Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/12/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/12/2009The leader of the Muslim gang that tortured and killed a young French Jewish man in 2006 has been sentenced to life in prison. He applauded when the sentence was handed down.

In other news, a New Zealander who competed in taekwondo during the Beijing Olympics has set up a brothel to finance his bid for the London Olympics in 2012.

Thanks to 4Symbols, Andrea Shea King, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Earl Cromer, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, KGS, Nilk, Paul Green, TB, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Censored Inmate Letters Anger ACLU, Other Groups
Chips in Official IDs Raise Privacy Fears
Moonwalkers Defy Al Gore’s Claim
Productive vs Non-Productive: The New Civil War?
Some Chinese Drywall May be Radioactive, Reports Indicate
Special Alloy Sleeves Urged to Block Hackers?
Still No Health Fairy on the Horizon
U.S. Officer Demands Answer: Is Army ‘Corps of Chattel Slaves?’
The Hate Behind the Protest
Europe and the EU
1,500 Mourn Stabbed Egyptian Woman
BNP ‘Does Not Want All-White UK’
France: Paris Leaflets: Don’t Buy Israeli Products
France: Gang Jailed for Anti-Semitic Torture Death
From Alitalia to Putin: The Demise of Common Sense
G8: Dresden Murder, Merkel’s Condolences to Mubarak
Germany Shocked by the Other Lives of Civil Servants
Inside France’s ‘Barbarians’ Trial
Italy Okays Nuclear Energy Return
‘Medieval’ Irish Abortion Laws Under Threat
Spain: Domestic Violence Arrests Up 290% Since January 2008
Switzerland: Defence Minister Criticises “Unreliable” US
The Foreign Press on the G8
UK: Cop Checked Files on Killer Brother
UK: Church Accuses Government of Favouring Muslims
UK: I Want to Come Home, Mummy
UK: Teenage Robbery Crime Wave Sweeps Britain
UK: Take it Easy on Muslim Extremists, Police Told
Why Fears of a Muslim Takeover Are All Wrong
Mediterranean Union
G8: Brown-Gaddafi; Downing St, Libya Strategic Partner
North Africa
Muslims Set Church Ablaze But Egyptian Security Implicates a Christian Copt
Terrorism: Algeria; Gia Founder, We Killed the Monks
Trade: WEF Gives Tunisia Top Ranking in N. Africa
Tunisia: Sentenced for Spreading False Reports on Internet
Israel and the Palestinians
Barry Rubin: Why Israel’s Left Doesn’t Support Obama or a Settlement Construction Freeze
EU: ‘Accept PA State as Full Member of UN’
Uzi Arad: “Fearsome Weapons” Against Atomic Threat
Middle East
4 Killed, 32 Wounded as 6 Baghdad Churches Bombed
Israel Unveils ‘Anti-Iran’ Submarine
Osama Bin Laden’s Son, Omar, Says Dad is Evil in New Memoir
South Asia
India: Maoist Attacks Increasing, More Than 400 Killed
Sinister Sites Astana, Khazakhstan
Far East
China Riots: Officials Order Closure of 200 Mosques for Friday Prayers
Italian Released in Philippines
North Korea Army Behind South Web Attack
Australia — Pacific
Australia: Sex Furore Best Left at Sea
Australian and US Troops Fed Unhealthy Meals During War Games
New Zealand Olympian Logan Campbell Runs Brothel to Fund Medal Bid
Sub-Saharan Africa
Al-Qaeda Releases Swiss Hostage
Latin America
Can Honduras be Saved From Communism?
Foreign Births in Italy on the Increase
Greek Police Flatten Migrant Camp
New Curbs Set on Arrests of Illegal Immigrants
Culture Wars
Obama Science Czar Holdren Called for Forced Abortions
Did Islam Destroy Classical Civilization?
Preacher Recommends Beach, Sun for Muslims


Censored Inmate Letters Anger ACLU, Other Groups

RICHMOND, Va. — Prisoner and free-speech advocates are demanding a written guarantee that inmates at a Virginia jail can receive letters containing religious material after a prisoner said his mail was censored.

The American Civil Liberties Union, its Virginia chapter and several other civil, religious and prisoner rights organizations sent a letter Thursday to Rappahannock Regional Jail Superintendent Joseph Higgs Jr. requesting that the issue be resolved without litigation.

Anna Williams, whose son was detained at the jail for several months, said officials cut out entire sections of several letters she sent to her son that contained Bible verses or religious material. She said the jail cited prohibitions on Internet material and religious material sent from home.

The groups cited a three-page typed letter from Williams where the only thing left when jail officials gave it to her son was the salutation, a paragraph and the closing, “Love, Mom.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chips in Official IDs Raise Privacy Fears

Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he’d bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.

It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker’s gold.

Zipping past Fisherman’s Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians’ electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he’d “skimmed” the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.

Embedding identity documents — passports, drivers licenses, and the like — with RFID chips is a no-brainer to government officials. Increasingly, they are promoting it as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

But Paget’s February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

He filmed his drive-by heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.

Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone’s radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age.

“Little Brother,” some are already calling it — even though elements of the global surveillance web they warn against exist only on drawing boards, neither available nor approved for use.

But with advances in tracking technologies coming at an ever-faster rate, critics say, it won’t be long before governments could be able to identify and track anyone in real time, 24-7, from a cafe in Paris to the shores of California.

The key to getting such a system to work, these opponents say, is making sure everyone carries an RFID tag linked to a biometric data file…

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Moonwalkers Defy Al Gore’s Claim

Washington, DC — At a House global warming hearing on Capitol Hill on April 24, 2009, former Vice President Al Gore once again compared skeptics of man-made climate fears to “people who still believe that the moon landing was staged on a movie lot in Arizona.” Gore appears ignorant that his several years old analogy has been refuted by two of NASA’s moonwalkers themselves — Moonwalker and Award-Winning NASA Astronaut/Geologist Jack Schmitt — who recently declared he was a global warming skeptic and now, Award-Winning NASA Astronaut and Moonwalker Dr. Buzz Aldrin.

Gore was not asked during his April 24, 2009 Congressional hearing how he can link climate skeptics to people who believed the moon landing was “staged” when two prominent moonwalkers themselves are man-made global warming skeptics.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Productive vs Non-Productive: The New Civil War?

Liberals strongly support the non-productive at the cost of the productive. The non-productive are a major portion of the liberal voter base and must be supported… maintained. They don’t understand that when taxes become too burdensome on the productive, lifestyle costs are cut. It’s easier to cut consumer lifestyle than run like a rodent in a metal exercise ring. When that happens, spending comes to a halt. The GDP falters when sales tumble. Manufacturing tumbles when sales go down. More jobs are lost. Add a still unstable real estate market and you see the picture.

This Administration places too little emphasis on and gives too few rewards for productivity. In fact, in today’s environment, to be rewarded by government one must become a drain on society. Then, you get help with your mortgage, your credit card, your car payment. You’ll soon get free health care, too. It won’t be good, but it will be free — at least it will be free for those who do not pay taxes into the system. It will be a terrible burden for productive people who do pay taxes. And, consumer spending and credit usage then decrease even more.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Some Chinese Drywall May be Radioactive, Reports Indicate

Some Chinese-made drywall imported into the United States contained radioactive material, news reports suggest, but state and federal tests so far haven’t detected it.

Copies of customs reports obtained by The Los Angeles Times show drywall made with a radioactive waste product was shipped to the states in 2006 by at least four Chinese manufacturers and trading firms.

The substance, called phosphogypsum, has been banned from use in nearly all products made in the United States by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1989.

The EPA says that phosphogypsum, a fertilizer byproduct, contains uranium and radium.

Radium decays to form radon, a cancer-causing, radioactive gas. A geoscientist interviewed by The Times said the material can cause corrosion.

Chinese drywall is being blamed for making newer homes smell like chemicals or sulfur, corroding air-conditioner coils, blackening jewelry and other metals and causing breathing problems, nosebleeds and headaches for residents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Special Alloy Sleeves Urged to Block Hackers?

To protect against skimming and eavesdropping attacks, federal and state officials recommend that Americans keep their e-passports tightly shut and store their RFID-tagged passport cards and enhanced driver’s licenses in “radio-opaque” sleeves.

That’s because experiments have shown that the e-passport begins transmitting some data when opened even a half inch, and chipped passport cards and EDLs can be read from varying distances depending on reader techonology.


Gigi Zenk, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Department of Licensing, says the envelope her state offers with the enhanced driver’s license “ensures that nothing can scan it at all.”

But that wasn’t what researchers from the University of Washington and RSA Laboratories, a data security company in Bedford, Mass., found last year while testing the data security of the cards.

The PASS card “is readable under certain circumstances in a crumpled sleeve,” though not in a well maintained sleeve, the researchers wrote in a report.

Another test on the enhanced driver’s license demonstrated that even when the sleeve was in pristine condition, a clandestine reader could skim data from the license at a distance of a half yard.


And when the sleeves come off, “you’re essentially saying to the world, ‘Come and read what’s in my wallet,’“ says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C.

By obliging Americans to use these sleeves, he says, the government has, in effect, shifted the burden of privacy protection to the citizen.


Meanwhile, researchers have raised other red flags.

In 2006, a mobile security company, Flexilis, conducted an experiment in which the transponder of a partially opened e-passport triggered an explosive planted in a trashcan when a dummy carrying the chipped passport approached the bin. A video of the experiment was shown that year at a security conference.

Flexilis has suggested that the government adopt a dual cover shield and specifically designed RFID tag that would make the e-passport remotely unreadable until it is fully opened.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Still No Health Fairy on the Horizon

In the height of the Paula Jones-Clinton scandal, David Reinhard, Associated Editor of The Oregonian in Portland asked, “Who else may be in bed with Clinton?” While he was referring to sexual scandals, besides his wife, maybe voters should be asking who is in bed with President Barack Obama on his Universal Health Care proposal.

Maybe Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has the answer. In her June 24, 2009 article: Who’s funding the Obamacare Astroturf “grass-roots” campaign, she alleges that the Chicago crony/White House senior adviser David Axelrod is the master mind with deep-pockets leftist billionaires such as Soros/Move.on, Democrat donors Herb and Marion Sandler, Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance, the corruption-riddled SEIU and Obama’s old chums at fraud-riddled ACORN. In addition there is the left-wing philanthropist Drummond Pike, who heads the non-profit Tides Foundation/Tides Center.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

U.S. Officer Demands Answer: Is Army ‘Corps of Chattel Slaves?’

Files federal court challenge over Obama’s refusal to prove eligibility

A U.S. Army Reserve major from Florida with orders to report for deployment to Afghanistan within days has filed a court demand to be classified as a “conscientious objector” because without proof of the commander-in-chief’s eligibility for office, the entire army “becomes merely a corps of chattel slaves under the illegitimate control of a private citizen.”

A hearing on the questions raised by Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, an engineer who told WND he wants to serve his country in Afghanistan, already has been scheduled for July 16 at 9:30 a.m., according to California attorney Orly Taitz, who is handling the claim.

Cook told WND he’s ready, willing and able to carry out the military needs of the United States, but he raised the challenge to Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president because if he would be captured by enemy forces while serving overseas under the orders of an illegitimate president, he could be considered a “war criminal.”

“As an officer in the armed forces of the United States, it is [my] duty to gain clarification on any order we may believe illegal. With that said, if President Obama is found not to be a ‘natural-born citizen,’ he is not eligible to be commander-in-chief,” he told WND only hours after the case was filed.

