Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/1/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/1/2009The most significant news story of the day is that the German Supreme Court has suspended ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. This is expected to be only a temporary speed bump in the steady progression towards an ever-closer union, but still…

In other news, Swedish has been officially declared the “main language” of Sweden. Prima inter pares.

Also, inspired by Barack Hussein Obama’s speech in Cairo, CAIR has announced that it will give away 100,000 free copies of the Koran.

Thanks to Amil Imani, C. Cantoni, Diana West, Fjordman, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, islam o’phobe, JD, LN, moderntemplar, Nilk, TB, Tuan Jim, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
– – – – – – – –

Financial Crisis
Eurozone Falls Into Deflation as M3 Money Supply Shrinks
House Support for Fed Audit Plan Swells
A Thank You, And a Koran, For Obama
Bill Warner: Official Islam
Massachusetts: A Model Not to Copy
Muslims Offer 100,000 Qurans to US Leaders
Paul Krugman: Betraying the Planet
Why a Bill of Rights?
Enforcing Anti-Hate Laws More Problematic in Internet Age
Jewish Group Urges Ontario to Review Hateful Online Postings
Matt Gurney: In Patriotic Toronto, Pride Parade Goes Ahead; Canada Day Gets the Axe
No Charges for Man’s Call to Kill Soldiers
Europe and the EU
Denmark: Man Found Dead of Gunshot Wounds at Christiania
Denmark: Football Union Blasts Brazil’s Team Prayer
‘Explosive’ Biker Gang War Grips Germany
Greece: Turkish Jets Violate Greek Air Space Ahead of Military Visit
Islamic Law Challenges Western Freedom: Report
Netherlands: Dutch-American Relations Were Better Under Bush
Netherlands: Suddenly Wilders Isn’t So Funny Anymore
Swedish Becomes Official ‘Main Language’
Top German Court Suspends Ratification of Lisbon Treaty
UK: Full Text: Queen’s Message to Troops on Elizabeth Cross
UK: Man Uses Nail Clippers in Diy Circumcision
UK: Police Force Issues Muslim Detainees With Compasses So They Can Face Mecca to Pray
UK: Revealed: £3.5m Cost of Booting Out Illegal Travellers That Means it Will Never Happen
UK: Sun-Cream Banned From Primary School for Safety Reasons
UK: The Elgin Marbles Will Never Return to Athens — the British Museum is Their Rightful Home
UKIP, Lega Nord Form Hard-Right Bloc in EU Parliament
Vatican: Report Raises Questions About John Paul Ii’s Beatification
Washington Help Sought as City Fights EU Hedge Fund Plan
Roma Are Dying at the Hands of the UN, In Kosovo
North Africa
Egypt: The Persecution of Coptic Christians Continues
Egypt: Christian Homes Burned in After Death of Muslim Man
Obama Increasing Aid to Jordan, Other Muslim States
Israel and the Palestinians
Israel Says France Advised Firing Top Diplomat
Israel Navy Intercepts Boat With Ex-U.S. Rep. McKinney
Israeli Government ‘Under Assault’ From U.S.
‘Not a Single Jewish Home Without Obama’s OK’
The Realities of Israel’s History
Middle East
Amil Imani: Islam’s Victimization of Iran
Diana West: Exactly Why One Should Think “Wistfully of the Shah of Iran”
Learn From France — And Consider Banning the Burka
Saudi Arabia: New Visa With Fingerprinting and Full-Face Digital Photos for Pilgrims Visiting Makkah
Saudi Arabia: Horrors in Abu Khalid’s Harem
‘Abuses Widespread’ In N Caucasus
South Asia
Germany: Outgoing NATO Head Pans Germany’s Policy in Afghanistan
India to be Hit With Carbon Tax?
India: Even in 2031, India’s Per Capita Emission Will be 1/7th of US
Japan: Police Arrest Three for Illegal Exports, Yomiuri Says
Nepal: Escalation of Kidnappings and Violence Against Businessmen
Far East
Japan: Ex-Bureaucrat Details Secret U.S. Nuke Pact
Latin America
Honduras: Steven Edwards: Canada, U.S. Align With Chavez in Denouncing Honduras ‘Coup’
Viva Honduras! Viva La Revolucion!
Australia: Indonesian People Smugglers Sent to Jail
EU Sets Limits on Government’s ‘Sham Marriage’ Investigations
Greece: EU Vows to Help With Immigration
Netherlands: Poles, Other Europeans ‘Should Integrate’
The EU Should Have a Workable Policy on Economic Migrants
UK: British Jobs for Foreign Workers: Experts Reveal 70% of New Jobs Taken by Migrants
UK: Migrant Influx Feared as Calais Centre Advises on UK Asylum Policy
UK: New British £750 Million Electronic Border Control Plan ‘Breaks EU Law’
Culture Wars
Obama Celebrates Anti-Police “Gay” Riots
Confronting the New Islamic Imperialism
Junk Food Triggers Our ‘Bliss Point’

Financial Crisis

Eurozone Falls Into Deflation as M3 Money Supply Shrinks

The eurozone region has tipped into deflation for the first time since modern records began half a century ago. The M3 money supply has contracted over the last three months, flashing warning signs of potential trouble in six to nine months’ time.

Eurostat said the consumer prices index fell 0.1pc in June from a year earlier. The inflation picture has been distorted by the delayed effects of the oil crash from the speculative peak in mid-2008. But while prices are expected to rise again later this year after the commodity rebound, the eurozone is moving uncomfortably close to the sort of trap that engulfed Japan during its “Lost Decade”.

Daniele Antonucci, of Capital Economics, said it was too early to sound the all-clear on deflation, given that capacity utilisation is at a record low of 70pc and producer prices are falling at rate of 5..7pc.

“There is a clear risk of a prolonged and damaging period of deflation. We think more stimulus is warranted from the European Central Bank,” he said.

Julian Callow, of Barclays Capital, said the eurozone’s “output gap” has reached a record 4pc to 5pc, putting a powerful lid on inflation. “House prices are falling sharply and there is concern about the rising rate of non-performing loans. If the euro were to appreciate sharply, the ECB would face a much bigger risk of deflation,” he said.

The key surprise has been the fall in M3 money growth to a post-EMU low of 3.7pc in May, far below the ECB’s 4.5pc reference target.

The ECB gave warning in its latest Financial Stability Report that banks would need to write down a further $283bn (£172bn) by the end of next year. “Policy-makers and market participants will have to be especially alert in the period ahead. The credit cycle has not yet reached a trough.”

The ECB injected €442bn (£377bn) into the money markets last week, offering unlimited funds for a 12-month maturity. So far, the stimulus is not gaining full traction. Over half the money has been placed back on deposit at the ECB itself.

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

House Support for Fed Audit Plan Swells

245 now support full review of monetary policy-makers

A couple dozen more members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors to a plan from Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, that would subject the Federal Reserve to an audit, bringing to 245 the supporters so far.

That’s well beyond the 218 who constitute a majority in the U.S. House, yet the bill remains in the House Judiciary Committee, where it was introduced with just a handful of supporters.

Paul has told his fellow representatives that the damages from the actions of the Fed over the decades is incalculable. For one thing, he said, “It took less than two decades for the Federal Reserve to bring on the Great Depression of the 1930’s.”

Besides that decade-long economic turmoil, he said, “It has also inflated away the value of our currency by over 95 percent since its inception.

“It has invisibly stolen from the poor and given to the rich through this controlled inflation, and now openly stolen through recent bank bailouts. It has predictably exacerbated the very problems it was meant to solve,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


A Thank You, And a Koran, For Obama

By Andrea Fuller

President Obama will soon receive a thank-you gift for his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo. Inspired by the address, in which Mr. Obama quoted the Koran, the Council on American-Islamic Relations plans to distribute 100,000 copies of the Koran to national, state and local leaders.

The council’s national executive director, Nihad Awad, said at a news conference in Washington today that the speech, in which Mr. Obama called for the end to mutual suspicion between Americans and Muslims, was “inspiring” and “historic.”

The council is soliciting donations to pay for the books; at the national convention of the Islamic Society of North America on July 5, the name of one donor will be chosen as sponsor of the Koran that will be sent to Mr. Obama.

In a public opinion survey done by the council, almost 60 percent of Americans said they were “not very knowledgeable” or “not at all knowledgeable” about Islam. Mr. Awad said that the organization hopes to educate Americans about Islam to combat prejudice.

Over the next 10 years, the council plans to distribute one million copies of the text to the American public through its “Share the Quran”campaign.

“This project is pure education,” said Mr. Awad, who said the council was not attempting to proselytize.

Mr. Obama has said he hopes to reduce tensions between America and the Middle East, and between Muslims and non-Muslims. Mr. Obama’s father was Muslim, though the president is Christian.

“There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground,” he said in his Cairo address

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Bill Warner: Official Islam

The true nature of Islam is revealed in its sacred texts and its history. But, there is another Islam—Official Islam—that has been revealed by Obama in Cairo. He made official what the media, politicians and the universities have pushed since 9/11.

Here are the major points of Official Islam:

  • Islam is a religion similar to Christianity and Judaism. They all worship the same god.
  • Good Muslims prove that Islam is good
  • There are no jihadists, just extremists
  • Islam must be accommodated in as many ways as possible
  • One of the proofs of Islam’s greatness is the Islamic Golden Age, humanity’s best days
  • Violence by Muslims is due to their being poor and abused
  • Islam gave the West its basis for our intellectual world
  • The Crusades were a great evil by Christians
  • There are moderate Muslims and a few extremist Muslims
  • “Extremists” cause the violence
  • Islam is found in the Koran (never discuss Mohammed)
  • The “bad stuff” in the Koran is only due to its interpretation
  • Good Muslims will reform the “extremists”
  • Islam is the religion of tolerance
  • Islam has a Golden Rule
  • Islam is the religion of freedom and justice

But the official version of Islam is a *Big Lie. The fact that the Official Islam does not agree with the Koran, Sira and Hadith is of no importance, since it is not based upon them. Official Islam is based upon the propaganda of the Muslim Brotherhood. Not one line of the Official Islam is totally true and many of the points are complete fabrications.

At best, some assertions are partially true. A half-truth is a lie. When you testify in our courts you have to swear an oath: I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Official Islam is not only made up of half-truths, but it also has points that contain no truth…

           — Hat tip: LN [Return to headlines]


For a brief moment it seemed that US President Barack Obama was moved by the recent events in Iran. On Friday, he issued his harshest statement yet on the mullocracy’s barbaric clampdown against its brave citizens who dared to demand freedom in the aftermath of June 12’s stolen presidential elections.

Speaking of the protesters Obama said, “Their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice. The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. In spite of the government’s efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it.”

While some noted the oddity of Obama’s attribution of the protesters’ struggle to the “pursuit of justice,” rather than the pursuit of freedom — which is what they are actually fighting for — most Iran watchers in Washington and beyond were satisfied with his statement.

Alas, it was a false alarm. On Sunday Obama dispatched his surrogates — presidential adviser David Axelrod and UN Ambassador Susan Rice — to the morning talk shows to make clear that he has not allowed mere events to influence his policies.

After paying lip service to the Iranian dissidents, Rice and Axelrod quickly cut to the chase. The Obama administration does not care about the Iranian people or their struggle with the theocratic totalitarians who repress them. Whether Iran is an Islamic revolutionary state dedicated to the overthrow of the world order or a liberal democracy dedicated to strengthening it, is none of the administration’s business.

Obama’s emissaries wouldn’t even admit that after stealing the election and killing hundreds of its own citizens, the regime is illegitimate. As Rice put it, “Legitimacy obviously is in the eyes of the people. And obviously the government’s legitimacy has been called into question by the protests in the streets. But that’s not the critical issue in terms of our dealings with Iran.”

No, whether an America-hating regime is legitimate or not is completely insignificant to the White House. All the Obama administration wants to do is go back to its plan to appease the mullahs into reaching an agreement about their nuclear aspirations. And for some yet-to-be-explained reason, Obama and his associates believe they can make this regime — which as recently as Friday called for the mass murder of its own citizens, and as recently as Saturday blamed the US for the Iranian people’s decision to rise up against the mullahs — reach such an agreement.

IN STAKING out a seemingly hard-nosed, unsentimental position on Iran, Obama and his advisers would have us believe that unlike their predecessors, they are foreign policy “realists.” Unlike Jimmy Carter, who supported the America-hating mullahs against the America-supporting shah 30 years ago in the name of his moralistic post-Vietnam War aversion to American exceptionalism, Obama supports the America-hating mullahs against the America-supporting freedom protesters because all he cares about are “real” American interests.

So too, unlike George W. Bush, who openly supported Iran’s pro-American democratic dissidents against the mullahs due to his belief that the advance of freedom in Iran and throughout the world promoted US national interests, Obama supports the anti-American mullahs who butcher these dissidents in the streets and abduct and imprison them by the thousands due to his “hard-nosed” belief that doing so will pave the way for a meeting of the minds with their oppressors.

Yet Obama’s policy is anything but realistic. By refusing to support the dissidents, he is not demonstrating that he is a realist. He is showing that he is immune to reality. He is so committed to appeasing the likes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ali Khamenei that he is incapable of responding to actual events, or even of taking them into account for anything other than fleeting media appearances meant to neutralize his critics.

Rice and Axelrod demonstrated the administration’s determination to eschew reality when they proclaimed that Ahmadinejad’s “reelection” is immaterial. As they see it, appeasement isn’t dead since it is Khamenei — whom they deferentially refer to as “the supreme leader” — who sets Iran’s foreign policy.

While Khamenei is inarguably the decision maker on foreign policy, his behavior since June 12 has shown that he is no moderate. Indeed, as his post-election Friday “sermon” 10 days ago demonstrated, he is a paranoid, delusional America-bashing tyrant. In that speech he called Americans “morons” and accused them of being the worst human-rights violators in the world, in part because of the Clinton administration’s raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas in 1993.

Perhaps what is most significant about Obama’s decision to side with anti-American tyrants against pro-American democrats in Iran is that it is utterly consistent with his policies throughout the world. From Latin America to Asia to the Middle East and beyond, after six months of the Obama administration it is clear that in its pursuit of good ties with America’s adversaries at the expense of America’s allies, it will not allow actual events to influence its “hard-nosed” judgments.

TAKE THE ADMINISTRATION’S response to the Honduran military coup on Sunday. While the term “military coup” has a lousy ring to it, the Honduran military ejected president Manuel Zelaya from office after he ignored a Supreme Court ruling backed by the Honduran Congress which barred him from holding a referendum this week that would have empowered him to endanger democracy.

Taking a page out of his mentor Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez’s playbook, Zelaya acted in contempt of his country’s democratic institutions to move forward with his plan to empower himself to serve another term in office. To push forward with his illegal goal, Zelaya fired the army’s chief of staff. And so, in an apparent bid to prevent Honduras from going the way of Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua and becoming yet another anti-American Venezuelan satellite, the military — backed by Congress and the Supreme Court — ejected Zelaya from office.

And how did Obama respond? By seemingly siding with Zelaya against the democratic forces in Honduras who are fighting him. Obama said in a written statement: “I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of president Mel Zelaya.”

His apparent decision to side with an anti-American would-be dictator is unfortunately par for the course. As South and Central America come increasingly under the control of far-left America-hating dictators, as in Iran, Obama and his team have abandoned democratic dissidents in the hope of currying favor with anti-American thugs. As Mary Anastasia O’Grady has documented in *The Wall Street Journal*, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have refused to say a word about democracy promotion in Latin America.

Rather than speak of liberties and freedoms, Clinton and Obama have waxed poetic about social justice and diminishing the gaps between rich and poor. In a recent interview with the El Salvadoran media, Clinton said, “Some might say President Obama is left-of-center. And of course that means we are going to work well with countries that share our commitment to improving and enhancing the human potential.”

But not, apparently, enhancing human freedoms.

FROM IRAN to Venezuela to Cuba, from Myanmar to North Korea to China, from Sudan to Afghanistan to Iraq to Russia to Syria to Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration has systematically taken human rights and democracy promotion off America’s agenda. In their place, it has advocated “improving America’s image,” multilateralism and a moral relativism that either sees no distinction between dictators and their victims or deems the distinctions immaterial to the advancement of US interests.

While Obama’s supporters champion his “realist” policies as a welcome departure from the “cowboy diplomacy” of the Bush years, the fact of the matter is that in country after country, Obama’s supposedly pragmatic and nonideological policy has either already failed — as it has in North Korea — or is in the process of failing. The only place where Obama may soon be able to point to a success is in his policy of coercing Israel to adopt his anti-Semitic demand to bar Jews from building homes in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. According to media reports, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has authorized Defense Minister Ehud Barak to offer to freeze all settlement construction for three months during his visit to Washington this week.

Of course, in the event that Obama has achieved his immediate goal of forcing Netanyahu to his knees, its accomplishment will hinder rather than advance his wider goal of achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors. Watching Obama strong-arm the US’s closest ally in the region, the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab states have become convinced that there is no reason to make peace with the Jews. After all, Obama is demonstrating that he will deliver Israel without their having to so much as wink in the direction of peaceful coexistence.

So if Obama’s foreign policy has already failed or is in the process of failing throughout the world, why is he refusing to reassess it? Why, with blood running through the streets of Iran, is he still interested in appeasing the mullahs? Why, with Venezuela threatening to invade Honduras for Zelaya, is he siding with Zelaya against Honduran democrats? Why, with the Palestinians refusing to accept the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, is he seeking to expel some 500,000 Jews from their homes in the interest of appeasing the Palestinians? Why, with North Korea threatening to attack the US with ballistic missiles, is he refusing to order the USS John McCain to interdict the suspected North Korean missile ship it has been trailing for the past two weeks? Why, when the Sudanese government continues to sponsor the murder of Darfuris, is the administration claiming that the genocide in Darfur has ended?

