Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/2/2008

4 Weathermen Terrorists Declare Support for Obama
Bailout Politics
Debate’s Moderator Has ‘Blatant Conflict of Interest’
Faust, Greenspan and America’s Financial Collapse
IRS Asked to Investigate Islamic DVD
Muslims Have 6 Flags Ask Employees Not to Wear Shorts on Muslim Day
Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign
White Congressman Shut Out of Black Caucus
Europe and the EU
Belgium — the Brussels Police Ordered 300 Asylum Seekers and Illegal Immigrants to Leave the Begijnhofkerk (Beguinage Church) in Central Brussels on Saturday Afternoon.
Crowd Jeers Suicidal Jumper to His Death
Italy: Muslim Critic Attacks Italian Left-Wing in Bid to Enter Politics
Manual Outlines Muslim Radicalization in Prisons
UK: Mohammed Book: Three in Court
UK: Zero Tolerance the Answer — Ex-Policeman
North Africa
Italy: Wife Complains About Husband’s Imprisonment in Morocco
Far East
Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Unwelcome in China
In Hanoi, Stance of Repression Against Catholics Seems to Have Won
Sub-Saharan Africa
Somalia: Islamist Militiamen ‘Destroy Church in South’
Latin America
North America Must Integrate for Trade, Calderon Says
Italy-Libya: Vessels Ready for Anti-Illegal Immigrant Patrols
Culture Wars
California Approves Nurse-Assisted Suicide
Student Facing Expulsion for Speaking Without Permission?
Vatican Official Attacks U.S. Democrats as “Party of Death”
Iraq: UN Wants Restored Marshes on Its Heritage List

Thanks to ACT for America, C. Cantoni, Holger Danske, Islam in Action, JD, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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4 Weathermen Terrorists Declare Support for Obama

Call for ‘grassroots effort’ to help boost campaign

The names of four former top leaders of the Weathermen terrorist organization are listed as signatories on an online petition calling for an “independent grassroots effort” to help strengthen Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign.

The petition was initiated by Progressives for Obama, an independent organization acting to ensure the Illinois senator’s election.

Progressives includes among its ranks many former members of the 1960s radical organization Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, from which the Weathermen splintered, as well as current and former members of other radical organizations, such as the Communist Party USA and the Black Radical Congress.

“We agree that Barack Obama is our best option for president in 2008, and that an independent grassroots effort can help strengthen his campaign,” states the online petition. “It can also strengthen the mandate for his programs for stopping war, promoting global justice and securing our rights, liberties, and economic well-being.”

Among the names signed onto the petition are former Weathermen leaders Howard Machtinger, Jeff Jones, Steve Tappis and Mark Rudd…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bailout Politics

By Thomas Sowell

Nothing could more painfully demonstrate what is wrong with Congress than the current financial crisis.

Among the Congressional “leaders” invited to the White House to devise a bailout “solution” are the very people who have for years created the risks that have now come home to roost.

Five years ago, Barney Frank vouched for the “soundness” of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and said “I do not see” any “possibility of serious financial losses to the treasury.”

Moreover, he said that the federal government has “probably done too little rather than too much to push them to meet the goals of affordable housing.”

Earlier this year, Senator Christopher Dodd praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for “riding to the rescue” when other financial institutions were cutting back on mortgage loans. He too said that they “need to do more”

to help subprime borrowers get better loans.

In other words, Congressman Frank and Senator Dodd wanted the government to push financial institutions to lend to people they would not lend to otherwise, because of the risk of default.

The idea that politicians can assess risks better than people who have spent their whole careers assessing risks should have been so obviously absurd that no one would take it seriously.

But the magic words “affordable housing” and the ugly word “redlining” led to politicians directing where loans and investments should go, with such things as the Community Reinvestment Act and various other coercions and threats.

The roots of this problem go back many years, but since the crisis to which all this led happened on George W. Bush’s watch, that is enough for those who think in terms of talking points, without wanting to be confused by the facts.

In reality, President Bush tried unsuccessfully, years ago, to get Congress to create some regulatory agency to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Cover-Ups Led to Financial Crisis

One does not have to look very far to find the root cause of our current financial dilemma.

Despite the partisan political spin that it’s “all George Bush’s fault,” the facts were well documented in 2006 by the audit report of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO).

It is the failure of the mainstream media to kick the spin and put out the facts before the American people.

According to the auditors, “During the period covered by this report — 1998 to mid-2004 — Fannie Mae reported extremely smooth profit growth and hit announced targets for earnings per share precisely each quarter. Those achievements were illusions deliberately and systematically created by the Enterprise’s senior management with the aid of inappropriate accounting and improper earnings management.”

The audit report is specific — telling why the Fannie Mae folks inflated their books and who was responsible for the systematic mirrors and smoke game to inflate earnings.

