christians accounted for 95 percent.

According to the report by the US Department of State on religious freedom, in 2007 in Turkey, there were two million Christians, and today there are 85,000; in Lebanon they have gone from 55% to 35%; in Egypt their number has been halved; in Syria, from half the population they have been reduced to 4%; in Jordan, from 18% to 2%; while in Saudi Arabia, they speak of “invisible Christians”. In Iran, Christians have become virtually non-existent. In Gaza, the 3,000 who remain are subjected to continuous persecution. All this the Christian hierarchies talk about under their breath, and this is understandable; but it is not acceptable, in such a high-level venue as the Synod, to severely criticize Israel, just to avoid offending your persecutors.

And there are even some in the Catholic Church who think this way. After an authoritative name—that of the Custodian of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa—was unthinkingly used as the signature of a document written in a tone of theological excommunication towards the State of Israel, Pizzaballa called a press conference to warn that no church in the Holy Land had signed the document. His way of announcing that he is no longer willing to play that game. But if you go to the www.kairospalestine.ps website, the names of top-level signers are clearly visible on the document, drawn up back in December 2009, and which will be presented today at the Synod. Among them, are, in fact, the Latin Patriarch Mons. Fouad Twal, Pizzaballa himself (a good, intelligent Franciscan and fine intellectual), Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III, Armenian Torkon Manougian and Copt Anba Abraham, as well as Lutheran Manib Yunan and Anglican Suheil Dawani.

The previous Latin Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, a die-hard apostle of the Palestinian cause, will present the document that speaks in the name of “us Christian Palestinians”. In it, it says: “The military occupation is a sin against God and against man”, actually excommunicates Christian supporters of Israel, takes sides against the very presence of Israel, likens the defensive barrier that has blocked 98% of terrorism to apartheid, attacks the settlements invoking the name of God and conceptually cancels the Jewish state, imagining it to be a mixture—Islamic, Christian and also perhaps a bit Jewish. It even legitimizes terrorism when it talks about the “thousands of prisoners who languish in Israeli jails” and which are “part of the society around us”. In fact, “resistance to the evil of occupation is a Christian’s right and duty”.

Monsignor Twal has issued a number of statements in recent days. He has said that, instead of two states for two peoples, there should be just one, ignoring the current idea that Arab refugees and birth rates would sweep away the Jews. And, secondly, he said that “100%” of the reason why Palestinians are running away is Israeli occupation. He is probably referencing the freedom of movement denied by the barrier and safety checks which increase or decrease depending on the terrorist threat, completely ignored by Twal. But there is a flaw in the Patriarch’s reasoning: Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing, and significantly so, as has already been stated. From 1997 to 2003, the Christian population has increased by 14%, while in Cisjordan, under the Palestinian authorities, it has decreased by 29%. Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born and where the Christian presence has always been one of its distinctive characteristics, has remained semi-abandoned by fleeing Christians. Yes, the Israeli occupation does impede movement, but the kidnapping, crime and reprisals of Tanzim and Hamas against Christians are even more terrifying…

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



U.S. Government “Threatens” Syria: Promote Terrorism, Take Over Lebanon, Block Peace, And We Won’t Let You Make Apple Ipads!

By Barry Rubin

If you think I’m exaggerating about the current administration’s cluelessness toward the Middle East just read the State Department daily press conference transcripts. Even journalists covering these events are often shocked by what they hear.

Today’s topic is Syria, but it’s just an example and many others could be found. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley begins by referring to a speech by U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice in which she says:

“We continue to have deep concerns about Hezbollah’s destructive and destabilizing influence in the region, as well as attempts by other foreign players, including Syria and Iran, to undermine Lebanon’s independence and endanger its stability.”

In saying this, Rice is praising a UN report about what’s going on in Lebanon which reveals, though nobody makes this point, the total failure of the organization and the United States to keep the promises made in 2006 in order to end the Israel-Hizballah war.

So given this situation one would think U.S. policy is now prepared to do something about Lebanon’s becoming an Iran-Syria puppet, Syria’s continued support for anti-American terrorists in Iraq and sabotage of any peace process, and the obviously failed U.S. effort at engaging Syria.

Nope. Not a chance.

A reporter asks: “With these strong statements…it looks like the meetings the Secretary [of State] had with the Syrian foreign minister and the visit by his deputy here to Washington didn’t lead to any improvements in relations with Syria. Do you agree on this?”

No, Crowley won’t agree since if he does the United States will have to do something. He just wants to let everyone knows that the United States told Syria it is very very naughty:

“We were very clear about our expectation that Syria would play a more constructive role in the region. We expressed during that meeting our deep concern for Syrian interference with Lebanon’s sovereignty. We also expressed in that meeting hope that Syria would make progress in its thread of the Middle East peace process.”

No, Syria won’t “play a more constructive role,” so why the expectation? Yes, Syria will continue to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty so what are you going to do with that “deep concern?” No, Syria won’t “make progress” toward peace with Israel so why the “hope”?

Jumping Jupiter! You’ve been watching all of this continuously for nineteen months, isn’t it time to get the point?

Understandably, a reporter asks: “Do you see any evidence that [the Syrians] have actually taken that message on board?….It doesn’t seem like they’re listening if they’re still doing things that you have to complain about as publicly as Ambassador Rice did.”

Precisely. So what does Crowley say?

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Pakistan: Killings of Taliban Militants ‘Show Weariness With Insurgency’

Rawalpindi, 1 Nov. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — The reported killing in Pakistan of former Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud’s brother and that of a key Taliban commander show people are tiring of the bloody campaign of violence waged by militant insurgents in recent years, according to the country’s top military spokesman.

“The people see no reason for the continuation of the armed struggle by the militants,” General Athar Abbas told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Late Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud’s brother Yaqoob Khan was reportedly shot dead by unidentified assailants in North Waziristan tribal region’s Mir Ali area in northwest Pakistan, television reports said Monday.

Khan’s reported slaying, which was not immediately confirmed by officials, followed the shooting dead late on Friday of key Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Adnan Afridi by a rival group.

Afridi’s killing took place near the northern garrison town of Rawalpindi. He was said to be a close ally of TTP commander Hakimullah Mehsud and was believed to be heading militant recruit activities from various cities of of the country.

Hakimullah Mehsud became TTP leader after Baitullah Mehsud was killed in northwest Pakistan’s tribal belt in a United States drone strike in August 2009.

The presence of the high profile network around the federal capital, Islamabad, and Rawalpindi, had already placed security forces on high alert.

But on early on Monday, the militants showed their muscle.

Militants carried out an attack on a NATO supply convoy in the town of Pabbi located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly North West Frontier) province, one and a half hour’s drive from Islamabad.

Just an hour later, militants carried out an attack on Swabi, 65 kilometers from Islamabad.

Pakistan launched a major ground and air offensive in South Waziristan, in Dera Ismail Khan where Adnan came from and in Orakzai last year to flush out Taliban militants from the area who have been blamed for some of the country’s worst violence.

Local people are tired of militant attacks and want these to stop, according to Abbas.

“They are demanding militants to stop their activities in the area,” he told AKI.

In response to the Pakistan army’s offensive, militants attacked a military check post, killing two soldiers in South Waziristan.

The attack took place in the Badar area, 30 kilometres north of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, continuing a pattern of retaliatory attacks against security officials, according to analysts.

Defense analyst Baseer Haider Malik said the militants were likely to try and regroup despite the military operations against them.

“If the militants have a prolonged agenda, which they have , and this is going to suit them, because they are going to disperse. The army is after them.

“So they are going to make use of this time and they are likely to regroup whatever way they can,” said Malik, a retired lieutenant colonel from Pakistan’s army.

A new wave of fear has crept into the lives of people in the tribal areas after militant attacks destroyed a boys’ school in Koza Bandai.

It was the third attack in which a school was destroyed since the Pakistan army’s offensive. The Taliban in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat district have claimed responsibility for these attacks and have admitted killing a member of the peace committee from the Dairai area.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa


Mauritania: Govt Forum for Charter Against Aqim

(ANSAmed) — NOUAKCHOTT, OCTOBER 29 — A “national charter” to deal with the threat of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the opening of a “dialogue with the extremists” who surrender were the recommendations of the anti-terrorism forum that concluded yesterday in Nouakchott, and which Mauritanian Prime Minister Ould Mohamed Laghdaf said that he wants to “enforce to the letter”.

In the final document issued at the end of five days of work, reports AFP, the forum organised by the Mauritanian government, “recommends a political charter to be drafted to deal with terrorism and extremist ideals” and for the “creation of a centre to teach the culture of moderation”. The forum also envisioned “the adoption of a social policy to combat the factors that favour terrorism, such as ignorance, poverty and exclusion”.

Finally, the participants in the forum said that they are in favour of “dialogue with extremists who accept handing themselves over to the authorities before they are arrested”. “We never negotiate with those who use weapons against the country. We will respond to these people with force,” said Defence Minister, Hamadi Ould Hamadi at the end of the forum. He added that “the army is able to guarantee safety throughout the country” and also “along the over 4,300km border with the Western Sahara, Algeria and Mali”, a vast desert land where the AQIM operates.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Berlusconi: Protracted EU Summit to Discuss it

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, OCTOBER 29 — Silvio Berlusconi has caused this autumn’s European Council to last around one hour longer. The Italian Premier forced the leaders of the 27 member States to include issues that concern Italy, like illegal immigration, the need for a European Defence and the problem of delocalisation of European companies. The news was reported by the Italian Premier shortly before he left Brussels. “I have protracted the Council by around one hour”, said Berlusconi, who pointed out to the other State and government leaders that the African countries on the Mediterranean “expect a financial response” from the European Union. Immigration, he added, is not “only a problem of Italy or Greece, because illegal immigrants move across Europe and to the north in particular”. Berlusconi added that the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has “guaranteed” him that the EU will soon contact these countries to deal with the question within a European framework. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Christians and Jews Once Again in the Muslim Line of Fire

The truth of Islamophobia is as obvious as the difference between the Middle Eastern Jewish and Christian immigrants to America, and their Muslim counterparts. Jews and Christians from the Middle East came to America as refugees. Muslims came here, not as refugees, but because there was more economic opportunity here than in their own overpopulated countries. That is the difference between the Mizrahi, the Maronite, the Copt… and the Muslim.

And that is the ugly truth at the heart of it all. Muslims are not victims. They are victimizers. They have reduced every minority in the Middle East to second-class status, and then when those minorities try to demand some semblance of human rights, they’re machine gunned, set on fire, bombed and shelled to within an inch of their lives. And then the victimizers laughingly dispatch flotillas to the aid of their own fanatical terrorist gangs.

Islamophobia? What Islamophobia. The last remaining Jewish and Christian communities look carefully to their Mukhbarat (secret police) minders and denounce America and Israel. Then they go back to the few remaining houses of worship that they have, and hope that no one will kill them this week. They do their best to send their children out of the country. To Europe, to America, to Israel. Anywhere but a Muslim country. Not because there’s anything wrong with Muslims. Allah forfend. No, it’s because, like the Soviet anecdote about the man who punched a hole in an American diplomat’s tire and tried to breathe in the escaping gas, they want to breathe the air of freedom.

[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


UK: Schools Given Right to Sack BNP Teachers by Tories

Headteachers will be given new powers to sack teachers who are members of the BNP or other ‘extremist’ groups.

The previous government ruled out banning BNP members from teaching after an independent inquiry decided it would be ‘disproportionate’.

But Michael Gove, the education secretary, said he couldn’t see how membership of the far-right party ‘can co-exist with shaping young minds’.

His decision to overturn the existing rules follows the case of a BNP activist who used a school laptop to post comments describing some immigrants as ‘filth’.

Adam Walker, a teacher at a school in Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, wrote on an online forum that Britain was a ‘dumping ground for the filth of the third world’.

But he was cleared of racial and religious intolerance by a disciplinary panel in June.

Mr Gove told The Guardian: ‘I don’t believe that membership of the BNP is compatible with being a teacher.

‘One of the things I plan to do is to allow headteachers and governing bodies the power and confidence to be able to dismiss teachers engaging in extremist activity.

‘I would extend that to membership of other groups which have an extremist tenor.’

The move was welcomed by the NASUWT teaching union.

General Secrertary Chris Keates said: ‘I hope this is something Michael Gove takes forward as quickly as possible.

‘It is an important part of safeguarding the interests of young people.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

General


Biologist: Space Travelers Can Benefit From Genetic Engineering

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s human spaceflight program might take some giant leaps forward if the agency embraces genetic engineering techniques more fully, according to genomics pioneer J. Craig Venter.

The biologist, who established the J. Craig Venter Institute that created the world’s first synthetic organism earlier this year, told a crowd here Saturday (Oct. 30) that human space exploration could benefit from more genetic screening and genetic engineering. Such efforts could help better identify individuals most suited for long space missions, as well as make space travel safer and more efficient, he said.

“I think this could change the shape of what NASA does, if you make the commitment to do it,” said Venter, who led a team that decoded the human genome a decade ago.

Venter spoke to a group of scientists and engineers who gathered at NASA’s Ames Research Center for two different meetings: a synthetic biology workshop put on by NASA, and Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement, organized by the nonprofit Space Studies Institute.

Astronauts with the right (genetic) stuff

Genetics techniques could come in extremely handy during NASA’s astronaut selection process, Venter said. The space agency could screen candidates for certain genes that help make good spaceflyers — once those genes are identified, he added.

Genes that encode robust bone regeneration, for example, would be a plus, helping astronauts on long spaceflights battle the bone loss that is typically a major side effect of living in microgravity. Also a plus for any prospective astronaut: genes that code for rapid repair of DNA, which can be damaged by the high radiation levels in space.

Genetic screening would be a natural extension of what NASA already does — it would just add a level of precision, according to Venter.

“NASA’s been doing genetic selection for a long time,” he said. “You just don’t call it that.”

Last summer, the agency chose just nine astronaut candidates — out of a pool of 3,500 — for its rigorous astronaut training program based on a series of established spaceflight requirements and in-depth interviews.

A new microbiome

At some point down the road, NASA could also take advantage of genetic engineering techniques to make long space journeys more efficient and easier on astronauts, Venter said.

As an example, he cited the human microbiome, the teeming mass of microbes that live on and inside every one of us. Every human body hosts about 100 trillion microbes — meaning the bugs outnumber our own cells by a factor of at least 10 to one.

While humans only have about 20,000 genes, our microbiome boasts a collective 10 million or so, Venter said. These microbes provide a lot of services, from helping us digest our food to keeping our immune system’s inflammation response from going overboard.

With some tailoring, the microbiome could help us out even more, according to Venter.

“Why not come up with a synthetic microbiome?” he asked.

Theoretically, scientists could engineer gut microbes that help astronauts take up nutrients more efficiently. A synthetic microbiome could also eliminate some pathogens, such as certain bacteria that can cause dental disease. Other tweaks could improve astronauts’ living conditions, and perhaps their ability to get along with each other in close quarters.

Body odor is primarily caused by microbes, Venter said. A synthetic microbiome could get rid of the offenders, as well as many gut microbes responsible for excessive sulfur or methane production…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

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» UK: Hoodie Thug is Caught on CCTV Hitting Pregnant Woman in the Face
» UK: Ryanair Boss Attacks ‘Ludicrous’ Security Measures in Wake of Latest Terror Bomb Plot
» UK: She Was Feted by Gordon Brown for Standing Up to the Thugs Terrorising Her Estate.
» UK: Woman Stabbed MP ‘In Revenge for Iraq War Vote’
» Unwelcome in Mauritius, Emilietta’s Home Remains the Airport
 
North Africa
» Morocco: Press Accreditation Suspended for Al Jazeera Staff
» ‘Yacoubian Palace’ Translated in Hebrew, Author Complains
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Obama ‘To Turn on Israel After Midterm Elections’
» Talks: US Suggests ‘Renting’ Jordan Valley to Israel
 
Middle East
» Air Freight From Yemen and Somalia Banned
» Al Qaeda Supergrass Foiled Cargo Jet ‘Printer Bombs’ With Eight Times Amount of Explosive Needed to Down Plane
» How Iraqi Politicians Get Paid $1,000 a Minute, Don’t Make Laws and Live it Up for Free at Baghdad’s Finest Hotel
» Iraq: 58 Die in Siege on Baghdad Catholic Church
» Pope Denounces Anti-Christian Violence
» Turkey: Tax on Alcoholic Beverages Up by 30%
» Turkey Not Partner But Owner of NATO, FM Says
» Yemen President: Foreign Forces Not Welcome
 
Caucasus
» Chechnya: Suspected Militant Blows Himself Up With Grenade, Wounding 9 Police
» Churches Set Ablaze in Russia’s Muslim Caucasus
 
South Asia
» Afghanistan: Russia/US Operation Seizes $250 Mln Worth of Heroin
 
Far East
» China — Japan — USA: Hanoi Summit: Beijing’s Harsh Accusations Against Japan
» China Plans Manned Space Station by 2020
 
Australia — Pacific
» Australia: Man Grabs 12ft Shark by Tail to Stop it Attacking Teenage Female Diver… And Then Disappears
» Suspected Acid Attack on Mum, Young Son
 
Latin America
» Brazil’s First Female President: Rousseff Wants to Build on Economic Success
 
Immigration
» Australia: Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s Secret Visit to Inverbrackie
» Australia: Agents Market Asylum Dream
» Sarrazin Wants ‘Terms’ For Migrants to Live in Germany
 
Culture Wars
» BBC Accused of Neglecting Christianity as it Devotes Air Time to Pagan Festival
» Halloween ‘Pagan’ Says Church Group
» Netherlands: Homophobic Attacks Increasingly Making Headlines
» UK: ‘Woman’ Accused of Transgender Tube Murder is Actually a Man Undergoing a Sex Change
» UK: Cameron Won’t Make Me a Minister… I’m a White, Married, Home Counties Christian, Says Tory MP
» UK: Christian Couple Barred From Fostering Children Because of Their Views on Homosexuality Go to Court
» Why is Sexual Harassment in Egypt So Rampant?
 
General
» Climate Change Hysteria Falters. Water is the New Target
» Final Phase of Global Warming War and Another Legal Defeat for Doomsayers
» Is the International Space Station Worth $100 Billion?
» Offensive Jihad

Financial Crisis


Angela Merkel Consigns Ireland, Portugal and Spain to Their Fate

Bondholders will discover burden-sharing. Debt relief will be enforced, either by interest holidays or haircuts on the value of the bonds. Investors will pay the price for failing to grasp the mechanical and obvious point that currency unions do not eliminate risk: they switch it from exchange risk to default risk. What were investors thinking when they bought Greek 10-year bonds at 26 basis points over Bunds in 2007, below the spread between British Columbia and Quebec?

“We must keep in mind the feelings of our people, who have a justified desire to see that private investors are also on the hook, and not just taxpayers,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Or in the words of Bundesbank chief Axel Weber: “Next time there is a problem, (bondholders) should be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. So far the only ones who have paid for the solution are the taxpayers.”

These were the terms imposed by Germany at Friday’s EU summit as the Quid Pro Quo for the creation of a permanent rescue fund in 2013. A treaty change will be rammed through under Article 48 of the Lisbon Treaty, a trick that circumvents the need for full ratification. Eurosceptics can feel vindicated in warning that this “escalator” clause would soon be exploited for unchecked treaty-creep.

Mrs Merkel needs a treaty change to prevent the German constitutional court from blocking the bail-out fund as a breach of EU law, and a treaty change is what she will get. “This will strengthen my position with the Karlsruhe court,” she admitted openly.

One might argue that bondholders should have been punished for their errors long ago. The stench of moral hazard has been sickening, on both sides of the Atlantic. An orderly bankruptcy along lines routinely engineered by the International Monetary Fund is exactly what Greece needs. It makes no sense to push Greece further into a debt compound spiral by raising public debt from 115pc of GDP at the outset of the “rescue” to 150pc at the end of the ordeal.

If you strip out the humbug, the Greek package allows banks and funds to shift roughly €150bn of liabilities onto EU governments, or the European Central Bank, or the IMF. Greek citizens are being subjected to the full pain of austerity under false pretences, without being offered the cure of debt relief.

It is in reality a bail-out for investors. There is a touch of cruelty in this. Needless to say, the Greek Left has noticed. A socialist dissident from the “anti-Memorandum” bloc (ie anti EU-IMF) is likely to win the Athens region in coming elections.

Note too that the ruling socialists have fallen to 25pc in the Portuguese polls, while the Communists and hard-left Bloco are together up to 18pc. Ain’t seen nothing, you might say.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Bank of England Chief Mervyn King Proposes Eliminating Fractional Reserve Banking

Mervyn King — the governor of the Bank of England — has proposed abolishing fractional reserve banking.

As the BBC noted last week:

Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, has tonight made a big intervention into the debate on banking reform. In a speech at Buttonwood, New York, he [listed] much more radical proposals.

1. Forcing the riskiest banks to hold capital “several times the magnitude” of requirements at present.

2. The Volcker rule-style enforced breakup of banks into speculative and non-speculative arms.

3. The “Kotlikoff proposal”, which forces banks to match each pool of risks with a requisite amount of capital, preventing losses in one spilling over into another.

4. Stunningly, Mervyn King imagines the “abolition of fractional reserve banking”:

“Eliminating fractional reserve banking explicitly recognises that the pretence that risk-free deposits can be supported by risky assets is alchemy. If there is a need for genuinely safe deposits the only way they can be provided, while ensuring costs and benefits are fully aligned, is to insist such deposits do not co-exist with risky assets.”

[…]

Ironically, while King is proposing the potential elimination of fractional reserve banking (i.e. a return to 100% reserves), Ben Bernanke has proposed the elimination of all reserve requirements (i.e. requiring no reserves)

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Is the American Dream Over?

America has long been a country of limitless possibility. But the dream has now become a nightmare for many. The US is now realizing just how fragile its success has become — and how bitter its reality. Should the superpower not find a way out of crisis, it could spell trouble ahead for the global economy.

It was to be the kind of place where dozens of American dreams would be fulfilled — here on Apple Blossom Drive, a cul-de-sac under the azure-blue skies of southwest Florida, where the climate is mild and therapeutic for people with arthritis and rheumatism. Everything is ready. The driveways lined with cast-iron lanterns are finished, the artificial streams and ponds are filled with water, and all the underground cables have been installed. This street in Florida was to be just one small part of America’s greater identity — a place where individual dreams were to become part of the great American story.

But a few things are missing. People, for one. And houses, too. The drawings are all ready, but the foundations for the houses haven’t even been poured yet.

Apple Blossom Drive, on the outskirts of Fort Myers, Florida, is a road to nowhere. The retirees, all the dreamers who wanted to claim their slice of the American dream in return for all the years they had worked in a Michigan factory or a New York City office, won’t be coming. Not to Apple Blossom Drive and not to any of the other deserted streets which, with their pretty names and neat landscaping, were supposed to herald freedom and prosperity as the ultimate destination of the American journey, and now exude the same feeling of sadness as the industrial ruins of Detroit.

Florida was the finale of the American dream, a promise, a symbol, an American heaven on earth, because Florida held out the prospect of spending 10, perhaps 20 and hopefully 30 years living in one’s own house. For decades, anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people moved to the state each year. The population grew and grew — and so too did real estate prices and the assets of those who were already there and wanted bigger houses and even bigger dreams. Florida was a seemingly never-ending boom machine.

Could the Dream Be Over?

Until it all ended. Now people are leaving the state. Florida’s population decreased by 58,000 in 2009. Some members of the same American middle class who had once planned to spend their golden years lying under palm trees are now lined up in front of soup kitchens. In Lee County on Florida’s southwest coast, 80,000 people need government food stamps to make ends meet — four times as many as in 2006. Unemployment figures are sharply on the rise in the state, which has now come to symbolize the decline of the America Dream, or perhaps even its total failure, its naïveté. Could the dream, in fact, be over?

Americans have lived beyond their means for decades. It was a culture long defined by a mantra of entitlement, one that promised opportunities for all while ignoring the risks. Relentless and seemingly unstoppable upward mobility was the secular religion of the United States. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, established the so-called ownership society, while Congress and the White House helped free it of the constraints of laws and regulations.

The dream was the country’s driving force. It made Florida, Hollywood and the riches of Goldman Sachs possible, and it attracted millions of immigrants. Now, however, Americans are now discovering that there are many directions that life can take, and at least one of them points downward. The conviction that stocks have always made everyone richer has become as much of a chimera in the United States as the belief that everyone has the right to own his own home, and then a bigger home, a second car and maybe even a yacht. But at some point, everything comes to an end.

The United States is a confused and fearful country in 2010. American companies are still world-class, but today Apple and Coca-Cola, Google and Microsoft are investing in Asia, where labor is cheap and markets are growing, and hardly at all in the United States. Some 47 percent of Americans don’t believe that the America Dream is still realistic…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



The Scary Actual U.S. Government Debt

Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff says U.S. government debt is not $13.5-trillion (U.S.), which is 60 per cent of current gross domestic product, as global investors and American taxpayers think, but rather 14-fold higher: $200-trillion — 840 per cent of current GDP. “Let’s get real,” Prof. Kotlikoff says. “The U.S. is bankrupt.”

Writing in the September issue of Finance and Development, a journal of the International Monetary Fund, Prof. Kotlikoff says the IMF itself has quietly confirmed that the U.S. is in terrible fiscal trouble — far worse than the Washington-based lender of last resort has previously acknowledged. “The U.S. fiscal gap is huge,” the IMF asserted in a June report. “Closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 per cent of U.S. GDP.”

This sum is equal to all current U.S. federal taxes combined. The consequences of the IMF’s fiscal fix, a doubling of federal taxes in perpetuity, would be appalling — and possibly worse than appalling.

[Return to headlines]

USA


Bachmann Wants Constitution Class

Congress will lose their constitutional druthers once they get to Congress, Rep. Michele Bachmann has a message: Fear not, she’s going to set up constitutional classes.

Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor says, “It was something she’s always wanted to do. There’s so many folks that come to Capitol Hill to discuss obscure and mundane topics, but no one coming regularly to discuss bill of rights or the role of government.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Bangor Police Officer Denied Right to Vote After Refusing to Surrender Weapon

Update: The election warden who turned the officer away has been dismissed, and the Bangor police chief has stated at a press conference that officers are not required to surrender their weapon at the polls.

BANGOR, Maine — In the 18 years that he has been a police officer in Bangor, James Dearing couldn’t think of a single time when someone has asked him to turn over his firearm.

Until last Friday.

Dearing, who was patrolling his assigned beat near the Bangor Civic Center, decided to stop in and cast an early vote. He walked into the polling place in full uniform and stood in a short line with other voters.

Election warden Wayne Mallar then approached Dearing and reiterated the request: Turn over your weapon to another officer or we can’t let you vote.

Dearing refused.

“I would never relinquish my weapon,” the officer said later.

Mallar stood his ground.

The officer said he left the civic center Friday feeling embarrassed and insulted. Dearing posted details of the incident on his Facebook page late Friday and immediately began receiving strong responses.

“One fellow officer, who is stationed in Iraq, said ‘What am I over here fighting for?’“ Dearing said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Cable Station Fails to Air O’Donnell Infomercial

After announcing a last-minute buy from a regional cable company for 30-minute slots, the Christine O’Donnell campaign urgently encouraged Delaware voters to tune their sets to her last-minute pitch. Just to be sure that it went off without a hitch, the campaign also reminded the station to run the program. Even after that, the cable channel “forgot” to run the show … twice:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Nick Cohen: On Giving Up

Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity yesterday featured Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens singing “Peace Train”. Islam/Stevens previously showed his commitment to peace and sanity by saying that death was the appropriate punishment for Salman Rushdie’s “blasphemy”.

He has tried to wiggle out of it and issued all kinds of denials.

But here is what he said to Geoffrey Robertson QC in 1989. (Video here.)…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Spot the Terrorist: Many Jihadists in America Are White, Born in the U.S.

I know: Let’s play a game. In the spirit of the Juan Williams debacle,we’ll call it “Spot the Terrorist.”

Here’s how it works: you’re sitting at the airport, looking around you as your flight prepares for boarding. Among your fellow passengers are the following: a blonde woman of about 30 in a business suit, cell phone to her ear, pacing back and forth; an elderly Muslim woman in headscarf, sitting quietly in her seat; a white guy of 40-something with sandy hair, clad in jeans, a Land’s End shirt and sneakers, who rummages through his backpack; two Middle Eastern men in “Muslim garb,” talking quietly to one another; and an Orthodox Jew, his head buried in a book.

Which one is the terrorist?

Obviously, since I’m asking this question, you know it’s not one of the Muslim men in djellaba. And I’ll give you another hint: it’s not the woman in the headscarf, either.

So then who?

According to a recent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s National Security Preparedness Group, statistically speaking, the one most likely to be a Muslim terrorist is the sandy-haired guy in jeans. In fact, according to the report, the majority of Muslim jihadists in America are white and born in the USA (21%) — the one exception being Somali immigrants, who top the list at 31%.

That fact explains such figures as Colleen LaRose, aka “Jihad Jane,” and Daniel Patrick Boyd, the North Carolina drywall contractor indicted in 2009 on charges of training others to wage jihad — either of whom could easily have sat on a plane right next to José Williams, and he wouldn’t have even flinched.

And there’s the thing. Williams may have been fired unjustly from his job at NPR. He may have only said aloud what most people only think. But he was wrong in his assumptions, and so were the ladies of The View who walked out on Bill O’Reilly — and so are most of us. From Adam Gadahn, né Adam Pearlman — the California-born convert to Islam who is now a member of Al Qaeda — to New Mexico-born Anwar al-Awlaki — a known mentor to “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan and “Christmas bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — the terrorists who form one of the greatest threats to the U.S. homeland look, for all the world, just like you and me.

What they have in common, all of them, is Islam.

This is just a fact. We can say they are “fanatical Muslims” or “Muslim jihadists” or “Islamic extremists”; we can point out that they adhere to a certain extreme sect within the faith; but the single factor that binds them — the only factor — is Islam. And it is for the Islamic community — the ummah — that they fight.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



The Stalinist and Daniel Webster

Alan Grayson: “America’ s only Stalinist Congressman”

As a resident of Florida’s 8th Congressional District in the Greater Orlando area, and a former New Yorker who grew up in the Bronx a few blocks away from the childhood home of Congressman, Alan Grayson, I cast my ballot last week in early voting to help defeat a man who rightly deserves the title of “America’ s only Stalinist Congressman”.

Grayson’s attack on Republican candidate Daniel Webster whom he labels “Taliban Dan” includes the now infamous video that follows the technique perfected by Stalin’s henchmen and lackeys of splicing, editing, wiping out, skipping and superimposing images and words to convey the polar opposite of reality and historical truth. To see how it was done, take a look at “The Commissar Vanishes; Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia” by David King, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt & Co. Inc. 1997) and to see how Grayson perfected it just go on the internet.

No other political ad in American history has sunk to this level and Grayson revels in it proclaiming at the end that “I am Alan Grayson and I approve this ad”. Sixty years ago in my youth, Jews felt a deserved pride that “our politicians” and jurists such as Governor Herbert Lehman, Senator Jacob Javits and Justices Brandeis and Frankfurter were models of honesty, integrity and decorum. In today’s political scene, we have descended into the gutter with the likes of former disgraced New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, political “activists” Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod (advisor to disgraced former Senator John Edwards) and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (who dishonestly claimed to have served IN Vietnam). All of these have been put into the shade by Grayson.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



When Bias Has Its Own Media

Bias always exists, but journalistic bias has a tipping point at which instead of a free press, we have a propaganda press. When does that tipping point occur? Henry David Thoreau wrote that there is a certain amount of injustice in government, just as there is a certain amount of friction in operating a machine. But when “friction has its own machine”, then the injustice is no longer an unfortunate byproduct, it is now the purpose of the machine. That is the case with tyrannical regimes who exist to oppress people, rather than the oppression being an unfortunate by product of the exercise of authority, as was formerly the case in the United States.

When it comes to the media, there is also a point at which “friction has its own machine”. That happens when bias is no longer just injected into the reporting of a story, but when bias is the reason for the existence of a story.

It’s easy to spot the difference between the two. For example, a reporter who covers a possible teacher’s strike might favor the teacher’s union and give more time to their grievances than to the plight of the municipal budget and the overburdened taxpayer. This is bias. On the other hand, when that same reporter begins running a series of stories about juvenile delinquency and rising crime connected to school dropout rates in order to warn taxpayers against voting down a proposed school budget — then “bias has its own media.”

The difference is that our hypothetical reporter is no longer only biasing legitimate stories, his stories are part of a narrative that exists for no other purpose than to convince readers to follow his agenda. That is acceptable on the Op Ed page, but not when it is disguised as news. And when entire newspapers, TV stations, magazines and news sites are run in this way, then there is a word for it — propaganda.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


‘Air Freight is an Open Flank in the Fight Against Terrorism’

The parcel bombs found on cargo planes bound for the US have exposed a security gap in air transportation. Expensive checks on cargo will no doubt become necessary. Still, German commentators say that President Obama is dealing more rationally with the threat of terror than his predecessor.

The parcel bombs sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago have revealed a major vulnerability in global aviation: air freight, where checks are far less stringent than in passenger travel, even though a large percentage of freight is carried in the holds of passenger jets, write German commentators.

The world urgently needs to adopt common standards for scrutinizing freight, even if this will entail higher costs and slower transport, editorial writers say.

Some also praise the United States government’s sanguine response, which they say marks a welcome change from the exaggerated terrorism fears stoked by the previous administration under George W. Bush. Under President Barack Obama, the US has taken a more measured and less politically charged approach to the threat of Islamic terrorism, commentators say.

Two air freight packages containing bombs — both sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago — were intercepted in Britain and Dubai last week. One of the packages was found on a United Parcel Service cargo plane at East Midlands Airport, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of London. The other was discovered at a FedEx Corp facility in Dubai. The tip-off came from Saudi intelligence. US and British authorities said they believe the bombs were meant to go off on board the aircraft rather than at their destinations.

It is believed that the parcel found in East Midlands Airport on Friday may have been trans-shipped via Cologne-Bonn airport in Germany. Asked why the explosives weren’t detected in Germany, industry sources told Reuters that packages that had already passed through security were not necessarily subjected to further checks while in transit.

US authorities suspect Saudi extremist Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri to be behind the foiled attacks. He is believed to be cooperating with AQAP, a Yemeni group linked to al-Qaida in Yemen, and to have constructed the bomb that Nigerian would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed to detonate on board a passenger plane bound from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day last year.

Meanwhile, thousands of cheering Yemenis on Monday greeted the student detained briefly on suspicion of having sent the parcel bombs. Yemeni police had arrested computer science student Hanan al-Samawi on Friday after tracing her through a telephone number left with a freight company. But they released her the next day, saying she had been a victim of identity theft.

Now governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world are reviewing security.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Danish Party Urges Arab TV Ban

People’s Party says Al Jazeera and other Arabic channels sow hatred against Western society in immigrant communities.

Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the far-right Danish People’s Party, is calling for a ban on satellite antennas in residential areas with large immigrant populations in Denmark.

She has since pushed for the national broadcasting authority to prevent Al Jazeera and other Arab satellite channels from broadcasting in Denmark.

Kjærsgaard accuses them of “broadcasting indoctrination from the Middle Eastern world”, and “inoculating the viewers in Denmark to hate Denmark and the West”.

The controversial proposal has so far been met with criticism from the Danish People’s Party’s coalition partners, the liberal and conservative parties.

Although both main parties disagree with the proposed ban, they fundamentally agree with the People’s Party’s claims — as a spokesman for the conservatives put it — that Arab channels “espouse anti-Jewish and anti-Western propaganda”.

But banning Arab channels will give the impression that Denmark is suppressing Arab points of view, the spokesman said.

The current government has relied on Kjærsgaard and the People’s Party for its majority since 2001, when the coalition came to power following campaign laced with anti-immigration rhetoric.

The ruling party’s Kristian Jensen says Denmark should defend freedom of speech, but cautions that there is an opportunity to make a case to the country’s broadcasting authority if the channels break the law.

Conflicting opinions

Kjærsgaard says that the broadcasting authority can move to ban a channel it sees as promoting hatred.

Meanwhile, opposition parties are outraged, describing the People’s Party’s proposal as a “desperate” attempt to maintain its grip on the debate on Muslims and immigrants in Denmark.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats, thinks that it is “un-Danish” to forbid people from deciding which TV channels they can access.

“We live in Denmark, not in North Korea or China,” the party has said.

Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary in 2009 entitled Confrontation in Copenhagen, which dealt with the racialised debate on crime in Denmark as well as the new anti-immigrant laws, sparking a huge debate in the country.

