Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/30/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/30/2009In an indication that the value of a Palestinian life has decreased even further relative to that of an Israeli, the government of Israel has agreed to release twenty Palestinian prisoners in return for a video — a video! — that proves Gilad Shalit is still alive. It used to be that the Palestinians had to trade a few Israelis (or their corpses) for the release of their prisoners, but now all they have to give up is a DVD.

On a more positive note, consider this story from India. When her family’s household was invaded by Muslim terrorists from Pakistan, a farmer’s daughter in Jammu and Kashmir attacked one of the assailants with an axe, took his AK-47, and shot him to death, forcing his comrades to flee. Local police congratulated her on her bravery

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
OSU Prof Gets $1.1 Million in Stimulus to Study Alaskan Grandparents
Spain: Zapatero Defends Tax Increase, “Out of Solidarity”
Empire State Building to Glow Communist Red, Yellow
Empire State Building Turns Red-Yellow for China’s 60th
L.A. Times Still Conceals Obama Terror Video
Muhammad Cartoonist in USA — Muslim Rioting Feared
Police Department Gets Boot in West Texas Town
Scandal: Fox News Hires Apologist for Cop-Killer
Singing Heil Obama in Jersey
Sullenberger’s First Post-Goose Flight: Thursday, Oct. 1
US: Democrat Lesbian Charged With Embezzling $6 Million
Europe and the EU
Berlin Court Rules in Favour of Muslim Prayer in School
Eurocrats Demand £4.1 Million Subsidy for Using Public Transport
France: Where is the Life That Late We Lived?
Industry Orders: Italy Draws the Revival in Europe
Italy: PM Call Girl ‘Fixer’ Placed Under House Arrest
Lisbon Treaty Faces New Court Challenge From Czech Senators
Number of German MPs With Immigration Background Rises
Trade: Italy: Exports Increase Thanks to Non-EU Markets
UK: Cameron Says Tories Will Reconsider Lisbon Referendum if EU Ratifies
UK: Fishermen Despair at ‘Crippling’ EU Rules
UK: The Tories Should Beware the Irish, Not Labour
Kosovo: EU: 5 Mln Euros for Return of Refugees
North Africa
Moroccan Newspaper Closed Over Caricature of King’s Cousin
Muslim Kills Egyptian Christian, Villagers Attack Mourners at Funeral
Israel and the Palestinians
Barry Rubin: the Gaza Report is a Disaster for Human Rights and Peace
East Jerusalem: Fatah Leader Warns of 3rd Intifada
Shalit Video to be ‘Swapped’ For 20 Palestinian Prisoners
Middle East
Defense: Turkey’s Attack Helicopter Test Flight in Italy
Kuwait to Deport 17,000 Foreigners Involved in Illegalities
Lebanon: UNIFIL; Graziano, No War on the Horizon
Turkey: Sexual Violence, British Women Send Petition to PM
EU: Georgia ‘Started Unjustified War’
South Asia
Farmer’s Daughter Disarms Terrorist and Shoots Him Dead With AK47
Cinema: Libyan Repulsions in ‘We’re Defending Europe’
France: Dozens of ‘Jungle’ Charges Dropped
France Tells Britain: Let in All Migrants
Italy: Migrants ‘Didn’t Ask for Asylum’
Italy Tells EU: Non-Repulsion Policy Followed
Italy: Almost 4 Mln Foreigners and Rising
Italy: 241 Thousand Requests for Domestic Help
Migrants Expelled by Morocco Returned by Algeria
Culture Wars
Holdren: Seize Babies Born to Unwed Women
Expert: Jews Should Harass Arab Officials With Court Motions
Success Against Al-Qaeda Cited

Financial Crisis

OSU Prof Gets $1.1 Million in Stimulus to Study Alaskan Grandparents

STILLWATER, OK — A professor at Oklahoma State University received $1.1 million in stimulus to study Alaskan grandparents. The National Science Foundation made the grant possible through their pot of stimulus money. But some Oklahomans say this is just one more example of stimulus waste.

For more than ten years Oklahoma State University professor Tammy Henderson has been researching grandparents. She studies their relationships and responsibilities within their families.

“This is an opportunity for us to really build a body of research that people will be using far beyond our age,” said OSU Associate Professor Tammy Henderson, PhD.

Henderson is now continuing her research with $1.15 million in stimulus money. She and two other social science professors from the University of Alaska will be leading the research project. The research project is called “From Their Perspective: Alaskan Grandparents’ Roles, Strengths and Needs.”

“Aren’t there people here that you could study?” asked Oklahoma Impact reporter Jennifer Loren.

“Yes. But, again, if you go to another place it has implications for indigenous people here in their communities. And there’s a correlation between the geographic and the historical composition of folks in Oklahoma as well as in Alaska. So why not Alaska?” said Tammy Henderson, OSU Associate Professor.

With the stimulus funding Henderson will hire two new university employees. But, they will only be employed for the two year duration of the grant. That, she says, is how this project is stimulating.

“It is bringing two new positions to Oklahoma State University in economically challenging times,” said Tammy Henderson, OSU Associate Professor.

The team will travel back and forth to Alaska several times where a team of about 15 people will take part in the study. They’ll investigate Alaska native grandparents living in rural, semi-urban and urban areas of Alaska.

“Travel to some of the rural communities is extremely expensive and so I admit there’s some of that,” said Tammy Henderson, PhD, OSU Associate Professor.

But many Oklahomans are outraged stimulus money is being used for this project.

“If they think we need to study grandparents in Alaska, so be it. I just don’t think we should use the stimulus funds for that particular issue,” said Oklahoma State Representative Earl Sears.

Sears is one of many lawmakers who say it’s wrong to use stimulus funds this way.

“What my understanding was of stimulus funds was just that, to stimulate things in regards to job opportunities, infrastructure projects, shovel ready… I don’t see this as a shovel ready project,” said Oklahoma State Representative Earl Sears.

But OSU administrators say research projects like this are key to the success of the university and therefore key to Oklahoma.

“As a university, you know, we all need to find a way to sort of compare ourselves to each other and research funding is one of the tools we use to compare with,” said Toni Shaklee, OSU Assistant Vice President for Research.

She says research projects like this one will bring a higher caliber of faculty to the College of Human Environmental Sciences and therefore, more esteem to OSU. That translates into more students, which means more money for Oklahoma.

For Tammy Henderson, money is not the issue. For her the science is priceless.

“Is it fair? Um, I do not feel that the political answer is one that I should take as a university professor. But I will tell you as a professor who is trying to change the world by giving it good science and good theory it was a good thing to do,” Said Tammy Henderson, PhD, OSU Associate Professor.

OSU has applied for more than $100 million in stimulus money for research grants alone. So far they’ve received $3.3 million.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

Spain: Zapatero Defends Tax Increase, “Out of Solidarity”

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 28 — Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has defended the tax raise that was approved last Saturday by the government and was heavily criticised by the opposition, saying it is necessary “out of solidarity” with those who are in difficulties due to the crisis and in order to “maintain the welfare system”. In an interview today on ‘Cadena Ser’ national radio, the leader of the socialist government mentioned the 1.3 million new jobless in Spain for whom unemployment benefit payments “will cost 15 billion euros in 2010, more than the almost 11 billion euros which the government expects to obtain in two years through this tax increase”. Zapatero, without making forecasts, said that he is confident that “wéll see positive signs” of economic growth in the second quarter of 2010. He continued that “getting out of this crisis one quarter sooner or later is not important, what counts is doing it all together, with social cohesion” while maintaining the welfare system of the past two terms, in which families with disabled persons were given extra support, pensions were increased, support was given when a couple has its first baby (or adopts one) and fellowships for innovation and development were increased. Regarding the labour market, the premier underlined that the “social dialogue” with manufacturers and unions has been “very successful”. Without mentioning the recent clashes with the Spanish federation of manufacturers, Zapatero stressed that “when people were talking about labour reforms they talked about cutting costs for layoffs, to give entrepreneurs more freedom and workers fewer rights”. But, according to the socialist premier, “the Spanish economy doesn’t need a change of legislation on labour, it needs a reform of its production system. On Saturday the government approved a tax increase for a total of 11 billion euros in the 2010 finance bill, including an increase of the main VAT rate from 16% to 18%, and an increase of the tax burden on capital gains from 18% to 19% for the first six thousand euros, and to 21% above that level, in an attempt to limit the public deficit to 5.3%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Empire State Building to Glow Communist Red, Yellow

Skyscraper to blaze Chinese colors in honor of 60th anniversary of regime

New York’s Empire State Building will light up red and yellow tomorrow to honor the 60th anniversary of communist China, according to the skyscraper’s official website.

The Chinese Communist Party has been in continuous power longer than any other current government in the world, the Associated Press reported.

Chinese ambassador Peng Keyu and other officials will be present for the lighting ceremony. The skyscraper is scheduled to display the colors until Thursday.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Empire State Building Turns Red-Yellow for China’s 60th

NEW YORK — New York’s iconic Empire State Building will light up red and yellow Wednesday in honor of the 60th anniversary of communist China.

The Chinese consul, Peng Keyu, and other officials will take part in the lighting ceremony which will bathe the skyscraper in the colors of the People’s Republic until Thursday, Empire State Building representatives said in a statement.

The upper sections of the building are regularly illuminated to mark special occasions, ranging from all blue to mark “Old Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra’s death in 1998 to green for the annual Saint Patrick’s Day.

Just last week the tower turned bright red.

However, that was not to mark some other communist achievement, but the 70th anniversary of the film “The Wizard of Oz” in which Dorothy wears ruby slippers rather than the silver of the original L. Frank Baum novel.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

L.A. Times Still Conceals Obama Terror Video

Reportedly includes glowing testimonial for prof who excuses violence

The Los Angeles Times has no plan to ever release a video it stated it obtained of President Obama attending an anti-Israel event in which he delivered a glowing testimonial for Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian professor who excuses terrorism.

At the 2003 event, poetry reportedly was read comparing Israelis to Osama bin Laden and accusing the Jewish state of terrorism.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muhammad Cartoonist in USA — Muslim Rioting Feared

Artist Who Set Off Muslim Fury Visits City

A Danish caricaturist is making his first tour of the United States since the 2005 publication of his cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that provoked fury across the Muslim world, according to a Danish press freedom group that is promoting the trip.

Kurt Westergaard, in a 2008 photograph, drew a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban that looked like a bomb.

The International Free Press Society said the caricaturist, Kurt Westergaard, would appear on Wednesday in Manhattan and at Princeton University and on Thursday at Yale University, where the Yale University Press recently refused to include the cartoon in a book about the controversy.

Diana West, the vice president of the society, said Mr. Westergaard’s appearances coincided with the fourth anniversary of the original publication of the cartoon in a Danish newspaper. It showed Muhammad wearing a turban that looked like a bomb.

She said the society was commemorating the anniversary by declaring Wednesday as International Free Press Day “to mark what should have been just a completely unremarkable sheet of cartoons in a relatively small newspaper in a rather small country way far away, but became a world-shaking event that revealed the extent to which free speech in the West is in thrall to Islamic law.”

“What a sorry state we’ve come to if this causes cataclysms and rioting and fear in our own media,” said Ms. West, a syndicated columnist and author whose column is published in The Washington Examiner.

The free press society’s board of advisers includes a number of people who have been at odds with Muslims. Among them are the scholar Daniel Pipes, who has called for profiling Muslims at airports, and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who leads an anti-Islam party that won about 15 percent of the vote in European Parliament elections in June.

Mr. Westergaard’s cartoon was one of 12 that initially appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 and was later reprinted elsewhere. Images of Muhammad are forbidden by Islam, and as word of the cartoons spread,violent protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East followed, with mobs attacking Danish embassies and diplomatic offices.

Last year, two Tunisians and a Dane were arrested in Denmark and accused of planning a “terror-related assassination” of Mr. Westergaard.

Ms. West said security had been tightened for Mr. Westergaard’s appearance in New York, at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative-leaning group whose offices are on Vanderbilt Avenue.

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

Police Department Gets Boot in West Texas Town

Marfa’s quiet country lifestyle and thriving art scene make this tiny west Texas town a favorite getaway.

But the city won’t keep its police chief and two officers when the police department shuts down October 1.

“It’s all about consolidation. What we’re trying to do is run our community as efficiently as possible,” said Marfa mayor, Dan Dunlap.

According to the mayor, the city will save $90,000 a year by hiring the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office to replace the local police department. The sheriff’s office already patrols the rest of the rugged border city.

Some residents are having doubts. They are not sure what is going to happen, or if they will be safe.

The police department will disappear, but the police chief may still have a job. That is, if he takes a position mandated by state law: the town marshal. The job is part-time, and pays $4,000 a year. So the marshal will likely spend more time back at the ranch, than protecting the streets of Marfa.

[Return to headlines]

Scandal: Fox News Hires Apologist for Cop-Killer

The “conservative” Fox News Channel (FNC) has hired Marc Lamont Hill, a public supporter of convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur, as a paid “analyst” and “contributor.” He has appeared on “The O’Reilly Factor,” hosted by Bill O’Reilly, more often than other FNC programs. James Pera, a retired San Francisco Police Sergeant who saw first-hand the violence of the BLA and the Weather Underground, asked, “Why does O’Reilly pander to this tool of the left? I don’t know. What I do know is that I am tired of hearing this bombastic blowhard continually calling people such as Hill ‘a standup guy, for coming on the program.’ Hill is not a standup guy. In my opinion, he is a left-wing radical, race-bating, white-hating propagandist.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Singing Heil Obama in Jersey

Red alert to parents: If you send your children to a public school, they may be secretly indoctrinated in the cult of Obama-worship. If that’s not your plan for your children, you had better act now, before it’s too late.

We now know that the “I pledge” video shown in Utah in August, and only afterward discovered by parents, was not isolated evidence of indoctrination of public schoolchildren in the new cult of Obama-worship. Second-graders in New Jersey were taught to sing songs of praise and fidelity to Barack Obama in February and again in June, and parents only found out about it this month.

Public schoolchildren are now forbidden to sing Christmas carols that mention the real meaning of Christmas (only songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” are allowed), but in New Jersey, second-graders were taught to sing lyrics from the spiritual “Jesus Loves the Little Children” in which Jesus’ name was replaced with Obama’s. They sang, “He said red, yellow, black or white/All are equal in his sight/Barack Hussein Obama.”

Before Obama’s election, it was considered a political no-no for Republicans to use his middle name. Beginning with his inauguration in January, he and his followers use Hussein to glorify his Muslim heritage and connections.

The revised lyrics teach the kids that Obama will “make this country strong again.” The lyrics promote Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter law by including the line: “He said we must be fair today/Equal work means equal pay.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sullenberger’s First Post-Goose Flight: Thursday, Oct. 1

US Airways announced Wednesday morning that Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger will reunite with his first officer, Jeffrey Skiles, for his first post-accident flight Thursday.

Interestingly, the two will pilot an US Airways flight from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte, N.C., the same route they were flying before some geese intercepted them over New York City on Jan. 15 and had them land about 540 miles short on their 543-mile trip.

They’ll be operating Flight 1427, scheduled to leave LaGuardia on Thursday at 12:59 p.m. and arrive in Charlotte at 2:54 p.m.

But before they leave LaGuardia and after they arrive in Charlotte, Sully and Skiles will talk to the news media.

There’s a lot of interest in the two guys who guided a crippled US Airways flight down into the Hudson River with no deaths and only a few serious injuries on Jan. 15, so be sure and watch the evening news Thursday.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

US: Democrat Lesbian Charged With Embezzling $6 Million

Accused of stealing from insurance firm, donating to Obama, Clinton,

A lesbian political activist who donated thousands to Democrats and homosexual causes is suspected of embezzling nearly $6 million from one of the world’s largest insurance firms.

Despite her $40,000 a year salary as an insurance compensation specialist, Phyllis Stevens purchased two homes valued at more than $550,000 and gave thousands of dollars in donations to Democratic Party political candidates and homosexual groups.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Court Rules in Favour of Muslim Prayer in School

Berlin school officials and parents are disappointed after an administrative court granted a Muslim high school student the right to pray in between lessons, daily Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday.

The court on Tuesday ruled in favour of 16-year-old Yunus M., who attends the city’s Diesterweg Gymnasium. During a four-hour hearing, Judge Uwe Wegener said he was aware that the case was quite significant and could set a precedent.

Lawyer Margarete Mühl-Jäckel, who argued on Berlin’s behalf, insisted that allowing prayer in schools would compromise the religious neutrality of the state institutions. But the court found that the basic right to religious freedom was in conflict with Article 7 of the constitution, which requires school neutrality.

Wolfgang Harnischfeger, head of the VBS association of Berlin school leaders called the ruling “a naïve decision that misses reality in schools,” the paper reported.

Meanwhile the state parents committee said it feared the ruling would mean further reduction of a willingness to integrate among Muslim students. Head of the committee, André Schindler, told Berliner Zeitung he feared it would divide students and said the group was considering an appeal.

Berlin city government school administrators also said they would review an appeal.

“We feel we’ve been left alone on the question of space considerations,” spokesperson Jens Stiller told the paper.

He explained that because prayer has a demonstrative character, schools must make extra rooms available and criticised that the court ruling did not address that issue.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Eurocrats Demand £4.1 Million Subsidy for Using Public Transport

EU officials have asked national governments hand over extra money to tempt civil servants onto buses, trams, trains and the metro.

The new perk, which is expected to be introduced next year, will be benefit 31,380 EU civil servants, many of whom already gain from low tax rates, high salaries, pensions and a job for life.

An internal European Commission document outlining the plans says: “The main initial action will be the partial — up to 50 per cent — reimbursement of public transport season tickets to staff in order to further reduce C02 emissions and contribute to the reduction of traffic congestion in Brussels.

“The creation of a specific appropriation for reimbursing public transports’ season tickets is meant to be a small but crucial tool to confirm the EU institutions’ commitment in reducing their own CO2 emissions, in line with agreed climate change objectives.”

The demand for a green travel subsidy has been signed by the commission, Council of the EU, European Parliament, Committee of the Regions and the, little known, Economic and Social Committee.

The commission has defended the new staff benefit, even against the background of economic crisis for private sector workers and employees in national public sector jobs.

A spokeswoman said: “Even in times of crisis, the fight against climate change is a priority of this Commission. We cannot be at the forefront in fighting climate change while at the same time neglecting to take small steps that have been shown to make a real difference.

“Why should the Commission neglect any additional tool to promote sustainable means of transport while reducing its overall impact on the environment?”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

France: Where is the Life That Late We Lived?

If a Frenchman had fallen into a coma in 1978, only to reawaken in 2008, what would his reactions be? According to writer and philosopher Alain Laurent, author of La Société Ouverte et ses nouveaux ennemis (The Open Society and its new enemies), Rip Van Winkle à la française would face a long list of new realities. François Desouche gives us a glimpse:

– He would now be called a “Gaulois”, a term he remembers only vaguely as a folkloric memory from his youngest years in elementary school.

– It would now be impossible for him to go back, except at great risk, into certain suburban neighborhoods that he had known as peaceful and welcoming, and that have metamorphosed into enclaves where hooded gangs impose with impunity the law of the jungle, where even taxis don’t dare venture.

– He would be outraged that, in addition to taxes, he would have to pay for the Welfare State’s largesse, and for the financial bankruptcy resulting from “urban policies”, and for repairs of the damages caused by vandalism — the new “mass sport”, and for all the supplementary security measures.

– He would realize that schools and hospitals, formerly regarded as sanctuaries, had become arenas of violence against teachers, doctors, nurses… committed by groups of thugs or religious fanatics.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Industry Orders: Italy Draws the Revival in Europe

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Orders in the industrial sector continue to increase in the euro area and show the most significant gains in Italy with a +3.6% in July compared to June compared to the average 2.6% rise in the EU16 member countries. According to the Eurostat report in June orders in the euro zone jumped 4% after a long period in negative territory. In Germany industrial orders increased 2.5%, in France orders were up 2%, but in the United Kingdom there was a 1.5% drop. In the entire EU orders in July increased 1.6%, after the 0.6% drop the previous month. Compared to July 2008, Eurostat underlines how the crisis left its mark with industrial orders collapsing 24.3% in the euro zone and 24.9% in the EU27 (-24.7% in Italy).(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: PM Call Girl ‘Fixer’ Placed Under House Arrest

Bari, 21 Sept. (AKI) — Giampaolo Tarantini, the businessman at the centre of the sex scandal surrounding Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been placed under house arrest in the southern city of Bari. Tarantini was detained by Italian tax police at Bari airport on Friday in relation to alleged drug trafficking.

Tarantini’s lawyer Nicola Quaranta told journalists on Monday that prosecutor Vito Fanizzi decided to release Tarantini from jail “because he did not believe Tarantini was likely to flee the country or to tamper with evidence”.

Police last Friday detained Tarantini on suspicion of trafficking cocaine and said there was a serious danger he would flee the country.

The prosecutor who ordered Tarantini’s arrest, Giuseppe Scelsi said Tarantini had lied about the quantity of drugs he supplied to parties thrown on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda. The true figure was half a kilo of cocaine, not 50-70 grammes as he had earlier claimed.

Quaranta was speaking on Monday after prosecutors questioned his client in a local prison in Bari.

Tarantini is also under investigation for abetting prostitution, suspected corruption and for allegedly supplying cocaine to parties held at Berlusconi’s luxurious Sardinian villa.

The prosecutor who ordered Tarantini’s arrest on Friday, Giuseppe Scelsi, said Tarantini had lied about the quantity of drugs he supplied to parties on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda in the summer of 2008. The true amount was 500 grammes of cocaine, not 50-70 grammes as Taraintini had earlier claimed, Scelsi said, adding this was why he had him arrested.

Bari prosecutors last week began questioning in Milan and Rome some of the women who were allegedly paid by Tarantini to attend Berlusconi’s parties.

Taps of Tarantini’s telephone revealed him offering money to escort girls to spend the night at Berlusconi’s residences in Rome and Sardinia.

Tarantini previously told prosecutors in Bari he supplied more than 30 women — many of them prostitutes — for 18 parties organised by the premier in Rome and at his villa in Sardinia.

Tarantini said recently he “feared for his life” and there is concern among Bari prosecutors about his knowledge of organised crime in the area.

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

Lisbon Treaty Faces New Court Challenge From Czech Senators

A GROUP of Czech senators has lodged a new constitutional court challenge against the Lisbon Treaty, alleging that it turns the EU into a “super state”.

Part of the appeal rests on a claim that the guarantees on the treaty given to Ireland by EU leaders should have been ratified by the Czech parliament. The senators hope the appeal will delay ratification until a Conservative government can win power in Britain and kill the treaty.

Senator Jiri Oberfalzer, a close ally of Eurosceptic Czech president Vaclav Klaus who helped prepare the court challenge, said that the constitutional court should state whether the EU would still be an international organisation or if Lisbon creates a new EU “super state”.

The appeal asks the court to examine whether the treaty as a whole is compatible with the Czech constitution. It also challenges the legality of the guarantees provided by EU leaders to Ireland.

“The senators claim the Irish guarantees are an international treaty which would need the consent of both chambers of the Czech parliament,” Tomas Langasek, general secretary of the court, told The Irish Times yesterday.

A previous appeal against the six most controversial parts of the treaty was heard by the Czech court last year. After several months the court ruled that these elements of the Lisbon Treaty were compatible with the Czech constitution.

The Czech government sought to reassure its EU partners yesterday, stating that it still expected to ratify the treaty this year. “I believe the constitutional court has already expressed its views on the most important six issues in the treaty and there is no problem with the compatibility with the Czech constitution,” said Stefan Fule, European affairs minister. “So I believe we can meet our commitment that we made to EU leaders in June this year to ratify the treaty by the end of the year.”

He said the Czech failure to ratify the treaty had “inflicted a certain amount of damage” on the country’s reputation. “I hope very much in the days and weeks to come we don’t worsen our situation,” he said.

But he warned it would be counterproductive for his government or any EU state to try to pressure Mr Klaus to sign the treaty. “I strongly believe that the president will add his signature once the court rules,” he added.

Mr Klaus has said he won’t sign the treaty until the Irish vote Yes and the constitutional court makes a final ruling. But treaty opponents across Europe hope he will delay his signature until next year’s British election, which the Tories are expected to win.

[Return to headlines]

Number of German MPs With Immigration Background Rises

Germany’s newly elected parliament has 15 MPs with foreign roots — more than ever before, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Wednesday.

The last parliament had 11 representatives with what Germans call “immigration background.”

The most multicultural MPs belong to the environmentalist Green party, which has five, including Iranian-born Omid Nouripour, who entered his second term after Sunday’s election.

Meanwhile the centre-left Social Democrats have four, and the socialist Left Party now has three.

For the first time, the pro-business Free Democrats, who are also Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats’ preferred coalition partner, also have two new MPs with foreign roots — Turkish-German Serkan Tören and Iranian-born Bijan Djir-Sarai.

Meanwhile Merkel’s CDU parliamentarians include Michaela Noll, whose father is Iranian.

“The clear growth to 15 mirrors the growing weight of immigrants among voters,” the paper reported, adding that some 5.6 million German residents with foreign roots have the right to vote.

But the country’s largest group of immigrants, those from Eastern Europe, are not represented in the Bundestag, though some 2.5 million can vote in Germany, the paper said.

Many parties searched for candidates with Turkish background due to the country’s large population, but interest was limited, according to the paper. Germany’s most famous Turkish-German politician, Green party member Cem Özdemir, is co-leader of the party and thus not a member of parliament.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Trade: Italy: Exports Increase Thanks to Non-EU Markets

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — The signs of recovery for Italian exports in July on the world markets (+3.1%, seasonally adjusted data compared to June) are mainly due to the boost provided by non-EU countries with a year on year increase of 7.9%. Italy overcame France to become the second European exporter to these markets with a 11.2% quota, only behind Germany (25%) according to a statement from Assocamerestero on foreign trade data released today by the National Statistics Institute (ISTAT). In terms of the main destinations for Italian goods, the group stressed that in the month of July, positive signals also came from Germany (+24.5%), France (18.8%), and Spain (17.4%). These three countries alone make up over 30% of exports. Positive data also came from areas characterised by strong a Italian business presence, like the countries in Eastern Europe (+21%, 2 billion euros). As for the main Italian export sectors, the mechanical industry and the textile-clothing-footwear sector registered a 3.9 and 1.5-billion euro surplus in July, the best performance since November of 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Says Tories Will Reconsider Lisbon Referendum if EU Ratifies

David Cameron has confirmed on the eve of the Irish referendum that a Tory government would reconsider its promised referendum on the Lisbon treaty if it has been ratified by the rest of the European Union by the time they come to power.

The Tory leader said that a fully ratified treaty would present an incoming Conservative government with a “new set of circumstances” that it would have to address at the time.

His comments came as opinion polls indicated that the Irish were set to reverse last year’s No vote in the country’s second referendum on the treaty tomorrow, removing one of the main obstacles to its implementation. His words did not represent any change in his stance but indicated that the Conservatives will continue to stonewall over what they would do in the event of the treaty being ratified before next May.

The results are due to be announced on Saturday as the Conservatives gather for their annual conference in Manchester, and a No vote would intensify the pressure on Mr Cameron to spell out exactly what he would do in the event of a Tory election victory if the treaty was already in force.

So far the Conservatives have simply said that they would “not let matters rest”, but declined to be more specific. The Times understands that they will maintain their refusal to say more during next week’s conference, as it will still be far from clear whether the treaty will be ratified.

In an interview with LBC radio, Mr Cameron emphasised that Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany had all yet to complete the ratification process, with the Czechs still up to six months away from finalising matters.

However, with probably eight months to go to the general election, he acknowledged that the treaty could be fully implemented by the time they achieve office.

“If this treaty is still alive, if it is still being discussed and debated anywhere in Europe, then we will give you that referendum, we will name the date during the election campaign, we’ll hold that referendum straight away and I will lead the campaign for a No,” he said.

“Now, if those circumstances change, if the Germans ratify, if the Poles ratify, if the Czechs ratify, if the Irish vote Yes to the treaty, then a new set of circumstances [apply], and I will address those at the time.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

UK: Fishermen Despair at ‘Crippling’ EU Rules

A top north-east skipper warned last night that the white fish fleet is facing its biggest crisis for 30 years and called for urgent action to stop boats being forced out of business.

John Buchan claimed the annual end-of-year negotiations on rules and quotas for the next 12 months were “an irrelevance” against a backdrop of industry despair.

He hit out as Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead met the European Union’s top fisheries official to spell out concerns about the hardships facing Scots trawlermen.

Mr Buchan, owner and skipper of the Peterhead-registered Fairline, said fishermen grapple with “crippling” restrictions.

“This is the biggest crisis I have seen in the industry in 30 years,” he said.

“We are living in a recession and struggling to cope. The burden of bureaucracy on us is stifling our ability to remain viable.

“All of the ingredients we need to ride out the recession are there but current restrictions force us to dump good fish overboard.”

Mr Buchan believes vessels should be allowed to retain whatever they catch, which he insists would mean fewer fishing days and less discards — dead fish dumped in the sea because it is over quota.


Fishing rules and quotas for 2010 will be decided over the next few months.

Mr Lochhead said there was little chance of the European Commission budging over plans to cut days-at-sea by a further 10%.

He added: “New effort restrictions compounded by low fish prices as a result of the recession have made this year very tough for Scots fishermen.

“Next year looks like being no easier unless we take some radical steps to change fisheries management and attract better income from the top-quality fish we land.

“In the coming weeks and months, the Scottish Government will work with the industry to achieve a sustainable and profitable sector.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

UK: The Tories Should Beware the Irish, Not Labour

If the rerun referendum backs the Lisbon treaty, Mr Cameron will have to make clear exactly where he stands on Europe

by David Aaronovitch

On Sunday night, here in Brighton, I went to an event — a “rally” — organised by Labour’s new centre-left ginger group, Compass, and its ancient left-wing paper, Tribune. For some reason those responsible failed to notice that a clue to the purpose of the gathering lay in the name — and that a rally is supposed to rally. On which basis they should have billed it as a Depressing Whinge, and I left after 70 minutes to go and watch Waking the Dead, where at least the corpses are entertaining.

By yesterday, however, a form of constructive unreality had taken hold in the conference hall as Lord Mandelson promised that Britain would remain a manufacturing nation “as long as I and the Government remain in our jobs!”, which gives industries just over seven months to relocate to Malaysia.

However, if there was little basis in His Lordship’s optimism, there was some truth in his punchy critique of the party that will almost inevitably supplant him. It has seemed irrelevant to interrogate Conservative policies for avoiding the banking crisis and then a possible slump, because they were in no position (thank goodness) to carry them out. In opposition, the Conservatives can’t do things.

But this week something will probably happen that does require them to make a clear choice, and how David Cameron handles making this choice will tell us much not about whether he will be the next Prime Minister (he will be), but whether he ought to be. The event is the rerun Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty, in which it looks likely that the “no” side will fail to prevail, and one big hope of Tory leaders — that someone else will deliver them from an EU row — will fade.

But oh, how they have clung to the idea! Go to the Conservative website, riffle through the news from Europe, and discover — in almost the most recent posting — how the German constitutional court has valiantly delayed ratification back in the summer. And look in vain for an update from last week in which — three days before the German election, and to the expressed pleasure of Angela Merkel — the German President, Horst Köhler, signed the treaty. Now slim hope rests with 17 Czech senators delaying the process until after our own elections in the spring.

In reality, there is a significant chance that by December — with all 27 member states having ratified Lisbon — the EU could be discussing candidates for president and foreign affairs chief. And here is the formal position of Her Majesty’s Opposition: if, by the general election, the treaty is in force, it “would lack democratic legitimacy in this country and we would not let matters rest there”.

So the question — if the Irish Republic votes yes just in time for the Tory conference in Manchester — is what on earth “we would not let matters rest there” actually means. If scrutiny of the Opposition is any part of the modern journalist’s trade, it is the question that will be asked and reasked until it is answered. What “matters” will not rest?

William Hague, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has given no clue as to what that state of matters-not- restingness might consist of. Instead, he has reassured his party that he means business and, as evidence of this, he cited how he and Mr Cameron had gone ahead with their 2005 pledge to pull the Tories out of the centre-right European People’s Party grouping in Europe, and create a new group — the European Conservatives and Reformists.

It is hard to imagine, except for the most blinkered Little Englander, a more catastrophic precedent. The EPP has people like Angela Merkel in it, the ECR has the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party (earning a rebuke from the Simon Wiesenthal Foundation because of its support for an annual parade by Latvian SS veterans), the EPP has President Sarkozy’s party, the ECR has, as chairman, the Polish member of the Law and Justice Party, Michal Kaminski, who has described homosexuals on air as “faggots” and demanded that Jews apologise to Poles for supposed “mass collaboration” with Soviet invaders.

Only press apathy and the destruction of Tory Euro moderates have prevented the scale of this disaster from becoming clear. One MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott, exactly the sort of brave whip-defying parliamentarian that so many profess to admire, was slung out of the party in the summer with nary a susurration from the Bold Englander Brigade.

So what do Mr C and Mr H have in mind? Some will demand a referendum after May, even though Parliament has already ratified the treaty. It will amount to a demand for a retrospective renegotiation, and it seems inconceivable that, should such a referendum go against ratification, the other 26 nations will agree to do the whole thing again.

Our own William Rees-Mogg spelt out a fortnight ago — a tad blithely you might think — that “if Britain were to withdraw from the Lisbon treaty because the British electorate had voted against it, that would be a healthy challenge to Europe. It is possible that the EU would then break up, but it is unlikely.”

It would be simpler, surely, to bypass Britain than to break up and, unsurprisingly, other Eurosceptics are less relaxed about it. The pressure group Open Europe suggests that the new government should indeed hold a referendum not on Lisbon, but on something else — a “reform package” — threatening to veto the EU budget if we don’t get our way. Presumably Britain would be offered a yes or no to this “reform package”.

One wonders if the Tories have quite understood how the world has changed since colossi such as Norman Lamont and John Redwood last thundered along the corridors of power. There is, to be sure, a huge issue of accountability and another of devolution of power.

But these are radically offset by the nature of interdependence, caused by globalisation, demographic change, the possibility of environmental catastrophe, security and future energy demands. Lisbon represents the minimum that needs to be done to allow the 27 EU states properly to co-ordinate their policies and approaches to these questions. If the new government wastes its time in counterproductive (but sceptic- pleasing) manoeuvres that jeopardise rather than enhance these objectives, it will sell Britain’s interests short.

There is no progressive agenda, Mr Cameron, that isn’t internationalist. And although leadership is certainly about taking the plaudits when you are about to win, it is far more about telling the truth to your own party, however reluctant some are to hear it.

[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: EU: 5 Mln Euros for Return of Refugees

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, SEPTEMBER 23 — The European Commission Liaison Office to Kosovo started today, in cooperation with the ministry for communities, the second stage of the 5 million euros project for the return and integration of refugees in Klina, Obiliq, Ferizaj and Rahovec. The liaison office — a EU statement reads — has allocated 4 million euros, the ministry for communities funds 1.1 million euros. The project was carried out by the Danish Refugee Council. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Moroccan Newspaper Closed Over Caricature of King’s Cousin

Rabat, Morocco — The Moroccan national journalists’ trade union SNPM has accused the government of breaking the law in closing the offices of a newspaper that published a caricature of the wedding of a cousin of King Mohammed VI. Such measures were not within the law, the SNPM said in a communique quoted by press reports on Wednesday.

The union also urged the government to change a legal article that requires journalists to “respect” King Mohammed and his relatives.

Police closed the offices of the daily Akhbar al-Youm in Casablanca on Tuesday, interrogating its director Taoufiq Bouachrine for hours in the afternoon.

The Interior Ministry announced legal action against the newspaper for “not respecting” a member of the royal family in publishing a caricature linked to a “strictly private” event.

The caricature shows the king’s cousin Moulay Ismail in a portable chair used in wedding ceremonies against the backdrop of a star reminiscent of the star on the Moroccan flag and of the Star of David, which is on the flag of Israel.

The caricature, the meaning of which was not clear, referred to Moulay Ismail’s marriage to a German Muslim woman over the weekend.

“The use of the Star of David … raises questions about what the authors are trying to hint at and indicates tendencies towards blatant anti-Semitism,” the ministry said.

It is not rare for the Moroccan authorities to seize issues of newspapers or to take legal action against journalists, but closing newspaper offices is very rare.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Muslim Kills Egyptian Christian, Villagers Attack Mourners at Funeral

By Mary Abdelmassih

Egypt (AINA) — Nayer Mansour Sahrab, a Muslim minibus driver, stabbed four Christian Copts on Sunday, September 27, in the village of Delga, Deir Mawas, Al Minya Governorate, killing one and seriously injuring the other three. The incident led thousands of angry Copts to rally and demand an end to the government’s policy of indifference in dealing with Coptic issues. State Security forces have cordoned the village and are still heavily present near the church.

When a Coptic family desired to board a minibus other than the one owned by Mr. Sahrab (28) an argument ensued. Mr. Sahrab was apparently “offended” that his services were declined. The Copts were beaten by Mr. Sahrab, his brother and other Muslims. Mr. Sahrab stabbed Hanna Amir Rezq (26) in his back and abdomen several times with a knife, as well as his brothers Maurice and Amin and his 20-year old nephew Ashraf Maher Amir, who was stabbed several times in the head. Mr. Sahrab fled after committing the crime, but was later arrested.

The killing caused thousands of Copts to rally in front of Deir Mawas Hospital, where Hanna Amir Rezq was taken together with the other three wounded Copts. Hanna died shortly after his arrival. According Mariam Ragy, correspondent for the Middle East Christian Association (MECA), State security prevented Copts from going into the hospital to check on the status of the injured and dispersed them by force. “Angry Copts also rallied in the village of Delga holding banners demanding a stop to Coptic persecution,” she said.

Reverend Abram, pastor of the village Saint Abram Church told the Egyptian Daily Masry el Youm that this is not just a fight between a Muslim and a Christian, “Copts are targeted and this is the second incident within one month that a Copt is killed during a fight with a Muslim. The first Coptic victim was murdered after an argument over planting some palm trees, and the second victim today was murdered over boarding a minibus.”

His Grace Aghapius, Bishop the Holy Diocese of Deir Mawas and Delga, described the village of Delga, which lies 350 km from Cairo, as “the most violent and the least safe,” giving the example of the village Muslims attacking the Copts as they entered the village church for the funeral service of the victim Hanna and on their way out to bury him. “They were pelting them with stones, cheering and singing accompanied by drum beats and Muslim women were letting out the traditional celebration sound. All this happened in the presence of security,” he told Mariam Ragy.

Eyewitnesses reported that Copts were replying to Muslims chant of “Allah is Great” with “With our soul and our blood, we will defend our Cross.”

Bishop Aghapius said that Copts were also assaulted after the burial, with Muslims smashing Coptic-owned cars, as well as attacking streets that are inhabited entirely by Copts, including El-Hamr Street, prompting Coptic inhabitants to remain inside their homes. “How could all this happen in the presence of seven State Security cars in the village, adjacent to the church?” he asks. “I am still waiting for State Security to carry out their promises of solving our problems.”

Hegomen Selwanes of Deir Mawas Diocese told Wagih Yacoub, activist with MECA that this is the second killing of a Copt by a Muslim within one month. The first killing was Fathi Gayed leading to the arrest of numerous Muslims, but prosecution seeks to implicate a 12-year-old boy, which would let the real killer get off the hook. “This incident and similar ones has encouraged Muslims that they can get away without punishment by killing a Copt. This has led Copts to protest. We cannot accept that every few days a Copt gets killed.” He also said that top Coptic attorney, Dr. Ihab Ramzy, will handle the case. “The government has to carry out an awareness campaign that the Copt is a citizen and has rights equal to the Muslim. They do not respect us.” He also added that the Copts in Delga, who are nearly 30,000 out of a population of 100,000 inhabitants, are very peaceful citizens and are always on good terms with their Muslim neighbors.

“Copts are targeted because they are meek and unable to defend for themselves,” Reverend Abram told Coptic News Bulletin. “Besides, Muslims know very well that they will never be prosecuted for killing a Copt.”. He explained that they would not dare do the same things to a Muslim, because they would get killed. “Unfortunately Coptic blood is cheap. We demand fairness and equal application of the law, for homicides committed against Copts.”

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barry Rubin: the Gaza Report is a Disaster for Human Rights and Peace

The United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report, created for the purpose of bashing Israel over the Gaza war with phony claims of “war crimes,” is possibly the most inaccurate document ever produced by that organization.

In fact, several commission members declared the defendant guilty before being selected; sections of the report echoed previous ones by groups known for their bias; virtually all the data included are unverified claims by politically committed Palestinians who view Israel as an enemy to be destroyed; and scores of specific items can be shown to be false.

For example, the report accepts the claims of Palestinian groups regarding civilians killed despite the fact that detailed studies show many of those so listed were Hamas gunmen according to these groups’ own publications. Similarly, the report claims attacks were not against military targets when Hamas has published obituaries of its soldiers killed in said targets.

The report also repeats claims that a mortar shelling near a school in Jabalya was aimed at the school, this despite a Globe and Mail correspondent’s published findings that reports of shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate, and the fact that Israeli spokespeople asserted that their forces had only returned fire from gunmen in the vicinity of the school. As in other cases, the blame belongs to Hamas, which used the school and civilians as human shields for its soldiers there.

Imagine a war in which one side (Hamas) openly declares it will wipe out the other (Israel). Imagine that this regime officially refers to its enemies (Jews) as sub-humans responsible for everything evil in history. Imagine this regime is effectively a dictatorship, punishing anyone who contradicts its positions.

