Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/7/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/7/2009Barack Obama has made an offer to the Russians: stop Iran from obtaining nukes, and we’ll give up any missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. This is a very interesting deal — how can Russia refuse? And how could we keep them from violating it surreptitiously by continuing to ship nuclear technology to Iran?

In other news, a Taliban leader in Pakistan is actually in the business of buying and selling children for use as suicide bombers.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, Gaia, Henrik, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, TB, The Frozen North, Zenster, Zonka, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
California’s Nightmare Will Kill Obamanomics: Kevin Hassett
Dem Senator: Second Stimulus ‘Probably Needed’
EU Stability Pact in Danger: Finance Minister
Fed Money May Benefit Russian-Backed Firm
Obama Adviser Says U.S. Should Mull Second Stimulus
Ports: Bank of Italy, Gioia Tauro Activity Stable
Senate Torpedoes Fed Reserve Audit
US Lurching Towards ‘Debt Explosion’ With Long-Term Interest Rates on Course to Double
FBI Asked to Investigate Muslim Group
Obama’s Youth Shaped His Nuclear-Free Vision
Stakelbeck: Rick Warren Speaks at Radical Islamist Event
U.S. Warns of Multiple Al-Qaida Plots
Where’s the Birth Certificate? An Interview With Joseph Farah
White House Mum on North America Summit
Europe and the EU
Brussels Put Firmly in the Back Seat
Calls Grow Within G8 to Expel Italy as Summit Plans Descend Into Chaos
Italy: World’s Best Hotel is Villa D’este, Cernobbio
Mourners Angry Over Murder of German Egyptian
Swedish Extremists Pose ‘Serious Threat’
UK: ‘If You Choose to Live in This Country, You Live by Its Rules’, Says Judge…
UK: Far-Right Extremists ‘Are Plotting Spectacular Terrorist Attack in UK’, Police Warn
Wilders: Political Elite, Not Me, Is Growing Radical
Mediterranean Union
Textile: Milan Training Course for Egypt and Morocco
North Africa
Cheb, King of Rai and Idol of North Africans Sentenced
Morocco: Dozens of Dams to be Built by 2012, Government
Israel and the Palestinians
Avoiding an American Ambush
Israel: Terrorists to Descend on Jesus’ Birthplace
PA Chief Abbas: We Left Galilee on Our Own
Middle East
French Anger as Iran Holds Woman
Media: Freedom Stifled, Doha Centre Director Resigns
Middle East: Wishful Thinking Kills
Syria-USA: Assad Sends 4th of July Greetings to Obama
The Man Who Tried to Save Neda
UK: Radical Preacher Sent Back to Jail
Obama in Russia: ‘Stop Iran and We’ll Scrap Missile Shield’
South Asia
Pakistan: Taliban Buying Children for Suicide Attacks
Far East
Chants of ‘Death to Uighurs’ Echo Around Urumqi
Australia — Pacific
Court Orders Muslims to Cancel Friday Prayers
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sudan: Appeal on Bashir Genocide Charges
Zimbabwe: Mugabe Calls US Envoy ‘An Idiot’
Latin America
All Eyes on Honduras
Canada ‘To Stem Czech Migration’
UK: One in Ten State-Subsidised Homes Goes to an Immigrant Family
Culture Wars
Dumbing-Down the U.S. Navy
Hate Bill Will Ride on Defense Bill
Soft Tyranny in the US is Explored in Whistleblower Magazine

Financial Crisis

California’s Nightmare Will Kill Obamanomics: Kevin Hassett

July 6 (Bloomberg) — Last week, we discovered that the state of California will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.

With California mired in a budget crisis, largely the result of a political impasse that makes spending cuts and tax increases impossible, Controller John Chiang said the state planned to issue $3.3 billion in IOU’s in July alone. Instead of cash, those who do business with California will get slips of paper.

The California morass has Democrats in Washington trembling. The reason is simple. If Obama’s health-care plan passes, then we may well end up paying for it with federal slips of paper worth less than California’s. Obama has bet everything on passing health care this year. The publicity surrounding the California debt fiasco almost assures his resounding defeat.

It takes years and years to make a mess as terrible as the California debacle, but the recipe is simple. All that you need is two political parties that are always willing to offer easy government solutions for every need of the voters, but never willing to make the tough decisions necessary to finance the government largess that results. Voters will occasionally change their allegiance from one party to the other, but the bacchanal will continue regardless of the names on the office doors.

California has engaged in an orgy of spending, but, compared with our federal government, its legislators should feel chaste. The California deficit this year is now north of $26 billion. The U.S. federal deficit will be, according to the latest numbers, almost 70 times larger.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dem Senator: Second Stimulus ‘Probably Needed’

As job losses mount, Democrats are growing impatient about the impact of the massive stimulus package passed earlier this year, with talk beginning on Capitol Hill about a possible second stimulus bill.

Today on’s “Top Line,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said a second stimulus is “probably needed,” and predicted that Congress is likely to act before the end of the year to inject even more federal dollars into the economy.

Said Whitehouse: “I think that it is probably needed. We’re going to need to have some further discussion. It will probably take place towards the end of the year and we want to take a look at the economic conditions at the time. But it certainly should be on the table at this point.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

EU Stability Pact in Danger: Finance Minister

The EU stability pact may be in serious danger because of the different approaches member states are tacking to the economic crisis, finance minister Wouter Bos said on Tuesday.

The pact, set up to ensure the stability of the euro, states that member states’ budget deficits should not go over 3% of GDP. Nearly all countries, including the Netherlands, have exceeded the limit.

Speaking in Brussels, Bos said it was worrying that Germany and France had taken a totally different approach to their treasury shortfalls.

‘Germany has a very rigid rule which forces short-term steps, even a halt on spending as California has done,’ Bos was quoted as saying by news agency ANP. But France has said this does not work and that some debts are good to have, Bos said.

The different approaches are ‘confusing’ and could potentially destabilise the economy, Bos said.

Countries which have higher budget deficits than 3% are supposed to take measures to reduce them over a number of years. ‘My fear is that everyone says yes to the deadline and then does nothing,’ Bos was quoted as saying.

Several years ago, Bos’s predecessor Gerrit Zalm had a showdown with Germany about its wish to take a more liberal approach to the pact. Zalm was eventually forced to back down, ANP says.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Fed Money May Benefit Russian-Backed Firm

Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar, one of the deans of Congress, and his junior colleague, Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, have been leading the charge to secure federal money for a company that wants to build the next generation of advanced lithium-ion batteries.

The Indiana lawmakers have secured $6.5 million in congressional earmarks for Ener1, Inc., and have talked up the company’s efforts to secure a slice of nearly $3 billion in two Energy Department programs offering grants and loans as part of President Obama’s stimulus package..

Their pitch sounds as American as apple pie: The New York-based company would create much-needed jobs in the nation’s heartland and help jump-start production of energy-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles.

But there’s one detail they don’t mention.

Ener1 has substantial financial ties to Russian industrialist Boris Zingarevich, a wealthy timber magnate and longtime business associate of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Mr. Zingarevich is frequently listed among the powerful and influential businessmen known in Russia as oligarchs.

According to federal records, Mr. Zingarevich is the “provider of substantially all of the funding” for Ener1 and its wholly-owned subsidiaries. The companies he owns, controls or is associated with — including Bzinfin SA, an off-shore firm that holds 66 percent of the shares of Ener1’s parent company — have the potential to exercise substantial sway over Ener1’s operations, documents filed with U.S. securities regulators state.

Foreign ties

Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said there should “definitely be concern” about foreign-controlled or owned companies attempting to break into the lithium-ion market in the United States and using multimillion-dollar government loans and grants to aid their development and production.

“It also presents significant security concerns that need to be thoroughly examined before any decisions are made,” said Mr. Hunter, a former U.S. Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. “Our nation’s energy market should be reserved for U.S. companies and workers, especially now when we are looking to be a global leader in this technology.”

Mr. Hunter’s father, Duncan L. Hunter, who retired from Congress in 2008 after 28 years, steadfastly supported the development of the lithium-ion battery because of its military applications, but as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he advocated that the Defense Department purchase its needs from U.S. sources.

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

Obama Adviser Says U.S. Should Mull Second Stimulus

July 7 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. should consider drafting a second stimulus package focusing on infrastructure projects because the $787 billion approved in February was “a bit too small,” said Laura Tyson, an outside adviser to President Barack Obama.

The current plan “will have a positive effect, but the real economy is a sicker patient,” Tyson said in a speech in Singapore today. The package will have a more pronounced impact in the third and fourth quarters, she added, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not the administration.

Tyson’s comments contrast with remarks made two days ago by Vice President Joe Biden and fellow Obama adviser Austan Goolsbee, who said it was premature to discuss crafting another stimulus because the current measures have yet to fully take effect. The government is facing criticism that the first package was rolled out too slowly and failed to stop unemployment from soaring to the highest in almost 26 years.

Obama said last month that a second package isn’t needed yet, though he expects the jobless rate will exceed 10 percent this year. When Obama signed the first stimulus bill in February, his chief economic advisers forecast it would help hold the rate below 8 percent.

Unemployment increased to 9.5 percent in June, the highest since August 1983. The world’s largest economy has lost about 6.5 million jobs since December 2007.

Worse Than Forecast

“The economy is worse than we forecast on which the stimulus program was based,” Tyson, who is a member of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory board, told the Nomura Equity Forum. “We probably have already 2.5 million more job losses than anticipated.”

Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, seized on the latest labor numbers to attack the Obama administration’s handling of the economy.

Even Democrats have bemoaned the pace of the package’s implementation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday” June 5 that congressional Democrats are “disappointed” stimulus funds weren’t distributed faster.

“The money is just really starting to come out in more significant amounts now,” Tyson said. “The stimulus is performing close to expectations but not in timing.”

Package Affordable

Tyson, 62, later told reporters that the U.S. can afford to pay for a second package, even as the fiscal deficit soars. She said the budget shortfall is “likely to be worse” than the equivalent of 12 percent of gross domestic product that the administration forecast for 2009 and the 8 percent to 9 percent it projected for next year.

The professor at the University of California’s Walter A. Haas School of Business downplayed worries from China and other countries with dollar reserves that the U.S. will let inflation soar as the deficit expands.

“The concern is that the U.S. will have to inflate away its debt. I do not think that is a valid concern,” she said. “The Federal Reserve is not going to let the U.S. government inflate away its debt.”

The U.S. needs to communicate its determination to reduce the annual shortfall once the economy recovers, she said.