Calls to strip me, the producer of the piece, of my citizenship were heard on the fringes.

In the lead-up to the film’s screening, headlines such “A Palestinian-Dane produces a dark film that portrays Denmark as a racist country” filled the screens and front pages of many Danish media outlets.

The main two television broadcasters, TV2 and Danish Broadcast Co-operation, as well as all major national news papers, treated the film as second “cartoon crises in making”, referring to the controversy stirred when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005.

In the hours before the documentary’s screening, there was a heightened state of alert across Danish embassies in the Arab and Muslim world. As Al Jazeera went on air with the film, Denmark’s main TV channel picked up the telecast live.

Nasser Khader and Fathi al-Abded, two Danish politicians and representatives of the communities, concluded that the film would harm Danish national interests, especially if the “imams” made use of it.

Sober evaluation

The verdict of independent media experts and the Danish ministry of foreign affairs was considerably less alarmist. They judged the film “innocent”, “critical”, “fair and balanced”…

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



Denmark: Taste of What’s to Come?

If you want to know what the social, cultural and racial trend is in Europe — and every country is different — look no further than Denmark.

No country adopted multiculturalism and ethnic tolerance with the enthusiasm and idealism of Denmark.

Some countries had little choice but to accept an influx of people with different and conflicting values and mores. When its African colonies gained independence, and when Algeria broke away after a bitter war, France became home to millions of displaced Arabs.

Portugal, Spain, and even Britain became the new home for many who felt they had to move from the land of their birth. Newcomers adjusted in varying degrees of harmony and resentment.

During the 1970s, no country was as welcoming as Denmark to newcomers. Danes had no obligation to encourage outsiders — but it did. Perhaps Denmark was influenced by its gallant record of standing up to the Nazi occupation in the Second World War — not with guns and bombs, but by its response to the order that all Jews be rounded up and sent to a concentration camp.

In defiance, an enterprising and heroic underground network spirited 7,200 of Jews out of Denmark, mostly on fishing vessels, to safety in Sweden, a national action that spoke volumes.

Subsequently, Denmark’s socialist government has tried to look after every citizen. Regarding immigrants, it sought to avoid mistakes of other countries, and ensure that newcomers could integrate and blend with Danes and feel comfortable.

Denmark’s crime rate was one of the lowest in Europe; its education system was excellent and available to all; its humanitarianism beyond repute. Denmark’s history of pillaging Vikings succumbed to generous welfare to immigrants, plus housing and other amenities that it hoped would set an example for the world in multicultural inclusiveness.

To a great degree it worked. But not with Muslims, who chose not to integrate, but to live in self-chosen ghettos where Danish liberalism and tolerance were seen as decadent and offensive.

This all came to a head in 2005 when an obscure magazine published 12 political cartoons featuring Mohammed. Months later, streets in parts or the world ran with blood, the cartoonists’ lives were threatened, Islamic outrage caused the rest of the world to shudder, cringe and apologize for allegedly showing disrespect to the Prophet. Denmark retreated.

The western media largely refused to publish the Danish cartoons — pretending to be motivated by principle rather than fear of Islamic reprisals.

Daniel Pipes is one who anticipated the Muslim collision in Denmark. In 2002 he noted that Muslims in Denmark comprise 4% of the population (5.5 million), but get 40% of available welfare payments. He also claimed the majority of convicted rapists are Muslim.

Pipes’ claims were later disputed by Danish parliamentarians, who say his numbers just don’t add up.

Muslims want Sharia law in Denmark. Forced marriages exist (promising newborn daughters to male cousins in the home country); Muslims who convert to Christianity are threatened with death; women are forced to cover their faces, fearing male vengeance, Pipes claims.

Anti-Israel marches turn into anti Jewish protests.

Like other European countries (Germany, France, Holland, Belgium) opposition is growing against multiculturalism — now seen as a failure.

Russia, China — even the U.S. and Canada — have growing unease about the militancy of Muslims, and are called bigots.

As Ezra Levant noted in a column, only in Canada would an appeal court judge rule that before a veiled women must show her face while testifying, she can ask for an order to clear the courtroom of males — including staff, opposition lawyers, even the judge himself.

Another triumph of multiculturalism? No, but it looks to be the future.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



France: Sarkozy’s Perfect Storm

French Fury Goes Beyond Pensions

The French are not just protesting to stop the retirement age from being raised. They are also fighting to save their country from government sleaze and the dismantling of democracy.

During his adventurous journeys across oceans and through faraway lands, Obelix, the loyal friend of Asterix in the famous French comic book series of that name, is often surprised by local customs and traditions. Whenever he encounters something unfamiliar, the fat Gaul in the blue-and-white striped pants taps his red hair and mumbles: “These Romans are crazy,” or makes similar remarks about whichever nationality he happens to have encountered.

These days, as the French take to the barricades once again to protest a pension reform that appears to be necessary, one might be tempted to turn Obelix’s remarks around, and ask: Are these Gauls crazy? Have the French lost their minds?

[…]

Those who have paid only fleeting attention to the events in France and have relied on little more than brief, hectic news reports must conclude that the French, in defiance of all reason, are fighting ferociously to keep their retirement age at 60, and not change it to 62, as the government wants to do. If this were true, one would indeed be forced to conclude that the French are mad, and France itself would have to be written off as a serious partner in Europe until further notice. But fortunately the truth looks a little different.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Germany: Flight Ban Extended to Yemeni Passenger Jets

Germany has extended a ban on air freight from Yemen to passenger flights, a Transport Ministry spokesman said Monday, after parcel bombs posted in that country were found on US-bound cargo flights.

The spokesman told a regular government briefing that Germany had stepped up its emergency measures when it emerged that one of the parcel bombs had been routed via the western German city of Cologne. Germany is the first country to announce a ban on all flights from Yemen.

“All Yemeni air companies that fly to Germany have received a flight ban,” the ministry spokesman said.

“The German air authorities have orders to turn back all direct and indirect flights from Yemen. That means that for the time being, there will be no flights to or over German territory allowed.”

The German government said Saturday that it would outlaw all cargo from Yemen indefinitely. A spokesman said Monday that Berlin was now weighing whether to ban freight from other countries amid a major security review.

The Transport Ministry spokesman said Germany had no current figures on the amount of cargo from Yemen. A source close to the government said there was only one flight to Germany on a Yemeni airline per week, via Rome.

Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told the same news conference that Germany would work with its European partners and US authorities to coordinate further steps to protect air traffic.

“(Cargo traffic) is harder to control than passenger traffic because it can lead to a world trade being slowed down,” Seibert noted.

Qatar Airways said a package containing explosives was flown from the Yemeni capital Sanaa to Doha and then on to Dubai Friday on one of its aircraft. A source said on condition of anonymity that the plane was a passenger flight.

The bomb had PETN hidden inside a computer printer with a circuit board and mobile phone SIM card attached, officials said.

The other parcel was found at East Midlands airport in central England and travelled through Cologne. British Prime Minister David Cameron said it appeared designed to blow up a plane.

The two bombs contained 300 grammes (11 ounces) and 400 grammes of explosives respectively and could have caused “significant damage,” a German official said Monday. The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the two bombs contained the explosive PETN.

If they had gone off, “they would have caused significant damage,” he said, without specifying the source of the information.

US officials have said the two intercepted packages originating from Yemen were addressed to synagogues in Chicago, President Barack Obama’s former power base. They have cited Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, an alleged Al-Qaida bomb-maker born in Saudi Arabia but based in Yemen, as a “leading suspect” in the case.

Evidence suggests the same person built the intercepted parcel bombs and the device worn by the “underwear” bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who botched an attack on a passenger flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Greece: Suspects Carried Letter Bomb for Sarkozy

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police foiled four attempted parcel bomb attacks Monday, allegedly targeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and three embassies in Athens, after one of the devices exploded at a delivery service, leaving a worker hospitalized with burns.

Motorcycle police later arrested two Greek men, aged 22 and 24, several hundred meters from the blast site in central Athens. Police said the men were carrying handguns and bullets in waist pouches, and one of them wore a bulletproof vest, a wig and a baseball cap.

Police released photographs of the two suspects late Monday, but did not identify them.

Parts of the city center were cordoned off for more than an hour around midday as the three unexploded bombs, found at a different delivery service and in the suspects’ backpacks, were defused in a series of controlled explosions.

Beyond Sarkozy, the targets were the embassies of Mexico, The Netherlands and Belgium, police said. The return address labels included the names of a senior government official, a Greek charity, and a well-known Greek criminologist, police said.

They said the one that exploded was addressed to the Mexican Embassy. The one addressed to the Dutch Embassy was found and defused at a delivery service, police said. The other two — the one addressed to the Belgian Embassy and the one addressed to Sarkozy — were found on the suspects, police said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Italy: Opposition Press Premier on ‘Ruby Phone Call’

Berlusconi ‘completely unfazed’ by case of Moroccan runaway

(ANSA) — Rome, October 29 — The centre-left opposition on Friday said it would press Premier Silvio Berlusconi over his apparent admission that he had his office phone a Milan police station in May about a 17-year-old Moroccan runaway belly dancer who was subsequently released without charge after allegedly stealing from an acquaintance of hers.

According to press reports, the premier’s office allegedly asked the case to be handled “sensitively” because the girl, Ruby, was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Ruby has told police she received gifts from the premier at parties in his Milan residence where she also allegedly witnessed an “erotic ritual” called ‘bunga bunga’, a reference to one of the premier’s favourite bawdy jokes.

Former graftbuster Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the opposition Italy of Values (IdV) party, said the IdV might table a vote of no confidence in Berlusconi as premier for allegedly interfering in police work, a breach of his institutional role.

“We’ll wait to hear what Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has to say about it at question time and then we’ll decide,” Di Pietro said.

IdV spokesman Leoluca Orlando called on the premier to resign, saying “the ‘bunga bunga’ will bury Berlusconi”.

“Italy has completely lost credibility at an international level and has become a joke thanks to its premier who knows no shame,” Orlando claimed.

Enrico Letta, a heavyweight in the largest opposition group, the Democratic Party, also said Berlusconi should resign if the “pressure exerted on the Milan police turns out to be true”.

Members of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party shot back by saying “the only kind of politics the opposition deals in is gossip”.

Berlusconi, who was dogged by reports about his private life last year, said at a European Union summit Thursday night that he was “absolutely unfazed” by the allegations concerning Ruby and stressed that the phone call was “only to alert (the police) about someone who should be taken to a (minors’) shelter”.

Previously, the premier had said that he had “a big heart” and was always ready to “help out people in need”.

Ruby reportedly ran away from her parents in Sicily and a centre for youngsters in trouble before seeking the high life in Milan where she found illegal work as a night-club belly dancer.

She has reportedly told police she received a dress, jewelry and cash from the premier but stressed she never had sex with him.

“He was a gentleman,” she reportedly said.

A Berlusconi news anchor, a former dental hygienist who is now a Lombardy regional councillor, and a TV impresario are reportedly under investigation for aiding and abetting prostitution.

Berlusconi, who is not under investigation, has described the case as “media trash” and has denied all impropriety.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Trash Fires in Naples

‘Situation serious’ official says

(ANSA) — Naples, October 29 — Some 30 piles of rubbish across Naples were set ablaze Thursday night and fire services had to intervene to put them out, officials said Friday.

Many of the fires were in the city centre, they said. An estimated 2,000 tonnes of uncollected refuse is littering the streets of the southern Italian city, almost 500 tonnes more than Thursday.

“The situation is serious”, Urban Hygiene Councillor Paolo Giacomelli said after protests blocked trucks unloading in one city site.

Outside the city, on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius, where there have been violent clashes over a foul-smelling dump, there was an “uneasy calm”, officials said.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi visited the area Thursday and vowed to clear Naples’ streets of rubbish “in three days”.

The contested dump is being tested and is slated to be reopened next week, despite continuing protests, while another has been indefinitely put on hold.

The premier voiced confidence that the area’s residents and mayors would support a plan to solve the crisis “within 10 days”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Berlusconi’s Love of Women, Work and Play ‘Won’t Change’

Brussels, 29 Oct. (AKI) — Italy’s billionaire prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said his love of work, women and play will never change, as he dismissed fresh allegations of sexual misconduct with a Moroccan minor who he says escaped from a “tragic life” thanks to his help.

Some Italian newspapers over the last few days have printed stories based on claims by a Moroccan illegal immigrant who goes by the first name “Ruby”, that recounted stories of her supposed three visits to 74-year-old Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore near Milan when she was 17 years old.

The teenager was picked up several times by police, suspected of theft and burglary. But each time, she was allegedly released after police received a call from the Berlusconi’s office.

“She was sent to me so I could help out a person who could have been locked up, which isn’t very nice,” Berlusconi told reporters in Brussels on Friday.

According to the Italian media reports, Ruby said she joined escorts, government cabinet ministers and the news anchor for one of Berlusconi’s television stations to play Bunga Bunga”, a sex game. Berlusconi allegedly said Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi had taught him the rules.

Ruby, who aspires to be a showgirl, said the prime minister showered her with valuable gifts, as well as 150,000 euros in cash, according to the reports.

Berlusconi has referred to the accusations as “trash” and on Friday said it was part of a left-wing plot to ruin his reputation.

“It’s a leftist attack against me…With a smile on my face I read all the lies. I don’t have to clear up anything. In my house I allow only good people and above all, people who behave themselves,” he said.

But Berlusconi told reporters he likes a good time in female company to unwind from a busy schedule.

“I’m a playful person. I love life and I love women,” he said. “Nobody can make me change my lifestyle,” he said.

Over the past two years Berlusconi has been trailed by a string of accusations about his sex life.

Berlusconi’s estranged wife Veronica Lario in a biography about here suggested that the prime minister should seek counselling for sex addiction.

He had been linked to teenage Naples lingerie model Noemi Letizia, whose 18th birthday party he attended in 2008 and to whom he gave a 6,000 euro gold and pearl pendant.

She said she called him ‘Papi’, meaning ‘Daddy’ in English.

Escort Patrizia D’Addario alleges she had sex with Berlusconi at his residence in Rome in November 2009. She released tapes of their encounter to media. Berlusconi has said he is “no saint” but has never paid a woman for sex or had “improper” relations.

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



Muslim World: Young European Man Explains Why He Converted to Islam

The story of Malcolm is intriguing, and perhaps a bit puzzling.

Why would a left-leaning young man from one of the world’s most secular and liberal countries choose to become a pious Muslim?

The 34-year old Swedish music teacher from Stockholm, who asked that his last name not be published, attempted to explain his decision, describing it as the culmination of a long journey searching for faith and him solidifying his religious beliefs that he couldn’t always place.

“I have never doubted my faith,” he told Babylon & Beyond while on a recent visit to Beirut. “It feels like I’ve had the same faith all the time but it feels so cleanly formulated in Islam.”

For Malcolm, becoming a Muslim gave him a connection to others in a country where identity is not always clean-cut.

“I feel very comfortable as a Muslim…. We’re social creatures and we want to feel a sense of belonging,” he said. “If it’s not a clan it’s a nation or a soccer team. For me it’s nice to have a belonging which is not a nation or a football team.”

Growing up in predominantly Protestant Sweden, Malcolm’s doubts about his faith lingered as he got older.

He started to study different religions and read philosophy texts. He felt drawn to Islam and fascinated by its teachings, especially to what he says is the religion’s focus on seeking knowledge.

He used the Internet to learn about Islam and the Koran, dedicating many hours in front of his computer learning how to recite the Koran and memorizing its chapters.

Malcolm wasn’t the only member of his family who embraced Islam. His brother, too, became a Muslim.

The day he “officially” became a Muslim some three years ago will be forever ingrained in his memory.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: PVV Warns of Islamic ‘Right to Lie’

The Party for Freedom (PVV) has added a new word to Dutch vocabulary: takiyya. It says it is an Islamic rule that allows Muslims to lie to non-Muslims.

In his recently-published book, PVV MP Martin Bosma describes takiyya as “lying to strengthen Islam.” It amounts to Muslims being able to present themselves as liberal and modern, while secretly working on the introduction of the Sharia.

In a debate last week, GroenLinks leader Femke Halsema accused PVV leader Geert Wilders of making all Muslims suspect with the reference to takiyya. Wilders advised her to seek information from Islam experts.

If Halsema were to go to Maurits Berger for advice, she would not be convinced of Wilders’ views. The professor of Islam in the present-day West reacted angrily to the PVV message in De Volkskrant newspaper yesterday.

“How dare Wilders throw around Islamic terms about which he does not have a clue? Takiyya is a concept from the Middle Ages. It infuriates me that such a dogma from the past should be stuck onto the Muslims of today. It is as if you claimed that Christians think women who stay afloat are witches.”

The concept of takiyya appears in the Koran. “Only among extreme groups does this secrecy still do the rounds,” according to Berger. He considers it a “complete scandal” that Wilders and Bosma have introduced it. “This is manifest incitement to hatred.”

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Rape in Marriage is No Crime Says Cleric

A MUSLIM cleric sparked outrage yesterday — saying there is no such thing as rape within marriage.

Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, who runs the largest network of sharia courts in Britain, claimed husbands who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because “sex is part of marriage”.

When asked if he believed non-consensual marital sex could be rape he said defiantly: “No.

“Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage. Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity.”

He said the “aggression” of reporting the man to police was greater than the “minor aggression” of forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse against her will.

He claimed many married women who alleged rape were lying.

“In most of the cases, they have been advised by solicitors that one of the four reasons for which a wife can get a divorce is rape.

“Why it is happening in this society is because they have got this idea of so-called equality, equal rights.”

Sheikh Sayeed said the concept of rape within marriage was “not Islamic”.

He said: “It is not an assault, it is not some kind of jumping on somebody’s individual right.

“When they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage.

“Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable.”

He said husbands can be dealt with under sharia law, but there is no need for the police to be called in.

Asked how husbands accused of rape should be dealt with, he said: “He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.”

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As campaigners, police and women’s groups reacted angrily to his remarks yesterday Sheikh Sayeed stood by his claims adding: “In Islamic sharia, rape is adultery by force.

“So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape. It is reprehensible, but we do not call it rape.”

Sheikh Sayeed moved here from Bangladesh in 1977.

He is now president of the Islamic Sharia Council which operates 16 courts in Britain, including in Birmingham, Bradford and London.

Dave Whatton, Chief Constable of Cheshire and spokesman on rape for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the sheikh’s opinion “fundamentally undermines everything we are trying to do”.

He said: “We know that the majority of rapes do not take place through strangers attacking women late at night but between acquaintances and within marriages and partnerships.

“Sharia law should not replace the laws of the UK.”

Muslim tribunals exploit a legal loophole which allows sharia courts to be classified as arbitration courts, with their rulings binding in law.

Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “Under sharia women are second-class citizens at best; chattel at worst. Sharia courts are incompatible with British democracy. There’s no such thing as moderate sharia. It’s a backward, bigoted, discriminatory body.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



They’re Leading US to the Abyss

In Brussels, 28/29 October, France and Germany will try to persuade their EU partners to modify some of the EU’s cornerstone texts in order to create a culture of budgetary rigour. A simplistic and useless idea, according to a Spanish editorialist.

Xavier Vidal-Folch

A month ago, at the monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, Felipe González admonished a bunch of businessmen handpicked by the ESADE business school: “We’ve spent too much time distracted by the European Union: let’s keep them from fiddling any further with the treaties because, as far as I can see, anyone will be able to block their reform.”

He was dead right. Yet another reform, now, when the previous one has only just gone into effect? More Irish referendums, Czech blackmail and institutional snoozing on the job? How frivolous and tiresome, what a navel-gazing waste of time, what a recipe for paralysis!

Create a European Monetary Fund, terrific idea. But reforming the treaty to that end — and to add sanctions — would be a waste of time. Or worse. But Berlin and Paris don’t see it that way. They think they can impose a quick reform to beef up the euro stability pact, but even simplified reforms have to win enough votes to pass.

The EU summit opening today will give its blessing — or not — to the new economic sanctions. There’s no problem there aside from their lack of credibility: seeing as the sanctions are not automatic, it doesn’t occur to anyone that one day they might apply to France and Germany, just as the old sanctions were never applied when the two states breached the austerity diktat in 2003—2005.

Do we need to reform the Treaty to make these changes?

Moreover, the summit will examine the Franco-German proposal of reforming the Lisbon Treaty to give permanent form to the rescue fund (€750 billion) that was approved in May to bail out countries drowning in their own sovereign debt. The object is a bona fide European Monetary Fund (EMF). That’s truly fantastic news. The assembled heads of state and government will also thrash out the idea of penalising those who fail to meet the Maastricht criteria. Should their voting rights be suspended? That’s debatable, seeing as an economic failing calls for a financial penalty, not a political one.

Do we need to reform the Treaty to make these two changes? Yes, as regards suspending voting rights for fiscal failings. All the same, it is ironic that this proposal should be made by France, which frankly should have been brought to book for infringements of “respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities” (Treaty on European Union article 2) and stripped of its voting rights under the terms of article 7 for “clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State” of those democratic “values”. In a word, it would be a frivolous waste of time to reform the Treaty to safeguard an important but minor value, namely that of fiscal orthodoxy.

Karlsruhe has issued four rulings

Furthermore, no Treaty changes are needed to set up an EMF. Before its predecessor, the temporary bailout fund, was created (for three years) in May, Angela Merkel alleged it would be impossible without changing the Treaty because the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe would quash it. But it proved possible, because the creation of such a fund is permissible under article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Karlsruhe has issued four rulings on European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and on the EU itself, in each case endorsing the pro-European progress, albeit with certain nationalistic reservations: On 12 October 1993 it backed up the Maastricht Treaty as long as *sovereignty would not be “voided of substance* by the transfer of responsibilities”. On 31 March 1998 it rubber-stamped the transition to the third phase of EMU, which, it said, “is not a matter for the courts, but for Parliament”.

On 30 June 2009 it approved the Lisbon Treaty because the latter did not dare to entrust the EU with “the basic determination of the type or amount of taxation to be levied on citizens”, and because it maintained the “essential core of state sovereignty”. And this past 7 May it applauded the Greek bailout “for not jeopardising the monetary union” and because the financial “burden” on Germany would not “cause any fundamental prejudice to the general welfare”. So like as not, Karlsruhe would stick to this line, setting the pace for Berlin to some extent, then ultimately proceeding at its pace.

So why do Angela and Nicolas insist on leading us towards a futile undertaking and, perhaps even worse, towards an abyss?

Translated from the Spanish by Eric Rosencrantz

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



UK: ‘Smiling’ Woman ‘Stabbed MP Twice in Stomach After Confronting Him About Iraq War’

A Muslim woman tried to kill a Labour MP by stabbing him in the stomach ‘in revenge’ for him voting for the Iraq War, a court heard today.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, is accused of knifing Stephen Timms twice in a shock attack during a constituency surgery meeting after she greeted the MP with a smile and offered him the hand of friendship.

A second later the fanatic allegedly lunged forward, repeatedly plunging a three inch kitchen knife into his stomach, sending the MP ‘reeling and staggering’ backwards, before staff jumped in to wrestle the blade from her grasp.

The Old Bailey heard how the young Muslim woman had plotted for weeks to kill her local MP, buying two knives in case one ‘broke’ when she enacted her ‘punishment’ for him voting in Parliament to invade Iraq in March 2003.

[…]

Choudhry was later charged with attempted murder and possession of an offensive weapon.

But in an extraordinary case, she has refused to challenge the evidence, saying she does not recognise the jurisdiction of the court.

In what is thought to be the only case in living memory, the defendant has refused to appear in court for her trial and has instructed her lawyers not to offer any evidence in her defence or cross-examine any witnesses.

[…]

When she was interviewed by police, Choudhry is said to have remained chillingly calm, telling officers she had been planning to kill the MP for three or four weeks and had bought two knives at the end of April ‘in case one broke’.

She told Detective Inspector Simon Dobinson: ‘I made an appointment to see him and I went there and then when I was shaking his hand I stabbed him.’

Asked why, she said: ‘Because he voted for the Iraq war.’

She continued ‘I purposefully walked round the side of the desk so I could get close to him so I could, yeah, stab him.

‘He pointed for me to sit down on the chair but instead I walked towards him with my left hand out as if I wanted to shake his hand.

‘Then I pulled the knife out of my bag in my right hand and I hit him in the stomach with it.

‘I put it in the top part of his stomach.

‘I just pushed it in like how it is if you punch someone.

‘I was trying to kill him because he wanted to invade Iraq.’

Asked why, she answered: “Punishment.”

‘I think I stabbed him again. I think I did it twice. I tried to attack him again and then everyone starting to scream,’ she told detectives.

When asked what she was thinking or feeling, Choudhry replied: ‘I was not feeling anything’.

When questioned why she stabbed him in the stomach, Choudhry said: ‘I am not that strong I thought that the stomach would be soft enough to get the knife in.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Bus Driver Cleared After Blundering Bosses Took Her to Court Over £21.60 (But Case Still Costs Taxpayer £10k)

A £10,000 case against a bus driver for stealing £21.60 has been dramatically thrown out of court — after her employers realised THEY’D added up her takings wrong.

Catherine Bates, 39, was arrested in February after her employer Travel de Courcey claimed she had pocketed customers’ money.

The bus firm said she had stolen the cash by handing out tickets to customers and not declaring the payments at the end of her shift.

But after an eight-month legal nightmare costing thousands in taxpayer cash, it has finally emerged a simple accounting error was to blame for her ordeal.

As it turned out, Catherine had actually overpaid her employer and someone else had added up the totals from a spreadsheet incorrectly.

It was only ON THE DAY she was due to stand trial that the mistake was finally spotted and the judge immediately threw out the case in light of the new evidence.

The jury trial at Coventry Crown Court lasted just a few minutes, leaving prosecutors red-faced about their decision to pursue the case.

The cost of preparing legal proceedings against Catherine is thought to total at least £10,000.

Now, the furious mum-of-one says her life has been ruined by eight months of ‘sheer hell’.

[…]

A spokesman for West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, which went ahead with the decision to prosecute Catherine, said the case fulfilled its criteria to take it to court.

[…]

‘In the light of this further information, a decision was made to discontinue the prosecution on the basis that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Carer Left Note on Dying Patient’s Bed Saying ‘Hopefully They Will Not Last More Than Two Days’

A note reading ‘Hopefully they will not last more than two days’ was accidently left by a hospital carer on a dying patient’s bed.

Healthcare assistant Brenda Nixon has refused to apologise for the note and claims her only regret is that someone spotted it.

It had been written in anger at receiving notification that five beds would be earmarked for terminally-ill patients, who hospital management implied would only be staying for 48 hours ‘preparing for death’.

But her message was actually found by the son of 74-year-stroke victim Jean Wrench who was staying in the bed at Burslem’s Haywood Hospital, Staffs.

It read: ‘They come in here nearly dead. Hopefully they will not last more than two days. We are not allowed to help. It is the credit crunch.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Firefighters ‘Lacked Equipment’ For 7/7 London Bombings

Firefighters lacked the training and first aid equipment to treat the most seriously injured, the 7/7 London bombing inquests have heard.

Firefighter Sean Jones said some of the wounded in the 2005 attack at Aldgate were untreatable by the fire service.

His colleague Paul Osborne was overcome with emotion when he gave evidence, having to pause for several seconds.

The inquests are into the deaths of 52 people who were killed by suicide bombers on three Tube trains and a bus. Mr Jones told the hearings that he spent up to two hours in a bomb-damaged Tube train carriage at Aldgate trying to help the wounded and dying.

‘Beyond remit’ He said: “At that stage all we carried on our fire engine was a very basic first aid kit, a number of bandages, elastic tape.

“The nature of the injuries that we saw on the train, there was no mild first aid — it’s either seriously injured or they get up and walk off.

“So there was no triage that needed to be done, there was nothing like that. It was just purely a case of the casualties that we saw were way beyond our remit and skill levels to be able to treat.

“So our first aid kit would have been useless anyway.”

He added: “We needed paramedics and Hems [Helicopter Emergency Medical Service] there.”

Hugo Keith QC, counsel to the inquests, asked him: “In truth there was nothing that you or perhaps the police officers could have done for them because none of you had the specialist medical equipment?”

Mr Jones, who was based at Southwark fire station in south London at the time, replied: “There was nothing that could have been done.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Hoodie Thug is Caught on CCTV Hitting Pregnant Woman in the Face

A woman who is six months pregnant was savagely hit in the face by a passer-by as she walked through a train station, it emerged today.

The thug, wearing a hoodie and pushing a push-chair containing a toddler, lashed out at the stunned mother-to-be at London Bridge Station.

CCTV cameras caught the assault on the 39-year-old, who was left distraught and clutching her face by the station wall.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Ryanair Boss Attacks ‘Ludicrous’ Security Measures in Wake of Latest Terror Bomb Plot

Air travellers face a wave of new security measures in the wake of the Yemen bomb plot.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary warned even talcum power could end up on the banned list of items people cannot take on planes.

He said he feared a new raft of ‘ludicrous’ airport security measures in reaction to the latest terror plot where bombs hidden in printer ink cartridges were found on U.S.-bound planes in the East Midlands and Dubai.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: She Was Feted by Gordon Brown for Standing Up to the Thugs Terrorising Her Estate.

Now, abandoned by politicians and police alike, she’s been forced to admit defeat.

Even after her five-year-old son saw a stranger punch her in the face on the doorstep of their home on Bolton’s most notorious estate, this fearless mum-of-six did not flinch from what she saw as her duty: to help police tackle the anti-social behaviour which has wrecked her community.

All her neighbours on the Johnson Fold estate have been similarly affected — dreading the hour at which gangs of 30 or more youths congregate outside to drink, smoke cannabis and hurl abuse and bricks through windows — but only Sharon was brave enough to put her name to the complaints that fill countless police and council files.

That’s why, as she and her family endured daily threats, violence, verbal abuse and vandalism, Sharon was last year hailed in the Press as the ‘Superwoman of Suburbia’ — a standard-bearer for families trying to live a decent life on Britain’s lawless council estates.

She won awards for her bravery, and met Gordon Brown at Number 10. No doubt, he hoped that standing alongside an apparent success story would deflect attention from the abject failure of Labour’s ‘alphabet soup’ of anti-social behaviour measures.

Sharon said at the time: ‘They may think they can do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. But this is our home and we won’t be bullied or intimidated into giving it up and letting them turn this place into a war zone.’

There was no doubting she meant it. But little more than a year later, the weight of that responsibility has grown too heavy for Sharon to bear. And who can blame her?

‘I can’t be “Superwoman” any more,’ 39-year-old Sharon admits wearily. ‘We’ve decided to move house because we’ve wasted four years here, living under attack.

‘I put my faith in the system. I reported every crime. I played by the rules and, as a result, I made a target of myself and my family.

‘We don’t see the police round here from one month to the next. They say they want to stamp out anti-social behaviour, but it’s all talk.’After all, Sharon never was Superwoman. She is an ordinary mum who needed the support of the police and confidence in the law to bring her tormentors to justice. But after her four-year campaign she feels she has neither, and no option but to leave.

‘The fact is, even though the street is a much better place day-to-day, I know I will never feel safe around here. There is a massive gang who see it as their business to make our lives a misery, and no one is doing anything to stop them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Woman Stabbed MP ‘In Revenge for Iraq War Vote’

A woman stabbed Stephen Timms, the Labour MP, twice in the stomach during a constituency surgery in revenge for his vote for the war in Iraq, a court heard today.

Mr Timms told the Old Bailey he thought Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was coming to shake hands, and she smiled before lunging at him on May 14 this year.

Mr Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, was sent “reeling and staggering” before retreating into the men’s toilets at the community centre in Beckton, east London.

His assistant Andrew Bazeley prised the kitchen knife away from her and she was placed in a “bear hug” by a security guard before police arrived. Another knife was found in her bag.

Choudhry told detectives she was trying to kill Mr Timms for “punishment” and “to get revenge for the people of Iraq”, prosecutor William Boyce QC, said.

“When asked why she had stabbed him a second time she said ‘because I wasn’t going to stop stabbing until someone made me’,” Mr Boyce added.

Choudhry, who was not in court, is accused of attempted murder and two charges of having an offensive weapon.

Jeremy Dein QC, defending, said she did not recognise the jurisdiction of the court and did not wish her lawyers to challenge evidence put before the jury.

Mr Timms said he was running slightly late when he arrived at the Beckton Globe community centre for his regular Friday surgery.

Choudhry, who was dressed in black, had made an appointment for 2.45pm, specifically to see him rather than an assistant, and was the second person he saw that day, just after 3pm.

The MP said: “She didn’t go and sit down as she continued to come towards me where I was standing to greet her at that point.

“I thought she must have been coming to shake my hand. She made as if she was coming to do that. She looked friendly. She was smiling, if I remember rightly.

“I was a little puzzled because a Muslim woman dressed in that way wouldn’t normally be willing to shake a man’s hand, still less to take the initiative to do so, but that is what she was doing.

“She lunged at me with her right hand.”

Mr Timms pointed at his stomach to show the jury where the knife had gone in.

He said: “I think I knew that I had been stabbed although I didn’t feel anything and I can’t recall actually seeing a knife but I think I said ‘She has a knife’ or words to that effect.

“I attempted to push away the second lunge but was not successful.”

Mr Timms said he was not certain what had happened straight away.

Mr Boyce said Choudhry had made “very full admissions” to police about what she had done.

“She gave her intention as being an intention to kill Mr Timms, and that she was acting in that way as an act of punishment towards him for his parliamentary vote in favour of the war in Iraq.”

He said Choudhry would not give evidence and her barrister would not be inviting the jury to acquit her.

Mr Boyce added: “Nor is there any question she is suffering from mental illness. She is not.”

Mr Justice Cooke explained to jurors that Choudhry had chosen not to attend the trial and this was her right.

“The trial will proceed in her absence but you must not assume she is guilty because she is not here and you must not hold it against her.”

He said the evidence would be concluded today and he would sum up tomorrow before sending the jury out to consider their verdicts.

           — Hat tip: Bewick [Return to headlines]



Unwelcome in Mauritius, Emilietta’s Home Remains the Airport

We’ve contacted consuls and embassies in order to understand more about the tramp living in the Milan airport. The only response is that she’s been blacklisted and can no longer return to the African island

Emilietta is still living in Malpensa Airport. We wrote about her at the beginning of August, a month and a half ago, but nothing has happened. And from what we’ve been able to find out over this time, it’s unlikely, if not impossible that Mrs Cesira Ton, known to everyone as Emilietta, will return to Mauritius.

This summer, the story was in all of the main Italian and foreign newspapers and news programmes; it was impossible for the story of this 71-year-old woman originally from Venice to go unnoticed. There was the departure for the African island, with her two children and her husband, the years of coming and going from Madagascar, the marriage that ended, the visa that expired and the expulsion from Mauritius; these are only some of the ingredients of this (in many ways, absurd) story.

Mrs Ton has been living in the airport for six years, and before that, she was forced to spend months going from a tent in Busto Arsizio to a makeshift shelter in Gallarate Station. She lives off the coins she collects from the airport trolleys, and the money she receives from a minimum state pension. She’s there, watching the planes take off, in the hope that, one day, she’ll be able to leave again. She doesn’t want help, she’s not asking for solidarity or even charity. She keeps clean by washing herself in the bathrooms when there’s no one about in Malpensa; she sleeps on the marble benches on the Arrivals floor, living with her cases beside her, a few newspapers and a notepad on which she writes poems which she then gives away. She has a lot of friends, from the cleaning ladies to the bar staff, and the shop assistants that frequent the small/big world of Malpensa Airport every day.

VareseNews has recounted her story, but we wanted to understand it better, and, above all, we wanted to know if there was any chance of a solution. We then tried to contact the consulates and embassies. These are the answers we got. “Mrs Ton’s story is partly true, we have indeed dealt with the case and, on two occasions, we tried to intervene with the local authorities, but without success. I can’t comment on her family’s situation,” the honorary Italian consul in Mauritius, Stefano Zinno, explained to us. “At the beginning, we intervened on the request of the lady herself, so if she asks us again, we’ll have no problem in following up. The fact of her being unwanted is a matter for Mauritian law.”

We then contacted the Mauritian embassy in Italy. “According to the information we have, Mrs Cesira Ton is on the blacklist of people that are not welcome for the Mauritian Authorities, and, consequently, cannot go back to Mauritius without the authorisation of the local authorities concerned. However, if Mrs Cesira Ton wants to go back to Mauritius to visit her family, she can apply, before her trip, with the necessary justification,” Denis Cangy, the Mauritian consul in Italy, wrote. “Generally speaking, the people on the blacklist are foreign people that, for one reason or another, have broken Mauritian law, and they are always informed of this by the local Authorities, at the time of repatriation. So, they are aware of the crime they have committed. However, if a person claims not to know the reason for his repatriation, he can always write directly to the Prime Minister’s Office, or through the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry, to ask for information about his case.”