“By deliberately and intentionally manipulating accounting to hit earnings targets, senior management maximized the bonuses and other executive compensation they received, at the expense of shareholders. Earnings management made a significant contribution to the compensation of Fannie Mae Chairman and CEO Franklin Raines, which totaled over $90 million from 1998 through 2003. Of that total, over $52 million was directly tied to achieving earnings per share targets.”

So while Franklin Raines, currently adviser to Senator Obama, walks free with millions in his pockets, homeowners and taxpayers all over America are paying the price of his failed leadership…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Crumbling Financial Giants Gave Generously to Dodd

When a Democratic takeover of Congress put Christopher Dodd in charge of the powerful Senate Banking Committee, Connecticut’s senior senator eagerly met with reporters, outlining his generally pro-industry positions, but pledging to put consumers — and the long-term health of the economy — first.

“At the end of my tenure on this committee,” Dodd said in early 2007, “I want it to be said that the safety and soundness of our financial institutions was not weakened on my watch.”

A year and a half later, Dodd acknowledges that the nation’s finances are in an “economic maelstrom.” And while Washington engages in an urgent search for after-the-fact fixes, there is also plenty of finger-pointing, and there are enduring questions about whether campaign cash — millions and millions in campaign cash — blinded Dodd and other overseers to the excesses of industry.

Financial-sector firms — mortgage firms, insurance companies, accountants, brokerage houses, hedge funds — are among the most generous political donors in America, lavishing more than $1 billion on candidates this decade. And in Congress, few politicians have fared better than Dodd. During the past 20 years, PACs and employees of finance-related firms have contributed more than $13 million to Dodd’s election efforts, including nearly $6 million in the past two years. Among members of Congress, only leading presidential candidates — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain and John Kerry — have collected more money from the sector.

But now, some of Dodd’s heartiest patrons have become the poster companies for the Wall Street implosion: AIG Insurance, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Bear Stearns. And although Dodd has emerged in recent weeks as a key player in efforts to stabilize the economy, the five-term senator is also facing criticism that he and others in Washington did too little, too late to rein in those generous companies before the crash…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Debate’s Moderator Has ‘Blatant Conflict of Interest’

Ifill’s ‘Age of Obama’ book gives her ‘unmistakable financial stake’ in election’s outcome

The moderator of tonight’s vice-presidential debate, Gwen Ifill of the PBS program “Washington Week,” says her upcoming book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” has been common knowledge for weeks, but that’s not the problem, say critics who argue she stands to profit from an Obama victory.

“This cannot be denied,” said Fox News’ Washington Managing Editor Brit Hume. “She has written a book, the ‘Age of Obama’ is in the title and is the premise of the book. The release date is on Inauguration Day. This gives her an unmistakable financial stake in the outcome of the election.”

He added: “A book about the ‘Age of Obama’ is worth a lot more if Obama becomes president than if he doesn’t. Gwen is a pro and she will overcome it, but there it is.”

The controversy arose amid coverage of the 2008 vice-presidential debate when WND reported on the book project, which is being promoted via video and on

Ifill, who didn’t respond to a WND request for comment, admitted to the Associated Press that she did not tell the Commission on Presidential Debates about the book. Officials for the commission did not respond to WND requests for a comment.

Likewise, officials with the campaign of GOP candidate Sen. John McCain said they were not aware of it…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Faust, Greenspan and America’s Financial Collapse


Greenspan told those millions of homeowners: “I am Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. I am the man who saved the world. I and I alone have the power to control the most powerful economy in the history of world with just a lowering and a lowering and a lowering of the interest rates.” This fiscal irresponsibility led to the speculative bubble, which started to burst in late 2007.

My argument here is simple: Alan Greenspan, together with a litany of well-intentioned but boneheaded judicial opinions beginning with the Supreme Court, tried to be “fair” and “equitable” to people who had no business owning a mortgage or a home. These people should have remained renters until they had the 20 percent down to buy a home.


It was irresponsible to grant millions of high-interest loans to the poor, many times with little or no money down, so they could buy a home when the mortgage companies, the Federal Reserve, secretary of the treasury, Wall Street investment banks and their supposed watchdog, the Securities Exchange Commission, all knew that this contract was a Faustian bargain with the devil and in due course would prove disastrous to America’s economy.

These homeowners began to default on their loans en masse and went into foreclosure over the past 10 years. These delinquent mortgages I predict will cost America’s taxpayers trillions of dollars to cover the losses.

[Return to headlines]

In Defense of the House Republicans

By James Bowman

As soon as someone tells me that one particular political measure or decision is the right or moral choice and the alternatives to it are irresponsible and immoral, I start to feel an almost irresistible urge to do the immoral, the forbidden thing. It’s not that I am a willful reprobate. Or not just that, anyway. I simply don’t believe it. This assertion looks way too much like moral blackmail to me, and hence it is itself at least as likely to be immoral as the thing it deprecates. American politics for reasons that I go into in detail in my book, Media Madness, is becoming more and more corrupted in this way as the media and their foolishly compliant political acolytes attempt to transform issue after issue — from global warming to health care to the war in Iraq — into a moral crusade instead of the problem in practical politics that each of these things is in reality. Right now, they’re in the process of doing the same thing to the Wall Street bailout.

