Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/14/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/14/2009Relations between China and Turkey have grown ugly, all because of the recent Chinese crackdown on Uighur rioters in Xinjiang. The official Turkish reaction upset China, which has demanded a retraction.

In other news, a singer in Iran was jailed for “ridiculing the Koran”. Also, a woman in Britain who left her children alone briefly to play in a park has officially been branded a criminal — without even a hearing, much less a trial or conviction.

Thanks to AA, Amil Imani, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, KGS, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
A Challenge to Congress on Fed
Momentum Builds Toward Possible End of the Fed
Climate Bill Spells “Skyrocketing” Energy Rates, Unemployment, Less Freedom
Eligibility Arguments to Get Court Hearing
Fox News Notes Communist Past of the ‘Green Jobs’ Czar
‘Politburo’ Controlling U.S. Policy
Problem Nurses Stay on the Job as Patients Suffer
The Only True Emergency
Ezra Levant: Jennifer Lynch is a Damned Liar
Europe and the EU
Berlin Has Dealt a Blow to European Unity
BNP Leader Nick Griffin Snubbed on First Day in European Parliament as Fellow MEP Refuses to Sit Next to Him
France: July 14; Vandals Burn 317 Automobiles
Germany: ‘I Don’t Know of a Cow Named Merkel’
German Debate on EU Decision-Making Powers Heats Up
Ireland: Blasphemy Law a Return to Middle Ages — Dawkins
Irish Confirm Date as EU Leaders Pledge to Join ‘Yes’ Campaign
Italy: Comedian Seeks Political Candidacy
Italy: Experts Duel Over ‘Depressed’ Don
Italy-Greece: Karamanlis in Rome, On Immigration and Energy
Libya Case Reveals Flaws in Swiss Diplomacy
Spain: Press, Caruana Reignites Gibraltar Waters Dispute
Sweden: Protests Organizing Over ‘Big Brother’ Stockholm Program
The Islamofascists Are the Fascists, Not Geert Wilders
UK: Foreign Gangs Rob ‘Soft Touch’ Britain of £40billion a Year
UK: Mother Who Left Children Playing in Park is Branded a Criminal
Explosion Rocks Serbia
Mediterranean Union
EU Commission: New Funding on 1st Anniversary
North Africa
Agriculture: Algeria, Record Grain Harvest
Algeria-Cuba: Raul Castro Visits Algiers
Egyptian Woman’s Murder: Iran and Germany in War of Words
Egyptian Jailed for Insult Poem
Terrorism: Press, Mlns of Euros for Release of Swiss Man
Western Sahara: Sahrawi Children’s Open Letter to Zapatero
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza: Marry a Terror Widow, Get Cash
Middle East
A U.S. Middle East Policy Emerges: Great in Theory, Certain to Fail in Practice
Iran Singer Gets Jail for “Ridiculing Quran”
Iraq: Seven Churches Hit in Baghdad. Four Dead
Saudi Family Take a Genie to Court Over Theft and Harassment Allegations
Syria: Ice Project for Veneto Businesses
Terrorism: Saudi Arabia, Sentences in Al-Qaeda Trial
South Asia
Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed
Malaysian Muslims Stir Anger With Church Article
Swat Diary: ‘Taliban Defeated’
Far East
China on Collision Course With Turkey?
China Demands Turkish Retraction
Qaeda Threatens China Over Uighur Unrest: Report
The Meaning of N Korea’s Strange Jibes
Sub-Saharan Africa
African View: A Question of Leadership
French Advisers Seized in Somalia
Mogadishu: Women and Children Killed in “Worst Clashes” In Two Months
Latin America
Why I Came to Honduras
Canada Toughens Its Visa Demands
Netherlands: Asylum Seeker Amnesty for 27,700
UK: Foreign Gangs and 30,000 Criminals Rob ‘Soft Touch’ Britain of £40billion a Year
UN Criticises Italian, Greek Asylum Policies
Vessel With 28 Migrants Lands on Malta
Wilkommen to Romania
Culture Wars
Google Blocks Blog Exposing Homosexual Agenda
Amil Imani: Liberal-Islamist Alliance
Who Will Investigate the U.N.-Vatican Connection?

Financial Crisis

A Challenge to Congress on Fed

A bill in the House of Representatives sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul of Texas calling for a full audit of the Federal Reserve has attracted 260 co-sponsors — far more than needed to ensure passage.

Yet, the legislation remains in the House Judiciary Committee where few support it. And last week, the Senate, on a procedural vote, killed an amendment requiring Congress to inspect the books of the Fed, which has already conceded it has no intention of revealing to the people how billions in bank bailout dollars have been spent so far — even after the fact!

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Momentum Builds Toward Possible End of the Fed

Rep. Ron Paul: Congress can revoke central bank’s charter ‘at any time’

A movement to audit the Federal Reserve — the private institution that virtually controls U.S. interest rates, money supply and other economic influences — is gaining momentum in the House and Senate while the Fed ramps up its efforts to thwart scrutiny of its books.


In a recent Straight Talk commentary, Rep. Paul wrote, “Claims are made that auditing the Fed would compromise its independence. However, by independence, they really mean secrecy. The Fed clearly cherishes its vast power to create and spend trillions of dollars, diluting the value of every other dollar in circulation, making deals with other central banks, and bailing out cronies, all to the detriment of the taxpayer, and to the enrichment of themselves. I am happy to challenge this type of ‘independence.’“

Recently, two expert economists on the Federal Reserve — Allan Meltzer, a professor of political economy, and John Taylor, a former Treasury official — warned Congress against expanding the Fed’s power, the New York Times reported. They told a House panel that the Fed has routinely failed to recognize financial crises until after they happen.

“I do not know of any single clear example in which the Federal Reserve acted in advance to head off a crisis or a series of banking or financial failures,” said Meltzer.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Climate Bill Spells “Skyrocketing” Energy Rates, Unemployment, Less Freedom

“What they’re doing is raising the cost of traditional energy so high that it would be feasible to invest in alternate technologies,” says Andrew Moylan.

“Today, alternative technologies — as great as they may seem to people — are very expensive. It’s not that people desperately want to destroy the environment that they’re not investing in them. They don’t invest in them because they’re extremely expensive. So if you raise the cost of traditional energy so high that it makes other technologies more palatable in terms of cost, there’s going to be more investment in those.”

Whether these will work or not is another question.

Keith Rattie, CEO of Utah-based Questar Corp., is one of the many global-warming skeptics who doesn’t think they will, and he explained why in a talk he gave to the graduating class of Utah Valley University this April.

Said Rattie: “Why has my generation failed to develop wind and solar? Because our energy choices are ruthlessly ruled, not by political judgments, but by the immutable laws of thermodynamics. In engineer-speak, turning diffused sources of energy such as photons in sunlight or the kinetic energy in wind requires massive investment to concentrate that energy into a form that’s usable on any meaningful scale.

“What’s more, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Unless or until there’s a major breakthrough in high-density electricity storage — a problem that has confounded scientists for more than 100 years — wind and solar can never be relied upon to provide base load power.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Eligibility Arguments to Get Court Hearing

‘For 1st time, we have a judge who’s listening’

In what ultimately could prove to be a turning point in the legal challenges to Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president, a federal judge in California has planned a hearing on the merits of a federal court case raising those questions.

According to attorney Orly Taitz, who is working on multiple cases alleging Obama is a “usurper” because he doesn’t meet the constitutional requirement that only a “natural born citizen” can be president, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled in a hearing today that her case will move forward.

The hearing was on her motion for a default order against Obama, because although Taitz said she notified him of the action, Obama’s attorneys did not make an appearance.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fox News Notes Communist Past of the ‘Green Jobs’ Czar

The administration’s “Green Jobs” czar, Van Jones, has a “very checkered past” deep-rooted in radical politics, including black nationalism, anarchism, and communism. The broadcast network newscasts have mostly failed to report on Mr. Jones’s past political affiliations which are lock-step with the network’s downplay of coverage regarding President Obama’s associations with the former radical and terrorist William Ayers during the election.

At 6:47 a.m. EDT on the July 10 edition of “Fox and Friends,” Americans for Prosperity Policy Director Phil Kerpen, told interviewer Brian Kilmeade that Jones is “somebody who was involved in radical politics in San Francisco, “who was self-admittedly “radicalized in jail” and found “Communism and anarchism.” Kerpen compares Van Jones’s Communist past with his new quest for environmentalism and the creation of green jobs:

“I think it’s pretty instructive what his past is…it’s the same sort of philosophy, the idea that government ought to be reordering society in accordance with some utopian vision that failed with communism and socialism, and will fail with this green jobs idea.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Politburo’ Controlling U.S. Policy

Sources say White House cadre bypassing agencies, jeopardizing security

A small group of officials working mostly from the White House are tightly controlling U.S. foreign policy, bypassing other government agencies and making decisions without employing their expertise, according to diplomatic sources speaking to WND.

The sources said some of the decisions may be jeopardizing U.S. security.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Problem Nurses Stay on the Job as Patients Suffer

Nurse Owen Jay Murphy Jr. twisted the jaw of one patient until he screamed.

He picked up another one — an elderly, frail man — by the shoulders, slammed him against a mattress and barked, “I said, ‘Stay in bed.’ “

He ignored the alarms on vital-sign monitors in the emergency room, shouted at co-workers and once hurled a thirsty patient’s water jug against the wall, yelling, “How do you like your water now?” according to state records.

Murphy’s fellow nurses at Kaiser Permanente Riverside Medical Center finally pleaded with their bosses for help. “They were afraid of him,” a hospital spokesman said.

Under pressure, Murphy resigned in May 2005. Within days, Kaiser alerted California’s Board of Registered Nursing: This nurse is dangerous.

But the board didn’t stop Murphy from working elsewhere, nor did it take steps over the next two years to warn potential employers of the complaints against him. In the meantime, Murphy was accused of assaulting patients at two nearby hospitals, leading to convictions for battery and inflicting pain, board and court records show.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Only True Emergency

Maybe having Congress and the White House involved in the automobile industry wouldn’t be such a bad idea — because if they pushed cars like they are pushing the climate bill, the auto industry would be poised for unprecedented growth. But therein is the rub — spreading hot air and manure around the halls of Congress and using unfounded assurances of global catastrophe isn’t synonymous with successful business strategies 101.

Sen. Barbra Boxer, D-Calif., claims that if the Senate doesn’t pass a bill to cut global warming there will be dire results of biblical proportions: both droughts and floods (she wants the bases covered), fires, agricultural losses, loss of species and worsening air pollution. She left out water to blood, boils and death of firstborn — oh that’s right; she covers that with abortion — my bad.

She says, “It’s going to be a tough slog, but I’m excited about it. … I know my Republican colleagues are going to try to do everything to stop it and distort it.” It won’t be just Republicans out to stop the bill — at least 15 Democrat senators who are afraid of losing their seats because of voter-backlash are positioned to oppose it as well. They should be afraid, and you the voters should do everything in your power to keep them that way..

As I wrote in March 2007, “From the beginning, radical prognosticators of environmental apocalypse have been miserably wrong. Now, armed with new fictional threats and apocalyptic warnings, they seek to legislate the environment and thus further erode the rights of individuals.”

David Deming wrote, “This is not science — it’s religion. It takes faith to believe in global warming. You need to pretend the sun is not the major factor in how warm the earth is at any given time. You need to pretend that your choice of light bulb can really impact the temperature of the planet. You need to pretend that buying carbon credits from Al Gore will actually save the planet. You need to pretend massive redistribution of wealth can reduce the temperatures of the planet. That’s a lot of pretending [i.e., faith].” I would phrase it more succinctly — I would say it was a lot of nonsense.

“John Coleman, [founder of The Weather Channel], now a meteorologist for San Diego TV station KUSI, calls it a ‘manufactured crisis’ by dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives who have manipulated long-term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming.” (Weather Channel founder: Warming ‘greatest scam in history’; Nov. 8, 2007;

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Ezra Levant: Jennifer Lynch is a Damned Liar

We already know how little regard Jennifer Lynch has for the truth. She put it in her grostesque, unsolicited memo to Parliament last month when she suggested that truth be removed from the Criminal Code as a defence to the charge of hate propaganda.

