Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/30/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/30/2009The big news story of the day concerns an alliance between Hezbollah and narco-traffickers in Latin America. Hezbollah invested money in the cocaine ring, and used the profits to buy weapons, also from Latin America.

See Fausta for more coverage of this story.

In other news, an 8-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia has been granted a divorce from her 58-year-old husband.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, CIS, CSP, Diana West, Fjordman, Insubria, islam o’phobe, Israel Matzav, JD, KGS, moderntemplar, Paul Green, TB, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Spain: 1 Million Families Without Earnings
CAIR “Commends” the Good Dhimmis at the ADL for Condemning Wilders
Did President Approve Buzzing New York?
Mark Steyn: Who Will Lead the ‘Post-American Era’?
Nashville: Hospital Pays $70,000 to Muslim After Denying Him Time Off for Trip to Mecca
Obama’s War on Free Speech
Obama Announces Fiat-Chrysler Deal
Swine Flu Smoking Gun? CDC Was Combining Flu Viruses in 2004
Europe and the EU
Greece-Cyprus Conditionally Support Turkey’s EU Bid
Muslim Failed Asylum Seeker Kills Girl & Walks Free
New Law Sees Swedish Web Traffic Plunge
Premier in ‘Starlet’ Election Row
Spain: Women; in Three Years 100,000 Gender Violence Cases
Sweden: Wheels of Justice Chase Balls of Steel
Sweden: Gang Rapists Jailed
Terrorism: Spain; TV Internet to Encourage ETA
UK: Bradford College Involved in Drugs Racket, Claim
UK: The Muslim Cleric Who Blames British Mosques for the 7/7 Bombings, Says Multiculturalism is a Disaster and Would Throw Islamic Fanatics Out
Mediterranean Union
Culture: Arts Caravan From Syracuse to Tunisia
North Africa
Egypt: Hezbollah Scheme to Attack Egypt Foiled
New Flu: Egypt; Breeders, Rocks Thrown at Veterinarians
Terrorism: Algeria, Imam Imprisoned for Defending Terrorism
Israel and the Palestinians
10 Ways Obama is a Direct Threat to Israel
Israel to EU: Criticism of Netanyahu Government Unacceptable
Israel: Intelligence Warns Israel is Now an ‘Obstacle to Obama’
Middle East
Emirates: Torture; Government Condemns Prince’s Actions
Jordan: Queen Rania Joins Crowd to Condemn Child Abuse
Lebanon: New Shiite Militia, Hezbollah Alternative
More Than a Coincidence: Minarets, Geography and Power
Saudi Arabia: Eight-Year-Old Girl Divorces 50-Year-Old Husband
The Unbearable Lightness of Wishful Thinking
Turkey: EU, Tackling Violence Against Women is Priority
What is Salafism, and Why Does Anybody Consider it Relevant Today?
Wiping Israel Off Brit Airline’s Map Stirs Furor
South Asia
Afghan Diary I: the Gates of Kabul
Pakistan: Taliban Seize Houses, Shops of Sikhs in Orakzai
Taliban Possibly Tapping Berlin’s Secrets
Australia — Pacific
Mice Attack Nursing Home War Veteran
Sub-Saharan Africa
New Pirate Attacks on Italian Ship
Latin America
Big Cocaine Gang Allied to Hezbollah Rounded Up
USA: Immigrant Unemployment at Record High
Culture Wars
Censors for Talk Radio Expected Within 90 Days
Fairness Doctrine ‘Unconstitutional’
House Agrees to Muzzle Pastors With ‘Hate Crimes’ Plan
Right-Wing College Group Riles Students on Campuses Nationwide
Billions of Dollars in Their Way to Pharmaceutical Firms
Brooke Goldstein & Aaron Eitan Meyer: How Islamist Lawfare Tactics Target Free Speech
Only 7 Swine Flu Deaths, Not 152, Says WHO
Professor Warns of Global Food Riots

Financial Crisis

Spain: 1 Million Families Without Earnings

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 24 — In the record low of 4 million registered unemployed people in Spain, the data that has caused the most concern is that of 1,068,400 families who are without a single working member in the household. The number sees last year’s figure more than doubled, according to a study by the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE) published today. The number of families without income has risen to 6.3%, an increase of 29.16% in comparison to the first quarter of 2008. At the same time, the rate of unemployment for immigrants in the third quarter reached 23%, compared to 21% in the previous quarter, and the 17.36% representing general unemployment. More than 278,000 immigrants have joined the ranks of the unemployed. The Minister for the Economy, Elena Salgado, announced to the media that the country’s economic situation “is negative, and worse than expected,” though she claimed she was confident that by April there would be a clear “reversal in the trend”, and the increase in unemployment would slow. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


CAIR “Commends” the Good Dhimmis at the ADL for Condemning Wilders

by Diana West

As the Left in Europe is increasingly characterized by its appeasement of Islam and an acidifying anti-Semitism, Dutch MP Geert Wilders (above, outside the US Senate), an opposition leader on the Right, rallies the Dutch people with his stalwart defense of Western civilization, his opposition to the encroachments of sharia law in his country and the wider West, and his always staunch defense of Jews and Israel, which he rightly sees as a nation on the front lines against the jihad in progress against the non-Muslim world.

So how come the Anti-Defamation League is condemning Wilders—and, in turn, being commended for doing so by Hamas-linked CAIR?…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Did President Approve Buzzing New York?

Air Force officer: ‘It shows a kind of arrogance’

An Air Force officer who served in the Clinton White House and for two years carried the “nuclear football” briefcase of codes says it’s almost certain that the “highest levels” of the Obama administration knew about and approved this week’s stunt in which Air Force One buzzed New York City.

During an interview on “The Andrea Shea King Show” last night, he said, “I can’t imagine that anyone who works in the Air Force thought that was a good idea. I have worked in the White House and having worked for the Military Office, with the guys at Andrews Air Force Base and the ground crews, that (decision) had to come down from on high.”

Among the procedures with which he became familiar during his work with Clinton were those involving the preparation of the president’s 747 jet for flight.

“It defies my belief that the White House staff did not know they were launching the 747 to go up and do this. So it had to come down from the White House. It wouldn’t have been done on behalf of the folks at Andrews (Air Force Base). It would have been done at the direction of the White House,” he said.

Patterson currently flies for a carrier on a route crossing the nation.

“I fly an airplane out of Los Angeles into New York City all the time. I fly a large airplane. In NYC airspace at any point in time, especially during the day during normal waking hours to fly over the city like at that low level, it’s almost impossible to coordinate with the FAA. So there was a lot of coordination done on this, a lot of advance legwork and groundwork done on this.”

“It boggles my mind because when I fly into New York City, we have to stay on this straight and narrow path that you cannot deviate virtually by feet, and here’s a 747 that’s got the approval to fly all over the city at low level and again, scare the people of New York. It just defies description,” he said.

“I can’t imagine as a pilot, and an Air Force officer and a former Clinton administration official, I can’t imagine who thought that was a good idea!”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mark Steyn: Who Will Lead the ‘Post-American Era’?

Obama crew sees U.S. as just the same as 190 other countries.

According to an Earth Day survey, one-third of schoolchildren between the ages of 6 and 11 think the Earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. That’s great news, isn’t it? Not for the Earth, I mean, but for “environmental awareness.” Congratulations to Al Gore, the Sierra Club and the eco-propagandists of the public education system in doing such a terrific job of traumatizing America’s moppets. Traditionally, most of the folks you see wandering the streets proclaiming the end of the world is nigh tend to be getting up there in years. It’s quite something to have persuaded millions of first-graders that their best days are behind them.

Call me crazy, but I’ll bet that in 15-20 years the planet will still be here, along with most of the “environment” — your flora and fauna, your polar bears and three-toed tree sloths and whatnot. But geopolitically we’re in for a hell of a ride, and the world we end up with is unlikely to be as congenial as most Americans have gotten used to…

[Return to headlines]

Nashville: Hospital Pays $70,000 to Muslim After Denying Him Time Off for Trip to Mecca

Southern Hills Medical Center in Nashville has agreed to pay a former employee $70,000 in damages after denying him time off to make a pilgrimage to Mecca but admitted no wrongdoing when it settled the religious discrimination case on Monday.

In late 2007, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit on behalf of Wali Telwar, a Muslim former Southern Hills medical technician who lives in Nashville.

The hospital refused to allow Telwar to use just over 20 days of accumulated vacation time to take a trip to Mecca. Every Muslim is required to make the hajj — a pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian birthplace of the Islamic religion and its prophet — in their lifetime.

Telwar, who had worked at the hospital for three years, also claimed he was told that if he insisted on attending the hajj he would have to quit his job and reapply when he returned.

Telwar resigned, according to the suit. When he returned, Southern Hills did not rehire him. The hospital hired three other medical technicians.

Southern Hills released a statement from CEO Tom Ozburn late Wednesday: “As noted in the consent decree, we deny that we discriminated in any way against Mr. Telwar,” Ozburn said in the statement. “We have reached a settlement with the EEOC to close this matter. “Southern Hills is committed to providing an inclusive work environment where everyone is treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.” At the time the suit was filed, Southern Hills Marketing Director Karen Baker declined to comment on the details but said the hospital did not discriminate against Telwar and intended to defend its position vigorously.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sought court costs, unspecified back pay and other damages from the hospital. When the case was settled Monday, the hospital denied any wrongdoing and did not agree to pay Telwar’s legal costs.

But the hospital did agree to pay Telwar $70,000 in damages, to eliminate any reference to the discrimination claim in Telwar’s personnel file and to offer a neutral reference to any future employers.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement the hospital is barred from refusing to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of any employee. The prohibition extends to the scheduling of vacation time and retaliating against any employee who has requested accommodation for a religious belief.

The hospital is also required to alter its policy manual within 90 days to provide instructions to employees about accommodating religious beliefs and must educate its employees and management about what constitutes religious discrimination. The hospital must also generate two reports over the next 23 months detailing what requests for religious accommodation are made by employees, what accommodations were made and if no accommodation was made it must explain why.

           — Hat tip: moderntemplar [Return to headlines]

Obama’s War on Free Speech

Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are intent on nationalizing media in the U.S. much the same way they nationalized the U.S. auto industry and the nation’s banking and financial institutions.

This isn’t the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.”

It’s much worse.

