Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/8/2008

As of tonight the news feed has been up and running every day for three months (except for when I’ve been away).

I’ve received a few complaints about it. Some readers don’t like to have to scroll through the headlines to get to the good stuff, and others don’t want me to waste space on American news stories which are being covered thoroughly elsewhere.

If you have an opinion about the news feed, please leave it in the comments, so I can make an informed decision as to whether I should continue posting it. It’s a lot of work to put together, even with all the custom software I use, so if people don’t really want it, I won’t mind leaving it out.

ACORN Nevada Office Raided
Auto Suppliers Fight to Survive
Congress Mulls Major 401(k) Changes
Curbs Sought on Psychiatric Drugs Given to Children
The Obama-Ayers Relationship
Europe and the EU
Britain’s Big Banks Bailout
Brits Launch Shoot-to-Kill Ops
Church Vandalism in Brittany
Far-Right Austria Governor Isolates Asylum Seekers
Iceland on Brink of ‘National Bankruptcy’ Over Bank Crisis
Ihsanoglu: Islam Not Just a Guest in Europe
Italy — Paulson Plan: Useless and Harmful to Democracy
Roma in Hungary and Habit of Working
Teenage Trotsky is Cabinet’s New Adviser on Radical Islam
Mediterranean Union
Italy-Libya: Reconciliation, Gaddafi Awards Andreotti
North Africa
Algeria: 81% of Road Fines Remain Unpaid
Algeria: Justice, 42% of Prisoners Are Reoffenders
Mortgage Crisis:Algeria; Premier, Shielded by Oil for Years
Israel and the Palestinians
Mideast: Hamas, We No Longer Recognise Abbas After Jan. 8
‘New Israeli PM’ Pledged to Release Palestinian Prisoners
Middle East
Ex-CIA Agent: War With Iran May be Coming
Jordan Extradites 230 Illegal Workers
Lebanon to Sue Israel Over ‘Stolen’ Hummus
Scholar Denies Mickey Mouse Death Fatwa
Building on Common Ground With Russia
Russia Shuts Stock Exchange Until Friday as Shares Nosedive Amid Global Crisis
South Asia
Martin Condemns Destruction of Irish-Run School in Pakistan
West Java Police to Fight Liquor Distribution After 16 Deaths
EU Opens ‘Job Centre’ in Africa
Immigration: Boat With About 200 Migrants South of Lampedusa
Italy: Illegal Child Immigrants Vanishing, Says Charity
Italy: Hundreds of Illegal Immigrants Headed for Mainland
Pope Calls for Immigrant Welcome
Hamas Blames Financial Crisis on ‘Jewish Lobby’
No Scientific Necessity to Wash Off the Urine of Male Infants
The Third Jihad

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, NB, RRW, SC, Steen, TB, The Observer, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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ACORN Nevada Office Raided

The Nevada office of ACORN had planned a potluck dinner at its Las Vegas office Tuesday night to celebrate the 80,000 newly registered voters its staff had signed up in Clark County as part of its work with low-income communities nationwide.

Instead, their office was raided Tuesday morning by agents of the Nevada Secretary of State and Attorney General who alleged in an application for a search warrant that ACORN had hired 59 felons through a work release program as canvassers and submitted nearly 300 apparently fraudulent voter registration cards as part of the drive.

The submitted voter cards included addresses and names that do not exist in Nevada, duplicate registrations, names culled from telephone books and names of Dallas Cowboys players, an investigator for the Secretary of State alleged in his affidavit for a search warrant.

One ex-employee of ACORN reached by the state investigator told him she began making up names for her forms on days when it was too hot to work outside. ACORN canvassers are paid by the hour. Ex-employees also said they were expected to collect 20 complete forms a shift or risk probation and termination, the investigator said in his affidavit.

The search drove ACORN and its critics to exchange charges of political maneuvering in a battleground state that voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election but is considered in play for November. Mail-in voter registration closed Saturday in Nevada.

Agents removed 20 boxes of documents and eight computer hard drives from the ACORN office in “an ongoing investigation,” said Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat. “Now we begin the task of sifting through the material that was seized to determine how widespread any fraud might be.”

No arrests were made yesterday and no ACORN staff were in the office during the raid…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Auto Suppliers Fight to Survive

The nation’s auto suppliers are taking drastic measures in the face of a weakening auto market and shift in consumer demand, cutting spending, laying off thousands of workers and closing plants around the country.

September was an especially grim month for suppliers, with companies announcing plans to shutter at least 12 plants and eliminate thousands more jobs.

By the end of 2009, dozens of auto supplier plants around the country will have closed, many the largest employers in small towns. From car stereo makers to leather seat producers to plastics producers, suppliers across the industry are rapidly downsizing.

A recent report by consultant Grant Thornton LLP said one-third of auto suppliers are in danger of collapse. Many of those that are struggling are companies with sales tied to Detroit’s Big Three automakers and particularly those entrenched in the light truck and SUV market.

“The decline in industry volumes and the shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles is creating a massive ripple effect in the supply chain,” said Kimberly Rodriguez, head of Grant Thornton’s automotive services group.

After a record auto job loss in August, automotive manufacturers and suppliers cut another 18,200 jobs in September, representing 11 percent of the total 159,000 jobs lost last month, according to a Labor Department report released Friday.

“Economic conditions for auto suppliers are as precarious as they have ever been,” said Dave Andrea, vice president of industry analysis and economics at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, a trade group that represents parts makers. Andrea cited the big downturn in new vehicle sales plus a huge spike in commodity prices and the credit crunch in creating difficult conditions…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Congress Mulls Major 401(k) Changes

A wide range of sweeping changes to the 401(k) system were proposed Tuesday at a hearing on how the market crisis has devastated retirement savings plans.

Chief among them was eliminating $80 billion in tax savings for higher-income people enrolled in 401(k) retirement savings plans.

This was suggested by the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

“With respect to the 401(k), it appears to be a plan that is not really well-devised for the changes in the market,” Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said.

“We’ve invested $80 billion into subsidizing this activity,” he said, referring to tax breaks allowed for 401(k) contributions and savings.

With savings rates going down, “what do we have to start to think about in Congress of whether or not we want to continue and invest that $80 billion for a policy that is not generating what we … say it should?” Mr. Miller said.

Congress should let workers trade their 401(k) assets for guaranteed retirement accounts made up of government bonds, suggested Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor at The New School for Social Research in New York.

When workers collected Social Security, the guaranteed retirement account would pay an inflation-adjusted annuity under her plan.

[Return to headlines]

Curbs Sought on Psychiatric Drugs Given to Children

Kentucky Medicaid Official Says They Could Pose Health Risks

Kentucky’s Medicaid program has spent more than $40 million since 2001 filling prescriptions for certain powerful drugs that help youngsters with emotional problems, but also could pose risks for their physical health.

Now, the program’s medical director, Dr. Thomas Badgett, wants to rein in prescriptions for so-called “atypical anti-psychotic” drugs in children. Badgett plans to launch an effort early next year alerting Kentucky Medicaid providers to prescribe the drugs for youngsters only when their use is appropriate and to carefully monitor patients for problems.

Similar efforts in other states have reduced prescriptions of atypical anti-psychotics and saved millions of dollars, officials say.

Atypical anti-psychotics are a relatively new class of drugs often prescribed for conditions in both adults and children such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism. But mounting evidence suggests that they also can cause dramatic weight gains in some children and put youngsters at increased risk for Type II diabetes.

Badgett said an in-house assessment three years ago showed Kentucky Medicaid was “spending an incredible amount of money” on atypical anti-psychotics, and that many young Medicaid patients were taking four or more of the potent drugs at the same time, often obtaining them from multiple prescribers. According to Badgett, 42,000 Kentucky children under age 18, including children in foster care, were receiving atypical anti-psychotics through Medicaid as recently as 2005. He said numbers have been dropping since then.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Our Loathsome Members of Congress


Five years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., 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.” In 2004 congressional hearings, where the Bush administration sought greater oversight over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said, “We do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac and particularly at Fannie Mae,” adding that “the GSEs have exceeded their housing goals.” Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said, “There’s nothing wrong with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” In these hearings, Barney Frank said that he doesn’t see “anything in the reports that raises safety and soundness problems.” Earlier this year, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., praised Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for “riding to the rescue” to help people get home mortgage loans, adding that they “need to do more” to help high-risk borrowers get better loans.

The financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is not a failure of the free market, because lending institutions in a free market would not have taken on the high-risk loans.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Obama-Ayers Relationship

The Relationship Between Barack Obama And Bill Ayers Is Much More Extensive Than Obama’s Campaign Is Willing To Admit

Obama’s Top Campaign Staff Have Attempted To Downplay The Relationship Between Obama And Bill Ayers:

Obama Spokesman Robert Gibbs Said That Obama And Ayers Weren’t Close And That Obama Was Only 8 Years Old When Ayers Was Bombing Buildings. Robert Gibbs: “If you read the article … it says these two men weren’t close, this man isn’t involved in our campaign. Bill Ayers is somebody that Barack Obama said his actions were despicable and these happened when Barack Obama was 8 years old.” (FOX News’ “FOX & Friends,” 10/6/08)

Gibbs Has Also Limited The Relationship Between Obama And Ayers To Serving On Two Boards Together. John Roberts: “Barack Obama knew Bill Ayers and had contact with him between 1995 and 2005. Exactly what was the nature of the relationship?” Robert Gibbs: “Well, John, as The New York Times reported this weekend, they served on two boards together during that time period.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 10/6/08)

Even Obama Has Previously Referred To Ayers As “A Guy Who Lives In My Neighborhood” And Not Someone He Exchanges Ideas With “On A Regular Basis.” Obama: “George, but this is an example of what I’m talking about. This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who’s a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense, George.” (Sen. Barack Obama, ABC Democrat Candidates Presidential Debate, Philadelphia, PA, 4/16/08)…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House Anger After Judge Sets Free 17 Chinese Muslims Held in Guantanamo for Seven Years ‘Without Evidence’

Seventeen Chinese Muslims being held in Guantanamo Bay must be released, a U.S. judge has ruled. There is no evidence the men were ‘enemy combatants or even a security risk, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina said.