Like most people of the chattering classes, I was unthinkingly in favor of the bailout when it was first proposed. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do if the economy is not to collapse, of course. But then the insistence of its proponents that it would collapse became just a little too strident. The moral note began to creep in, and I began to think that the case for the deal must be weaker than I thought if they were having to tighten the moral screws on the skeptics. Then Nancy Pelosi decided to turn the deal she and her fellow congressional leaders and the administration had hammered out over the weekend into part of her and her party’s on-going moral assault on the Bush presidency and single-handedly wrecked it. So then, it appears I was right to be suspicious. Of course it was the GOP skeptics who got hammered for it. Even the Wall Street Journal said “that Republicans chose to oppose something they think is in the national interest merely because of a partisan slight.”

Well, it may be so. But it seems to me rather that they came to think of something they had been bullied into thinking in the national interest must not be so after all, if this was how its proponents were behaving. If the case were so morally exigent as Mrs. Pelosi and the others claimed it was, she would not have attempted to turn it into a partisan triumph. The fact that she did suggested that she must have been hyping the crisis and her preferred remedy for it from the start. Now she simply wanted the moral credit of the thing, such as it was, for her party and its presidential candidate. That could be taken as a pretty good indication in itself that there was no moral credit in it. The House GOP must have seen the same thing and, rightly, voted the thing down. It was all just politics after all.

And it is of the first importance that we understand the difference between morality and politics…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

IRS Asked to Investigate Islamic DVD

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) — The U.S. Internal Revenue Service should investigate a DVD film about Islam distributed by a nonprofit group, an American-Islamic group says.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked the IRS to determine if the Clarion Fund acted in accordance with its tax-exempt status while distributing copies of the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” The Denver Post said Thursday.

The New York-based nonprofit said it had distributed 28 million DVD copies of the film in newspapers and direct mail in order to offer information about national security.

The American-Islamic group has disputed that claim, alleging the Clarion Fund is attempting to influence the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The Washington-based council told IRS officials that the DVD distribution was oriented toward aiding Republican presidential candidate John McCain and was done in violation of current tax-exemption regulations, the Post reported.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske [Return to headlines]

Muslims Have 6 Flags Ask Employees Not to Wear Shorts on Muslim Day

This Saturday is Muslim Day at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles.

Six Flags spokeswoman Sue Carpenter has said that Six Flags employees have been asked not to wear shorts that day out of respect for Islam, although she said it is not mandatory. Two things come to mind here. The first is that obviously the Muslims requested this, because I doubt very much that asking the employees not to wear shorts would of ever crossed her mind. Secondly what will the demands be next year, headscarves for all women there that day? I urge everyone to pitch in and let Mrs. Carpenter know about the ideology that they are catering to. She can be reached here: Also if anyone can go to the amusement park that day, please show up in shorts and bring a couple of Hooters girls with you. This is the land of the free, not the land of oppression

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

New Web Site Falsely Claims Barack Obama Pro-Life on Abortion, Ignores Record

Washington, DC ( — A new web site by the Matthew 25 Network, a Democratic political action committee supporting Barack Obama, falsely calls Barack Obama pro-life. The “Pro-Life, Pro-Obama” web site features a list of what Obama would do as president and almost completely ignores abortion.

“An Obama administration will do more than a McCain administration for the cause of life, by drastically reducing abortions through giving women and families the support and the tools they need to choose life,” the web site claims.

The web site features a host of votes Obama cast and initiatives the pro-abortion candidate supports to help pregnant women.

They range from paid maternity leave and sick leave to affordable daycare to supporting expanded health care.

However, discussion of key legislation that directly affects abortion, and has resulted in their reduction, is conspicuously absent.

There is no mention of Obama’s position favor of keeping Roe v. Wade legal, which has resulted in 50 million abortions over the last 35 years.

There is no mention of his votes against bills in the Illinois legislature to provide medical care for infants who survive botched abortions.

The site fails to mention his support of the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would make unlimited abortions throughout pregnancy the national law and overturn every pro-life law in all 50 states, including bans on tax-funded abortions and partial-birth abortions…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Secret, Foreign Money Floods Into Obama Campaign

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

More than half of the whopping $426.9 million Barack Obama has raised has come from small donors whose names the Obama campaign won’t disclose.

And questions have arisen about millions more in foreign donations the Obama campaign has received that apparently have not been vetted as legitimate.

Obama has raised nearly twice that of John McCain’s campaign, according to new campaign finance report.

But because of Obama’s high expenses during the hotly contested Democratic primary season and an early decision to forgo public campaign money and the spending limits it imposes, all that cash has not translated into a financial advantage — at least, not yet.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee began September with $95 million in cash, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The McCain camp and the Republican National Committee had $94 million, because of an influx of $84 million in public money.