Here’s what you can expect in the coming weeks and months:

  • a new appointment to the position of chairman of the Federal Communications Commission who will implement a plan to create “community advisory boards” of community activists to monitor the content of talk-radio programs, threatening stations that carry dissenting content with broadcast license challenges;
  • billions of additional dollars to be invested in so-called “public broadcasting” — those entities already funded and controlled by government;
  • bailouts of failing newspapers perceived as essential propaganda tools for the party.

It’s a program worthy of the old Soviet Union — where the old joke noted there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.

But this is no joking matter. The First Amendment is at stake.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama Announces Fiat-Chrysler Deal

Accord offers chance for brilliant future, president says

(see related coverage) (ANSA) — Washington, April 30 — United States President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that Chrysler had reached an agreeement with Italian automaker Fiat.

“The agreement with Fiat offers Chrysler a chance for a brilliant future,” said Obama.

Chrysler will not only survive but will prosper in its alliance with Fiat, said the president, who announced that the American automaker would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy was the only option available for Chrysler after negotiations between the US Treasury and the automaker’s lenders failed to fully reduce Chrysler’s debt.

The US government is ready to give America’s No.3 carmaker up to 3.5 billion dollars in debtor financing to help Chrysler during its restructuring phase.

The Canadian government is also ready to do its bit, Obama administration sources said.

US officials are apparently in favour of letting Bob Nardelli retain his his job as Chrysler’s Chief Executive for a transition period, American media sources said.

Nardelli is expected to resign once the deal with Fiat becomes operative.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Swine Flu Smoking Gun? CDC Was Combining Flu Viruses in 2004

(NaturalNews) Last week, when what is now called a “swine flu” was first reported to be infecting and killing some people in Mexico, health officials noted it was a strain of flu never before seen. In fact, it is technically incorrect to call this simply a “swine” flu. Analyses showed it’s a mixture of swine, human and avian viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Moreover, it is genetically different from the fully human H1N1 seasonal influenza virus that has been circulating globally for the past few years. Bottom line: the new flu virus contains DNA from avian, swine viruses (including elements from European and Asian viruses) and human viruses.

But here’s the potential smoking gun, the facts that suggest a potential source of the pandemic could be CDC labs. And at the very least, this possibility deserves thoughtful examination and research.

The University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) is hardly a place most Americans have heard about and, apparently, the Center’s web site has news the MSM isn’t familiar with, either. But information they published years ago has now taken on an urgent importance. CIDRAP, along with the Canadian newspaper Canadian Press (CP), revealed back in 2004 that the CDC was launching experiments designed to mix the H5N1 (avian) virus and human flu viruses. The goal was to find out how likely it was such a “reassortant” virus would emerge and just how dangerous it might be. Of course, it’s logical to wonder if they also worked with the addition of a swine flu virus, too.

Here’s some background from the five-year-old report by the University of Minnesota research center: “One of the worst fears of infectious disease experts is that the H5N1 avian influenza virus now circulating in parts of Asia will combine with a human-adapted flu virus to create a deadly new flu virus that could spread around the world. That could happen, scientists predict, if someone who is already infected with an ordinary flu virus contracts the avian virus at the same time. The avian virus has already caused at least 48 confirmed human illness cases in Asia, of which 35 have been fatal. The virus has shown little ability to spread from person to person, but the fear is that a hybrid could combine the killing power of the avian virus with the transmissibility of human flu viruses. Now, rather than waiting to see if nature spawns such a hybrid, US scientists are planning to try to breed one themselves — in the name of preparedness.”

The CP’s report noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) had been “pleading” for laboratories to do this blending-of-viruses research. The reason? If successful, these flu mixes would back up WHO’s warnings about the possibility of a flu pandemic. In fact, Klaus Stohr, head of the WHO’s global flu program at the time, told the CP that if the experiments were successful in producing highly transmissible and pathogenic viruses, the agency would be even more worried — but if labs couldn’t create these mixed flu viruses, then the agency might have to ratchet down its level of concern.

The 2004 CIDRAP News report addressed the obvious risks of manufacturing viruses in labs that, if released, could potentially spark a pandemic. However, the CDC’s Daigle assured the Minnesota research group the virus melding would be done in a biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory. “We recognize that there is concern by some over this type of work. This concern may be heightened by reports of recent lab exposures in other lab facilities,” he told CIDRAP. “But CDC has an incredible record in lab safety and is taking very strict precautions.”

Five years later, we must ask more questions. Were those safety measures enough? Was the CDC creating or testing any of these virus mixes in or near Mexico? What other potentially deadly virus combinations has the US government created? Don’t US citizens, as taxpayers who funded these experiments, have a right to know? And for all the residents of planet earth faced with a potentially deadly global epidemic, isn’t it time for the truth?

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Greece-Cyprus Conditionally Support Turkey’s EU Bid

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 23 — Greece and Cyprus said on Wednesday they support Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, but that Ankara must meet EU entry requirements. “We have fully supported the full entry of Turkey to the European Union. But it is not possible to give our consent unless the Cyprus problem is solved, and Turkey meets all its obligations towards the European Union,” Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during a visit to Cyprus. “We believe that a Turkey which will adopt European rules of behaviour … will be a Turkey much better for its citizens and the whole of the EU”, Karamanlis noted. “There is no blank cheque,” Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Muslim Failed Asylum Seeker Kills Girl & Walks Free

A failed asylum seeker who left a young girl dying under the wheels of his car after a hit-and-run accident has been freed to the disgust of her family. Aso Mohammed Ibrahim was due to be deported after his applications for asylum and citizenship were kicked out. But the 31-year-old Iraqi Kurd has been released on bail from custody while he makes yet another appeal to stay in the UK. He says it is too dangerous for him to return to his homeland. The father of 12-year-old Amy Houston, who was mowed down by Ibrahim’s Rover car as she went to the shops more than five years ago, has spoken of his outrage.

Paul Houston, 39, an engineer, said: ‘It’s an insult to my daughter. I walk around the street and I’m looking over my shoulder every two minutes thinking, “Am I going to see this bloke?” ‘How many more appeals does he get? It is my duty as a father to see this through to the end. ‘If I didn’t fight then another person would find themselves in this position and I don’t want anybody else’s kid to get killed. He’s just laughing at the British justice system. It is so wrong.’“

           — Hat tip: moderntemplar [Return to headlines]

New Law Sees Swedish Web Traffic Plunge

A month into life under tougher anti-internet piracy measures, new statistics suggest that Swedes have abandoned their previous enthusiasm for internet file sharing.

Internet traffic in Sweden dropped nearly 40 percent immediately following the April 1st implementation of a new law which gave prosecutors and copyright holders increased powers to track down suspected file sharers.

After April 1st, broadband traffic in Sweden fell from an average of 160 gigabytes per second down to about 100 gigabytes per second, according to figures from Netnod, a company which operates internet exchanges in five cities in Sweden.

The company’s statistics serve as a generally accepted barometer for measuring Sweden’s internet traffic, and many viewed the initial dip as a temporary phenomenon due to uncertainty about the new law.

But more recent figures reveal that Swedish internet use in April has stayed 30 to 40 percent below levels recorded before the law went into effect.

“The huge reduction in traffic shows that ordinary users have cut down on illegal file sharing,” said Henrik Pontén, a lawyer for Sweden’s Anti-Piracy Agency (Antipiratbyrån — APB), in a statement.

While the Netnod figures don’t provide specific details about individual internet users’ specific web surfing or file sharing habits, other observers agree there is likely a connection between the drop in internet use and the new law.

“The easiest explanation is that many file sharers are in a wait and see period,” Erik Arnberg of website monitoring company Pingdom told The Local.

The Anti-Piracy Agency, however, has seized on the persistent drop to tout what it sees as the law’s chilling effect on Swedish file sharers.

The law which appears to have Sweden’s illegal file sharers on the run is based on the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and allows courts to order internet service providers (ISPs) to hand over details that identify suspected illegal file sharers.

The bill narrowly passed in a February Riksdag vote and two weeks before the IPRED law went into effect, a poll by the Sifo polling company revealed that only 32 percent of Swedes supported the measure.

According to Pontén, a major source for pirated movies in Sweden, the underground file sharing network The Scene (Scenen), had been “very careful” since the law came into effect and had shut down a number of its servers or moved them to other countries in the Nordic region.

“The month of April has seen a break in the trend of pirating movies in Sweden,” said Pontén, noting that the number of pirated movies released by The Scene has been cut in half during April compared with March.

In addition, the agency claims that every major Swedish bitTorrent tracker site with the exception of The Pirate Bay has been shut down.

But Arnberg contended that it wasn’t so easy to say exactly why Sweden’s internet traffic has remained so much lower in the wake of the IPRED law, or if that drop means that less illegal file sharing is taking place.

“Part of it may simply be that Swedes like to follow the rules,” he said.

Another possible explanation, according to Arnberg, is that Swedish internet piracy has moved off shore, with file sharers downloading more material from sites located outside of Sweden — activity which wouldn’t show up in the Netnod statistics.

“But I’m a bit skeptical, frankly,” he said, adding that it was “hard to believe” that nearly one third of Sweden’s internet traffic simply shifted overnight to sites overseas and stayed there.

Despite a month of consistently lower internet traffic, Arnberg said it’s still too early to assess the overall effects of the IPRED law or to know if or when Swedish internet traffic may eventually bounce back.

“Everyone is being very cautious right now,” he said.

In the eyes of Stockholm University IT-law expert Daniel Westman, however, the measure has failed to achieve its intended goal.

“I’d say that the law has been partially successful in that it appears to have stopped people from sharing files illegally,” he told The Local.

“But the point of the law was to get more people to use legal file sharing sites and if it had been truly successful, we wouldn’t see this drop in internet traffic, but simply a shifting of traffic from illegal file sharing sites to legal ones.”

Arnberg is also concerned about the long-term effects of a measure which appears to have so little support among the Swedish public.

“Maybe the music industry is happy for the moment, but the rule of law is based not on the risk of sanctions, but on the perception that laws are just,” he said

“There are a lot of people out there that don’t think the laws are just, and that’s not a good situation.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Premier in ‘Starlet’ Election Row

Berlusconi says wife misled by ‘left- wing media’

(ANSA) — Warsaw, April 29 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday that media claims of him putting starlets up for the European elections had been stage managed by the left and would blow up in their faces.

Berlusconi said his wife, Veronica Lario, was among those who had been misled by the media after the former actress wrote to ANSA slamming the alleged move to field showgirls at the elections as “against women”.

The premier said the media claims were “absolutely unfounded”.