The ruling came at a hearing to consider appeals by the 17, who are all members of the Uighur ethnic group, to be freed. U.S. Constitution prohibits indefinite detention without cause, Judge Urbina concluded. They should be brought to his Washington courtroom for a hearing on Friday, he said .

The Justice Department said it would file an emergency request for a stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. If it loses there, it has the option of appealing to the Supreme Court.

‘Today’s ruling presents serious national security and separation of powers concerns and raises unprecedented legal issues,’ Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement. […]

The Uighurs had been living in a camp in Afghanistan during the U.S.-led bombing campaign that began in October 2001. They fled into the mountains and were detained by Pakistani authorities, who handed them over to the United States.

They remain in the prison even though the U.S. military no longer considers them ‘enemy combatants’. The United States has been unable to find a country willing to accept them.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain’s Big Banks Bailout

The British government launched a massive bank rescue plan Oct. 8. But it won’t likely be enough to head off recession, and the stock market dropped anyway

The British government has announced the most comprehensive rescue package yet for any banking system in the world. The government will inject up to $88 billion of new capital into major British banks such as Barclays (BCS), Lloyds TSB (LYG), and HBOS (HBOS.L). And in an effort to ease fears that have reached near panic levels, the government will guarantee short and medium term bank funding. It estimates that the takeup of this offer could run to $440 billion.

The whole package amounts to some $880 billion or more in new and old money-an even greater sum than the recent $700 billion U.S. rescue package. “This is beginning a process of un-bunging a big problem where banks won’t lend to each other for long periods,” said Chancellor Alistair Darling. Investors were relieved but not entirely swayed: The benchmark FTSE 100 stock index stayed flat most of the day and then turned sharply downward in mid-afternoon.

The government’s announcement was coupled with a one half percentage point rate cut by the Bank of England, to 4.5%. The rate reduction was coordinated with other central banks, including the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve, which also dropped key interest rates by 50 basis points (, 10/8/08). The BOE, led by its brilliant but sometimes overly abstract Governor, Mervyn King, has been slow to recognize the fast-mounting dangers to economic growth-focusing instead on inflation and the need to teach a lesson to those who made and accepted foolish loans.

The rescue package will come at a price: The government will have a say in executive compensation and dividend policies at the banks participating in the bailout, and will require a “full commitment to support lending to small businesses and home buyers.” Shareholders also are likely to see their equity stakes diluted…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Brits Launch Shoot-to-Kill Ops

LONDON — Specialist agents for Britain’s MI6 intelligence service, trained to pose as Muslim extremists, are leading two hand-picked SAS units to seek and destroy a secret bomb-making factory in Baghdad, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Their first major success came last weekend when sharpshooters shot and killed Mahir Ahmad Mahmud Judu al-Zubaydi near his hideout in Baghdad’s Adhamiya suburb.

The MI6 agents had identified him as the deputy commander of al-Qaida in the city and the mastermind behind a series of recent bombings. He died as he was on his way to a local mosque for Friday prayers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Church Vandalism in Brittany

Ouest-France has a report on the latest cases of church vandalism in Brittany, a phenomenon that seems to have no end. Last weekend two churches, Saint-Pierre (photo) and the Chapel of Kerfons, both in the city of Ploubezre, in the Trégor, a province of Brittany, were attacked by thieves. Another Catholic parish, this one in the city of Lannion, also in the Trégor, expressed its sorrow:

“Sorrow — this is the feeling one has on seeing the damage done by the thieves in the church at Ploubezre; even more so in the Chapel of Kerfons. An entire ancient retable, a work of art patiently executed, a sign of a spiritual offering, torn apart for reasons presumed to be abjectly mercantile. A ciborium containing the consecrated wafers has disappeared. Anyone attached to this heritage is shocked. The Christian especially is wounded by such lack of respect. It is yet another part of our common heritage, the treasury of sacred art in Trégor, that is disappearing. There are also objects that are used in prayer today that have been stolen. One cannot help asking this question: how is it that the limits on acts of vandalism are being extended more and more to the point where they affect that which is symbolic of beauty given to all, of devotion of a people, of prayer and of spirituality?”

In another Ouest-France post we learn that in both cases, the thieves broke in by breaking a stained-glass window…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Far-Right Austria Governor Isolates Asylum Seekers

Far-right Gov. Joerg Haider has set up a facility in the remote mountains of southern Austria to handle asylum seekers suspected as criminals, saying they need to be isolated to protect the people in the area.

Haider gained international prominence in 1999 when the Freedom Party, which he then headed, took 27 percent of the vote in Austria’s parliamentary elections. The party’s subsequent inclusion in the government led to months of European Union sanctions over Haider’s statements, which were seen as anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic and sympathetic to Adolf Hitler’s labor policies.

Haider is now governor of Carinthia province and his regional government set up the facility for asylum seekers, which sits in a secluded pasture in the mountains of southern Austria at an altitude of about 3,900 feet.

“With this security precaution, we are protecting the Carinthian population,” Haider told a news conference Monday. He said the number of criminal asylum seekers was on the rise.

Haider has a history of taking a strong stand on asylum seekers, saying criminals among them drain the country’s resources and should be expelled.

           — Hat tip: RRW [Return to headlines]

Hate Preacher Bakris’ 26-Year-Old New Wife

It [the marriage with the 26-year-old new wife] follows a separation from his 48-year-old wife Hanah — the mother of his six children — after she refused to stay with him and moved back to England.

A source in Lebanon said: “Omar’s wife came out to stay with him after he was first kicked out of Britain but she couldn’t cope. She complained that she had no freedom and couldn’t go anywhere without her husband. “They ended up having furious rows, with her saying she couldn’t bear living like a prisoner.

“He said, ‘Go back to England then and live your little life on income support’. She did as he wished and never came back — and now he’s got a younger model.”

His new wife is a strict Muslim and is a year younger than his oldest daughter Yasmin, 27, who was recently revealed to be a pole dancer. Ruba is helping bring up Omar’s 10-year-old son Bilal at the couple’s luxury home in a suburb of Beirut.

Hanah has also remarried. She wed a 35-year-old Pakistani shopkeeper who runs a business near her state-funded semi in Edmonton, north London, eight months ago. It has recently come to light that Bakri paid for his daughter’s £4,000 breast surgery, unwittingly launching her career.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Iceland on Brink of ‘National Bankruptcy’ Over Bank Crisis

Iceland’s Prime Minister has given a televised speech warning that the country faces possible “national bankruptcy” due to the global financial crisis. Geir Haarde made the comments last night following a day of panic on stock markets across the world.

Iceland is particular exposed to the financial crisis as its banking sector totally dwarves the rest of the economy. The situation has led to soaring inflation and a massive fall in the value of the Icelandic krona.

The Government has introduced emergency legislation giving it sweeping new powers over the financial sector in an effort to stave off a total economic collapse.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Ihsanoglu: Islam Not Just a Guest in Europe

Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu has said Islam is not an extrinsic addition to, but a fundamental element of European culture.

On a recent visit to Helsinki at the invitation of Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Ihsanoglu gave a lecture titled “Islam in Europe.” Stressing that his aim in giving this lecture was to stop Islamophobia from becoming widespread in Europe, Ihsanoglu told the Cihan news agency: “We argue that Islam is among the founding elements of Europe. The Ottomans ruled for five centuries in the Balkans, and Muslim rule in Andalusia lasted eight centuries. Above all, 41 million Muslims live in Europe right now. So Islam cannot be regarded as an extrinsic element in Europe. It is one of the founding elements of the European civilization.”

Stressing that European civilization was built with many contributions from Muslim culture in terms of science, philosophy and humanistic values, Ihasanoglu said, “If we can share the idea that Islam is an essential element of Europe, Europe’s perception of Turkey’s EU membership would change.” Ihsanoglu said there is confusion about the place of Islam in Europe. “Islam has been in Europe for 14 centuries; it is not a foreigner in Europe,” he added.

Ihsanoglu also said it was not acceptable to equate those who engage in terrorism on behalf of Islam with Islam itself, adding: “Where do they get the authorization to commit terrorist acts under the name of Islam? Nobody has such a right, either in religion or in politics.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Italy: Roma-Gypsy Camp Dismantled Again in Capital

Rome, 6 Oct. (AKI) — A group of 45 Roma-Gypsy families were expelled for the third time from their camp on Monday by Italian police.

The ‘Via Salamanca’ camp located in the Tor Vergata area on the southeastern outskirts of Rome, was set-up in June after its inhabitants were kicked out of the central Campo Boario and northern Saxa Rubra camps. The camp housed 120 people, approximately 40 of them children.

“Once again we were moved. This time from a parking area in the Tor Vergata University, to another parking lot a couple of kilometres away,” said Aldo Hudorovic, spokesperson for the Kalderash Roma-Gypsy clan n an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

“We are 45 families, all Italian citizens. The authorities tell us they cannot find a place for us,” Hudorovic said.

Authorities say 45 caravans were removed and the area given back to students and staff of the Tor Vergata University.

After being expelled by the authorities from the Campo Boario and Saxa Rubra camps, the Kalderash families were offered a place in what is described by many as the ‘squalid’ Castel Romano camp, located 30 kilometres outside the city, which houses 800 people living in prefabricated housing.

The Kalderash families, who are traditionally metal workers, refused to settle there because they do not identify with the other Roma-Gypsies in the camp.

Many of the Castel Romano camp’s inhabitants are Roma-Gypsies from Bosnia who left after the ethnic cleansing campaigns of the early 1990’s during the Balkan wars.

There are 70,000 Roma-Gypsies in the country who are Italian citizens. Many others come from European Union countries such as Romania and Slovakia while others came from the Balkans.

Up to 40,000 Roma-Gypsies migrated to Italy after the 1990s Balkan wars. These people are no longer recognised as citizens of the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia.

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

Italy — Paulson Plan: Useless and Harmful to Democracy

The 700 billion dollars approved by the U.S. Senate and House to rescue the American financial system resemble a “sheriff of Nottingham” plan: take from the poor and give to the rich. The plan is harmful, and above all insufficient. Commercial debt, the national budget, and consumption must be reviewed, and especially the monetary system. The silence of the Catholic world.