Translated by Prof. Rolf cookinfo@ssml.va.it

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

North Africa


Morocco: Press Accreditation Suspended for Al Jazeera Staff

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, OCTOBER 29 — The Moroccan Ministry of Information withdrew the press accreditation today for the staff of satellite TV station Al Jazeera and suspended their activity, reports MAP, which cited a statement from the Communications Ministry in Rabat. According to the Moroccan authorities, the decision was made “due to numerous violations of the rules in the practice of serious and responsible journalism”. The programmes of the satellite network continued to be broadcast regularly throughout the country. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



‘Yacoubian Palace’ Translated in Hebrew, Author Complains

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, 28 OTT — No relation with Israel, not even cultural, or with pacifist organisations with better intentions. Such is, coupled by threats of international legal actions, today’s piqued reply of Egyptian doctor and writer Alaa Al Aswany to the report of an imminent distribution in Hebrew, not agreed with his person, of his best known novel, Yacoubian Palace.

The dispute, which had been smouldering for some time, could end up in a full-blown legal action because of the initiative taken by the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), a meritorious cultural institution that promotes dialogue between Israel and Palestine, peace and a greater dissemination of Arab culture in the Hebrew State. After being interested in Al Aswany’s work for some time, the Centre (after having failed to establish contact) decided in recent days to carry out a self-produced translation of Yacoubian Palace (a best seller in Arab literature during recent years that has already been published in half the world and made into a successful film) with the stated ambition of “also offering to the Israelis the privilege of reading a great novel”.

The copies in Hebrew (according to unconfirmed reports, but already delivered by e-mail to IPCRI members) will be distributed free of charge and in limited edition, for now restricted to members only.

However, from Cairo, the author wasted no time in airing his wrath. The is a trained dentist who studied and lived in the USA for many years and who in the last decade also published another successful novel named Chicago.

Asked about the matter, Al Aswany (who is also a political activist and visceral anti-Zionist and one of the founding members of Kefaya, the radical opposition movement against the regime of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak) lashed out against the project and the breach of copyright. He stated that “This is a theft and an act of piracy, I want nothing to do with Israel and I will report the event through lawyers to the International Union of Editors”.

The hostile positions of Alaa Al Aswany against the Jewish State, which have been often repeated, include the rejection of the historical peace agreement between Egypt and Israel signed time ago by Sadat and Begin. Recently the writer was quoted by Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot when he stated that “I want no contact with you people, because this would mean promoting normalisation. An I oppose any form of cooperation with Israel”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Obama ‘To Turn on Israel After Midterm Elections’

Netanyahu purportedly ‘shaking from fear’ of president’s policies

JERUSALEM — Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “shaking from fear” about the policies that President Obama will enact toward Israel after this week’s midterm elections, a senior Palestinian Authority official told WND. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands on a hill overlooking the Gaza Strip during a visit to the southern Israeli city of Sderot on September 21, 2010. UPI/David Buimovitch/Pool Photo via Newscom

The PA official, as well as security sources in Egypt and Jordan, said they heard from the Obama administration an outline of a series of moves to pressure Israel after the Nov. 2 vote.

Among the moves would be holding back support for Israel when it comes to future resolutions condemning the Jewish state at the United Nations.

Also, the U.S. is likely to tacitly back a Palestinian threat to unilaterally declare a state at the U.N. Security Council if Netanyahu fails to reach an agreement with the PA.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Talks: US Suggests ‘Renting’ Jordan Valley to Israel

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 1 — The United States has proposed to Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu that — as part of definitive peace accords with the Palestinians — Israel be allowed to “rent” the Jordan Valley for security reasons. This was reported on military radio, which claimed that Netanyahu had not rejected the idea. The broadcaster learned that the plan for Palestinians to rent out the strategic Jordan Valley — a sort of filter to stop weapons smuggling towards the West Bank — was discussed two months ago on US initiative by Netanyahu with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. According to the US, an adequate period for the arranging of the accords is seven years, but Netanyahu — according to the broadcaster — would like a much longer period, lasting a number of decades. No reports were given on Mahmoud Abbas’s position on the matter. Another important point for Israel concerning the Jordan Valley is due to its topographical depression, hundreds of metres below sea level. Military control of the valley would make it possible for Israeli forces to deal with enemy forces intending to attack through Jordanian territory on relatively favourable territory. If the forces were to instead reach the heights of the West Bank, they would not have any other physical obstacles between them and the Israeli coastline where most of the population is concentrated. A Labour Minister, Avishay Braverman, immediately spoke in favour of the US idea. “The important thing,” he told the radio station, “is that following the mid-term elections in the United States, Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resume as early as possible and with the maximum level of determination.” Next week Netanyahu will be on a visit to the United States to take part in a congress of major Jewish organisations, and will be meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East


Air Freight From Yemen and Somalia Banned

Unaccompanied freight flown to the UK from Somalia as well as Yemen will be banned in the wake of the cargo plane bombs, the home secretary has told MPs.

The move was based on possible contact between al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali terrorist groups, Theresa May said.

Toner cartridges over 500g will also be banned from hand baggage on UK flights.

There was no information another attack was imminent, she said, but she confirmed a review of all aspects of air freight security.

Mrs May was speaking to MPs in the Commons after a meeting of the government’s emergency planning committee Cobra.

It met on Monday following Friday’s discovery of a bomb on a US-bound UPS cargo plane at East Midlands airport and a similar bomb on a FedEx plane in Dubai.

The explosive contained in the device was found after a tip-off and was not picked up by initial screening.

Investigators at East Midlands carried out a re-examination as a precaution and the bomb was found hidden in a printer cartridge posted in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Al Qaeda Supergrass Foiled Cargo Jet ‘Printer Bombs’ With Eight Times Amount of Explosive Needed to Down Plane

A former Guantanamo Bay detainee and Al Qaeda fighter turned supergrass to provide spymasters with the crucial tip-off that led to the discovery of the ‘ink bombs.’

Saudi-born Jabr Jabran al-Faifi, who has changed allegiances three times, is said to be providing a ‘wealth of intelligence’ after suddenly turning his back on the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which orchestrated the plot aimed at exploding bombs on cargo planes.

In mid-October, he returned to Saudi Arabia after operating for more than two years in the heart of the Yemen-based terror group said to pose a major threat to Britain and her allies, and revealed details of the plan for Lockerbie-style attacks.

He is also said to have named key figures in Al Qaeda’s operation and told how they are targeting foreign recruits, including Britons, to train in terror techniques before sending them back to their homeland.

The development came as it emerged the two bombs contained 300 and 400 grams of explosive PETN, German officials revealed.

Just 50 grams are needed to blast an aircraft out of the sky.

In an extraordinary move, 35-year-old al-Faifi secretly contacted the Saudi authorities from Yemen and a handover was arranged through officials in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

‘We led him step by step until he reached Yemeni security forces based on our instructions,’ Saudi interior spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said today.

Al-Faifi was one of a group of former prisoners at the controversial US run Guantanamo prison who had returned to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation in December 2006 but then escaped to Yemen and returned to Al Qaeda two years later despite completing the reform programme.

Saudi officials say he was one of 11 from 117 Saudi Guantanamo returnees who rejoined Al Qaeda after undergoing the rehab programme. He had been held in Guantanamo on allegations he trained and fought with Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001.

US Defence Department documents say one of his aliases was on a captured computer and that in November-December 2001 he was in the Tora Bora area of Afghanistan where Osama Bin Laden and other senior Al Qaeda and Taliban figures were at one stage trapped.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



How Iraqi Politicians Get Paid $1,000 a Minute, Don’t Make Laws and Live it Up for Free at Baghdad’s Finest Hotel

Politicians in Iraq have raked in more than $1,000 a minute for working just TWENTY minutes this year.

They picked up a fee of $90,000 and a monthly salary of $22,500 a month for doing next to nothing and staying free in Baghdad’s finest hotel.

Their lavish perks and salaries emerged as the 325 lawmakers prepared to hold second parliamentary session since the election last March.

But there is growing resentment among ordinary Iraqis struggling to make ends meet that politicians are living the high life.

A mid-level government employee makes around $600 a month and ordinary people lack basic services like water and electricity.

A politician’s basic monthly salary is $10,000 — just $4,500 short of that of rank-and-file members of the U.S. Congress.

In addition, an MP gets a $12,500 monthly allowance for housing and security arrangements, for a combined total of $22,500. They also get to spend nights free at Baghdad’s Rasheed Hotel in the relatively safe environment of the Green Zone, regardless of whether parliament is in session. And they collect a $600 per day when traveling inside or out of Iraq.

Once out of office, they get 80 percent of their salary monthly for life, and for eight years they can keep the diplomatic passports that they — and often their families — are issued.

Since June, when the lawmakers first met for 20 minutes, Iraq’s second elected parliament since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime has failed to convene.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Iraq: 58 Die in Siege on Baghdad Catholic Church

Militants armed with grenades took about 120 Christians hostage

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s dwindling Christian community was grieving and afraid on Monday after militants seized a Baghdad church during evening Mass, held the congregation hostage and triggered a raid by Iraqi security forces. The bloodbath left at least 58 people dead and 78 wounded — nearly everyone inside.

The attack, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked organization, was the deadliest ever recorded against Iraq’s Christians, whose numbers have plummeted since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as the community has fled to other countries.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Pope Denounces Anti-Christian Violence

Death toll from Iraq church siege rises to 50

(ANSA) — Vatican City, November 1 — Pope Benedict XVI on Monday denounced a wave of anti-Christian violence in the Middle East after some 50 people were killed and 80 wounded in a Catholic church in Baghdad Sunday when security forces took on insurgent hostage-takers.

The pope appealed to the international community to do more against the “absurd” violence against Christians in the region, which has seen an exodus of non-Islamic minorities over the past years.

Christians, who a century ago represented almost a quarter of the Middle East’s inhabitants, have now been reduced to less than 6% of the total population.

Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq are among the worst affected countries.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini last week told a Rome synod (meeting) of Middle Eastern bishops that Italy aims to lead efforts to stem the tide of violence and departures.

He called on European Union countries to back a resolution, proposed by Italy at the United Nations, to take “more concrete” steps to support the region’s religious minorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey: Tax on Alcoholic Beverages Up by 30%

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, OCTOBER 29 — The lump-sum private consumption tax (OTV or VAT) on alcoholic beverages was raised from 25.1% to 30% after a Cabinet decree announcing the increase was published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, as local media report. The increase in the taxes was expected because the central administration budget for 2011 had set a target of 3.8 billion Turkish Liras (1.9 billion euros) in revenue from the collection of taxes on alcoholic beverages. With the new tax regulation, the OTV on a liter of the traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage, raki, went up to TL 51.48 from TL 39.60 (from 19.80 to 25.75 euros) and from TL 44 to TL 57.20 (from 22 to 28.60 euros) on gin and vodka. Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek defended the tax rise on liquor saying “We did not do it for more revenue. We did it for the health of our people.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Turkey Not Partner But Owner of NATO, FM Says

Turkey is not a partner, but an owner of NATO, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoðlu said Saturday, adding that an agreement within the multi-national alliance is as important as an accord within the European Union.

Speaking to a small group of journalists en route from Xi’an to Shanghai as part of his weeklong China trip, Davutoðlu related a story about how a foreign minister from an EU member state referred to Turkey as an “important partner” during a meeting involving European security and defense policy.

“I took the floor after him in the same meeting and said that we are not a partner here, but an owner. We are an owner of NATO. We are not a partner,” the Turkish foreign minister said.

“I told my colleague the hat that should be worn in this meeting should belong to NATO and if he wants to speak with his EU hat on, he should go to another street in Brussels,” Davutoðlu added.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is believed to be the EU colleague to whom Davutoðlu was referring.

“That was a pleasant discussion. My friend came later saying he had been misunderstood and we hugged,” the Turkish foreign minister added.

Turkey is not a member state in the EU, but a candidate country that began formal accession talks in 2005. The country has, however, been a member of NATO since 1952. Most recently, Ankara has been the subject of discussions over a potential NATO missile-defense system originally proposed by the United States during the Bush administration. It is unclear whether Turkey will actively participate in the proposed system directed against Iran, which much of the international community considers a threat due to its controversial nuclear program.

In discussing the plans, Davutoðlu first said calling the proposed system a “missile shield” was incorrect both technically and politically.

“Missile shield, missile wars, where will Turkey be in this war? The discussions within NATO are not about this at all,” he said. Davutoðlu added that the focus at the recent Brussels meeting of NATO foreign and defense ministers was more about NATO-EU cooperation, which he said did not have ramifications in Turkey.

Turkey not alone, but at the center of NATO

Davutoðlu then clarified the basic three principles in Ankara’s policy toward the NATO missile-defense system.

“First of all, Turkey is not a country that has to be convinced by NATO. Turkey is not alone; Turkey is at the center of NATO,” he said.

The foreign minister then gave another example from a different international meeting where Turkey’s role in NATO was being questioned.

“I gave a similar reaction in this debate too. If one [official from a member state] asks if the alliance is losing Turkey, this is an insult to Turkey… Every matter is discussed in NATO together. Turkey’s position should be taken into consideration here,” he said. “NATO regularly reviews its security defense concept as a whole and takes necessary measures as a security organization. It is out of the question for Turkey to oppose these measures.”

While explaining the country’s second principle, the foreign minister said NATO should take into account the principle of “indivisible security,” meaning that the alliance should preserve each and every member state’s security.

“An understanding of exclusion of certain regions of Turkey [from the proposed defense system] cannot be accepted. Turkey should entirely be protected,” he said. “The essence of the focus is the security of member states and only the security of member states.”

‘Turkey will not be a frontier’

In explaining the third principle, Davutoðlu said Turkey does perceive any threat in its neighborhood and does not plan to be a frontier country as it was during the Cold War era.

“Turkey is not in a position to be a frontier country. NATO, while doing threat planning on this issue, should cover all member states and should remain outside any formula that would geographically set one country against another,” he said…

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]



Yemen President: Foreign Forces Not Welcome

Faced with mounting international pressure to do more, the leadership in Yemen is sending out a message that it will not allow the West to run its counter-terror drive against Al-Qaeda.

During his late Saturday press conference, Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh stressed that Sana’a would not permit foreign forces to undertake counter-terrorism operations on Yemeni soil. He added that Yemen would continue to participate in the war against terrorism, but in accordance with its “national potential,” state-run Saba news agency reported.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Caucasus


Chechnya: Suspected Militant Blows Himself Up With Grenade, Wounding 9 Police

A militant rebel in the country’s volatile North Caucasus region blew himself up Monday with a homemade grenade, wounding nine police officers, two critically, police said. The incident occurred in Chechnya as a raid on a rebel hideout was near completion, police spokesman Magomed Khamchiyev told The Associated Press. Khamchiyev said the militant detonated an improvised grenade when police approached after an exchange of fire. The rebel died instantly. Police and security forces are in a constant battle with separatist rebels fighting to throw off Moscow’s rule in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus. In the nearby Kabardino-Balkaria province, an officer was killed in a nighttime shooting by unidentified assailants in masks, police said.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Churches Set Ablaze in Russia’s Muslim Caucasus

Three churches were set ablaze on Monday in Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus region where Moscow is trying to tame a spreading Islamist insurgency. Two Russian Orthodox churches and one Baptist Church were set alight in the predominantly Muslim province of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Russian news agencies said, adding no one was hurt in the attacks. “An unknown group of people set fire to the Russian Orthodox church in the village of Ordzhonikidze, it is practically completely burnt,” Interfax reported, citing Kazim Baybanov, a spokesman for the local ministry of interior affairs. Vandalism of churches is rare in Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucasus, where Christian communities live amongst Muslims.

A decade after Moscow drove separatists out of power in Chechnya in the second of two wars, the North Caucasus is plagued by near-daily violence. Youths angry about poverty and fuelled by the global ideology of jihad (holy war) are fighting for an independent state separate from predominantly Christian Russia, where they want to establish Sharia, Islamic law.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Afghanistan: Russia/US Operation Seizes $250 Mln Worth of Heroin

Kabul, 29 Oct. (AKI) — Russia and the United States together conducted anti-drug raids in Afghanistan that seized almost 100 kilograms of heroin with a street value of 250 million dollars, according to the head of the Russian drug control agency.

“It was a very important junction of drug trafficking located around five kilometres from Pakistan,” said Victor Ivanov, who added that preparation for took three months.

The Thursday morning raids of four drug laboratories was conducted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the US Department of Defense, NATO, the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior and the Russian drug control agency.

Russia has an estimated 2.5 million heroin addicts and has accused Afghanistan — by far the world’s biggest producer of heroin — of doing nothing to stem the trade.

Last year there were 30,000 fatal overdoes in Russia the narcotic with Afghan provenance, according to Russia’s drug enforcement agency.

Ivanov said the operation involved about 70 personnel from Russia and the US — including four Russian counter-narcotics agents — backed up by attack helicopters.

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

Far East


China — Japan — USA: Hanoi Summit: Beijing’s Harsh Accusations Against Japan

During the ASEAN summit, Clinton reaffirms the U.S. commitment to resolving the maritime territorial disputes between the two states. China feels called into question, accusing Tokyo of “untruths” over the Diaoyu Islands. Icy relations between the two countries, ahead of today’s meeting between the two prime ministers.

Hanoi (AsiaNews / Agencies) — In a strong accusation Beijing says Japan has made “untrue statements” after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had invited them to address territorial disputes “through dialogue”. Beijing sees this as interference in the dispute over the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu to Chinese) in the East China Sea. Hu Zhengyu, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister, warned that “Japan will be responsible for all consequences.”

The summit of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN, including Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia) being held in Hanoi expanded to include China, Japan, USA and other countries, provided a platform for a rapprochement between China and Japan, following the serious conflict that erupted in September over these islands, uninhabited but rich in fish stocks and energy sources. In fact, the two countries had announced that their premiers Wen Jiabao and Naoto Kan would have the first formal meeting since the crisis began. Today the two met briefly. In the meantime, Clinton has commented that “the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation and commerce without legal obstacles” and that the U.S. “are involved in the resolution [of maritime territorial disputes] through peaceful means based on international law customary law”.

Previously, China had repeatedly stated that the maritime territorial disputes regard the States involved and it would not tolerate the judgements of a third party over its territorial integrity. Instead the U.S. have repeatedly shown they want to support the Vietnamese call for international arbitration in its dispute, always with China, over the sovereignty of other islands (the Spratly and Paracel islands).

Clinton did not mention this directly, but on October 28 met with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara reaffirming loyalty to the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

Ma Zhaoxu, portavoce del ministro cinese degli Esteri, ha subito risposto che “il governo e il popolo cinese non accetteranno mai qualsiasi parola o documenti che comprenda le isole Diaoyu dentro i fini del Trattato Usa-Giappone”. “Le isole Diaoyu sono parte integrante del territorio cinese sin da epoca antica. La Cina ha un’indubitabile sovranità sulle isole”. Ci sono state accuse a Tokyo di volere “avvelenare” l’atmosfera del summit.

Il Giappone ha espresso sconcerto e sorpresa e il portavoce nipponico Noriyuki Shikata ha subito commentato che le parole cinesi sono “prive di fondamento” e ha invitato alla calma e a riprendere il dialogo.

But Zhaoxu, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry immediately responded that “the government and the Chinese people will never accept any words or documents that includes the Diaoyu Islands in the US-Japan Treaty “. “The Diaoyu Islands are an integral part of Chinese territory since ancient times. China has, undoubtedly, sovereignty over the islands”. There have also been allegations that Tokyo is attempting to “poison” the atmosphere of the summit.

Japan has expressed its shock and surprise. Japanese spokesman Noriyuki Shikata commented that the Chinese words are “groundless” and called for calm and a resumption of dialogue.

Previously, the Clinton administration had also noted that “While the United States agrees that no country can impose its values on others, we do believe that certain values are universal — and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Human rights are in everyone’s interest”. An intervention considered directed at China to respect human rights and the position of the Nobel Peace Laureate, Chinese Lu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for crimes of opinion.

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



China Plans Manned Space Station by 2020

China has announced its intention to complete construction of a “relatively large” manned space station by around 2020. The existence of the programme suggests Beijing has decided against collaborating with other space-faring nations to join the International Space Station already in orbit around the earth.

“After the construction of the space station, China’s three-step manned space programme will be complete,” a spokesman said. The mission will “promote China’s scientific and technological progress and innovation, enhance overall national strength and make an important contribution to raising national prestige”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


Australia: Man Grabs 12ft Shark by Tail to Stop it Attacking Teenage Female Diver… And Then Disappears

A shy hero who grabbed a shark’s tail and pulled it from a young woman diver as her blood filled the water said today: ‘All I want is the girl to be OK.’

The man declined to give his name or speak further about his courageous actions, but other divers said he had probably saved 19-year-old Elyse Frankcom’s life after the 12ft shark had bitten into her hip.

As she sank to the bottom of the sea, off the coast of Western Australia, the anonymous snorkeller grabbed the shark’s tail and pulled it until it let go and swam away.

Frank Pisani, senior skipper for Fremantle Sea Rescue, said the attack by the unidentified shark south of Perth could have been fatal had it not been for the actions of the snorkeller.

‘It had brushed him aside — and he’s a fairly large male — as it attacked the young woman. So he grabbed its tail and this caused the shark to swim away.

‘The girl then started to sink to the bottom and he grabbed her and brought her to the surface and got her back onboard the cruise boat she had been on.

‘She was suffering from very deep and wide puncture wounds but it could have been worse had it not been for the actions of this man.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Suspected Acid Attack on Mum, Young Son

A 25-year-old and her six-year-old son are in hospital in Melbourne on Monday night after liquid believed to be acid was thrown on their faces.

The woman answered a knock at the door shortly before 8pm (AEDT) and the liquid chemical was then thrown on her and her son by an unknown man who fled, Northcote police Sergeant Edwina Neale said.

The substance was also thrown on the woman’s car at the bottom of a block of public housing flats in High St, Northcote, in Melbourne’s north.

The woman and the boy suffered facial burns and were taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital.

“I am not sure about the extent of the injuries but they both were experiencing burning sensations, their faces were red and the ambulance workers were washing their eyes out with water,” Sgt Neale told AAP.

Police were still investigating if the victim and offender knew each other but the man knew which car belonged to the woman and had also damaged it, she said.

The man is described as tall and thin, wearing a dark coloured hooded jumper.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Latin America


Brazil’s First Female President: Rousseff Wants to Build on Economic Success

Brazil’s first female leader, Dilma Rousseff, may not have the charisma of her mentor Lula, but she does have a clear message: She wants to further boost the flourishing economy, to eradicate the poverty plaguing parts of the country and to deepen ties with top emerging economies — not with the US or Europe.

Dilma Rousseff appears before the international press corps wearing a white suit. “I want to be the president of all Brazilians!” she proclaimed, stretching her hand out in gesture to the opposition, as if handing them an olive branch. After a campaign that at times turned dirty, and in which she took several low blows, it was an encouraging symbol.

Rousseff, 62, is the first female leader of South America’s largest country. At her election party, she found the right tone with some simple words.

Rousseff is not a woman of fiery speeches and she doesn’t have the charisma or rhetorical talent of political star Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. And on this night, her political mentor doesn’t make a showing at the hotel in Brasilia — he doesn’t want to steal the limelight from Rousseff. “He thinks that today is her party,” a spokesman for Lula announced. “The president won’t be making any statement today.”

In her first speech as president-elect, Rousseff mentioned the importance of freedom of opinion twice. “I would rather have the noise of the press than the silence of a dictator!” she said. During the era of the military dictatorship in the 1970s, the ex-guerrilla was placed under arrest for several years and tortured.

Rousseff also said she didn’t want to engage in any war against the Brazilian press and that she didn’t want to muzzle journalists in the way that her left-wing populist counterparts in Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have sought to do. But she said that the commentators at the country’s powerful television station TV Globo, which have fairly openly favored opposition candidate José Serra, should also show respect.

Like Lula and his predecessor Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Rousseff — the daughter of Bulgarian immigrants — belongs to the generation of those who fought against the dictatorship. They may have been of different political persuasions but they were all dyed-in-the-wool democrats.

Brazil’s transformation from a fettered giant to a country of hope with aspirations to become a major world power didn’t begin with Lula. The transformation has its roots in 1994, the year the country introduced the real as its currency. At the time, social democrat Cardoso succeeded in getting a country that had been shaken to its core by hyperinflation and explosive debt back on track through economic and finance policy reforms.

Lula Gave a Voice to Millions of Poor

Lula continued with Cardosa’s stability policies and added an overdue social welfare component to them. Lula’s major contribution to society as a statesman was that he gave a voice to the millions of poor and brought marginalized people back to the fold — all without alienating the country’s ruling elite. That’s also why, at the end of his term, he enjoys an approval rating of more than 80 percent.

Rousseff’s election victory is testament to how democracy in Brazil has matured, despite all the defects that still remain. Elections in Brazil now run smoother and more securely than in the United States and the electronic voting system is regarded as exemplary world wide. The fact that in a Catholic country a divorced woman could take the top job is a sign of a functioning democracy — in the past it would have been unthinkable.

So what awaits Brazil in the Rousseff era? Even on her victory night she was already giving indications about her economic strategy: Former Minister of Finance Antonio Palocci was sitting beside her in the car as she traveled to her first appearance as president-elect. He is expected to be the central figure in her cabinet and may well become finance minister or Rousseff’s chief of staff. Rousseff intends to revive Brazil’s economic miracle…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration


Australia: Immigration Minister Chris Bowen’s Secret Visit to Inverbrackie

THE Immigration Minister toured the controversial Inverbrackie Detention Centre in secret this morning, then avoided angry Woodside by holding a press conference 20km away.

Two weeks after surprising locals and even Premier Mike Rann by announcing plans for the controversial detention centre, Mr Bowen visited the Adelaide Hills to meet community leaders and announce the formation of a community reference group.

The group includes vocal critics of the plan, such as resident Briohny Pitts and Woodside Commerce Association spokesman Doug Mansell. It will advise the Department of Immigration on community issues but has no specific powers.

Mr Bowen toured the Inverbrackie site before the meeting and defended his decision not to notify the media or any locals beforehand.

“There’s nothing secret about it, but when I go through centres, it is not as a media event,” he said.

“I go there as a fact-finding mission for myself.”

He avoided the main street of nearby Woodside, where many locals are angry at the Government’s decision, and travelled 20km to Stirling to meet members of the newly formed Inverbrackie Community Reference Group.

He also said there was no bushfire action plan for the detention centre, in case of a catastrophic bushfire day, but one would be prepared by the time asylum seekers were living there in the second half of December.

Lobethal resident and detention centre opponent Daniel Kelly was not invited to the meeting but parked outside the Adelaide Hills Council chambers in his ute, which prominently displayed a sign saying: “No Julia! Not Inverbrackie. Try Warradale.”

“It’s not a matter of fear, it’s just common sense,” he said. “It’s going to make it very attractive to people overseas who want to jump the queue and do the same thing.

“It’s five-star accommodation compared to where they’re coming from.”

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said Mr Bowen should hold public forums in Woodside rather than conduct a closed-door meeting in Stirling.

“He should be prepared to answer questions from the community broadly rather than this sterilised form of consultation that has only been done under sufferance,” he said.

Mr Morrison, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and local federal MP Jamie Briggs are expected to hold a public meeting in Woodside tomorrow.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Australia: Agents Market Asylum Dream

ON Tuesday last week, 17-year-old Zabih received the phone call he has been dreaming of from his cousin in Australia.

“He told me that Afghans have suffered a lot but finally things are getting better for them now that your government is allowing asylum-seekers and families to live in the community,” the affable young Afghan refugee told The Australian at his family’s restaurant in suburban Islamabad.

Zabih’s family had already applied unsuccessfully for legal refugee status in Australia. Now he believes the asylum-seeker route is their best option.

On the same day, in a different part of Islamabad, a Pakistani father with a sick daughter sat down with a trusted travel agent and began plotting his family’s asylum path to Australia.

“This man told me his daughter requires a kidney operation that’s going to cost 3.5 million Pakistani rupees ($140,000) so he plans to apply for a visa (on medical grounds) for his family and when he gets to Australia he will seek asylum and then healthcare for his daughter is free,” said the travel agent, who asked to remain anonymous.

He didn’t know whether the father knew about Julia Gillard’s new compassionate asylum-seeker policies, which will allow many families to live freely in the community, send their children to school and draw a Centrelink allowance.

But he added: “Last year he was planning to apply to Canada. Now he says as an Ahmadi Muslim (an Islamic sect considered heresy across Pakistan) it is an easy process to get a refugee visa in Australia. He said he was 96 per cent sure he will get asylum.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]



Sarrazin Wants ‘Terms’ For Migrants to Live in Germany

The former member of the German Central Bank’s executive board who sparked a fierce debate on immigration and integration issues with his controversial book has proposed “new conditions” for immigrants who want to live in the country. Those who force their daughters to wear headscarves or to marry their relatives have no place in Germany, Thilo Sarrazin said over the weekend.

Speaking to Germany’s Bild am Sonntag late last week, Sarrazin proposed severely limiting family reunification laws for immigrants, excluding the incorporation of immigrants’ children into the social welfare system.

“In my opinion, the option for relatives to follow an immigrant and be integrated into our social welfare system attracts the wrong kind of migrants,” he said, calling for the termination of social services for immigrants on a long-term basis or even permanently.

He also proposed removing Turkish or Arabic signs at public offices to “implement a whole new level of pressure on people to learn German.”

“The head of a household who speaks the German language but hinders his family from learning it has no business living in Germany. Those who prefer Turkish television programs to German, because they are on the war path with our language, have no business being in Germany,” he said.

Immigration summit

Calling a government-backed integration summit to take place Wednesday “pointless,” Sarrazin said that if the integration problems were to be solved then there should be harsh measures.

“That is impossible in roundtables based on consensus,” he said, referring to Wednesday’s summit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited 115 envoys from immigrant associations, politics, sports and the economy to the summit, which aims to focus on language, education, the labor market and local integration policy. On Saturday Merkel called for more skilled immigrant workers in the country’s civil service in her weekly podcast.

Sarazzin also countered German President Christian Wulff’s statement that Islam was an integral part of Germany, saying German culture had developed without any influence from Islam and that 4 million Muslims in Germany had not changed anything in that regard.

“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan has warned Turks in Germany not to integrate. And Christianity was and is barely tolerated [in Turkey]. The [German] president has poured sugar over these rather negative conditions,” he said.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


BBC Accused of Neglecting Christianity as it Devotes Air Time to Pagan Festival

The BBC has been criticised for extensive coverage of a pagan festival to mark Halloween and accused of neglecting Christianity.

The corporation’s 24-hour news channel devoted considerable time to the celebrations in a riverside meadow where witches gathered to celebrate mark Samhain, the turning of the year from light to dark.

Dressed in hooded gowns, women were seen standing in a circle around a cauldron while ritualistic acts were conducted.

Diane Narraway, the coven leader, knelt before a ram’s head to say goodbye to the goddess of light while a broom was used to sweep a sacred circle in the grass.

As well as a clip of the event, the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott wrote a long posting on the website.

The festival was described on the BBC’s News website as part of the country’s ‘newest religion’ after the Charity Commission granted religious status to druids last month.

Christian leaders reacted with anger to the coverage, which was the fourth item on BBC One news at 6pm last night, and said it was yet another example of marginalising Christianity and giving undue airtime to other beliefs.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Halloween ‘Pagan’ Says Church Group

‘Don’t trample on our culture,’ bishop says

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 29 — Halloween is pagan and against the spirit of Christianity, an influential Catholic Church group said Friday.

Chiming in with the Vatican’s annual warnings on the festival, the (Pope) John XXIII Association said: “Halloween was born as the perpetuation of a pagan cult which evolved over time and linked up with esoteric and occult practices”.

“We are faced with a sort of revival of neopaganism which, as such, is in open contrast with the spirit of Christianity”.

“Does our society really need all these messages exalting horror,” asked the association’s head, Giovanni Paolo Ramonda.

“At a time which should be devoted to the holy memory of our saints and souls, people unthinkingly set up ‘noir’ banquets, crime dinners and afternoons for children in macabre masks.

“Everyone should be reminded that Halloween comes from an ancient pagan ritual in the British Isles practised by the Druids, the Celts’ ferocious priestly caste”.

The bishop of the southern Italian town of Locri, Msgr Giuseppe Fiorini Morosini, intends to alert his flock of the dangers they face with a message to be read out in all parishes on Sunday, October 31.

“Halloween is not a part of our culture. We aren’t against kids having fun but enjoyment cannot be pursued by destroying our holiest traditions and trampling on our culture. Death cannot be celebrated, instilling horror and dread”.

The Northern League party, which jealously guards northern Italy’s Celtic past, also came out against the feast this year, accusing it of being “inauthentic”.

“Halloween is not part of our identity,” said the Northern League’s mayor of the town of Calalzo di Cadore, Luca De Carlo.

Meanwhile Italian police said they would “raise their guard” this year against anyone planning to desecrate churchyards or morgues or stage occult rites in abandoned buildings.

“We have found dead animals in caves in the past and we shall be particularly vigilant against any private associations which are a cover for Satanic groups,” said a Rome police spokesman.

POPULARITY RISING.

Halloween is not a traditional date on the Italian calendar but has been growing in popularity in recent years, with trick-or-treating becoming more common and pumpkin sales rising.

Codacons, a consumer group, said some 10 million Italians will be celebrating the festival this year, with a turnover estimated at some 300 million euros ($420 million).

More than a million pumpkins are sold over the holiday while fancy-dress shops whose traditional bonanza used to come at Carnival time in February now make a killing in masks, costumes and accessories.

One place in Italy has a much longer Halloween history.

A small town in the southeastern region of Puglia, Orsara di Puglia, has been celebrating it for the past 1,000 years.

According to local historians, the only real difference between the American tradition and the town’s version of Halloween is the date.

Halloween, a secular take on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31, but in Orsara di Puglia the pumpkins come out on the evening between November 1 (All Saints Day) and Nov 2 (All Souls Day).

Hollowed-out and candle-lit pumpkins are placed outside homes on the evening of All Saints Day to keep away evil spirits and witches.

Townsfolks also light huge bonfires in the streets so as to illuminate the path of souls on their way to Purgatory.

Historians have traced Orsara’s tradition back to a short-lived 8th-century incursion by a Germanic people, the Longobards, who in more northern parts supplanted older civilisations and reigned as the Lombards.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Netherlands: Homophobic Attacks Increasingly Making Headlines

Homophobic incidents have increasingly been making the news in the Netherlands — once so proud of its international reputation for tolerance. Recently in the central city of Utrecht, homophobic threats and abuse drove a lesbian couple, a gay couple and a transgender woman from their homes. However, there are no reliable figures showing an increase in homophobic attacks.

René Tigges, a 40-year-old gay man, recently moved to Utrecht, unperturbed by the recent reports. He lives in a multicultural neighbourhood and has no intention of changing his behaviour. For example, he doesn’t worry about who’s watching when he kisses a male friend goodbye in the street.

“I just stay myself. If I’m in the street with a gay friend or if I walk him to the station, for instance, then I say goodbye just like anyone else would. I don’t start looking round, thinking ‘Oh, who’s watching, oh no, I shouldn’t do it, because someone might say something.’ No.”

Kissing Three kisses on the cheek is a normal greeting in the Netherlands, also between urban heterosexual men. Nevertheless kissing between men can draw horrified reactions from young Dutch Moroccans. And it is against such young men that complaints of homophobic abuse are most frequently directed.

One young Moroccan in Utrecht claims gay men only have themselves to blame. “They draw attention to themselves, act a bit disgusting. It’s not on, is it? If you’re doing your shopping then you start kissing. It’s disrespectful, isn’t it? Yes, it’s a provocation, you know what I mean. Man-woman, okay, but you’ve got to show a bit of respect.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Woman’ Accused of Transgender Tube Murder is Actually a Man Undergoing a Sex Change

A man accused of pushing a transgender human rights lawyer under a Tube train is in the process of becoming a woman, a court heard today.

Unshaven Nina Kanagasingham, 34, of Chichele Road, Cricklewood, north-west London, appeared at the Old Bailey today charged with the murder of David Burgess — also known as Sonia.

This is the first time since his arrest that it has been revealed Kanagasingham is actually a man.

Judge Timothy Pontius asked: ‘This defendant is in the process of undergoing a sex change. Has it been completed?’