But Obama easily could outpace McCain by $50 million to $100 million or more in new donations before Election Day, thanks to a legion of small contributors whose names and addresses have been kept secret.

Unlike the McCain campaign, which has made its complete donor database available online, the Obama campaign has not identified donors for nearly half the amount he has raised, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP).

Federal law does not require the campaigns to identify donors who give less than $200 during the election cycle. However, it does require that campaigns calculate running totals for each donor and report them once they go beyond the $200 mark.

Surprisingly, the great majority of Obama donors never break the $200 threshold…

           — Hat tip: ACT for America [Return to headlines]

White Congressman Shut Out of Black Caucus

Presidential spokesman says group free to make its own rules

The policy of the Congressional Black Caucus to restrict its membership based on race for members of that body to decide, according to a spokesman for the White House.

WND previously has raised the issue of U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., and his request to be allowed to join the caucas, despite his race.

Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, brought up the issue again today.

“Would it be accurate to say that the president strongly opposes racial segregation anywhere in the U.S. government?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto.

Kinsolving asked then asked: “California’s Democratic Congressman Pete Stark risked his life on behalf of civil rights in Mississippi in the 1960s, and because his Oakland district has a large number of blacks, he applied to join the Congressional Black Caucus, but he was turned down because of his skin shade. And my question: Does the president know of any change in this Black Caucus segregation, and if not, does he believe there should be?”

“I would say that the executive respects the right of the legislature to make rules on their own organizational practices,” Fratto said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

WND’s Corsi in Kenya to Probe Obama Ties

Also plans to meet with candidate’s brother living in 6-by-9-foot shack

NAIROBI, Kenya — WND author and staff writer Jerome Corsi has arrived in the Kenyan capital to investigate Sen. Barack Obama’s ties to the prime minister, Raila Odinga, who was appointed to the position to stop a wave of violence by Muslim supporters.

Corsi came at the invitation of Christian missionaries who contend the rise of Islam in the African nation has been spurred by an agreement Odinga signed with Muslim leaders in an effort to win the presidency last December. Odinga lost but now shares power with the Kenyan president to appease Islamic leaders.

Corsi’s highly critical book examining Obama’s career, “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality,” remains on the New York Times best-seller list after its publication Aug. 1. The book was No. 1 on the list for four straight weeks after its launch.

Corsi plans to file daily dispatches from Kenya for the next week.

In a chapter of “The Obama Nation” titled “Kenya, Odinga, Communism, and Islam,” Corsi says Obama supported the candidacy of Odinga, a Luo tribesman like Obama’s father, in the 2007 Kenyan presidential election, opposing current president Mwai Kibaki, a member of Kenya’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium — the Brussels Police Ordered 300 Asylum Seekers and Illegal Immigrants to Leave the Begijnhofkerk (Beguinage Church) in Central Brussels on Saturday Afternoon.

The priest of the Begijnhofkerk, Daniël Alliet, was the first to ask the so-called sans-papiers (people without legal documents to stay in Belgium) to leave the church.

The illegal immigrants staged a protest action to demand a legal permit to stay in the country but failed to organise the protest action properly, resulting in unhappiness among protesters.

“On Thursday night, there was no problem. But on Friday, things got out of hand. The protest action had not been prepared properly and was not being coordinated”, explains Alliet.

“The protesters fell short of mattresses. They only had 180 for almost 300 people. This caused verbal and even physical aggression.”

As there were no bathrooms, the situation soon became unbearable, which made the priest decide to have his church evacuated on Saturday.

Most asylum seekers left the church of their own free will. A group of 70 people refused to leave even after long negotiations with Alliet.

It was only then that police intervened. The last sans-papiers only left the church after police threatened to arrest them. If the immigrants are arrested, they will face the threat of being expelled.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Crowd Jeers Suicidal Jumper to His Death

‘How far can you bounce?’: The extraordinary taunts of sick ghouls who jeered as a teenager leapt to his death

A jeering crowd taunted a suicidal teenager as he threatened to jump from the top of a city-centre car park.

In a shocking indictment of modern Britain, youths who gathered in the street below yelled at 17-year-old Shaun Dykes to kill himself over the course of three hours.

One allegedly shouted: ‘How far can you bounce?’

The A-level student eventually plunged 60ft to his death after police negotiators tried in vain to talk him down.

In a final sickening act, some of those responsible for the abuse outside the Westfield shopping centre in Derby rushed from behind the police cordon to take pictures of the teenager’s body on their mobile phones.

Yesterday police branded the mob’s behaviour at the scene of Saturday’s tragedy a ‘shocking reflection on society’.

Superintendent Andy Hough, of Derbyshire police, said he was ‘disturbed’ by some of the comments aimed at the teenager, who is believed to have suffered from depression and also to have been upset at the breakdown of a relationship.