Now, imagine an outside group combining the naive and sympathizers, which in effect says: Tell us how evil and terrible your enemy (i.e., would-be victim) is. We will write it all down and use it to isolate, demonize and punish them. What do you expect the result will be?

That is what has happened. Witnesses made propaganda against Israel; the UN collated, endorsed, and broadcast it…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

East Jerusalem: Fatah Leader Warns of 3rd Intifada

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, SEPTEMBER 28 — The threat of a ‘third Intifada” (a new general revolt by the Palestinians) was issued today from the West Bank by Mohammed Dahlan following yesterday’s clashes between Israeli police and Arab youths in east Jerusalem, and incursions by law enforcement officers into the sacred area of Temple Mount. Dahlan is a prominent figure in Fatah, the party of moderate President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). According to Dahlan, who was quoted by the Maan press agency, police charges on Temple Mount represent “an offence against all Muslims. Violating the sanctity of the al-Aqsa Mosque, (the Israelis) are playing with fire and are risking overstepping the red line” warned the Fatah member. The clashes began yesterday morning with stone-throwing by Arabs lined up on the mount against French tourists who were mistaken for a group of Jewish religious activists who had announced their intention of going to the site under police escort on the eve of Kippur. The site is jealously guarded by Muslims as the third holy place of Islam, but it is also considered by Jews to the original site of the temple destroyed by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. Police charged into the mount and there were scuffles, with dozens of injuries on both sides. The wave of violence follows months of relative calm in the city, which the PNA today described as “State terror” imposed by the Israeli authorities, whom they accuse of authorising and protecting the “confrontational” march by nationalists to the site, knowing that the marchers were hostile to the peace process and had planned the initiative “in a deliberate attempt to provoke a reaction”. The reaction was seized upon in turn by Hamas supporters to call on the PNA and Mahmoud Abbas to halt any attempts at negotiations with Israel, backed by Barack Obama’s US administration. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Shalit Video to be ‘Swapped’ For 20 Palestinian Prisoners

Tel Aviv, 30 Sept. (AKI) — Israel is set to receive fresh video footage of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit proving he is alive in exchange for the release of 20 female Palestinian prisoners.

Shalit has been held in the Gaza Strip since his abduction in 2006 by Palestinian militants.

The video will be handed over after a decision by Israel’s security cabinet to release 20 Palestinian women held in Israeli jails, Israeli daily Haaretz said on Wednesday.

The video will be viewed as definite proof that Shalit is still alive.

A statement by the office of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it expects the deal to be carried out on Friday.

“According to the proposal by mediators, Israel will receive updated and unequivocal proof of Shalit’s condition,” the statement by the prime minister’s office said. It did not specify a date for the release of the female prisoners.

Sources quoted by Israeli media say German mediators have already viewed the video which appears to have been filmed in recent weeks.

According to Arab sources, the armed wing of the militant Hamas movement, the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades has confirmed the deal.

Shalit has been held captive by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip for almost three years. He was seized by militants in a cross-border raid on 25 June 2006.

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

Middle East

Defense: Turkey’s Attack Helicopter Test Flight in Italy

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 25 — A prototype of an attack helicopter which will be co-produced by Turkey and Italy is set to make a test flight on Monday in Milan, Anatolia agency reports. The combat and reconnaissance helicopter, an enhanced version of the Italian Agusta Westland’s A-129s, will be named T-129 ATAK. Turkey’s Tusas Aerospace Industries (TAI), the prime contractor, and Italy’s Agusta Westland, a subcontractor, will co-produce the aircraft under an agreement signed in 2007 for the purchase of 51 (plus 40 optional) helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces. The helicopter will be equipped with avionic and weapon systems designed and produced locally and the mission computer and targeting, navigation, communication and electronic warfare systems will be developed and produced by ASELSAN, a leading defense company in Turkey. TAI will have the right to use and administer the intellectual property of the T129 ATAK Helicopter and to sell it worldwide. The first T-129 is planned to be delivered to the Turkish Land Forces in 2013. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Kuwait to Deport 17,000 Foreigners Involved in Illegalities

(ANSAmed) — MANAMA, SEPTEMBER 28 — Kuwait is planning to deport 17,000 foreigners guilty of overstaying in the country or of involvement in illegal activities that include forgery, embezzlement and prostitution. The decision was suggested by the interior ministry which does not see any reason for keeping them in Kuwait, especially that most of them are free visa labourers, Al Jareeda daily reported on Sunday, quoting unnamed ministry sources. According to the sources, the list of the people to be deported includes 4,000 Bangladeshis, 3,500 Indians, 1,200 Egyptians, 1,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Indonesians, 1,000 Pakistanis, 1,000 Afghanis, 750 Syrians, 500 Thais, 500 Iranians, 500 Chinese, 500 Nepalese and 500 Ethiopians. The remaining people to be deported are from other countries, but their numbers vary between 50 and 100 for each nationality, the sources said. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: UNIFIL; Graziano, No War on the Horizon

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 28 — “There is no war on the horizon” between Israel and Lebanon. The statement was made by the commander in chief of UNIFIL, Italian General Claudio Graziano, in an interview with the Lebanese daily, As-Safir. “Peace in the region is in good hands, expect unexpected turns,” said Graziano, according to whom “neither of the countries involved want war.” In reference to the arrest, some days ago, of five alleged Al-Qaeda terrorists in the south of Lebanon, Graziano said that the terrorist threat was already present in 2006 when UNIFIL sent a deployment of 13,000 men to Lebanon at the end of the conflict between Israel and the pro-Iranian Shia militia, Hezbollah. “We don’t take the possibility of a potential attack lightly,” said Graziano. “For this reason we are taking all the necessary precautions, together with the Lebanese army.” The general went on to state that Islamic fundamentalist cells linked to groups in the Palestinian refugee camps were responsible for the rocket attacks from the south of Lebanon against the north of Israel at the beginning of the month. “There is limited information about these cells and it is difficult to identify them,” said Graziano, adding that the Lebanese army, and not UNIFIL, is responsible for security in the camps. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Sexual Violence, British Women Send Petition to PM

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 28 — Today’s Hurriyet daily newspaper gives extensive front-page coverage to a petition sent by famous British ‘Take a Break’ magazine to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The magazine says that a Turkish cook, charged with raping three British women and one Finnish tourist in Turkey’s Aegean resort of Marmaris was set free by the court. The petition warns that if the Turkish prime minister insists on tolerating discrimination of women, the magazine will advise its millions of readers to boycott Turkey. The petition presents three demands to Erdogan: women must be treated as the equals of men, not possessions or sex objects; complaints of sexual attack and/or rape must be handled sensitively and investigated seriously by the police; women’s property must be protected from fraud and theft, especially by Turkish boyfriends. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


EU: Georgia ‘Started Unjustified War’

The war in Georgia last year was started by a Georgian attack that was not justified by international law, an EU-sponsored report has concluded.

However, the attack followed months of provocation, and both sides violated international law, the report said.

Russia said the report delivered an “unequivocal answer” on the question of who started the conflict.

But Georgia said the investigation proved that Russia had been preparing for war all along.

The report said about 850 people were killed in the August 2008 war, and that more than 100,000 fled their homes, about 35,000 of whom are still displaced.

It was commissioned by the Council of the European Union, and written by Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, with the help of 30 European military, legal and history experts.

The conflict erupted on 7 August 2008, as Georgia shelled the breakaway region of South Ossetia, in an attempt to regain control over it. The previous months had seen a series of clashes.

Russian forces quickly repelled the assault, and pushed further into Georgia.

The conflict lasted for five days before a ceasefire was agreed. Russia pulled back, but built up its military presence in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

‘Not justifiable’

“The shelling of Tskhinvali (the South Ossetian capital) by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 marked the beginning of the large-scale armed conflict in Georgia,” the report says.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Farmer’s Daughter Disarms Terrorist and Shoots Him Dead With AK47

An Indian farmer’s daughter disarmed a terrorist leader who broke into her home, attacked him with an axe and shot him dead with his own gun.

Rukhsana Kausar, 21, was with her parents and brother in Jammu and Kashmir when three gunmen, believed to be Pakistani militants, forced their way in and demanded food and beds for the night.

Their house in Shahdra Sharief, Rajouri district, is about 20 miles from the ceasefire line between Indian and Pakistani forces.

It is close to dense forests known as hiding places for fighters from the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attack last November.

Militants often demand food and lodging in nearby villages.

When they forced their way into Miss Kausar’s home, her father Noor Mohammad refused their demands and was attacked.

His daughter was hiding under a bed when she heard him crying as the gunmen thrashed him with sticks. According to police, she ran towards her father’s attacker and struck him with an axe. As he collapsed, she snatched his AK47 and shot him dead.

She also shot and wounded another militant as he made his escape.

Police have hailed the woman’s bravery.

They said she would be nominated for the president’s gallantry award.

She may also receive a £4,000 reward if, as police believe, the dead terrorist is confirmed as Uzafa Shah, a wanted Pakistani LeT commander who had been active in the area for the past four years.

Supt Shafqat Watali said Miss Kausar’s reaction was “a rude shock” for the militants. “Normally they get king-like treatment but this was totally unexpected,” he said.

Miss Kausar said she had never fired an assault rifle before but had seen it in films and could not stand by while her father was being hurt. “I couldn’t bear my father’s humiliation. If I’d failed to kill him, they would have killed us,” she said.

[Return to headlines]


Cinema: Libyan Repulsions in ‘We’re Defending Europe’

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 25 — Under the title of ‘We’re Defending Europé, the 70-minute audio-documentary by Roman Herzog, which has been previewed in Rome, concerns itself with the subject of immigration, and of repelling immigrants in particular. The documentary develops around a fixed image — an interior shot of a container used for transporting “repulsed” migrants, accompanied migrants’ voices as they head to Libya’s detention camps. The voices of the service personnel are also to be heard, as are those of Libya’s civic society and of members of non-governmental organisations. The German reporter, who works for German public networks, explains how “the ban on filming allowed us to explore the truth in depth. They would never have let us enter some of these camps with a television camera. Of crucial importance was the journalistic visa supplied to me by German radio: this opened a lot of doors. But this didn’t prevent me from being accompanied wherever I went by security officers and teams filming my work”. The documentary-maker finds two images central: “the one featuring the container, which reminded me of the Nazi’s sealed carriages, and the expression on the face of a woman prisoner I interviewed. We were in the office of one of the detention camps and she told me of the harassment shéd been through while she stared at the food that had been brought for me and my companions. At the end she asked whether she might have a little”. The documentary alternates between narrating Italy’s policy of repelling migrants back to Libya and telling how migrant flows from Africa to Europe are being stopped in Libya. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France: Dozens of ‘Jungle’ Charges Dropped

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 25 — Dozens of irregular immigrants, evicted from their ‘junglé encampments outside Calais three days ago and placed under arrest, may be set free after French magistrates cancelled various arrest warrants. Meanwhile another immigrant camp has been cleared today in the Calais area, just across the Channel from the UK’s shores. Magistrates in Nimes ruled to free 35 Afghan detainees. Similar decisions have come from Toulouse (freeing 13 irregular migrants) and from Marseilles (where six were falsely imprisoned). Five Afghans suffering from scabies were unable to appear before the magistrate and so remain in custody for a further 48 hours at least. 278 irregular migrants, mainly Afghans and Iraqis, were held after the destruction of the so-called ‘jungle’ encampment. While the minors — around half of those arrested — have been placed in reception centres and cannot be expelled from the country, the others have been sent to various detention centres around France. In their cases, French Immigration Minister, Eric Besson, has made it known that they are to be expelled unless they opt to return to their native countries “voluntarily” or make a request for asylum.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

France Tells Britain: Let in All Migrants

FRANCE last night admitted it was fighting a losing battle against illegal migrants — and demanded Britain should open its doors to them.

A week after being forced from their shanty town, the asylum seekers were back, still seeking a passage to the UK.

Last night Calais mayor Natacha Bouchard said the Channel port would remain an immigrant dumping ground until Britain opened its borders and stopped asking France to do its dirty work.

She insisted that the British should sign up to the Schengen Agreement, a European Union accord that allows free movement of all people between European member states without the need for passports or visas.

“Calais has become a no-go area, and that’s because we have become hostages of the British Government,” said Ms Bouchard.

“Britain is unable to control its borders, so we’re doing the job for them because they’re not part of the agreement. There are still some 20 squatter camps in Calais alone.

“Britain has no right to put pressure on us. Every politician should keep repeating this.

“The more they say it, the more they’ll be throwing light on the problem which has been imposed on us.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Italy: Migrants ‘Didn’t Ask for Asylum’

Italian government replies to EC immigration concerns

(ANSA) — Rome, September 25 — None of the 757 immigrants intercepted at sea and escorted back to Libya this summer requested asylum, the Italian government claimed in a letter to the European Commission. Dated September 8 and released to ANSA on Friday, the letter answers an EC request for details regarding Italy’s controversial push-back immigration policy.

Concerns over the policy center on fears that immigrants deported at sea are being denied the opportunity to request asylum.

The Italian government, however, said that none of the immigrants taken to Libya between May 6 and August 30 “made any request for international protection or mention of persecution in their own country”.

As for concerns about the treatment of immigrants sent back to Libya, the letter argues that the North African country has ratified an African Union Convention on refugees “obliging it to guarantee protection of anyone facing persecution”.

The correspondence echoes statements by Interior Undersecretaries Alfredo Mantovano and Nitto Francesco Palma on Tuesday that the policy fully complies with international laws protecting the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

The United Nations Refugee Commissioner, the UN Human Rights Commissioner and Human Rights Watch have all expressed concern in recent days over the policy.

The letter goes on to defend Italy’s push-back policy as “an extremely efficient means of combatting illegal immigration” noting that the number of ships landing on Italian shores had fallen by 90%.

The Italian government also called on the European Union to help Libya combat human traffickers and raise its ability to accommodate asylum seekers to “European standards”.


The Italian government has long pushed for greater EU cooperation in stemming the tide of immigrants who land on the shores of southern Europe each year.

During a meeting with Italian European Parliament MPs on Friday, President Giorgio Napolitano stressed the need for a common EU strategy on immigration which protected the “inalienable right to asylum for those forced to ask for it”.

The meeting coincided with the second national conference on immigration at Milan’s Catholic University, where Turin Mayor and Italian Association of Italian Municipal Councils (ANCI) President Sergio Chiamparino said Italy’s immigration policy ought to focus on integration.

The centre-left mayor said the government ought to bolster resources at the local level so that native residents didn’t feel like they were in competition for public services with immigrants. He also underlined the importance of cutting the red tape involved in immigration, such as the long waiting periods required to get a permit of stay.

“The future of integration is in the hands of city government, which has amply demonstrated its ability to confront the problem,” Chiamparino said and proposed government incentives for communities which took steps to furthering integration on their own.

According to the Italian think-tank Nomisma, Italy had almost four million immigrants at the start of 2009, a figure that will rise to 6.3 million in 2020 and 10.6 million in 2050.

Nomisma also noted that a rising number of immigrants are moving to small towns.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy Tells EU: Non-Repulsion Policy Followed

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 25 — During the eight sea-borne repulsion operations which took place between May 6 and August 30, Italy “complied with the principle of ‘non refoulment’ (non-repulsion) as it did not deny the intercepted migrants an opportunity to apply for asylum”. The statement comes in a letter, dated September 8, sent by Italy to the EU Commission and which ANSA has viewed, in reply to Brussels’ request for information. According to those in charge of the sea-borne operation, the letter states, the people on board the intercepted boat “made no request of any kind for international protection, nor did they state that they were being persecuted in their home countries”. The letter states that 757 irregular migrants were taken back to Libya and that the operations “were conducted in conformity with applicable internal and international regulations”, as well as being “ part of the application of the Schengen frontier code”. As regards the Italo-Libyan accord, the letter underlines how Tripoli, although it is not a signatory to the Geneva convention on refugees, has ratified the African Union’s convention on refugees in Africa, which “commits Libya to guaranteeing protection not just to those being persecuted, but to all those stemming from at-risk geographical areas”. “The actions for tackling irregular migration put in place by the Italian government constitute, in their compliance with the international legal framework, a very effective policy for tackling irregular immigration”, which has led to a reduction of over 90% in the number of boat landings on Italy’s coasts. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Almost 4 Mln Foreigners and Rising

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, SEPTEMBER 25 — On January 1 2009 there were 3 million 900 thousand foreigners in Italy. A report published by Nomisma for the second conference on immigration predicts that there will be 6 million 300 thousand in 2020 and more than 10 million 600 thousand in 2050. Between 1970 and 2000 the number of immigrants doubled every 10 years. More than half of all immigrants live in the northern part of Italy: 36.3% in the north-west, 27.3% in the north-east and 24.8% in the centre. The rest, just over 10%, lives in the southern part of Italy. The report contains an unexpected find: the arrival of foreigners in the big cities with more than half a million inhabitants is falling (-1.1%), while this number is rising in Municipalities between 5 and 20 thousand inhabitants. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: 241 Thousand Requests for Domestic Help

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, SEPTEMBER 25 — A total of 241,000 applications have been presented to give domestic helps and carers a regular contract. The news was announced during a round table during the second conference on immigration in Milan by prefect Mario Morcone, head of the department of civil liberties and immigration. By the end of this month “the total will be 300,000 applications” he added, “and this was the choice of the lawmaker”. This number was in fact the government’s forecast when it presented the measure. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Migrants Expelled by Morocco Returned by Algeria

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 25 — Fifteen migrants, survivors of last Saturday’s shipwreck in the Straight of Gibraltar, have been expelled by the Moroccan authorities to Algeria. According to humanitarian NGOs the group has been sent back at the Algerian border however. Around 30 people, including women and children, are still missing after the shipwreck. The migrants, seven men and eight women, all from the sub-Saharan region, were on their way in a rubber dinghy to the Spanish coast when the engine broke down off the coast of Perejil. They were assisted by a Spanish rescue team and the Spanish police which took them on board, after which they were handed over to the Moroccan authorities. Sources in the judiciary system quoted by El Pais say that the Moroccan authorities have decided to expel them to Algeria. The public prosecutor’s office of Tangiers has ordered the expulsion of the survivors to Oujida, on the eastern border with Morocco. They have been taken their in two vans, with other Algerian migrants. According to the Moroccan NGO Gadem and the Beni Znassen association, they were told to cross the border with Algeria at night. But on the other side of the border they were intercepted by Algerian police forces who forced them to return to Morocco. “The Algerian police forced them to return to Morocco in two occasions” said Hicham Baraka of the Gadem NGO in a statement to El Pais. “They are exhausted and they fear that they will continue to be treated as ping-pong balls”. Meanwhile in Spain, 31 migrants from the sub-Saharan region including at least 8 children, arrived at the island of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands. The boat, according to the coastguard, was intercepted in the port of Los Marmoles. The children, two of whom are girls, are in good health. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Holdren: Seize Babies Born to Unwed Women

Proposed government force adoption if mother refused to get abortion

Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook that “illegitimate children” born to unwed mothers could be taken by the government and put up for adoption if the mother refused to have an abortion.

Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, argued that “illegitimate childbearing could be strongly discouraged” as a socioeconomic measure imposed to control population growth.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Expert: Jews Should Harass Arab Officials With Court Motions

( Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not leave Britain despite an Arab court petition to have him arrested this week, after consulting with advisers who told him the Arab move would fail.

Dr. Ruby Seibel, formerly Legal Adviser to the Foreign Ministry and currently a lecturer on international law in the Jerusalem Hebrew University, told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew service that Barak’s decision to remain in Britain was a sound one. He also said Israel should cooperate with Jewish groups to harass Arab officials with legal motions to have them arrested abroad, too.

“I was one of the people who were consulted before his decision to stay and I told him very clearly that there was no chance that the Defense Minister would be arrested,” Dr. Seibel said. “He has immunity just like any other minister who is invited to Britain and enjoys diplomatic immunity. In addition, the British government has no desire to have its court used for political purposes, just as we would not want a European citizen to file charges against the Serbian government in the Supreme Court in Jerusalem.”

Psychological warfare Dr. Seibel said the Arab plaintiffs were trying to frighten Israel. “Those Palestinian organizations want to embarrass us, first and foremost,” he explained. “So they will not be able to do anything against ministers because they have immunity but it is quite possible to file motions against IDF officers and there is no quick solution for that.”

“What the State of Israel needs to do is first of all, to file requests with various governments asking that they appear in our name and defend us, especially when you are dealing with friendly governments. I think that most countries can prevent the filing of such provocative motions at the first stage, before it reaches the court. Only in Britain is this not possible.”

Dr. Siebel called upon the government of Israel and the Foreign Ministry to make use of pro-Jewish organizations and to follow the Arabs’ example by filing similar motions against PA officials who visit abroad.

“We too should be bothering those terrorists, filing motions against Syrian government officials suspected of torture, and pestering Arab representatives so that they too undergo the same kind of harassment we may have to face in the near future,” he suggested.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Success Against Al-Qaeda Cited

U.S. and international intelligence officials say that improved recruitment of spies inside the al-Qaeda network, along with increased use of targeted airstrikes and enhanced assistance from cooperative governments, has significantly reduced the terrorist organization’s effectiveness.


The most important new weapon in the Western arsenal is said to be the recruitment of spies inside al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations, a long-sought objective. “Human sources have begun to produce results,” Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations’ al-Qaeda and Taliban monitoring group, said Tuesday. Barrett is the former chief of Britain’s overseas counterterrorism operations.

Current and former senior U.S. officials, who spoke about intelligence matters on the condition of anonymity, confirmed what one former CIA official called “our penetration of al-Qaeda.” A senior administration official said that success had come “because of, first of all, very good intelligence capabilities . . . to locate and identify individuals who are part of the al-Qaeda organization.”

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair referred obliquely in an interview with reporters earlier this month to the use of spies, saying that “the primary way” that U.S. intelligence determines which terrorist organizations pose direct threats is “to penetrate them and learn whether they’re talking about making attacks against the United States.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian [Return to headlines]

Driving Out the Swedes

Cultural Enrichment News

Our Swedish correspondent CB has translated an article about an elderly Swedish woman who was recently set upon and beaten by young cultural enrichers. This story highlights a recent trend: “persons of Swedish background” fleeing their homes to escape violence perpetrated by immigrants.

If honesty were possible when discussing such topics, we would refer to this process as “ethnic cleansing”.

If the same actions were carried out in Bosnia by, say, Serbs against Muslims, they would be labeled “genocide”, and the full weight of the UN would be applied against them.

But this is the EU, and these young thugs are part of the glorious multiculture which all must learn to celebrate.

CB had this to say in his cover note:

This is an article from Gefle Dagblad, a newspaper in the Swedish town Gävle, which is situated some seventy kilometres north of Uppsala. Some articles report that the area has a bad reputation, and that people want to leave, but not all of them can afford to. I’ve also read that a lot of people are fed up with the housing agency, Gavlegårdarna. On the one hand, they have a responsibility for how they take care of their area. With bad management, people stop caring for their neighborhood, and unsavory people turn up, too. But this isn’t the first time we have read about immigrants beating up old native people in Sweden and other European countries.

Here we have a senior citizen who was part of building Sweden into a wealthy country, so wealthy that we have taken in a lot of foreigners. Some for good reasons, and others without any good reasons at all. And some of these people now reward senior citizens be beating them up. How noble!

I notice that Gefle Dagblad cut the comments tonight, since they thought they had become to harsh and in some instances racist in tone. I just eyeballed them, very fast, and some went over the line, but many were just plain furious about this happening to an old lady for no apparent reason. It seems that many comments on articles in different newspapers are becoming angrier and more polarized, compared with just a year ago. And more and more often the debates turn plain ugly and nasty.

Here’s the translation from Gefle Dagblad. Follow the link to the original article to see photos showing some of the injuries sustained by Birgitta:

Birgitta was brutally beaten up

She felt at home in Andersberg — but not anymore

Birgitta sits at the kitchen table and looks outside at the children playing. Her arms are covered with bruises and her nose and lip are injured. Last Tuesday she was brutally beaten up outside her home in Andersberg.

“Where shall I go?” she asks .

She does not dare to stay on in Andersberg, even though she has installed an alarm.

No respect was shown to Birgitta for being a woman and a senior citizen. On the contrary, she was brutally assaulted and called a whore. Birgitta’s arms and legs have large black and blue bruises after the assault.

The blood flowed, though Birgitta’s nose bone was not broken after the blow to her face. But as the physical wounds heal, the psychological wounds are worse.

A neighbor has been supporting Birgitta. Both relate stories about stairs being peed in, trash strewn around, and broken storage doors. They are in an agreement that Andersberg has bit by bit deteriorated.

Birgitta actually has another name. She does not want to show her face in a photo or have her name in the paper.

“Then they might kill me,” she says and shrinks back into herself a little.

– – – – – – – –

Birgitta has lived at different addresses close to Andersberg’s center for nearly fifteen years. The apartment she now lives in is in the red houses. She has lived there for three years.

“The first years were good.”

She has never felt afraid before, even though she thinks that the area has gradually deteriorated.

“I called the management the other night, when the elevator was totally peed in. The manager asked if she should believe that.”

Her neighbor sits at the kitchen table with her. He relates that he had called in about feces on the stairs.

“They asked if it was human or dog feces!”

Birgitta says that someone often pees under the stairs, and there are often broken doors in the basement storage area, with mattresses piled outside the front door, piles of clothes, garbage bags, loose dogs on the stairs, commotion in the meeting room at certain times, and children kicking footballs at the windows.

“Gavlegårdarna doesn’t take it seriously.”

Birgitta contacted GD at the beginning of the week to talk about it all, but then something much more serious happened.

“I haven’t eaten or slept since Tuesday. I’ve received sedatives, but have never cried as much in my whole life and never puttered around this much,” she says before she wandered out into the hallway without remembering what she went to do.

She’s still a little confused and shocked but can relate her story about Tuesday evening clearly and precisely.

“I used to be a merry person, but now have become ten years older,” she sighs.

This past Tuesday Birgitta was invited for wine and food with friends in the area. She herself says that she was a little tipsy, but not drunk. At eight-thirty she went to walk her old dog and at the same time to buy ice cream at Time.

“The dog walked loose at a distance, since I saw no one [there is a law against loose dogs in Sweden]. Suddenly two guys appeared at the health center.”

Birgitta says the men were about thirty to forty, and of foreign origin. They asked if she had any cigarettes, but Birgitta said she had none.

“‘You f***ing whore,’ said one of them and then the blow came. I don’t know if I said something.”

Birgitta fell to the ground; the men searched her for money and cigarettes. The dog realized that something had happened. Birgitta began calling for help and one of the men kicked her hard on one knee before they disappeared. The blood was pouring out and someone called the ambulance.

Birgitta thought that her nose bone was broken, but she got away with cuts to her nose, a swollen knee, bruises on her lip, sore teeth, a large bruise on her thigh, a small cut on her hand, and bruises on both arms.

But even if the physical wound will heal, what is worse is the terror of the soul.

“I want to talk about this, otherwise I’ll go mad. I’ve phoned the psycho-social team, but they are on vacation and the Victims of Emergency Crimes are moving at the present. Will I be able to walk outside when it’s dark? I’m even afraid in the daytime, and look over my shoulder all the time.”

Birgitta has hardly been outside her door since the incident, and she had to get rid if the dog, since she can’t walk it anymore.

In spite of all the deficiencies she has felt at home in the area. Close to services, the green area for walking the dog and to find berries in, and a nice apartment — these have redeeming value. But not anymore.

Birgitta and her neighbors start to name six to seven persons in the adjacent houses who have moved or are going to move away. They are disappointed with Gavlegårdarna, which they think ignores the problems and doesn’t inform everyone in the area about the rules, and doesn’t hold meetings in more languages.

“Fewer and fewer Swedes remain. In the past we had good fellowship and people came to meetings. But it has gradually become worse. I pay 5,500 krona for the apartment, but have no rights. I love children and don’t want to live in 50+ housing. Where shall I go?”

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.

Why Did Europeans Create the Modern World? — Part 4

The Fjordman Report

The noted blogger Fjordman is filing this report via Gates of Vienna.
For a complete Fjordman blogography, see The Fjordman Files. There is also a multi-index listing here.

This is the final installment in this series. For previous installments, see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) in his influential study The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism identified capitalism with the Protestant branch of Christianity. I do think it is accurate to say that Protestant nations proved especially dynamic in adopting science and capitalism; Protestantism encouraged ordinary people to read the Bible in the vernacular, which spurred the growth of literacy. Still, there is no doubt that the foundations of capitalism were created in Catholic Europe, in the medieval city-states of northern Italy.

Western wealth began with urban growth and commerce in the twelfth century and accelerated during the Renaissance into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with the development of a relatively autonomous class of professional merchants. Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), an Austrian and later British economist and philosopher, identified a new individualism provided by Christianity and the philosophy of Classical Antiquity which was developed during the Renaissance. He explains this in his classic The Road to Serfdom:

“From the commercial cities of Northern Italy the new view of life spread with commerce to the west and north, through France and the south-west of Germany to the Low Countries and the British Isles, taking firm root wherever there was no despotic political power to stifle it….During the whole of this modern period of European history the general direction of social development was one of freeing the individual from the ties which had bound him to the customary or prescribed ways in the pursuit of his ordinary activities….Perhaps the greatest result of the unchaining of individual energies was the marvellous growth of science which followed the march of individual liberty from Italy to England and beyond….Only since industrial freedom opened the path to the free use of new knowledge, only since everything could be tried — if somebody could be found to back it at his own risk — and, it should be added, as often as not from outside the authorities officially entrusted with the cultivation of learning, has science made the great strides which in the last hundred and fifty years have changed the face of the world.”

Western growth has roots in the medieval period. Nathan Rosenberg and L.E. Birdzell Jr. investigate this in How The West Grew Rich: The Economic Transformation Of The Industrial World:

“Initially, the West’s achievement of autonomy stemmed from a relaxation, or a weakening, of political and religious controls, giving other departments of social life the opportunity to experiment with change. Growth is, of course, a form of change, and growth is impossible when change is not permitted. Any successful change requires a large measure of freedom to experiment. A grant of that kind of freedom costs a society’s rulers their feeling of control, as if they were conceding to others the power to determine the society’s future. The great majority of societies, past and present, have not allowed it. Nor have they escaped from poverty.”

World trade grew modestly until about 1840 and then took off. In 1913 the value of world trade was about twenty-five times what it had been in 1800 even though prices of manufactured goods and raw materials were in many cases lower. A true world economy had been created for the first time, centered in Europe. Great Britain played a particularly prominent role in using trade to tie the world and the far-flung British Empire together economically. This was greatly facilitated by the development of new means of transportation and communications. Railroads spread throughout Europe and North America to South America, Asia and Africa and together with steamships drastically reduced transportation costs. Intercontinental trade was also facilitated by the building of the Suez and Panama Canals. The Industrial Revolution represented a point of unprecedented European power.

As late as in 1880, European nations controlled only 10 percent of the African continent. Then came the “scramble for Africa” in which having colonies became something of a status symbol. European imperialism reached its peak in Asia at this time as well when the Dutch extended their rule of Java to cover most of what is today Indonesia, the British deepened their control of possessions such as India, the French established their rule over much of Indochina as well as West Africa and the United States acquired the Philippines in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Overall, the economic gains from these colonies were in many cases surprisingly limited. They were often acquired more for political than for economic reasons. Technological superiority made many Europeans sincerely convinced that they could “civilize” other peoples, an idea embodied in Rudyard Kipling‘s poem White Man’s Burden.

According to authors Rosenberg and Birdzell, “Colonialism planted the seeds for the early development of today’s North and South American economies — an awesome accomplishment. But the Spanish, Portuguese, English, French, and Dutch colonial experiences and their consequences were various, even in the Americas. Spain and Portugal became major colonial powers without ever becoming advanced capitalist economies….Their most valuable colonies were in Latin America, and the home countries lost these to independence movements while they themselves were in a precapitalist stage of development. By far the most striking accomplishment of British colonialism was that it seeded several advanced Western economies, to the substantial benefit of the colonies: the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Singapore. These colonies’ economic accomplishments also benefited Britain, for controlled and exploitive trade with an economically backward colony is much less beneficial to an advanced country than its trade with other advanced countries. France built and lost a large colonial empire, remembered for the violent collapse of its Indo-Chinese rule and the almost equally violent end of its rule over what was probably its most economically successful colony, Algeria. In retrospect, there is little reason to think that its colonial ventures contributed positively to France’s economic growth.”

There is no general correlation between the magnitude and timing of Western countries’ economic growth and their colonial empires. Germany in the late nineteenth century outperformed France and at times even Britain in industry yet held only few and marginal colonies compared to the latter. Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had the world’s largest empire, yet suffered from inflation and military overstretch. Italy during the same time period was politically fragmented and plagued by attacks from Muslim pirates, yet there was no Spanish equivalent to Galileo during the Scientific Revolution. Copernicus was born in Poland, which never had a colonial history; Tycho Brahe was from tiny Denmark and Kepler from disunited Germany. England at the time of Newton was not yet a major colonial power compared to the Turks and their Ottoman Empire. The greatest astronomical revolution in history simply cannot be attributed to “colonial plundering” no matter how hard you try.

Imperialist Spain and Portugal did not achieve long-term growth, in contrast to non-imperialist Switzerland or Sweden. Spain and Portugal used slavery widely in their colonies, but lagged behind in the development of modern growth economies. Of the estimated 10-12 million Africans who were forcibly transported across the Atlantic between 1450 and 1900, several million ended up in Portuguese-ruled Brazil. Michael Hart speculates whether interbreeding with low-IQ peoples (African slaves) slightly lowered the national Portuguese IQ during the colonial period.
– – – – – – – –
Sponsored by Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the Portuguese in the mid-1400s engaged in systematic voyages of discovery along the western coast of Africa, culminating when navigator Bartolomeu Dias (ca. 1450-1500) sailed around the southernmost tip of the continent in 1488, thereby opening the sea route to Asia. Mariner Vasco da Gama (ca. 1460-1524) and his crew reached India by way of the Cape of Good Hope (1497-99) and returned successfully to Lisbon loaded with spices and samples of Indian cloth. This triggered several armed clashes with Muslims, who had traditionally controlled much of this lucrative trade.

Lynn White, the eminent American professor of medieval history, states that “By the end of the 15th century the technological superiority of Europe was such that its small, mutually hostile nations could spill out over all the rest of the world, conquering, looting, and colonizing. The symbol of this technological superiority is the fact that Portugal, one of the weakest states of the Occident, was able to become, and to remain for a century, mistress of the East Indies.” This was a radical new development during the Middle Ages, because “before the 11th century, science scarcely existed in the Latin West, even in Roman times.”

Technological developments facilitated this Age of Exploration. Europeans may have been the first to use gunpowder to build large cannon, and while other civilizations in Eurasia used this invention, too, Europeans were especially adept at combining cannon with ships. The Portuguese and others pioneered new types of highly maneuverable sailing ships such as the caravel, and exploration led to improved maps and navigational techniques. The desire to Christianize pagan peoples was still very fresh among leading individuals such as Queen Isabella of Spain after centuries of struggles against Muslims. Government sponsorship was important for the Spanish and the Portuguese and in the seventeenth century for the Dutch East India Company. There was also the basic European curiosity about the world, although Asian spices and the search for material wealth were usually the most direct causes of these voyages. Vasco da Gama famously stated that the Portuguese sought “Christians and spices.”

According to scholar Lynda Shaffer, the Chinese with their large and sophisticated navy “could have made the arduous journey around the tip of Africa and sail into Portuguese ports; however, they had no reason to do so. Although the Western European economy was prospering, it offered nothing that China could not acquire much closer to home at much less cost.” In contrast, the Portuguese, the Spanish and other Europeans were trying to reach the Spice Islands in Indonesia. “It was this spice market that lured Columbus westward from Spain and drew Vasco da Gama around Africa and across the Indian Ocean.” In Shaffer’s view, technologies such as gunpowder and the compass had a different impact in China than they had in Europe and it is “unfair to ask why the Chinese did not accidentally bump into the Western Hemisphere while sailing east across the Pacific to find the wool markets of Spain.”

There is some truth in this. The Age of Exploration with Portugal and Spain initially began with a desire to link the world’s second-most important trading region, Europe and the Mediterranean world, with the world’s most important trading region, the Indian Ocean, and in doing so bypass Muslim middlemen. This is why Christopher Columbus mistakenly believed he had arrived in India when he reached the Americas. Europeans were initially more interested in buying Asian goods than vice versa, but this still doesn’t explain why the Chinese and other Asians didn’t create the equivalent of the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions. Genghis Khan (ca. 1162-1227) and the Mongols are sometimes blamed for this.

The Mongol conquest certainly had a disruptive impact, and the trail of devastation it left behind severely depopulated regions from China and Korea via Iran and Iraq to Eastern Europe. It ended the dynamic Song Dynasty, yet even before this there were few indications that a development towards modern engines or mathematical physics was about to take place in China. A series of typhoons, dubbed kamikaze or “divine wind,” saved the Japanese from the Mongol fleets in 1274 and 1281, but they, too, didn’t develop a fully fledged industry until they adopted a Western model in the late nineteenth century Moreover, even if Western Europe escaped the Mongols, we should remember that Europeans experienced centuries of political disintegration and population decline, longer than in any period in Chinese history for several thousand years. Europe also had to face a more prolonged assault by Islam.

Some Muslims have claimed that scientific advances in the Islamic world were halted by the Mongol conquests. This is inaccurate for a number of reasons. First of all because the conquests didn’t affect Syria, Egypt, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, yet these regions didn’t make any more progress than did the Islamic East. Second of all, science in the Islamic world had already stagnated in many fields prior to this. In astronomy, Muslim achievements peaked after the conquests, in Iran with Mongol encouragement. Hulegu Khan gave his blessing to build the Maragha observatory after his troops had sacked Baghdad and ended the Abbasid Caliphate. His brother Kublai Khan constructed an observatory in China.

In Europe after the invention of eyeglasses and mechanical clocks, new scientific instruments for studying and quantifying the world were introduced, from telescopes and microscopes to thermometers, and their precision was steadily increased. After 1600, John Napier’s logarithms became important and new mathematics such as calculus and analytic geometry contributed immensely to analysis. A fundamental institutional pillar of Western science was the routinization of discovery, or the invention of invention. David S. Landes explains:

“Here was a widely dispersed population of intellectuals, working in different lands, using different vernaculars — and yet a community. What happened in one place was quickly known everywhere else, partly thanks to a common language of learning, Latin; partly to a precocious development of courier and mail services; most of all because people were moving in all directions. In the seventeenth century, these links were institutionalized, first in the person of such self-appointed human switchboards as Marin Mersenne (1588-1648), then in the form of learned societies with their corresponding secretaries, frequent meetings, and periodical journals. The earliest societies appeared in Italy — the Accadémia dei Lincei (the Academy of Lynxes) in Rome in 1603, the short-lived Accadémia del Cimento in Florence in 1653. More important in the long run, however, were the northern academies: the Royal Society in London in 1660, the Academia Parisiensis in 1635, and the successor Académie des Sciences in 1666. Even before, informal but regular encounters in coffeehouses and salons brought people and questions together. As Mersenne put it in 1634, ‘the sciences have sworn inviolable friendship to one another.’ Cooperation, then, but enormously enhanced by fierce rivalry in the race for prestige and honor.”

From the seventeenth century onward Europeans created many scientific societies and journals. No similar arrangements and facilities for the propagation of scholarly learning were to be found outside of Europe. China lacked institutional continuity for learning, and the Middle East and India didn’t do much better. US President Barack Hussein Obama’s Islamophile speech delivered at Cairo University in Egypt in June 2009 contained a remarkably high concentration of half-truths, distortions or plain lies. Take this quote:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar University — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.”

Is there even a single truthful statement in this entire paragraph? Muslims did create some fine calligraphy, and a few of their scholars made contributions to algebra, but apart from that it’s almost total nonsense. The magnetic compass was invented by the Chinese and possibly by Europeans and others independently. Printing of books, too, was invented by the Chinese, and was stubbornly and persistently rejected by Muslims for a thousand years or more due to Islamic religious resistance. They liked the Chinese invention of gunpowder a lot more.

No direct link has ever been proven between Gutenberg’s printing press and printing in East Asia, although it is conceivable that the basic idea of printing had been imported to Europe. In contrast, we know with 100% certainty that Muslims were familiar with East Asian printing but aggressively rejected it. Scholar Thomas Allsen in his book Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia has described how the authorities in Iran under Mongolian rule in 1294 attempted to introduce Chinese-style printed banknotes but failed due to popular resistance:

“Certainly the Muslim world exhibited an active and sustained opposition to movable type technologies emanating from Europe in the fifteenth century and later. This opposition, based on social, religious, and political considerations, lasted well into the eighteenth century. Only then were presses of European origin introduced into the Ottoman Empire and only in the next century did printing become widespread in the Arab world and Iran. This long-term reluctance, the disinterest in European typography, and the failure to exploit the indigenous printing traditions of Egypt certainly argue for some kind of fundamental structural or ideological antipathy to this particular technology.”

It is likely that due to trade, Middle Easterners were familiar with printing centuries before this incident, yet because of Islamic religious resistance they did not adopt this great invention until a thousand years or more after it had been invented in China. Minorities such as Jews or Greek and Armenian Christians were the first to use printing presses in the Ottoman realms. The first book printed in the Persian language was probably a Judaeo-Persian Pentateuch.