           — Hat tip: Andrea Shea King [Return to headlines]


The Hate Behind the Protest

When confronted with a political protest, it’s useful to look carefully at who exactly the protesters are. Sometimes people are not what they seem.

Anti-Israel campaigns are most notorious for using bait-and-switch tactics. Protests that are supposed to be about the legitimate rights of Palestinians are often, in reality, vehicles to attack Jews and promote Islamic extremism. Earlier this year, for example, “anti-Israel” demonstrations in several Canadian cities featured people giving the Nazi salute and circulating the medieval anti-Semitic libel that Jews drink blood.

Of course, not all critics of Israel have sinister and radical agendas. But you really have to wonder why those who advocate on behalf of Palestinians don’t work harder to keep their cause from being hijacked by people of ill will.

So it’s important to cast a skeptical eye on the strange campaign now underway in Toronto to disrupt an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls are mostly ancient Hebrew manuscripts and are Israel’s greatest treasure. The Israel Antiquities Authority is allowing them to be shown at the Royal Ontario Museum.

An odd assortment of groups are protesting the exhibit on the grounds that the scrolls are stolen artifacts and really belong to Arabs, not Jews. Yes, you read that correctly: Hebrew manuscripts of the Jewish Bible that were written centuries before Muhammad was born are, apparently, Muslim property.

It’s easy to see what’s going on here. Just as Holocaust denial circulates in some corners of the anti-Israel movement, there is a parallel effort to deny the Jewish people’s ancestral connection to the Holy Land. The idea is to de-legitimize Israel by denying the indigenous rights of Jews. Some Israel-haters have even taken to arguing that Palestinian Arabs are the real descendants of “ancient Hebrews.”

It was interesting, for example, to see an online magazine called the Canadian Charger go after the Royal Ontario Museum for declining an “interview” with one of its correspondents. The Canadian Charger just a few days earlier published a strong defence of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, praising his “social justice policies.”

So the point remains: When you see a campaign like the one against the Dead Sea Scrolls, take a look at who — and what — is behind it.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

1,500 Mourn Stabbed Egyptian Woman

Around 1,500 people gathered in Dresden on Saturday to mourn the death of a pregnant Egyptian woman who was stabbed to death in a courtroom by a man who had called her a terrorist for wearing a headscarf.

Marwa El-Sherbini, 31, was knifed at least 18 times, while her husband Elwi Ali Okaz was also injured while trying to protect her. Police officers who thought he was the attacker shot him in the leg and he remains hospitalised while their three-year-old son is being cared for by relatives.

Her killing, and the lukewarm reaction to it in Germany, sparked outrage among the German-Muslim community, in Egypt and beyond.

El-Sherbini had been in court to testify against a 28-year-old Russian-German man who was appealing a fine for calling her an Islamist and terrorist for wearing a headscarf during an argument at a children’s playground.

Thousands of mourners attended her funeral in Alexandria, Egypt on Monday, and many are taking her death as an illustration of latent racism or anti-Islamism in Europe, asking what the reaction would have been in Germany had she been Jewish.

Egyptian President even raised the subject with Chancellor Angela Merkel during the G8 summit in Italy last week, asking her to ensure the killer was brought to justice.

A number of regional politicians attended the commemoration in Dresden on Saturday, while Franz Müntefering, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), was also there, calling for more political action against racism while warning against instrumentalising El-Sherbini’s death.

Those present laid flowers in front of a large picture of the dead woman while Aiman Mazyek, secretary general of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said El-Sherbini’s murder marked a new dimension in violent Islamophobia and called for a strong but peaceful reaction.

Elsayed Ramzy Ezzeldin, the Egyptian ambassador to Germany, also attended.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

BNP ‘Does Not Want All-White UK’

British National Party leader Nick Griffin has said he no longer wants to see an all-white United Kingdom.

Mr Griffin, who is due to take up his seat as an MEP for the North West, said the idea of a UK without ethnic minorities was “simply not do-able”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Griffin said: “Nobody out there wants it or would pay for it.”

He said claims that he was a fascist were “smears” but said the European Union was “very close to fascism”.

Mr Griffin told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the BNP would put more money into voluntary repatriation programmes for members of ethnic minorities “who want to go back to their lands of ethnic origin”.

He added that Britain was overcrowded and “terribly unstable” as a result of its “multicultural experiment”.

The BNP leader also defended his view that the EU should sink boats carrying illegal immigrants.

Mr Griffin said: “What needs to be done as an example is to sink a couple of boats near the shores of Libya — throw them lifebelts so they can paddle back, so they understand they will never get to Europe.

“Because the alternative is accepting that Britain eventually is going to end up like Africa.”

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

France: Paris Leaflets: Don’t Buy Israeli Products

Leaflets handed out in Paris urge locals to refrain from buying goods made by ‘war criminals’

PARIS — Anti-Israel boycott: Leaflets calling for a boycott on Israeli products were handed out to locals leaving Paris for the weekend, urging Parisians to refrain from purchasing goods produced by “war criminals.”

The leaflet, which is part of a wider anti-Israel boycott initiative, provides the names of more than 20 Israeli companies that consumers should be on the lookout for, including food manufacturer Osem, pharmaceutical giant Teva, and winemaker Carmel.

According to the activists handing out the leaflets, the campaign is currently taking off in other European states, in the United States, and in Canada.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

France: Gang Jailed for Anti-Semitic Torture Death

The leader of a group calling itself a “gang of barbarians” has been jailed for life for kidnapping and torturing to death a young Jewish man in Paris.

Youssouf Fofana, a 28-year-old of Ivoirian origin, will spend a minimum of 22 years in jail for the abduction and murder of Ilan Halimi in a Paris suburb.

Fofana’s gang abducted the 23-year-old in 2006 and tortured him for three weeks before leaving him to die after they had failed to extort a ransom for him.

Mr Halimi died shortly after he was found at a nearby train station.

Twenty-four other gang members were handed sentences ranging from six months suspended to 18 years in prison. Two were acquitted.

Despite his disappointment at what he saw as lenient sentences, a lawyer for Mr Halimi’s family said he was pleased the court had recognised the “anti-Semitic character of this crime”.

Francis Szpiner said: “It was because he was Jewish that Ilan Halimi was killed and tortured. No one can challenge this judicial truth.”

The case shocked France and turned a spotlight on anti-Semitic violence in the poor, multi-ethnic suburbs around many big French cities.

Several gang members testified that Mr Halimi was targeted because he was Jewish and was therefore believed to have money.

The trial, which lasted for more than two months, was held largely behind closed doors following clashes between radical Jewish militants and witnesses and their families.

Fofana expressed no remorse, and attempted to defy the court’s rules throughout the trial.

This included smirking at Hamili’s relatives, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is greatest!”) and at one point throwing shoes at lawyers.

On another occasion, he gave his birth date as February 13, 2006, in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois — the date and place of Mr Halimi’s death.

           — Hat tip: 4Symbols [Return to headlines]

From Alitalia to Putin: The Demise of Common Sense

The common sense that prompts people to do and say sensible things is no more. In its place is unsense, a senselessness that verges on dementia, more juvenile than senile in nature, sad to say. Who killed common sense? Why? All will be revealed, but for now, we will illustrate the issue with two textbook cases of senselessness. One is Italian, the doggedly pursued and nearly successful suicide of Alitalia; and the other, in the larger world round about, is the growing and equally senseless refreezing of US-Russian relations. The thoroughly deserved decease of Alitalia had been looming for at least a decade. Nor would it have been the first such suicide. In the United States, TWA was killed off by its flying personnel, and was allowed to die without fuss, as is the custom in serious countries. More recently in Europe, respectable flag-carriers, namely Swissair and Sabena, have changed hands. Like Italy, Switzerland could have played the tourism card but to my knowledge, no one did so and the vacationers, I am informed, still come.

Yet only the other day, vociferous pilots and cabin staff were chanting “better bankrupt than hostages to bandits” (i.e., the new company chair Roberto Colaninno). Who put it into their heads that Alitalia was a sacred cow, a cash-devouring monster that no one dared touch? Perhaps no one. Perhaps there aren’t any intellectuals among our wildcatting pilots and cabin staff still capable of using their head. What is certain is that at the eleventh hour on the last day, the privileged pilots’ union ANPAC did the thinking —badly — for everyone, enthusiastically aided of course by the CGIL union confederation and other political protectors. It is even more certain that common sense would have tackled and solved the Alitalia case some time ago. That is, if there were any common sense left.

The other case, as I was saying, is the deterioration of relations between the United States and Russia. Was it unavoidable? No. In my opinion, it was avoidable and should have been avoided at all costs. So whose fault is it? Solomon might have said it was half Bush’s fault and half Putin’s, but for most westerners, it’s basically Putin’s fault. For a minority, including me, most of the blame should be laid at the door of Bush and the rampant “democratic ideologism” that today is part of the equally ubiquitous context of political correctness.

Naturally, the theory of liberal democracy is not an ideology as such: it is a theory that has worked in practice and has been applied in the real world. Ideologies, on the other hand, like the utopias that preceded them, are unpracticed theories that fail miserably when they are implemented — witness the USSR — and which survive as faiths, as thought that no one rethinks any more: fossilized former thought. It follows that the theory of democracy is one thing and that democratic ideologism, which sprang from the events of 1968, is something else entirely. The former created democracies; the latter if anything dismantles them. That said, the urgent thing today is to set aside ideological blinders and establish, or re-establish, a reality based on the force of events.

The fact is that the world we live in is the most dangerous world in which humanity has ever lived. Partly, this is because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction that could wipe us all out; and partly it is due to the insane growth in population, which common sense ought to have prevented. Together, these issues have triggered a further series of crises from drought, to the climate and energy resources. Currently, energy is the most critical, since it is redrawing the map of world power, separating those who have oil and gas from those who don’t. The United States has very little oil; Europe almost none. Russia, on the other hand, has plenty. Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran and various Middle Eastern Arab countries have energy resources but they are all unstable, or hostile, or unreliable. Common sense would therefore suggest that Putin’s Russia is an indispensable ally for the West. If Putin were seriously upset, he could turn off the faucet: Europe would be on its knees in two months and the United States would be in trouble in six.

Yet President Bush is doing everything possible to upset Putin. Bush was the first to gratuitously breach agreements by permitting the independence of Kosovo; Bush is proposing to site interceptor missiles on Russia’s border; Bush wants to incorporate former Eastern European states into NATO; and it was Bush who implicitly encouraged Georgia to challenge Putin. In short, Bush behaves as if he were the cat and Putin were the mouse. George Bush’s perspicacity has always escaped me. But when I met Condoleeza Rice in the groves of academe, she was genuinely intelligent, as everyone agreed. So when ten days or so ago she said that the Caucasus crisis had left Russia isolated and irrelevant, my jaw hit the floor. Does power corrupt women’s intelligence, too? Does the United States think it can influence Putin with financial sanctions or by blocking its accession to the OECD and WTO? Apart from the formidable deterrent potential of its nuclear armory, for all other purposes the United States is for Russia — and China — a mere paper tiger. And that is a fact.

Naturally, I esteem and feel indebted to Americans for their missionary zeal in promoting democracy around the world. What scares me is missionary zeal in the hands of a 1968-style democratic ideologism that turns common sense on its head.

