Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/27/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/27/2009According to the latest polls, the Treaty of Lisbon will coast to an easy victory in next week’s replay of the Irish referendum. That leaves only the recalcitrant Czechs — and possibly a referendum in the UK if the Tories win the election — standing between the panjandrums of Brussels and the overarching power they have been craving for so long.

In other news, the revival of overt anti-Semitism in Sweden is listed as one of the likely reasons why record numbers of Swedish Jews are emigrating to Israel this year.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, CB, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Arrests Define Current Islamic Terror Threat
Attorney: OKC Bombing Tapes Appear Edited
Chaffetz Defends Run-in With TSA
DNC Failed to Certify Obama as Eligible in Most States!
Dozens of Pastors Challenge IRS Rules
Handwritten Confirmation of IRS Fine for Not Having Health Insurance
Limbaugh: Democrats Aim to Control People’s Lives
NBC Producer Accused of E-Mailing Anti-ACORN Group ‘Bite Me Jew Boy’
Obama: From Savior to Leftist Windbag in Nine Months
Slain Police Officer’s Family Says “Enough is Enough”
US Muslims Gather Outside Capitol Hill to Pray
Civil Liberties: Forget Terrorism; Worry About the Flu
Europe and the EU
Belgium: Would-be Robbers Blow Themselves Up
EU Idiots: Land of Wasted Milk and Money
Germany: Merkel’s Conservatives Win With FDP: Exit Polls
In Ireland’s European Union Referendum Campaign Yes Side on Course for Victory
Ireland’s EU Referendum is the Last Stand Against the ‘Project’
Merkel’s Party Hails Dream Result
Nigel Farage on the EU: ‘It’s Our Country — Let US Run It’
Polish Priest Fined for Comparing Abortion to Holocaust, Saying Abortion is “Killing”
Spain: Compostela, The Portico on the Walk of Glory
Spain: Motion Against Pope’s Statements on Condoms Rejected
Sweden: Several Arrests Made in Helicopter Heist Probe
Thousands of Non-Irish Residents Sent Polling Cards
UK: A Photo of Tony Blair? That Will be £180 Please
UK: Euro MPs Still Cream Off Big Rise
UK: Facing Ruin: BA Cross Martyr Must Pick Up the Bill if She Loses Court Battle, Judges Rule
UK: Mother-of-Five Died From Overdose of Chemotherapy Drug After Gross Neglect by Hospital
UK: Planners Ban Family From Their Own Barn Conversion… But Rule Holidaymakers Can Live There
UK: Straw Joins Debate Alongside BNP
UK: They All But Called Me a Terrorist … Muslim Woman Hits Back Over Race Row With Hotel Couple
UK: The Policewoman Branded an Illegal Childminder — for Looking After Her Colleague’s Toddler
William Hague on the Lisbon Treaty: The EU Question That Goes Unanswered
North Africa
Egyptian Paper: Coins Found Bearing Name of Joseph
Middle East
Avoiding the Unthinkable: Missile Defense is Israel’s “Secret” Weapon Against Iran’s Nuclear Weapons
Cyprus: EU Court Condemns Turkey of Human Rights Violations
‘Last Chance for Engagement With Iran’
Turkey, Armenia to Restore Ties
South Asia
Afghanistan: U.S. Chief Surprised by the Strength of Taliban Comeback
India: Yet Another Acquittal for a BJP Politician Behind Massacres Against Christians in Orissa
Indonesia: American and Muslim, Band of Sufi Mystics Go Global
Sub-Saharan Africa
Somalia: More Than 50,000 Have Fled to Kenya Since Start of 2009
Latin America
Brazil Rejects Honduran Ultimatum
Venezuela Summit Criticises West
Anti-Semitism May be Spurring Wave of Aliyah From Sweden
British Ambassador Calls for Less Discrimination in Romania
Cyprus: Turkey Must Assume Responsibility for Illegals
Culture Wars
Spain: An Abortion Every Half Hour Among Teenagers
Spain Unveils Abortion Law Change
The Big Nuclear Problem
The Lost Art of Handwriting
The Muslim Wolf at Feminism’s Door — Honor Killings