Muslims had access to Greek optical theory. Alhazen’s Book of Optics, one of the best scientific works ever written in the Arabic language, was largely ignored in the Arabic-speaking world yet was studied with interest in Europe. It was written in Cairo, Egypt, but was not studied at al-Azhar close to where Alhazen lived for years. Al-Azhar was a center of religious education and sharia law, not secular learning and science. In contrast, Greek natural philosophy and secular learning was taught at medieval European universities in addition to religious subjects, which is why optics was studied by more European scholars. I have encountered few if any institutions outside of Europe that I would call “universities” in the Western sense before the colonial era. Among the better candidates would be the Great Monastery of Nalanda in India, which was a Buddhist institution. It was not built by Muslims; it was destroyed by them, as were so many cultural treasures in India and Central Asia.

The Chinese education system introduced some level of meritocracy by preventing the bureaucracy from becoming completely hereditary. However, it was rigidly controlled and focused overwhelmingly on literary and moral learning. Men wasted years of their lives on passing higher level exams, often failing again and again. Toby E. Huff has investigated this in The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, second edition:

“From the point of view of this study, the modern scientific revolution was both an institutional revolution and an intellectual revolution that reorganized the scheme of natural knowledge and validated a new set of conceptions of man and his cognitive capacities. The forms of reason and rationality that had been fused out of the encounter between Greek philosophy, Roman law, and Christian theology laid a foundation for believing in the essential rationality of man and nature. More importantly, this new metaphysical synthesis found an institutional home in the cultural and legal structures of medieval society — that is, the universities. Together they laid the foundations validating the existence of neutral institutional spaces within which intellects could pursue their intellectual inspiration while asking probing questions. Having laid those foundations, large sections of the Western world in the years after the Renaissance were enabled to go forward with the scientific movement as well as economic and political development.”

The medieval European university represented a real innovation, and Huff places its development, and the decision to include also natural sciences, not just theology, in its regular curriculum at the center of the later scientific achievements of the West:

“We should also not underestimate the magnitude of the step taken when it was decided (in part, following ancient tradition) to make the study of philosophy and all aspects of the natural world an official and public enterprise. If this seems a mundane achievement, it is due to our Eurocentrism which forgets that the study of the natural sciences and philosophy was shunned in the Islamic colleges of the Middle East and that all such inquiries were undertaken in carefully guarded private settings. Likewise, in China, there were no autonomous institutions of learning independent of the official bureaucracy; the ones that existed were completely at the mercy of the centralized state. Nor were philosophers given the liberty to define for themselves the realms of learning as occurred in the West.”

The Chinese had a tradition for viewing non-Chinese as barbarians, but one of China’s main challenges was that scientists found little room for independent thinking in an autocratic system with a centralized bureaucracy focused on Confucian literary classics and calligraphy. “The pursuit of scientific subjects was thereby relegated to the margins of Chinese society.” This does not mean that you cannot find promising beginnings in pharmacology, alchemy or medicine, “But in the end, institutions matter, as many economists have reminded us. Without them, fertile seeds of intellectual brilliance fail to grow into hardy plants.”

In The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Kenneth Pomeranz claims that several Asian countries, especially China and Japan, were at least as advanced as Europe by around the year 1800. Europe didn’t diverge critically from Asia until then, and the Industrial Revolution started in Britain in part due to a geographical accident because they had easy access to coal, and in part because of their overseas colonies and markets. In his view it had rather little to do with superior science or technology.

This claim is flat-out wrong. In the theoretical sciences, Europeans were ahead of East Asians throughout the late medieval and early modern periods, and the gap was rapidly increasing. These advances gradually affected applied technology as well. The Chinese had known about magnetism for centuries, yet they never discovered the connection between it and electricity, exemplified by telegraphy. Did Europeans have “easy access” to electromagnetism? Modern European studies of the speed and properties of light were far more advanced than Asian ones. Was this because Europeans had “easy access” to light? Didn’t they have light in Asia?

Medieval Europeans did well in mining technology, and this knowledge was carried to the New World. The Spanish Empire linked the Americas to the Philippines and Asia through regular convoys across the Pacific Ocean. The Spanish carried so much silver from Mexico to China that the Mexican dollar was a recognized currency in some Chinese coastal provinces. After 1400 China was remonetizing its economy, and silver was becoming the store of value.

Kenneth Pomeranz states that “The enormous demand for silver this created made it far more valuable in China (relative to gold and to most other goods) than anywhere else in the world: and China itself had few silver mines. Consequently, China was already importing huge amounts of silver (mostly from Japan, and to some extent from India and Southeast Asia) in the century before Western ships reached Asia. When Westerners did arrive, carrying silver from the richest mines ever discovered (Latin America produced roughly 85 percent of the world’s silver between 1500 and 1800) yielded large and very reliable arbitrage profits.”

In Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, a largely — and in my view excessively — pro-Mongol book, author Jack Weatherford claims that the Mongol conquests triggered the Renaissance in Europe by opening up the continent to ideas from Asia:

“Because much of the Mongol Empire had been based on novel ideas and ways of organizing public life rather than on mere technology, these ideas provoked new thoughts and experiments in Europe. The common principles of the Mongol Empire — such as paper money, primacy of the state over the church, freedom of religion, diplomatic immunity, and international law — were ideas that gained new importance….Under the widespread influences from the paper and printing, gunpowder and firearms, and the spread of the navigational compass and other maritime equipment, Europeans experienced a Renaissance, literally a rebirth, but it was not the ancient world of Greece and Rome being reborn: It was the Mongol Empire, picked up, transferred, and adapted by the Europeans to their own needs and culture.”

So, we simultaneously see claims that the Renaissance was what caused the great advances in Western science and that it was triggered by Muslims in the twelfth century or Mongols in the thirteenth century. At the same time, there was supposedly nothing special about Europe until the turn of the nineteenth century. An intelligent reader will quickly see that all of these different claims cannot be true at the same time, yet they are all made at the same time.

The point here is not what is factually correct, the point is to put down any sense of pride people of European origins might have in their historical achievements. It is a bit ironic that European culture is constantly derided for being racist, oppressive and evil, yet everybody else seems very busy with claiming the honor for having created it. If we are racist oppressors who rape the Earth and create global warming, why are Muslims and others so eager to take credit for having created our culture? Shouldn’t they feel ashamed of themselves instead?

Western Multiculturalists claim that all cultures are equal, yet only one of them created modern organized science. This is the big elephant in the middle of the room. Multiculturalists try to explain this away by claiming that: (A. Science was invented independently in many regions and “merged” into modern science. (B. All cultures and peoples are equal. If one of them appears to be more successful than others, this must be because it exploits and oppresses the others. Since European civilization has been uniquely influential this can only be because it is uniquely evil. Consequently, stamping it out is a good deed for the sake of Earth and for mankind. An alternative way to respond to this explanatory challenge of why modern science emerged in Europe is to ignore the problem all together and talk about zebras and Australian plants instead. This is Jared Diamond’s preferred solution.

The truth is that the Scientific Revolution was the greatest achievement of the human mind in all history, and it was done by Europeans, not by anybody else. We can debate why this was the case, which can make for a fascinating discussion, but the end result is not debatable.

Pomeranz admits that there were no true scientific societies in China, but states that “unlike in Europe, where these formal scientific societies were often essential to protecting science from a hostile established church, in China there was no such powerful and hostile body.”

This is misleading. If the Christian Church had always been anti-science, it is unlikely that the Scientific Revolution would have taken place in Christian Europe. If Mr. Pomeranz had studied Toby Huff’s excellent work he would know that the situation was far worse in China. The Hongwu Emperor, or Taizu, was the founder (rule 1368-98) of the Ming Dynasty. He came from a poor family and created a new dynasty in the world’s largest economy. He was obviously a forceful character, but his case does illustrate underlying problems in the Chinese model. The Emperor thought that the students at the Imperial Academy were too unruly and appointed his nephew as head of the institution. Later he issued a set of pronouncements:

“In the third of these proclamations (ca. 1386) there was a ‘list of ‘bad’ metropolitan degree holders,’ that is, chin-shih or ‘doctorates,’ along with the names of some students. ‘He prescribed the death penalty for sixty-eight metropolitan degree holders and two students; penal servitude for seventy degree holders and twelve students.’ The author of this account in the Cambridge History of China adds that these lists ‘must have discouraged men of learning.’ Appended to the edict was a further reprimand. The emperor ‘would put to death any man of talent who refused to serve the government when summoned. As he put it, ‘To the edges of the land, all are the king’s subjects….Literati in the realm who do not serve the ruler are estranged from teaching [of Confucius]. To execute them and confiscate the property of their families is not excessive.’ The trial and punishment of Galileo (confinement to his villa overlooking Florence) is nothing compared to this.”

Copernicus’s 1543 book about heliocentrism did not produce an immediate upheaval; not until 1616 during the Catholic Counter-Reformation was it officially declared erroneous. As James Evans says, “Owen Gingerich has examined nearly all the surviving copies of the 1543 and 1566 editions of De revolutionibus, which total more than 500 books. The majority of copies in Italy were censored in conformity with the decree. But the decree had almost no effect elsewhere. Not even in Catholic Spain or Portugal were copies censored. The condemnation of De revolutionibus had very little impact on the acceptance of the heliocentric hypothesis. Even the famous trial of Galileo for continuing to advocate heliocentrism after the condemnation only served to popularize the new cosmology.”

One of the reasons why the West has enjoyed exceptionally high levels of sustained innovation is because we have often enjoyed a greater degree of political liberty and free speech than many other cultures. At least, we used to do so. In some critical fields we no longer do. What we are witnessing now is an experiment of unprecedented magnitude in world history: Never before have a massive amount of low-IQ peoples been allowed to settle in lands where the native inhabitants have substantially higher average IQ than themselves.

The European Union is currently promoting mass immigration to Western European countries by peoples from other cultures. It also imposes a centralized, authoritarian bureaucratic structure which used to be alien to pre-Soviet Europe. During all of European history, no single authority has ever been able to successfully censor ideas throughout the entire Continent, which, frankly, has been one of Europe’s greatest strengths. The EU and the national Multicultural elites are now purposefully destroying what have traditionally been Europe’s foremost comparative advantages: High average IQ combined with free inquiry.

Michael Hart in Understanding Human History deals with the issue of whether it is immoral to consider the possibility there could be differences in intelligence between various ethnic groups, and whether believing so makes you a “Nazi.” He suggests that the potential existence of such differences is not a moral question at all, but merely a factual one:

“Such differences (if they exist) are merely facts of nature; as such, they may be unfortunate, but cannot be immoral. Plainly, if such differences actually exist it is not immoral to believe that they exist, nor to honestly state one’s belief that they exist, nor to study the differences. And even if the differences do not exist, a belief that they do (if honestly held) is not immoral, nor is a serious inquiry into the question immoral. The attempt to turn factual questions into moral questions is the essence of dogmatism, and has long been a hindrance to scientific progress. A well-known example involves the conviction of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633. The members of the court that condemned him were turning a factual question (‘Does the Earth revolve about the Sun?’) into a moral question (‘Is such a belief contrary to scripture, and therefore heretical?’)”

Throughout the Western world there is powerful censorship of anything related to Multiculturalism and mass immigration of non-European peoples. In Europe, EU authorities constitute one of the major forces behind this in collaboration with national authorities, the media and the academia in various countries. Together they promote mass immigration and ideological “anti-racism” through social and legal intimidation as well as propaganda campaigns designed to silence anybody who might conceivably object to the above mentioned policies. This is easily the most serious cases of censorship in this civilization’s history. Much of Europe has enjoyed a remarkable genetic continuity since the Old Stone Age. Native Europeans are now supposed to be displaced by peoples with a completely different genetic profile, but we’re not allowed to debate the long-term consequences of doing so.

When people are asked about what constitutes the most serious case of anti-scientific censorship in Western history, they will usually mention Galileo vs. the Inquisition regarding Sun-centered astronomy. That was indeed a bad moment, but the attempted censorship of the heliocentric cosmology of Copernicus had little long-term effect. Moreover, this attempted censorship didn’t do anything to change physical reality. The Earth still orbits the Sun.

When scientists decoded a human genome after the year 2000 they were quick to portray it as proof of mankind’s remarkable similarity. The DNA of any two individuals, they emphasized, is at least 99 percent identical. But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain observed differences. After all, you who read these words may well be 99.5 % or more genetically identical to Newton and Einstein, but that last bit made a rather huge difference.

In 2007 The New York Times in the USA, a center-left newspaper very concerned about “racism,” real or imagined, asked in the article “In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice” “whether society is prepared to handle the consequences of science that may eventually reveal appreciable differences between races in the genes that influence socially important traits.” Multiculturalists have, reluctantly, admitted that race is not “socially constructed” when it comes to medicine; some ethnic groups are more susceptible to certain diseases than others.

It is likely that we in the twenty-first century will witness a genetic revolution that will change our view of biology as profoundly as the Copernican theory changed our view of astronomy. Maybe we will identify not only which genes are responsible for certain diseases, but also clusters of genes that contribute to unusually high intelligence. Perhaps a few generations from now, claiming that people are more or less genetically identical and that emphasizing differences in natural abilities between various ethnic groups is “racism” will appear just as quaint and irrational as it does for us to read older claims that the Sun orbits the Earth. The big difference is that once anti-Copernicanism had been discredited, the Western world was still much the same as before. If or when anti-racism has been scientifically discredited and it has been conclusively established that people really do have different levels of intelligence and capabilities, an entire civilization, the most creative and influential in human history, could in the meantime have been irreversibly destroyed through organized mass-stupidity.

Research by Rice University professor John Alford in 2008 found that identical twins were more likely to agree on political issues than were fraternal twins. He thinks that political scientists are too quick to dismiss genetics, and believes that genetics should be studied along with social influences. Alford’s research — and there are others studies with similar results — indicates that people who have a similar genetic make-up also think in similar ways.

Let us take this principle and apply it to entire societies: What if culture has a genetic component, perhaps even a powerful one? I am not a believer in genetic determinism as there are quite a few events in history that cannot be successfully explained by IQ or genes, but there are also many that can. Even if genes do not determine everything that does not necessarily mean that they don’t matter at all, yet the ruling ideology in the West today stipulates that everything is “socially constructed” and that all differences between groups of people are caused by prejudice and “racism,” by which is usually meant white racism only.

The case of the state of Israel is interesting. I have heard reports that it is difficult to integrate Ethiopian Jews in Israeli society. This could be because they have a part-African genetic profile which makes them too different from Middle Eastern or especially European Jews. If you postulate that any society cannot successfully absorb a substantial number of people with a radically different genetic profile, this will explain why Africans haven’t been integrated into the United States after living there for several centuries, longer than many European immigrants who were seamlessly assimilated. We could mention the case of the Gypsies, too, who come from India originally and have been living in Eastern and Central Europe for the better part of a thousand years (since the Late Middle Ages) but still aren’t integrated there.

One of our major problems today is what I would call binary thinking. In the binary system there are only ones and zeros, on and off. You cannot be anything in between, just like you cannot be slightly pregnant. When it comes to matters of IQ and genetic intelligence, the basic impulse among most Western academics is to make the entire subject taboo and denounce all those who touch it as “racists.” This is anti-scientific and should be rejected because of this.

On the other extreme you find those who attribute almost everything to genetic intelligence, which is simplistic. It wasn’t genetic changes that made medieval Italians create modern capitalism when Italians in the Roman era had never done the same, and it is unlikely that changes in IQ is the main reason why Scandinavians in the Viking Age were feared and respected as warriors yet are today considered feminized sissies. Western Europe by the early 1900s was the most powerful civilization on Earth and still ruled much of the planet. A century later the same region is weak and doesn’t even successfully rule its own suburbs. I seriously doubt that the average European IQ has drastically declined in the meantime. What happened is that the European spirit was broken, especially by two devastating wars and by the dysfunctional and dangerous Utopian ideologies that were unleashed in the process.

High IQ doesn’t automatically make you a more moral person. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany, definitely had very high intelligence, yet this only enabled him to implement evil more effectively. I sometimes wonder whether Europeans have become addicted to implementing destructive ideologies. In that case, high IQ won’t do us much good.

People with an IQ of 100 will always have a far greater potential for great achievements than people with an IQ of 80. To what extent that potential is realized or inhibited depends to a large extent on cultural factors. You can easily destroy the ability of high-IQ peoples to utilize their potential, but you cannot create additional potential for low-IQ peoples. North Korea can be made a poorer country than South Korea through Communism, but West Africans can never become pioneers in space exploration. Likewise, France and Germany have produced many of the greatest mathematicians in recorded history. Algeria and Turkey have produced virtually none. I seriously doubt whether France will continue to produce great mathematicians if it is populated by Algerians, or Germany if it is populated by Turks.

Yes, I know that there are many white Marxists and others who are hostile to Western civilization, and there are many non-whites who genuinely admire this civilization and want to preserve it. Culture does not always follow genes, but on the other hand it is questionable whether the two can be completely separated. What if culture is at least partly the product a specific group of people with a related genetic profile? What if cultural heritage cannot be totally separated from genetic heritage and that in order to preserve the former in any meaningful way you must also preserve the latter? If so, Western culture was historically the product of European peoples and can only be maintained by them. In that case, perhaps US President Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered as a transitional figure in the evolution of the USA from a Western to a non-Western country with a non-European majority.

While Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel contains some worthwhile parts, the overall conclusion is almost certainly wrong. You can just look at the state of California to disprove it. California was by the 1960s and 70s the economic engine of the USA and by the extension the world. By 2009 it is close to bankruptcy. The reason for this is not that the geography of California changed, nor its plants or animals to any significant degree. What changed was the demographic make-up of California. As long as it was predominantly inhabited by whites it was a dynamic region. As soon as it become inhabited by Mexicans and other lower-IQ Third World peoples it came increasingly to resemble a Third World region. Diamond is currently a Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), which means that he can see clearly that his theories are flawed just by looking out the window.

Jared Diamond is a poor and dishonest scientist for failing to seriously consider alternative hypotheses which sometimes explain observed reality better than his own. So why has he become so popular and influential? Because he gave the Western Multicultural elites exactly what they wanted to hear: People are equal, what matters is geography. This is an ideological green light for mass immigration of people from failed countries and cultures to the West. If you follow this logic to the extreme you should be able to swap the populations of, say, Japan and Kenya. Kenyans would then have access to all those magnificent Japanese plants and would therefore become much cleverer and would develop the next lines of high-tech cars for Toyota and Mitsubishi or sophisticated TVs for Sony. Personally, I don’t buy that idea. The experiences brought by non-Western immigration to Western cities so far indicate otherwise.

ICLA Tackles Fundamental Freedoms at the OSCE Meeting in Warsaw

OSCE Warsaw

Update: After consulting with its Finnish members, ICLA has corrected the text of its presentation on Jussi Halla-aho. The original text below has been struck through, but left in place.

The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) is meeting in Warsaw this week, and once again the International Civil Liberties Alliance is on hand to remind the other organizations represented there what liberty is all about.

This week’s emphasis is on implementing the “Human Dimension”, and yesterday’s session focused on “Fundamental Freedoms”. In their presentation, ICLA representatives pointed out where fundamental freedoms are at risk in Europe, as civil liberties are being rolled back, restricted, erode, and destroyed in many member states of the OSCE.

Here’s the complete report from ICLA on yesterday’s doings in Warsaw:

ICLA and allied organizations gather at OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

Warsaw, 29 September, 2009

ICLA and its allied organizations Pax Europa, Mission Europa and Wiener Akademikerbund attended today’s sessions on Fundamental Freedoms — including Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Religion or Belief — as well as a follow-up to the Vienna Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting. The afternoon session included topics on Freedom of Assembly and Association, Freedom of Movement, and others.

In activities surrounding the meeting, ICLA and its allied organizations worked to contribute to the broader debate and attempted to foster understanding and mutual respect between the counterjihad and other interested parties and stakeholders in these important areas of concern. ICLA officially issued the following statement at the meeting:

Use of intimidation to curb civil liberties

Recent cases in the OSCE area

We are concerned about the increasing use of intimidation to curb the exercise of civil liberties in the OSCE area. This covers fundamental liberties such as freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and, not least, freedom of expression. Here we present recent cases on the matter, and our recommendations for political initiatives to counter this trend.

Modern, secular society was built with centuries of relevant criticism of religion, in particular by questioning religious authority. No form of intimidation can make us abandon our fundamental values of critical thinking and free speech. We expect our institutions and elected politicians to protect these, to take the relevant precautions as well as any risks involved in doing so.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing a slow but steady decline in the state of civil liberties. This decline is to a great extent due to intimidations, threats or even violence from non-state actors, aided and abetted by our police, courts and other authorities not standing up to the challenges. We need to identify the new challenges and adapt our approaches, so that we are able to counter repressive activity from non-state actors and loosely organized groups in order to preserve freedom and diversity.

Dr. Jussi Halla-aho convicted for ‘incitement to hatred’ “breaching the sanctity of religion” at Finnish court

Dr. Jussi Halla-aho is a Helsinki city councilman, a linguist with a PhD in Slavic studies, and a web columnist who maintains a very popular (and controversial) blog called Scripta. He is best known for being a consistent critic of the problems created by mass immigration and multicultural policies in Finland. After his December 2008 election to the city council of Helsinki, he was accused of ‘racist writings’, due to an article he had written about the increasing number of rape cases by immigrants against Finnish women. The investigation was launched at the request of the Women’s organization of the Green Party, who filed a complaint concerning the last paragraph of text in a blog post of his, and sought the police to investigate to help determine whether the paragraph constitutes incitement to rape. This investigation was abolished on technical grounds, but later Jussi Halla-aho was convicted and fined for “breaching the sanctity of religion” and “inciting hatred against an ethnic group” This investigation was abolished on technical grounds. The court dismissed the charge of incitement to hatred against an ethnic group, but convicted and fined Dr. Halla-aho for “breaching the sanctity of religion” due to his critical articles about Islam.

Disrupting peaceful demonstration I

Copenhagen January 10th 2009

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On January 10th 2009, a legal and peaceful pro-Israel demonstration was held in the town square of Copenhagen, Denmark, in support of Israel against Hamas. Counter-demonstrators disrupted the demonstration with a siren, then assembled with shouts of “Heil Hitler”, “Kill the Jews “, “Allahu Akhbar” and more, accompanied by Hitler salutes. After the pro-Israel demonstration had ended, the pro-Palestine demonstration marched the square with shouts of “Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahoud, Jaish Muhammad sauf ya’ud “ (“Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return”), a reference to Muhammad’s violent assault on the Jewish settlement of Khaybar, Medina, and thus an implied threat of violence against Jews. Gülay Kocbay and Havva Kocbay participated in the counter-demonstration, using the siren and holding a speech. They were at the time members of the organisation Muslimer i Dialog (“Muslims in Dialogue”), but resigned due to the siren incident. The open display of anti-Semitism was not mentioned in their resignation announcement. Danish authorities investigated the matter, but decided not to press charges of racism, citing difficulties in identifying the participants.

Disrupting peaceful demonstration II

Copenhagen, August 28th 2009

In August 2009, SIOE organized a demonstration against plans for an Iranian-funded mosque in Copenhagen, Denmark, citing concerns that the mosque would be a front for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and that its real purpose was to enable the Iranian regime to keep track of dissidents and to radicalize Muslims in Denmark. The Danish authorities did not permit the demonstration at the desired location in Nørrebro, relegating it instead to be held in front of the Danish parliament. Here, left-wing radicals turned up in order to loudly disrupt the demonstration, and were successful in dissuading many from participating. When the SIOE organizers requested the police to call the counter-demonstration to order, the police officer cited “freedom of expression” as justification for not intervening against the disturbances.

Demonstration at Harrow mosque attacked by Muslims

Demonstration in Cologne obstructed by Antifa activists and Muslims

On 19 September 2008, an approved rally by citizens’ group Pro Köln to protest against the construction of a mosque complex to dwarf the cathedral of Cologne in Germany was brought to an abrupt end when the speaker system was pulled and the people who had managed to access the Heumarkt were besieged and surrounded by aggressive groups of black-clad Antifa activists. Many others who had wished to join the protest were prevented from reaching the rally and blocked at railway stations, or even physically assaulted. The rally was repeated on May 9th 2009 but not allowed to take place in central Cologne. Once again, the Pro-Köln supporters were subjected to harassment and abuse at the hands of Antifa activists and Muslims.

Wilders barred from entering the UK for ‘security reasons’

One of the most worrisome developments in the United Kingdom was the ban on entry for Dutch MP Geert Wilders, known for his short movie Fitna about Islam and terrorism. He was barred entry to the UK on grounds that his entry “would threaten community harmony and therefore public security”, even though Wilders has never advocated the use of violence or threatened anyone. On the other hand, Britain’s Muslim peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to protest Wilders’ appearance and the showing of Fitna in the British Parliament. Rather than reprimanding Muslim peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to protest Wilders’ appearance and the showing of Fitna in the British Parliament. Rather than reprimand Lord Ahmed for this act of intimidation, the British government chose to ban Wilders from entering Britain, returning him upon his arrival to Heathrow Airport. This constitutes not only giving in to intimidation, but is also an abuse of the law guaranteeing freedom of movement within the European Union.

Libel tourism as an assault on freedom of press

Libel tourism is the exploitation of poorly written libel laws in one country to silence critical voices in others. The libel laws of Great Britain have been used extensively for this purpose, due to the fact that the burden of proof in British law is reversed compared to comparable law in other countries. Under British law, an author or journalist sued for libel will have to prove his statements true in order to avoid sentence. Using this approach, persons with deep pockets can silence critical voices. Such a lawsuit was filed in a British court by Khalid Salim bin Mahfouz against American author Rachel Ehrenfeld for her 2003 book “Funding Evil”, even though the book was never published in Britain. Ms. Ehrenfeld was convicted a fine of $225,000 and destruction of her book. As a reaction, in order to protect freedom of press in the United States, US lawmakers passed legislation making the UK law unenforceable in the United States. This protects US authors, but not others. Relevant books, such as Alms for Jihad by Burr & Collins, have been withdrawn or even remained unpublished due to the fear of libel suits. Such books can be found published Samizdat-style on the Internet. The legal problem in Britain still exists, and publishers shy away from critical titles due to the risk of expensive lawsuits. In order to protect authors and journalists, and to live up to modern standards for freedom of press, British law needs to be amended.

Oriana Fallaci sued for ‘Defaming Islam’

In 2002 in Switzerland the Islamic Center and the Somal Association of Geneva, SOS Racisme of Lausanne, along with a private citizen, sued Italian author Oriana Fallaci for the allegedly “racist” content of The Rage and The Pride. In May 2005, Adel Smith, president of the Union of Italian Muslims, launched a lawsuit against Fallaci charging that “some of the things she said in her book The Force of Reason are offensive to Islam.” Smith’s attorney cited 18 phrases, most notably a phrase that referred to Islam as “a pool that never purifies.” Consequently an Italian judge ordered Fallaci to stand trial set for June, 2006 in Bergamo on charges of “defaming Islam.” The preliminary trial began on 12 June in Bergamo and on 25 June Judge Beatrice Siccardi decided that Oriana Fallaci should indeed stand trial beginning on 18 December. Fallaci accused the judge of having disregarded the fact that Smith called for her murder and defamed Christianity.

OIC seeks to censor art exhibition in Denmark

Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the most famous of the 12 Muhammad cartoons in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, has been living with around-the-clock police protection since a plot to assassinate him was uncovered on February 12th, 2008. This threat has not caused him to repent or apologize for his drawings, and he now proceeds to speak up for freedom of speech, and keeps drawing as well. On August 29th 2009, an exhibition of his latest drawings, including a reproduction of his famous Muhammad cartoon. The OIC spokesman said that the exhibition of the cartoon could incite hatred and intolerance and hurt the sentiments of Muslims worldwide, and wanted it removed. This, of course, is an implicit reference to the violent riots that took place in January/February 2006, a few months after the original publication of the cartoons. Kurt Westergaard, who at the age of 74 states that he is too old to worry about getting killed, refused to give in to intimidation and the exhibition proceeded as planned.

More attempts to shut down ‘offensive’ art exhibitions are listed here.

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Policy recommendations

The International Civil Liberties Alliance sees quite a lot of work ahead before our civil liberties are again sufficiently secured. Governments must be significantly more assertive and effective in protecting the liberties we have long taken for granted. To that end, we recommend the following:

  • The authorities must defend our civil liberties using whatever resources are necessary. Lack of equipment or fear of tying up police personnel is not a sufficient reason to abandon the fundamental obligation of the police to protect demonstrators, protesters, and all others who gather peacefully and legally in public.
  • The government must urgently revise British libel law. The burden of proof must be reversed to prevent misuse of these laws against authors and journalists, who must be free to conduct and publish investigative work without fear of frivolous and costly court cases.
  • Our leaders must make it clear that truth is an absolute defence. No matter how offensive it may feel to some, speaking verifiable truth must never be made punishable.
  • Lawmakers and courts must make it clear that criticism of religion does not constitute racism, and thus is not subject to punishment under any form of hate speech law. Furthermore, only individual may be defame. Defamation does not apply to religions or ideologies.
  • Laws which attempt to resolve conflict by banning expression of negative sentiment (‘hate speech’ laws) are legally problematic, because any such regulations are limitations on our fundamental liberties, and serve to cover up conflicts rather than to solve them. Such broad articles are subject to abuse, when authorities and courts come under pressure from various parties, as occurred with similar laws in the Soviet Union. Due to the dangers inherent in such laws, ICLA recommends that it is in the interest of our freedom to abolish such laws entirely.

In addition, statements were made by ICLA and Pax Europa during the plenary session of the working group on Fundamental Freedom.


Session 3 Freedom of Movement

The International Civil Liberties Alliance would like to raise the issue of Dutch MP Geert Wilders being denied entry into the United Kingdom earlier this year.

He was barred entry to the UK on grounds that his entry “would threaten community harmony and therefore public security”, even though he has never advocated the use of violence or threatened anyone. On the other hand, a member of the House of Lords, Lord Nazir Ahmed, threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to protest Mr Wilders’ appearance and the showing of his short film Fitna in the British Parliament. Rather than reprimanding Lord Ahmed for this act of intimidation, the British government chose to ban Mr Wilders from entering Britain, returning him to the Netherlands on his arrival at Heathrow Airport.

This constitutes not only giving in to intimidation, but is also in our opinion an abuse of the law guaranteeing freedom of movement within the European Union.

The International Civil Liberties Alliance therefore calls upon the OSCE to encourage Participating States to refrain from restricting movement on such whimsical and transparently politically-motivated grounds.

Pax Europa:

Session 3 Freedom of Assembly

Pax Europa would like to draw attention to the OSCE guidelines to Freedom of Assembly which specify that “The state has a positive duty to actively protect peaceful assemblies.” Furthermore, “the state is required to protect participants of a peaceful demonstration from any person or group that attempts to disrupt (…) it in any way.”

These guidelines were not adhered to during the peaceful demonstrations that took place in Copenhagen in January and August 2009.

In January, a legal and peaceful demonstration in support of Israel was disrupted by counter-demonstrators shouting “Heil Hitler” and “Kill the Jews” and other similar references. Danish authorities investigated the matter, but decided not to press charges of racism, citing difficulties identifying the participants.

In August, a demonstration against an Iranian-funded mosque was loudly disrupted by left-wing radicals, who were also successful in dissuading many from participating in the demonstration. A request to the police to call the counter-demonstration to order was fruitless when the police officer cited “freedom of expression” as justification for not intervening against the disturbances.

We call on the OSCE Participating States to ensure that the OSCE guidelines pertaining to Freedom of Assembly are adhered to by member governments in all instances, thereby ensuring the continued right to the very freedoms that make up democracy.

ICLA and its allied organizations remain committed to engaging in the OSCE process, in particular in the area of the Human Dimension.

Help Not Wanted

Cultural Enrichment News

For those who regularly read the cultural enrichment news, this is a familiar meme: male medical personnel who happen to be infidels are forbidden to minister to Muslim women by their husbands or other male relatives. Their filthy ape-and-pig hands must not touch the pure flesh of Muslimas.

But this incident in Australia has an unusual twist: it was a fellow white paramedic, and not the woman’s husband, who upbraided the good Samaritan and told him to leave. In other words: pre-emptive self-Islamization. Or voluntary dhimmitude; take your pick.

According to The Herald Sun:

Private Ambulance Crew Claim They Were Abused Trying to Help Baby

A PRIVATE ambulance crew who stopped at a major accident where a baby’s life was in the balance claim they were abused and ordered to leave the scene.

Rian Holden chanced on a Melton crash scene where eight people were injured after their people-carrier flipped on Sunday.

He said that he and his partner stopped to help Ambulance Victoria crews, who gladly accepted.

Mr Holden said paramedics were struggling to attend to all the injured — with both a mother and her child in a critical condition.

The private operator, who runs Event Medical Solutions, said he followed instructions of paramedics, helping move the child on to a spine board and administering first aid to others while his partner sat with an injured Muslim woman in traditional dress.

But Mr Holden said problems arose as he took the blood pressure and pulse rate of the injured woman.

Ambulance Victoria operations manager Paul Holman had ordered him to leave.

– – – – – – – –

“It was in bad taste,” Mr Holden said. “We copped a gob full of abuse. It makes you not want to do that in future.

“It’s all because he has a problem with me. Everyone was helping and we rendered basic first aid.”

Other trained medical professionals stopped at the scene, including two nurses, while bystanders sheltered the injured from high winds.

As helicopters transported the critically injured mother and child, police were asked to ensure Mr Holden left the site.

Mr Holden has written to Police and Emergency Minister Bob Cameron and to Ambulance Victoria chief executive officer Greg Sassella, demanding an apology.

But Ambulance Victoria’s Mr Holman said he was only short with the private operator because he had the welfare of patients on his mind.

He said one of the injured men was becoming irate that Mr Holden was treating his wife — that created a culturally sensitive situation.

“I don’t know him (Mr Holden) at all,” Mr Holman said.

“These people are Muslim. I asked him to get out of the ambulance, thanked him and asked him to leave.

“I was probably short because I had eight critically ill patients. I wasn’t in the mood to have a long conversation.

“He was asked to leave politely. And I did get the police to make sure he left.”

Mr Holman said he was concerned about Mr Holden’s credentials but insisted he had not been rude to him.

Who ministers to injured Muslim women in all-Muslim countries? Are there enough female paramedics to take care of them? Or do ambulance personnel just leave them by the side of the road to bleed to death?

Or maybe they give the husbands instructions: “Make sure that she doesn’t swallow her tongue. Now tie the tourniquet just above the knee…”

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.

Hat tip: Sean O’Brian.

Obama’s Mask

The video below is from the local Fox affiliate in D.C.

Eric Spiegelman, who posted this clever montage on Vimeo last week, says:

On Wednesday, the Obamas hosted a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, during which they stood for 130 photographs with visiting foreign dignitaries in town for the UN meeting. The President has exactly the same smile in every single shot. See for yourself – the pictures are up on the State Department’s flickr (link [here]). And, of course, compressed into 20 seconds for your viewing pleasure.

This is fascinating, in a weird kind of way. The mask of facial language says something but I’m not sure I want to know the message in this here particular example.

Would someone send it to Gagdad Bob at One Cosmos and get his take on it? As a forensic psychologist, he’d have something informative to add to any speculation we might make – though do speculate all you want. The more you examine it, the stranger this one gets. I hope Mr. Cosmos will venture at least a short post on the significance — or not — of this fey phenomenon.

This reminds me yet again…
– – – – – – – –
I wish Hillary had won the Democrat nomination; she’d probably have won the national vote, too.

Say what you will about her, Mrs. Clinton has a most animated visage. Just check her out on Google Images – her facial expressions are by turn thoughtful, funny, tired, delighted, outraged, sad, etc. One gets the sense that a real person inhabits her being. Not a real person that I’d ever want to cross, mind you, but she certainly is genuine in comparison to the President she serves.

I wonder how many years he spent in front of the mirror perfecting that smile. Probably more than he spent “writing” his books. Like John Kennedy’s authorship of Profiles in Courage, actually written by Ted Sorensen, Obie Wan’s autobiographical Dreams had a ghoster, too. Like Sorensen, Ayers wrote some of his own books, too (the style of which leads reasonable people to conclude he’s the author of Obie’s magnum opus). Unlike Sorensen, however, one of Ayers’ books was dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, Bobby Kennedy’s assassin.

A number of people question the President’s writing skills. Given the fact that the little available evidence of his previous writing shows a less-than-fluid style,the questioners are probably right. What would be useful is a computer analysis of the appearance of word frequency and syntax– you know, like the ones they’ve done endlessly on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets.

However, while it’s entertaining to expose the guy, traveling that road to definite proof would be a pyrrhic victory. The Obamaists will shrug their Gallic “So. Your point?” and move on. The moderates, that group of uncommitted voters who decide elections, don’t care. Conservative energies need to be harnessed to issues that matter, e.g., the socialist programs being rahmed down our throats.

We have a cabal of maroons leading us into a quagmire designed to destroy the middle class and the small entrepreneur. If they succeed at imposing even half their failure-based programs, the U.S. will become the North American Argentina.

Meanwhile, this public demonstration of Obama’s mask is a small entertainment to distract us as we amble on down the road of good intentions to our fatal destination.

A prediction: our raucous American humor is going to develop a Russian flavor before long. This is the kind of dark humor born of despair. Funny as hell, but as deeply dysphoric, also.

Want to hear my favorite Russian joke?

Hat tips galore to the many readers who sent this in.

Reduced Circumstances

Further update: Japan has checked in. Thank you, first donor from Japan!

Also Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands yet again.

In the USA: California, and right here in central Virginia.

Update from Dymphna: Fundraising, The Final Day

Reduced circumstancesThat phrase has always intrigued me: “reduced circumstances”. It sounds British, but it could also be from the American South. Lord knows after Sherman created that swath of destruction everyone was living in “circumstances” much reduced from what they remembered. When I travel the back roads of the Carolinas or Georgia, I wonder if the South ever managed to entirely recover from Sherman’s depredations.

So here we are, living in reduced circumstances in Eden. The Baron came here first and it was he who named our house when he moved in. After living in the fast lane in Northern Virginia – there isn’t a slow lane in NoVa – this place seemed Edenic to him.

And it is. We had peaches and pears in abundance this year, without having to tend them at all. Also crab grass, but as the Baron likes to remind me, Eden is never perfection. This is Eden… afterwards.

Our reduced circumstances are the same ones facing millions of other Americans and, just as they are doing, we’ll weather them somehow. The only obstacle is Obama. Come to think of it, his program is beginning to resemble the strategy of General Sherman.

Today we wrap up our bleg. Things were slower, but donors continued to arrive, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart:

Upstate New York
California (it’s now the “I told you so!” state for me)
Arkansas, right where it meets Tennesee
Florida again – thanks y’all

The Netherlands
Hungary – our first donation from there!
UK – one final time.

Gratias plena to all of you who showed up during the past week. Your generosity will help us to make it through the end of 2009.

We will muddle on through and let you all know if our circumstances fatten up any. In fact, y’all will be the first to know!

And now this post can finally mosey on down the page with all the rest…

Update from Dymphna: Fundraising, Day Six

Fallen from grace…

Fallen from grace…or maybe just fallen from the saddle.

Whatever. Either way, we’re sitting here on the hard cold ground of reality counting our blessings.

In our case, enumerated among them would be our contributors. Y’all have really been generous to Gates of Vienna during this fund drive.

Anyone who didn’t receive a response for your gift let me know. We’ve had a few bounces, one from San Francisco and one that looks like it may be from France. The intent of that latter email isn’t immediately obvious.

Today, the Canadians came by again…and again. For the first time since I remember, the Canadians have been more numerous than the Texans.

There were some cowboys, of course. I hope the generosity they display is an indication of good times to come in the Lone Star state.

Norway was represented today. The Baron tells me this donor is further north than usual. I wonder if they’ve had their first frost yet (I never looked forward to a killing frost before but we’ve been infested with crab grass and that stuff is hard on my eyes). I do hope the Norwegians come in honor of Fjordman. There’s no one else like him.

More Virginia donors, too, and a few from Illinois. The former are particularly welcome since it’s like a letter from home. The latter reassure me that not all is lost in Obama country.

California continues to prove me wrong. My original thought, starting out, was that we wouldn’t hear much from them. Whowee, was I ever wrong! Thanks, all of y’all for being so generous in the face of my doubts.

Florida is California’s rival, and some crackers hit the tip cup today, thankyouverymuch. It’s nice to hear from people in the Panhandle (that’s west Florida, though both parts of my home state look like panhandles). For those who’ve never been there, out a ways past the state capitol starts what is known as the “Redneck Riviera”.

Some “show me” donors from Missouri gave to our fundraiser (The “show me” part is a reference to Missourians who don’t take your word for it: they want to see the evidence. In today’s political climate, that sure is a good idea).

And hello, Arkansas. You know who you are.

Last but not least, thanks to the citizens of Oz who arrived today, all looking a bit dusty. Given the dust storms and the aftermath, it was especially encouraging to hear from y’all.

Update from Dymphna: Fundraising, Day Five

Heavens, it certainly doesn’t seem like five days… except perhaps when I consult my gluteus maximus.

Shanty IrishSince traffic is slower on weekends, I thought for sure the donations would be also. However, that turned out not to be the case. Again, our donors showed up from nearly all over. I say “nearly” because it’s a rare day when the Texans don’t come by. No doubt some were at church, some were gardening, and others were sleeping off the events of Saturday night?