English translation by Giles Watson

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

G8: Dresden Murder, Merkel’s Condolences to Mubarak

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 10 — German chancellor Angela Merkel met Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak during the G8 and expressed her condolences for the murder of the Egyptian Muslim woman killed last week in a Dresden courtroom and subsequently labelled a ‘martyr of the veil’ by the Arab press. AFP quoted a representative of the Egyptian embassy who stated that Mubarak expressed his gratitude and asked for an immediate ruling against the murderer. Europe’s Muslim community added its voice to Egyptian public opinion and protested against an episode viewed as a case of ‘Islamophobia’. In Brussels the European Forum of Muslim Women issued a statement complaining against “the savage act and the racist crime committed against Dr. Marwa al-Sherbini. Many Muslims in Europe as well as in Germany feel threatened by Islamophobia because of the creeping dissemination of attitudes that are being adopted, including those of certain politicians”. And Iran has added its voice to the matter as well. Iran’s official press agency FARS condemned the use of violence against demonstrators in L’Aquila, for which Iran summoned ambassador Alberto Bradanini and complained about the “brutal homicide” in Germany, for which Iran also summoned German ambassador Herbert Honswitz. Europe does little else than “enact new restrictions every day against its Muslim minority under the pretext of fighting terrorism”, is the claim made by Iran, which summoned Bradanini also to complain against the G8’s “silence” on murder in Germany .Marwa el-Sherbini, age 32, three-months pregnant, was killed on the first of July by a man who the woman had accused of slander. While she was in court to make her deposition during an appeal hearing the man took out a knife and stabbed her repeatedly in front of the judges. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany Shocked by the Other Lives of Civil Servants

Twenty years after Berlin Wall fell, more than 17,000 former Stasi members are still working for the state

Berliners and the citizens of eastern Germany are struggling to digest the news that thousands of former members of the dreaded Stasi secret police were working as their local civil servants, police officers and teachers, almost 20 years after the Iron Curtain collapsed.

More than 17,000 staff currently employed by Berlin and eastern Germany’s five federal states were estimated to have worked for the all-pervasive communist police organisation, according to evidence compiled by historians at Berlin’s Free University.

Shocking cases came to light after the fall of the Berlin Wall, including a husband who spied on his dissident wife for years and a mother who informed the Stasi about her son after he reached puberty because she considered him a threat to the state.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Inside France’s ‘Barbarians’ Trial

Youssouf Fofana has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of a 23-year-old Jewish man in 2006. Another 26 members of the so-called Gang of Barbarians were also charged in connection with the crime — 24 received jail sentences. Emma Jane Kirby has been following the 10-week trial.

On 29 April gang leader Youssouf Fofana, 28, took his seat in court, smiling defiantly and declaring: “Allah would be victorious.”

After more than two months of closed-door hearings, Mr Fofana, rejecting any help from lawyers, was allowed to express his opinion in court for the last time.

“It’s better to live like a lion for one day than to live like a sheep for 100,” he declared.

Mr Fofana, a gang leader from just outside Paris, stood accused of the murder of Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man who worked in a mobile phone shop.

It was alleged that Mr Fofana instructed a female gang member to lure Mr Halimi into an empty apartment in Bagneux, where he was attacked, beaten and drugged.


Mr Fofana is said to have targeted Mr Halimi because he believed that “Jews are loaded.”

During his three-week ordeal, Mr Halimi’s family were sent harrowing images and video recordings by his captors who demanded a ransom of 450,000 euros ($600,000; £405,000) for his release.

The victim was eventually found naked and tied to a tree near a railway. He had been stabbed and set alight. He died on his way to hospital..

Mr Halimi’s distraught mother had asked for this trial to be held in public.

But because some of the 26 people accused of participating in this crime were minors, proceedings have been held behind closed doors..

More than 160 witnesses have given evidence and 50 experts have testified during the trial.

The French-born son of immigrants from Ivory Coast, Mr Fofana was the only member of the Barbarians gang facing a life sentence if found guilty.

He was charged with kidnap, torture, premeditated murder and anti-Semitism.

The other gang members — young men and women — were accused of a variety of crimes, including entrapment, kidnap and failing to assist a person in peril.

All insisted that Mr Fofana had promised to release his victim when Mr Halimi’s father failed to deliver a ransom. They claimed they did not know their self-proclaimed leader would take the crime so far.

The lawyer for Mr Halimi’s family, Francis Szpiner, claimed the other gang members played a huge role in the crime and should be punished accordingly.


Prosecutors described Mr Fofana as “a perverted, immature megalomaniac”.

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

Italy Okays Nuclear Energy Return

Critics slam law as ‘economic and environmental madness’

(ANSA) — Rome, July 9 — The Senate on Thursday definitively approved the return of nuclear energy to Italy after more than 20 years as part of a new development package.

The package, which also greenlights class action suits and the privatisation of state railways, was passed with an almost unanimous vote after the opposition Democratic Party and Italy of Values left the Senate in the hope that the legal minimum of votes required would not be reached.

Under the new law, the government will have six months to choose sites for new nuclear energy plants, define the criteria for the storage of radioactive waste and work out compensatory measures for people who will be affected by the plants. A nuclear security agency will also be set up, although the actual building of the plants is expected to take years.

Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said earlier this year that Italy would begin to build its first new generation nuclear power plant by 2013 and start producing energy by 2018.

He has said that new generation plants will produce energy safely, on a large scale, at competitive prices and respecting the environment.

Italy abandoned nuclear energy after a 1987 referendum, whose result was strongly influenced by the Chernobyl disaster in Russia the previous year.

However, a poll taken last year, when oil was at a record high, found that a majority of Italians now favour a return to nuclear power, while only one third oppose it.

“We have had signals of availability at a local level from various bodies to welcome nuclear plants,” Scajola said at a press conference Thursday.

“Nuclear energy was spoken of in negative terms after Chernobyl, but the country can’t be influenced by fear,” he added.

Opposition politicians meanwhile slammed the new law.

Grazia Francescato, national spokesperson for the Green Party, said the return to nuclear energy was “economic and environmental madness”.

“While world leaders are addressing the issue of climate change (at the Group of Eight summit) in L’Aquila, Italy has chosen to ditch research and promotion of renewable energy sources and leap back into a dangerous, radioactive past,” she said, adding that each nuclear plant would cost “at least four billion euros” to build.

Roberto Della Seta, environmental pointman for the Democratic Party, said the cost of building four nuclear plants would be “20-25 billion euros”, while they would contribute less than 5% to the country’s energy consumption.

“This law ignores all the real problems that stand in the way of Italy having a renewable and efficient energy policy, such as closing the gap with other major European countries on renewable sources and promoting research into new technology,” he said.

Environmental organisation Legambiente meanwhile described the move as a “return to energy prehistory”, saying United States President Barack Obama had “refused to finance” the technology because it was “polluting and unsafe”.

But Senate Whip Maurizio Gasparri of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party brushed off criticism.

“This is a turning point, a courageous choice,” he said.

“It’s a law against a policy that has paralysed Italy and made us dependent on the import of gas and oil with enormous energy bill costs,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Medieval’ Irish Abortion Laws Under Threat

A Swedish political party has described Ireland’s abortion laws as “medieval” and “terrifying” and will attempt to use the Lisbon treaty to have the procedure recognised as a human right throughout the EU.

Birgitta Ohlsson of the Swedish Liberal party, a member of her country’s coalition government, has launched a group called Make Noise for Free Choice. It plans to obtain the 1m signatures required for its demands to be considered by the European commission under the terms of the “citizens’ initiative” proposed under the new EU treaty.

The campaign, launched last month, aims to have completed its online petition by October next year.

Under the terms of the Lisbon treaty, any proposal which gains 1m signatures from a significant number of EU countries must be considered and debated by the European commission. The number of countries has yet to be finalised.

If successful, the move would focus attention on Ireland’s laws, under which women are not allowed to have an abortion unless there is a risk to the mother’s life.

Ohlsson, who hopes to give women across Europe the right to free abortion, was highly critical of Ireland’s stance. She said her campaign is an effort to encourage countries like Ireland to start a dialogue with a view to putting pressure on national governments.

“EU countries treat this like it’s a health issue so we want to change attitudes towards it and have it recognised as a human right,” she said. “The different European countries need to change their laws to support people. We are going to encourage people in these countries to put pressure on their countries to change the laws.”

To date, just 3,120 people have signed the online petition at and Ohlsson concedes that the campaign has yet to gain momentum.

The website says that countries like Ireland, Malta and Poland are denying women their human rights by banning abortion and that the women of Europe can “no longer be ignored”.

“Powerful forces”, the website claims, are “counteracting women’s struggle” for their right to safe abortion.

It adds: “Nowhere in the world should a woman be forced to use a hanger, eat washing powder or see a quack doctor to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, when safe abortion methods are available.”

The Irish government said its independence on abortion was secured by legal guarantees agreed with other EU countries ahead of the second Lisbon referendum in October.

Irish pro-life campaigners reacted angrily this weekend to Ohlsson’s campaign and insisted that it will fail to change Ireland’s laws on abortion.

Patricia Casey, a professor of psychiatry at University College Dublin, said: “It’s ironic for a country like Sweden, with such a track record of protecting human rights, that campaigners from there are campaigning for the killing of unborn children. There is certainly a contradiction.”

Irish laws are “progressive” and “recognise all humans at all stages of life”, according to Casey, who said most Irish people will be opposed to the Swedish campaign. She said it was “highly unlikely” that there will be any change in the Irish laws as a result of Ohlsson’s campaign and added: “Since when has it been progressive to allow people to take a life?”

The Swedish movement is backed by European politicians including Baroness Sarah Ludford, a British Liberal Democrat MEP.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand” when it comes to starting a public discussion,” she said. “I regret the position of women who are unable to get access to safe, legal, free abortion.”

Jenny Sonesson, a founder of the campaign, said: “Countries like Ireland, Malta and Poland have restrictive views on abortion and have forced women to go abroad.”

John O’Reilly of the Irish Pro-Life Campaign, said Irish abortion laws were reinforced by the legal guarantees surrounding the Lisbon treaty, “unless the guarantees mean nothing at all”.

[Return to headlines]

Spain: Domestic Violence Arrests Up 290% Since January 2008

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 9 — Increased laws and subsequent penalties for spousal abuse in Spain have caused an exponential increase of detained persons for such crimes. The number has increased 291% during the last one and a half years, according to country’s Penitentiary Institution cited by media today. On January 1, 2008 the total number of persons detained for spousal abuse was 930. By December 2008 the number had reached 2,615 and by June 30 2009 reached 3,645 — equal to a 291% increase. The number is though to be even greater throughout the whole of Spain, as the study did not include data from Catalonia. In addition to the convictions cited above, there were 22,760 persons placed under house arrest for abuse. Of these, 12,653 have benefited from alternative penal sentences such as community service, while 10,107 were able to successfully suspend their sentences in exchange for participation in rehabilitative programs for social reintegration. Many of the convicted were subject to restraining orders, so as to distance their relations to the victims. In order to heighten control over aggressors the country of Spain will introduce 3,000 electronic bracelets as on July 24, aimed toward dissuading criminals from repeating offences. The initiative was presented yesterday by the minister for equality, Bibiana Aido, who emphasized the electronic bracelet “is representative of society’s statement toward the aggressor: 40 million Spaniards are watching you, do not go near your victim”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Defence Minister Criticises “Unreliable” US

Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer has described the United States as an “unreliable negotiating partner” in the diplomatic spat over tax evasion.

Maurer told a Sunday newspaper that Switzerland must insist on the law and not buckle — “better to lose with dignity than make concessions with the powerful”, he said.

Maurer, a member of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, claimed there were serious internal tensions within the US government and said it was “logical” that the US would concentrate on criticising other countries in order to distract from its own problems.

“If we admit that in Switzerland things aren’t exactly running ideally, we must also admit that Obama’s government is out of step,” he said.

“Switzerland could turn the argument and say that it’s practically impossible to negotiate with a government that has brought such difficulties on itself.”