Arrests Define Current Islamic Terror Threat

25 September 2009: In perhaps the most significant ten-day period since 9/11 for domestic counter-terrorism operations, law enforcement officials across the US have made multiple arrests this week of individuals planning to sow death and destruction in the name of Islam. The criminal complaints against those charged provide valuable insight into the thoughts and plans of Islamic terrorists on the streets of America, and most accurately define the current threat facing all of us in the US and Canada today. The documents provide critical insight into the inspirational objectives and operational planning of the Islamic jihad being waged against the West.

The criminal complaints document that among the adherents to fundamentalist Islam, loyalty to Islam supersedes loyalty to the US. They also confirm or serve to illustrate that prison recruitment to Islam, specifically to “jihad” continues unchecked, and there is a disturbing level of covert facilitation to would-be terrorists by Islamic leaders in mosques and Islamic centers across the US.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Attorney: OKC Bombing Tapes Appear Edited

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

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

Trentadue gave copies of the tapes to The Oklahoman newspaper, which posted them online and provided copies to The Associated Press.

The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000 pound fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said.

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

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

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

A spokesman for the FBI in Oklahoma City, Gary Johnson, declined to comment and referred inquiries about the tapes to FBI officials in Washington, who were not immediately available for comment Sunday.

The soundless recordings show people rushing from nearby buildings after the bomb went off. Some show people fleeing through corridors cluttered with debris. None show the actual explosion that ripped through the federal building.

FBI agents did not report finding any security tapes from the federal building itself.

The FBI in the past refused to release the security camera recordings, leading Trentadue and others to contend the government was hiding evidence that others were involved in the attack.

“It’s taken a lawsuit and years to get the tapes,” Trentadue said.

He received the latest batch of tapes over the summer in response to an April request for video from security cameras in 11 different locations. Nothing on the tapes was unexpected.

“The more important thing they show is what they don’t show,” Trentadue said. “These cameras would have shown the various roads and approaches to the Murrah Building.”

Trentadue began looking into the bombing after his brother, Kenneth Trentadue, died at the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center in August 1995. Kenneth Trentadue was a convicted bank robber who was held at the federal prison after being picked up as a parole violator at his home in San Diego in June 1995.

He was never a bombing suspect, but Jesse Trentadue alleges guards mistook his brother for one and beat him to death during an interrogation. The official cause of Kenneth Trentadue’s death is listed as suicide, but his body had 41 wounds and bruises that Jesse Trentadue believes could have come only from a beating.

A judge in 2001 awarded Kenneth Trentadue’s family $1.1 million for extreme emotional distress in the government’s handling of his death.

Jesse Trentadue said he has received about 30 security tapes, including some images that were used as evidence at bomber Timothy McVeigh’s trial. McVeigh was convicted on federal murder and conspiracy charges and executed in 2001. Coconspirator Terry Nichols is serving life in prison on federal and state bombing convictions.

Trentadue said he is seeking more tapes along with a variety of bombing-related documents from the FBI and the CIA. An FOIA request by Trentadue for 26 CIA documents was rejected in June. A letter from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which reviewed the documents, said their release “could cause grave damage to our national security.”

Trentadue said he gave the latest set of tapes to The Oklahoman because of their historical value. The newspaper has agreed to provide copies to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]

Chaffetz Defends Run-in With TSA

SALT LAKE CITY — SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s freshman congressman on Thursday defended a run-in with security at Salt Lake International Airport.

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz admitted he got frustrated and even used an obscenity, but he thinks airport security was out of line, not him.

It all revolves around a machine that checks for concealed bombs or weapons under a passenger’s clothes. Passengers who don’t want their whole body scanned can bypass the machine and go through a metal detector and full-body pat down instead. But 99.6 percent willingly get scanned.