What human being — not what politician, not what lawyer, but what human being — would propose that telling the truth should be a crime in Canada? What an execrable woman; what an embarrassment to Stephen Harper’s Conservative government; what an embarrassment to anyone who actually cares about real human rights; what a shame for all Canadians.

But now we know that Lynch practises what she preaches. She places little value on the truth, either in the law or in her public communications as an officer of the government of Canada. In her latest letter to the National Post she proves yet again that she has no compunction about lying, lying to the public and lying to Parliament.

I’m so embarrassed that this woman sneaked through the government’s screening process for appointees.

Lynch leads a pack of sociopaths

As I’ve argued before, Lynch leads a little band of sociopaths — her censorship squad includes a corrupt ex-cop thrown off the police force for illegal conduct; it includes at least four, and as many as eight, members of neo-Nazi organizations; and its former investigator and current chief complainant, Richard Warman, is someone who calls Jews “scum” and gays a “cancer”, all in the course of his “human rights” work.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Has Dealt a Blow to European Unity

I want to focus on three aspects of this complex ruling: the separation of powers between member states and the EU; the court’s view of the European parliament; and its view on European integration.

First, Germany’s constitutional court takes a clear stance on sovereignty. Ultimate authority always has to rest in a single place — and that is the member state for now. If you wanted to transfer sovereignty to the EU, you would have to dump your national constitution and adopt a European version in its place. As this is not going to happen, the court, in effect, ruled that all sovereignty in the EU is national. Power may be shared, but sovereignty may not.

Second, the court does not recognise the European parliament as a genuine legislature, representing the will of a single European people, but as a representative body of member states. A particular criticism made by the court is that the European parliament does not behave like a true parliament. There is no formal opposition. There is no grouping that supports a government. While the Lisbon treaty increases the powers of the European parliament, it does not, in the court’s view, fix its ultimate short-coming: that the parliament does not constitute an effective control of EU executive power.

Arguing purely from the narrow perspective of German constitutional law, it is partly for that reason that the court decided to strengthen the relative position of the German parliament. As a result, Germany will be able to ratify the Lisbon treaty only after a change in a domestic power-sharing law.

Third, and perhaps most important, the court has given an explicit opinion on the question of European integration. Where does it end? The answer is: right here. The court said member states must have sovereignty in the following areas: criminal law, police, military operations, fiscal policy, social policy, education, culture, media, and relations with religious groups. In other words, European integration ends with the Lisbon treaty. It is difficult to conceive of another European treaty in the future that could be both material and in line with this ruling.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

BNP Leader Nick Griffin Snubbed on First Day in European Parliament as Fellow MEP Refuses to Sit Next to Him

Controversial BNP leader Nick Griffin took his seat in the European Parliament today but failed to find sufficient far-right allies to bolster the party’s presence.

However, Mr Griffin and party colleague Andrew Brons were immediately met with controversy after Democratic Unionist Party MEP Diane Dodds refused to take her seat next to them.

The two BNP men were allocated seats 780 and 781 but Ms Dodds refused to take seat 782.

Mr Griffin also took a swipe at Baroness Kinnock, the Europe Minister, after she failed to invite the BNP pair to a reception for new MEPs.

Mr Griffin told The Times: ‘I would not want to share a drink with Glenys Kinnock.

‘She is a political prostitute, simple as that. She and her husband started off their careers as anti-common market and now they are there not just with their noses in the trough, they are in the trough.’

MEPs took their places in the Strasbourg Chamber a month after the Euro elections delivered a drubbing to socialists across Europe and boosted the fortunes of the far right in a dozen countries.

The 13 UK Independence Party members have forged a new 30-strong alliance, but the two BNP MEPs have failed so far to find sufficient far right allies from other parts of Europe prepared to join them.

That means the BNP duo lack the necessary political numbers to be part of an officially-recognised political grouping — a status which brings generous European Parliament cash and administrative support as well as places on influential committees and speaking time.

But the two were in the chamber today as the first session of the new five-year term began, and took part in voting to anoint former Polish prime minister Jerzy Buzuk as the parliament’s new president.

Today was like the first day of a fresh school term as politicians new and old found their places and their new political allies in a parliament which operates in multinational groups of convenience.

For the first time in 30 years the British Conservative faction is not sitting with other mainstream centre right politicians, but as part of a new “anti-federalist” bloc of 55 MEPs dominated by the 26 UK Tories.

British Labour MEPs, whose numbers dwindled to just 13 in the Euro-poll, remain part of the Socialist group, the second largest faction in the new parliament after the centre-right European People’s Party.

More top posts were due to be decided on the opening day of business, with the new parliament already at odds with EU governments for refusing to vote this week on the reappointment of Jose Manuel Barroso as European Commission president for another term.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

France: July 14; Vandals Burn 317 Automobiles

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 14 — Some 317 automobiles were burnt last night in Paris on the eve of Bastille Day. The number of vehicles burned, according to an initial police estimate, was up 6.73% compared to the previous years. This type of violence and vandalism have become a sort of “fashion” for youths in the hinterlands of large cities during holidays, particularly that at year’s end. On the night of last December 31, a total of 1,147 cars were burned, up 30.64% compared to the previous year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘I Don’t Know of a Cow Named Merkel’

The Dresden Zoo renamed a primate they had called “Obama” in response to charges of racial insensitivity by the Initiative for Black Germans (ISD) last week. The Local spoke with the group’s director about why the zoo’s response still isn’t good enough.

This spring, the zoo in the eastern German city of Dresden named a newborn mandrill after freshly inaugurated US President Barack Obama, apparently unaware that there is a long history of using monkeys to racially stereotype black people. When pressed on the issue, the zoo renamed the animal “Okeke” last Friday. But Munich-based ISD director Tahir Della told The Local on Monday that the new name was also an insensitive mistake.

The Local: What’s wrong with the name Okeke?

Della: It happens to be the shared by a Nigerian football player for Chemnitz FC, Chibuike Okeke. Unfortunately black players are regularly taunted in German football stadiums by fans mimicking monkeys and throwing bananas. The zoo clearly didn’t get the message. All it takes is a bit of sensitivity and a simple Google search to insure that the name won’t be connected to racially problematic images.

The Local: Some critics have said that the incident was a case of exaggerated adherence to political correctness. What is your response to that claim?

Della: I don’t think Germany has done enough in the realm of political correctness to say that. For the last 50 years Jewish organisations have rightfully fought to extinguish the anti-Semitic undercurrents which still remain. The standards of sensitivity that they have achieved should also apply to all minority groups in Germany — but that hasn’t happened yet.

The Local: What about the implications of naming a zoo animal after a public figure?

Della: This is also absurd. I don’t know of a cow named ‘Merkel.’

The Local: You’ve said that the ISD has made numerous such complaints against institutions in the past to no avail, and that you were surprised the Dresden Zoo changed the name. Have you had a response from the zoo director on your most recent complaint?

Della: No, he is on vacation, but I don’t expect to get one. After so much media attention they’re probably hoping it will be forgotten.

The Local: Do you think this incident will help people become more aware of race issues in Germany?

Della: The Augsburg Zoo Völkerschau [ethnological exposition] issue in 2005 — where black people were placed in an ‘African Village’ between the zoo animals — got a lot more media attention after complaints. But I still think this is a good opportunity to fundamentally discuss the question of racism in Germany — it’s hard to get people to take it seriously.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

German Debate on EU Decision-Making Powers Heats Up

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Germany’s debate on how much national say there should be over further EU integration is intensifying two weeks after the country’s constitutional court handed down a significant judgement on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty.

The judgement was initially greeted with relief by the pro-integration camp as it did not say the EU treaty was incompatible with the German constitution.

But the 147-page ruling, now scoured by legal and constitutional experts, is causing strong discussion in political circles, just weeks before a new draft law incorporating the court’s points is to be published.

Only after this law has been approved by parliament, may final ratification of the Lisbon Treaty — the signature by the German president — be completed.

The 30 June judgement said that parliament should have final say when the EU seeks to extend competences beyond what is foreseen in the Lisbon treaty.

The CSU, sister party of the governing Christian Democratic Union, fired the first shot in the debate after intensely discussing the issue over several days.

Its chief Horst Seehofer on Saturday (11 July) said his party wants parliament to have veto power on EU decisions. He said the parliament should be allowed to take a stance on certain issues and the government should be bound by it, but that parliament does not have to be asked for its opinion on every single EU decision.

“We want the EU to be able to function but it must also be democratically legitimised,” said Mr Seehofer.

The CSU’s position has been supported by the left wing Die Linke, which was one of the co-plaintiffs in the original court case arguing that German’s democracy was being undermined.

Gregor Gysi, head of Die Linke, told Deutschland Funk that “the maximum” should be made out of the judgement, so that lower house and senate get as much co-powers as possible.

Tuesday (14 July) is set to be an important day for the Lisbon Treaty debate as chancellor Angela Merkel will attend a CSU convention to discuss the issue.

The regions, too

Other actors are also getting in on the discussion. The country’s regions (Länder) have said they want a say on EU decisions. Wolfgang Reinhart, head of the Europe committee in the senate and leader of a working group on the regions, told the Sueddeutsche newspaper:

“We do not want the government to carry on doing what it wants in those areas where, according to the constitution, we have core competences.”

He also suggested that it should have more say in EU decisions on family policy, criminal law and internal security when regional interests are affected, noting that if the new law following the court judgement is not watertight then others will also try and bring a case before the court.

The scope of the law is set to have strong repercussions for Berlin’s room for manoeuvre in Brussels negotiations as well as on any steps for further integration in the EU, with Germany traditionally being the ‘engine’ behind EU cooperation.

The Austrian model?

German politicians are already looking to other member states where parliament has a say over EU decisions, such as Austria.

Austrian foreign minister Michael Spindelegger told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “on important issues” he must consult with parliamentarians. “According to the law, their position can be legally binding,” he said.

Austrian MPs receive all EU documents beforehand and can choose which themes they want to have a say on.

According to Mr Spindelegger, some lessons have been learned over the 14 years in which the system has been in place. As an example, he said that at the beginning the position taken by parliament was sometimes too narrow so that the minister had no scope for flexibility. This reduced the parliament’s position rather than enhanced it, he indicated.

The minister said that now the parliament’s opinions were normally formulated as recommendations giving Austrian politicians in Brussels flexibility so long as they follow certain important points or directions set by MPs.

“The formal binding [to parliament] and co-ordination of Austria’s Europe policy is not a disadvantage. If a minister sets out good arguments, then the parliament will also follow the argumentation. That’s democracy at work,” Mr Spindelegger said.

A first draft of the law is due on 26 August with the whole process supposed to be wrapped up before the general elections on 27 September.

The extremely tight timetable is being made further difficult by the fact that politicians are now in election campaign mode. In addition, some of the law-makers supposed to take a leading role in forming the legislation have gone on holiday.

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

Ireland: Blasphemy Law a Return to Middle Ages — Dawkins

By Alison Healy

THE NEW blasphemy law will send Ireland back to the middle ages, and is wretched, backward and uncivilised, Prof Richard Dawkins has said.

The scientist and critic of religion has lent his support to a campaign to repeal the law, introduced by Atheist Ireland, a group set up last December, arising from an online discussion forum. The law, which makes the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine, passed through the Oireachtas last week.

In a message read out at Atheist Ireland’s first agm on Saturday, Prof Dawkins said: “One of the world’s most beautiful and best-loved countries, Ireland has recently become one of the most respected as well: dynamic, go-ahead, modern, civilised — a green and pleasant silicon valley. This preposterous blasphemy law puts all that respect at risk.” He said it would be too kind to call the law a ridiculous anachronism.

“It is a wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages. Who was the bright spark who thought to besmirch the revered name of Ireland by proposing anything so stupid?”

Messages of support for the campaign were also received from the creators of Father Ted Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, and the European Humanist Federation. The federation, which represents 42 organisations in 19 countries, said it was “appalled” at the new law and it was “a seriously retrograde step”.

At the agm, Atheist Ireland members voted to test the new law by publishing a blasphemous statement, deliberately designed to cause offence. The statement will be finalised in the coming days.