People were at the police cordon shouting for the man to jump,’ Superintendent Hough said…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy: Muslim Critic Attacks Italian Left-Wing in Bid to Enter Politics

Rome, 2 Oct. (AKI) — Journalist and Christian convert Magdi Allam attacked the Italian left-wing in what appears to be a bid to enter politics.

“As far as I am concerned, there is no room for dialogue with the current left-wing, diseased with do-gooding and multiculturalism,” said the Egyptian-born Allam in an interview with conservative Italian daily ‘Il Tempo’ conservative newspaper.

“The time to go into politics is mature.” said Allam, a columnist and deputy editor of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Allam converted from Islam to Roman Catholicism in a highly publicised Easter service conducted by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in April.

When asked which party he would like to represent, he said he had held talks with current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of the People of Freedom party in 2006, but did not reach an agreement with him.

Allam is a controversial figure in Italy for his criticism of multiculturalism and political Islam.

“The left is poles apart when it comes to the values and the rules established by Christian civilisation,” concluded Allam in his interview.

His conversion to Catholicism provoked an angry response from Muslim clerics and academics in Italy and the Middle East.

In a book entitled, Long Live Israel, Allam said “the root of evil is innate in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictual.”

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

Manual Outlines Muslim Radicalization in Prisons

PARIS (AP) — Security officials from several European countries have developed a manual to help prison authorities prevent their jailhouses from becoming incubators for Muslim extremists.

The manual, developed by France, Germany and Austria, includes signs that may indicate that a prisoner was becoming radicalized, including the presence of a growing beard. A prison group feared the manual could stigmatize Muslim inmates.

The document was distributed at a two-day closed-door conference of European security experts that ended Wednesday. It will be given to prison personnel.

Prisons “can be a facilitator and an accelerator” of radicalization and inmates are often “strongly destabilized” and therefore malleable, said Christophe Chaboud, head of France’s Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit.

“It is not a question of religion but of confrontation with the West,” Chaboud said in a telephone interview…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mohammed Book: Three in Court

Three men have been charged with conspiring to damage the home of a man who published a controversial novel about the prophet Mohammed.

Ali Beheshti, 40, Abrar Mirza, 22, and Abbas Taj, 30, are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

The Islington, north London, property is home and office to Gibson Square publisher Martin Rynja, who was to release novel The Jewel of the Medina.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: Zero Tolerance the Answer — Ex-Policeman

The murder of Frank McGarahan in a busy city centre street has shocked the community and re-awakened concerns over public safety. A former police officer, who chose to remain anonymous, has his say.

Frank McGraham was beaten, kicked and punched to death after trying to stop the beating, but his brother and a bouncer from a nearby nightclub also sustained injuries (including a broken jaw).

After living in and around Norwich most of my life I admit that I hate it. I’ve been in to the city centre three or four times recently, on a weekend evening, to pick my daughter up from nightclubs as I don’t feel it’s safe for her or any woman at that time in the city. Every time I have seen a fight or a beating going on. Every time it seems to be youths. Is it any wonder that they have a bad name?

But it’s not a recent phenomenon. I was in the Norfolk police force 17 years ago and left. I decided that I didn’t want to help people anymore, as they either don’t want to be helped, weren’t worthy of being helped or the perpetrators were let off by a relaxed or incompetent Crown Prosecution Service and police service.

I can relate rapes and sexual assaults, beatings and assaults and general misbehaving that went unpunished and would make you realise why I am such a cynic… but I’m not allowed to discuss these.

However, I can relate an assault that I was unfortunately on the end of. I was in the city with one of my friends. We’d been to the cinema and were walking up the main St Stephens Street when 5 youths, mid-teens, walked up to my friend and asked him for the time. When he looked down at his watch he was punched in the head, repeatedly. I stepped in to help him and was set upon by the three other youths, but we got away with a split lip, chipped tooth and a few minor injuries.

Upon reporting this to a policeman standing not more than 250 feet away, we were told it was a common assault and I quote “It isn’t even worth reporting as it would never reach court!”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Italy: Wife Complains About Husband’s Imprisonment in Morocco

Bergamo, 2 Oct. (AKI) — An Italian citizen was excluded from the 708 prisoners who were pardoned or had their sentences cut by Moroccan King Mohammed VI to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy Muslim fasting month.

The wife of Abou El Kassim Britel, an Italian citizen of Moroccan origin, says that her husband was not pardoned.

Britel is serving a jail term in Morocco for subversion.

“My husband was not one of the prisoners who were pardoned and has instead been put under harsher detention conditions,” Britel’s wife Anna Lucia Pighizzini, an Italian convert to Islam told Adnkronos International (AKI).

“He is not even allowed to have any of his books with him in his cell,” she said.

Italian magistrates shelved the case against Britel due a compete lack of evidence against him. He was arrested on a visit to Pakistan in 2002 and transferred to Morocco, where he was jailed for nine years on subversion charges.

