Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/11/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/11/2009The Dutch government has determined that it is impossible under the country’s constitution to close radical Islamic schools or terminate their funding, even though the schools actively promote religious apartheid.

In other news, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago has become mandatory reading for students in Russian high schools.

Thanks to AA, El Inglés, Insubria, JD, KGS, Natalie, TB, Tuan Jim, Vlad Tepes, Zenster, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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9/11 and the ‘Good War’
America Was Behind the 9/11 Atrocities, Says Actor Charlie Sheen
Democrats Stifle Republican Health Care Plans
Muslims Lifting Up America on 9/11
New York Reveals Demands for New 9/11 Probe May Go to Vote as Americans Mark Eighth Anniversary
Obama’s Regulatory Chief Pushes New ‘Bill of Rights’
Obama’s Team ‘Socialists With Communist Backgrounds’
Regulatory Chief: Adult Dog More ‘Rational’ Than Baby
Synagogue Holding Services With Muslims
NCC Approves Monument Against ‘Oppression’
Report: Politician Known for Harsh Motorist Laws Arrested in Brutal Hit-and-Run Death
Europe and the EU
Battisti: Berlusconi, Hope to See Him Behind Bars
Creeping Anti-Islam Fascism Target [sic] Danish Mosque
Croatia-Slovenia: Border Deal, Zagreb Nears EU Membership
Denmark: Terrorist Threats ‘Increasingly Serious’
Frattini: International Network Against Berlusconi
French Fashion for Muslim Women
Ireland: Ali Mayor: You Don’t Want Too Many Blacks in One Area
Ireland: No Vote Will Have ‘Consequences’ For Ireland
Italy: Nobel Laureate Raps Premier
Italy: Berlusconi Denies Fresh Prostitute ‘Slurs’
Italy: After Controversy, Arab School Starts Monday in Milan
Minister Warns of 1930s-Style Fascists on Britain’s Streets
Netherlands: Man Arrested After Bus Driver Stabbed
Netherlands: Closure of Islamic Schools Remains Impossible
Rightwing and Anti-Fascist Protesters Riot in London
Sweden: Pokemon Cards Taken in Sandbox Knife Heist
UK: Age of the ‘Bonsai’ Bin: Families Will be Forced to Cram Their Rubbish Into Mini Wheelies
UK: Clashes at Anti-Islam Demonstration
UK: Disgraced MG Rover Boss Paid Lover £1.6m as Company T
UK: Margaret Thatcher Feared Reunited Germany Would ‘Make More Ground Than Hitler’
UK: Millionaire Faces Jail for Attack on Knife Raider at His Home
UK: Public Pays £25,000 a Day to Protect Former Pakistan Dictator Musharraf’s £1.4m London Home
UK: Question a Doctor and Lose Your Child
UK: Revealed: Baby P Council Sent Foster Child to Live With Ringleader of Airline Bomb Plot
UK: Riot Police Quell Clashes at Anti-Islam Demo in London
UK: Violence Flares as Right-Wing Extremists and Anti-Fascist Protesters Clash Outside New London Mosque
UK: Which is More Important: Child Protection or Civil Liberties?
Karadzic’s Hague Trial Could Begin on October 19
With Pale School Opening, Serb Leader Sends Message to Bosnia
North Africa
GB-Libya: Gaddafi’s Son; Courts to Determine IRA Victim Matter
Lockerbie: Libya, First Public Appearance by Al Megrahi
Middle East
Afghanistan: Sweeping Out the Taliban
Iran Asks Tinseltown to Produce Film on Islamic End-Times Leader
Iran Beware: Israel Tests ‘Secret Weapon’
Israel Hits Back at Lebanon After Rocket Fire
Lebanon-Israel: Rocket Fire Flares Across Border
Lebanon: Hezbollah Denies Standing Behind Local ‘Madoff’
We Have a Lot to Learn
Russia: ‘Gulag’ Book, Once Banned, Is Now Required Reading
South Asia
Global Insight: Obama and Afghan Paradoxes
‘Guantánamo Swede’ Arrested in Pakistan
India: Mystery of UAE Plane Held in Calcutta With Arms Bound for China
Far East
Missionary Honored in Venice Film
UAE Aircraft Carrying Harpoons to China?
Latin America
Battisti: Supreme Court Split, 4 for Extradition
Brazil ‘Daughter Grope’ Man Cleared
Campania: Assisted Re-Entry Project for Moroccans
Italy: Immigrants Will Vote for US Claims Northern League Leader
Culture Wars
Obamacare Gives Planned Parenthood Entry to Schools?
The Hijra: A Review of “Modern Day Trojan Horse”


9/11 and the ‘Good War’

It was the furies of the Arab world, not Afghanistan, that struck America eight years ago today.

The road that led to 9/11 was never a defining concern of President Barack Obama. But he returned to 9/11 as he sought to explain and defend the war in Afghanistan in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Ariz., on Aug. 17. “The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight and we won’t defeat it overnight, but we must never forget: This is not a war of choice; it is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda could plot to kill more Americans.”

This distinction between a war of choice (Iraq) and a war of necessity (Afghanistan) has become canonical to American liberalism. But we should dispense with that distinction, for it is both morally false and intellectually muddled. No philosophy of just and unjust wars will support it. It was amid the ferocious attack on the American project in Iraq that there was born the idea of Afghanistan as the “good war.” This was the club with which the Iraq war was battered. This was where that binary division was set up: The good war of necessity in the mountains of Afghanistan, the multilateral war born of a collective NATO decision-versus George W. Bush’s war of choice in Iraq, fought in defiance of the opinions of allies who had been with us in the aftermath of 9/11, and whose goodwill we squandered in the cruel streets of Fallujah and the deserts of Anbar.

Our elections last November, this narrative had it, had given us a chance to bring America’s embattled solitude and isolation in the world to an end. A man with strands of Islam woven into his identity and biography was catapulted to the presidency. We had drained the swamps of anti-Americanism. Assalam aleikum (peace be upon you) in Cairo, Ankara and Tehran. The great enmity, that unfashionable clash of civilizations, was declared done and over with. A new history presumably began with Mr. Bush’s return to his home in Texas.

But it will not do to offer up 9/11 as a casus belli in Afghanistan while holding out the threat of legal retribution against the men and women in our intelligence services who carried out our wishes in that time of concern and peril. To begin with, a policy that falls back on 9/11 must proceed from a correct reading of the wellsprings of Islamist radicalism. The impulse that took America from Kabul to Baghdad had been on the mark. Those were not Afghans who had struck American soil on 9/11. They were Arabs. Their terrorism came out of the pathologies of Arab political life. Their financiers were Arabs, and so were those crowds in Cairo and Nablus and Amman that had winked at the terror and had seen those attacks as America getting its comeuppance on that terrible day. Kabul had not sufficed as a return address in that twilight war; it was important to take the war into the Arab world itself, and the despot in Baghdad had drawn the short straw. He had been brazen and defiant at a time of genuine American concern, and a lesson was made of him.

No Arabs had been emotionally invested in Mullah Omar and the Taliban, but the ruler in Baghdad was a favored son of that Arab nation. The decapitation of his regime was a cautionary tale for his Arab brethren. Grant George W. Bush his due. He drew a line when the world of the Arabs was truly in the wind and played upon by powerful temptations. Mr. Obama and his advisers need not pay heroic tribute to the men and women who labored before them. But they have so maligned their predecessors and their motives that the appeal to 9/11 rings hollow and contrived. In those years behind us, American liberalism distanced itself from American patriotism, and the damage is there to see.

In the best of circumstances, this Afghan campaign would be a hard sell. This is doubly so at a time of economic distress at home. There is no tradition of central government to be restored in that most tribalized of countries. The lessons, and the analogy, of Vietnam should perhaps be laid to rest. This is not Mr. Obama’s Vietnam. It is what it is-his Afghanistan. But there are irresistible parallels with Lyndon Baines Johnson and the way he committed his presidency, and the nation, to a war he dreaded from the start.

This is LBJ in 1964, from a definitive history by A.J. Langguth, “Our Vietnam,” published in 2000: “I just don’t think it is worth fighting for, and I don’t think we can get out. It’s just the biggest damn mess.” He would prosecute what he called that “bitch of a war” with a premonition that it could wreck his Great Society programs. He knew America’s mood. “I don’t think the people of the country know much about Vietnam, and I think they care a hell of a lot less.” Yet, he took the plunge, he would try to “cheat”-guns and butter at the same time, the war in Asia and the domestic agenda of civil rights and the Great Society. History was merciless. It begot a monumental tragedy in a land of no consequences to American security.

Wars are great clarifiers. Barack Obama’s trumpet is uncertain. His call to arms in Afghanistan does not stir. He fears failure in Afghanistan, and nothing more. Having disowned Iraq, kept its cause at a distance, he is forced to fight the war in Afghanistan. So he equivocates and plays for time. Forever the campaigner, he has his eye on the public mood, the steel that his predecessor showed in 2007 when all was in the balance in Iraq is not evident in Mr. Obama.

For the American effort in Afghanistan to stick on the ground in the face of a Taliban insurgency that’s gaining in strength and geographical reach, Mr. Obama will have to make a hard choice. He will need a troop commitment of sufficient weight to turn the tide of war. Furthermore, he will have to face his own coalition on the left and convince it that there is a project in Afghanistan worth fighting (and paying) for.

By the evidence of things, this is a decision that he has refused to make, as he pursues his sweeping domestic agenda while keeping Afghanistan in play. He had been sure that NATO forces would rush to his banners, that Europe had stayed away from a serious commitment in Afghanistan because it had been seized with an animus for his predecessor. But Mr. Bush had been an alibi all along. The Europeans are in no mood for this war.

There is a British contingent of decent size in Afghanistan, but there had been one in Iraq as well. The likes of Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder (who dabbled in the most craven of anti-Americanism) are gone and forgotten, but the French and the Germans have not ridden to the rescue of Kandahar. The stringent restrictions on their forces, their very rules of engagement, have left Afghanistan an Anglo-American burden in much the same way Iraq had been.

Eight years ago, we were visited by the furies of Arab lands. We were rudely awakened from a decade whose gurus and pundits had announced the end of ideology, of politics itself, and the triumph of the world-wide Web and the “electronic herd.” We had discovered that on the other side of the world masterminds of terror, and preachers, and their foot-soldiers were telling of America the most sordid of tales. We had become, without knowing it, a party to a civil war in the Arab-Islamic world between the autocrats and their disaffected children, between those who wanted to live a normal life and warriors of the faith bent on imposing their will on that troubled arc of geography.

Our country answered that call, not always brilliantly, for we are fated to be strangers in that world and thus fated to improvise and make our way through unfamiliar alleyways. We met chameleons and hustlers of every shade and had to learn, in a hurry, incomprehensible atavisms and pathologies. We fared best when we trusted our sense of things. We certainly haven’t been kept safe by the crowds in Paris and Berlin, or by those in Ankara and Cairo who feign desire for our friendship while they yearn for our undoing.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

America Was Behind the 9/11 Atrocities, Says Actor Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen has provoked outrage with claims that the U.S. government was behind the September 11 terror attacks.

Ahead of today’s eighth anniversary of the atrocities that killed 3,000, the Hollywood star has insisted there was a cover-up.

And he has appealed to President Barack Obama to hold a new investigation into the attacks on the World Trade Centre towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

Sheen, the highest-paid actor on U.S. TV, argues that ‘the official 9/11 story is a fraud’ and says the commission set up to investigate was a whitewash.

He claims the attacks simply served ‘as the pretext for the systematic dismantling of our Constitution and Bill of Rights’.

The actor, 44, says the administration of former president George Bush was behind the attacks, which they were then able to use to justify an invasion of Iraq.

He even hints that Osama Bin Laden was working with the CIA up until 9/11.

Sheen, who appears in the hit comedy series Two And A Half Men, made his claims in the transcript of a fictional encounter with Mr Obama, called Twenty Minutes With The President.

It was published on the website of radio show host Alex Jones,, two days ahead of Sheen’s appearance on Jones’s show today.

Most of his observations make up the basis of all the conspiracy theories surrounding the terror attack. Those who support the theories in the U.S. are known as Truthers.

He voices doubts over whether the planes really were passenger jets and questions how passports identifying the hijackers survived the infernos.

The actor, whose father Martin played the president in The West Wing, said he hoped the work would be seen by Mr Obama.

He urged other Americans who were sceptical of the investigation into the attacks to demand the truth.

He said: ‘We cannot allow governments to continue to advance their political agendas by exploiting forged pretexts and the fact that big budget hit pieces against 9/11 truth are still being rolled out proves that the establishment is upset that the population is waking up to false flag terror.’

Sheen first questioned the events of 9/11 in 2006 when he said: ‘It seems to me like 19 amateurs with box cutters taking over four commercial airliners and hitting 75 per cent of their targets, that feels like a conspiracy theory. It raises a lot of questions.’

This week President Obama’s ‘green jobs’ tsar was forced to resign after it was revealed he had signed a petition from a 9/11 Truther movement that claimed the U.S. government staged the attacks.

[Return to headlines]

Democrats Stifle Republican Health Care Plans

Rep. Tom Price, the Georgia Republican who heads the House GOP Study Committee, came to President Obama’s speech Wednesday night itching to make a point. Price, who also happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, has often heard the president accuse Republicans of criticizing Democratic health care proposals while having no plans of their own. He expected Obama to do the same Wednesday night.

“We knew the president would at some point say something like, ‘and the other side has no ideas,’ “ Price says. So Price and his Republican colleagues brought with them copies of the more than 30 health care reform bills they have proposed in the House this year.

Obama didn’t directly accuse Republicans of not having a plan. But he did say he would welcome “serious” health care proposals. “My door is always open,” Obama said.

That’s when Price held up the sheaf of papers he was carrying — a copy of H.R. 3400, the Empowering Patients First Act, which Price and the Republican Study Committee proposed in July. Other GOP lawmakers held up their own bills. Some raised a list of all the health care bills — there are more than 30 — proposed by members of the Study Committee.