In addition Maurer didn’t rule out bringing up the issue of Switzerland accepting former detainees of the Guantánamo naval base constructed by the US on Cuba.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has previously said Switzerland is prepared to receive “one or two” former prisoners.

UBS accounts

Last week the United States said it would continue its lawsuit against UBS, Switzerland’s second-largest bank, to try to force it to identify thousands of US clients with confidential UBS accounts.

The Justice Department said in a brief filed with a Miami court on June 30 that it was pressing ahead with its case to reveal information about 52,000 Americans suspected of using the bank to hide nearly $15 billion (SFr16.3 billion) in assets and evade US taxes.

UBS has consistently said that enforcement of the US summons would require the bank to violate Swiss legislation on banking secrecy and was inconsistent with US-Swiss treaties.

Swiss banks are increasingly turning down business from potential customers in the United States fearing legal problems and a mass of red tape. There has also been anecdotal evidence in the Swiss media of US citizens living in Switzerland being turned away by Swiss banks.

The Swiss authorities have also said the US case violated the sovereignty of another state and should therefore not be pursued.

So far, there are precious few signs that the US will accept a deal even though a revised double taxation treaty has been agreed with Switzerland.

The case will reach a pivotal point on July 13 unless a diplomatic solution can be found.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Foreign Press on the G8

Triumph for Berlusconi but little progress made, papers say

(ANSA) — Rome, July 11 — The foreign press agreed Saturday that Italy had successfully pulled off the organisation of the Group of Eight summit that concluded in the quake-stricken city of L’Aquila, although many newspapers said world leaders had failed to make much progress on major issues.

The three-day summit was under international scrutiny before it even began on Wednesday after Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who has been embroiled in a media storm over his private life, moved the venue from the Sardinian island of La Maddalena to L’Aquila little some ten weeks before the start date.

On the eve of the summit, both The Guardian and the New York Times levelled accusations of chaotic planning by Italy, while the British daily said the United States had “taken control”, organising conference calls “in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting” — an allegation hotly denied by both Italy and the US.

But summing up the three-day event, the NEW YORK TIMES said there was “no doubt Italy pulled off a tour de force of last-minute organization, spending $75 million to transform a police training complex in an earthquake zone into an Olympic-style village, complete with high-quality espresso bars and wicker lawn sets”.

Nevertheless, criticism about the agenda remained: under the headline ‘G8 delays making big decisions’, The WALL STREET JOURNAL said the world leaders had “pushed many priorities” including climate change, trade negotiations and Iran’s nuclear programme to be dealt with at the next meetings by the G20 and the United Nations.

A pledge to contribute $20 billion over three years to fight world hunger through rural development was the summit’s “one parting success”, the paper said, adding that this “roughly doubles non-emergency agricultural assistance” even if the G8 had already promised around half of the total sum.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES also hailed the hunger pledge, stressing that it was the result of a “personal appeal” from US President Barack Obama.

But the paper said leaders had again “declined to commit themselves to any specific actions now or in the immediate future to curb the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming”. “Instead, they embraced the high-sounding goal of reducing their own emissions by 80% and worldwide emissions by 50% by 2050 — without pledging to take any specific steps to get there,” it said.


The United Kingdom’s FINANCIAL TIMES hailed the summit as a personal success for Berlusconi, saying it had transformed him “from scandal-plagued playboy to international statesman” who had “silenced his critics and sooted his allies”.

The summit was “as much a success for what did not happen”, the paper added, saying aides were “clearly relieved that none of their worst fears materialised” as the event passed without any major aftershocks from the April 6 earthquake or any further scandals on the premier’s private life breaking.

But the paper reported that the world leaders’ $20 billion pledge to to combat world hunger had been received with “scepticism” by aid agencies who “pointed to a chain of broken promises and a habit of switching around existing budgets”.

The GUARDIAN also reported that despite Italy’s declaration that the summit had been “a resounding success”, there had been no more than “patchy progress” on the issues being discussed.

“The summit edged forward at a glacial pace on climate change, set a 2010 deadline for the conclusion of trade talks, expressed concern about the state of the global economy and concluded with a package of food aid denounced immediately as smoke and mirrors by aid agencies,” it said.

The TIMES, which said the $20 billion dollar aid pledge was the summit’s “one key decision”, focused on the fact that this year’s G8 “could be the last meeting of its kind” as leaders suggested “the G8 was too small to cope with the problems facing the world” and needed to be extended to other countries.

In Spain, EL PAIS highlighted the $20 billion pledge, but ran alongside an article entitled ‘Long history of unfulfilled promises’.

It said Berlusconi had managed to come out of the summit “unscathed” without receiving “a single compromising question in three days” about his personal life.

In Germany, DIE WELT ran an editorial with the headline ‘The Summit of the Indecisives’.

“At a time when it’s necessary to fight with urgency the first signs of protectionism with a reaffirmation of free exchange, the L’Aquila summit was vague,” it said.

France’s LE FIGARO reported criticism in the Italian press of French First Lady Carla Bruni, accused of snobbery and spotlight-seeking after she failed to take part in the first ladies’ schedule, instead arriving late in the summit and touring the devastated historic centre on her own.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Cop Checked Files on Killer Brother

AN Asian police officer checked a force computer for information about his brother who was a suspect in an honour killing, an employment tribunal heard.

Sgt Umer Khan admitted he had been ‘wrong’ to access files about Khyber Khan, who was later convicted of murder.

But he said he only did it for ‘policing purposes’ and had ‘personally assisted’ in the investigation.

Sgt Khan, a 35-year-old father-of-two, has taken Greater Manchester Police to the tribunal, claiming he was prevented from becoming an inspector on the grounds of race.


He claims his managers treated him differently to white colleagues, because bosses assumed he was part of a large, ‘stereotypical’ Asian family and so must have known all his relatives’ business.

Sgt Khan, based in Oldham, broke down as he gave evidence to the Manchester tribunal and said he felt he had been ‘held responsible’ for the ‘tragic events’ in his family. He accused the force of ‘shattering and destroying’ his career dreams.

He added: “Despite GMP’s philosophy, I have come to learn as a minority ethnic officer that I have not been treated with the same level of respect, dignity and the same level of fairness as white officers. I hope the people who have treated me this way will reflect on the way I’ve been treated.”

Sgt Khan said ‘all hell broke loose’ in September 2005, when his brother-in-law Mohammed Shaheen was shot dead. The tribunal heard he was accused of failing to tell detectives about the location of his brother, Khyber Khan and threatening a family member.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled no action should be taken on those claims. But Sgt Khan was given ‘formal words of advice’ for looking on the force computer seven times for information on his brother.

Sgt Khan insisted he had merely wanted to log new intelligence about his brother and carry out ‘bona fide police work’, although he later admitted he was wrong.


He said even though the sanction was ‘not a finding of guilt and not a punishment’, he was informed later he would have to wait a year before being considered for promotion.

He claimed he was frozen out by senior colleagues, which he called ‘bullying’, when he started a grievance procedure. Asked why he had accessed police computer records, he replied: “I did it for policing purposes given Khyber Khan had criminal activities.

“I personally assisted officers within GMP in respect of the allegations against him and also placed intelligence about him on the police computer.”

Pressed further, he added: “I accept I was wrong.”

Sgt Khan, who joined the force in 1995, helped police in Oldham introduce so-called ‘neighbourhood policing’ as part of a series of Home Office pilots which was later adopted nationwide.

After promotion to sergeant he passed an exam in 2004 at the first attempt enabling him to become an inspector and also won a place on GMP’s leadership programme, Prospect.

           — Hat tip: Earl Cromer [Return to headlines]

UK: Church Accuses Government of Favouring Muslims

Church leaders have accused the Government of giving preferential treatment to the Muslim community because of “political correctness”.

Parishes are being starved of state funds to help the poor as a result of money being diverted to other faiths, senior clergy told the General Synod, which is meeting in York.

A report endorsed by Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, claimed that the Government had become “unbalanced” in its approach to faith groups.

It argued that the determination of ministers to tackle Islamic extremism in the wake of the London bombings on July 7, 2005, had led to a preoccupation with Muslim communities at the expense of Christian groups.

Subsequently, the report said, churches are facing a challenge to maintain their presence in poor parts of the country.

The report’s co-author, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, said that the Church of England had applied to the Department of Communities and Local Government for money to “enable us to support parishes”.

“It seems as if political correctness by Government may defeat us,” he said, adding that the Church was ideally placed to help improve social cohesion.

Archbishop Sentamu, who wrote the foreword to the report, What Makes a Good City, told the Synod on Saturday that it was important that Bishop Lowe had “not been shy of saying things to the Government”.

“The Church has listened to his trumpet call,” he added.

The report says that there is a “great deal of inconsistency in the way individual [Government] ministers deal with religious groups”.

It continues: “Christian groups in particular have suffered irrational prejudice against their funding applications and a lack of understanding of the nature and sometimes fragility of the local church.

“There is a perception, perhaps justified, that it has been easier for Islamic groups to receive financial support than other faith groups.”

Bishop Lowe claims that there have been numerous examples of local authorities inviting consultation with local faith groups and failing to invite any Christians.

“There can be little doubt that the terrorism agenda has seriously unbalanced government relationships with the faith communities,” the report says.

“Ministers are left to pronounce from a position of ignorance at best, or prejudice at worst.

“Ministers and civil servants see their priorities focused on dealing with Islamic extremism and treating all the faith communities in an even handed way despite relative differences in size.”

Philip Giddings, chairman of the Church’s mission and public affairs division, expressed concern over the Government’s attitude to faith groups.

“We have a huge challenge in sharing our work and vision with political leaders who do not share the same values and faith,” he said.

“They are ignorant of it and we must shift the perception of the contribution made by the Church in building a better community.”

Bishop Lowe said that the Church was committed to providing welfare to some of the most deprived and impoverished areas of the country.

“We must not become a comfortable Church for a comfortable nation, but a church totally committed to its continued presence in uncomfortable England,” he said.

The Church published a report called Faithful Cities in 2006, which was critical of Labour’s social policies.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said at the time that whilst people had got richer over the previous two decades, the period had also seen “fear, racial tension and the tendency to treat neighbours as strangers”.

           — Hat tip: 4Symbols [Return to headlines]

UK: I Want to Come Home, Mummy

Aged five, ‘Jenny’ was torn from her parents by social workers after an RSPCA raid. Now a court says she must be adopted.

We reveal disturbing questions about the fate of this bewildered child who faces fears of abandonment for years to come but who just wants to come home to mummy and daddy


They were just a normal, happy family, it seems, until the RSPCA, backed up by 18 police officers, arrived at their house early one April morning in 2007, following a tip-off that dogs were being mistreated, and that there might be guns in the house.

No guns were ever found. No criminal charges were brought, nor does Richard have a criminal record.

He was later, however, convicted of docking the tails of his puppies. But the raid was to have far more catastrophic consequences.

Both Richard and Susan were arrested for failing to cooperate with officers. By the time they were released from custody later that day, Jenny was the subject of an emergency protection order.

So an operation which had begun for entirely different reasons had ended with the heartbreak of their daughter being taken away.

There were two reasons for what happened, and both have been bitterly contested by the family.

The first was the state of the house. Police said it was covered in rabbit entrails — used as food for the dogs they raised — and animal excrement.

The couple claim most of the mess was caused during the raid. They say, the doors were left open, allowing the dogs in. Normally, they insisted, their home was ‘clean and tidy’.

Only a few weeks earlier a policewoman had visited them — after a puppy had been stolen — and backed up what they said.