Atheist Ireland’s chairman Michael Nugent said the group wanted to highlight the ridiculousness of the law. Labour Senator and barrister Ivana Bacik told the meeting that an amendment provides for a review of the law within five years. “There’s a great potential to have this very much altered if not removed altogether,” she said. The new law invited people to make complaints to gardaà and would result in “a huge amount” of wasted Garda time, she said.

“So for lots of reasons I think it’s going to be highly problematic . . . and it’s bad lawmaking if nothing else.”

Ms Bacik said the establishment of Atheist Ireland was “long overdue”. More than 150 people attended the meeting in Dublin and the group ran out of membership application forms. “I think it’s also good to see an organisation that has the word atheist in the title because for a long time many of us were in the closet,” she said.

“It’s not fashionable or popular to declare oneself to be an atheist. There are many people in Ireland who would like to describe themselves as atheists and I’m one of them. I think I may be the only self-confessed or card-carrying atheist in the Oireachtas.”

She said there should be space for atheists, agnostics and believers in organised religions. “And that’s the nature, to me, of a pluralist and tolerant and democratic republic, a country in which there is space for all of us, and in which no body’s belief elevates them to any particular position.”

The meeting agreed to campaign for the removal of all references to gods from the Constitution and for a secular education system. Ms Bacik said the education system, particularly at primary level, was “built on sectarian lines. It is a fundamentally sectarian system in which in our equal status legislation, schools are entitled to give priority to children of a particular religion”.

The group also launched a website which provides information on how to formally leave the Catholic Church.

Atheist Ireland believes that many lapsed Catholics, agnostics and atheists are counted in the church’s membership and claims that these figures are used by the church to justify its continued involvement in education.

Atheist Ireland will also encourage people to read the Bible. Mr Nugent said an objective reading of the Bible was one of the strongest arguments for rejecting the idea of gods as intervening creators or moral guides.

Dick Spicer of the Humanist Association of Ireland welcomed the formation of the new group and said it illustrated the changes that had taken place in Irish society. “It’s a sign of how far we’ve come in Ireland, so take hope for the future. This society does move and it does move forward, more so, I think, than we appreciate.”

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

Irish Confirm Date as EU Leaders Pledge to Join ‘Yes’ Campaign

The Irish government yesterday (8 July) announced it would hold the second Lisbon Treaty referendum on 2 October, confirming early information broken by EurActiv last month. Meanwhile, proponents of the treaty in both Ireland and Brussels are pledging to fight for a ‘yes’ vote.

EurActiv was first to break the news that the second referendum would be held on 2 October (EurActiv 24/06/09), and in the subsequent weeks, the forces advocating a ‘yes’ vote have begun to mobilise strongly.

Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen yesterday confirmed the date, and told the Irish parliament that his ruling Fianna Fáil party would co-operate with all pro-treaty parties — including those in opposition — in the run-up to the vote.

Emphasising the need to put party politics aside, Irish Europe Minister Dick Roche acknowledged that last year’s ‘yes’ campaign degenerated into political point-scoring between the main parties. This “must not be allowed to happen again,” he stressed.

As part of its more proactive approach, the Irish government this week launched a website to explain what the EU has done for Ireland, while the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs launched a site dealing with the Lisbon Treaty itself, detailing “how Irish concerns have been met” by the new assurances provided by EU leaders.

Buzek signals EU intent: Get involved

Indeed, it appears that a more proactive approach is being advocated among ‘Lisbonistas’ outside as well as within Dublin.

Polish MEP and former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek, who is almost certain to become the European Parliament’s next president, yesterday indicated that if elected, he would go to Ireland “to tell people what the treaty is for” and “what’s going on in it”.

“I want to go to Ireland,” Buzek said, adding that he might join forces with Ireland’s former European Parliament President Pat Cox, who told EurActiv in an interview that he would step down from his current role as president of the European Movement to work for a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum (EurActiv 04/05/09).

This represents a significant about-turn for the European political establishment, which in the run-up to the first Irish referendum made a point of not actively involving itself in the ‘yes’ campaign.

However, this time around, it seems the ‘yes’ forces have no such qualms about making their presence felt in the Irish referendum run-up.

“The whole of the EU establishment is holding its breath,” one Irish analyst told EurActiv, a fact demonstrated last week when the European Parliament delayed its vote on José Manuel Barroso’s re-appointment as Commission president (EurActiv 02/07/09).

Recent polls indicate that popular opinion is swinging solidly towards a ‘yes’ vote, though the Irish analyst pointed out that similar patterns occurred before last year’s 53-47% ‘no’ vote.

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

Italy: Comedian Seeks Political Candidacy

Rome, 13 July (AKI) — Italy’s most controversial comedian and activist, Beppe Grillo, has announced plans to advance his political career and stand as a candidate for the country’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) during the party primaries in October. “I am going to be a candidate. Since the death of Enrico Berlinguer there has been emptiness in the Left. An emptiness of ideas, of proposals, of courage, and of men,” said Grillo in his popular online blog.

“(It’s) a Left wing without policies, inclined to mess-ups, rooted in the exploitation of the local administrations,” he continued.

“I am going to take part in a bid to recreate a movement that has taken away every hope of opposition for this country, to offer an alternative to nothing.”

The Genovese comedian’s rants against corruption and financial scandals have long made him the scourge of Italy’s political establishment and persona non grata on state-run television channels.

Grillo said his political proposals would be based on the ‘Five Star Towns’ model that has become a landmark of his blog.

It proposes a dramatic overhaul of water, energy, development, environment and transport.

“My programme will be that of the ‘Five Star Towns’ at a national level, the restoration of dignity to the Republic with the application of ‘Clean Up Parliament’ popular laws and freedom of information with the withdrawal of the state TV concessions from every political entity, starting with (Italian prime minister) Silvio Berlusconi.”

The ‘Clean Up Parliament’ proposal has been an ongoing campaign on Grillo’s blog to introduce a Bill of Popular Initiative to remove from office all members of the Italian parliament who have ever had a criminal conviction.

Grillo rallied thousands of marchers in 280 Italian towns and cities for his so-called Vaffanculo Day in September 2007 when he urged voters to say “F… off” to Italy’s “self-perpetuating” politicians and political parties.

However, Grillo is not yet a member of the PD and some party politicians have dismissed his candidacy.

His candidacy must be approved by the party’s administrators and he must also collect 1,500 signatures in five different regions of three different electoral districts.

Senior PD politician Piero Fassino criticised Grillo’s possible candidacy, calling it a “joke”.

“Grillo is not a member of the PD and in addition, he has continually attacked it. His candidacy is a joke and a provocation. There is no reason to consider it a serious thing,” said Fassino quoted by Italian daily La Repubblica on Monday.

Antonio Di Pietro, former magistrate and head of the small centrist social-liberal opposition Italy of Values party (IDV), welcomed Grillo’s proposal to enter politics.

“Grillo’s candidacy as secretary of the PD is great news. That way, even we from the Italy of Values party will be able to have speakers who are not against dialogue with our political force,” said Di Pietro.

Grillo — who calls the PD the ‘PD minus L’ in reference to the ruling centre-right coalition called the People of Freedom Party (PdL) — has criticised both the liberal and conservative parties in Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Experts Duel Over ‘Depressed’ Don

Mafia boss ‘couldn’t take prison any more’

(ANSA) — Catania, July 14 — Medical experts began sparring Tuesday over the mental health of a Mafia boss who was recently moved from jail to house arrest because he was depressed.

The defence team in the detention tribunal unsuccessfully tried to have a psychiatrist removed as potentially biased “because he is often used by the prosecutor’s office”.

The prosecutors also objected to the defence psychiatrist.

Eventually two completely different psychiatrists were appointed to assess the mental wellbeing of Giacomo Maurizio Ieni, 52, a top don in the eastern Sicilian city of Catania, who broke down in tears before a parole board last month, exclaiming “I’m really depressed and I can’t take prison any more”.

The two experts will have two weeks to draw up their reports on the don’s psychological state before the hearing can move ahead.

Ieni’s release on June 6 grabbed headlines in Italy and abroad and sparked an outcry in parliament.

Critics objected particularly to the allegedly feeble arguments the initial tribunal used to justify its decision, when it voiced the hope that “the affection of his family will help him recover”.

Catania prosecutors firmly opposed the move, arguing in vain that “the individual (was) a danger to society”.

They also noted that Ieni had already been moved out of solitary confinement to a prison clinic where he was being treated.

The ruling caused uproar in political and judicial circles, with a member of the parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission, Carlo Vizzini, saying: “This is a scandalous sentence which dents the credibility of the State”.

“A Mafia boss in a high-security regime gets depressed and is first moved to an infirmary and then sent home in the belief that his family will help get him through”.

“I wonder at this point what therapy is available to the relatives of those murdered by Mafia bosses whose hands are dripping blood but who present themselves in court like suffering lambs”.

Ieni is serving an eight-year sentence for racketeering.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy-Greece: Karamanlis in Rome, On Immigration and Energy

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JULY 14 — Greek premier, Costas Karamanlis, will arrive in Rome this evening and will meet tomorrow with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The meetings will mostly focus on immigration and energy, according to what government’s sources in Athens told ANSA. Karamanlis will be joined by Greek Foreign Minister, Dora Bakoyannis, and by government’s spokesman, Evangelos Antonaros. Following their meeting with Berlusconi in Palazzo Chigi, the Greek delegation will take part in an official lunch with Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Libya Case Reveals Flaws in Swiss Diplomacy

One year ago Geneva police arrested Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s son and his wife on charges they had abused their servants. The crisis that ensued would only grow.

Though some progress has been made to heal Swiss-Libyan ties in recent months, the Gaddafi affair has brought Switzerland into direct conflict with another government — unprecedented for a neutral country that champions diplomacy.

“Switzerland excels in mediation, but it has hardly ever been directly involved in a crisis with another state,” said Hasni Abidi, director of the Study and Research Center for the Arab and Mediterranean World in Geneva. “The Gaddafi case has presented challenges.”

So, looking back, what lessons can be drawn?

The government has locked horns with Geneva’s cantonal authorities over who should be responsible for handling the case. The crisis that began on July 15, 2008, has not only tested the Swiss government’s ability to resolve matters with dialogue but also the country’s federalist system itself, Abidi says.

Rapid escalation

The crisis started when Geneva police apprehended the youngest son of Colonel Gaddafi, Hannibal Gaddafi, and his wife, Aline, who was heavily pregnant at the time.

The Gaddafis were charged with mistreating two servants during their stay in a luxury hotel in Geneva.

The case was not the first time Hannibal Gaddafi had had brushes with the law. But the Swiss incident was different.

Rather than being asked to leave — as had happened with previous incidents in France and Germany — Gaddafi and his wife were arrested and spent two nights in custody. They posted a SFr500,000 bail ($462,000) and were released. The case was eventually dropped after the servants withdrew their complaints.

In Bern the likely impact of the affair was not recognized. When it happened, the foreign minister and many high-ranking Swiss government officials were on holiday, including those at the foreign ministry. But Tripoli retaliated quickly and detained Swiss citizens, closed Swiss firms, reduced flights and recalled diplomats.

Hasni Abidi ( for diplomacy

Abidi says another lesson the Swiss could draw concerns experts and other foreign ministry officials who could step in when police are faced with a high-profile domestic incident with international connotations.

This raises question of how well the foreign ministry is prepared within to handle such a crisis, Abidi said.

“When there’s an incident with a member of the Gaddafi family, it affects the state of Libya,” he said. “Countries like France or Germany, which have also had to deal with Hannibal’s escapades, realise that.”

The justice or foreign minister should have gone to the scene immediately. “You cannot expect policemen or a judge to act like a diplomat,” he said.

He also believes it is imperative to form a task force that has sufficient knowledge of the country in question to provide advice, he said. Other countries already have such teams.

On July 22, Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss foreign minister, interrupted her holiday to phone her Libyan counterpart, Abdulrahman Shalgan, to protest against Libya’s retaliatory measures. Libya immediately threatened to cut crude oil deliveries.

Search for a negotiator

In the weeks and months that followed, Switzerland launched diplomatic initiatives but attempts at reconciliation failed. Libya wanted an apology. Switzerland refused and stayed on the defensive.

Abidi says Switzerland misjudged the nature of the Libyan regime and applied normal procedures used in international relations instead of dispatching a high-ranking government official to make amends.