He was told it had not, and that the defendant wished to be referred to as Nina.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Cameron Won’t Make Me a Minister… I’m a White, Married, Home Counties Christian, Says Tory MP

A new Tory MP has made a scathing attack on David Cameron for promoting women and people from the ethnic minorities over ‘white, Christian, married’ men.

John Glen, the party’s former head of research, said his background effectively ruled him out for a ministerial job under Mr Cameron.

He said: ‘I don’t anticipate any early calls to Government. I’m a white, Christian, married bloke from the Home Counties so I probably don’t fit the description of what the leadership wants at the moment.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



UK: Christian Couple Barred From Fostering Children Because of Their Views on Homosexuality Go to Court

Gay rights laws are eroding Christianity and stifling free speech, Church of England bishops warned yesterday.

Senior clerics, including former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, spoke out ahead of a High Court ‘clash of rights’ hearing over whether Christians are fit to foster or adopt children.

The test case starting today involves a couple who say they have been barred from fostering because they refuse to give up their religious belief that homosexuality is unacceptable.

Supporters hope their legal challenge will set a precedent for the rights of Christians to foster children without compromising their faith.

But senior bishops fear that if the ruling goes against them, it could have devastating consequences for those with religious beliefs.

Either way, they believe the case will determine whether Christians can continue to express their beliefs in this country.

In an open letter, they warned that Labour’s equality laws put homosexual rights over those of others, ‘even though the Office for National Statistics has subsequently shown homosexuals to be just one in 66 of the population’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Why is Sexual Harassment in Egypt So Rampant?

Young, old, foreign, Egyptian, poor, middleclass, or wealthy, it doesn’t matter. Dressed in hijab, niqab, or western wear, it doesn’t matter.

If you are a woman living in Cairo, chances are you have been sexually harassed. It happens on the streets, on crowded buses, in the workplace, in schools, and even in a doctor’s office.

According to a 2008 survey of 1,010 women conducted by the Egyptian Center for Women’s rights, 98 percent of foreign women and 83 percent of Egyptian women have been sexually harassed.

I know, it has happened to me. Last week, I was walking home from dinner when a carload of young men raced by me and screamed out “Sharmouta” (whore in Arabic.)

Before I could respond, they were gone, but I noticed policemen nearby bursting with laughter. I am old enough to be those boys’ mother, I thought.

This incident was minor compared to what happened in 1994, shortly after I moved here. It was winter, and I was walking home from the office, dressed in a big, baggy sweater, and jacket. A man walked up to me, reached out, and casually grabbed my breast.

In a flash, I understood what the expression to “see red” meant. I grabbed him by the collar and punched him hard in the face. I held on to him, and let out a stream of expletives. His face grew pale, and he started to shake. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he whispered.

But the satisfaction of striking back quickly dissipated. By the time I walked away, I was feeling dirty and humiliated. After a couple of years enduring this kind harassment, I pretty much stopped walking to and from work.

Of course, harassment comes in many forms. It can be nasty words, groping, being followed or stalked, lewd, lascivious looks, and indecent exposure.

At times it can be dangerous. This is what a friend told me happened to her: “I remember I was walking on the street, when a car came hurtling towards me. Aiming for me! At the last minute he swerved, then stopped, and finally laughed at me. I learned later that it was a form of flirting.”

Why is sexual harassment in Egypt so rampant? There could be any number of reasons, but many point to disregard for human rights.

“Egypt is more interested in political security, than public security,” said Nehad Abu el Komsan, the Director for the Center for Women’s Rights. She says that often means officials focus more on preventing political unrest than addressing social ills.

Some also blame the spread of more conservative interpretations of Islam from the Gulf over the past 30 years. They say such interpretations demand more restrictive roles for women and condemn women who step outside of those prescribed roles.

“Four million Egyptians went to the Gulf,” el Komsan says. “They returned with oil money, and oil culture, which is not very open, related to the status of women. All of this changed the original culture of the Egyptian,” she adds, “which included high respect for women.”

“The concept of respect for some reason doesn’t exist anymore,” says Sara, a young Egyptian activist. “I think Egypt has lived a very long time in denial. Something happened in Egyptian society in the last 30 or 40 years. It feels like the whole social diagram has collapsed.”

What is being done to raise awareness and combat Sexual harassment? Currently Egypt has no law that specifically deals with the problem, but that could change. The government is drafting legislation that would give a clear definition for sexual harassment.

In the past, women who have been sexually harassed here have been too afraid or ashamed to speak up. That too is changing slowly. In 2008, in a landmark court case, a man was sentenced to three years of hard labor for grabbing the breast of Noha Rushdi Saleh, a brave woman determined to seek justice.

The trial was covered extensively in the Egyptian press, and brought the problem of sexual harassment out in the open.

The latest campaign to combat sexual harassment is a joint Egyptian and American website called Harassmap, due to go online in December.

Rebecca Chiao, co-founder of Harassmap explains how it will work: “ We can receive reports by SMS, by Twitter, by e-mail, or by phone. When an incident happens, they will send us their location. The computer will receive this, and we will look at the reports coming in and map them on a Google map of Egypt. It will show the hotspots. When the hotspots emerge, we have planned community outreach that will occur around these hotspots.”

Downtown Cairo is one of these hotspots. In 2008, during the Eid holiday, which marks the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, gangs of young men went on a rampage, groping women and, in some cases, ripping off womens’ shirts.

This incident also got a lot of attention in the media here. Police arrested dozens of men. With the renewed efforts to raise awareness about the issue, and the government’s move toward putting a new law in place, there is hope that women will be able to feel safer on the streets.

But the only real protection women can have is when the attitudes of men change.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

General


Climate Change Hysteria Falters. Water is the New Target

A sign of desperation is the shift to much larger targets

Self-proclaimed environmentalists and people who use the environment as a vehicle for political control, often the same people, have not quite destroyed environmentalism.

They are running out of exotic scares as coral bleaching, ocean acidification and a multitude of other claims prove unwarranted.

A sign of desperation is the shift to much larger targets, but they pose the problem that people know a little more and basic questions raise immediate doubts.

Water is the latest target. More and more stories about running out of water appear. Most are linked to the false claim by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that droughts will increase in severity with global warming. It’s illogical because higher temperatures mean increased evaporation and more moisture in the air to create precipitation, but that doesn’t stop them. It’s part of the ongoing standard chain that links too many people with too many demands on limited resources causing environment collapse. The real goal is total political control, the shut down of industry and ultimately elimination of people.

Water Is Not A Problem

There is no shortage. As with climate and all the other issues used to panic people, there is lack of information and understanding. I know from chairing public hearings on water how it raises passions. Wars have been fought and future conflicts are possible because of the unequal distribution, but none of this is necessary.

Science incorrectly assumes the oceans have remained essentially unchanged for 600 million years. The theory is that as the Earth cooled the various elements settled out in layers according their specific gravity. Water is used as the base with a specific gravity of one. The error of the claim of constant volume is that every time a volcano erupts more water vapor is released into the atmosphere adding to the total.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Final Phase of Global Warming War and Another Legal Defeat for Doomsayers

Climate science is complex and to many people hard to fathom, but you don’t need to be a scientist to sense fraud when key global temperature data is destroyed or withheld from public examination.

Forceful speeches dismantling the falsities of global warming junk science were delivered within the mother of all parliaments at a spectacularly successful 2010 Climate Fools Day Event in London (October 27). In the fore was the world’s leading long-range weather forecaster, Piers Corbyn, who was presented with a new science award and cash prize of $10,000. Corbyn had predicted the Moscow heat wave and Pakistan floods weeks in advance and he says human emissions of greenhouse gases play no part whatsoever in controlling weather or climate. First Government Abandons Pretense of a Global Warming Record

But it wasn’t Corbyn’s outstanding science that won the day but rather a story of how astute application of the law had dealt Antipodean warmists a fatal blow. I recounted to an amazed audience how climate realists in New Zealand had hauled their errant government to court where the burden of proof is of the demanding legal standard. Therein a pro-green New Zealand Government had been humiliated into abandoning all pretenses to possessing a bona fide official climate record in the scandal now referred to as ‘Kiwigate.’

Along with other legal analysts I explained that the Kiwi government, in such circumstances, had no choice but to capitulate or face complete courtroom defeat and political suicide. In my speech I urged parliamentarians to heed the implications of this astonishing news.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Is the International Space Station Worth $100 Billion?

Asking the International Space Station to justify its existence is a tall order. NASA estimates the station has cost U.S. taxpayers $50 billion since 1994 — and overall, its price tag has been pegged at $100 billion by all member nations.

To put that in perspective, the Large Hadron Collider — the world’s largest particle accelerator, near Geneva — was a relative bargain at a total of $9 billion, and even its contributions are likely to be too abstract to hold most people’s attention.

Yet at least its research goals — it is aiming to discover new fundamental particles that will revolutionize our understanding of the nature of matter and the universe — are ones most scientists can get behind.

Now, as NASA celebrates the 10th anniversary of astronauts living on the space station — and with construction essentially complete, the question remains — will the International Space Station ever really pay off scientifically? [Graphic: The International Space Station Inside and Out]

“I think it’s time to start showing what station can really do,” David Leckrone, a former senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, told SPACE.com.

While the space station has taught NASA and its partners much about the science and engineering of keeping people alive in space, critics charge that the outpost hasn’t led to enough advancements in basic science — including biology, chemistry and physics — that could affect life back on the ground.

Return on investment

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Offensive Jihad

The One Incontrovertible Problem with Islam

A recent MEMRI report titled “Arab Columnists: Stop Talking About Offensive Jihad,” alludes to the ultimate problem between Islam and the non-Muslim world: offensive jihad, or jihad al-talab — the Islamic imperative to subjugate the world. The report opens by saying “One dominant theme during Ramadan in the Arab world is the discussion, in the media and in religious circles, of the commandment of jihad and the obligation therein to wage war against the infidels.” It then focuses on two recent op-eds, written by Arab-Muslims, that discuss the need to suppress Muslim talk of offensive jihad.

One writer, Khaled Al-Ghanami, states that the “wiser” supporters of offensive jihad believe that Muslims “must sit and wait until the era of our strength returns.” In the meantime, according to these Muslims, “there is nothing shameful about taqiyya [deception] until the time is ripe.” Al-Ghanami bemoans the fact that such Muslims operate naively “on the assumption that the world doesn’t read, doesn’t monitor… and is not paying attention to the calls for killing, tyranny, and aggression that we are spreading.”

Similarly, Abdallah Al-Naggar writes: “Today, the Muslims’ circumstances are different [i.e., they are weak], and talk of this aspect [of jihad] requires a smart approach, one that stresses the aspect of self defense, instead of aggression and onslaught,” since discussing offensive jihad “arouses the enmity of people”; thus, “there is a need for wisdom [i.e., kitman] in our impassioned discussions of war and battles.”

These writers are insightful enough to understand that Islam’s imperative for Muslims to wage offensive jihad is the one insurmountable obstacle for peace between Muslims and non-Muslims. Best not to keep reminding the infidel world, then.

Consider: most of the things Islam gets criticized for — lack of democracy, male-female relations, draconian punishments, etc. —are intra-civilizational to Islam; that is, they affect Muslims alone. As such, it is for Muslims to decide on their utility; for it is the responsibility of every civilization to reform itself from the inside, not through outside “help” or coercion, the former mistrusted, the latter resented. Modern democracy in the West developed only after the people of the West wanted it bad enough to fight for it themselves, and only after centuries of bloody — but internal — conflicts. Feminism was not forcefully imported from some alien civilization but homegrown in the West. Pragmatically speaking, then, so long as sharia’s mandates affect Muslims alone, non-Muslims have no legitimate grievances.

And this is the dividing line: what one civilization maintains as “right” and “normal” for itself is acceptable. However, when one civilization tries to apply, through force, those same principles onto other civilizations — whether the West trying to import liberalism to Islam, or Islam trying to spread sharia-style fascism to the West — that is objectively wrong. After all, the age-old argument that “we must supplant your ways, with our ways, for your own good,” works both ways, and in fact has been an oft cited justification for offensive jihad since the 7th century. Or would the reader be surprised to learn that jihadists (i.e., terrorists) regularly posit their war as an expression of altruism to “liberate” Westerners from their self-imposed “delusions”? Even Al Qaeda partially justifies its jihad against America for being “a nation that exploits women like consumer products”; for not rejecting the “immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury.” In short, if the “white man’s burden” is to “civilize” Muslims, the “Muslim man’s burden” has long been to “civilize” Westerners, namely, by enforcing sharia law. To justify the one is to make allowance for the other.

Yet while civilizations continue to quarrel over the philosophical position of man, one fact remains: all humans — secular or religious, Muslim or non-Muslim, from antiquity to today — agree that being forced to uphold a particular lifestyle against their will is wrong, bringing us right back to our topic: the purpose of offensive jihad is to do just that — forcefully impose a particular way of life on non-Muslims, culminating with dhimmitude for those who, after being conquered, refuse to convert.

Worse, offensive jihad is part and parcel of Islam; it is no less codified than, say, Islam’s Five Pillars, which no Muslim rejects. The Encyclopaedia of Islam’s entry for “jihad” states that the “spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated.” Scholar Majid Khadurri (1909-2007), after defining jihad as warfare, writes that jihad “is regarded by all jurists, with almost no exception, as a collective obligation of the whole Muslim community.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

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» Swedish Police Arrest 2 on Terror Charges
» Turkish Government: Premier Rutte Discriminatory
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Fire Blamed on Jews Was Accidental, Police Say
» Gaza: Israel Authorises Car Imports, Hamas Worried
» UNESCO Recognizes Rachel’s Tomb as Mosque
 
Middle East
» 22 Injured in Turkey Explosion
» Al-Qaida Fishes for Turks Seeking Jihad
» At Least 7 Worshipers, 7 Iraqi Troops Die in Takeover of Baghdad Church
» Dubai Bomb Was Flown on Passenger Planes
» Guard Led 3 Americans Across Iran Border, Released Hiker Says
» Ink Bomb Intelligence Came From the Middle East
» Jonathan Spyer: Fire From the Mountain
» NY UNRWA: Time for Arab Nations to Absorb ‘Refugees’
» Saudi Man Beheaded for Killing Bangladeshi
» Syria: All Sections of Baath Government Party Disbanded
» Syria: Counterfeiting is Killing Off Aleppo Soap
» Wanted Cleric Has Lived in UK and Evaded CIA
 
South Asia
» For Sale: Afghanistan’s Government
» Pakistan: Muslim Tortures, Accuses Christian Who Refused Slavery
» The Parade of “Muslim Sensitivities”: Where is it Taking Us?
 
Far East
» China Unveils the Fastest Supercomputer in the World. Should We Panic?
 
Australia — Pacific
» A Former Muslim School Director Seeks $4m From School
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Nigerian Weapons Haul Shows Lengths Iran Will Go to Supply Hamas
» White Farmer Shot in the Head in Chegutu Area, Zimbabwe
 
Immigration
» Amara Lakhous: The New Face of Italian Fiction
 
Culture Wars
» Libya: Lesbian to Request Asylum in France
» Swedes Happy to be Kept Men: Study
» This is Tolerance… This is Open-Mindedness…
 
General
» How to Plug in a Brain
» Want to Mine the Solar System? Start With the Moon
» What’s the Model for Our Lifetimes: World War or Cold War?

Financial Crisis


California Pensions Cost HOW MUCH?

Inquiring minds are looking at an article from the CBS Los Angeles showing just how much the lavish public employee pensions are costing each Californian.

[…]

The Milken Institute, an independent think tank, said California’s pension obligations to retired state workers already cost each Californian $3,000 every year. By 2014, that cost could go up to $10,000 a year, the group’s report said.

“If we stopped everything today, we would be 500 billion dollars in the hole, of what we owe people that we’ve promised already,” said Marcia Fritz, a pension reform activist with [the website] CaliforniaPensionReform.com

[…]

           — Hat tip: Bobbo [Return to headlines]



Why is Indiana Putting Armed Security Guards Into 36 Unemployment Offices Across the State?

Did you ever think that things in America would get so bad that we would need to put armed guards into our unemployment offices? Well, that is exactly what is happening in Indiana. Armed security guards will now be posted at all 36 full-service unemployment offices in the state of Indiana. So why is this happening now? Well, Indiana Department of Workforce Development spokesman Marc Lotter says that the agency is bringing in the extra security in anticipation of an upcoming deadline when thousands upon thousands of Indiana residents could have their unemployment benefits cut off. But it is not just the state of Indiana that could have a problem. In fact, one recent study found that approximately 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance benefits during this upcoming holiday season unless Congress authorizes another emergency extension of benefits by the end of November. At this point, however, that is looking less and less likely.

So perhaps all the states will have to start putting armed security guards in their unemployment offices. The truth is that frustration among unemployed Americans is growing by the day.

Could we soon see economic riots similar to what we have seen in Greece and France?

Let’s hope not.

The following is a video news report about the armed guards that are going into Indiana unemployment offices….

[Return to headlines]

USA


An American Child May Hold Secrets to Aging

Brooke Greenberg is almost 18, but she has remained mentally and physically at the level of a toddler. An American physician is trying to uncover the child’s secret, because he wants to give mankind the gift of eternal life.

It is possible that the key to immortality is hidden in this delicate girl, who is only about 76 centimeters (2 feet, 6 inches) tall and weighs seven kilograms (15.4 pounds). Her arms and legs are as fragile as the branches of a young tree. Her laugh sounds like the whimper of a puppy; she has hazel eyes. And when Brooke Greenberg wants her mother she stretches out her tiny arms, shakes her head slowly, and twists her face into a lopsided moue.

“Come here, Brooke, yes, you are a pretty girl.” Melanie Greenberg, 49, picks up the fragile looking child and gently strokes her back. “She loves being held,” says Greenberg, a mother of four. Brooke’s sisters are named Emily, Caitlin and Carly. Brooke is the second youngest. She will be 18 in January.

Other girls her age are driving, going out dancing and sleeping with their first boyfriends. But for Brooke it’s as if time had stood still. Mentally and physically, the girl remains at the level of an 11-month-old baby.

“Brooke is a miracle,” says her father, Howard Greenberg. “Brooke is a mystery,” says Lawrence Pakula, her pediatrician. “Brooke is an opportunity,” says Richard Walker, a geneticist with the University of South Florida College of Medicine. They all mean the girl from Reisterstown, a small town in the US state of Maryland, who may hold the answer to a human mystery. At issue is nothing less than immortality: Brooke Greenberg apparently isn’t aging.

She has no hormonal problems, and her chromosomes seem normal. But her development is proceeding “extremely slowly,” says Walker. If scientists can figure out what is causing the disorder, it might be possible to unlock the mysteries of aging itself. “Then we’ve got the golden ring,” says Walker.

He hopes to simply eliminate age-related diseases like cancer, dementia and diabetes. People who no longer age will no longer get sick, he reasons. But he also thinks eternal life is conceivable. “Biological immortality is possible,” says Walker. “If you don’t get hit by a car or by lightning, you could live at least 1,000 years.”

An Unprecedented Case

Brooke Greenberg was born prematurely on Jan. 8, 1983 at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. She weighed only 1,800 grams (about four pounds) at birth. It soon became clear that she wasn’t normal. Almost all of her organ systems were altered. Her hips were dislocated, so that her legs pointed awkwardly toward her shoulders. She’d hardly been born before she was placed in a cast.

The first six years were torture for Brooke and her parents. On one occasion, seven holes in the child’s abdominal wall had to be repaired. Because food kept entering her windpipe instead of her stomach, a gastric feeding tube had to be inserted. She fell into a 14-day coma when she was four. Then doctors diagnosed a brain tumor (the diagnosis later proved to be incorrect). “The Greenbergs had gone out already and made the preparations, buying a coffin and talking to the rabbi,” pediatrician Pakula recalls.

Pakula practices in a medical building near the Greenbergs’ house. He wears a tie adorned with cartoonish hippopotamuses. A tall stack of paper — Brooke’s file — sits on his desk. “This can’t be lost,” says the doctor, placing his hand on the documents. He knows what a treasure the file represents.

The most surprising thing about Brooke is that she hardly ages at all. Her body stopped growing when she was two years old. She hasn’t grown a centimeter or gained a pound. Pakula injected the girl with growth hormones, but nothing happened. He studied the medical literature and consulted specialists worldwide. “She was presented to everybody who was anybody in the medical world at the time,” says the 77-year-old pediatrician, “but she didn’t match anything any physician had seen before.”

The Greenbergs waited and hoped — one year, two years, 10 years — but nothing happened. Their daughter’s facial features have remained unchanged. There are no signs of puberty. “Brooke’s nurses, her teachers, even her father can’t consistently sort photos of her chronologically,” says Pakula. Only the girl’s hair and fingernails are growing normally…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Ashburn Man Arrested for Planning Bombing of Metro Stations

An Ashburn man was arrested today on federal charges of plotting with people he believed to be members of al-Qaeda to bomb multiple Metrorail stations in the Washington, DC, area.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, is accused of meeting with federal agents he believed to be members of the terrorist organization between April 18 and Oct. 25 to plan for the bombing of Arlington Metro stations, allegedly participating in surveillance of the stations, as well as setting up meetings with the “terrorists.” He was indicted by a federal grand jury in Alexandria Tuesday on three counts: attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organizations, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. If convicted he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

Ahmed is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan.

“It’s chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. McBride said in a statement after the arrest. “[The] arrest highlights the terrorism threat that exists in Northern Virginia and our ability to find those seeking to harm U.S. citizens and neutralize them before they can act.”

Federal agencies and representatives made it clear there was never any threat to commuters or the Metrorail stations, and there was no credible threat to the general public. The FBI was aware of Ahmed’s activities before the planning of the alleged bombing attempt began and he was closely monitored until his arrest. “…a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans,” David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security, stated.

According to the indictment, many of Ahmed’s alleged activities took place in Loudoun. The indictment states that April 18, he allegedly drove to a Dulles hotel and met with a courier he believed to be affiliated with the terrorist organization. That “courier” provided Ahmed with potential locations for future meetings. After allegedly conducting surveillance and video recordings at the Arlington Cemetery Metro station to determine the busiest times, went to a hotel in Sterling in July and turned over a memory stick containing video of the stations, and agreed to assess two other Arlington: Courthouse and Pentagon City.

Then, late last month, Ahmed went to a hotel in Herndon and handed over another USB drive containing surveillance video of those two stations. He also provided the man he believed to associated with al-Qaeda diagrams of all three stations, and provided suggestions about where the bombs should be placed on trains to kill the most people. The attacks were being planned for 2011.

The indictment states that Ahmed told the man he believed to be associated with Al-qaeda that he “might be ready to travel overseas to conduct jihad in January 2011,” as well as saying he wanted to donated $10,000 to “support their brothers overseas” even if that meant collecting donations “in the name of another cause.” He allegedly said he would send the money in $1,000 increments so not to raise suspicions, and suggested using rolling suitcases instead of backpacks for the bombs.

Ahmed allegedly suggested the Crystal City Metro station should be the target of a bombing as well, and just days before his arrest conducted surveillance of that station. That same day, Oct. 21, he allegedly sent an e-mail telling those he believed to be associated with al-Qaeda he could meet with a courier to deliver the results between Oct. 27 and Oct. 29.

“Just as we ask the public to remain vigilant about possible terrorist among us, the FBI remains committed to rooting out and dismantling those groups and organizations who seek to cause harm to U.S. citizens,” Acting FBI Assistant Director in Charge John G. Perren said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Factbox — Recent Attempted Attacks on the United States

REUTERS — Governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world are reviewing security after two parcel bombs sent from Yemen were intercepted on planes in Dubai and Britain last week. U.S. officials say the bombs had all the hallmarks of al Qaeda. A Saudi bombmaker believed to be working with al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing is a key suspect, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

Following are recent attempted attacks on the United States tied to, or believed to have links to, anti-American militant groups like al Qaeda or the Taliban.

October 2010: After U.S. officials received a tip from Saudi Arabia, two packages containing explosive materials destined for Jewish centers in Chicago were intercepted by authorities in England and Dubai. The explosives were tentatively identified as PETN, a strong explosive that has been used in the past by the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, AQAP. Two women in Yemen are in custody who are believed to have delivered the packages to the UPS and FedEx offices for shipping.

May 2010: A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, drove a sport utility vehicle packed with a crude bomb into the heart of Times Square in New York on a crowded Saturday evening. The bomb failed to go off and was discovered by passersby. He was caught days later as he tried to fly to Dubai.. Shahzad admitted to receiving bomb-making training and funding from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced this month to life in a U.S. prison.

December 2010: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, originally from Nigeria, boarded a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day and allegedly tried to detonate a bomb sewn into his underwear. The explosives, PETN, failed to fully detonate and passengers and crew subdued him. Abdulmutallab began cooperating with U.S. authorities. Officials say he told them he had received the bomb and training from AQAP in Yemen. He is facing trial in a U.S. court in 2011, but he suggested during a recent court hearing that he could plead guilty to some of the charges.

November 2010: U.S. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Muslim born in the United States, is accused of killing 13 and injuring 32 during a shooting rampage at the U.S. Army installation in Fort Hood, Texas. U.S. authorities later learned he had been communicating with the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is an American but left the country soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has since encouraged attacks against his homeland. Al-Awlaki is believed to be hiding in Yemen. Hasan is facing trial in a military court.

September 2009: Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-born man who is a permanent U..S. resident and was living in Colorado, plotted a suicide bomb attack on the New York subway system. He received training from al Qaeda in the remote Waziristan region of Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan. He drove to New York in preparation for the attack but discarded bomb-making materials after learning he was under surveillance from a local imam. He was later arrested in Colorado and pleaded guilty to the plot in February. His sentencing has been postponed until June 2011 and he has been cooperating with authorities

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Man Fatally Shot on Street in Downtown Seattle

A 31-year-old man died after he was shot Tuesday afternoon at Second Avenue and Pike Street in downtown Seattle, police say.

A 31-year-old man was fatally shot Tuesday afternoon at Second Avenue and Pike Street in downtown Seattle, police say. The man was pronounced dead at Harborview Medical Center. A witness said he had been shot in the head.

Police arrested a suspect — a 27-year-old Lynnwood man — a short time after the shooting, according to Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel.

The suspect was under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections for second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and three counts of unlawful imprisonment, according to Chad Lewis, spokesman for the DOC. The suspect was due to report in again next Wednesday.

A hot-dog vendor, who gave his name only as Jacob W., said he was working at the Gourmet Dog Japon stand when he heard “a noise and some scuffling.” He turned to see a man walk past another man and shoot him.

The victim fell forward as the gunman ran off, he said.

At 4:41 p.m., police responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired and a man down at the intersection. They began a search of the area, Kappel said. Officers located the suspect in the 100 block of Pine Street, about a block from the shooting scene. He said officers also recovered a handgun.

Shaher Abuelkhair, the owner of Zaina, a nearby restaurant, said the suspect was arrested inside his business.

Abuelkhair said he was nearby at Nordstrom Rack when the shooting occurred. He said police began swarming the area and wouldn’t let him cross the street back to his restaurant.

One of Abuelkhair’s employees was inside chopping onions and didn’t seem to know what was going on outside, so Abuelkhair started waving his arms at him.

“What the hell are you doing?” he said an officer asked him.

“I’m trying to get my guy out,” he said. “I think the guy you’re looking for is inside my bathroom.”

Abuelkhair said it had been “just a hunch.”…

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]



Man Fatally Shot in Downtown Seattle, Suspect in Custody

SEATTLE — A man was fatally shot in the head in downtown Seattle late Tuesday afternoon.

The incident unfolded at the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street at approximately 4:41 p.m.

It is not known what prompted the shooting, but police spokesman Jeff Kappel said the 31-year-old man was found lying on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center where he later died from his injuries.

Police have detained Tomas Afeworki, 27, who is suspected in the shooting. They’ve also recovered a handgun at the scene.

Witness Lloyd Hogan said he was inside a nearby chocolate shop when the incident occurred.

“The gunman was seen running up the alley. He went into Shaher’s gyro shop at First and Pine, and he was hiding in the bathroom,” he said.

The owner of that gyro shop, Shaher Abuerkheir, said he was at Nordstrom Rack when shots broke out.

“By the time I got out, I saw a guy running on Second Avenue …. with a gun in his hand,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo [Return to headlines]



Officials Say Relationship Between FBI, Metro Detroit Muslims Must Remain Strong in Aftermath of Abdullah Shooting

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2010/10/30/1230013/badger-club-debates-muslims-patriotism.html

Badger Club debates Muslims’ patriotism

By Michelle Dupler, Herald staff writer

KENNEWICK — The Columbia Basin Badger Club varied from its usual spirited debate format Friday and instead offered a platform for Imam Kaleem Ullah of the Tri-Cities Islamic Center to talk about Muslims in America.

The club invited Ullah to answer the question, “Are Muslims patriotic Americans?”

“It’s a very interesting question,” Ullah told the audience, which overflowed the tables in a banquet room at the Kennewick Red Lion.

“The question, as it is worded is very tricky,” he said. “It is a rhetorical question in nature. How can I become a patriot of America? How can a test of patriotism be engineered so we have a litmus test for everyone and say, ‘Now you are patriotic and you are not patriotic?’ It is a subjective question, and now I have to try to answer it objectively.”

Ullah talked about his own history, and his memory of becoming an American citizen about 30 years ago. He is a native of India who also lived in Pakistan before moving to the United States at age 24.

“I took the oath, and the judge turned to us and said, ‘Now you are United States citizens,’ “ Ullah said. “Most of you have not gone through this kind of feeling. I swore all of my allegiance. … This is my home. This is the home of my children by birth.”

When Islamic extremists turned jets into bombs on Sept. 11, 2001, Ullah said he was shocked and grief-stricken as everyone else in the country.

“Those thugs, those criminals — they came and attacked my country,” he said. “I condemned this. I condemned it before. Now you be the witness that I condemn it as the worst crime against humanity.”

He said extremists do not represent Islam or the teachings of the Quran.

“These self-declared evangelists … misused the Quran and its teachings for their own political benefit,” Ullah said. “I have been teaching the Quran for years. I have never found a justification for terrorism or suicide bombings.

“The people who are doing this are misusing the scriptures. They are enemies of Islam. They don’t have religion. They don’t have principles. They don’t have a value of life.”

He said in response to an audience question that Islamic nations that oppress women also are misrepresenting the religion’s tenets.

“(My wife) will be testimony to the fact that Islam gives tremendous freedom to women,” Ullah said. “Probably you would be surprised.. Fourteen hundred years ago, Islam made men and women equal — socially equal, intellectually equal, in the sight of God equal. … I really get surprised when I see the cultural treatment of women in Pakistan.”

He said the only criteria God uses to judge people is the measure of their deeds, not their gender or race or ancestry.

“Who gets closer to God? … The criteria is good deeds,” he said. “Those who perform evil deeds better watch out what happens to you in the hereafter.”

Ullah also was asked why American Muslims haven’t been more outspoken against extremists and terrorists if they condemn their actions.

He replied that they have, but those statements are not being covered by the media.

“It’s a no-win situation,” he said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Our Latest Interview With the White House Insider Reveals a Democratic Party Civil War, With Growing Opposition to the Obama White House.

Author’s Note: This interview took place for nearly two hours over the weekend at the office of the White House Insider. We wish to extend our gratitude for their making time to meet with us despite an extremely demanding schedule. The information contained in this interview is among the most in depth and fascinating to date, and due to the extent of information, will come in two installments. Here is installment one:

Previously you stated that Obama could be re-elected in 2012, and that if he improved himself on the job — that if he took a more active and responsible role as President, that you would support him. Do you still feel that way? Is that what I said? (shakes head) Well…(pauses) Ok, I’ll just come out and say what is already underway, and to hell with the possible consequences to me. I will not support Barack Obama in 2012. That possibility has left the table for me. Based on what I know, what I have been told, what I have seen in recent weeks…no, I cannot support the President for a second term. My concern for the party, for the country…my conscience does not allow me that option any longer. Obama is not fit to be president. He simply does not possess the inclinations necessary to lead the country. And I don’t like saying that. I helped the man get elected. I was in the trenches day after day from city to city helping things get done in 2008…I take no pleasure in say ing I was a part of that. And I take no pleasure in saying Obama should not be re-elected in 2012.

That is a very strong statement — anything recent that causes you to now say you will not support Obama in 2012? (Long pause — question is repeated) There is much I have been told, some I know, some more that will probably develop in the coming weeks and months. But you want specifics, right? I understand that…I’ll give you an example of why President Obama is not right for America. He sure as hell has not been right for the party. Not long ago, the president took a meeting. He’s late, which apparently is becoming more and more common with him. The meeting was almost cancelled. In strolls the president, joking with an aide. He plops down on a sofa, leans over and claps another guy on the back asking how he’s been. Apologizes for being late, says he was “held up”. He laughs some more. The meeting begins. After just ten minutes, during which time the president appears to almost totally withdraw into himself, an aide walks in and whispers something to the president, who then nods and quickly stands up, shakes a few hands and tells another aide to update him later on the rest of the meeting. As the president is walking out he is laughing at something yet again. He asked no questions of those at the meeting — not one. He left after just ten minutes, coming in laughing and leaving laughing. His behavior during that brief time he was there was described as “borderline manic”.

But you don’t want to see Obama re-elected? I apologize if I’m repeating myself here, but I just want to clarify because in the past you still seemed hopeful that Obama could evolve and become a stronger leader, but that hope seems to have left you. If Barack Obama is the Democratic Party nominee, I will not participate in any way in his election. It will be the first time in some 20 years that I will have removed myself totally from the process of helping elect the Democratic Party candidate for President. (Leans toward me) I do not know if the country can survive another four years of Barack Obama, and frankly, I want nothing to do with helping us find out. The man is an incompetent. The man is a tool of the extreme far left that has utterly corrupted the Democratic Party. The man and those now closest to him in the administration appear to abhor America’s history. They detest anyone who does not fully subscribe to their positions. They are corrupt, they are increasingly paranoid, and they are taking this country down a path by which we may never recover.

[Return to headlines]



Proposed Mosque Finds Opposition in Oshkosh

City Plan Commission To Review Application

OSHKOSH, Wis. — Neighboring property owners have filed a petition opposing an Islamic group’s request to convert a former funeral home into a mosque in Oshkosh.

The Oshkosh Northwestern reported that the city Plan Commission will review the application from the Ahmadiyya Muslim group at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Neighbors Forrest and Beverly Ware submitted a petition saying the mosque and community center wasn’t appropriate for the residential neighborhood.

Group leader Khurram Ahmad said his group will be accommodating to the neighbors, but if they are too concerned his group will withdraw its application.

A report from city staff indicates that a high school and Lutheran church now in the neighborhood shows the mosque can be compatible there.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Some Depression Might Have Roots in Immune-Generated Inflammation

NEW YORK—The immune system works hard to keep us well physically, but might it also be partly to blame for some mental illnesses?

“The immune system may play a significant role in the development of depression,” Andrew Miller, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, said Tuesday at a symposium on neuroscience and immunology at the New York Academy of Sciences. Evidence for this link has been mounting in recent years, and he described this research, which falls in the jauntily named field of psychoneuroimmunology, one of the most exciting recent developments in psychiatry.

Research has shown that depressed or stressed-out people tend to be more susceptible to medical ailments, such as infectious diseases and perhaps even cancer. But the correlation might also work in the opposite direction, Miller explained. People who are critically ill have about five to 10 times higher rates of depression, and that might not just be due to battling their illness, he noted. It could be stemming from underlying inflammation—a common bodily response to illness or injury…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Italy: ‘No One Can Change My Lifestyle’, Berlusconi Says

‘I love life and women,’ PM says, denying Moroccan girl claims

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 29 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday defended himself from suggestions of impropriety over a 17-year-old runaway Moroccan belly dancer he reportedly helped out of a scrape and said his flamboyant lifestyle would continue.

“No one can get me to change my lifestyle, which I’m proud of,” the 74-year-old Berlusconi told reporters at a European Union summit here.

“I’m a fun-loving guy, I love life and I love women”.

The premier said his famously lavish parties helped him get some much-needed R&R from his political exertions.

“I have a wretched life, pushing on with superhuman effort, working until two thirty in the morning and getting up at seven.

Every now and then I need a relaxing evening”.

The Moroccan girl, Ruby, has reportedly told police she attended parties at the premier’s Milan residence, one of which allegedly ended in an “erotic ritual” involving several women.

Berlusconi denied this, saying: “I know what happens in my house, I don’t have anything to clear up because only people who behave themselves get in”. The premier also denied pressuring Milan police to release Ruby when she was arrested in May after being accused of theft by an acquaintance.