She also said that Jenny was ‘happy’. Their home, it should also be stressed, was always immaculate when we visited the couple.

Attention was drawn to the fact that there was a hole in a downstairs bedroom ceiling. But the family point out that a pipe had recently leaked and could not be repaired until the beams had dried out. It has now been fixed.

Nor, it was claimed by the authorities, were there any clothes for Jenny in her wardrobe. Did the police look in the wrong wardrobe — the one in her parent’s bedroom?

The wardrobe in Jenny’s own bedroom, her parents say, was full of her belongings.

‘We always put Jenny first,’ said Susan. ‘We have receipts from Monsoon [the fashion store] proving we spent hundreds of pounds on Jenny in the couple of months before she was taken from us. If anything, we spoilt her.’

The second reason, according to social services, that Jenny was not returned to her parents, was that she had apparently made it clear she didn’t want to return to the house.

But why would she? Jenny was later diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the raid. ‘They were raided like criminals, it is disgusting’

In fact, it would be impossible to imagine a more traumatic situation than the ‘chaotic scenes’ which unfolded at the house that morning and which culminated in her mother and father being led away in handcuffs.

In other words, not wanting to return home didn’t necessarily mean she didn’t want to be with her parents.

Those tapes made during ‘contact meetings’ in which she tearfully begs to be returned to her ‘Mummy and Daddy’ would seem to confirm this.

‘She was hysterical when the police came in,’ says Susan. ‘It’s the damage they have done to our little girl which really concerns us. I fear she will never be the same.’

There is also another sad twist to this troubling story. Susan and Richard didn’t just lose Jenny that day.

Susan was three months pregnant with twins. She says she was in a police cell when she began to miscarry.

‘I started bleeding heavily and knew that could only mean one thing,’ she said. ‘I was taken to hospital where doctors confirmed my worst fears.’

Even so, she was taken back to the police station later, where she says she suffered another haemorrhage. ‘I rang the buzzer and they brought me sanitary towels. Later, I was allowed home.’

But another nightmare was just unfolding. Susan was charged with neglecting Jenny — on the strength, she says, of the conditions in the house.

Three months later, all the charges were dropped.

Many would also argue that this is when the social services case against the couple should also have been dropped.

But, like other families who have been through a similar experience, once they were in the ‘system’ they found it impossible to get out.

It is a view supported by their MP. ‘I was very concerned about the case from the outset,’ says Mr Hendry.

‘Every time I have attempted to discuss it with the director of children’s services for the county council, I have been told they cannot discuss it because of the legal proceedings.

‘What it has brought home to me is how difficult it is for parents to get back a child once a decision has been made to take the child away.

‘It is clear to me they are devoted parents whose only goal is get their child returned. I have never seen the evidence to justify taking their daughter away from them.’

In fact, the ‘evidence’ is based on the testimony of two independent experts. Two others gave the couple positive assessments. But let’s deal with the critical reports.

One ‘expert’ suggested, after spending just one hour with Jenny, that she had been sexually abused by her father.

And the proof? He came to this conclusion, it seems, after Jenny had described choking on a lollipop which, so the expert said, could ‘signify the child being forced to have oral sex with her father’.

There was indeed an incident, says her mother, in which Jenny got a lolly (a sugar-free one from the health shop, incidentally) stuck in her throat when she was playing.

MP Charles Hendry said the case has concerned him more than any other in 13 years as a member of Parliament

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Teenage Robbery Crime Wave Sweeps Britain

A teenage robbery crime wave is sweeping Britain, with the number of young muggers increasing by more than three quarters in the last decade.

The alarming rise, which sees the equivalent of 11 youngsters convicted every day, comes as figures next week will show robberies and burglaries are increasing across rural Britain, adding to concerns that the recession is fuelling crime.

In Cambridgeshire robberies have increased by a third while in North Wales burglaries are up by almost a quarter.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Take it Easy on Muslim Extremists, Police Told

POLICE will be ordered not to charge Muslim extremists in many hate crime cases — to stop them becoming more militant.

Guidelines will tell forces to press for conviction only in cases of clear-cut criminal acts.

Officers will be advised not to proceed when evidence of lawbreaking is “borderline”.

Examples of crimes to which a blind eye may be turned include incitement to religious hatred or viewing extremist material on the internet.

Last night critics warned that the move could mean Islamic radicals being give the freedom to encourage violence.

Some saw the move as a politically correct attempt to appease extremists who hate Britain.

It could even mean officers tolerating many activities of Muslim preachers of hate like the hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza.

Tory MP David Davies said: “This sounds like abject surrender. Everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law.

“It doesn’t matter whether someone is suspected of incitement to hatred or shoplifting — they should all face the same risk of prosecution.

“There should be no special favours or treatment for any section of the community.”

Officials insist there is no suggestion that people who have clearly committed offences will avoid prosecution.

Instead, they want to avoid alienating Muslims on the fringes of extremism by dragging them to court over petty allegations unlikely to result in conviction.

One fear is that some young Muslims are falling under the influence of extremist preachers while serving prison sentences or on remand awaiting trial.

A senior Whitehall official said the guidance was being drawn up as part of a drive to use persuasion rather than the criminal justice system to fight extremism.

He added: “The aim is to stop people being dragged into extremism.

“We are not talking about letting someone off who has committed a clear offence, but where it is unclear if an offence has been committed.

“For instance, where there has been incitement or someone has been on the internet there can be a grey area where there is some discretion and it would be more sensible to avoid going down the criminal route.”

The Government’s counter- terrorism board is drawing up the advice, which will be sent to all police forces, including the Metropolitan, later this year.

The move follows an updated Home Office counter-terrorism strategy announced earlier this year. The new strategy urges preventative measures to win round potential extremists instead of arrest and prosecution.

“We need to be able to provide support for individuals who are drawn into criminal activity,” the document says.

Councils, community groups and the Government’s youth justice board will be among organisations expected to identify those drawn into extremism or at risk.

Social workers, teachers and other professionals will be asked to try to work with some Muslim youths to reduce the likelihood of them turning into extremists.

But the new strategy is likely to reduce the likelihood of prosecutions against Islamist extremists protesting against troops.

In Luton earlier this year, protesters displayed placards bearing the words “butchers” and “animals” at a homecoming parade for 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. There were no arrests for incitement.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Preventing people becoming radicalised is a key priority for the Government. The police response needs to be proportionate to deal with crimes people commit while reducing the risk to public safety.”

The latest move represents a reversal of the policy introduced under Tony Blair in the wake of the terrorist attacks in London in 2005, when as Prime Minister he called for an overhaul of the criminal justice system to root out and prosecute extremists.

Past attempts to win over potential Muslim radicals have frequently run into controversy. Millions of pounds have been pledged to fund Muslim groups, drawing claims that they are receiving special treatment.

           — Hat tip: 4Symbols [Return to headlines]

Why Fears of a Muslim Takeover Are All Wrong

Analyzing the forecasts of an emerging ‘Eurabia,’ hostile to America and western values.

To listen to Europe’s far right, it would be easy to conclude that the continent is poised for another round of bitter conflict with a centuries-old adversary. “The first Islamic invasion of Europe was stopped at [the battle of] Poitiers in 732. The second was halted at the gates of Vienna in 1683. Now we have to stop the current stealth invasion,” argues Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, which claims that Islamic doctrine encourages terrorism.

It’s rabble-rousing stuff. But underlying Wilders’s polemic is an argument shared by many more mainstream right-leaning thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic. Europe, its will sapped by secularism and anything-goes tolerance, has allowed decades of mass immigration without serious challenge. Too feeble to defend their own values, governments have been ready to appease Muslim opinion and must expect the worst. The argument has been gaining ground for some time—fed by alarmist and highly speculative projections from writers like the Canadian Mark Steyn, author of the bestselling America Alone—that immigration and high birthrates could mean that Muslims will make up 40 percent of Europe’s population by 2025. Similar and very public warnings have come from American diplomat Timothy Savage, who claimed that forecasts of a Muslim majority in Western Europe by midcentury “may not be far off the mark” if present trends continue, which would heighten the risk of conflict. The British historian Niall Ferguson has written that “a youthful Muslim society to the south and east of the Mediterranean is poised to colonize—the term is not too strong—a sene-scent Europe.” And the American journalist Christopher Caldwell forecasts that an “anchored” and “confident” Islam looks likely to impose its will on an “insecure” and “relativistic” European culture. The gloomiest commentators, including Steyn and the conservative Ameri-can writer Tony Blankley, talk of an emerging “Eurabia” hostile to American interests and in thrall to Islam.

These warnings chime with public fears that Europe has already become an incubator for worldwide terrorism. After all, the September 11 hijackers plotted in Germany, and homegrown terrorists were involved in the Madrid and London attacks. Concern is growing that a swelling immigrant population resistant to assimilation or integration will steal jobs and strain public services. Last year a Pew poll found that about half of respondents in Spain and Germany held negative views of Muslims. In Spain the figure had climbed 15 points, to 52 percent, since 2004. In the June elections to the European Parliament, Wilders’s party won 17 percent of the national vote in the Netherlands. The anti-immigrant British National Party, which warned of the “creeping Islamification” of British society, won its first two seats. In Austria the right-wing Freedom Party almost doubled its share of the vote, at 13 percent.

Alert to the public mood, European governments, which are now almost entirely center-right, have been slamming doors to further immigration from Muslim countries and elsewhere, and have reinforced the message that Muslim Turkey is not welcome in the European Union.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

G8: Brown-Gaddafi; Downing St, Libya Strategic Partner

(ANSAmed) — LONDON, JULY 9 — “Libya is a strategic partner”, Downing Street has said in a briefing given to Sky News following the meeting held between prime minister Gordon Brown and colonel Muammar Gaddafi on the side lines of the L’Aquila G8 summit: a meeting billed as “historic” by the British press. The talks, held behind closed doors, were the first between Brown and Gaddafi, the latter long shut out of relations with the United Kingdom with Libya being held responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. A Downing Street spokesperson told Sky that the meeting lasted around 40 minutes and took place in a “good” atmosphere and were “businesslike”. The two leaders are said to have discussed the non-proliferation of nuclear armaments, the economy, and Africa’s role on the world stage and Lockerbie. “Gordon Brown expressed his approval for Gaddafi’s courageous decision on Libya’s nuclear programme and stressed the importance of finding a way to ensure that other countries follow this example” the spokesperson added. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Muslims Set Church Ablaze But Egyptian Security Implicates a Christian Copt

By Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — In a continuation of the ongoing wave of arson attacks on Coptic places of worship, the Church of St. Abaskharion Kellini, in the village of Ezbet Bassilious, Beni Mazar, was burnt down at noon on July 11 by Muslim village inhabitants. No one was injured.

A source in Bani Mazar Diocese told Free Copts advocacy the fire was instigated and directed as usual by State Security, aiming “to prevent prayers in new churches throughout both the Upper Egyptian provinces of Minya and of Beni Suef.”

Reverend Abraham Phillobos, pastor of the torched Church told Coptic News Bulletin that the Security authorities are trying to falsely implicate the Copt Reda Gamal.

The Church was officially inaugurated on July 3 by the Bishop of Beni Mazar and was licensed for prayer. It was closed on that same day by State Security ‘for security reasons and to avert a sectarian crisis,’ and was placed under continuous guard.

Eyewitnesses named three Muslim village inhabitants Ahmed Abdelghani, Ahmed El-Qatawy and Eid Sayed Ahmad of torching the Church after spraying it with kerosene, according to Mikhael Fares of Copts United advocacy.