Why use the props? “To say in a quiet and respectful way, ‘Here are our ideas,’ “ Price says. “To say to the president, ‘You’re not being honest with the American people when you say that there haven’t been ideas put forward, and that you’ve listened to them, because you haven’t.’ “

The small Republican protest got a bit of coverage, although it was overshadowed by the hubbub over GOP Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during the president’s speech. But the larger problem remains. Republicans have authored a number of health care bills — serious legislation addressing portability, pre-existing conditions, cost and other issues that most trouble American consumers — and hardly anyone has noticed.

Republicans don’t really blame Nancy Pelosi. The speaker is as partisan a Democrat as they come, and no one is surprised that she has used her power to stifle Republican efforts. But they do blame the Obama administration. “The White House, in spite of saying they look forward to meeting with anybody who wants to solve these challenges, has rebuffed us at every turn,” Price says.

They also blame the media. Somewhere in this extended health care debate, Republicans believe, reporters might have noticed that there are real, substantive GOP proposals out there. So far, though, it hasn’t happened.

A search of the LexisNexis database of newspapers, magazines, television programs and major blogs finds about 3,000 mentions of the major House Democratic bill, H.R. 3200, in the past six months. (Those are just the stories that refer to the bill by its House number; there have been thousands more stories referring generally to the Democratic legislation.) A similar search found 60 mentions of H.R. 3400, the Price bill.

Another Republican bill, H.R. 2520, the Patients’ Choice Act, by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, received 12 mentions in the same time period. And two other bills, H.R. 3217 and H.R. 3218, the Health Care Choice Act and the Improving Health Care for All Americans Act, by Rep. John Shadegg, together received 20 mentions.

The virtual embargo on reporting Republican legislation has allowed Democrats and their allies in the media to keep up the “Republicans have no plan” attack. Just hours after the president’s speech, for example, the Democratic National Committee released a new commercial claiming that Republicans “refuse to offer a plan” to reform the health care system.

Just for the record, in case you want to check them out, these are the bills proposed, so far, by Price and his allies in the House: H.R. 77; H.R. 109; H.R. 198; H.R. 270; H.R. 321; H.R. 464; H.R. 502; H.R. 544; H.R. 917; H.R. 1086; H.R. 1118; H.R. 1441; H.R. 1458; H.R. 1468; H.R. 1658; H.R. 1891; H.R. 2520; H.R. 2607; H.R. 2692; H.R. 2784; H.R. 2785; H.R. 2786; H.R. 2787; H.R. 3141; H.R. 3217; H.R. 3218; H.R. 3356; H.R. 3372; H.R. 3400; H.R. 3438; H.R. 3454; and H.R. 3478.

[Comment from Tuan Jim: Haven’t had time to look up any of these — might make a nice project for someone.]

“It’s frustrating,” Price says. But Republicans believe that in the end, the public won’t buy the administration’s line. “The American people are smarter than that,” Price says. “They know there are alternatives out there. That’s what August was all about.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Muslims Lifting Up America on 9/11

CAIRO — As thousands of Americans commemorated the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, US Muslims are marking the day with acts of service for thousands of fellow citizens across the country.

“After eight years of feeling under siege, Muslim Americans are now leading a movement to lift up others and serve their communities with reverence,” Dalia Mogahed, member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership, told the Ekklesia think tank on Friday, September 11.

“It was Islam’s core teaching of affirming faith with good works that formed the heart of this call to action.”

US Muslim groups massively took part in the first official 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance, a day established to mark the anniversary of the attacks.

Muslim volunteers raced to carry out more than 3,000 days of service in communities across the country.

Their activities ranged between providing health care to Americans without insurance, to delivering books to under-funded American schools.

Muslim volunteers also raced to provide food in several US cities as well as support structure for newly arrived refugee families.

Throughout the summer of service, 93 percent of the programs carried out by Muslim-American groups have been completed.

“Muslim Americans Answer the Call is the true embodiment of the President’s call for change,” Mogahed said.

Muslim Americans Answer the Call is a grassroots national campaign to mobilize US Muslims take part in Obama’s service initiative by engaging Muslim groups and social networks.

“Muslim-American volunteerism this summer demonstrates the community’s desire to positively contribute to our country.”

Muslim Image

Many American Muslims joined ceremonies to pay tributes of the victims of the terrorist attacks.

“(9/11) was a horrifying day for us not only because of the people who died, but because we are all blamed for it,” Imam Abdullah Smith, the leader of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri, told the Colombia Missourian.

“Not only do we have to deal with the tragedy that actually took place, but now, every year that it comes up, we’re reminded of it, and we’re feeling like we’re the bad guys.”

Nearly 3,000 people were killed when hijackers from Al-Qaeda organizations struck fuel-laden planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

US President Barack Obama led a moment of silence on Friday to mark the 8th anniversary of the attacks.

At exactly 8:46 am (1246 GMT) when the first plane the North tower of the World Trade Center, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stood with heads bowed outside the White House.

Ceremonies were also held in New York, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field where a fourth plane crashed short of its target.

“We can’t control a radical sect,” Nuzhat Chowdhury, a Missiouri University Junior, said, referring to Al-Qaeda group.

American Muslims, estimated at between six to seven million, have been in the eye of storm since the 9/11 attacks.

They have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was targeting their faith.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center showed Thursday that American Muslims are still discriminated against eight years after the 9/11 attacks.

Since the attacks, many US Muslim groups have launched initiatives to educate Americans that Islam is against attacking civilians.

On the eve of the anniversary, the Muslim Student Organization at Missouri University hosted a “Fast-a-thon” event for non-Muslims to help educate fellow students about Islam.

Muslim students also encouraged their friends to join them for a day of fasting during Ramadan to help know better about the faith.

Afterwards, about 100 students met to break the fast and share their common experiences.

“(Since the attacks) people are trying to educate and improve the image of the Muslim community,” said Chowdhury.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

New York Reveals Demands for New 9/11 Probe May Go to Vote as Americans Mark Eighth Anniversary

Eight years after the terrorist attacks that changed the world, New York City lawyers have revealed that demands for a new probe into September 11 may be put to a city referendum.

The New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN), a group of 9/11 family members, first responders and survivors, has submitted over 30,000 valid signatures to put the referendum for a new 9/11 investigation before the voters of New York City this November.

The vote is likely to tear open old wounds as groups such as the ‘truthers’, those such as actor Charlie Sheen who believe Americans have never been told the truth about what really happened on 9/11, try to persuade New Yorkers to open a new probe.

If the referendum passes in November, it would lead to the creation of a local, independent commission with subpoena power that would be tasked with comprehensively reinvestigating the attacks.

The news came as Americans marked the eighth anniversary of the attacks that killed 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.

The sting has lessened — but for many Americans September 11 will never be routine, no matter how many anniversaries have passed.

Families carrying photos of lost loved ones streamed into a plaza near Ground Zero in New York today, wiping tears and raindrops from their faces under dreary skies.

Thousands were expected at now-familiar ceremonies in New York, at the Pentagon and at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

In lower Manhattan, families used rain jackets and ponchos to fend off the rain and strong wind as bells tolled at nearby Trinity Church.

‘It doesn’t matter what kind of weather there is. I would be here either way. It’s a way to come together and find a common place,’ said Elaine Dejesus of Clifton, New Jersey. She carried a framed photo of Nereida Dejesus, who was her sister and best friend.

Dejesus, wiping tears off her cheeks, said the anniversaries don’t get any easier.

‘For me, it’s just the same as it was the first day,’ she said. ‘There are days I just sit there and cry. But I also remember the fun times and what she would want us to do.’

The morning the World Trade Center crumbled, a war began. Today counter-terrorism and intelligence officials told the Guardian that the threat from al Qaeda has shrunk, and that the organisation is facing a crisis affecting its ability to find, inspire and train willing fighters.

The leadership has shrunk to a core group of just six people, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. In all, there may be just 200 al Qaeda operatives left who matter.

The fight instead is now being taken to franchises in Pakistan, Yemen or North Africa.

But even with that success, the psychological scars on America remain.

The anniversary brings a mix of emotions: sorrow over the huge loss of life, anguish over the wars that followed, but also resentment over how the hijackings so completely transformed the place of Muslims in the U.S. and beyond.

A poll released this week by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 38 per cent of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence. That is down from 45 per cent two years earlier.

It is now common in U.S. mosques for Muslims to preface public remarks by saying they know the government is eavesdropping but Muslims have nothing to hide.

This year, the anniversary falls today on a Friday, the Islamic day of congregational prayer.

Iis also during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, when mosques are usually packed. Muslims expect their prayer leaders, or imams, will at least mention the significance of the date in their sermons.

Not all mosques will commemorate the day. A significant number of U.S. Muslims contend that no one of their faith could have perpetrated the hijackings. They resist suggestions that they should be monitoring their own communities for extremism.

Kamran Memon, an Illinois lawyer, has taken a different approach, founding Muslims for A Safe America, which challenges fellow Muslims to learn more about national security. The debates and talks he leads at mosques throughout the Chicago area start from the position that Muslims were behind the attacks.

Some Muslims are convinced that if the U.S. is hit with another terrorist attack, the government will put them in internment camps, he said.

‘There’s this fear about what down the road this will mean for my daughter’s future. What kind of life will she have here?’ he said.

‘People may be less angry or less hostile toward Muslims in general, but if there’s another attack, what then?’

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Regulatory Chief Pushes New ‘Bill of Rights’

Cass Sunstein part of effort to change interpretation of Constitution by 2020

NEW YORK — A government that is constitutionally required to offer each citizen a “useful” job in the farms or industries of the nation.

A country whose leadership intercedes to ensure every farmer can sell his product for a good return.

A nation that has the power to act against “unfair competition” and monopolies in business.

This is not a description of Cuba, communist China, or the USSR until 1991. It’s the vision of the future of the U.S, as mandated by a radical new “bill of rights” drawn up and pushed by President Obama’s newly confirmed regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein. Until now, Sunstein’s proposal has received little scrutiny.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama’s Team ‘Socialists With Communist Backgrounds’

Prof with ties to radical White House associates says president understands socialism

NEW YORK — Many of the people working with President Obama are Marxists or socialists with backgrounds in the Communist Party, according to a socialist Columbia University professor with strong ties to Obama’s radical associates, including Weathermen terrorist Bill Ayers.

“What makes Obama different is that he has also been a community organizer. He has read left literature, including my works, and he understands what socialism is,” wrote Manning Marable, professor and founding director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

“A lot of the people working with him are, indeed, socialists with backgrounds in the Communist Party or as independent Marxists,” Marable wrote in a December 2008 piece published in the Socialist Review.

In the article, Marable contends “Obama is not a Marxist or a socialist — he is a progressive liberal.”

[Comments from JD: A distinction without a difference.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Regulatory Chief: Adult Dog More ‘Rational’ Than Baby

Cass Sunstein strong advocate of emancipating animal kingdom

NEW YORK — President Obama’s newly confirmed administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has several times quoted approvingly from an author who likened animals to slaves and argued an adult dog or a horse is more rational than a human infant and should therefore be granted similar rights.

A brief video on YouTube captures Cass Sunstein at a 2002 event using the writings of Jeremy Bentham, a 19th Century social reformer and animal rights pioneer.


In the Harvard paper, Sunstein even suggests animals could be granted the right to sue humans in court.

“We could even grant animals a right to bring suit without insisting that animals are in some general sense ‘persons,’ or that they are not property,” he wrote.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Synagogue Holding Services With Muslims

Interaction comes after canceling seminar on dangers of radical Islam

A group that presents seminars on the threat of radical Islam is raising alarm that a synagogue that previously canceled one of its programs, Congregation Beth El in New London, Conn., now plans to celebrate Ramadan with local Islamic leaders tied to extremist groups.

“In 2008, I found it appalling that Jewish organizations including the [Jewish Federal of Eastern Connecticut] and Jewish Community Center of West Hartford would strive to keep their congregants in the dark with respect to the Islamist threat — a threat against the Jewish people that clearly overshadows that which was posed by the Third Reich,” Jeffrey Epstein, president of America’s Truth Forum, told WND.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


NCC Approves Monument Against ‘Oppression’

Decision made despite confusion over what work even commemorates

OTTAWA — A new monument in Ottawa to commemorate the victims of some sort of oppression was approved by the National Capital Commission’s board of directors Thursday, but the decision has left those proposing the monument confused as to what, exactly, was approved.

“We don’t really understand the decision at this point,” said Tim Egan of High Park Group, which is representing one of the groups behind the proposal. “We really do need to talk to our board to assess the implications.”

The NCC board passed a motion supporting the concept of the commemoration, “but perhaps with a different title,” after objections about the title were raised by nearly all members who spoke.

The title — “monument to the victims of totalitarian communism” — has already been changed once. In the first proposals, one by a non-profit group called Tribute to Liberty, the other by Open Book Group, it was to be called “monument to the victims of communism.”

After beginning discussions with the NCC in March 2008, the groups had back-and-forth discussions with a committee of experts who suggested that the title be changed because it could be perceived as “unduly critical of Canadians who might associate themselves with communism,” Egan said.

The group then changed the name to include the word “totalitarian.” The title still did not sit well with the board.

“I was unsettled by this name, and other members of the committee agreed with me,” said Hélène Grand-Maître, speaking in French. “We should make sure that we are politically correct in this designation.”

Board member Adel Ayad said the name was troubling for its “very tight definition” and for the presence of the word “communism” in the title, as Canada has a communist party.

“It’s not communism itself that we should be fighting here. It is rather totalitarianism we are against in any form,” he said.

Richard Jennings suggested replacing “totalitarian communism” with the phrase “oppressive regimes.”

Some also suggested that the monument should focus more on Canada as a refuge for victims of oppressive regimes.

The criticism that the monument’s focus is too narrow came as a surprise to Zuzana Hahn of the Open Book Group, who points out that the monument represents people from three of the world’s seven continents.

“We feel that we are just broad enough,” she said. “We represent everybody from Vietnam to South America and through Europe.”

The monument aims to honour the 100 million people who died under communist regimes across the world and to recognize the experiences of Canadians who emigrated from communist countries. The monument will also thank Canada for its role in providing a homeland for those coming from communist regimes.

The monument has a $1.5-million budget, all of which will come from private-sector fundraising, according to the proposal.