The only reasonable answer to all of these questions is that far from being nonideological, Obama’s foreign policy is the most ideologically driven since Carter’s tenure in office. If when Obama came into office there was a question about whether he was a foreign policy pragmatist or an ideologue, his behavior in his first six months in office has dispelled all doubt. Obama is moved by a radical, anti-American ideology that motivates him to dismiss the importance of democracy and side with anti-American dictators against US allies.

For his efforts, although he is causing the US to fail to secure its aims as he himself has defined them in arena after arena, he is successfully securing the support of the most radical, extreme leftist factions in American politics.

Like Carter before him, Obama may succeed for a time in evading public scrutiny for his foreign-policy failures because the public will be too concerned with his domestic failures to notice them. But in the end, his slavish devotion to his radical ideological agenda will ensure that his failures reach a critical mass.

And then they will sink him.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Massachusetts: A Model Not to Copy

The Obama-Kennedy health plan is modeled after the Massachusetts plan, which, when adopted, many applauded as innovative and destined for success. In fact, the Massachusetts plan has been a massive failure and is a model for what not to do.

It has increased costs. It has wasted taxpayer dollars. It has limited patients’ choice. It has hurt small business. It has failed to achieve its goal of universal coverage. Most objectionable, it has created shortages and waiting lists.

Promoters predicted that the Massachusetts plan would lower health-care costs, but — so far — costs are moving in the opposite direction. State government spending on health-care programs in Massachusetts has increased by 42 percent since the plan was adopted in 2006 and currently is 33 percent above the national average.

Advocates promised that the Massachusetts plan would make health insurance more affordable, but according to a Cato study, insurance premiums have been increasing at nearly double the national average: 7.4 percent in 2007, 8 percent to 12 percent in 2008, and an expected 9 percent increase this year. Health insurance in Massachusetts costs an average of $16,897 for a family of four, compared to a national average of $12,700.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslims Offer 100,000 Qurans to US Leaders

“Share the Quran” inspired by Obama’s Muslim outreach

America’s top Muslim civil liberties advocacy group launched its “Share the Quran” campaign on Tuesday in which it will hand out 100,000 free copies of Islam’s holy book in an effort to reach out to the country’s elected officials and influential opinion shapers.

The initiative, which has been labeled an educational campaign, was announced by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) at a press conference in Washington and was said to be prompted by President Barack Obama’s recent speech in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in which he repeatedly quoted from the Quran to reach out to Muslims.

“When he quoted the Quran on the fundamental values we share such as sanctity of human life, racial diversity, importance of speaking the truth, we believe it was a surprise to many people not familiar with Islam,” CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad told the Washington Post.

One of the group’s stated objectives was to target “local elected and public officials, media professionals and other local or national leaders who shape public opinion or determine policy” to give them a better understanding of Islam based on the Quran and not on sensationalized media stories.

The initiative was “also to provide an opportunity for American Muslims to reach out to their fellow citizens of other faiths,” CAIR’s Board Chairman State Sen. Larry Shaw said.

“Share the Quran” is a multi-year initiative and American Muslims have been asked to donate $45 to their local officials to sponsor the distribution of the more expensive Qurans, which include Arabic and English texts and English commentary.

In 2007, a group of 24 Oklahoma lawmakers refused to accept a copy of the Quran as a gift from the Ethnic American Advisory Council as part of the state’s centennial celebration.

Republican lawmaker Rex Duncan said at the time that he had researched the Quran on the Internet and found it “supports killing.”

The initiative is an outgrowth of CAIR’s “Explore the Quran” campaign and is part of the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Washington-based council, which has 35 offices across the U.S. and in Canada.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Paul Krugman: Betraying the Planet

So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Why a Bill of Rights?

Why did the founders of our nation give us the Bill of Rights? The answer is easy. They knew Congress could not be trusted with our God-given rights. Think about it. Why in the world would they have written the First Amendment prohibiting Congress from enacting any law that abridges freedom of speech and the press? The answer is that in the absence of such a limitation Congress would abridge free speech and free press. That same distrust of Congress explains the other amendments found in our Bill of Rights protecting rights such as our rights to property, fair trial and to bear arms. The Bill of Rights should serve as a constant reminder of the deep distrust our founders had of government. They knew that some government was necessary, but they rightfully saw government as the enemy of the people and they sought to limit government and provide us with protections.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Enforcing Anti-Hate Laws More Problematic in Internet Age

The decision not to prosecute Salman Hossain for the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group illustrates some of the pitfalls of a controversial anti-hate law that has often put legal opinion in conflict with political judgment, and has become doubly awkward in the age of the Internet.

Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code is one of the few ways a Canadian can be sentenced to jail, up to two years, directly over the spoken or written word.

It is among the few criminal laws that require direct ministerial approval for prosecutions, along with others such as abuse of public office, assisting a military deserter and any alleged crime on the Space Station.

To date, Ontario has not yet pursued an Internet-based case. Convictions have been won against website operators in other provinces, though, despite unique problems that arise on the Internet, where anonymity is the norm, audiences are unclear, websites can be hacked, passwords can be shared and many messages appear for only a moment before vanishing forever down a rabbit hole.

“It’s normally discussed in legal circles as an enforcement challenge,” said Bruce Ryder, Assistant Dean First Year at Osgoode Hall law school.

Drafted in the 1960s at the height of the post-war human rights movement, Prof. Ryder said Section 319(2) has generally fared well since hate propaganda moved from printed flyers and telephone hotlines to Internet chat rooms.

The main current problem is not the law’s constitutionality, he said, nor a shortage of cases that deserve it, but whether it can actually be effective against the proliferation of online hate propaganda, much of it anonymous or international.

The 319(2) conviction rate remains low, at 11 convictions out of 44 prosecutions since 1994, despite a reluctance by attorneys-general to approve anything but the most extreme cases.

The recent failed retrial of native leader David Ahenakew, for example, was an acute embarrassment for the Saskatchewan Crown, but like past failures, it helped clarify the law’s boundaries.

Mr. Ahenakew’s first trial turned on the “private conversation” exemption, which was judged not to apply to the statements he made to a reporter.

The retrial turned on the concept of “wilful,” which has always been an unusual requirement, given that all crimes must involve some kind of “guilty mind.”

This notion was first wrangled over in the first 319(2) case in 1979, the failed prosecution of Robert Buzzanga and Jean Wilfred Durocher, two French Canadians who distributed anti-French flyers in an effort to rouse anti-English sentiment in Ontario. They were acquitted on appeal in a ruling that held “wilful” to mean something close to “intentional,” in contrast to other forms of guilty knowledge such as negligence or recklessness.

Mr. Ahenakew was ultimately judged to have fallen below this high standard.

“There’s no doubt that mistakes have been made [in 319(2) cases],” Prof. Ryder said.

The result is a law that is used sparingly and cautiously, and generally against only determined purveyors of the most extreme forms of hatred.

“The Criminal Code isn’t supposed to prohibit racism. It’s supposed to prohibit extreme forms of hate propaganda that raise a serious threat of harm,” Prof. Ryder said.

Along with “private conversation,” the law also provides defenses of truth, public interest, identifying hatred for the purpose of eradication and religious arguments made in good faith.

Trying to identify worthy cases amid the unedited global chatter of the Internet, while respecting private communications and free expression, has become a central conundrum of 319(2).

And it is often easier for a police officer or Crown prosecutor than for an attorney-general, who must put his or her elected neck on the line.

Set the bar too high, and the law is toothless against the very people it was written to target.

Set it too low, and you catch a thousand loudmouths who may be racists, but are not criminals.

A source with first-hand knowledge of how provincial attorneys-general make this decision said the threshold changes with the political climate, and that there are “many more questions put to the AG than there are positive answers.”

It is not a scientific process, he said, but rather a subjective decision about whether each individual case is worth pursuing.

While a prosecutor will simply look for a reasonable prospect of conviction based on available evidence (they also seem to be reluctant; one police hate crime specialist reports forwarding six potential cases to the Crown over two years, and having all rejected), an elected attorney-general must take a wider view.

Approved cases must “go beyond simply some foolish hothead spouting off,” the source said, or else the law can be overused and cheapened. A good indicator of a solid case, for example, would be an imbalance of power between speaker and audience, or a context in which people were likely to be strongly influenced, which is why the successful prosecution of the anti-Semitic Alberta teacher James Keegstra is such an iconic precedent.

“The full answer is not in the words of the statute,” the source said, and “everything becomes a little harder” on the Internet.

An added complication is that the Youth Criminal Justice Act has no hate speech provision, so it is unclear how an accused youth would be treated under this law.

At the moment, the political climate is awkward for hate speech prosecutions.

A prolonged and acrimonious debate over the role of human rights commissions in these matters has led to high-profile demands for legislative change, and hate speech reviews at various agencies, including the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Justice Department and parliamentary committees.

The Justice Department is also evaluating a controversial proposal to explicitly write hate motivation into the Criminal Code as an aggravating factor in any crime, from common mischief to murder.

In such a divisive climate, the criminal prosecution of a young blogger would have drawn awkward attention, and as much criticism as praise.

In the past, this has often worked to the advantage of the accused, notably the Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, who was investigated under 319(2), but prosecuted under the law against reporting “false news,” which was ruled unconstitutional.

“There’s no doubt that a downside of criminal prosecution is it gives all kinds of free publicity to the views of the person accused of hatemongering,” Prof. Ryder said.

“Perhaps its most important roles are symbolic and preventative, to express our condemnation of hate propaganda against the groups that have most frequently been the targets of hateful speech,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Jewish Group Urges Ontario to Review Hateful Online Postings

TORONTO — The Canadian Jewish Congress is urging Ontario’s Attorney General to review the “corrosive” Internet postings of a Toronto-area man to decide whether they qualify as hate crimes.

In a statement Tuesday, the group said it wanted to meet Attorney General Chris Bentley over online postings by Salman Hossain that target Jews and voice a wide range of Jewish conspiracy theories.

The Ontario Provincial Police hate crimes and extremism unit conducted a lengthy investigation of Mr. Hossain and sent its findings to the Crown. Prosecutors decided not to file charges but the CJC wants the minister to review the case.

“The statements alleged to have been made by Salman Hossain appear to reflect a deep hatred of Jews and speak to a mindset that embraces the most corrosive conspiracy theories,” said Mark Goldberg, chair of the CJC’s community relations committee in Ontario. “These statements present Jews as puppet-masters, as a treacherous nation and as the perpetrators of 9/11.”

The National Post reported last year that police were investigating the Bangladeshi-Canadian student after he posted messages on the Internet supporting terrorist attacks in Canada. He had also penned many derogatory comments that singled out Jews and blamed them for everything from Nazism to the 9/11 attacks

The OPP and Ministry of Attorney General said on Monday they had reviewed the case and decided there were insufficient grounds to charge Mr. Hossain with wilfully promoting hatred against the Jewish community.

But the Congress said it disagreed.

“Such statements go beyond offensive and give every appearance of crossing the line into wilful promotion of hatred as defined by the Criminal Code,” said Len Rudner, CJC Ontario regional director.

“It is our understanding that this matter did not reach the office of the Attorney General. For this reason, we are requesting a meeting with Minister Chris Bentley to discuss this matter in greater detail.”

Mr. Hossain could not be reached for comment. He said last year that he had only made his comments in private online chat rooms, but the messages can be viewed by anyone using a simple Google search.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Matt Gurney: In Patriotic Toronto, Pride Parade Goes Ahead; Canada Day Gets the Axe

What’s the difference between Gay Pride and national pride? In Toronto, one goes on in spite of the strike, and the other gets cancelled. Guess which one got the axe? If you guessed Canada Day, that would be correct!

Pride Week is one of Toronto’s most famous, most profitable festivals. It brings people in from all over the world for a huge party and one massive, event-ending parade. While a huge boon for Toronto business owners and tax revenues, packing a million people onto downtown streets obviously results in a lot of litter. Normally, that would be no big deal, and in years past, the city is quickly and efficiently returned to pristine condition. Well…as close as Toronto ever comes, anyway.

This year, though, with city workers out on strike, the massive cleanup job fell to the city’s non-union work force and a handful of private contractors. Along the way, union members picketed and otherwise interfered with the private workers, spouting the usual drivel about non-union members doing the jobs the union members refuse to do. Nonetheless, despite the poor weather and the pickets, the streets were swept, the trash collected, and another successful Pride Week was brought to a close.

Canada Day, though — not so lucky.

While there will still be several provincially and federally run events taking place within the confines of Toronto, such as fireworks at Ontario Place and the former CFB Downsview, all city-run events have been cancelled due to the strike. With the workers on the picket lines, there is not enough staff to run the events, city officials say, and no one to clean them. Their argument is that Pride, though massive, is at least geographically constrained, whereas Canada Day events would be scattered across the city, and therefore harder to clean up with limited staff. I know that David Miller isn’t one to provoke a union if he can at all avoid it, but it would have been nice to see at least a glimmer of citizenship from both the government and the unions. Surely the one day of the year where we celebrate our nation could have been salvaged? I guess it goes to show you how the unions and the city officials think. We daren’t offend the Pride organizers, that would be politically incorrect. Canadians as a whole, however? Screw ‘em.

Torontonians who don’t want to shuffle north or south to take in the fireworks will have a harder-than-usual time organizing a neighbourhood event. City parks, normally a great place for a picnic and some celebratory flag-waving, are in the process of being turned into open-air dumps for the city’s rotting trash. Nineteen already have been so converted and currently house the city’s waste. If things aren’t resolved soon, dozens more will be turned into dumps. How delightful. Really stirs up the patriotic fervour, doesn’t it?

Canadians are blessed to live in a rich, peaceful land. Let’s hope that knowledge is enough to placate 2.5 million Torontonians on Wednesday, all dressed up in red and white, and with no clean place to go. Those who can would be well advised to flee into the countryside around the GTA. Even when it rains, the parties go on.

Happy Canada Day to you, Toronto! Don’t mind the smell.

Matt Gurney National Post

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

No Charges for Man’s Call to Kill Soldiers

A Toronto man who had posted messages on the Internet supporting terrorist attacks in Canada and the deportation of Jews will not face criminal charges, police said on Monday.

The Ontario Provincial Police hate crimes and extremism unit had been investigating Salman Hossain — whose writings included a call to kill Western soldiers “so that they think twice before entering foreign countries on behalf of their Jew masters” — for willfully promoting hatred toward the Jewish community, but the case was recently closed.

“The OPP reviewed the case with Crown counsel. As a result of that review, it was determined that insufficient grounds existed to support willful promotion of hatred charges,” said Detective-Sergeant Brent Young.

Police would provide no further explanation. In Ontario, hate-crimes charges must be approved by the Attorney-General. The spokesman for the Ministry said the Attorney-General had not been asked to approve charges in this case.

“The Attorney-General did not reverse any decision. In fact, no direct request was made of the Attorney-General. In accordance with the long-standing procedure for such cases, the matter was carefully reviewed by counsel who determined a request to the Attorney-General was not appropriate in this case,” Brendan Crawley said.

The Canadian Jewish Congress said it was “perplexed” by the decision. “We recognize that the bar is set high in terms of not only laying charges, but in terms of gaining a conviction,” said Len Rudner, the CJC’s Ontario regional director. “But I’m not a lawyer, so when I look at somebody talking about the charge that Western nations invade countries under the control of ‘Jew masters,’ that concerns me.”

Writing in online Internet forums, Mr. Hossain frequently singled out Jews, calling them derogatory names, claiming the Holocaust was “fictional” and once asking, “When do I get to shoot a few Jews down…”

In one posting, Mr. Hossain wrote, “Here’s what I suggest we do … just throw out the Jews (by religion or blood) out of the instruments of mainstream media, finance/banking, government/politics, and the intelligence/secret services.”

“That’s how the Muslims have done it in the past, especially when they were in power and glorious. Leave behind the token Jew here and there just to appear non-discriminatory.

“Then send the Jews packing on a different ship to their own territory or maybe the South Pole to live with the penguins. Do this before they claim we gonna do another ‘holocaust.’ There’s no Jew better than an exile Jew.”

Mr. Hossain could not be reached for comment. He said last year that he had only made his comments in private online chat rooms, but the messages can be viewed by anyone using a simple Google search.

The National Post reported in January that the Bangladeshi-Canadian, then a student at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, had been approached by the RCMP due to his online activities.

Police apparently took an interest in Mr. Hossain after he posted messages on the Internet about the arrests of several suspects accused of plotting terrorist attacks at a German military base.

“We should do that here in Canada as well,” he wrote. “Kill as many Western soldiers as well so that they think twice before entering foreign countries on behalf of their Jew masters … if there were any planned attacks against Canadian/American soldiers by ‘Muslim militants’ in Canadian soil, I’d support it.”

He continued that Western countries deserved terrorist attacks such as 9/11 and the 2005 transit bombings in London, “cause then they have fear and respect of Muslims.”

Mr. Hossain had also chronicled his dealings with police in his online writings. “You can’t charge me for possessing a thought,” he wrote, adding that he “honestly got a kick out of pissing off the RCMP … HAHAHA.”

In response, Liberal Senator Colin Kenny said Mr. Hossain should be prosecuted to send a message “that talking like that isn’t very smart.” Mr. Hossain’s mother told The Associated Press her son was an “idiot.”

University of Toronto students responded with a campaign to have him expelled, but he defended himself, writing that he did not condone violence and that, “I’m tryna wake people up.”

Canada’s hate crimes laws are rarely used but there have been several recent cases across the country. Last February, Keith Francis William Noble of Prince George, B.C., was convicted over a website that targeted minorities.

In 2006, Reinhard Gustav Mueller of Edmonton, who claimed he received radio signals from space, was sentenced to 16 months for his depictions of Jews on his Internet site.