While unemployment is worsening, other data have shown the economy is improving. U.S. manufacturing shrank last month at the slowest rate since August, according to the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index, and a measure of pending home sales advanced in May for a fourth month.

Tyson said the U.S. should shift away from its dependence on consumption to grow, and promote expansion through investment and exports. The dollar will need to weaken in the longer term to promote export-led growth, she said.

           — Hat tip: Henrik [Return to headlines]

Ports: Bank of Italy, Gioia Tauro Activity Stable

(ANSAmed) — COSENZA, JUNE 19 — Trans shipment business at the Italian port of Gioia Tauro has remained almost flat compared to the previous year, according to the Bank of Italy report on the Calabrian economy released this morning at Cosenza. A slowdown in container traffic in the Mediterranean, which took place above all in the second half of 2008, was similar to slowdowns recorded in other parts of Europe. After increasing by as much as 17.3 % in 2007, trans shipment activity in 2008 was virtually stable — the number of containers shipped increased by 0.7 %, reaching 3.4 million Teu. The number of ship arrivals by contrast fell to 15.3 % as a result of the increasing capacity of vessels. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Senate Torpedoes Fed Reserve Audit

But House plan already has majority support

Members of the U.S. Senate today rejected a proposal for an audit of the Federal Reserve, the private institution that virtually controls U.S. interest rates, money supply and other economic influences.

The Senate vote against the plan from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., was among a series of voice votes on a number of amendments to a spending bill that provides money for Congress’ own budget.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Lurching Towards ‘Debt Explosion’ With Long-Term Interest Rates on Course to Double

The US economy is lurching towards crisis with long-term interest rates on course to double, crippling the country’s ability to pay its debts and potentially plunging it into another recession, according to a study by the US’s own central bank


The study is damning because Mr Laubach was the Fed’s economist at the time, going on to become its senior economist between 2005 and 2008, when he stepped down. As a result, the doubling in rates is the US central bank’s own prediction.

Mr Congdon said the study illustrated the “horrifying” consequences for leading western economies of bailing out their banks and attempting to stimulate markets by cutting taxes and boosting public spending. He said the markets had failed to digest fully the scale of fiscal largesse and said “current gilt yields [public debt] are extraordinary low given the size of deficits”.

Should the cost of raising or refinancing public debt in the markets double, “the debt could just explode”, he said, adding that it would come to a head in “five to 10 years”.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


FBI Asked to Investigate Muslim Group

Ejected researcher says conference deliberately misled police

A former Air Force special agent who has traveled the U.S. investigating efforts by radical members of mosques to impose Shariah law today asked the FBI for an investigation into the Islamic Society of North America for allegedly endangering his life by portraying him to police as a dangerous — possibly even armed — threat.

Dave Gaubatz was removed forcibly from last weekend’s ISNA conference in Washington, D.C., for which he paid a $100 registration fee.

But he told WND today it was his contact from police — apparently notified by ISNA — that alarmed him. The officers told Gaubatz ISNA security officers had distributed photographs of him, including several altered to show him holding weapons and another that pasted a Nazi uniform on him.

The images and the claim he was a “threat” were delivered to a police department that not long ago responded to an assailant who gunned down a security officer at the National Holocaust Museum, Gaubatz noted.

“They had wanted me to show up and then try to provoke something between Metro PD and me,” he wrote in his e-mail to the FBI, which he described as a prelude to a formal signed affidavit.

“They had conspired to have me killed,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Youth Shaped His Nuclear-Free Vision

In the depths of the cold war, in 1983, a senior at Columbia University wrote in a campus newsmagazine, Sundial, about the vision of “a nuclear free world.” He railed against discussions of “first- versus second-strike capabilities” that “suit the military-industrial interests” with their “billion-dollar erector sets,” and agitated for the elimination of global arsenals holding tens of thousands of deadly warheads.

The student was Barack Obama, and he was clearly trying to sort out his thoughts. In the conclusion, he denounced “the twisted logic of which we are a part today” and praised student efforts to realize “the possibility of a decent world.” But his article, “Breaking the War Mentality,” which only recently has been rediscovered, said little about how to achieve the utopian dream.


There were two Republicans, Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, secretary of state under Mr. Reagan, and two Democrats, William J. Perry, secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, and former Senator Sam Nunn, who has made fighting proliferation his life’s work.

In a 2007 opinion article in The Wall Street Journal, the four men argued that the time was right to seek “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” as the headline put it. President George W. Bush never invited them to the White House to make their case.

But Mr. Obama embraced the four wholeheartedly, echoing their message in campaign speeches in places like Chicago and Denver and in Berlin, where he spoke in July 2008 as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“This is the moment,” he told cheering Berliners, to seek “the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.”


Critics argue that the North Koreas of the world will simply defy the ban — and that the international community will fail to punish offenders.

“If the implications were not so serious, the discrepancy between Mr. Obama’s plans and real-world conditions would be hilarious,” said Frank J. Gaffney Jr., a Reagan-era Pentagon official who directs the Center for Security Policy, a private group in Washington. “There is only one country on earth that Team Obama can absolutely, positively denuclearize: Ours.”

Even more ambitious, Mr. Obama wants a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which would bar all nations that sign it from making fuel for their atom bombs. But when asked how Mr. Obama would sell the idea to America’s allies — primarily Pakistan, India and Israel — administration officials grow silent.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Rick Warren Speaks at Radical Islamist Event

Dear friends,

The Fourth of July may seem like an odd date for a group named by the U.S. government in a terror financing case to promote its cause.

But that’s exactly what occurred this weekend in Washington, D.C., as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) held its annual conference.

Despite documented ties to radical Islamists, ISNA leaders are looking to prove that their group is a mainstream, patriotic Muslim-American organization.

They reeled in a big fish this weekend to help deliver that message: evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren.

You can watch my story about Warren’s controversial appearance at the ISNA event at the above link.

You can also now follow me on Twitter. My username is staks33.



[Return to headlines]

U.S. Warns of Multiple Al-Qaida Plots

WASHINGTON — Last week, German authorities discovered that groups of terrorists may have been dispatched from training bases in Pakistan to launch crippling attacks.

In April, U.S. intelligence officials warned Germany about possible terror attacks. Since that time German security officials have reportedly been preparing for massive, multi-layered attacks for which al-Qaida has become known.

Shortly after the April warning, German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth said in an unrelated interview, “You will understand that I can’t go into the details of the terrorist threat, but I can only tell you that we all know that we have to be vigilant and that we have to continue to work very hard on that, but I do not want to go into details.”

Intelligence suggests al-Qaida operatives are planning to plant multiple explosive devices in several locations and detonate them either in a simultaneous or sequential fashion.

U.S. and German intelligence sources say that strategy is designed to emulate the ones employed Bali in 2002 and Madrid in 2004. The idea is to draw in first responders to the scene after the first explosion, and then the subsequent explosions are set off in the same location to inflict maximum casualties.

A U.S. intelligence source with knowledge about the situation says “it is a credible threat, which also includes Germans in North Africa.”

They say as a minimum of 12 al-Qaida operatives who were trained in the tribal region of Pakistan have left the training camps and are headed back to their home countries. Spain, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Egypt are just some of those countries.

According to the source, the threat levels also were raised for many other Western European countries to include concerns for “Turkish Airlines flying passengers from Istanbul to the U.S., the UK and Israel.”

The source says “passengers traveling out-bound from Istanbul to those locations on July Fourth were segregated, screened multiple times, including their bags and told there were concerns for Turkish Airlines flights to these locations.”

Another source headed to Chicago from Istanbul said they were told that there was a specific threat against Turkish Airlines flights headed to those places.

In the U.S., Turkish Airlines flies directly to New York and Chicago.

U.S. Intelligence and German media sources indicate the warning came from the U.S. government, but the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had arrived at the same conclusion after picking up chatter that al-Qaida is planning an attack during the run-up to the Bundestag election to try to force Germany to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Scharioth is well aware of why Germany is a target.

“We are the third biggest troop contributor in Afghanistan, and we are also the fourth biggest contributor of civilian efforts, training and reconstruction and also trying to help the country to redo the education system, give more girls a chance to get an education and all those things — that’s one thing,” Scharioth says.

The operatives are thought to be skilled in obtaining, assembling and the detonation of explosives that could damage large buildings, disable transit systems and create mass casualties.

This alleged plot is only a part of what concerns Scharioth. A number of rogue nations may be on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons and opening the door to al-Qaida to get ahold of them.

“We have to address the problem of nuclear proliferation because we would be very concerned, if say in 15-20 years, you have 20 nuclear weapon countries and of course the more nuclear weapon countries you have, the greater the risk and you also have to protect those nuclear weapons [so they don’t fall into the wrong hands],” Scharioth says.

Scharioth says he’s grateful that the U.S. and Germany are allies. He praises the cooperative effort given the alternative.

“We believe that the Cold War was dangerous enough. We were very close to a very, very bad situation and everybody who was bearing responsibility can tell you just how close we came,” Scharioth says.

The German government is reportedly concerned enough about this new threat that it is contemplating changes to its emergency response measures

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Where’s the Birth Certificate? An Interview With Joseph Farah

Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WorldNetDaily and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. He is the author of Taking America Back: A Radical Plan to Revive Freedom, Morality and Justice. He is also the editor of the online intelligence newsletter Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin. He has been at the forefront of the campaign to compel President Obama to release more detailed evidence of the circumstances surrounding his birth and citizenship status. Various other well-known figures, including Alan Keyes and Jerome Corsi have questioned the sufficiency of the evidence released so far. Last week, Mr. Farah was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions concerning the controversy over Mr. Obama’s qualifications to be President. My questions and his responses were as follows:

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

White House Mum on North America Summit

Obama had promised ‘transparency’ regarding controversial meeting

The White House is completely mum on the fifth annual summit of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, now operating under the title of the North American Leaders’ Summit, scheduled on the State Department calendar to occur in Mexico next month.

A WND call to the White House for information was referred to the National Security Council, where a spokeswoman told WND that the NSC has not issued any announcement about the Aug. 8-11 meeting and was uncertain whether any plans were in the works to make an announcement anytime in the near future.

The U.S. Department of State did not return WND’s phone call asking for comment on this story.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Brussels Put Firmly in the Back Seat

Last week’s ruling by the German Constitutional Court, coupled with demands by one conservative party for changes to the constitution, may not only jeopardize Berlin’s schedule for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. The Karlsruhe ruling also threatens future steps toward European integration.