“Someone like the foreign minister should have been sent quickly to express Switzerland’s desire to maintain good relations with Libya,” he said.

It was only after six months of tension that Swiss diplomats were able to find the right channel of communication. In January 2009 at the Economic Forum in Davos, Calmy-Rey met Seif al-Islam, another of Gaddafi’s sons and a supporter of closer ties with the west.

It was the first contact with a member of Gaddafi’s clan but the parties reached no agreement. Calmy-Rey went to Tripoli in May, a second positive step, Abidi said. Following that trip, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz expressed his readiness to visit Libya.

Such a visit might allow two Swiss nationals, still prevented from leaving Libya, to return home. It is supported by Dubai, whose mediation has been sought by Libya.

“This case has highlighted Switzerland’s isolation,” Abidi said. “Even western administrations have not really come to Switzerland’s support. That contrasts with the recent reaction of the European Union following the arrest of British diplomats in Iran.”

Frédéric Burnand, Geneva (Adapted from French by Tim Neville)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Press, Caruana Reignites Gibraltar Waters Dispute

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 14 — “Caruana provokes Spain and incites disobedience to Guardia Civil orders”, is the headline in today’s edition of El Pais in reference to the tension caused as a result of an initiative introduced by the Prime Minister of Gibraltar, much to Spain’s surprise and dismay, on the eve of the meeting for tripartite dialogue with representatives from Britain and Spain scheduled for next week on the Rock. In a statement, Peter Caruana accused the Guardia Civil of carrying out “new illegal invasions into Gibraltar’s waters” and made an appeal to the owners of vessels that navigate the waters off the coast of the Rock to disobey any kind of request made by the Spanish authorities, from checking documents to identification, and to ask for help, even using flares, to the Gibraltar police. This would mean considering the waters that surround the small island its own up to a distance of three miles, while Spain only recognises those inside the island’s port. The statement was received with surprise in the Spanish Foreign Ministry which, according to the sources quoted in the paper, and limited its reaction to: “we are continuing to work for deeper cooperation”. But it must be admitted that Carauna’s attitude puts the scheduled meeting with Spain and Britain at serious risk, the priority of which was to seal an agreement on maritime cooperation and the protection of the environment. A summit that could have brought the Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, to Gibraltar for the first time, but that now, according to Spanish sources, is difficult if not impossible. Carauna’s initiative in fact risks provoking not only acts of disobedience towards the Guardia Civil, but also confrontations between the two police forces over the control of the surrounding waters. All of this can be considered a response to the controversy provoked on Gibraltar by the Spanish decision to include the waters that surround the Rock on the EU list of places of interest for environmental protection, after Gibraltar which did the same for what it considers to be its own waters. Spain claims sovereignty over the British protectorate with special EU status, that from the moment of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 handed over Gibraltar’s city, castle and port, but not the isthmus, waters or air space to Britain. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Protests Organizing Over ‘Big Brother’ Stockholm Program

The issue should not go through silently, at least this was the sentiment of some people who are watching the formation of the Stockholm Program. The program is said to be “fortified” by the Heads of State and the government in December. What’s said to be at stake is the expansion of surveillance that can be accessed by the United States.

“Let it not be done in silence!” Said one Blog poster by the name of Henrik Alexandersson. He offered a list of what is currently at stake:

  • Enhanced cooperation between the EU and USA “in the field of freedom, security and justice”.
  • National anti-terrorist center in all EU states, who will report to Brussels.
  • All EU states must share their intelligence with all other member states.
  • More and more effective, “data-mining”.
  • Real time access to data on, for example, citizens’ travel, banking, mobile positions, internet use, and to fingerprint and portraits.
  • Streamlined monitoring by active collection of citizens’ electronic footprints.
  • EU standards of supervision.
  • EU harmonization to remove legal barriers to surveillance and interception.
  • Analysis at European level of material from national surveillance and mass interception.
  • An expanded EU bureaucracy for monitoring, interception and analysis, known as SITC.

“As Emma raised through non-aligned Sweden,” Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party commented on his blog, “it feels almost obscene to the Swedish capital city synonymous with a package whose purpose is to introduce a Bodström Samhälle* beyond what was previously seen, and the elimination of legal civil rights protection for it.”

The Swedish Pirate Party website also notes that the protests will happen from July 15-17 at Humlegården, Stockholm.

While on the surface, it appears to just be “stopping the terrorists”, we should note that, in Europe, there’s been multiple attempts to use systems supposedly set in place to stop terrorism for the commercial interests of the copyright industry. Austrian newspapers wanted to use data retention to enforce copyright for one. For another, German publishers wanted to add RapidShare to the national blacklists. While it doesn’t appear that file-sharing related activities are even close to being in the Stockholm Program, it’s hard to deny that surveillance to enforce copyright is indirectly one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to this.

* “Bodström Samhälle” (ömSamhället) refers to former Swedish Justice Minister Thomas Bodström. The term was coined by Swedish blogger Oscar Swartz, who criticized Bodström for his support of what Swartz would consider a “Big-Brother State,” where, under the guise of “law-enforcement,” data-mining and other forms of electronic surveillance would greatly infringe upon personal privacy.

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

The Islamofascists Are the Fascists, Not Geert Wilders

From the desk of A. Millar on Tue, 2009-07-14 09:09

Last month’s EU election results saw the press reacting with horror at the rise of “far-Right” parties. However, while some parties (such as the anti-Semitic Jobbik, which created a paramilitary wing in 2007) are indeed far-Right, some others described as such, are, as Soeren Kern has observed, among “[…] the best allies that Jews (and Israel) will find in Europe today.”

The most egregious piece of propaganda I saw during the recent EU election period was an article on about Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom. Written by one Andrew Willis, and entitled “Netherlands embraces far right in EU elections,” the author decried the party as “far-Right” and “xenophobic.” This despite the fact that the Party for Freedom is a staunch defender of Israel, and that Wilders spent some of his youth in the country, and still visits it regularly.

Particularly troubling, however, was a photograph of a group of skinheads accompanying the text, along with the caption: “Neo-nazi youth look on as Geert Wilders campaigns in Leeuwarden, Netherlands.” The suggestion was of course that “neo-Nazi youth” are the real voters of the Party for Freedom, because the party is really neo-Nazi. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth (and curiously, there is not the slightest hint of Wilders or his party in the photograph)…

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

UK: Foreign Gangs Rob ‘Soft Touch’ Britain of £40billion a Year

Organised gangs who see the UK as a soft touch are costing us £40billion a year, a hard-hitting report claimed yesterday.

Up to 30,000 criminals are involved in drugs, guns, fraud and human-trafficking because our borders are ‘relatively easy’ to cross, it says.

Some criminals specifically named the Human Rights Act, which made it easy to obtain citizenship by marrying a British national.

Many are targeting Britain because they believe officials have a relaxed attitude to migrants and asylum seekers.

In interviews, prisoners revealed that Britain was a fertile place to make healthy profits from crime with a ‘low risk of detection’.

Gang bosses can earn more than £250,000 a year. According to the joint Home Office and Cabinet Office review, more than 4,000 gangs are in operation.

A large proportion have close ties with poverty-stricken countries such as Somalia, where huge numbers of people are prepared to do almost anything to leave.

Officials, who interviewed 45 prisoners convicted of people smuggling or trafficking offences in 2005, found that Britain was seen as having liberal immigration policies.

There is also thought to be less interference from the Government over prostitution, even compared with some countries where it is legal.

Ministers plan a crackdown on some of the gang leaders by using ‘Al Capone’ style investigations to prosecute them for tax evasion.

A pilot project involving Revenue and Customs officials aims to increase the number of gang bosses brought to book with tax laws.

Infamous Chicago gangster Capone evaded capture for years until he was convicted on tax evasion charges in 1931.

Tory immigration spokesman Damien Green said: ‘It is a sad fact that people engaged in the dreadful crime of human trafficking find our borders “ relatively easy” to cross.

‘This is one of the reasons a Conservative government would introduce a specialist Border Police Force, so that around the world criminals would know that we were toughening up Britain’s borders.’

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the campaign group MigrationWatch, said: ‘This report lifts the lid on how our border controls are perceived by those they are meant to deter.

‘It confirms what MigrationWatch has been saying for years, namely that Britain is the softest touch in Europe.

‘Easy access to illegal work, as well as free access to health and education services provide the smugglers with a neverending flow of customers.

‘It is absurd to suggest that this is being effectively tackled when they are queueing in Calais by the thousand.’

According to information given by the traffickers, many of the victims smuggled into Britain are ‘vulnerable’ young women from poor or broken families.

Immigrants were either brought across the border in cars, vans or lorries, or made it through immigration using fake passports and visas.

Often the traffickers were themselves illegal immigrants and some were dealing in drugs and guns as well as people.

The fee for bringing someone into the country illegally ranged from £3,000 for those coming from Albania, £12,000 for those smuggled in from Turkey, £10,000 from

Russia and up to £50,000 to come in from China. Some criminals helping immigrants get in illegally had incomes estimated at up to £280,000 a year.

The report also warned that gang violence would increase during the recession as criminals battled for a share of the market.

It predicted that the downturn would create opportunities for people traffickers and drug smugglers.

In response, the Home Office is setting up a strategic centre to improve how the gangs are monitored.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘The UK is known as a world leader in the fight against serious organised crime.

‘However, the threat continues to evolve and it is right that we update and strengthen our response to match it.

‘This strategy goes further than ever before in taking the fight to organised criminals — from the hard-to-reach criminal bosses to the lower-level players that are harming our communities.’

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell added: ‘This is about making sure we have a response that keeps up with the demands in an evolving area of criminality.’

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

UK: Mother Who Left Children Playing in Park is Branded a Criminal

A Sunday school teacher was given a police record after she briefly left her own children playing together in a park while she popped to a nearby shop.

The woman had left four of her children, the eldest of whom was nine, playing while she went into the shop with her fifth child.

The unaccompanied youngsters were spotted by police officers who then spoke to the woman and logged the incident with the Criminal Records Bureau.

When she later applied for a voluntary job teaching in a Sunday school at her local church a criminal records check flagged her up as a risk to children.

The woman, from Warminster, Wiltshire, who asked not to be named, said: “The police made a snap judgment on my parenting, that’s all it is. I haven’t committed any criminal offence. It’s just a snap judgment after meeting me for a minute or two in the park.

“They have logged this information on the database and I wouldn’t even have known it was there if I hadn’t applied for a voluntary job at the local church.

“It just makes me wonder how many people out there are wandering around with information on them and they don’t know anything about it.”


Anna Fairclough, legal officer for civil liberties group Liberty, said the Sunday school teacher had never even been told she was being placed on a criminal database.

She said: “This woman was never given the opportunity to comment on the allegation that that makes her a risk to children. She’s got virtually no ability to challenge it because the law at the moment doesn’t provide safeguards for people in this position.

“If we are allowing unproven allegations we need to make sure there are safeguards in place so people’s careers aren’t destroyed by unfounded gossip, rumour and speculation.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Explosion Rocks Serbia

Serbian police says a woman and a 13-year-old child suffered light injuries in an explosion in the volatile southern region bordering Kosovo.

The blast early Tuesday in the town of Presevo comes only days after two Serbian policemen were wounded in a grenade attack in the same region.

Presevo is Muslim Albanian dominated region whose leaders seek to use violence in order to join that territory with Serbia’s separatists Kosovo province.

This incident is likely to fuel tensions in the area that was the scene of a 2000-2001 ethnic Albanian violence. The conflict ended in a Western-brokered peace deal but tensions have simmered since.

Media reports say the explosives were planted next to a building inhabited by the families of Serbian policemen serving in the area. The ethnicity of the injured has not been revealed.

The blast also smashed windows on nearby buildings.