A fringe political candidate in Ontario was recently charged over anti-gay comments. Last January, former University of Saskatchewan math lecturer Terence Tremaine was charged with promoting hatred over anti-Jewish comments on the Internet. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Rudner said he did not know why the Crown felt the comments of Mr. Hossain did not meet the threshold for criminal prosecution.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Man Found Dead of Gunshot Wounds at Christiania

Police say a shooting in the squatter colony today has left one man dead. Arrests have been made

A man was found dead of gunshot wounds inside a car outside the squatter colony of Christiania shortly before noon today.

According to Copenhagen police, the victim was shot twice in the back of the head. Police believe the man was likely killed near Christiania concert venue Den Grå Hal and placed in the car afterwards.

According to reports, the incident has led to considerable unrest in the area and that several people have been arrested.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Football Union Blasts Brazil’s Team Prayer

A lengthy prayer session after its Confederation Cup victory has Brazil facing possible disciplinary action

Religion has no place on the football pitch, according to Danish football association DBU, which criticised Brazil’s players for holding an on-field team prayer after their Confederations Cup win in South Africa on Sunday.

Jim Stjerne Hansen, DBU’s managing director, said it was the length of the celebration that went over the line.

‘To mix religion and sport to such a degree was almost like creating a manifestation of a religious standpoint,’ he told Politiken newspaper. ‘And just as we don’t allow politics to be a part of the sport, we should also say no to religion.’ After Sunday’s match, most of the Brazilian team gathered in a circle on the pitch, where they thanked God and Jesus for the victory, with some players wearing T-shirts with Christian messages printed on them.

International football authority FIFA would not comment specifically on Sunday’s demonstration, but its rules strictly forbid any advertisement of political or religious beliefs.

‘Players may not reveal clothing that shows slogans or adverts,’ it states in FIFA’s rulebook. ‘If a player removes his jersey and reveals a political, religious or personal statement, he will be punished by the organisers of the respective tournament or by FIFA.’

Yet FIFA indicated to The Copenhagen Post on Tuesday that it had not yet made a decision on whether the Brazilian team or individual players would be disciplined.

‘FIFA is carefully monitoring all situations related to this topic,’ said an organisation representative.

‘In the case mentioned, the situation occurred after the conclusion of the match, whereas Law 4 of the Laws of the Game refers to conduct and players’ equipment during the match. However, FIFA has reminded the Brazilian football association of the relevant procedures on this matter.’

Ironically, European football federation UEFA indicated on Wednesday that religious demonstrations were okay with their organisation.

‘It’s a matter of rule interpretation,’ a UEFA spokesperson told Politiken. ‘We tolerate it as long as it doesn’t harm or offend any group, person or society.’

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

‘Explosive’ Biker Gang War Grips Germany

The northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein is in the midst of a biker gang war as the Bandidos move into the Hells Angels territory. Police have conducted raids in recent days, daily Hamburger Abendblatt reported on Wednesday.

“The situation is explosive,” Detlev Zawadzki, director of the state department for organized crime, told the paper, adding that the worst fighting was still to come.

Since mid-May, the Texas-based Bandidos have been trying to get a foothold in Germany’s northern-most territory, in which nine Hells Angels clubs and crews are located. Since then, police have been called to a number of incidents involving the gangs, the paper said.

Kiel and Neumünster have both been heavily affected. On June 21, police responded to a shooting at a house in Neumünster. Four shots were fired into the living room window but no one was hurt. Officials say it was gang related but no further details have been released on the incident.

Three days later in Kiel, the Hells Angels held a rally. Police shut down the gathering when participants violated traffic laws. A day later, on June 25, the Hells Angels announced on their website that Kiel and Rendsburg clubs for Bandidos were gone.

Police carried out raids on the Bandidos, confiscating weapons. On June 26, a 50-centimetre machete was taken from Neumünster Bandidos supporters as well as a baseball bat and pepper spray. Three days later, police raided more houses in Neumünster as well as some in Kiel and the surrounding area. Guns, ammunition and another machete were seized, the paper reported.

This isn’t the first time the Bandidos and the Hells Angels have clashed in Germany. In December 2008, 14 Hells Angels were found guilty by a court in Hannover of assault and robbery after they raided a Bandidos club house in Stuhr in March 2006. Three are serving time while the rest were given suspended sentences.

In May 2007, two Bandidos members murdered a Hells Angels member in Ibbenbüren, one hour north of Dortmund in North Rhine-Westphalia. Both were given life sentences in June 2008.

Police are hoping the state will bring in a zero-tolerance policy in light of the recent gang wars. The Hells Angels have been banned in Hamburg for 20 years, but Zawadzki warned that this law isn’t the solution.

“Even when the group is gone, the people who were the members are still there,” he told the state-wide newspaper Schleswig-Holstein Zeitungsverlag.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Greece: Turkish Jets Violate Greek Air Space Ahead of Military Visit

Two formations comprising a total of 16 Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space in the central and northern Aegean yesterday ahead of today’s scheduled official visit to Greece of Isik Kosaner, commander of Turkey’s armed forces. Kosaner is visiting Greece in the framework of a broader confidence-building drive, at the invitation of Dimitris Voulgaris, chief of the Hellenic Army’s General Staff.


Eight hurt over crate of beer

Eight people were hospitalized yesterday, one with serious injuries, after a large group of Roma and locals got into a violent brawl in Aghios Ioannis on the east coast of Corfu over a crate of beer. According to police, the fracas broke out after a Roma man allegedly stole a crate of beer from a local store. After the store owner challenged the alleged thief, the latter is said to have gathered some 50 Roma, from a nearby settlement, who used iron bars to smash local stores.

Landing light

A 27-year-old unemployed Cretan man charged with shining a laser pointer at a commercial aircraft flying into Iraklion airport over the weekend was arrested yesterday in a trailer in the coastal area of Karteros. Officers were dispatched to investigate after pilots of commercial aircraft complained that someone had been shining a laser at the aircraft from the ground. Police seized a laser pointer, with a 9-kilometer range, from the suspect’s caravan.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Islamic Law Challenges Western Freedom: Report

UK report warns against recognition of “outdated” Shariah

Islamic law should not be recognized under the United Kingdom’s arbitration laws because its principles are outdated and they contradict Western laws, a report by a British think-tank said on Monday, which Muslim figures dismissed as “scaremongering.”

The report, called Shariah Law or One for All?, claimed to have discovered as many as 85 Islamic “courts” operating in Britain that hand out unofficial rulings, or fatwas, sought by devout Muslims from their mosque imams, which the report says are in contrast to the laws applied in British courts.

“They are not official in terms of British law but they carry weight in terms of Shariah,” Dennis MacEoin, author of the report published by independent think-tank Civitas, told Al Arabiya, adding such rulings are “inappropriate with Western legislation.’’

MacEoin said he believed the worst contradictions were in Shariah’s laws on marriage and divorce and said Muslim men can easily divorce their wives, leaving the woman with no rights and turning Muslim women into ‘‘second class citizens.’’

When asked about Beth Din, the Jewish court that operates freely across the U.K., MacEoin said they only rule according to British law.

According to Jewish law it is “very difficult” for a woman to get a divorce from her husband and this makes the arguments against Islamic law applicable to Jewish law.

“It is discriminatory against a woman and I’m not happy about that,” MacEoin said on the position of Jewish law on divorce.

No integration

MacEoin said he believed Shariah was outdated and was “no longer appropriate for the modern period’’ because ‘‘it is not how the world works any more.’’

He added it was not possible to integrate Shariah law into British law and said the current situation was harmful to relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and hindered Muslim integration into British society.

Last year, head of the Anglican Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, caused public outcry when he suggested that the adoption of aspects of Islamic law in the U.K. was “unavoidable.”

The issue of integrating Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims has been widely debated since July 2005, when four British Islamists carried out suicide bombings on London’s transport system, killing 52 people.


However a member of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) criticized the report, splashed across the British press, for its lack of research credibility.

“It must be gratifying to be able to publish work without ever properly researching the subject matter,’’ the unnamed MCB member wrote on Engage, a U.K.-based media awareness website.

“And it says something of any institute willing to even entertain the idea of publishing such poor quality work.’’

Inayat Bunglawala, also of MCB, told Britain’s the Telegraph: “To term them Shariah courts is ridiculous, it’s just scaremongering.”

Bunglawala was referring to the 85 “courts’’ allegedly operating across the U.K., which is a massive jump from only five believed to be dotted around the country.

Evolving Shariah

Shariah law is based on the Quran, the word of God, and the Sunnah, or the life of Prophet Muhammad. One major difference between Shariah and Western law is that it governs every aspect of a Muslim’s personal life.

For SOAS law professor, Mashood Baderin, the term Shariah can be used in several contexts and the only problem is that people are looking at it from the wrong perspective.

“When people talk about Shariah, many people look at it from a historical perspective but Islamic law has completely gone beyond that,’’ Baderin told Al Arabiya, adding that in the past British laws gave no rights to women but they evolved and now people speak about the modern British law.

“So if we can look at common British law from that perspective, as evolving, why can’t we look at Islamic law also as evolving, rather than thinking of it only in historical terms,’’ he said, explaining that the law has evolved to allow women their rights.

The professor said today’s Muslims who are asking for Islamic law in Britain are not necessarily asking for Islamic law in the context of seventh century or tenth century they want it applicable for today.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Dutch-American Relations Were Better Under Bush

[Comment from Tuan Jim: Shock…Horror!…reality strikes.]

Dutch prime minister Balkenende and finance minister Bos are still welcome in the White House, but they can no longer expect front-row seats at international events.

The Dutch are pulling out all the diplomatic stops to get on president Barack Obama’s good side. This week, finance minister and deputy prime minister Wouter Bos pleaded with treasury secretary Timothy Geithner to be invited to the next G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the leaders of the world’s 20 major economies will meet in September.

Bos’ visit to the US is part of a larger diplomatic effort by the Dutch. In two weeks time, prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende will meet with Obama.

Bos said the visits show that the Netherlands is still seen as an important ally in the US. “A lot of European colleagues have not been invited here and do not get as much time as Balkenende and myself do,” Bos said.

It is an open secret, however, that the Netherlands is having trouble establishing a relationship with the Obama administration similar to the one it had with the Bush government. The Netherlands supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and it was one of the first Nato countries to send troops to Afghanistan. That gave Balkenende easy access to George W. Bush, whose poor relations with Germany and France made the Netherlands a more important player for bilateral deals.

No Guantánamo detainees

That is no longer the case now that Obama is in power and none of the major European nations are sceptical about his policies. Also, the Netherlands was slow to act on an early invitation to boost its relationship with the new administration.

Obama’s people had hoped the Dutch would help out with the dismantling of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, just like they showed solidarity with Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to Washington’s disappointment, the Netherlands has so far refused to take in any detainees from Guantánamo. Other European countries like Italy, France, Portugal and Belgium have all agreed in principle to take in at least some Guantanamo detainees.

Credit running out

The Netherlands still has some credit in Washington because of its efforts in Afghanistan. In March, secretary of state Hillary Clinton asked the Dutch to organise a summit on the future of the country. And Clinton praised foreign minister Maxime Verhagen when he came to Washington in April. However, with the Dutch terminating their mission in Uruzgan province by the end of next year, that credit is going to run out soon.

The Dutch government is now trying to gain the sympathy of the US for its financial-economical policies. Bos said on Monday that — contrary to other European nations — he shares the American concern about the collapse of the economies of Eastern Europe. Bos also said he agrees with Geithner about the need for improved financial oversight.

But Geithner has made no promises for the upcoming G20 summit. The Netherlands is not an official member of that group, but it received last-minute invitations to the last two meetings. “I have no reason to assume that things will be different this time,” Bos said.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Suddenly Wilders Isn’t So Funny Anymore

Call it perfect integration. One third of all people with Turkish and Moroccan roots in the Netherlands complain about the country and say they want to emigrate — just like the Dutch.

There is one difference, however, according to a report published this week: when Moroccan-Dutch or Turkish-Dutch say they are considering leaving the country, it is because of the growing popularity of anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders.

When Chahid el Haddouti, a 29-year-old outreach worker in Gouda, picks up the phone, he says he is Tangiers, Morocco. And no, he is not on holiday either; he is trying to set up a rental car company there. If things work out, he is moving to Morocco permanently. It’s nice being in Tangiers, he says, what with the weather and all. But most of all nobody there addresses him as ‘a Muslim’; being a Muslim is not an issue in Tangiers.


Ehssane Gounou (24) is a management student and a provincial representative for the Dutch Labour party. She has lived her whole life in Oss, in the south of the Netherlands. After last month’s European election, Gounou was shocked to find out how many people in her hometown had voted for Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV). “Sometimes when I’m walking in the streets now I wonder: where are those people? And do they hate me?” People around her have always taken the rise of Wilders in stride. Her boyfriend, who is also of Moroccan descent, even says it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if Wilders would be part of a coalition government. He is betting that Wilders will inevitably disappoint. Gounou’s younger sister sees Wilders as a showman more than a politician. “I guess there’s some truth in that. You’re always wondering what he will come up with next. Moroccans too think he’s funny to watch on TV.”

But lately, as more and more people turn out to take Wilders seriously, Gounou doesn’t think it is so funny anymore. “First he was talking about kicking the criminals out of the country, then it was criminal Moroccans, now he refers to Muslims. But, hey, I’m a Muslim too.”

It’s not that well-educated Muslims are often confronted with negative comments in their daily lives. “But as soon as you turn on the radio or TV, or pick up a newspaper, they’re always talking about ‘the Muslims’. That means they’re talking about me too.”

Here to stay

Chahid el Haddouti only gets negative comments when he has forgotten to shave. “I heard people whispering ‘terrorist’ at the railway station.” Most of the time he’s clean-shaven. “But sometimes people will say: ‘Oh, but you don’t look the least bit Moroccan.’ As if that’s a compliment or something.”

Umar Mirza (22) and his brother are the founders of (‘We’re here to stay’), a website for young Muslims. “The idea for the site was born from a positive feeling, the feeling that this is our country. My parents are from Pakistan, but I know Pakistan only as a holiday destination and from my parents’ stories.”

Mirza can understand why some Muslims in the Netherlands say they want to leave, but he doubts that many will. “When we criticise the Netherlands on our website, we often get reactions of the look-at-what-happens-in-your-own-country variety. But criticising the Netherlands to us is self-criticism. The Netherlands is my country. I am Dutch.”

It is an overstatement to say that Wilders is responsible for Muslims feeling unwelcome in the Netherlands, says Sadik Harchaoui, director of the multicultural institute Forum. He thinks the mood was set on September 11, 2001. “Muslims have been living under a magnifying glass ever since. It doesn’t matter how well integrated they are, it will be never be enough. The Netherlands has become a lot less attractive for Muslims.”

Ultimately, says Harchaoui, this will pose a big problem for the Netherlands. “If you look at the future, at the ageing population, at the increasing urbanisation, it is clear that we are going to need the people who are now in school. If you chase them away, we will be left with only the less-educated immigrants.”

Harchaoui believes the discomfort doesn’t come from Wilders alone, but increasingly from the other, mainstream parties. “If the other parties stood up for Muslims, we would have whole a different atmosphere in the Netherlands now.”

Umar Mirza and Ehssane Gounou agree. Mirza: “I don’t feel represented in Dutch politics. The other politicians are too shy. If it’s okay for Wilders to talk like he does, well then the others should do the same.” Gounou: “Occasionally someone will stick his neck out, but it is not convincing enough. Wilders can get a lot more radical still; it’s time to take up the challenge.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Swedish Becomes Official ‘Main Language’

Swedish is now officially considered the main language in Sweden, according to a new language law which, along with more than two dozen other laws, took effect on Wednesday.

The new law, a first for Sweden, also gives five other languages — Finnish, all Sami dialects, Torne Valley Finnish (Meänkieli), Romani, and Yiddish — status as official national minority languages and is supposed to ensure that the languages used by public bodies are “protected, simple, and comprehensible”.

“The language law is an important tool in work on language policy,” said Lena Ekberg, head of Sweden’s Language Council (Språkrådet), in a statement.

As Swedish society has become increasingly diverse, the number of languages spoken by the country’s residents has ballooned.

According to the Language Council, close to 200 languages are spoken in Sweden today.

In addition, as the pace of globalization has increased, more and more Swedes are using English on a regular basis, which has resulted in English terms displacing many Swedish terms in technical areas such as medicine and economics.

On one reading, the new law simply codifies what anyone living in Sweden today already knows: Swedish is the language spoken by the most people in Sweden, either as their mother tongue or as a second language.

However, by stating explicitly that Sweden is the country’s “main language” (‘huvudspråk’), the law is also seen as an effort to secure the position of Swedish as the common language in Sweden and the language on which Swedish society rests, according to the Language Council.

As a result, “public bodies have a special responsibility to see that Swedish is used and developed” and to ensure that the language is not displaced entirely in international contexts.

The law also states that anyone living in Sweden should have the ability to “learn, develop, and use” the Swedish language.

In addition to the language law, 27 other laws affecting Swedish residents come into force on July 1st.

Not only are there new laws abolishing the country’s pharmacy and railway monopolies, but subsidies offered to people who purchase environmentally friendly cars are also set to expire.

Sweden has also changed the penalty for murder, allowing for time-defined sentences of 10 to 18 years, in addition to life in prison.

It is also now a crime for adults to seek sexual contact with minors on the internet. A conviction for “grooming”, as it is known, may result in a prison sentence of up to one year.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Top German Court Suspends Ratification of Lisbon Treaty

KARLSRUHE, Germany (AFP) — Germany’s top court on Tuesday delayed the ratification of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty but leaders expressed confidence that the landmark reforms would still be adopted soon.

In a keenly awaited decision, the Federal Constitutional Court said the treaty — aimed at streamlining decision-making in the 27-nation bloc — must be put on ice until a law protecting national parliamentary powers is passed.

“If one wanted to summarise this result, one could say: the constitution says ‘yes’ to the Lisbon Treaty but demands that parliament’s right to participation be strengthened at the national level,” the court said.

The court also rejected complaints that the treaty would transfer too much power to Brussels and said the reforms were fundamentally in line with the country’s laws.