When the parliamentary group of the Christian Social Union (CSU) — the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats — met in Berlin last Thursday, they had a hero to celebrate. “You have saved our honor,” said CSU representative Hans-Peter Friedrich to his party colleague and friend Peter Gauweiler.

Gauweiler, a lawyer from Munich — and a political maverick who is the enfant terrible of the conservative group in the German parliament or Bundestag — was largely successful with the legal complaint he filed with the German Constitutional Court against the EU Lisbon Treaty. Now it’s official: The ratification by the overwhelming majority of the German parliament — including the CSU — was negligent. In essence, the court ruled that by passing the so-called “accompanying law” to the Lisbon Treaty, which determines the rights of German parliament to participate in European legislation, the representatives had relinquished significant monitoring rights to Brussels. According to the judges, this unconstitutionally subjects the people that they represent to the whims of a bureaucracy that lacks sufficient democratic legitimacy.

But the CSU cares little about past errors. Now the idea is to push ahead and “Gauweiler” them! Last Thursday, the politicians from Bavaria decided to follow up their success with a new set of demands. They want the Lisbon Treaty to be ratified only under condition that the new EU law would only be valid in Germany “in accordance with the decision by the German Constitutional Court.” They are now demanding a solution that gives “maximum” parliamentary influence over future EU policy.

The CSU parliamentary group aims to approve an entire catalog of demands at a party meeting in the former Benedictine monastery of Kloster Banz in mid-July. The Bavarians even want to push through a number of changes to the German constitution. One of these would oblige the government to adhere to the parliament’s position papers on European policy. “Our Constitutional Court demands greater rights of co-determination,” says CSU Secretary General Alexander Dobrindt and “we have to comply. It would be good if the decisions of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, and Germany’s upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, on changes to the EU Treaty were complemented in the future by a referendum.” “People are going to have to make considerable concessions to us to receive the CSU’s support,” says Thomas Silberhorn, CSU parliamentary group spokesman on EU affairs.

Not all of this is realistic. But it’s a political bombshell that could torpedo the German government’s Lisbon rescue concept. If the coalition partners still have to struggle with major stipulations so shortly before the summer break, then there is no chance of doing a quick and quiet fix that would satisfy the Constitutional Court’s criticism of the accompanying law’s flaws.

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

Calls Grow Within G8 to Expel Italy as Summit Plans Descend Into Chaos

Preparations for Wednesday’s G8 summit in the Italian mountain town of L’Aquila have been so chaotic there is growing pressure from other member states to have Italy expelled from the group, according to senior western officials.

In the last few weeks before the summit, and in the absence of any substantive initiatives on the agenda, the US has taken control. Washington has organised “sherpa calls” (conference calls among senior officials) in a last-ditch bid to inject purpose into the meeting.

“For another country to organise the sherpa calls is just unprecedented. It’s a nuclear option,” said one senior G8 member state official. “The Italians have been just awful. There have been no processes and no planning.”

“The G8 is a club, and clubs have membership dues. Italy has not been paying them,” said a European official involved in the summit preparations.

The behind-the-scenes grumbling has gone as far as suggestions that Italy could be pushed out of the G8 or any successor group. One possibility being floated in European capitals is that Spain, which has higher per capita national income and gives a greater percentage of GDP in aid, would take Italy’s place.

The Italian foreign ministry did not reply yesterday to a request to comment on the criticisms.

“The Italian preparations for the summit have been chaotic from start to finish,” said Richard Gowan, an analyst at the Centre for International Co-operation at New York University.

“The Italians were saying as long ago as January this year that they did not have a vision of the summit, and if the Obama administration had any ideas they would take instruction from the Americans.”

The US-led talks led to agreement on a food security initiative a few days before the L’Aquila meeting, the overall size of which is still being negotiated. Gordon Brown has said Britain would contribute £1.1bn to the scheme, designed to support farmers in developing countries.

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

Italy: World’s Best Hotel is Villa D’este, Cernobbio

Seven out of ten guests are British or American. Past visitors include Verdi, Callas and Onassis

CERNOBBIO — With its 140-year history and enduring appeal, the world’s best hotel stands on Lake Como. US-based Forbes magazine, which draws up an annual league table of the world’s 400 best hotels, this year put Villa d’Este at Cernobbio in first place, ahead of the Peninsula in Bangkok, the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, the Four Seasons George V in Paris and Dubai’s Burj Al Arab. It is the first time that an Italian hotel has topped the prestigious list.

Built in 1568 and converted as a hotel in 1873, Villa d’Este today has 152 luxuriously appointed rooms — the high-season rate is 900 euros a night — in two buildings set in long-established parkland in one of the loveliest corners of Lake Como. There is a unique heated swimming pool that floats on pontoons, a private sandy beach for children, indoor pool, wellness centre, eight tennis courts, restaurants and night club. CEO Jean-Marc Droulers says: “The award to Villa d’Este is an award for tradition and a milestone that honours hospitality in Italy”.

Over the centuries, Villa d’Este’s rooms have welcomed droves of dukes, kings, queens, presidents, film stars, writers, singers, musicians and fashion designers. The first customer was Giorgio Ricordi, who took a whole floor of the Queen’s Pavilion, where his guests were Giuseppe Verdi and then Giacomo Puccini. Villa d’Este has seen celebrities like Alfred Hitchcock, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Leopold of Belgium, Vittorio Emanuele, the princes of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, John Kennedy, Mikhail Gorbachev, Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner, the shah of Persia, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis and many more besides. Every year, the great and the good of world finance, politics and industry assemble here for the Workshop Ambrosetti.

In awarding the distinction to Villa d’Este, the Forbes jury of entertainers, journalists, writers, television presenters, all frequent stayers at luxury hotels, listed the delights of the five-star hideaway at Cernobbio, pointing out that it is easy to get to and has everything: “Location, views, architecture, beauty, service, decor, history, easy accessibility, a spa, sightseeing and weather”. Villa d’Este was built in 1568 by Pellegrino Tibaldi for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio, whose family owned it for two centuries. Later, it became a residence of various European aristocrats. In 1815, the property was purchased by Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of George IV, and in 1873 a group of business men converted it into a luxury hotel. Today, Villa d’Este, some 70% of whose guests are British or American, belongs with two other luxury hotels in Como and one in Florence to a company that in 2007 posted record profits of eight million euros. The parent company is owned by the Brianza-based Fontanas, a family of leading bolt manufacturers.

Luigi Corvi

25 giugno 2009

English translation by Giles Watson

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mourners Angry Over Murder of German Egyptian

Egyptians cried racism in the face of Marwa Sherbini’s killing

Outrage over the murder of a pregnant Muslim woman in Germany who has become known as the “hijab martyr” mounted Tuesday following her funeral and protests in her native Egypt over what Muslims see as European Islamaphobia and western media double standards.

Marwa al-Sherbini, a 32-year-old Egyptian-German, was buried in her coastal hometown of Alexandria, Egypt Monday amid demonstrations by Egyptians mourning her senseless death and calling for retribution.

Sherbini was stabbed to death 18 times Wednesday as she prepared to testify against her assailant, who was in court to appeal a previous defamation conviction against her.

The assailant, knonw only as Alex W., had been convicted and fined €750 ($1,050) last year for calling Sherbini a “terrorist,” “b*tch” and “Islamist” after she asked him to leave a swing for her three-year-old son Mustafa.

Her funeral drew thousands of angry mourners and Egyptian officials who called on the government to seriously deal with the tragic killing and take immediate action.

“There is no god but God and the Germans are the enemies of God,” they chanted.

Ramzi Ezz, Egypt’s ambassador in Germany told Al Arabiya the results of the investigations could be released in a few days, but noted that Egyptian law calls for life imprisonment of the murderer.

Sherbini’s brother Tarek al-Sherbini vowed to avenge her killing. “We believe in an eye for an eye,” he told Egyptian national television.

Dubbed the “martyr of the head scarf,” Sherbini was three months pregnant when her 28-year-old attacker stabbed her countless times in front of her two-year-old son.

“The killer is a terrorist who should receive severe punishment for what he has done, something that contradicts all the values of humanity, decency and religion,” Grand Imam Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi told Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

Alex also stabbed Sherbini’s husband, Elwi Ali Okaz while he was trying to save his wife. And adding further insult to injury, a security guard shot Okaz in the leg because he mistook the husband for the attacker because of his ethnic looks according to German prosecutors.

“The guards thought that as long as he wasn’t blond, he must be the attacker so they shot him,” Sherbini told an Egyptian television station.

Alex W. remained in detention and prosecutors have begun investigating the murder but have downplayed it as a lone incident.

Christian Avenarius, the prosecutor in Dresden where the incident took place, said the killer was driven by a deep hatred of Muslims. “It was very clearly a xenophobic attack of a fanatical lone wolf.”

A German government spokesperson condemned the attack and said Berlin “naturally condemns this in the strongest terms.”

A martyr for Islam

Sherbini’s shocking death ignited angry protests on the ground and online as shocked mourners held her murder up as proof of the xenophobia gripping European politics.

“This isolated incident is a foreseen consequence of the kind of anti-burqa and anti-niqab rhetoric Sarkozy has engaged in France,” one user said on a Muslim listserv.

Others said the incident showed the extent to which hate crimes against Muslims are ignored while those of Muslims against westerners are over-hyped.

Abdel Azeem Hamad, chief editor of the independent Egyptian daily al-Shorouk, said that if the victim had been a Jew, there would have been an uproar.

“What we demand is just some attention to be given to the killing of a young innocent mother on the hands of fanatic extremist,” he wrote in his column.

Many in Sherbini’s homeland were outraged by the attack and saw the low key response in Germany as an example of racism and anti-Muslim sentiment.

An Egyptian blogger Hicham Maged wrote that it simply proved anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe “Just imagine if the situation was reversed and the victim was a Westerner who was stabbed anywhere in the world or — God forbid — in any Middle Eastern country by Muslim extremists,” he said.

Western media muted

One commentator pointed to muted response by Western media as proof of double standards against Muslims as Sherbini’s murder comes as western media continued to reference the 2004 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh for his controversial film on Muslim women but meanwhile ignoring the-week-old death of a Muslim German woman by a European fundamentalist.

“I can’t believe it took so long for this news to reach me/us. Had it been an ‘honor’ killing, we would already have several NGO’s condemn it and experts on Muslim issues speaking on why these terrible Muslims do these terrible things,” Nagihan, a user on a Muslim list serve wrote. “I am shocked and awed at this double standard.”

A Facebook fan page created recently drew a whooping 300,000 fans in less than a week, with many mourning Sherbini as a martyr and calling for spiritual purification.