“I will campaign with these so-called showgirls by my side,” he said, adding that the candidates would all reveal their educational qualifications and experience and that the media flap would turn into a “boomerang” that would come back to hit the opposition.

The premier, currently in Warsaw for a European People’s Party conference, said the candidates fielded by his People of Freedom (PDL) party would nevertheless be “cultured and equipped for the job”, not “smelly and poorly dressed” like some of those from other parties.

Lario on Tuesday night responded to her husband’s alleged plan as “shameless trash” and agreed with media accusations that it was to “help entertain the Emperor”.

“I want it to be quite clear that my children and I are victims and not accomplices in this situation. We have to endure it, and it makes us suffer,” she said.

Lario hit out at her husband’s “lack of discretion in his exercise of power which offends the credibility of all women”.

“Fortunately, for some time now there has been a future for women both in the business world and in politics, and this is already a global reality,” she said, citing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo.

Lario did not mention her husband’s current Equal Opportunities Minister, former showgirl Mara Carfagna.

Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) Senate whip Anna Finocchiaro meanwhile said “considering beauty an indispensable accessory for a career in politics… frankly seems to me demeaning in the face of the extraordinary efforts of Italian women”.

The names of the PDL candidates will be announced later on Wednesday.

PDL spokesman Daniele Capezzone said the list would “belie” the “falsehoods and urban legends” about the candidates.

“Many people in politics and the media will have to confess to having told concocted stories,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Women; in Three Years 100,000 Gender Violence Cases

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 22 — Media in Spain reports today that the President of the ad-hoc observatory to the General Council of Judicial Power, Immaculada Montalban, has revealed that after three and a half years of the law against domestic and gender violence being in place in Spain, there have been around 100,000 convictions in gender violence cases, and over 140,000 trials have been held out of a total of almost 270,000 presented cases. The figures, which are accurate until December 2008, show a total of 95,284 convictions in cases of “chauvinistic” violence, resulting from a total of 140,705 trials and 268,418 reports lodged, an increase of 15.7% on cases reported between January 2007 and December 2008, of which 10.7% were withdrawn. The number of women reporting violence suffered at the hands of their husbands, partners or former partners continues to rise, although the trend has shown signs of reversal in the last quarter of 2008, with a 9% reduction in the number of cases presented, compared to the same period in the previous year. According to Montalban these figures show that in any case the establishment of special procedures to be followed in cases of domestic and gender violence “is the best way to fight the phenomenon,” which led to the death of 90 people in Spain last year, and 22 people since the beginning of 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Wheels of Justice Chase Balls of Steel

A Swedish television programme based on the British Channel 4 show Balls of Steel has been reported to police for disorderly conduct and sexual harassment.

The state prosecutor J Nordin called Stockholm police earlier in April to report the entire programme, produced by Strix and broadcast on Kanal 5, which he considers habitually breaks the law.

The prosecutor has decided to report the entire programme and participants for “crimes up to and including Wednesday April 1st”.

Kanal 5 responded on Wednesday by arguing that there had never been any criminal intention with “Ballar av Stål” and that the programme should be seen as entertainment.

“But it is of course up to the authorities to decide for themselves if they want to waste tax revenue in 2009,” Kanal 5 press spokesperson Dan Panas told media website

The case will be considered by the Chancellor of Justice (JK) as it considers issues of freedom of speech and the press.

This is not the first time the controversial programme has been reported to police.

The Local reported in November 2007 that Hanna Wallenius, a presenter on the show then running a pilot for Sveriges Television, was convicted by Stockholm District Court for causing grievous offence after having squirted the prime minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, with water.

Wallenius was fined the equivalent of 100 days’ wages for harassment and Sveriges Television decide to pass on the programme.

Kanal 5 then took over the rights and and began recording last summer

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Gang Rapists Jailed

Six young men have been jailed for their parts in the group rape of several young girls in Södertälje, near Stockholm.

Three of the men were sentenced to four years imprisonment for aggravated child rape and other offences. A further man was jailed for three years and six months for aggravated child rape, a fifth to 18 months for the same offence, and a sixth man to eight months for aggravated sexual coercion.

The men were convicted for involvement in a series of group rapes of teenage girls whom they met at parties in the Södertälje area.

In addition to their prison sentences the men were ordered to pay significant compensation to the girls.

Three of the men were convicted for involvement in the repeated rapes of a 12-year-old girl in the attic of an apartment block in Södertälje over a period of 18 months.

Four of the men were convicted in connection with the violent assault of two teenage girls in an apartment in Hovsjö in Södertälje in February. The girls had gone to the apartment in the company of a couple of boys to find that a further group of young men were also there.

One of the girls was raped in the apartment by the men while the other was sexually assaulted.

Two of the men were convicted for this attack to four years imprisonment.

All of the defendants admitted to having had sex with the girls but claimed that the girls participated voluntarily.

District prosecutor Marie-Louise Pettersson is satisfied with the sentences.

“The district court in general followed my line of reasoning,” she told news agency TT.

Despite the young ages of the defendants, all are between 19 and 23-years-old, the court decided that the nature of the offences leave no reason not to impose custodial sentences.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Spain; TV Internet to Encourage ETA

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 24 — A new internet broadcast television channel, streaming 24 hours a day, is dedicated to the justification and praise of the members and actions of ETA. The web initiative was launched on the website of Apurtu Telebista, a television channel controlled by the Nation Basque Liberation Movement (MLNV), as quoted by the conservative newspaper ABC today. The site’s objective, according to anti-terrorists sources quoted by the paper, is that of placating the growing criticism by imprisoned members and their families of the organization’s leaders who caused the failure of the peace process started by the Zapatero government in 2006, as well as to stem demoralization caused by the “Parot doctrine”, which brought an increase in sentences and a decrease in benefits for those accused of committing acts of terrorism. On the basis of the provisions, nearly twenty members of ETA who had been due to be released in 2009 have seen their prison sentences extended to up to ten years. Bearing the slogan, “a new way to see reality”, Apurtu Telebista is presented as a conventional television network with continuous scheduled programming, offering reports centred around detained members and their families, including appeals to the imprisoned not to repent and to refuse all offers made by the state. The images display continuous messages of support for the detained and against the policy of dispersal within Spanish prisons. The site’s heading promises, “We will add weekly videos so as not to lose sight of the continued oppression of our land”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Bradford College Involved in Drugs Racket, Claim

Directors of a Bradford college were involved in a conspiracy to import heroin valued at more than £500,000, a court heard.

Husband and wife Mohammed Faisal and Patricia Malicka, who were said to be managing director and administration director of the Yorkshire College Ltd in Manningham Lane, Manningham, and Roohul Amin, listed as finance director, are accused of drug smuggling and money laundering.

Also accused are Faisal’s younger brother, Mohammed Alamgir, and Ali Iftikhar.

Prosecutor Peter Moulson told Bradford Crown Court some of the people involved with Yorkshire College were concerned in the importation of heroin from Pakistan.

The college was set up in November 2004 with the purpose appearing to be to assist overseas students to gain qualifications and college placements in England. Amin leased the Manningham Lane premises.

Mr Moulson said: “While some of that business may have been genuine, some of the people involved in it were responsible for the importation of heroin.”

He said almost 13kg of heroin, with a street value of nearly £650,000, was seized by the authorities.

He said the defendants, to a greater or lesser degree, ran facilities to try to ensure the safe receipt of heroin into the UK.

Addresses, and/or people were made available so the drug, secreted in parcels of clothing from Pakistan, could be received.

The enterprise ran from 2006 until the defendants’ arrest in June 2008, he told the jury.

He said parcels containing heroin from Pakistan were seized by British authorities at a Revenue and Customs and Parcel force depot in Coventry.

The drugs were removed and replaced with flour and water. Undercover police, posing as Parcelforce workers, then delivered some of the packages to relevant addresses in Bradford.

Faisal, 31, Malicka, 30, Alamgir, 25, all of Tyne Street, Wapping, Bradford, Amin, 35, of Raglan Terrace, Thornbury, Bradford, and Iftikhar, 39, of Thornbury Crescent, Thornbury, all plead not guilty to both charges.

The trial, expected to last four to five weeks, continues

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

UK: The Muslim Cleric Who Blames British Mosques for the 7/7 Bombings, Says Multiculturalism is a Disaster and Would Throw Islamic Fanatics Out

‘I will give £5 to anyone in Britain who wants to live under Sharia law,’ he declares. ‘It will help pay for their ticket to Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan, or wherever it is customary to live under Sharia law.

‘Please, please go and leave us alone. This is Britain, not 10th century Arabia!’

We are indeed sitting in a bar, on a busy main road in Oxford.

But the man before me is no stereotypical Islamophobe.

For one, he is sipping a glass of water rather than something more inflammatory.

More importantly, though by no means obviously, Dr Taj Hargey is himself an Islamic cleric; perhaps the most controversial imam in Britain today.

In an age when the highest-profile Muslim preachers are bearded, anti-Western firebrands such as Abu Hamza or Omar Bakri Dr Hargey seems an anomaly.

He does not care much for male facial hair. He believes that women can be both seen and heard, even in a mosque at Friday prayers.

And don’t even get him started on the sort of fanatics who blow up London buses, or the poisonous teachings that inspired them.

After three men were cleared this week on charges of assisting the July 7 bombers, there have been calls for an inquiry into blunders made by the security services.

But Dr Hargey has little doubt who, and what, is truly to blame for unleashing such terrorism on our streets.

‘It is the extremist ideology present in many UK mosques which is the cement behind nihilistic plots such as this,’ he says. ‘They are twisting Islam.’ Muslim

He has little or no time for the Government’s ‘pussyfooting’ policy of encouraging multiculturalism.

‘That is the biggest disaster to happen to Britain since World War II,’ he says. ‘It has given the extremist mullahs the green light for radicalism and segregation. We have to, we must, adjust to British society. And we can do so without losing our faith.’