“The security is good, and it’s for my protection. I feel that way about it, and so I don’t mind it at all,” said frequent flyer Dick Crossett.

Statistics show less than 1 in 200 try to avoid the revealing scans.

“I believe it’s invasive, and I think there are other methods we could use. So, it’s not a line I choose to go through,” a flight attended named Monica told KSL News. Airline passengers ready themselves to go through the full-body scanner

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said he was just trying to exercise that right when a security guard told him to change lines.

“They did not make it optional; and when I told them I didn’t want to do it, they started treating me as though I was some sort of criminal or something, giving me the third degree,” Chaffetz said.

The Transportation Security Administration issued a written statement that said: “This incident will be reviewed.” It also reiterated that a body scan “is always 100% optional” and it’s “an important tool to mitigate known threats.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

DNC Failed to Certify Obama as Eligible in Most States!

Not only did the DNC NOT certify eligibility in their Certification of Nomination for 49 states, they didn’t certify during the primary process in many states either. In fact, in most states, it appears that the DNC never certified constitutional eligibility for Barack Hussein Obama, despite their many claims of proper vetting and certification, all of which we now know to be false.

While the RNC filed the same proper certifications in all states with 100% consistency, the DNC filed a variety of improper documents which essentially certified nothing. They certainly failed to certify that Barack Hussein Obama met all legal requirements for the office.

There is NO argument about it now.

Barack Hussein Obama fails to meet Article II — Section I requirements for the office of President because he is NOT a “natural born citizen” according to the foundation for that clause, the Law of Nations based upon Natural Law, which requires that one be the natural born child of TWO US citizens, born on US soil.

Whether or not Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, he is NOT the natural born citizen of TWO US citizens. He is the natural born son of a father who was at all times, a citizen of Kenya. Just as he adopted by natural law, his fathers name, he also adopted by natural law, his fathers citizenship. The efforts by Obama fans to use “anchor baby” arguments, claiming Hawaii as his birth place, fall short of the actual qualification.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Dozens of Pastors Challenge IRS Rules

‘We need the government to get out of the pulpit’

Dozens of pastors around the nation are challenging an Internal Revenue Service rule that anti-Christian activists often invoke when they want to silence the message of churches, according to the Alliance Defense Fund.

The organization has announced that more than 80 preachers are taking part in its second annual Pulpit Freedom Sunday this weekend.

The pastors will preach Sunday sermons related to biblical perspectives on the positions of electoral candidates or current government officials, exercising their constitutional right to free religious expression, the ADF said.

They will do so despite a “problematic” IRS rule that activists use when they want to silence the message of Christians, the ADF said.

“Pastors have a right to speak about biblical truths from the pulpit without fear of punishment. No one should be able to use the government to intimidate pastors into giving up their constitutional rights,” ADF senior legal counsel Erik Stanley explained.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Handwritten Confirmation of IRS Fine for Not Having Health Insurance

Ensign receives handwritten confirmation

This doesn’t happen often enough.

Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) received a handwritten note Thursday from Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it “Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Limbaugh: Democrats Aim to Control People’s Lives

Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh says President Barack Obama’s plan to control healthcare is a pivotal point in his quest to control every aspect of Americans’ lives.

Limbaugh, appearing Thursday on NBC’s “Jay Leno Show,” said the Democratic plan will regulate everything that affects healthcare costs, right down to what Americans should eat, drink, and drive.

“We’ve got enough mistakes the federal government runs,” Limbaugh said. “We don’t need to compound it with more programs. The market will take care of it[self] . .. . there’s no reason to turn it all upside down.”

The ulterior motive behind the Democratic plan to take over healthcare concerns Limbaugh the most.

“Forget the intricacies of healthcare,” he said. “If the government gets control of healthcare, that’s the single best way that they get to control every aspect of our lives: what we eat, what we drive. It all will have an impact on healthcare costs — their responsibility via our taxes — and it’s just a mechanism whereby government grows and grows and grows and we lose liberty and freedom to it. That’s the single best way they get to control every aspect of our lives.”