In addition to support from communities of diverse heritage and letters of support from ambassadors, the monument also has political champions, including Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Earlier this year, Kenney told the National Post that he took the idea to the prime minister some time after a meeting with the Czech and Slovak Association in Toronto three years ago when he was secretary of state for multiculturalism.

In a letter to Kenney last year, the prime minister said he “would strongly support the idea of such a monument.”

According to the NCC’s submission to the board, monuments to victims of communism are found in some cities in former communist countries, as well as in Washington, D.C.

In Toronto, a monument to the victims of communism, depicting a Christ-like figure crucified on a hammer and sickle, is in the gardens of a Czechoslovakian community centre. A small replica of that monument is on display in Gatineau City Hall.

The next steps of the project were to include the NCC working with the groups involved over the fall and winter to develop the “project approach” and a national competition to design the monument in the spring and summer of next year, with an unveiling in November 2011. A public announcement about the project on Nov. 9 was to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But given Thursday’s conditional approval, the groups involved are not sure what’s next for the proposed monument.

“We have to meet with our board and we have to reconsider,” Hahn said.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes [Return to headlines]

Report: Politician Known for Harsh Motorist Laws Arrested in Brutal Hit-and-Run Death

Former Ontario, Canada Attorney General Michael Bryant made a name for himself as a tough-nosed lawmaker that took a hard line against street racing. Among Bryant’s hard stance anti-racer policies was a law that gave the police the right to crush any car that was modified for racing — even if the vehicle had no complaints against it. If a report from The New York Times is true, Mr. Bryant could ironically spend the rest of his life behind bars for a brutal hit-and-run accident involving a bicyclist.

The incident reportedly began as a minor event and quickly escalated. Bryant allegedly brushed the bicyclist while he was driving, who then held on to the driver’s side door of his black Saab convertible. Witnesses told a local Canadian television station that Bryant was heard swearing and swerving in an apparent attempt to shake the biker from his door. Bystanders told police that Bryant was driving on the sidewalk near lamp posts at a high rate of speed, in an apparent attempt to knock the biker off.

The incident ended with the bicyclist, Darcy Allen Sheppard, striking a mailbox. Sheppard later died due to injuries sustained from the accident. According to the NYT, Bryant went to a nearby hotel after the incident where he was later arrested for what appears to be a most heinous hit-and-run incident. It looks like Bryant was right when he said that cars could be as dangerous as explosives…

           — Hat tip: Zenster [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Battisti: Berlusconi, Hope to See Him Behind Bars

(AGI) — Rome, 9 Sep. — “I hope so” was prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s reply to a member of the audience who asked if he hoped to see Cesare Battisti behind bars in light of the sentence of the Brazilian court deciding the case. He added that “I am confident that the Brazilian judges will decide wisely and with fair cause”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Creeping Anti-Islam Fascism Target [sic] Danish Mosque

Danish far-right launches anti-mosque campaign amid fears of rise in Nazi-style xenophobia.

COPENHAGEN — The extreme-right Danish People’s Party, a key government ally, launched a media campaign Wednesday against the building of mosques, after Copenhagen city council approved the country’s first.

The mosque, financed through private donations, will cost between 40 million and 50 million kroners (5.4 million and 6.7 million euros) to build.

Denmark’s 200,000 Muslims make up 3.5 percent of the population and are the country’s second largest religious community after the state-run Lutheran Church.

Observers say the campaign is reminiscent of the Nazi-era propaganda against Europe’s Jewish population.

Full page advertisements published in several daily papers claimed that part of the funds for the new mosque would come from Iran, while a second mosque planned for the capital would be financed by Saudi Arabia.

The ads also contained a picture of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul with a photo montage of two swords on the dome.

The party linked its campaign to the municipal elections on November 17.

The deputy head of the party, Peter Skaarup, said Wednesday his party would seek a referendum on the construction of mosques in Denmark.

Meanwhile, the deputy mayor of Copenhagen, Klaus Bondam, criticised the Danish People’s Party’s campaign and said the city’s first mosque would be “a symbol of multicultural Copenhagen.”

The new Copenhagen mosque, approved by the city council late last month, will be built by the city’s Shiite Muslim community on the site of a former factory.

A 24-metre (79-foot) high blue dome will cover the 2,000-square-metre (21,500-square-foot) place of worship flanked by two 32-metre-high minarets in northwest Copenhagen.

But no calls to prayer will blare from the towers in order not to disturb the surrounding working-class neighbourhood.

Denmark has had a tense relationship with the Muslim world since a Danish newspaper published in 2005 offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, sparking anger and protests in several Muslim nations.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Croatia-Slovenia: Border Deal, Zagreb Nears EU Membership

(by Franko Dota) (ANSAmed) — LJUBLJANA — Croatia and Slovenia today reached an agreement on how to resolve a maritime border dispute in the northern Adriatic, an issue plaguing the two countries for the past 18 years. According to the agreement, Croatia will be able to continue to negotiate EU membership, blocked by Slovenia due to the lack of resolution of the dispute. A month of intense contacts between the diplomats of the two countries shrouded from the media ended today with a meeting in Ljubljana between Slovenian Prime Minister, Borut Pahor and Croatian Premier Jadranka Kosor, who reached an initial, but fundamental compromise. At the end of the meetings, Kosor sent a fax, which served as a sort of guarantee to the Swiss president of the EU, stating that “no document presented by Zagreb regarding EU membership negotiations will be prejudiced in any way by the future setting of the border in the disputed area”, explained Kosor. At this point, Pahor announced that the government intends to propose to the Foreign Affairs commission of Parliament in Ljubljana, to remove its veto blocking Croatia’s membership. “Negotiations regarding the border will continue where they left off in June,” then added Pahor, making it clear that the methods used to determine the border proposed by Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn in an attempt to mediate the dispute, could be the basis of a future border agreement. Rehn’s proposal called for a special arbitrator from a group of judges and experts. The dispute between Slovenia and Croatia over their maritime borders in the Gulf of Piran is far from being resolved, but with today’s agreement, the two countries seem to have reached at least a framework within which in the coming months, or possibly years, they will be able to work.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Denmark: Terrorist Threats ‘Increasingly Serious’

Militant Islamists remain the main threat to Denmark, but intelligence agency looks further ahead

Denmark is facing increasingly serious terrorism threats, domestic intelligence agency PET has concluded.

According to PET’s director Jakob Scharf, the number of specific threats against Denmark spiked in the first few months of this year but despite declining since then had become more serious.

‘More terror groups are looking to attach themselves to al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda’s leadership has clearly stated that Denmark should be seen as a potential target,’ Scharf told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

Denmark, he said, remained a terrorist target due to the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in 2005 and again last year.

Al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks wanted to keep the cartoon controversy alive for strategic reasons, Shcarf said.

‘It resonates with people in many Muslim countries. The cartoon controversy isn’t going away and that means the increased awareness of Denmark isn’t going to subside for many years to come.’

Brynjar Lia, a terrorism and security expert at the Norwegian Defence Research Institute, was surprised that al-Qadea had continued to keep Denmark on its list of enemies.

‘Jihadists haven’t forgotten Denmark,’ he said.

According to Lia, al-Qaeda’s targeting of Denmark broke its pattern of targeting countries based on their military actions in Muslim countries.

‘With the cartoon controversy al-Qaeda is throwing its attention towards something that is more about religion and culture.’

PET will continue to focus its activities on preventing fundamentalist Islamic terrorism against Denmark, but it has also worked out an analysis of the terrorism threats against Denmark until 2025.

In addition to continued threats from al-Qaeda, Scharf named environmental, economic or political terrorism by left- as well as right-wing groups as threats the agency considered possible.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Frattini: International Network Against Berlusconi

(AGI) — Gubbio (Pg), 10 Sept — “There is an international network which not only wishes harm on Berlusconi but on Italy too” said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini during a speech in Gubbio, seeing a connection which has branches in several countries against Berlusconi. “The shameful endless stream is against Berlusconi”. And if the President of the House highlighted the continued attacks on him by the centre-right and by the party which he helped to found and the lack of internal dialogue “human solidarity goes beyond political doubt and beyond the fact that we need to talk more”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

French Fashion for Muslim Women

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, SEPTEMBER 11 — While in France a parliamentary commission is discussing burqas, Geraldine Francioli, a 27-year-old with three children who converted to Islam at the age of 16, giving herself the name Dounia, has launched a French-made fashion line for Muslim women. Her company, “Hijab creation”, consists of three sewing machines, a mannequin, a clothing stand, and many rolls of fabric of varying colours in a garage next to her home in Villefranche-sur-Saone, 35km north of Lyon. Her brand is called Sounaham, with about 20 garments according to Islamic precepts, which, she specified, leave the face, uncovered, but not the hair or feet and are manufactured in bright, coloured, flowered, and patterned fabrics. Also, she explained, “I keep the practical side of the garment in mind, there are almost no seams, and the hijabs, or veils, tunics, and djellabas, the garment that extends to the feet, are interchangeable with each other. “Muslim women, she added, wear these traditional garments not because they are forced to by their husbands, but because they want to, “and I’m divorced”. The idea of starting her own business came to her because she was not able to “find a job where I could wear a veil”, she said, stating also that she has received many orders, at least two per day, particularly for Eid ul-fitr, the holiday that will in less than a week bring Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, to a close. Her plan for the coming years is to advertise her brand, Sounaham, throughout the world, also counting on Internet sales ( ).(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Ireland: Ali Mayor: You Don’t Want Too Many Blacks in One Area

THE mayor of Ennis, who led the Co Clare town’s welcome to boxing legend Muhammad Ali last week, has warned against housing policies that could lead to “a glut” of black families in any one area.

Frankie Neylon said he believed it was better for the council not to house too many black families in any particular area to avoid the creation of “ghettos” and to facilitate the integration of black and white families.

“You wouldn’t like to see too many black families in one area and neither would they,” the Independent councillor said. He pointed out that six houses allocated by Ennis Town Council recently in one estate in the Cloughleigh area all went to black families.

“Six families in one small area is enough,” he said. “I would be concerned if the council keeps giving houses to black families in any particular area, there would be a glut of black families in one area.” “If you have too many black people in one area, it is difficult for them to integrate into the community.”

Cllr Neylon said that proper planning by the council would avoid the prospect of ghettos in Ennis. “The allocation of housing to black families should be a little more spread out to give a better blend of people.”


Cllr Neylon admitted that raising the issue left him open to being branded a racist.

But he said: “There is no question whatsoever of me being racist. I would not like to discriminate against anyone and if black families qualify for housing before a white family, I would have no problem with that.” But he pointed out that there were 26 different nationalities living in Ennis and said: “We can’t forget our own and keep housing people that have come into Ennis over the past number of years.

“There must be transparency into how housing is allocated. We have no role whatsoever. At the moment, we are blindfolded on the issue,” he said.

[Return to headlines]

Ireland: No Vote Will Have ‘Consequences’ For Ireland

TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen has said a rejection of the Lisbon Treaty would have “consequences” for Ireland.

He said other European Union member states might struggle to understand further Irish resistance to the treaty, especially now that guarantees on issues of concern had been secured.

“I would like to deal with this suggestion that rejecting Lisbon would not have any negative consequences for Ireland.

“Certainly it would not mean we would be thrown out of the European Union. But that does not mean there would not be consequences,” Mr Cowen said.

He was speaking to Fianna Fáil’s Dublin South organisation at the Irish Management Institute in Sandyford yesterday. Mr Cowen said Ireland was paying more than most other European Union countries for borrowings on the international money market because of negative sentiment towards the country.

That sentiment needed to be reversed by taking steps to correct the State’s finances but also by demonstrating that Ireland’s commitment to Europe was beyond any doubt. “It’s time to use the common sense that is the hallmark of the Irish character, to recognise that we need Europe and now Europe needs Ireland,” he said.

“This is not about whether you support or oppose the Government, or agree or disagree with Brian Cowen,” Mr Cowen said.

If voters were frustrated or angry about the current economic situation, they could exercise their vote to support the treaty and help Ireland increase its prospects of recovery, he said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, said Ireland was responsible for inserting a reference to climate change into the treaty. “At our insistence, we put climate change into the Lisbon Treaty. It was Ireland wanted that in and it was accepted. Thank God we did. That is, equally along with energy security, these are the big issues of this era,” he said.

No one member state could deal with such issues alone, he said.

Mr Martin also said the treaty would be beneficial for Irish workers.

“It’s illogical to vote No if you are a trade unionist or you believe in workers’ rights. There’s no logic to it. I don’t say that arrogantly,” he said.

“A Yes vote gets you the Charter [of Fundamental Rights], a No vote you have no charter.”

ESRI economist John Fitzgerald said the European Central Bank had provided massive liquidity and support for the Irish banking system.

“Ireland would not be the Ireland [it is] today were it not for membership of the monetary union,” he said. “Now that we are in a mess, it has bailed us out.”

Meanwhile, Prof Brigid Laffan, chairwoman of the Ireland for Europe group, said Irish political parties were “hard-wired” to fight elections but found referendum campaigns more of a struggle.

The chairwoman of the Women for Europe group, Olive Braiden, said some women had felt ill-informed and left out of the debate last year, “and they followed the Ganley guide: ‘When in doubt vote No’.”

The Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche, and chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs, Brendan Halligan, also addressed the gathering.

Fianna Fáil Senator Ann Ormonde, the former MEP for Dublin Eoin Ryan and Shay Brennan, who ran unsuccessfully in the Dublin South constituency in the last byelection, were among those who attended the event.

[Return to headlines]

Italy: Nobel Laureate Raps Premier

Gordimer’s remarks in controversial start to Mantua lit fest

(ANSA) — Mantua, September 10 — No one should consider themselves to be above the law, Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer said Thursday, not even Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. During a harangue against corruption in politics at Mantua’s annual literary festival, the South African author said that there were “numerous examples (of corruption) in Italy, for instance Berlusconi”.

Gordimer added, however, that because she didn’t live in Italy, she wasn’t qualified to “pass judgement”.

The 86-year-old author also pointed out that “corruption isn’t just an Italian problem” She gave as an example allegations that South African President Jacob Zuma took money from arms dealers.