Milan (AsiaNews) — After approval by the U.S. Senate, the Paulson financial rescue plan has also been passed by the House of Representatives. Initially it was supposed to be for 700 billion dollars, but this was raised to 850 billion — an increase of 21.43% — as a sort of gratuity to satisfy the needs of lawmakers who are up for reelection. In order to rescue banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions from the consequences of their stupidity, each person will pay 2,868 dollars — for now — out of a population of about 296 million inhabitants. It is worth emphasizing that “each person” means every American resident, while it is obvious that the actual contributors will be far fewer.

Taking from the disenfranchised, the elderly, and the children in order to remove the powerful from the consequences of their lust for power is certainly not a new solution. It is the same one applied by the sheriff of Nottingham, in the modern version of the popular English story of Robin Hood. But “Nottingham” finance is certainly not the solution.

Economy trumps democracy

At first, lawmakers rejected the plan supported by the president, the treasury department, the federal reserve, and the leaders of both congressional parties. The plan was and remains extremely unpopular, with almost 9 out of 10 Americans either opposing it, or angry about it. Because two thirds of lawmakers are facing reelection, they had to show some consideration for the thoughts and feelings of the overwhelming majority of Americans. The United States is a multiethnic country, and democracy is its banner, and moreover the founding ideology of the country. For this reason, democracy is much more than just one of the various possible systems of government for America, it remains the deepest connecting factor for the descendents of those individuals who for its sake — more than for personal economic success — crossed the ocean and abandoned their country, people, and traditions. But democracy is founded on elections, and elections cost. The result — the approval of the Paulson plan, with an additional 20% of votes — was predictable: few members of the House of Representatives can do without the support of the financial and credit system, or do without the support of major companies. These as well, in fact, and not only the investment banks, are for the most part deeply in debt. So all of these companies find themselves in the same deadly embrace together with the financial system. Many voters are also deeply in debt, and their behavior is conditioned, or more accurately intoxicated, by the financial system. It has not shown up yet, but if the recession continues, it will be impossible to conceal the huge bubble of debt in which American families find themselves: credit cards, auto leases, school loans, and other forms of consumer credit.

After their jawboning and superficial adjustments, the representatives of the people, against their own wishes and “out of a sense of responsibility,” have approved “Nottingham” finance, which the “sovereign” people disapproved of so intensely. In their initial chattering, the representatives of the people may have thought they could salvage the appearance and the honor of the flag, democracy, the system of government in which the people are said to be sovereign. We will see in the future if this will be the case, or if this affair will mark the end of egalitarian and democratic modernity.

The oracles of the economy, almost a religion

As for the effectiveness and results of the Paulson plan, Alan Greenspan, probably one of the people most responsible for the bubble, said in a speech on October 2 to the law faculty of Georgetown University in Washington that the measures approved by the American congress will reestablish confidence. According to Greenspan, it will make it possible to emerge soon from what he calls “the type of wrenching financial crisis that comes along only once in a century.” The former governor of the Fed says that vitality will soon return to the system.

Of course, the cyclical nature of the financial markets and of the economy have long been observed and studied, in some cases in a convincing and reasoned manner, as in Schumpeter and Kondratiev, for example. In other cases, the cyclical nature of the financial markets has been the occasion for a sort of predictive financial astrology, a modern form of the Pythian oracle, the priestess at the shrine of Apollo in Delphi who provided the answer from the divinity. Modern divination is based on price depictions, and with the name of “charting,” is endowed with scientific value, even when it abstracts from any reasoned analysis of economic events that should be the basis of the economy and its underlying financial markets. It might seem strange, but even much of “secular” finance, which looks with skepticism at Christianity, and especially at Catholicism — considered a form of irrational and anti-scientific superstition — has for some time entrusted itself to this form of modern divination. What goes down must come back up, in a constant flow determined by something inscrutable that the prophecy of the chartist is tasked with uncovering. Invoking the cyclical nature of the markets is comforting, because inscrutable fate removes man and society from specific responsibilities. It may be that in the short term, the “Pythian”Greenspan will also see a confirmation of his predictions, but this time the results of the comedy threaten to be tragic.

In reality, the Paulson plan, although it is enormous, is insufficient to confront the real dimensions of the problem, and serves only to gain a couple of months until the inauguration of the new U.S. president and the new congress. Then the emergency of these days will reemerge in all of its brutish and monstrous dimensions. This is not another prediction from another malevolent or pessimistic prophet, it is only a simple observation. Reading the data from the end of 2007 from the International Settlements Bank, it emerges that the total value of over-the-counter financial derivatives — meaning that they are unquoted — including those on interest rates, currencies, and the infamous CDS, comes to about 700 trillion dollars. That is 1,000 times the amount of the Paulson plan, which, subtracting the incentives, remained at 700 billion dollars. By way of comparison, updating the figures from the previous article (cf., 30/09/2008, Depth of the abyss of economic, social, political chaos), we note that the 850 billion dollar plan is equivalent to 6.15% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the 2007 figures from the World Bank.

Crisis of capitalism, or crisis of the system

The numbers speak for themselves: the “Nottingham” iniquity — $2,361 per capita, plus the incentives, at the end of the day, is only a redistribution of income according to political criteria — cannot be solved within this system, because it is the very system of secular or secularist modernity that is in crisis, in both the political and economic realm, and not only in America. It is a mistake to think that we are only in front of another “capitalist” crisis, a lack of regulation, of laissez-faire thought and policy on the “right,” of the Republicans in power with George Bush. Easy credit, “structured” debts, “subprime” loans given to anyone who wanted them, even if they were unable to pay their debts, began with the presidency of Bill Clinton, and for almost half a century the United States, with both Democrat and Republican presidents, has at the same time produced foreign trade deficits and budget deficits, financed by the savings from other parts of the world. In other words, the United States has long consumed more resources than it has produced domestically. Support for consumption through deficit spending is at the heart of the Keynesian approach that in Europe is usually branded as a “leftist” measure, and in America is generally defined as “Democrat.” Right and left, Republicans and Democrats therefore share the responsibility for the system in which the “Nottingham” iniquity constitutes an inevitable but useless consequence. The very dimensions of the money involved suggests that the problem is elsewhere, in the criteria for the legitimacy of a sovereign act, the Issuing of money. What is astonishing in this context is that this problem is hardly discussed in Catholic circles. What should make us think is not only the “Nottingham” iniquity, but also and above all the fact that money and the sovereignty of public administration are part of our daily experience.

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

Police Release Terror Suspects in Bonn

Citing insufficient evidence, officials have released two terror suspects in Bonn who were arrested after boarding a KLM flight at the Cologne airport just over a week ago. The investigation, however, is continuing.

Two men arrested just over a week ago on suspicions they may have been planning a terrorist attack have been released by police. After their release on Tuesday, the Public Prosecutor in the German city of Bonn said officials still believe then men were planning a serious crime, but conceded they did not have enough evidence to keep them in custody.

The city’s chief public prosecutor said the investigation would continue despite the suspects’ release.

Security officials arrested the men, both of Somali origin, on Friday, Sept. 26 at the Cologne-Bonn airport in western Germany after they boarded Dutch carrier KLM for a flight to Amsterdam. Officials at the state Office of Criminal Investigation for North Rhine-Westphalia believe the men were planning to participate in suicide attacks. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Roma in Hungary and Habit of Working

Nepszabadsag 04.10.2008 (Hungary)

With an eye to the precarious situation of the Roma in Hungary, behavioural scientist Vilmos Csanyi calls for the state to create jobs that will teach them to work: “The habit of working is the result of a long process of socialisation. Those in whom it has developed will look for opportunities and then work when they find work. But if successive generations are socialised on welfare payments, the catastrophic result is that later on they won’t even work if they have jobs. (…) Which is why the state should fund socialisation programmes and jobs, set up bus services for the workers and build state-funded factories in Roma villages which don’t hand out welfare but pay wages. Even if there is no great demand for the manufactured goods or they run at a loss. Because the actual products of these factories will not be the manufactured goods their but socialisation itself, and the culture of work.”

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

Teenage Trotsky is Cabinet’s New Adviser on Radical Islam

A teenage Muslim enlisted to advise ministers on combating extremism is herself a member of a Trotskyist revolutionary party.

Sabiha Iqbal, 18, the privately educated daughter of a civil servant, belongs to the Socialist Workers Party, which is dedicated to the overthrow of parliament, the state and capitalism.

The appointment of the law student from Bradford to the Young Muslim Advisory Group was greeted with incredulity by intelligence experts yesterday.

Miss Iqbal herself described the decision to bring her in as a consultant to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Families Secretary Ed Balls as ‘very odd’.

But Mrs Blears said: ‘If you don’t want to change the world at 17, that’s a shame.’

Miss Iqbal insisted yesterday that she was not an extremist, saying ‘I am Left-wing about some things and Right-wing about others.

‘I agree with the equality ideas of socialism.’

Professor Anthony Glees, director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘Ministers should be picking democratic leaders and people with experience, not people they think will bring in the “yoof” vote.

‘To go for somebody like Miss Iqbal is appalling.’

[Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Spain, 14/20 Acquitted of Nat. Assembly HQ Attack

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 7 — The Spanish Supreme Court has acquitted 14 or the 20 found guilty of belonging to an Islamic fundamentalist cell accused of planning the planting of a lorry carrying 500 kgs of explosives to bomb the Audienca Nacional in 2004. The Court, according to the Europa Press agency upheld the guilty sentence for 5 of the Islamists thought to be the leaders of the armed cell, while the sentence for Algerian Redha Cherif was reduced from 9 to 2 years for the crime of falsification of documents for terrorist purposes, but not for belonging to an armed group. 20 of 30 people arrested as part of operation Nova were found guilty on 20 February of belonging to a Salafite cell, inspired by Al Qaida, by the Third chamber of the Audiencia Nacional, presided by Judge Alfonso Guevara. The sentence requested was between 11 and 46 years’ imprisonment. The sentence of the Audienza maintained that “there is no doubt that we find ourselves in front of a real cohesive group, permanent, stable and structured under the indisputable leadership of Abderrahmane Tahri, creator of the group and the ideological source for its members, whose ultimate aim is the Universal Crusade, the Holy War, or Jihad”. The Supreme Court sentenced Abderrahmane Tahiri, known as Mohamed Achraf, to 14 years, as head of the armed group; Saif Afif to 10 years, Kamara Birahima to 7, Mourad Yala to 9 and Ziani Mahdi to 5, while the rest were acquitted because, according to magistrates, their membership of the armed group could not be proved. The reasons for the sentences will be made known in the next few days. (ANSAmed).