Limbaugh recalled the 2008 campaign, when Obama promised he would usher in a new utopia in America: no partisanship, no more red state/blue states — a post-racist with no more racial acrimony.

Instead, “Look at how divided this country is right now,” he said. Obama’s “approval numbers are plummeting. People who voted for him did not think this is what they were going to get. Tell Obama, ‘No, we don’t want you owning car companies; no, we don’t want you running the banks; no, we don’t want you taking over student loans; and, no, we don’t want nationalized healthcare.’“

The government should let the market take its course instead of bailing out segments such as the auto industry. “Let them do bankruptcy first, or go out of business. That’s just the way it works. We haven’t saved them; we saved the unions.”

Limbaugh chided Obama for what he called his “five-minute career” in which the president “never [ran] a business and is now running [a] car company.

“You know more about [running a car company] than he does,” Limbaugh told Leno. “You own more cars than Obama’s ever seen. Just because General Motors goes under, it doesn’t mean people can’t buy cars. People already weren’t buying the cars for a reason. The market will fix itself for people far better than a bunch of people in Washington with no experience in it, tinkering in it and trying to control it.

The $700 billion the government disbursed in the Troubled Asset Relief Program was a giant scam, Limbaugh said.

“If we don’t give them $700 billion in the next 24 hours, the world financial system will crash,” he deadpanned. Now, “we’re hearing that if we don’t do healthcare by August, the healthcare system will crash. No, we didn’t need to give them $700 billion.”

The biggest problem the nation faces now, Limbaugh said, is the subprime mortgage crisis.

“The Bush administration tried to regulate this and tried to get this brought under control because it made no sense,” he said. “ACORN was out forcing banks — pressuring banks — to lend money to people that couldn’t pay it back, all under the guise of, ‘We must have affordable housing.’“

           — Hat tip: TV [Return to headlines]

NBC Producer Accused of E-Mailing Anti-ACORN Group ‘Bite Me Jew Boy’

A group called Americans for Limited Government on Thursday accused a producer for NBC’s “Dateline” of sending them an anti-Semitic e-mail message in response to the organization’s request for Congress to defund the controversial group ACORN.

The mass e-mail in question, sent by ALG’s Alex Rosenwald to many members of the media including NBC’s Jane Stone, said:

“The only way Congress can unravel all of the various funding measures in the ‘stimulus,’ in the ‘Foreclosure Prevention Act,’ and other measures is to pass the ‘Defund ACORN Act’ immediately. They should do it now. Before ACORN spends it all.” — ALG President Bill Wilson

According to ALG, Stone responded:

Bite me Jew boy!

The Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum, who is also a contributor to NewsBusters, posted a screen-cap of the e-mail message at Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama: From Savior to Leftist Windbag in Nine Months

Blindly following the “can’t fail” left-wing playbook since gaining the White House — massive government spending, gigantic tax increases, no nukes — and habit for being dishonest with the American people, President Obama has stretched his credibility to the breaking point and people are taking notice.

That’s right folks, our President is a far left radical nut whose status with the American people, and the world in general, is falling faster than the Iranian stock market. The campaign phenomenon who came into power with promises of “Hope and Change” is now promoting an old but familiar Democrat message, “Appeasement is Strength”.

Examples of Obama’s naive leadership abound. He folded like a lawn chair to the Russians regarding missile defense in Eastern Europe, he was personally humiliated by South American dictator Hugo Chavez by shaking the man’s hand as he was handed a book detailing U.S. “imperialist crimes”, and he got a boot to the head from North Korea when he attempted to initiate negotiations regarding their nuclear program — they responded by launching a missile at Hawaii!

Obama was at the UN this week calling for his brave new world, but in reality no one is listening … unless of course you count his bashing of Israel, a universal UN message if there ever was one…

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Slain Police Officer’s Family Says “Enough is Enough”

The family and friends of a murdered Savannah police officer tried Thursday to shift the focus of the death penalty debate onto the victim and away from the Death Row inmate who has been at the center of international debate of capital punishment, Troy Anthony Davis.