Upon arriving at Festivaletteratura Wednesday, Gordimer signed a petition by Italian daily La Repubblica against a string of libel suits filed by Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

“It’s a strange and unfortunate situation for the Italian premier to own so many TV stations and media outlets”.

“How free do you feel to express your concerns?” she asked journalists.

Gordimer tops a long list of literary heavyweights expected in Mantua this week for Festivaletteratura.

Also on the program is Chilean author and filmaker Luis Sepulveda, whose political activism and imprisonment during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in the 1970s brought him to the forefront of the human rights movement.

Festival highlights include a retrospective look at the career of novelist Amitav Ghosh, considered one of the greatest English-language authors in India today.

Ghosh’s 2008 historical epic Sea of Poppies, described by The Times as “a profoundly moving picture of the human devastation of the poppy trade”, was shortlisted for the Mann Booker prize. Its sequel, the second in a planned trilogy, is due out in 2010. Sophie Kinsella, creator of the popular Shopaholic series, will present her upcoming release Remember Me? on bookshelves by the end of September. Kinsella’s hit shopping memoirs inspired the 2009 film adaptation Confessions of a Shopaholic starring Isla Fisher.

Also appearing is Muriel Barbery, author of the 2006 bestseller The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

Italian writers include Tiziano Scarpa, who won Italy’s prestigious Strega Prize this year for Stabat Mater, the story of a violin-playing orphan and her friendship with composer Antonio Vivaldi in 18th-century Venice.

Organizers said the five-day festival has already outsold last year’s edition with some 44,000 visitors expected.

First held in 1997, Festivaletteratura has become a major event on the international literary scene with over 350 authors participating.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Denies Fresh Prostitute ‘Slurs’

La Maddalena, 10 Sept. (AKI) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday emphatically rejected fresh claims that he had sexual relations with prostitutes at parties at his official residence in Rome and holiday villa in Sardinia.

The premier was speaking at a joint media conference held with Spanish prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, after talks between the leaders on the island of La Maddalena off the coast of Sardinia.

“There is absolutely no prostitution ring,” Berlusconi said. “That is a slander, an absolute lie, propogated by newspapers like L’Unità and La Repubblica.

“I have never paid one euro for a sexual service.”

Berlusconi was responding to reports that quoted testimony given by Gianpaolo Tarantini, a Bari businessman under investigation for abetting prostitution who admitted inviting more than 30 women — many of them prostitutes — to attend a total of 18 parties organised by the prime minister.

Tarantini has told prosecutors that he paid many of the women 1,000 euros for “sexual services”, while others were “just paid expenses” at the parties.

“In my life I have never paid a cent for a sexual service,” Berlusconi said. “I am the victim of an attack, of an attack by a person who has cunningly created a scandal, but from that it has also emerged that I never spent a cent.”

Berlusconi said he was “the best prime minister that Italy has ever had in its 150-year history” and he had no intention of resigning from his position. Instead, he relaunched his attack on the press that “writes only lies and slander” about him.

Tarantini reportedly discussed his role in supplying women for 18 parties organised by the 72-year-old premier in 2008 and early 2009.

“I introduced them as my friends and I did not say anything when I paid them,” said Tarantini during hearings conducted in the southern city of Bari in July this year, according to Italian daily Corriere Della Sera.

Tarantini said he invited several women, including TV personalities Barbara Guerra and Carolina Marconi, as well as Bari prostitute Patrizia D’Addario, confirming her claims that she had “spent the night at Palazzo Grazioli (Berlusconi’s Rome residence)”.

“I accompanied Terry De Nicolo in one occasion to Berlusconi’s home in Rome, keeping quiet at the same time, about the previous agreements that I had made with De Nicolo and the activities she would carry out, if I am not mistaken, in September or October 2008.”

“I had to reimburse her in advance for sexual services, but I don’t know if it happened or not,” said Tarantini.

Tarantini also admitted to have “promoted the sexual services” of a “very dear friend” called Vanessa Di Meglio. He also said he had supplied Di Meglio with cocaine.

“I also organised the sexual services of Di Meglio for Berlusconi on two occasions in Rome on 5 September and 8 October 2008,” he reportedly said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: After Controversy, Arab School Starts Monday in Milan

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, SEPTEMBER 11 — Just over 48 hours after the first school bell of the new scholastic year, the Italian-Arab school on Via Ventura in Milan is still waiting for definitive answers about its future. It will certainly begin the year in the building in the Lambrate area in the eastern outskirts of the city, where it has been served with an eviction notice. But it is currently hoping that it will move to a new location the be determined. Despite the controversy over the summer and the Northern League’s tirade, at Magib Mahfuz there is still an air of confidence and a will to shelve prior controversy and get back to work. In a period marked by divisions over the possibility of building a mosque in Milan, in August Northern League representatives were unhappy with the Milan city government’s outreach to the Egyptian community, with Social Policy Councilwoman Mariolina Moioli, taking responsibility to find Mahfuz a new location. “Excessive help” was the reaction of the region’s Northern League party leader, Davide Boni. Today, the President of the Insieme association, Mamoud Othman, the founder of the school, made an attempt to soften the tones, calling for those involved to put aside controversy and rely on “bilateral agreements between Italy and Egypt” and the mediation work of the Egyptian Consul to resolve the issue. In the meanwhile, Othman presented the new headmaster of the school: Professor Hassan Farghal, a teacher at the Università Orientale in Naples. A man with an important CV (former undersecretary to the Egyptian Education Minister, former cultural specialist at the Embassy in Rome, Knight of the Grand Cross of the Republic of Italy, and High Official for the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) to relaunch the school’s objective to become “a cultural centre of the Arab world in Milan”, explained Othman, through “a secular school” that “unifies two cultures and civilizations, dictated by a will to integrate”. But the history of Milan’s Arab school (190 students including elementary and middle school who take classes mandated both by the Italian and Egyptian educational system) has always been accompanied by controversy. It was the disputed closure of the illegal Arab school on Via Quaranta in 2005 that pushed a group of parents (Egyptians along with some Italians) to found the Insieme association that established Mahfuz. An institution, which for three years has been hosted in a building on Via Ventura, owned by the ENAIP group. At the end of last year’s school year though, the group notified the association of their intention to begin using the building again, resulting in the school’s eviction.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Minister Warns of 1930s-Style Fascists on Britain’s Streets

A cabinet minister last night raised the spectre of a return to 1930s fascism, warning of “parallels” between right-wing groups planning protests in Muslim neighbourhoods and Oswald Mosley’s incendiary marches through Jewish areas of east London.

Announcing a government drive to address issues alienating white, working-class people at risk of being “exploited” by the far-right, John Denham, the secretary of state for communities and local government, singled out protests being organised by the English Defence League.

The group, which has organised a number of protests in recent months which have turned violent, will hold events in Manchester, Leeds, London and Bristol in the coming weeks. Tomorrow hundreds of supporters are expected to demonstrate in their highest profile gathering yet, in Trafalgar Square.

“I think that the English Defence League and other organisations are not actually large numbers of people,” Denham said. “They clearly, though, have among them people who know what exactly they’re doing. If you look at the types of demonstrations they’ve organised … it looks pretty clear that it’s a tactic designed to provoke and to get a response and hopefully create violence.”

He pointed to historical “parallels” with Mosley’s event. “You could go back to the 1930s if you wanted to — Cable Street and all of those types of things. The tactic of trying to provoke a response in the hope of causing wider violence and mayhem is long established on the far-right and among extremist groups.”

The so-called “Battle of Cable Street” occurred in October 1936, when Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, attempted to lead fascist supporters through a Jewish area of the East End of London, leading to violent clashes.

EDL’s supporters include known far-right activists and football hooligans filmed at recent protests chanting racist slogans and making Nazi salutes. Next week senior police officers from across the country will meet to share intelligence on the EDL, amid fears that a volatile mix of extreme right-wing activists, and counter-protests from left-wing groups and locals, could result in serious disorder.

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which monitors extremists, is producing an intelligence briefing on the group’s activities ahead of the meeting, which will be chaired by West Midlands Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Sharon Rowe. She policed the EDL’s last two protests in Birmingham, which resulted in pitched battles with local youths and a total of 125 arrests and, she said, were marked by an “escalation in criminality”. “I feel that if the EDL come back to this city in the future I’ve got more of an evidence case and intelligence to therefore arrest them a lot earlier to prevent a breach of the peace,” she said.

Today the EDL’s supporters gathered outside a mosque in Harrow in north-west London to mark the anniversary of September 11.

In the last month, the home secretary, Alan Johnson, has twice used public order legislation to restrict far-right marches. On one occasion, in Luton, his “banning order” resulted in a three-month prohibition of all marches in the town.

Denham praised the home secretary’s action, but said there was a need for a broader strategy from government to “undercut issues that racists try to exploit”. Ministers would in the coming weeks unveil a government funded programme targeted at mainly white, working-class communities, he said.

“You need to be prepared to let people’s real underlying fears and concerns come out, but to be able to address them frankly and openly,” he said. He gave the example of perceptions of unfair allocation of council housing and new jobs, and said there could be changes at street level to allow local people to “influence and shape” how resources are distributed in their area.

           — Hat tip: El Inglés [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Man Arrested After Bus Driver Stabbed

A bus driver is critically ill in hospital after being stabbed several times by a passenger, the Telegraaf reports on Friday.

A 50-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident, which took place in the village of Breukelen, just north of Utrecht.

Witnesses say the man had been annoying several girls on the bus and when asked to stop, went up and stabbed the driver.

Aggression against public transport workers is a hot topic in the Netherlands at the moment following a string of incidents in which drivers have been hit or spat at.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Closure of Islamic Schools Remains Impossible

THE HAGUE, 11/09/09 — The Lower House is accepting the government’s view that it is constitutionally impossible to close down Islamic schools, even if they disseminate apartheid.

According to the government, only public (non-religious) schools can be closed down. Special schools (which are based on a Christian, Islamic or otherwise ideological foundation) cannot be sanctioned by closure.

The cabinet could in theory reduce its subsidies to the special schools to zero percent. This could however only be done in steps and on the basis of proportionality, according to Education State Secretary Karin Dijksma.

Dijksma recently cut the 4.5 million euro subsidy for an Islamic school in Amsterdam by 5 percent because it propagates segregation. She already stated at the time that closure of the school is impossible under Article 23 of the constitution, which provides for freedom of education.

Critics say Article 23 does provide for such possibilities, because it states that freedom of education is guaranteed within conditions to be determined by the legislator. But under pressure from the Christian democrats (CDA) in particular, tightening-up of these conditions has been taboo for years.

The Lower House will vote next week on a proposed bill giving the government the authority to close down public schools in the most extreme case. Both closure of a public school and halting the subsidy of a special school can only be a last-resort remedy, in the view of a House majority.

In case of mismanagement, the government will be given the authority to eject school boards. The governing CDA, Labour (PvdA) and small Christian party ChristenUnie in any case support the bill. The Socialist Party (SP), conservatives (VVD), leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and centre-left D66 have difficulty with parts of the bill, but will likely support it as well.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Rightwing and Anti-Fascist Protesters Riot in London

Police hit by bricks and bottles as they try to keep apart 1,000 rival demonstrators near Harrow mosque

Riot police were struggling to contain protests by anti-fascist demonstrators and rightwing organisations outside a mosque in north-west London tonight.

Officers were hit by bricks and bottles as they tried to keep about 1,000 rival demonstrators apart outside the partially completed mosque near the tube station in Harrow.

Seven people had been arrested and weapons, including bottles of bleach, a hammer and a chisel, were seized, a Metropolitan police spokeswoman said.

Police were braced for trouble after the rightwing English Defence League (EDL) and a group called Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) said they would converge on the area at 5pm for a rally to mark the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Unte Against Facism called on its supporters to meet for a counter-demonstration.

At around 5pm demonstrators, some armed with weapons, broke through police ranks and ran through the streets.

The stand-off was still going at around 7pm, with groups of youths seperated by riot police.

The police spokeswoman said: “There have been a number of further movements by the crowd in large groups attempting to reach small numbers of other people.

“Throughout the afternoon police have identified and stopped a number of people believe to be heading to the original SIOE demonstration from getting to the protest area.”

Witnesses said anti-fascist demonstrators outside the mosque burst through police lines in an attempt to reach groups of EDL supporters who were gathering in the surrounding streets.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s terrifying. This group of men came running down the street towards us and we had to hide with a couple of young Muslim boys in a shop.

“It’s really tense and we can still hear the police helicopters overhead. I’ve never felt this kind of tension in Harrow, it’s horrific.”

Before today’s protests, Muslim community leaders had expressed frustration that their mosque had become the focal point for the rally and had urged demonstrators to protest peacefully.

The EDL has held several similar rallies throughout the summer. More than 30 people were arrested last weekend at a similar portest in Birmingham.

[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Pokemon Cards Taken in Sandbox Knife Heist

A nine-year-old girl was robbed at knifepoint by a group of young boys in a sandbox in Partille outside of Gothenburg in western Sweden. The booty: the girl’s collection of Pokemon cards.

Two 10-year-old boys, and an as of yet unidentified playmate, threatened the girl with a knife in their bid to steal her assortment of the popular Japanese cartoon trading cards.

According to police, the boys also kicked the girl and hit her in the face.

A woman witnessed the sandbox attack from her balcony, believing at the time that the boys had simply thrown sand at the girl and pushed her to the ground, reports the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.

But the actual course of events was much more violent, leading the girl’s mother to file a report with the police.

The knife-wielding 10-year-olds and their friend will now be a case for social services.

“Social services in Partille have been informed and on Friday I’ll present a report of the incident,” Anders Klinberg of the local police office’s youth task force told GP.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

UK: Age of the ‘Bonsai’ Bin: Families Will be Forced to Cram Their Rubbish Into Mini Wheelies

Families are to be issued with ‘bonsai bins’ to make homeowners reduce the amount of rubbish they throw away.

The scheme will see one city’s standard-sized 240-litre wheelie bins, used by more than 150,000 homes, removed and replaced by smaller versions.