Here’s our travel log for today:

Illinois, at least three times. Obama’s home state made a fine showing. One thank you note bounced, so if anyone from Illinois didn’t get a response, please let me know.

Michigan, more than once, but I may be leaving someone out. We’ve never heard from anyone in the Upper Peninsula; somehow I can’t picture them being much interested in lower Michigan, much less matters European. In fact, the U.P. has been muttering about secession for years. It sure is another world by the waters of Gitchigumi. For obvious reasons, when the Finns came to America, they congregated there.

Californians are still hitting the tip cup, so I’ll have to eat my words about California being true-blue. They’re obviously not monolithic. Yesterday, one donor said their son had been a liberal in his freshman year at Berkeley but grew increasingly conservative as he moved through school. That gives us hope. Maybe there will be more movement to the right as the large unionized state bureaucracy starts to fissure.

The New Yorkers have arrived in greater abundance, too.

For our European readers, these three states – Michigan, California, and New York – are being slammed with high taxes and a net loss of residents as people head for the door. Conditions are dire in all of them, so it’s cheering when they come by.

We heard from Maine for the first time and from tah dah! Washington, D.C. Both are such Democrat strongholds that one never expects to see them at the Gates. Things are kicking up in Maine, though: the hippies are ageing out and a newer, younger group will be in charge…eventually.

Several Virginians put in appearances, too, with (as they say around here) right nice donations. Thanks, y’all.

And a previous donor from North Carolina returned with money and praises. Come to think of it, we’ve had a number of previous donors. Cool. And even cooler are the nice things they say.

From Europe, we had Brits in abundance. You’d never know there was a downturn in the economy to see the numbers of donors from the UK.

Ireland and Australia were here, too. However, like the Texans, the Canadians were doing other things with this lovely Sunday.
– – – – – – – –
Perhaps both will return tomorrow, as offices open up again for the things we do in cubicles where the boss can’t see us. Hmm…I wonder if Gates of Vienna is blocked in government offices yet? I dearly hope not, since government workers are beginning to become the largest segment of the still-employed.

We shall continue, faithful readers, in our genteel squalor reminiscent of the days after the Late Unpleasantness. As long as the electric grid remains intact, however, we won’t have to go back but part way.

Mediterranean AvenueUpdate from the Baron: Fundraising, Day Four

Well, our flatiron won’t get us to a hotel on Boardwalk anytime soon, but, thanks to our readers’ generosity, we get to keep our house here on Mediterranean Avenue.

As a matter of interest — how long has it been since first class U.S. postage was actually 32¢? It seems very recent…

Today’s roll call includes Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, and at least two from Illinois.

From the Near Abroad, Canada checked in several times, including British Columbia.

Then there was Dublin — the real one, in Eire.

More from France, and a lot from the UK — Dymphna (who is keeping track for me) says the British were in the lead today.

Thank you all for opening your hearts and your wallets for us. May you draw a Get Out of Jail Free card!

Friday’s Update from Dymphna: Day Three of the Bleg

Top of the Hole, eh what??

I’ve been reading a bit of post-Second World War P.G. Wodehouse. This period of his writing is still amusing, but it’s bittersweet, too, as Wodehouse depicts England’s upper class coming to terms with the new socialism and ruination by taxes. Before the war, Bertie Wooster was timeless and Edwardian. But afterwards… reality caught up with Mr. Wodehouse as the upper class began to be obliterated.

In the first novella, Bertie is off-stage in a school that teaches gentlemen to darn their own socks and otherwise learn living skills. Thus, Jeeves is on loan to another feckless soul, Lord Towcester (pronounced “Toaster”).

Castle ruinsIt is the usual Wodehouse pretzel of a plot, but it resonates nicely with our situation. Fortunately, we are not being forced to sell the crumbling family manse to a rich American. Heh. Our manse may crumble, but that is its permanent state. This condition is not merely existential, as would be the case with an ancient castle complete with chapel and a damp river running too nearby. No, our castle suffers from its humble antecedents and thus presents with a kind of congenital dishabille. The old place was born skewed and out of kilter. Still, it must have been loved from its very beginnings. You can tell.

To the rescue today rode a veritable posse of donors, spread across the globe. Of course there were the Swedes, a Norwegian, some Danes, and Brit or two, plus the Netherlands and someone from the real Vienna. That’s quite a plus.

Canadians popped up and for heaven’s sake, the Californians were on hand in abundance this time. An old friend of GoV, from Washington state was among the repeats. So there, I was wrong about the left coast, hmm? One donor rightly took me to task for that generalization.

A Michigander who’d last given in 2006 reappeared for another go and someone from Mizzippi, who’d given in the previous quarter tipped the cup again. Thanks!

A lone New Englander from New Hampshire tipped the cup. And, no, it wasn’t Mark Steyn. Where is he, by the way?

My big surprise was a donation from someone in my old hometown, Jacksonville, Florida. The place has grown from the small southern city it once was it was into a massive sprawl. Our donor lives in an area that was scrub palmetto and sandburs when I was growing up. Still, it was home for many years and I was inordinately pleased to receive Jax’s gift.

One of the Canadians said:

I just wanted to mention that I am forever stumbling upon references to Gates of Vienna on other blogs. You have an influence that goes far beyond the number of direct visitors to your site. It’s simply one more reason why it is so important to donate to your site — you are an Anti-Islamic force multiplier!

Thanks for another quarter of thought-provoking reading and I hope the worst is soon over for you and the Baron.

From your keyboard to G-d’s eyes, my friend.

Update from the Baron: Fundraising, End of Day Two

Our readers have once again earned their reputation for open-handed generosity. You all made the tip cup plink almost continuously all day long, and kept Dymphna so busy writing her thank-you notes that she wore her fingers out.

Bread line 2In the Far Abroad, we heard from Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, and the UK.

In the USA, Texas was front and center once again. We also heard from California, Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and the Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy, more commonly known as “Northern Virginia”.

There were probably some other places represented in these gifts that I have forgotten. If so, y’all can reprimand me in the comments.

The way this is going, it looks like we will probably be able to skate by for a bit longer. We’re grateful to each and every person who has contributed so far.

Update from Dymphna: Fundraising, End of Day One

The best part of our fund-raising ventures is finding donations from so many different places. Thus far, we have Denmark, the UK, and Australia, all of them from several locations in each country.

On the North American continent, from the vast reaches of Canada we received donations across its breadth (not reaching as far as Vancouver this time, but I’ll have you know we’ve heard from that bastion of the left on several occasions in the past).

Bread line 1The U.S. is always led by Texans, though the very first donation this time around was from New Mexico. Las Cruces looks beautiful, doesn’t it?

Besides the Texans and the Texans, we have donors in the Midwest, the South, and the Upper Plains. No one has checked in from the Northwest, but one brave soul from New England came by with his donation.

Americans know that our coastlines on both sides are bastions of blue, so when someone shows up from either coast, it’s encouraging. I’ll always cherish the donation we received from Berkeley one year. Amazing. The poor donor had absolutely no one to talk to so he had to stay underground when it came to political opinions.

What ever happened to America the Free? I think it was mugged by ACORN and George Soros.

By the way, I’ll be answering those who’ve given me advice about treatments for narcolepsy and fibromyalgia, but not till after the fund-raising is over. If any of your suggestions work even a little, that will be the best gift of all!

22 September

Yes, it’s that time again…

Giving almsAs long as our own personal economic crisis persists, we’ll continue to throw a fundraiser roughly once a quarter. The generosity of our readers is what keeps Dymphna and me afloat, and for that we are deeply grateful.

The response to our “Hard Times” fundraiser back in June was heartening. Some readers signed up for the monthly subscription option, which is an expression of trust: a subscriber likes what he’s reading and is confident that there will be more where that came from.

And so there will be more, much more, given our dedicated corps of tipsters, translators, and contributors. These volunteers do a top-notch job of providing relevant in-depth content for our site. We are pleased to be the American portal for Europe’s crises.

Times are tough for a lot of people right now, and the employment situation here in the USA is likely to get worse before it gets better. Have you heard about our jobless recovery, especially for white men?

Our own circumstances are made more difficult by Dymphna’s medical condition, which limits my choices of what jobs I could possibly take — even if such jobs were available.

Tip jarDymphna is mostly unable to get out of the house now, and when she does travel, I have to be her chauffeur — a job she calls “Driving Miss Dymphna”.

The problem with Fibromyalgia is that a person can “look” so well, and yet be unable to function. It has been described as a “soft-tissue” rheumatism. FM can strike at any age, though it affects more women than men. Dymphna knows a young basketball coach who was diagnosed with this condition, and was forced to retire with a disability. Some doctors have decided that Dymphna has narcolepsy, too, but the treatments for it make other conditions worse. The medication is frightfully expensive, so she hoards it for “have-tos”, e.g. the doctor, the dentist, etc. Ironically, the remedies she is given seem to require more remedies for their side-effects.

When you ask Dymphna what the worst thing is about this disorder (besides the pain), she says that, in the long run, it narrows a person’s ability to function, and she has to accept that she is no longer dependable.

So she saves up her energy for special occasions — trying to visit her children and grandchildren, attending two local tea parties, paying a visit to our congressman’s office to beard the beast in his lair — but most of the time she has to stay at home. Outside exertions, even trips to the doctor, are energy-consuming. Dymphna is not bedridden, but things aren’t easy, which means that a lot of the routine chores (including such efforts at housekeeping as I can manage) fall to me.

All of the above makes it problematic to seek work that would require me to be away from home for any significant length of time. Since we live in the middle of nowhere — heck, we have to drive fifteen or twenty miles just to get to nowhere — that limits me to part-time work, telecommuting, or working very close to home. Moving closer to town is not affordable. We chose where we live because it was inexpensive.

The wolf at the doorWith the modest amount of piecework I’ve managed to find over the last three months, plus the generosity of our readers (and our savings), we can eke out a subsistence if we’re very careful. Our circumstances are not a bad way to live. We have no debt, our house is paid for, and I drive a clunker (which they’ll have to pry out of my cold dead hands). I consider myself fortunate to have the options that I do.

Our station in life has fallen to a more modest level, but we’ve kept the wolf from the door — so far.

Once again, I’d like to thank everybody who has helped us.

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The tip cup is on our sidebar to the left, as is a subscription button which opens up to a $10-per-month plan via Paypal. Each of these options leads to a “Natural Intelligence of Central Virginia” screen, which is the name we use for our business account.

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/29/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/29/2009In Ireland, the campaigners for a “no” vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum maintain that the European Commission has broken the law by funding a campaign to promote a “yes” vote in Ireland. The EC spent £139,000 to produce a 16-page booklet that was inserted in Irish newspapers.

In other news, a housewife in Malaysia was amazed to discover the word “Allah” on a piece of meat that she was preparing for dinner. She decided not to eat the meat, and instead will dry it to use for medicinal purposes.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, McR, Perla, Steen, TB, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
– – – – – – – –

Financial Crisis
Economy: Turkey; Erdogan, ‘We Will Grow Without IMF’
FDIC Insurance Plan is No Long-Term Solution
Japan: Prices and Employment Plunge as Fear of Deflation Grows
Texas Ranks Nearly Last in Getting Stimulus Funds
ACORN’s Man in the White House
Andy Williams Accuses Barack Obama of Following Marxist Theory
Attorney: Oklahoma City Bomb Tapes Appear Edited
Convicted Felons Could be Working in Your Mother or Father’s Nursing Home
Mass Psychosis of the Radical Left
NYC Police Covering Up Assault by Iran Official?
Obama’s Globalism: ‘We Are the World’
Stakelbeck: Scenes From the Muslim Prayer Rally in DC
Stanford Being Moved From Site of Texas Jail Fight
The Socialist Strategy
Europe and the EU
Barmy Britain Through the Looking Glass
Denmark: Oprah Wants Only the Happiest
Elite Swedish Soldiers Blow Up Wrong House
EU Intervention in Irish Referendum ‘Unlawful’
French Actor Cécile Cassel Shocked by ‘Hijack’ of Film by Italy’s Far Right
Ireland: Almost 9,000 Operations Cancelled Since January
Ireland: Media Manipulation — Verhofstadt Style
Sweden: Police Probe Serb Ties to Helicopter Heist
UK: Don’t be Taken in by Brown — He’s a Brazen Hypocrite
UK: Union to Use Barack Obama’s Election Tactics in 50 Key Labour Seats
UN Body Designates Swedish Dialect a ‘Threatened Language’
North Africa
Training Scholars or Breeding Terrorists?
Israel and the Palestinians
Barak Sought for Alleged ‘War Crimes’
Jerusalem: Yom Kippur, Tensions on Temple Mount
Middle East
5 More Nuke Plants Spotted in Iran
Bias Exposed in Turkish Education
Book Excerpt: ‘Iran Threatens Our Survival’
Books: Samir Kassir, History of Beirut, Plural City
Energy: Turkey: Gas Storage Necessary for Country’s Future
Environment: Jordan and Syria to Meet Over Water Dispute
Pakistan: Al-Qaeda Leader’s Son Sent to Saudi Arabia
Terrorism: Hizballah’s Brand is Tarnished
South Asia
Malaysian Villagers Amazed by “Allah Meat”
Orissa: Hindu Extremism Behind the Bomb at the Christian Refugee Camp
Swede Held in Pakistan ‘Refuses to be Released’: Official
Face of Tesco is an Illegal Immigrant
In Calais, Migrants Are Once Again Roaming the Streets
Norway: Rapes by Immigrants in Oslo Out of Control
Culture Wars
Death of the West: Our Sexual Identity Crisis
‘Safe Schools’ Chief Encouraged Child Sex With Older Man
Sunstein: Governments Must Fund Abortion
Islam and Honor Killings

Financial Crisis

Economy: Turkey; Erdogan, ‘We Will Grow Without IMF’

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 18 — Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, announced that the Mid-Term Program is being prepared without adding IMF sources to calculations, daily Sabah reported. “We are trying to stand on our own two feet and have no intentions of walking with a cane”, Erdogan declared during his opening speech at the Istanbul Congress Center, which will host both the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings in October. “We have not calculated our growth objectives according to funds that may be sourced by the IMF. All calculations were made according to our current standing. All of our mid-term program efforts are being conducted accordingly”, the Prime Minister said.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

FDIC Insurance Plan is No Long-Term Solution

WASHINGTON (AP) — A plan that regulators proposed Tuesday to have banks prepay $45 billion in insurance premiums won’t provide a long-term fix for the shrinking fund that insures bank deposits.

But the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s proposal would spare ailing banks the immediate cost of an alternative idea: paying an emergency fee for the second time this year. And most banks would likely be able to prepay their premiums without having to reduce lending to businesses and consumers.

Regulators said they expect the cost of bank failures to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years — up from an estimate of $70 billion earlier this year. Faced with that sobering news, they voted to require banks to prepay $45 billion in premiums to replenish an insurance fund that will start running dry on Wednesday.

The FDIC board’s proposal to require early payments of premiums for 2010-2012 could take effect after a 30-day public comment period. Depositors’ money is guaranteed — up to $250,000 per account — by the FDIC. It would be the first time the agency has required prepaid insurance fees.

The increased loss estimate underlines the short-term nature of the prepayment solution. The agency will be able to continue paying depositors when banks fail. But banks will have to pay tens of billions more in coming years to keep the fund solvent.

Still, the shortfall won’t likely make it harder for consumers and businesses to get loans. Most banks still have adequate funds available for lending. In a sluggish economy, fewer people and businesses are seeking loans. And investors wary of stocks and bonds have funneled more of their deposits to banks.

“What the FDIC is effectively doing is borrowing from the banking industry, and they can afford it,” said independent banking consultant Bert Ely.

The FDIC’s plan would draw on banks’ ready cash. Instead of charging them a one-time fee that would deplete their capital reserves, it would spread the costs of the refunding over three years.

But the expected cost of hundreds more bank failures means banks will likely face higher premiums and more fees in the long run.

“Any way you slice it, the banking industry will pay the cost of these failures over time,” said James Chessen, chief economist with the American Bankers Association. “It will be a burden that healthy banks will have to shoulder over the next seven or eight years.”

Banks pay for the deposit insurance program through regular premiums. The fund has been sapped by a rash of bank failures since mid-2008. Without additional special fees or increases in regular premiums, the insurance fund — at $10.4 billion at the end of June — will become “significantly negative” next year and could remain in deficit until 2013, the FDIC now projects.

Ninety-five banks have failed so far this year as losses have mounted on commercial real estate and other soured loans amid the most severe financial climate in decades. That has cost the fund about $25 billion, the FDIC said Tuesday.

The $10.4 billion already was the fund’s lowest point since 1992, at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. That is equivalent to 0.22 percent of insured deposits, below a congressionally mandated minimum of 1.15 percent.

Most of the $100 billion in costs are expected to come from failures this year and next, the agency said. –

Given those rising costs, some analysts said increased premiums or another fee are inevitable.

“You pull this forward once, but if the gap is large, you’ll have to charge (an extra fee) anyway,” said Jaret Seiberg, an analyst with Concept Capital’s Washington Research Group.

Banks are limited in their lending by the amount of capital they hold in reserve. Capital provides a cushion to protect against loan defaults and other losses. Banks that lack enough capital can’t extend new credit.

Some banks have had to tighten lending since the financial crisis struck because regulators say their capital buffers are too low. The FDIC plan preserves bank capital by spreading the cost of replenishing the fund over three years. Because the fees were expected, banks’ long-term financial outlook doesn’t change.

The agency had considered several options for propping up the fund. They included tapping a $100 billion credit line at the Treasury Department, or charging banks a special fee for the second time this year.

The Treasury plan would have raised bank premiums in the long run as the agency paid down its debt. A one-time fee would have drawn down banks’ capital abruptly. That would have limited their ability to lend and endangered banks that are already short on cash.

“What the FDIC has realized is that another special assessment like that would do more harm than good,” Chessen said.

The plan the FDIC settled on amounts to an “early collection” of money the fund would need over the next three years, Seiberg said. He called the move a “one-time accounting gimmick.”

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said it struck “a good balance,” requiring the banking industry “to step up” while spreading the cost over a number of years.

An insurance payment by the industry of $45 billion “is not going to constrain lending,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

Japan: Prices and Employment Plunge as Fear of Deflation Grows

Consumer prices dropped 2.4 per cent in August, a record since 1971. Fears grow that lower demand might lead to further cuts in production and more job losses, setting in motion a deflationary spiral.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Core consumer prices excluding fresh food, which have been falling since March, dropped 2.4 per cent in August from a year ago, a record since 1971, compared to a 2.2 per cent decline in July. Much of this drop reflects last year’s peak in oil costs when crude reached an unprecedented US$ 147.27 a barrel in July to drop more than 50 per cent since then.

Even excluding food and energy, consumer prices fell 0.9 percent in August, the same pace as July, which was the sharpest decline in seven years?

This drop reflects the decline in overall consumer spending, a consequence of a record jobless rate of 5.8 per cent.

Even though the GDP rose 0.9 per cent after various months of decline, consumers are still unwilling to spend more

While most developed economies in the world are expected to battle with inflation in the coming months, deflation in Japan is likely to persist into 2010 because of weak consumer demand, excess capacity and strength of the yen, this according to David Cohen at Action Economics in Singapore.

Yesterday, the yen rose to an eight-month high of 88.22 against the dollar after Hirohisa Fujii, Japan’s finance minister, indicated that Tokyo would not intervene to stem its recent rise. It fell to 90.07 this morning.

The business community is concerned about recent announcement by the new ruling Democratic Party government to suspend parts of a Y 15,000 billion economic stimulus package and by the worsening export demand, which could undermine the real health of the economy.

For the new government increasing domestic demand is crucial. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised cash transfers to families with children, toll-free highways and income supplements for farmers.

By holding back the recovery and hiring, lower demand is cutting into families’ purchasing power. “As households’ spending power falls, there’s concern that this deflation will lead to further deflation—in other words, that we’ll enter into a deflationary spiral,” said Kyohei Morita, chief economist at Barclays Capital in Tokyo.

Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa said that this month prices would continue to fall for “some time.” But the Central bank noted that the economy showed “signs of recovery,” partly because of a lower lending rate.

Other experts are more optimistic. For them, lower consumer demand is due to consumer expectations that prices might drop further. Shortly however, consumers should start spending again.

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

Texas Ranks Nearly Last in Getting Stimulus Funds

WASHINGTON — Texas has received less funding per resident from the stimulus package so far than almost any other state, according to a Dallas Morning News analysis of federal grants and contracts.

Texas lawmakers have long complained about one reason for the disparity: Federal funding formulas, often written by small-state lawmakers, disadvantage big states like Texas.

But Texas is also a victim of its own thrift: With fewer research universities, less subsidized housing, and a smaller contribution to programs like Medicaid and unemployment insurance, it stands to receive less emergency funds than if it spent more of its own money on the programs.

“If you are looking for benefits, you don’t move to Texas,” said Sherri Greenberg, an expert in public finance at the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs.

The $787 billion stimulus flows through a variety of established channels — tax credits, student loans, Social Security checks, highway contracts and dozens of other programs. The law devoted extra funds to entitlements like Medicaid, and lawmakers extended safety nets for unemployment insurance and subsidies for COBRA, which allows workers to maintain their group health coverage if they leave or lose their jobs.

Texas has been approved for about $12.9 billion in stimulus grants and contracts, not including the estimated $4.2 billion that Texans received through the law’s main individual tax credit, according to federal estimates.

But adjusted for population, the state’s share of stimulus grants — about $533 per person — ranks 49th among 50 states, according to data reported by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board. Alaskans have received $1,377, while New Yorkers have gotten $873, and Californians netted $677.

Medicaid limits

One reason for the difference is Medicaid, which accounts for 63 percent of stimulus outlays so far. New York has received $4.7 billion for its program, and California has gotten $4.3 billion. Texas has received $1.9 billion, according to a News analysis of stimulus grant data.

Most low-income, childless Texans can’t get Medicaid, and advocates complain the state does a poor job of signing up all children who qualify. About 17 percent of Texans are enrolled in Medicaid, compared with 27 percent in New York and 29 percent in California, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The fact that Texas is 50th out of 50 states in terms of children and adults insured for health care, that has not only hurt those families, it has cost us billions of federal dollars,” said U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, a Waco Democrat who supported the stimulus. “That, along with the decision to reject $550 million in unemployment stimulus funding, certainly hurt the funding totals for Texas.”

Texas lawmakers gave up $565 million in stimulus funds when they decided not to make changes to the unemployment benefits program. To get the stimulus funds, states had to expand their program to reach more unemployed workers, including those who seek only part-time work. Only 20 percent of unemployed Texans received unemployment benefits during the second quarter of 2008, the second-lowest rate among states, according to the National Employment Law Project.

Most Republicans scoff at the notion that Texas is losing out on the stimulus. Gov. Rick Perry says accepting some funds, like the unemployment money, would require changes that would make the state less competitive.

“Texans are kind of sick of having Washington take their money in the form of all these taxes and fees and what have you, and then dribbling it back to them — and particularly, dribbling it back to them with all these strings attached,” Perry said.

But not all funds come with strings attached.

The stimulus provided $8.2 billion to the National Institutes of Health to award research projects performed by universities, nonprofits and businesses. An additional $2.5 billion went to the National Science Foundation for science and engineering projects. Texas lags in this category, too. Its universities and companies have won far fewer stimulus-funded research grants than states such as California, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania.

So far, California universities have landed about $453 million in stimulus grants and contracts for special projects, compared with $161 million for New York schools, $110 million in Pennsylvania, and $91 million in Texas, according to a News analysis of NIH data.

The University of California at Berkeley, the flagship school of the California system, has been awarded more than $204 million in stimulus grants and contracts, much of it from the Energy Department.

The University of Texas at Austin has won grants and contracts worth $22 million. Four years ago, UT lost a bid to host the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Los Alamos has been awarded $132 million in Energy Department stimulus funds.

“That disparity is pretty dramatic,” said state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, chairman of the Texas House’s Higher Education Committee. “We have to do a better job of getting our percentage of these billions of dollars of grants.”

Housing subsidies

Texas is also lagging behind in stimulus funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Much of HUD’s early awards have gone to a program that subsidizes rents for low-income tenants. Texas has far less housing in the program than it once did, after more than 150 properties left the program during the late 1990s, according to the National Housing Trust.

With a lower unemployment rate than other states, Texas could be at a disadvantage to win billions in competitive grants that are symbols of the Obama administration’s green jobs strategy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu said high-unemployment states are likely to win more of his department’s competitive stimulus grants because of their abundance of vacant, cheap real estate and a trained workforce.

Businesses “see this vacuum — you still have the workforce there, you still have the factories, so in a certain sense, it’s being backfilled with the new energy opportunities in those areas,” Chu said. “In large part, it sort of automatically” gravitates to areas of high unemployment, he said.

Most of the law’s competitive grants — which are supposed to improve infrastructure and create jobs — have yet to be awarded. The city of Dallas applied for more than 20 competitive grants. So far, it’s won four of them, including $9 million to hire and fund 50 police officers for three years.

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said the competitive grant process has gone too slowly, arguing that many stimulus-funded jobs will be created after the recession ends. “There is a real concern that a lot of the dollars are going to be spent when it’s a different economic environment,” Leppert said.

Texas-based projects are starting to benefit from competitive grants, including a South Texas wind farm that was awarded $114 million in cash assistance from the Energy Department.

Oncor, the Dallas-based power line company, is seeking more than $327 million, including $200 million to help customers pay for smart meters. If the company wins the grant, it would probably reduce customers charges for the meters, which help people conserve electricity and may enable them to save money on electric bills.

“The Department [of Energy] is looking for some projects that are viable and up and running,” said Jim Greer, an Oncor senior vice president. “I think they’d like to have a viable project that they can get behind and show this can actually work and show some leadership.”

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]


ACORN’s Man in the White House

Newly discovered evidence shows the radical advocacy group ACORN has a man in the Obama White House.

This power behind the throne is longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard. He holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush’s White House.

Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis’s political director in New York.

Lewis, the current “chief organizer” or CEO of ACORN, was head of New York ACORN from at least 1994 through 2008, when she took over as national leader of ACORN. With Gaspard at work in the White House, Lewis might as well be speaking to President Obama through an earpiece as he goes about his daily business ruining the country.

Erick Erickson of the website RedState recently did an excellent job explaining the relationship of Gaspard to Lewis and President Obama so I won’t take up space here recalling all his valuable insights. Suffice it to say Erickson reported that Gaspard figures prominently in Lewis’s rolodex, which Erickson has in his possession.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Andy Williams Accuses Barack Obama of Following Marxist Theory

Williams had a less favourable opinion of the current president. “Don’t like him at all,” he said, “I think he wants to create a socialist country. The people he associates with are very Left-wing. One is registered as a Communist. “Obama is following Marxist theory. He’s taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.” Politicians, media personalities and conservative activists have accused the US president of espousing socialist ideas. Earlier this month, Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party in Florida, said he was “absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology”, after the US leader appeared in a televised address to be shown in classrooms around the country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Attorney: Oklahoma City Bomb Tapes Appear Edited

OKLAHOMA CITY — Long-secret security tapes showing the chaos immediately after the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building are blank in the minutes before the blast and appear to have been edited, an attorney who obtained the recordings said Sunday.

“The real story is what’s missing,” said Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City attorney who obtained the recordings through the federal Freedom of Information Act as part of an unofficial inquiry he is conducting into the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people and injured hundreds more.


“Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence,” Trentadue said.

He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because “they had run out of tape” or “the tape was being replaced.”

“The interesting thing is they spring back on after 9:02,” he said. “The absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn’t want anybody to see.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Convicted Felons Could be Working in Your Mother or Father’s Nursing Home

Florida seniors and disabled adults too frail to live on their own have been beaten, neglected and robbed by caregivers with criminal records.

A cancer patient at a Pompano Beach assisted living facility watched helplessly from bed as a nurse’s aide with a record for theft rifled through her handbag and stole $165.

“What are you doing with my bag?” a police report quoted her as saying. “You have no right. Put it down.”

A video camera caught an aide at a North Miami Beach group home for the disabled shoving a cerebral palsy patient face-first to the floor, busting her lip. The aide had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and never should have been working there.

More than 3,500 people with criminal records — including rape, robbery and murder — have been allowed to work with the elderly, disabled and infirm through exemptions granted by the state the past two decades, a Sun Sentinel investigation found. Hundreds more slipped through because employers failed to check their backgrounds or kept them on the job despite their criminal past.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mass Psychosis of the Radical Left

Far be it for me to play armchair shrink here, but the more I see how the modern leftist mind works, the more I am convinced that there is a very real mental disorder in play.

For years I thought that radical leftists in the U.S. were just ill-informed, morally bankrupt children of the ‘60s, born with pot, acid, party barbiturates or heroin coursing through their veins.

I thought they were just well indoctrinated by yesteryears’ draft dodgers become Ivy League Law professors or anti-American ACLU legal hacks. But the closer I look at their consistent behavioral patterns, the more I become convinced that there is a mass psychosis involved.

[Return to headlines]

NYC Police Covering Up Assault by Iran Official?

Member of Ahmadinejad’s entourage at U.N. allegedly attacked protester

The New York City Police Department is covering up an alleged assault on a protester by a member of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s entourage, claims an attorney who just days ago served the radical Middle East leader with notice of a lawsuit over his terror campaign.

Larry Klayman of the government-watchdog Freedom Watch arrived on the scene in front of Ahmadinejad’s New York hotel Friday shortly after the attack. He said the female demonstrator, who had been protesting Iran’s government, asked him about representing her.

Suddenly, officers from both the NYPD and the U.S. Secret Service intervened, cutting off the conversation between Klayman and the woman and refusing to allow him further communication with her.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Globalism: ‘We Are the World’

True to his word, though barely reported, Obama made this statement in his U.N. speech: “We have fully embraced the Millennium Development Goals.” I’m not sure where he got the authority to make that unilateral declaration, but he nonetheless made it. I guess now that he’s president, he can sometimes just issue fiats instead of having to deal with the cumbersome legislative process — such as when he had difficulty as senator getting his Global Poverty Act passed. That bill would have committed the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of the U.S.’ gross domestic product on foreign aid, amounting to $845 billion more than the U.S. already spends.

So why do you suppose the evil Bush administration opposed the innocuous-sounding “Millennium Development Goals”?

Well, how about its multi-pronged assault on America’s national sovereignty? It commits participating nations to be bound by the International Criminal Court treaty; support regional disarmament measures for small arms and light weapons; and press for the full implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which Wikipedia describes as “an international legally binding treaty” that includes among its goals a “fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources,” the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, described as “an international bill of rights for women,” and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which purports to be a “legally binding international instrument” that gives children the right to express their own opinions “freely in all matters affecting the child” and requires those opinions be given “due weight.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Scenes From the Muslim Prayer Rally in DC

About 3,000 Muslims showed up at the U.S. Capitol last Friday for what was dubbed “A Day of Islamic Unity.” Organizers had anticipated a crowd of some 50,000 worshippers. So in terms of numbers, the event was a bust. But there are some interesting points to note.

The event’s organizer is an attorney who has represented several Islamic terrorists in court. And despite a slew of recent terrorism arrests on U.S. soil, none of the speakers took the time to condemn Islamic terrorism or terror groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Some attendees we spoke to also had troubling views about Islam and its role in America. For more, watch my report from the event at the link above.

[Return to headlines]

Stanford Being Moved From Site of Texas Jail Fight

HOUSTON (AP) — Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, awaiting trial on charges he ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, will be moved from the lockup where he got into a jail fight that resulted in him being hospitalized for a concussion.

But U.S. District Judge David Hittner’s order, issued Friday and made public Monday, is not connected to Stanford’s Sept. 24 fight with another inmate, said Kent Schaffer, one of Stanford’s court-appointed attorneys.

Hittner ordered Stanford to be moved from the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, north of Houston, to the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston.

The judge granted a request, filed last week before the fight, by Stanford’s attorneys, who said the Corley facility interfered with their ability to meet with their client and review the large number of records in the case.

“The Court recognizes the extraordinary nature and complexity of this case, the extent and gravity of the charges levied against Stanford, the hundreds of records involved, and the enormous amount of time no doubt necessary to review those documents and adequately prepare a defense,” Hittner wrote.

Hittner ordered that Stanford be moved no later than Thursday.

Schaffer said Stanford was very pleased with Hittner’s order.

“Visitor rooms for attorneys in the (downtown) detention center are better suited to being able to sit down with clients and prepare,” he said.

Schaffer said his client, who he visited Monday, is still in physical pain from the concussion, two black eyes, broken nose and cut on his forehead that he suffered during the fight. Stanford was returned to the lockup Sunday afternoon.

“He’s in better spirits than what I would have expected him to be,” said Schaffer, who added that he does not know what started the fight.

Stanford, 59, has been in the Corley facility since he was indicted in June on 21 counts, including wire and mail fraud. He has been jailed without bond; Hittner considers him a flight risk.

Stanford and other executives of the now-defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group are accused of orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme by advising clients to invest more than $7 billion in certificates of deposit from the Stanford International Bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Investors were promised their investments were safe and were scrutinized by Antigua’s bank regulator and an independent auditor.

But authorities say Stanford and the indicted executives fabricated the bank’s balance sheets, bribed Antiguan regulators and misused investors’ money to pay for his lavish lifestyle.

Stanford and three former company executives have pleaded not guilty.

Another former executive, James M. Davis, has pleaded guilty in the case and is cooperating with prosecutors.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa [Return to headlines]

The Socialist Strategy

Tammany Hall is dead today, but the system is still alive and well in the Democratic Party. Tammany Hall claimed to help immigrants, but what it actually did was oppress them. Behind the holiday gift baskets, the politicians who spoke German, Italian, Yiddish, Polish—and all the talk about “sticking it to the rich”, was a political system that was nothing more than organized crime. Those same politicians played “divide and conquer” pitting the Irish against the Jews, the Germans against the Blacks, and promising to fight for whatever ethnic group they were speaking to at the time. All the while they were robbing everyone blind.

The money they spent on their constituents was a small share of the taxes they collected. Most of the money instead went to the municipal bureaucracy and the Tammany Hall leaders at the top. As corruption crackdowns came, the Democratic party began to eschew open bribery in favor of “Honest Graft”. This moved the party up and away from street level crime and low level paid appointments. Instead the focus became on appropriating government revenues for their own benefit. Municipal appointments no longer depended on direct payments, but on party loyalty. Taxes had to be raised to offer more services administered by that same ever growing bureaucracy. Organized crime had become socialism.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Barmy Britain Through the Looking Glass

Cases such as the dinner lady fired for telling the truth about bullying show how an obsessive adherence to certain laws flies in the face of common sense, says Philip Johnston .

Let’s get this straight, shall we? If a school staff member tells parents that their seven-year-old child is being bullied, she is dismissed for a breach of confidence, even though this is information that the mother and father should know and would expect to be told. Yet if two mothers (both policewomen, incidentally) enter a private arrangement to share childcare while they are at work, it is fine to report them to the “authorities” for an apparent breach of a law that requires that they should be properly checked for criminal propensities before doing so.

We are developing a culture in this country that is a mirror image of what most of us would expect to happen. Everything is back to front. Most people would consider that Carol Hill, the school dinner lady who witnessed the bullying of Chloe David, was right to tell her mum and dad when she found out that the school was not going to. Even Chloe’s parents think she did the right thing. Yet she has been sacked for not properly following the school’s procedures, even though they are patently daft.

The two policewomen thought it would be a good idea to look after each other’s offspring while at work. Yet under the Childcare Act 2006, they are supposed to register with Ofsted, complete a criminal record check, learn first aid, take a childcare course and even follow Labour’s “nappy curriculum” for under-fives.

Even though this is quite clearly barmy as well, someone denounced them for their “crime”, and they are banned from continuing with their agreement unless they conform to the law.

Not only do you wonder at the mentality of those who see it as their duty to tip off the “authorities” when the practice is so innocuous (this is not whistle-blowing but malevolence), you must also once again question how such a law could be a) drawn up in the first place and b) passed by a Parliament that seems to have been asleep for the best part of the past decade, other than when it comes to putting in expenses claims.

When the childminding ban became known as a result of a petition placed on the Downing Street website, it was described as “a little-noticed law”; that’s true — not least by our MPs.

The Government defended the restrictions on private childminding arrangements on the grounds that they did not cover close family members, as though this somehow made it perfectly proper for the state to intrude into the affairs of two friends reaching a personal accommodation. But it is all of a piece with the nationalisation of childhood that has been going on for years now. It has become a displacement activity for a government that once was able to run large chunks of British national life when a good deal of our industry was state-owned but which now has to exercise its control-freakery in some other way.

The pressure organisation Action for Children worked out that successive British governments have made more than 400 major announcements relating to children and young people over the past 21 years, leading to 98 Acts of Parliament, 82 strategies and 77 initiatives, many of which are no longer working. Three quarters of these policy changes and statements were made in the past decade under Labour. This is a sure sign of a governing class that has lost all sense of what are the proper limits of state activity.

There is something else that has gone terribly askew in our national mirror. A government spokesman said that the law on childminding was “proportionate”. Yet that is clearly what it is not, and this lack of balance is everywhere we look.

On Thursday, for instance, a British diplomat was fined for “racially aggravated harassment” because he fulminated at the television screen when he was exercising in the gym. Rowan Laxton, head of the South Asia desk of the Foreign Office, was watching a report about the death of a farmer killed by Israeli bombs when he exclaimed: “———- Israelis,

———- Jews.”

Two other members of the gym were on the floor below and heard Laxton’s imprecations. They objected, complained to the staff, who told the police, who arrested Laxton. He was fined £350 at the City of Westminster magistrates’ court, ordered to pay £500 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge (to whom?). He might now lose his job.

This case had all the hallmarks of our looking-glass world: it was a disproportionate response to the free expression of an opinion that, however, intemperate, was directed only at a television screen. It infringed a law that cannot possibly have been drawn up for this purpose. And even though he apologised to fellow gym members who had overheard them, Laxton was denounced for his remarks.

He was threatening nobody. He was unaware that there was anyone within earshot. Had he said the same thing in his sitting room, and been overheard through an open window by someone walking past, should he then be arrested and prosecuted?

What is really worrying is that there are people who think the answer to that question is yes.

[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Oprah Wants Only the Happiest

Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo production company has landed in Copehagen to help Chicago in the bid to host the 2016 Olympics

The city of Copenhagen and its happy residents are on the agenda as Oprah’s talk show comes to town

American talk show queen Oprah Winfrey may be arriving in Copenhagen on Wednesday to boost Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics, but that’s not keeping her away from the day job.

A team from her Harpo production company arrived in the city today to scout locations and participants for a Danish segment of the Oprah talk show.

The 30-minute segment filmed during Winfrey’s trip will feature locals in Copenhagen showing off the city and their homes and explaining why Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world.

Oprah’s team is currently recruiting Copenhagen guests through her website and the happy episode is due to air on 9 October.

Denmark’ reputation as a happy country stems from numerous surveys and is often cited as a given, but the label of happy Danes raised heckles when it was brought up on popular US day-time show The View last week.

Guest Joy Behar told the panel that Danes were the happiest people around because they didn’t have to worry about health care or sending their children to college because ‘everything’s paid for’.

Fellow panellist Whoopi Goldberg was unconvinced and rejected Behar’s comment. As did many visitors to the show’s website.

Website visitors from both Denmark and the US questioned just how happy Danes can be when taxes are so high in order to pay for the ‘free’ education and health care promoted by Behar.

News pundit Carolyn Plocher from the Media Research Center was quick to add her weight to the unhappy campaign and pointed out that from the latest happiness survey, other Scandinavian countries with ‘free’ education and health care did not even rank inside the happiness top 10.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Elite Swedish Soldiers Blow Up Wrong House

A group of elite Swedish soldiers made a colossal error during a demolition exercise at the weekend when they blasted their way into the wrong house.

The incident took place during what was supposed to be a routine training operation, for a group of soldiers from Sweden’s Life Regiment Hussars (K3), an elite cavalry division involved in intelligence and paratrooper training.

On its website, the Life Regiment Hussars characterize themselves as “light, highly mobile units with substantial strike power.”

Among other credentials, the Hussars also boast of having “long experience in the area of intelligence.”

But something nevertheless went wrong for the soldiers involved in an exercise which took place in Röjdåfors in northern Värmland in west central Sweden, near the Norwegian border, according to the Nya Wermlands-Tidningen (NWT).

The mission, performed in conjunction with the Swedish home guard (Hemvärnet), called for the soldiers to capture a house.

However, the elite unit somehow managed to hit the wrong target, and instead bombarded a house located about 200 metres from their intended target.

Collateral damage included blown out doors and window frames, before the soldier’s discovered their mistake.

“I think we’ve already cleaned up after ourselves. And we have, of course, contacted the owner. There’s no hard feeling between us,” K3’s public relations officer told the newspaper.

The K3 soldiers are prized as one of Sweden’s elite military units and have recently completed training drills in both France and Germany, including exercises performed in collaboration with German paratroopers in Bavaria.

Charlotte Webb (

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

EU Intervention in Irish Referendum ‘Unlawful’

The European Commission has been accused of “unlawful” interference in Ireland’s referendum after paying for a 16-page guide to the Lisbon Treaty to be inserted into national newspapers.

Campaigners for a “No” vote have threatened a legal challenge after 1.1 million copies of the European Union booklet were distributed, at a cost to the taxpayer of £139,000.

The guide gives a summary of European Union’s achievements before outlining how the Lisbon Treaty would help improve life in Ireland further.

It reads: “Today, members of the EU enjoy a wealth of benefits: a free market with a currency that makes trade easier and more efficient, the creation of millions of jobs, improved workers’ rights, free movement of people and a cleaner environment.