“The arson suspects went inside the church from a back door, but came out from the front of the burning Church in full view of the security guards,” said an eye witness to Coptic News Bulletin. “Guards were there and just watched; when they heard explosions they went and stood far. They saw everything and did nothing, which is evidence of collusion.”

“The State, the Security authorities and the Muslims all do not want any Churches, and the Muslim village inhabitants torched it because they just do not want any Churches,” an eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous told Coptic News Bulletin. “We have been warned by security not to talk to anyone especially with the Coptic media from abroad.”

The Copts in the village of Ezbet Bassilios, Bani Maza, 190 km south of Cairo applied and got a license for a Church in 1979, however, Security placed hurdles and the church, which was never completed, was closed since 1997 for security reasons. According to Copts United it was only through the continuous efforts of the Church leaders to convince security that prayers in that Church do not pose a threat to the village or social peace, that the church was reopened for prayers last week.

The Fire brigade arrived two hours late, after the Church roof had completely collapsed, eyewitnesses said. “Only the holy alter was untouched by the fire.”

Copts United reported that when some Christian villagers of Ezbet Bassilious went to the police station to file a report on the incident, and named the suspects, they were detained and threatened to change their statements.

The violence that toos place in the last three weeks in Ezbet Boushra-East on June 6 and Ezbet Guirgis Bey on July 3 in Upper Egyptian El-Fashn by Muslim mobs was directed at social services buildings belonging to the Church, on ‘suspicion’ that they might be converted to churches, without any of the offenders in both attacks being charged.

The scenario is different in this latest incident in Ezbet Bassilious, which lies only 30 km from El Fashn Diocese. It involves a new Church, which is licensed and the Egyptian security is trying to tamper with evidence to falsely implicate a Copt for setting the Church ablaze, in order to allow the offenders again to escape punishment.

Bani Mazar is in Minya province, which this year has experienced the largest number of incidents of sectarian violence, with cases in the districts of Maghagha, Bani Mazar, Samalut and Mallawi.

[Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Algeria; Gia Founder, We Killed the Monks

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 9 — The killing of the seven monks in Tibehirine in Algeria in 1996 was the work of the Islamic Armed Group known as GIA, and not a tragic mistake on the part of the country’s armed forces as had been alleged by France’s General Francois Buchwalter. This statement came in an interview with dailies El Khabar and Le Temps given by one of the founders of GIA, Abdelhak Layada. “The killings were committed by Djamel Zitouni (at the head of the GIA in 1996, ed.) Layada said, “because of French foot-dragging in the negotiations”. “The negotiations between GIA and the French security services were over my liberation in exchange for that of the monks”, Layada claimed. Held and sentenced to death in 1993, then released in 2006 under an amnesty under the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. The French services, “betrayed their Algerian counterparts and negotiated directly with the GIA” and then “they did not keep to a deal they made with the terrorist group. This is why the monks were killed”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Trade: WEF Gives Tunisia Top Ranking in N. Africa

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 9 — Tunisia, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on enabling international trade, is at the top of the class in the Maghreb and Africa and 41st worldwide out of 121 countries. Last year the WEF had placed Tunisia 49th of 118 countries. According to the report, Tunisia has surpassed European countries such as Italy (45th), Slovakia (46th), Greece (47th) and Poland (57th). The country’s numbers remain competitive when compared to emerging Asian and South American countries, with China 49th, India 76th, Brazil 87th and Argentina 97th. As concerns Maghreb countries, the classification finds Morocco in 55th position, Mauritania in 107th and Algeria in 112th. The report also finds Tunisia foremost amongst African countries, with South Africa at 61, Malawi at 69, Zambia at 80 and Cameroon at 106. Within the Arab world, Saudi Arabia (42), Kuwait (59), and Egypt (75) all find themselves trailing behind the North African nation. WEF assessments consider factors which encourage trade in four sectors: market access, customs administration, transport and communication infrastructure, and the trade background.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Sentenced for Spreading False Reports on Internet

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 7 — The Court of First Instance of Tunis has sentenced a university teacher to eight months in prison. The teacher was found guilty of spreading news on the internet creating a real uproar, so much so that the Interior Minister had to deny the news. The professor, after hearing stories that five children living in an upper middle class district in Tunis had been kidnapped to have their organs sold on the illegal organ market, decided to put the news on the internet without checking its authenticity. The news, which turned out to be completely groundless, caused panic in and outside the district. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barry Rubin: Why Israel’s Left Doesn’t Support Obama or a Settlement Construction Freeze

Aluf Benn, possibly Israel’s smartest journalist, makes a fascinating point about the construction on settlement freeze issue: why is Israel’s left so indifferent to it? In the past, the left (which can mean, say, Labor party through Peace Now) has eagerly rallied to U.S. efforts to press Israel for concessions, especially on the territories. Not this time, even though the concession being sought is smaller than many in the past.

Benn attributes a lot of this to Obama’s failure to sell his program. It is true that he has made no effort to appeal to Israelis on it but I think there’s another explanation. The truth is that in the past a lot of Israelis on the left were persuaded that there was a real chance for peace and that by proving its willingness to leave the territories, Israel could persuade the Palestinians to make a deal.

Hardly anyone believes that today in Israel. People are fed up with the Palestinian leadership’s bad faith and failure to deliver on commitments. They know that Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and has a big support base on the West Bank. They have no illusions about the Palestinian Authority leadership, which makes clear that its entire program is to have others pressure Israel into giving it everything it wants.

So the left’s response would go something like this: We would be willing to dismantle all Jewish settlements in favor of a real and lasting peace. But do you really think freezing building on settlements will contribute to this goal? That’s nonsense.

There’s a secondary factor as well…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

EU: ‘Accept PA State as Full Member of UN’ European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is taking steps to move the establishment of a Palestinian Authority state through the United Nations, whether Israel agrees to it or not.

Solana told a British audience in London on Saturday that Israel and the PA should be given a deadline by which to conclude negotiations for a two-state solution. If a final status agreement is not reached by that time, according to the Reuters news agency, Solana recommended that one be imposed by the United Nations instead.

“After a fixed deadline, a UN Security Council resolution should proclaim the adoption of the two-state solution,” he said. “It would accept the Palestinian state as a full member of the UN, and set a calendar for implementation. It would mandate the resolution of other remaining territorial disputes and legitimize the end of claims.”

He added, “If the parties are not able to stick to it [referring to the UN-imposed timetable -ed.], then a solution backed by the international community should be put on the table.”

Solana added that the UN-imposed “two-state solution” should include resolution of issues such as control over Israel’s capital, the city of Jerusalem, as well as border definitions, security arrangements and the “right of return” by millions of foreign descendants of Arab refugees who abandoned their homes during the 1948 war.

PA negotiator Saeb Erekat reiterated Sunday that no discussions between the Palestinian Authority and Israel would begin without a complete freeze of all Jewish construction in Judea Samaria. Erekat made the statement in response to a call by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume peace talks with Israel.

“There can be no compromises on construction,” Erekat said. “If Israel is allowed to build 1,000 or 2,000 housing units it will lead the PA and the Arab nations to believe the U.S. government cannot convince the Israeli government to stop building.”

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has said repeatedly he is unwilling to come to the table unless Israel stops all building in the regions, including construction within the city limits of existing cities and towns.

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

Uzi Arad: “Fearsome Weapons” Against Atomic Threat

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JULY 9 — Faced with the menace of Iran and its feared race to acquire nuclear weapons, Israel has to strengthen its powers of dissuasion using “tremendously powerful” weapons capable of discouraging any potential aggressor. The warning came from Uzi Arad, security advisor to premier Benyamin Netanyahu in an interview given to the daily paper Haaretz which has leaked some of its details today. In Arad’s view, Iran already passed the point of no return two months ago in terms of acquiring the technology necessary for producing nuclear arms, but the international community still has time to force it to call a halt. If Iran should nonetheless acquire a nuclear option, a race for possession of nuclear armaments would take place in the Middle East and a “nightmare” scenario would evolve in the region. In such a situation, says Arad, Israel “has to improve its defence capability and has to become extremely potent to the extent of creating a situation in which nobody would dare put their ability to harm us into effect. And should anyone dare, our reaction would be such that that country would not survive”. There is a generally held consensus that Israel has for many years held nuclear weapons even though the country has never admitted it, preferring to say that it would never be the first state in the region to arm itself with nuclear weapons. It is further held that Israel has ballistic missiles and airborne and submarine capabilities to fire nuclear warheads, therefore giving it the ability to launch a devastating response in the event of an attack with weapons of mass destruction. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

4 Killed, 32 Wounded as 6 Baghdad Churches Bombed

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — At least four people were killed and 32 wounded as six Baghdad-area churches were bombed within 24 hours, officials told CNN.

The first bombing took place Saturday night at St. Joseph’s church in western Baghdad, according to an Interior Ministry official. Two bombs placed inside the church exploded at about 10 p.m. No one was in the church at the time of the attack.

Sunday afternoon, three bombs exploded outside churches, wounding eight civilians, the official said. The bombs detonated within a 15-minute span, between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m. Two of the churches are in central Baghdad’s al-Karrada district, and the third is in al-Ghadeer in eastern Baghdad.

Sunday evening, a car bomb exploded outside a church on Palestine Street in eastern Baghdad just after 7 p.m., the official said. Four people died, and 21 were wounded.

And in southern Baghdad’s Dora district, a bomb outside a church wounded three other civilians.

Most of the churches were damaged in the bombings, according to video footage.

One Christian Iraqi, interviewed outside Sacred Heart Church — one of the two in al-Karrada — said the bomb went off shortly before 5 p.m., as members were arriving for Sunday evening mass. No one was hurt, Sabhan George told CNN, but the bomb damaged the church building and some cars outside.

George said he is concerned about the church bombings. If this continues, he said, “there will be no Christians left in Iraq.”

St. Joseph’s was one of six churches hit by coordinated bombings of Christian houses of worship in Baghdad and Mosul in 2004. The church is in the al-Jamiaa neighborhood of Baghdad, a former stronghold of al Qaeda in Iraq. There have been recent reports of an increase in targeted attacks in the area.

Many of Iraq’s estimated 1 million Christians have fled the country after targeted attacks by extremists. In October, more than a thousand Iraqi families fled the northern city of Mosul after they were reportedly frightened by a series of killings and threats by Muslim extremists, who apparently ordered them to convert to Islam or face possible death. At least 14 Christians were killed in Mosul in the first two weeks of October.

Separately, gunmen shot and killed an official in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Sunday morning, a local police official told CNN.

Using guns with silencers, the assailants opened fire on Rizko Aziz Nissan outside his home in central Kirkuk at 8:15 a.m.

Nissan was an Iraqi Christian, but the motives behind his killing were not immediately clear. Kirkuk is 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Israel Unveils ‘Anti-Iran’ Submarine

(ANSAmed) — HAIFA, JULY 10 — When on June 29 people in Eilat (Red Sea) saw an Israeli submarine emerge from the waves they must have been shocked, but the news was confirmed only a short time later. An Israeli sub had effectively sailed out of the port of Haifa, passing through the Suez Canal with Egypt’s consent, and then joined in manoeuvres in the Red Sea before returning home. Some analysts stated that this is evidence of growing coordination between Egypt and Israel, who are joining forces against Iran. Experts state that submarines could play a decisive role in the event of a conflict between Israel and Iran. INSS, the strategic research centre in Tel Aviv, stated that Israel’s navy owns three German-made subs: the ‘Dolphin’, the ‘Leviathan’, and the ‘Tkuma’ (resurrection). In future they will be joined by another two, still of German origin. Haifa explained that these will be hi-tech subs that combine the best German naval knowledge with Israel’s latest developments in navigation, communication and electronic support means (ESM) systems. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Osama Bin Laden’s Son, Omar, Says Dad is Evil in New Memoir

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S son Omar first realized the depth of his father’s evil when his beloved dogs were taken away and gassed in a chemical warfare experiment, he says in a new memoir.