Hardly surprisingly, such statements have made him wildly unpopular among those who adhere to the brand of ultra-conservative Saudi-funded Wahhabi Islam which currently makes most noise in Britain and around the world.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Culture: Arts Caravan From Syracuse to Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — SYRACUSE — APRIL 17 — A delegation comprising musicians, photographers, painters and craftsmen from Syracuse will depart for Kairouan (Tunisia), the city appointed as Islam’s cultural capital for 2009, joining in the second arts caravan from Sicily to Tunisia that will run from April 25 to 28. The event, which was conceived with the aim of promoting cultural and religious dialogue between the two Mediterranean countries, will be presented next Monday at 11.30am in Syracuse Town Hall. It has been organised by Kairouan’s Junior chamber international association with the help of Syracuse’s International student coordination association. Approximately 30 “ambassadors” from Syracuse will be met by the mayor of Kairouan and by the University of Sousse. Participants will include a women’s and children’s choir directed by Mariuccia Cirinnà and a delegation of the Ancient drama national institute that will bear a cultural message on Greek tragedies. Tunisia will host musical performances, workshops, arts performances, arab and Sicilian traditions, and a visit to Kairouan’s prestigious mosque. Tunisia’s Ramzi Harrabi, who lives in Syracuse and is the event’s organiser, states that “there is a historical link between the city of Kairouan and Sicily. In fact, the Aghlabid dynasty that ruled Sicily for centuries came from Kairouan. This event hopes to revive this link between the two countries. In 1998 Kairouan was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO and it is a city much loved by Muslims because of the presence of the world’s oldest mosque that was built in the first century”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Hezbollah Scheme to Attack Egypt Foiled

Is conflict precursor to Iran-Saudi Arabia faceoff?

Egypt has uncovered an alleged attempt by Hezbollah to blow up a popular Egyptian tourist attraction in retaliation for the country’s assistance to Israel while it attacked Gaza Strip radicals in late 2008 and earlier this year, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

And observers say the episode may be only a symptom of a greater problem in which Hezbollah is the tip of the spear on behalf of Shiite Iran in its campaign to contain predominantly Sunni countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia — a dispute that if left to evolve fully could lead to a violent confrontation, especially with Saudi Arabia.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

New Flu: Egypt; Breeders, Rocks Thrown at Veterinarians

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 30 — Veterinarians and police, sent to kill pigs at some Egyptian breeding facilities as a part of a measure to face the swine flu were greeted by flying rocks thrown by breeders and were forced to retreat. ‘The police and veterinary services were greeted at a pig breeding facility by rocks being thrown at them and they were forced to retreat without a single pig”, reported a security service source. The breeders also erected barricades and the rock attack also shattered some police car and veterinary van windows. The event happened in the Qalubiya area, some 25 km north of Cairo. In Egypt, with an Islamic majority, pigs are raised and consumed by the Coptic Christian minority, about 6-10% of the population. The Egyptian government, after being one of the countries most affected by the bird flu epidemic, decided to slaughter all of the pigs in the country after global alarm over the virus that has its origins in the animal, as Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali explained. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Algeria, Imam Imprisoned for Defending Terrorism

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, APRIL 30 — An Algerian imam has been sentenced to two years in prison for defending terrorist practices. The sentence was handed down by the court in Boumerdes, in Cabilia (50km east of Algiers), which is one of the areas worst-hit by attacks from Islamist armed groups. The Algerian press reports that the imam was arrested in 2008 as he tried to make contact with a member of the terrorist group, who had in fact been killed a week earlier by security forces. Mosques in the country — which in the 1990s formed a favourite pulpit for fundamentalists to incite revolt and violence against the state — are now under heavy surveillance. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

10 Ways Obama is a Direct Threat to Israel

Author offers emergency message for Jewish state’s supporters

In “The Late Great State of Israel”, author and WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein draws urgent attention to the unprecedented, mortal danger that Israel faces.

In a section of the work, Klein documents more than 10 ways President Obama’s policies are likely to cause grave harm to the Jewish state. Prominent among the list are Obama’s proposed talks with Iran, his approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and his policy toward foes like Syria. Klein shows how these policies and actions may lead to disaster.

Klein also exposes some shocking revelations, such as specific ways the Obama White House is helping to physically divide Jerusalem and exclusive information the U.S. president may open dialogue with the Hamas terrorist organization.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel to EU: Criticism of Netanyahu Government Unacceptable

A Foreign Ministry official has been warning European countries that unless they curtail criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, Israel will block the European Union from participating in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

The main target of the offensive is EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who recently called for a freeze in upgrading ties with Israel over its peace process policies.

Several days ago, the deputy director for Europe at the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, began calling European ambassadors in Israel regarding the attitude toward the new government. The first conversations were with France’s Jean-Michel Casa, Britain’s Tom Phillips and the Charge d’Affaires of the German embassy.

Barak sharply protested the criticism by European ministers and senior EU officials about Israel’s government.

Barak singled out Ferrero-Waldner in his rebuke and said her statements were troubling in their form, style and timing.

“For some weeks now, we have been telling everyone in Europe that Israel’s government needs time to reformulate policies, and not to begin a war in the press,” Barak told the diplomats.

He also noted that the European Union had not made an official decision on freezing the upgrading of ties, and therefore it was unclear what gave Ferrero-Waldner the authority to make her statements.

“We want the European Union to be a partner [in the diplomatic process] but it is important to hold a mature and discreet dialogue and not to resort to public declarations,” Barak told the diplomats.

“A public confrontation was created that required Prime Minister Netanyahu, and even opposition head Tzipi Livni, to intervene. We have noted that the large European countries have respected our request and are granting the government time, but it is important that Europe be uniform in this matter,” Barak added.

Barak concluded by “warning” that Europe’s influence in the area would be undermined by such behavior. “Israel is asking Europe to lower the tone and conduct a discreet dialog,” he said. “However, if these declarations continue, Europe will not be able to be part of the diplomatic process, and both sides will lose.”

In a telegram to the Israeli missions in Europe, Barak briefed the Israeli diplomats on his conversations and noted that the sole ambassador in Israel who backed Ferrero-Waldner was the French. He was quoted as saying that her statements reflect the European public’s feelings.

A political source in Jerusalem noted that Ferrero-Waldner was sharply criticized by European officials, and one European foreign minister said in a private conversation that she “is causing damage to European foreign policy in her attacks on Israel.”

           — Hat tip: Israel Matzav [Return to headlines]

Israel: Intelligence Warns Israel is Now an ‘Obstacle to Obama’

( According to a classified intelligence assessment handed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and his senior advisors wish to “incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel.”

A report in World Tribune quoted an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment who said that “Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and [those who were] until now the worst enemies of the United States. Under this policy,” the source added, “we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Emirates: Torture; Government Condemns Prince’s Actions

(ANSAmed) — ABU DHABI, APRIL 30 — The Abu Dhabi government has today condemned the actions of a prince, whose torturing of a man was captured on video. “The government unequivocally condemns the actions shown in the video”, runs a statement released through official press agency WAM. The statement does not mention the prince’s name but US television has made the video public, in which the face of Sheikh Issa Ben Zayed Al-Nahyane can be seen. The sheik is the brother of the Abu Dhabi monarch, Sheikh Khalifa Ben Zayed Al-Nahyane. The video shows the prince hit a man with a baton with nails sticking out of it and then cover the wounds in salt. According to ABC, the man tortured by the prince (and a policeman) is an Afghan trader who lost a consignment of grain worth 5,000 dollars. The Abu Dhabi government made confirmed that the acts shown in the footage “constitute a violation of human rights, which will be subject to a full enquiry”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Jordan: Queen Rania Joins Crowd to Condemn Child Abuse

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, APRIL 30 — Queen Rania joined in a demonstration to condemn the killing of 5 year old boy who was tortured to death by family members earlier in the week, official said today. The surprising participation of the queen, whose commitment for children rights is renowned, highlights challenges activists face to put a leash on the growing phenomena of child abuse in this conservative society. Queen Rania signed a wall painting by artists and children which calls for denouncing and eliminating child abuse and lit a candle for the souls of the dead boy. The boy, named Yazan, died after spending ten days in a coma following sever beating on the head by relatives, who took care of the child in the absence of parents. The father is behind bars pending criminal charges of unrelated offense, while the divorced mother lives with her family in a poor neighborhood in eastern Amman. Police investigation revealed Yazan was subject to frequent abuse, after finding traces of cigarette burns on his skin as well as lashes of electric wires. The killing of another boy, Qusa, by his parents was also highlighted by activists, who lit candles to remember the two victims. Experts in the field express concern over rising numbers of reported child abuse cases, from 661 in 2002 to 1,423 in 2004. According to Zina Khoury, development manager at the Dar al-Aman child -safety centre, this figure “is probably higher, as many cases go unreported”. The event was organized by Dar al Hanan foundation, an offshoot of family protection unit at Queen Rania Foundation.Dar al-Aman, which has been operational since 2002, offers psychological, medical, social and educational services for abused children and their families. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: New Shiite Militia, Hezbollah Alternative

(by Lorenzo Trombetta) (ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 29 — Just like Hezbollah they are preaching armed “resistance” against the “zionist enemy”, and just like the same Shiite movement they are led by a man of faith wearing a black turban, beard and moustache. They are a new Islamic militia born in Lebanon that goes by the name of ‘Arab-Islamic council’ and which claims to own remote controlled missiles and tank busting weapons and which can count on the readiness of “at least 3,000 well-trained men”. Their young leader is the sayyid (descendent of the prophet Muhammad) Muhammad Ali Husseini, who from his offices in Beirut’s southern suburbs (a traditional Hezbollah stronghold) claims he is no way connected to the pro-Iranian Shiite movement. Husseni states that “there is no connection nor is there any coordination with Hezbollah or with other Lebanese forces”, but he does not rule out “coordination with all the patriotic forces which share the common goal of protecting Lebanon and defending it against aggression”. Son of a retired police officer, the young Shiite leader speaks with the rhetoric of The Party of God: “Lebanon has many enemies, first of all the Zionist entity that is violating UN resolution no. 1701”, which in 2006 put an end to hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. He added that “the Zionist entity violates Lebanon’s sovereignty by sea, land and air, in addition to occupying the farms in Shebaa”, a small piece of land contended by Syria and Lebanon that was occupied 42 years ago by Israel. Established in the summer of 2008, the Arab-Islamic council is an organisation registered under the title ‘social and humanitarian association for relations of the prophet Muhammad’ and publicly boasts a “powerful” military wing. Husseini stated that “we have long range remote controlled missiles, medium range grad rockets and RPGs. But none of these devices are located in southern Lebanon because we comply with resolution no. 1701”, which also forbids the presence of weapons and armed personnel, except for Unifil (the UN mission) and the Lebanese army south of the Litani river. “Many of our fighters are well educated university students who have a national conscience and who are ready to be deployed, in the event of enemy aggression, in the south and in Bekaa”. Like the Hezbollah leadership, the leader of the Arab-Islamic council wanted to make it clear, in an interview to a weekly paper printed by the Nahar publishing group, that “our weapons are only for the defence of Lebanon and cannot be used for internal purposes”. Like the Shiite movement, Husseini claims that the main sources of finance come from “Islamic ritual begging (zakat), charities and private donations”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

More Than a Coincidence: Minarets, Geography and Power

The building of new mosques has become an issue throughout European cities, from Munich to London. In some places, such as Italy, Switzerland and Greece, governments have struggled to prevent their erection. Yet while there is controversy over their very construction, there is usually very little questioning about why they are built where they are built.