Britel came to Italy in 1989 as a 21-year-old university student. He lived in the northern Italian city of Bergamo for 12 years, where he married and worked as a translator.

Moroccan authorities have approved the release of another Italian citizen detained in Morocco, 44-year-old businesswoman, Barbara Fraternali, Italy’s Foreign Ministry announced late on Wednesday.

Fraternali was detained in Morocco 29 April after she was arrested by Interpol on an international arrest warrant for bankruptcy and fraud charges.

Morocco’s Supreme Court approved a request for her extradition from magistrates in the northern Italian city of Turin.

While in prison in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, Fraternali went on a hunger strike in protest at the red tape preventing her rapid extradition. She lost over 15 kilogrammes in weight.

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

Far East

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ Unwelcome in China

Crackdown on Christianity now includes classical works like Mozart’s ‘Requiem’

China’s crackdown on Christianity is being expanded to include even classical works of music if their themes are Christian, such as Handel’s “Messiah” and Mozart’s “Requiem,” according to the London Telegraph.

The report said the Academy of Ancient Music, a leading orchestral and choral group in Britain, was invited to sing Handel’s “Messiah” at the Beijing International Music Festival this month.

While authorities are allowing the performance to go on, the report said, it will be “by invitation only,” a move effectively barring members of the public.

The report said the Sinfonica Orchestra di Roma also has cancelled plans to play Mozart’s Requiem in honor of the victims of the Sichuan earthquake and to raise money for survivors. Instead, the program will include smaller, non-religious works.

Stefano Palamidessi, the general manager for the Rome orchestra, told the newspaper he was instructed to drop Requiem…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

In Hanoi, Stance of Repression Against Catholics Seems to Have Won

In spite of the commitments made, laborers have begun work on the building of the former nunciature, while another demonstrator has been arrested in Thai Ha, and the people’s committee has ordered parishioners to “liberate” the land that the parish is asking to have restored.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) — After threats, action. It seems that the proponents of repression against Catholics have won in Hanoi, partly by violating previous commitments. Protected by an imposing police deployment, a group of laborers unexpectedly arrived at dawn at the building of the former nunciature, knocked down the railing around it, and began work (in the photo). According to a television report, the building will be demolished to create a public park.

Priests and faithful who came from the nearby cathedral of St Joseph, summoned by the bells, were stopped. Two arrests have been reported.

Also today, the newspaper of the communist party, Nhan Dan, reports that in a meeting on September 17, the people’s committee (the municipal administration) of Hanoi said that it “is willing to consider priests and religious followers’ legitimate needs for expanding worship places”, in keeping with the law. The same source says that the deputy head of the committee, Vu Hong Khanh, met with a representative of the parish of Thai Ha and of the petitions advanced “by some priests” regarding the land, which the Redemptorists are asking be returned.

At the same time, however, the communist representative asserts that since 1961, “the state” has granted the land to a clothing company, the Chien Thang Garment Joint Stock Company. The work that this company began at the start of the year was at the origin of the demonstrations by the parishioners, who are asking that the land, the property of the Redemptorists since 1928, be given back and nationalized “for public use”.

But that’s not enough. “To handle the parish’s needs and petitions”, the people’s committee is asking for the removal of the crosses and other religious symbols placed on the land in question, and that it be given back to the authorities of the district of Dong Da, so that they can proceed with “the management and formulation of a public work construction project”.

And even that’s not enough. Khanh has ordered inspections and controls to see whether there have been violations of the law, and has warned the priests to caution the parishioners to avoid “aggressive behavior”. And with reference to the “violations of the law” on the part of the faithful, there is also a thinly veiled threat toward the religious: “whoever they may be, they are citizens first, and must respect the law”.

And that’s still not all. The same newspaper reports the arrest of “a person for his involvement in the recent case of the disturbance of public order” in Thai Ha. This is Pham Chi Nang, 50, who “admitted to investigators that he joined other people to destroy the wall surrounding the land” and “disturbed public order”.

All of this is taking place only three months after the visit to Vietnam by a Vatican delegation headed by Monsignor Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with states, which seemed to signal the choice of dialogue good relations. On that occasion, there was talk about beginning “as soon as possible” the activity of the working group, charged with establishing the timetable and means for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, and also of the “gradual restoration to ecclesiastical use of properties previously nationalized”.

All of this comes after, on February 2, the archbishop of Hanoi, Joseph Ngô Quang Ki?t, announced the government’s promise to give the building of the former nunciature back to the Church. On February 27, making no reference to the previous commitment, Trân Dinh Phung, a permanent member of the patriotic front and the head of religious and ethnic affairs, expressing the point of view of the prime minister on the affair, described as “completely legitimate” the Church’s requests to be able to use the building for the activities of the bishops’ conference. “ The government cannot ignore”, he had said, the request from the leaders of 7 million Vietnamese Catholics, who for 27 years, since the creation of the episcopal conference, have worked together with the nation.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia: Islamist Militiamen ‘Destroy Church in South’

Mogadishu, 2 Oct. (AKI) — An Islamist militia has destroyed the Italian-built Catholic cathedral Somalia’s southern port city of Kisimayo, pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported on Thursday.