Last week, police was attacked with grenades and two officers were injured.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU Commission: New Funding on 1st Anniversary

(by Chiara Spegni) (ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 10 — The Union for the Mediterranean will celebrate its first anniversary by cashing in 72 million euros in funding for new projects for the fight against pollution, the solar plan, motorways of the sea, the Mediterranean University and to support small and medium enterprises but also to finance the operation of the secretariat in Barcelona. Such is the ‘present’ from the European Commission, announced today, aimed at giving a boost to its pet project, born in Paris on July 13 2008 and sanctioned by 43 heads of State and government, and which was immediately sent into a tail-spin by the outbreak of war in Gaza. Since then all meetings have been on hold, until the new technical meeting last June on the statute of the secretariat in Barcelona and on the civil defence in Marseille. The first ministerial meeting was in Paris, on June 25, focusing on sustainable development, while officials and Finance Ministers met in Brussels last Tuesday. A somewhat disappointing result after such a bright start just one year ago. “This coming Monday, the Union for the Mediterranean will celebrate its first anniversary,” said Benita Ferrero Waldner, European commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, “and even though some progress has been made, the suspension of activities that followed the events in Gaza has prevented us from holding meetings and therefore from making key political decisions that are necessary for the Union to start working at full capacity”. “I do understand”, she added, “that the Union for the Mediterranean cannot function in a political void but it is still important to be aware of the pressing need to start working and to provide our citizens with all the potential benefits that this kind of Union can provide”. Furthermore “I am sure that today we will find the political will to overcome differences and I hope that recent meetings between partner countries will allow us to pave the way towards a gradual resumption of activities, with the aim of moving forward”. Hence the decision by the European Commission to allocate more funds for 2009 and 2010, reaching 90 million euros overall, for tangible regional projects. The total cost for these projects should reach over 2 billion euros and they will also require funding from the private sector, member countries and the European Investment Bank, which has already allocated 50 million euros towards them. On the European Commission’s ‘shopping list’, the fight against pollution (22 million euros in 2009-2010), motorways of both sea and land (7.5 million euros), safety for maritime transport (4.5 million), a regional action plan for transport (6 million),a Mediterranean Solar plan (5 million) and a wind power farm in Egypt (1 million). In these sectors, a further contribution comes from the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), with 32 million euros for 2009-2010, supplying capital to the private sector. Further support comes from the Commission of the Euromediterranean University of Portoroz, Slovenia (1 million), on top of the 18 million already allocated for other projects such as civil defence (5 million) and ‘Invest in Med’, which supports investments in the region (9 million). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Agriculture: Algeria, Record Grain Harvest

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 13 — Algeria’s grains production will reach 60 million quintals in 2009, “a new record not reached since the country gained independence”, announced the country’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Rachid Benaissa, adding that “around 35 million quintals of cereal were harvested up to June, including 15.5 million quintals of barley”. Good rainfall and various incentives launched by the Algerian authorities, such as the reduction in tax on seed, fertilisers and pesticides, as well as credit at zero interest for farmers, led to this year’s good results, the minister was quoted by APS as saying. Grain production was below 21 million euros in 2008, due to the drought which hit western Algeria in particular, which led to cereal imports skyrocketing to 3.9 billion dollars compared with 1.39 billion in 2007.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Algeria-Cuba: Raul Castro Visits Algiers

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 13 — For the second time in just a few months, Cuban president Raul Castro is in Algeria for a “work and friendship” visit in response to the invitation extended to him by his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika. During the three-day visit, indicated a statement released by the APS agency, “the two heads of state will examine the paths and means to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all sectors.” There are also “regional and international questions of common interest.” According to the Algerian press, the visit is a part of preparations for the 25th Non-Aligned Movement Summit which is taking place later this week in Egypt. Since its independence in 1962, Algeria has fostered diplomatic relations with Havana. Fidel Castro has visited Algiers 7 times, most recently in 2001, while Raul’s last visit was in February of this year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Woman’s Murder: Iran and Germany in War of Words

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 13 — Iran and Germany continue to disagree over the case of the Egyptian woman killed in a courtroom in Dresden on July 1 by the man she had sued for slander the year before. This morning, according to ISNA news agency, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said that he held the German government and judiciary “responsible” for Marwa el-Sherbini’s death. He then called for UN sanctions against Germany, “The behaviour of the German government and other European countries with regard to what has happened is similar to their attitude towards the massacre of civilians in Gaza. First they watch then they condemn the Palestinians.” The German government was quick to reply. Government spokesperson Ulrich Wilhelm rejected the accusations, saying that there was “no place” in Germany for hatred against people from abroad or against Islam. “We condemn these actions, wherever they come from,” he added. Last Friday the German ambassador to Tehran was called to the Iranian Foreign Office to hear a formal protest regarding the Dresden killing. Even before Iran entered into the debate, there was already controversy in the Arab world against European governments and media, who were accused of having “double standards” where Muslims are concerned. The victim of the xenophobic murder was stabbed to death in a courthouse in Dresden. Marwa el-Sherbini was about to take the witness stand in the appeal trial of the man who, in August 2008, had insulted her and called her a “terrorist” because she was wearing the hijab (the Islamic veil which covers only the hair). For this reason the murder victim has in Egypt been given the nickname “martyr of the veil” by both the public and the press. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Egyptian Jailed for Insult Poem

A civil servant in Egypt has been jailed for three years for insulting President Hosni Mubarak in a poem, according to newspaper reports.

Moneer Said Hanna’s family said he wrote satirical poetry for fun, to entertain his work colleagues, and never meant to hurt anyone.

The case was largely unknown until the family asked a newspaper to publish an appeal for clemency.

The Arab Network for Human Rights says it will appeal against the sentence.

It says Mr Hanna, who worked as a civil servant in a small town in upper Egypt, was tried without being given access to a lawyer.


His younger brother, Hanna Said, said that Moneer Said Hanna began writing poetry only recently and was encouraged when his colleagues at the office enjoyed reading it.

But things took a turn for the worse when he began to write about problems at work and everyday life.

He was summoned for interrogation and put on trial for insulting the head of state.

Under Egyptian law, insulting the president can land the offender in jail for up to three years.

The newspaper that published Mr Hanna’s appeal for clemency did not publish any verses from the incriminating poem.

The BBC’s Arab affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi, says the case is bound to raise questions as to why the authorities decided to act against this largely unknown amateur writer, when satirical poems about President Mubarak by known poets are widely available in Egypt and on the internet.

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

Terrorism: Press, Mlns of Euros for Release of Swiss Man

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 13 — A sum between 3 and 5 million euros has been handed over to Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb for the release of the Swiss hostage, Werner Greiner, reported the Algerian press today. According to Liberté, quoting informant sources, a Malian intermediary was to have delivered the 5 million euros to the terrorist group. According to the Arab language newspaper El Khabar, the sum was set at 3 million, and arrived in northern Niger with a Tuareg intermediary. Yesterday and official from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Markus Boerlin, stated that “Switzerland did not negotiate with the kidnappers or pay the ransom”. The Swiss citizen was kidnapped in northern Mali in January with a British hostage, Edwyn Dyer, who was killed at the beginning of June, reportedly due to London’s refusal to negotiate and pay the ransom to the terrorists. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Western Sahara: Sahrawi Children’s Open Letter to Zapatero

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 13 — The more than 350 Sahrawi children who have come to Madrid to take part in the “Holidays in Peace 2009” programme organised by the Federation of the Municipality of Madrid of the Sahara Solidarity Associations (FEMAS) have sent an open letter to Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which was read out today during the welcoming ceremony. The associations that signed the letter emphasised in the letter how Spain “can’t continue to take advantage of the natural resources of the Western Sahara or to sell arms to Morocco, which uses them against us”. At the same time they denounced the fact that “Morocco systematically violates the rights of the Sahrawi people”. The Sahrawi delegate in Madrid, Alì Mojtar, has asked the Spanish government to “do all it can” to guarantee the organisation of a referendum on self-government in the Western Sahara. He also denounced the conditions in which the Sahrawi children who have arrived in Madrid normally live; during the summer months they are removed from the refugee camps in the “harshest region of the desert”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Marry a Terror Widow, Get Cash

( Hamas held a ceremony over the weekend in which 100 widows of Hamas terrorists were remarried. The women were widowed during Operation Cast Lead earlier this year, when IDF troops battled Hamas in Gaza for three weeks in response to years of terrorist rocket attacks on Israel’s south.

In order to round up grooms, Hamas offered each man willing to wed a widow $2,800. Most of the brides married members of their husband’s family, particularly brothers-in-law. Only 20 married someone not related to their deceased husbands.

Many of the widows have children. The children attended the ceremony dressed in white dresses or black suits, while the widows, adhering to a strict Islamic dress code, wore black veils, floor-length shapeless dresses and gloves.

Many of the grooms are already married, but are taking on a second or third wife, as is common in Gaza. “I believe I’m the one who should take care of my brother’s wife and their children,” one told the Qatar-based Gulf Times in explanation of his actions.

Hamas has held several mass weddings in Gaza in recent weeks, and is planning more in the near future. Prior to the 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza and the subsequent Hamas-Fatah dispute, the terrorist group arranged several mass weddings in Judea and Samaria as well, including events at which several hundred couples were wed.

The weddings allow Muslim couples to marry without facing the normally prohibitive costs of arranging a wedding, while gaining popularity and political support for Hamas. The families of engaged Arab couples in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are expected to pay for elaborate weddings that are beyond the means of many.

Hamas weddings are much cheaper than traditional weddings. Instead of paying for a gown and stylist, brides appear in black robes, headscarves, and Hamas banners. In some mass weddings the brides have not been seen at all, and young girls in white dresses play the part of bride during the event.

Gaza Men Sentenced for ‘Disturbing Revolutionary Security’

In other Hamas news, the organization sentenced eight men to jail this week in Gaza for allegedly “disturbing revolutionary security.” The eight were accused of attempting to form an organized opposition to Hamas.

A Hamas official who commented on the case to Palestinian Authority media said only that the sentences were handed down “after getting the needed evidence.”

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

Middle East

A U.S. Middle East Policy Emerges: Great in Theory, Certain to Fail in Practice

By Barry Rubin

A clear, consistent, and carefully formulated U.S. strategy is emerging in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it’s a badly flawed one that won’t work. Probably, the Obama administration will spend the next six months finding out what I’ve just told you. Hopefully, it will learn and change as a result.

Let’s consider the interrelated U.S. policy regarding Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. On Iran, the U.S. plans to build sanctions against Iran, going slowly to keep Europeans on board and to win assent from Moscow.

The other arm of this policy has been a careful effort to avoid friction with Tehran. Some in the administration think that engagement might work but probably more and more view it simply as a way to show the world that America has tried and that Iran is intransigent (something the world should already know).

At any rate, starting in September the administration intends to spring its trap! Everything will be ready: allies coordinated, rationale laid. Tougher sanctions will be raised against Iran; stronger warnings will be made.

Yet if one puts aside all the atmospherics and personalities, doesn’t this put the Obama administration in October 2009 about where the Bush administration was regarding Iran in October 2008? In other words, U.S. policy will not be noticeably more likely to affect Iranian behavior now than it was then.

The big difference is supposedly that Obama’s popularity and the fact that he tried engagement with Iran will translate into strong European support for sanctions.

But even with their liking Obama, how much more will Europeans do? Moreover, Obama is neither wildly popular nor has he made progress with the two biggest barriers to strong sanctions: Russia and China.

Foreign support for getting tough with Iran is not just a function of disliking former President George Bush or thinking Iran hasn’t been given enough chance to repent. Europeans have spent years at engaging Iran.

No, their motive is…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Iran Singer Gets Jail for “Ridiculing Quran”

A renowned Iranian singer and composer, Mohsen Namjoo, has been sentenced in absentia to a five-year jail term for allegedly ridiculing the Quran in a song, reformist daily Etemad Melli reported on Tuesday.

“He was sentenced on June 9 to five years in jail for insulting sanctities, ridiculing the Quran and dishonoring the holy book of the Muslims,” the paper quoted a Quran scholar and plaintiff in the case, Abbas Salimi Namin, as saying.

Fars news agency, quoting an unnamed judge involved in the case, said Namjoo who has moved to Vienna was convicted for “his unconventional singing of the Quran,” in a private recording four years ago.

Namjoo, who also plays the Sitar, has been described as the ‘Iranian Bob Dylan.’

In September 2008, Namjoo apologized in a letter addressed to his mother, to clerics and the Iranian people, for having recorded the song and said he had never intended to release it.

According to the Iranian Koran News Agency (IKNA), the popular singer maintains he was the victim of an “unauthorized release” of his work on the Internet and planned to sue those who posted it.