A survey of historical placement of mosques in important cities and newly conquered Muslim lands, as well as a survey of the placement of mosques in diverse neighborhoods, shows that their placement is anything but random and that strikingly often they are built next to the houses of prayer or the neighborhoods of non-Muslims.

Across the Middle East and the Muslim world the existence of the minaret is taken for granted. Sometimes square and stout as they are in North Africa, or tall, skinny and cylindrical as they are in Turkey and Eastern Europe, they are the symbol of the Muslim world. Yet their commonness leads people to take them for granted.

According to architecture historian Prof. Keppel A.C. Creswell, the minaret was first developed after the Umayyad dynasty (661-750) came in contact with church towers of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Photos of old Syriac churches show what appears to be a conical tower identical to a minaret. Creswell claimed that “having heard that the Jews used a horn and the Christians a naqus or clapper, [Muslims] wanted something equivalent for their own use.”

The Umayyads also were the first to construct mosques atop or next to famous Christian and Jewish holy sites. In Damascus they turned the Church of St. John the Baptist into a mosque between 705 and 715. In 638 when Caliph Omar prayed near, but not in, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, he noted; “If I had prayed in the church it would have been lost to you, for the believers [Muslims] would have taken it saying: Omar prayed here.” He was prescient, for the Mosque of Omar was eventually built directly opposite the 13th century entrance to the church. Also in Jerusalem construction was begun on the Aksa Mosque in 690. It was constructed over what had been the Church of Our Lady and before that, the Jewish Temple’s storehouse.

Further afield mosques were built atop the giant Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in the 15th century by the Ottomans and the Babri Mosque at Ayodhya was constructed over the Temple of the Hindu god Ram in the 16th century by the Mughals in India. The Great Mosque of Gaza was built first in the 7th century atop a Byzantine church and then rebuilt in the 13th century atop a Crusader church.

THE MOSQUE and its minaret are symbols of power. The giant brick tower of Qutb Minar in Delhi is 72 meters high and until recent times was the world’s tallest minaret. It was constructed by the sultans of Delhi to celebrate their victory and conquest of the city.

Even in more obscure locations, the building of minarets has served as an expression of power and influence. The center of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem has long been the Hurva Synagogue which was constructed and reconstructed several times between 1700 and the present. But attached to this great synagogue is a mosque whose minaret is intentionally taller than the Hurva’s dome.

The America Colony Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah has a mosque next door to it. The Western Wall of Jerusalem has a mosque perched atop its northern end. The Mount of Olives Jewish graveyard has a mosque which adjoins it. Jeremiah’s Grotto in east Jerusalem, which was for a long time a pilgrimage site, now obscured by the east Jerusalem central bus station, also has a mosque at its entrance. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has a large mosque just across from it on Manger Square, constructed in a town which at the time was 80 percent Christian. A controversy over Muslim attempts to build a mosque next to the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth led to riots in 2002. In each of these cases the mosques were built after the non-Muslim building was constructed.

The building of mosques is not always an expression of power, but historically and today in mixed communities mosques are constructed with a view toward the non-Muslim other. This author is even familiar with a family of Palestinian communists in the West Bank where a mosque was, not coincidentally, constructed next door to their house.

It becomes blatantly obvious in a community like Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem, where almost every other mosque is situated next to a Christian building or former holy site. The next time one sees a mosque, he should not take it for granted. Many of them have a history and geographical placement that is not coincidental and which serves as an expression of political Islam and its aspirations.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Eight-Year-Old Wife Granted Divorce

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, APRIL 30 — An eight-year-old Saudi Arabian child has been granted a divorce after her father forced her into marriage with a 58-year-old man. According to reports in today’s Saudi newspapers, the marriage has been annulled by a court in the city of Onaiza, which is presided over by a new judge. Another magistrate from the same court had refused to make a judgement, saying that the child had to reach puberty before being able to take the matter to court. The case has led to numerous criticisms from worldwide human rights organisations. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Eight-Year-Old Girl Divorces 50-Year-Old Husband

CAIRO — An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000, her lawyer said Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for permitting child marriages. The United States, a close ally of the conservative Muslim kingdom, has called child marriage a “clear and unacceptable” violation of human rights.

The girl was allowed to divorce the 50-year-old man who she married in August after an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the case, said her lawyer, Abdulla al-Jeteli. The exact date of the divorce was not immediately known.

A court in the central Oneiza region previously rejected a request by the girl’s mother for a divorce and ruled that the girl would have to wait until she reached puberty to file a petition then.

There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman’s consent is legally required, some marriage officials don’t seek it.

But there has been a push by Saudi human rights groups to define the age of marriage and put an end to the phenomenon.

One Saudi human rights activist Sohaila Zain al-Abdeen was optimistic that the girl’s divorce would help efforts to get a law passed enforcing a minimum marriage age of 18.

“Unfortunately, some fathers trade their daughters,” she told The Associated Press. “They are weak people who are sometimes in need of money and forget their roles as parents.”

It was not clear if the man received money for the divorce settlement. The man had given the girl’s father 50,000 riyals, or about $13,350, as a marriage gift in return for his daughter, the lawyer said.

The 8-year-old girl’s marriage was not the only one in the kingdom to receive attention in recent months. Saudi newspapers have highlighted several cases in which young girls were married off to much older men or young boys including a 15-year-old girl whose father, a death-row inmate, married her off to a cell mate.

Saudi Arabia’s conservative Muslim clergy have opposed the drive to end child marriages. In January, the kingdom’s most senior cleric said it was permissible for 10-year-old girls to marry and those who believe they are too young are doing the girls an injustice.

But some in the government appear to support the movement to set a minimum age for marriage. The kingdom’s new justice minister was quoted in mid-April as saying the government was doing a study on underage marriage that would include regulations.

There are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are performed in Saudi Arabia every year. Activists say the girls are given away in return for hefty marriage gifts or as a result of long-standing custom in which a father promises his infant daughters and sons to cousins out of a belief that marriage will protect them from illicit relationships.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

The Unbearable Lightness of Wishful Thinking

by Barry Rubin

Congratulations, the conflict is over! Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn’t a radical, aggressive Islamist and Holocaust denier but a peacenik! Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is against war and terrorism!

How do we know this? They told us?

Well, no, they didn’t actually tell us. What happened is that they told us they would go on being radical, aggressive, and terrorism-sponsoring. They just did it in a way that a lot of people engaged in wishful thinking-and who fervently believe that no one could actually be radical or luxuriate in political violence-heard something different.

Case Number 1: Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave an interview to George Stephanopoulos of ABC. He knew what he was saying but others want to insist on refusing to understand him.

First the relevant exchange…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Turkey: EU, Tackling Violence Against Women is Priority

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 30 — If Turkey wants to become part of the European Union, it must show its commitment to tackling violence against women, which remains widespread in the country. Today the Europarliamentary Commission for women’s rights made it clear that this was a phenomenon that Brussels keeps under constant observation and which has furthermore been defined as a priority for the Turkish government. “In Turkey, 39% of women have experienced violence from their husbands, whilst this figure rises to 43% in some rural areas,” stressed Nimet Cubukcu, the Turkish Minister for Equal Opportunities, who defined the issue as “no longer confined to within the family, but a matter of public health and the health of institutions.” It is for this reason, Cubucku went on, that “violence against women is one of our government’s priorities up until 2012”, defining the issue to be “currently a much talked-about phenomenon in Turkey, and so administrative and legal measures have been taken including special training for judges, police officers and imams.” Furthermore, “there is a clear political will to increase the number of centres for women who have suffered violence,” the minister said, “currently there are 52 centres altogether, which is not enough.” Christos Makridis, the principal administrator of Enlargement Directorate, explained that “women’s rights are of utmost concern amongst member states and for the EU Commission, and so we will continue to monitor the situation.” Makridis continued, “a recent study showed that violence against women is widespread and that victims are left alone and without the necessary information on their rights,” adding that this is “a fundamental problem, related to forced marriages and murders.” Besides the progress made in the legal context, Makridis argued that on the status of women in general, “Turkey must continue to make efforts to enforce these rights in practice,” since women are hugely under-represented in the workplace (25%, the lowest level in EU and OECD countries), and in politics. “Half of women suffer violence in silence,” Yakin Erturk, the UN special representative for violence against women said, “and so clearly the studies which have been released do not fully represent the situation.” According to the UN expert, “in Turkey, women’s independence is not properly recognised. Women should have more say, not only in civic society, but also within institutions.” 9% of members of the Turkish parliament are women, whilst just 3% of local administration is female. Despite the passing of many reforms and the institution of a parliamentary commission for equal opportunities, “the major obstacle is cultural change,” Cubucku said, “since what can be changed in 15 minutes in parliament requires 150 years to change in real life.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

What is Salafism, and Why Does Anybody Consider it Relevant Today?

Salafism is a word that comes from the Arabic word salaf, which means “the ancestors,” and it is a means to sort of practice Islam the way the ancestors [did], by their forefathers. The first Muslims supposedly practiced it, so it is a means to deny history. There is no evolution. Evolution in itself is bad, if you wish. Hence, Salafism is tantamount to fundamentalism, if you wish, and it is a view of Islam which became particularly persuasive and relevant in the Arabian Peninsula and particularly in the Saudi kingdom.

Salafism is divided into, [so] to speak — grows into two branches. On the one hand, you had the conservative Salafists, people who backed the Saudi family, for instance, the Saudi ruling family, and who were opposed to anything revolutionary; who, for instance, considered that the Earth was flat, but on the same time [thought] it was not legitimate to revolt against the Muslim ruler.

But on the other hand, we have another brand of Salafism which is nicknamed jihadi Salafism, and those people who mixed this sort of very rigorous view of religion together with the desire to fight jihad. They considered that nowadays, in the late 20th and early 21st century, the main aim for Muslims to live their faith was to implement jihad; i.e., holy war, the holy war that was sort of all-pervasive, not only against the enemies of Islam — i.e., whoever was not Muslim — but also against bad Muslims. And this creates a sort of sectarian effect which leaves at the end of the day this feeling that there is only one group, one core group of pure blue or true green Muslims who are the members of the sects. All the others are likely to be killed, assassinated, or to be converted.