“These are major goals. The Lisbon Treaty is designed to give the EU the tools to achieve them.”

The European Commission has defended its actions by claiming the pamphlet is designed to simply inform voters.

“The commission has a duty to inform people about the treaties. The guide does not advocate a Yes or a No. It is information not campaigning,” said a spokesman.

But The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the legal services of both the commission and the Council of the EU, which represents governments, expressed reservations the publication of the “citizens summary” of the Lisbon Treaty.

An EU official said: “The lawyers asked if it was right for the commission to produce a summary of Lisbon, before it was ratified and when there was not one for the Constitution.

“The reluctance of some countries, particularly France and Netherlands where the Constitution was rejected, needed to be overcome too because of the similarities between the two texts.”

Patricia McKenna, a former Green MEP and a leader of the People’s Movement, which is opposed to the Lisbon Treaty, has attacked the latest Brussels intervention in Friday’s referendum.

“The EU Commission, with the massive funds and resources available to it, courtesy of the taxpayer, can just throw money at influencing Irish opinion prior to the vote. We have to campaign on a shoestring,” she said.

Mrs McKenna won a landmark legal challenge to the Irish Supreme Court 14 years ago, to prevent the “unconstitutional use of taxpayers’ money for propaganda purposes in referendum campaigns”.

“This is an unlawful use of European taxpayers’ money, since the European Commission has no competence whatever in the ratification of treaties. It is gross interference,” she said.

“I am taking legal advice. We will take out an injunction if they attempt to put the booklet elsewhere.”

Irish voters go to the polls this Friday for a second referendum after Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty, the successor to the EU Constitution, for a first time in June last year.

Irish expatriates living in Brussels, and often working in the EU institutions, have been offered free Ryanair flights to Dublin, as long as they campaign for a Yes vote.

Europe for Ireland, a Brussels-based Yes campaign group, has made the offer on its website, with campaigning strings attached.

The offer stated: “You must agree in writing to canvass for a Yes vote while in Dublin. We will put you in touch with one of the relevant organisations in Dublin. (If you do not turn up to canvass, your return flight may be jeopardised).”

The campaign group has already come under fire for trying to raise money to fund the Yes campaign from Brussels lobbyists who will benefit from the Lisbon Treaty.

Ryanair too has been criticised for bankrolling a “Vote Yes to Europe” campaign just a year after Michael O’Leary, its boss, compared the EU to Zimbabwe for ignoring Ireland’s first referendum rejection.

[Return to headlines]

French Actor Cécile Cassel Shocked by ‘Hijack’ of Film by Italy’s Far Right

Cécile Cassel said she had not been aware of the film’s ‘political ghosts’. Photograph: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

A leading French actor who backs immigrants’ rights has said she was shocked to discover that her latest film, an Italian historical epic, is being used as a propaganda tool by Italy’s xenophobic Northern League party, an ally of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Cécile Cassel, the sister of actor Vincent Cassel, is starring in Barbarossa, a $30m (£19m) production part-funded by the Italian government which celebrates the military defeat in 1167 of the German Holy Roman emperor Frederick I, known as Frederick Barbarossa, by a league of rebellious northern Italian cities — an event celebrated by the modern-day Northern League.

Umberto Bossi, the league’s leader, who once suggested opening fire on boats of migrants arriving from Africa, has been showing clips of the film at rallies and urging supporters to see the film, which premieres on Friday.

“I knew nothing of the political ghosts behind Barbarossa,” said Cassel, who plays Frederick Barbarossa’s wife in the film. “Let’s just say that if I had known, I probably would not have accepted the part.”

The league, which calls for autonomy for northern Italy and a crackdown on immigration from abroad, features on its flag a depiction of Alberto da Giussano, the legendary warrior who led his fellow Italians against Frederick.

Bossi has claimed he is the modern-day equivalent of Da Giussano and that Barbarossa, played by Rutger Hauer in the film, represents the Italian state that the league is seeking freedom from.

Da Giussano is played by an Israeli actor and the film’s crucial battle scene was filmed in Romania to cut costs.

Renzo Martinelli, the director of Barbarossa who claims Bossi inspired him to make the film, reacted to Cassel’s discomfort by saying he would think twice about hiring her again.

“Like many French people, she has an enormous sense of self-importance,” he told Corriere della Sera.

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

Ireland: Almost 9,000 Operations Cancelled Since January

Figures released to Fine Gael ( An Irish Political party) show that almost 9,000 operations were cancelled in Ireland’s public hospitals in the first six months of this year.

The figures, received by Fine Gael in response to a parliamentary question, show a 27 per cent increase on figures for the same period in 2008.

A total of 8,935 operations were cancelled in the first six months since January 2009. Of these, 2,594 were scheduled for day patients and 6,341 were scheduled for in-patients.

The latest figures bring the total number of cancelled operations since 2007 to over 40,000.

“It is depressing that figures I sought from the HSE [Health Service Executive…The government run health service] confirm that the gridlock in our hospitals continues to see patients’ procedures cancelled. At 8,935 the number of cancelled operations in the first half of the year is well up on the same period in 2008,” Fine Gael health spokesperson, Dr James Reilly TD, said in a statement issued this morning.

“The 7,037 cancelled operations by June 2008 more than doubled to 16,316 by year end which suggests 20,000 operations may be cancelled by the end of this year,” he added.

The Adelaide & Meath Hospital Inc NCH had the most cancellations with 291 planned admissions for day cases cancelled and 937 in-patient operations cancelled.

Beaumont Hospital recorded 179 cancellations for day cases and 742 cancellations of operations for inpatients. Cork University Hospital had 571 cancellations for day cases and 309 cancellations of operations for in-patients.

Of the 39 hospitals detailed in the figures, ten hospitals recorded no cancellations.

“I have also analysed INO trolley (gurney) figures which show the average daily number of patients on trolleys (gurnies) was 267 this year so far, compared to 230 for the same period last year. It is clear that ongoing A&E overcrowding and delayed discharges from acute beds lead to cancelled operations,” Dr Reilly said.

“Scandalously 40,000 operations have been cancelled since 2007,” he said.

“Cancelled operations have a real impact on patients — postponing important procedures, prolonging pain and delaying investigations which may lead to early detection of serious illnesses. Patients whose procedures are postponed, having suffered prolonged and unnecessary pain, may then develop into an emergency to be dealt with at A&E,” Dr Reilly added.

“This broken system is vastly inefficient and costly to the taxpayer and it is a vicious circle for the patients who are left to wait on all sides — on trolleys in A&E; in acute beds after their acute phase of care has ended; and, worst of all, in pain as their operations are cancelled.”

           — Hat tip: McR [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Media Manipulation — Verhofstadt Style

A new Irish Times opinion poll published today suggests that the yes side are still ahead in the second Lisbon referendum campaign but that the no side have made up a little ground. Some 48 per cent of people are likely to vote yes, 33 per cent say they will vote no and 19 per cent are undecided. This is good news for yes campaigners, although there is still a lot of nervousness at home and abroad.

Take Guy Verhofstadt, for instance. The leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament is coming to Ireland on Monday to campaign for the treaty. He is the man, who as former Belgian prime minister inspired the Laken declaration in 2000 committing the EU to be more democratic, transparent and effective. He also heads a group committed to the promotion of press freedom and civil rights.

But this week he only agreed to be interviewed by The Irish Times on condition that he could ‘authorise’ the article before it went to press. The main reason cited by Verhofstadt’s people was the huge “sensitivity” in the referendum campaign and a fear that saying the wrong thing could in some way tip the balance towards a no vote.

Authorisation is a media control technique used mostly by German politicians, who often refuse to do interviews without asking to see the final text before it is printed and giving them leeway to edit parts.

My newspaper has a policy not to accept these types of conditions placed on journalists. So no interview was granted, which is a shame because Verhofstadt was a key player in the talks to conclude the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty. He probably could have added to Irish people’s understanding of the treaty before the vote next week.

Perhaps he’ll open up a little when he goes to canvass in

Ireland on Monday. Let’s hope so or his trip to Ireland will turn out to be a PR stunt rather than an important opportunity for an important member of the European parliament to explain and listen to people’s views.

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Police Probe Serb Ties to Helicopter Heist

Police in Serbia suspect the mastermind behind last week’s brazen helicopter heist is a 40-year-old Bosnian Serb living in Belgrade known as the ‘gangster king’.

The man has an extensive criminal record and has lived in Sweden in the past, but has lived in Serbian capital for the past six years, according to Austrian news bureau APA.

Swedish police confirm that the man is of interest to their investigation.

The 40-year-old is also listed as a friend of one of the arrested suspects on the social networking website, Facebook.

According to newspaper Vecernje Novosti, Swedish investigators are set to arrive in Belgrade on Tuesday to exchange information with their Serbian colleagues.

Serbian Home Secretary Ivica Dacic also confirms that the national police attempted to warn their Swedish colleagues of the planned coup.

The Serbs also warned Swedish police that members of the former special operations unit, the Red Berets, were involved in preparations for the robbery.

The Red Berets were an “anti-terrorist unit” within the Serbian-Yugoslavian police.

Their leader, Milorad Ulemek, otherwise known as Legija, has been sentenced twice to 40 years imprisonment for the murder of prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003, and for the murder of Yugoslavian former president Ivan Stambolic in 2000.

The Red Berets have also been accused of war crimes in Kosovo.

The group was disbanded after Djindjic’s murder. Aside from those members that have been arrested, little is known of the group.

Swedish police are currently holding six suspects in Stockholm whom they believe had a role in the early morning raid on the G4S cash depot in Västeberga south of Stockholm.

In emerged on Tuesday that the youngest of the six, a 21-year-old male, was in police custody less than two weeks ago on suspicions of having robbed an armoured vehicle south of Stockholm.

The 21-year-old man has the most extensive criminal record of all the arrested suspects and is being held on suspicion of being an accessory to aggravated robbery.

The second robbery in which the man is suspected to have been involved transpired on September 18th in Kärrtorp, when a guard stopped an armoured vehicle to refill an automatic teller machine.

One of the men threatened the female guard with an axe, the other held her at gunpoint.

The pair grabbed a bag of cash and made off in a vehicle that was later abandoned and exchanged for a moped.

A short time afterwards, police arrested two men suspected of the robbery, including the 21-year-old.

Police requested to have the men remanded in custody, but the 21-year-old was released due to insufficient evidence.

“Suspicions against him remain. He was found at the scene of the crime behaving strangely,” criminal inspector Sven-Olof Karlsson told the TT news agency.

Karlsson was surprised when he discovered on Monday that the 21-year-old was one of the arrested suspects in the Västberga coup.

“I was surprised when he showed up in these circumstances, but I’ll never be surprised again,” he added.

The man is well known by police in Stockholm’s southern districts. His previous convictions include abuse, illegal threats, narcotics-related offences and obstruction of justice.

Police have clamped down on communication with the press and will not be releasing any new information pertaining to the investigation of the helicopter robbery.

“At the present time we are not releasing any information at all about the ongoing investigation,” said Varg Gyllander, spokesperson for the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen).

Such a measure is highly unusual and may relate to the fact that at least ten of the suspected robbers remain at large.

There remains a significant risk that these men may tamper with important evidence, or hide themselves abroad.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: Don’t be Taken in by Brown — He’s a Brazen Hypocrite

He boasts of his honesty but the Government has rightly become notorious for its sleaziness

GORDON Brown’s hypocrisy is so brazen that it verges on the psychotic.

For months, rumours have swirled around Westminster that the Prime Minister is taking heavy-duty medication to cope with the pressures of his job. Yesterday, in an interview with the BBC, Brown denied this. Yet, judging by his recent pronouncements, he has either lost all grip on reality or is the most shameless fraud in post-war British political history.

The more his Government pursues its destructive course of betrayal, waste and oppression, the more loudly heblathers about his commitment to patriotism, responsibility and fairness.

As the Labour Party gathers for its annual conference in Brighton this week, the Prime Minister has been indulging in his usual duplicity. Without any sense of embarrassment he claimed to be the guardian of the public finances — this from a man who has plunged the nation into unprecedentedlevels of debt with his socialist addiction to state intervention and bureaucracy. Brown posing as the champion of fiscal restraint is like Al Capone promising to drive gangsterism from the streets of Chicago.

‘He will say anything to deceive the public’

In an attempt to give some weight to this unconvincing rhetoric Brown proposes to introduce a “Fiscal Responsibility Act” which will oblige governments to reduce the deficit by a certain amount every year. Such a measure is atypical piece of unworkable nonsense, like all those meaningless Labour targets on cutting crime or child poverty. It is nothing more than legislative tinkering designed to give the illusion of action.

IF Brown was really worried about his Government’s extravagance he would not have squandered taxpayers’ money on such an epic scale. Equally absurd is his pretence of empathy with the middle class. In another weekend interview he had the nerve to say that “these are thepeople who I identify with”. Really? Then why has he spent the last decade punishing the mainstream majority?

Increasingly brutal taxation, the obliteration of the private pensions system, contempt for the law-abiding and the destruction of our traditional national identity have all been features of Labour’s ideological war against Middle England.

Brown could also be found clinging ever more tightly to the so-called “moral compass” which he says he inherited from his father, a Scottish Presbyterian Minister. Asked about his attitude towards the Tory opposition, he proclaimed with nauseating piety: “I was brought up in a family whereI was taught not to attackpeople personally.”

Let us not forget that this is the Prime Minister who employed the notoriously thuggish Damien McBride as his key aide until earlier this year. As leaked e-mails revealed, McBride was plotting to smear leading Tories on an industrial scale through squalid innuendoes about their private lives.

This has always been thepattern with Brown ever since Labour came to government. Filled with neurotic insecurities, obsessed with clinging on to power, he will say anything in his cynical willingness to deceive the public.

There is never any connection between his words and his deeds. That is why, in his sweating, shifty performances in television interviews, he comes across so much like a modern British version of that disgraced US President Richard Nixon, who liked to proclaim his high moral values while leadinga regime of institutionalisedcorruption.

During one of their numerous spats Brown once famously said to his arch rival Tony Blair: “I’ll never believe another word you say to me.” The British people should feel the same way towards Brown after his dismal record in office. In his very first conference speech as Prime Minister in 2007 hetrumpeted a policy of “British jobs for British workers” while presiding over a system that gives more than 80 per cent of new jobs to migrants.

HE boasts of his belief in “British values” but has accelerated the surrender of our sovereignty to the European Union and, through mass immigration, has turned many urban areas into places where native Britons feel like aliens in their own land. He speaks of his “passion for liberty” yet his Government slides towards totalitarianism, complete with ID cards, databases and universal CCTV.

Brown boasts of his honesty but the Government has rightly become notorious for its sleaziness. Characteristic of his moral turpitude is a decision to allow Baroness Scotland to remain in office despite breaking the law by the employment of an illegal migrant as her cleaner.

In the same vein, all his talk about “fairness”, “personal responsibility” and the “virtue of hard work” is undermined by Brown’s lavish expansion of the welfare state which rewards idleness to such an extent that over five million British people of working age live on benefits.

What is so sickening is that the Labour Party will applaud his hypocrisy in Brighton this week. That is because the party is bent on a vast project to change Britain into a multi cultural, socialist land.

The activists know that the British people do not want that, so, like Brown, they hide behind the rhetoric of deceit. We shouldn’t pay the slightest attention to what Labour says — it is what they do that is so frightening.

Given the wreckage that the Government has created it is the British public, not Brown, who should be on anti-depressants. And the best cure of all would be the ejection of this loathsome hypocrite

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

UK: Union to Use Barack Obama’s Election Tactics in 50 Key Labour Seats

Britain’s biggest union is to target key Labour seats using political profiling techniques developed by Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign.

Derek Simpson and Tony Woodley, Unite’s general secretaries, flew to America last year to meet the Obama election team. The pair plan to adopt methods devised by the Democrats to identify union members who were unsympathetic to their party.

The Democrats used the technique with great success when trying to target members of the United Steel Workers who were considering voting for the Republican candidate, John McCain.

Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor and now head of Unite’s political unit, also flew to the US to draw up a similar strategy for next year’s general election. In addition, Unite paid for four of its own full-time staff to work on the Obama campaign.

With Labour severely behind in the polls, Unite has identified around fifty marginal seats that in many cases have more Unite members within the key constituencies than the size of the swing needed for the seat to be seized by the Tories.

Unite, which was formed out of the merger of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers’ Union two years ago, will plunder its £2 million fund to finance its election profiling.

The union, which represents around two million members, yesterday launched a website aimed at boosting Labour’s chances of winning the next general election. The site allows Unite members to contact Labour campaigners in their area as well as those in key seats.

Union officials said that the website would play a crucial role in campaigning for a fourth term Labour Government. The world light welterweight boxing champion Amir Khan helped to launch the website at the Labour party conference in Brighton — the last before the general election.

Unite plans to use the data it gathers to target less sympathetic members by discovering their concerns and anxieties about Labour through e-mailing, letters, phone calls and door-to-door campaigning.

Last year, Unite announced that it was merging with the United Steel Workers, America’s biggest private sector union. Under the terms of the deal, the new global union will be called Workers Uniting, and will represent employees from sectors such as manufacturing, services, mining and transport.

According to current polls, the Tories are on course to win a clear majority, depriving Labour of around 140 seats.

[Return to headlines]

UN Body Designates Swedish Dialect a ‘Threatened Language’

The Scanian (‘Skånska’) dialect of southern Sweden has landed on Unesco’s list of threatened languages, much to the exasperation of Swedish linguists.

“There are neither linguistic nor practical reasons why Scanian should be counted as a language,” Carl-Einar Lundbladh, head of the Dialect and Place-Names Archive (Dialekt- och ortnamnsarkivet, DAL) in Lund, told the Expressen newspaper.

But members of the Scania Future Foundation (Stiftelsen Skånsk Framtid), are thrilled with the Unesco designation, which adds support for their contention that the the Scanian dialect is a language, and an endangered one at that.

They want to see ‘Skånska’ added to the list of Sweden’s protected minority languages.

Yet no one knows exactly why, “Scanian”, which scholars consider a Swedish dialect, is now clearly listed on Unesco’s interactive homepage as “unsafe”.

Lundbladh and Ulf Teleman, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Nordic Languages, are in agreement as to why Scanian may not be considered a language.

Every language should have a written equivalent, which Scanian lacks. Additionally, a language should be sufficiently distinguished from other languages — in this case, Swedish.

Lundbladh insists that he has never seen any material which would even facilitate a qualified comparison between Scanian and Swedish.

It is unclear, for instance, which of the Scanian variants could be considered as norms for the language.

“People don’t see the use in it. So that work seems fruitless and surprising because I just can’t see any reason to waste effort on it,” Lundbladh told the newspaper.

Professor Teleman agrees, however, that Scanian and other dialects are worth preserving.

“Part of a person’s identity is in the way they speak. People think its charming when they meet other people from different parts of the country,” he told Expressen.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Training Scholars or Breeding Terrorists?

Egypt Suspects European Students Studying Arabic of Terrorism

Young men with downy beards, caps, kneelength a traditional Arab galabeyas and sandals sat chatting in a McDonalds’ restaurant in Nasr City, a large middle class district in the eastern part of Cairo. Women wearing concealing black garments and veils over their faces scurried around the small dusty streets between their apartments and the neighborhood shops. They were not from here and they barely spoke any Arabic. Asking around revealed that every one of them came from Europe and most of them have North African roots.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barak Sought for Alleged ‘War Crimes’

New York, 29 Sept. (AKI) — A group of Palestinian families living in Britain on Tuesday sought to obtain an international arrest warrant against Israel’s defence minister Ehud Barak for alleged war crimes following the three-week Gaza offensive that ended in January.

Barak, a former prime minister, is due to visit the United Kingdom for talks with senior officials, Israeli media said. However, his office dismissed the allegations saying Barak enjoys diplomatic immunity.

“No arrest warrant has been issued, and in any event, he has immunity due to his being a minister in the government,” Barak’s office said in a statement, quoted by Israeli daily Haaretz.

“Therefore, his programme will continue without disturbance.” Barak was due to speak at the Labour Party Conference, a fringe event for the Labour Friends of Israel.

The UK-based lawyer representing the Palestinian families, Michel Massih, quoted by Arab TV network Al-Jazeera, said that he believed the British government was obliged “to actively pursue people who are alleged to be involved in war crimes.”

“One does not need, at this stage, to provide more than a basic prima face case and the suggestion would be that Barak certainly was in a position where he has to answer some of the allegations made about the commission of crimes by Israeli troops,” he told Al-Jazeera from London.

The group is seeking the minister’s arrest under principles of universal jurisdiction citing the International Criminal Court Act 2001 and the Criminal Justice Act.

The action took place as the author of a United Nations report on Israel’s Gaza offensive earlier this year, told the UN’s Human Rights Council that the lack of accountability for war crimes is undermining peace efforts in the region.

“A culture of impunity in the region has existed for too long,” said Richard Goldstone, a former UN war crimes prosecutor.

“The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible war crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence,” Goldstone told the council on Tuesday.

The United Nations has said more than 50,000 homes were destroyed, as well as 29 mosques, two churches and 200 schools during Israel’s military action called Operation Cast Lead in December and January.

The 22-day Israeli military operation, launched with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks against Israel, killed some 1,400 Palestinians and injured more than 5,400 others, according to UN figures.

The operation caused widespread damage and destruction in the coastal territory. Medical officials said the Palestinian victims included at least 700 civilians, many of them women and children.

Israel estimates there was a total of 1,166 Palestinian casualties and that two-thirds of them were militants.

Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians, hit by cross-border rocket fire, were killed in the conflict.

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

Jerusalem: Yom Kippur, Tensions on Temple Mount

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 25 — Tensions are rising on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount with the approach of Yom Kippur (which will start on Sunday night). The ‘al-Aqsa foundation for Waqf’ has warned against the plans of a group of extremist Jews to enter Temple Mount (where the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are situated) on Sunday morning, ignoring the resistance of the Muslims who are in charge. One of these, sheikh Mohammed al-Tamimi, has asked Muslim believers to guard their holy places. The question whether or not God-fearing Jews should enter Temple Mount (where the Temple of Jerusalem stood until 70 AD) remains a source of disagreement. Orthodox Jews stay away from the holy place — fearing that they might inadvertently enter the Kodesh Hakodashim, the most holy place in traditional Judaism where only the High Priest can go though the exact location is unknown -, while nationalist Jews see a visit to Temple Mount as a religious duty. The most radical religious groups also ask for the construction of a new Jewish temple, on the location of the Temple of Jerusalem 2 thousand years ago. On Sunday a massive police force will be deployed in the Israeli cities with a mixed Jewish-Muslim population to avoid a repetition of last year’s incidents in Acre. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

5 More Nuke Plants Spotted in Iran

Intel agents describe guarded operations buried in mountains

Deep-cover MI6 agents who have described the workings of the once-secret underground uranium enrichment plant near the Iranian city of Qom now have discovered a staggering five more similar operations, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

They, like the Qom facility, are buried deep inside the mountains of north Iran and are guarded by divisions of Revolutionary Guards.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Bias Exposed in Turkish Education

A study shows the bias potential educaters have towards those they view as others and how they see only the positive side of Turkish history.

A research project involving graduate students training to be teachers came up with results that showed the meaning of the term “biased” changes when the subject is the Turks themselves.

The students thought texts that consider the British “hardworking,” “brave,” “religious” and “always right” were biased, and commented on the British being “liars,” “filthy” and “deceitful.”

The study, called “Evaluating Us Through Others,” was conducted by associate professor Yücel Kabapnar from Marmara University and was published with the subtitle: “The opinions of education students on the methodology of history and the educational purpose of the lesson.” The names of the two universities where the 140 graduate student are studying were kept secret due to ethical reasons.

The texts copied from Turkish schoolbooks were altered as such: “Turk,” “Muslim” and “raiders” became “British,” “Christian” and “knights.” The texts were signed by imaginary British writers and the education students were asked to evaluate them through “the attributes of history and social studies and the feelings and thoughts they invoke.” The altered texts are as follows:

“The Christian religion has added to the strength of the already present courage of the British. The British Army was always ready for war; it did not know the meaning of being tired. It was reported by eastern writers that a hundred British were louder than ten thousand Muslims. The courage of the British soldiers was above all estimation.

“The British are the bravest people history has ever known. Through this bravery, our nation has founded great countries that have important places in history and took many peoples under its dominion. The British people hold their independence dear. They fear no one when their independence is in danger.”

“The British dislike cheating and lies. They do not cheat others. They are forthcoming. They are not afraid to say what they believe is right. They are respectful towards others’ rights. They are honest to their enemies as well as their friends because they believe in the necessity of being fair.”

“The British nation believes being clean comes from Christianity. Through this faith, they pay importance to the cleanliness of their surroundings, home and workplace. They pay importance to the cleanliness of the surroundings as much as the cleanliness of the body.”

Results showed that 60 percent of the education students did not think the texts were suitable for history education and said such texts should not be put in schoolbooks. Among the reasons for disliking the texts, students said they were “completely biased;” “prejudiced toward other nations;” “putting their nation in a higher place;” “insulting to Muslims;” and “extreme on the contents of religious or nationalist opinions.” Only 14 of the 140 education students said they disliked the texts because they were similar to the understanding of Turkish schoolbooks.

On the other hand, 27.2 percent of the education students said that such texts are normal in schoolbooks. Some made statements such as: “The students we are training will be the soldiers of the future. That is why it is normal for a nation to exaggerate things and put itself in a higher place.” When told that the texts were actually from Turkish history books, some said those qualities are not suitable for the British, but are suitable for Turks.

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

Book Excerpt: ‘Iran Threatens Our Survival’

Jewish state reluctantly preparing military strike — with or without U.S.

This is the first of several excepts exclusive to WND from WND senior staff reporter Jerome R. Corsi’s new book entitled “Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran,” available from WND Books.

“For us, a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat,” Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon told the author in a private audio-recorded interview in his Jerusalem office on June 14, 2009. “We have to be ready to defend ourselves.”

What I was next told by Yaalon was confirmed to me by virtually all Israeli officials in the Netanyahu government that I interviewed: Iran’s nuclear weapons program is an existential threat to the survival of Israel, to the extent that Israel is reluctantly prepared to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran, with or without the approval of the United States, as early as the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010, if the United States and the world community fail to stop Iran.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Books: Samir Kassir, History of Beirut, Plural City

(by Massimo Lomonaco) (ANSAmed) — ROME — A ‘westernised Arab Mediterranean metropolis’: this is what Beirut was and what it must return to be in the opinion of Samir Kassir, the Lebanese journalist, historian and political activist who was killed in 2005 for his anti-Syrian views. One of the founders of the Democratic Left political movement in March 2005, and the organisers of the anti-Syrian demonstrations following the assassination of Premier Harriri, Kassir wrote a passionate and beautiful text about a city that “was manifestly plural”. In effect already the definition that he offers of Beirut contains the sum of his political beliefs crushed by the fundamentalism that strangled Lebanon. It all began in 1975 and extended to 1990: 15 years of war — the images of which flashed on the TV screens of the entire world with incredible force — causing 130,000 deaths and putting to an end the city that was looking outward as a meeting point for the east and the west. This is because in Kassir’s opinion is the vocation (since ancient times) of Lebanon’s capital where Christians and Muslims contributed to the richness of the country together. During those fifteen years, that richness became its disgrace: an implosion that wiped the primary definition used by Kassir, ‘plural’, away. “It was certainly this”, he wrote, “that gave it its value, the fact that it was an open city, but real, a living body whose extraversion did not neutralise its interior wealth. Maybe it is this that was the true modernity of Beirut…” For the rest, the author went on to observe, among Arabs as among Westerners, the reputation of Beirut as pronounced before the disaster, derived “above all from cosmopolitanism and culture”. Neither Cairo, Damascus and even less so other Arab cities had the mix that made Beirut, and that Kassir hoped will be possible again, a fascinating example of universality. At this point it would serve to quote a description of the Beirut of the past: “a mix of vehemence of thought and tranquillity in life. A benediction for any intellectual worthy of this name… an Arab city, but different, a different city, but Arab”. The ex Switzerland of the Middle East must find again a figure that is not defined by intolerance and fanaticism but by democracy for all and the resolution of the Palestinian issue that has counted so much in the recent history of Beirut. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Energy: Turkey: Gas Storage Necessary for Country’s Future

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 22 — Turkey needs underground natural gas storage facilities since the country’s natural gas contract with Iran results in Turkey having to pay for natural gas to that it does not actually buy, daily Today’s Zaman reports. Energy agreements, signed mainly with Russia, Iran and other countries such as Nigeria and Algeria, are considered attempts to satisfy the country’s hunger for oil and natural gas. However, these agreements carry the condition that even if the declared amount of natural gas is not consumed annually, the purchasing party — Turkey — must still pay the cost of the natural gas that it has pledged to buy. The natural gas agreement signed between Turkey and Iran in 2003 states that Turkey is obliged to pay for at least 6.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually regardless of whether Turkey buys the natural gas which equals to 85% of the total amount of the natural gas Turkey pledges to buy in the agreement. This condition of “pay or buy” results in a huge waste of money and the only way to diminish this financial loss is to build underground natural gas storage facilities. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Environment: Jordan and Syria to Meet Over Water Dispute

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, SEPTEMBER 24 — Jordanian and Syrian officials are scheduled today to hold another round of talks over a long disputed issue of water sharing between the two Arab neighbours, according to officials from the ministry of water. The meeting will be held in the Syrian capital, where the sticking issue of the Yarmouk River Basin topping the agenda of discussion. Jordan, one of the most water impoverished countries in the world, has been unhappy about constant “infringement” on Jordanian water rights in the river’s basin, according Jordan Valley Authority Secretary General Musa Jamaani, who heads the Jordanian side at the Jordanian-Syrian Committee of the Yarmouk River Basin. “We will discuss two main issues: the first is the Yarmouk River Basin hydrogeological study and the second is how to end the (Syrian) violations on the Yarmouk River,” Jamaani said. Officials in Amman hope water from the river will boost reserves of the kingdom’s dams and meet rising demands by the 6 million population. Officials said talks are part of the Joint Jordanian-Syrian Higher Committee meetings to be chaired by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi and his Syrian counterpart, Mohammad Otri. Dahabi and Otri are expected to announce a number of ground breaking agreements to boost their economic and political ties after years of ebb and flow in their relations.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Al-Qaeda Leader’s Son Sent to Saudi Arabia

Islamabad, 29 Sept. (AKI/DAWN) — Pakistan has handed over to Saudi Arabia two sons of top Yemeni Al-Qaeda leader Alawi who masterminded the suicide attack on Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef in Jeddah last month.

Sources told Pakistani daily Dawn that Saudi authorities had shared intelligence information about Alawi’s sons Ali and Siddique with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik during his recent visit to Jeddah and requested cooperation in tracing and arresting the two top planners of suicide attacks.

On the basis of the information, Pakistani intelligence agencies went into action and arrested the two during a raid on a sanctuary in tribal areas where they were hiding.

They were brought to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad and, after a brief interrogation were sent to Saudi Arabia escorted by security officials for extradition.

In what appears to be a quid-pro-quo deal, Prince Nayef then announced the release of a Pakistani family of five arrested earlier on the charge of smuggling drugs into the kingdom.

The operation was completed before Eid celebrations and Malik announced at a news conference that the five Pakistanis had been released by the Saudi authorities, but he did not say what had prompted Saudi Arabia to release them.

Alawi is a top Al-Qaeda leader from Yemen and his two sons were operating from Pakistan’s tribal areas, allegedly managing and supervising terror attacks.

In the Jeddah suicide attack, Prince Nayef was injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Ramadan gathering.

Although there is no extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan handed over the two foreign militants bypassing its law to oblige the Saudi authorities.

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

Terrorism: Hizballah’s Brand is Tarnished

by Jonathan Spyer

A famous Hizbullah marching song, “Hizbullah ya ayuni” (Hizbullah — my eyes), contains the following verse: “And today through the blood of the brave, the merciful creator has given us victory, and the whole world and all people have begun to speak of our glory.” Unfortunately for the Lebanese Shi’ite Islamist movement, the main world news story in which it currently features concerns matters of a distinctly inglorious type, with which it would undoubtedly prefer not to be associated.

The revelations concerning the activities of the so-called Lebanese Bernie Madoff — Salah Ezz el-Din of the south Lebanese village of Ma’aroub — are serving to tarnish the image of selflessness and idealism in which Hizbullah likes to present itself. The movement has long sought to differentiate itself from the notoriously corrupt, distinctly nonidealistic political and financial practices with which Lebanon is often associated. Ezz el-Din’s activities suggest that on close observation, Hizbullah may be less different from its surroundings than its admirers (especially in the west) like to think.

Ezz el-Din, a Lebanese Shi’ite in his 50s, is accused of embezzlement and defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. The means by which he chose to part his victims from their money are familiar. He promised quick returns on investments in what he claimed were construction, oil and gas projects outside of Lebanon. He is reported to have guaranteed investors 20 percent-25% profits within 100 days on certain investments.

It now appears that Ezz el-Din was running a Ponzi scheme — paying clients with funds gleaned from newer investors. The sums involved are large — though nowhere near Madoff-like proportions. He is believed to have defrauded investors of around $500 million.

But Ezz el-Din was no ordinary financier. Rather, he enjoyed close links to Hizbullah…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Malaysian Villagers Amazed by “Allah Meat”

Housewife Rashadah Abdul Rani, 57, said her son bought the meat from a market in the village and it was her daughter who discovered the inscription.

“I cut the meat into six pieces and soaked them in the water. It was my daughter, who was helping me in the kitchen, who saw the word “Allah” on all six pieces of the meat,” Rani told reporters at her house in Kampung Alur Gunung.

Rani said the discovery had changed her plans of cooking the meat for feast and said she would now dry the meat and keep it to use for medicinal purposes.

In 2008, a similar story was reported from northern Nigeria where a restaurant served a piece of meat inscribed with Allah. The customer who discovered the meat said he was about to eat it when he suddenly noticed the words.

Also a similar incident was reported in 2006 when hundreds of Muslims flocked to a pet shop in Liverpool, England to see two gold fish hailed a “miracle” as one’s scales spelled Allah and the other Muhammad, Islam’s prophet.

The internet is also rife with videos of animals thought to be growling Allah’s name.

For Muslims such occurrences only further signal the greatness of their Lord as Islam teaches that everything in the world from the sun and moon to everything with a soul is commanded by God.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Orissa: Hindu Extremism Behind the Bomb at the Christian Refugee Camp

The man who was preparing the bomb is dead. Four injured all belonging to the 32 Christian families living in the Nandamaha camp. Police blame Maoist militants. For the director of the Global Council of Indian Christians is the latest Hindu violence against Christians.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) — The bomb exploded near the Nandamaha refugee camp is yet another extremist attack against Betticola Christians. Sajan K George, director of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), has no doubts about the responsibility and reason for the explosion on 27 September that killed a man and wounded four people, those wounded belonging to the 32 Christian families living in the camp.

From initial investigations it appears that the victim of the bomb is the very attacker, who was preparing the bomb when it exploded. He had arrived in the camp five days beforehand and did not come from the village of Betticola like the other guests of the centre. Police in Udayagiri, responsible for the zone, found four guns and a rudimentary grenade near the camp.

Immediately after the attack, police detained four Christians who had made a complaint. On 28 September they also detained three suspects accused of involvement in the explosion. Praveen Kumar, Commissioner of Police of Kandhamal responsible for investigations, said that the attack could be the work of Maoist militants. Sajan K George rejects this hypothesis and instead points to leaders of the Hindu extremists.

The Director of the GCIC said the explosion on 27 September is the latest signal against Christians in the village of Betticola, a community that has found no peace since they had to leave their parish after the pogroms of August 2008 (see AsiaNews, 11 / 09/2009, “Betticola Christians still refugees more than one year after the Orissa pogrom”).

“The 32 families of Betticola — said Sajan K George — have been deprived of everything and are now reorganized around 20 km from the village of Nandagiri at Dugudi where they live in tents.” The Director of the GCIC said: “They had lived in their village since 1995, but now there is no longer even one Christian home left and the extremists will not allow the rebuilding of the parish that was razed. The bomb is a clear signal to them: you can not return to Betticola”.

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

Swede Held in Pakistan ‘Refuses to be Released’: Official

A 19-year-old Swedish woman is still being held in Islamabad after having declined several times to be released without her husband, Pakistani officials report.

Rumours circulated last week that Safia Benaouda and her two-year-old son had been released from prison, a speculation that could not be confirmed by the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet).

But according to a high ranking Pakistani official, Benaouda still remains in custody — by her own choosing.

“She won’t leave without her husband,” Pakistani Home Secretary Rehman Malik told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

“She and her son are doing well. We are very considerate of her special circumstances.”

Speaking to Sveriges Television (SVT), Malik also confirmed that there is no concrete evidence against the Swedes. The trio are only guilty of violating visa regulations.

Benaouda was arrested in northern Pakistan on August 28th, along with her husband, their 2-year-old son and Mehdi Gezhali, a Swedish national once imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

The group was arrested on the border of the North-western province, Waziristan, in a forbidden zone containing nuclear facilities.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]


Face of Tesco is an Illegal Immigrant

A checkout girl picked to model for Tesco in a glossy advertising blitz has been exposed as an illegal immigrant.

Fatou Cham, 32, came to the UK from Gambia, West Africa, in 1998 on a student visa but stayed after it expired in 2001.

Miss Cham, who works at the Tesco store, in Beckton, east London, was chosen from hundreds of hopefuls to model the Florence and Fred clothing range for an ad campaign used in women’s magazines.

Next to a picture of Miss Cham modelling a blue dress and heels were the words: “Designed by F&F. Priced by Tesco. Modelled by Fatou, checkout number 6, Tesco, east London.”

Immigration officers questioned her at her home in East Ham, east London, on Monday.

The mother-of-three was unavailable for comment when contacted by Sky News Online.

She was quoted in the Sunday Mirror as saying: ““I came here for a better life and never set out to deceive anyone.

“I just want to stay here with my family and be happy.”

She said she had been excited to be chosen for the Tesco campaign and had hoped it would bring her other opportunities.

“Now it has all gone horribly wrong,” she added.

Her solicitor Jamil Trawally told the paper: “I am sure she was brought to the attention of the police because of the Tesco campaign.”

Miss Cham initially came to the UK to study banking, economics and finance at London Metropolitan University.

Her mother and eldest child were allowed to join her in the UK in 2000. Her two other children were born in Britain.

Miss Cham applied to stay in the UK when her student visa ran out but was refused permission.

A further application in January this year was also turned down and she has appealed to the High Court.

When Miss Cham joined Tesco in 2002, overseas citizens just needed a national insurance number to work in the UK.

But since 2004 they have been required to have a valid work visa, although this did not apply to those already in employment.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “As soon as we were made aware of this issue by the UK Border Agency we co-operated fully with the investigation.

“We carried out all the checks required by law and the authorities have confirmed that they are satisfied that we followed the correct procedures.”

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “The UK Border Agency expects people with no right to be here to return home voluntarily, if people do not we will remove them.”

           — Hat tip: Perla [Return to headlines]

In Calais, Migrants Are Once Again Roaming the Streets

Many of the illegal aliens from a camp in Calais that was evacuated last week are already back, waiting for a chance to cross over to England.

Bertrand Legros, 35, was leaning against the gate in front of his house in Calais. He was angry. “Send them all back in a plane without an engine,” he said.

Behind the gate his wife Véronique (26) stroked their black pitbull. She nodded as her husband continued: “We have to pay for a dog-licence fee and all sorts of things. But that motley crew gets pampered. They make the place unsafe, they shit in public, the dog even got mange from it. Our own homeless aren’t given so much as a blanket, you know, not even in winter.” And he repeated, three times: “We’ve been let down.”

The Jungle

Calm has returned to the street where the Legros live near the port of the northern French town of Calais. Just a hundred metres further along, ‘The Jungle’, an improvised camp of illegal immigrants, was evacuated last Tuesday with the international press looking on.

The evacuation by five hundred riot police had been announced a week earlier by the French minister for immigration, Eric Besson. He cited the lawlessness to which the camp’s name was a reference and the need to deprive human traffickers of their main territory. He also pointed out how untenable the situation had become for the residents of Calais and how appalling the lack of hygiene was at the camp.

Not everyone was convinced. Martine Aubry, leader of the opposition Socialist Party, said shutting down the camp was “inhumane.”

“Inhumane? The camp was inhumane,” said a woman in the street next to that of Bertrand Legros. “Sometimes I found rats in the house. You can be sure that it wandered in from over there. People went to the toilet all over the place, they left food scraps everywhere.” The woman didn’t want to give her name. “Before you know it you have a swastika on your wall.”

Six-degree weather

Unlike many others in the town the woman never helped the immigrants. “That would just make them keep coming.” But suddenly her eyes welled up. “It was terrible in winter. Children sitting in six-degree weather at the roadside, holding their wrists up. Begging to be cuffed. I have children of my own: it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it.”

A little further along, the four hectares of former ‘Jungle’ looked at least as tragic as they did when the shantytown built from pieces of plastic and blankets still stood. Remnants of canvas covered the piles of rubbish in blue. Even the trees where the illegal immigrants stretched their tarpaulines were uprooted and shuffled onto a pile by the bulldozers. A riot policeman standing on a nearby sand hill had no objection to being photographed and filmed. A French cameraman sneered: “They want us to document their so-called success. This whole action was entirely aimed at giving people the feeling that something is being done.”