Built by Italians at the beginning of the last century, the cathedral is the fourth church to be destroyed by Islamist militias in Somalia.

Militiamen razed the cathedral on Wednesday straight after prayers to mark the end of the holy muslim fasting month of Ramadan, al-Sharq al-Awsat reported.

“This is retaliation for the destruction of a mosque in the Ethiopian city of Harar and the construction of a church where the mosque stood,” said Al-Qaeda linked ‘Young Mujahadeen’ formation, which claimed the attack.

Islamist militias seized control of Kisimayo last month.

Somalia is ranked among the world’s five most dangerous countries for minorities. Its tiny Christian community lives in hiding, in fear of attacks from the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim majority.

Recent years have seen a series of such attacks against Christians in Somalia, which has been off-limits to Catholic missionaries since the late Archbishop of Mogadishu, Salvatore Colombo’s murder by Muslim militias in 1989.

Government troops have been battling Islamist militias in Somalia since 2006. The African Union has called for a peacekeeping force of 8,000 for the conflict-wracked country but so far only 2,600 Ugandan and Burundian troops have arrived.

A total 8,000 civilians have been killed and 1 million uprooted since early last year.

Somalia has had no effective government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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

Latin America

North America Must Integrate for Trade, Calderon Says

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) — North American economies must better integrate or risk falling further behind in competitiveness with Europe and Asia, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said.

“North America has been losing market share in world exports,” Calderon said today at the Economic Club of New York. “We in North America are losing time.”

Calderon called on the U.S. earlier this week to preserve the North American Free Trade Agreement, saying Sept. 23 that any renegotiation may be harmful. He said today that Mexico, which sells 80 percent of its exports to the U.S., is diversifying more toward Europe and Latin America.

U.S. critics of free trade have been more vocal this year as confidence in the economy erodes, and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has said Nafta should be changed to include labor and environmental standards.

Calderon also said the U.S. and Mexico need to improve security and efficiency at their shared border, and that border control hasn’t improved since Nafta came into effect.

“We need to diminish the transportation and logistical costs,” said Calderon, who received a standing ovation at the end of his speech. “This is how Nafta can improve.”…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Italy-Libya: Vessels Ready for Anti-Illegal Immigrant Patrols

Rome, 2 Oct. (AKI) — Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said that six patrol-boats are ‘ready’ to begin monitoring the Mediterranean sea in order to prevent illegal immigrants from reaching the Italian coast.

The remarks follow a deal struck with Libya in September to increase border security and prevent illegal immigrants from reaching Italy.

“I had said I hoped for the implementation of the agreement. I have also said that I want to be present the day the patrols begin,” said Maroni in an interview with Italian weekly L’Espresso.

From Libya “depart 20 percent of illegal immigrants. We are no longer masters of our borders, only the aerial ones,” said Maroni.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi visited Libya in late August and agreed to pay 5 billion dollars in reparations for its 32-year occupation of the country more than 50 years ago.

Part of the money is destined for increased border security to stop illegal immigrants crossing from Africa to Europe, but particularly to Italy, which has the longest coastline of any European Union country at 4,500 kilometres.

Maroni had previously said that he intended to travel to Libya on one of the patrol boats that Rome promised to deploy in Libyan waters to work jointly with the Libyan navy to stop illegal immigration.

He claims Libya has not done enough to curb the flow of illegal immigrants to Italy.

Also on Thursday, Italian rights group Nessuno Tocchi Caino claims that human rights have been violated in Italian-funded temporary reception centres in Libya, where illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe are kept.

“We hope that Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini….clarifies the condition in which immigrants in the temporary reception centres in Libya are kept,” says NTC.

“It was not journalists or human rights organisations that confirmed the abuses, but high ranking officials of Italy’s secret services, such as the former director of the SISDE, Mario Mori,”

The organisation claims that Mori in 2005 said that in Libya, illegal immigrants are ‘caught like dogs’, and put into small pick-up trucks and taken to reception centres where the keepers have to cover their mouth with a tissue due to the vile smell.

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

Culture Wars

California Approves Nurse-Assisted Suicide

Schwarzenegger signs bill authorizing dehydration, starvation of patients

SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has officially approved an assisted suicide measure allowing nurses to sedate, dehydrate and starve depressed or confused individuals they consider to be “terminally ill.”

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patty Berg, a Democrat, passed the California Assembly Aug. 28, and the state Senate Aug. 20. It was signed by the governor yesterday.

The legislation, called the “Terminal Patients’ Right to Know End of Life Options Act,” or AB 2747, passed by a 42 to 34 vote. An Aug. 20 Senate vote of 21 to 17 ushered the measure to the governor’s desk for signing.