And this took place mainly during the war in Afghanistan, during the U.S.- and Saudi-backed jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, when people from the sort of traditional Salafi descent, on the one hand, and people were more interested in jihad, and the people who were called usually Islamists or people who were intellectual inheritors of the Muslim Brotherhood meld together in the training camps in Afghanistan and who were trained by Pakistani army under CIA sponsorship who were fed on Saudi petro dollars. And this sort of developed this new, very modern hybrid which is called Salafi jihadism. The U.S. was totally unawares at the time that it had given birth to a monster. …

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Wiping Israel Off Brit Airline’s Map Stirs Furor

Brit airline glitch takes Mideast conflict to new heights

Angry Israeli passengers complained to British BMI airline that the Jewish state was wiped off the inflight map, which showed flights bound for Israel were instead heading to Mecca.

But the airline denied any anti-Israel agenda and insisted there was a simple explanation: the planes were recently bought from a bankrupt charter company that flew mainly to Muslim countries.

“For this reason the inflight entertainment system in the two planes was made to adapt to the passengers flying to and from those destinations and therefore the map showed mainly places holy to Islam,” BMI said in a statement.

BMI, which started operating low-cost flights to Israel more than a year ago, denied it had any ulterior motive in showing the Israel-free maps.

“If BMI had any political agenda in order not to anger neighboring countries, it would not have invested so much in the Tel Aviv line,” it said.

But after furious passengers took up the issue with the authorities, an Israeli official made it clear that either the Jewish state appears on the maps or BMI disappears from its skies.

“Doing business with Israel has its advantages and disadvantages, but we will not agree to a situation where they hide the existence of Israel but want to do business with Israel,” transport ministry director-general Gideon Sitterman told army radio.

“I intend to contact BMI chairman Nigel Turner in London and ask for some clarifications… it is unacceptable that we are wiped off the map,” he said.

Foes of the Jewish state, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

This is not the first time Israel has come head-to-head with the technologies interfering in its version of geography. Last year the Israeli city of Kiryat Yam sued Google over references to the Palestinian Nakba, or Catastrophe, appeared when users scrolled over former Arab cities on the Google Earth application.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Diary I: the Gates of Kabul

In the first entry of his diary from Afghanistan’s Wardak province, the BBC’s Ian Pannell joins US troops as they pass through the gates of Kabul into Taleban land.

It takes just over half an hour to drive from the gates of Kabul into open “Taleban country”.

At least, that is how it would have seemed to some and how it was reported by many last summer — the Taleban were “at the Gates of Kabul”.

Wardak province had gone from being a sleepy, poor area, barely touched by the insurgency, to a new frontline in the battle against a resurgent and spreading Taleban.

Convoys were regularly attacked along the main supply route as the district came under Taleban influence and pictures emerged of large groups of armed insurgents operating at will.

‘Security nightmare’

Numerically speaking, the Taleban never posed an existential threat to Kabul or the Karzai government.

But their presence, just a few miles from the capital, was a security nightmare and a public relations disaster.

Even before US President Barack Obama was sworn into office, orders were given to send the first wave of new troops to Wardak and neighbouring Logar province to start the fight back.

The equation is pretty simple — the “surge” is designed to bring much needed security to Afghanistan and means making the areas around Kabul safe first of all.

The onus has fallen to “The Spartans” of the 10th Mountain Division. They have been encamped in the hills outside the provincial capital, Maydan Shah, since February.

The setting is as wild as it is dangerous. A rolling green plateau rises and falls for miles, giving way to brown chiselled peaks.

Maydan Shah sits at more than 7,000ft (2,130m) above sea level, where the air is crisp and thin.

It is now home to around 1,500 US troops who have already established a series of COPs (Combat Outposts) along the north-south road, known as Highway One.

COP Carwile, named after a US soldier killed in Wardak, is a base for just over 100 young men from the Second Battalion, 87 Infantry Regiment.

It is pretty basic. Made up of plywood sheds, camouflage tents and makeshift dirt walls, it has five toilets and no running water.

It is also where President Obama’s Afghanistan policy meets reality.

There has been much discussion about a “civilian surge” and regional diplomacy but in reality it is up to the military to first weaken the grip of the insurgency before any political process can begin — and that job in Wardak falls to The Spartans.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Taliban Seize Houses, Shops of Sikhs in Orakzai

HANGU: Taliban on Wednesday forcibly occupied three houses and 10 trade centres belonging to Sikhs in Orakzai Agency for not paying jizia, a tax levied on non-Muslims living under Islamic law. A few days ago, the local Taliban had asked Sikh families living in the agency to pay jizia amounting to Rs 50 million, which was later reduced to Rs 15 million after negotiations. They had set a deadline to pay the amount. Taliban occupied Sikhs houses and business centres in Samma Feroz Khel, Qasim Khel and Chirat areas after the deadline expired. Sources said the Taliban also burnt three trade centres belonging to the Sikh community. Around 15 Sikh families have left their ancestral villages and have taken refuge in Minni Khel area of the agency. staff report

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Taliban Possibly Tapping Berlin’s Secrets

Deadly attacks on the German military by the Taliban in Afghanistan this week have led intelligence experts to suspect the Islamist group may have access to German government information.

Supposedly the Taliban had specific details of what was supposed to be a secret visit by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier to the country this week.

According to a western intelligence officer in Kabul, there are “clear signs” that the Taliban has access to secret information from the German government.

“In so-far unknown ways, the Taliban has their fingers in German posts,” the official told news agency DDP.

Three weeks ago, a secret visit to the country by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung was overshadowed by a rocket attack on German forces in the northern city of Kunduz. No one was injured in the attack, but a Taliban speaker at the time said that the group had known about her visit.

One 21-year-old soldier died and four were injured in a fire fight near Kunduz on Wednesday that came just hours after a suicide bomber injured four others in the same area. Two of the soldiers were flown back to Germany for medical treatment.

On Thursday morning Steinmeier met with one of the Bundeswehr soldiers injured in the two insurgent attacks.

The attacks on the Bundeswehr troops were meant to be a “sign for the Foreign Minister,” a Taliban member said after the attack.

The attacks show a new level of confidence from the Taliban, Bundeswehr General Inspector Wolfgang Schneiderhan said on Thursday.

“For the first time there is an aspect of military planning behind it,” he said, adding that they had changed their previous tactic of “shooting and running.”

Steinmeier’s visit takes place just a few weeks after a conference at The Hague where the international community discussed the state of the country.

Germany has around 3,500 troops in Afghanistan operating under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The soldiers are based in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan.

Last year the German parliament voted to increase to Bundeswehr troop numbers to 4,500, despite the fact that the mission, Germany’s first major overseas military operation since World War II, has been highly unpopular. Thirty-one German troops have died in Afghanistan since 2002.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Mice Attack Nursing Home War Veteran

A BEDRIDDEN war veteran was found on Anzac Day with bloody ears, hands, face and neck after being “severely chewed” by swarming mice at a southwest Queensland nursing home.

Opposition MP Ray Hopper said Queensland Health had been slow to respond to a mice plague at the Dalby Hospital, which includes a nursing home, leading to the attack on the 89-year-old man.

The man’s daughter said staff found her father bleeding from bites to his head, neck, ears and hands on Anzac Day, Mr Hopper said.

“The top of his ears were severely chewed and he had bites to his head and neck,” Mr Hopper said.

“His hands were covered in blood because he was trying to get the mice off him.

“We are talking about a health facility overrun by vermin. It’s atrocious.”

Mr Hopper said the man was so distressed that doctors had put him on morphine to calm him down.

He said it was normal to see an increase in mice in Dalby and the Darling Downs at the onset of winter, and the problem was handled with chemical sprays.

“But the bureaucrats said no sprays this year because it uses agricultural chemicals, and that’s not allowed to happen at a health facility,” he said.

“They are now baiting twice a day but it’s too late.”

Queensland Health has rostered on extra staff and pest control agents since the weekend to kill mice at the home.

Federal Ageing Minister Justine Elliott said she was disturbed by the report of the elderly man’s ordeal, but there was no need to evacuate residents at the home.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

New Pirate Attacks on Italian Ship

Assailants armed with bazookas fended off with water hose

(ANSA) — Rome, April 30 — An Italian merchant ship escaped two attacks by suspected Somali pirates on Thursday after successfully fending off another hijack attempt Wednesday.

On Thursday pirates armed with bazookas first approached the Jolly Smeraldo around 300 miles off the Somali coast at dawn in an attack that lasted for around an hour, according to Stefano Messina, the CEO of the company that owns the ship, Ignazio Messina & C Spa.

The 24-man crew, which includes 15 Italians, were able to ward off the pirates using diversionary manoeuvres and a high-pressure salt-water hose.

Pirates in two small boats launched a second attack two hours later but were again prevented from boarding by the crew, who were said to be unharmed.

The Jolly Smeraldo reported that the pirates continued to follow them at a distance after the second attack but have since disappeared off the radar.

The only military ship in the area is 100 miles away and there is no possibility of offering immediate assistance to the Italian ship, which left Mombasa in Kenya on Tuesday and is continuing on its way to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

“We’re in touch with the ship and we’re busy dealing with the emergency. The crew members are all well,” said Messina.

On Wednesday the ship’s crew fended off another attack 300 miles south-east of Mogadishu after a small boat with seven pirates approached it and opened fire.

Pirates have stepped up activity in Somali waters in recent weeks, capturing or attempting to capture dozens of foreign ships.

On Saturday the Italian-owned Melody cruise ship foiled an attack by suspected Somali pirates 200 miles north of the Seychelles using a salt-water hose to wash pirates off a ladder they were using to try to board the ship.

The Melody, with 1,500 people aboard, is now heading back to Italy after a 22-day cruise from Durban, South Africa, to Genoa.

A third Italian ship, the Buccaneer, was seized in the Gulf of Aden on April 11. The ship’s crew of 16, ten of whom are Italians, are still being held.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Big Cocaine Gang Allied to Hezbollah Rounded Up

THE HAGUE, 30/04/09 — In cooperation with various other countries, Dutch authorities have rounded up a big cocaine gang that had links with Hezbollah. Seventeen suspects were arrested on Curacao, the biggest island of the Netherlands Antilles, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) has revealed.