Until Besson’s announcement The Jungle housed eight hundred people. Most did not wait for the arrival of the riot police. The police arrested 276 people, most of whom have since been released.

Ongoing cycle

The Jungle was the largest of the six migrant camps in Calais. The influx of illegal aliens started at the end of the nineties with Kosovars; now most of the aliens here are Afghans and Iraqis. They come here because of Calais’ geographic proximity to Britain.

Today’s camps were created when a much larger camp managed by the Red Cross in the neighbouring village of Sangatte was closed down in 2002. Abandoned hangars there provided shelter to some two thousand illegal immigrants. It was closed on orders of the current French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who was the interior minister at the time, for the same reasons cited by Besson this time around.

Critics have sneered that Besson is now fighting the consequences of his boss’s earlier decision. They also point out that the closures are part of an ongoing cycle. ‘Sangatte’ was in fact set up because Calais was inundated with illegal immigrants at the time.

Philippe Wannesson, a volunteer from the aid organisation Salam, sat amidst Palestinians, Iraqis and Sudanese on the covered platform of an abandoned factory next to the port. Blankets, plastic and discarded couches were used to erect a camp here as well. It was left untouched in last week’s action.

A show of muscle

Wannesson — dirty T-shirt, dreadlocks and a thick unruly beard — said in a soft voice: “Before the week is out everyone from the jungle will be back. A hundred people at most were picked up. It’s all just a show of muscle.”

In fact just one day after evacuation it already seemed like most people were back. Groups of young men could be seen everywhere. They smelled unwashed. They evaded questions. Some had their fingertips burned off to avoid being sent back to Greece, the country by which they entered the EU.

An abandoned windowless house near the Place du Norvège has been home to ten Sudanese and Somalis since the evacuation of ‘The Jungle.’ The floors of the damp and draughty ruin were black with caked dirt. The place was littered with broken mattresses, clothing, a tin of soup here, a trampled package of flour there, alongside boxes of fresh vegetables, tomatoes, bread and bananas from the Secours Catholique, a local NGO.

‘Holland, Holland!’

Israel, a 25-year-old Sudanese man, told in broken English how he trekked through the desert for thirty days to Libya, “fleeing the war in my country”, and took a boat from there to Italy. He had to pay five hundred dollars for each leg of the journey. Two days ago he tried to cross over to England. He was picked up, but he said he would try again in two days’ time.

At half past six in the evening a hundred young men, most of them from Afghanistan, were sitting on the platform of an empty factory, waiting for the volunteers from Salam to start distributing food. Someone trying to push to the front was immediately reprimanded by Daniel Agneray, a volunteer.

“Emotions flare up easily when the last 30 kilometres of a 6,000-kilometre journey prove somewhat difficult,” said Agneray. “They will all manage it in the end, no matter what the government says. Otherwise they wouldn’t be here. Three or four thousand euros and you are guaranteed to make it to the other side. Don’t ask me how, or how they get the money. I wish them well: we bomb them at home and then they get knocked around here as well. It is a disgrace.”

Saho, a dirty and dishevelled-looking Somali who seemed much older than the 19 years he claimed to be, greedily slurped his rice with chicken and carrot. He pulled his torn red sweater in front of his face to avoid being photographed. He couldn’t write his name and only spoke a few words of English — and one word of heavily accented Dutch. Saho wanted to go to “Holland! Holland!” With a big smile he added: “House! Money! Outkering! (benefits).”

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

Norway: Rapes by Immigrants in Oslo Out of Control

Raping their way into the record books

This is the unconvenient truth Multiculturalists prefer to leave well alone. The whole issue of their immigrants’ over representation in the crime statistics, most noticeably in the rape department, upsets their carefully placed applecart, it’s the elephant in the room that the politicians refuse to acknowledge, and western women are feeling the brunt of these immigration policies, face face and on their backs. KGS

Oslo rape statistics shock

Two out of three charged with rape in Norway’s capital are immigrants with a non-western background according to a police study. The number of rape cases is also rising steadily.

The study is the first where the crime statistics have been analyzed according to ethnic origin. Of the 111 charged with rape in Oslo last year, 72 were of non-western ethnic origin, 25 are classified as Norwegian or western and 14 are listed as unknown.

Rape charges in the capital are spiraling upwards, 40 percent higher from 1999 to 2000 and up 13 percent so far this year.

Nine out of ten cases do not make it to prosecution, most of them because police do not believe the evidence is sufficient to reach a conviction.

Police Inspector Gunnar Larsen of Oslo’s Vice, Robbery and Violent crime division says the statistics are surprising — the rising number of rape cases and the link to ethnic background are both clear trends. But Larsen does not want to speculate on the reasons behind the worrying developments.

While 65 percent of those charged with rape are classed as coming from a non-western background, this segment makes up only 14.3 percent of Oslo’s population. Norwegian women were the victims in 80 percent of the cases, with 20 percent being women of foreign background.

Larsen said that since this was the initial study examining ethnic make-up there were no existing figures to put the numbers into context.”Meanwhile, it is our general experience that this is an increasing tendency. We note this by the number of time we need to use interpreters in the course of an investigation,” Larsen said.

[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Death of the West: Our Sexual Identity Crisis

Perhaps you’ve heard the tragic story of David Reimer. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada in 1966, David was the victim of a botched circumcision that left his penis charred beyond surgical repair. His parents Ron and Janet, no doubt beside themselves, were confused about the best way to proceed. Then, one day, they saw a man named Dr. John Money on television.

Money was talking about his theory of “gender neutrality,” which states that “gender identity” is learned rather than innate. The idea was that the sexes were the same except for the superficial physical differences; this implies that if a child were altered so as to superficially resemble the opposite sex and was raised as one of its members, he would be happy with that sexual identity. Hearing this, the Reimers hoped they had found their salvation.

They took their boy to Money, who told them that their son’s penis could not be restored and that he stood a much better chance of living a happy life if “sex-reassignment surgery” (in reality, reassigning sex is about as possible as reassigning species) were performed and he was raised as a girl. The Reimers agreed, and the surgery was performed when the boy, who would be named “Brenda,” was 22 months old.

In reality, the kindest way to describe Money’s theory is fanciful. His idea of “gender neutrality” was still in vogue when I was a youth, and “vogue,” in the most frivolous sense, is the correct term. It was always more style than science; it was something that I, even as a teen, knew was bunk. Yet who would listen to people such as me? We were old-fashioned, behind the times. And it didn’t matter that Money was Alfred Kinsey redux and believed pedophilia was lovely if it was for “love.” It didn’t matter that David and his twin brother, Brian, said that Money sexually abused them during photo shoots. He was a “doctor,” a Ph.D. on the cutting edge of a brave new world.


We have heard about the curious case of Caster Semenya, the 18-year-old South African runner who has been competing as a woman. Semenya has become the focus of suspicion (I’ll use masculine pronouns, as I’m convinced this individual is a boy who experienced abnormal intrauterine development) because of his masculine physique, deep voice, development of facial hair, male mannerisms and the fact that he has been winning races by wide margins. As a result, a battery of medical exams to determine his true sex has been conducted, although the results have not been officially released. Yet the real story here is not what investigation may tell us about Semenya. It is what our reaction to Semenya tells us about ourselves.

This is reflected in comments found throughout the Internet. For instance, consider “JimBob” posting under this Daily Mail piece, who said,

“Why is everyone talking about genetics? What about Caster’s own mind — if she believes within herself that she’s female, then she is.”

Echoing this sentiment here, “Green Is Good” wrote,

“SHE identifies HERself as a female. Done.”

Then, back to the Mail, “Livio” opined,

“This is a clear case of gender identity discrimination. What if she is a man who identifies himself as a woman?”

That’s interesting. What if you’re a lunkhead who identifies himself as intelligent?

Yet it isn’t sufficient to just dismiss this with sarcasm, as this isn’t the rambling of only a few twisted minds.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘Safe Schools’ Chief Encouraged Child Sex With Older Man

Washington Times: Kevin Jennings should ‘come clean’

Kevin Jennings, the radical homosexual activist who founded one of the biggest organizations in the nation to promote “gay” activities in public schools, needs to “come clean,” according to the Washington Times.

“A teacher was told by a 15-year-old high school sophomore that he was having homosexual sex with an ‘older man.’ At the very least, statutory rape occurred. Fox News reported that the teacher violated a state law requiring that he report the abuse. That former teacher, Kevin Jennings, is President Obama’s ‘safe school czar.’ … Clearly, the process for vetting White House employees has broken down,” the Times editorial board said.

“In this one case in which Mr. Jennings had a real chance to protect a young boy from a sexual predator, he not only failed to do what the law required but actually encouraged the relationship.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Sunstein: Governments Must Fund Abortion

Declares ‘no problem’ forcing taxpayers with religious, moral conflict

The government should be required to fund abortion in cases such as rape or incest, argues President Obama’s newly confirmed regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein.

“I have argued that the Constitution … forbids government from refusing to pay the expenses of abortion in cases of rape or incest, at least if government pays for childbirth in such cases,” Sunstein wrote in his 1993 book “The Partial Constitution.”

In the book, obtained and reviewed by WND, Sunstein sets forth a radical new interpretation of the Constitution. The book contains a chapter entitled “It’s the government’s money” in which Sunstein strongly argues the government should be compelled to fund abortions for women victimized by rape or incest.

The Obama czar posits that funding only childbirth but not abortion “has the precise consequence of turning women into involuntary incubators.”

Sunstein argues that refusing to fund abortion “would require poor women to be breeders,” while co-opting women’s bodies “in the service of third parties” — referring to fetuses.

Sunstein wrote he has no problem with forcing taxpayers to fund abortions even if they morally object to their money being used for such a purpose.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Islam and Honor Killings

by Valentina Colombo

Last September 15th Sanaa Dafani, an 18 year old girl of Moroccan origin, was killed by her father because she loved a 31 years old Italian. The father was immediately arrested while the mother tried to find a reason for his act: “My husband loved Sanaa. Maybe she was wrong. I could forgive my husband. Yes, I could. He is my husband, my sons’ father. Sanaa dressed and ate in a proper way, but he did not want her to go out in the evening with bad boys or friends. My husband loved Sanaa. Maybe she was wrong. He always sent her messages: come back home. He wanted her beside him.” Almost the same words were pronounced by Hina Saleem’s mother three years ago. On August 11th 2006 Hina, a 21 year old girl of Pakistani origin, was slain by her father because she wanted to live like a Westerner and had decided to go and live with a non-Muslim man. On April 7th 2007, Du’a al-Aswad, a 17 year old Kurdish girl of Yazidi faith, was stoned by a raging crowd in Iraq because apparently she had offended her family’s honor. In Turkey, almost 200 honor killings are committed every year, in Syria, between 200 and 300. In Pakistan there are between 800 and 1000 honor killings every year. These numbers are sad and worrisome.

The problem of honor killings is known; what is less known is that research made by the American psychologist Phyllis Chesler shows that in the period 1989-2009, there have been 87 victims in the West and 130 in the Third World — and that 84% of honor killings committed in the West are by Muslims. When Chesler exposed these results last September during the International Conference on Violence against Women, she was immediately reminded by the Egyptian minister, Moushira al-Khattab, that Islam does not allow this; that the problem are some Muslims and that the Prophet Muhammad respected women.

Even radical Muslims point out that honor killing does not belong to Islam. In a document issued by the Muslim Council of Britain — – after some honor killings in the UK — – you can read the following: “Let us consider the example of the Muslim man recently given a life sentence for slitting his daughter’s throat in an “Honour Killing” after she began dating a Christian. This is a tragic story of irreconcilable cultural differences between a father who had a traditional ‘Muslim’ upbringing, values and background and a daughter who had adopted non-Islamic cultural life. But a devout Muslim who understands their religion correctly would certainly never take another life. In reality, such tragedies have nothing to do with true faith.” ( These words are the typical beating-about-the-bush of Islamic extremists — which have to be read between the lines. The document acknowledges the Muslim background of these homicides and underlines the culpability of the girls because they left behind their Islamic principles. Muslim women cannot marry Christian men unless he converts to Islam. All this does not imply a homicide, but it clearly shows that in Islam there is no freedom of choice, at least for women.

Even the words of sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee in Cairo, are very ambiguous: “Like all other religions, Islam strictly prohibits murder and killing without legal justification. Allah, Most High, says, “Who so slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is Hell forever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.” (An-Nisa’: 93) The so-called “honor killing” is based on ignorance and disregard of morals and laws, which cannot be abolished except by disciplinary punishments. It goes without saying that people are not entitled to take the law in their own hands, for its the responsibility of the Muslim State and its concerned bodies to maintain peace, security, etc., and to prevent chaos and disorder from creeping into the Muslim society.” In other words the Islamic state, following the sharia, even though it does not accept honor killings, allows the stoning of the adulteress. Honor killing is replaced with “legal” death.

Honor killing is the product of a male chauvinist society; it can find justification in the Koran and in Islamic tradition. Du’a’s death confirms what has just been said. The Kurdish girl was not only stoned, but her body was mutilated and covered with stones. At the end the crowd started shouting “Allahu akbar”, “God is greatest”, and reciting the shahada, that is the Islamic profession of faith.

One year after Du’a’s murder, the Saudi activist, Wajeha al-Huwaider, wrote: “Had Du’a been an animal, someone would have [probably] taken notice and tried to rescue her from these inhuman men. But she was a woman, and in the Greater East, the life of a woman is worth far less than the life of an animal. […] All those who believe that honor [resides] in the woman’s body are potential murderers, and [could] someday murder a woman when their false sense of honor is aroused. All those who agree that a man has the right to murder a woman, or to cause her physical harm [for the sake of preserving] his honor, are potential killers.”

To all this one can add that in most Islamic countries laws which counteract honor killings almost do not exist. For instance, on July 1st 2009, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad abolished Article 548 of the Penal Code, which had waived punishment for a man found to have killed a female family member in a case “provoked” by “illegitimate sex acts,” as well as for a husband who killed his wife because of an extramarital affair. The article also lowered penalties if a killing were found to be based on a “suspicious state” concerning a female family member. The article that replaced it still allows for mitigated punishment for “honor killings,” but requires a sentence of at least two years. The new text of Article 548 reads: “He who catches his wife, sister, mother or daughter by surprise, engaging in an illegitimate sexual act and kills or injures them unintentionally must serve a minimum of two years in prison.” In the previous text, the killer benefited from a complete “exemption of penalty”. We could say that something is starting to change, but we are still very far away from a true fight of honor killings in the country.

Islam and the male chauvinist tradition are the worst enemies of Muslim women. It cannot be denied, as the Egyptian Minister tried to do, that Islam has something to do with this. In the Koran, in Sura IV, we read: “Should any of your women commit some sexual offence, collect evidence about them from four [persons] among yourselves. If they so testify, then confine the women to their houses until death claims them or God grants them some other way out” and “Admonish those women whose surliness you fear, and leave them alone in their beds, and [even] beat them [if necessary]”. If the Koran does not quote honor killings, it can be of some use to justify them. The Swiss-Yemeni liberal intellectual, Elham Manea, is perfectly right when she says that Muslims should admit that there is a problem concerning women in general and honor killings in particular in Islam itself. This is not meant to be anti-Islamic. Manea is a secular Muslim who does not wish to conceal problems; on the contrary, she wishes to face and solve them to improve the condition of Muslim women.

Only in this way can the West and the Muslim world fight violence against women who only want to be free, as the Lebanese poet Joumana Haddad describes in a poem of hers: “They put me in a cage so that/My freedom may be a gift from them,/And I have to thank them and obey./But I am free before them, after them,/With them, without them. […] I am a woman./They think they own my freedom./I let them think so,/And I happen”.

[Return to headlines]

Homeless or Not??

The story below has been on my mind ever since it arrived via email a few weeks ago.

First, I’ll present just the story itself, which my friend thought amusing (as did all the commenters at the site). After you read it and decide for yourself what this situation is about, I’ll give my interpretation of the events. Having saved our email exchange, I’ll also give my friend’s arguments against my interpretation.

Several blogs posted this when it first appeared. Unfortunately, I no longer remember where I ran across their posts, though I do remember they drew the same conclusion as my friend, i.e., that it was simply a weird amusing story from Kansas:


A man and woman decided to give the phrase “Dumpster diving” a new twist over the weekend, crawling inside one on North Waco so they could be alone.

But while they were engaged in what Wichita police described as “an intimate moment,” they were robbed by a man armed with a pocket knife.

It all unfolded shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday in the 700 block of North Waco, police said, when the man and woman, both 44, crawled into the trash container for privacy.

A short time later, a 59-year-old man and his 64-year-old companion interrupted the couple inside the trash container.

With the older man encouraging him, the 59-year-old man pulled out a pocket knife and took shoes, jewelry and the 44-year-old man’s wallet.

Police were notified, and officers found the two suspects a short time later. The stolen property was recovered.

Okay, there you have the bare facts. I looked around for more details, but none were to be had. Thus, we’ll have to go with what we’ve got here.
– – – – – – – –
How did you read this story?

Here’s my response to my friend:

Thanks for sending this (I think). It made me immensely sad.

I felt so sorry for all of those people. They were like something out of a Flannery O’Connor short story. Degraded and such casual evil.

The couple must’ve been homeless. And the villains don’t sound any better off.

I’m not sure I’m up to reading the comments about them unless there is some compassion somewhere in them. Is there?

My friend didn’t agree with my interpretation at all. He wrote back:

I doubt that they are homeless.

Remember that the thieves got away with jewelry and a wallet.

And most homeless people don’t call the cops when something happens. If anyone was homeless, I think it was the robbers.

HomelessAs I read his reply, the time I’d spent working with homeless people came flooding back in full Technicolor. I intuitively knew that these were not only homeless people but likely from that class of homeless known as “the ambulatory mentally ill”.

The fate of these folks is the result of legislation going back to Kennedy’s era, when the enlightened elite decided to open the doors of our mental institutions and send patients back into their communities to be cared for by local folks. Of course this novel legislation, which eventually created “Community Service Boards” who would oversee the mentally ill, was another case of unfunded or underfunded federal do-goodism. If you think ObamaCare is a good idea, just look at federal mandates as they apply to CSBs. It would be funny if it didn’t damage so many people. And if the dedicated staff at your local CSB didn’t have so few resources to help the walking weirdoes (as other homeless people call them).

This report[pdf], by Kaiser, is overly optimistic in my view:

The history of deinstitutionalization began with high hopes that modern medications and modern treatments could assure people with serious mental illness a successful life in the community. By 2000, our understanding of how to do that had solidified, but it was too late for many. Times had changed. Resources had not flowed as expected. The array of programs that support people with mental illness in the community were not controlled by policymakers who fully understood mental health. Even the programs funding treatment and rehabilitation, Medicaid and Medicare, did not reflect a scientific understanding of what was needed. Housing, disability, education and employment programs were now perceived as critical, but they often were inadequately accessed by individuals with mental illness. As communities became less tolerant of the use of alcohol and drugs, people with serious mental illness who had co-occurring substance abuse issues were arrested in ever-increasing numbers.

Shakespeare tells us there is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Unfortunately, deinstitutionalization missed the flood. By the time the necessary knowledge existed, political will had faded. The optimism of the 1960s regarding government ability to solve major social woes was gone. The memory of the snake-pit institutions had faded. The policy picture had become more complex than expected. Even as the great majority of people with serious mental illness succeeded in living successful, if not rich, lives in the community, a highly visible small percentage of them continued to struggle. Many more were in other institutions, such as nursing homes, jails and prisons.

I seldom had the occasion to see any of these people in the purported “great majority…with serious mental illness [who] succeeded in living successful, if not rich, lives in the community”…In fact, if a person with serious mental illness managed to bridge his way back to a real life in the community, it was, and is, big news. To suffer from serious chronic mental illness is to walk a narrow path filled with potholes.

The National Association of Mental Illness [NAMI] has support groups in every state. They are a resource for families who don’t fit the Community Services Board template, or those who have not found their local CSB helpful.

I’ve digressed here. I began with the story of the couple in the dumpster who were set upon and robbed of “jewelry and a wallet”, the possession of which led my friend to conclude they couldn’t be homeless.

Here is my reply to his contention:

I’ve worked with the homeless. They do indeed have such things as wallets and “jewelry” — it could have been a Timex watch, he could have just cashed his SSI check. They also have backpacks with changes of clothes, books, journals, etc.

Homeless people also call the police. They’re not afraid of the law and in many cases are already known to most of the officers.

It is probably against the law to go dumpster diving. It is here, but people do it anyway. The ones behind the better grocery stores have some wonderful food in them. I know, because homeless people have shown me their “finds”, clucking their tongues over the waste. Being a frugal person myself, I’m compelled to agree.

BTW, one of the warmest places to sleep on a cold winter night when they won’t let you in to Salvation Army is the dumpster. Paper is good, but well-covered sacks of rotting garbage give off warmth as they decompose, even in the cold (it’s relative).

The bags deeper down are more protected and warmer. The only problem is that after a night’s sleep, you do smell rather fragrant, even if you thought ahead and brought your own plastic sleeping bag to cover up in.

Those homeless who are not too demented will go to the Drop In shelter to shower, change, and wash clothes. Since they usually go there to pick up their medications (which are kept where they can’t be stolen), if they don’t realize how they smell, a staff person can lead them toward the showers and washing machines and give them some coffee.

A street person usually knows when the pick-up schedule is for particular dumpsters so they’re careful which ones they use. More than one poor slob has been caught in the maw of those big trucks, though. Drivers are trained to look back as the dumpster empties.

Thus, based on my experience and the bare bones of that story, they’re homeless. One of the more unfortunate aspects of homelessness is that there is no privacy. Dumpsters provide that and they are cheaper than motels. Besides, even if they’ve just cashed their check, no motel will let them in.

That story had all the hallmarks of homelessness, including the fact that the stronger freely prey on the weaker or more vulnerable. It is interesting that my friend, who lives in a state which is crawling with the homeless, didn’t see that incident in the same light I did. But now, having worked with the homeless and the homeless mentally ill, I can’t see that world the same way I did before beginning that job. Nor was the job itself what I’d prepared for:

  • driving people to their medication appointments (oops — finding them first);
  • trying to get (overworked, understaffed) doctors to commit people before they went over the line into frank psychosis (and were picked up at three a.m., wandering naked in the cold);
  • washing foul clothing while breathing through my mouth;
  • having a pizza party (plenty of napkins!);
  • taking those who had rooms grocery shopping;
  • going for group walks and smiling back at those who stared at us;
  • warning someone that his momma was going to kick him out for the last time if he cut back on his medication again;
  • cajoling landlords;
  • listening to distraught parents;
  • explaining to a new resident that his neatly-wrtten, jam-packed twelve-hour schedule was unrealistic. When he failed to meet it, he would feel bad. This daily routine was to begin with an exercise program at 6:00 a.m., when in reality I had to pull him out of bed at noon (if I drew the short straw);
  • keeping couples from sneaking upstairs for a “little privacy”;
  • remembering to carry matches for the smokers. And they were all smokers —
  • except for Henry, who looked like a model for a LL Bean, complete with backpack. But he slept under the bridge and wouldn’t come into the house. He warned me back then to leave town because “something truly terrible” was going to happen in December. Several Decembers have come and gone and nothing happened. Maybe he had the year wrong?

I liked that job. I enjoyed the people. But my worsening fatigue and pain (later diagnosed as fibromyalgia) made working impossible. I quit with great regret and I think of “my” people with fondness. Most of them, at any rate.

Last night, I read Heather MacDonald’s essay on the Los Angeles’ Police Department’s work with the homeless favelas (for lack of a better word) in east L.A. Her words reminded me of the Dumpster story in Kansas. Here is part of “The Truth About Policing and Skid Row”:

The homeless industry on Los Angeles’s Skid Row lost its final shred of legitimacy this summer. Three murders and their aftermath exposed the advocates’ opposition to assertive policing as dangerous, hypocritical posturing. Los Angeles officials should reorient their funding priorities in light of the lessons of the summer of 2009.

For 25 years, Skid Row constituted a real-world experiment in the application of homeless-advocate ideology. The squalor that engulfed the 50-block district just east of downtown Los Angeles was the direct outgrowth of advocates’ claims that the homeless should be exempt from the rules of ordinary society. The result was not a reign of peace and love among society’s underdogs, but rather brutal predation and depravity. Occupants of the filthy tents and lean-tos that covered every inch of sidewalk in the area pimped each other out and stole from, stabbed, and occasionally killed one another…

…intrepid small wholesalers and warehouse owners who tried to keep the area’s once vigorous commercial trade alive removed feces, condoms, and hypodermic needles from the entrance to their properties every morning. Elderly residents of the local Single Room Occupancy hotels were imprisoned in their tiny apartments, terrified to go outside.

In 2006, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton announced a full-scale attack on Skid Row anarchy. His Safer City Initiative (SCI) would be a demonstration project, he said, for Broken Windows theory, which holds that tolerance for low-level forms of crime and disorder allows more serious crime to fester. When the police started enforcing jaywalking, public urination, and public camping laws, thousands of warrant absconders and violent parolees on the lam lost their refuge. Order gradually returned to the streets.

The homeless themselves were the Safer City Initiative’s most immediate beneficiaries. As the lawlessness in the encampments was pushed back, deaths from drug overdoses, untreated disease, and other non-homicidal causes of mortality diminished as well, falling 36 percent in just three years. Skid Row’s violent crime — the victims of which were almost always other vagrants — decreased 45 percent from the first nine months of 2006, before SCI began, to the first nine months of 2009. The lean-tos faded away as their inhabitants discovered that they could no longer smoke weed and crack in them all day without disturbance.

Skid Row’s radical social-service providers and public-housing advocates declared war on the Safer City Initiative. They directed a nonstop barrage of propaganda and lawsuits against the LAPD…

Those “radical social-service providers” are socialist p.c. do-gooders whose ignorant practices increased the problems of the poor and lined their own pockets. Read Ms. MacDonald’s essay in its entirety. She’s the City Journal expert on law enforcement. In fact, follow that story with this one, a dark tale about the incarcerated, violent mentally ill in New York City. Our good intentions have re-created Bedlam in a more noxious, violent form.

Some questions for our readers:

What is your take on the story of the couple in the Dumpster who were set upon and robbed?

How many homeless people have you known?

How many homeless, mentally ill people have you known?

Finally, do you know how hard it is to make it back to Normal Land once you’ve dropped into The Pit?

I thanked my friend for emailing that story from Wichita because it got my attention. I was reminded that for all our present trouble, the Baron and I are most fortunate: in a land that will come to see more and more homeless, we live without debt in a home of our own. And the limitations of income loss and fibromyalgia can’t begin to compare with the sad loss brought on by chronic homelessness and mental illness.

This is an issue — American homelessness — that I will address from time to time in the future. It’s not just one problem. Homelessness brings chaos, community illness, and serious crime in its wake.

Besides, no man is an island. We are all affected, even if we don’t experience it directly.

The Return of Quetzalcoatl: Chapter 4

César Tort presents Chapter 4 of The Return of Quetzalcoatl. Links to the Preface and Chapters 1 through 3 are at the bottom of this post.

Sentences between squared brackets do not appear in the original Spanish version of the manuscript.

The Return of Quetzalcoatl: Chapter 4
by César Tort

Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind

Many have asked why, if the encephalic mass of primitive man had already reached its present size almost half a million years ago, the technology did not go beyond the rudimentary hand axe. Why through hundreds of thousands of years couldn’t men innovate? It was not until the Mesolithic, between 10,000 and 8,000 BCE when the first signs of structural edifications such as graveyards appear. The archaeologist Ian Hodder believes that the Neolithic revolution of agriculture was the result of a dramatic change in human psychology, but he has no idea why it occurred. As explained in the previous chapter, for psychohistory such revolution in psychology was the result of the transit from the “early” to the “late” mode of childrearing. However, it is a fascinating essay by Julian Jaynes that throws the most light on how, by the end of the second millennium before our era, another huge alteration occurred in human mentality.

In 1976 Jaynes published The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes calls “breakdown” the transit of bicameral mind — two chambers or brain hemispheres — to modern consciousness. The transit is relatively recent, and it represents a healing process from a divided self into a more unified or integrated one. Jaynes describes how society developed from a psychological structure based upon obedience to the god’s voices, to the subjective consciousness of present-day man. Like deMause’s psychohistory, Jaynes’ model caused many of his readers to see mankind from a new perspective. He elaborated a metanarrative purporting to connect the loose pieces of previously unconnected fields — history, anthropology, ancient texts, psychiatry, language, poetry, neurology, religion, Hebrew and Greek studies, the art of ancestral societies, archaeological temples and cuneiform writing — to construct an enormous jigsaw puzzle.

Jaynes asked the bold question of whether the voices that people of the Ancient World heard could have been real, a common phenomenon in the hallucinated voices of present-day schizophrenics. He postulated that, in a specific lapse of history a metamorphosis of consciousness occurred from one level to another; that our present state of consciousness emerged a hundred or two hundred generations ago, and that previously human behavior derived from hearing voices in a world plagued with shamanism, magical thinking, animism and schizoidism.

In the Ancient World man had a bipartite personality: his mind was broken, bicameralized, schizophrenized. “Before the second millennium B.C., everyone was schizophrenic,” Jaynes claims about those who heard voices of advice or guides attributed to dead chiefs, parents or known personages. “Often it is in times of stress when a parent’s comforting voice may be heard.” It seems that this psychic structure of a divided or bicameral self went back to cavemen. Later in the first cities, the period that deMauseans would call late infanticidal childrearing (Jaynes never mentions deMause or psychohistory), the voices were attributed to deities. “The preposterous hypothesis we have come to is that at one time human nature was split in two, an executive part called god, and a follower part called man. Neither was conscious. This is almost incomprehensible to us.” Preconscious humans did not have an ego like ours; rational thought would spring up in a late stage of history, especially in Greece. However, orthodox Hellenists usually do not ask themselves why, for a millennium, the Greeks relied on instructions coming from a group of auditory hallucinating women in Delphi, even in times when they were threatened by their enemies. To explain similar cultural phenomena, Jaynes lays emphasis upon the role that voices played in the identities, costumes and group interactions; and concludes that the high civilizations of Egypt, the Middle East, Homeric Greece and Mesoamerica were developed by a primitive unconscious.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind describes the theodicy in which, three thousand years ago, subjectivity and the ego flourished. For the common man consciousness is the state of awareness of the mind; say, the conscious state at waking. Jaynes uses the term in a more restricted way: consciousness as the subjective universe, the self-analyzing or self-conscious mind; the “I,” the will and morality of an individual, as well as the development of the linear concept of time (which used to be cyclic to the archaic mind, perhaps due to the observation of the stations of the year). The man who left behind his bicameral thinking developed a more robust sense of self, and Jaynes finds narrative evidence of this acting self in the literary record. He examines Amos, the voice of the oldest Old Testament text and compares it with the Ecclesiastes, the most recent one. Likewise, Jaynes scrutinizes the Iliad looking for tracks of a subjective self, and finds nothing. The Homeric heroes did what Athena or Apollo told them; they literally heard their gods’ voices as the prophets listened to Yahweh’s. Their psyches did not display brightness of their own yet. (If we remember the metaphor of my first book, the mentality of ancient man was similar to what astronomers call a “maroon dwarf”: a failed star like Jupiter, not a sun with enough mass to cause nuclear fusion so that it could shine on its own.) Matters change with the texts of Odysseus’ adventures, and even more with the philosophers of the Ionian islands and of Athens. At last the individual had accumulated enough egocentric mass to explode and to shine by itself. Jaynes believes that it was not until the Greek civilization that the cataclysm that represented the psychogenic fusion consolidated itself.
– – – – – – – –
By Solon’s times it may be said that the modern self, as we understand it, had finally exploded. The loquacious gods, including the Hebraic Yahweh, became silent never to speak again but through the bicameral prophets. After the breakdown of divine authority, with the gods virtually silenced in the times of the Deuteronomy, the Judean priests and governors embarked upon a frenetic project to register the legends and stories of the voices that, in times of yore, had guided them. It was no longer necessary to hallucinate sayings that the god had spoken: man himself was the standard upon which considerations, decisions, and behaviors on the world rested. In the dawning of history man had subserviently obeyed his gods, but when the voice of consciousness appears, rebelliousness, dissidence, and even heresy are possible.

Through his book, which may be called a treatise of psycho-archeology, Jaynes follows the track of how subjective consciousness emerged. His ambitious goal is to explain the birth of consciousness, and hence the origin of our civilization. Once the former “maroon dwarfs” achieve luminescence in a group of individuals’ selves, not only religious dissent comes about, but regicide, the pursuit of personal richness and, finally, individual autonomy. This evolution continues its course even today. Paradoxically, when in the West it reaches the stage that deMause calls “helping mode” it entails ill-fated consequences such as Caucasian demographic dilution and the subsequent Islamization (as we shall see in the last section). Although Jaynes speculates that the breakdown of the bicameral mind could have been caused by crises in the environment, by ignoring deMause he does not present the specific mechanism that gave rise to the transition. Due to the foundational taboo of human species, explained by Alice Miller in my previous book and by Colin Ross above, Jaynes did not explore the decisive role played by the modes of childrearing. This blindness permeates The Origin of Consciousness to the point of giving credibility to the claims of biological psychiatry; for example, Jaynes believes in the genetic basis of schizophrenia, a pseudoscientific hypothesis, as shown in my second book. However, his thesis on bicameralism caused his 1976 essay to be repeatedly reprinted, including the 1993 Penguin Books edition and another edition with a 1990 afterword that is still in print.

In the bicameral kingdoms the hallucinated voices of ancient men were culturally accepted as part of the social fabric. But a psychogenic leap forward gives as much power to the new psychoclass as the Australopithecus character of 2001: A Space Odyssey grabbing a bone. “How could an empire whose armies had triumphed over the civilizations of half a continent be captured by a small band of 150 Spaniards in the early evening of November 16, 1532?” The conquest of the Inca Empire was one of a handful of military confrontations between the two states of consciousness. A deMausean interpretation would lead us to think that it was a clash between the infanticidal psychoclass and an intermediate state of ambivalent and intrusive modes of childrearing. If we take into consideration the table published in the previous chapter the Spaniards were up the scale at least three, if not four, psychogenic leaps.

This reading of history is diametrically opposed to Bartolomé de Las Casas, who in his Apologética Historia claimed that in some moral aspects the Amerindians were superior to the Spanish and even to Greeks and Romans. Today’s Western self-hatred had its precursor in Las Casas, who flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In identical fashion, in the twenty-first century it is irritating to see in educational TV programs an American in Peru saying that the Incas of the times of the Conquest “were much smarter than the Spanish.” The truth is that the Incas did not even know how to use the wheel and lacked written language. They literally heard their statues speak to them and their bicameral mind handicapped them before the more robust psyche of the Europeans: something like an Australopithecus clan clashing with another without bones in their hands. The Spaniards were, certainly, very religious; but not to the point of using magical thinking in their warfare stratagems. According to a sixteenth-century Spaniard, “the unhappy dupes believed the idols spoke to them and so sacrificed to it birds, dogs, their own blood and even men” (this quotation refers to Mesoamericans, the subject-matter of the next section). The Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa believes that his ancestors were defeated due to a pragmatic and basically modern European mentality in contrast to the magical thinking of the natives; and the Mexican Carlos Fuentes wrote that the conquest of the American continent was a great triumph of the scientific hypothesis over the indigenous physical perception.

Jaynes overemphasizes that the prophets of the Old Testament literally heard Yahweh’s voice. Because the minds in the Ancient World, like present-day schizoid personalities, were swarmed with sources of hallucination, humans still lacked an inner space for retrospection and introspection. Bible scholars have debated at length about what could have caused the loss of prophecy gifts in the Hebrew people after the Babylonian exile. I would say that the elimination of the sacrificial practice of infants meant a leap toward a superior psychoclass, with the consequent overcoming of the schizoid or bicameral personality.

But going back to Jaynes: Formerly terrestrial and loquacious, the later mute gods were translated to a heaven, making room for human divination: the consultation of human beings that (for having been raised by more regressive parents I may infer) still heard the fateful voices. Even though the divine voices made themselves unnecessary for the new kind of human, praying continued to a god who was incapable, centuries ago, of communicating through divine voices.

The entire succession of [Old Testament] works becomes majestically and wonderfully the birth pangs of our subjective consciousness. No other literature has recorded this absolutely important event at such length or with such fullness. Chinese literature jumps into subjectivity in the teaching of Confucius with little before it. Indian hurtles from the bicameral Veda into the ultra subjective Upanishads. Greek literature, like a series of steppingstones from The Iliad to the Odyssey and across the broken fragments of Sappho and Solon toward Plato, is the next best record, but still too incomplete. And Egypt is relatively silent.

Jaynes’ book is dense, closely argued, and despite its beautiful prose often boring. But the chapter on the Hebrew people titled “The Moral Consciousness of the Khabiru” is must reading. If he is right, it was not until the fifth century before the common era when the bicameral mind began to be seen as the incapacitating disorder that is presently labeled as psychosis. In contrast to the mystic psychohistorian Robert Godwin, I am closer to Jaynes in that one of the most persistent residues of bicameralism is our religious heritage.

Jaynes, who died in 1997, may be the proverbial author of a single book. But many people continue to read The Origin of Consciousness. Tor Norretranders, a popular author on scientific subjects, expanded the bicameral hypothesis in a book published a year after Jaynes died, The User Illusion, and he cites more recent investigations than those collected by Jaynes.

Popperian falsifiability

Despite the book’s popularity and the fact that Jaynes taught in Princeton University and did archaeological work, his colleagues did not pay him much attention. Many academics reject theories that have been presented through literary books. It is understandable that a book with such lyric passages has been ignored by the dry science taught in the psychology departments; by neurobiologists, and by evolutionary theorists. Jaynes, basically a humanist, had not presented his theory in a scientific or falsifiable format.

I explained what falsifiability is at the end of my second book. Even I have been asked by an editor to present the trauma model [of mental disorders] in “falsifiable“ form, the Karl Popper term. Adepts of social sciences grant such authority to the hard sciences that, when they run across a text that emphasizes the humanities, they want to see everything translated to the language of science. They do this in spite of the fact that, in the reign of subjectivity, hard sciences are incapable of producing something truly significant. Notwithstanding this scientific demand, I concede that if we humanists make claims that could be interpreted as scientific hypotheses, it doesn’t hurt to present them in such a way that they may be refuted, if per chance they are wrong. Consequently, I must make it very clear that the trauma model, that I introduced in my previous books, is falsifiable.

For instance, it occurs to me that, if the model is correct, in the Israeli kibbutz children cannot be easily schizophrenized. The cause of this would be, naturally, that in the kibbutz they are put farther away from potentially schizophrenogenic parents than the children in nuclear families (let alone the Palestinian families that openly promote terrorist self-immolation among their offspring, assisted by their national television). Something similar could be said about Jaynes’ ideas. His hypothesis can be presented in falsifiable form always provided that the presentation is done through a deMausean interpretation of it, as we shall see in the sixth discursion.

Once it is conceded that even humanists who venture into foreign lands can present their theories in falsifiable form, I must point out that very few academics, including psychologists, are willing to delve into the darkest chambers of the human psyche. To them it is disturbing that prehistoric man, and a good deal of the historic man including their ancestors, had behaved as marionettes of hallucinated voices or nonexistent gods. Jaynes’ ideas represent a serious challenge to history as it is officially understood and even more to religion, anthropology, and psychiatry. He seems to postulate that a scant connectivity of the two brain hemispheres produced voices, and that the changes in consciousness caused the brain to become more interconnected through the corpus callosum. In case I have interpreted him correctly, I am afraid it is not possible to run tomographs on those who died millennia ago to compare, say, the brain of the bicameral pythoness against the brain of the intellectual Solon. Let’s ignore this non-falsifiable aspect and focus on hypotheses that may be advanced by epidemiologists in the field of social sciences. Studying the changes of incidence patterns of child mistreatment through history or contemporary cultures is a perfectly falsifiable scientific approach.

In the book reviews of The Origin of Consciousness available on the internet it can be gathered that the experience of many readers was as electrifying as a midnight ray that allowed them to see, albeit for a split second, the human reality. If the ultimate test for any theory is to explain the most data in the simplest way, we should not ignore the psycho-histories of Jaynes and deMause. If they are right, the explanatory power of an unified model would help us understand part of the human mystery, especially religion and psychosis.

The Return of Quetzalcoatl

Forthcoming chapter:

  • One More Class: Silvano Arieti

©2008 César Tort

Fjordman: A Brief History of Zero and Indian Numerals

Fjordman will begin a small series of essays next week with a focus on mathematics and mathematical astronomy. Below are some excerpts from his brief introductory post at the Brussels Journal:

I heard the claim from one European reader that “The Arab world invented the zero, and it’s been downhill ever since.” This is false, but unfortunately not an uncommon mistake. Our numeral system dates back to India during the post-Roman era, but it came to Europe via the medieval Middle East which is why these numbers are called “Arabic” numbers in many European languages. Yet even Muslims admit that they imported these numerals from India. Calling them “Arabic” numerals is this therefore deeply misleading. “Hindu-Arabic” number system could be accepted, but the preferred term should be “Indian numerals.”