His brother and lawyer, Hamid Namjoo, dismissed the charges and said the family would lodge an appeal.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Seven Churches Hit in Baghdad. Four Dead

The dead and most of the wounded from attack on St. Mary, the church where Mgr. Sleimon Wardouni, Chaldean Patriarchal Vicar, officiates. Other churches suffered minor damage. The hand of Al Qaeda to avenge the “martyr of the veil”

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — A series of car bombs targeted seven Chaldean and Orthodox churches of Baghdad tonight.

The worst hit church is the Chaldean Church of St Mary, in Sharaa Philistine, where the patriarchal vicar of Baghdad, Mgr. Sleimon Wardouni officiates. The car bomb exploded on the road that runs alongside the church and left four dead and dozens wounded many seriously.

The other churches, because of their distance from the road, suffered slight damage and some wounded, other churches have not reported damage to people or buildings.

The other churches targeted were: the Chaldean Church of Saint George in the district at Madidi, that of St. Joseph in Nafak (Chaldean), the Church of the Sacred Heart (Chaldean), the church of St Peter and Paul (Syrian Orthodox), and Assyrian church of Saint Mary.

A seventh church, that of St. James in Dora it seems is still in flames hours later.

Only days ago, Msgr. Wardouni had issued a statement to AsiaNews, emphasizing the relative calm that there was in the capital and in Iraq after the departure of American soldiers.

Some journalists in the capital say that the police suspect Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, of being behind the attacks motivated by revenge for the “martyr of the veil” in Germany. Marwa el-Sherbini, 32 years old and in the third month of pregnancy, was killed in a knife attack in a Dresden courtroom by a German of Russian origin who she had sued for defamation. In the Islamic world she is being called the “martyr of the veil.”

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

Saudi Family Take a Genie to Court Over Theft and Harassment Allegations

A family in Saudi Arabia is taking a genie to court for theft and harassment.

The genie is accused of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their mobile phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, according to the Al-Watan newspaper.

An investigation was under way, officials at the Shariah court said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Syria: Ice Project for Veneto Businesses

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JULY 7 — Fourteen businesses from Vicenza will be participating in a project organised by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) in Damascus, including companies from the mechanics, chemical and food sectors. The ICE office in Damascus has organised 223 business meetings between Italian businesses and the 92 Syrian companies participating in the workshop. Italian comments so far have been positive regarding the number of meetings as well as the quality of the delegates they have met, which means that potential business developments may be on the horizon. In 2008 exports from the Veneto region to Syria came to 78.1 million euros, with a 6% increase on 2007, which confirms the positive trend seen in the last four years. In 2008 Italy exported 1,030 million euros’ worth of produce to Syria, with a 10.5% increase on the same period of 2007 (+55% on 2006). Italian imports from Syria reached 818.3 million euros, a drop of 11.8%. The total sum of trade between the two countries came to 1,848 million euros, showing a slight decrease of 0.6%. Previously Italy had always imported more than it exported from Syria, but now Italy is up 211.3 million euros. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Saudi Arabia, Sentences in Al-Qaeda Trial

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, JULY 14 — A trial of over 300 people charged with terrorist activity and with belonging to groups that gravitate towards al-Qaeda has finished in Saudi Arabia with a series of sentences of up to 30 years. According to the official SPA news agency, 289 Saudi citizens and 41 foreigners whose nationalities were not specified were tried. Seven people were absolved and 330 received sentences of between a few months and 30 years of imprisonment. The defendants were charged with belonging to a “deviant group” and for “activities linked to this group”, as well as “for supporting and financing terrorism”. The Saudi authorities used the expression “deviant group” generally to refer to radical Islamic groups, primarily Al Qaeda. This is the first trial that has been publicised since 2003 when groups close to Osama bin Laden’s network began a real campaign of destabilisation damaging the major world oil power.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed

Roadside bomb also injures three other paratroopers

(ANSA) — Rome, July 14 — An Italian paratrooper was killed and three others wounded in Afghanistan when the vehicle they were riding in was hit by a roadside bomb, defense ministry sources said on Tuesday.

The soldier was later identified as Lance Corporal Alessandro Di Lisio, 25, from the city of Campobasso in the southern Molise region.

The incident took place some 50km from Farah, located in the southern part of the western region where international ISAF forces are under Italian command. Military sources said the vehicle was part of a convoy carrying soldiers from the Folgore paratrooper brigade and a Bersaglieri regiment. The injuries to the other three paratroopers did not appear to be serious and their names would be made public once their families had been informed, the ministry said. “Our worst fears have unfortunately become a reality,” Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said after being informed of Di Lisio’s death.

“We were afraid that these improvised explosive devices would become more powerful in order to injure those inside armed vehicles, which until now had proved to be very resistant to attacks,” La Russa told the press.

“Now we are going to have to take a close look at the efficiency of the vehicles and equipment” being used by the Italian contingent in Afghanistan, he added.

La Russa, who had just arrived for an official visit to Algeria, said Di Lisio’s death would not change the mission of the Italian contingent in Afghanistan and that he would move up his scheduled visit to Afghanistan in order to get a first-hand evaluation of the situation there.

The minister sent his “deep-felt” condolences to Di Lisio’s family.

According to La Russa, one of the three injured soldiers appeared to be in worse condition than the others and all three would be flown out of Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi has also sent his condolences and those of his government to Di Lisio’s family, a statement from his office said.

The statement added that while Di Lisio’s death was tragic, the role of the Italian mission in Afghanistan was “important to bring stability to a strategic areas”.

Italian and other allied forces have recently come under increasing attacks as Afghanistan heads towards presidential elections in August. The violence has also increased as allied forces target Taliban strongholds in an attempt to bring more territory under government control. Last month four Italian solders were injured in firefights in Afghanistan.

Di Lisio was the 14th Italian soldier to be killed since Italy’s mission in Afghanistan began in 2004.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Malaysian Muslims Stir Anger With Church Article

Malaysian police were investigating Tuesday complaints against an Islamic magazine that reported two Muslim journalists pretended to be Catholic and took Holy Communion during Mass to do research for an article.

Churchgoers, Joachim Xavier and Sudhagaran Stanley, filed a police report last week accusing the monthly Al Islam magazine of desecrating the Christian practice of Holy Communion in an article written by two journalists who described how they tasted the wafer, representing the body of Jesus, and spat it out to take a photo of it.

The two journaists went undercover and pretended to be Christians to infiltrate a church they claimed was converting Muslims into Christians.

However they wrote in their published article “Al Islam’s investigation in church: Finding the truth behind youths’ apostasy” that they found no proof of the church offering money to Muslim youths to convert to Christianity.

A journalist and his friend went into two Catholic churches in Kuala Lumpur and took the Holy Communion, describing it as a “white bread eating ceremony.” They also criticized parts of the ceremony and wrote Christians strayed from the right path.

“Entering these premises with the intention to spy, and worse, to violate the sanctity of the worship only serves to incite anger and hatred that could lead to potentially dangerous consequences that would tear this country apart,” Xavier and Stanley said in a statement.

A Malaysian Muslim blogger by the name of Mahaguru58 likewise criticized the under undercover operation and said the magazine “ought to issue an apology to the Christian community.”

Mohamad Bakri Zinin from the police federal crime investigations said officials were looking into whether the two men had caused religious disharmony which could land them into jail for five years.

Xavier said non Christians were welcomed to attend church ceremonies without taking communion.

“I have no objection to the Malay Muslim men visiting the church. But the issue is their intention of visiting a church to spy on its activities,” Xavier said but added, “If everyone starts to intrude into each other’s services and write about it, there will be chaos.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Swat Diary: ‘Taliban Defeated’

Munir (not his real name), an administrator in the Swat region of Pakistan, whose family fled the conflict there in early May, spent the last two months living in the outskirts of Mardan. After hearing positive stories from relatives and friends back home, he is now preparing to return to his village hoping for a new beginning.

“Yesterday, on the main road that leads to Swat I saw many people and vehicles preparing to leave. People were saying good bye and were thanking their Mardan hosts for their hospitality.

We will go back to Swat very soon, probably in about 20 days.. First we want to make sure it’s safe. My father will go on his own in a couple of days to see how things are in our village. See a map of the region

We are already getting many reports from our villagers and friends back in Swat. Life is still difficult, but things are getting better.

We were told that 45 houses belonging to militants in our village have been destroyed. Our house, which is in the centre of the village, is apparently fine.

I spoke on the phone to someone from our village, who couldn’t manage to escape because of the curfew. Because there were militants in our village his family moved to another one, not far from Mingora.

He told me that the peace committee, which is made up of local elders, is not distributing the aid donated by NGOs to the poor people. Instead it ends up in the hands of the families of the members.

When I spoke to my uncle a few days ago, he said that the biggest problem there is that it is very expensive. The prices of daily necessities are double compared to those in the rest of Pakistan. People are really struggling. Those are poor villagers, they don’t have money. God knows how they survive and what they eat.

A villager from our area came last week to Mardan. He told me that there are some militants in that village and that the army is not taking action against them because there are many innocent people and they don’t want to inflict casualties. Villagers are still not feeling secure because of the presence of militants.

‘Taliban defeated’

I’ve got a friend who works for the police, he is now in Mingora. I bumped into him by chance a few days ago. He had come here to Mardan seven days ago to see his family and went back to Mingora two days later. We talked at length.

He said that the security situation had improved. The army there said that the only way they can defeat the militants is with the support of the ordinary people. So there’s a lot less fear and people feel much more confident.

He told me that he went to Saidu Sharif one day. The army issued an invitation through loud speakers to residents to go to houses known to belong to militants and help themselves to anything useful they could find there. So people went and took all kinds of things — washing machines and other household items. In the end, the army destroyed those houses.

A different story: someone was arrested in Mingora, accused of being a militant. The army took him to his village and asked three local people to confirm whether he is indeed a militant. Three people confirmed. They shot him on the spot. People were very happy.

People are confident now and they have learnt a lot from their experiences. They know that they need to be more united against the militants. They won’t allow the militants to return again.

They’ll chase them out themselves, they’ll shoot them, they won’t wait for the army to do that. People will take revenge for all the bad things that have happened.

One militant commander was chased by the people here in Mardan. I witnessed the chase. He managed to escaped this time. But what I am saying is that people are taking things into their own hands.

In one year’s time, many militants will be killed — not by the army, but by the people of Swat. The Taliban are defeated. They are not going to come back.

We are very confident. My family are already talking about arranging my wedding within one or two months after our return to Swat. I myself see a wedding in November.”

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

Far East

China on Collision Course With Turkey?

Treatment of Uighurs becomes focal point

A Chinese crackdown in its westernmost Xinjiang province on Uighurs — called separatists and terrorists by Beijing — could be just about to create a serious rift with Turkey, given that the Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic group, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

China Demands Turkish Retraction

China has demanded that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan retract his accusation that Beijing practised genocide against ethnic Uighurs..

Mr Erdogan made the comments after riots in the Muslim Uighur heartland of Xinjiang in which 184 people died.

Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, is under heavy police and military control.

UK-based analysts say al-Qaeda-linked militants in Algeria have called for reprisals against Chinese workers in the wake of the violence.

China’s rejection of Mr Erdogan’s remarks came in an editorial headlined “Don’t twist facts” in the English-language newspaper China Daily.

It said the fact that 137 of the 184 victims of the 5 July unrest were Han Chinese “speaks volumes for the nature of the event”.

The newspaper urged Mr Erdogan to “take back his remarks… which constitute interference in China’s internal affairs”, describing his comments as “irresponsible and groundless”.

Mr Erdogan made the controversial comments last Friday, telling NTV television: “The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There’s no point in interpreting this otherwise.”

He called on Chinese authorities to intervene to prevent more deaths.

Turkey is secular but the population is predominantly Muslim and it shares linguistic and religious links with the Uighurs.

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

Qaeda Threatens China Over Uighur Unrest: Report

Al-Qaeda threatened for the first time to attack Chinese interests overseas in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims in the restive region of Xinjiang, prompting China to condemn terrorism and vow to protect its citizens abroad.

The call for reprisals against China comes from the Algerian-based offshoot al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), according to a summary of its report sent to AFP by the international consultancy Stirling Assynt.