International cooperation between police and judicial services of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela and the US led to the arrest of the 17 suspects by the Curacao police. They are believed to be part of a drugs and money-laundering organisation with international branches, thought to be responsible for the import and export of at least 2,000 kilos of cocaine per year, according to the OM. “The organisation maintained international contacts with other criminal networks, which in the Middle East support Hezbollah financially”.

In this investigation, launched at the beginning of 2008, containers with cocaine were intercepted earlier in Rotterdam (300 kilos), the Spanish city of Valencia (20 kilos) and the Belgian city of Antwerp (140 kilos). Three Colombian suspects have for some time been in pre-trial custody for their involvement in the Rotterdam shipment, discovered in October 2008.

The 17 suspects now arrested are from Venezuela, Colombia, Lebanon and Cuba as well as Curacao. The organisation shipped containers with cocaine from Curacao to the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Jordan. From Venezuela, drugs containers went to West Africa and subsequently to the Netherlands, Lebanon and Spain. Couriers smuggled cocaine from Curacao and Aruba to the Netherlands as air passengers.

The suspects invested the drugs profits in property in Colombia, Venezuela, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic and in companies on Curacao. “Large sums of money from the drugs trade have become available in Lebanon via underground bankers. From Lebanon, orders are also placed for weapons, which had to be delivered by the drugs organisation from South America.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]


USA: Immigrant Unemployment at Record High

Rate now exceeds native-born, a change from recent past

WASHINGTON (April 30, 2009) — A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies finds that immigrants have been harder hit by the recession than natives. Unemployment among immigrants (legal and illegal) was higher in the first quarter of 2009 than at any time since 1994, when immigrant data was first collected separately. This represents a change from the recent past, when native-born Americans had the higher unemployment rate.

The report is entitled, ‘Trends in Immigrant and Native Employment.’ It is co-authored by Dr. Steven Camarota, the Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies, and Karen Jensenius, a Research Demographer at the Center.

Among the findings:

  • Immigrant unemployment in the first quarter of 2009 was 9.7 percent, the highest level since 1994, when data began to be collected for immigrants. The current figure for natives is 8.6 percent, also the highest since 1994.
  • The immigrant unemployment rate is now 5.6 percentage points higher than in the third quarter of 2007, before the recession began. Native unemployment has increased 3.8 percentage points over the same period.
  • Among immigrants who have arrived since the beginning of 2006 unemployment is 13.3 percent….

           — Hat tip: CIS [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Censors for Talk Radio Expected Within 90 Days

Leader of public awareness campaign warns of ‘Arctic blast’ against free speech

The leader of a newly formed public awareness campaign to alert U.S. citizens about an effort to stifle free speech says he expects local “boards” will be assembled within 90 days to begin censoring talk radio, a move that will come as an “Arctic blast” against the expression of opinion in the United States..


The announcement said the U.S. now is facing “an insidious attack on its First Amendment Rights that is being cloaked in legislation and regulation evidenced by the recently circulated draft FCC regulations … to impose ‘localism’ and ‘media ownership diversity’ on talk radio.”

“In addition, under the guise of ‘cyberspace security,’ Sens. Rockefeller, Snowe and Nelson have introduced S773 which would, critics say, give the federal government control over the Internet including, under emergency conditions, the right of the president to shut down the whole Internet or sites on it, including the interruption of e-mail,” the announcement said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fairness Doctrine ‘Unconstitutional’

Clarence Thomas: Controversial policy ‘deep intrusion’ into broadcasters’ rights

For the first time, a U.S. Supreme Court justice is offering some legal insight about the so-called Fairness Doctrine, suggesting the off-the-books policy could be declared unconstitutional if it’s revived and brought before the bench.

In written discussion on yesterday’s ruling cracking down on indecent language on television, Justice Clarence Thomas called the policy “problematic” and a “deep intrusion into the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

House Agrees to Muzzle Pastors With ‘Hate Crimes’ Plan

‘This is first time protected status given to whatever sexual orientation one has’

Members of the U.S. House today approved a plan to create a federal “hate crimes” plan that will provide special protections to homosexuals and others with alternative sexual choices, but leave Christian ministers and pastors open to prosecution should their teachings be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a “gay.”

The vote was 249-175, and came despite intense Republican opposition to the creation of the privileged class.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

House Approves Federal Hate Crime Expansion Bill

Today, on a party-line vote, the House of Representatives approved the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a.k.a. the Matthew Shepard Act. The bill, which President Obama supports, would add offenses committed “because of” a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability to the list of “hate crimes” that can be prosecuted under federal law. It also would remove a provision limiting such prosecutions to cases where the victim was participating in a “federally protected” activity such as education or voting. The new federal nexus requirement is so laughably accommodating that it might as well have been left out. A violent crime against a victim selected for one of the mentioned reasons can be federalized if it “occurs during the course of, or as the result of, the travel of the defendant or the victim…across a State line or national border”; if the defendant “uses a channel, facility, or instrumentality of interstate or foreign commerce”; if “the defendant employs a firearm, explosive or incendiary device, or other weapon that has traveled in interstate or foreign commerce”; if the crime “interferes with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim is engaged at the time of the conduct”; or if the crime “otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.”

Aside from the usual problems with hate crime laws, which punish people for their ideas by making sentences more severe when the offender harbors politically disfavored antipathies, this bill federalizes another huge swath of crimes that ought to be handled under state law, creating myriad opportunities for double jeopardy by another name. The changes would make it much easier for federal prosecutors who are displeased by an acquittal in state court to try, try again, as they did in the Rodney King and Crown Heights riot cases. They simply have to argue that the crime was committed “because of” the victim’s membership in one of the listed groups. As four members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission point out in a recent letter opposing the bill (noted by Hans Bader), that description could apply to a wide range of ordinary crimes…

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Right-Wing College Group Riles Students on Campuses Nationwide

A student group that bills itself as “America’s right wing youth movement” focused on countering radical multiculturism, socialism and mass immigration is causing a stir on a growing number of college campuses across the country.

The conservative political group Youth for Western Civilization is currently organized on at least seven university campuses. According to its Web site, the group hopes to inspire Western youth on the “basis of pride in their American and Western heritage,” counter and ultimately defeat “leftism on campus” and create a social movement in which a right-wing subculture is an alternative to what it calls a “poisonous and bigoted” campus climate.

“A great part of college is definitely meeting people of different backgrounds, but a multicultural ideology teaches that we should appreciate things just because they’re different from our culture with no regards to the quality of the culture and that all cultures are inherently equal,” said Trevor Williams, president of YWC’s Vanderbilt chapter. “I absolutely disagree.”

But students who lean left are not welcoming their new neighbor. Those opposed to YWC say its message teeters on hate speech and has no place at institutions of higher learning.

“‘Western’ is a veiled term that means ‘white,’“ University of North Carolina graduate student Tyler Oakley wrote in an e-mail to “I believe that our democracy is strong enough to allow extreme forms of speech, but YWC’s message is essentially a negative one, an assault on not being white or non-Western, and is therefore hateful, if not blatant hate speech.”

While its numbers are small, YWC members hope a well-publicized April 14 event featuring the group’s honorary chairman — former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo — at UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, will help mobilize conservative students and attract new members.

Tancredo’s speech opposing in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants was shut down after a window was smashed and a banner reading “No One Is Illegal” was unfurled across the former Republican lawmaker’s face. One UNC student, Helen Elizabeth Koch, was arrested for disorderly conduct in the incident, which was widely distributed on YouTube and is also featured on Youth for Western Civilization’s home page.

Officials at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identifies and tracks hate groups in the U.S., told that the YWC is not currently on its list, but some of the group’s views are “suspect,” including the notion that Western civilization is somehow superior.

In February, following YWC’s debut at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, SPLC linked the group’s founder, Kevin DeAnna, to several posts on the Spartan Spectator, the Web site of Michigan State University’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.

SPLC identified MSU-YAF as a hate group in 2007; DeAnna vehemently denies posting the material attributed to him.

“We’re definitely monitoring them,” said SPLC spokewoman Heidi Beirich. “We will look at them for hate group status.”

DeAnna, a deputy field director for the Leadership Institute, a conservative education group that paid Tancredo $3,000 for his UNC appearance, said YWC has roughly 10 active members at each of its college chapters. Aside from UNC, DeAnna said YWC has a presence at Vanderbilt University, American University, Elon University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Connecticut-Storrs and Bentley University.

“It’s kind of a loose thing right now,” said DeAnna, a 26-year-old graduate student in international relations at American University. “But we’re concerned with issues of mass immigration, curriculum, racial preferences and multiculturism on college campuses.”

The group will sponsor another speech by Tancredo on Wednesday just off campus from Providence College, where school officials recently denied a request from the still unsanctioned group to host the former congressman, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

Tim Dionisopoulos, president of YWC’s unofficial Providence chapter, said Tancredo plans to speak “right in front of the gates” at the 4,000-student university and to head to a Veterans for Foreign War event. Providence officials say YWC has not sought formal recognition as a student group and thus cannot host an event at the Rhode Island college. But Dionisopoulos says the college is hiding behind protocol.

“We’ve been unfairly targeted,” the political science major told “The content scares administrators because this is a group that will stand up for what they believe in. I don’t think they’re opposed to our mission statement, I think they’re moreso afraid of what the opposition will do to us and have done to us elsewhere. Eventually, someone’s got to come out and say this has got to stop.”

Jesse Jones, a freshman at Vanderbilt, where YWC hosted former U.S. Treasurer Bay Buchanan last month, acknowledged the group’s right to organize and share its views.

“But their fascist-like logo, their name echoing ‘Hitler Youth,’ and Tom Tancredo’s call of ‘this is your country — take it back’ all quite frankly scare me,” Jones wrote in an e-mail to

Jones said he’s also disturbed by the group’s call to restore a “curriculum that focuses on Western history, not political correctness,” according to its Web site.

“They want to change the curriculum to emphasize ‘classical learning’ and get rid of ‘trendy multiculturalism,’“ Jones continued. “In practice this means firing professors with the wrong views and hiring those with the ‘right’ views.

“Even assuming there is a ‘right’ view on a given issue, the point is to get students to come to this opinion on their own, given the facts. In this way, YWC’s views on education are inherently anti-intellectual.”

Tancredo, meanwhile, says he’ll continue to appear at colleges as an invited guest of YWC. Its mission to “promote the survival of Western civilization and pride in Western heritage” is all about celebration, he says.