The question nevertheless remains why Indians dropped their own multiplicative system and introduced the place-value system, including a symbol for zero. We currently don’t know for sure. Victor J. Katz elaborates in his fine A History of Mathematic, Second Edition:

“It has been suggested, however, that the true origins of the system in India may be found in the Chinese counting board. Counting boards were portable. Certainly, Chinese traders who visited India brought them along. In fact, since southeast Asia is the border between Hindu culture and Chinese influence, it may well have been the area in which the interchange took place. Perhaps what happened was that the Indians were impressed with the idea of using only nine symbols, but they took for their symbols the ones they had already been using. They then improved the Chinese system of counting rods by using exactly the same symbols for each place value rather than alternating two types of symbols in the various places. And because they needed to be able to write numbers in some form, rather than just have them on the counting board, they were forced to use a symbol, the dot and later the circle, to represent the blank column of the counting board. If this theory is correct, it is somewhat ironic that Indian scientists then returned the favor and brought this new system back to China early in the eighth century.”

– – – – – – – –

Some Sanskrit works were introduced to Europe via Arabic translations. One Latin manuscript begins with the words “Dixit Algorismi,” or “al-Khwarizmi says.” The word “algorismi,” through some misunderstandings became a term referring to various arithmetic operations and the source of the word algorithm. “Zero” derives from sifr, Latinized into “zephirum.” The word sifr itself was an Arabic translation of Sanskrit sunya, meaning “empty.” The English word “sine” comes from a series of mistranslations of the Sanskrit jya-ardha (chord-half). Aryabhata frequently abbreviated this term to jya or jiva. When some Hindu works were translated into Arabic, this word was transcribed phonetically into jiba. But since Arabic is a consonantal alphabet usually written without added short vowels, later writers interpreted the consonants jb as jaib, which means bosom or breast. When an Arabic work of trigonometry was translated into Latin, the translator used the equivalent Latin word sinus, which also meant bosom. This Latin word has become our modern English “sine.”

Leonardo of Pisa (ca. 1170-1240), often known as Fibonacci (son of Bonaccio), was an Italian and the first great Western mathematician after the decline of ancient Greek science. The son of a merchant from the city of Pisa with contacts in North Africa, Leonardo himself travelled much in the region. He is most famous for his masterpiece the Liber abbaci or Book of Calculation. The word abbaci (from abacus) does not refer to a computing device but to calculation in general. The first edition appeared in 1202, and a revised one was published in 1228. This work enjoyed a wide European readership and contained rules for computing with the new Indian numerals. The examples were often inspired by examples from Arabic-language treatises, but filtered through Leonardo’s creative and original genius. Indian numerals faced powerful opposition for generations but were gradually adopted during the Renaissance period, especially by Italian merchants. Their practical advantages compared to the more cumbersome Roman numerals were simply too great to ignore, although Roman numerals are still used for certain limited purposes in the West in the twenty-first century.

Read the rest at the Brussels Journal.

Targeting the Disabled in Hamburg

Cultural Enrichment News

I’ve written previously about violent cultural enrichers who attacked a mentally retarded person, and also a group that assaulted a disabled person in a wheelchair. These are not isolated incidents, but part of a general pattern.

Muslim immigrants bring with them a tribal background, and their offspring often become predators who hunt in packs. Like lions picking off the aged or ailing stragglers in a zebra herd, they select the weakest and most easily defeated targets among the infidels. Non-Muslims are held in contempt — they are perceived as having no common humanity. To the “youths” they are simply resources there for the taking, to be exploited when the opportunity arises.

And so it was in Hamburg a couple of days ago. Many thanks to Kitman for translating the following article from the Hamburger Morgen Post:

Beating Attack on Law Student

First they kicked him to the ground, and then they just kept on kicking him in the head over and over again.

In the middle of Hamburg, the severely handicapped American exchange student Joshua S. (28) was almost beaten to death. Motive: They assumed he was gay.

Sunday morning at around 1.40 AM: Joshua S was out on the town with a friend, Neville (22), an exchange student from South Africa. They had been out partying and wanted to go home. They share an apartment in the Osterstrasse. Joshua S. was born in Texas, studied law in New York, and is now finishing his degree at the elite university Bucerius Law School in Hamburg.

They passed over Hansaplatz and through Zimmerpforte. Four muscular youths were sitting in an entrance. “They were around fifteen years old, southerners [a euphemism for cultural enrichers, often Turks]” Joshua recalls. All of a sudden the harassment began. “Eh, are you gay or what? F***ing faggots!” The two friends aren’t fluent in German, and did what they were supposed to do in that type of situation. They walked quietly away without looking at the youths.

– – – – – – – –

But to no avail. “Suddenly someone kicks me in the back,” Joshua recalls. Then things started to happen really fast. He fell to the ground. The attackers kept on kicking him in the head over and over again. “I told them to stop,” but they didn’t stop.

Neville ran down Kirchenweg to get help. But Joshua could not escape. One side of his body is paralysed after an accident in the New York subway four years ago. He hobbles. He has a titanium disc under the skin of his skull. “It probably saved him from some injuries,” his girlfriend Anna-Sophie B. assumes. “The perpetrators obviously saw that he had a walking disability, but attacked him anyway.”

As the attackers kept on kicking him, he began to pray out loud, in German. “I hoped that it would make them leave me alone.” Wrong: It wasn’t until Neville returned, accompanied by a third person, that they took off. After stealing Joshua’s iPod, that is. Joshua was brought to the AK St. George hospital severely injured. His right eye is so swollen that he can’t see out of it.

The police are searching for witnesses. Anyone who saw this brutal assault should make a report to Polizeikommisariat 11 (Steindamm 82, tel. 428651110).

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/28/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/28/2009A vendor in a mall Johnson City, Tennessee was forced asked to close his kiosk by the mall’s owners when he refused to remove various anti-Obama items, including his popular “Nobama” T-shirt. The vendor insisted that he was only responding to customer demand, and would have carried anti-Republican merchandise if anyone had requested it.

In other news, two Turkish police chiefs were forced to resign after videos revealing their gay relationship were released.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, CSP, DP111, Fjordman, Gaia, Insubria, JD, Larwyn, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
– – – – – – – –

A Surveillance Society or a Free Society?
Chicago: Teen Attacked, Beaten to Death in Melee
Chicago: 3 Charged in Beating Death of Student
Frank Gaffney: A Virus Called Shariah
How Much Government Control in Cybercrisis?
No More Business for “Nobama” Salesman
Obama’s Population Control Czar
Purported Non Muslim President Obama Makes High Level Muslim Appointment to DHS
Stop Allowing the Left to Set the Rules
The Destroyers Who Control Congress, The White House & Media
UN: Gaddafi Superstar in New York, Following His Show
Your Choice: Get Off the Couch or Socialism
Europe and the EU
France: UNESCO Leader’s Victory ‘Bridges Gap Between East and West’
France Seeks to Woo Islamic Investments
France: Huge ‘Play-Shopping’ Centre Built in Montpellier
Fresh Doubts Over Hitler’s Death After Tests on Bullet Hole Skull Reveal it Belonged to a Woman
Italy-Serbia: Importance of Strategic Collaboration, Urso
Italy: Berlusconi Makes Fresh Obama ‘Sun-Tan Gaffe’
Italy: Milan Magistrates Accuse Google of Concealing Data
Sweden: Migration Board Firing of Pro-Israel Blogger ‘Violated Constitution’
Sweden: Arson Suspected in Södertälje Blaze
Swedish Police ‘Knew of Helicopter Heist Plans’
UK: Council Hires Hoodie Spies to Rummage Through Bins and See What is Being Thrown Away
UK: Ed Balls Spends £3m on Office Makeover… Including Massage Room and Muslim Prayer Area
UK: Jedi Religion Founder Accuses Tesco of Discrimination Over Rules on Hoods
UK: Mark of Madness: Police Refuse to Show Suspect’s Birthmark in ID Parade… Because of His Human Rights
UK: Police Tell Mother Attacked by Yobs at Home: ‘We Won’t Send Anyone… It May Escalate the Problem’
UK: Schoolgirl,14, Dies After Being Given Cervical Cancer Jab
UK: Thug Who Murdered Father of Three Boasts About His ‘Cushy’ Life Inside Prison on Facebook
Fiat: New Model From Serbian Factories Announced
Finmeccanica: Selex Sistemi, 6.4-Mln Euro Contract in Serbia
Foreign Trade: Urso, Mission in Serbia With 100 Firms
Serbia: Intesa Bank Approves 195 Million Euros of Credits
Serbia: Minister Announces Larger Export of Weapons
Serbia: Bosnian Convicted of War Crimes
North Africa
Nuclear: Algeria Has 29,000 Tonnes of Uranium Reserves
Terrorism: Morocco, 24 People Arrested
Israel and the Palestinians
Settlements: Israel, Another Small Batch of Permits
Trilateral: Israel Relief, Palestinians Disappointed
Middle East
Defense: Turkish Army Orders Extra Chinook Helicopters
Energy: Turkey Eyes Term Extension on Iraq Oil Pipeline Deal
Energy: Turkey Determined to Build Nuclear Reactor, Minister
EU Inconsistent on Peace Process, Human Rights NGOs
Iraq: Multiple Attacks Kill Many in Fresh Violence
Turkey: Two Police Chiefs Had to Resign for Gay Relationship
South Asia
All Students in Pakistan’s Schools Required to Study Islam
Bishop of Rawalpindi: Pakistani Christians, “Unity and Light” In the Midst of Persecution
Denmark: Auditors: Not Enough Soldiers
Italy: Monsignor Crociata Elucidates Concept of Welcome Reception
Italy: Latin American Immigrants on the Rise
Aztecs and the Decline of Western Civilization
The Group of Twenty and the Evolution of Global Governance


A Surveillance Society or a Free Society?

The Big Question — should government control the people or should the people control government?

Orwell’s prediction of a future big brother government came true. Whether acknowledged or not, Americans now live in a surveillance society.

Most of that American public falls into one of the categories the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calls “potential threats;” environmentalists, animal lovers, anti-war protestors, pro-lifers, evangelical Christians, observant Jews, Constitutionalists, returning veterans, and third party candidate supporters are all “potential domestic terrorists.”

Just how far is the American public willing to let the government go in order to assure public safety? Do the people want the police on every block, all emails read by the government, phone calls overheard, or every financial transaction monitored? Do the people want sensors placed in cities that detect how much an individual perspires, in order to assess and monitor supposed guilt?

How about computer software programs that decide whether or not the way people walk or dress presents a threat to the government? In Britain citizens are captured on surveillance cameras an average of 300 times a day; does the American public want to be subjected to this level of scrutiny?

The Real ID Act 2005 mandated that facial recognition technology be used for all drivers’ license photos; facial recognition, a biometric, measures distances between facial characteristics — specific parts of the mouth, eyes, nose and so on — and digitizes this information. Using this technology, each citizen would be enrolled into a single global biometric identification system.

No matter where a person is — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma or Paris, France — that person can be identified with the use of facial recognition technology. Closed circuit television cameras/surveillance cameras (CCTV) and linked computer systems make possible remote surveillance and global information sharing.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Chicago: Teen Attacked, Beaten to Death in Melee

[See article for very graphic video]

This is the hard lesson some students at Fenger High School have to deal with after a day of learning. For them it’s a hard lesson of reality on the streets.

Thursday after school, two rival gangs got into a fight three blocks from the high school.

In all four students were beaten in that melee — one was released from the hospital Friday morning.

While police continue their investigation, some students say they don’t want to go back to Fenger next week.

Rival gang members have been fighting for a month — and each time one of their fellow classmates is injured.

No knives and no guns were used in Thursday’s fight. Just fists, feet and boards.

Derrion Albert, 16, was struck in the head by one of those boards.

Seconds later the honor student hit the pavement. That’s when witnesses, who are other high school students, say gangbangers began stomping on and punching Albert.

Derrion Albert’s mom said witnesses told her he was “trying to help another student and kind of got mixed in with the crowd of the fight and he was hit.”

A senior who witnessed the whole thing says the melee lasted less than five minutes.

The video shows students and workers from a nearby community center rescue the boy — but many out there knew it was too late.

Surveillance videos are mounted on businesses in the Roseland area, but Chicago Police say those don’t show faces.

Police have a copy of this footage and it may help identify Albert’s killers.

But while that investigation goes on, students say they will remember Derrion Albert as a good kid. A quiet, smart kid with no gang affiliation. But just a kid who may not have had enough street smarts to go another way.

If you can identify any of the people allegedly involved in the death of Derrion Albert, please call Area Two of the Chicago Police Dept. That number is 312-747-8272.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Chicago: 3 Charged in Beating Death of Student

CHICAGO — Three teenagers were charged Monday in the beating death of a 16-year-old Chicago honor roll student on his way home from school, a melee captured on a cell phone video that shows a group striking him with boards and kicking him as he lay on a sidewalk.

The death of Derrion Albert, a sophomore at Christian Fenger Academy High School, on Thursday has reignited community outrage over chronic violence involving city students and is putting pressure on school and police officials to address gang problems that often are at the root of such violence. More than 30 students were killed in 2008, according to district figures, and the city could exceed that toll in 2009.

But some community members said the solution lies with parents.

“It is our problem. We have to take control of our children,” said Dawn Allen, who attended a vigil at the school Monday, where a group of residents tried to force their way into the school before being turned back by police.

Albert was attacked around 3 p.m. Thursday in front of Agape Community Center in the south Chicago neighborhood of Roseland, where he was walking to a bus stop, authorities said.

The violence stemmed from a shooting early Thursday morning involving two groups of students, said Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County prosecutor’s office. When school ended, members of the two groups began fighting.

The attack, captured in part on a bystander’s cell phone video, shows Albert being struck on the head by one of several young men wielding wooden planks. After he falls to the ground an appears to try to get up, he is struck again and then kicked.

Prosecutors charged Silvonus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, and Eric Carson, 16, with first-degree murder, and they were ordered held without bond on Monday, said Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the Cook County prosecutor’s office.

Simonton said Albert was a bystander and not part of either group. She said Albert was knocked unconscious when Carson struck him in the head with a board and the second person punched him in the face. Albert regained consciousness and was trying to get up when he was attacked a second time by five people and was struck in the head with a board by Riley and stomped in the head by Shannon, Simonton said.

Desiyan Bacon, Riley’s aunt, attended Monday’s vigil at the school and said her nephew didn’t have anything to do with the beating and was a friend of the victim.

“They need to stop the crime, but when they do it, they need to get the right person,” Bacon said.

[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: A Virus Called Shariah

A Denver airport shuttle driver from Afghanistan who plotted to blow up subway trains in New York City. A Jordanian who tried to destroy one of Dallas’ tallest skyscrapers. An American who thought he was detonating a truck bomb aimed at a federal courthouse in Springfield, Illinois. Law enforcement authorities who successfully stymied these alleged attacks have been at pains to emphasize that there are no connections between the three. Of course there are…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

How Much Government Control in Cybercrisis?

At least 18 bills have been introduced as Congress considers digital disaster

Yet when a Senate committee was exploring ways to secure computer networks, a provision to give the president the power to shut down Internet traffic to compromised Web sites in an emergency set off alarms.

Corporate leaders and privacy advocates quickly objected, saying the government must not seize control of the Internet.

Lawmakers dropped it, but the debate rages on. How much control should federal authorities have over the Web in a crisis? How much should be left to the private sector? It does own and operate at least 80 percent of the Internet and argues it can do a better job.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

No More Business for “Nobama” Salesman

Dan Fuchs said business was just starting to pick up at his kiosk in the Mall at Johnson City.

Fuchs’ business, the Graphic Edge, printed slogans and pictures on items such as coffee cups, bumper stickers and T-shirts. He said more than half of his business came from the sale of anti-Obama merchandise. Bumper stickers with slogans such as “SOS: Stop Obama’s Socialism,” “Nobama,” and “Chicago got the party, but the country got the hangover” were displayed around the small stand.

Now it appears Fuchs is out of business at the mall, but mall officials say this decision was not based upon political views.

Friday afternoon, Fuchs was handed a lease termination notice by mall officials and signed by Mall General Manager Tembra Aldridge. The letter states that the option to terminate the lease agreement is effective 11:59 p.m. today and that he must vacate the mall premises and remove his property before then.

Fuchs said he was given no reason for this termination and was shocked and upset. Thursday evening, Fuchs said mall officials met with him and told him to take down the anti-Obama items on display by closing time or face immediate eviction.

“I was upset about it, of course,” he said Friday prior to receiving the notice. “That’s my livelihood.”

Fuchs had been in business at the mall for around two months and hadn’t initially set out to create anti-Obama items. One day, he said a customer asked for an anti-Obama shirt to be printed. A few days later, he said another customer asked for another similar item.

The some of these items were put on display and most were completed upon customer request, Fuchs said. He said that around 60 percent of items being sold out of the kiosk was anti-Obama merchandise.

By Friday morning, Fuchs said these items had been take down.

Marsha Hammond, the mall’s marketing director, has a different take on that meeting. She said that Aldridge and Melinda Davis, the mall’s specialty leasing representative, suggested that Fuchs also display items in support of Obama. The mall had received several complaints from customers regarding the anti-Obama items, she said. Hammond also said that it was Fuchs’ decision to remove the items completely from display.

“That is not true,” Fuchs said. “I was given no choice. I was given, (Thursday) night at about 4:30, the option of taking it down or get out, receive an eviction at closing time.”

Fuchs said that while he never anticipated any, he was aware of customer complaints prior to Thursday’s meeting. Hammond said, and Fuchs confirmed, that several weeks prior to Thursday’s meeting, Davis came by the kiosk to suggest Fuchs display pro-Obama items which would allow him to continue to display anti-Obama items. Friday, prior to receiving the termination notice, Fuchs said he would comply with this suggestion.

The anti-Obama merchandise sold at the kiosk is not necessary his viewpoint, Fuchs said. He again said most were completed upon customer request and were displayed as work samples.

“I support his office,” he said “I might not like him, but I support his office.”

Fuchs also said that he would have printed anti-Republican items at customer request and has refused to print some vulgar items. He said that his stand wasn’t exclusive to the display of anti-Obama items, but bumper stickers with slogans such as “Support Our Troops” and “ETSU Pride” were also on display. Still, he said the anti-Obama items typically got a good response from mall patrons passing by.

“People would look at them and laugh or whatever, and I would always ask ‘what do you think about it? Do you approve?’ or some silly little remark,” he said. “And I would say that probably 95 percent were positive, only 5 percent were not.”

While Hammond said the mall is a private property and officials do not wish to see it used as a political forum, she said the mall does not conduct its business based on political views and that the termination of Fuchs’ lease is due to a matter between him and the mall.

Before he received the lease termination, Fuchs said his lease was set to expire Dec. 31 and that he planned to be around for the holiday season.

“I certainly hope I’m here to take care of the Christmas business,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Larwyn [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Population Control Czar

This site ( , contains a damning indictment against Holdren and the White House. Even if half of what is listed is true, this man is putting forth pure evil. What is even more disturbing is that Barack Obama was impressed enough with Holdren’s philosophy to appoint him to the Science Czar position.

The site also answers every possible argument against the indictment. Any reasonable person would have to agree with the assertion of Holdren’s danger to this country and by extension, that of our sitting chief executive.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Purported Non Muslim President Obama Makes High Level Muslim Appointment to DHS

by Vincent Gioia

Purported non Muslim Barack Hussein Obama made a presidential appointment of Muslim Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan for a top job at the federal Department of Homeland Security. In his new job Arif Alikhan will be Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy Development at the Department of Homeland Security. Alikhan has been Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles — in charge of public safety for the city.

Why Muslim Alikhan at the Department of Homeland Security you might ask? DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said Alikhan’s “broad and impressive array of experience in national security, emergency preparedness and counterterrorism will make him an asset” — yes, but on behalf of the US or Muslims? I am not sure what she is talking about and she probably doesn’t know either:

Alikhan says a big part of his job will be fostering communication between agencies. Alikhan, like Obama, also wants to help improve America’s image with Muslims around the world. He will now set policy on security at the highest levels of the federal government. But what policies has the new Assistant Secretary embraced?

During his years in Los Angeles, Alikhan was responsible for derailing the Police Department’s plan to monitor activities within the Los Angeles Muslim community, where numerous radical mosques and madrassas existed, and where some of the 9/11 hijackers had received support from local residents.

Alikhan is strongly anti-Israel; he has referred to the terrorist organization Hezbollah as a “liberation movement.” Hezbollah is on the US official terrorist list while being an affiliate of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Alikhan also opposed President George W. Bush’s prosecution of the war on Islamic terror.

In 2007 Alikhan was instrumental in removing the Muslim terror tracking plan in LA. The Muslim ‘Mapping’ Plan of the Los Angeles Police Department is now “dead on arrival” according to Chief William Bratton. “It is over and not just put on the side,” said Chief Bratton in a meeting with the Muslim leadership of Southern California at that time. The meeting was moderated by Arif Alikhan.

Chief Bratton acknowledged the hurt and offense caused to Muslims and agreed to send a letter to the Muslim community announcing the official termination of the ‘mapping’ plan.

A major reason for the termination of the ‘mapping’ plan was the Muslim community’s vociferous opposition and active civic engagement in making themselves heard beyond Los Angeles. Muslim organizations demonstrated a strong unity of purpose and message on the issue of ‘mapping’ that led to a position of strength for Muslims in the meeting. Those involved in the initial phases of this controversy were the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs arm.

Muslim Democrats welcomed Alikhan’s appointment at a banquet/fundraiser for the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California recently where the first speaker was Arif Alikhan, a devout Sunni and the son of Pakistani immigrants:,1518,505573,00.

Other speakers included Professor Agha Saeed of the American Muslim Task Force (AMT) who spoke about “the struggle of the Muslim Community against the pervasive atmosphere of Islamophobia and hatred in the aftermath of 9/11.. It was a struggle against the tide — a very strong tide — to prevent Muslims in America from being marginalized and silenced.”

Professor Saeed issued five demands from Muslims to the Department of Justice. These demands included a cessation to the infiltration by spies of mosques and an end to the introduction of agents provocateur. In addition there was to be a cessation of attempts to undermine Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Un-indicted co-conspirator CAIR was thrilled at the appointment:

Last week, Napolitano swore in Damascus-born Kareem Shora, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)’s national executive director, to a position on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, an outside-the-department group of national security experts that advises the Secretary. Shora is the first Arab rights advocate on the panel. Shora has with ties to terror backers:

One may wonder how does an obscure (but Democrat) bureaucrat and devout Muslim come to the position of Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles — in charge of public safety for the city and now becomes Assistant Secretary to DHS under purported non Muslim Democrat President Barack Hussein Obama?

           — Hat tip: DP111 [Return to headlines]

Stop Allowing the Left to Set the Rules

The rules set by the Left are extremely clear. Racist images of black conservatives and negative images of Bush are fair game. Even a play about murdering President Bush was called “harmless art.” Meanwhile, all unflattering images of Obama are racist, and constitute dangerous, potentially violent, hate speech.

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called Congressman Joe Wilson a racist for saying, “You lie” to president Obama. Using her psychic powers, Dowd said Wilson was really saying in his mind, “You lie, BOY!” And yet, liberal commentator Julianne Malveaux, saying she hopes black conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife “feeds him a lot of fatty foods so he will die early from heart disease like many black men”, was not considered racist. I am a black conservative singer, songwriter, entertainer and columnist. Liberals have posted comments all over YouTube and C-Span freely using and calling me the “N” word. Because they are libs and I am an uppity, off the liberal plantation, run-away black, all tactics to restore me to my owners are acceptable.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Destroyers Who Control Congress, The White House & Media

One world government means one world religion and that’s where the Rick Warren’s of the world come into play. Warren’s mission is “modern religion.” His crusade is to build a “unified theology” which pushes “civility”. I’ve watched him and he’s very slick. There is a huge effort world wide to “blend” the world’s religions, ending up with some wacky version the “New Age” baloney. The number one goal, of course, is to destroy Christianity in this country. It is essential in fostering communism because communism can only flourish in a Godless nation. Global domination under a brutal, communist, totalitarian force is the ultimate goal.

If it weren’t for other dedicated Americans who also spent decades trying to reach people like me, I would never have found the truth. In the past, there were courageous members of Congress who tried to warn the American people who were not listening back then. It was sex, drugs, rock and roll and good times while the destroyers were hard at work:

Hon. Marjorie S. Holt of Maryland In the House of Representatives January 19, 1976, page 240

“Mrs. Holt. Mr. Speaker, many of us recently received a letter from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, inviting Members of Congress to participate in a ceremonial signing of “A Declaration of Interdependence” on January 30 in Congress Hall, adjacent to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. A number of Members of Congress have been invited to sign this document, lending their prestige to its theme, but I want the record to show my strong opposition to this declaration.

“It calls for surrender of our national sovereignty to international organizations. It declares that our economy should be regulated by international authorities. It proposes that we enter a “new world order” that would redistribute the wealth created by the American people. Mr. Speaker, this is an obscenity that defiles our Declaration of Independence, signed 200 years ago in Philadelphia. We fought a great Revolution for independence and individual liberty, but now it proposed that we participate in a world socialist order.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UN: Gaddafi Superstar in New York, Following His Show

(by Alessandra Baldini) (ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 25 — Muammar Gaddafi is a true superstar in New York, following his appearance at the UN: changing from the Bedouin tunic worn at the opening of the Assembly to a dark suit, the Libyan leader was a show-stealer on US media and in the US political Think Tanks. “I understand the anger of the Lockerbie families,” Gaddafi said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, discussing the enraged reactions to the triumphal welcoming reserved in Tripoli to terrorist Abdelbased al Megrahi, released by Scotland. In the same interview, the Colonel said he hoped for the beginning of a “new era” in the relationship with the US, led by President Barack Obama. During his rambling speech at the UN on Wednesday, Gaddafi called Mr. Obama “a son of Africa”. The Libyan leader, who was in full flow during his UN speech, accusing the Security Council of being “a terrorist organization”, got on his high horse like a consummate politician during a meeting with the experts of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most influential Think Tanks on foreign politics in the US. Afterwards, at the head offices of the Libyan embassy to the UN, he faced US media: on top of the interview with Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, Gaddafi was also interviewed by Time Magazine. “Following an input for our American friends and others, we spoke with Iran and North Korea to dissuade them from pursuing a nuclear programme, following Libyan example. And guess what they said? That what Libya got in exchange was not enough,” said Gaddafi in his interview to Time. Libya gave up its nuclear weapon programme in 2003 and Gaddafi said that “the US have the responsibility to reward and encourage” all the countries that will do the same “so that they will have the resources to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes”. Meanwhile, in the US, following dispute on Megrahi’s welcoming in Tripoli, opposition is growing against aid granted to Libya after its change of position, six years ago. Under pressures from Congress, the State Department announced that it is now reconsidering the decision to allocate 2.5 million USD as aid to Libya, which also include funding of two foundations belonging to the Colonel’s son.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Your Choice: Get Off the Couch or Socialism

The big government tax-and-spend liberals are happy with this irrefutable government power grab of our liberties, while too many conservatives at heart are just sitting on the couch. And since the mainstream media is not connecting the dots about what is really happening, here are some recent examples:

The “Cap & Trade & Tax & Kill” bill was passed in the House of Representatives under the false premise of a global warming crisis. Only eight Republicans voted for this bill, and none of the 211 Democrats read the bill before voting in favor of the bill.

The president and the Democrat-controlled Congress are attempting to confiscate total control of our nation’s health-care system using often disputed and misleading information, while claiming the end result will not be socialized medicine. This claim has been repeatedly shown to be false by dozens of organizations and hundreds of writers.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus attempted to silence the private insurance company Humana Inc. for daring to criticize one part of his proposed health-care bill. (Baucus Bludgeons Humana). This is both an abuse of power through intimidation and a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: UNESCO Leader’s Victory ‘Bridges Gap Between East and West’

Rome, 28 Sept. (AKI) — The newly-elected director general at the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural organisation or UNESCO, Irina Bokova said that despite Italy not supporting her candidacy, her victory was “symbolic” of an end to divisions between east and western Europe. Bokova, Bulgaria’s former foreign minister, is also the first woman and eastern European to lead UNESCO.

“I think it is symbolic that on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, we can celebrate the reunification of Europe, and I think this is an extremely positive signal that a person from eastern Europe is elected to head UNESCO,” said Bokova in an interview with Adnkronos.

“People in eastern Europe know a lot about reforms and social change. Coming from a (former) communist system, perhaps we are even more attached to the values of freedom and human rights…and I will commit myself to promote these values at UNESCO.”

In regard to Italy not supporting her candidacy, Bokova (photo) said it is time to “turn the page”.

“It is important now that we close that chapter and turn the page,” Bokova told Adnkronos, indirectly replying to Italy’s foreign minister Franco Frattini who had previously said he felt “saddened” for the defeat of controversial Egyptian candidate Farouk Hosny, who narrowly lost the election to Bokova by 31 votes to 27.

“I would have probably also felt disappointed if I wouldn’t have won, but it is now time for us to work together,” she said. Her election, however, must still be confirmed by UNESCO’s general assembly.

Italy’s choice for director general of UNESCO, Farouk Hosny, was marred by controversy after he made controversial remarks regarding Israel as well as his support for the Palestinian cause. Previous to the vote, Hosny apologised for the provocative statements he made attacking Israel.

In May 2008, 71 year-old Hosny is reported to have told an Egyptian parliamentarian that he would burn any Hebrew-language textbooks found in the library and cultural centre at Alexandria.

Hosny reiterated his support for the Palestinian people and the “suffering and injustice” they have suffered.

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

France Seeks to Woo Islamic Investments

The French parliament this month has approved changes to legislation to allow Islamic “sukuk” bonds to be issued and the Qatar Islamic Bank has applied to be the first such bank to open in France.

Home to Europe’s biggest Muslim minority, France is hoping to unseat London as the European hub for Islamic banking, offering products that comply with Sharia law and meet the needs of big investors mostly from Gulf countries.

But the drive is raising hackles, with some opposition politicians accusing the government of undermining France’s much prized secularism to accommodate wealthy interests.

“When rich Muslims are concerned, we welcome them. But when they are poor, we put them on planes and deport them. This is all very upsetting,” said Socialist deputy Henri Emmanuelli.

After failing to garner enough votes to derail the bill, the Socialist opposition is challenging the legality of the new legislation on Islamic finance before the Constitutional Council.

“We must not allow principles of Sharia law, or the ethics of the Quran to be introduced into French law,” said Emmanuelli.

Under Sharia law, making money from money such as charging interest is not permitted and investment in companies involved in alcohol, gambling and tobacco is strictly off limits.

“Sukuk” bonds

Much of the debate has focused on opening up the French market to “sukuk” bonds, which are asset-based and do not pay interest. Investors receive coupons corresponding to part of the profits earned by the asset underpinning the bond.

Economists argue that money raised through Islamic finance could help spur France’s nascent recovery with tools that are seen as financially sounder than the high-risk derivatives that led to the 2008 global meltdown.

Elyes Jouini, an author of a report presented to the government last year, estimates that France could tap into 120 billion euros in capital from Islamic finance by making adjustments to its tax and banking laws.

Only €7 billion of those would be raised domestically among France’s five million Muslims.

“There are extremely important financial reserves in Gulf countries and southeast Asia and these countries are ready to invest anywhere but they have specific rules in terms of ethics and in terms of the choice of investment,” said Jouini.

“If France wants to attract this capital to its economy, it must offer the possibility for these investors to do so according to the rules of Islamic finance,” he said.

Fear of the unknown

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde and Central Bank governor Christian Noyer are to address a major conference in Paris this week that could yield some announcements on promoting Islamic finance in the French economy.

France’s far-right National Front has denounced Islamic finance as a “community-based peril” resulting from immigration.

Jouini said opposition to the changes stems from “fear of the unknown.”

“The term Islamic is confused with Islamist, the term Sharia raises fears because some think of women forced to cover themselves, the word fatwa raises fears because some think of Salman Rushdie, but a fatwa is nothing more than a decree,” said Jouini.

“Islamic finance draws from the ethical principles of Muslim law but it obviously obeys Republican laws. It is not outside the boundaries of legality or civil society,” he said.

The drive to open up to Islamic finance came as a parliament task force was looking at measures to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil in France, reviving controversy over Islam’s place there.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

France: Huge ‘Play-Shopping’ Centre Built in Montpellier

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — The shopping centre Odysseum, a structure over a surface area of 50,000 square metres at the edge of Montpellier (southern France), was inaugurated yesterday and today will opening its doors to the public. Inside the Odysseum, called by the president of the Montpellier community (city and suburbs) a “play-shopping” centre and the one of its kind in Europe, includes a hypermarket, 96 shops, a cinema complex with 17 screens, a bowling hall, a skating track, an aquarium and several restaurants. According to Freche, the shopping centre, which cost about 110 million euros, plus 50 million for the hypermarket, is expected to go from 6 million to 12 million customers per year, a forecast which is giving rise to concerns on the part of small shop owners in Montpellier.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Fresh Doubts Over Hitler’s Death After Tests on Bullet Hole Skull Reveal it Belonged to a Woman

Adolf Hitler may not have shot himself dead and perhaps did not even die in his bunker, it emerged yesterday.

A skull fragment believed for decades to be the Nazi leader’s has turned out to be that of a woman under 40 after DNA analysis.

Scientists and historians had long thought it to be conclusive proof that Hitler shot himself in the head after taking a cyanide pill on 30 April 1945 rather than face the ignominy of capture.


But DNA analysis has now been performed on the bone by American researchers.

‘We know the skull corresponds to a woman between the ages of 20 and 40,’ said University of Connecticut archeologist Nick Bellantoni.

‘The bone seemed very thin; male bone tends to be more robust. And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40.’ Hitler was 56 in April 1945.

Mr Bellantoni flew to Moscow to take DNA swabs at the State Archive and was also shown the bloodstained remains of the bunker sofa on which Hitler and Braun were believed to have killed themselves.

‘I had the reference photos the Soviets took of the sofa in 1945 and I was seeing the exact same stains on the fragments of wood and fabric in front of me, so I knew I was working with the real thing,’ he said.

His astonishing results have been broadcast in the U.S. in a History Channel documentary titled Hitler’s Escape.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Italy-Serbia: Importance of Strategic Collaboration, Urso

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, SEPTEMBER 24 — The strategic importance of economic and trade collaboration between Italy and Serbia was stressed by Deputy Economic Development Minister in charge of Foreign Trade, Adolfo Urso, speaking today in Belgrade at a Forum on ‘Investment opportunities in Serbia’. “I personally and the Italian government have always believed in the strategic importance of Serbia economically, but also politically and culturally,” said Urso at the start of the conference. The Deputy Economic Development Minister arrived to Belgrade leading a numerous delegation of businesspeople and economists. Their objective is to strengthen cooperation with Serbian groups and agencies mainly in the energy, infrastructure, and food and agricultural sectors. The forum is particularly important in view of the first Italian-Serbian joint inter-governmental summit scheduled to take place in Rome on November 13. “In the past three years, trade has more than doubled, and investments and the presence of Italian businesses in Serbia has grown,” stressed Urso, who cited Fiat’s positive results in particular, which “quadrupled its presence” in the Balkan state despite the economic crisis. Italy is Serbia’s third trading partner after Russia and Germany. In 2008 trade totalled 2.2 billion euros. Deputy Minister Urso, who met with Serbian Economic Minister Mladjan Dinic and in the afternoon will also meet with Premier Mirko Cvetkovic and Trade Minister Slobodan Milosavljevic, will also visit the technological and industrial park in Vrsac tomorrow, not far from the Romanian border, where businesses in Emilia Romagna, the Veneto, and Friuli are interested in investing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Makes Fresh Obama ‘Sun-Tan Gaffe’

Milan, 28 Sept. (AKI) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has made a new gaffe about the Obamas’ skin colour, after telling a group of supporters that the wife of US president Barack Obama, Michelle, is also “sun-tanned”.

“You will not believe it, but the two of them went to get a tan, because the wife is also tanned,” said the prime minister, who made the remarks in Milan at a rally of conservative supporters of his People of Freedom party (PdL) on Sunday.

“I bring greetings from what’s his name?…some tanned guy. Ah, Barack Obama,” Berlusconi said.

The 72-year-old Berlusconi made international headlines after the US presidential election in November last year when he said Obama was “young, good-looking and suntanned.”

Last week, Michelle Obama greeted global leaders with a kiss at the G20 summit being held in the northeastern US city of Pittsburgh, but when her husband introduced her to Berlusconi, she held out her arm for a handshake.

The Italian premier who was attending the G20 summit in the American city of Pittsburgh, held out his arms and looked at her admiringly. (photo)

Berlusconi, a billionaire media mogul, has recently been in the headlines after questions were raised about his sex life.

He has in recent months been at the centre of allegations that prostitutes attended parties at his homes in Rome and in Sardinia and that he slept with 42-year-old escort Patrizia D’Addario last November.

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

Italy: Milan Magistrates Accuse Google of Concealing Data

Public prosecutor says information was removed in violation of law. Google’s reply: “We decide what to disclose”

MILAN — What if there’s a kidnapping, a ransom request arrives by computer, fax or mobile phone over one of Google’s email services, and magistrates ask the US-based company for data traffic details? Not even in that case would the company guarantee collaboration, Google Inc. writes in a letter to the Milan public prosecutor’s office. Even “in the presence of specific emergency circumstances involving an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury”, replies Google’s deputy general counsel for legal affairs, Google Inc. takes it upon itself to subject to its “own discretion” any communication of information requested by the judicial authorities. In any case, the company claims that it does not store such data for more than 30 days and, for the electronic identifier can links an account to an individual, it restricts communication in European Union countries.

There’s a trial of strength going on between Google and Italian magistrates. In the front line is Milan, where legal action for defamation is under way against Google’s Italian executives regarding footage on Google Video that shows a youngster with Down’s syndrome being harassed by four students in Turin. At the heart of the dispute are two interpretations of the concept of “web citizenship”: “no server no law” (under which Italy has no jurisdiction unless servers are physically present on Italian territory); and “no server but law” (jurisdiction belongs not to countries where servers are located, of which there may be several, but to the country in which the services are offered).

Last spring, the Milan public prosecutor’s office asked Google Inc. to clarify the procedures and policies it applies on the issue. The reply has now been communicated in a letter to all Milan-based public prosecutors by assistant public prosecutor Corrado Carnevali, who describes it as “non-compliant with Italian law in several respects”.

For example, Google conserves account@gmail data for only 30 days, which Carnevali writes “has no justification in law and is by reason of its brevity evidently prejudicial to computer examinations for investigative purposes”. Instead of 30 days, Italian law requires traffic data to be stored for 12 months (legislative decree no.109 dated 30 May 2008, implementing EC directive 2006/24). In the view of the Milan magistrates, Google Inc. should be “subject to Italian regulations since it addresses its services to Italian and EC citizens, among others”.

The public prosecutor’s office also views as “equally incomprehensible and without any basis in law” “Google’s policy of restricting communication of the IP address associated with the subscriber where this does not relate to an EU country, since it is common knowledge that any citizen, Italian or not, can utilise hacked machines located in non-EU countries for criminal purposes. This, too, is prejudicial to computer examinations for investigative purposes”.

But the most audacious aspect is Google’s statement that it will take at its “own discretion” any decision on whether to communicate data to magistrates even “in the presence of specific emergency circumstances involving an imminent danger of death”. In his letter, public prosecutor Carnevali makes note of the point “with profound dismay”.

Luigi Ferrarella

28 settembre 2009

English translation by Giles Watson

Article in Italian

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Migration Board Firing of Pro-Israel Blogger ‘Violated Constitution’

Sweden’s Parliamentary Ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen — JO) has rapped the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) over its controversial reassignment of Lennart Eriksson, an employee who had voiced pro-Israeli opinions on his personal blog.

The action taken against Eriksson constituted a violation of his freedom of speech — and freedom of opinion, according to the Ombudsman.

“The constitutional protection of freedom of speech means that, amongst other things, the public may not take action against any individual who has exercised their freedom of speech. There are no grounds for an exception in this case,” the Ombudsman wrote.

In 2007, Eriksson was reassigned following a decision by his new supervisor, Eugène Palmér, who objected to Eriksson’s pro-Israeli opinions and vocal admiration for the US army general George S. Patton.

Palmér suggested that, given Patton’s “broken loyalties to his superiors,” significant doubts had been raised as to Eriksson’s trustworthiness.

In accordance with Palmér’s decision, Eriksson was first reassigned, and later fired.

The Ombudsman has openly criticized Eriksson’s boss, asserting that “there were no legally viable grounds for the course of action Eugène Palmér decided upon.”

Building upon the ombudsman’s critique, Eriksson has also pointed the finger at the Director General for the Migration Board, Dan Eliasson.

“In light of the JO’s decision, the government should now dismiss Dan Eliasson. No administrative authority should have a boss who allows for violations of the constitution,” Eriksson wrote on his blog.

The Mölndal District Court ruled in November of last year that Eriksson’s demotion was invalid and that the Migration Board should pay damages in the amount of 100,000 kronor ($14,200).

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Arson Suspected in Södertälje Blaze

Arson is suspected in a powerful fire which ravaged the offices of the Assyrian cultural and athletic association (Assyriska föreningen) in Södertälje early Monday morning.

Around 25 firefighters from five stations were called in to help battle the fire.

According to a statement released by the greater Stockholm fire service, firefighters were able to limit the flames to a smaller section of the building, located in the city’s Hovsjö industrial area.

A preliminary investigation into aggravated arson has been launched, said Roger Kämpe, a commander with the Stockholm police, to the TT news agency.

“There are eye-witness accounts indicating that the fire started on the roof of the building,” he said.

Firefighters were called around 2am on Monday morning, and continued to battle the blaze into the daylight hours.

“The fire is now under control by we have people who continue to work with the final extinction of the fire,” Sandra Danielsson of the Södertörn fire service told TT.