“It’s all made up, I never influenced anyone,” said Berlusconi of the reported phone call from his office allegedly asking officers to make an exception in the case.

Berlusconi said he “knew the rules” and quipped “in Italy, the prime minister has no power”.

The centre-left opposition has claimed that if true, the incident would mean that Berlusconi had broken the law might be open to a no-confidence vote.

The premier did admit that he sent a political protegee’, former model and dental hygienist Nicole Minetti, to pick Ruby up.

But he said this was to make sure the Moroccan girl “didn’t wind up in jail or a shelter, which isn’t a nice thing, but that she should be sent to a foster family”.

“It was a tragic picture, so I helped her,” denying reports that he had earlier given her expensive gifts.

Berlusconi ended his remarks on the subject by telling reporters: “I wish you all serenity, the same serenity I feel when I look into the mirror, an extraordinary serenity”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Prominent Dutch Jihadist Recants and Denounces Terrorism

A key figure in one militant Islamic European network has joined the ranks of a small but important number of jihadists to have a change of heart, calling on their brethren to abandon violence.

The imprisoned Dutch terrorism suspect Jason Walters said in an open letter that he has renounced Islamic radicalism.

“The ideals that I once honored have been lost and I have come to realize that they are morally bankrupt,” Walters said in what he called a “review document” written from the maximum-security prison in Vught. It was published recently in the Dutch daily De Volkskrant.

Walters is a leading member of the jihadist Hofstadgroep, made up of Islamists primarily of Moroccan origin. The group was led by Mohammed Bouyeri, who is serving a life sentence for killing controversial Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

Observers said Walters’ letter offered a window into the mind of a man who had dedicated his life to propagating militant Islam through violence. It helped to understand why some adopt terrorism and what prompts them to reconsider.

Walters’ review could also inform the increasingly partisan immigration debate in Germany and other European nations about how to prevent the radicalization of immigrant youth and help them become functioning members of society.

A different denunciation

Walters was accused of plotting to kill controversial Dutch parliamentarians Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. He resisted his arrest in 2004 in a 14-hour siege during which he threw a grenade at police, injuring four policemen. He has now served four years of his 15-year sentence.

Born in the Netherlands to an African-American soldier and a Dutch mother, Walters converted to Islam at age 16 after the divorce of his parents and his father’s subsequent conversion. In 2003, he made his way to Pakistan for training with jihadist groups. He boasted on his return to the Netherlands that he could “disassemble a Kalashnikov blindfolded and put it back together again.”

Walters’ denunciation is more political and philosophical than that of other jihadist ideologues which employed Islamic theology to explain their change of heart, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) or Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, one of the early associates of Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command. Walters, on the other hand, takes issue in his letter with the basic tenant of his former worldview.

“The image that the world only exists of believers and infidels, in which the latter are motivated only to destroy the former, is a childish and coarse simplification of reality,” Walters said. “It ignores the complexity and many nuances of which reality is rich.”

Analysts and counter-terrorism authorities say Walters’ letter is likely to spark debate in militant Islamist circles and serve as an important tool in efforts to counter jihadists in Europe. In a statement, the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism (NCTb) described it as “a remarkable document” not seen before in the Netherlands.

Dutch terrorism analyst Edwin Bakker from the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael said the letter would serve as “a good tool in the ideological fight against terrorists and Islamists.”

A sincere document

Walters’ lawyer, Bart Nooitgedagt, rejected allegations that his client had written the letter in an effort to influence his appeal hearing. An Amsterdam court is set to determine whether the throwing of the grenade was a criminal or a terrorist act and whether the Hofstadgroep was a terrorist organization.

The appeals court had ordered new proceedings in response to objections by the public prosecutor to the initial conviction of Walters and his associates on criminal charges only. Of the seven defendants in the original case, Walters is the only one still incarcerated.

Nooitgedagt said Walters had written his letter some time ago, even though he only published it last week.

“Jason anticipated the criticism, but assertions that the letter was inspired by dishonest motives are incorrect,” Nooitgedagt said. “The content of the letter is too fundamental for that.”

Walters initially signaled his change of heart during the appeals court hearing in July, where he was the only defendant to appear in court in person.

“I was passive and uncooperative in the (lower) court in The Hague,” Walters told the court in a reference to his earlier rejection of the Dutch justice system. “But now I will actively defend myself. I have confidence in the competence and the integrity of this court and in the Dutch system.”

A warning to youth

Nooitgedagt said Walters’ change of heart was sparked by his reading of history books, as well as writings on the theory of evolution and the works of philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Popper. In his letter, he explained his recantation with the fact that those nations who were liberated by Islamists ultimately rejected the Islamist worldview.

“This has forced me to reconsider my views critically, and has led to the realization that they are untenable,” Walters said in the letter.

Walters expressed his disappointment with a utopian movement that has fallen short of its ideals.

“I have watched with horror how a once lofty ‘struggle for freedom’ that should have been the go-ahead signal for a new, just world — especially in Iraq — has turned into a bloody escalation of violence, sectarianism and religious mania,” he wrote. “Unheard of cruelty and crimes have been committed in the process.”

He said the random killing by Islamists of innocent Muslims had rendered the struggle for Islamic rule “a total failure.”

The 25-year-old said he hoped his letter would serve “to warn youth not to be misguided by false promises and ideals.” He called on Islamists “to put down their weapons and employ other, productive methods” in order to bring about reforms instead of blaming the United States and the West.

Lessons learned

Dutch commentator and De Volkskrant columnist Pieter Hilhorst noted that Walters, like other recanting Islamists, explained his change of heart in analytical rather than personal terms.

“He doesn’t write that he regrets throwing a grenade at the police,” Hilhorst said. “He doesn’t write that he is ashamed of having glorified the murder of Theo van Gogh. Jason acts as if he was an observer, not a perpetrator.”

The lesson from recantations like that of Walters, Hilhorst said, is that appealing to Islamists’ compassion in an effort to change their wayward means was meaningless as they “express no empathy with their non-Muslim victims.”

“They are only concerned about the nature of the true Muslim and the consequences for Muslims,” he said. “This last point is every jihadist’s real Achilles Heel. The best way to draw him away from his violent belief is to ask him what he really wants to achieve. That’s when facts become more important than divine inclination.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Gothenburg Police Remain on Their Guard

Swedish police maintained a raised level of readiness following the bomb threat in Gothenburg, while two people remained in custody.

Others detained in connection with the investigation into the bomb threat who were released on Saturday remain of interest.

Ulf Edberg, a press spokesperson in the county of Västra Götaland, explained that the police readiness extends to among other things an special unit to be called in if needed.

“There are however additional police officers deployed in central Gothenburg,” he said without going in to how many and where in the centre of the city they are stationed.

Gothenburg police have also desisted from releasing concrete details over those who remain in custody, those who were released, and the bomb threat itself. Broadcaster TV 4 has reported that three men were detained in the district of Angered.

Edberg confirmed that the cautious approach has been decided upon “with respect to the investigation”.

Police were neither willing to detail any possible motives behind the threat and where in Gothenburg the bomb was said to be located.

The raised threat level was in place during the whole of Saturday, with nothing to indicate whether it remained in place during Sunday, with Edberg unwilling to comment.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Police Declare End to Gothenburg Bomb Threat

Swedish police have released the two men detained on suspicion of preparing a terrorist crime in Gothenburg and have declared the bomb threat to be over.

The Security Service (Säpo) will now take over the investigation.

“They have not yet been ruled out of the investigation, but it is the prosecutor’s view that the suspicions regarding them are not sufficient for them to be charged,” said Gothenburg police in a statement.

“The police think that there is no longer a threat of attack against the centre of Gothenburg,” police said.

Police had arrested four men Saturday morning in one of the city’s suburbs on suspicion of preparing a “terrorist crime”, releasing two of them later the same day.

A report in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, citing anonymous sources, said all four suspects were married men who were members of the same family and of Syrian origin.

The paper suggested that the suspects had been questioned in connection with the controversy over the 2005 publication by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of 12 caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. That incident sparked violent protests in the Muslim world the following year.

Swedish police said Friday they had been tipped off “by a credible source” about plans for a bomb attack in central Gothenburg, but security patrols there found nothing.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Swedish Police Arrest 2 on Terror Charges

Swedish police arrested two individuals Saturday suspected of preparing terrorist crimes, they said.

They were responding to information that a bomb could go off in central Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city, on Saturday, they said.

The information was “vague and not confirmed” but police said late Friday they “could not rule out” that it was planned to explode somewhere near Nordstan, the central shopping mall.

Heavily armed police conducted a raid early Saturday morning and took a number of individuals into custody, CNN’s Swedish affiliate TV4 reported.

“Overnight we managed to narrow down the investigation to a few suspects and this morning we were able to get them all,” Bjor Blixter, police spokesman told TV4.

In the afternoon the prosecutor decided to formally arrest two of them on suspicion of terrorism offenses.

The others were released but are still under investigation, according to the police statement.

The Swedish Security Police, who helped local police with the investigation, could not say whether the incident was connected with Sweden raising its terror alert recently, according to TV4.

Police found out about the plot on Friday after a “credible source” contacted police, Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported.

Police increased the number of officers patrolling central Gothenburg on Saturday and the increased police presence will continue Sunday, but police did not have information to indicate that the threat would still remain on Sunday, they said.

Further arrests are likely, according to TV4.

No information was available on whether any explosives were ever found.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Turkish Government: Premier Rutte Discriminatory

ISTANBUL, 30/10/10 — The Turkish government considers that Premier Mark Rutte has made “discriminatory’ statements in the Lower House about Turks in the Netherlands.

Rutte said Wednesday in the debate on the government policy statement that the combined Dutch and Swedish nationality of State Secretary Veldhuijzen van Zanten is no problem, but that it would have been a point for debate if she had had a Turkish passport. The premier said the difference lies in the fact that Turkey exercises influence on citizens abroad via its constitution and Sweden does not.

Turkish Minister Faruk Celik, responsible for Turks abroad, says he “cannot see how such a discriminatory statement contributes to the integration of foreigners in the Netherlands.” The right to be elected is a fundamental human right, according to the minister, who apparently did not understand that Van Zanten has not been elected but appointed as a state secretary.

The Turkish government also considers that an end should be made to the Netherlands integration requirement for Turks. Ankara sees an unjust infringement of the rights of Turks in this requirement.

District courts in Rotterdam and Roermond have found in favour of the Turks. The judges ruled that the integration requirement for Turks is in violation of the association accord between Turkey and the EU. The Dutch state has appealed against these rulings.

If the state loses the appeal, the new cabinet will try to get the treaty amended so that Turks do come under the integration requirement again. But the Turkish government has already indicated now that it will oppose such an amendment of the treaty.

According to lawyers, this opposition will likely make the amendment impossible, because the unanimous agreement of the treaty partners is necessary.

“Turkish citizens are not required to take the courses, based on the treaty,” says Celik’s spokesman. “We will hold the Netherlands to this. (…) These people are and will always remain Turks.”

According to the spokesman, Ankara does support the integration of Turkish immigrants with Dutch society. “But Turkey is against the immigrants being completely absorbed by this society.”

Celik made a visit to the Netherlands last weekend. He did not meet with Home Affairs Minister Piet Hein Donner, but he did meet with Turkish lobby organisations and visited the Islamic University of Rotterdam. ‘We are concerned about the growing xenophobia and Islamophobia in the Netherlands’, said the spokesman for Celik.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Fire Blamed on Jews Was Accidental, Police Say

An initial investigation into a fire at a Jerusalem church has revealed that the fire appears to have been accidental, police said Sunday. Palestinian Authority leaders and church officials had blamed the fire on “extremist Israeli settlers.”

The fire took place in the Alliance Church on Haneviim Street in central Jerusalem on Friday night. Thirteen people were lightly injured by smoke inhalation due to the blaze.

Witnesses at the nearby Bikur Cholim hospital had said that they believed the fire to be accidental. The most likely explanation appears to be that one of the church’s own candles fell and ignited its surroundings.

Church leader Zakariyya Al-Mashriqi said Saturday that evidence pointed to “settlers” in the case. He accused Jewish groups of seeking to drive Arabs out of the area.

Hamas issued a statement on the same day condemning “the extremist Jewish settlers’ assault” at the church, as did the Israel-based Islamic Movement.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudeinah slammed Israel over the alleged arson. “The repeated attacks of settlers against Muslim and Christian holy sites indicate barbarity and terrorist behavior,” he said.

Senior PA official Riyyad Al-Maliki referred to the fire Saturday in a meeting with Canadian MP Bob Rae. He suggested that Jews who oppose Israel-PA talks were behind the fire at the church and similar fires in two Judea and Samaria mosques. As of yet, there is no evidence linking Jews to the mosque fires either.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Gaza: Israel Authorises Car Imports, Hamas Worried

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, OCTOBER 26 — Initially they breathed a sigh of relief, but the sensation quickly turned into worries. When last month Israel authorised the introduction of brand new automobiles into the Gaza Strip, people were very happy. But now the Hamas Interior Minister warned that those vehicles could be an updated version of the Trojan Horse. According to unconfirmed news, a bug installed by Israel secret services was found in one of the cars. It was enough for a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry to immediately issue a warning to the military heads of Hamas to not travel in any of the cars that have arrived from Israel. Before the vehicles can be used, the vehicles will have to undergo a thorough inspection by Hamas security experts. Sources in the press added that Israel has allowed for 240 cars per month to enter into the Strip, including various models (but not all-terrain vehicles). For now Hyundais and Volkswagen-Golfs can be seen on the streets of the Gaza Strip. Several residents have already reserved new luxury BMW models. The used car market immediately reacted to these developments and in the last month, prices have abruptly been cut in half. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



UNESCO Recognizes Rachel’s Tomb as Mosque

The Palestinian Authority and the Jewish Holy Sites in the West Bank: Rachel’s Tomb as a Test Case * Rachel’s Tomb lies on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem, about 460 meters (about 500 yards) south of the Jerusalem municipal border, and for more than 1,700 years has been identified as the tomb of the matriarch Rachel. * According to the armistice agreement signed on April 3, 1949, Jordan was to allow Israel “free access to the Holy Places and cultural institutions and use of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives.” In practice, Jordan did not allow Jews free access…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East


22 Injured in Turkey Explosion

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — At least 22 people were wounded in an apparent suicide bombing in the center of Istanbul on Sunday, police said.

Ten police officers and 12 civilians were wounded in the attack in Taksim Square, police said.

Two of the wounded police officers are in critical condition, Istanbul Police Chief Huseyin Capkin said.

The bustling square houses a commercial district and a major transportation network that includes buses, metro systems and taxis. Visitors throng the area, which is typically patrolled by lots of officers.

The suicide bomber struck when the city was marking National Day, which celebrates the declaration of independence for the Turkish republic. The parade was originally scheduled for Friday, but was postponed because of the weather.

Capkin said it appeared that a male suicide bomber caused the explosion. A second unexploded bomb was found near the body of the bomber.

The suspected bomber tried to board a police bus parked in the square, but the explosion happened before he could enter, Capkin said.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]



Al-Qaida Fishes for Turks Seeking Jihad

Turks have been bit part players in al-Qaida’s global jihad, but a recent security scare in Europe pointed to a small but growing number in Germany and Turkey who have joined militant ranks in Pakistan.

Muslims from many parts of the Islamic World went to Pakistan during the jihad to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. There may be nothing new about Turks taking that path, but recent obituaries on jihadi websites and tales of the exploits of Turkish jihadis have been eye-catching.

“Turkey serves as a gateway for al-Qaida, through which it channels both funds and recruits for operations abroad,” said Tim Williams of Stirling Assynt, a political and terrorist risk consultancy in London. “The growing number of Turks appearing in the Af-Pak theatre . . . (is) evidence of that.”

Turks returning from Afghanistan were involved in the November 2003 bombings that killed 57 people in Istanbul and wounded hundreds more in a series of attacks that targeted the British consulate, an HSBC bank and two synagogues.

Radicalisation

“I am concerned about increased radicalisation among Turkish youth — not just in Turkey but also in Europe,” said Zeyno Baran, a scholar at Washington’s Hudson Institute.

An more critical focus on Israel and the West by some sections of the media has hardened attitudes in a society that is becoming more conservative, more Islamic, according to Baran.

“That propaganda has a powerful impact on the youth, some of whom seem to be joining the militant ranks in Af-Pak region.”

Surveys by Washington’s Pew Research Center show Turks share similar levels of antipathy toward the United States as Egyptians, Pakistanis and Palestinians.

Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul based security analyst noted a proliferation of jihadi websites with Turkish language pages over the past couple of years.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



At Least 7 Worshipers, 7 Iraqi Troops Die in Takeover of Baghdad Church

BAGHDAD — At least seven Iraqi Christian worshipers and seven Iraqi security forces were killed Sunday night after commandos stormed a church in Baghdad where a band of suicide bombers had been holding parishioners hostage, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

As Iraqi troops stormed the Our Lady of Salvation Church in the upscale Karradah neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m., some of the assailants detonated suicide vests, said Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a U.S. military spokesman.

The mayhem underscored how dangerous the Iraqi capital remains as a deepening political crisis continues. Iraqi lawmakers remain at an impasse over who is entitled to lead the next government after the March 7 parliamentary election. Many Iraqis fear that the impasse could sow instability and violence as the U.S. military mission here winds down.

Between 20 to 30 people were wounded in the attack and subsequent rescue operation to free the approximately 120 hostages attending evening Mass, Bloom said. He said all the attackers were gunned down, but an Iraqi official said some were in custody.

Bloom, who got the casualty numbers from the Iraqi army, said the death toll could rise. An Iraqi security official said at least 21 civilians and troops were killed.

The assailants, armed with grenades, rifles and at least one car bomb, turned a relatively secure neighborhood into a battleground. The operation was apparently carried out in a failed effort to secure the release of prisoners in Iraqi custody who belong to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq…

[Return to headlines]



Dubai Bomb Was Flown on Passenger Planes

One of the two bombs posted from Yemen last week was transported on two passenger planes before being seized in Dubai, Qatar Airways has said.

The device was carried on an Airbus A320 from Sanaa to Doha. It was then flown on another aircraft to Dubai.

It contained the powerful explosive PETN, which is difficult to detect.

Yemen has meanwhile granted conditional release to a woman who was arrested on suspicion of mailing the devices, her family and officials said.

Her lawyer, Abdel Rahman Burman, told the Reuters news agency she was a “quiet student and there was no knowledge of her having involvement in any religious or political groups”.

Ms Samawi’s mobile number was reportedly left with one of the two US cargo firms, UPS and FedEx, who were told to ship the packages containing the printer cartridge bombs to synagogues in the US city of Chicago.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Guard Led 3 Americans Across Iran Border, Released Hiker Says

The three American hikers accused of espionage by Iran stepped off an unmarked dirt road — inadvertently crossing from Iraq into the Islamic republic — only because a border guard of unknown nationality gestured for them to approach, the lone hiker to be released said Sunday.

Sarah E. Shourd, a teacher freed in September after nearly 14 months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, contacted The New York Times to give her fullest public account yet of the capture of the three in July 2009.

Ms. Shourd, 32, said she wanted to correct the gathering false impression, fueled by a classified United States military report made public last week by WikiLeaks, as well as earlier American and British news reports, that the hikers were detained inside Iraq and forced across the border. Her comments came just days before her two fellow hikers, her fiancé, Shane M. Bauer, and their friend Joshua F. Fattal, both 28, are scheduled to go on trial in Iran on Saturday.

On the fateful day, when they approached the armed border guard who had gestured to them, “He pointed to the ground and said ‘Iran’ and pointed to the trail we had been on before he waved to us, then said ‘Iraq,’ “ Ms. Shourd said by telephone from her home in Oakland, Calif. “We did not actually enter Iran until he gestured to us. We were confused and worried and wanted to go back.”

Instead what seemed like a casual encounter mushroomed into a lengthy incarceration and an extended cause of tension in Iranian-American relations.

Besides stating that the three hikers were captured in Iraq, the American military report, by an anonymous official, also said, “The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on Iran.”

Ms. Shourd said that she was mystified by that conclusion. The three had no idea they were near the border and had not been warned about anything, she said. “Those claims are illogical and unsubstantiated. It is ridiculous to claim that mountain climbers would be agitating along a border.”

The United States State Department has never suggested the version published by WikiLeaks, she said, always maintaining that it did not know how their arrest happened.

The State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, confirmed that on Sunday. “We don’t know whether they had two feet on one side or the other or one foot on each,” he said. “All we know is Iran has held them far too long.”

Ms. Shourd described what began as a relaxed overnight camping trip, undertaken by three reunited friends from Berkeley happy to escape to the fresh, green Kurdish mountains from the sweltering Syrian plains.

She had been teaching English in Damascus, Syria, where Mr. Bauer was working as a freelance journalist while both studied Arabic. Mr. Fattal came to visit, and they set off to Kurdistan after reading on a Web site that it was safe and listening to a friend rave about the place.

Various Kurds suggested they visit Ahmed Awa, a spectacular mountain waterfall where local people camp overnight. The hikers had no idea it abutted Iran, Ms. Shourd said, and twice encountered Kurdish pesh merga soldiers who greeted them warmly. The music and laughter around scores of campfires at the waterfall gave no sense of imminent danger.

The next day, they trekked up a dirt road past the waterfall. After a lunchtime nap, a soldier with a gun appeared on a ridge above them and gestured for them to keep climbing. He was the first person they saw on the mountain, Ms. Shourd said.

About 500 yards farther up, with no sign to indicate the border, a guard standing by a stone hut gestured for them to approach. A news report that a shot had been fired over their heads was wrong, she said.

At a second, larger structure, according to Ms. Shourd, more guards repeating in Persian, “Mushkil nadereh,” or “no problem,” blocked their attempt to run away and ignored their pleas to return to Iraq. Four days and several moves later they ended up in Evin prison, where Mr. Bauer and Mr.. Fattal remain.

“I think we were extremely unlucky,” said Ms. Shourd, concluding that their one mistake was hiking too far. “I guess I never believed there would be so many hundreds of people close to a border.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Ink Bomb Intelligence Came From the Middle East

Intelligence that helped cracked the ink bomb plot may have come from a leading member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular who turned himself in..

Jabir Jubran al-Fayfi surrendered to Saudi authorities last month in the latest twist which has seen him change sides at least twice.

He was first recruited by al-Qaeda at a mosque in Saudi Arabia after reading a newspaper article that urged Muslims to join the jihad in Afghanistan.

He did so because he felt he was not a faithful Muslim due to drug use, smoking and lack of prayer, he later told interrogators.

Al-Fayfi traveled first to Pakistan and then Afghanistan where he received two weeks of weapons training at the al-Farouq camp before moving to Bagram where he waited to be sent to the front lines in the fight against the Northern Alliance.

After September 11 he fled to Osama bin Laden’s Tora Bora hide-out between November and December 2001 and then fled to Pakistan.

He was handed over to US forces after the fall of the Taliban and sent to Guantanamo Bay where he eventually recanted his views, telling interrogators he wanted to go back home to Saudi Arabia to take care of his parents and resume his job as a taxi driver, US documents say.

Al-Fayfi was transferred to Saudi Arabia in December 2006 and sent to a Saudi rehabilitation center which has been held up as a model for de-radicalisation efforts, using a combination of religious arguments and financial incentives.

However al-Fayfi was one of at least three former residents who traveled across the desert border to Yemen after their release to join al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular.

Following reports of his arrest, the Saudi Interior Ministry said on October 16 that he had contacted them from Yemen to express his regret and readiness to surrender and that they had arranged for his return.

The origins of the information about the ink jet bomb plot remain vague. British intelligence sources are guarded about their role, although MI6 in known to have been involved.

In the end, one of the key pieces of the jigsaw was the exact consignment numbers which allowed the authorities in Britain and Dubai to find devices that were almost impossible to detect.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Jonathan Spyer: Fire From the Mountain

Our PKK contact and driver arrived at the appointed time outside the hotel in Erbil. We had been told he would identify himself using an agreed term. We hadn’t quite been ready for the fact that this single word would be the sole communication possible between us. The diminutive, scrawny youth who turned up at six that morning knew neither English nor Arabic.

Only Kurdish. That was how we began our journey from the Iraqi Kurdish capital toward the Qandil mountains, in the remote border area between Iraq, Turkey and Iran.

It is in these mountains that the guerrillas of the Parti Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK) live and wage their 26- year-old war against Turkey. They offer ideal terrain for guerrilla fighters. Accessible only through a network of narrow, near impenetrable passes, the mountains serve as a launching ground for the PKK and the allied Iranian Kurdish PEJAK into their respective areas of operation.

The writ of the Iraqi Kurdish regional government has little purchase in the Qandil area. The PKK is the de facto ruling authority.

Our contact from the Kurdish regional government in Erbil cheerfully wished us luck on the eve of our departure — and told us not to bother calling him if we got into trouble. There was, he said with a broad smile, “absolutely nothing he could do” in such a situation.

The PKK is waging a struggle in these mountains for autonomy and recognition for the Turkish Kurds. The Qandil area has become a little known but crucial window into the complex strategic arrangements that dominate today’s Middle East…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]



NY UNRWA: Time for Arab Nations to Absorb ‘Refugees’

The outgoing director of the New York office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency has angered Jordan after stating it is time for Arab nations to absorb their brethren who are “refugees” from the 1948 war

Andrew Whitley stated that Palestinian refugees must not live in the illusion of achieving the “right to return” and that the Arab countries must search for a place for them in their lands to resettle there.

When UNRWA began its operations providing aid and services to the Arabs living in Israel in 1949, there were approximately 700,000 who qualified as “refugees.” Today, according to the latest statistics, that number has ballooned to nearly five million.

“We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent,” Whitley told a conference at the National Council for US-Arab Relations.

“It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue,” he said.

Taking the proverbial bull by the horns, Whitley then went on to add that instead of continuing to promote that “cruel illusion,” it would be best if Palestinian Authority Arabs began to consider “their own role in the societies where they are, rather than being left in a state of limbo, where they are helpless.”

The Hamas terrorist organization immediately demanded Whitley’s dismissal: a moot point, however, since he was already leaving the agency.

Wajih Azaizeh, director general of the Palestinian Affairs Department, meanwhile, told the Petra news agency Thursday that Jordan expressed its condemnation in a letter sent to UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi.

The letter bluntly reminded Grandi that his agency was established to offer humanitarian and social help and support to the Palestinian refugees, said Azaizeh, until their cause is resolved according to international legitimacy resolutions.

“We have asked the UNRWA Commissioner-General to clarify the U.N. Organization’s official position on such dangerous remarks and procedures taken against this man who held important posts in the agency,” Azaizeh said.

Political commentator Ben S. Cohen noted last week in a post on Harry’s Place, however, that of the 50 million people who lost their homes due to war and military conflict in the 20th century, “practically none of the original displaced returned to their homes, never mind their descendants. The historical record shows the refugees — like those 17,000 displaced Jews administered to by UNRWA back in 1950 — are invariably absorbed by host countries.”

The difference, Cohen pointed out, was that the surrounding Arab nations in this case have deliberately positioned the Palestinian refugee issue and the so-called “right of return” as an ongoing obstacle to a final settlement of the conflict with Israel.

“Accepting that the refugees will not go home, that they will live free of the apartheid conditions imposed on them in states like Lebanon and Syria, and that they might even receive some financial compensation on top, is the height of political incorrectness in the Middle East,” he observed.

“It means accepting not only that Israel has the right to exist, but also the right to define itself as the democratic state of the Jewish people..”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Saudi Man Beheaded for Killing Bangladeshi

A Saudi man has been beheaded by the sword after being sentenced to death for killing a Bangladeshi taxi-driver and armed robbery, the interior ministry said.

Yahia Majrashi was convicted of stabbing the victim to death and committing at least 14 armed robberies in which several people suffered injuries, the ministry said in a statement cited by the official SPA news agency.

His beheading on Friday in the Saudi capital Riyadh brings to 22 the number of executions reported this year in the Gulf kingdom.

In 2009, 67 executions were reported in Saudi Arabia, compared with 102 in 2008.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]



Syria: All Sections of Baath Government Party Disbanded

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 26 — The national leadership of the Syrian Baath government party yesterday decided to disband all the sections of the party in the cities of the Country. The report was made by semi-official daily newspaper Al Watan, which added that the decision provides for the creation of temporary committees to handle party affairs and supervise elections. The paper stated that the move is aimed at preparing the execution of the party’s national assembly, scheduled for the next months.

But according to German press agency DPa which cites well informed sources, again reported by Al Watan, the disbandment of the sections is the result of cases of corruption and abuse of power such as in the case of the Hama province. Local newspapers offered ample coverage of such cases, but certain analysts believe that the party is carrying out a ‘maquillage’ operation because public opinion is on the brink.

During his visit in Latin America Syrian president Bashar Assad had already hinted at the possibility of summoning the eleventh national assembly of the party before the end of the year. on that occasion the president had stated that the date of the assembly was not important, the important thing was for the assembly to give the people what they expected. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Syria: Counterfeiting is Killing Off Aleppo Soap

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 25 — The ‘green gold’ of Aleppo, the centuries old name of the soap made still today with ancient techniques in the Syrian city, could be destroyed, like other products, by counterfeiting activities which include the subtle use of reminiscent names (when not exactly the same) to sell to consumers a product which in truth has nothing in common with the original one. Today the industry is still holding on despite strict restrictions which were imposed fifty years by the Baath party in an attempt to emulate the Soviet system in Syria. But in the last five years, as reported by daily newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, the “bite” of restrictions has been softened by the government and what may possibly be Aleppo’s best known industry is coming back to life, even it if has to confront itself with aggressive and unscrupulous marketing methods. The result is that soap marketed as the real thing sells for two dollars per kilo, while the Aleppo soap sells for 16 dollars per kilo. An example is given by Chinese soap which, imitating the real Aleppo soap, is flooding the markets, European ones in particular.

However there is a certain degree of optimism, at least according to Saffouh Al Diri, who from Lyon channels towards foreign markets most of the manufactured soap. He stated that “Europeans are ready to spend a lot for a quality product. Our customers have the capability of distinguishing the original product from counterfeit ones”.

The real Aleppo soap is exclusively made with natural components such as olive and laurel oil and sodium palmitate.

The final product (cube shaped ‘pieces weighing approximately 250 grams each) is hand cut and left to dry for a period ranging from six months to three years, with prices varying according to the degree of maturation. The Aleppo soap combines the action of olive oil as natural moisturiser and laurel oil as cleaning agent, components which are practically unknown in counterfeit versions which mostly resort to the use of oils made out of animal fats or less pure oils such palm or seed oil. Thanks to the use of natural and organic components the Aleppo soap has a market in Europe, albeit a niche one.

Aleppo was a world scale trade centre on the Silk route and the soap trade was blooming (chronicles before the birth of Christ already spoke about it) until the Baath restrictions forced many of the small companies (almost all of which were family businesses) to shut down and seek their fortunes abroad.

Today the production of Aleppo’s best soap is divided between five families which still work in the old neighbourhoods of the city in an almost anonymous fashion. They have no billboard on their shops advertising their product. These families export most of their products (approximately 600 tonnes per year) and especially their best ones (which has a 16% content of laurel oil) which are sent to Europe, South Korea and Japan. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Wanted Cleric Has Lived in UK and Evaded CIA

ALTHOUGH he has not been seen publicly for three years, Anwar al-Awlaki has been credited with “inspiring” many of those behind a string of chilling terrorist plots in recent years, and his name is again in the frame in connection with the cargo plane plot.

From his hiding place, thought to be in rural Yemen, the 39-year-old US-born Muslim cleric is, through sermons and internet broadcasts, believed to have incited violence and hatred in young Muslims who have gone on to carry out attacks on the West.

According to US officials, these may include Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man accused of attempting to blow up a passenger jet as it flew into Detroit on Christmas Day last year, while he also met and spoke to a number of the terrorists behind the 11 September attacks — including Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — while working as an imam — an Islamic worship leader — at a mosque in Colorado in the US.

Awlaki, who is of Yemeni descent, was born in the southern US state of New Mexico, where his father, Nasser, a future Yemeni agriculture minister and university president, was studying agricultural economics.

As a teenager, he moved back to Yemen, where he studied Islam, before returning to the US to attain a degree in engineering from Colorado State University and a master’s in education at San Diego State University.

He spent about two years in the UK, after leaving the US shortly after the 11 September attacks — claiming he felt he had been hounded out.

In Britain, he spoke at the Masjid at-Tawhid mosque in London, among other venues, developing a following among groups of young Muslims. He was also a “distinguished guest” speaker at the UK’s Federation of Student Islamic Societies’ annual dinner in 2003.

He was banned from the UK in 2006, but is believed to have continued his lecture circuit via video. In 2009, he was banned by local authorities in Kensington and Chelsea, London, from speaking at Kensington Town Hall via videolink to a fundraiser dinner for Guantanamo detainees.

Awlaki returned to Yemen in 2004, when he lived in his ancestral village in the southern province of Shabwa with his wife and children. He subsequently became a lecturer at al-Iman University, a Sunni religious school in Sanaa headed by Abdul-Majid al-Zindani.

Al-Zindani, a cleric who has been listed as a “specially designated global terrorist” by the US Treasury Department and the UN for his suspected links to al-Qaeda, but Yemen has taken no steps to freeze his assets.

In August 2006, Awlaki was detained by the Yemeni authorities, reportedly on charges relating to a plot to kidnap a US military attache.

Since his release in December 2007, he has published a number of inciteful texts via his website, his Facebook page and many booklets and CDs, including one titled 44 Ways to Support Jihad.

Almost a year ago, it was believed that Awlaki, the first US citizen to be placed on the US Central Intelligence Agency’s wanted list, could have died in an airstrike on an al-Qaeda base in Yemen, but relatives and friends said he was not harmed.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

South Asia


For Sale: Afghanistan’s Government

Last Sunday, the New York Times described a crude scene that smacked of not exactly petty graft. There was Afghanistan’s presidential plane on the Tehran airport tarmac, waiting for one last passenger before wheels up to Kabul. The missing passenger was Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan. The ambassador, Feda Hussein Maliki, climbed aboard and took his tardy seat next to Umar Daudzai, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff and closest adviser. Maliki then presented Daudzai with a plastic bag bulging with about $1 million in packets of euros.

From Iran with love.

This, the Times reported, was “part of a secret, steady stream of Iranian cash intended to buy the loyalty of Mr. Daudzai and promote Iran’s interest in the presidential palace” in Kabul.

Bad enough, but it gets worse…

[Return to headlines]



Pakistan: Muslim Tortures, Accuses Christian Who Refused Slavery

A Muslim land owner in Pakistan this month subjected a 25-year-old Christian to burns and a series of humiliations, including falsely charging him with having sex with his own niece, because the Christian refused to work for him without pay.

Fayaz Masih is in jail with burns on his body after No. 115 Chitraan Wala village head Zafar Iqbal Ghuman and other villagers punished Masih for refusing to work as a slave in his fields, said the Rev. Yaqub Masih, a Pentecostal evangelist. The village is located in Nankana Sahib district, Punjab Province.

Sources said neither Fayaz Masih nor his family had taken any loans from Ghuman, and that they had no obligations to work off any debt for Ghuman as bonded laborers.

Yaqub Masih said the young man’s refusal to work in Ghuman’s fields infuriated the Muslim, who was accustomed to forcing Christians into slavery. He said Ghuman considered Masih’s refusal an act of disobedience by a “choohra,” the pejorative word for Christians in Pakistan.

On Oct. 3 Ghuman and 11 of his men abducted Masih from his home at gun-point and brought him to Ghuman’s farmhouse, according to Yaqub Masih and Yousaf Gill, both of nearby village No. 118 Chour Muslim. Gill is a former councilor of Union Council No. 30, and Yaqub Masih is an ordained pastor waiting for his denomination to assign him a church.

Fayaz Masih’s family members told Yaqub Masih that Ghuman was carrying a pistol, and that the 11 other men were brandishing rifles or carrying clubs, axes and bamboo sticks. They began beating Masih as they carried him away, calling him a choohra, Yaqub Masih said.

Gill said that Ghuman’s farmhands tied Fayaz Masih’s hands and legs and asked him once more if he would work in Ghuman’s fields. When he again refused, Gill said, Ghuman summoned four barbers; three ran away, but he forced one, Muhammad Pervaiz, to shave Masih’s head, eyebrows, half of his mustache and half of his beard.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



The Parade of “Muslim Sensitivities”: Where is it Taking Us?

by Jacqueline Ann Surin

AND so Perkasa has made the news again. And this time by its own doing, not because a media bent on sensationalism tried to cultivate the Malay nationalist group in order to increase readership.