“It’s got nothing to do with racism, it’s got nothing to do with extremism,” Tancredo told “It has to do with celebrating the benefits Western civilization has brought to mankind, not the least of which is the concept of law. It’s designed to bring attention to the issues, discussions and points of view that aren’t readily available in the typical classroom on liberal colleges run by left-wing loonies.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Billions of Dollars in Their Way to Pharmaceutical Firms

Swine flu, plan to loot world wealth

AMMAN- The outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, the US and then to other Europn and Middle Eastern countries has led to a marked rise in pharmaceutical stocks in the world market.

Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline Plc are the two big pharmaceutical groups set to benefit most as governments and corporations step up orders for their drugs Tamiflu and Relenza. Shares in the two companies rose 4% and 3% respectively , while stock in Australia’s Biota Holdings Ltd, which licensed Relenza to Glaxo, soared 82%.The two companies said they may need to supply millions of vaccine doses to help protect against the new disease that has killed more than 100 people in Mexico.

During the panic about Asian bird flu in 2005 and 2006, airline, hotel groups, insurers and oil companies stocks fell heavily, while shares in drug, healthcare and cleaning product businesses soared. Roche shares rose by 4 per cent in Zurich bourse and 3 per cent for Glaxo Smith Kline in London stock market.

Vaccines from Roche, which sells Tamiflu, and GSK, maker of Relenza, have been shown to work against viral samples of the new disease. The drugs were also used to help protect against outbreaks of bird flu in Asia, providing windfall profits for the companies.

According to economic analysts and medical experts there are hidden objectives behind this overstated worldwide media campaign warning world countries of the dangers threatening human health as a result of this fatal disease. In 2006, Roche’s profits rose by 17 per cent, 9 billion Swiss franc, compared to 2005 because of its huge production of the avian flu antibiotic after the wide spread of fears and disarray that swept the world accompanied by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) dreadful warnings against the disease.

The marked increase in the company’s profits was disproportionate with the real cases of bird flu infections in the world countries. Official reports released by WHO in 2008 showed that there were 391 human infections of the disease of which 247 led to death in 15 countries out of 63 where the disease was detected. This means too much was wasted because of the lavish spending on purchasing vaccine to fight the disease.

Bird flu cost $2 trillion

In 2006, WHO convened its conference in Peking to garner financial support to drug companies. Delegates from around 90 countries and 25 international organizations took part in the conference and collected about $5.1 billion for these companies to help them meet the increasing demand on bird flu vaccine.

According to the World Bank estimates, the international community had spent $1.25-2 trillion (3.1%) of world gross domestic product on fighting bird flu.

However, analysts cautioned that the commercial impact would be muted by the fact that many governments had already placed substantial stockpile orders because of the previous threat posed by avian flu.

“There is certainly a perceived benefit and there probably will be some actual benefit, but not as much as the first time round with avian flu,” said Jeff Holford, an industry analyst at stockbroker Jefferies.

The media campaign launched with the outbreak of the avian flu and drove the world, with WHO mounting pressures, to spend billions of dollars is the same campaign taking place now with the swine flu. The only beneficiary is the multinational drug manufacturing firms, whose budgets are larger than those of a number of states together, and are working as an octopus taking control of economies of the developing and developed countries alike and very often act as the hidden driving force to direct world politics to serve their own interests.

The flu outbreak, which poses the biggest risk of a large-scale pandemic since avian flu surfaced in 1997, will also fuel demand for vaccines from major producers like Sanofi-Aventis SA SASY.PA, Glaxo, Novartis AG and Baxter International Inc, although making shots against the new strain will take months.


With the World Health Organization’s repeated warnings of the bird flu as lethal pandemic, many world countries were forced to buy vaccine and the necessary medicines needed to combat the disease. Jordan was not an exception. It spent around 6 million dinars and is expected to cash the same figure to fight the new flu strain. This has been confirmed by the Health Ministry sources.

Adel Belbesi, Director of Health Care at the ministry, said the ministry is ready to inject all money needed to prevent outbreak of the disease in the kingdom.

In remarks to FI, Belbesi, who is also spokesman of a committee formed recently by the ministry and tasked with combating the disease, said “ the Health Ministry has a surplus of money ; what matters more is the citizen’s health.”

We in the paper agree with Dr. Belbsi. Nobody can argue that in such emergency situation, the citizen’s health is the most important. Bu we would like to tell him that all the money paid to fight the avian flu has gone with the wind and thank God the vaccine we bought was not used and is still stockpiled in ministry’s stores. The only party which benefited was the foreign companies.

Belbesi noted that this same vaccine can be used for the swine flu so the 6 million dinars did not go for nothing. Jordan buys the drug from the Swiss company Roche which the main source of drugs to fight these pandemics.

He called upon Jordanians not to be scared from the disease and any one catches ordinary flu with cough does not necessarily mean he is infected with swine flu. No one can feel the symptoms of this disease unless he comes from an area where the disease has been detected for at least one week or he has mixed with a person suffering from the disease, Belbesi told FI.

The Health Ministry has taken all the precautionary measures and raised up preparedness of all health facilities in anticipation of any case of swine flu. This includes monitoring borders especially with countries proved to have cases of the disease, he added.

Parliamentary role

Head of the Lower House of Parliament Health Committee Asr Shurman said the house undertakes its monitoring role to make sure that the health departments were taking all the necessary procedures to face the pandemic.

In remarks to FI Shurman said the house will not allow importing any medicine unless it is proved to be necessary by the specialized scientific committees to encounter the disease. This is only to avoid squandering money, he said.

Preventive measures were taken at the border points, airports, health centers, and in areas with swine breeding farms to prevent outbreak in the country, Shurman added.

Preemptive measures

Economic expert Muneer Hamarneh stressed the necessity to take all the preemptive measures in face of this lethal pandemic without taking into account the financial cost.

This is because this disease is highly contagious and very dangerous to human health, Hamarneh said.

Yousef Mansour, another economic expert, said all countries should bear their responsibilities and work together to fight the disease. The idea that there is a common interest between drug manufacturers to raise the level of alertness against the diseases is not necessarily an accurate point due to the fact that many world countries already have large stockpiles of medicines used to fight swine flu, Mansour said.

What is swine flu?

The new swine flu cases are caused by an influenza strain called H1N1, which appears to be easily passed from person to person. The most common method of transmission is airborne, and it is also possible to become infected by touching a surface with the virus on it and then touching one’s mouth or nose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising people to wash their hands frequently, and also to avoid surfaces that might be contaminated.

Swine flu symptoms include high fever, body aches, headaches, coughing, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and chills. The disease is transmitted directly between people, and not through animals, making it highly contagious. A single cough of an infected person can transmit the sickness to an entire room full of people.

Islamic perspective

Muslims are forbidden by God to eat the meat of the pig (pork).

Allah says in the Holy Qura’an “ He has only forbidden you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and any (food) over which the name of other than Allah has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity, without willful disobedience, nor transgressing due limits, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al Baqarah 173)

Pig’s bodies contain many toxins, worms and latent diseases. Although some of these infestations are harbored in other animals, modern veterinarians say that pigs are far more predisposed to these illnesses than other animals. This could be because pigs like to scavenge and will eat any kind of food, including dead insects, worms, rotting carcasses, excreta (including their own), garbage, and other pigs.

Influenza (flu) is one of the most famous illnesses which pigs share with humans. This illness is harbored in the lungs of pigs during the summer months and tends to affect pigs and humans in the cooler months. Sausage contains bits of pigs’ lungs, so those who eat pork sausage tend to suffer more during epidemics of influenza. Pig meat contains excessive quantities of histamine and imidazole compounds, which can lead to itching and inflammation; growth hormone, which promotes inflammation and growth; sulphur-containing mesenchymal mucus, which leads to swelling and deposits of mucus in tendons and cartilage, resulting in arthritis, rheumatism, etc.

In folklore terms, eating the meat of the pig is said to contribute to lack of morality and shame, plus greed for wealth, laziness, indulgence, dirtiness and gluttony. We insult a person by calling him or her a “Pig” when they demonstrate these characteristics

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Brooke Goldstein & Aaron Eitan Meyer: How Islamist Lawfare Tactics Target Free Speech

Are American authors who write about terrorism and its sources of financing safe? Are counter-terrorist advisors to the New York City Police department safe? Are U.S. congressmen safe when they report terrorist front groups to the FBI and CIA? Are cartoonists who parody Mohammad safe from arrest?

Must a Dutch politician who produced a documentary film quoting the Koran stand trial for blasphemy of Islam in Jordan? Is anyone who speaks publicly on the threat of radical Islam safe from frivolous and malicious lawsuits designed to bankrupt, punish, and silence them? These days, the answer is no…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Only 7 Swine Flu Deaths, Not 152, Says WHO

A member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded only seven deaths around the world.

Vivienne Allan, from WHO’s patient safety program, said the body had confirmed that worldwide there had been just seven deaths — all in Mexico — and 79 confirmed cases of the disease.

“Unfortunately that [150-plus deaths] is incorrect information and it does happen, but that’s not information that’s come from the World Health Organisation,” Ms Allan told ABC Radio today.

“That figure is not a figure that’s come from the World Health Organisation and, I repeat, the death toll is seven and they are all from Mexico.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Professor Warns of Global Food Riots

There is a real threat of food riots around the world unless research into increasing crop yields is stepped up, a leading UK scientist said today.

Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), is calling for an additional £100m a year to be spent on food research in the UK to help the world meet growing demand.

As well as seeing off unrest in developing countries and helping to feed the swelling world population, research will deliver economic benefits to the UK, he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 4/30/2009

  1. Did President Approve Buzzing New York?

    Air Force officer: ‘It shows a kind of arrogance’An Air Force officer who served in the Clinton White House and for two years carried the “nuclear football” briefcase of codes says it’s almost certain that the “highest levels” of the Obama administration knew about and approved this week’s stunt in which Air Force One buzzed New York City.

    Read the entire article very carefully.

    While I refuse to atrribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by sheer stupidity, there remains an element of such incredibly vicious or careless maliciousness that makes it impossible to let this go as some sort of honest mistake.

    Error or not, this was a rude and discourteous insult directed towards America’s citizens. NEVER forget it.

  2. Nashville: Hospital Pays $70,000 to Muslim After Denying Him Time Off for Trip to Mecca.

    Under the terms of the settlement agreement the hospital is barred from refusing to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs of any employee. [emphasis added]

    Given the Qur’anic admission that “war is deceit”, how is any rational being supposed to obtain the least bit of reassurance from a Muslim?

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