That led Chancellor Angela Merkel to hail the ruling as a “good day for the Lisbon Treaty”.

“The important message of the day is that the Lisbon Treaty has cleared another significant hurdle. I am very pleased about that,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin after the judgement.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: “I am sure that the treaty will be ratified this year.”

In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was also upbeat about the treaty’s future.

“I am confident that we can complete the process of ratification … in all countries by the autumn,” he said.

The treaty — which aims not only to make the EU run more smoothly but also seeks to give the bloc a stronger voice on the world stage — must be ratified by all 27 member states before it can come into force.

To speed up ratification in Germany, lawmakers will hold special sessions on August 26 and September 8 to pass a law that satisfies the court’s demands.

A European affairs analyst at the Bertelsmann Foundation, Joachim Fritz-Vannahme, said he thought the process would now run rapidly.

“I can well expect this to happen as quickly as possible so that the ratification … is not slowed down any more,” he said.

The foreign minister of Sweden, which is due to take the EU helm on Wednesday, also said he was unconcerned about the decision.

“There is no major dissent on the political scene in Germany on this particular issue,” Carl Bildt told journalists.

France’s new secretary of state for foreign affairs, Pierre Lellouche, on his first official visit to Berlin, told reporters he saw a “real consensus on the German side” and that he had “received assurances that Germany will be ready by early September” to ratify the treaty.

Although the treaty was approved by a large majority in both houses of the German parliament, the country’s president, Horst Koehler, has delayed signing the document pending the court’s decision.

While it seems like the treaty will be ratified in Germany in September, the document’s rocky road to adoption may still throw up some tricky pitfalls as three other countries — the Czech Republic, Ireland and Poland — have still not signed.

Ireland, which voted against the treaty last year, will hold a second referendum, probably in October, after receiving guarantees the treaty would not affect issues close to voters’ hearts, such as military neutrality and abortion.

Recent polls have shown the Irish are more likely to vote in favour of the reforms the second time around as the global financial crisis has hit the former “Celtic Tiger” economy harder than most.

The eurosceptic Czech and Polish presidents have said they will not sign the treaty until Ireland has voted again.

And fears are growing in Brussels that Britain could yet torpedo the treaty if, as polls suggest, the eurosceptic Conservative party comes to power in elections that must be held before June 2010.

Conservative leader David Cameron has vowed to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if he becomes prime minister, with surveys indicating that Britain would vote decisively against it.

If the Lisbon Treaty were to come into force, the EU would do away with the current unwieldy system of the rotating presidency in favour of the selection of a leader for a limited term.

A powerful foreign policy supremo would also be appointed.

The treaty itself is a watered-down version of the European constitution that was rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: Full Text: Queen’s Message to Troops on Elizabeth Cross

The Queen’s message broadcast to UK troops on the British Forces Broadcasting Service to announce creation of the Elizabeth Cross

“As I talk to you today, I am conscious that my words are being heard simultaneously across many time-zones, climates and terrains. Wherever you are deployed in the world, you should be assured that I and the whole nation are deeply thankful for the part you play in helping to maintain peace around the globe.

“In these present times, no less than in previous years, the men and women of our armed forces undertake their duties in the knowledge that danger often lies ahead. They know that many have died in the service of our country and that difficulties are ever present.

“With this in mind, the Armed Forces have recommended that for those servicemen and women who have given their lives during operations, a special emblem and scroll will be granted to their next of kin. I am pleased to be associated with such an initiative, which is in keeping with a tradition established during the First World War. And so I have asked that this emblem should be known as the Elizabeth Cross.

“This seems to me a right and proper way of showing our enduring debt to those who are killed while actively protecting what is most dear to us all. The solemn dignity which we attach to the names of those who have fallen is deeply engrained in our national character. As a people, we accord this ultimate sacrifice the highest honour and respect.

“Around the world, Prince Philip and I have always been impressed by the way the Commonwealth War Graves Commission tends to the graves and memorials of those servicemen and women who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

“And now, the Armed Forces Memorial, established at the National Memorial Arboretum, bears the names of each of the British service personnel who have died on operations since that time. To these collective memorials we now add a new and deeply personal commemoration.

“I greatly hope that the Elizabeth Cross will give further meaning to the nation’s debt of gratitude to the families and loved ones of those who have died in the service of our country. We will remember them all.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: Man Uses Nail Clippers in Diy Circumcision

A man who gave himself a DIY circumcision using nail clippers was taken to hospital for emergency treatment.

The young man had to be rushed to the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The wound was disinfected to cleanse it before he was given a bed in an observation ward.

“This is something we would advise men never to attempt,” a medic said, “The results can be quite horrific and long-lasting and have quite an affect on a man’s sexual performance.

“Using a pair of nail clippers must have caused excruciating pain, even if he had had a few drinks beforehand.”

In April last year a leading brain surgeon used a £30 DIY drill to carry out a successful operation on a fully conscious patient.

Henry Marsh used a Bosch PSR960 cordless drill because he did not have his normal equipment on him.

But Mr Marsh had to use the drill because he was on a trip to Ukraine in Eastern Europe to help people let down by a vastly inadequate health system.

Halfway through the operation to remove the tumour from Marian Dolishny’s head, the power ran out.

Thankfully the neurosurgeon, who normally practises at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south, London, was able the complete the operation and save a life.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Force Issues Muslim Detainees With Compasses So They Can Face Mecca to Pray

They may already have wandered from the straight and narrow. But Muslims held in police cells in one area are being given every help to find their way back.

Norfolk Police is offering compasses to suspects so they can face accurately towards Mecca when praying.

The force had already painted the ceilings of some of its cells to point worshippers in the right direction.

It tested the idea at a police station in Norwich and has recommended extending it across the county. If successful, the scheme could be rolled out to other forces around the UK.

Norfolk Police Authority outlined the initiative in its Custody Visitors Committee report, following a trial at Bethel Street Police Station in Norwich.

The report states: ‘The painted compasses on the ceilings at Bethel Street will be replicated across the rest of the county.

‘However, further guidance has been received and in future small compasses will be issued to those detainees who request them.’

Officially, this is because Muslims may not always be in a cell with directions to Mecca at prayer time.

But a force insider said: ‘An Islamic detainee might not trust those who are holding him and a compass will allow him to make his own mind up about which way he should be facing.’

The custody suite at the force’s King’s Lynn police station is next in line to be painted with a compass. The town’s custody inspector, Colin Williamson, said the force had to meet the religious needs of anyone held in its cells.

He added: ‘We have responsibilities to ensure that everyone detained has their specific needs met, whether they are unable to read, visually impaired or a vulnerable young person. Each person taken into custody is asked if they have any particular religious or dietary requirements.

‘We will also have compasses available to Muslims so that they may know the direction of Mecca.

‘Wherever possible custody staff facilitate any reasonable request in respect of religious considerations.’

Risk assessments will be carried out before each compass is issued.

Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is a focal point for all Muslims and the centre of the Islamic pilgrimage known as the Hajj. Devout followers of Islam must face towards the city for the five prayer sessions they take part in each day.

According to the last national census in 2001, some 1.6million people in the UK are Muslims.

The Muslim prison population has swelled in recent years and at Whitemoor Prison, near March in Cambridgeshire, a third of the 460 inmates are Muslims.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Revealed: £3.5m Cost of Booting Out Illegal Travellers That Means it Will Never Happen

The cost of evicting hundreds of illegally camped travellers from two notorious sites has been revealed — at an astronomical £3.5million. If the 90 traveller families refuse orders to leave, latest estimates say that Basildon Council faces a £2.5million bill to evict them and return the sites to ‘greenfield’ condition, plus £1 million to police the operation. The order to vacate the two sites, in Crays Hill and Hovefields, Essex, follows years of court wrangling that has already cost the taxpayer £700,000 in legal fees.

The Government ordered the 1,000 travellers at Crays Hill to vacate the site in February 2007 but travellers won a stay of execution at the High Court. Basildon Council appealed against the decision and were told in January that travellers on both sites can be evicted. But Billericay MP John Baron warned that the travellers are likely to try to stay on at the sites. ‘A small number of people have said they would like to move off but there is pressure from camp leaders to see it out together,’ he said.

Grattan Puxon, a spokesman for the travellers, said they are still looking for alternative sites to move onto but they need planning permission. He added: ‘I am concerned even more public money may have to be spent on this eviction. The council should be looking at a common sense solution where the money could be used to help find an alternative site.’ Council leader Tony Ball said: ‘No one wants to see the misery and expense of a forced eviction and we remain hopeful people will leave by choice.’ Offering no explanation of where the money would come from if travellers resisted the eviction, he insisted it would be carried through.

‘Direct action will be taken in the event it become necessary,’ he said. The Crays Hill Dale Farm camp has been a source of friction between travellers and villagers for almost a decade. Despite being told to vacate the site in 2003 by John Prescott, then Deputy Prime Minister, the camp actually swelled in size. Villagers complained they had become a minority and were being plagued with obscene and anti-social behaviour from travellers. At its height more than 250 travellers have lived at the Hovefields camp in Wickford and nearby householders have accused them over more than 230 alleged incidents, including gun-related crimes.

Residents say they have been verbally abused by travellers and have even had cars driven at them. Once a hangman’s noose is said to have been left in a garden. Despite the soaring cost of eviction, Crays Hill resident Len Gridley warned today it could cost the Government millions more if the travellers are allowed to stay. He said: ‘It has devalued my property by about £300,000 and has devalued Crays Hill by £50million. ‘The average house in Crays Hill is worth £500,000 and house prices have dropped by about 20 per cent. With 500 houses, that’s £50million we’ve lost through no fault of our own.’ Mr Gridley, 48, whose bungalow backs onto the camp there, added: ‘I would give them 28 days to leave and that’s it — the village is not going to tolerate them staying.’

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: Sun-Cream Banned From Primary School for Safety Reasons

Children at a primary school have been banned from taking sun-cream on to the premises for health and safety reasons.

RA Butler School in Saffron Walden, Essex, said it was worried that pupils will share sunscreen and pass it on to children who are allergic.

Parents have described the ban as “ludicrous” and have been told to either apply a 12 hour sunscreen before school or to come in at lunchtime and put more sun-cream on their children.

Catriona Hoy, 45, has two girls at the school, Caitlyn, 11, and Kiera, 9. Mrs Hoy, a children’s author and chemistry teacher, said she asked teachers to remind Kiera to put on her cream after she got sunburned at a school sports day and then heard it had been outlawed.

“The children were told in assembly they couldn’t bring sunscreen into school. I thought my daughter must have got it wrong, I didn’t believe it could be possible so I checked with the school and they said they had decided during a staff meeting.

“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I understand some children could be allergic but surely the danger of skin cancer and sun damage outweigh allergies.

“Some children may be allergic to wheat but they haven’t banned sandwiches in case the children share lunch-boxes. If children have allergies they know what they need to avoid and it should be the same with sunscreen.”

Mrs Hoy from Saffron Walden, Essex, moved from Melbourne in Australia with her children and her husband Keith, a teacher.

She went into school to speak to headteacher Gayle Mawson about the policy because she is so angry about the decision.

“In Australia they are very sun aware, it’s very well promoted. Schools here need to get behind that message, they need to understand that climate change brings with it extra risks,” she added.

Mrs Mawson defended the policy saying that with 550 pupils at the school there was not enough time to apply sun-cream to each of them.

“We take the health and well-being of our children very seriously and ask parents to send their children in with hats and to apply sunscreen to their children before they come to school, recommending that they use one that will last for up to 12 hours,” she said.

“We have concerns over children bringing in their sunscreen as children like to share things with each other and (a) we have pupils within school who suffer allergic reactions to certain types of sun products and (b) we want to avoid cross infection.

“Additionally the prospect of staff applying or monitoring the use of sunscreen to 230 infant pupils, plus a significant number of our 320 juniors, presents logistical and sensitivity problems.

“We are fortunate in having outside areas shaded by large leafy trees and all our children are encouraged, while they are outside during the school day, to seek shade, to wear hats and drink lots of water.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council confirmed RA Butler has an “individual policy” in regards to sunscreen.

The county council spokeswoman added: “It is the school’s policy for the parents to be responsible for their own children and apply sunscreen that last 12 hours. The reason is that there is over 500 children at the school so the teachers couldn’t possibly apply sunscreen to all of them, also they have children with allergies and if children share sunscreen there could be cross contamination.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: The Elgin Marbles Will Never Return to Athens — the British Museum is Their Rightful Home

The Greeks should erect a statue of Lord Elgin near the Parthenon to express their nation’s gratitude to him for saving the Marbles.

The controversy over the marbles is largely a matter of Greek politics Photo: PA

Having built this new museum for the Elgin Marbles, the Greeks have managed to rustle up one or two British journalists credulous or naïve enough to write articles calling for their return. But if anyone thinks the building is ever going to house anything other than the plaster casts that are on display there now, they are hopelessly out of touch with reality. There is virtually no chance that the director or trustees of the British Museum, now or in the future, will comply with this outlandish demand.

Let’s review the facts. Lord Elgin paid the enormous sum of £39,000 to acquire the marbles, and was careful to obtain documents from the Turkish Government approving their removal from Greece, which had then been part of the Ottoman Empire for 350 years. Since Parliament legally purchased the marbles from Lord Elgin in 1816, the British Museum’s title to them is unassailable. The Greeks know this perfectly well — otherwise, instead of pulling this PR stunt, they would be suing Britain in the European courts.

What those calling for the return of the marbles can’t seem to get through their heads is that, even if it wished to, the British Government cannot simply transfer their ownership to another European state. Objects in our national museums belong in law not to parliament but to their trustees. This ensures that no government can sell works from our museums to raise revenue (as happened in Russia in the 1920s), or give them away for short- term political advantage. Were the trustees of the British Museum to comply with the Greek proposal, they would be in breach of their obligation to use the objects in their care for maximum public benefit, and could therefore expect a lawsuit of their own from members of the public, such as me, compelling them to fulfil the trust that was placed in them when they were appointed.

So here are a few ideas for the Greeks: first, why not erect a statue of Lord Elgin near the Parthenon to express their nation’s gratitude to him for saving the marbles? After the Ottoman conquest of Athens in 1458, the Turks used the Parthenon as a mosque and then as a powder magazine. In 1687, when the building took a direct hit from a Venetian cannon, most of its interior walls were destroyed, bringing much of the frieze down with them. By the time Lord Elgin became ambassador to Istanbul in 1798, the Parthenon was a ruin. Turkish soldiers used the marbles for target practice, and the locals burned statues to make lime for the mortar to build their houses. His purchase of the marbles was motivated by the real risk to their survival.

Second, instead of whining about events that happened more than two centuries ago, perhaps the Greek ambassador should formally thank Britain for displaying the marbles in those beautiful galleries at the British Museum, where 4.6 million visitors a year from all over the world can view them free of charge.

Of course that won’t happen, because the “controversy” over the marbles is largely a matter of Greek politics. Remember that until very recently, it had not seriously occurred to anyone that they should be given back to Greece. For most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the defining element in Greek identity was membership in the Greek Orthodox Church. When in the 1980s the socialist minister of culture Melina Mercouri noisily campaigned for the return of the marbles, the actress skilfully turned them into a symbol of Greek identity. Since her time, no Greek politician has ever lost a vote echoing her demand. But the marbles no more “belong” to Greece than do the plays of Euripides.

Let the new museum stand as a monument to the futility of cultural nationalism — in this case trying to claim back something that by now belongs to the whole world.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UKIP, Lega Nord Form Hard-Right Bloc in EU Parliament

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — A mosaic of right-wing eurosceptics and hard-right anti-immigrant parties have cobbled together enough MEPs to form a new political group out of the ashes of the Independence-Democracy group in the European Parliament.

With the centre-left oriented eurosceptics from Denmark and Sweden within the Ind/Dem group soundly defeated in the June European elections, its right wing — already home to the Popular Orthodox Rally, or LAOS — the Greek nationalist outfit — was free to seek out allies amongst other parties well to the right of the conservative mainstream.

The new group, which is set to be launched on Wednesday (1 July) has yet to firm up its name, but is likely to be either A Europe of Free Peoples or A Europe of Peoples for Liberty, although the word ‘Independence’ may yet be retained somewhere in the title.

Whatever its final formation, the name reflects the Ukip-Lega-Nord axis that represents the core leadership of the new group. Italy’s Lega-Nord or Northern League, in government domestically, is to join with the British eurosceptics from their now defunct grouping in the parliament, the conservative Union for a Europe of the Nations (UEN).

Ukip, with its 13 deputies, is pushing to hold on to the word that makes up part of its own party name, while for the nine MEPs of the Northern League — which holds to the concept of Il Popolo Padano, the inhabitants of the northern regions of Italy, which they refer to as Padania — the inclusion of the word “people” in its volkisch sense is “fundamental,” according to a Northern League source.

The new “Liberty” grouping combines the two parties together with the two deputies of LAOS and an MEP the Political Reformed Party (Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij, SGP), a party from the Dutch Protestant right emphasising moral issues — both of which were within the old Ind/Dem grouping in the last parliament — as well as two from the Danish People’s Party, and one each from the True Finns and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists.

Libertas France, the successor to the sovereignist Movement Pour La France of Philippe de Villiers, which was in the Ind/Dem group as well, will keep its two MEPs in the new formation.

In total, the group will have at launch around 30 deputies from seven countries, meeting the European Parliament’s new tighter threshold of 25 MEPs from seven member states in order to access public funds for staff, research and campaigns.

Sources close to the discussions reckon there will likely be additional deputies “from a couple of other member states” either at the launch or subsequently, but who have not made any firm commitments.

As the balance between left and right euroscepticism no longer needs to be managed, a joint presidency is also expected to be junked.