Randy Thomasson, chief of the Campaign for Children and Families, said the legislation is dangerous and should have been vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

“AB 2747 pushes suicide through the back door at the hands of non-physicians taking advantage of depressed patients,” he said in a statement. “AB 2747 cheapens the value of human life by endorsing suicide as an option.”

The measure allows physician assistants and nurses to decide whether a person is “terminally ill” and deprive them of basic life-sustaining necessities such as food and water.

“Depressed patients who succumb to this pressure will be drugged unconscious and die from dehydration, usually within five to 10 days,” Thomasson said. “Nothing in the bill prohibits this horror.”

Thomasson said Berg “deceptively changed” the bill to appear that “voluntarily stopping of eating and drinking” and “palliative sedation” no longer were on a list of “symptom management” options…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Student Facing Expulsion for Speaking Without Permission?

College allows ‘free speech’ noon-to-1 on Tuesday, Thursdays

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Yuba College student Ryan Dozier after he was cited for speaking on the Northern California campus without a permit and warned a second offense could result in his expulsion.

“Students do not need a permit to exercise their First Amendment rights on campus,” said Heath Gebelin Hacker, litigation staff counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom, which is handling the case for Dozier.

“When a student can be threatened with a citation and expulsion while peacefully sharing a Christian message, American colleges can no longer be considered a marketplace of ideas,” she said.


The ADF Center filed its lawsuit over the school’s policies that limit student free speech activities to just two hours per week — and then require a permit to be obtained two weeks in advance.

It was on Feb. 27 when Dozier arrived on campus in Marysville, Calif., north of Sacramento, to go to class and share a Christian message with fellow students.

“Dozier was approached by a campus police officer, who told him he needed a permit for such activity and that he would be arrested and face expulsion if he continued. The college allows ‘free speech’ only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with permission required two weeks in advance,” the law firm said.

A few weeks later, Dozier got a certified letter from Mendoza, with a copy forwarded to the chief of police.

“I will, at this point, issue you a written warning to not violate the ‘Student Code of Conduct’ or any rule or college policy pertaining to student conduct, time, place, and manner or other requirements of the college,” the letter said. “Should you violate my directive, you will face further discipline up to and including expulsion from the college. Do not let this happen!

“I trust you will adhere to my directive,” Mendoza wrote.

However, there are problems with the policy and its enforcement, according to the lawsuit…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Vatican Official Attacks U.S. Democrats as “Party of Death”

Vatican officials seldom single out political leaders who differ with the Church on issues like abortion rights or embryonic stem cell research. But now that the Vatican’s highest court is led by an American, the former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke, we can expect things to get more explicit in Vatican City — at least when when it comes to U.S. politics.

Burke, who was named prefect of the Vatican’s Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature in June, told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire that the U.S. Democratic Party risked “transforming itself definitively into a party of death for its decisions on bioethical issues.” He then attacked two of the party’s most high profile Catholics — vice presidential candidate Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — for misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion.

He said Biden and Pelosi, “while presenting themselves as good Catholics, have presented Church doctrine on abortion in a false and tendentious way.”

Pelosi drew U.S. bishops’ scorn for saying in a television interview last month that the Church itself had long debated when human life begins. Biden is a practicing Catholic who also supports abortion rights and analysts have said he could help woo wavering Catholics into Obama’s fold. Both argue that they cannot impose their religious views on others…

Burke said pro-life Democrats were “rare” and that it saddened him that the party that helped “our immigrant parents and grandparents” prosper in America had changed so much over the years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Iraq: UN Wants Restored Marshes on Its Heritage List

New York, 5 Sept.(AKI) — The Unite Nations on Friday unveiled a bid to have the marshlands of southern Iraq listed as a world heritage site.

The ancient wetlands are believed by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden, were drained and virtually destroyed by late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s government.

The indigenous Marsh Arabs lived there for thousands of years, but Saddam accused them of treachery during the the 1980-1988 war with Iran and ordered their homeland to be dammed and drained.

The UN has however over the past four years restored over half of the area, which is fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The marshlands are spawning grounds for Gulf fisheries and home to rare bird species like the Sacred Ibis. They also provide a resting spot for thousands of wildfowl migrating between Siberia and Africa.

The UN bid, which is also being funded by the Italian Government, aims to further the conservation and protection of the marshlands, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said in a statement.

Wetlands that originally covered al 9,000 square km in the early 1970s had shrunk to just 760 square km by 2002.

UNEP warned at that time that the marshlands would be completely lost within five years unless urgent action was taken.

Since then, the UNEP restoration project has led to the reclamation of much of the marshlands, thanks in part to measures such as the planting of reed banks and beds to serve as natural pollution and sewage filters.

The 14 million dollar project began in 2004 with funding from the UN Iraq Trust Fund, Japan and Italy, and it has involved local communities in the efforts to restore the marshlands.

UNESCO said the marshlands could be listed as a world heritage site as early as 2011

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

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