“May God forgive this woman and give her eternal paradise for literally

being killed for her beliefs,” said one Facebook fan.

Alexandria’s Popular Local Council said it would name a street after Sherbini to commemorate her senseless killing.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Swedish Extremists Pose ‘Serious Threat’

Political extremists in Sweden are generally more violent than their counterparts in Denmark in Germany and Denmark, a new report shows.

The study, commissioned by the government and carried out jointly by the National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet — Brå) and the Swedish security service Säpo, also found that groups on the right and the left in Sweden are equally prone to violence.

“Political violence is equally likely on both sides,” Säpo analyst Johan Olsson told Svergies Radio (SR).

“There is roughly as much politically motivated violence from autonomous groups [on the left] as in the white-power movement.”

He added, however, that groups on the right have more members with “experience in deadly violence and greater access to firearms and explosives”.

While the size of Sweden’s political extremist movements is roughly the same of those found in Germany or Denmark when measured on a per capita basis, the report found that left- and right-wing groups in Sweden are more prone to violence.

Members of the Swedish white power movement, for example, have a greater tendency to arm themselves, while left-wing extremists in Sweden are more clearly focused on systematically attacking elected officials.

According to the report, political violence is a phenomenon most likely to be carried out by young people.

Of cases brought to court, the median age of those who commit political violence in Sweden is 20-years-old and none have involved crimes committed by anyone over the age of 25.

The report on violent political extremism and anti-democratic groups on the far-right and far-left was commissioned by the government in order to shed light on the problem and devise appropriate measures to prevent young people from engaging in political violence.

In accepting the report on Monday, Sweden’s Minister of Integration and Equality Nyamko Sabuni said it was time to recognize the detrimental effects of left-wing political violence.

“We have long distanced ourselves from the white power movement’s activities and violence, not least due to historical experiences. But for just as long we’ve romanticized and downplayed the violence that left-wing groups have inflicted on society’s representatives, calling it a youthful misunderstanding or freedom fighters who have gone too far,” she told SR.

Another sign of Swedes’ differing views toward left- and right-wing violence is the difference in the number of programmes designed to help people leave extremist groups.

While there are a number of support groups for people interested in leaving neo-Nazi and other nationalistic networks on the far-right, there are few resources available to those looking to distance themselves from left-wing extremists.

“As far as I know there is no support for those who want to leave left-wing extremist movements and that’s due in part to the fact that society hasn’t treated this sort of extremism with the same seriousness as right-wing extremism,” said Robert Öhrell from Exit, a Stockholm-based organization which gives advice and support to people wishing to leave right-wing groups, to SR.

While the report shows that the actual number of people on the fringes of the right and the left who are engaged in violence is relatively small — about a hundred on each side — they have become increasingly violent.

Only a quarter of documented attacks are actually politically motivated, according to the study, with roughly an equal number of convictions for both sides in cases which make their way to a courtroom.

Despite their violent tendencies, neither groups on the right or the left have the desire or capacity to actually bring about a change in Sweden’s political system.

“Even if these groups aren’t currently a threat to our political system, they do pose a concrete threat to certain individuals. They are also a particular threat to political parties and a relatively dangerous threat to public order,” said Säpo director Anders Danielsson in a statement.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: ‘If You Choose to Live in This Country, You Live by Its Rules’, Says Judge…

…as she jails Muslim extremists for arson attack on publisher’s home

A fanatic who once paraded his baby in an ‘I love al-Quaeda’ hat was today jailed for firebombing the home of the publisher of a novel about Mohammed.

Ali Beheshti, 41, a follower of hate cleric Abu Hamza, poured diesel through the letterbox of the £2.5million house and set it alight to ‘punish’ owner Martin Rynja.

The attack came weeks before Mr Rynja’s publishing company was due to release The Jewel of Medina, a fictional account of the Prophet’s child bride.

Today a judge told the extremist and his two accomplices as she sentenced them each to four-and-a-half years: ‘If you choose to live in this country, you live by its rules.’

Beheshti first made international headlines three years ago after he was photographed with his 18-month-old daughter, Farisa, who he had dressed in a pink bonnet celebrating al-Quaeda during a protest against Danish cartoons of Mohammed.

He also proudly described her to reporters as the youngest member of the terror network as he waved banners vowing to ‘Massacre those who insult Islam’ and promising ‘Europe, your 9/11 will come!’

Beheshti, who has a previous conviction for the attempted murder of his own father, also set fire to his hands with petrol outside the U.S. embassy during the demonstration.

Last September, with accomplices Abrar Mirza, 23, and Abbas Taj, 30, he attacked the five storey home and office of Mr Rynja in Islington, North London.

Taj acted as the getaway driver as Beheshti and Mirza poured petrol diesel into the house and started a small blaze.

The building sustained minor fire damage but nobody was hurt after police and fire crews smashed down the door to put it out.

The arsonists were seized by armed police as they fled the scene in what officers described as an ‘intelligence led operation.’

Today Andrew Hall QC, for Beheshti, said it was ‘an act of protest born of the publication of a book felt by him and other Muslims to be disrespectful, provocative and offensive.’

Beheshti now considers his actions to be ‘misguided, disproportionate and counter-productive,’ the barrister added.

Sentencing, Mrs Justice Rafferty said: ‘If you chose to live in this country, you live by its rules.

‘There is no such thing as ‘a la carte citizenship’ and, in your case, there is no such thing as a la carte obedience to the law.’

He praised Mr Rynja as a ‘principled man’ who had exercised critical judgement on a literary work, and stood up to be counted, knowing that publishing it put him at risk.

‘In an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear,’ the judge added.

The novel, by U.S. writer Sherry Jones, traces the life of child bride Aisha from her engagement at the age of six to the prophet’s death.

It includes a description of the night they consummate their marriage which one American academic described as ‘soft core pornography.’

Ali Beheshti poses with a gun in this Metropolitan Police photo

Novel ‘The Jewel of Medina’ motivated the extremists to commit the arson attack

Mr Rynja’s publishing company, Gibson Square Books, bought the rights to the novel after Random House dropped plans to publish it, fearing it could ‘incite acts of violence’.

Miss Jones said her book was respectful to Islam, and Mr Rynja said last October that he felt its publication was part of a liberal democracy.

Before his arrest Beheshti lived with his family in a smart semi detached house in Ilford, east London, where a 2007 Mitsubishi 4×4 sits on the drive. He described himself as a pilot on Farisa¹s birth certificate.

His wife, Hannah, 28, is the daughter of a sales consultant for an engineering firm who grew up in a smart home in a Bristol suburb.

Beheshti and Mirza, a mobile phone salesman of Walthamstow, North East London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to recklessly damage property and endanger life.

Cab driver Taj of Forest Gate, East London was convicted of the same offence at Croydon Crown Court in May .

They were sentenced at the Royal Courts of Justice for administrative reasons.

           — Hat tip: The Frozen North [Return to headlines]

UK: Far-Right Extremists ‘Are Plotting Spectacular Terrorist Attack in UK’, Police Warn

Neo-Nazis are plotting a ‘spectacular’ terrorist attack on Britain to fuel racial tension, Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism officers fear.

Senior officers have increased their surveillance of suspects to monitor their ability to carry out a deadly attack aimed at causing a ‘breakdown in community cohesion’.

The chilling warning comes after last month’s startling gains by the BNP in the local and European elections which many fear may ‘embolden’ violent Far-Right extremists.

Commander Shaun Sawyer, from the Met’s specialist operations wing told a meeting of British Muslims last night: ‘I fear that they will have a spectacular …

‘They will carry out an attack that will lead to a loss of life or injury to a community somewhere. They’re not choosy about which community.’

His comments came after Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson asked officers to examine what effect the recession could have on far-right violence.

And the news mirrors similar warnings of the threat from far-right sympathisers issued in America in recent months.

While countering a threat from Islamic extremists remains the priority many officers now believe that funds need to be funnelled towards preventing a possible strike by the Far-Right.

Despite the warning, Assistant Commissioner John Yates today warned that counter terrorism police face budget cuts.

He admitted savings must be made in two years time despite the risks posed by the looming London 2012 Olympic Games.

The senior officer, who took control of Scotland Yard’s specialist operations wing three months ago, said it would be “naive” to think counter terrorism work would escape the recession.

Last weekend it was revealed that a network of suspected extremists with access to 300 weapons and 80 bombs has been uncovered by counter- terrorism detectives.

Thirty-two people were questioned by police and 22 properties were raided over an alleged plot to bomb mosques.

It was the biggest terrorist arms haul since the IRA mainland bombings in the 1990s.

Sir Norman Bettison, the chief constable of West Yorkshire, said: ‘The big bad wolf is still the Al-Qaeda threat.

‘But my people are knocking over right-wing extremists quite regularly. We are interdicting it so that it doesn’t first emerge into the public eye out of a critical incident like an explosion.’

It is more than 10 years since neo-Nazi nail bomber David Copeland attacked three targets in London in 1999.

Three people died at the Admiral Duncan gay pub in Soho.

The scene in London after the 1999 neo-Nazi attack on the Admiral Duncan pub, which killed two people and injured at least 50 more

Copeland also targeted the Muslim community in Brick Lane, east London, and a supermarket in Brixton, south London.

Abdurahman Jafar of the Muslim Safety Forum, where the concerns were raised, said:

‘Muslims are the first line of victims in the extreme right’s campaign of hate and division and they make no secret about that.

‘Statistics show a strong correlation between the rise of racist and Islamophobic hate crime and the ascendancy of the BNP.’

Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, which monitors violence against Jews, said there has been a surge in right-wing incidents.

He said: ‘Ten years after the Nazi nail bombings in London, we are seeing increasing numbers of neo-Nazis being arrested in their attempts to start some kind of so-called race war.

‘It is the Muslim community that appears to be most targeted, but all of society is at risk, and we are in regular discussion with police about the problem.

‘Worse still, the recent electoral successes for the BNP may cause some would-be terrorists to be further emboldened in their actions.’

Last year neo-Nazi Martyn Gilleard, 31, was convicted of three terrorism offences and jailed for 16 years.

Gilleard idolised Adolf Hitler and urged sympathisers to act to preserve the ‘purity of the white race’.

When police raided his flat they found bullets, swords, knives and four nail bombs under a bed used by his five-year-old child.

Officers also found DIY bomb manuals, a guide on making a sub-machine gun and internet instructions on carrying out assassinations by poison.

A speech he had recorded in a notebook mentioned ‘killing Muslims, blowing up mosques and fighting back’.