2008-10-07 18:07

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Police Arrest Al-Qaeda Suspect

Sarajevo, 7 Oct. (AKI) — Bosnian police have arrested Syrian national, Imad-al-Husini, known as Abu Hamza, who is suspected of links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, local media reported on Tuesday.

Abu Hamza is allegedly one of thousands of mujahadeen, foreigners who came from Islamic countries to fight for local Muslims during the 1992-1995 civil war. Like many others, he was granted Bosnian citizenship and remained in the country after the war.

Western intelligence services have claimed that many former mujahadeen in Bosnia maintained links to Al-Qaeda, indoctrinated local Muslim youths and even operated terrorist training camps.

The UN Security Council in its recent report named 20 individuals and several groups funded by Islamic countries which promoted terrorism under a humanitarian disguise.

Abu Hamza led a former mujahadeen group in Bosnia and operated a textile shop in Sarajevo.

He married a Bosnian woman and has three children. Bosnian authorities, pressed by western countries, have scrutinised over 1,000 citizenships granted to foreigners and some 400 have been revoked.

Hamza and his colleagues have fought against extradition, saying their lives would be threatened if their returned to the countries of their origin.

While police did not specify the reasons for Hamza’s arrest, they said “ conditions had concurred for him to be placed in the immigration center” recently opened on the outskirts of Sarajevo.

Earlier this year Bosnian authorities decided to expel Hamza.

While he has exhausted all his appeals in Bosnia he has asked the Human rights court in Strasbourg to intervene on his behalf, saying he has been denied the right to a family life.

Bosnian media has speculated Hamza’s arrest on Monday and detention in the Immigration centre might be a prelude to his deportation from the country.

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

Mediterranean Union

Italy-Libya: Reconciliation, Gaddafi Awards Andreotti

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, OCTOBER 8 — “After the signing of the treaty for friendship and cooperation, there is nothing preventing me from visiting Italy,” said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi yesterday evening, when he met in his desert tent with Senator for Life Giulio Andreotti, former premier Lamberto Dini, former minister Giuseppe Pisanu, Vittorio Sgarbi and other well-known Italian figures who today received a medal for contributing to friendship and reconciliation between Rome and Tripoli. Gaddafi called yesterday “a historic day.” “We must keep this friendship intact,” he said, “and not go back in time. We must remain ever at one another’s sides.” And this, he added, “in the Mediterranean and the entire world, for world peace and cooperation.” The Libyan leader thanked those in attendance for their work “which led to this result. In the past we suffered from bad times. But we are now moving towards a phase of friendship and collaboration.” Andreotti and Dini were the ones to invite Gaddafi to Italy, while Vittorio Sgarbi, as Salemi mayor, invited Gaddafi to Sicily and also played the leading role in a entr’acte with ironic references to the Italian political situation. “You should stand for office in Italy,” he said smiling at Gaddafi. Previously, in the Tripoli conference centre, Dini, Andreotti, Pisanu, Sgarbi, Democratic Party senator Nicola La Torre, the journalists Valentino Parlato and Eric Salerno had received the honour of Great El-Fatah, the highest Libyan award for work and efforts towards the consolidation of friendship and cooperation between the Libyan populace and the Italian one, through which the Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and Cooperation between the two countries was agreed on 30 August. The honour was bestowed by Gaddafi also on Silvio Berlusconi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (as well as Gianni Letta) and their predecessors Romano Prodi and Massimo D’Alema. “The dispute with Libya absolutely needed to be resolved. It is important to get along with everyone, but most especially with our neighbouring countries, “commented Andreotti, adding that “these initiatives are meant to bring about reconciliation. I have worked since the post-war period for good relations with Libya, and most especially with Colonel Gaddafi. And I believe that this is the line continuing even now, whatever party is in the government.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: 81% of Road Fines Remain Unpaid

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 1 — Just 18.2% of the fines for Highway Code violations in Algeria in the first six months of 2008 were paid. Over 81% of the fines remained unpaid, it emerged from the latest data presented by the General Direction for National Security and Police Force, APS reported. “Even if they are affordable amounts, between 200 and 5,000 dinars (between 2.0 euro and 50 euro) only 18.2% of them are paid”, a police force representative specified, pointing out the necessity for a more rigorous application of the Highway Code and for more effective equipment. Currently, there are no unified electronic archives of driving licenses and car documents: it is impossible, Transport Minister Amar Tou added, to retrace the history of the violations committed by each person. Algeria is one of the countries with the highest registered number of road accidents in the world. Since the beginning of 2008, 2,800 people died on the roads and 40,000 were wounded in over 25,000 accidents. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria: Justice, 42% of Prisoners Are Reoffenders

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 7 — Of the 55 thousand inmates in Algeria 42% are reoffenders and return to jail after a first offence. This was stated on Algerian national radio by the director of the penitentiary institutes, Moktar Feliane, announcing the creation of an ad hoc programme “for material and psychological support of ex inmates to avoid a relapse into the criminal world”. According to Feliane, “the resolution of the overcrowding problem in the prisons is the main objective of the current justice reform” and of the law in February 2005 on the reform of penitentiary institutes. The programme provides for the construction of 81 new jails in which “13 will be realized in the Haut Plateaux region in the south part of the country” specified Feliane “should be operative in 2009”. More than 59 prisons are currently functioning in the Maghreb country that were built before 1900 and another 16 were built between 1900 and 1962. “It is obvious that these structures do not respond to the current needs that provide conditions that respect human rights”, added Feliane, explaining that the new institutes will guarantee “a 9 square meter space for every detainee” as provided for by international guidelines. Of the 55 thousand detainees, more than 15 thousand are attending professional training courses. In 2008, 455 detainees passed their school leaving exam compared to 25 in 2002. 756 obtained their medium license. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mortgage Crisis:Algeria; Premier, Shielded by Oil for Years

(ANSAmed)- ALGIERS, OCTOBER 7 — “With the price of oil hitting 60 dollars, Algeria will be shielded for the coming 5 or 6 years but even with a particularly harsh crisis and the barrel price at 10 dollars, it would be shielded for two or three years”. These reassuring words come from the head of Algeria’s Government, Ahmed Ouyahia, during a press conference called in Algiers this afternoon. “Algeria’s economic system is shielded today, for five years and for ten, from the global financial crisis, given that it is not evolved and the Stock Market is not integrated with international financial markets”. The Algerian economy “lags a little behind and its relationship with the global economy is based entirely on its exports of hydrocarbons”, but “accumulated reserves guarantee security”. The Maghreb country has meanwhile paid back most of its foreign debt: while this totalled 16.5 billion dollars in 2006, it was down to 4 billion dollars in July. Exchange reserves exceeded 136 billion dollars in the same month. Referring to Algerian deposits in the United States, Ouyahia attempted to reassure pundits who have recently been talking of losses of 15 million dollars a day. “Reserves held in the United States are protected and have lost nothing. They are earning 3 pct and will return 4.5 billion dollars to the Algerian treasury as last year”. A similarly reassuring assessment was made yesterday by the country’s Finance Minister, Karim Djoudi. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mideast: Hamas, We No Longer Recognise Abbas After Jan. 8

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, OCTOBER 7 — Delegates of the fundamentalist Muslim movement Hamas announced in a meeting in Gaza that they no longer recognise Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) as president of the Palestinian Authority after January 8th, claiming his mandate expires on that date. The expiration of Abu Mazen’s mandate is at the centre of a conflict between his party, Fatah, and the Hamas fundamentalists who took the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007. ‘‘President Abu Mazen’s mandate ends on January 8th and as a consequence he cannot stay on even one minute after that date’’ said Ahmad Bahar, vice president of Parliament, to France Presse after a meeting of Hamas delegates. The constitution of the Palestinian Authority Hamas sets the mandate of the president of the Palestinian Authority to four years. Mahmoud Abbas was elected on January 8, 2005 (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘New Israeli PM’ Pledged to Release Palestinian Prisoners

Livni elected by just 431 votes amid charges of fraud, ballot stuffing

JERUSALEM — Foreign Minister Tzipy Livni has promised the Palestinian Authority that if she becomes prime minister one of her first acts in office will be to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, a senior PA source told WND.

Following Livni’s purported victory by just 431 votes in her party’s primary in elections last month — elections fraught with charges of fraud, she has been formally tasked with forming a stable governing coalition. That means if she can recruit enough political parties to maintain a plurality of the Knesset’s 120 seats, she would finish out Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s term in office, becoming prime minister in his place until new elections are held as scheduled late next year. Olmert has said he would resign amid multiple corruption allegations.

Livni over the past few months has been Israel’s chief negotiator in U.S.-backed talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state before President Bush leaves office in January.

Two weeks ago, she held a meeting with chief PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei during which she reportedly stressed she will continue intense negotiations, and that if she forms the new Israeli government, there will be no conditions or obstacles to continue what she termed the peace process.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ex-CIA Agent: War With Iran May be Coming

No matter who is elected president in November, former CIA officer Robert Baer has no doubt about what will be topping his agenda: Iran.

“Everything is coming to a head in the Middle East,” Baer tells Newsmax. “The days of messing around with Iran are over. We’ve been kicking this can down the road for 30 years, and now we’re at the end of the road.”

The former CIA covert operative asserts that the Islamic nation of 70 million people is building an empire in the Middle East, believing it should be the “citadel of Islam.”

He warns that Iran is probably months, if not weeks, away from war with Israel.