Omar also confirms what U.S. officials have long believed — that his father was tipped off to a 1998 U.S. attempt to kill him.

He writes that Bin Laden got a secret communication and fled his Afghan camp two hours before cruise missiles struck it.

He does not identify the source of the tip, which the U.S. suspects was Pakistani intelligence.

Omar’s book, “Growing Up Bin Laden,” written with his mother, Najwa — the Al Qaeda leader’s first wife — describes the ultimate dysfunctional family.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Maoist Attacks Increasing, More Than 400 Killed

In the first six months of 2009, 455 civilians and police officers have been killed in clashes or attacks with Maoists, also known as Naxalites, in several states of eastern and southern India said Ajay Maken, the undersecretary of the interior, to parliament. Maken noted that in the same period 107 Maoists were killed and 861 arrested, which is only slightly fewer than all of those killed in all of 2008. Maken suggested that the Maoist insurgency has intensified especially in the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The Naxalite revolt (borrowing the name from the town of Naxalbari, in the state of Bihar, which witnessed a rural revolt in 1967) has been going on for 40 years in at least 14 Indian states. The Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi, which collects related data since 2002, said that in 638 people were killed in 2008, while the annual casualty toll average of the past seven years in 600. [AB]

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

Sinister Sites Astana, Khazakhstan

Astana is the first capital being built in the 21st century and it perfectly represents where the world is headed. It is truly one man’s vision: Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan (yes Borat’s country, I know). Backed by billions of petrodollars, the city is being built from scratch in a remote and deserted area of the Asian steppes. The result is astonishing: a futuristic occult capital, embracing the New World Order while celebrating the most ancient religion known to man: Sun Worship. The city is still a huge construction site, but the buildings that are already completed already sum up Nazarbayev’s occult vision.

[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Riots: Officials Order Closure of 200 Mosques for Friday Prayers

Chinese officials have ordered the doors of 200 mosques in Urumqi to be closed for Friday prayers in the wake of the race riots which led to the deaths of 156 people.

A crowd of over 1,000 local Uighur Muslims managed to force the doors of the main mosque to be opened, sparking fears of further violence.

Friday prayers are a focal point of the week for Urumqi’s Uighur Muslims and the Chinese authorities imposed the ban in an attempt to deter any large emotional gatherings after a week of tension and violence.

Security teams circulated through the city’s Muslim quarters and told worshippers to stay away from mosques this week and to worship next week instead.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italian Released in Philippines

An Italian Red Cross worker has been freed in the Philippines after being held hostage by Muslim rebels for nearly six months, officials say..

Eugenio Vagni, 62, arrived at an army base on the restive southern island of Jolo with a local politician who had been mediating with the kidnappers.

Mr Vagni and two co-workers were seized by Abu Sayyaf rebels as they visited a project at a jail on Jolo.

The other two Red Cross staff were released in April.

Mr Vagni, who suffers from hypertension and a hernia, was in “relatively good health” but “very weak”, said the head of the Philippine Red Cross, Richard Gordon.

“I am elated,” he told Reuters news agency. “Finally, his ordeal is over.”

‘No blitz’

No ransom was paid for his release and he will be sent to Italy as soon as possible, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Italian TV..

He is currently in the care of the Italian embassy in the capital Manila, the minister added.

Mr Vagni’s kidnapping ended peacefully, “in the best way”, Foreign Minister Frattini said.

“There was no blitz, no violent action that could have put the hostage’s life at risk”, he told Italian TV.

At one point in the crisis, the Abu Sayyaf rebels had threatened to behead a hostage if their demands were not met.

They had called for an end to all military operations against them on Jolo, as well as the withdrawal of troops.

The two other hostages released earlier were Philippine engineer Mary Jean Lacaba and Swiss national Andreas Notter.

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

North Korea Army Behind South Web Attack

SEOUL (Reuters) — North Korea’s military is behind a series of cyber attacks against South Korean and U.S. websites that slowed or disabled access by saturating them with traffic this week, a South Korean news report said on Saturday.

The attacks on dozens of U.S. and South Korean government and business sites appeared to have all but ceased as of Friday but have crippled hundreds of personal computers that had been turned into “zombies” when they were enlisted for the attacks.

North Korea has been seen as a prime suspect for launching the attacks, although the isolated state was not named on a list by the South’s Communications Commission (KCC) of sites from five countries where the attacks may have originated.

“The No. 110 lab of the North’s Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, which is a team of hackers, was ordered to destroy the South Korean networks,” the South’s National Intelligence Service was quoted as telling a closed-door parliamentary briefing.

The secret unit has been adding computer specialists who work with the North’s security apparatus in and outside the country including in China to wage a systematic cyber warfare, the spy agency was quoted as telling the briefing by the JoongAng daily.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia: Sex Furore Best Left at Sea

WHERE was Benny Hill when you needed him during the week?

News that several seamen from the HMAS Success were called home for conspiring to have sex with female colleagues at sea was almost too good to be true for those who love a bit of schoolboy humour.

With headlines such as “Probe into navy sex bet scandal”, it was all too funny, except not many seemed to see the humour.

Heaven forbid, but some 20-something male sailors had put together a list of women to whom they assigned a value if they were able to have a sexual relationship with them.

As a result of thinking about having sex, these sailors have now been questioned by many as to their suitability of possibly shooting people in defence of our country.

Melinda Tankard Reist, of Woman’s Forum Australia said: “I don’t think these men should have a role in the navy. These are not the kind of men we want defending us.”


I think too many people have been watching An Officer and a Gentleman too many times.

Hello! Richard Gere is a movie character.

So now you are not allowed to think about stupid and inappropriate things?

In the meantime, almost every publication (men’s and women’s) lists the desirability of people on a daily basis.

During the week, the Herald Sun had a story referring to Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis as “our sexiest MP”.

Maybe it’s time to bring back the eunuch.

They were trusted men of old who were gelded to keep their minds on the job without fear of getting the urge, so to speak.

Not only that, but we could get a great navy choir out of all this.

Yes, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have called for action — or rather, for no action — from our navy boys.

The sailors have been sent home to face the possibility of the sack rather than ending up in one.

I’ll make a wild guess and say that in offices all over the world, members of both sexes and all sexual persuasions have sized up the sexual form guide of those around them.

Surely all that was required was for the Rear Admiral or someone of a suitable rank to take the boys aside and tell them to pull their heads in?

Did we really need the PM and the Deputy PM commenting on such things?

Should we really be worrying about sex drive and an inappropriate sense of humour when judging suitability to be a sailor?

If the navy finds that the now famous ledger had serious undertones or proof of any form of physical or mental abuse , then sack them.

Otherwise, can we just leave these things to the ship’s officer? Being stupid is not a hanging offence — acting on such stupidity is.

Knuckleheads have to constantly be reminded where a joke starts and ends — particularly in the armed forces, as a history of bullying would attest.

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

Australian and US Troops Fed Unhealthy Meals During War Games

IF an army marches on its stomach, the 25,000 US and Australian troops taking part in war games in Queensland this weekend should be just about able to walk home, The Sunday Mail reports.

The soldiers who are on assignment north of Rockhampton are served a diet flooded with fat, sugar, salt and carbohydrates, but ironically skinny on fruit and vegetables.

Breakfast consists of bacon, eggs, french toast, pancakes, pasta, mushrooms, tomato, cereal, porridge, Milo or hot chocolate.

Lunch is burgers, tacos, chicken parmigiana and an Asian stir fry, while dinner is beef stroganoff or chicken in black bean sauce, followed by bread and butter pudding, chocolate mousse or cake.

And that’s just for designated meal times — the soldiers are also provided with treats such as cream buns to snack on.

A cream bun can be up to 500 calories, which would take 10 hours to walk off.

The Sunday Mail earlier this year exposed how one in seven Australian soldiers was classified as obese.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, has confirmed to a Senate estimates hearing he was concerned about obesity in the armed forces.

“The fitness of our people is vitally important to me and to the service chiefs,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

US Marine Corps captain Binford Strickland said some of the bigger guys regularly lined up for seconds at breakfast.

The Catering Corps also cooked fatty dinners such as Southern fried chicken and Sloppy Joes — an American dish of ground beef, onions, sweetened tomato sauce and seasonings, served on a hamburger bun.

Some cold meats and salads were available if the troops wanted to eat something healthier.

“They get one treat a day,” Catering Corps Warrant Officer Brad Coleman said.

“We do have a lot of Milo or hot chocolate. We try to maintain nutritious standards. There aren’t a lot of deep fried foods.”

Dietitian Julie Gilbert said the diet was no good for “anyone’s long term health”.

“While these guys might be getting plenty of exercise to burn it off, it is not a nutritious diet because it lacks fruit and vegetables — they are filling up on high fat, proteins and carbohydrates,” she said.

Ms Gilbert said the soldiers would suffer serious sugar withdrawals on the diet.

“They might be buzzing for a while, but when the effects wear off they would suffer from headaches, lapses in concentration, feel tired and need to sleep,” she said.

While the soldiers’ health may be suffering, the local economy is reaping the benefits of the bi-annual Talisman Sabre operation.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

New Zealand Olympian Logan Campbell Runs Brothel to Fund Medal Bid

NEW Zealand martial arts champion Logan Campbell has turned to prostitution to fund his London Olympics campaign.

Campbell, who finished in the top 16 in the taekwondo featherweight division at the Beijing Olympics, has set up a “high-class gentleman’s club” with a friend in Auckland.

He said he had taken the decision to set up the business after his Beijing campaign cost about $121,000, mostly funded by his parents.

Campbell insisted yesterday he was not a “pimp” in the traditional sense.

“When people think of a pimp they think of a guy standing around on a street corner with gold chains,” he said. “Pimps are more tough-type guys. I’m an owner of an escort agency.”

Asked if he was bringing his sport into disrepute, Campbell said: “Some people on the team will not think highly of me for doing this. If they saw this place and how it’s operated, they’d change their mind.”

Campbell said his parents had been supportive of his business plan.

“Mum was hesitant but she met the girls, a couple came over to her house and she was sweet as,” he said.

“She realised they were just normal people supporting their kids and stuff.”

But Campbell may not get the same support from the national governing body Taekwondo New Zealand. TNZ officials said that Campbell’s business would be taken into account when considering him for selection.

“Selection takes into account not just performance but also the athlete’s ability to serve as an example to the youth of the country,” funding manager John Scholfield said.

Campbell planned to take a couple of years off, hopefully earn up to $300,000 from the brothel and launch his bid for the 2012 Olympics in London in 2011.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Al-Qaeda Releases Swiss Hostage

A Swiss man held hostage for six months by members of al-Qaeda in Mali has been freed, Swiss and Malian officials say.

Werner Greiner — seized in Niger — is the last of six Western hostages held by a group calling itself al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb.

In May, the group announced on a website that it had killed British hostage Edwin Dyer.

The group had been demanding the release of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada from a UK prison.

“The Swiss Foreign Ministry learnt with joy that the efforts towards the liberation of the last Swiss hostage in Mali have been successful,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry statement said the man — whom they did not name — was receiving medical treatment in Mali, adding he would shortly be flown back to Switzerland to rest.

It was not immediately clear if a ransom had been paid to secure Mr Greiner’s release, which was also confirmed by a spokesman for the president of Mali.