In the latest of Perkasa moves, its Petaling chairperson, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, lodged a police report against a Protestant church in Shah Alam and its pastor for planning to stage a Christian play during Ramadan. “We want the church and pastor to be investigated for sedition and for insulting the Sultan,” Zainal Abidin told The Malaysian Insider on 17 Aug 2010. Zainal Abidin also accused the church of deliberately attempting to preach Christianity to Muslims in Muslim-majority Shah Alam.

We may be lulled into thinking that the issue at hand is limited to a Malay, and hence Muslim, rights group making wild and curious allegations against non-Muslim, non-Malay Malaysians. If only that were the case. Unfortunately, much more is involved. Indeed, what is really at stake is the control of public space and what it means for all of us.

My space, not anyone else’s

What Perkasa’s actions boil down to in Shah Alam is this. It’s saying that because it’s Ramadan and because Shah Alam is a Muslim-majority suburb, no other faith group is allowed to practise freedom of religion, expression or association. If they do, they can be cited for sedition, insulting the Malay ruler, and the crime of proselytising to Muslims.

I suspect that the citations of sedition etc are just a means of asserting control and power. By making out non-Malay non-Muslims to be criminals of the highest order, it becomes that much easier for lesser-thinking members of the public to believe that non-Muslims deserve to have their constitutional rights denied.

We may dismiss Zainal Abidin, and even Perkasa as a whole, as lunatic. That would be a mistake. Because Zainal Abidin and Perkasa are not the only ones who want complete control of public space, and who use a particular version of Islam to exert that control. Additionally, they are not the only players in town who do this at the expense of the rights and freedoms of other citizens.

Let us remember that before Perkasa started making the headlines, the national censors in 2005 banned the movie Babe because it starred a pig, considered haram in Islam, as the lead character. Following that, anecdotes from parents tell us that in some schools, non-Muslims children are told what they can and cannot pack in their lunch boxes in deference to Muslim sensitivities.

A Malaysian columnist once also told me that the word “pigmentation” was censored from a documentary he had watched presumably because the first syllable was “pig”. And in 2007, I discovered that Guardian pharmacy did not offer Piglet as part of its Winnie the Pooh gift redemption promotion.

Over in Section 6, Petaling Jaya, the local mosque has no qualms blaring the terawih prayers till late at night at decibels that are inconsiderate to the neighbourhood.

And let us also remember PAS’s own moves to define what can and cannot be done in the public domain. Everytime PAS Youth calls for a concert ban, what it’s effectively doing is telling all those — Muslims and non-Muslims — whose faith would not be threatened by attending a live concert, that they cannot because PAS says so. Similarly, when Selangor PAS tried to ban the sale of beer in Muslim-majority areas in the state, what the party is saying is that the lifestyle of all non-Muslims must be subservient to those of some Muslims.

And so the proscriptions on public spaces don’t just include what a Protestant church is allowed to do during Ramadan. It also affects the food our children are allowed to consume in schools, the drinks non-Muslims can buy in their neighbourhood, the movies and concerts and words we are allowed to watch and hear, the gifts we can redeem at a pharmacy, and the airwaves in our neighbourhood.

What do these events tell us? They tell us that there is a creeping, even if not concerted, effort by state and non-state players, to determine what is publicly kosher and what is not. It doesn’t matter if nothing in Islam actually prohibits non-Muslims from staging a Christian play during Ramadan, drinking alcohol, eating pork and watching a pig character in the movies.

The bottomline? Public space is no longer everyone’s space. It’s theirs — those Malay Muslims who believe that their imagined sensitivities alone give them the right to deny others access and use of public spaces.

The biggie

The biggie of all proscriptions in the current Malaysian context is of course, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s ban of the words “Allah”, “solat”, “Kaabah” and “Baitullah” among non-Muslims.

Even though Muslims don’t own copyright to these Arabic words, the BN government is asserting that these words belong to Muslims, and Muslims alone. Particularly Malaysian Muslims who apparently are prone to being confused should another faith community use the same words.

The ban on “Allah” and the three other words is no different from what Perkasa is doing in Shah Alam. A publicly-used word, like publicly-shared spaces, only belongs to Muslims. It’s as if these Muslim state and non-state actors are declaring, “Our space, not anyone else’s. Our word, not anyone else’s.”

And because their demands have no historical, cultural or legal legitimacy, they resort to demonising non-Muslims, accusing them of crimes and ill-intentions. And they use the powers of the state to impose and enforce ownership over “our space” and “our word”.

And so the biggie isn’t that our political landscape is littered more and more with irrational demands and wild allegations from certain Malay Muslim quarters. The biggie is that increasingly, there are more and more concerted attempts by these forces, which include the Umno-led federal government, to take over shared public spaces.

What’s the limit?

After the story on Perkasa’s police report was published, someone on Twitter commented that we can next expect police reports to be lodged against non-Muslims for eating during Ramadan. Indeed, I believe that’s not too far-fetched a scenario if we continue to allow those who try to control the public domain for their own narrow vested and bigoted interests, to continue doing what they do.

Already, non-Muslims are constantly being told to defer to the sensitivities of some Muslims. At the rate Muslim “sensitivities” are paraded about, one would think Muslims lived their lives like exposed nipples, ever excitable. When the truth is, we know that Muslims are thinking, rational human beings who belonged to one of the most historically advanced civilisations.

To be certain, there is a need to be respectful of different customs and belief systems. But “Muslim sensitivities” cannot and must not be the measure by which a non-Muslim citizen is denied the right to eat pork, watch a movie or use “Allah”. If we allowed that to happen, we would be a nation where behaving like an exposed nipple trumps constitutional rights to freedom of religion, assembly, association and expression. — TNG

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Far East


China Unveils the Fastest Supercomputer in the World. Should We Panic?

This week China unveiled a new supercomputer that’s pretty darn quick.

The Tianhe-1A machine housed at the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin reportedly works at the rate of 2.5 petaflops (a petaflop being about a thousand trillion operations per second), and reportedly will take the top spot in the rankings of world supercomputers when the people who attend to this list release the new version next month. That will bump the top U.S. machine down to number 2.

Personally, I’m not going to panic until China leapfrogs the United States on the Princeton Review list of top party countries or People Magazine’s sexiest countries in the world. But the announcement brought talk of American unease about being bested by China, and American alarm over China’s growing technological expertise. So is the vague, festering worry about the Chinese supercomputer justified? Let’s look at both sides of the argument.

Yes

Putting aside the issue of our wounded national pride, some experts say the real concern is whether the United States has the organization to match what China has done. CNET interviewed Jack Dongarra of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, keeper of the former fastest supercomputer, who called China’s achievement a “wake-up call.”

[…]

No

Tianhe-1A may be of Chinese design, but it is not completely of Chinese origin.

[…]

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific


A Former Muslim School Director Seeks $4m From School

A former Muslim school director convicted last week of rorting $752,000 from the State and Federal governments has claimed $4.1 million in unpaid wages and rent from the company behind the struggling school.

Anwar Sayed’s claim is the biggest against Muslimlink Australia Ltd, which was placed in administration in June and owes almost $480,000 to the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Administrator Graeme Lean refuses to accept Sayed is owed that much and approved him as a creditor for a nominal $100,000, claiming the school had no formal lease.

Sayed, 51, was found guilty after a four-week District Court trial of two counts of fraud by inflating student enrolment numbers to claim extra government payments. In 2006, he claimed for 186 students at Kenwick’s Muslim Ladies College when there were fewer than 100.

He is in custody to be sentenced this month but continues to press his claim against Muslimlink.

Documents obtained by _The West Australian _show Sayed, who started the school and owns the land, is desperate for the company to avoid liquidation and wants a deed of company arrangement so creditors can accept a settlement.

But Mr Lean told a creditors meeting, which Sayed attended during his trial, that big creditors such as the Australian Taxation Office and DEEWR were likely to object to a deed arrangement.

Other creditors include the Perth Indonesian Muslim Society ($257,000), school co-founder Zubair Sayed ($16,500) and Mohamed Mandour ($12,000).

Anwar Sayed, who also claims to have loaned cash to the company, was due to present his proposed deed this week. He also faces losing his three Kenwick properties, including the school, which were frozen last year under Federal proceeds of crime laws.

At his trial, the jury was told senior teacher Karen Suhot unearthed the fraud and took the school register after stumbling across it.

Ms Suhot handed it to fellow teacher Gadija Bruce, who eventually gave it to Anne Aly, a senior lecturer in terrorism, international security and radicalisation at Edith Cowan University, who passed it to police.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa


Nigerian Weapons Haul Shows Lengths Iran Will Go to Supply Hamas

The capture in Nigeria late last week of over a dozen containers filled with weapons highlights the lengths to which Iran is taking to supply its Hamas ally in the Gaza Strip, but leaves a question mark over how successful the arms conduit has been, analysts say.

The containers, unloaded in Lagos, the country’s largest port, came from a cargo ship originating in Iran, the company that owned the ship said in a statement. While their ultimate destination has not been confirmed, analysts believe the containers were bound for Gaza, ruled by the Muslim group Hamas.

“It’s getting harder to obtain the weapons so they’re using all types of funny places,” Martin van Creveld, a retired professor of military history at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told The Media Line. “They find a place that is so messy they can get through, and Nigeria apparently wasn’t messy enough.”

As Hamas’ main weapons supplier, Iran’s success in delivering missiles and other arms into Gaza will be a key factor in any future conflict with Israel. In its last confrontation with Hamas 14 months ago, Israel sustained almost no casualties, but if the Islamic group succeeds in obtaining more sophisticated weaponry it could put Israeli cities in rocket-range and jeopardize Israel’s control of the skies.

The shipping company, French-based CMA CGM, said it had been duped by Iranian trader who arranged the shipment. The shipper had listed the materials inside the containers as, “packages of glass wool and pallets of stone,” but when Nigerian security service personnel opened the containers, they found rockets, bullets, mortars and other weapons under a thin layer of floor tiles.

In the past, Hamas and Iran have sought to bring weapons into Gaza through smuggling routes that wind along the east coast of Africa from the Sudan, north into Egypt. From there, they arrive in Gaza through tunnels under the border with Egypt. But, these routes have grown more difficult as Israel and Egypt crack down on weapons shipments.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



White Farmer Shot in the Head in Chegutu Area, Zimbabwe

Harare, Zimbabwe-2010, October 29

A 67 year old white farmer, Kobus Joubert was shot (on Monday 25 October 2010) at his Scotsdale farm in Chegutu, west of Harare. The farmer heard his wife screaming in the bathroom, as he go to investigate he was shot by a man right in the head.

The murderers got away with Cell phones and $10 000 but failed to get a Laptop which they demanded. This was not the first incident the Jouberts suffered government persecutions. In 2008 Joubert was attacked by a mob of ZANU PF militias who needed his farm. ZANU PF government of President Robert Mugabe has declared that white farmers are “enemies of the people.” Therefore many farmers have been targeted, beaten, tortured and murdered by war veterans, militias and hired assassins.

The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) state’s, “The shooting at point blank range of another white farmer in the Selous district (near Chegutu) of Zimbabwe again highlights the deteriorating situation currently being faced in the rural farming areas. This is a symptom of the flagrant disregard for the rule of law in these areas over the last ten years and the Commercial Farmers’ Union of Zimbabwe urgently requests that the authorities take immediate action.”

[Return to headlines]

Immigration


Amara Lakhous: The New Face of Italian Fiction

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 28 — There is an Algerian fiction writer on the new literary scene in Italy and his name is Amara Lakhous — author of the well-known ‘Clash of Civilisations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio’ (published by E/O, 2006) — whose style and linguistic innovation has changed the face of Italian literature. Sandro Ferri, the founder of the publishing house E/O, spoke about the writer last night at the Biblioteca Guglielmo Marconi in Rome at the presentation of Lakhous’ latest novel, ‘Divorzio all’islamica a viale Marconi’ (Islamic Divorce on Viale Marconi), which came out a few weeks ago in Italian bookstores and is already a candidate for great success. Set once again in Rome, where Lakhous has lived for several years, ‘Divorzio all’Islamica’ takes place in 2005 in the crowded and diverse Viale Marconi neighbourhood, in the 15th District of Rome where the largest Muslim community in the capital resides and where the writer lived for 4 years from 2002 to 2006.

The two main characters in the story are Christian — a young Sicilian who speaks perfect Tunisian Arabic and is contacted by the Italian secret services to infiltrate a potential terrorist cell — and Sofia, or Sufia (her name in Arabic), a woman of Egyptian origin who has come to Rome to follow her husband, Said, alias Felice, an architect who now works as a pizza-maker.

The story draws the reader into the experiences and problems of Arab immigrants, into Muslim scenarios and taboos, and exposes the profound crisis through which Italian society is going and which “represents Italy today”, said E/O Sandro Ferri.

After graduating with a degree in philosophy in Algiers and writing a doctoral thesis dedicated to Muslim immigration to Italy from which the idea for this novel was born, Lakhous portrays the situations and characters with great irony in both Arabic and Italian, deliberately transposing elements and expressions from one language into another. The Arabic version of ‘Divorzio all’islamica’ was published in July by a company in Beirut, with the title “Little Cairo” (al-Qahira as-saghira), after the call centre where part of the story takes place. The choice to publish the book in Lebanon was no coincidence. “Lebanon is the cultural centre of the Arab world,” said Lakhous to ANSAmed, while departing for Algiers, where he will take part in the book fair, which will conclude on November 6. “It is a country where writers from the south shore,” he continued, “find cutting-edge publishers which are more inclined to work with controversial authors who are often too bold for a reserved public like the Arab world. “Lebanese publishers,” explained the 40-year-old writer and journalist, “print truly excellent books, unlike other Arab publishing houses, and have a very good distribution network.” After “Clash of Civilisations on an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio”, which was adapted into the film that bears the same name, directed by Isotta Toso, and ‘Divorzio all’islamica’, Lakhous says, “my next novel will be set in another Italian city”. And it will probably expose other important contradictions in our society. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Libya: Lesbian to Request Asylum in France

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, OCTOBER 25 — Nessma Faraj, a Libyan girl who was arrested, raped and returned to her family which tried to force her into marriage after she announced on the internet that she is gay, has arrived in Metz travelling via Italy on a Schengen visa. France has authorised her to request asylum in the country. In fact she should have asked for asylum in Italy, the first country where she arrived. She only stayed in Italy for a few hours however, because France had decided to resolve the case using the sovereignty clause in the Dublin convention which regulates asylum requests since 1990.

Nessma’s request is supported by 126 associations and around twenty local people. According to Lesbian Coordination France (CLF), the woman has presented document of the Libyan police to the French authorities which show that she had been arrested because of her homosexuality, a crime in Libya for which people can be convicted to three to five years in prison.

A recent report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees claims that it has become difficult for Libyans to request asylum in Italy after the signing of the Italian-Libyan agreement on the return of refugees to Libya. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Swedes Happy to be Kept Men: Study

Swedish men are prepared to take a step back in their careers in favour of their partners, with more than a quarter prepared to be financed by their wives, a new survey has shown.

The latest Work Life survey of 8,000 Swedes indicates that as many as 62 percent of men are prepared to give up their careers for a couple of years in favour of their partners, while only 39 percent of women could consider doing the same.

Among those born in the 1940s and 1950s, as many as 70 percent could consider easing off at work to support their partners, the survey commissioned by staffing firm Manpower Sweden showed.

“The survey indicates a new attitude among Swedish men which will probably affect equality in the labour market in a positive manner,” said Peter Lundahl, Manpower Sweden CEO.

A recent survey by the website Familjeliv received attention for suggesting that Swedish mums would like to spend more time with their kids, with half of respondents expressing a belief that other women would rather be housewives if they could.

The Familjeliv survey was reported in some media to indicate a new “housewife wave”, and the new survey by Manpower has been taken to indicate that Swedish men are of a similar mind.

Men born in the 1960s and 1970s dominate those prepared to accept being financed by a partner — with 28 percent prepared to allow someone else to foot the bill. Among women the figures are lower — with only 10 percent of women born in the 1940s and 1950s, for example, prepared to give up their own incomes.

Among younger people the difference between women and men are less pronounced.

The survey indicated however that a majority of Swedes are prepared to work extra to meet higher demand and almost as many are prepared to educate themselves in their free time in order to get ahead in their careers.

Every other Swedish man is prepared to be available on their holidays and more men that women are prepared to move in order to find work.

When it comes to having children, 34 percent of women and 40 percent of men are prepared to wait in order to advance in their careers. There are meanwhile few parents who would be prepared to spend less time with their children in order to focus on their careers.

The Manpower Work Life survey is Sweden’s largest labour market panel which continually reports Swedish attitudes to work, pay, and all that is important in life. The panel consists of some 20,000 people made up of a cross-section of Swedish society.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



This is Tolerance… This is Open-Mindedness…

[This is hard core liberalism from the man who was once the Bishop of the Diocese of Newark in the Episcopal Church USA]:

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility…

[…]

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is “high-sounding, pious rhetoric.”

[…]

I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a “new church,” claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives.

[…]

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude…

—by John Shelby Spong

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Spong is still ALIVE??]

[Return to headlines]

General


How to Plug in a Brain

Researchers are finding better ways for our neurons to talk directly to our computers.

For tens of thousands of people suffering from paralysis or neurodegenerative disease, a direct connection to a computer could soon restore speech and even mobility. Neurologist Leigh Hochberg of the VA Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island, is leading the second clinical trial of a brain-computer link called BrainGate. The system uses a sensor implanted into the motor cortex. Previous studies have shown that BrainGate can allow paralyzed people to perform simple tasks such as moving a computer cursor. The current trial will evaluate its safety outside the lab. Two people are already testing BrainGate at home, using the device to manipulate objects on a computer, and Hochberg hopes to recruit 13 more participants.

Although implants can be placed right next to the relevant neurons in the brain, they have drawbacks. Implants can inflame the surrounding tissue, and scarring can disrupt the connection between neurons and electrodes. A sensor developed by University of Pennsylvania neurologist Brian Litt could address those problems. It consists of electrodes embedded in a flexible plastic mesh that molds to the brain’s surface (but it does not penetrate the gray matter). Litt and his colleagues were able to record neural signals from cats’ brains for a few weeks without causing inflammation. Neuroscientist Gerwin Schalk of the New York State Department of Health has found that test sensors placed on the outside of human brains pick up signals that can identify spoken or imagined words. “The surface is a sweet spot,” he says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Want to Mine the Solar System? Start With the Moon

The first extraterrestrial mining operation in human history will likely start up on the moon, thanks to its ample and relatively accessible stores of water ice, experts say. That was the majority view of a panel of scientists and engineers asked to consider where, beyond Earth, humanity should go first to extract resources.

The moon won out over asteroids and Mars, chiefly because it’s so close to Earth and has so much water, as well as other resources like methane and ammonia. “I think the moon is clearly the answer,” said Greg Baiden, chief technology officer of Penguin Automated Systems, a robotic technology firm. “I could easily make a business case for going to the moon.”

Baiden spoke during a session here yesterday (Oct. 29) at a conference called Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement. The meeting is organized by the non-profit Space Studies Institute. Private enterprise, Baiden and others said, will likely lead the way to mining the moon because there’s so much money to be made, but it will probably need government to prime the pump.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



What’s the Model for Our Lifetimes: World War or Cold War?

By Barry Rubin

It has become fashionable to compare the current situation in the world with the experiences of Nazism and World War Two. There are some parallels, of course, worth exploring. But a more likely model for the next period in world history is more likely to be that of the Soviet Union and the Cold War.

The future of the confrontation between Islamism and the governments of Muslim-majority states as well as Israel and the West is more likely not going to be some terrible but relatively brief shooting war for several reasons.

Iran, the closest thing to a leader of revolutionary Islamism, is far less strong and bold than Nazi Germany. It is unlikely to offer the West an occasion for direct, conventional war. It is very strong in the elements of ideology, client groups, and ideological appeal. As in the USSR’s case, Iran will more likely use nuclear weapons as a shield rather than a vehicle for attack. And also, as in the Cold War, there will be many independent or semi-independent revolutionary groups in dozens of countries stirring up trouble.

In contrast to the Cold War era, however, the West has no taste for such a confrontation and would avoid waging this struggle as much as possible. Equally, the revolutionary forces are diverse, including even anti-Iran Islamists, and conditions vary in each country.

The key year here, then, is not 1939, when Germany launched war, but the far less-well-known year of 1946, when most of the West had not yet awoken to face the challenge and was riddled with apologists and would-be appeasers. America and Western Europe were exhausted from too many battles, the former faced with a potential retreat from world leadership, the latter preoccupied with economic troubles.

Fortunately, the United Kingdom has a great leader named Winston Churchill, who had just left office, and the United States has a tough, feisty Democrat named Harry S. Truman as president. You can do the comparisons to today without my help.

In his famous Fulton, Missouri, speech in front of Truman, Churchill sounded the challenge for both countries:…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20101030

Financial Crisis
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USA
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Europe and the EU
» Cardinal Koch Says, “German Politicians Have Fearfully Underestimated Islam-Problem”
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» Italy: Moroccan Girl ‘Sorry’ Over Party Probe
» Italy: 60% of Wind Farms Located in Southern Italy in 2009
» Italy: Berlusconi Dismisses New Escort Claims as ‘Trash’
» Italy: University: “I’m Leaving Italy for Nice, There’s No Future Here”
» Spain: PP Petition Over Constitutionality of Bullfight Ban
» Sweden: Police Investigate Gothenburg Bomb Threat
» UK: ‘Businessman’ With a Taste for Supercars Facing Jail After He is Revealed as Multi-Million Pound Drug Smuggler
» UK: A Cure for Our National Amnesia
» UK: Christina Patterson: You Can Tell the Truth as You See it. But You’ll Pay a Heavy Price
» UK: Fear Over Islamist Tower Hamlets Mayor
» UK: MPs’ Dislike of Andrew Mitchell is Making Aid Toxic for Cameron
» UK: Was the Emperor of Exmoor’s Death Quite What it Seemed?
 
Balkans
» ICJ: Mladic, Reward Raised to 10 Milion Euros
» Serbia: Army: First Generation of Women Officers in 2011
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Taming the Wild East: Arab Honor Killings in Israel
 
Middle East
» Cargo Plane Bombs Were Wired to Explode, Officials Say
» Jordan: Florence University Project for Shobak Castle
» Robert Fisk: Lebanon and Iran Make Uneasy Bedfellows
» U.S. Sanctions 37 Iran Front Companies in Europe
 
South Asia
» Borneo: Rare Scaled Mammal Threatened by Traditional Medicine
 
Immigration
» ‘More Immigrants Should Work for the State’: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Adds to the Country’s Roaring Immigration Debate
 
Culture Wars
» Bonding With Mom: Why Day Care May Harm Fussy Tots
 
General
» Did Life Begin With a Bolt From the Deep Blue?
» Sharp Stone Age Spearheads Were Cooked Then Flaked
» Think Again: A Double Standard for Islam

Financial Crisis


Italy: Cinema: Knightley, Mendes Back Rome Red-Carpet Spoilers

Protestors angry at government cuts to culture

(ANSA) — Rome, October 29 — Hollywood stars Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes have backed the protestors who ruined their red-carpet appearance at Thursday’s opening night of the 2010 International Rome Film Festival.

Around 1,500 cinema-sector workers, included highly regarded directors Ettore Scola, Carlo Verdone, Paolo Sorrentino and Marco Belloccio, occupied the red carpet to express dismay at cuts in public financing and tax breaks for culture.

But rather than being miffed at the disruption, Knightley and Mendes, in Rome for the screening of Last Night, which is in the running for the Gold Marcus Aurelius top prize, went to meet the demonstrators and expressed solidarity.

“We aren’t here for a premiere, we’re here as colleagues and artists,” said Massy Tadjedin, the Iranian-American director of the story of love, sex and jealousy.

“We happily went without our red-carpet moment to show solidarity with you”.

Italian Culture Minister Sandro Bondi, however, described the demonstration as “unjustified and partisan”.

The cuts were part of an austerity package the government approved in the summer in a bid to rein in Italy’s public deficit. Oscar-winning American director Martin Scorsese is also coming to the Festival, which runs until November 6, for Saturday’s maiden screening of the restored La Dolce Vita to mark the 50th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s masterpiece.

American actress Julianne Moore and French diva Fanny Ardant will be in town to present films too. photo: the cast and director of Last Night express solidarity with protestors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

USA


Bill Maher Doesn’t Want West ‘Taken Over by Islam’

Bill Maher, no fan of organized religion, isn’t thrilled with news out of Britain that Mohammed is the most popular baby name there. “Am I a racist to feel alarmed by that?” he asked on his Real Time show last night, reports Mediaite. “Because I am. And it’s not because of the race, it’s because of the religion. I don’t have to apologize, do I, for not wanting the Western world to be taken over by Islam in 300 years?”

To which conservative guest Margaret Hoover responded, “If you’re with NPR, you’d be fired,” referring to the Juan Williams flap. When she claimed that sharia law was gaining ground in Britain, Maher said, “Then I’m right. I should be alarmed. And I don’t apologize for it.” At another point in the show, comedian Zach Galifianakis appeared to light up a joint during a discussion on Prop 19, notes PopEater. Click here for more on that. Videos of both are in the gallery.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Halal Food Hits the Shelves of Whole Foods

Shopping in the local grocery store is a daunting task for many Muslims Americans who normally tend to buy their produce in one market and purchase their meat from another. Eating halal meat slaughtered in a manner following Islamic law is part of the religion that most Muslims follow, which means that the meat has to be purchased from an Islamic butcher. Now, however, a grocery market hopes to ease the hassle by introducing a line of frozen foods that are “100% natural, antibiotic and hormone-free, certified halal and certified humane.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Lackawanna Council Delays Action on Land for Muslim Cemetery

The Lackawanna City Council decided this week it needs more time to consider a request from representatives of a local mosque to buy a vacant 6.5-acre site on South Street to use as a cemetery for the city’s Yemeni Muslim community.

The Lackawanna Islamic Mosque, at 154 Wilkesbarre St., is offering $5,000 for the property, currently assessed at $20,000.

In a Sept. 14 letter to Council President Charles Jaworski, City Assessor Frank E. Krakowski described half of the parcel as being unusable but recommended that the city sell the property to the mosque.

Monday, however, Jaworski said the property is too small for a cemetery because the city code requires at least 20 contiguous acres for such a use. Initially, 1st Ward Councilman Abdul Noman, the city’s first and only Yemeni American on the Council, objected to the decision to table the matter pending consultation with the city attorney and city assessor.

“You’re making a big mistake today not to vote on selling this property to the Lackawanna Islamic Mosque,” Noman said. “This law . . . it’s easy to change it.”

Second Ward Councilman Geoffrey Szymanski said that the City Council remained bound by the code until it was amended.

“We’re not only lawmakers, we also have to follow it,” Szymanski said. “It clearly states it’s for a cemetery. That’s in the application. And in our laws, it says [a cemetery] has to be 20 acres. This is not 20 acres. It’s 6.5 [acres], and it’s adjacent to toxic [chemical concerns].”

Muhammad Ali Saleh, who submitted the application on behalf of the Lackawanna Islamic Mosque, said the land is not contaminated.

“The land is clean and pure . . . for graves,” Ali said.

He added that a Muslim cemetery in Niagara Falls is, perhaps, less than half the size of the one proposed by his organization.

“When you’re talking about 6z 1/2 cre 1/3 , this is plenty for us as a community and Arab-Americans for three to five centuries,” Ali said.

In the end, Noman joined the rest of the lawmakers on the Council, which voted unanimously to table the request until lawmakers consult with the city attorney and city assessor.

[Return to headlines]



Moderate Islam?

Every time anything even marginally critical of Muslims or Islam appears in the media apologists, Muslim or otherwise, respond by saying ‘moderate voices must be heard’ or ‘misconceptions about Islam are widespread’ or ‘Islam is really a religion of peace and tolerance’ or other such platitudes.

These pronouncements are dead wrong. What we must look at is how and why Islam manifests itself the way it does and what we must listen to are the cries of its victims, those that are still alive that is. If we did we would realize that Islam is not a religion of peace and tolerance and that Muslims constantly commit heinous acts in its name everywhere on earth, the United States and Canada included. We would realize that it is in fact not merely religion, it is a completely proscribed way of life which requires true believers to act in ways that are fundamentally at odds with free, democratic, secular, Judeo-Christian, Western societies like ours. We would realize that Islam is expansionist and demands that non believers submit to its imperatives, with horrific consequences if they don’t. We would realize that the Koran is full of hatred and intolerance and misogyny, that Islam really hasn’t changed since its inception, that its very nature makes change virtually impossible and that the term ‘moderate Islam’ is complete hogwash.

Let there be no mistake. The vast majority of Muslims in the West are every bit as peaceful and tolerant in their daily lives as you or I, but they are not true believers or practitioners even if they think they are. They couldn’t be because if they were every single one of them would be out to conquer us and bring us under Islam’s sway. Moderate, peaceful, tolerant, integrated Muslims-absolutely. They are all around us. Moderate, peaceful, tolerant, integrated Islam — no such thing. Every day all over the world people are murdered, maimed, raped, attacked, vilified and humiliated under its aegis and according to its precepts and dictates. We have had 1400 years of this behavior and the evidence is overwhelming and beyond dispute…moderate Islam simply does not exist and never has.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult for ordinary citizens to gain an accurate picture of Islam because the mainstream media is unwilling or unable to show its true colors, out of ignorance, political correctness, fear of retaliation or any number of other such reasons. The media would do us all a huge favor if it did however. Islam is a direct and serious threat to Western civilization in general and must be seen for what it is if we are to keep it from destroying our way of life and forcing us all to live as it requires us to. Including moderate Muslims.

With horrific consequences if we don’t.

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Terror Suspect’s Anger Stood Out

The Loudoun County man accused of conspiring to blow up Metrorail stations — was a firebrand whose conservative views sometimes clashed with others at the Sterling mosque where he worshiped, leaders there said Friday.

Ahmed, 34, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, went only occasionally to the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) center to pray, and he rarely lingered or socialized. But he was not shy about making his beliefs known, leaders said.

He objected to the fact that men and women prayed together and demanded, without success, that women be relegated to an upstairs room, mosque officials said. Many still remember a nasty shoving match with a boy who he felt was too noisy and was dressed inappropriately for prayer.

“He was very angry and tried really to fight with him,” said the deputy Imam, Abdur Rafaa Ouertani. Ouertani pulled Ahmed off the boy, took him aside and admonished him. “I noticed a lot of anger,” he said. “ For most of the people at the center, this is what they remember about him. This ‘show.’ It was unfortunate.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Unrequited Muslim Outreach

A new international poll shows the folly of Washington’s strategy of winning Muslim “hearts and minds.” Despite all our help, Muslims still hate us.

Titled “The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other,” the new Pew study reveals that Muslim countries generally view Westerners as violent and immoral. Large majorities of even British Muslims think Westerners are “selfish” and “arrogant.”

Above all, foreign Muslims hate American foreign policy, which in a disturbingly large share of their minds justifies terrorism. Fully 57% of Jordanians think it’s OK to attack civilians in jihad. A simple majority of Egyptians agree.

Even so-called moderate leaders are against us. “Yes, Muslims are against the West,” responded Adnan Abu Odeh, 73, former political adviser to Jordan’s King Hussein. “Why? Western foreign policies, especially on two issues: the Palestinian issue and now Iraq.

“These are the issues people talk about day and night. And which the news focuses on day and night. And they come to the eyes and ears of the Muslims who have been surveyed, daily in the bloodiest way — it’s killing, women screaming and yelling, and soldiers frowning. So what they hate is American foreign policy.”

Muslims also blame us for their lack of prosperity. Nearly half of Turks, among the better educated of Mideast Muslims, say Western policies rob them of wealth. This Jordanian pharmacist is typical of respondents:

“There is no prosperity because the United States has seized all our products, all our oil and all our wealth. All of it goes to the United States and the West,” Hassan Omar Abdel Rahman said. “It is not about the internal politics. Look at Saddam, you see what happened to him — did he come out with anything?”

Agreed Mohsen Hamed Hassan, a Cairo doctor: “I believe the American foreign policy is responsible for the greedy image. They support dictatorships because they want their oil.”

A majority of Americans more accurately blame Muslim government corruption and a lack of education for chronic Muslim poverty.

Though they are beneficiaries of $10 billion in direct U.S. aid since 9/11, Pakistanis still hold us in contempt. Pew found that most think we are “selfish, immoral and greedy.” “The West has an expansionist policy and they want to get hold of this portion of the world,” said Sadia Omar, a 34-year-old housewife from Rawalpindi. “They will never be friends with us.”

Laughably, majorities of Muslims in Pakistan and the Mideast think we are less “respectful” of women than they are. But perhaps the biggest divide comes over who’s responsible for 9/11.

Americans overwhelmingly blame Arab Muslims, while Muslims abroad, including 56% of British Muslims, insist someone else carried out the attacks. Denial, as they say, is not just a river in Egypt.

We suspect Pew would find similar hostility among the American Muslim community if it had included it in its survey. A recent Gallup poll of U.S. Muslims found that, despite herculean outreach efforts and remarkable tolerance toward them, “Muslims are the most likely group to report feeling anger compared with the overall population.”

America has gone trillions in debt and sacrificed thousands of its sons and daughters saving Muslims from tyrants and terrorists in Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. And this is the thanks we get?

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Cardinal Koch Says, “German Politicians Have Fearfully Underestimated Islam-Problem”

The Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch is the new Official heading the Vatican Office for Ecumenism. A discussion about Christian in the Holy Land, Minarets in Europe and the current Islam-Debate.

Rome (kath.net/DieWelt) As the successor of the Curial Cardinal, Walter Kasper, the former Basel Archbishop Kurt Koch will become the next President for the Papal Adviser for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians — a kind of “ecumenical minister” of the Vatican. Koch was born in 1950 in Emmenbrucke in the Canton of Luzern. As his first challenge was a two week Synod in the Vatican on the situation of Christians in the Middle East. Paul Badde of Die Welt interviewed him.

Die Welt Hardly in office, you were confronted with the extremely difficult Middle East Summit. How would you describe your idea of the situation?

[Return to headlines]



Islamic Fanatic on Hate Tour of Britain

ISLAMIC fanatic Abu Izzadeen is going on a hate tour of Britain.

The Brit-born radical, whose real name is Trevor Brooks, announced yesterday he is planning a nationwide tour, even though he has only just been released from prison for terror offences.

The Muslim convert said he plans to spout his hate-filled rants on websites like Facebook and YouTube to reach millions more Muslims across the globe.

Izzadeen, 35,has just spent four years in jail for inciting terrorism.

He said: “I will start up north, because there is a higher Muslim population, and then travel around the rest of the country.”

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Italy: Moroccan Girl ‘Sorry’ Over Party Probe

Protests about Berlusconi ‘phone call to free her’

(ANSA) — Milan, October 28 — A 17-year-old Moroccan girl at the centre of fresh allegations concerning purportedly sexy parties held by Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday said she was sorry for all those involved.

“I’m sorry about what is happening. I’m especially sorry because I see that people who helped me without asking for anything in return have been involved,” Ruby told ANSA on the telephone.

Speaking from an undisclosed location outside Milan, Ruby said she had taken herself off Facebook, where she appeared as Ruby Rubacuore (“Heartbreaker”), as soon as the allegations his the press Thursday.

She said she “felt bad” and her lawyer, Luca Giuliante, told ANSA: “she needs to be left alone because she’s a very young girl involved in an affair that is bigger than her”.

Berlusconi sparked protests from the centre-left opposition Thursday when he appeared to admit phoning a Milan police station in May to have Ruby released after she was arrested on suspicion of stealing from an acquaintance of hers.

Some MPs even said he should resign.

The Milan prosecutors office has yet to issue an official confirmation of reports that Ruby is at the centre of a probe involving Berlusconi news anchor Emilio Fede, 79, and two others on suspicion of abetting prostitution.

According to news reports, Ruby said she went to three parties, one of which ended in an “erotic ritual”, and stressed she never had sex with the 74-year-old premier.

The person who allegedly picked Ruby up from the station in May, Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist and current Lombardy councillor for his party, Nicole Minetti, said she was “not a friend of Ruby’s nor did I ever put her up at my house”.