That’s the message of Baer’s new book, “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.”…

[Return to headlines]

Jordan Extradites 230 Illegal Workers

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, OCTOBER 6 — Jordanian authorities have deported around 230 illegal expatriates as part of an ongoing campaign to rout out foreign workers without permits, an official said today. Inspectors from Labour Ministry assisted by police forces have been raiding work places in Amman, Zarqa, Irbid and other major cities in the past weeks examining conditions of foreign workers and arrested those without valid permits, said Amin Wereidat, head of inspection department at the Labour ministry. He said most of those repatriated are Egyptian nationals. Other illegal workers include Syrians and Asians. Jordan is home to nearly 300,000 foreign workers mainly from Egypt, who work in construction and agriculture sectors. The government adopted zero tolerance policy against illegal workers in an attempt to help unemployed Jordanians find work. But investors say many Jordanians shun menial jobs as part of what is known here as culture of shame, forcing them to hire expatriates from neighboring countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon to Sue Israel Over ‘Stolen’ Hummus

The delicious chickpea dip hummus that graces the tables of households throughout the Middle East and is increasingly found in American and European supermarkets is at the heart of a legal battle pitting Lebanese industrialists against Israeli producers.

A Lebanese industrial official accused Israel of “stealing” traditional Lebanese recipes and announced that Lebanon will sue Israel in international court because the Jewish state has been exporting Lebanese trademark canned food for several years.

Fady Abboud, head of the Lebanese Society for Industrialists, told that Israel’s “premeditated exportation” of Lebanon’s traditional recipes, under the same trademarks, has caused huge losses to Lebanon that might have exceeded tens of millions of dollars…

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Scholar Denies Mickey Mouse Death Fatwa

CAIRO — A Saudi scholar has refuted media propaganda that he had issued a death fatwa against Mickey Mouse, the famous cartoon character, blaming the fuss on misleading media outlets.

“Of course I have known for more than 40 years now — as every one does — that Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character,” Sheikh Mohammed Salah Al-Munajid said in a video he posted on YouTube.

“Thus, what I said was not a fatwa to kill Mickey Mouse nor would any reasonable minded person say such a thing.”

In the video, titled “Response to media propaganda about killing Mickey Mouse”, Munajid refuted media reports that he had ordered the killing of Mickey in a weekly program he presents on an Arab television network.

Does Islam Encourage Kindness to Animals?

A video clip from last month’s program was posted on the video-sharing website and circulated among Western media.

Munajid, a prominent lecturer and author, affirmed that the discussion in the program was about the treatment of animals.

“What was mentioned in the video clip was one of the rulings in dealing with harmful animals, such as rodents and scorpions under a broader discussion of the effect of media and characters on the family and children,” he explained.

“So, the real issue discussed was harmful rodents and mice, not Mickey.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Syria-Lebanon: Press, New Damascus Deployment on Border

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, OCTOBER 7 — After the deployment of its troops near the northern border with Lebanon, the Syrian army is deploying other soldiers and armoured vehicles along the eastern border of Lebanon “to challenge contraband”. This was reported this morning by the Pan -Arab newspaper al-Hayat out of London. Citing numerous eye witnesses and “reliable security sources” the newspaper emphasized that the new deployment of troops from Damascus is in Syrian territory near the north Easter border with Lebanon, which separates the Syrian region of Homs from that of al-Qaa, a town in the eastern valley of Bekaa. According to al-Hayat, also in this case as on other occasion of the Syrian deployment of troops on the northern border with Lebanon, on last September 20th and 21st, Damascus’ soldiers dug trenches and erected earth barriers, assuming “control of the illegal border passages used by illegal arms traders”. The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had confirmed on last Sunday to his Lebanese colleague Michel Suleiman that the deployment of troops had the objective of “challenging contraband” and that it was “a move that was in harmony with UN resolution n1701”, that put an end to the war of 2006 between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Building on Common Ground With Russia

By Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz

America has an important stake in the territorial integrity of an independent Georgia but not in a confrontational diplomacy toward Russia by its neighbors. Russia needs to understand that the use or threat of military force evokes memories that reinforce the very obstacles to cooperative relations that are the basis of its grievances. America must decide whether to deal with Russia as a possible strategic partner or as a threat to be combated by principles drawn from the Cold War. Of course, should Russia pursue the policies its detractors assign to it, America must resist with all appropriate measures. Those of us who had responsibilities in conducting the Cold War would take the lead in supporting such a strategy.

We are not yet at this point. Russia’s leaders undoubtedly deplore the dissolution of the Russian and Soviet empire. But if they have any realism — and in our experience they do — they know that it is impossible and dangerous to seek to reverse Russia’s history by military means.

Russian history displays a tale of ambivalent oscillation between the restraints of the European order and the temptations for expansion into the strategic vacuums along its borders in Asia and the Middle East. These vacuums no longer exist. In the west, NATO is a formidable strategic presence. In the east, there is a resurgent Asia, to which the center of gravity of world affairs is shifting. In the south, Russia faces a partly radicalized Islam along a lengthy border. Internally, demographic prospects are for decline in the total population and a relative rise in the percentage of its Muslim portion, which is partly disaffected. Russia has not been able to address its infrastructure and health deficit adequately. With a gross domestic product less than one-sixth that of the United States (in purchasing power parity terms) and a defense budget significantly smaller than those of the European Union and the United States, Russia is not well placed to conduct a superpower struggle. Whatever their rhetoric, Russian leaders know this.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Russia Shuts Stock Exchange Until Friday as Shares Nosedive Amid Global Crisis

Russia has suspended trading on its main stock exchange until Friday after the markets nosedived just 30 minutes after opening. Russian news agencies say Moscow’s MICEX stock exchange, where most of Russia’s trading takes place, has shut after opening with steep losses.

The MICEX index dropped more than 14 per cent in the first half-hour of trading today.

The RTS exchange, whose index is widely considered the benchmark of Russia’s markets, fell around seven per cent in the first 30 minutes and suspended trading for one hour, the ITAR-Tass, Interfax and RIA-Novosti agencies reported.

The exchanges suffered their worst-ever one-day losses Monday and ended yesterday with minor losses, in a tepid response to President Dmitry Medvedev’s announcement of new measures to improve liquidity in the banking system.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Martin Condemns Destruction of Irish-Run School in Pakistan

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has this evening condemned the destruction of an Irish Presentation Order Girls School in Pakistan.

Militants aligned to the Taliban are suspected of being behind the attack.

Minister Martin said he was deeply saddened to learn of the destruction of the school which has educated 1,000 poor schoolchildren every year.

“The destruction of the school represents an enormous set-back for the girls and families of this area and for the courageous Sisters of the Presentation Order, who run this and several other schools in Pakistan,” said Minister Martin.

“Such incidents remind us of the often very difficult, and dangerous, conditions in which the Presentation Sisters — and many Irish missionaries around the world — serve the people of the countries in which they operate,” he added.

The Minister called for the government of Pakistan and Afghanistan to come together to agree a join security strategy to combat terrorist and militant operations across and near their common border area.

           — Hat tip: NB [Return to headlines]

West Java Police to Fight Liquor Distribution After 16 Deaths

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Susno Duadji on Tuesday called on all district police chiefs in the province to combat the distribution of alcoholic drinks, following the recent deaths of 16 people at a drinking party. Susno said he would discharge any officers found guilty of involvement in drinks distribution, or even of being a drinker. […]

Over the past three months, police have destroyed at least two million bottles of alcoholic drinks seized in several raids at bars across West Java.

The distribution of alcoholic drinks is permitted in only a limited number of places, including star-rated hotels and licensed outlets, with high prices in place to discourage drinking.

“We cannot close legitimate beverage factories, because they have licenses. Therefore, we can only encourage people to take care of themselves and not do anything stupid,” Susno said.

A recent party in Indramayu turned deadly when 16 fishermen died after drinking homemade alcohol. On Sept. 7, 21 people died, also in Indramayu, after a similar drinking fest. […]

Cirebon Police chief Sr. Comr. Nasser Amir said he had instructed district police in Indramayu to seize all illegal and dangerous alcoholic drinks in a series of raids.

Nasser added the victims had mixed mosquito repellent with their drinks. […]

The latest fatalities in Indramayu have grabbed the attention of the local branch of the Indonesian [Muslim] Ulema Council, which is demanding the police put a halt to alcohol distribution.

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Ex-Soldier Told to Remove ‘Offensive’ Aussie Flag

A COUNCIL has ordered an ex-soldier to take down the Australian flag which flies outside his house because it has been deemed “offensive” by a neighbour.

Aaron Wilson erected the 5m high flagpole eight weeks ago, in honour of his friends who served in Iraq.

But on Tuesday, Logan City Council called to tell him a neighbour had made a complaint, labelling it “offensive”.

He was told to remove the pole or risk legal action. Mr Wilson, whose father fought in Vietnam, said he was disgusted.

“I find it astonishing that anyone could find the Australian flag offensive,” he said.

“My family and friends have served for the country and the very least I can do is have a flag to show my appreciation for Australia.

“I thought the council had better things to do with their time than persecute people for putting a flag up.”

Logan City mayor Pam Parker said she backed Mr Wilson but could not rule out his having to move the flagpole.

“I am offended that somebody should complain to the council about the Australian flag, and whoever they are should hang their head in shame,” she told ABC Radio.

Ms Parker said the flagpole had “setback issues” which she would discuss with council officers.

A council spokeswoman said there was a concern the flagpole could fall down in high winds. She said Mr Wilson needed a building permit, because the pole was only 4.5m from the kerb and, under the Queensland Development Code, it should be at least 6m from the front.

But Mr Wilson, 30, a salesman from Eagleby, near Beenleigh, said other residents in the area had similar flagpoles that were closer to the boundary than his.

He said he would not be moving the flag. “You can’t have rules for some people and not for others,” he said. “I can’t see how moving the flag back a bit is going to stop it being offensive.”

Ex-serviceman Cr Ray Hackwood, who represents Mr Wilson’s ward, said he would be monitoring the situation.

“As area councillor, I certainly won’t allow anyone to pull down an Australian flag,” he said.

Mr Wilson’s neighbours last night were baffled as to who had complained.