Mr Greiner and his wife were seized, along with two other tourists, near the Mali border on 22 January.

His wife, Gabriella Barco Greiner, was released by the hostage-takers in April.

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

Latin America

Can Honduras be Saved From Communism?

UnoAmerica recognized the new Honduran government. Who and what does UnoAmerica represent?

UnoAmerica is an Alliance of Latin-American Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), created to defend democracy and freedom, both currently in danger in our continent. We decided to recognize the new Honduran government because the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya was actually an impeachment. Zelaya wanted to change the Constitution, without the approval of the Supreme Court and the Congress, in order to stay illegally in power. As in all democratic governments, there are three branches of power in Honduras. In this case, the Executive wanted to stage a coup against the Constitution, and the other two powers (Legislative and Judiciary) did not let that happen. It is very simple.

Why is the world allied against the new government?

In part, because of disinformation, and in part, because Hugo Chavez and his allies have been conducting a black propaganda operation against the new government, in order to defend their friend Zelaya. Unfortunately, some authorities in the U.S. have fallen for that version, without really knowing what went on.

Why is Obama siding with Chavez and Castro on this matter?

I believe that, on the one hand, Obama is beginning to show his socialist tendencies, which were denounced during the American presidential campaign. On the other hand, Obama is letting himself be influenced by several presidents of Latin America, particularly Lula of Brazil, who is the real power behind the São Paulo Forum.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Foreign Births in Italy on the Increase

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JULY 10 — 64,000 foreign babies were born in Italy over the course of 2007, 11% more than 2006. According to what is highlighted by the ISMU Foundation, the institute which carries out studies, research and initiatives on multi-ethnicity and cultures in Italy, it is mostly Moroccans (10.7 thousand, +12% compared to 2006), Romanians (9.7 thousand, up 35%) and Albanians (8.5 thousand, +6%). Following in the rankings are Chinese newborns (4.8 thousand, up 5%), Tunisians (2.6 thousand, up 2%) and Indians (2.2 thousand, up 22% compared to 2006). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Greek Police Flatten Migrant Camp

Greek riot police have led an operation to demolish a makeshift camp housing illegal immigrants in the western port city of Patras.

The camp was used by migrants hoping to smuggle themselves onto ships bound for Italy and Western Europe.

Its closure is more proof of Greece’s tougher stance on illegal immigration.

The camp had been a source of tension with many Greeks who regarded it as a major eyesore for themselves and for tourists arriving from Italy.

‘Terrorising migrants’

About 100 riot police escorted bulldozers into the camp before dawn.

They levelled scores of cardboard and plastic hovels.

Only a makeshift mosque and a tent used by volunteer doctors were left untouched.

The camp in Patras had been in existence in some form or another for 13 years.

A few months ago, it accommodated about 1,800 people, mainly from Afghanistan.

But that number had dwindled to about 100 following large-scale arrests and also because the port authorities had made it nearly impossible to get on board ferries to Italy.

The early morning operation was described by Red Cross officials in Patras as “terrorising” the migrants.

One worker said it was designed to send a message to all illegal immigrants that they had no future in Greece.

‘Migrant threat’

The conservative government in Athens has started taking tougher measures against the so-called “clandestines” in recent weeks, especially since the success of the right-wing nationalist Laos party in the European parliamentary election.

A new law has been passed which makes deportation easier.

Greece has been criticised internationally for its handling of would-be asylum seekers.

But recently the EU Justice Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, acknowledged that the “uncontrollable flow of immigration” posed a major threat to the equilibrium of Greek democracy.

The clampdown in Patras will push some migrants into the hands of traffickers in Athens and Italy who are demanding up to $8,000 (£4,940) for passage out of Greece.

Others have given up trying to catch a boat to Western Europe and have headed for Greece’s land borders with Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

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

New Curbs Set on Arrests of Illegal Immigrants

Revamped 287g Program Will Target Only Serious Crimes, not Minor Infractions; Sheriff Arpaio Refuses to Ease Up

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday it was revising a program that authorized local police to enforce federal immigration law — a controversial aspect of U.S. border policy.

Opponents said the program, known as 287g, was intended to identify criminal aliens but instead has led to racial profiling; it allowed local police to identify and arrest illegal immigrants for such minor infractions as a broken tail light. Program supporters said it has been an effective tool for combating illegal immigration.

The new guidelines sharply reduce the ability of local law enforcement to arrest and screen suspected illegal immigrants. They are intended to prevent sheriff and police departments from arresting people “for minor offenses as a guise to initiate removal proceedings,” according to Homeland Security. The program will instead focus on more serious criminals.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Obama Science Czar Holdren Called for Forced Abortions

‘Comprehensive Planetary Regime could control development, distribution of all natural resources’

The man President Obama has chosen to be his science czar once advocated a shocking approach to the “population crisis” feared by scientists at the time: namely, compulsory abortions in the U.S. and a “Planetary Regime” with the power to enforce human reproduction restrictions.

“There exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated,” wrote Obama appointee John Holdren, as reported by FrontPage Magazine. “It has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Did Islam Destroy Classical Civilization?

By John J. O’Neill

One of the most enduring problems of history is the decline of Classical Civilization. How is it, scholars have long asked, that the civilization of Greece and Rome, which had endured over a thousand years, gave way to the world of the Medieval; an age which saw, for a while, the decline and apparent disappearance of the rationalist spirit of Greece and Rome? In academic and journalistic literature and in the popular imagination there is no mystery at all: After the Barbarian Invasions of the fifth century, we are told, the peoples of Western Europe reverted to living in thatched, wattle-and-daub huts. Cities were destroyed and abandoned, the art of writing virtually lost, and the mass of the population kept in a state of ignorance by an obscurantist and fanatical Church, which effectively completed the destructive work of the Barbarians. Into this darkened stage, the Arabs arrived in the seventh and eighth centuries like a ray of light. Tolerant and learned, they brought knowledge of the science of antiquity back into Europe and, under their influence, the Westerners began the long journey back to civilization.

That, in a nutshell, is the story told in an enormous number of scholarly treatises and academic textbooks. It is a story implicitly accepted by a large majority of professional historians, both in Europe and North America — among them Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Middle Eastern studies in the English-speaking world; and yet it is a version of the past that is completely and utterly false. Indeed, it would be difficult to imagine a narrative further removed from what actually happened. And, shocking as it may seem, historians have known this for several generations. Why this knowledge has never been fully disseminated or integrated into academic thought is a moot point, but the fact that textbooks designed for schoolchildren and students of higher education can still be printed promoting the above version of events should be a cause of deep concern. For the truth is that when the Arabs reached southern Italy and Spain they found not a bunch of primitive savages, but a highly sophisticated Latin civilization, a civilization rich in cities, agriculture, art and literature, and presided over by completely Romanized Gothic kings. How do we know this? Well, the Arabs themselves said so. On their arrival in Spain, Gothic Spain, the Muslim conquerors of 711 were astonished at the size and opulence of its cities. Their annalists recall the appearance at the time of Seville, Cordova, Merida and Toledo; “the four capitals of Spain, founded,” they tell us naively, “by Okteban [Octavian] the Caesar.” Seville, above all, seems to have struck them by its wealth and its illustriousness in various ways. “It was,” writes Ibn Adhari,

among all the capitals of Spain the greatest, the most important, the best built and the richest in ancient monuments. Before its conquest by the Goths it had been the residence of the Roman governor. The Gothic kings chose Toledo for their residence; but Seville remained the seat of the Roman adepts of sacred and profane science, and it was there that lived the nobility of the same origin. (Cited from Lious Bertrand and Sir Charles Petrie, The History of Spain (2nd ed. London, 1945) p. 7)

Not much sign of decline here! Another Arab writer, Merida, mentions Seville’s great bridge as well as “magnificent palaces and churches,” (Bertrand and Petrie, pp.17-18) and we should note that archaeological confirmation of this picture is forthcoming. Several of the magnificent Visigothic churches and palaces still stand, and the discovery near Toledo in 1857 of a collection of richly wrought Visigothic votive crowns encrusted with precious stones brought the descriptions of the Arab conquerors to mind in the most vivid way possible.(See Richard Fletcher, Moorish Spain (London, 1992) p. 18)

Documentary and archaeological evidence from throughout the territories of the former Roman Empire has demonstrated, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Barbarian rulers who occupied Italy and the Western Empire during the fifth century, far from destroying Roman culture and civilization, rapidly became Romanized themselves, and presided over a veritable renaissance of Classical civilization. The arts and the sciences flourished under them, and their enormous wealth was employed in the construction of brilliantly decorated residences and churches. By 500 AD, virtually all of the damage that had been done during the Invasions of the fifth century had been repaired, and cities flourished as they had under the old Imperial administration. Indeed, the “Barbarian” kings of Italy, from the very beginning, actively imitated the Court in Constantinople, and all of them regarded themselves as not only allies, but functionaries and officers of the Empire. The gold coins they issued were stamped with the image of the Byzantine Emperor, and they dwelt in the palatial villas erected by earlier Roman procurators and princes. Some of these were extended, and all were regularly renovated. Yet, having said all that, it is true that by the end of the seventh century, or at the very latest by the start of the eighth, this flowering Classical civilization came, rather suddenly, to an end; and the medieval world we are all familiar with took shape: cities and towns declined and were sometimes abandoned, trade diminished, life became more rural, the arts declined, illiteracy prevailed, and the feudal system, which fragmented the kingdoms of Western Europe, took shape. In the years which followed, the Church became the sole vehicle of learning and administration, and a barter economy largely replaced the monetary system in place shortly before. What coins were issued, were minted in silver, rather than the gold used till the start of the seventh century. The Middle Ages had begun.

Who or what had produced this situation?

As early as the 1920s Belgian medievalist Henri Pirenne located the proverbial smoking gun. But it was not in the hands of the Goths or Vandals, or the Christian Church: it was in the hands of those people whom it had, even then, become fashionable to credit with saving Western Civilization: the Arabs…

[Return to headlines]

Preacher Recommends Beach, Sun for Muslims

Muslims should go to the beach and pray: Qaradawi

Bearded men and veiled women should live it up and go to the beach, a top Muslim preacher said Sunday, urging Muslims to instill fun and joy in their lives besides being religious.

Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi said beach walks and enjoying outdoor activities are not only for the non-religious and urged Muslims to make recreational activities part of their lifestyles.

For Muslims, modesty is the best policy and that makes many faithful shy away from going for a swim or getting a suntan. But Qaradawi refuted the common held belief that beach-going is forbidden, stressing instead that “it is their [Muslims] right to enjoy the fresh air of the beach.”

In an interview with the Egyptian oppositional paper al-Shuruq, Qaradawi said leisure outdoor activities were part of the Sunna, habits and actions, of the Prophet who always spent time with his wives outdoors in the desert and by the oasis.

But besides the psychological benefits of outdoor recreational activities, Qaradawi said going to the beach and praying the daily prayers allows Muslims to prove to the world that being religious does not conflict with leading a fun life.

Qaradawi did not specify whether swimsuits were forbidden yet in their efforts to align the Islamic principle of modesty with the urge to swim, Muslims have come up with various swimsuit such as the burkini, which covers the whole body.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

3 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/12/2009

  1. The Hate Behind the Protest.

    Hebrew manuscripts of the Jewish Bible that were written centuries before Muhammad was born are, apparently, Muslim property.

    Would anyone care to speculate regarding what would become of those priceless scrolls a few minutes after they fell into Muslim hands?

    Islam’s propensity for revisionism makes the Soviet era Communists look like a buch of pikers.

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