“Although AQIM appear to be the first arm of al-Qaeda to officially state they will target Chinese interests, others are likely to follow,” said the report, which was first divulged by the South China Morning Post Tuesday.

Following Stirling Assynt’s report Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang issued a statement condemning terror and vowing protect its interests abroad.

“The Chinese government opposes terrorism in any form,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

“We will keep a close eye on developments and make joint efforts with relevant countries to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of overseas Chinese institutions and people.”

Osama bin Laden’s network has not previously threatened China, but the Stirling report said a thirst for vengeance over Beijing’s clampdown in Xinjiang was spreading over the global jihadist community.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, estimated the group, which has offices in London and Hong Kong providing risk advice to corporate and official clients.

“This threat should be taken seriously,” Stirling said, basing its information on people who it said had seen the AQIM instruction.

“There is an increasing amount of chatter…among jihadists who claim they want to see action against China.

“Some of these individuals have been actively seeking information on China’s interests in the Muslim world, which they could use for targeting purposes.”

Stirling said the extremist group could well target Chinese projects in Yemen in a bid to topple the Beijing-friendly government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The intelligence firm also noted al-Qaeda’s killing of 24 Algerian security officers who were meant to be protection for Chinese engineers three weeks ago.

“On that occasion they did not attack the Chinese engineers because the target was the project on which they were working.”

No new front

“Now, future attacks of this kind are likely to target security forces and Chinese engineers alike,” the report said.

The most likely scenario would be that al-Qaeda’s central leadership would encourage their affiliates in North Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack Chinese targets near at hand, it said.

Al-Qaeda centrally does “not want to open a new front with China,” the analysis said.

“But equally their sense of Muslim solidarity compels them to help and/or to be seen to be helping. This is also a factor in helping the organization regain support and funding from their global constituency.”

Chinese authorities have said that riots in the Xinjiang city of Urumqi by Muslim Uighurs on July 5 left 184 people dead — most of whom were Han, China’s dominant ethnic group — and more than 1,600 injured.

Uighur leaders accuse Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests, in the latest unrest to rock the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang.

Chinese authorities have previously blamed low-level attacks on Xinjiang’s East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which Beijing, the United States and the United Nations list as a terrorist organization.

China has also said that ETIM militants have received some training and funding from al-Qaeda.

However, many experts have told AFP that they doubt the ETIM is a major threat in Xinjiang, and some lawmakers in the United States are pushing for the terrorist label to be lifted.

“Don’t twist facts”

Also on Tuesday, an official Chinese newspaper urged Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to take back remarks that genocide was being committed in Xinjiang.

In an editorial headlined “Don’t twist facts,” the English-language China Daily said the fact that 137 of the 184 victims were Han Chinese “speaks volumes for the nature of the event.”

The death toll included 46 Uighurs, a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia.

The newspaper urged Erdogan to “take back his remarks…which constitute interference in China’s internal affairs.”

In comments broadcast live on NTV television last Friday, Erdogan told reporters: “The incidents in China are, simply put, a genocide. There’s no point in interpreting this otherwise.”

He called Chinese authorities to intervene to prevent more deaths.

Turkish nationalists see Xinjiang as the easternmost frontier of Turkic ethnicity. Thousands of Uighurs live in Turkey.

Turkey has sought to boost ties with China, the world’s third-biggest economy. President Abdullah Gul last month became the first Turkish president to visit China in 15 years, signing $1.5 billion worth of trade deals, according to Turkish media.

Gul also visited Xinjiang during his trip.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

The Meaning of N Korea’s Strange Jibes

South Korea has even begun to keep count.

A government official recently claimed that North Korea’s official state media has insulted the South Korean president more than 1,700 times this year alone.

That is an average of 10 insults a day.

He is variously called “a lackey”, “a stooge”, “a dictator” and the leader of “a gang of traitors”.

The official admitted that the jibes were sometimes “downright silly”.

But the language chosen by North Korea to attack its opponents can border on the terrifying.

Last year, for example, it threatened to reduce South Korea “to ashes” and, more recently, warned of a “fire shower” of nuclear retaliation.

So, just how much attention should we be paying to this kind of rhetoric?

Is it mere bluster, or is there a real risk that the bombastic outbursts will be translated into action?

‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’

Michael Harrold has an unusual claim to fame.

In 1987 he became the first British citizen to be employed by the North Korean government in Pyongyang.

His mission was to offer advice on the correct use of English for the translations of North Korean propaganda.

At the start of his seven-year posting, having arrived in a strange and bewildering city, he remembers buying himself a Korean phrase book.

“The second from last chapter was called ‘useful phrases’,” he tells me.

It included such choice essentials as: “The American Yankee is a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and “the US imperialists are the greatest threat to humanity in the 20th Century”.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

African View: A Question of Leadership

In our series of weekly viewpoints from African journalists, columnist and filmmaker Farai Sevenzo considers issues of leadership and that Obama trip to Ghana.

My fellow Africans, it is an honour for me, indeed for us as a people, to be living in these times.

From Accra to Zanzibar, from Lusaka to Libreville, we have been witnessing leadership the likes of which we may never see again.

Just the other week, somewhere in a Libyan backdrop, a great leader said we should become the United States of Africa immediately, that we should not wait.

And within the last 12 months, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had been shouting from every mountain-top for the African people to share in his grand design of African Unity.

“We want an African military to defend Africa, we want a single African currency, we want one African passport to travel within Africa,” the colonel told assembled kings, chiefs and traditional rulers last year — before being declared “King of Kings” by the gathered chiefs, who were themselves in danger of being declared clowns with crowns.

Predictable leadership

But nobody listened then and they weren’t listening only two weeks ago when those who purport to be our leaders gathered in the colonel’s tent in Sirte and gave us another predictable African Union conference in which the brotherhood of presidents nod to each other and ignore issues of human rights.

They talk up the idea of union even as they wage wars against their neighbours and kill their own for voting the wrong way, and choose to stick together when the International Criminal Court accuses one of their own of crimes against humanity.

Save Bashir from the evil ICC, they cried. No he must face the music, said Botswana.

Occasionally there is a lone voice of dissent, but leadership as we have come to know it is predictable fare and the pace of change on our continent remains tied to the fate of men and women who have no wish to give up that leadership..

Friend in the White House

I was in the middle of these musings over a very late breakfast, when the airwaves seemed to go up a pitch in great excitement. It was as if the second coming was here.

Journalists, broadcasters, ordinary people were positively gushing over the expected speech of one Barack Hussein Obama to the parliament of Ghana in Accra.

Whenever this grandson of Kenya opens his mouth, it is to spew great floods of hope and purpose, to carry all our ears to the loftiest clouds of possibilities. Furthermore, unlike an Obama Beer, he leaves no trace of a hangover after these flights of fancy.

He spoke to the chosen lucky Ghanaians and reminded them of their proud past, he evoked Kwame Nkrumah and told us Africans to fight for our right to democracy.

He went on and on with that pop star charisma about what this 21 Century demands of us if we are to reach our full potential.

He chided and encouraged, bit and blew kisses, and like everyone else who has been caught in the glow of his amazing journey, the Ghanaians seemed to glow at Barack Obama’s passing over their fair city.

Obama understands them, said the commentators, he can speak to Africans better than anyone else can, as if the language of empathy is an alien one. Is this the leadership model that will win us over? Is this the one to follow?

Then what do we do with all the generals and coup-plotters and geriatric old men who gathered in the colonel’s tent a fortnight ago to silently imply that democracy doesn’t work in Africa, that opposition breeds violence?

And what exactly did his speech tell us that we have not been saying to ourselves?

More importantly will it stop Africans from crossing the desert, paying people traffickers for the privilege of drowning off the Spanish coast in search of a life outside of Africa?

Will it stop the killings, the rapes, the blind loyalty to men who will not be in the future we need to build?

Will presidents end their habit of changing constitutions so they can stay on and on and on? According to the Orator, it’s really up to us..

And before you all start screaming “Yes We Can” at your radios, or naming your twins Barack or Hussein, yes the President of America is the first friend we have had in the White House in a long time, he said he carries African blood in his veins, but he cannot fix our tomorrows.

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

French Advisers Seized in Somalia

Two French security advisers helping the Somali government have been kidnapped in the capital Mogadishu, French officials have said.

Gunmen who were wearing police uniforms entered the hotel where the two were staying and took them away, eyewitnesses said.

The abductions took place in a government-held part of Mogadishu.

Islamist rebels are battling troops from the UN-backed interim government for control of the city.

Rebels repelled

The French foreign ministry said the two advisers were in Mogadishu on an official mission to provide help to the government.

They were seized at the Sahafi Hotel, which has often accommodated foreign journalists and Somali government ministers.

Hotel workers told BBC Somali that the two had checked in as journalists. A Somali official later told Reuters news agency they had done so for their own protection.

The kidnappings come two days after government troops forced Islamist militants from positions around the presidential palace.

Some of the 4,300 African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu helped push back the insurgents.

The radical rebel group al-Shabab and its allies have been trying to topple the fragile interim government, led by moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

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

Mogadishu: Women and Children Killed in “Worst Clashes” In Two Months

At least 20 people were killed and 150 wounded, mainly civilians including women and children, in fighting yesterday in the northern Abdi Aziz district in Mogadishu between insurgents and government forces, backed by AMISOM troops (African Union peace mission). Radio Shabelle, a prominent Somali news source, emphasised on its website that “most of the people killed and wounded in the fighting were civilians”. An Associated Press reporter personally saw several bodies and two AMISOM tanks in action, also indicating the use of heavy artillery, such as rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of trucks, “which they fired horizontally through the streets”. According to Duniya Ali Mohammed of the Medina Hospital, which is in chaos with all the wounded women and children arriving, “these are the worst armed clashes in the capital in the last two months”.

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

Latin America

Why I Came to Honduras

I wonder how many people who bother to read the news — as opposed to only listen to or watch news reports — know:

  • Zelaya was plotting a long-term, possibly lifetime, takeover of the Honduran government through illegally changing the Honduran Constitution.
  • Zelaya had personally led a mob attack on a military facility to steal phony “referendum” ballots that had been printed by the Venezuelan government.
  • Weeks earlier, in an attempt to intimidate the Honduran attorney general — as reported by The Wall Street Journal’s Mary Anastasia O’Grady, one of the only journalists in the world who regularly reports the whole story about Honduras — “some 100 agitators, wielding machetes, descended on the attorney general’s office. ‘We have come to defend this country’s second founding,’ the group’s leader reportedly said. ‘If we are denied it, we will resort to national insurrection.’“
  • No member of the military has assumed a position of power as a result of the “military coup.”
  • Zelaya’s own party, the Liberal Party, supported his removal from office and deportation from Honduras.
  • The Liberal Party still governs Honduras.

The United States is threatening to suspend all aid to one of the three poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere in order to force that country — against its own laws and with the inevitable violence it would entail — to allow Zelaya back as president.

Yet, no Honduran I talked to said he or she wanted Honduras to cave in to the American financial threat. “We will tighten our belts,” one man struggling to make a living told me. Indeed, what is happening is that Hondurans are coming to realize that American aid — even purely humanitarian aid — comes with strings.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Canada Toughens Its Visa Demands

Canada has imposed visa requirements on travellers from Mexico and the Czech Republic after a big jump in refugee claims from these two countries.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said there were doubts about the legitimacy of many of these claims.

Since 2007, some 3,000 Czech nationals have requested asylum, while 9,400 Mexicans applied last year.

In response, the Czech government is recalling its ambassador and is to impose visas on Canadian diplomats.

Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer said Canada’s action was unilateral and unfriendly, while the Mexican government said it regretted the move.

Announcing the new visa requirements, Mr Kenney said they were aimed at reducing the burden on Canada’s refugee system.

More than half the claims by Czech nationals were abandoned or withdrawn before a final decision was made, Mr Kenney said, indicating that many claimants may not be genuine refugees. Only 11% of claims by Mexicans were accepted in 2008.

“In addition to creating significant delays and spiralling new costs in our refugee programme, the sheer volume of these claims is undermining our ability to help people fleeing real persecution,” Mr Kenney said.

“All too often people who really need Canada’s protection find themselves in a long line, waiting for months and sometimes years to have their claims heard.”