Felicia Maybury, 28, said: “Mr Wilson’s got a right to fly his flag in support of his country and his mates who fought for us.”

Logan City mayor Pam Parker said she backed Mr Wilson but could not rule out his having to move the flagpole.

“I am offended that somebody should complain to the council about the Australian flag, and whoever they are should hang their head in shame,” she told ABC Radio.

Ms Parker said the flagpole had “setback issues” which she would discuss with council officers.

           — Hat tip: The Observer [Return to headlines]


EU Opens ‘Job Centre’ in Africa

The European Union has opened its first immigration centre outside Europe, in Mali’s capital, Bamako.

Thousands of young West Africans try to make it into Europe illegally each year and many die on the way.

The EU hopes the new centre will help people find legal work in Europe and cut down on illegal migration by warning about its dangers.

It is also expected to encourage development within Mali, which lies at the centre of key migration routes.

The BBC’s West Africa correspondent Will Ross says young Malians desperate for work would have hoped this new centre would be a recruitment agency, but at this point the EU is stressing that no specific job vacancies will be on offer.

In the future, however, European countries may recruit via the Bamako office.

Spain is already doing this in Senegal by offering seasonal contracts picking fruit or working in hotels to several hundred people each year, with demand so high it is in effect a job lottery.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Immigration: Algeria, 18 Caught Near Annaba

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 7 — 18 illegal immigrants were caught last night off the east coast of Algeria while they were trying to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean, Italy in particular. According to what was reported by the Algerian coast guard, all Algerian between 19 and 34 years of age, were stopped on board a hand made boat off the coast of Annaba, 600km east of Algiers. From the eastern part of the country, direct trips to Italy leave while in the Orano region, in the western part of the country, they leave directly for Spain. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigration: New Wave Lands in Lampedusa

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 7 — Over the last few hours the arrivals and sightings of boats of illegal immigrants headed for Lampedusa and in the surrounding waters are multiplying, and Minister Maroni underlined that the collaboration of the authorities in Libya are slow in their attempts to become more efficient. A dinghy with 130 migrants, among whom are women and children, was aided 21 miles south of the island by a patrol boat of the Customs Police. The non EU citizens have already boarded a coast Guard boat that transferred them to Lampedusa. A second boat with about 40 migrants was sighted about 13 miles south of Lampedusa. A third boat — a dinghy — was sighted by a helicopter of the Customs Police about 45 miles south of Lampedusa; on board there are reportedly about 40 people. In the meantime in Linos, 14 immigrants without residents permit were stopped by the Carabinieri. The first group, with 5 people, was stopped last night, the others around dawn this morning. The migrants were transferred to the centre in Lampedusa. The illegal immigrants probably come from Libyan ports, and on this subject, Interior Minster Roberto Maroni had a decisive position towards the Libyan government: ‘‘even right now with these massive disembarkings — he said — 99.9% of the illegal immigrants that are arriving to Lampedusa are leaving from Libya: we are waiting for the ok from the government in Tripoli for the handing over of 6 patrol boats that are ready to go’’ for the patrolling of Libyan territorial waters. ‘‘Libya — he added — promised more control, but for now this is not occurring with the efficiency that we have asked for.’’ ‘‘The agreement has been signed and it was the centre of Premier Berlusconi’s last visit to Libya — explained Maroni during an interview with Radio Padania — and we are faithfully waiting for the Libyan government to give us the go ahead: it is clear that in international waters, saving boats that are in distress is an obligation, but if the boats of illegal immigrants were stopped when they were in departure, there wouldn’t be a problem’’. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Immigration: Boat With About 200 Migrants South of Lampedusa

(ANSAmed) — PALERMO, OCTOBER 7 — A boat with about 200 immigrants on board was aided by the harbour office 15 miles south of Lampedusa. 6 babies and 8 women have already been transferred to a patrol boat that is in transit towards the island, while two of the harbour officés boats are arriving on site. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Illegal Child Immigrants Vanishing, Says Charity

Rome, 7 Oct. (AKI) — Hundreds of unaccompanied children who arrived illegally in Italy have disappeared without a trace since June, the Save the Children charity told Adnkronos International (AKI) on Tuesday.

“Hundreds have disappeared,” said Save the Children’s child protection area coordinator, Carlotta Bellini. “I can tell you the number of these children who have vanished is high, very high.”

Although there is no hard evidence, Bellini fears that some of the children could have been seized by human traffickers and other criminal organisations.

The children have vanished from communities in the southern Sicilian province of Agrigento where they are transferred after arriving on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa and on the western island of Sardinia.

Save the Children will later this year release the exact number of children who have disappeared, Bellini told AKI.

The charity has been monitoring the situation since June and will continue to do so until February, she said.

Italian daily La Repubblica claimed on Tuesday that at least 400 of the 1,320 children, who arrived on Lampedusa so far this year have vanished.

The average age of the unaccompanied minors is from 15 to 17, but there have been cases of children aged under 15, Bellini said.

“There are around 20 residential communities in the province of Agrigento that are currently accommodating around 900 children,” she said.

“Staff numbers vary, but we would like to see smaller residential homes with more staff per child.”

She said more qualified staff, including cultural mediators who could communicate effectively with the children, was vital.

None of the children speaks Italian when they arrive and few of them speak English, she noted.

“The children need to receive adequate information on how they are going to be looked after and integrated here and what opportunities and support will be available to them,” said Bellini.

“Unaccompanied minors are very vulnerable and it is easy for them to fall into the hands of people intending to exploit them,” she stressed.

Some children are end up in the agricultural sector, while others become professional beggars, prostitutes, pickpockets and drug pushers, according to research carried out last year by Save the Children and other organisations.

“Many North African youngsters have finished up in these sectors, including kids aged 14 or less,” Bellini said.

“The biggest challenge is to put together services to trace these youngsters with highly trained personnel who understand minors and know their rights.”

Save the Children and other charities are planning to launch a pilot project in Rome soon to offer legal advice, health services, recreational facilities and information on criminal gangs looking to exploit vulnerable children, Bellini said.

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

Italy: Hundreds of Illegal Immigrants Headed for Mainland

Palermo, 8 Oct. (AKI) — Hundreds of illegal immigrants were due to be airlifted from the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday to temporary reception centres on the mainland.

The move was taken after the arrival Tuesday on Lampedusa of over 1,000 illegal immigrants in 12 separate landings, which left the island’s identification and holding centre overflowing.

On Wednesday, at least 40 more would-be migrants were spotted by Italian naval authorities aboard a rubber dinghy off the southern coast of Lampedusa. Among the passengers were seven women.

Meanwhile, at least 37 more illegal immigrants arrived on the Italian island of Sardinia’s southern coast. Most of the migrants were thought to be of Tunisian and Algerian nationality. They were all taken to the island’s TRC at Elmas near Cagliari

Also on Wednesday, five people smugglers were arrested in the Sicilian city of Agrigento. Police authorities say the suspects smuggled 67 illegal immigrants into Sicily last week.

Almost 21,000 illegal immigrants have landed on Lampedusa so far this year — twice the number that arrived over the same period of 2007, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The number of illegal migrants heading for southern Mediterranean countries such as Italy aboard people traffickers’ boats surges during the warmer months from April to October.

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

Pope Calls for Immigrant Welcome

But Northern League proposes points- based residence permits

(ANSA) — Vatican City, October 8 — Pope Benedict XVI made a renewed appeal for the international community to welcome immigrants in a message released on Wednesday.

The pontiff said ‘‘special attention’’ should be given to refugees and exiles in the message for the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees on January 18.

Benedict also urged people to ‘‘live fully in fraternal love without distinction of type and without discrimination, in the conviction that anyone who needs us is our fellow man and we can help them’’.

Presenting the pope’s message, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, added that ‘‘the problem of immigration is not resolved by closing borders’’.

‘‘There are over 200 million people who live outside their countries of origin, driven by misery, hunger, violence, wars, ethnic rivalries, but also by the desire for a better life,’’ Martino said.

The influx of immigrants into the world’s richer nations is ‘‘often experienced by the host country as a sort of ‘invasion’, with negative repercussions on (social) stability and public safety issues’’.

The cardinal said the negative climate ‘‘makes human life even more sad and bitter for many immigrants’’ and can drive them further to the margins of society.

‘‘The problem is not resolved by closing borders but by countries welcoming the immigrant influx, with the right balanced and solid rules’’ in order to ease integration, he said.

In response to a question about whether new mosques should be opened in the European Union, Martino said that while immigrants should respect the culture and laws of their host country, their religious and cultural needs should also be provided for.

‘‘Europe must not see immigrants as invaders but as collaborators,’’ he said.


The Catholic Church’s comments came a day after a key government party unveiled a series of proposals that would make it easier to expel immigrants and tougher for Italians to marry foreigners.

The Northern League on Tuesday presented a raft of last-minute amendments to a so-called security bill currently in the Senate which opposition politicians have criticised as fuelling a wave of crime-linked anti-immigrant feeling in Italy.

The most important proposal envisions the introduction of a points-based residence permit for foreigners, which would see points deducted for administrative violations or criminal activity. Once the points run out, foreigners would be expelled. ‘‘There can be no room for anyone living here outside the rules,’’ said the party’s Senate whip, Federico Bricolo on Tuesday.

In addition, immigrants would not be able to marry in Italy without first obtaining a residence permit and being in Italy legally.

Another proposal, apparently in response to fierce rows over new mosques, would require a local referendum before any non-Catholic places of worship could be built. The amendments were greeted with outrage by members of the opposition.

The Democratic Party’s spokesman on charity and non-governmental matters, Gian Luca Lioni, described the proposals as ‘‘surreal propaganda’’. ‘‘This is the Leagues’ usual demagogy, designed to feed the implied prejudice that foreigners are usually criminals,’’ he said. The bill currently in the Senate is one of several legislative measures proposed by the government as part of a security package unveiled in May. The various bills and decrees contained in the package have resulted in a range of action, including the deployment of 3,000 troops in Italian cities and the closure of unauthorized Roma camps.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Hamas Blames Financial Crisis on ‘Jewish Lobby’

The Anti-Defamation League says the financial crisis provoked an outpour of anti-Semitism on the web

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip on Tuesday blamed what it called the “Jewish lobby” in the United States for the global financial crisis.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement that the crisis was due to “bad administrative and financial management and a bad banking system put into place and controlled by the Jewish lobby.”