It means that a family of five could be forced to squeeze all their non-recyclable rubbish into a meagre 180-litre container.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Clashes at Anti-Islam Demonstration

Seven people have been arrested after clashes at an anti-Islam demonstration, police have said.

Officers were dealing with a gathering of around a 1,000 people in Station Road, Harrow, north-west London, said a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police.

The mood soured when a gang of at least 100 pro-Islamic demonstrators broke away from the main body to chase away a small number of the anti-Mosque marchers.

Police wearing riot gear responded by closing roads and kettling in the protesters outside the mosque, refusing to allow movement between their lines.

An Islamic leader with a loud-hailer appealed for calm from the protesters.

He said: “We don’t need any pictures on the TV of people fighting or shouting. Remember we’re fasting, we’re fasting right now.”

However, despite his request angry groups, many covering their faces with ski masks, motorcycle helmets and scarves continued shouting and throwing sticks at the police lines.

David Ashton, leader of Harrow Council, said: “We are saddened and dismayed that groups from outside the borough have come here and caused unrest. Harrow has an excellent record in community relations and we condemn those who came to our borough from elsewhere to either foist extreme political opinions on us or use religion as a cover for causing trouble.

“I would like to pay tribute to Harrow Mosque and its officials for their earlier calls for restraint and moderation. It is a pity those words were not heard by those who came to Harrow from outside our area.”

The seven arrests were for possession of offensive weapons.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Disgraced MG Rover Boss Paid Lover £1.6m as Company T

Disgraced MG Rover boss paid lover £1.6m as company headed towards collapse

She was paid a 2 per cent success fee, worth £740,000 for a £37million deal with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation for intellectual property rights.

Most of the directors of the companies involved ‘were not consulted’. Only Mr Beale was told about her relationship with Mr Stephenson, the report said.

Dr Li insisted, in a statement through her lawyers, that she had ‘delivered enormous benefits’ to the car firm and helped it survive longer.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Margaret Thatcher Feared Reunited Germany Would ‘Make More Ground Than Hitler’

He was forced to resign from Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet after voicing his own acerbic view of the Germans.

Nicholas Ridley had described the EU as ‘a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe’, adding that giving up sovereignty to Brussels was as bad as giving it to Adolf Hitler.

But it emerged yesterday that while his public comments in 1990 cost him his career, similar sentiments were being privately shared by his own prime minister and France’s president Mitterrand.

Around the same time — amid the euphoria of the fall of the Berlin Wall — Francois Mitterrand told Mrs Thatcher that a united Germany might ‘make even more ground than Hitler had’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Millionaire Faces Jail for Attack on Knife Raider at His Home

A millionaire businessman is facing jail for attacking a career criminal who had held his family hostage at knifepoint.

Munir Hussain, 52, was told he would be killed when three raiders invaded his home.

He and his wife, their teenage daughter and two sons were ordered to lie on the floor of the living room with their hands behind their backs.


The court heard that Salem, from Borehamwood, had a long criminal record, with over 50 convictions.

In contrast, Munir Hussain, an engineer by training, had an impeccable character. He came to Britain in 1964 and founded a company which employs nine people and had a £2.4million turnover last year.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Public Pays £25,000 a Day to Protect Former Pakistan Dictator Musharraf’s £1.4m London Home

Thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent protecting former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf following his move to Britain, it was revealed yesterday.

The ex-leader has received round-the-clock protection — estimated to cost £25,000 a day — at his £1.4million penthouse apartment in London since he was ousted last year.

He is guarded by eight special protection officers from Scotland Yard and his own team of retired Pakistani commandos, sources said.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Question a Doctor and Lose Your Child

PARENTS are being threatened with having their children taken into care after questioning doctors’ diagnoses or objecting to their medical care.

John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, who campaigns to stop injustices in the family court, said: “Very often care proceedings are used as retaliation by local authorities against ‘uppity’ people who question the system.”

Cases are emerging across the UK:

The mother of a 13-year-old girl who became partly paralysed after being given a cervical cancer vaccination [HPV vaccine] says social workers have told her the child may be removed if she (the mother) continues to link her condition with the vaccination.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Revealed: Baby P Council Sent Foster Child to Live With Ringleader of Airline Bomb Plot

A foster child was placed with the ringleader of the airline bomb plotters by the council at the centre of the Baby P scandal.

Abdulla Ahmed Ali lived with relatives who were approved as foster carers by Haringey Council and a child was placed with them by social workers.

The child was living with Ali’s family in Walthamstow when he was arrested in August 2006 and was only taken away afterwards.

Extremist literature, including a book by Osama bin Laden mentor Abdullah Azzam, was found hidden inside a baby’s cot at the house, according to the London Evening Standard.

Ali, 28, and two other men were convicted of planning to detonate bombs on seven civilian aircraft in a crime which police said would have caused carnage on an ‘unprecedented scale’.

The council may have unwittingly supplied Ali with an element of camouflage for the plot — and risked the child being murdered with his other would-be victims.

According to evidence heard at the trial, Ali and his co-conspirators discussed taking children on board the flights to allay the suspicions of security staff.

It is unknown whether the Haringey foster child was among the children he proposed to use.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Riot Police Quell Clashes at Anti-Islam Demo in London

LONDON (AFP) — Riot police intervened Friday to quell clashes between Muslims and anti-Islamic extremists protesting outside a London mosque on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, an AFP correspondent said.

Police moved in after a crowd of angry Muslim youths, some wearing masks over their faces, threw sticks and stones at a small group of anti-Islamic protesters near the mosque in Harrow, northwest London.

“This is England, I should be able to demonstrate,” said one of the group of about a dozen mostly shaven-headed anti-Islamic protesters.

“I have got two sons in the army. They are out in Afghanistan fighting, but the police doesn’t (sic) want to defend us here today,” said the man in his late 40s, who declined to give his name.

In a tense atmosphere after initial clashes subsided, police surrounded the white demonstrators, to shield them from the angry Muslims some 500 metres (yards) from the mosque.

The demonstration near Harrow Central Mosque was organised by Stop Islamification of Europe (SIOE), which said ahead of the demo that it planned to remain peaceful.

Stephen Gash of the SIOE — whose motto is “Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense” — said before the demo: “We don’t want any more mosques until all this hatred is sorted out.”

Concerns about violence have been heightened by clashes last weekend at a rally against Islamic fundamentalism held by a right-wing group, the English Defence League (EDL).

More than 30 people were arrested in Birmingham, central England, when the demonstrators fought with anti-fascist campaigners.

           — Hat tip: KGS [Return to headlines]

UK: Violence Flares as Right-Wing Extremists and Anti-Fascist Protesters Clash Outside New London Mosque

Eight protesters have been arrested during an anti-Islamic demonstration outside a mosque in north-west London.

Riot police stepped in to prevent the rally from going ahead after members of the Stop Islamification of Europe group clashed with more than 1,000 anti-fascist and Muslim demonstrators who gathered to defend the building.

The right-wing extremist group was protesting against the construction of a new five-floor mosque next to the Harrow Central Mosque.

More than 550 police charged at the protesters, largely made up of Muslim men, and corralled them around the mosque.

During one skirmish, a white teenage youth was chased by a mob of up to 200 chanting demonstrators.

Scotland Yard said there were seven arrests for public order offences or possession of weapons while one person was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace.

Weapons confiscated include a hammer, a chisel and a bottle of bleach.

Muslim supporters — some covering their faces with bandanas — could be seen throwing rocks and bricks while one group trampled a wire fence as the two groups goaded each other.

Police wearing riot gear responded by closing roads and kettling in the protesters outside the mosque, refusing to allow movement between their lines.

Elders at the mosque criticised the timing of the protest as it coincided not just with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks but also Ramadan, which is of deep spiritual significance to Muslims.

An Islamic leader with a loud-hailer appealed for calm from the protesters.

He said: ‘We don’t need any pictures on the TV of people fighting or shouting. Remember we’re fasting, we’re fasting right now.’

Despite his request, angry groups, many covering their faces with ski masks, motorcycle helmets and scarves continued shouting and throwing sticks at the police lines.

Councillor David Ashton, leader of Harrow Council, said: ‘We are saddened and dismayed that groups from outside the borough have come here and caused unrest.

‘Harrow has an excellent record in community relations and we condemn those who came to our borough from elsewhere to either foist extreme political opinions on us or use religion as a cover for causing trouble.

‘I would like to pay tribute to Harrow Mosque and its officials for their earlier calls for restraint and moderation. It is a pity those words were not heard by those who came to Harrow from outside our area.’

The demonstration follows a riot in Birmingham last weekend which descended into violence.

Anti-fascists and English Defence League supporters clashed in the city centre as a heavily policed protest spilled over into the main shopping area.

West Midlands Police made 90 arrests and detectives predict more will follow as officers trawl CCTV footage of the violence.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Which is More Important: Child Protection or Civil Liberties?

Slowly but surely, the world’s biggest database is being built in Britain to determine who is allowed to work or volunteer with children and vulnerable adults, such as elderly or disabled people.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Karadzic’s Hague Trial Could Begin on October 19

THE HAGUE (Reuters) — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic could go on trial as early as October 19 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the pre-trial judge of the tribunal overseeing his case said on Tuesday.

Karadzic, the most prominent figure being prosecuted for crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, was captured just over a year ago after 11 years on the run, and is representing himself.

Judge O-Gon Kwon proposed a start date of October 19 at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, assuming that all pending filings are resolved by then.

Karadzic faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including two charges of genocide over the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.

Last week he asked for the trial to be delayed by at least 10 months to give him time to prepare his case and in court on Monday strongly objected to the judge’s decision.

“I cannot be ready for the beginning of the trial. Should I embark on a trial that I am not ready for?” Karadzic said.

“I cannot be prepared. This is not an average trial. This is the most complicated and most voluminous trial in this tribunal … I ask that you revisit this issue … I ask that you reconsider the issue and make a new ruling.”

Kwon replied: “This has been ruled and I will not revisit this issue again.” He said Karadzic had already had time in custody to prepare for trial.

Kwon scheduled another pre-trial conference for October 6.


The trial should take no more than two and a half years, allowing a year each for prosecution and defense, as well as other proceedings. The “worst-case scenario” would be three years, the judge said.

After being asked to try to streamline their case, prosecutors said last week they would reduce the number of locations to be mentioned in evidence and cut their witness list by more than a quarter.

But Kwon on Monday detailed several more areas for prosecutors to cut.

The U.N. tribunal wants to avoid a lengthy trial like that of former Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. It lasted for four years and heard evidence from nearly 300 witnesses before Milosevic died in 2006 with the case unfinished.

Apart from Karadzic the only other high-profile suspect still at large is his military leader Ratko Mladic, who also faces charges related to the Srebrenica massacre and siege of Sarajevo.

           — Hat tip: Natalie [Return to headlines]

With Pale School Opening, Serb Leader Sends Message to Bosnia

It is unusual for a president of one country to travel to another to celebrate the opening of an ordinary elementary school.

It’s even more unusual when that president does so without informing key officials in the country he’s visiting.

But that’s just what Serbian President Boris Tadic did on September 8, when he traveled to the town of Pale in Bosnia-Herzegovina to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its freshly built red-brick school, where classes for 600 first- through eighth-graders have already begun.

Neither the Croatian nor Muslim members of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency were consulted about Tadic’s trip. The reason for that may have become clear when the Serbian leader, in a speech before hundreds of local officials, schoolchildren, and Orthodox clergy, explained the reason for his visit.

“By opening this school, we’re contributing to a great thing: education for our people,” Tadic said. “I want to tell you that Serbia, of which I am president, has a responsibility to Serbs wherever they are. Serbia is not responsible for the citizens of Serbia alone; Serbia is responsible for all the people who belong to our nation.”

Funding for the school — provocatively named “Serbia” — came not from Serbia but from the local government of Bosnia’s Serbian entity, Republika Srpska.

But critics say everything from Tadic’s presence, to the historically loaded site of Pale, to even the school’s provocative name — “Serbia” — speaks of a wider plan crafted with Belgrade’s approval.

Milenko Dereta, an analyst based in the Serbian capital, says the ribbon-cutting is just the latest salvo in the ongoing Serbian campaign to shatter Bosnian sovereignty and build a unified Serbian nation.

“A real achievement [in tolerance], for me, would be the opening of a school named ‘Serbia’ in the Muslim-Croat half of Bosnia,” Dereta says. “But when it’s in Republika Srpska, it’s like a cherry on top of a cake or a flag being raised to mark territorial gains.”

‘Special Relations’

Pale, a sleepy mountain town in a region known to local Serbs as East Sarajevo, was the stronghold of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during the Bosnian war.

Nearly 20 kilometers to the east of Sarajevo, it was a key launching point for the Serbian artillery barrages, under Karadzic’s supervision, that killed more than 10,000 Sarajevans during the 1992-95 siege of the city.

Plaque bears the name of the “Serbia” elementary school in Pale.The internationally brokered Dayton agreement that ended the war kept Pale, and the rest of Bosnia’s Serb-majority territory, as part of Republika Srpska, which together with the Muslim-Croat Federation formed Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dayton also granted Serbia the right to “special relations” with the Republika Srpska.

But critics say that doesn’t extend to building schools named “Serbia” in a town notorious for its tactical contribution to the slaughter of Bosnians in Sarajevo.

Sacir Filandra, a professor at Sarajevo University, notes that Dayton intended to empower Serbia as a peacemaker, not a spoiler.

“The problem is that ‘special’ and ‘parallel’ relations [as defined by Dayton] is subject to political manipulation,” Filandra says.

The development is particularly worrying at a time when Milorad Dodik, the voluble prime minister of Republika Srpska, is threatening to secede from the state.

At the September 8 opening, children gathered outside the school waved both Serbian and Republika Srpska flags, occasionally flashing the three-fingered salute favored by Serbian soldiers during the war.

Dodik, playing the ebullient host during the school opening, praised the Serbian president as his own.

“It’s a wonderful occasion to be here today among the good people of Pale of East Sarajevo, among our people and students, with our guests and with our dear President Tadic,” Dodik told the crowd.

A Blind Eye?

For Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats, Dodik’s antics are nothing new. More upsetting may be the muted reaction of the international community to provocations like the Tadic visit and the “Serbia” school.

Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, the high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina — whose task, as outlined by Dayton, is to monitor the country’s fragile peace — offered no statement about the Serbian president’s trip.

Serbian President Boris Tadic (left) with Republika Srpska’s prime minister, Milorad Dodik, in Pale on September 8Aleksandar Popov, an analyst based in Belgrade, suggests that the West, by turning a blind eye to such events, may be trying to appease Serbia for the loss of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence last year with the backing of the United States and a majority of EU countries.

“The idea that Serbia could make up for the loss of Kosovo by acquiring Republika Srpska is poisoning us,” Popov says. “Serbia could gain much more respect if it would contribute to stability in Bosnia — if it would cooperate not just with Republika Srpska, but with other parts of Bosnia as well.”

Few of Popov’s fellow Serbs share his view, however. “Why shouldn’t we build a school in Pale?” says one passerby in Belgrade. “I see it as an expression of Serbian unity.”

           — Hat tip: Natalie [Return to headlines]

North Africa

GB-Libya: Gaddafi’s Son; Courts to Determine IRA Victim Matter

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 7 — Saif al-Islam, the son of Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, told Sky TV that Tripoli opposes the compensation requested by the families of victims of Northern Ireland’s pro-independence IRA, which Libya has supplied with weapons and explosives in the past, a request supported also by the government in London yesterday, adding that this is a “legal” issue. “They have their lawyers and we have our lawyers,” said Gaddafi’s son in an interview. When asked if the first response by Libya is a “no”, Saif al-Islam said “certainly”, specifying that “whoever knocks on our door can go to court”. The statements by the son of the Libyan leader, according to the BBC, have resulted in moderate optimism among the families of the IRA victims, who said that it is a “positive sign of confrontation” referring to the appeals in court.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lockerbie: Libya, First Public Appearance by Al Megrahi

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, SEPTEMBER 9 — For the first time since his return to Libya on August 20, Abdelbaset al Megrahi, the former Libyan agent sentenced to life imprisonment over the Lockerbie disaster who was freed by Scotland on humanitarian grounds, appeared in public in Tripoli in front of parliamentarians and journalists. The meeting took place in the press office of the Medical Centre in Tripoli, where al Megrahi is being treated in the oncology department. Megrahi, who was greeted by applause from the African MPS, was sitting in a wheelchair with a drip in his arm and his mouth and nose covered by a face-mask, and accompanied by doctors. Obviously in pain, he was seized several times by coughing fits, and greeted the public with his hand, without speaking or releasing any statement. Before Megrahi left the room, the President of the African Parliament (body of the African Union) Idriss Ndele Moussa, expressed the solidarity of the whole of the African parliament for being “unjustly accused of terrorism”. Moussa also expressed his wishes for “a successful outcome to his treatment”. The African Parliament was meeting in Tripoli to celebrate ten years since the foundation of the African Union.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Afghanistan: Sweeping Out the Taliban

KHAN NESHIN, Afghanistan — We’re with the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in southern Helmand province, just 75 kilometers from Pakistan, in “battle space” that was the heart of Taliban territory until a few weeks ago. When these Marines fought their way into this dusty district capital in July, the Taliban were stunned. No Afghan government or coalition authorities had been here since 2002. Taliban leaders across the border in Pakistan told their minions to fight back. They did, and it was a terrible mistake. Scores of them died trying to stop the joint American/Afghan National Army troops from establishing a foothold here.

That there are any Americans this close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is a tribute to the remarkable Marines of this battalion and those who love them at home. From March through October last year, they were deployed in western Iraq, covering 50,000 square kilometers of trackless desert along the borders with Syria and Saudi Arabia. When they returned home to Camp Lejeune, N.C., Lt. Col. Tom Grattan took command of the battalion and began training for possible overseas commitment in November 2009. But in January, new orders came down: Ready two of the battalion’s Light Armored Reconnaissance companies and a headquarters element for deployment to Afghanistan — by May.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iran Asks Tinseltown to Produce Film on Islamic End-Times Leader

LOS ANGELES — Iran says Hollywood has welcomed a proposal to produce a documentary about the anticipated coming of an Islamic messianic figure known as “the Mahdi.”

The disclosure comes in a commentary piece today in WND by Joel Richardson, best-selling author of “The Islamic Antichrist,” which shows the similarities between this Muslim figure and the Bible’s descriptions of the Beast of Revelation.

Richardson points out the U.S. movie production company Cineast has “welcomed the proposal,” according to a close friend of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The purpose of the documentary will be “to prepare for the appearance of Imam Mahdi as the savior of humanity,” said an article in the Tehran Times.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Iran Beware: Israel Tests ‘Secret Weapon’

Netanyahu’s trip to Russia a diversion?

The mystery that surrounded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s unannounced trip to Russia on Monday was created by the Israeli government in a calculation to divert attention from a secret weapons test, according to sources.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Israel Hits Back at Lebanon After Rocket Fire

At least 15 Israeli rockets hit the southern Lebanese village of al-Qlaileh on Friday shortly after two rockets were fired from it towards Israel, a security official said.

Residents of northern Israel said they heard explosions but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

“Debris from at least one Katyusha rocket fired from south Lebanon were found in the area of the city of Nahariya and Kibbutz Gesher Aziv,” a police official told AFP.

Public radio said the Israeli armed forces responded with artillery fire against the Lebanese village from which the rockets were fired.

In Lebanon, ambulances were rushed to the village from the port city of Tyre, nine kilometres (five miles) away.

It was the first time since February that rockets had been fired from Lebanon into Israel, raising tensions along a border that remains volatile three years after a war between the Jewish state and Hezbollah Islamist guerrillas in Lebanon.

Occasional salvoes since then have been blamed by Israeli, Lebanese and U.N. peacekeeping forces in the area largely on fringe militant groups rather than on Hezbollah, the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shi’ite movement which remains a powerful force in Lebanon, especially in the south.

During Israel’s offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip in January, Hezbollah denied responsibility for several rockets fired from Lebanon. Security officials have said small groups active among Palestinian refugees or with links to al Qaeda were more likely to have mounted the attacks.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Lebanon-Israel: Rocket Fire Flares Across Border

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 11 — At least two rockets were fired today from south Lebanon into north Israel, drawing Israeli retaliatory shelling — an escalation that coincided with a government crisis in Beirut involving the pro-West parliamentary majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition, backed by Iran and Syria. No group claimed responsibility for the attack from near Qlaileh village, a bastion of Hezbollah but where pro-Syrian Palestinian guerrillas or al Qaeda-inspired Islamic militants are suspected of having carried out such assaults in the past — the most recent on February 21. Israel, which fought a 34-day war against Hezbollah in 2006, retaliated by firing artillery shells towards olive groves near Qlaileh, where the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) and the Lebanese army sent more troops, according to Col. Diego Fulco, a Unifil spokesman. The Colonel told Ansa that Unifil will investigate the incident and, in the meantime, was “in constant contact with the Lebanese and Israeli armies, urging them to exert maximum restraint.” No casualties were reported in the escalation that came a day after Lebanese premier-designate Saad Hariri renounced on forming a “national unity government”, including Hezbollah. Hariri attributed his resignation 11 weeks after his nomination to “impossible conditions” set by the Hezbollah-led opposition. The local press said the parliamentary consultations which President Michel Suleiman will start next week will likely result in the re-nomination of Hariri. But opposition As-Safir daily expressed fear of possible “open political crisis.” It said Lebanese troops deployed in sensitive Beirut areas where pro-Hariri Sunnis and Hezbollah Shiites fought street battles in May 2008.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Hezbollah Denies Standing Behind Local ‘Madoff’

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 8 — The head of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, denied that his group stood behind an arrested ‘local Madoff’, but admitted his anti-Israeli militia had invested money through the Shiite businessman, who reportedly was “contiguous” to Hezbollah. Lebanese authorities arrested last week businessman Salah Ezzeddine, suspected of fraud after he invested hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of wealthy Shiites —including Hezbollah officials, according to pro-Hezbollah Beirut newspapers. Today, al-Akhbar daily quoted Nasrallah as denying any link to the case, though he admitted some Hezbollah members had invested in Ezzeddine’s businesses. “Hezbollah has no link whatsoever to this case,” it quoted Nasrallah as telling cadres of his Party of God, fostered by Iran. “Hezbollah might have some money with Ezzeddine, but they do not exceed four million dollars,” said Nasrallah, adding that “a very limited number of Hezbollah officials had invested their money with the man.” According to al-Akhbar, prominent Hezbollah officials as well as families of Hezbollah members and partisans had entrusted Ezzeddine to invest their money. In the absence of official figures, Nasrallah estimated Ezzeddine’s losses at around 400 million dollars — much less than the rumoured number of more than one billion dollars. He said the campaign linking his anti-Israeli organisation to the Ezzeddine file was “fabricated lies that aim at tarnishing the image of Hezbollah.” Hezbollah officials have been reputed for their “financial integrity” in a country plagued by corruption. For decades, the Party of God spent Iran’s generous money in social, educational and health projects in poor Shiite areas of Lebanon. This has earned the group loyalty among its followers in addition to the respectability as a powerful military group. But As-Safir daily, which is sympathetic to Hezbollah, insisted on Monday that Hezbollah was somehow implicated with Ezzeddine. “This scandal has shaken the party’s credibility and reputation,” it wrote. “The episode must be a lesson for Hezbollah so that it polishes its image which had been really bright,” added As-Safir. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

We Have a Lot to Learn

There is no doubting the fact that Arabs and Muslims are sadly the most regressive people in the world, according to the Human Development Reports supervised by renowned Muslim and Arab scholars, and released by the UN and other similar reports. In other words, the term ‘Muslim’ has been linked, in the minds of the people of the world, with violence, terrorism, anarchy, chaos, disturbances, famine, poverty and backwardness. There are of course certain exceptions to this rule, but not many.

Even Pakistan, a nuclear power, is at risk of becoming a failed state, due to poverty, corruption, internal fighting and political mismanagement. And when it comes to Turkey, seen as an exception in the Muslim world, the secularists there consider themselves closer to the West than to the Muslim world. They also ascribe the progress achieved by their country in many fields to a secular approach, rather than the influence of Islam. I have heard top Turkish scholars, thinkers and politicians say that they prefer to be at the rearguard of the Western world than at the vanguard of the Muslim world.

It goes without saying that some Arab countries exist in a less developed state politically, let alone scientifically or technologically.

Why are those who are supposed to be ‘the best of all peoples’, as revealed in the Quran, lagging behind? Why are the supposedly infidel people of the world making great progress in various fields, while the ‘faithful’ are lagging behind everybody else?

Ironically enough, a huge percentage of the Chinese people, whose number is approaching 1.5 billion, are atheists. But these non-believers have achieved the highest development rate the world over — it reached 13 per cent at one stage. Add to this the fact that these atheists have ‘invaded’ almost every house in the world with their products. A high-ranking Chinese official once bragged that, “It is China and not the United States of America that is invading the world”. He challenged the Americans to get their products into a quarter of the houses entered by Chinese products. The official also bragged that the Chinese have ‘invaded’ the US itself. “Aren’t the American flags fluttering over the White House made in China?” he asked.

Experts predict that, in the near future, half of the products that will be sold in the world will be made by the Chinese. Even the Ramadan lambs that are slaughtered by Muslims in Cairo and other Muslim and Arab countries are raised in China. The prayer mats used by faithful Muslims the world over are made by Chinese non-believers, who only believe in doing their jobs in a very sincere and faithful manner. It goes without saying that all the little presents, such as rosaries and Islamic handicrafts, that the pilgrims take home with them after the pilgrimage season are made in China.

It is true that a Muslim country such as Malaysia has made great progress technologically, but some argue that were it not for the Chinese minority in that country, the Malaysians would not have been able to achieve what they have.

And if we consider the second-most progressive country in the world, India, we find that the majority of the people there revere cows. But that has not prevented them from competing with America in the computer industry, to the extent that the famous American writer Thomas Friedman fears that Silicon Valley will one day relocate to India.

In other words, the most progressive people in the world are non-believers by Islamic standards whereas we, Muslims, ironically waste most of our time classifying the peoples of the world into believers and non-believers, and fighting among ourselves over who is more ‘faithful’.

I wish we spent more time learning from the non-believers, who produce most of the products we buy. If we had, we would probably be less regressive.

This is by no means a call for atheism — God forbid — but a suggestion that we better ourselves, as our great religion instructs us to do. The great Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) called upon us to seek knowledge — even in China.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]


Russia: ‘Gulag’ Book, Once Banned, Is Now Required Reading

MOSCOW — The book that made “Gulag” a synonym for the horrors of Soviet oppression will be taught in Russian high schools, a generation after the Kremlin banned it as destructive to the Communist cause and exiled its author.

The Education Ministry said Wednesday that excerpts of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago,” published in 1973, are to be required reading for students.

Coming at a time when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is pushing to restore pride in the Soviet past, the decision could be a reflection of the Russian establishment’s struggle to reconcile that pride with the freedoms that Russians take for granted nearly 20 years after dumping communism and embracing democracy and the free market.

The government in recent years has tried to control how history is taught, getting rid of textbooks that deviate from the new official line. In 2003, authorities banned a history text that was critical of Josef Stalin, the dictator most readily identified with the horrors of the Gulag.

After publication, “The Gulag Archipelago” circulated underground and soon reached the West in translation. A furious Kremlin expelled Solzhenitsyn from his native country in 1974, and he spent the next 20 years in the U.S.

His massive three-volume book gave the outside world a detailed account of the systematic imprisonment and murder of hundreds of thousands of Russians in the nationwide “archipelago” of prisons and labor camps designed by Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and expanded by StalinSolzhenitsyn, who had won the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature, drew on his own experiences in various labor camps in the 1940s and on the testimony of hundreds of other prisoners who survived the Main Department of Corrective Labor Camps and Colonies — the title whose Russian acronym is “Gulag.”

Stalin, who died in office in 1953, was recently voted by Russians as their third greatest historical figure, and lyrics praising him have been inscribed in the vestibule of a prominent Moscow subway station.