The number of Mexicans applying has almost tripled since 2005 to 9,400 in 2008, accounting for a quarter of all claims received.

The Czech Republic is the second main source of refugee claims. Since Canada lifted visa requirements on Czech nationals in 2007, nearly 3,000 claims have been lodged, compared with just five in 2006.

Almost all the claimants are members of the Roma or gypsy minority, fleeing what they say is persecution in the Czech Republic where there has been a sharp rise in far-right extremism.

Canadian officials acknowledge that about 85% of claims by Czech nationals which are heard are accepted.

The Czech ambassador has been recalled to Prague for consultations and visa requirements are being imposed on Canadian diplomats.

The Czech Republic, as a member of the European Union, cannot unilaterally introduce visas for Canadian citizens as that would violate the EU’s common visa policy.

However, Mr Fischer said Prague would be pressing other EU countries to show solidarity.

The European Commission has urged Canada to rescind its decision quickly.

The Mexican government says it will be closely monitoring the implementation of the requirements to ensure the rights of Mexicans are respected.

Officials said they had been working with Canadian authorities to try to tackle fraudulent claims.

The visa requirement came into effect on 14 July but people already travelling to Canada will be able to apply for a visa on arrival until 2359 on 15 July.

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

Netherlands: Asylum Seeker Amnesty for 27,700

A total of 27,700 people have been allowed to stay in the Netherlands under the 2007 amnesty for long-term asylum seekers, according to immigration service figures.

Junior justice minister Nebahat Albayrak told parliament on Monday that the amnesty procedure was now being wound down.

Some 6,000 people were refused the right to stay, mainly because they had either lied about their personal details or had not spent the entire period in the Netherlands. Just over 3,000 of them have appealed.

The amnesty applies to asylum seekers who arrived in the Netherland before April 2001 and whose cases have still not been finalised.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: Foreign Gangs and 30,000 Criminals Rob ‘Soft Touch’ Britain of £40billion a Year

Organised gangs who see the UK as a soft touch are costing us £40billion a year, a hard-hitting report claimed yesterday.

Up to 30,000 criminals are involved in drugs, guns, fraud and human-trafficking because our borders are ‘relatively easy’ to cross, it says.

Some criminals specifically named the Human Rights Act, which made it easy to obtain citizenship by marrying a British national.

Many are targeting Britain because they believe officials have a relaxed attitude to migrants and asylum seekers.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UN Criticises Italian, Greek Asylum Policies

Refugee agency warns of maltreatment, failure to accept asylum applications and changes to legal system.

The UN’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, today (14 July) criticised Italy’s treatment of would-be asylum-seekers and Greece’s decision to close down a camp housing asylum-seekers and change its laws on asylum.

The UNHCR said it feared that Italy’s new policy of intercepting migrants at sea may has resulted in failures to honour its obligations to asylum-seekers and in maltreatment of migrants. It says that, since May, Italy has picked up 900 people at sea and returned them to the north African coast from which they sailed.

In a statement, the UNHCR said it had “expressed serious concerns about the impact of this new policy which, in the absence of adequate safeguards, can prevent access to asylum and undermines the international principle of non-refoulement”, which is intended to prevent refugees being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened.

The UNHCR cited a case on 1 July when the Italian navy picked up 82 people 30 miles from the southern island of Lampedusa. A “significant number” of the group wanted to claim asylum but were sent back to Libya on a Libyan ship and placed in detention centres, the UNHCR said. It has asked the Italian authorities to provide information on those sent back to Libya.

It added that it had been told “disturbing accounts” of Italian personnel using force to transfer the migrants onto the Libyan ship, resulting in six people needing medical attention. Their belongings, including documents, were taken from them and have not yet been returned. “Those interviewed spoke of the distress they were in after four days at sea and said that the Italian navy did not offer them any food during the 12-hour operation to return them to Libya,” UNHCR said.

Of the group of 82, 76 were from Eritrea, including nine women and at least six children. A recent report by Human Rights Watch said Eritrea was “one of the most closed and repressive states in the world”, and the government stands accused of repression and abuse of its citizens, including detention, torture, forced labour and restrictions of freedom of movement and expression.

Greece was similarly criticised on a number of counts, including its decision to close down a makeshift camp in Patras on 12 July, which left many of its residents, including registered asylum-seekers, without a roof over their heads.

An unknown number of undocumented residents of the camp were arrested and taken to a police station in Patras, where, according to the UNHCR, translation and interpretation services may be inadequate. The organisation also voiced concern about the decision to transfer 44 unaccompanied minors to a special reception centre in Konitsa, northern Greece.

The statement was issued just after Greece adopted a law decentralising asylum decisions to over 50 police directorates and abolishing the existing appeals process in favour of a judicial review that will address only points of law. “These new developments are likely to make protection even more elusive for those who need it in Greece,” it warned in a statement.

Almost 20,000 applications for asylum in Greece were lodged in 2008. During that year, Greece awarded international protection to just 379 people.

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

Vessel With 28 Migrants Lands on Malta

(ANSAmed) — VALLETTA (MALTA), JULY 14 — A vessel with 28 migrants on board, among them 6 women, landed this morning in the bay of St. Thomas, south of Malta. It is the first recorded landing on the island in almost two months. Alarm over the lack of news on a “barge” with 28 migrants, that has been navigating the Sicilian Channel since last Saturday, was sounded yesterday evening with a series of telephone calls, some of which came from as far away as Somalia. Two calls also reached the office of the Port Authority of Palermo. Another boat with 16 immigrants on board reportedly called for help using a satellite phone. Search and rescue operations off the island carried out by the Maltese Navy, using both a helicopter and a patrol boat, have still come up empty handed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Wilkommen to Romania

Since becoming a member of the EU, Romania has attracted waves of African, Indian, Afghan and Iraqi immigrants. Hailing from Somalia, Kasim thought he was on his way to Germany when unscrupulous traffickers dumped him deep in the heart of the Romanian countryside…

He traversed thousands of miles, putting his life in the hands of the “border escorts” who smuggled him from Somalia to the Ukraine, and then on to Romania a few weeks ago. Kasim (29) does not dwell on his extended odyssey. Like the other 50 immigrants lodged this June at the refugee centre in Somcuta Mare, a village in north-western Romania, he dreamt of Western Europe as of a paradise worth taking any risk to attain. But what about the economic crisis, the unemployment, how hard it is to make it in the West? “Go to Somalia for a few days and you’ll see all that’s nothing,” he explains. “In Europe at least you got a chance to survive and that’s enough for us.”

The mirage of the West never loses its allure, but would-be immigrants are still sometimes knocked for six. Kasim’s smugglers promised to take him to Germany for a fat fee. But the Somali ended up in a village in the Romanian boondocks…and was presently astounded by how little it resembled the image he had of Germany from TV.

“They all address us in German,” chuckles Vasile Alb, mayor of Somcuta Mare. “When you see an African or Asian turn up in these parts, you know he’s going to say, ‘Guten Tag.’“ At the café in the refugee centre, where the young waitress is Ethiopian, the villagers speak frankly. “I’d never seen blacks except on TV,” admits old man Nicolae. “At first I was wary of them. But you get used to them, and these Africans are alright, they work and don’t make trouble.”

Officially, there are 65,000 immigrants in Romania, and the figure is steadily climbing. This new wave of immigrants — Africans, Indians, Afghans, Iraqis — is handled on location thanks to the Somcuta Mare municipal reception centre. The Romanian State guarantees them accommodation, meals, some clothing, but pocket money is limited to €0.80 a day, the price of a bottle of fruit juice. To make ends meet, they do odd jobs for the local peasants.

Since Romania joined the EU in 2007, the country has been faced with a manpower shortage, what with three million countrymen having left in search of work in Western European job markets. But its EU Member State status now makes Romania more appealing to immigrants. “At first the peasants looked at me a little askance,” admits Kasim. “But I understand them, they’ve never seen blacks before. Now they’re happy when I show up for work. All in all, I’m happy here and I could settle here for good.”

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

Culture Wars

Google Blocks Blog Exposing Homosexual Agenda

‘Actions represent trial balloon for government censorship of ‘hate’ speech’

Google’s blog hosting service,, admits that in the name of “free speech” some of its blogs are “offensive, harmful, inaccurate,” but when one of its clients blogged in opposition to a transgender rights bill, Google drew the line.


“Google seems to have a double standard,” Camenker said. “It hosts a large number of gay activist sites that are vile and vicious, particularly against religious people, yet they put up an ‘objectionable content’ warning on our blog. How do they define what’s offensive?”

Contrada told WND that as more and more states — and even the federal government — look to pass “hate speech” bills and laws protecting the undefined labels of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” Americans will be shocked, both by what they see displayed on the public streets and by what they can’t say in the public square.

“I’ve been anticipating this for quite a while now,” Contrada said. “Obviously Google is a private enterprise at this point, but their actions represent a trial balloon for government censorship of undefined ‘hate’ speech. And just like the gender identity bills, nowhere is it clearly defined what the terms mean. What will be classified as ‘hate?’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Amil Imani: Liberal-Islamist Alliance

Presently, fanatical Islamists are lashing out with mad fury before their own final demise. The “infidel” world has been complicit in the surge of Islamism through its mistakes, complacency, and greed.

Our academia leftists even engage in willful misinformation and deception when it suits them. Terms such as “Political Islam,” or “Radical Islam,” for instance, are contributions of our leftist intellengtsia. These terms do not even exist in the native parlance of Islam itself, simply because they are redundant. Even a cursory study of Islam and its charter—the Quran—will clearly reveal that it is a radical political movement. It is the socialist leftists and paid-for-media and politicians who sanitize Islam and misguide the populace by saying that the “real Islam” constitutes the main body of the religion; and, that this main body is non-political and moderate.

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani [Return to headlines]

Who Will Investigate the U.N.-Vatican Connection?

Conservatives who should know better have tried to play down the nature of the Pope’s dangerous proposal. In a July 10 Wall Street Journal article, American Roman Catholic Priest Robert A. Sirico of the conservative Acton Institute ignored the controversial “World Political Authority” passage and wrote that “People seeking a blueprint for the political restructuring of the world economy won’t find it here.”

In fact, the Pope stated that the goals of this World Political Authority should be “To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration…” This is a fairly detailed blueprint that sounds precisely like some of the functions of the U.N.

The Pope went on, “In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.”

So the “reform” of the U.N. is designed to strengthen it. Hence, the U.N. is clearly destined, from the Vatican point of view, to become the World Political Authority.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

2 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/14/2009

  1. re link to

    “Irish Confirm Date as EU Leaders Pledge to Join ‘Yes’ Campaign”

    See this video in which Nigel Farage MEP, President of the political group “Europe of Freedom and Democracy” stomps the chamber:

    Nigel Farage: one uplifting moment of Czech EU-Presidency – Vaclav Klaus quote 0:47: “. . .but as on the Lisbon Treaty that I was most interested. You ratified the treaty through your own parliamentary chambers without of course, the thought of giving the people of your own country a referendum to express their opinion. [audible moans and boos from chamber members] But when it comes to Ireland I really get interested because you said that you wanted there to be a ‘credible’ policy for Ireland with their second referendum. And so

    you produced these ‘guarantees’ .

    And here they are,

    guarantees on the right to life, on taxation, on security and defence. This document has no legal force, what-so-ever. It is not worth the paper that it is written on.

    You are the author of a disgraceful attempt to con the Irish into voting for this Lisbon Treaty in their forthcoming referendum. Of course, you’ve been supported by Mr. Barosso on that. He doesn’t ever respect the result of democratic referendums whether they’re in France, the Netherlands or Ireland. He says we must ignore them. We must continue. It’s all about power. It’s all about him and the EU institutions getting more power at the expense of the member states. [audible cheers and applause in the background]

    I hope the Irish tell you all where to go in the second referendum on October the 2nd, and they just might.”

  2. Relations between China and Turkey have grown ugly, all because of the recent Chinese crackdown on Uighur rioters in Xinjiang. The official Turkish reaction upset China, which has demanded a retraction.

    Oh, good! That’s a positive development. The Chinese don’t do Judeo-Christian guilt trips. Don’t stop, Turkey, keeping poking the Chinese dragon.

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