He said that despite pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into a rescue package, U.S. President George W. Bush had remained silent about “the Jewish lobby that put the U.S. banking and financial sector into place.”

Fawzi Barhum said that the lobby controls the U.S elections

Barhum added that the lobby “controls the U.S. elections and defines the foreign policy of any new administration in a manner that allows it to retain control of the American government and economy.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

No Scientific Necessity to Wash Off the Urine of Male Infants

From Hamas TV’s Koranic Scientist Dr. Ahmad Al-Muzain

[MEMRI Video]

Following are excerpts from a program featuring Dr. Ahmad Al-Muzain, a Palestinian expert on Koranic science, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on September 3, 2008:

Dr. Ahmad Al-Muzain: The Prophet Muhammad said that there is no need to wash off the urine of the male infant. Only the urine of the female infant should be washed. In the case of the urine of the male infant, it is enough to sprinkle water lightly over it. From this, the religious scholars have concluded that the urine of the male is less impure than the urine of the female. This gives rise to many questions: Why is there a distinction between the urine of the male and the female? What is the wisdom in this? Is this, as some Orientalists claim, discrimination against the female, even in infancy? God forbid that this is true.


In order to prove the wisdom behind this, scientists from an Iraqi university have conducted a unique experiment. Of course, this experiment was supervised by a professor from the International Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and the Sunna.


This experiment proved that a type of bacteria known as E. coli — and you can see a picture of this bacteria behind me… We found this type of bacteria in the urine culture of both male and female infants. What was strange, however, was that the urine of the male infant contained much fewer bacteria than that of the female.


This proves unequivocally that this is the true religion, and that this knowledge was conveyed to the Prophet by Allah.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

The Third Jihad

We cannot disarm Islamists if their presence is not acknowledged

The first great jihad petered out with Islam’s expulsion from Spain in 1492, the second in 1683 with the decisive (and to Islamists, still freshly humiliating) defeat of the Ottoman Empire in Vienna.

We’re presently experiencing the terror-focused third great jihad, which seeks to recreate the triumphalist dynamics of Islam’s muscular 7th-century ascendancy. How or when this great jihad will end we cannot say, only that realism insists it will not be soon and that the mission to replace secular democracy with Islam proceeds apace inside our borders as well as abroad.

We must know the enemy within to fight him. Unfortunately, our reigning establishment prefers not to confront the awkward civic triage such awareness would entail and so affects ignorance of the problem. But we cannot challenge and disarm Islamists if their presence is not acknowledged.

Islam is a private faith, Islamism an ugly political ideology. Islamists’ hegemonic mission demands a choice between hard jihad — the 9/11, suicide-bomber way — and soft jihad, far more appealing to Westernized, educated Islamist ideologues.

Exploiting Westerners’ naivete and obsessive race guilt, soft jihadists deliberately blur the line between the religion of Islam (which on no account must be “offended” in the West) and the demonstrably offensive political imperialism of Islamism.

Soft jihad cannot succeed without the complicity of naive elites, bedazzled by their own boundless compassion and humanity. Sadly, of these “useful idiots” in the corridors of wealth and power the West offers an embarras de richesses.

How does one recognize a soft jihadist? An infallible sign is her or his promotion of official shariah law.

A moderate Muslim seeks to live in a “state of Islam” within a nation to which he freely gives allegiance; an Islamist strives to live in “an Islamic state,” as only Islam claims his allegiance. In non-Muslim states, therefore, an Islamist cannot be content with less than official shariah.

In his new book, Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, Tarek Fatah emphasizes the Islamist-shariah endorsement link: “Shariah law has become the governing tool [and] the informal constitution of … Political Islam.”

Fatak concludes that since shariah violates Articles 1, 2, 7, 16 and 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and since Canadian values are encapsulated in that declaration, a Muslim may observe shariah privately and remain a good Canadian, but a Muslim cannot be a good Canadian and endorse official shariah.

Hard jihadists run the risk of death or life imprisonment. Soft jihadists eschew such risks. Instead they play the weak victim card, ingratiating themselves with influential Western liberals who do their work for them.

Thus we see government bodies sycophantically soliciting advice and collaboration in sensitive areas like national security from self-generated and unrepresentative organizations with highly problematic views regarding shariah, Jews and terrorism…

           — Hat tip: SC [Return to headlines]

23 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/8/2008

  1. I like the news feed, and I also think GoV should continue covering some American topics, since so many readers are American, our issues are related to Europe, and it’s obvious from the comments that both Europeans and Americans need to learn more about each other.

    However, there are probably too many articles, and some of them aren’t all that interesting. Maybe you could farm out editing chores to a few people, who would select a few of the best articles. I’d volunteer, and I’m sure other people would too.

  2. I also like the news feed. I like the inclusion of Russian topics and American. Because the media in South Africa only gives one point of view about America, it’s nice to see the other.

    Exploiting Westerners’ naivete and obsessive race guilt
    When it is all over I believe the West will have a totally different attitude.

  3. Well Baron, before I found Gates of Vienna I could only see the United States of America trough John Stewart’s Daily Show so… and many times two weeks late…

    Yes it is valluable.

    However, I think there are too many articles. I only read five in average. For a blog like Gates of Vienna it is indeed boring and I must guess that the work you have is enormous.
    But many times I find the information very interesting.

    I honestly think that you should create a seperate blog: Gates of Viena’s New Feeds… Because here it is out of place.

    You’re the one who have to decide. You see, the problems in my view are the following:

    1)We do not go into details (tat’s why I like Gates of Vienna)
    2) It’s too many information, no one can read all that.
    3)All the work you have may not pay out.
    4) It is a valluable source of information that, if you stop posting, vanishes.

    I think the best is to create a new blog for it. And to have a good visible link between the two Gates of Vienna.

  4. I like the news feed.
    While I may not always have a lot of time each day to read them all, I have found I may go a day or two, and refer back to a story.

  5. Best to stick to your niche, I think. If I want a general news update, I’d go to the BBC, WSJ or Daily Telegraph.

    I have no argument with you picking items from anywhere in the world, but I do think that staying with the “Islam Issue” is your best course. It’s why I come here, after all.

  6. I second (or third) the sentiment that you should keep the news feed but make it shorter or separate it from the main blog somehow.

    The stories are valuable.

  7. Since the news feed has come about the number of quality articles has decreased. It seems quantity has been chosen over quality which is never a good move.

  8. I’d prefer comments to be placed at the end of each item in the news feed. Readers would then not have to scroll all the way to the end of the series to see whether an item had elicited a comment, and threads could form for different items.

    Furthermore, if certain subjects never elicit comments, you’d then know that you could omit that subject in the menu of news feeds and thus shorten it, as some readers say they’d prefer you do.

  9. Y’all have some good ideas. This is very useful.

    I can shorten it or restrict the topics of what I include, but there’s a couple of things I can’t do:

    1. Allow comments on an individual article. Blogger doesn’t give me a mechanism for doing that. I’d have to create a separate post for each article, which would not be useful or feasible.

    2. Start a separate blog for the news feed. Or, rather, I could do it, but I won’t. This one already takes every possible moment of my spare time. A second blog would inevitably take more time than a single post per day on this blog. I’d have to give up sleeping to do it! (Maybe I should. It worked for Hitler…)

  10. Wathitht!


    I’ll admit, I don’t read all the articles in the news feed, except the ones that grab my attention from the headline. But, then, I only do similar on a lot of RSS feeds so in that sense it’s no different. It’s useful to have this resource around even if I don’t personally use it that often. 🙂

  11. I find the GoV news feed is a valuable resource and check it every day.

    Perhaps if the feed is below the fold, readers that prefer to skip it won’t have to scroll past a long sequence of links.

  12. Some inconvenient truths (to the Baron and other right-wing spinners) that debunk the ridiculous notion that left-wingers are responsible for the financial crisis:

    Some choice snippets:

    The Community Reinvestment Act applies to depository banks. But many of the institutions that spurred the massive growth of the subprime market weren’t regulated banks. They were outfits such as Argent and American Home Mortgage, which were generally not regulated by the Federal Reserve or other entities that monitored compliance with CRA. These institutions worked hand in glove with Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, entities to which the CRA likewise didn’t apply. There’s much more. As Barry Ritholtz notes in this fine rant, the CRA didn’t force mortgage companies to offer loans for no money down, or to throw underwriting standards out the window, or to encourage mortgage brokers to aggressively seek out new markets. Nor did the CRA force the credit-rating agencies to slap high-grade ratings on packages of subprime debt.

    Many of the biggest flameouts in real estate have had nothing to do with subprime lending. WCI Communities, builder of highly amenitized condos in Florida (no subprime purchasers welcome there), filed for bankruptcy in August. Very few of the tens of thousands of now-surplus condominiums in Miami were conceived to be marketed to subprime borrowers, or minorities—unless you count rich Venezuelans and Colombians as minorities.

    Lending money to poor people and minorities isn’t inherently risky. There’s plenty of evidence that in fact it’s not that risky at all. That’s what we’ve learned from several decades of microlending programs, at home and abroad, with their very high repayment rates. And as the New York Times recently reported, Nehemiah Homes, a long-running initiative to build homes and sell them to the working poor in subprime areas of New York’s outer boroughs, has a repayment rate that lenders in Greenwich, Conn., would envy. In 27 years, there have been fewer than 10 defaults on the project’s 3,900 homes. That’s a rate of 0.25 percent.

    On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. or Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, can be really risky. In fact, it’s even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity. And here, again, it’s difficult to imagine how Jimmy Carter could be responsible for the supremely poor decision-making seen in the financial system. I await the Krauthammer column in which he points out the specific provision of the Community Reinvestment Act that forced Bear Stearns to run with an absurd leverage ratio of 33 to 1, and which instructed Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers to blow up hundreds of millions of their clients’ money. Perhaps Neil Cavuto knows which CRA clause required Lehman Bros. to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt in the capital markets and then buy tens of billions of dollars of commercial real estate at the top of the market. I can’t find it. Did AIG plunge into the credit-default-swaps business with abandon because Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now members picketed its offices? Please. How about the hundreds of billions of dollars of leveraged loans—loans banks committed to private-equity firms that wanted to conduct leveraged buyouts of retailers, restaurant companies, and industrial firms? Many of those are going bad now, too. Is that Bill Clinton’s fault?