No one at the Muslim Safety Forum was available for comment. The Metropolitan Police declined to comment.

Last month a white supremacist with links to the BNP shot dead a security guard at Washington’s Holocaust Museum in a racially-motivated killing.

Before launching the attack, 88-year-old James von Brunn sent out an email claiming: ‘It’s time to kill all the Jews.’

Von Brunn was shot and wounded by museum security officers after he walked into the packed tourist attraction and began firing indiscriminately.

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Wilders: Political Elite, Not Me, Is Growing Radical

THE HAGUE, 07/07/09 — Since his Party for Freedom’s (PVV) victory at the European election on 4 June, MP Geert Wilders has been targeted by Labour (PvdA) cabinet members. But Wilders is not impressed by the “water pistol” attacks of a party that feels “morally superior”, he counters in an interview with De Volkskrant newspaper.

Home Affairs Minister Guusje ter Horst said last week in Vrij Nederland magazine that she was hoping for “the intellectual elite of the Netherlands to rebel” against Wilders. The PvdA minister would welcome “a counter movement” of “right-minded” people who should make it clear that Wilders is propagating “nonsense”.

Other PvdA ministers have also attacked Wilders since the PVV European victory on 4 June. Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan called the PVV dangerous. He also said that Wilders “generalises and puts forward pseudo-solutions” that he alleged were not judicially possible. European Affairs State Secretary Frans Timmermans characterised the PVV leader as unseemly.

Wilders is not impressed. “I need to wear a bullet-proof vest from time to time, but I will not need it for the water pistols of all these ministers. It is pure panic. Until 4 June, they could write off the results as merely polls”. But this is no longer the case.

Ter Horst’s claim that Wilders’ politics is ‘nonsense’ and should be rebelled against angers the controversial rightwinger. “I have the facts and a large proportion of the voters on my side. I observe that a prominent member of the cabinet is now advocating rebellion. A rebellion! I should try saying that!”

“The PvdA, the party that always claimed to be close to the people, is the self-designated right-minded elite and the voters are the dumb people against whom this elite should rebel,” Wilders continued. “That is an enormous insult to the voters and a stab in the back for all those who have turned away from the PvdA. Now that the party is in a state of collapse, Ter Horst has shown her true face. The elite are becoming more radical, not us.”

Ter Horst also said in Vrij Nederland that although Wilders wishes to expel Moroccan criminals, his voters do not realise that this is impossible because they are Dutch. This is rubbish, Wilders claimed. “Thanks to the Moroccan King, these youngsters always have dual nationality.”

It is already possible to expel people with dual nationality who commit acts of terrorism from the country. “I just want to expand the scope of this law, so that (…) the rest of the scum can be expelled too. You may consider this an objectionable political choice, or even morally repugnant, but don’t give me the judicial objection that it is impossible.”

Wilders also countered Timmermans’s accusation of ‘unseemliness’. “In the PvdA, they keep on playing the hand of moral superiority. While I simply say: my party is a better party than yours. He makes remarks like this to keep the Muslim voters happy, now that he has practically no supporters left. But it is sharia-socialists like him who are responsible for the growth of the multicultural society and now they are kept alive by this same multicultural society. They should be combating the disadvantages: the dire position of women, unbelievers and homosexuals.”

According to Wilders, the PVV fills the role that parties like the PvdA attribute to themselves with their claim of being progressive. “We are doing their work. Why are we the largest party (in a poll held) on the website of (gay magazine) Gay Krant? Is anybody thinking? Because homosexuals experience the consequences of Islamisation every day in their neighbourhoods.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Textile: Milan Training Course for Egypt and Morocco

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 18 — In its bid to stimulate the textile market in Egypt and Morocco, the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) has organised a training course for those working in the sector in the two countries, to be held June 29 — July 3 in Milan. The course — part of the operating accord stipulated between the Economic Development Ministry, the ICE and ACIMIT (an association of machine manufacturers for the sector) — will comprise speeches by experts and the presentation of some of the most recent Italian production technologies. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Cheb, King of Rai and Idol of North Africans Sentenced

(By Antonella Tarquini) (ANSAmed)- PARIS, JULY 3 — Cheb Mami, the king of rai music, the 42-year-old French-Algerian singer who has sold millions of albums, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment by the court of Bobigny for attempting a forced abortion on his former partner after kidnapping her. The story of the woman, a 43-year-old French photographer, is chilling: when she arrived in Algiers in August 2005 for a reportage commissioned by Maurice Levy, a former manager of Mami, she was three months pregnant by him, after she ignored the singer’s pleas to have an abortion. She was welcomed at Boumedienne Airport by Levy’s business partner, Hicham Lazaar, who offered her a drugged drink. Camille (a fictitious name) was taken to Mami’s villa in Algiers by his right-hand man Kader Lallali. “Filthy bitch” he shouted while ripping off her trousers. “A woman sat on my belly, another put her hand in my vagina and scraped for hours. This lasted all night”. After Kader threatened to take away her 4-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Camille, bleeding heavily, found shelter in the house of an Algerian friend. Back in Paris a doctor announced a miracle — the baby was left unharmed by the barbaric treatment. The girl is now three years old. The presiding judge read the recording of a telephone call between Cheb Mami and the woman: “It can’t be that yoùre still pregnant, I’ve seen the blood, they’ve shown me the foetus,” he was heard saying. At that point the popular singer collapsed and confessed in tears. He blamed his manager for everything, claiming that he had organised everything in order to protect his client’s image. Mami said that he wasn’t present at the attempted forced abortion “because I couldn’t have stood seeing a thing like that”. Then he admitted: “I was in a panic, so I accepted Maurice’s plan…. I can’t have a child from a short relationship, it’s against my culture and my religion”. Still crying, he asked his former partner to forgive him. Culture and religion were not enough to prevent the attempted massacre of a young woman. Cheb Mami was arrested when he arrived in Paris for the trial after hiding in Algeria for two years and will serve his term in the Santé prison. Maurice Levy, who has denied any responsibility claiming that he didn’t know Camille was pregnant, received a four year sentence. Two other accomplices are on the run. Things could have gone worse for the king of rai music. The public prosecutor had asked for a seven year sentence and the maximum sentence possible was 10 years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Morocco: Dozens of Dams to be Built by 2012, Government

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JULY 3 — The construction of dozens of dams over the next three years will allow Morocco to increase its water collection capacity from 17 to 24 billion cubic metres, declared the Undersecretary of State in charge of Water and the Environment, Abdelkabir Zahoud, who was quoted in the paper ‘Le Matin’, stressing that it will combat the effects of drought and end desertification. Zahoud explained that drinking water production has increased five times what it was thirty years ago adding that the supply in urban areas now reaches 92% of the population. In rural areas the rate has increased from 14% in 1994 to 80% in 2008. Currently Morocco has 128 dams, and thousands of wells to reach ground water. It is a network that allows for the irrigation of some 1.5 million hectares. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Avoiding an American Ambush


THE SECOND ISSUE is US military aid. For years Israel’s detractors have pointed to this aid as “proof” that it is a strategic burden for America. But in recent years, and particularly since the Obama administration took office, it is becoming increasingly clear that US military assistance may be a greater burden for Israel than for the US.

On Sunday The Jerusalem Post reported that the Pentagon has forced Israel Aerospace Industries to back out of a joint partnership with a Swedish aerospace company to compete in a multibillion dollar tender to sell new multirole fighters to the Indian air force. And as the Post reported, this is the second major deal the Pentagon has forced Israel to withdraw from in the past year. Last summer it was forced to bow out of a $500 million tender to supply the Turkish army with a new main battle tank. In both cases, US firms were competing in the tenders and the Pentagon threatened that Israeli participation would risk continued US-Israeli cooperation.

Today Israel faces the prospect of not having a new-generation fighter. The Pentagon has placed so many draconian restrictions on its purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and raised the price so high, that it makes little strategic or economic sense to purchase it. So too, last week the navy announced it has decided to explore the option of building its own warships rather than buy one of two competing US naval platforms as planned because the US contractors’ costs have gone up so high. The navy is also taking into consideration the fact that by building domestic platforms, it will provide needed employment to shipyard workers.

All in all, both in terms of pure economics and in terms of the massive and constantly escalating restrictions the Obama administration is now placing on Israeli use of US technologies and munitions, maintaining US military assistance makes less and less sense with each passing day.

Were Israel to initiate a conversation about cutting back on this assistance, it would be able to ensure that the talks take place on its terms. Moreover, given the fact that Israel may indeed be best served by simply ending its military assistance package, the risk involved in such discussions would not be particularly earth shattering. Finally, by making clear that it is not dependent on Obama’s kindness, it would be expanding its maneuvering room on other issues as well.

What Obama’s radicalism tells us is that he is not a man who is moved by rational discourse. He is not a man who is willing to be convinced that he is mistaken. But even in these dire circumstances, Israel is not without good options for securing its interests vis-Ã -vis Washington.

To do so, Jerusalem must first understand that it gains nothing from making concessions to a president bent on picking a fight with it. Then it must recognize that there are issues where a confrontation with Obama can serve its interests. Finally it must pursue those issues with energy and passion.

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

Israel: Terrorists to Descend on Jesus’ Birthplace

Muslim jihadists to congregate at site of rampant Christian persecution

TEL AVIV — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization has decided to hold in the West Bank city of Bethlehem its first congress in 20 years.

Well-known terrorists and anti-Israel extremists are slated to descend upon the important Christian city, where, among other things, the Fatah party is set to vote on a clause that would affirm “resistance” against Israel, WND has learned.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

PA Chief Abbas: We Left Galilee on Our Own

( Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas says the Arabs of the Galilee city of Tzfat left in 1948 not because they were driven out, but on their own volition.

Many biographies of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas imply that his family became “refugees” because of the War of Independence in 1948. For instance, a BBC profile on Abbas when he succeeded Yasser Arafat as PLO chairman in 2005 writes, “In the light of his origins in Safed in Galilee — in what is now northern Israel — he is said to hold strong views about the right of return of Palestinian refugees.” states, “As a result of the Arab-Israel War of 1948, he became a refugee.” Wikipedia articles on the topic say the same — all giving the impression that the Abbas family was driven out and became homeless.

However, Abbas himself — co-founder of Fatah with Arafat, and known as Abu Mazen — now tells a different story. Speaking with Al-Palestinia TV on Monday, Abbas admitted that his family was not expelled or driven out, but rather left for fear that the Jews might take revenge for the slaughter of 20 Jews in the city during the Arab pogroms of 19 years earlier.