It is thought that talks have not extended to the Austrian Freedom Party or its namesake in the Netherlands led by Geert Wilders, and bringing on board the Flemish hard-right separatists of the Vlaams Belang has been ruled out as well. The Northern League would in any case make an unlikely ally for the Austrians, who have never stopped seething about the loss of the South Tyrol after the First World War.

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

Vatican: Report Raises Questions About John Paul Ii’s Beatification

Vatican City, 25 June (AKI) — Internal rivalry at the Vatican may compromise moves to beatify Pope John Paul II, according to a report published in the Italian weekly, Panorama, on Friday. The magazine says a long-running rivalry between former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and the cardinal of Poland, Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz, has re-emerged. The rivalry “runs the risk” of compromising the beatification of the popular Polish pope.

Sodano is the current dean of the College of Cardinals and was secretary of state from 1990 to 2006, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow, was personal secretary to John Paul II for 40 years and one of the most powerful people at the Vatican during his papacy.

The Vatican began the process for the beatification of Pope John Paul II shortly after his death in April 2005, waiving the normal five year restriction usually required after a person’s death.

There is speculation that his beatification, one of the stages that may lead to sainthood, may be confirmed on the fifth anniversary of John Paul’s death in April 2010.

Panorama magazine claimed that the Vatican is beset by a number of internal conflicts that risk paralysing the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

It says several cardinals in senior positions are divided over issues including dialogue with China, relations with the Jews and the beatification of the late pope.

Inside the Vatican, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Levada, is reported to be in conflict with the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Antonio Canizares.

Another cardinal, Achille Silvestrini, is accused of challenging the power of the Vatican’s influential secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone.

According to the magazine article, Pope Benedict has had positive medical tests in recent weeks, including a magnetic resonance test and his heart is said to be functioning well.

However, the article is suggesting that manoeuvres have already begun for the next papal conclave to determine his successor.

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

Washington Help Sought as City Fights EU Hedge Fund Plan

The City of London is hoping to win support from the US administration to head off tough regulation from Brussels on hedge funds and private equity firms.

Delegates from the City of London Corporation , a standard bearer for UK financial services, visited Washington last week to give warning of a threat to British and US companies from a proposed European directive on alternative investment fund managers.

The EU directive , a response to public anger at the excessive risk-taking that led to the credit crisis, would require many hedge funds and private equity firms to register with regulators and disclose more about themselves and their investments.

They would also have to meet increased minimum capital requirements and limits on borrowing, which have triggered threats from some big UK hedge funds to move overseas unless the plan is rewritten.

Direct lobbying of the US Treasury and key financial committees in Congress is a shift in strategy from the corporation, which holds regular meetings with members of the New York financial establishment.

“We’ve had worrying trends that the Anglo-Saxon model is being seriously questioned in terms of a more centrist approach to economic management,” said Stuart Fraser, head of the City’s policy and resources committee.

Mr Fraser, also a director at UK stockbroker Brewin Dolphin, told the Financial Times there was a danger of “tit-for-tat regulation” between Europe and the US. “We need to harmonise the regulation,” he said. “Why have two different standards, which would be bad for global trade and for the City of London?”

Alternative investment funds based outside the EU would be forced to comply with the directive or an equivalent standard after a three-year transition period. Otherwise they would be banned from marketing to European investors.

Private equity bosses have given warning that this could trigger a protectionist backlash. “You are opening the door to all sorts of responsive legislation, not only in the US but also Asia,” Jonathan Russell, chairman of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, said.

European regulators say the directive would make life easier for non-EU funds, as a passport system would mean they would need to seek approval only once, rather than from each different country, to market to European investors. Under current US proposals, hedge funds would have to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission and both they and private equity firms would have to disclose more information.

But most US proposals for financial regulation have focused on the systemic risks in banks and insurers, not alternative investment funds.

Lord Myners, the UK’s City minister, said the directive was “flawed” and showed “poor understanding” of the alternative investment industry. The British government was working hard to improve it.

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


Roma Are Dying at the Hands of the UN, In Kosovo

Frankfurter Rundschau 23.06.2009

The author Isabel Fonseca reports on the scandalous treatment of the Roma in East Europe (also Italy), but primarily in Kosovo. Ten years ago when the Roma were driven out of their settlement areas by “ethnic Albanians”, the UN refugee commission put them up in provisional camps, which just happened to be next to an old lead mine. They are still living- or rather dying — there today. “Ten years after the UN took over Kosovo, and after a series of unnatural deaths, miscarriages and countless newborn babies suffering from chronic brain damage (over half of the Roma living in the camp are under 10, every child born in the camp has some form of brain damage) there are no more than 700 Roma left. In 2007 the UN cancelled all medical supplies for cases of poisoning” and it has done nothing to get the Rome out of the death camp.

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

North Africa

Egypt: The Persecution of Coptic Christians Continues

By Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — The persecution and discrimination against the Christian Copts in Egypt takes many forms; the most obvious manifestation is limiting their freedom to practice their religious rites, sometimes through violent means. Many believe such acts of violence takes place due to the Egyptian Government’s attitude of failing to apply deterrent laws on assailants on one hand, and the increase in ‘Muslim mob justice’ of taking the law in their own hands without fear of retributive justice, on the other.

The most recent in this series of violent assaults took place in the Upper Egyptian village of Ezbet Boushra-East, on 6/21/09 when Copts were assaulted, their homes destroyed and their crops uprooted by a Muslim mob and the Egyptian State Security, ‘on suspicion’ that a holy mass was being secretly celebrated at a priest’s home (AINA 6-22-2009).

With every violent attack on Copts, the same scenario of events takes place. The State Security forces the Coptic victims to an unofficial ‘reconciliation meeting’, in which they are forced to give up their rights, and the perpetrators go unpunished. Such a ‘reconciliation meeting’ for the villagers of Ezbet Boushra-East is scheduled for 6/30/09; the outcome of this meeting is already known by the Copts.

On June 26, 2009 the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed its concern regarding this attack and called on the Egyptian Government to protect the Copts and their property. “This latest incident is another example of the upsurge of violence against Coptic Christians we have seen in the past few years,” said Felice D. Gaer, chair of the Commission. “The Commission has long expressed concern that the Egyptian government does not do enough to protect Christians and their property in Egypt, nor does the government adequately bring perpetrators of such violence to justice.”

Condemning the latest attacks, Dr. Selim Naguib, President of the Canadian Coptic Association said on 6/29/09 “The Sectarian agenda for 2008 is full of bloody events, and barbaric attacks against the Copts. More than 70 cases of violations of the rights of the Copts took place only during that year. Not one week passes without hearing of attacks on the Copts.” Violations ranged from attacks on churches and monasteries such as that of the Virgin Mary in Dronka and Abu Fana in Qasr Hur, Minya last June to those on congregations. “Even those praying within their homes are assaulted. Copts are prevented from praying and from building churches, so as not to ‘hurt the feelings and sentiments of Muslims.’“

“These crimes which have been perpetrated since the early seventies to the present day, are planned with the objective of the ‘Islamization of Coptic families’, by terrorizing them into enforced displacement and the breaking down of Coptic families,” according to Dr. Selim.

The assault on the Coptic villagers of Ezbet Boushra-East is the latest incident in a long series that goes back to the seventies, when on November 6, 1972, the Holy Bible Publishing House in Al-Khanka, on the outskirts of Cairo, was burnt down and its contents looted, followed by attacks on Coptic homes, because Copts in that area used it to celebrate Holy Mass without a license.

Since that incident, the Copts have been at the receiving end of attacks that number in the hundreds and vary in magnitude from minor harassments to major assaults. A video called ‘Copts Under Siege’ is published in English by Free Copts, giving interviews with Coptic victims of sectarian attacks on churches (part 1, part 2).

A vivid example of the Government’s deliberate refrain from granting churches restoring permits is that of the village of Menkteen, Minya. The villagers had their church burnt down in 1977 before completion, in addition to the looting of their properties and shops by Muslims. They have been waiting for 28 years for a permit to complete the building of their only church. The photo shows the villagers recently praying at a child’s funeral in the church ruins.

Many Coptic NGOs share the same belief with the USCIRF that the problems of violent attacks on Copts might be solved if the Egyptian Government would finally pass the long awaited bill on the “unified law for building places of worship,” which would put an end to all problems related to building and restoring places of worship.

“If the Egyptian government would pass and implement such a law, it may help in stemming some of the violence targeting Christians who are forced to convert private homes and buildings into churches because they cannot get permission to build an appropriate place of worship,” recommends the USCIRF report.

The upsurge in violence against the religious liberties of the Copts has been encouraged by the Islamization process of the country by the late President Sadat and the support he gave to Islamic fundamentalists. He declared in 1970 “I am a Muslim president of a Muslim state,” changing the constitution to make Islamic law (Shari’a) Egypt’s main source of legislation. This step has relegated the Copts to the status of second class citizens.

A study published this month by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada found that discrimination against Christians is entrenched in Egyptian laws, particularly in the nation’s constitution. Another contributing factor was the general discrimination and prejudice which is prevalent in the minds of the population at large. Underlying both of these problems is the spread of the militant Islamist mentality in Egypt.

“With every Parliamentary session the Government does not even bring up for discussion the bill on the ‘unified law for building places of worship,’“ said Dr. Naguib Gibrael, President of the “Egyptian Union” Organization for Human Rights, “instead the state busies itself with laws such as traffic law, environment law and bird flu law.”

The question which Copts ask is how long they can hold on to their Christian faith when faced with a government that does not wish to find a solution to their dilemma.

[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Christian Homes Burned in After Death of Muslim Man

By Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Another incident of a Muslim mob attacking, torching and looting Coptic Christian homes and shops took place today in the village of Meet El-Korashy, Meet Ghamr, after a Muslim young man died following a fight with a Coptic shopkeeper. State Security cordoned off the whole village and placed it under curfew. The Shopkeeper and his family were arrested and charged with murder.

19-year old Mohamad Ramadan Ezzat, student at the Al-Azhar Islamic Institute, returned an empty bottle of soft drink and asked for a refund. When the shopkeeper refused to return the refund money, witnesses say that Ezzat broke the bottle and attacked Emil, who stabbed him in self-defense with the sharp edge of the bottle glass. Ezzat was taken to hospital where he died the following day.

Prosecution arrested the shopkeeper Emile, his two sons and and his wife, who were all charged with murder. Muslim witnesses told newspapers’ correspondents that Ezzat broke the bottle to prove that it was his, and did not intend to stab the shopkeeper.

According to the Egyptian newspaper ElYom Elsabe, people in the village, after hearing news of his death, gathered in the village awaiting the arrival of the coffin, which arrived under heavy guard. The funeral was attended by hundreds of people, all wailing and chanting slogans of ‘Allah Akbar’ and calls for revenge.

When the villagers returned from the burial, they stoned Coptic homes, destroyed walls and set fire to the homes belonging to the Coptic family. The fire brigade arrived hours later because of the crowds, by that time the fire had consumed the Coptic homes.

Some Muslim youth closed the road between the town of Zagazig and Mansoura, and forced trucks on the road to offload the day workers. Police arrested them the Muslim youth and imposed a curfew and closed all roads in and out of the village.

Dr. Naguib Gobraeel, President of the Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization, sent an urgent appeal to the Minister of Interior and Director of State Security in Dakahlia asking for protection for the Coptic inhabitants whose homes are being torched, their shops looted and who are being forced to stay indoors.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Increasing Aid to Jordan, Other Muslim States

( In the latest in a recent series of increased American assistance efforts for Arab and Muslim states, U.S. President Barack Obama has allocated an additional $150 million to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The regimes leading Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, the United Arab Emirates and even Saudi Arabia have all benefited from recent American policy shifts.

Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Suhair Al-Ali, was quoted by The Jordan Times as explaining that the kingdom receives $363 million annually from the United States in economic assistance. The allocations signed into law by Obama this week mean that Jordan will receive a total of $513 million from the U.S. in 2009. The minister told the Jordanian newspaper that the additional American aid was the result of ongoing efforts by Jordan’s King Abdullah II, as well as Obama’s “recognition of the important role Jordan plays in the region.”

Egypt received $310 million in supplemental appropriations from the U.S. House of Representatives, currently controlled by Obama’s Democratic party. At the same time, 2009 State Department funding for the promotion of democratic initiatives in Egypt was cut from $50 million to $20 million. In addition, the U.S. has agreed not to give any of the pro-democracy funds to organizations that are not approved by the Mubarak regime. In the year 2007, Egypt received a total of $2.4 billion.

On another front, in March of this year, it was reported that the Obama administration planned to dramatically increase funding to the Palestinian Authority for security training, which is conducted by Jordanian police under the supervision of U.S. General Keith Dayton. The U.S. allocated $75 million for the PA police training in 2008, but reports indicated that the Obama administration was planning to pump up to $130 million into the program in 2009. In any event, the U.S. has already pledged $600 million in funds to the Palestinian Authority, with another $300 million for humanitarian aid to the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. is set to help the United Arab Emirates become the first Arab nation with a developed nuclear power infrastructure. President Obama gave his official support and authorization for the $41 billion project, allowing private U.S. companies to compete for construction contracts.

In Pakistan, the U.S. president proposed $2.8 billion in aid for that nation’s military, alongside civilian aid of $1.5 billion a year for the next five years. The military aid is ostensibly to allow the Pakistanis to more effectively fight jihadist and al-Qaeda terrorism emanating from the Swat Valley and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The Obama administration’s assistance to Arab and Muslim states extends beyond the monetary, however.

According to an article in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin earlier this month, the American government has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to preserve sovereign immunity for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and four Saudi princes in connection with a civil case seeking compensation for victims of the massive September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the American homeland. The claimants in the case say that there is sufficient evidence of Saudi involvement in 9/11 for the court to lift the normally applicable immunity.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, told Newsweek magazine this month that the United States should cut off all aid to Israel if the Jewish State does not accept the 2002 Saudi-sponsored Arab-Israeli terms of negotiation.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel Says France Advised Firing Top Diplomat

JERUSALEM — French president Nicolas Sarkozy urged the Israeli prime minister to fire his foreign minister — a hard-liner whose party tried to force Israelis to take a loyalty oath, two senior Israeli officials said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s appointment has been ill-received internationally because of his hard-line positions on peace and Israel’s Arab population, among other issues. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing EU ambassadors on Tuesday, expressed “full confidence” in the country’s chief diplomat.

“He is a man who is fully committed to peace and security for our country,” Netanyahu said. “He is part of the democratically elected government of Israel which was elected with a clear mandate from the voters to achieve peace and security.”

In the meeting last week, Sarkozy told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “you must get rid of that man,” the two officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the contents of private conversations.

In May, Lieberman’s party unsuccessfully tried to advance a proposal to strip the citizenship of Israelis who do not pledge loyalty to the state — a proposal viewed as aimed at Israel’s Arab minority.

Lieberman has also harshly criticized the U.S.-led peace talks launched by former President George W. Bush in Annapolis, Maryland, in 2007.

Netanyahu told the French leader that in private meetings Lieberman “sounds differently” than he does in political speeches but Sarkozy retorted that in private talks Jean-Marie Le Pen — the far-right French politician — is “a very nice man,” the officials said.

Sarkozy suggested the more moderate former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as a replacement, the officials said.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said he would not comment beyond remarks provided by Sarkozy’s office after the meeting with Netanyahu. There was no mention of Lieberman in that briefing.

“If the things attributed to the French president are true, then the interference of the president of a respected democratic country in the affairs of a different democratic country is very serious and intolerable,” Lieberman’s spokesman Tzahi Moshe said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Israel Navy Intercepts Boat With Ex-U.S. Rep. McKinney

JERUSALEM (CNN) — The Israeli navy took control of a boat that violated an Israeli blockade and crossed into Gazan waters Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said, while a Gaza group said the ship was carrying humanitarian aid, a former U.S. congresswoman and a Nobel laureate.

The boat’s crew included former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, according to the Free Gaza Movement, a human rights group that sent the boat it calls “Spirit of Humanity” from Cyprus.

Along with McKinney, who served six terms in the House of Representatives from Georgia and was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2008, Israeli authorities took 20 people into custody, the group said.

Also aboard, the group said, was Mairead Maguire, who co-founded a group that worked for peace in Northern Ireland. Maguire and co-founder Betty Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for their work.

IDF said the Israeli navy contacted the boat, which it called the Arion, while it was still at sea and warned the crew they would not be allowed to enter Gazan waters “because of security risks in the area and the existing naval blockade.”

Disregarding all warnings, the boat entered Gazan coastal waters, IDF said. An Israeli navy force intercepted, boarded and took control of the boat, directing it toward Ashdod, Israel, IDF said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israeli Government ‘Under Assault’ From U.S.

Top minister claims aim is to replace right-wing coalition in Jerusalem

TEL AVIV — The composition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is “under assault” by the U.S. and Europe, says a top minister in the Israeli government.

“It seems there is a coordinated assault between the U.S. and some European countries to remove Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his party and to replace them with the Kadima party,” the minister said.


Yesterday, Israel’s Channel Two television reported that in a meeting last week with Netanyahu, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Israeli leader to “get rid” of Lieberman.

According to the report, Sarkozy said that while he usually scheduled talks with Israel’s top foreign envoys on their visits to Paris, he could not bring himself to meet with Lieberman. Channel Two claimed Sarkozy’s statements were accompanied by disparaging hand gestures.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Not a Single Jewish Home Without Obama’s OK’

Official says U.S. guarantees make him confident Jews won’t build in biblical territory

TEL AVIV — Not a single Jewish home will be built in the strategic West Bank without approval of the Obama administration and the Palestinians, Nimer Hamad, senior political adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told WND.

In spite of recent reports Israel will build 50 new homes in a northern West Bank Jewish community, Hamad said U.S. guarantees make him “confident” such housing will not actually be constructed.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Realities of Israel’s History

On June 3 of this year, the American president addressed the Muslim world from Cairo. There were several dubious pronouncements made, but I only want to refer to one where he said, “Israel has been depriving the Palestinians of their homeland for 60 years.”