    Investment banks created a demand for subprime loans because they saw it as a new asset class that they could dominate. They made subprime loans for the same reason they made other loans: They could get paid for making the loans, for turning them into securities, and for trading them—frequently using borrowed capital.

    Lending money to poor people doesn’t make you poor. Lending money poorly to rich people does.

  13. The Third Jihad

    Exploiting Westerners’ naivete and obsessive race guilt, soft jihadists deliberately blur the line between the religion of Islam (which on no account must be “offended” in the West) and the demonstrably offensive political imperialism of Islamism.

    This is especially odd in that there is no “line” to blur between Islam and Islamism. Both forms of this ideology are equally offensive and lethal to civilization. Neither is able to compromise or moderate and only direct military action will resolve either one’s predation upon Western culture.

    Furthermore, there is no “soft” jihad. It is all jihad, all the time with but one objective. Few, if any, “soft jihadists” would flinch at inflicting violent jihad were there not such immediate penalties for doing so. “Soft jihad” is just a stealth format of jihad in general and both are equally destructive to civilization.

    How does one recognize a soft jihadist? An infallible sign is her or his promotion of official shariah law.

    Which is why abolishing all forms of shari’a represents such a vital first step in combating the proliferation of Islam. Anyone who protests the outlawing of such a Neanderthal legal code automatically identifies themselves as either an Islamist or a facilitator of Islamic domination. Both are the enemies of freedom and must be treated as such. Shari’a is one massive violation of human rights and, just like Islam, has no redeeming features.

    Fatak concludes that … shariah violates Articles 1, 2, 7, 16 and 18 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights …

    To the United Nations’ eternal damnation, its inability to recognize and admit to this glaring discrepancy represents a permanent abdication of all moral authority that they seek to wield. Touting oneself as a Global Authority while perpetually sheltering the viper of Islam from reprisal by freedom loving people is treason writ large and nothing else.

  14. You news feed is good. And anyone that prefers getting their news from al-BBCera can’t be running with all of their oars in the water. Haven’t they ever heard the word “bias”? CNN, BBC, ABC, NBC, MSN,none of them are worth a crap.

  15. aileen: I’d prefer comments to be placed at the end of each item in the news feed. Readers would then not have to scroll all the way to the end of the series to see whether an item had elicited a comment, and threads could form for different items.

    One solution to this issue is for commenters to always preface their individual submissions with the News Feed item’s title in bold font. This immediately cues the reader to which article is being commented upon and facilitates re-examination of it for further discussion.

    Personally, I find little to criticize or change about this site. The edumahcation of our world about Islam’s and Multiculturalism’s threat is best served by the exact sort of information sourcing that goes on here.

  16. I appreciate all the work you expend to provide the news feeds. It is a very important enhancement in that it effective expands the RSS feed. With out your News Feeds the important stories might be missed if they were restricted to the RSS scroll.

    Complaints about too much U.S.A and/or Canadian coverage seem trivial compared to the world wide threats WE ALL face from Islam. This threat can not be effectively addressed from a local, city, country, or regional perspective. We must confront Islamification and Sharia Law from a united world wide vantage point.

  17. Response on the News Feed.

    I agree with most of the other comments that say
    1) keep it on topic of Islam.
    (for instance the ACORN story is everywhere already)
    2) make the comments “per story”
    3) How about putting them in a “sidebar” instead of starting a new blog.

    But, having said all that GOV was just as good before the NewsFeed started, it is a plus, but not a huge worldbeating improvement.

    What has made GOV better is the quality of the articles. Which have increased in number and quality since inception.

  18. Now onto the poster formerly known as Gordon:

    The “Slate” article is hardly the last word in all this. It was posted on a economics blog a read and was debunked in this key way:

    Once Freddie and Fannie decided they would buy crap loans everything else was a given.

    Humans are very good at gaming systems. Once ‘the rules’ were set up that you, as an originator could write a loan, make money and have no risk – via collateralization of the loan — then it was guaranteed that exactly what has happened would.

    The main mechanism that made this happen were Fannie / Freddie. And as you can see from examination of the available evidence F&F were essentially a Democratic project, run by recycled Clinton apointees, and protected by the Congressional Black Caucus, Barney Frank and others.

    The Community Reinvestment Act applies to depository banks. But many of the institutions that spurred the massive growth of the subprime market weren’t regulated banks.

    Doesn’t matter. Everybody could sell loans to Fannie and Feddie, whose mission was to help the poor get houses.

    They were outfits such as Argent and American Home Mortgage, which were generally not regulated by the Federal Reserve or other entities that monitored compliance with CRA. These institutions worked hand in glove with Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, entities to which the CRA likewise didn’t apply.

    Who all used F&F as the primary conduit for mortgages.

    There’s much more. As Barry Ritholtz notes in this fine rant, the CRA didn’t force mortgage companies to offer loans for no money down,

    F&F bragged about it. Again, they accepted these no down loans from all comers

    or to throw underwriting standards out the window, or to encourage mortgage brokers to aggressively seek out new markets.

    Yes, they created a “no lose” game and people played it very well.

    Nor did the CRA force the credit-rating agencies to slap high-grade ratings on packages of subprime debt.

    Agreed. They have some culpability as well.

    Many of the biggest flameouts in real estate have had nothing to do with subprime lending. WCI Communities, builder of highly amenitized condos in Florida (no subprime purchasers welcome there), filed for bankruptcy in August.

    Just because they were high end units doesn’t mean the loans were not subprime. Subprime just means that the standards for collateral and payment ability were lowered. This was done for commerical projects. The CRA may not have forced anyone to do this, but Fannie and Freddie, again, made it possible for them to do it and not suffer the consequences.

    Lending money to poor people and minorities isn’t inherently risky. There’s plenty of evidence that in fact it’s not that risky at all.

    A local news story reports that HUD is saying there are 5 MILLION outstanding loans to illegals. These were permitted / ecncouraged when the requirement to have a Social Security card was removed (by LIBERAL action)

    Yes, those people are a far higher risk than average lenders. They are not even citizens, they are criminal invaders.

    To compare microlending programs to what went on under the CRA is silly. Microlending is all about helping people establish working small businesses, is closely monitored, etc.

    This was a simple decision to drastically lower standards that had worked for decades in America: like the 20% down for first house rule, the two years of employment rule, the not more than XX % of your takehome pay rule.

    The fact is, they have failed, spectacularly. There is a very high correlaiton between the heavily Latino states and the states with the most forclosures. (The top five states with the most forclosures are also among the most Hispanic states in the USA. The cities with the highest default rates all have very high minority (mostly hispanic) concentrations.

    the New York Times recently reported, Nehemiah Homes, a long-running initiative to build homes and sell them to the working poor in subprime areas of New York’s outer boroughs, has a repayment rate that lenders in Greenwich, Conn., would envy. In 27 years, there have been fewer than 10 defaults on the project’s 3,900 homes. That’s a rate of 0.25 percent.

    Again, so what. Yes, it is probably possible to design a program that specifically deals wiht the problems of low income poeple and helps them own homes. That’s not what was done here though. Instead standards were just done away with.

    Think of it as the difference between providing lots of tutoring to poor black kids to help them get better SAT scores and simply adding a “race” box on the test and adding 150 points to the test if “black” is checked.

    On the other hand, lending money recklessly to obscenely rich white guys, such as Richard Fuld of Lehman Bros. or Jimmy Cayne of Bear Stearns, can be really risky. In fact, it’s even more risky, since they have a lot more borrowing capacity. Applies and Oranges and a strawman argument.

    And here, again, it’s difficult to imagine how Jimmy Carter could be responsible for the supremely poor decision-making seen in the financial system.

    The CRA seemed to work pretty well until Clinton juiced it up. Maybe the Carter version was not a ticking time bomb.

    Community Reinvestment Act that forced Bear Stearns to run with an absurd leverage ratio of 33 to 1,

    Lots of banks with the lower leverage rate (WaMu, Wachovia) are belly up now too. What do they have in common? Lots of bad loans and collateralized bad loans.

    and which instructed Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers to blow up hundreds of millions of their clients’ money.

    You’re sort of getting off into this strident populist rant at this point. What exactly are you talking about? Bear Stearns shareholders got the bite when they were forced to sell to JP at a low price. That’s how the system is supposed to work.

    Perhaps Neil Cavuto knows which CRA clause required Lehman Bros. to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars in short-term debt in the capital markets and then buy tens of billions of dollars of commercial real estate at the top of the market. I can’t find it.
    That’s not what tanked them, is it. In fact the real estate still had good value and was a big chunck of what Barclays paid to own. It’s the CDO’s that are the toxic asssett. They haven’t auctioned them yet, that’s Friday.

    But, so what. Lehman got no government bailout. Why do you even care. It’s not against the law for people to make bad investment decisions and lose their shirts.

    It’s Fannie and Freedie that were too big to fail and we had to bail out. They are liberal playgrounds.

    Did AIG plunge into the credit-default-swaps business with abandon because Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now members picketed its offices? Please.

    No, but so what. Their insurance failed becaues there was too much crap mixed in with the good. Who put it there? Why did they put it there.

    I trimmed out more of the ranting here, but lets get to the chase:

    Lending money to poor people doesn’t make you poor. Lending money poorly to rich people does.

    Lending money to anyone “poorly” makes you poor eventually.

    The unescapable fact is that the government forced many banks to make loans that they otherwise would not have made. This happened. You can bring up all the other facts you want. Perhaps some of them are even valid. But none of it excuses the horrible results of the CRA, which was in fact, despite your protestations, a key root cause of the crisis.

    Were their other causes? Yes. Certainly. But CRA was not a harmless little program. It was a devastating virus that infected many parts of our financial system.

Comments are closed.