Other books by Solzhenitsyn are taught in Russian schools, but choosing “The Gulag Archipelago,” one of the most explosive publishing events in Soviet history, seemed to go against the Kremlin tendency toward treating Stalin’s 24-year rule with nostalgia.

Human rights activists, however, were hesitant to call it a turnaround.

Lev Ponomaryov, who campaigns for Russia to repudiate Stalinism, said the Kremlin was worried that the economic crisis is increasing the popularity of the Communist Party at a time of economic crisis.

“The introduction of the books is a rather good way to decrease the popularity of the Communists among the young people,” Ponomaryov said.

The Education Ministry stayed out of the debate, saying only that the decision was taken due to “the vital historical and cultural heritage” contained in Solzhenitsyn’s work.

It was not immediately clear whether the book would be taught in the current school year, which began Sept. 1.

But whatever the motive, Ponomaryov said, he welcomed fact-based education about the Gulag because “the younger generation should know about the crimes of Bolshevism and Stalinism in Russia.”

Following his expulsion, Solzhenitsyn and his wife led a secluded life in Vermont and the author surprised many by revealing himself as an arch-conservative almost as harshly critical ofthe West’s permissive ways as he was of the Soviet system.

After a triumphant return from exile in 1994 that included a 56-day train trip across his homeland, Solzhenitsyn later expressed disappointment that most Russians hadn’t read his books.

He died in August 2008 of a chronic heart condition, mourned in the West as a Cold War hero but never revered at home. He was 89.

           — Hat tip: Natalie [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Global Insight: Obama and Afghan Paradoxes

Worried phone calls between Washington and Berlin. Mounting frustration with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. Deep uncertainty about whether the US has the time and troops to turn things round. Welcome to Barack Obama’s war.

This weekend Mr Obama will read a military report on Afghanistan that paves the way for a request for more resources — just as the accumulated bad news from the front threatens to put overall strategy in question.

As the US president pores through the pages of clipped military prose by General Stanley McChrystal, the US and Nato commander in the field, he will need his sense of irony, since three painful paradoxes underline his administration’s predicament.

The first is this: Germany, the most pacifist country in Nato, the one most concerned about civilian casualties, has found itself in a spat with the military commander about civilian casualties it caused.

After Colonel Georg Klein called in an air strike against two oil tankers in Taliban hands, Gen McChrystal swiftly apologised for the resulting civilian deaths and his spokesman censured the German command.

In a sense, it was textbook stuff. Gen McChrystal has put improving the lot of Afghans at the centre of his new strategy, in line with long-standing German demands.

And, by bending over backwards to show remorse, the US military seems to have largely avoided the Afghan outrage that has accompanied such incidents previously.

But priorities back in Washington are different. The administration wants to keep a fractious international coalition together and it has been rowing back on any criticism of Berlin, since the last thing it seeks to do is to destabilise Chancellor Angela Merkel just before a German election.

So the Pentagon spoke softly of Germany acting “with the best of intentions” and how there are lessons in the incident for “all of us”.

With the Afghan war deeply unpopular in Germany, US officials think Ms Merkel is keeping the right balance between facing down criticism of the country’s military and spelling out war aims without timetables for withdrawal. Still, the last few days have been nerve-racking for US officials, with plenty of very early morning phone calls to Berlin.

Then there’s the second paradox. The US stressed the importance of the election — before the vote Mr Obama called it the most important event in Afghanistan this year — but the contest ended up looking like the fraud-stricken presidential race in Iran.

Washington has now begun a damage limitation exercise. That involves pleading with Mr Karzai not to declare victory, getting ready to lobby for an inclusive government with opposition figures, so that at least the election’s aftermath does not look like Iran, and focusing on brass tacks issues of concern to ordinary Afghans, such as cracking down on corruption.

That’s all very well. But the election has only deepened mutual suspicion between Mr Karzai and the west and between the presidential palace and the Afghan population, which makes for an even more challenging backdrop for waging the war.

Finally there is the biggest dilemma of all. The Obama administration prides itself on learning from its predecessors’ mistakes. But it risks embracing both George W. Bush-style ambitious goals and mere half-measures to achieve them.

Gen McChrystal is widely expected to present the administration with a range of options for more resources, including a full-throated counterinsurgency approach of 40,000 to 50,000 extra troops, and a middle way of something in the range of 10,000 to 20,000.

Washington insiders say Mr Obama’s political advisers — chiefly Rahm Emanuel, his influential chief of staff — are warning the president that he should not spend too much of his political capital on foreign policy when he needs it all for healthcare.

Hence the widespread expectation that Mr Obama will decide to send 10,000-20,000 troops and review progress in a year or so. And hence the possibility that a decision could be deferred.

But both champions and critics of the war warn against incrementalism. If Mr Obama wants to see Afghanistan through, he has to make a full commitment and show strategic patience.

If, instead, he thinks the price of current plans too high, he needs to act accordingly to scale down his goals.

Afghanistan may be full of ironies but the situation is now so serious that some old-fashioned American straight-talk is what’s required.

“Situation desperate but not serious,” goes an old Viennese aphorism. Mr Obama knows the situation is serious but will be hoping it’s not desperate.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

‘Guantánamo Swede’ Arrested in Pakistan

One of the three Swedish nationals arrested nearly two weeks ago in Pakistan is Mehdi Ghezali, a former terror suspect who was released from the United States’ Guantánamo Bay prison in 2004.

According to Sveriges Television (SVT), it was Ghezali, along with two other Swedes and several other foreigners, who was arrested by police in Pakistan on suspicions the group had ties with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

“We confiscated a laptop and $10,000 they had with them,” said a spokesperson for the Pakistani military, according to the Expressen newspaper.

The arrests took place at a checkpoint in Dera Ghazi Khan in Punjab province, when the group was reportedly on its way to southern Waziristan, a stronghold for the Taliban in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

The now 30-year-old Ghezali, a resident of Örebro in central Sweden, was arrested in December 2001 and put in custody of the US military shortly after the start of the campaign in Afghanistan.

He spent more than two years in a prison for terror suspects set up by the American military on its base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Ghezali, dubbed in the Swedish media as the “Guantánamo Swede”, was never put on trial nor was he told why he had been detained. He was released from the prison in July 2004, whereupon he returned to Sweden.

New reports that Ghezali has again been arrested in Pakistan on terror suspicions came as a surprise to his attorney, Anton Strand.

“Yes, I’m surprised by it. One should remember that Ghezali has traveled in that region previously and he has an interest in the region. He is religious and has friends and contacts,” Strand told Expressen.

Gösta Hultén, the Swedish journalist who wrote a book detailing Ghezali’s story, told the Aftonbladet newspaper that Ghezali’s father believes his son is on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and called home from there a few days ago.

“The father is very upset about the allegations that Mehdi has ties to Al-Qaeda. He has already been cleared from those suspicions once,” said Hultén.

Sweden’s foreign ministry in Stockholm refused to comment on the information, although spokesperson for the Swedish embassy in Islamabad told SVT that they have yet to receive any confirmation from authorities in Pakistan that Swedes have been arrested.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

India: Mystery of UAE Plane Held in Calcutta With Arms Bound for China

India is struggling to unravel the mystery surrounding a United Arab Emirates Air Force aircraft detained in Calcutta since Sunday for carrying undeclared weapons — including at least one missile — bound for China.

The discovery has raised eyebrows, as the UAE buys most of its weapons from the United States and European Union, which impose strict controls on arms transfers to China.

The most controversial theory is that the weapons include high-tech equipment that China would like to examine or copy.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Far East

Missionary Honored in Venice Film

Documentary tells tale of 16th- century priest in China

(ANSA) — Venice, September 10 — The extraordinary life of a 16th-century Italian mathematician and missionary who settled in China is portrayed in a film being screened at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday. The documentary tells the tale of Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), a Jesuit priest and academic born in the Marche town of Macerata who spent most of his adult life in China and eventually became a member of the court of Ming Emperor Wanli.

Directed by Italian filmmaker Gjon Kolndrekaj and shot in China and Italy, the documentary was screened in the presence of prominent political and religious dignitaries from both countries. Venice Patriarch Angelo Scola, China’s Ambassador to Italy Sun Yuxi, the Chinese Embassy’s cultural councillor Zhang Jianda, Macerata Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, Macerata Mayor Giorgio Meschini and Marche Governor Gian Maria Spacca were among those attending. “Father Matteo Ricci is one of our most important sons,” said Governor Spacca ahead of the screening. “The fact this film is being shown on September 10 is also a special coincidence, as this was the very day in 1583 when Ricci left [his landing point in China] Macao and set out for inland China, the province of Canton”. Kolndrekaj, an established director of 30 years’ experience, hopes the documentary will help pave the way for a full-length feature film, which he hopes to complete next year. Ricci studied mathematics and astronomy for several years in Rome, where he entered the Jesuit order, before setting out for the Far East in 1578 at the age of 26.

He spent four years in Goa on the west coast of India before travelling to China where he settled in Zhao Qing in the southernmost Guangdong Province and began studying Chinese.

It was during this period that the Jesuit priest produced his first global Great Map of Ten Thousand Countries, which revolutionized Chinese understanding of the rest of the world. In 1589 he moved to Zhao Zhou and began sharing European mathematical ideas with Chinese scholars, winning renown for his extraordinary memory and knowledge of astronomy. The reputation of Li Madou — as he was known in China — spread, and in 1601 he was finally allowed into the Forbidden City of Beijing, where he worked until his death in 1610. During his life, the Jesuit sought to bridge the gap between Chinese and Italian cultures more by discussion of ethical and philosophical questions than by focusing on religion.

Ricci’s work is today familiar to Chinese schoolchildren of all ages but he has only recently become a familiar name in Italy.

Despite his reputation in China, the Catholic Church condemned him for heresy 100 years after his death and he was only rehabilitated by Pope Pius XII in 1939.

His memory has largely been neglected since then but two successful exhibitions, coupled with a TV film, have sparked a revival of popular interest in his extraordinary life.

The fourth centenary of Ricci’s death falls in 2010 and several initiatives have been organized to mark the event. The biggest of these is a third exhibition, which will open in Beijing on February 9 before travelling to Shanghai, Nanjing and Macao. The Catholic Church is also planning to commemorate the anniversary.

In a recent message to the Bishop of Marcerata, Pope Benedict XVI described the Jesuit priest as “a model for a fruitful meeting between European and Chinese civilizations”. “Matteo Ricci sets an example for our communities of people from different cultures and religions to bloom in the spirit of hospitality and mutual respect,” the pope wrote.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

UAE Aircraft Carrying Harpoons to China?

KOLKATA: What is the mysterious weapons cargo in the China-bound UAE Air Force’s C-130 Hercules aircraft detained at Kolkata airport since Sunday?

Defence and intelligence sleuths say it could be a sophisticated US-made weapons system, which explains the unconcealed concern of the Indian authorities and the silence on the part of the UAE government.

UAE authorities applied to the Indian government to get the plane released on Wednesday evening — nearly 72 hours after it was detained. The plane has been given a take-off slot of 9.30am on Thursday for China’s Xiangyang.

Sources confirmed that the three mysterious boxes in the aircraft contain “combat missiles” but were mum on the details. Defence and intelligence sleuths, probing the case, don’t rule out the possibility of the deadly US-made Harpoon missiles being channelized to China from UAE and Egypt.

If what Indian investigators suspect is true, the unauthorized proliferation could lead to regional imbalances and trigger a crisis. “This is serious. Already, there are reports of Pakistan having modified Harpoon missiles to strike land targets in India,” an analyst pointed out.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim [Return to headlines]

Latin America

Battisti: Supreme Court Split, 4 for Extradition

(AGI) — Brasilia, Sept. 10 — Cesare Battisti and Italy will have to wait before knowing the outcome of the extradition request presented by the Italian government to Brazil. After 12 hours of talks Brazil’s Federal Supreme Court (STP) suspended the session without having made a decision. When four of the judges voted in favour of extradition and three for political exile Judge Marco Aurelio Mello asked for more time to make a decision. Battisti will have to wait in his prison cell in Brasilia for the outcome of his case. The verdict was suspended when Mello’s vote was still pending as well as the Court President’s Gilmar Mendes (even if a the end of voting any of the seven judges will have the right to change their vote).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Brazil ‘Daughter Grope’ Man Cleared

Paedophile probe ‘over- zealous’

(ANSA) — Sao Paulo, September 11 — An Italian man has been cleared of charges of groping his 8-year-old daughter in a Brazilian swimming pool, his lawyer told ANSA Friday.

“The case is closed for Brazilian justice,” Flavio Jacinto Silva said.

The lawyer stressed that the “provisional” nature of his client Giuliano Tuzi’s release was a formality.

“Tuzi has been completely cleared and he can return to Italy when he wants”.

Tuzi, a 48-year-old businessman, is expected to fly home later Friday.

Earlier, a Brazilian had said Tuzi would be required to inform the court if he changes residence at Guidonia near Rome.

The businessman was arrested on Brazil’s tough new paedophile laws ten days ago and faced 8-15 years in jail if charges of sexual molestation, brought on the testimony of two witnesses, were proved.

The witnesses are reported to have claimed that “more than just kisses” were involved.

Tuzi’s Brazilian wife and his daughter rallied to his defence but one of the witnesses insisted she had thought “the man and girl were lovers”.

“Even when they came out of the pool he carried on, kissing her twice on the lips,” the witness was quoted as saying.

Tuzi was released two days after he suffered a dizzy spell in jail. Stress-related high blood pressure was later diagnosed.

The man’s lawyer said he was the victim of a “gross” miscarriage of justice.

Brazilian prosecutors have been accused of being over-zealous in applying the new laws.

Judicial sources say a shake-up is expected in the town of Fortaleza where Tuzi was arrested.