In the words of Abbas:

“I am among those who were born in the city of Tzfat (Safed). We were a family of means. I studied in elementary school, and then came the naqba [calamity, namely, the founding of the State of Israel — ed.]. At night, we left by foot from Tzfat, to the Jordan River, where we remained for a month. Then we went to Damascus, and then to our relatives in Jordan, and then we settled in Damascus.

“My father had money, and he spent his money systematically, and after a year, the money ran out and we began to work.

“The people’s basic motives brought them to run away for their lives and with their property. These [motives] were very important, for they feared the violence of the Zionist terrorist organizations — and especially those of us from Tzfat felt that there was an old desire for revenge from the rebellion of 1929, and this was in the memory of our families and parents..”

The “rebellion” Abbas referred to was a series of brutal Arab attacks on Jewish towns in the summer of 1929. Nearly 70 Jews were slaughtered in their homes in Hevron, 20 in Tzfat, 17 in Jerusalem, and others were murdered in Motza, Kfar Uriah and Tel Aviv.

The memory of the slaughter, Abbas said, “brought [our families] to understand that the military balance had changed, and that [we] no longer had military forces in their real meaning. There were only young people who fought, and there was an initial action. They felt that the balance of power had collapsed and they therefore decided to leave. The entire city was abandoned based on this thought — the thought of their property and saving themselves.”

Return to Roots — in Damascus

It is notable that the Abbas family moved back to Damascus, as that is likely the place where it had originated less than 90 years earlier. Joan Peters, in her scholarly work “From Time Immemorial” on the Arab population of Israel, writes that in 1860, “Algerian tribes moved from Damascus en masse to Safed.” She notes that the Muslims in the city were mostly descended from Moorish settlers and from Kurds — more evidence negating the claim that the Arabs in the Land of Israel had been there “from time immemorial.”

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

Middle East

French Anger as Iran Holds Woman

France has demanded the release of a French academic who it says has been detained in Iran since 1 July, accused of spying.

The French foreign ministry condemned the arrest of the unnamed woman and said the allegations of spying did not stand up to examination.

The French news agency AFP says the woman is an academic in Isfahan.

She had been in Iran for five months, and was arrested at Tehran airport as she was about to depart for Beirut.

“We call on the Iranian authorities to free our compatriot immediately and allow her to leave Iran for France,” the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the Iranian ambassador in Paris had been summoned for an explanation.

Increased tension

Tensions between Iran and Western countries — including France — have risen since the disputed Iranian presidential election last month.

Earlier, Britain announced that the eighth of nine British embassy employees detained by Iran had been released.

The remaining detainee, who is Iranian, is the chief political analyst at the UK embassy in Tehran.

Britain has described his continued detention as unacceptable and unjustified.

The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has, meanwhile, warned the West not to “meddle” in Iran’s affairs.

“Some leaders of Western countries at the level of president, prime minister and foreign minister openly intervened in Iran’s internal affairs that had nothing to do with them,” Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying on Iranian television.

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

Media: Freedom Stifled, Doha Centre Director Resigns

(by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JUNE 25 — “The Centre has been stifled. We no longer had either freedom or resources to work” said Robert Menard, after his resignation as French director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, the only such centre in the region. “I was ready to make compromises as long as what was essential was safe” explained Menard in a press release on the Centre’s website. “ “But certain Qatari officials never wanted an independent Centre, one that was free to express its views without being limited by political or diplomatic considerations”. Created in December 2007 with the help of the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his wife, Sheik Mozah, the Doha Centre had the goal to defend press freedom, journalists and newspaper from the totalitarian regime. Since its opening it has assisted at least 250 reporters who were under threat in their country, paying their medical and legal costs. The problems which caused Menard — founder of ‘Reporters without borders’ and director of its research, assistance and communication section — to abandon the centre started in the past months when the authorities of Qatar refused to sign the document which would have allowed the centre to take a foreign reporter under its wings. “The Emir’s office informed us that sheltering a foreign reporter, from Iran for example, would not be in line with Qatar’s diplomatic interests” continued Menard. “A real shame” complained Menard, who underlined the importance of the institute in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) area where press freedom is constantly under threat and where at least 30 journalists are in prison for telling the inconvenient truth. This incident casts a shadow on the image of an open country, in the forefront compared with the rest of the region. Doha is also where the satellite network al Jazeera has spread the Arab version of Middle East events in the Western world and which has often criticised local regimes. Its comments on Saudi policies led in 2002 to a 5-year diplomatic crisis. Qatar has also organised international conferences on information, politics, women and religious issues. The country’s attitude of inter-cultural and inter-religious freedom led in 2002 to the start of diplomatic relations with the Vatican and the opening of the first Catholic church in 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East: Wishful Thinking Kills

By Barry Rubin

The more things change, the more they remain the same, sayeth the French. The Bible states that there’s nothing new under the sun. Doing a television interview today made me reflect on the relationship of those concepts on the contemporary Middle East.

It is untrue of course that nothing changes in the region. Quite the contrary: consider the recent upheaval in Iran and a whole list of other events. In fact, there might be truth in the idea that big explosions in the region are more common than small, fundamental changes.

And yet people—today more than ever—yearn for change, especially in the West where “change” has become the most important cultural principle and the concept of tradition is the new curse word, heard far less often than the four-letter ones seeming to pepper every type of conversation, real —life or fictional.

It is an easy step from the wishful thinking for change to the assertion that change can happen if we only do such-and-such. This is certainly the trap that the U.S. administration is caught up in. While it is natural for a new government to believe it can accomplish everything—didn’t it say that its predecessors were numbskulls?—it is especially true for the Obama administration which used “change” as one of its keywords. And what does the other one, hope, mean? Why, to hope that things can change!

These reflections are prompted by a television interview I did today. There were three questions which follow a common pattern…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Syria-USA: Assad Sends 4th of July Greetings to Obama

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, JULY 3 — In a rare gesture of détente between the two nations on the eve of the 233rd anniversary of American Independence, Syrian President Bashir al-Assad has today sent a telegram of good wishes to his US counterpart “in the name of the Syrian Arab people”. The news was reported this morning by Syrian state-run news agency SANA. The news of the telegram was announced a few hours after an interview was broadcast with President Bashir al-Assad on British TV channel Sky News. In the interview, Assad explicitly invited Obama to Syria for a bilateral summit. “In the name of the Syrian Arab people, I would like to pass on my sincerest congratulations and best wishes to President Obama and his fellow Americans,” reads the message sent today. “The values affirmed by Obama during his election campaign and after he was elected president,” continues the telegram, “are values that the whole world needs.” After four years of iciness and tension in political and diplomatic relations, the US and Syria have begun to show signs of reconciliation over the past few months ago. “It is extremely important to adopt the principle of dialogue in relations between nations based on mutual respect and interests,” stated Assad in the message. “Only dialogue based on respect for international law can tackle the serious threats the world is facing.” “For this reason,” concludes the telegram, “we must unite in our efforts to put an end to all types of occupation and give human beings the possibility to live freely and with dignity.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

The Man Who Tried to Save Neda

BBC Interview with Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save Neda…

One of the stand-out images of the protests in Iran is of a young woman dying from gunshot wounds on the streets of Tehran.

Neda Soltan was shot while attending a protest, and the footage shows her lying on the ground in a pool of blood and two men trying to save her.

Dr Arash Hejazi, the man in the white shirt who rushed to her aid, is studying in England.

He spoke to the BBC’s Rachel Harvey about the incident.

           — Hat tip: Zonka [Return to headlines]

UK: Radical Preacher Sent Back to Jail

The radical Islamic preacher Abu Izzadeen has been recalled to jail after breaking the terms of his release, prison sources said today.

Izzadeen, who is otherwise known as Trevor Brooks, was jailed last year for four and a half years for inciting terrorism but released in May this year after his sentence was cut on appeal.

The 34-year-old gained notoriety when he heckled former home secretary John Reid at a public meeting four years ago.

He was found guilty in 2008 of urging worshipers at a London mosque to join the mujahideen to fight British and American troops in Iran.

But he is now back in jail after breaking the conditions of his release relating to good behaviour, prison sources confirmed today.

He was recalled after he swore at police officers who were checking that he was keeping to the terms set out when he was freed, the Sun newspaper reported.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We do not comment on individual prisoners.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]


Obama in Russia: ‘Stop Iran and We’ll Scrap Missile Shield’

President Obama today offered to scrap plans for a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe if Russia helped to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

He appealed in Moscow for a new era of partnership between Russia and the United States to fight the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups.

“That is why we should be united in opposing North Korea’s efforts to become a nuclear power and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Russia strongly opposes US plans to site the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, which Washington says is necessary to defend against a surprise attack from Iran. Mr Obama made clear that he was willing to strike a deal with the Kremlin.

“I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defence in Europe . . . I have made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran and has nothing to do with Russia,” Mr Obama said in a speech to students graduating from Moscow’s New Economic School.

“I want us to work together on a missile defence architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes is eliminated, the driving force for missile defence in Europe will be eliminated. That is in our mutual interest.”

A failure to uphold agreements to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons would turn international law into “the law of the jungle”. The US and Russia had learnt to respect a “balance of terror” during the Cold War, but “we have to ask whether 10 or 20 or 50 nuclear-armed nations will protect their arsenals and refrain from using them”.

In a speech laced with compliments for Russian culture, and notably light on concerns over democracy and human rights abuses, Mr Obama said that America wanted “a strong, peaceful and prosperous Russia”.

He paid tribute to the “unimaginable hardship” suffered by the people of the Soviet Union in defeating Nazi Germany. Future threats required “global partnership and that partnership will be stronger if Russia occupies its rightful place as a great power”.

Mr Obama continued: “In 2009, a great power does not show strength by dominating or demonising other countries. The days when empires could treat sovereign states as pieces on a chess board are over.

“Any world order that tries to elevate one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game — progress must be shared. That is why I have called for a ‘reset’ in relations between the United States and Russia.”

Mr Obama stood up for Ukraine and Georgia against Russian efforts to prevent them seeking membership in Nato, saying that states “must have the right to borders that are secure and to their own foreign policies”.

“Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That is why this principle must apply to all nations — including Georgia and Ukraine,” Mr Obama said. He stopped short of criticising Russia for recognising the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states after last Augustâ€(tm)s war with Georgia.

Mr Obama pulled his punches over the state of Russian democracy and individual freedom, disappointing liberal critics of the Kremlin. He made no direct criticism of Russia but instead declared that America had an interest in “democratic governments that protect the rights of their people”.