“One wing was totally destroyed as was a part of the building closest to it. But the main section the so-called Green House, is still intact.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Swedish Police ‘Knew of Helicopter Heist Plans’

Swedish police had been forewarned by counterparts in Serbia about plans to rob a Stockholm cash depot, according to media reports. Six people have been taken into custody for their suspected involvement in the crime.

Serbian police told the Aftonbladet newspaper they aware of plans to rob the Västberga cash depot and alerted Swedish police that a coup was imminent.

“We gave them everything that was needed to stop the robbery,” Serbian Chief of Police, Milorad Veljovic, told the newspaper.

“We really did everything in our power short of going to Sweden and stopping the robbery ourselves.”

A police source confirmed for TT that Swedish police had received a tip regarding the planned robbery from the Serbian police, but rejected the assumption that they had neglected the information.

According to the information provided, the robbery was due to take place a week earlier. At that time Swedish police were closely monitoring the robbers in an operation referred to as KKP 4.

The operation entailed monitoring a number of different cash depots and temporarily moving police helicopters from the police heliport at Myttinge on Värmdo to another location.

“But because nothing happened, the operation was called off. Then it happened anyway, only later on,” the source said.

Police helicopters at the Myttinge heliport were subsequently unable to respond when the robbery took place on Wednesday morning of last week because of fake bomb had been placed near the hangar.

On Sunday, Swedish police took a total of six people into custody for their suspected involvement the robbery.

The suspects include a 34-year-old from Norrtälje, a 38-year-old from Stockholm, a 36-year-old man from Enskede in southern Stockholm, a 31-year-old man from Hägersten and a 29-year-old man from Norsborg, south of Stockholm.

All are suspected of aggravated robbery for their role in the Hollywood-style robbery at the G4S cash depot in Västberga south of Stockholm early Wednesday morning.

A 21-year-old man from Bagarmossen has also been taken into custody on suspicions of being an accessory to grand robbery, according to documents submitted to the Södertorn District Court.

The 34-year-old suspect is a former student of Roslagen Helikopterflyg, a Swedish helicopter training academy in Norrtälje, north of Stockholm.

“He completed his education here around fifteen years ago, but he has never worked for us,” said head instructor Christer Öhlund to the TT news agency.

According to Öhlund, the 34-year-old only attained a private flying certificate. He does not have certification to fly as a professional pilot.

The man has had regular contact with the training academy, routinely hiring a helicopter for private flights. The last time he did so was in summer of this year.

According to flight instructor, the school was planning to hire the suspect as a photographer for the company, but the plans were never carried out.

Öhlund was shocked to discover that the man was being held on suspicions of involvement in the robbery.

“I don’t think he’s guilty. I can’t imagine that he could have done this. He’s just too nice and personable to have carried out such a thing,” he said.

Attorney Leif Silbersky is defending the 34-year-old and hinted at how his client was feeling following his arrest.

“A person never feels good when they are arrested and consider themselves to be completely innocent,” he said.

Interrogations have been held for the suspects, according to the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen).

The Swedish police remain tight-lipped regarding any additional information, and refuse to reveal whether the suspect knew one another before the robbery was carried out.

District prosecutor Leif Görts is due to announce on Wednesday at noon whether he plans to request that the suspects be remanded in custody.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: Council Hires Hoodie Spies to Rummage Through Bins and See What is Being Thrown Away

Worried residents thought their rubbish was being stolen when council ‘spies’ dressed in hoodies started rifling through their bins.

Concerned neighbours saw mysterious men emptying their bins into black sacks and loading them into an unmarked white van.

When homeowners questioned the official binmen an hour later they learned their council was conducting a survey of what was being thrown away.

The ‘spies’ were part of a week-long waste analysis study by the Northamptonshire Waste Partnership, a collaboration of eight local authorities working to reduce rubbish going to landfill. An external contractor was told to go through the bins of residents.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Ed Balls Spends £3m on Office Makeover… Including Massage Room and Muslim Prayer Area

A ‘contemplation suite’ and an area set aside for Muslim prayer have been installed as part of a major makeover of the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Designer furniture was shipped over from Italy for the office refit, while black granite surface tops have been laid in the kitchen areas.

The most costly expense was a grand staircase made from glass and surgical steel. Its price tag is understood to have run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A gym, four lifts, six meeting rooms with high-tech conference equipment and two cafes have plumped up the bill for the two-year project to £3m.

News of the makeover comes as Mr Balls prepares to cut £2billion from the country’s schools budget, meaning jobs will be slashed across the education system.

Sources at the department last night claimed that the changes have come about after two buildings were merged into one, saving £13m a year.

They also sought to down-play the extravagance, describing the massage room as a small ‘sport treatment room’ and pointing out that the gym is subscription-only.

But critics condemned such spending during the downturn as ‘appalling frills’.

And one employee at the Government department compared the newly-refurbished offices in Great Smith Street, London, with a luxury cruise ship.

The worker told the Sun: ‘Parents will be stunned to find the department is cutting cash for teachers and school books while staff are working in five-star luxury.

‘It doesn’t look like an office, it looks like a luxury cruise liner.’

Last week Mr Balls became the first minister to detail cost-cutting plans after 2011 by suggesting comprehensive schools could economise by forming federations.

Up to 3,000 headmasters and deputies face the axe under the proposals.

Mark Wallace, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It is appalling that with taxpayers struggling to make ends meet, record national debt and children leaving school unable to read, these bureaucrats have been splashing our cash on luxury offices.

‘The first thing that needs to be cut are the excessive perks and lavish furnishings that ministers use our taxes for.’

A DCSF spokesman said: ‘The refurbishments were done to enable us to merge two London locations and therefore save millions of taxpayer pounds.

‘In fact the costs of the work were made back within just 12 months through better use of space such as desk sharing.

‘This has also allowed us to move other groups of public servants into the building to save yet more money to the taxpayer.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia [Return to headlines]

UK: Jedi Religion Founder Accuses Tesco of Discrimination Over Rules on Hoods

Daniel Jones says he was humiliated and victimised for his beliefs following incident at store in Wales

Tesco has been accused of religious discrimination after the company ordered the founder of a Jedi religion to remove his hood or leave a branch of the supermarket in north Wales.

Daniel Jones, founder of the religion inspired by the Star Wars films, says he was humiliated and victimised for his beliefs following the incident at a Tesco store in Bangor.

The 23-year-old, who founded the International Church of Jediism, which has 500,000 followers worldwide, was told the hood flouted store rules.

But the grocery empire struck back, claiming that the three best known Jedi Knights in the Star Wars movies — Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker — all appeared in public without their hoods. Jones, from Holyhead, who is known by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, said his religion dictated that he should wear the hood in public places and is considering legal action against the chain.

“It states in our Jedi doctrination that I can wear headwear. It just covers the back of my head,” he said.

“You have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work but you have to wear a cover for your head when you are in public.”

He said he’d gone to the store to buy something to eat during his lunch break when staff approached him and ordered him to the checkout where they explained he would have to remove the offending hood or leave the store.

“They said: ‘Take it off’, and I said: ‘No, its part of my religion. It’s part of my religious right.’ I gave them a Jedi church business card.

“They weren’t listening to me and were rude. They had three people around me. It was intimidating.” Jones, who has made an official complaint to Tesco, is considering a boycott of the store and is seeking legal advice.

Tesco said: “He hasn’t been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods.

“Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.

“If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they’ll miss lots of special offers.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: Mark of Madness: Police Refuse to Show Suspect’s Birthmark in ID Parade… Because of His Human Rights

When Tracy Ryan spotted a suspected burglar emerging from the dog sanctuary where she works, she thought she would have little problem pointing him out to police.

After all, he had a large port-wine stain on his face.

But when police set up an identity parade, they refused to take the man’s distinctive birthmark into account — in case it infringed his human rights.

An officer from the Nottinghamshire force explained that the mark was too rare to be included in a profile of the burglar when it was entered into a computer database.

It would leave only a small pool of potential suspects in the electronic ID parade, he said, breaking police rules.

Under laws designed to take into account ‘the rights and freedoms of the public’, witnesses must be shown a minimum of 12 photographs before they are allowed to identify a suspect.

These are selected from a database of people who have passed through custody in Nottinghamshire, in the hope that the burglar is already known to police.

Because only a handful of people on a database had a birthmark or port-wine stain, the characteristic gave fewer than 12 results.

The characteristic was subsequently removed and the search was broadened.

This forced Mrs Ryan, 39, to examine the faces of 93 suspects, none of which she recognised.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Police Tell Mother Attacked by Yobs at Home: ‘We Won’t Send Anyone… It May Escalate the Problem’

A mother who was punched to the floor in her own home by yobs was stunned when police advised her not to call officers to her house — because it would ‘escalate’ the problem.

Nikki Collen, 39, begged officers for help after a thug kicked in her front door and punched her to the floor in her hallway.

After her attacker fled, Nikki rang Warwickshire Police who promised to send an officer to her home in Kenilworth.

But an hour later she received a phone call from a woman police officer who told her it would be better if police did not attend because it might inflame the situation.

Mother-of-two Nikki, who is studying an Open University degree in nursing, said: ‘I couldn’t believe it.

‘I was attacked and wanted to report it but the officer was persuading me not to press charges.

‘She even told me that if the bullies saw a police officer at my home it could escalate the problem further.

‘I was so scared I asked what I should do and she told me to try and sort it out on my own. I was really upset and felt really alone.

‘It’s a horrendous way to live and has got to the stage where I fear going out because of the abuse I will get.

‘I can’t cope with it and need some help from authorities. I’ve just had enough and need to move. Why should I put up with this?’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Schoolgirl,14, Dies After Being Given Cervical Cancer Jab

A 14-year-old schoolgirl died hours after being given the controversial cervical cancer vaccine today.

The teenager from Blue Coat Church of England School, in Coventry, died in hospital after receiving the Cervarix jab.

The tragedy marks the first reported death since more than 1.5m doses of the injection were given to young girls as part of a national vaccination programme since last September in the UK.

A number of her classmates have reported side effects to the vaccine.

Critics say the case highlights the risks of mass vaccination, because no testing regime can ever pick up the rarest and potentially most lethal side effects.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Thug Who Murdered Father of Three Boasts About His ‘Cushy’ Life Inside Prison on Facebook

A violent thug who stamped and kicked a father of three to death is boasting about his ‘cushy’ life behind bars on Facebook.

Mark Elliott, 22, was part of a gang of feral youths who savagely attacked Mark Witherall ‘like a pack of hyenas’ after he caught them burgling his house.

The 47-year-old builder suffered massive internal injuries and died in hospital five weeks after the drink and drug-fuelled attack.


His frequent updates have angered the victim’s family who have complained several times to police and prison authorities, but officials say they are powerless to remove the profile from the social networking site.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Fiat: New Model From Serbian Factories Announced

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE — The announcement of further Fiat investments for the production of a new model in the factories at Kragujevac, and the signing of an agreement that provides for investments in Serbia from the entire chain of the Italian automobile industry were the central moments of the visit, yesterday in Belgrade, of the deputy Minister of Economic Development, in charge of foreign trade, Adolfo Urso. Urso arrived in the Serbian capital at the head of a large delegation of some 100 Italian businessmen, with whom he spoke at the forum on investment opportunities in Serbia which took place at the seat of the Central Bank of Serbia. The visit assumed particular importance in light of the first ever inter-government summit between Italy and Serbia that will take place in Rome on November 13, and represents yet another signal of support for the integration of Serbia. Opening the conference, Urso stressed the importance of economic and commercial collaboration between Italy and Serbia, a country, he said, that occupies a strategic position in the centre of the Balkans, intersecting European corridors 10 and 7. Speaking at the forum, the Serbian economic minister, Mladjan Dinkic, announced that in 3 to 6 weeks, Fiat will begin in the factories at Kragujevac (central Serbia) the project for a new model of car, with an investment of 800 million euros. “Upon the invitation of Sergio Marchionne, November 13, together with president Boris Tadic, I will be in Turin for the presentation of the new Fiat model”, Dinkic stated, insisting on the advantages that Serbia offers in terms of export, the only country in the region with a free trade regime with other countries of the former Yugoslavia, Turkey and some of the countries of the former Soviet Union like Russia and Belarus. Those who produce in Serbia, he observed can export without taxes to these countries, a market of some 800 million people. With Dinkic, Adolfo Urso signed yet another important agreement opening the way to investments in Serbia from the entire Italian automotive sector. Today Urso, who also met with Serbian Premier Mirko Cvetkovic and ministers of trade Slobodan Milosavljevic and infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic, will visit the industrial and technological park in Vrsac, not far from the border with Romania, where many Italian companies are interested in investing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Finmeccanica: Selex Sistemi, 6.4-Mln Euro Contract in Serbia

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, SEPTEMBER 22 — Selex Sistemi Integrati, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, obtained a 6.4-million euro contract for the river Information Service (RIS) on the stretch of the Danube that crosses Serbia, as team leader of a temporary association of businesses with Periskal Doo (Serbia) and Tresco Cvba (Belgium). The River Information System in Serbia, launched and financed by the EU, is the first river traffic monitoring system. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Foreign Trade: Urso, Mission in Serbia With 100 Firms

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 23 — Some 100 ‘Made in Italy’ firms will tomorrow be represented in Serbia. The delegation will be led by the vice minister for Economic Development with the foreign trade portfolio, Adolfo Urso. The aim, reads a note from the ministry, is to tighten new partnerships with Serbian companies, above all in the sectors of energy, infrastructure and industrial agriculture. The order for the day also includes developments for the car industry after the recent deal signed by Fiat in Belgrade for the control of Zastava. The following are taking part in the delegation: ICE, SIMEST, FINEST, CONFAPI and ANCE. The mission will conclude on Friday at the Vrsac industrial and technological park, where firms from the regions of Emilia Romagna, Friuli and the Veneto are interested in investing. Italy is in third place in terms of trade with Serbia, after Russia and Germany. Total trade in 2008 was equal to 2.2 billion euros, with a positive balance of 700 million for the Italian economy. The mission also anticipates the first Italian-Serbian intergovernmental summit on November 13. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Intesa Bank Approves 195 Million Euros of Credits

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, SEPTEMBER 23 — Intesa Bank in Serbia announced that it approved 195 million euros of credits in the first eight months of this year, 120 million euros of which were approved for entrepreneurs, reports VIP Daily News Report. A member of the bank’s Executive Board Dejan Tesic said that the bank approved 32,000 loans for the population in eight months, worth 75 million euros, and 10,000 loans for entrepreneurs, agencies reported.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Minister Announces Larger Export of Weapons

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, SEPTEMBER 23 — Serbia Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac said that this year, thanks to new contracts, the export of military equipment and weapons from Serbia would be larger than that of the last year that was USD 400 millions worth, reports Tanjug news agency. “Thanks to quality products, Serbian military industry returned to the world market through huge door and until the end of the year we are to conclude several other important export arrangements”, Sutanovac said after meeting between representatives of the Defense Ministry, directors of six factories that manufacture military equipment and weapons and Jugoimport SDPR company. “Only few years back, all of these factories were in a serious situation with modest business. That is why I am requesting from their management today to respect the concluded contracts in view of quality and delivery dynamics. There shall be no understanding for or support to those acting contrary to that. The Iraqi market is of special importance for us”, Sutanovac said.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Serbia: Bosnian Convicted of War Crimes

Belgrade, 28 Sept. (AKI) — A Serbian court on Monday convicted a former Bosnian security officer to 12 years in prison for ordering a 1992 attack on a Yugoslav army convoy in which at least 50 soldiers were killed. According to the indictment, Ilija Jurisic, ordered an attack on soldiers who were withdrawing in the predominantly Muslim Bosnian city of Tuzla, despite an agreement between authorities that they could leave the city peacefully.

The trial of Ilija Jurisic at the Serbian war crimes court has strained relations between Bosnia and Serbia.

Bosnian officials had claimed the proceedings were staged and politically motivated and demanded his release.

The court said in its verdict that the Bosnian troops first killed the truck drivers with sniper fire, and then fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicles.

Bosnian authorities have maintained that the Yugoslav soldiers fired first during the pullout arranged between Belgrade and Sarajevo.

They said the Bosnian troops acted in self-defence in one of the bloodiest clashes during the opening days of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Jurisic, who was arrested at Belgrade airport two years ago, had maintained his innocence during the highly publicised trial.

His defence lawyer Djordje Dozet called the verdict “scandalous” and claimed that the court did not establish that Jurisic issued the order to attack.

Fifty one soldiers were killed and at least 50 wounded in the attack in May 1992.

During the trial, Jurisic admitted to having ordered the attack on the army convoy, but said he was acting on the orders of his superiors. Jurisic was at the time a senior Bosnian police official.

Jurisic said he was a victim of a “political trial” and his defence lawyers demanded an acquittal.

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

North Africa

Nuclear: Algeria Has 29,000 Tonnes of Uranium Reserves

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 24 — Algeria’s uranium reserves amount to a total of 29,000 tonnes, an “insufficient” quantity to develop a peaceful national nuclear energy programme, said Algerian Energy Minister, Chakib Khelil, specifying that a law on developing nuclear energy will be presented in Parliament in the coming weeks. “Currently, Algeria has 29,000 tonnes of uranium reserves that can be used,” added Khelil, quoted by APS; “a quantity that would only allow two nuclear power plants to function with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each for 60 years”. Therefore, he concluded, “it is necessary to increase reserves by starting an exploration and discovery programme for new deposits. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Morocco, 24 People Arrested

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, SEPTEMBER 25 — Twenty-four persons have been arrested by Morocco’s security forces across the country on charges of forming part of a terrorist network specialised in recruiting volunteers to send to Iraq as suicide bombers, or to join Al Qaeda guerrillas in Somalia and Afghanistan. According to a press release issued by the Interior Ministry, the accused persons, who are said to have worked together with affiliates living in Sweden, Belgium and in the area between Syria and Iraq, sent around twenty aspiring suicide bombers from these countries into Iraq, adding a dozen Moroccan recruits to their numbers. According to the MAP press agency, the accusations run that the arrested persons were planning attacks in Morocco and had been awaiting Al Qaeda explosives specialists for the purpose. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Settlements: Israel, Another Small Batch of Permits

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, SEPTEMBER 23 — Over the last few hours, the Israeli government granted planning permissions for a further 37 home units in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, to be added to the 455 unfrozen over the last couple of days, prior to a hypothetical moratorium which is so far only on paper. The news was announced by YNet, the online edition of newspaper Yediot Ahronot. YNet points out that the action occurred at the same time as the New York meeting of US President Barack Obama, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen): during the meeting Obama once again urged Israel to “contain” building activities in the settlements, to promote the resumption of the peace process, even though he avoided using the more radical term “freeze”, which had been used so far. The 37 planning permissions were signed (for competence) by the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, who is part of the delegation to the New York meeting and leader of the dwindling Labour appendage in the right-wing majority government led by Netanyahu. The planning permission concerns previously defined projects in the Karnei Shomron settlement, and the local administration expressed satisfaction on the go-ahead, stressing that it has been promised further permissions by Barak for a new block of houses destined to the family of an army officer, captain Bnaya Rayan, killed in 2006 during the second war with Lebanon. In the meantime, Israeli peace movement ‘Peace Now’ condemned the government’s action and accused Barak of “acting as a contractor on behalf of the settlers’ movement”. The new planning permissions, despite being only a limited number, represent a further blow “to the possibility (of a peace agreement with he Palestinians based on) of two states”, said the leader of ‘Peace Now’ Yaarive Oppenheimer, accusing the present Israeli government of “unilaterally destroying any chance of peace” and “putting at risk the relationship with the US”. The Netanyahu Cabinet has so far resisted pressure for the US and the international community to stop the Jewish settlement in the West Bank (were 300,000 settlers already live) and in East Jerusalem (over 200,000 people), which is a prerequisite laid down by the PNA to start again with the peace negotiations and which is also provided for in the agreements signed by both parts back in 2003, with the mediating effort of US, EU, Russia and UN, as part of the Road Map plan. During the talks prior to yesterday’s meeting, the Israeli premier only made concessions on the hypothesis of a temporary moratorium, only limited to the West Bank area, by the rightwing of the coalition and even his own party (Likud) openly protested against this possibility — in full agreement with the settlers’ movement. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Trilateral: Israel Relief, Palestinians Disappointed

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 23 — The Israeli Government has breathed a sigh of relief, while the Palestinians were disappointed after the trilateral meeting yesterday between US President Barak Obama, Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The positions of the Israelis and the Palestinians remain distant, along with their interpretations of the resumption of the peace process: for Premier Benyamin Netanyahu it will be with no prior conditions, whereas the Palestinians say that dialogue will not resume without a clear prior agreement by Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and the freezing of all building activity in the settlements in the occupied territories. Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, described the meeting itself, and the decision to resume peace talks “without prior conditions” as a positive act. The absence of conditions, said Nir Hefez, spokesman for Netanyahu, is a cause for satisfaction for the Premier. Lieberman warned that “long and complex” negotiations were to be expected, and that people “should not wait for a solution to the conflict with a stopwatch in their hands”. Former negotiator and advisor to Premier Ariel Sharon, Dov Weisglass, shared this view, saying in an article which appeared today in Yedioth Ahronoth that i”the gap between the two sides is unbridgeable in the foreseeable future, since the most Israel is prepared to concede is below the minimum which the Palestinians are prepared to accept”. Furthermore, Israel currently considers Iran’s nuclear programme to be its priority, seen as a threat to Israel’s existence. The Palestinian issue seems to take a lower position. The Israeli press referred to i”a frozen summit”, Obama’s growing impatience over the reluctance of Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, who were warned that the peace process would go ahead “with or without them”, according to the Maariv press agency. According to public opinion, Mahmoud Abbas is in a difficult position, going back to his country without a visible result, and rather an apparent withdrawal of the USA’s request for a complete freeze in the settlements, which was rejected by Israel, and has now been reduced to simple containment. One of Mahmoud Abbas’ collaborators has also admitted that the trilateral meeting was not productive for the Palestinians, while former minister Nabil Shaat urged the Arab world “not to leave the Palestinians alone to save what is left of the Palestinian land”. The Palestinians’ disappointment seems to be playing into the hands of Hamas, the Islamic movement in power in Gaza, who condemned Mahmoud Abbas’ participation in the meeting. Hamas has denied that Abbas represents the Palestinians, claiming that at most he represents the people who are against his rivals, Al Fatah. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Defense: Turkish Army Orders Extra Chinook Helicopters

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 22 — The Turkish Army has increased its order for Boeing’s CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters from 10 to 14 aircraft, local media reported. A letter of request has been issued to Boeing and a contract is expected to be signed between the parties by mid-2010 via a US foreign military sales programme. Ten transport helicopters will be received by the Turkish Army from Boeing under the US foreign military sales programme along with four CH-47Fs that will be equipped with search and rescue equipment (SAR) to support the army’s special forces operations. Turkish companies will then manufacture extra equipment including communication, navigation and advanced infrared systems, which will then also be installed by the Turkish Aerospace Industries.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Energy: Turkey Eyes Term Extension on Iraq Oil Pipeline Deal

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 22 — Turkey is in talks with Iraq on extending the term of their agreement on the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline to 20 years beyond its expiry date, Taner Yildiz, Turkish Minister of Energy, was quoted as saying by local press. “Agreement on the 980 km-long pipeline, which carries crude oil from Iraq’s northern region of Kirkuk to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, expires in mid-2010”, Yildiz said. The Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline is Iraq’s largest crude oil pipeline for exports. Although it has a projected capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day it has never reached this level since its launch in the late 1980s. Yildiz told reporters he is against the idea of launching a new parallel pipeline because the exisiting one will be sufficient to meet needs when used to its full capacity. At present it is only operating at 18% of capacity. The target is to ramp up production to 1 million barrels per day within three to four years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Energy: Turkey Determined to Build Nuclear Reactor, Minister

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 25 — Turkey’s energy minister expressed Friday determination to continue efforts to build country’s first nuclear power plant, as Anatolia news agency reports today. Atomstroyexport-Inter RAO-Park Teknik, a consortium of Turkish and Russian firms, was the sole bidder in the tender to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant held last year. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the Turkish government had not made the final decision on the offer and added that November 20-24 was the deadline for government’s assessment. The Turkish government asked the consortium to lower its price to be charged for the electricity from the nuclear plant. The consortium lowered the price but state officials said it was still high. Yildiz said the Turkish government was negotiating the price with officials of the Russian firm. “It is not clear yet. The legal process is still under way. But it does not mean that we could prefer another one,” Yildiz said. In August, Turkish and Russian officials discussed the issue of price cut during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ankara. Turkey could also take up to 25% stake in the project if a reasonable price was set, Turkish officials had said earlier. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

EU Inconsistent on Peace Process, Human Rights NGOs

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 24 — The position of the EU in recent years on the peace process in the Middle East has not been coherent: this conclusion was contained in a report from a group of 15 European and international NGOs such as Amnesty International and Oxfam, which deal with human rights, humanitarian law, and development. The NGOs analysed the conclusions of various EU Councils of Foreign Ministers on the Middle East, and found at least 9 contradicting points. They have requested a change in course for the next Council of Foreign Ministers on October 27-28. The EU, pointed out the report, is not only Israel’s top trade partner, but also the top donor to the PNA, in addition to being part of the Quartet on the Middle East. The following is a list of 9 points that the report highlighted as inconsistent positions, followed by their recommendations: — INVESTIGATION ON GAZA: The EU failed by not supporting an independent investigation into Operation ‘Cast Lead’, in contrast with other recent conflicts. According to the NGOs, the EU should maintain the same principles, asking that those responsible for human rights and international humanitarian law violations be tried. — BLOCKADE ON GAZA: Why does the EU Council not stress the illegality of the blockade imposed on Gaza as they have done for the settlements? The recommendation to the EU is to explicitly condemn the blockade on Gaza and its violation of international law. — WALL: The EU should return to criticising the construction of a wall in the Palestinian Territories by Israel, something that they have not done since July of 2007 despite the fact that in the UN, all of the member states supported the sentence of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). — SETTLEMENTS: A block on the Israeli settlements is not sufficient, it is necessary to ask them to change their policy as they have done in the past, activating cooperation instruments with Israel excluding the settlements. — SETTLER VIOLENCE: The NGOs mention the violence perpetrated by the Israeli settlers, which is “no less serious than the attacks carried out by Palestinians”. The EU should call for the law to be applied in the West Bank to Israeli settlers and Palestinians. — VIOLATIONS BY THE PNA: The recommendation is that the EU condemn the human rights violations both by the PNA and Hamas security forces, and provide support to PNA security forces to respect human rights. — PRISONERS: The EU should express their worries about the 7,800 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, including 342 minors, and ask for their cases to be revised in accordance with international criteria. — QUARTET PRINCIPLES: Nonviolence, acknowledgement of Israel, and the acceptance of previous obligations and agreements are the three principles requested by the EU that the Palestinian government respect as preconditions for negotiations, while Israel has not been asked to satisfy the same principles. According to the NGOs, the EU should involve both sides without considering principles such as preconditions to negotiations. — WEAPONS: The council has asked for illegal weapons trafficking into Gaza to end, but no restrictions on the arrival of weapons to Israel has been requested. The NGOs call for the EU to revise their position on exports to Israel. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Iraq: Multiple Attacks Kill Many in Fresh Violence

Baghdad, 28 Sept. (AKI) — Multiple attacks in Iraq have killed at least 10 people and injured several others ending a period of relative calm during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

At least seven police officers were killed and 10 others were wounded on Monday, after a suicide bomber exploded a water tanker rigged with explosives at an Iraqi police station in Kilo, located near the central city of Ramadi.

Media reports said the attack follows a previous attack earlier in the day, when a bomb exploded aboard a minibus travelling from the province of Babel to Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding two others.

Later in western Baghdad, three Iraqi servicemen died and 15 others were injured in a double blast.

The commander of the local army battalion is said to be among the victims.

“This afternoon, three Iraqi servicemen were killed and 15 others, including four soldiers, were wounded when two roadside improvised explosive devices hit an Iraqi army patrol vehicle,” a police source told the Iraqi news agency, Voices of Iraq.

Violence in Iraq jumped in August, with the highest number of violent deaths recorded for more than a year.

Iraqi government figures showed that 393 civilians were killed that month, and about 60 police officers and soldiers.

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

Turkey: Two Police Chiefs Had to Resign for Gay Relationship

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 24 — Two police chiefs had to resign after an investigation was launched regarding them after videos showing their gay relationship were revealed, which brought a question into discussion “whether gays could become police officers or not.” As daily Hurriyet reports today, Erzincan Police Academy’s deputy director H.K. resigned on his own will after it was revealed that he had gay relationship with students last February. Also, police chief M.A., who was appointed to Karabuk, resigned after a video showing his gay relationship was revealed. Osman Karakus, the legal adviser to the Security Department, argued that the department, in European Union (EU) adjustment process, should approach gay police officers more moderately. Sevim Salihoglu, the secretary general of the Human Rights Association (IHD), said, “we do not want to see people facing such treatment for their sexual preferences. Sexuality is the own choice of persons like all other choices.” Retired Police Chiefs’ Association reacted to the discussions saying, “the security department cannot endure gay relationship.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

South Asia

All Students in Pakistan’s Schools Required to Study Islam

The Commission for Justice and Peace of the Church of Pakistan criticizes the new guidelines for public education. Concern for the civics books that offer only the Islamic point of view.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — The new guidelines for school students in Pakistan requires non-Muslims to study Islam and ignore other religious traditions in the country.

The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Church of Pakistan is critical of the National Education Policy 2009, launched September 9 by the government in Islamabad. Mgr. John Saldanha, Archbishop of Lahore and chairman of the NCJP, and Peter Jacob, secretary of the Commission are concerned about the often implicit discriminatory and coercive aspects of the new guidelines content.

In a press release issued on 25 September, the two leaders of NCJP point the finger at Chapter 4 of the document, dedicated to Islamic Education. They claim that “If government thinks public education is not possible without a compulsory subject of Islamic Studies and Arabic, then we are forced to demand religious education for Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, etc. in their respective religions”.

The program drawn up by the Government contemplates that Islamiyat (Islamic studies) become compulsory until the 12th class (15 and 16 years). For students that from then on will not want to follow the lessons of Islam attendance of alternative courses of public ethics is permitted, but the Commission notes also on this front the discrimination, though latent, is clear.

The NCJP states that for non-Muslim children who do not attend the Islamiyat class “there is a risk of isolation from the rest of the class”, but not only. The courses in civics and public ethics are based on texts that address issues from the Muslim perspective without considering the traditions of different faiths in the country. They also contain biases, errors and falsehoods about non-Muslim religions.

The Commission urges the government to review the National Education Policy 2009 because its current form violates Articles 20 and 22 of the Constitution of Pakistan which guarantees free and equal citizenship to all citizens regardless of their faith. The NCJP has also appealed to the Supreme Court that they take action on the matter.

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

Bishop of Rawalpindi: Pakistani Christians, “Unity and Light” In the Midst of Persecution

Mgr. Rufin Anthony recalls the “missionary work” that has allowed the emergence of “local vocations.” The prelate denounces feelings of “jealousy, prejudice and hatred” and confirms the continued growth of religious intolerance. He invites everyone to work “for unity and cooperation”.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) — In a country torn by persecution of minorities, the “presence” of Christians must be “a symbol of unity and light.” This was the message Mgr. Rufin Anthony, new bishop of Rawalpindi — the fourth largest city of Pakistan — during a mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, on 26 September in Faisalabad. Hundreds present among prelates, religious and lay people gathered in the cathedral to greet the bishop, a native of Faisalabad, who on 21 September took possession of the new diocese.

“Bishop Rufin — recalled Msgr. Joseph Coutts, bishop of Faisalabad — is a son of [our] diocese and I am delighted to welcome him among us” the successors of the apostles. Bishop Coutts highlighted the role played by the diocese of Faisalabad in the “growth of the Christian community, many priests and nuns working in other areas of the country and abroad: two Dominican nuns are missionaries in Afghanistan.”

During the homily, Mgr. Rufin Anthony (pictured) paid tribute to the memory of Francis Benedict Cialeo, Italian missionary and bishop of Faisalabad, who together with “Capuchin and Dominican friars” worked so “vocations would be born locally” capable of “leading the diocese”. “The presence of missionaries has been a light for us — recalled Mgr. Rufin — Now we must move forward and work for unity and cooperation”.

In recent weeks Pakistan has recorded several cases of persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians, committed in the name of the blasphemy law. “The situation is unbearable — underlined the new bishop of Rawalpindi — and the causes lie in feelings of jealousy, prejudice and hatred: these elements are present in other societies, but here [in Pakistan], they take on a confessional character”. He confirms that “religious intolerance is growing” and is symptomatic of a “degradation of religion”.

The prelate concluded by pointing out the “primary” role held by Christians in the “progress” of the country, urging the faithful to be “a symbol of unity and light even if persecuted”, and assures his commitment to “bring people closer to the Church and to each other”.

Mgr. Rufin Anthony was born February 12, 1940 at Khushpur, a village in the diocese of Faisalabad, where the presence of Catholics is deep rooted; he studied theology in Rome and was ordained a priest June 29, 1969. Professor of theology and rector of the seminary in Karachi, he has worked in various parishes and has held the office of vicar general of the diocese of Faisalabad for two terms.

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

Denmark: Auditors: Not Enough Soldiers

The National Audit Office says Denmark doesn’t have enough soldiers to meet its goals of 2,000 soldiers for international operations.

Denmark is unlikely to be able to meet its politically agreed target of being able to send some 2,000 soldiers on international operations.

The National Audit Office says in a report on international operations in Afghanistan, that even though the necessary structure is in place, Denmark doesn’t have enough soldiers.

“If the military wishes to send the equivalent capacity of 2,000 soldiers for international operations in the future, it will require a demand for, or political will, for naval or air force capacity to increase in the next few years,” says National Auditor Henrik Otbo.

A build-up of forces cannot be carried out at the envisaged pace as a result of pressure on the army, according to the military in the report.

The Audit Report says that if the army is to despatch 2,000 soldiers, it will also be necessary to increase army capacity.

The current four-year political agreement that runs out this year has a target of 2,000 troops available for international operations, compared with 1,150 in 2005. In 2008 the number was 1,421. The military has, however, said that a target of 2,000 soldiers is not achievable within the current agreement period.

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


Italy: Monsignor Crociata Elucidates Concept of Welcome Reception

Church and Mission, Standard

Our neighbor, no matter the culture or the country of origin, always has the visage of a brother explained monsignor Mariano Crociata, none other than the General Secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, interceding at the conference of diocesan directors of the Migrantes Foundation, which is taking place as we speak in Frascati.His eminence, the Monsignor Crociata, says the authoritative Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, has highlighted the very requirement to secure a commitment of solidarity that departs “from how much it agitates itself (sic), even in matters of migration, in civil society, especially in the world of labor, housing and lodging, of school, familial unity, just as it does in the lively debate on migration policies, on socio-cultural integration, on interethnic cohabitation”. Rare nuggets of clarity and succinctness on this subject indeed. These messages, focused on the importance of welcome and a good reception, were delivered to the Conference by archbishops Antonio Maria Vegliò and of course the ever present Agostino Marchetto, respectively the president and secretary of the suitably named Pontifical Council for the Pastoral for Migrants and Itinerants. “In the face of the ever more complex reality of migrations — expound the bishops — a good reception or welcome becomes the key element for a pastoral able to help, in the current economic social, religious context, those seeking a better life away from their homelands. […] The warmth of a candid salutation, a friend to those who are different from ourselves and come from afar, is the most wonderful witness and can, in fact, incline one toward the direct announcement of the Gospel”.

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

Italy: Latin American Immigrants on the Rise

Rome, 28 Sept. (AKI) — A growing number of immigrants are coming to Italy from Latin American countries. According to a new report from the Catholic charity, Caritas, the number of immigrants from the region has almost doubled since 2005.

The report, Latin America: Old and New Migrants, released on Monday, said that 30,000 legal migrants arrive in Italy with visas from the countries of South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean every year.

The largest communities of Latin American immigrants come from Peru and Ecuador with each community numbering more than 70,000 migrants.

They are followed by more than 40,000 Brazilians, 20,000 Dominicans and Colombians, 15,000 Cubans and Argentinians as well as 6,000 Salvadorans and Bolivians.

The lowest number of Latin American migrants come from Venezuela, Mexico and Chile, with between 4,000 and 5,000 migrants each.

Uruguayans, however, are the smallest community with only 2,000 migrants.

The report also said 6,000 were living in Italy in order to study, while another 6,000 came for religious purposes.

“As in the past, when the migration of Italians to Latin America was advantageous, Latin Americans are now significant from an occupational and socio-cultural point of view providing an always increasing need for extra labour force in Italy,” said the report.

Latin Americans make up 9.2 percent of the foreign-born labour force in Italy, and most of them reside in the country’s northwestern regions.

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


Aztecs and the Decline of Western Civilization

I have not yet read and written up Philip Hensher’s critical discussion of Aztec art at the Mail, but fortunately Mark Richardson at Oz Conservative has done so. After quoting Hensher’s article, he quotes the comments of Mail readers who are scandalized that Henscher has negatively judged the Aztecs’ human sacrifice cult. Mr. Richardson also links a VFR post about the giant head of an Aztec god I saw once in a museum.

If anyone was wondering what is this anti-Western relativism that conservatives are always complaining about, the comments of the Mail readers quoted by Richardson give a good idea. It’s a full-blown belief system, shared by perhaps a majority of college educated people in the West. And it’s a belief system that is not only horribly wrong, but that spells our doom.

What it says is very simple: “We of the West are morally tainted, and therefore we have no right to make moral and cultural judgments about other cultures.” Which really means that we have no right to make moral and cultural judgments at all. But if we as a culture have no right to make moral and cultural judgments, then we have no right to exist as a culture, period.

Clearly, when we call this belief system relativism, that is not really correct. Relativism says that you have your ways, and I have mine, and—since there’s no such thing as objective moral judgment—there’s no way to choose between them. But the Mail correspondents do make moral judgments. Thus:

Sarah, USA: It doesn’t matter if it’s gruesome, our civilization is even more disgusting. At least they did those sacrifices with a greater outcome in mind. What do you leave for us? Let’s kill whales to the extreme to feed sushi lovers? Let’s kill seals just because they’re paying me to do it? … Please, for the sake of knowledge, don’t let this person write anything else, ever.

Sarah has an absolute—not a relative—position. Her absolute position is that our civilization is morally monstrous. It is so monstrous that the killing of seals and whales by some members of our society makes our civilization more disgusting than capturing thousands of innocent people every year, dragging them to the top of a temple, and cutting out their beating heart. Relativism—”you must not judge”—is merely the cloak in which this absolutist hatred of the West is dressed. It’s not everyone who must not judge. It’s only people who speak in the name of the West who must not judge. Non-Westerners and Western leftist haters of the West have the full right to judge…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

The Group of Twenty and the Evolution of Global Governance

The bottom line: the United Nations and the G8 have not brought or kept world peace, they have not prevented war and neither have they improved the finances of any country. Furthermore, they have not improved the state of the world either. The only thing they have done is set up an infrastructure that reduces the power and sovereignty of the nation-state. In essence they have de-stabilized the world. Who really runs the country and the world? He who has the gold makes the rules and it is not governments!.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

September 30th is International Free Press Day

The world-famous Danish Mohammed cartoons were first published in Jyllands-Posten on September 30th, 2005. The incident was all but unheard of outside of Denmark until several weeks later, and it did not become an international sensation until carefully orchestrated Muslim mobs began rioting and burning embassies early the following year.

Turban boom!However, back in those days Fjordman still kept a blog, and it was the best place on the web to gather news (I still miss it). If there was anything interesting or important in the news, Fjordman had it first. He read all the major Danish blogs, so he learned about the Motoons as soon as they appeared, and summarized the reports a few days after they were published. Fjordman’s post was the first place I saw Kurt Westergaard’s soon-to-be-iconic Turban Bomb cartoon.

In honor of the publication of the Mohammed cartoons, and in celebration of the important contribution made by Denmark to the worldwide cause of free speech, the International Free Press Society has declared September 30th — that’s the day after tomorrow — to be International Free Press Day. Here’s the press release they sent out today to mark the occasion:

The International Free Press Society declares September 30 International Free Press Day

New York, NY — September 28, 2009: On September 30, 2005 the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 drawings of Islam’s prophet Mohammed by 12 Danish artists in order to demonstrate that prohibitions on depictions of Mohammed as stipulated by Islamic law (sharia) did not trump Denmark’s freedom of the press.

In an era in which the act of speaking out in the Western world has become increasingly subject to the pressures of what we know as political correctness, this bold affirmation of free press rights by Danish journalists makes September 30 a banner day. In commemoration of their courage, then, the International Free Press Society declares September 30 to be International Free Press Day.

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To mark the occasion, the International Free Press Society is presenting artist Kurt Westergaard on his first public tour in the USA, where he will be making appearances in New York City, Yale and Princeton. Since publishing his cartoon, the now-iconic Turban-bomb Mohammed image, Westergaard, 73, has required state security to protect him from violent retribution for violating the tenets of sharia in Denmark. Such threats have included an assassination plot uncovered by Danish police in February of last year. The day after the plot was uncovered, a number of Danish newspapers joined Jyllands-Posten in reprinting the Westergaard cartoon in solidarity with the cause of freedom of the press.

To further advance the cause of freedom of the press, the International Free Press Society will use the occasion of this first International Free Press Day to salute Kurt Westergaard, and to call, once again, for the repeal of all blasphemy and hate speech laws that currently inhibit and restrict vital exchange and debate.