“The name Mark Allen MacPhail is getting lost in all this madness,” said Dawn Dalton, a childhood friend of the police officer who was shot and killed while he was working a second job 20 years ago.

“He is the victim,” not Davis, Dalton said. “We have waited patiently for a [death] sentence to be carried out that never seems to come. [So] we are putting the victim in the spotlight.”

Davis’ case has been the one anti-death penalty activists have used to support their fears that an innocent person could be executed.


Former President Jimmy Carter and Pope Benedict XVI are among the well-known who have lobbied for a hearing for Davis. And last May, 27 former justices, judges and prosecutors filed a legal brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to order a hearing on those claims.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

US Muslims Gather Outside Capitol Hill to Pray

Thousands of Muslim men and women gathered Friday outside the United States Capitol in a “day of Islamic unity” to hold a mass prayer and show their religion was peaceful as a group of Christian protestors gathered to object to the event.

Muslims from across America gathered to perform the weekly Friday prayer on lawns outside the building where President Barack Obama was inaugurated in January of this year.

The event, organized by the Dar-ul-Islam Elizabeth mosque in northeastern New Jersey, was aimed at showing the world “that not all Muslims hate America” and was inspired by Obama’s attempt to reach out to Muslims.

“We should also extend our hand,” Hassan Abdellah, president of the mosque, told the Los Angeles Times.

“The message was clear. I think the message basically was to let the American public know that all the stigmas that are attached to Muslims are not true,” participant Lonnie Shabazz told the AFP news agency.

“We’re not extremists and we do not subscribe to the trend of racism. I think that message was achieved today,” Shabazz said.

But despite the general good spirit, a group of around 50 Christians gathered to protest against the event and waved banners reading “Trust Jesus” as they handed out flyers to Muslims around the prayer area.

“When Islam is weak, they will be the religion of peace,” the paper quoted Rusty Thomas, a minister who traveled with Operation Save America to protest the event, as saying. “When they get the upper hand, out comes the sword.”

Muslim leaders generally dismissed the protests but Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told the times: “What is noteworthy is that when Muslims seek to participate in society, they are going to face a small minority of bigots and racists.”

Abdellah, however, sought to ease the protestors concerns and said “Muslims aren’t here to take over the country. They’re here to help make it better.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]


Civil Liberties: Forget Terrorism; Worry About the Flu

On Tuesday Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada spoke to a women’s club in Ottawa. McLachlin bemoaned the fact that Canada is in danger of sacrificing liberty in order to combat terrorism.

According to the Chief Justice, Canadian lawmakers put too much emphasis on the events of 9/11 in the United States and in doing so have sacrificed civil liberties under the guise of fighting terrorism. McLachlin of course is right when she points out that there is a danger of giving up rights and freedoms in the name of security. The harshest law on the Canadian books is the ability of the government to detain foreign nationals indefinitely when they are suspected of terrorist activity. But the reality is that only a handful of people have been detained on these so called security certificates. And unlike many other countries that hold people who are suspected of terrorist activity, detainees in Canada have full access to the courts including Chief Justice McLachlin’s. And these handful of suspects are gradually being released and once released, are having the conditions of their release relaxed.

McLachlin appears to adopt the mantra of the left; that September 11, 2001 was a one off, it has now been 8 years since those events took place and therefore it’s now time to not worry about the possibility of further terrorist activity. This ignores the fact that 9/11 was not a onetime thing. Since the fall of 2001, arrests have been made around the world, including in Canada, for other terrorist acts that had either taken place or were in the planning stages. Other than the fact that the attacks took place in New York and Washington instead of Europe or the Middle East, the real significance of 9/11 was that it served as a wakeup call to the terrorist threat that exists around the world. The Chief Justice would have been better to put her remarks in the context of the present day threat of terrorism than as a reaction to the events of September 11.