“The arc of history shows us that governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not,” he said. “Governments that represent the will of their people are far less likely to descend into failed states, to terrorise their citizens, or to wage war on others.”

Mr Obama insisted that America “will not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country”. He admitted that the US had “not always done what we should have on that front”.

“I will work tirelessly to protect America’s security and advance our interests. But no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor dictate its terms to the world. That is something that America now understands just as Russia understands,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Obama met Vladimir Putin for the first time and praised his “extraordinary work” as president and prime minister. The tone of the meeting at Mr Putin’s country residence was in stark contrast to Mr Obama’s criticism of him last week as a man with “one foot in the old ways of doing business”.

Over a Russian breakfast of smoked Beluga and tea from a samovar, served up by waiters in folk costumes, Mr Putin told his guest: “We associate your name with the hopes of developing our relations.”

Mr Obama said that their meeting provided an “excellent opportunity to put US-Russian relations on a much stronger footing”. A senior US official later told reporters that the President had changed his view of Mr Putin and was now “convinced the Prime Minister is a man of today”.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: Taliban Buying Children for Suicide Attacks

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — A top Taliban leader in Pakistan is buying and selling children for suicide bombings, Pakistani and U.S. officials said.

Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud has been increasingly using the children in attacks, the officials said. A video released by Pakistan’s military shows the children training for the task.

In the video of a training camp, children can be seen killing and going through exercises.

Mehsud has been selling the children, once trained, to other Taliban officials for $6,000 to $12,000, Pakistani military officials said. Watch more about the child bombers “

Some of the children are as young as 11, the officials said.

“He has been been admitting he holds a training center for young boys, for preparing them for suicide bombing. So he is on record saying all this, accepting these crimes,” said Major General Akhtar Abbas, spokesman for the Pakistani army.

The young suicide bombers may be able to reach targets unnoticed, the military said.

“If he is approaching on foot, there is a possibility he will bypass security,” Abbas said.

“In certain areas, there is a possibility in the population centers everyone can not be checked physically, so he can create havoc there.”

           — Hat tip: Zenster [Return to headlines]

Far East

Chants of ‘Death to Uighurs’ Echo Around Urumqi

Women are crying, civilians have armed themselves with clubs and axes. Fear and chaos rule in Urumqi. The Han Chinese are bent on revenge on the Uighurs and the police are struggling to keep order.

All of a sudden, Urumqi is a city of wooden clubs. Everyone has one, men and women, police and civilians, Uigurs and Han Chinese. They all want to protect themselves — the Han Chinese from the Uighurs, the Uighurs from the Han Chinese, the civilians fear the police and vice versa.

In the searing midday heat a leaden calm has descended on the capital of Xinjiang, the remote province in northwestern China.

On Friendship Street, a broad boulevard, shops are shuttered and groups of people have gathered in the entrances. Uniformed guards and civilians are wielding clubs, some even have axes.

All seem to be bracing for new demonstrations by the Uighurs but then it becomes clear who they’re afraid of. Suddenly groups of Han Chinese march through the streets in increasing numbers.

They too are armed with clubs and iron bars. Most of them are young men but there are women in the crowd too. Some are chanting “Death to the Uighurs.” They are bent on revenge for the violence of the past few days.

Some 200 of them are marching towards a mosque. Uighur women flee into a courtyard followed by the crowd. Windows shatter in a hail of stones. Military trucks and police cars arrive. Soldiers cordon off the mosque. Police with loudspeakers urge the crowd to disperse. “Please leave, thank you for your cooperation.”

After another volley of stones, the demonstrators obey. The party chief of Urumqi, Li Zhi, climbs on the roof of a police car and urges people to stay calm. His words, it seems, have an effect, for now.

Earlier, even trained riot police using tear gas had failed to disperse Han Chinese protestors who were attacking businesses owned by Uighurs. The demonstrators had broken through a police line separating the two warring ethnic groups.

The provincial government of Xinjiang has imposed a curfew to restore order. All inhabitants in the province must remain in their homes between 9 p.m. local time (1 p.m. CET) and 8 a.m…

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Court Orders Muslims to Cancel Friday Prayers

Muslims forced to cancel Friday prayers in Cannington building.

A West Australian court has ordered a prominent Muslim group to stop hosting compulsory Friday prayers at an industrial estate in eastern Perth.

The Daawah Association of Western Australia is allowed to use its building in Kent Street, Cannington, as a ‘Community Purpose and Educational Establishment’.

That City of Canning approval requires Daawah not to let more than 20 people into the building at a time.

However, in 2007 the managers of a building next door complained Daawah drop-ins were parking on the verge of the neighbouring building.

An investigation by the city found that on Fridays Daawah was exceeding its 20 person limit. Daahwah’s subsequent application to accommodate 100 people at any given time was refused.

Adjudicating on Daawah’s appeal, State Administrative Tribunal member Marie Connor found that Friday afternoon prayers conducted in the building put it in a ‘Place of Public Worship’ category prohibited under its ‘Light Industry’ zoning.

The city told Ms Connor that the building had developed the character of a mosque or masjid.

Daawah argued the city’s planning policies were not well placed to deal with the complex practices of the Muslim faith.

A Ms Rahman, called as a witness by Daawah, said there were many places that provided prayer rooms — such as shopping centres, workplaces and airports, and that none of these places were mosques.

“The mere fact that Friday prayer is being held at the premises does not make that place a mosque, Islamically,” Ms Rahman said.

However, the city tabled a Daawah document entitled ‘Masjid Project — Appeal for help’ that referred to ‘Masjid As-Sunnah’ operating at the premises.

The document mentioned the difficulties experienced in accommodating the large number of worshippers and that there was a need to purpose build a new Masjid.

Photographs were produced showing a sign on the front window where the word ‘Masjid’ appeared beside an arrow indicating the location of the Masjid.

Ms Rahman said the term ‘Masjid’ meant: “basically a place of prostration or a place to pray’.

Ms Connor considered the Friday prayers involved congregational worship, thereby conferring a ‘place of public worship’ planning definition on the building prohibited under its ‘Light Industry’ zoning.

She directed the association to stop using its building for more than 20 people, and to comply with the industrial zoning which precludes congregational worship.

Under Muslim tradition, it is compulsory for all males above the age of puberty to attend Friday prayers.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan: Appeal on Bashir Genocide Charges

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have appealed against the judges’ decision not to indict Sudan’s president for genocide.

The court issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in March.

But the judges said there was insufficient evident to support the three charges of genocide in Darfur.

The ICC chief prosecutor is in Ethiopia for talks with the African Union, which says Mr Bashir should not be charged.

At the AU summit last week, African leaders said their request to the UN Security Council to delay Mr Bashir’s indictment had been ignored, so they would not help arrest Sudan’s leader.

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who is pushing for the genocide charges, is on the first leg of a trip to Africa that will also take him to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In his appeal lodged on Monday, it said the prosecution had “submitted detailed evidence on the mobilisation and use of the entire Sudanese state apparatus for the purpose of destroying a substantial part of the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in the entire region of Darfur during more than six years”.

Mr Bashir has denied all the prosecution’s allegations, saying the state has a responsibility to fight rebels who took up arms in Darfur in 2003.

The UN says 300,000 people have died and more than two million fled their homes in that time.

The war crimes court, based in The Hague, has already issued two arrest warrants — in 2007 — for Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and the Janjaweed militia leader Ali Abdul Rahman..

Sudan has refused to hand them over.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo has also requested warrants for three Darfur rebel commanders.

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

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Calls US Envoy ‘An Idiot’

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has branded a top US envoy “an idiot” with a condescending attitude.

He said that Johnnie Carson, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, wanted to dictate what Zimbabwe could and could not do.

The two spoke on the sidelines of last week’s African Union meeting in Libya.

The Obama administration has been sceptical of the power-sharing government formed between Mr Mugabe and his opposition rivals.

Mr Mugabe told the state-owned Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe that nothing came out of his talks with Mr Carson — his first meeting with a US government official for many years.

“You would not speak to an idiot of that nature,” he said. “I was very angry with him, and he thinks he could dictate to us what to do and what not to do.”

Mr Mugabe pointed out that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) supported the unity government.

“We have the whole of SADC working with us, and you have the likes of little fellows like Carson, you see, wanting to say: ‘You do this, you do that.’

“Who is he?

“I hope he was not speaking for Obama. I told him he was a shame, a great shame, being an African American.”

Mr Mugabe was also not fond of Mr Carson’s predecessor, Jendayi Frazer, who is also black.

In May last year he described her as “a little American girl trotting around the globe like a prostitute” after she suggested that the then-opposition Movement for Democratic Change had won the disputed presidential election.

Meanwhile, the Herald also reports that Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has apologised to Mr Mugabe after ministers from his party, the MDC, boycotted a cabinet meeting last Monday.

The ministers had decided instead to head to Harare airport to welcome Mr Tsvangirai back from a tour of Europe and the United States, where he had been lobbying for aid for Zimbabwe.

He said he had raised about $500m (£300m), not the $7bn the country’s finance minister said the country needed to revive its economy.

President Obama committed $73 million, but said: “It will not be going to the government directly because we continue to be concerned about consolidating democracy, human rights, and rule of law.”

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

Latin America

All Eyes on Honduras

The importance of the summit meeting in Moscow between President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pales in comparison to the events taking place in Honduras.

Whether or not the United States and Russia reduce their nuclear arsenals is ultimately meaningless. But whether Hugo Chavez and Raul Castro are victorious in Honduras or whether the movement toward left-wing authoritarianism is finally defeated in a Latin American country is extremely significant.

The courage of the pro-liberty forces in Honduras is almost miraculous. It is almost too good to be true, given Honduras’ consequent isolation in the world.

Even if you know little or nothing about the crisis in Honduras, nearly all you need to know in order to ascertain which side is morally right is this: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Cuba’s Castro brothers, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States are all lined up against Honduras.

And what troubles these good people? They claim that there was a military coup in Honduras that renders the present government illegal.

Here, in brief, are the facts. You decide.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Canada ‘To Stem Czech Migration’

Canada is considering measures to deal with the large number of people seeking asylum from the Czech Republic.

They are almost all members of the Roma or gypsy minority, fleeing what they say is persecution at home.

Czech officials say Ottawa is considering re-imposing visas, which would be a major setback for Czech tourists and business people.

Last year 860 Czechs applied for asylum. This year, the figure has already exceeded 1,000.

Bomb attack

Critics say they are economic migrants, simply heading to Canada in search of a better life.