Minetti declined to conform or deny whether she went to the station to get Ruby, allegedly at the premier’s behest.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: 60% of Wind Farms Located in Southern Italy in 2009

(ANSAmed) — BARI, OCTOBER 29 — In Italy, most wind farms are located in the South, with Apulia, Campania and Sicily, which together accounted for 60% of the total in the country in 2009. The number of wind farms in Calabria increased from 2.9% in 2008 to 4.4% in 2009. According to a report, “Renewable energy installations”, regarding the power produced by wind farms, Apulia comes in first with 23.5%, followed by Sicily with 23.4%…

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Italy: Berlusconi Dismisses New Escort Claims as ‘Trash’

Milan, 28 Oct. (AKI) — Italy’s flamboyant prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday dismissed as “media trash” allegations of sexual antics with various women including a 17-year-old Moroccan girl called Ruby at his Milan villa during what he called “Bunga Bunga” nights.

Berlusconi replied to a question about the news reports during a news conference on the ongoing garbage crisis in the southern Italian city of Naples (which he said would be over in three days).

“I have a big heart and I try to help people in need,” Berlusconi said in comments broadcast live by Italy’s Sky TG24.

“But I’m here to talk about real trash, and I’ll leave the media trash to all of you.”

Italian newspapers Il Fatto Quotidiano and La Repubblica have carried stories in the last two days based on claims by Ruby, an aspiring showgirl, who said she visited 74-year-old Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore near Milan three times when she was 17.

Ruby, now an adult, claimed she and other women, who included escorts and several cabinet ministers, were at Berlusconi’s villa when the “Bunga Bunga” sex game was played. Berlusconi allegedly said Libyan leader Muammer Gaddafi had taught him the game.

She claims he showered her with gifts of Rolex watches and Bulgari, Damiani and Dolce&Gabbana jewellery and clothes as well as over 150,000 euros in cash. He said he would buy her a beauty parlour and told Ruby to say she was the niece of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the newspaper reports cited her as saying.

Ruby was part of a circle of aspiring models and actresses who were allegedly introduced to Berlusconi by a prominent show business agent, Lele Mora, and by prominent TV host Emilio Fede. Fede is 79.

The undocumented Moroccan teenager was picked up several times by police, suspected of theft and burglary. But each time, she was allegedly released after police received a call from the Italian cabinet offfice saying she was Mubarak’s niece.

Magistrates cautioned that the Moroccan woman’s claims might be with foundation and could be part of a plot to blackmail the premier or an attempt to launch herself into the media spotlight.

Prosecutors are reported to be probing Mora, Fede and Berlusconi’s former dental hygienist, Nicole Minetti, for abetting prostitution.

Minetti was elected aged 25 as a councillor for the northern Lombardy region surrounding Milan.

Berlusconi’s lawyers Niccolo Ghedini and Piero Longo said in a statement on Wednesday that the allegations reportedly made by Ruby were “unfounded”.

Berlusconi was previously linked to teenage Naples lingerie model Noemi Letizia, whose 18th birthday party he attended in 2008 and whom he gave a 6,000 euro gold and pearl pendant.

She said she called him ‘Papi’ meaning ‘Daddy’ in English.

Escort Patrizia D’Addario alleges she had sex with Berlusconi at his residence in Rome in November 2009. She released tapes of their encounter to media. Berlusconi has said he is “no saint” but has never paid a woman for sex or had “improper” relations.

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



Italy: University: “I’m Leaving Italy for Nice, There’s No Future Here”

Giovanna Tissoni is a researcher at Insubria University. She studies “laser physics” and other cutting edge subjects in the scientific field; this talented scientist, from these parts, is escaping to France.

“My childhood dream was never to become a university researcher. It all happened by chance, during my graduation thesis. At that time, I discovered a passion for studying things in depth, for doing research. I then decided I would continue on that path.” But in Italy, that path has become one of the most difficult to follow. It is no surprise, then, that many decide to leave halfway, and choose another path to reach their destination. Like Giovanna Tissoni, a researcher at Como’s Insubria University site, who will shortly be finishing her work in Italy, and continuing it at Nice University. The path she has undertaken so far is typical: “I graduated in physics and then I did my doctorate at Milan University. First, I obtained a four-year-contract as a researcher for the National Research Centre, then as a university researcher. I’ve worked at the Faculty of Science in Como for ten years. Now, I’m considering my future and I can’t see any opportunities of growth.” As she herself confirms, the faculty where Dr. Tissoni works is full of talented people. For example, she is in charge of laser physics in the field of quantum optics, a cutting edge subject in the science field. But she is not the only one; just a few months ago, a colleague of hers, Professor Daniele Faccio, was in the international press thanks to his sensational demonstration of Hawking’s Black Hole Theory. However, Dr. Faccio is also not going to stay in Italy; the scientist has chosen the Scottish lochs over Lake Como.

But what spurs a person on to look for new opportunities, to leave everything, even though they know they have a lot to give to their country?

“It’s not only a financial choice, I’d like to make that clear,” said the researcher from Como. “In France, I’ll initially have the same position, and I don’t expect any great differences in terms of salary. What is most important is my future. With all the best will in the world, I couldn’t aspire to anything in Italy in the next few years. In Nice, I can expect a long-term career; furthermore, there are far fewer short-term contracts there. On the matter of leaving Italy, I have to say that I also had personal reasons to do it, so I had a number of reasons for doing so. The future of research in Italy is not encouraging.”

What do you think about the Gelmini reform, and what experience did you have of the researchers’ protest in the last few months?

“I should start by saying that a university career is not easy, and neither should it be. It has to be selective, but this doesn’t mean impossible. I think I’m an investment for my country, one that is built up a little at a time. But this isn’t acknowledged. There isn’t even the slightest planning for the future. Current regulations, and those planned, that govern the university inhibit a strategic approach. The freeze on recruitment and turnover, and the cuts in research funds are all limits that compromise our future. Universities are short of the money they need to work, for research, and for recruiting staff.”

It is natural, however, that a researcher should gain experience abroad; it is part of his training.

“Sure. But it should be just one way. Our system isn’t attractive. It prevents access to foreign brains. Of course, it’s natural for anyone that does research to move about, but nobody’s going to come from abroad to take my place when I’ve gone.”

Your faculty has great potential, so it should be seen as a strategic factor, for the country, as well. Do you agree?

“It’s a centre of excellence with extremely qualified people. But the fact that many are leaving should make us reflect in a broader way: the situation at Insubria is unusual, because it’s small, and the intention behind the Gelmini reform seems to be to make cuts in the small universities. I hope the Faculty of Science in Como can continue its work, because it’s full of people who deserve it.”

Did you also protest?

“Yes, with my colleagues, because I agree with the ways and the means of the protest. We only did what was allowed by our contracts. We said we weren’t available for teaching. It was the first real protest at our university, as because of this, in July, when the dissatisfaction was expressed, some deans and lecturers underestimated us. Today, even the associate professors have taken sides, and many of them have joined the protest.”

Translated by Claudia Gorla (Reviewed by Prof. Rolf Cook)info@ssml.va.it

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



Spain: PP Petition Over Constitutionality of Bullfight Ban

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 28 — The announced court action over Catalonia’s animal protection law which bans bullfighting in the region from January 2012 has been presented by the country’s Popular Party to the Constitutional Court. In a statement to the media, PP Spokesperson to the Senate, Pio Escudero, claimed that the law contravenes a dozen or so articles of the constitution, including the rights to education, to free enterprise and to free artistic creativity. Signed, as is legally required, by fifty senators, the appeal claims that the law passed by Catalan’s parliament “harms the rights and freedoms of citizens,” including their freedom to enjoy cultural events. The 38-page petition “is exclusively based on legal principles,” Escudero said. He stated, “one cannot ignore the fact that the bull festival is a national, cultural, historical, social, economic and industrial phenomenon”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Sweden: Police Investigate Gothenburg Bomb Threat

Gothenburg police are investigating a bomb threat in the city that has been forwarded by a “reliable source” but remained short on details.

“We are working frenetically to try to clarify it,” said police spokesperson Björn Blixter.

There is currently no identified suspect and the threat has not been considered immediate enough to cordon off areas of the city.

“We are not advising against anyone visiting central Gothenburg,” said Blixter.

The police learned of the bomb threat on Friday. The warning came, according to police, from a reliable source.

“We are in a situation where we can not rule out the threat being carried out,” said Carina Persson at Gothenburg police.

Persson also said that there were no established connections to terrorists or terrorist organizations, information which has also been confirmed by the Security Service (Säpo).

The Security Service raised the terror alert in Sweden to “elevated” due to an increased threat level.

“We then spoke of a specific threat as a reason for why we raised the terror alert. At the moment we have no information which connects this threat to the information regarding a bomb threat in Gothenburg,” said Patrik Peter at Säpo on Friday.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]



UK: ‘Businessman’ With a Taste for Supercars Facing Jail After He is Revealed as Multi-Million Pound Drug Smuggler

A self-styled ‘businessman’ with a taste for Italian supercars is facing a long jail sentence after heading a crime gang which ran a multi-million pound drug smuggling operation.

Mohammed Farid flashed his cash and drove a Ferrari and Lamborghini.

He masqueraded as a legitimate, hard-working businessman with a cafe, car hire firm and kitchen company.

He owned a large, luxuriously-furnished detached home and had other houses around Oldham, Greater Manchester.

In reality he was the boss of a gang dealing in hard drugs.

When police smashed the operation they recovered £2.5million worth of drugs and almost £40,000 in cash. Eight members of the gang have now been jailed for a total of 46 years.

Farid, 37, of Oldham, who admitted conspiracy to supply heroin, cocaine and cannabis, will be sentenced at a later date, along with three others.

His assets have been frozen and police are working to recoup money the group made from selling drugs.

Chief Supt Tim Forber, divisional commander for Oldham, said: ‘Farid effectively glamorised the drug trade by flashing his cash and driving his expensive cars.

He recruited his gang and offered them what appeared to be large amounts of cash for relatively little effort.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: A Cure for Our National Amnesia

by Michael Nazir-Ali

It is both rare and welcome to hear an educating and educated speech by the Secretary of State for Education at his party conference. Michael Gove’s at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, particularly the section on the curriculum in our schools, repays careful study. He is generally right in his emphasis on the rigorous study of traditional subjects rather than wasting time on what he calls “pseudo-subjects”. We would expect him, as a student of English, to focus on the teaching of language and literature — as he does. His choice, though, of the “greats” — Dryden, Pope, Swift, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Austen, Dickens and Hardy — could have been expanded to include Herbert, Donne, Newman, Hopkins, Eliot, Chesterton, Greene and Belloc.

It is, however, his comments about the teaching of history that are the most telling. He reminds us of that sundering of our society from its past which I have called “national amnesia”, and asserts that until we understand the struggles of the past we will not be able to value our hard-won freedoms. All of this, and more, is music to my ears, but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

We must ensure that the teaching of history is not just about a number of significant events and personalities and that there should be a connected narrative. But how is this to be achieved and what is the “golden chain of harmony” that can provide the connection? Surely, this has to do with a world-view that underlies the emergence of characteristically British institutions and values: the Constitution itself (“the Queen in Parliament under God”); a concern for the poor; a social security net, based on the parish church, which goes back to the 16th century; and personal liberties as enshrined in the Magna Carta.

The world-view that made these fundamental national building-blocks is the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the Bible…

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Christina Patterson: You Can Tell the Truth as You See it. But You’ll Pay a Heavy Price

It isn’t much fun being monstered. Poor Katharine Birbalsingh, the former Marxist who was hailed as a messiah at the Tory party conference, has returned to liberal London as Judas.

Bad enough, one might think, to have the surreal experience of being clutched to the matronly bosom of Middle England, and to have photos of one’s pupils met with the kind of braying you might expect in a zoo, or perhaps in a parliament, but then to get back to find that you’re suspended, and then sacked, and that your name, in the metropolitan liberal circles you move in, is now mud — well, that’s what one of your new friends might call a jolly poor show.

Birbalsingh is, apparently, black. This is not immediately evident from her photo, but in a country in which a perma-tanned former prime minister is categorised as white, and many pretty pallid mixed-race people, including a friend of mine I always thought was white until she told me she was black, are always categorised in line with their darker parent, it’s regarded as important. It means you can’t go round saying “as a white woman”, which people tend not to anyway, but you can go round saying “as a black woman”, though Birbalsingh, as far as I can gather, doesn’t.

It also means that the so-called BME (black and minority ethnic) representation at the Tory conference was massively increased, though Samantha Cameron happened to be filmed sitting next to a nice-looking Asian couple and there may, as well as the Indian dancers brought on for the occasion, also have been David Cameron’s black man.

But Birbalsingh, perhaps because she is black, and therefore much more likely to end up in prison, committed a crime. She mentioned black underachievement, which you’re allowed to mention, because it’s the kind of thing you can put on a form, but then she said something terrible. She said that black underachievement wasn’t due to institutional racism, which you’re also allowed to put on a form, but, at least in part, to “accusations of racism”, which you’re not. She said that when lawyers argue against the exclusion of a black boy in a school, and succeed in getting him re-admitted, then all the other black boys “look to this invincible child, and copy his bad example”. Black children underachieve, she said, “because of what the well-meaning liberal does to him”.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



UK: Fear Over Islamist Tower Hamlets Mayor

Senior Jewish figures have raised concerns over the election of a controversial Muslim politician as mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Lutfur Rahman was dropped as the Labour Party’s official candidate after evidence was produced of irregularities in the nomination process and links to the radical Muslim group Islamic Forum Europe. He then stood as an independent and last week trounced Labour rival Helal Abbas, although only a quarter of the electorate turned out to vote. He will now preside over the Olympic borough’s £1 billion budget.

Islamic Forum Europe, which actively supported Mr Rahman’s election, has been accused of promoting a Muslim supremacist agenda. Its official blog, Between the Lines, is virulently hostile to Israel, which it describes in one post as the “Zionist terrorist state”. Regular contributor Azad Ali, a prominent IFE figure, wrote earlier this year: “We are working our socks off, in different ways, for the resurgence of the Khilafah [the Islamic state]”. He added that his vote for head of state would go to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Another, Bint Khan, suggested there was a “hidden war” of Jewish propaganda in the British media after the release of the film The Reader and the TV dramatisation of the Anne Frank Diary. However, in a statement issued after the election, IFE denied charges of extremism: “IFE believes that British Muslims must be model and active citizens, and has been promoting a balanced message of Islam, often finding itself at loggerheads with fringe and extreme groups.”

[…]

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: MPs’ Dislike of Andrew Mitchell is Making Aid Toxic for Cameron

Andrew Mitchell was supposed to rescue the Department for International Development from being a parody of a 1980s student union. But, as Guido reports, the department is still under the sway of hard-Left ideologues, for example hosting an event on “putting gender at the heart of climate change adaptation and mitigation”. Many Tories see the department’s ever-expanding budget as an ego-trip for Mitchell, who has a cushy job with lots of free travel to far-flung countries. It’s an especially easy position because the effectiveness of his work can only be seen overseas, hidden from British taxpayers.

Some colleagues have always regarded Mitchell as a bit of an Alan B’Stard character, but many are amazed at just how quickly he made friends with the Left. In certain circles, dislike of him has become so intense that it is making his department an increasingly toxic subject for Cameron, who only committed himself to increasing aid so he wouldn’t get attacked by churches and charities.

It’s worth noting that the mother-in-law of Cameron’s strategist Steve Hilton is Linda Whetstone. She is the founder of the most fervently aid-sceptic campaign in the world, the International Policy Network. So it is hard to believe that David Cameron would be ignorant of the disastrous record of Mitchell’s department. Yet if the PM feels he no choice but to stick with the madly wasteful aid programme, he surely needs a development secretary with the warmth of personality to gain the acquiescence of Right-wing MPs. Mitchell doesn’t have this: instead, he seems worried that people are plotting against him, or not showing enough respect.

Then again, perhaps some of his fears are justified. One day in 2006 I was in Mitchell’s office, waiting for him to arrive. There were rumours flying around that David Cameron wanted to sack him and give his international development job to Ed Vaizey, a brilliant young MP who was helping to chair the Tories’ globalisation policy group. “Does Andrew know about the rumours?” I asked. “Oh yes. He knows,” one of his staff said. “It’s driving him mad.” Cameron apparently dithered and left Mitchell in the job. That was a mistake, because Tory backbenchers actually like Vaizey.

Even Team Cameron bitch about DfID, which they describe as annoyingly difficult to deal with. Such grandeur won’t help the department in the long run: overseas aid has become a totemic issue for Tory backbenchers, and Mitchell’s handling of their complaints is giving the PM a headache.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]



UK: Was the Emperor of Exmoor’s Death Quite What it Seemed?

It was Jim Naughtie, on the Today programme on Tuesday, who set the nation’s moral tone. “It is an appalling thing,” he said, throwing all BBC impartiality to the wind, “if you like wild animals.” Naughtie was reporting the death of the Emperor of Exmoor, a huge stag. The Emperor’s reign was brief. He was so named by a photographer, Richard Austin, and introduced to the public in the current rutting season. The picture sold everywhere. Then, three weeks ago, the beast was shot. For some reason, the news took a long time to break. When it did so, we heard a lot from Johnny Kingdom, a sort of Crocodile Dundee of Exmoor, who has a television series on the way. A trophy-hunter “from abroad, probably Europe”, might have paid £10,000 for the head, apparently. The evil deed was quickly denounced across the world.

By Thursday, however, people were beginning to ask questions. Early stories had been full of those phrases we journalists use when we don’t know what we are talking about — “it is claimed”, “rumours have been circulating”. Slightly more rigour now entered the reporting. Would any named person say that he had seen the beast shot? No. You cannot easily cart away a 300lb corpse. If the stalker had left the body and escaped with the head, the smell of the carcase would have made its presence felt. So there is, as yet, no body. Perhaps there was no death. Is the Emperor, like King Arthur, not dead, but somehow occulted, waiting to return?

Some other things have been said that do not quite stand up. The Emperor is “certain”, according to Mr Kingdom, to be the son of Bruno, another famously fine beast from the district, shot 12 years ago. In fact, it is impossible, without DNA testing, to tell who is the father. The Emperor was also said to be the largest wild mammal in Britain. This is not true.. There are bigger stags in Thetford Forest. Nor is it true that His Imperial Majesty, if indeed he was assassinated, was taken much before his time. Devonian deer managers tell me that, by the look of him, he might have lasted one more season before “going back”. And although the Emperor was/is a magnificent specimen, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, one of the nation’s great red deer experts, assures me that, judging from photographs, the “points” on his antlers are “fairly weak” and do not have the balance between “brow, bay and tray” of the perfect specimen. Nor, by the way, is the Emperor even from Exmoor. He was killed — if he was — near Rackenford, several miles outside the national park. In short, the story is an inverted pyramid of piffle.

Whose interest, then, did it serve, apart from helping sales of Mr Austin’s photographs and ratings for Mr Kingdom’s programmes? The answer, I suggest, is the desire, deep in the puritan character, to get self-righteously angry about animals. Let us assume that the Emperor is, indeed, no more. What, exactly, was, as the Rev Dr Naughtie put it, “appalling” about shooting him?

It is not wrong, in general, to kill a deer. They are wild animals with no natural predators in these islands. If they are not shot, they die of natural causes, most commonly of starvation. Their welfare is served by killing a percentage of them, because if they grow too numerous, their quality declines and they do too much damage to agriculture, forestry and habitat. If you do not kill a few, there will come a time when you will need to kill a lot.

So you are left with the “How could you…?” line. “How could you be so cruel as to kill such a beautiful thing?” As someone who has shot stags quite often, I have sometimes felt sad about it, a feeling which tends to grow as one gets older. But it is not crueller to kill a stag, which is beautiful, than a rat, which isn’t. This is a matter of human taste, not of kindness to animals. The person with the fine head on his wall will believe himself to be conferring an honoured immortality on the beast shot. Personally, I am not interested in trophies, but I cannot see that he is morally wrong.

Is it down to money, then? Opinion polls suggest that people agree that “professionals” should be paid to put down wild animals, but that it is wicked for amateurs to pay to do so. But why is human pleasure in the hunt so frowned on? Men’s relationship with wild animals is complex. Throughout history, many of those who have known and liked them the best have enjoyed killing them. This is a fact worth thinking about.

It is particularly illuminated by the case of Exmoor. There, unlike in Scotland, where stalking is part of the rural economy, shooting deer is frowned on. This is because of the hunt, which has long been seen as a “social compact”. Farmers, often people with very small amounts of land, have consented to have deer managed by hunting with hounds, not by shooting. It is mutual: they let the hunt go on their land; in return, the hunt keeps the deer numbers in balance. Money does not change hands.

Exmoor’s — dare I call it — “Big Society” approach has come under strain with the hunting ban. Under that preposterous law, the hunts can go out with only two hounds. This has reduced their scope. As a result, the social compact has weakened. Farmers have become more likely to take money to shoot the deer (and sell the meat) instead. Such people are known as “poachers” on Exmoor, even when they are shooting legally, because they are seen as breaking the social compact. The number of the stags in the district is falling (408 this year, compared with 462 in 2003, just before the ban). It is the hunting ban that makes the shooting of beasts like the Emperor more likely.

The most moving novel about the life and death of a wild animal is The Story of a Red Deer, by J. W. Fortescue. In its final scene, the great stag is chased by hounds into the river. The reader longs for him to escape. The stream sings to him, inviting him to its waters: “Nay, raise not your head, come, bury it here;/ No friend like the stream to the wild Red-Deer.” He obeys, and drowns nobly. You might think that Fortescue hated the hunt. No. In his preface, he says he is telling the story “even as the deer have told it to me in… many a stirring chase, and as they have told it to all others that would listen”. Somewhere behind this muddled tale of the Emperor lies something to which more people should, indeed, be listening.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Balkans


ICJ: Mladic, Reward Raised to 10 Milion Euros

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, OCTOBER 28 — Serbia’s government has decided to raise the reward it is offering to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of Ratko Mladic, to ten million euros. The former military leader of the Bosnian Serbs is accused of crimes of genocide and of crimes against humanity by the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

According to a report by the Tanjug press agency, at the same time the reward for information leading to the arrest of Goran Hadzic has been raised from 250,000 to one million euros. The former political leader of the Serbs in Croatia faces similar charges.

Mladic and Hadzic are the last two remaining Serb war criminals being requested of Belgrade by the International Court of Justice. There is a further reward of five million dollars on the head of Mladic, offered by the US State Department.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Serbia: Army: First Generation of Women Officers in 2011

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, OCTOBER 28 — The Serbian Army (VS) will have its first generation of women officers in 2011, the Minister of Defense Dragan Sutanovac said emphasizing that it was very important for the defense system, reports VIP Daily News Report.

Sutanovac said that the VS’ priorities also were equipment and modernization, adding that it would depend on funds and active participation in Partnership for Peace program.

“Intensifying of regional cooperation, participation in peacekeeping missions of the UN and the EU, joint training and intensifying of bilateral military cooperation are also priorities of the VS”, he added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians


Taming the Wild East: Arab Honor Killings in Israel

by Phyllis Chesler

The Arab and Muslim world are, by nature, chronically violent. In addition to tribal and family feuds, religious and political wars are ever-constant, as are slavers, gun-runners, pirates, tyrants, torturers, and garden-variety thieves and gangsters. Add the routine and savage persecution of non-Muslims and Muslim dissidents, the savage subordination of women, the rise of jihadic terrorism and foreign wars to this mix, stir, and you’ve got the modern Middle East.

What can it mean when civilians demonstrate against “violence” in such a setting? Are they talking about petty crime waves—or about honor killings? Can such demonstrations even take place in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, or Pakistan?

Not really—but they can and do take place in Jewish Israel. For example, on October 22, 2010, in Lod, a well-orchestrated demonstration, ostensibly about the rising rate of community violence, drew serious media and political attention. The signs were in both Arabic and Hebrew and read: “The police are the main suspect”; “No to racism, yes to freedom”; “Enough with house demolitions! Yes to solving murders”; “Ilan Hariri [the Jewish mayor of Lod]: Enough! Go home!”; “No to violence in all its forms.”

What were these demonstrators really protesting? Were they actually blaming the Israeli government for not being able to crack down more effectively on the 20 percent of the population which is Arab and which is, ostensibly, committing the violence?

On October 28, 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed that Lod “will not become the Wild West.” He might as well have said that he plans to tame the far wilder East. Nevertheless, Netanyahu pledged 130 million NIS ($36 million) “to save crime-ridden Lod.” He stated that the government has also sent in large numbers of Border Policemen and “municipal inspectors” to crack down on the crime wave in Lod…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East


Cargo Plane Bombs Were Wired to Explode, Officials Say

In Yemen, a woman is arrested in connection with the two parcels bound for the U.S.

The two bombs concealed in U.S.-bound packages found on cargo planes in Britain and the United Arab Emirates were wired to explode, at least one via a cellphone detonator, and were powerful enough to bring down an aircraft, U.S. and British officials said Saturday.

A Yemeni official in Washington said a woman was arrested in Yemen in connection with sending the packages and that a relative, whom the official identified as either her mother or sister, was being interrogated.

“The woman was arrested based on a tip from foreign intelligence,” said the official, who asked not to be identified. “Her name and phone number were provided.”

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said in a short news conference Saturday that Yemeni forces acted on a tip from U.S. officials, who had passed along a telephone trace.

The two bomb packages, addressed to Jewish organizations in Chicago, were intercepted Friday in airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and East Midlands, England, after a detailed tip from Saudi intelligence that included package tracking numbers, U.S. officials say. The Dubai package was sent via FedEx, and the package to England went via UPS. Initial reports had said that both were UPS parcels and that both had been found late Thursday.

A search of 15 other suspicious packages from Yemen turned up no bombs, a U.S. law enforcement source said.

U.S. officials are still trying to piece together the intent of the plot, which they suspect was carried out by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s affiliate in Yemen.

It’s unclear how the Saudis were clued in, but this month a leader of the Al Qaeda branch in Yemen, Jabir Jubran Fayfi, turned himself in to the Saudi government. Picked up by U.S. forces in Afghanistan in 2001, he had been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before being turned over to Saudi Arabia. He went through a rehabilitation program for militants and was released, only to rejoin Al Qaeda in 2006.

But Fayfi contacted Saudi authorities from Yemen to express his regret and readiness to surrender, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement Oct 15.

On Saturday, authorities were investigating whether the plot sought to blow up the cargo planes in midair or upon landing — or whether the bombs were intended for the Chicago addresses on the packages.

British Home Secretary Theresa May said Saturday in London that the target of the bomb found in her country may have been an aircraft, though “we do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when it was planned to explode.”

As President Obama campaigned this weekend, he kept tabs on the investigation. He discussed the plot in phone calls Saturday with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Saudi King Abdullah.

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), after briefings from Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, said in an interview that the bombs were fashioned out of the chemical explosive PETN, the substance used in the attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.

“But this was 10 times bigger,” said a federal law enforcement official, who said the packages contained “about a pound each” of PETN.

“The fact that PETN was used in this plot is worrisome,” said a U.S. intelligence official not authorized to speak for attribution. “PETN is hard to detect and lends itself to being concealed. It is not hard to make, but it takes some sophistication to conceal the explosives in the right way. It packs a punch. You don’t need that much of it to blow a hole in an aircraft.”

U.S. officials have said that the Christmas Day bomb was built by Ibrahim Hassan Asiri, who also reportedly built a PETN device in an unsuccessful attempt to kill the top Saudi counter-terrorism official last year.

One of the bombs found Friday was wired for remote detonation via cellphone, Harman said, and the other was linked to a timer but lacked a triggering device. The remote detonation setup “leads me to speculate that … people had [detonators] on the ground somewhere in Chicago,” she said…

[Return to headlines]



Jordan: Florence University Project for Shobak Castle

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, OCTOBER 28 — The historical value of the southern city of Shobak, with its impressive castle dating back from the crusades, has not been appreciated by locals and tourists alike, said archeologist’s from the university of Florence as they kicked off a project to unearth the historical jewels the city possesses.

Situated on the road to the famous Petra, Shobak has been overlooked by tourist agencies who prefer to send their clients to the rock-engraved city of Petra a few miles away. Experts say the city does not have to compete with the over exhausted Petra, but could become a part of Jordan’s tourism mosaic.

The project carried out in association between the EU, university of Florence and the local community could put Shobak on the tourism map, said Michele Nucciotti, archaeologist from University of Florence and project leader in Jordan. “Shobak once played a significant role in bringing the two religions of Islam and Christianity together. It has touristic and historical value that has been overlooked. Our job is to sustain the city and prepare it to become the place it deserves,” he said, noting that the castle of Shobak is one of the best kept castles left behind the crusaders centuries ago. “This is a marvelous place, very unique in term of location, environment and ruins that have been left here,” he told ANSAmed on the sideline of a ceremony to announce the project.

Local residents are expected to receive proper training on hospitality and houses will be given a face lift to reflect the deep historic value of the place, which currently lacks sufficient infrastructure to sustain tourism, he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



Robert Fisk: Lebanon and Iran Make Uneasy Bedfellows

I think it should be a Beirut Diary this week. Deep background, you understand. The truth. Believe me, it is.

When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entered the palace dining room to eat with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last week — Saad being the son of ex-premier Rafiq who was murdered by … we’ll come to that later — Saad made sure that Beethoven was on the public address system. It was the Ninth Symphony, the “Ode to Freedom”. The moment the Iranian President sat down, he turned to Saad and said: “Let’s skip the lunch. Let’s have sandwiches and go to southern Lebanon together.”

Now here was a problem. Saad is a Sunni Muslim; Mahmoud, of course, is a Shia, and the Iranian President was inviting a Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon to visit the Shia south of Lebanon where he (Mahmoud, that is) would declare that southern Lebanon — he was speaking less than two miles from the Israeli border — was Iran’s “front line” against Israel. Saad politely declined the invitation and Mahmoud went on to Bint Jbeil to rally his lads and lassies on his own. Lucky that he was even in Lebanon. The Beirut air traffic control boys (they are, indeed, all lads) had already expressed their concern when the Iranian President’s Boeing 707 aircraft made its final approach. Wasn’t there a ban on ancient 707s arriving at Beirut’s ultra-modern airport? Ban overruled.

[…]

Nonsense. Wasn’t it supposed to be the Syrians who killed Hariri (or so The New York Times and the London Times would have us believe) that blew Hariri’s motorcade up — along with the 21 others whose names we have all forgotten — on St Valentine’s Day of 2005? Nope. Since the Syrians offered their assistance to the United States in Iraq, it’s been the pesky Iranians (courtesy The New York Times and The Times of London) who, through their Hezbollah allies, have been blamed for the mass slaughter Notice, by the way, how the Syrians and Iranians were blamed for Lockerbie and then, post-Syrian help in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, the Libyans?

Anyway. Amadinejad poured scorn on the UN’s Hague tribunal which may — or may not (watch this space) — accuse Hezbollah of killing Rafiq (son of Saad) on Syria’s behalf? And lo and behold, on Thursday morning this week, two officers of The Hague tribunal turned up in the southern suburbs of Beirut to examine the records of a gynaecological clinic.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



U.S. Sanctions 37 Iran Front Companies in Europe

The U.S. Treasury Department has identified and sanctioned 37 companies deemed to be fronts for Iran. Treasury said the companies were based in Germany, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus and acting for Iran’s state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. “We will continue to expose the elaborate structures and tactics Iran uses to shield its shipping line from international scrutiny so that it can continue to facilitate illicit commerce,” Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said.

On Oct. 27, Treasury announced sanctions on 37 front companies as well as five Iranians. All of them were accused of aiding Iran in the transport of military equipment and components for weapons of mass destruction.

Officials said Iran has established front companies throughout Europe as well as in Muslim states. They said the fronts were meant to evade sanctions on IRISL imposed by the United Nations and United States. The Iranian shipping line first came under sanctions in 2008.

“Following its September 2008 designation by Treasury under E.O. 13382 for its provision of logistical services to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, the arm of the Iranian military that oversees its ballistic missile program, IRISL has increasingly created and relied upon a series of front companies and has engaged in deceptive behavior to assist efforts to evade the impact of sanctions and increased scrutiny of its activities,” Treasury said.

Officials said Treasury has so far identified and sanctioned nearly 70 fronts for IRISL. The U.S. agency was also said to have identified more than 100 ships as belonging to IRISL or its fronts.

Thirty of the Iranian fronts were reported to be located in Germany, including 11 companies that share the same address in Hamburg. Mohammed Talai was identified as the manager of the 11 Hamburg-based firms and a representative of IRISL Europe.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

South Asia


Borneo: Rare Scaled Mammal Threatened by Traditional Medicine

An unprecedented haul of records from wildlife smugglers in Borneo has revealed the scale of the illegal trade in pangolins. They show that between May 2007 and December 2008, the smugglers bought at least 22,200 endangered Sunda pangolins, or spiny anteaters, and nearly a tonne of their scales, for export.

By contrast, local police seized only 654 illegally shipped pangolins between 2001 and 2008. A report on the smugglers’ records from Traffic, the group that monitors wildlife trade for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), says that this “raises serious concerns for the continued survival of the species”.

“Most of what we know about the trafficking of pangolins is from seizures, and it has always been recognised that this is probably the tip of the iceberg,” says Elizabeth John, a Traffic spokesperson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The smugglers’ records reveal the size of the iceberg. “This is why these logbooks are so valuable. It shows you what enforcement agencies are grappling with.”

Pangolins, the only scaled mammal known, are prized for their scales: according to Chinese traditional medicine, they boost circulation and treat a plethora of illnesses including asthma, menstrual and lactation disorders, and arthritis. “Scales are ground into a powder or worn like a locket, as a talisman,” says John. The animal’s meat is also supposed to have medicinal properties.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Immigration


‘More Immigrants Should Work for the State’: German Chancellor Angela Merkel Adds to the Country’s Roaring Immigration Debate

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has risked causing further outrage by saying that more immigrants should work for the state.

The country has been in the grip of a tense debate about the integration of Muslims for several weeks.

Fuelled by divisive comments about Turks and Arabs by central banker Thilo Sarrazin, Germany has been debating how to balance an economic need for more workers with growing public concern over integration of immigrants.

Merkel spakred controversy earlier this month when she said that multiculturalism had ‘utterly failed’ in Germany.

Her latest comments are now likely to cause more anger among citizens who feel alienated by the influx of immigrants to the country.

Interviewed by a 31-year-old Berlin policeman of Turkish origin for her latest internet podcast four days ahead of an integration summit at her chancellery, Merkel said: ‘Today, people with a migrant background are under- represented in the public sector, and that needs to change.’

However, Merkel conceded that this was not always easy.

‘I’ve also noticed that if someone has a name that doesn’t sound German they can often have trouble being taken on at all in some professions,’ she said.

Since Sarrazin inflamed opinion by asserting Turks and Arabs sponged off the state and refused to integrate, some of Merkel’s conservatives become more critical of Muslims, who make up an estimated 4 million of Germany’s 82 million population.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars


Bonding With Mom: Why Day Care May Harm Fussy Tots

Day care may prevent certain children from establishing a healthy relationship with their parents, a new study suggests. The results show the more time fussy, irritable infants spend in day care, the less likely they are to develop a so-called secure attachment with their mothers. A secure attachment means babies are at ease exploring their surroundings, but can still seek comfort from their mom when they need to — they are not clingy or aloof. From a glass half-full perspective, the findings also mean irritable infants do better when they’re mostly cared for by their parents or other family members.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

General


Did Life Begin With a Bolt From the Deep Blue?

LIFE may really have been created by a spark, one that came as a bolt from the deep blue.

Hydrothermal vents on the deep ocean floor are believed by many to be the cradle for early life. Now a team led by Ryuhei Nakamura at the University of Tokyo in Japan have uncovered evidence that such vents can generate electrical currents. They say these currents could have helped generate the complex carbon-based molecules that came together to produce life, as well as provide it with a handy power supply.

Vents bring minerals containing iron, copper and sulphur from deep inside the Earth’s crust to the seabed. The minerals possess an excess of electrons, so Nakamura’s team wanted to find out whether these electrons could generate an electric current in the vent.

To do this, they carried out the first lab-based electrical experiments on a type of sulphur-rich chimney known as a black smoker. The chimney was extracted from a hydrothermal vent in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.

First, the team passed a current through the chimney wall to show that it could conduct electricity. Next, they simulated the conditions at a hydrothermal vent by pumping hot, sulphur-rich water past one side of a chimney wall, and cold, salty water past the other. This generated a weak but steady electrical current across the chimney wall.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Sharp Stone Age Spearheads Were Cooked Then Flaked

If you want to make really sharp stone spearheads, do like Stone Age cave dwellers did and cook them first.

Palaeoanthropologists have discovered that this two-step trick was invented 50,000 years earlier than they previously thought. The findings add to evidence that Africa’s southern tip was a centre of technological and cultural development during the middle Stone Age.