Tuzi told his lawyer he harboured no resentment against Brazil and voiced the hope the case would help the fight against paedophiles.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]


Campania: Assisted Re-Entry Project for Moroccans

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, SEPTEMBER 11 — Continuing to increase collaboration between the Campania Region and the International Organization for Migration (IOM, a UN group) to develop new assisted repatriation programmes for immigrants living in Campania. This was the goal of the meeting between the regional Immigration Councilwoman, Alfonsina De Felice and the head of the IOM mission in Italy, Peter Schatzer. “With the help of the IOM,” said De Felice at the end of the meeting, “we successfully assisted with the re-entry of 29 Moroccan day labourers, who chose to return to the region of Beni Allal.” “Together with the IOM,” added De Felice, “we will evaluate which tools we can develop to build a pilot-project for repatriations for immigrants in Campania, who are often victims of an awful day labour market and want to return to their country with their heads held high.” Schatzer reiterated that the primary objective of the IOM is to combat illegal human trafficking.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Italy: Immigrants Will Vote for US Claims Northern League Leader

Cuneo, 11 Sept. (AKI) — Immigrants will end up voting for Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party, its leader Umberto Bossi told a party rally on Friday in the northern town of Pian del Re. “In the end, immigrants will also back the winning side, the side that may say hard things, but things that are true and just,” Bossi said.

Those “within the government” who think immigrants will never vote for the Northern League are mistaken, Bossi claimed.

The party is a junior coalition in the conservative government lead by the People of Freedom party of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, which earlier this year merged with the post-fascist National Alliance Party led by Gianfranco Fini, who is Italy’s current parliament speaker.

Fini is viewed as a potential successor to sex-scandal plagued Berlusconi, who turns 73 at the end of the month.

He has advocated voting rights for immigrants, prompting Bossi to call him “mad”.

“Open up even more to immigrants? Fini should take them home to his house,” Bossi told the Northern League rally.

“The government made an electoral pledge on immigration. Fini is a man of his word, and despite what he said, I am sure he will keep that pledge,” he stated.

The government vowed to curb immigration and crack down on illegal migrants. Since May it has turned back to Libya hundreds of illegal migrants intercepted in international waters in the Mediterranean.

Many Italians perceive immigrants to be responsible for a surge in crime and for stealing’ jobs and public resources.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Obamacare Gives Planned Parenthood Entry to Schools?

Calls for psychiatric care, treating ‘medical conditions’ on campus

The House’s proposed health national health plan would establish “school-based health clinics” on campuses, and one group is warning it could give Planned Parenthood direct access to American schoolchildren at taxpayer expense.

The American Family Association, or AFA, is warning that Section 2511 of H.R.3200, or the House plan, titled “School-Based Health Clinics,” allows a “non-profit health agency” to serve as a “sponsoring facility” for health clinics that operate during school hours. AFA has provided a document with actual language from H.R.3200 that outlines requirements for the program.

AFA notes that under this provision Planned Parenthood would be authorized to serve as a “sponsoring facility” for the nation’s schools.

“Although the bulk of the health care bill is scheduled to go into effect in 2013, this particular provision is slated to go into effect next summer, in time for clinics to appear in public schools by next fall,” an AFA memo stated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


The Hijra: A Review of “Modern Day Trojan Horse”

By Janet Levy

Modern Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration

By Sam Solomon and Elias Al Maqdisi

Within the past few decades, mosques have increasingly dotted the landscapes of American and European cities and towns, with mega mosques often overshadowing adjacent, centuries-old churches in predominantly Christian regions. Islamic schools or academies and a host of Muslim organizations have become omnipresent across the West.

Meanwhile, Americans and Europeans have made countless accommodations to Muslim demands. They have included footbaths; high-decibel, five-times-daily calls to prayer; segregated male-female gym and swimming pool hours; halal food; workplace dispensations for handling pork products and for female head and face coverings; and special, public prayer rooms. Also, shari’ah-compliant financial transactions, the expunging of offensive likenesses of Mohammed or imagined depictions of Arabic characters that connote “Allah,” official swearings-in on Korans in place of customary Bibles, the neutralizing of official descriptive language about Islamists and the jihad, the revision of so-called offensive content in movies and television programs, the removal of representations of pigs from the public sphere, and many other acculturations to Muslim entreaties have all been made in the service of respecting Muslim religious beliefs and practices.

To those in Western democracies, these accommodating actions appear, on the surface, to be little more than harmless civil gestures, respecting the needs of a growing religion in their midst and welcoming a new addition to their proud, multicultural tradition. Many Westerners pat themselves on the back for their liberal bent, their tolerance and their open-mindedness.

Little do they realize that this strategic pattern of demands is part of an insidious, 1,400-year-old proscription for Muslims that originates in the Koran and the Sunnah, the deeds of Mohammed. It is the Hijra or doctrine of immigration. Modeled by Mohammed’s migration from Mecca to Medina, this immigration is not to a romanticized melting pot wherein newcomers gratefully search for opportunities for a better life in liberty and freely offer their talents and loyalty to benefit their new homeland. This is immigration for Islamic expansionism employing ethnic separatism to gain special status and privileges within the host country. Hijra is immigration designed to subvert and subdue non-Muslim societies and pave the way for eventual, total Islamization.

In their compelling book, “Modern Day Trojan Horse: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration,” authors Sam Solomon, a former professor of shari’ah law and convert to Christianity, and Elias Al Maqdisi, an expert on Islamic teachings, explain the migration of Muslims to the Dar-al-Harb, the “land of war,” as a religious edict with a basis in Islamic doctrine. They delineate the step-by-step process of this 1,400-year-old strategy of conquest. It is a transitional strategy which they characterize as the most important step in spreading Islam and preparing for jihad. From their carefully delineated treatise on Hijra, it is clear that migration in concert with military conquest comprise the bookends of Islamic expansionism.

Solomon and Al Maqdisi review the phases of the Hijra and its juristic or legal basis in Islamic doctrine. Under the cover of taquiya or deception, the step-by-step methodology of the migration process is designed to subdue, then, subjugate the host culture, culminating in implementation of shari’ah law.

The beginning phase of Islamization usually includes activities pivotal to building a physical presence. It consists of public calls to prayer; founding of schools, libraries and research centers; and the teaching of Arabic — actions that appear to be reasonable and respectable infrastructure requirements necessary to support the presence of a faith. At this point in the Hijra, it is permissible for Muslims to engage in haram, or forbidden actions, out of necessity to establish and empower the umma or Muslim community. Koranic rules such as the prohibition against friendships with infidels are suspended while the objectives of future Islamization are systematically put into place. In its initial phase, the Hijra passes scrutiny by the West whose citizens erroneously view the migration as mainly economic — a pilgrimage for a better life.

Solomon and Maqdisi examine the comprehensive strategy that begins with the establishment of the umma or Muslim community. The mosque becomes the locus of power, a strategic base and the center of all activities. They explain how in this embryonic phase, a top priority is the scouting for new arrivals to expand and empower the existing Muslim community. Muslim leaders offer solicitous assistance and helpful suggestions for schools, housing, mosque worship, halal markets and other services to ingratiate themselves with new arrivals and bring them into the local Muslim community. Agents of local mosques, ever alert for new immigrants and potential converts, engage in subtle forms of indoctrination and police local Muslims.

This first step of establishing the mosque as the center of local Islamic life and activities is mistakenly viewed by non-Muslims as merely the benign construction of houses of worship. Its true goal escapes notice, that of firmly establishing a purposeful non-integrated Muslim identity to advance the goal of Islamization.

Once the consolidation of the Muslim community occurs under the radar, the purposeful fight for special status and shari’ah follows. As dictated by the Koran and Sunnah, segregation from non-Muslims is a natural outcome of the advancement of the Hijra.

Visible changes begin to be apparent as the Muslim population achieves more of a critical mass. Over time, the dress code, often beginning with a hijab in segregated enclaves and moving toward the complete covering of a neqab in the public sphere, separates Muslim women from men and from non-Muslim women. Eventually, as the host population becomes familiarized with what they believe to be the requirements of religious piety, demands are made for segregation at public facilities, in the workplace and at schools and universities. Requests for halal food, shari’ah-compliant financial transactions and the addition of Muslim holidays to public calendars further elevate the Muslim community with a special status making them separate and distinct.

All demands are initially presented as benign attempts to accommodate the religious requirements of devout Muslims. Any actions to suppress them are decried as religious discrimination. In the United States, requests for separate swimming and gym hours for Muslim men and women, demands for identification photos for licenses for women wearing hijabs and refusals to handle pork products or don immodest dress in the workplace have appeared. At this point, representatives of the Muslim community are often working cooperatively with the host government to bring about change. As Solomon and Maqdisi explain, the idea is to get the host society accustomed to Muslim buildings, customs, holidays, dress and food. Newcomers are encouraged by Muslim leadership to become citizens, vote and run for political office to increase the umma’s influence.

At the university level, students are indoctrinated to become advocates for Islam, engage in interfaith activities and da’wa or proselytization and train for jihad. Non-Muslims professors are solicited through zakat or payments to present courses favorable to Islam and write and speak publicly to promote Islam. The bequeathal by Saudi Prince Al-waleed bin Talal of $20 million dollars for Islamic study centers at Harvard and Georgetown universities, respectively, was a gesture to insure the promulgation of positive research, publications and presentations toward Islam.

In “Modern Day Trojan Horse,” Solomon and Maqdisi point out that as Muslims gain power and mass in the host country, consolidation of identity occurs, as well as strengthening of their infrastructure of mosques, schools, clubs, organizations and media. The doctrine of taquiya is firmly in place as Muslims hide behind the dictates of their religious devotion and seek cultural changes in the land of the non-Muslim or kuffar. At this more advanced stage, attempts are made to silence opponents and curry favor. The judicious use of zakat elicits favorable views of Muslims and Islam from politicians, representatives from the media and other organizations. For example, within the last couple of years in the United States, the words, “jihad” and “Islamofascism,” have been expunged from the lexicon of government officials and the words, “Islamic” and “terrorism,” are rarely paired. In Europe, which is further advanced in this process, a dangerous turn materialized with the murder of filmmaker ,Theo Van Gogh, who produced a film on the subjugation of women in Islam, and with death threats against Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilder for his outspoken criticism of Islam.

As Islamization of the host culture proceeds apace, preparations begin for learning the skills necessary for jihad. Young jihadists may travel to their countries of origin for further indoctrination and terrorist training. This development has been noted within Somali Muslim communities in Minnesota and Tennessee. Young Muslims have disappeared to Somalia to rendezvous with Al Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

As the resident Muslim community becomes more established and begins to wield considerable power in the political arena, pressure is brought to bear on politicians to permit shari’ah law courts in exchange for Muslim votes. This is very much evident in Britain where parallel systems of legal jurisprudence currently coexist. Muslim inhabitants of the host country are pressured to follow shari’ah law in lieu of the prevailing legal system. Several recent legal decisions by non-Muslim judges in Europe have referenced shari’ah law as a standard for verdicts concerning Muslims.

As the intensity of the hijra advances, the appearance of open ghettos or Muslim-only regions occurs. These are areas where non-Muslims are essentially prohibited and where, if they enter, they actually may be physically threatened. Such no-go zones, where even non-Muslim community workers are unwelcome, exist throughout Europe today. Remarkably, Muslim movements are never restricted; they venture freely anywhere in the host country.

As Solomon and Maqdisi point out, the Hijra is a comprehensive and direct political attempt to undermine the culture and values of the host country and replace them with Islam and shari’ah. It is an insidious migration seeking transformation of the culture, behaviors, customs, rules and laws of a host society to spread Islam and establish an Islamic state. The stages of the Hijra are very much evident in varying degrees in all Western societies today. Ironically, our open democratic societies with constitutionally mandated freedoms of speech, religion and assembly have facilitated this march toward the very demise of our way of life.

“Modern Day Trojan Horse” should be required reading for all citizens of Western democracies who urgently need to understand the Hijra and the threat it represents. The book sounds the alarm for the cautious evaluation of what may appear to be innocent religious practice in our midst but has sinister motives to transform our societies forever.

           — Hat tip: AA [Return to headlines]

5 thoughts on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/11/2009

  1. “In other news, Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago has become mandatory reading for students in Russian high schools.”

    A good thing to hear, indeed. However, the Russians love for this communist mass murderer is truly stunning. The article mentions how Stalin was voted their 3rd greatest historical figure in some TV show. I still remember the only reason he was “only” ranked 3rd was because when they saw he was about to get the most votes they simply turned off that option in the poll.

  2. The article about the Serbia school is cherry picked facts wrapped in an anti-Serb propaganda statement. There is not one mention of Izetbegovic’s jihadist project in Bosnia to use the unitary Bosnian state as a means of implementing sharia. The stonewall reality denial is staggering.

    So why do the Muslims get a free pass? Because as Simon Hughes, a Rainbow Nazi and homosexual Lib Dim MP has made painfully clear he ( and by extension the elite in general amongst whom we can count the Viceroy of Bosnia Paddy Ashdown) wants the Rainbow Aryan Nazi Muslim pigs to lead the post-national new world order. The post national New World Order is the fourth Reich, the Muslims are it’s braindead fascist myrmidons.

  3. “I would like to deal with this suggestion that rejecting Lisbon would not have any negative consequences for Ireland.”

    Barroso was asked by an Irish MEP four days ago whether the European Commission will treat Ireland differently to other EU member states if Irish people again reject the Lisbon Treaty and he replied: “There will be no discrimination against Irish people if there is a No vote. You will not hear from me any threat to Ireland.”

  4. Actually, Etruscan, Russians’ feelings towards Stalin are a lot more complicated than the Western media would have us believe. A lot of those allegedly pro-Stalin textbooks that I’ve heard mentioned quite a bit actually aren’t really pro-Stalin–rather, they have a balanced view of Stalin with many facts rather than simply repeating all of the bad things about Stalin. Allow me to explain: instead of just saying that Stalin was a mass murderer (and he obviously was), they also say that Stalin was the Soviet leader who made the biggest contribution to making the Soviet Union a world superpower. Like it or not, this is a true fact.

    Also, since modern Russians do not consider the Holodomor (the famine in the Ukraine during 1932-1933) to be genocide perpetrated by Stalin against the Ukrainian people, the Western media has automatically made the leap that this must mean the Russians today are pro-Stalin. This is not so: the Holodomor was not genocide (the mass murder of an ethnic group of people)–rather, it was class war against a specific social class of people (during this time, many other people of different ethnicities also died). Stalin’s goal was to kill a specific social class, not an ethnic group.

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