Since Obama doesn’t seem to know the history of the area he talks about nor visited Israel, the following, based on a section of my book “Defeating the Totalitarian Lie,” is meant to clarify the background of the dispute. If he were to act as a Christian, he would not make promises disposing of the God-given land of another nation, Israel, and not have the impertinence to order that government what it should do.

Israel became a state in 1312 B.C, two millennia before Islam existed. Arab refugees from Israel began calling themselves “Palestinians” in 1967, two decades after the creation of the modern state of Israel. Upon conquering the land in 1272 B.C., Jews ruled it for 1,000 years and maintained a continuous presence there for 3,300 years. The only Arab rule following conquest in 633 B.C. lasted 22 years. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem was the Jewish capital and was never the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even under the rule of Jordan, the existing Palestinian Arab state created by Britain, (East) Jerusalem was not made the capital and no Arab leader came to visit it. Jerusalem is mentioned 700 times in the Bible, but not once is it mentioned in the Quran. King David founded Jerusalem; Muhammad never set foot in it. In 1948, Arab leaders urged their people to leave, promising to cleanse the land of Jewish presence. Sixty-eight percent of them fled without ever setting eyes on an Israeli soldier.

Virtually the entire Jewish population in Muslim countries had to flee as the result of violence and pogroms. They were robbed of all their belongings and probably billions of dollars. These are the facts: (see url for table)

There are 840,000 Jewish refugees. According to the Unity Coalition for Israel, they had to leave their assets behind, currently worth more than $300 billion. Heskel M. Haddad, president of the World Organization of Jews from Arab countries, said that his organization has legal property deeds from Jewish refugees of a total area of 100,000 square kilometers, 3.5 times larger than the state of Israel. Irvin Cotler, an international human rights lawyer, Canadian parliamentarian and former Canadian justice minister stated that U.N. documents reveal “a pattern of state-sanctioned oppression of refugees of Arab countries — including Nuremberg-like laws.” Was that discussed in Annapolis?

Seven hundred twenty-five thousand Palestinian Arabs living within the borders of Israel fled or were expelled in 1948. Today nearly 1 million Arabs live as citizens within the borders of the state Israel. It is rather strange to hear that today there are 4 million Arab refugees. Where do they come from? And why didn’t affluent Arab leaders drenched in oil money look after their own Arab people for 60 years? Because they have a Nazi-like lack of concern for their fellow men and enslave their women. They use those who live in the camps to pressure Israel — this is the dirty purpose of those camps.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Amil Imani: Islam’s Victimization of Iran

Some 1400 years ago, across the arid Arabian Peninsula roamed disparate savage tribes in a constant state of war with one another. Acts of violence, pillage and slave trading were their way of life. Out of necessity and expediency, they refrained from active warfare for only one month a year-the month of Moharam (the forbidden month). Even during this lull in active warfare, the various tribes rearmed and prepared for the next eleven months of bloodletting. Violence of the worst kind and form was their way of life.

Although the ongoing warfare inflicted great suffering and death, it remained the major means of livelihood for the survivors in the harsh desert that sustained little other than the hardy goats, desert-suited camels and the indispensable vehicles of war-horses.

Violent death ruled. The victor had a reprieve for a time ‘til he became the victim.

Then there was a new summons. An orphan from the tribe of Quraish by the name of Muhammad, the son of the late Abdullah, offered the savages a deal they couldn’t refuse…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani [Return to headlines]

Diana West: Exactly Why One Should Think “Wistfully of the Shah of Iran”

Anne Applebaum writes in praise of Morocco this week as the not-Iran. Certainly, Morocco doesn’t move terror armies around the globe (Hezbollah) or kill American troops (in Iraq), but that’s a plus she doesn’t mention. What intrigues her about Morocco is that the government “admitted to carrying out crimes” under the last king (d. 1999) and in 2004 set up a “Truth Commission” along South African and South American lines” — not that I would call South Africa or South America paragons of much at the moment.

Anyway, the main point to this Truth Commission, Applebaum writes, is that it has resulted in what she calls “a kind of social peace” — perfect for a submissive, I mean, Islamic country. The country has moved from “traditional monarchy to constitutional monarchy” with “no revolution, no violence. The king is still the king, and he still has his collection of antique cars.”

Applebaum also notes the country’s “byzantine” political corruption, “cultural” restraints on women, extremely low literacy, extremely low election turnout, etc. But her ultimate question is: “Is this [Morocco] a model for others?”

While the king’s antique car collection does sound charming, I pulled out’s February 2009 poll on opinion in the Islamic world to check out the Moroccan zeitgeist that appealed so to Applebaum (“On the day I visited….”)

Here are a few stats on Moroccan opinion, mostly from polling done in February 2006 (and which appears in 2009 report)…

           — Hat tip: Diana West [Return to headlines]

Learn From France — And Consider Banning the Burka

By Christopher Hitchens

Last week French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his support for legislation to ban the burka, the dark, heavy and not-too-comfortable garment worn by many Muslim women. The question arises: Is this forcible French secularism run amok, or a prohibition that Americans, who often believe we have struck a better balance between church and state, might entertain?

I would say the latter.

A sign on the door of my bank in Washington politely but firmly asks me not to enter the precincts if I am wearing a hood, a cap with a visor pulled down or any other garment that prevents the staff and the other customers from seeing my face.. As far as I am aware, no suit for discrimination has been filed against this branch of the bank at least: Most people know without having to have it explained to them that a person entering such premises with a mask of any kind has incurred a presumption — slight but no less definite for all that — of noninnocence.

Of course you would have to be crazy to try to rob a bank while wearing a burka, even if you were a heavily armed man: The whole point of the garment is that it weighs you down, restricts your movements and abolishes your peripheral vision. It’s like being condemned to view the world through the slit of a mailbox.

But that observation — if you will excuse the expression — brings us to another and even more powerful objection to this mode of dress. It is quite plainly designed by men for the subjugation of women. One cannot be absolutely sure that no woman has ever donned it voluntarily, but one can certainly say that, in countries where women can choose not to wear it, then not wearing it is the choice they generally make.

This disposes right away of the phony argument that religious attire is worn as a matter of “right.” It is almost exactly the other way around: The imposition of burkas or even head scarfs on women — just like the compulsory growing of beards for men — is the symbol of a denial of rights and the inflicting of a tyrannical code that obliterates personal liberty.

Western masochism about other people’s “culture” often obscures this obvious fact. Think of the things that we all have to do now, like submitting to humiliating searches at airports, or showing our ID to people who have no “probable cause” for demanding it. Can we turn up at airport security wearing a bag over our heads? Can we produce a photograph that shows only our eyes through a slit? Of course not. Nor can anyone in a Muslim country (though of course in Saudi Arabia an unchaperoned women cannot turn up at the airport anyway).

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

Saudi Arabia: New Visa With Fingerprinting and Full-Face Digital Photos for Pilgrims Visiting Makkah

Biometric procedures are being introduced to improve security, fight terrorism and eliminate long queues at customs offices. They are set to be place by 2010 and will apply to tourists, foreign workers and pilgrims. It is not clear whether they will apply to women.

Jeddah (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Starting next year pilgrims who want to visit Makkah will have to submit to fingerprinting and provide full-face digital photographs if they wish to obtain a visa from Saudi authorities. As part of its campaign to increase security and improve border controls the desert kingdom is set to adopt biometric technology, including eye scan.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Prince Khaled bin Saud announced yesterday that the government was calling for tenders from specialised international firms to set up a network of centres to provide biometric services which should be up and running by 2010.

The new procedures, already in places in other countries like the United Kingdom, should protect people against identity theft and help the authorities in their fight against terrorism.

“This important initiative has been taken to strengthen the Kingdom’s security and improve services to visa applicants,” the prince said.

Authorised biometric service centres should receive visa applications on behalf of Saudi embassies and missions according to the new rules.

For now it is not clear whether the new rules will apply to Muslim women (including Saudi women) wearing an all-enveloping cloak like the burqa which hides face and body.

However, the new rules should cut down on queues at airports and other entry points.

Saudi Arabia has already begun fingerprinting and taking digital full-face photos of foreigners coming to the Kingdom for Umrah (minor pilgrimage) and work.

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

Saudi Arabia: Horrors in Abu Khalid’s Harem

SOMETHING must be done to stop recruiters of women overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from subjecting them to the horrors of being in “Khalid’s harem.”

As Migrante International’s Chairman Gary Martinez told it in a press conference on Saturday, 20 Filipinas were being raped repeatedly in a recruitment office in Damman, Saudi Arabia. Until this writing (afternoon of Monday), no news has been received from Saudi Arabia that the pitiful Filipinas have been rescued and the perpetrators have been arrested.

Migrante International is the largest coalition of OFWs and OFW organizations. It has chapters in virtually every country. Mr. Martinez told the press that two Filipina domestic helpers were rescued on Tuesday. Migrante-Middle East facilitated the two Pinays’ rescue. They were then given care and shelter by the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia.

Before they were rescued, according to Migrante and the two Filipinas, 22 of them were all being held, like prisoners, in the office of Maqpoon Belahodood General Service Company, a recruitment agency allegedly owned and managed by a certain Abu Khalid.

The rescued Pinays told Migrante that they were raped by Abu Khalid, who also had his way with each of the women by turns.

Migrante presented to media Alicia Baldiray, a domestic helper who had stayed in Abu Khalid’s recruitment office in May but luckily evaded being raped and managed to escape the fate the other Filipinas suffered.

It was 9 p.m. when Abu Khalid summoned her to his office. The other women warned her that their boss would rape her-as he had raped them. They also told her that sometimes it was Abu Khalid’s son or a friend who raped them.

On entering the room, she was told to sit down in front of the Arab’s office desk. Then he began casually telling her of his sex life. “When he noticed that I was already getting nervous, Abu Khalid immediately took off his clothes. I grabbed a pen that I saw on his desk and warned him that if he pursued his evil plan I would be forced to stab him,” Alicia Baldiray said.

The danger he faced from Alicia and the pen she had for a weapon made Abu Khalid pause. He shouted at her to get out and threatened that he would still have his way with her the next time around.

Baldiray managed to leave the premises of the recruitment agency, stayed for some days in the Philippine Embassy until she took the flight back to the Philippines on June 7.

Rescue the Filipinas immediately

Mr. Martinez expressed Migrante’s demand that “the Arroyo administration conduct an immediate rescue mission to save the 20 Filipinas who are still being held in the ‘harem’ of Abu Khalid.” Migrante also asked the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia to ensure that the Filipinas be brought to a hospital for medical treatment and that criminal cases be filed against Abu Khalid.

Abu Khalid’s Saudi company has an associate recruitment agency in the Philippines. Migrante identified it as the “AFT Company” with offices in Ermita, Manila.

Their proprietors and executives should be questioned, investigated, and if necessary, made to account for the fate of the women they sent to Abu Khalid’s “harem.”

We agree with Migrante that the government must be more zealous and effective in protecting OFWs from monsters like Abu Khalid. Migrante points out that the biggest number of OFWs leaving the Philippines are domestic helpers and their main destination is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Migrante says that country does not even recognize the right of OFWs to have a day off.

The government must not allow its eagerness to solve the unemployment problem and to maintain the generous flow of OFW remittances from holding it back from its duty to protect the OFWs and fight for their welfare.

Quite often we hear the lament, not just from Migrante but also from less militant OFW groups, that Philippine Labor officials abroad-including those of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-take the side of abusive employers against our OFWs.

Malacañang must treat this matter as a top priority concern. The President and her key economic aides have praised the OFWs to high heavens as our country’s “expatriate heroes.” For OFW remittances are the biggest single reason the Philippine economy has experienced good times and is being kept from going under in these times of the global financial crisis and economic meltdown.

The government must give the OFWs all the protection, care and dignity they deserve from the Filipino people and its government.

New form of slavery

If the government departments concerned, as institutions, and their executives are not moved by calls from Migrante and editorials such as this, perhaps they will be moved by the Pope and the Catholic Church.

What has happened to the Filipinas in “Abu Khalid’s harem” is clear and simple human trafficking, which the Vatican has called “a new form of slavery.”

Benedict XVI’s recent message of support for the work of women Catholic religious (nuns and other consecrated women) actively working to end the trafficking of persons, reiterated that that work is a priority matter for the Church.

Abuses such as those of human slavery and prostitution are violations of the human person. Treating humans as “mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons,” is an infamy that poisons human society.

The US State Department has an annual status report to the US Congress that grades countries on their performance against human trafficking. The Philippines is now once more on the State Department’s special watch list.

If we do not improve our human trafficking record-and continue to have horrors like “Abu Khalid’s harem”-we are bound to be sanctioned in some way by the United States.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]


‘Abuses Widespread’ In N Caucasus

Human rights abuses in the North Caucasus are disproving Moscow’s claims the troubled region is returning to normal, Amnesty International says.

In an assessment covering four of the region’s autonomous republics, Amnesty reports serious violations including unlawful killings and disappearances.

Only a few months ago Russia declared an end to its decade-long armed conflict with Chechen rebels.

The report came as militants killed a policeman in neighbouring Dagestan.

Several others were injured in an attack on a police station in the town of Derbent on the border with Azerbaijan.

The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow says such attacks seem to be part of a response by Islamist groups to Moscow’s declaration.

‘Serious violations’

Amnesty’s report covers the republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria.

It warns of a real threat to law and order from armed groups in the region.

But it also implicates the official security services, detailing a range of serious human rights violations including unlawful killings, “disappearances”, arbitrary detention, alleged torture, threats to and harassment of families of those affected, and forced eviction of people displaced by earlier fighting.

Russia has claimed success in bringing stability to Chechnya under its President Ramzan Kadyrov, and in April announced an end to the armed conflict which began in 1999.

But in a statement Amnesty UK’s campaign director Tim Hancock denied that things were returning to normal.

“With some fanfare officials in Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus have tried to claim that things are now ‘normal’ whereas continuing unlawful killings, arbitrary detentions and mysterious ‘disappearances’ lend the lie to that,” he said.

Amnesty also criticised abuses in the other republics, which have been plagued by violence involving Islamist and criminal groups.

“As the recent wounding of the president of Ingushetia shows, there is a real threat to law and order from armed groups in the region,” Mr Hancock said.

“But seeing human rights abuses as the way to achieve normality and stability is misguided in the extreme.”

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was injured in an apparent suicide attack in June.

Weeks earlier, Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov died after a shooting outside a wedding reception in the capital Makhachkala.

Amnesty International has been barred from visiting Chechnya for several years, and is calling on the Chechen authorities to allow it back in.

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

South Asia

Germany: Outgoing NATO Head Pans Germany’s Policy in Afghanistan

Outgoing NATO commander General John Craddock has criticised Germany’s policy on the war in Afghanistan on Wednesday in an interview published daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.

Craddock had a few parting shots for Europe as he formally handed over his post on Tuesday, criticising the continent’s engagement in Afghanistan.

The US general said European leaders often used critical public opinion “as an excuse not to forge ahead” in hotspots such as Afghanistan.

Taking aim in particular at Germany’s mandate in Afghanistan which places restrictions on the use of military force, Craddock said: “Unfortunately we have far too many limitations in Afghanistan.”

He said the debate over the use of military force was often driven by opinion polls among voters “regardless of whether they are informed or not.”

Craddock said the German debate about whether the seven-and-a-half-year military engagement in Afghanistan amounted to a war was superfluous.

“The politicians can call it whatever they like. I am a military man and for me it is a war. And I think if you ask German soldiers they would call it the same thing.”

Admiral James Stavridis took over from Craddock as head of the US European Command (EUCOM) at a ceremony Tuesday at its headquarters in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart attended by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Stavridis, 54, was previously head of the US Southern Command, based in Florida.

Like his predecessor, Stavridis will assume command of US forces in the region at a particularly delicate time for NATO.

The alliance’s credibility is being seriously tested by its engagement in Afghanistan, where extremist Taliban fighters are successfully spreading violence across the country ahead of presidential elections in August.

The position of supreme allied commander of NATO traditionally goes to an American.

Meanwhile German troops could be out of Afghanistan within five to 10 years, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung said in a television interview broadcast on Wednesday.

Asked on German rolling news channel N24 whether troops would leave the war-torn country by 2020, Jung said: “I assume so. In five to 10 years — that is my message.”

“The quicker we push forward with training (Afghan police and security forces), the quicker we will achieve our goal,” added the minister.

He said he was “utterly convinced” that the Allied strategy would lead to success.

“And success means that Afghanistan must be in a position to look after its own security. That is our goal.”

Some 3,700 German troops are fighting in Afghanistan, where they form part of the 60,000-strong International Security Assistance Force led by NATO and made up of troops from 42 nations.

The mission is extremely unpopular in Germany and 35 troops have died since 2002 despite being based in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan.

In the most recent incident, three soldiers aged 21-23 died last week when their armoured vehicle overturned while reversing during a firefight with insurgents near the northern town of Kunduz.

Germany’s contingent is being raised to up to 4,400 ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential elections in August.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

India to be Hit With Carbon Tax?

NEW DELHI: Should the industrialized world be allowed to put an import tax on goods from India because it has a ‘high carbon content’? In what is bound to stir the hornet’s nest in days to come, the US House of Representatives has passed a Bill that demands additional tarrifs on goods from countries that do not take on commitments to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Indian government has reacted strongly against the move which came tagged along with a report from the WTO that said trade concerns should be subjugated to climate change issues hinting that the tarrifs such as the ones US proposes could not be outrightly rejected.

“The environment and commerce ministries are unanimous that there can be no linkage between trade and environment. While it is too early to comment on what would finally emerge out of the process, India will take recourse to whatever means available to prevent this unfair trade practice if it is introduced,” said Jairam Ramesh, environment and forests minister who has earlier served as minister of state for commerce as well. “Such a move smacks of protectionism,” he added.