The key technique, known as pressure flaking, was used to make finishing touches to stone spearheads. Pushing a narrow tool against one side of the spearhead releases a thin flake of material from the other side. This allows for very fine control, producing narrower and sharper tips. It was previously thought that pressure flaking was invented around 20,000 years ago.

Paola Villa of the University of Colorado at Boulder and her colleagues have spent years analysing artefacts found in the Blombos cave near Still Bay in South Africa, including some 75,000-year-old spearheads made of a cement-like substance called silcrete they had found there. The team looked for evidence of pressure flaking on the spearheads, but concluded that they could not have been pressure-flaked as the material would have come away in chunks rather than flakes.

Then last year another team discovered that some of the artefacts had been heat-treated. This makes silcrete much easier to work with.

Make your own

Villa went back to the spearheads and noticed that the scars where layers had come off were smooth and glossy, which is characteristic of heat-treated silcrete. If heat-treating had not been used, the scars would have been rough and dull, which lead them to believe that the cave dwellers must have cooked their spearheads before flaking them.

To check that pressure flaking really was used, the team tried to make spearheads themselves. They collected silcrete from the local area and heat-treated some pieces while leaving others untouched. When they tried to shape the pieces, the heat-treated silcrete could be pressure-flaked, producing spearheads exactly like the ones found in Blombos cave, but untreated silcrete could not.

The finding is yet more evidence that the Blombos cave humans were modern in their behaviour, says Bruce Bradley of the University of Exeter, UK. They also produced bone tools and carved jewellery from mollusc shells. It is thought that other groups of humans may have learned the techniques from them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Think Again: A Double Standard for Islam

Hate speech laws are applied in West against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish, Christian infidels.

Islamists everywhere demand respect for Islam, the prophet and the Koran, and threaten murderous mayhem should that demand not be honored. At the same time, they do not hesitate to express their contempt for other religions and their adherents, as well as the system of democratic rights protecting the freedom of religion.

Nor are those threats to be taken likely. More than 50 people died in violence triggered by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s 1989 edict against Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, and all those connected with its publication or distribution. Dozens of Europeans are now in hiding or under police protection because of death threats from Muslims.

Sadly, the West has to a shocking degree acquiesced in this double standard. The Washington Post removed from its website a cartoon including the words “Where’s Muhammad,” even though it contained no depiction of him; South Park’s producers edit episodes mentioning Islam but not those ridiculing Christianity; Yale University Press deleted all the actual cartoons from a book on the Danish cartoon controversy. Australian preachers were fined for quoting the Koran, and leading Dutch politician Geert Wilders was put on trial for his strident criticism of Islam.

Hate speech laws are applied in Europe against those critical of Islam, but never against Muslim imams who mock Jewish or Christian infidels. Even here, Tatiana Susskind was sentenced to two years in jail for posting a cartoon of the face of Muhammad on the body of a pig, but preachers from the Islamic Movement can broadcast what they want about Jews and Judaism.

The double standard conveys to the Islamists two dangerous messages. First, violence works; the West is terrorized. Second, Islam is the one true religion: Behold, even Westerners treat it with a deference not shown to Christianity or Judaism.

INTELLECTUALS AND cultural elites have played a major role in fostering the West’s acceptance of voluntary dhimmitude by manipulating the level at which the debate takes place whenever it touches issues of Islam. In part, intellectual attitudes are motivated by fear; in part by a refusal to acknowledge a civilizational struggle between the West and expansionist Islam. For some, the frisson of seeing their own bourgeois society under attack contributes to the fun.

The recent uproar over the threat of an obscure Florida pastor to burn the Koran provides a classic example of the different ways the debate is framed depending on whether Islam is perceived as the “aggressor” or the “victim.”

The Koran burning would undoubtedly have been protected “symbolic speech” under settled First Amendment doctrine. Burning the American flag, another highly charged act, has been protected by the Supreme Court. At the same time, it must be conceded that the Koran burning is highly offensive to Muslims and has no purpose other than to offend.

Let’s compare the response to the threatened Koran burning to another recent hot-button issue: the Ground Zero mosque…

           — Hat tip: SF [Return to headlines]

News Feed 20101029

Financial Crisis
» Merkel Rams Through EU Financial Crisis Reforms
» Where, When is the LTV Tipping Point?
 
USA
» 2nd Sestak Scandal Days Before Election
» Court Allows Use of Fake Social Security Number
» Democrats’ Final Recourse: Massive Vote Fraud
» FBI Links 3 Military Shootings in DC Area
» Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Not-So-Hidden Agenda
» President Obama: Suspicious Packages Contained Explosives
» Rangel Plan Gives Prez ‘Civilian Security Force’
» Sen. Russell Pearce: Think Nationally, Act Locally
» Sharia Islamic Law May be Banned in Oklahoma
» The Republican Establishment and Revolution
» Whistleblower Jailed by Judges, Cops He’s Accusing
» Why Obama is Taking Time to Campaign for Rep. Tom Perriello
 
Canada
» Spat Ensures Steyn a Hot Ticket
 
Europe and the EU
» Berlusconi: I Love Life and Women and I’m Not Gonna Change
» Europe’s Most Influential Muslim Women to Meet
» International Terror Alert as Suspect Package Found on Cargo Plane in UK
» Islamic Extremists Intimidating Women and Gays at UK Universities
» Italy: Lele Mora and Emilio Fede Investigated Over Parties and Girls
» Muslims in France Are Undermining Secularism in Schools
» Sweden Set for First Circumcision Law Trial
» Sweden: More Police Join Malmö Immigrant Gunman Hunt
» The Investigation: Ruby and Berlusconi
» UK: Two in Court Over Rotherham Canal Body Death
» UK: What Justice? Thug Who Kicked Terminally-Ill Grandfather in the Head in Unprovoked Attack Walks Free From Court
 
North Africa
» Anti-Bishop Protest Continues in Cairo
 
Israel and the Palestinians
» Caroline Glick: The Scott Brown Precedent & Israel
» Crisis for Butter Market, Duties on Imports Stopped
 
Middle East
» Iran: Senior Cleric Confident About Victory of Islam
» Saudi Prince Backs Moving Planned NYC Mosque
» Stakelbeck: Interesting Details Surrounding the Al Qaeda Cargo Plane Plot Out of Yemen
» Swede in Yemen Kidnapping Drama
» Trends: From Cappuccino to Hamburger, Camels Become Stars
» Yemen: Terrorism Leads to Loss of 1 Bln Dollars
» Yemen Terror Alert: Obama Says Explosives Found
 
South Asia
» India: Obama’s Trip to be Biggest Ever
» Maldives Arrest Marriage Celebrant After ‘Hate’ Ceremony
 
Far East
» China Cuts Rare Earth Exports, Raising Concerns Around the World
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
» Girls Killed by Islamist Firing Squad in Somalia
 
General
» Think Again: A Double Standard for Islam

Financial Crisis


Merkel Rams Through EU Financial Crisis Reforms

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday hailed the results of an EU summit in Brussels that backed her demands for sweeping reforms to deal with future financial crises and ensure the stability of the euro.

“I can say on behalf of Germany that we pushed through our essential points,” the chancellor said, adding that the talks which ended at 1:30 am had been “hard and extensive.”

The European Union’s 27 leaders successfully agreed on long-term budgetary mechanisms for member countries in financial crisis at the summit, she said.

“All were in agreement that for this a limited revision of the (Lisbon) treaty will be necessary,” she added, adding that there would no longer be any bailouts for countries in distress. “The crisis mechanism is valid only in case that the stability of the euro as a whole is in danger.”

The changes to the treaty will mean swifter and harder measures against EU countries that exceed their deficit limits, and comes by in large in reaction to the recent financial problems in Greece.

In the future, private creditors including banks will have to shoulder part of any sovereign debt crisis to ensure taxpayers aren’t left with the entire cost.

Merkel was reportedly the central figure in the negotiations, taking a hard line on Germany’s demands. However, she failed to push through the suspension of voting rights for those EU countries failing to fulfil their financial commitments.

“Merkel became quite emotional during the debate about voting rights,” said one EU diplomat.

But by abandoning that demand, the chancellor was able to convince other EU leaders to back her other priorities.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy has now been tasked with preparing for a “light” treaty change before a “final” decision at a December summit. The changes would be implemented by mid-2013 when the €750-million rescue package created following the Greek debt crisis runs out.

Merkel, along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, faced heated criticism from smaller countries for pushing the tough reforms, with high-profile EU figures saying the pair had opened a “Pandora’s Box” of problems.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn also warned of “a risk that we will be plunged back into months and years of navel-gazing.”

Many EU countries also disliked the idea of simply signing off on a “diktat” by Berlin and Paris.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]



Where, When is the LTV Tipping Point?

Inquiring minds are enjoying an article sent into SurvivingCalifornia.com by Jim, a Newport Beach, CA, mortgage broker. The article, “The LTV tipping point”, is well written and explains where the market is. The statistics defining the problem are immense:

The negative equity threshold and the point of no return

Nearly 2,500,000 California homeowners have a negative equity condition which imprisons them in houses that are black-hole assets. Each month of continued ownership sucks up sums of money in multiples of what the home would rent for — the home’s sole current value to the homeowner. Thus, a disconnect has developed between the primary use of the home to shelter the family and the secondary consideration as the family’s largest financial asset — due solely to the cyclical reversal of fortune for homeowners who bought or refinanced after 2002.

As upwards of 30% of California homeowners are now consumed by the negative equity trend which inverted the value of their home, the number of people choosing to walk away from their underwater properties is on the rise. Those rational homeowners who choose to walk away or strategically default (voluntarily defaulting on their home loan when they have the means to pay) account for nearly one out of every four defaults today in California and one in five nationally.

In it, writer Connor Wallmark explains where the actual point of inflection is currently:

This question is aggressively addressed in the May 2010 Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) study “The Depth of Negative Equity and Mortgage Default Decisions” written by Neil Bhutta, et al. The Fed’s study of homeowners in the four sand states (California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida) concludes that a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 162% is currently the magic “median” tipping point at which half the homeowners in their sample concluded the financial benefits of defaulting outweighed the adverse consequences of continuing to pay on their mortgage.

[…]

           — Hat tip: Bobbo [Return to headlines]

USA


2nd Sestak Scandal Days Before Election

Unindicted terrorist co-conspirator leader claims to have hosted home fundraiser for Democrat

Since his election to the House in 2006, Democratic Senate candidate Joe Sestak has fended off strong criticism of his relationship with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a federally designated terrorist co-conspirator shown by FBI evidence to be a front for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Now in a tight race with Republican Pat Toomey for Sen. Arlen Specter’s open seat, a report asserting Sestak was caught in a lie — denying that he was ever in the home of the director of CAIR’s Pennsylvania chapter for a fundraiser on his behalf — has resurfaced.

CAIR-PA’s Iftekhar Hussain affirmed to WND’s Aaron Klein yesterday in a recorded interview for Klein’s WABC radio show that he hosted a fundraiser for Sestak during the 2006 congressional campaign.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Court Allows Use of Fake Social Security Number

Reverses impersonation conviction, says name actually was identification

The Colorado Supreme Court has reversed the conviction of a man who admitted using someone else’s Social Security number to obtain a loan, concluding that the defendant wasn’t really trying to assume a false identity.

The opinion was written by Michael Bender, who was joined by Mary Mullarkey, Gregory Hobbs and Alex Martinez. A strongly worded dissent by Nathan Coats was joined by Nancy Rice and Allison Eid.

The case involved Felix Montes-Rodriguez, who was convicted of criminal impersonation for using another person’s Social Security number on a loan application at an automobile dealership.

[…]

Center Executiver Director Jay Foley said the court was overlooking the fact that there may be a multitude of people with the same name. The Social Security number is supposed to be the distinguishing characteristic.

“By supply either a fraudulent Social Security number or somebody else’s, I am, in fact, identifying myself as somebody other than who I am,” he said.

He said it was alarming that such a result would be coming from a state Supreme Court.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Democrats’ Final Recourse: Massive Vote Fraud

The reports are coming in from all over the country. A Craven County, NC resident attempts to vote a straight Republican ticket but his choices come up straight Democrat four times, despite receiving assistance from poll workers. In NC’s Lenoir County, registered Democrat Ervin Norville also tries to vote straight Republican but finds that his ballot has the names of several Democrat candidates selected. Boulder City, NV resident Joyce Ferrara says that when she and several others went to vote for Sharon Angle, they found that Senator Harry Reid’s name was already checked off. In Dallas County, TX’ congressional district 30, Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson’s name was the only one on the ballot in a few locations (no, she isn’t running unopposed). And some states have been late in mailing out military absentee ballots, whose recipients, interestingly, are known for their Republican leanings.

These happenings are generally referred to as “mistakes” and “glitches,” but if that’s all they are, then we’re witnessing a truly historic anomaly. Because either the mainstream media is now suppressing stories of mistakes and glitches benefitting Republicans, or the laws of probability have suddenly been rescinded and tossed coins are coming up donkey tails every time. Welcome to American elections, Venezuelan style.

I have long said that this election would see vote fraud of unprecedented magnitude. And it does seem that a perfect storm of such criminality is brewing. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just struck down an Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship to vote, a treasonous act that facilitates vote fraud. Of course, some liberals are more forthcoming about their intentions; in Portland, ME and New York City, there is a push to allow non-citizens to vote. Not to be outdone, San Francisco seeks to allow even illegal aliens to cast ballots in school elections. Hey, why not? They’re not illegals — they’re undocumented Democrats.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



FBI Links 3 Military Shootings in DC Area

WASHINGTON — The FBI has confirmed all three military related shootings in the Washington D.C. area are connected, saying Thursday ballistic evidence shows the same weapon was used at each site.

The latest shooting occurred at a vacant Marine recruiting station in Chantilly, Virginia sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

In the early morning hours of October 19 police and FBI investigators responded in force when six shots were fired into the south side of the Pentagon, leaving bullets embedded in two different windows. Just two days earlier police in Quantico, Virginia responded to a similar attack on the Marine Corps Museum, where bullets were also fired at windows in the early morning hours.

At the time of the Pentagon shooting police said the weapon used was believed to be a high-powered rifle.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Frank Gaffney: Obama’s Not-So-Hidden Agenda

Earlier this year, President Obama drove U.S.-Israeli relations — to use one of President Obama’s oft-employed analogies — into a ditch. Arguably, ties between the two countries were never more strained than last Spring when Mr. Obama serially insulted the elected leader of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vilified his country and tried to euchre it into making territorial, political and other ill-advised concessions to Arabs determined as ever to destroy the Jewish State. Unfortunately, what the President has in mind for Israel after the election next week will make his previous treatment of the Jewish State look like the good old days.

To be sure, ties between the United States and Israel— far and away America’s most important and loyal friend in the Middle East— have improved lately from the nadir to which Mr. Obama plunged them since he took office. That has nothing to do, however, with a change of heart or agenda on the part of the President and his administration…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]



President Obama: Suspicious Packages Contained Explosives

A United Arab Emirates flight carrying cargo from Yemen has landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport alongside two military fighter jets that escorted the plane from the Canadian border to New York City.

U.S. officials said there is no known threat associated with the plane, but it was being escorted to John F. Kennedy International Airport as a cautionary move.

Earlier in the day, federal authorities determined that suspicious packages taken from a cargo plane at Newark Liberty International Airport and a truck in Brooklyn and two planes in Philadelphia do not pose any danger.

Police in Brooklyn surrounded a UPS truck on Friday after suspecting that there was an explosive device, but the package turned out to be an envelope containing receipts, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a press briefing.

The Boeing Co. 767 jet, which landed at Newark Liberty Airport, originated from East Midlands, U.K. It was later cleared to leave for Louisville, Kentucky.

“There was nothing threatening in that package,” said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It’s not suspicious anymore.”

Coleman said the package was inspected inside the UPS cargo facility, 350, and cleared about 12:10 p.m. He referred additional questions to the FBI. The FBI referred questions to the Transportation Security Administration.

“This is bigger than us,” Coleman said.

The White House says President Barack Obama was notified about a potential terrorist threat after suspicious packages were discovered aboard two airplanes bound for the U.S. and a statement is expected at 4:15 p.m.

The Newark incident did not impact flight operations at Newark Liberty Airport.

At the UPS terminal, there are no more emergency vehicles remaining. Earlier, there were eight Port Authority vehicles and a helicopter hovering in the general area.

The plane screenings were prompted after authorities in the U.K. on Thursday discovered a “manipulated” ink toner cartridge that was on a UPS flight bound for Chicago. The flight originated in Yemen, and authorities on Friday were focusing on cargo flights from Yemen, CNN reported.

There are conflicting reports whether the cartridge contained explosives. CNN is reporting that the United States received a tip from an ally that the device might have been destined for synagogue in Chicago.

Federal officials are looking into whether the packages were a test-run for a plot to send bombs through the mail.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]



Rangel Plan Gives Prez ‘Civilian Security Force’

Proposal provides mandatory induction for ‘national defense,’ ‘homeland security’

When Barack Obama was campaigning for president in 2008, he visited Colorado Springs and WND broke the the story that he wanted a “Civilian National Security Force” as big and as well-funded as the $650 billion-plus U.S. military. Now Charlie Rangel is proposing that he have it.

Rangel, facing ethics charges in Congress, has proposed the Universal National Service Act that would require “all persons” from ages 18-42 “to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security.”

[…]

Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND, used his daily column when the issue originally arose to alert Americans of the plans. He then elevated the issue with a call to all reporters to start asking questions.

“If we’re going to create some kind of national police force as big, powerful and well-funded as our combined U.S. military forces, isn’t this rather a big deal?” Farah wrote. “I thought Democrats generally believed the U.S. spent too much on the military. How is it possible their candidate is seeking to create some kind of massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Sen. Russell Pearce: Think Nationally, Act Locally

“Think Globally, Act Locally” is a clichéd environmentalist slogan often applied to other left-wing causes. When it comes to immigration, Barack Obama thinks globally and acts globally. He is a committed anti-American globalist who hates the concept of a national sovereignty. He acts globally by urging the U.N. Human Rights Council to interfere with Arizona’s S.B. 1070.

In response to this assault on our borders and rule of law, patriotic Americans need to think nationally and act locally. Even if the Republicans take back Congress, Obama will veto any legislation to stop the illegal invasion. The best we can hope for on the federal level is to keep Obama from passing amnesty, while finding a presidential candidate for 2012 whom we can trust to secure the borders, “enforce” our laws, go after illegal employees, protect American jobs, remove all economic incentives to break our laws and eliminate all sanctuary policies. In the meantime, the best way to preserve our national sovereignty is to act locally.

It is up to We the People of the Sovereign States to take charge and take our country back. Arizona’s S.B. 1070 is about states’ rights to protect their citizens and showed Americans across the country that we cannot afford to wait for Obama, Reid or Pelosi to act. But this is far from the first time states and localities took on illegal immigration.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Sharia Islamic Law May be Banned in Oklahoma

Voters in Oklahoma next week will be asked to consider an unusual ballot measure: whether the state’s constitution should be amended to outlaw Sharia, the sacred law of Islam.

Supporters of the initiative to ban Sharia, the Times reports, concede that they do not know of a single case of Sharia being used in the Sooner State, which has about 15,000 Muslims.

“Oklahoma does not have that problem yet,” said Republican state Rep. Rex Duncan, who authored the ballot measure “But why wait until it’s in the courts?”

Some conservative activists, LAT reports, contend that the U.S. is at risk of going the way of Europe, which has a larger Muslim population and allows various accommodations to Islamic religious law.

Islamic groups counter that the Oklahoma initiative is merely an effort to stigmatize their religion in order to try to muster votes. “There’s no threat of Sharia law coming to Oklahoma and America, period,” Saad Mohammed of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City told the LA Times. “It’s just a scare tactic.”

Mohammed also voiced concern that the Oklahoma measure could lead to politicians in other states to sponsor a similar anti-Sharia law. “This garbage could really make things bad for Muslims,” he said.

A July public poll conducted on the Oklahoma initiative found it had the support of 49% of voters, with 24% opposed and 27% undecided, according to the Times.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]



The Republican Establishment and Revolution

For us tea partiers who have high hopes that Tuesday’s congressional midterm elections will transform the Republican Party into a fighting force for conservative and libertarian values and change, if the past is a prologue, we have another thing coming. For the last several decades at least, the blowhard Republican “country club”establishment has talked a “good game,” but has not exactly been up to the task, to put it mildly. And, regrettably, while many tea-party candidates will be elected this Tuesday, their numbers will not be enough to push the Republican Party establishment into a secondary role. For this reason, the “Revolution” will only just begin.

Lets take a look at what the Republican establishment has done, and might I add not done, during the last two years of President Obama’s and the Democrats’ rule.

First, the Republican establishment supported massive taxpayer-financed bailouts of big banks and the mortgage industry — cash giveaways that have bankrupted the country, not produced jobs but retarded their growth, and jeopardized our children’s and grandchildren’s future, not to mention our own.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Whistleblower Jailed by Judges, Cops He’s Accusing

Retired naval officer allegedly beaten and tasered

Filing a complaint about President Obama’s eligibility has led retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Walter Fitzpatrick III into some very deep waters.

The 58-year-old Naval Academy graduate is now paying the price for fighting City Hall. Fitzpatrick was arrested Wednesday for missing a court date, and he now sits in jail after allegedly being beaten and tasered by Monroe County, Tenn., deputies.

“I’ve been told he’s been beaten up pretty good, enough to require X-rays,” freelance reporter J.B. Williams told WND.

Williams, a Tennessee businessman, has been following the Fitzpatrick case for two years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]



Why Obama is Taking Time to Campaign for Rep. Tom Perriello

Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat from a Republican district in Virginia who is, no surprise, trailing in the polls, is also something rather unusual this campaign season: an Obama loyalist.

Why is President Obama spending crucial preelection hours campaigning for an endangered freshman House member — Rep. Tom Perriello (D) of Virginia?

After all, Representative Perriello’s district leans Republican. He won by only a few hundred votes in the Obama sweep year of 2008. Right now, he’s trailing his GOP challenger, state Sen. Robert Hurt, by anywhere from one to 12 percentage points, according to various polls. It’s quite likely he’ll lose.

As a general rule, presidents don’t waste their time standing on podiums with one-term lawmakers who are on every prognosticator’s “endangered” list, as he’s slated to do Friday night.

But this is an unusual year, and Perriello’s case is itself unusual.

For one thing, Perriello, a Yale-trained attorney and former lawyer for international human rights efforts, is eager for an Obama visit. In a year where some Democrats are boasting that they voted for John McCain in 2008, and others are literally shooting administration bills in their campaign ads, the president perhaps just wants to reward loyalty.

And Perriello has been unapologetic about his support for Obama and White House legislation. He voted for all the big ones — the stimulus, cap-and-trade climate change legislation, and the health-care bill — despite the conservative cast of his district. That has made him a hero to many liberals. It also has not escaped Mr. Obama’s notice. He mentioned Perriello by name during his appearance on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” Wednesday.

“There are a whole bunch of Democrats, guys like Tom Perriello in Virginia, … who are basically in Republican districts,” said Obama. “You know, they won in the big surge that we had in 2008, they knew it was going to be a tough battle, that these are generally pretty conservative districts, and yet still went ahead and did what they thought was right.”

Finally, Perriello is not irretrievably behind. He could still win, particularly if Obama’s appearance in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, fires up the area’s young and African-American voters. He is an energetic, able candidate (as is Senator Hurt). He has lots of money (though Hurt has matched him ad for ad).

“Perriello has been underestimated before,” notes political analyst Charlie Cook in his Cook Political Report analysis of the race.

But Mr. Cook goes on to note that to this point many of Perriello’s 2008 supporters “simply aren’t engaged,” and that the fundamentals of the race “argue for a Hurt win.”

[Return to headlines]

Canada


Spat Ensures Steyn a Hot Ticket

They will come next week to London from as far away as Detroit, Cleveland and perhaps even sunny California, to hear a conservative commentator shut out of one public venue only to find another.

Mark Steyn will speak Monday at Centennial Hall but already buzz about his appearance has led to 800 requests for tickets, said the event’s organizer.

“We even have one woman and her husband who say they’re flying in from Santa Barbara (California) just for this speech,” said Andrew Lawton, of strictlyright.com, the organization bringing Steyn to London.

Lawton expects to sell all 1,000 seats on Centennial’s main floor and hopes to fill some of the balcony, too.

“We’re going to have no trouble filling the venue,” he said Thursday.

The plan had been for Steyn to speak at the University of Western Ontario because organizers want his message heard by students.

But venues at Western were too small so Lawton tried to book rooms at the London Convention Centre.

But after The Free Press published an article about Steyn’s planned appearance, convention centre management decided not to give him a space.

Lori Da Silva, general manager of the Convention Centre, said last week the refusal wasn’t political but logistical and financial — she said she feared the audience might include protesters and be rowdy and might disturb others using the facility.

But Lawton said he was told by convention centre staff that the rejection was entirely political and the result of complaints by members of London’s Muslim community.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU


Berlusconi: I Love Life and Women and I’m Not Gonna Change

(AGI) Brussels — Berlusconi dismissed the Ruby affair saying he loves women and life and is proud of that. Speaking to journalists shortly before leaving Brussels on his way to Naples, the Italian prime minister said: “Only respectable people who behave properly are welcome to my home. As for my reputation as a good host, an unmatchable and maybe unique host, I’m really proud of that. I’m a playful man and I’m full of life. I love life and women”.(AGI) . .

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



Europe’s Most Influential Muslim Women to Meet

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 28 — They are the representatives of a generation of young, successful, European Muslims: dynamic and high in potential for making change happen — thanks to the influence they can exert within their professional, political and social fields.

The 2010 list of Influential Muslim Women has been compiled by Cedar, the leading network of Muslim professionals in Europe with representatives in twelve countries and was launched in 2008 by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the Salzburg Global Seminary.

Saturday will see the first public conference at Madrid’s Arab House. The event will be followed by a gala ceremony organised by the Arab House.

Women entrepreneurs, media representatives, opinion leaders and high-ranking politicians: this is the other face of an Islamic community more often perceived by public opinion as a threat than as an opportunity. Twenty-six influential Muslims will take part in a ceremony in which each will be presented with their personal stories and career histories; but there will also be time for music fusion and an art exhibition and the first screening of a documentary by director Jobeda Alì, who is one of the prize-winners, co-produced by Abrar Hussain. In the list of successful Muslims is Mahinur Ozdemir, the first Belgian MP to wear a hijab, the Muslim veil, in a country where it is now an offence to cover your face in the chamber.

There is also Kristiane Backer, who turned her back on a sparkling career as presenter on MTV to take up a new course after embracing the Islamic faith. Or there is Ndeye Andujar, organiser and jointly responsible for three international conferences on Islamic feminism. Then there is Amira Hafner-Al-Jabaji, journalist, writer, lecturer in Islamic schools under the European project for inter-religious instruction and deepening of dialogue between religions in Switzerland. There is Barni Nor, nutritionist in the UN’s development aid programme and member of the Muslim Women’s Association of Stockholm, official representative of the Muslim community there in its meetings with the government.

Apart from the opportunity to get to know the women who have made it onto the list, the event will also be a meeting of conference attendees and experts, from Cherie Blair to activist and preacher Amr Khaled, to Farah Pandith, special representative for the Muslim community in the United States; to Razia Iqbal, presenter and journalist for the BBC, to Estrella Rodriguez Pardo, General Director of immigrant integration for Spain’s Labour and Immigration Ministry. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]



International Terror Alert as Suspect Package Found on Cargo Plane in UK

A British airport was at the centre of an international terrorism alert today after the discovery of suspicious packages on cargo flights destined for the US.

An area of East Midlands airport — Britain’s largest air freight terminal — was sealed off after investigators found a package containing a toner cartridge on a United Parcel Service plane from Yemen to Chicago.

Other planes in the United States were placed under investigation, and Federal Express said a second suspicious package had been found in Dubai.

FedEx and UPS have suspended cargo flights from Yemen.

US officials say the intelligence services have recently tracked three other packages from of Yemen for delivery to the US that appear to be trial runs for the smuggling of a bomb on board a cargo plane.

It is thought that synagogues in Chicago were among the targets.

The Associated Press reported that the cartridge found in the UK had been manipulated, and that officials found wires attached to it. They were also reported to have found a quantity of white powder.

Initial tests for explosives proved negative, but concerns remained that the nature of the package meant it could be a test run for a bomb.

The FBI immediately ordered a search of other UPS planes arriving in the US, including another flight via East Midlands airport.

Nothing was found on that plane, at Newark, in New Jersey, and it was allowed to proceed to UPS’ main base in Louisville, Kentucky.

Two other cargo flights, via Paris and Cologne, were grounded at Philadelphia and the bomb squad was called out to search a UPS cargo lorry in New York.

[…]

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Islamic Extremists Intimidating Women and Gays at UK Universities

Islamic extremists are intimidating a range of minority groups across UK universities including women, homosexuals and Muslims, it has been claimed.

The Quilliam Foundation’s latest briefing paper, Radicalisation on British University Campuses: A case study, cites hate incidents at City University in London during the last academic year.

The report suggests that academic institutions can become incubators for extremist, intolerant and potentially violent forms of the political ideology of Islamism.

Responding to the Quilliam report, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, of the LGBT rights group OutRage!, said: “This report is a wake-up call to complacent university authorities and student unions. They too often look the other way while Islamists foment hatred and intolerance among the student population.

“The vast majority of Muslim students do not share an extremist mindset. They risk ostracism and denunciation by fundamentalists.

“Quilliam have produced a commendable expose of the way Islamist fanatics are bullying and threatening other students. It highlights sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic intimidation, and the victimisation of Muslims and non-believers who do not adhere to hard-line fundamentalist Islam.

“Radicalisation often begins with the promotion of misogynistic, queer-baiting and anti-Jewish prejudice; together with the stirring up of hostility against Muslims who believe in other strands of Islam or who have abandoned their faith. Such intolerance is can be a gateway to Islamist extremism. That’s why it should never be ignored or tolerated. City University would never host white supremacists who incite racism and racial violence. Why the double standards?” queried Tatchell.

A spokesperson the Quilliam Foundation said: “University campuses have been recognised by policy-makers as key places where Islamist ideologies can spread, but the processes of radicalisation involved have often remained unclear. This paper seeks to address this knowledge gap by identifying the factors on a university campus that may contribute to radicalising an individual towards Islamist-inspired terrorism. Whilst the paper does not suggest that everyone exposed to these factors will become a terrorist, it shows how and why exposure to them can increase the risk of radicalisation towards terrorism as well as illustrating the considerable disruption that such radicalisation can have on campus life.

“The paper concludes with specific recommendations for universities, students’ unions and government to prevent similar situations from arising on other university campuses.

“Radicalisation on British University Campuses’ is the latest of Quilliam’s publications to deal with areas where the risk of radicalisation is either high or is poorly understood. Previous reports released in the last year include studies of radicalisation in prisons and on Arabic-language jihadist websites.”

           — Hat tip: DF [Return to headlines]



Italy: Lele Mora and Emilio Fede Investigated Over Parties and Girls

Lawyers claim prime minister had nothing to do with incidents involving under-age Moroccan girl

MILAN — Suspicion of complicity in prostitution in the prime minister’s inner circle has prompted judicial investigations in Milan that involve television entrepreneur Dario “Lele” Mora and Emilio Fede, the long-serving journalist who heads the Mediaset group’s TG4 news show. Both men are among those investigated by magistrates in the wake of the controversial statements made a few months ago by a minor of Moroccan origin. After running away several times from her family in Sicily, and from rehabilitation centres to which she had been sent by the juvenile court, the girl reported details of parties involving women and politicians at Silvio Berlusconi’s residence.

Investigations are not into individual life styles. No judgements are being made about the entertainment options people choose for their parties and investigators are unconcerned about how the women preferred to conclude their evening. What the inquiry does seek to establish is whether there is any substance to reports that some female participants were accompanied or directed to the parties in the expectation of prostituting themselves, possibly for the purposes of attempted blackmail. From this perspective, the inquiry is clearly seeking to dissociate itself from much of the girl’s statements, which combine elements that merit further investigation with others that are highly improbable. Nor does it help matters that there are two points apparently incongruous circumstances for a girl whose statements have triggered an inquiry that could damage the people she mentioned. The first point is that five months ago, the girl stayed with Nicole Minetti, formerly Mr Berlusconi’s dental hygienist and a dancer on the Colorado Cafè TV show. In March, Ms Minetti was fast-tracked onto Roberto Formigoni’s supposedly blocked list to be elected to the Lombardy regional council. Point number two is that in mid June, when Lele Mora’s daughter applied to become the girl’s guardian, an application rejected by the Milan juvenile court, the girl was represented by Luca Giuliante, a lawyer who is defending Mr Mora, currently under investigation in Milan for bankruptcy, and who is far from unfavourable to Mr Berlusconi’s party. Mr Giuliante sits on the People of Freedom’s (PDL) regional secretariat, is party treasurer in Milan, a former Forza Italia regional councillor and one of the lawyers who filed the Formigoni list’s appeal against exclusion from the regional elections.

One man who may have a clearer idea is the PDL parliamentarian and the prime minister’s lawyer, Niccolò Ghedini, who has already exercised his legal faculty under the law on defence inquiries to question some of those linked to the parties, long before any results of the inquiries emerge (Mr Ghedini also exercised this faculty with regard to the confidential Fassino-Consorte phone transcripts published by il Giornale newspaper). Mr Ghedini and his colleague Piero Longo said: “Reports that have appeared relating to alleged statements made by a certain Ruby with regard to incidents that may have taken place at prime minister Berlusconi’s residence are absolutely without foundation. Yesterday, Edmondo Bruti Liberati, head of the Milan public prosecutor’s office, posted Carabinieri officers to keep journalists away from his office and that of his assistant, Pietro Forno, who is coordinating investigations with public prosecutor Antonio Sangermano. According to Mr Ghedini and Mr Longo, the public prosecutor’s office has stated precisely that there are no investigations into any such incidents. “Moreover, further abundantly corroborated inquiries have revealed the radical and total lack of foundation of the journalistic conjectures advanced”.

Mr Mora has past experience with lawyer Nadia Alecci that being under investigation does not necessarily mean ending up in the dock, much less being convicted. In July 2007, the Rome public prosecutor’s office dismissed charges against him of demanding €50,000 from footballer Francesco Totti with menaces. Milan-based public prosecutor Frank Di Maio requested Mr Mora’s committal for trial but in March 2008 the investigating magistrate Enrico Manzi dismissed charges of collaborating with photographer Fabrizio Corona to blackmail motorcyclist Marco Melandri, Agnelli family member Lapo Elkann and former Inter Milan footballers Adriano and Coco. In July 2008, the Potenza-based public prosecutor Henry Woodcock asked for the dismissal of charges of criminal association for the exploitation of prostitution involving minor female TV stars.

Emilio Fede, who was never implicated in the stories regarding women in the prime minister’s entourage, is also confident of being acquitted. In 2009, when eyebrows were raised at Mr Berlusconi’s appearance at Noemi Letizia’s 18th birthday party, Mr Fede said that he had earlier, in her mother’s presence, given Noemi an audition as a weather girl for his TG4 news. He had turned her down, however, and recommended she should take a diction course. Subsequently, Ms Letizia’s former boyfriend claimed that Mr Berlusconi had discovered the girl in a book of photos that Mr Fede had received from a Rome agency, and which he left on the table at lunch or dinner with the prime minister. The boyfriend also said he was present when Mr Fede and Mr Berlusconi phoned Ms Letizia. Mr Fede vigorously denied both statements, claiming they were “a fabrication” and ascribing them to the “resentful recollections of a disillusioned young worker from Naples”.

Luigi Ferrarella, Giuseppe Guastella

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

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



Muslims in France Are Undermining Secularism in Schools

The secular nature of the French education system is being increasingly undermined by religious demands from Muslim pupils, says a report from the High Council for Integration which will be presented to the Government next month.

A draft of the report was published last weekend in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche, noting growing problems with pupils of immigrant backgrounds who object to courses about the Holocaust, the Crusades or evolution, demand halal meals and “reject French culture and its values.”

The report says that teachers are finding it difficult to resist religious pressures. It recommends that secularism should be reaffirmed and teachers trained in how to ensure the principle is upheld.

The reports says that teachers often faced objections when they taught courses about world religions, the Holocaust or France’s war in Algeria, or discussed events related to Israel and the Palestinians or American military actions in Muslim countries, the study said. “Teachers regularly find that Muslim parents refuse to have their children learn about Christianity,” it said. “Some think it amounts to evangelisation.”

“Anti-Semitism … surfaces during courses about the Holocaust, such as inappropriate jokes and refusals to watch films” about Nazi concentration camps, it said. “Tensions often come from p