Roma groups angrily deny that, pointing to a sharp rise in far-right extremism in the Czech Republic, including a petrol bomb attack that left a baby girl in hospital.

Neo-Nazi marchers have been deliberately targeting areas with large Roma communities, something that Roma groups say is adding to a climate of fear.

Reports say Canada has granted asylum to around 40% of the claims filed by Czech Roma, meaning that the requests met Canada’s stipulation of a “well-founded fear of persecution”.

Czech officials have confirmed that the Canadian visa threat is real, but stress that they have not been notified of any final decision.

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

UK: One in Ten State-Subsidised Homes Goes to an Immigrant Family

Nearly 400,000 homes have gone to tenants who were born abroad, the Government’s equality watchdog has said.

One in ten state-subsidised homes is occupied by an immigrant family, according to the first estimate of the impact of immigration on social housing.

More than half of the immigrants who live in council or housing association houses and flats are in London, the report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission found.

It added that four out of ten people born abroad who live in the capital are living in subsidised housing — a figure that suggests a million people in immigrant families have found homes in social housing in London.

The report blamed Home Office decisions to house asylum seekers in empty social housing around the country for ‘fuelling misconceptions that asylum seekers are queue jumping and being allocated social housing ahead of white British applicants.’

It acknowledged that there is tension over who gets social housing in London and other cities including Birmingham.

But despite evidence of increasing anger over the allocation of housing in poorer and traditionally Labour-voting areas, the report insisted that there is no prejudice against the existing population in the decisions over who gets increasingly scarce homes.

It said the tension that has led to a growing vote for the far right British National Party in some parts of the country should be dealt with by fostering more positive attitudes to immigration and enforcing equality laws.

The conclusions will undermine Gordon Brown’s latest plans to allow local authorities to give longstanding local residents priority in the queue for homes.

The report was drawn up for the Equality Commission by the Labour think tank Institute for Public Policy Research, which has a long record of support for large-scale immigration.

The Commission’s chief, Trevor Phillips, is said to be likely to be forced out of his job this autumn.

Two years ago former minister Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking in East London, began a Labour row when she complained that migrant families were being given priority for homes over those with a ‘legitimate sense of entitlement’.

Shortly afterwards Whitehall published the first estimate of numbers of foreigners in social housing, which suggested that one in 12 people in subsidised homes are foreign citizens.

However the figures published by the Equality Commission yesterday are based on the large-scale Labour Force Survey run by the Government’s Office for National Statistics.

They count people born abroad, the measure accepted by statisticians as a better estimate of real numbers of immigrants.

The one in ten national estimate for social homes occupied by immigrants obscures much higher proportions of migrants in council and housing association property in some areas.

The report said that more than half of immigrant social tenants are in London, partly because of the high cost of renting or buying private homes.

It added: ‘The most hostile attitudes about migration and social housing allocation were evident in places where there was a high proportion of the population on social housing waiting lists and where owner occupancy was most unaffordable, for example in Barking and in Birmingham.’

Some migrant groups, the report said, were highly dependent on social housing because their families had higher numbers of children and were more likely to be without work.

They included families from Afghanistan, Somalia and Bangladesh.

However Poles and other eastern Europeans who have arrived since 2004 are less likely to occupy social homes, it found, possibly because many see themselves returning home in future rather than staying long-term in Britain.

Only 11 per cent of migrants over the last five years live in social housing, the report said.

New immigrants with the right to live in Britain have been entitled to social housing since the 70s, when waiting lists which favoured local families were abolished and replaced with systems that allocated homes on the basis of need.

Homelessness, several children, pregnancy and poverty have since been factors that automatically push people towards the head of the queue.

But Robert Whelan, housing expert at the Civitas think tank, said: ‘In some areas most units of social housing are going to immigrants, which provides fertile soil for the BNP.

‘This report does not reflect the concerns of working class people and it is extremely unhelpful at a time when the BNP is hoovering up votes.

‘It does not recognise the claims of longstanding local residents whose families have contributed to communities for generations.’

Equality Commission chairman Trevor Phillips said: ‘Much of the public concern about the impact of migration on social housing has, at its heart, the failure of social housing supply to meet the demands of the population.

‘The poorer the area, the longer the waiting lists, therefore the greater the tension.

‘Government and social housing providers need to work with the communities they serve to address these issues.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Dumbing-Down the U.S. Navy

“Naval Academy Professor Challenges Rising Diversity,” ran the headline in the Washington Post.

The impression left was that some sorehead was griping because black and Hispanic kids were finally being admitted.

The Post’s opening paragraphs reinforced the impression.

“Of the 1,230 plebes who took the oath of office at the Naval Academy in Annapolis this week, 435 were members of minority groups. It’s the most racially diverse class in the nation’s 164-year history. Academy leaders say it’s a top priority to build a student body that reflects the racial makeup of the Navy and the nation.”

Who can be against diversity?

What the Post gets around to is that 22-year English professor Bruce Fleming objects to a race-based admissions program that was apparently used to create a class that is 35 percent minority.

According to Fleming, who once sat on the board of admissions, white applicants must have all As and Bs and test scores of at least 600 on the English and math parts of the SAT even to qualify for a “slate” of 10 applicants, from which only one will be chosen.

However, if you check a box indicating you are African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian, writes Fleming, “SAT scores to the mid 500s with quite a few Cs in classes … typically produces a vote of ‘qualified’ … with direct admission to Annapolis. They’re in and given a pro forma nomination to make it legit.”

If true, the U.S. Naval Academy is running a two-tier admissions system of the kind that kept Jennifer Gratz out of the University of Michigan and was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

“Minority applicants with scores and grades down to the 300s and Cs and Ds also come, though after a year at our taxpayer-supported remedial school, the Naval Academy Preparatory School.”

If true, this is a national disgrace. It would represent a U.S. Naval Academy policy of systematic race discrimination, every year, against hundreds of white kids who worked and studied their entire lives for the honor of being appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy and becoming career officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Hate Bill Will Ride on Defense Bill

According to the Washington Blade, the homosexual Human Rights Campaign and, “A senior Senate Democratic aide confirmed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intended to pass hate crimes legislation as an amendment to the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill. “We understand the House has concerns, but we have yet to find another vehicle that will work,” the aide said.” (Hate crimes measure to ride on defense bill, July 3, 2009)

House members such as Rep. Barney Frank are “concerned” because Pres. Obama has promised to veto the arms bill since it will spend too much money on F-22 fighter jets. Frank recommends, according to the Blade, that the jet funding be reduced so that he and his fellow homosexuals may have an arms/hate bill package not offensive to the President.

Several Senate offices are now saying floor action on the hate bill amendment could occur as early as next week. A spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee told me Sen. Leahy will announce a markup session for it. She said Sen. Kennedy could call for a vote on the hate bill without markup, but she doubted he would do so. Such an approach, she said, usually is reserved for bills which are generally agreed to by both sides. The senior aide quoted by the Blade said the Senate will “hopefully” approve the hate crimes measure but added, “it’s going to be very, very closeas it has been in the past.”

[Return to headlines]

Soft Tyranny in the US is Explored in Whistleblower Magazine

Former Reagan administration CIA honcho Herbert E. Meyer sets the tone for this Whistleblower issue when he writes: “During the last 30 years we Americans have been so politically divided that some of us have called this left-right, liberal-conservative split a ‘culture war’ or even a ‘second Civil War.’ These descriptions are no longer accurate. The precise, technical word for what is happening in the United States today is revolution.”

With unusually clear and powerful contributions, writers from Meyer to best-selling author Mark Levin, Jerome Corsi, Phyllis Schlafly, Roger Hedgecock, Joseph Farah and many others help assemble the pieces of the Obama puzzle into a crystal-clear picture of what’s happening in America. Hint: It’s not what the establishment press has been saying.

Key to explaining today’s ominous “revolution” is Mark Levin, radio talker and author of the monster best-seller “Liberty and Tyranny.” Levin often uses the term “soft tyranny” to explain the modus operandi of the Obama administration and Congress, and weighs in with a powerful, in-depth Whistleblower exclusive, titled “The antidote to tyranny: Time for urgent action, as ‘liberty once lost is rarely recovered.’“

“This is actually one of the most fascinating Whistleblower issues I’ve ever read,” said the magazine’s editor, David Kupelian, who has headed up Whistleblower for almost 10 years. “People will be blown away when they read about what is really transpiring right now in their country. Fortunately, Whistleblower’s contributors also point to the way out.”

Issue highlights include:

  • “Ominous signs from the globalists” by Joseph Farah, an astonishing look at what the future holds if global elitists have their way
  • “Revolution” by Herbert E. Meyer, in which the Reagan CIA official dispels all doubts about what is really taking place in America right now
  • “Soft tyranny” by Paul Greenberg, explaining how almost two centuries ago, Alexis de Tocqueville predicted exactly the form of despotism America would one day adopt
  • “Barack Obama, the quintessential liberal fascist” by Kyle-Anne Shiver, which shows how a frightening revolutionary agenda lies behind the veil of Obama’s alluring rhetoric
  • “ACORN born in leftist revolution” by Jerome R. Corsi, documenting the notorious group’s strategy to “hasten the fall of capitalism”
  • “Obama ‘fighting alongside ACORN … my entire career’“
  • “‘Democrat shock troops’ tied to election crimes” by Bob Unruh, a report that highlights ACORN’S intimidation tactics employed to advance Obama’s leftist agenda
  • “Community organizing explained” by Phyllis Schlafly, who reveals radical patriarch Saul Alinsky’s secret: “Organizing” is code for “revolution”
  • “Obama’s totalitarianism” by Phyllis Schlafly, showing how the president is implementing a “Marxist theory” in the U.S.A.
  • “Newsweek editor: Obama is ‘sort of God’“
  • “Alinsky tells how to organize a revolution”
  • “Will bill give Obama control of the Internet?” by Drew Zahn, showing how proposed new powers would result in “drastic federal intervention”
  • “Home: No place for Bible study” by Drew Zahn, on how a county demanded a pastor spend thousands of dollars on a “major use” permit to host home Bible studies
  • “‘The Godfather’ or big government?” by Roger Hedgecock, who says: “Today, it’s getting harder to distinguish between the two”
  • “How socialism and secularism snuff out creativity” by Dennis Prager, a look at the way big government “sucks much of the life out of society
  • “The antidote to tyranny” by Mark Levin, in which the talk show host and author of the year’s hottest book, “Liberty and Tyranny,” says now is a time for urgent action, since “liberty once lost is rarely recovered.”

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