The US logic runs like this. If the climate change Bill is enacted, caps will be imposed on emissions from different sectors. The imposition of these cut-offs would increase the cost of the products emerging from the sector. But if other countries do not impose a similar cap on their sectors, then the products from these countries would be cheaper.

By putting in provisions to tax such products from countries that do not impose curbs on the emissions, US intends to target India and China specifically.

While the two countries, renowned hubs of cheaper labour, export plenty of goods to the US, especially gems, jewels and textiles in India’s case, they are not obligated under the existing UN convention on climate change to undertake any mandatory emission cuts. US and other industrialized countries have been demanding that emerging economies such as India and China should also be brought under the emission cut regime.

While the EU and other developed nations have been threatening such a carbon-based tarrif on exports, the noise from the West on the issue has been seen mostly as the rich nations using the issue as a bargaining chip. The provision for such a tariff has for the first time been seen in the US Bill which will now move to the Senate for voting.

The clause introducing the tarrif on imports to US was introduced by the Democrats to shield US industries such as steel and cement. Some experts believe it would give the US Congress the handle to impose tariffs even if President Obama desists.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

India: Even in 2031, India’s Per Capita Emission Will be 1/7th of US

NEW DELHI: Even if India grows by 8% every year with the current set of technologies and policies in place, its per capita emissions will not exceed 2.77 tonnes in 2031 — almost seven times less than the current per capita emissions of the US and almost four times less than the current per capita emissions of UK.

This has been arrived at by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) after conducting an economy-wide modelling by looking at the future emissions of the country and the impact of economic growth on it.

Carrying out a comprehensive 37 sector non-linear model, the economic think tank has concluded that even under the most favourable assumptions of GDP growth and most adverse assumption of energy efficiency change, per capita carbon dioxide emissions will remain close to the current global average per capita emissions.

As India grows, its economy will get de-carbonised with a sharp decline of energy intensity and carbon dioxide intensity of GDP till 2031.

This, the NCAER study, a summary of which was seen by TOI, says, will happen even as coal remains the dominant primary source of energy and petroleum fuels continue to dominate the transportation sector. The shares of renewable and nuclear energy will increase in future but remain within 7% of the commercial energy supply by 2031, the authors of the report conclude.

The modelling results come in sharp contrast to the rhetoric originating out of industrialized nations that India and China’s emissions would outstrip the rich nations in years to come and, therefore, they must curb their emissions — or deviate from business as usual approach right away.

India has, opposing the famous Nicholas Stern report, always stated that the cost of emission reductions — a form of carbon tax — would hurt Indian economy badly. The NCAER study seems to validate that claiming that any imposition of carbon tax will sharply reduce GDP with very little effect on per capita emissions. The cumulative economic losses could be the tune of US$ 5.2 trillion under a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon tax of US $80 per tonne and a US $5.7 trillion would be borne by the country if the tax is revenue positive.

India has demanded along with other G77 nations and China that the rich countries must bear the full cost of any emission reduction actions taken by the developing and poor countries as they bear the historical burden of polluting most since the industrial era.

The study concludes that an imposition of carbon tax would also sharply increase poverty levels in urban as well as rural India.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Japan: Police Arrest Three for Illegal Exports, Yomiuri Says

June 30 (Bloomberg) — Japanese police arrested three men yesterday for allegedly attempting to export a measuring device that could be used for developing long-range ballistic missiles to Myanmar, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

The men, who worked at a trading company, a manufacturing company and an exporter, are alleged to have attempted to send the magnetic measuring device to Myanmar in January for 7 million yen ($73,000), the report said. One of the companies involved had allegedly tried to export the same device around September last year, the report said.

Police believe North Korea was attempting to help Myanmar gain missile technologies, the report said. North Korea is suspected of having ordered the device through a Hong Kong-based trading company that it controls, the report said.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Nepal: Escalation of Kidnappings and Violence Against Businessmen

Last week more than a dozen kidnappings. Many Indian entrepreneurs leave the country in fear. Kathmandu Minister for the Interior: The situation is critical and is in danger of getting beyond our control. The police ask for tougher laws and complain about “political and other forms of protection” of criminals. In the country there is a climate of impunity.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — In Nepal kidnappings and violence against businessmen is increasing. Over the past week there have been more than a dozen seizures.

Kush Kumar Joshi, director of the Chamber of Commerce of Nepal, says that “more than 80% of kidnappings in the country affect the businessmen’s family members” and he has called for “immediate government action to ensure full security, otherwise we will be forced to close businesses and factories. “ In the town of Birgunj, bordering the south of the country, more than 20 Indian businessmen have decided to return home to continue their activities. “How can we follow our business — says Surendra Malakar, a Nepalese businessmen — if we do not even have the guarantee of returning alive from work. They shoot at us on our way to the office or on the way home. We are at risk everywhere, and there is no certainty. “

Bharat Bahadur GC, deputy director of the Metropolitan Police in Kathmandu, tells AsiaNews that the increase in crime is due to a certain laxity in applying the law and the climate of impunity that reigns in the country. “To control this type of crime we need specific and more stringent legislation, and to develop an intelligence that controls the offenders once released from jail”. But Bahadur, complains that the police often have their hands tied because many criminals have “political protection and other forms of protection.”

The government is struggling to contain the escalation in crimes. Bhim Rawal, Minister for the Interior recognizes the “critical situation” in which his country finds itself and adds: “If we do not take timely measures, the situation will soon be beyond our control.”

Among the most glaring cases of abduction is that of 17 year-old Khyati Shrestha, kidnapped June 5th in Kathmandu. Although the parents had paid the ransom, 1 million rupees (more than 9 thousand euros), the girl was raped, killed and parts of his body were found in various places around the capital. The episode has sparked violent protest among the population. Despite the fact that on June 21st police arrested the two kidnappers criticism of the government on safety issues are growing by the day along with the recurrence of violence, kidnappings and murders.

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

Far East

Japan: Ex-Bureaucrat Details Secret U.S. Nuke Pact

Duty was to tell foreign ministers

Vice foreign ministers had a “secret duty” to inform their foreign ministers of the clandestine Tokyo-Washington accord that has covered the handling of nuclear arms in Japan since 1960, a former vice foreign minister said Monday.

Ryohei Murata unveiled the details about the secret pact during a telephone interview in which he agreed to give up his anonymity in speaking about the accord, on which Kyodo News reported in late May.

Holding the ministry’s top bureaucratic post from 1987 to 1989, Murata, 79, is one of four former vice ministers cited in the May 31 report that said the accord has been controlled by top Foreign Ministry officials and only a handful of prime ministers and foreign ministers were told of it.

He also indicated his readiness to disclose the truth about the pact if summoned by the Diet, although he said, “I maintain positive feelings about the Foreign Ministry . . . so I would like to decline” to testify if not compelled to do so.

The Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee is considering summoning witnesses concerning the secret deal, the existence of which has been denied by the government although revealed by U.S. diplomatic documents declassified in the late 1990s.

Under the deal, which the two countries agreed on when revising the Japan-U.S. security treaty in 1960, Tokyo would tacitly approve the stopover of U.S. military aircraft or vessels carrying nuclear arms, although the treaty stipulates the need for Washington to hold prior consultations with Tokyo to bring atomic weapons into Japan.

Facing reporters Monday morning, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura reiterated the government’s position that such a secret pact “does not exist” and that nuclear weapons were not brought into Japan because prior consultations were never held.

Murata agreed to reveal himself as one of the sources after the Fukuoka-based Nishinippon Shimbun and other media on Sunday starting attributing reports about the pact to him.

In a March 18 interview with Kyodo in the city of Kyoto, Murata, on condition of anonymity, elaborated on how the secret was passed along to successive vice foreign ministers.

Revealing that a document recording the pact exists within the Foreign Ministry, Murata said, “I heard from my predecessor at the time (I became) vice minister that (an unpublicized) understanding exists between Japan and the United States concerning nuclear weapons, and turned it over to the next vice minister.

“It was a great secret. The Japanese government has been lying to its people,” Murata said.

In Monday’s interview, he said that when he was vice minister he notified foreign ministers of the time — Tadashi Kuranari and Sosuke Uno — about the pact, but not the prime minister.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Honduras: Steven Edwards: Canada, U.S. Align With Chavez in Denouncing Honduras ‘Coup’

UNITED NATIONS — What an embarrassment for the United States over the “coup” in Honduras — and even more so for Canada’s Conservative government.

Both countries Tuesday threw their support behind the reinstatement of leftist Honduran president Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosale by helping “sponsor” a United Nations resolution denouncing the military “coup” that deposed him Sunday.

Only problem is, their joint move gave the impression they’re in the tow of the hemisphere’s leading leftist demagogues — top of the list being President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Mr. Chavez had been the first to demand reinstatement for Mr. Zelaya, who has a close alliance with the leader of the “Bolivarian Republic,” and has imitated Mr. Chavez’s Yankee Go Home cries more than once.

As Mr. Chavez even offered to make Venezuelan forces available to return Mr. Zelaya to power by force, other leftist leaders piped up in support, notably those of Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

Little matter that the Honduran military, Congress and Supreme Court had moved against Mr. Zelaya Sunday amid charges he’d sought — illegally — to change the country’s constitution to allow “presidents” to serve more than one four-year term.

Indeed, a leftist power grab like that is fine by Mr. Chavez — it’s straight from his playbook.

Both Canada and the United States at first astutely announced they wanted to see a resumption of the democratic process, but stopped short of calling for reinstatement for Mr. Zelaya, whom the Honduran military had flown to Costa Rica.

But President Barack Obama capitulated Monday when he said the United States believes Mr. Zelaya “remains the democratically elected president” in Honduras.

It took until Tuesday’s UN vote for us to learn that Canada’s position had also “evolved.”

The UN resolution demanding that no government recognize any Honduran administration other than Mr. Zelaya’s passed by acclamation — meaning not a single country raised the slightest public concern in the world’s “debating” chamber about Mr. Zelaya’s questionable deeds ahead of his ousting.

Indeed, after delivering a rambling speech before the UN General Assembly Tuesday, Mr. Zelaya met with reporters to say he’d never once intended to reshape the constitution for his own ends.

He claimed his bid to hold a referendum on whether a special assembly might change the constitutionally enshrined term limit was his way of “conducting a survey.”

Any eventual change would benefit only “future administrations,” he argued. And we heard for the first time he will “never” attempt to return as president once his current term is up in January.

“I am a farmer,” he said. “I enjoy planting and sowing seeds.”

This brilliant spin emerged after he had met with the U.S. State Department. It provided the political cover for Washington — and Ottawa — to say they back his reinstatement. Who couldn’t back such a benign soul?

Mr. Zelaya plans to return to Tegucigalpa Thursday — saying rather presumptively that the “blood of Jesus Christ” will protect him. Does he now believe he is the Messiah?

Roberto Micheletti, installed Monday by the Honduran Congress as Mr. Zelaya’s successor, has said arrest warrants await the deposed leader if he attempts to return.

The Foreign Minister, Enrique Ortez Colindres, told CNN’s Spanish language service Mr. Zelaya will face charges of drug trafficking in addition to being accused of “violating the constitution.” According to Mr. Ortez, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has evidence of millions of dollars in narcotics money linked to Mr. Zelaya.

The presidents of Argentina and Ecuador, and the head of the Organization of American States, have said they will accompany Mr. Zelaya to Tegucigalpa to serve as a “diplomatic shield.” Also among the group will be Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, the former Nicaraguan revolutionary, who now serves as president of the UN General Assembly, and who has used that position many times over the past year to needle the United States.

But no matter what result emerges from the showdown when Mr. Zelaya turns up in Honduras, it can only translate into victory for the Yankee Go Home team.

Canada and the United States may have felt caught between a rock and a hard place when faced with the spectre of a military overthrowing an elected president — regardless of his actions in office.

But following along the path beaten by the likes of Mr. Chavez will have its own consequences in time.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Viva Honduras! Viva La Revolucion!

The Machiavellian plots of a would-be dictator were unexpectedly thwarted by the Honduran military last Sunday. President Manuel Zelaya, a Marxist socialist who is the protégé of his Venezuelan neighbor, President Hugo Chavez, unsuccessfully tried to turn his country into a banana republic to extend his term in office indefinitely by executive decree. (Can you say Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York?)

The report from Reuters said, in part, “Zelaya, who took office in 2006 and is limited by the constitution to a four-year term that ends in early 2010, had angered the army, courts and Congress by pushing for an unofficial public vote on Sunday to gauge support for his plan to hold a November referendum on allowing presidential re-election.”

Of course, Musolini-lite, Hugo Chavez is very angry by this recent “coup” in Honduras. Why? Chavez is worried that his people in Venezuela will get dangerous ideas of liberty and freedom. Coincidentally, Chavez escaped his own coup in 2002; perhaps this time he won’t be so lucky. Indeed, dictators can be kicked out of office by force when they contravene the constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Australia: Indonesian People Smugglers Sent to Jail

Eleven poor Indonesians who were promised cash rewards for smuggling asylum seekers to Australia have each been jailed for a minimum of three years amid growing tensions over border control.

In the Perth District Court on Wednesday, the men aged between 19 and 67 were each sentenced to a minimum three years’ jail on the people-smuggling charges.

They were crewmen on four vessels carrying 147 asylum seekers intercepted by Australian authorities between December 2008 and March this year.

Eight of the men were sentenced to a maximum five years’ jail with a three-year non-parole period.

The other three each received a maximum term of five years and six months, and will also be eligible for parole after three years.

The maximum penalty for people smuggling is 20 years’ jail.

Sentencing the men in Perth, Judge Stephen Scott said millions of Indonesian rupiah paid to some of the men by asylum seekers and organisers would be forfeited to the commonwealth.

He said this would act as a deterrent to other poor Indonesian men, who were promised their families would receive fortunes if they helped take asylum seekers to Australia.

Judge Scott noted all the crewmen were desperately poor and that while some had been offered millions of rupiah, others had accepted offers of only 400,000 rupiah (about $50).

Earlier, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd defended the government’s immigration policy and border security measures after the opposition claimed they were too soft.

He said the government was working hard behind the scenes to stem illegal boat arrivals and blamed the recent influx in asylum seekers on global push factors.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor and Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the “severe punishment” of the men in Perth would send a strong message that Australia would not tolerate such crimes.

Authorities have intercepted 15 boats carrying asylum seekers in Australian waters this year.

Witness statements, read out in court by prosecutors, revealed passengers on board the vessels feared they would drown due to leaks and constant engine failure.

Judge Scott said that while organisers of the people smuggling ring were the main beneficiaries, the crewmen had played a vital role.

“As crew you are important in the overall scheme, because without you there could be no transport,” he told the crewmen.

“In regards to your financial situation, you found it difficult to resist given the money offered was far greater than you would ever earn.”

Meanwhile, 35-year-old Sydney man Pathmendra Pulendren appeared in a Sydney court on Wednesday, charged with one count of organising for non-citizens to come into Australia.

Australian Federal Police allege Pulendren, from Pendle Hill in Sydney’s west, aided people arriving on a vessel intercepted by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service near Christmas Island.

The charge before Sydney’s Central Local Court said that between 7am on February 1 and 7pm on June 28, Pulendren: “did facilitate the bringing in of a group of five people or more … and did so recklessly as to whether the people had or have a lawful right to be in Australia”.

Magistrate Michael Price granted him conditional bail and adjourned his matter to Downing Centre Local Court on August 25.

Earlier this year, three Indonesian men who served as captains of people-smuggling vessels were convicted on separate charges.

Man Pombili, 31, was sentenced in April to six years’ jail with a non-parole period of three years for illegally transporting 10 Afghans and an Indonesian crewmen into Australia.

Abdul Hamid, 35, received a maximum six-year sentence for trying to bring 12 asylum seekers to Australia.

Amos Ndolo, 58, received a maximum five-year sentence in April for illegally transporting 14 Afghans into Australia.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

EU Sets Limits on Government’s ‘Sham Marriage’ Investigations

IRISH GOVERNMENT investigations into “sham marriages” must not encroach on European citizens and their non-EU spouses’ right to move freely in the EU, say new guidelines.

The guidelines due to be published tomorrow by the European Commission also say the same fundamental right of free movement in the EU also applies to non-EU partners in “durable relationships” who are not married.

The guidelines have been drawn up in response to complaints voiced by Ireland and Denmark following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2008 in the Metock v Ireland case.

This test case was taken by four married couples living in Ireland who faced deportation. In each case the four EU citizens married asylum seekers, whose request for leave to remain in the Republic was subsequently rejected by the Minister for Justice. The Government argued unsuccessfully that it should be allowed to deport non-EU spouses who had not lived in another EU state prior to arriving in Ireland, to combat “marriages of convenience”.

But the ECJ dismissed its concerns, ruling that the Irish authorities had incorrectly transposed the 2004 directive on free movement and was unfairly deporting non-EU spouses.

Following the judgment, the Government asked the commission to redraft the 2004 directive to enable it to deport non-EU spouses when it considered they were involved in “sham marriages”. The commission refused but promised to publish guidelines.

“Measures taken by member states to fight against marriages of convenience may not be such as to deter EU citizens and their family members from making use of their right to free movement or unduly encroach on their legitimate rights,” say the draft guidelines, which will be debated today by all 27 EU commissioners.

The commission says freedom of movement is one of the foundations of the EU. It warns that it will use its powers under the treaty, which is EU code for taking legal action.

The new guidelines say the right of free movement should be extended to “partners in a durable relationship”.

“The requirement of durability of the relationship must be assessed in the light of the objective of the directive to maintain the unity of the family in a broad sense,” they say.

The commission leaves it up to member states to set a time period under which a partnership can be considered durable. Some campaigners may be concerned that this will allow states to continue to refuse some non-EU spouses leave to stay in the country.

But the guidelines say other criteria must be taken into account, such as whether a couple has a joint mortgage.

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

Greece: EU Vows to Help With Immigration

Commissioner pledges to pressure Turkey on repatriations but wants improvements in asylum system

The European Commission intends to exert pressure on Turkey to honor a bilateral pact with Greece for the repatriation of illegal immigrants and to boost funding for Greek efforts to guard the EC’s southeastern flank but Athens must improve its system for processing asylum applications which is currently “unacceptable,” the EC’s Vice President Jacques Barrot said yesterday.

Following talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Barrot stressed the importance of “all member states showing solidarity toward countries of Southern Europe who are facing problems” due to their location on the European Union’s external border.

But, in a joint press conference with Pavlopoulos, Barrot stated several times that Brussels was unhappy with the inefficiency of the system for processing asylum applications submitted by migrants, remarking, “We want a change to the procedure of examination [of applications] with the involvement of specialist professionals.”

In an interview with Kathimerini, Barrot expressed particular concern about vulnerable groups of migrants such as unaccompanied minors and women, for whom “special facilities should be set up.”

The commissioner conceded that Greece could be justified to a certain extent due to the “extreme shock” it suffered from a burgeoning influx of migrants that spiked abruptly after 2006. Barrot also told Kathimerini that Brussels would push Ankara to honor its obligations and “stop the departure of irregular immigrants from its territory and into Greece.” The commissioner said the EC would also help Ankara strike up repatriation pacts with migrants’ countries of origin. According to sources, a repatriation pact between Greece and Pakistan is expected to have been signed by October.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Poles, Other Europeans ‘Should Integrate’

Polish nationals who move to the Netherlands permanently should attend compulsory integration courses, as should other EU nationals who do not speak Dutch properly, Nos tv quoted integration minister Eberhard van der Laan as saying on Tuesday.

A majority of MPs also support compulsory courses (inburgeringscursus) on Dutch customs and society for Polish immigrants, Nos said.

At the moment most people from outside the EU have to pass an integration test to live in the Netherlands. EU nationals have been exempt under European law. But the minister is to find out if a change in the law is possible, Nos tv says.


He is also looking into the possibility of making EU nationals take such courses under compulsory education laws. At the moment parents whose children are behind in Dutch can themselves be forced to take language lessons, Nos said.

Christian Democrat MP Madeleine van Toorenburg said during the debate that the arrival of so many Poles in rural parts of the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg have caused problems in some country schools.

Schools are being forced to use precious funds to pay for extra teachers to help children who did not speak Dutch at home, she was reported as saying.

Similar calls for integration tests for EU citizens were made in 2007. Some 400,000 EU nationals are thought to live in the Netherlands.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

The EU Should Have a Workable Policy on Economic Migrants

It is not the UN who should be sorting out the mess at Calais.

The decision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to re-establish a full-time presence in Calais where large numbers of migrants are living in squalid encampments is a sad reflection on France’s unwillingness to deal with the problem.

The migrants are in Calais for only one reason — they want to come to this country. The UK Borders Agency says they are there not because they are queuing to get in but because they have been “locked out”. That is a moot point. But if they have been locked out, it is up to the French authorities to deal with them. They are reluctant to do so, which has prompted the UNHCR to intervene.

This problem is not going to go away. In fact, in the decades ahead it is likely to increase dramatically. If they were refugees, there would be mechanisms for dealing with them. But they are not. They are economic migrants taking advantage of the EU’s porous external borders and the absence of internal passport controls in the Schengen countries. Once they make it into Greece or Italy, they are as good as in Calais.

It is humiliating for the EU that the UN is having to intervene. The problem will only be resolved of the EU’s external borders are made water-tight , which is not going to happen, or there is an agreed policy on handling the migrants. That means ensuring that all member states take a share of the incomers. Those migrants who refuse to go to their allocated country should be repatriated. Such a solution is, we suspect, beyond the wit of the EU to deliver. Instead, we will continue to see thousands of people seeking a better life living in squalor around Calais, with the UN now trying to pick up the pieces.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: British Jobs for Foreign Workers: Experts Reveal 70% of New Jobs Taken by Migrants

More than seven out of ten jobs created under the Labour Government have been taken by foreign-born workers, experts revealed last night. The percentage of new jobs taken by those born overseas is the highest of any of the major economies analysed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The Conservatives said it was yet more evidence that the Government had failed to deliver ‘British jobs for British workers’.

The internationally-respected OECD said that in the first ten years of Labour rule, employment rose by around two million jobs.

But it said ‘almost 1.5million of this was accounted for by persons born abroad’ — 71 per cent of the total. In the U.S., immigrant employment accounted for 58 per cent of new jobs. In France, it made up less than 20 per cent of the total, and in Ireland and Australia less than 30 per cent. Over a ten-year period, only Luxembourg saw more of its new jobs taken by migrant workers, the OECD said.

Tory immigration spokesman Damian Green said: ‘Yet another of Gordon Brown’s soundbites has proved to be false. This Government has created British jobs for foreign workers and all his pledges about new job creation are shown to be bogus.’ Around a third of the migrant workers arrived here on controversial intra-company transfers, the OECD said.

The system allows international companies to transfer their staff to the UK for supposedly limited periods.

But the companies did not have to advertise the post in the UK first and staff can stay for up to three years, plus a possible two-year extension after which they can apply for settlement.

The OECD figures cover the period from March 1997 to March 2007. But, since then, ministers have continued to hand out work permits to non-EU nationals in record numbers.

In 2008, as the country slid into recession, 151,635 were issued. The document lets non-EU workers take or keep jobs here, despite hundreds of thousands of Britons losing theirs.

Unemployment rose by 290,000 from December 1, 2007 to November 30, 2008, to reach 1.92million. In 2007, when the economy was growing, 129,700 work permits were approved. In 1997, the year Labour came to power, 42,800 were handed out.

The OECD report also predicts that temptation for Poles and other Eastern Europeans to work in Britain may soon return.

Anecdotal evidence suggests-significant numbers of migrants have returned home in the economic downturn. This is due to fewer jobs being available in industries such as construction and the collapse in the value of the pound.

But the report says the pound’s appreciation relative to the zloty (the currency of Poland) may ‘reduce the incentive to return’. Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘We’ve introduced a flexible points based system which allows us to raise and lower the bar according to the needs of the labour market. This ensures only those with the skills we need, and no more, can come to work in Britain.’

Lloyds Bank was last night accused of ‘systematically’ slashing jobs after announcing 2,100 more cuts over three years. It takes the number of Lloyds jobs cut this year to more than 7,000. Union leaders said they were ‘astonished’ at the move.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: Migrant Influx Feared as Calais Centre Advises on UK Asylum Policy

An influx of migrants to the UK is expected after the United Nations began giving asylum advice to thousands massing in northern France.

It has established a full-time presence in Calais for the first time in seven years, offering “information and support”.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR ) said the 2000 odd migrants sleeping rough in the area should be allowed to make an “informed decision” about their options.

It expects more to arrive as facilities improve and summer weather makes living conditions easier.

“Most are motivated by economic or family reasons, but a few have fled violence or persecution and their well-being is of direct concern,” added a spokesman for the agency.

“Many have no idea about the situation back home, or about what they can expect in the UK.”

The agency originally left Calais in 2002 following an agreement reached between Britain and France to close the Sangatte Red Cross Centre.

It had acted as a magnet for thousands of illegal migrants heading for the UK .

The return of UNHCR — who until last month solely operated from Paris more than 150 miles away — will be viewed with concern by those who fear a further influx.

UNHCR is working with the charity France Terre d’Asile, concentrating on those living in squalid camps like the one dubbed “The Jungle” in Calais .

It fears that many are prepared to pay people smugglers up to £1,000 a head for an illegal passage to the south coast of England .

Migrants will be told by UNHCR that if they make it to the UK and do not have their asylum claims worked out in advance, they could face a return to the France or to their country of origin.

The agency admitted that relations between migrants and locals were “tense”, with many Calais inhabitants wishing them well with their journeys to Britain .

Earlier this year Natacha Bouchart, the town’s mayor, said the lure of generous social security payouts in Britain were the lure for thousands who used Calais as a staging point.

She said the UK government’s policies were “imposing” migrants on the town, costing the local economy millions.

Mrs Bouchart even suggested that border controls should be torn down altogether, allowing migrants to get to the UK as quickly as possible.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

UK: New British £750 Million Electronic Border Control Plan ‘Breaks EU Law’

Britain’s multi-million pound electronic borders project breaches European data protection laws and the free movement of EU citizens, MPs were warned today.

The £750 million scheme will also lead to longer queues for passengers travelling by rail and ferry to the continent.

Under e-borders, airline, ferry and rail operators must collect eight pieces of travel information including a passenger’s full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number, passport-issuing country and passport expiry date. The information will be collected electronically from everyone entering and leaving the UK.

The results will then be passed to the UK and checked against security watchlists giving immigration officials early alerts.

But today Eurostar told the Commons Home Affairs select committee that under French law it was unlawful for anyone other than law enforcement agencies to collect the information. As a result it would not able to collect the details required for passengers travelling into the UK.

Marc Noaro, customer services director of Eurostar, said: “It is not lawful for somebody who is not a law enforcement officer in France and Belgium to demand that information at check in.”

He said that his firm remained extremely concerned that the proposed system will be operationally, legally and commercially difficult for Eurostar to implement.

Mr Noaro also said that if Eurostar collected the travel information, French law forbade it being sent to another EU state.

The committee was also told of other concerns that e-border programme breaks EU law.

Tim Reardon of the Chamber of Shipping, which represents ferry operators, said if someone refused to provide the information and then was stopped from travelling, it could breach EU law allowing the free movement of people.

He criticised the UK Border Agency for failing to respond to letters demanding clarification of EU law which were sent eight months ago.

Mr Reardon also warned that having to take the eight pieces of information on everyone boarding a ferry would lead to congestion and delays at ports. He said the scheme had been designed for the aviation industry with little thought given to ferries and rail travel.

At present ferry operators reserve a space on the vehicle deck and issue a ticket for the car and the number of passengers travelling but not the details of every passenger in the vehicle.

Trials two years ago showed the scanning a set of four passports for a car added 20 seconds to the time at check in.

“This represents an extension to the existing transaction time of between 50 and 80 per cent and could not be accommodated at busy periods without causing long queues and congestion in the terminal,” the Chamber of Shipping said in written evidence to the committee.

“There is no prospect of e-Borders going live in relation to ferry traffic, as the UK Borders Agency contends it will, by the end of next year.”

Mr Reardon added: “No practicable method of capturing ferry passengers’ passport data has yet been identified — and in the absence of a defined process, no work has been done to develop a system to support it.

“Progress is effectively now suspended pending resolution of the legal questions which will determine what is or is not permitted.”

The Port of Dover warned of even bigger problems with coaches and lorries. “A queue of 100 passengers at an airport is not a big problem and individuals can step forward easily — a queue of 100 passengers at a ferry port (if they are in trucks) is a mile long and takes some moving,” the Port said.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Obama Celebrates Anti-Police “Gay” Riots

President Obama on Monday celebrated the 1969 homosexual riots at a seedy Mafia-run bar known as the Stonewall Inn by repeatedly calling them “protests.” Only once, during his speech to the homosexuals and their supporters assembled in the White House East Room, did he refer to them accurately as the riots they were. Several police officers trying to enforce the law at the sleazy establishment were injured by violent homosexuals.

Ironically, homosexuals still celebrate their violent actions at the Stonewall Inn while demanding federal legislation protecting themselves from violent “hate crimes.”

Obama acknowledged the attendance at the event of homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church, who abandoned his wife and children for the gay lifestyle. Obama called him a “special friend.”


The police raided the bar because it was operated by the Mafia and illegally serving alcohol. It was a “Mafia-run, Christopher St. bar,” noted the New York Daily News. This information is easily ascertained through a basic Google search.

But Obama and his homosexual backers in and out of the media want to perpetuate the myth that Stonewall is a symbol of an unprovoked police attack on homosexuals, not a symbol of a sleazy lifestyle.

[Return to headlines]


Confronting the New Islamic Imperialism

By Daniel Greenfield

Talk of colonialism and imperialism is all the rage when academic leftists sit down to critique the problems of terrorism and the clash of civilizations. But where a century ago terms such as colonialism and imperialism were easy enough to define, back when European governments held actual colonies and protectorates in Africa, Asia and the Middle East— what do the terms actually mean today?

There are no European colonies today. And the lands that are at the center of the controversy are themselves non-Muslim. When Muslims attack Europe, America or Israel… it may very well be imperialism and colonialism, but it is no longer European imperialism and colonialism, but Islamic imperialism and colonialism.

It is Islamic ideologies and nations that seek Lebensraum, that work to expand their way across borders and even oceans, to create colonies on foreign soil, spread their religion at the expense of native beliefs and hold governing power abroad.

Today it is no longer the European who sails to foreign countries to spread the faith and “civilize the savages”, it is the Muslim. The new Cecil Rhodes’ and William Walker’s are a lot more likely to be based out of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Their oppression and ruthless is equally directed at Europeans, as at Africans, Jews, Filipinos and any number of native peoples who stand in their way.

Long before the sun stared without setting down on the British Empire, Islamic Empires had been carved with brutal unyielding force across the face of the globe. Long before the American South saw a single slave, Muslim slave traders were moving human cargo back and forth, kidnapping and seizing slaves from Africa to the English coastline.

Islamic imperialism and colonialism was there long ago until recent times. The current clash of civilizations is the product of the Islamic attempt to revive those ancient empires they consider to have been wrongly taken from them.

To argue as the left does, that Islamic terrorism is the product of oppression, is as absurd and false as describing Nazi violence as the product of oppression. Any honest academic should have as much sympathy for Bedouin Muslim territorial claims to Israel or Spain, as he would for French claims to Algeria. Yet the academic double standard treats European colonialism as illegitimate, and Islamic colonialism as legitimate.

This brings us to the obscene charade in which the world denounces one of the Middle East’s native peoples for managing to form their own country and defend its narrow borders against its former Bedouin Muslim conquerors. Only the ugliest forms of historical revisionism could paint the Jews as foreign interlopers with no rights to a piece of land that is recognized as theirs by three of the world’s major religions… and the Muslim Bedouin hordes who overran the land, wiping out native religions and cultures as the “oppressed peoples”.

This sort of obscene political farce goes on all over the world. Muslims today hold equal rights in Europe, America, Israel and Australia. By contrast Europeans, Americans and Jews are inferior under the law throughout the Muslim world. Muslims have free access to Jerusalem and Rome. Jews and Europeans have no access to Mecca, despite the fact that it had a substantial Jewish presence, before being massacred and enslaved by the murderous warlord, Mohammed, who is also considered by Muslims to be their ultimate prophet.

When the likes of Jimmy Carter bellow that Israel is guilty of Apartheid, while ignoring that his Saudi sponsors have actual Apartheid, not simply for non-Muslims, but even for Muslim women— they perpetuate the agenda of Islamic Imperialism.

When American or European civil rights groups raise a storm over some remark made to a Muslim— while turning a blind eye to the fact that these very same Muslims are importing the vilest bigotry, misogyny, anti-semitism, homophobia— the teachings of Islamic Imperialism inherent in the Koran, the resulting rapes, murders, hate crimes and bombings become the fruits of Islamic Colonialism.

What is the awful and terrible crime being committed by Western nations, the acts of colonialism and imperialism against the Muslim world. It is nothing more than the desire to survive. To not be murdered by bigoted savages in bomb vests determined to resurrect their lost slave empires at any cost.. The desire to be free in one’s own country from bombings, robberies and gang rapes by Muslim youths who have been told by their Imams that under Koranic law they have a right and a duty to fight the infidel and seize what belongs to him.

Checkpoints, walls of separation, immigration restriction; these are what academics use to charge the West with imperialism and colonialism, while turning a blind eye to the fact that these measures are only defenses on home soil against Islamic imperialism.

Survival has become the new colonialism and imperialism in the West. We have come to that out of a failure to confront the new wave of Islamic imperialism. Just as Nazi Germany’s reign of terror was born out of the guilt of the Allies and their failure to hold Nazism to account— Islamic imperialism is the product of guilt and cowardice. It will take courage and moral certainty to confront Islamic Imperialism, to fight back and hold it to account.

           — Hat tip: moderntemplar [Return to headlines]

Junk Food Triggers Our ‘Bliss Point’

JUNK foods such as Snickers bars and ketchup really are irresistible. Manufacturers have created combinations of fat, sugar and salt that are so tasty many people cannot stop eating them even when full, according to America’s former food standards watchdog.

David Kessler, former head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has warned that snacks, cereals and ready meals devised by food scientists can act on the reward centres of the brain in the same way as tobacco.

He argues that manufacturers are seeking to trigger a “bliss point” when people eat certain products, leaving them hungry for more.

“It is time to stop blaming individuals for being overweight or obese,” said Kessler. “The real problem is we have created a world where food is always available and where that food is designed to make you want to eat more of it. For millions of people, modern food is simply impossible to resist.”

While at the FDA, Kessler was best known for his attacks on the tobacco industry, which he accused of manipulating cigarettes to make them even more addictive.

In a new book, The End of Overeating, he suggests food manufacturers have achieved a similar result using precise combinations of fat, sugar, salt and texture to make foods “hyper-palatable”.

Kessler cites Heinz tomato ketchup and Starbucks white chocolate mocha Frappuccino as examples of the thousands of modern foods that have been engineered to stimulate feelings of pleasure.

A study carried out by Kessler with researchers at Yale University using functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques, showed that about 50% of obese people and 30% of those who are overweight were prone to so-called “excessive activation”.

“The right combination of tastes triggers a greater number of neurons, getting them to fire more,” said Kessler. “The message to eat becomes stronger, motivating the eater to look for even more food.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/1/2009

  1. Re: minority languages in Sweden.

    Yiddish? Who the heck speaks Yiddish in Sweden today? What an absurd idea. Wait a minute. I know why they did it. So that they could give Romani a protected status. Giving this status to TWO non-indigenous languages somehow makes it OK. Now it’s Romani AND Yiddish.

Comments are closed.