If Chief Justice McLachlin really wants to warn Canadians of the dangers of losing their civil liberties perhaps it would have been better if she spoken about the flu. The University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics polled 600 Canadians between August 2008 and February 2009. The results of that survey showed that 48% of respondents believe that doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who fail to show up for work without a good excuse during a pandemic should be fired or be stripped of their professional qualifications. More disturbing is that about half of those polled believe that violating a quarantine order during a pandemic is tantamount to manslaughter. If the poll is at least in the ballpark in terms of accuracy half the country is quite willing to give up basic freedoms such as the right to assembly and the right to unrestricted movement, all in the name of protecting health. This is not all surprising in a country that is totally dependent upon the government for their healthcare.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgium: Would-be Robbers Blow Themselves Up

Brussels — Two would-be bank robbers were killed when they used too much dynamite to crack open a cash machine, blowing themselves up and demolishing half the bank in a Belgian town.

Police Saturday found the victims — one bearing Kosovo identification papers — amid rubble of the bank in the town of Dinant, 90 kilometres southeast of Brussels.

The police were called to the Record Bank at 3.20 in the morning after residents were startled by the huge blast that wrecked a large section of the building.

They found one of the would-be robbers immediately. He died shortly after from head injuries. The second was not found until Saturday afternoon when firemen had cleared much of the rubble.

The local prosecutor’s office said large quantities of dynamite were found at the site — “far” too much for just cracking open the cash dispenser. The entire building would now have to be demolished.

Police said they believed a third would-be robber escaped, and that the same group had probably been responsible for an earlier attempted break-in at a nearby post office. — Sapa-dpa

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

EU Idiots: Land of Wasted Milk and Money

Farmers across europe have pumped away milk like these protesters in Belgium

IN a Belgian field millions of gallons of milk are flooded from tankers on to the ground. The sight of this EU waste, repeated at countless locations across the Continent, will leave beleaguered British taxpayers fuming.

The UK ploughed £109million into the Common Agricultural Policy this year to help rural development in this country and across Europe.

However, heavily subsidised farmers on the Continent have hosed away 25 million gallons of milk — much of it funded by the British public — in a protest to force the EU to overhaul dairy market regulation and boost prices.

Overproduction of milk has led to huge income losses, and tens of thousands of farmers face bankruptcy.

Lib Dem agricultural spokesman Tim Farron said: “The pouring away of millions of gallons of milk is a terrible waste. Someone has put a lot of effort into producing a healthy, nutritious food source, which has been partly paid for by Britain, and it is being sprayed all over fields.

“At a time when people are starving in the world, that kind of waste is appalling and it is unfortunately being paid for by taxpayers here.”

The National Farmers’ Union dairy board chairman Gwyn Jones said: “We’ve made this clear to the European Commission numerous times but they’re dragging their feet.”

A spokesman for Open Europe, a think-tank calling for radical reform, said: “This is a direct consequence of the EU’s flawed agricultural policy which has caused the dairy market to become too skewed. This is just one more example of how the bloated EU is squandering Britain’s contributions.”

The UK’s net contribution will rise by almost 60 per cent next year, the Treasury has said. Britain’s cost of membership will rise to £6.4billion, equivalent to about £260 per UK household, from £4.1billion in 2009/10.

The Treasury said it was right for the UK “to share the burden of membership with new accession countries” but the Tories say the rising bill is evidence of SDLqLabour’s incompetence”.

The spilt-milk scandal emerged as a damning new report revealed millions of pounds of food aid earmarked for the EU’s poorest people is at risk of being siphoned off by criminal gangs.

Regulators are scathing about the £500million programme meant to deliver food and milk to people living below the poverty line.

The EU Court of Auditors says a lack of management controls means that criminals can exploit weaknesses and divert the aid.

The so-called “EU food aid for deprived persons” was set up in 1986. Rice, pasta, cereals and dairy products were distributed from the notorious surplus food mountains. Since then,however, surpluses have dwindled and officials buy food on the open market.

It is delivered to thousands of charities in 18 participating countries, with Spain, France, Italy and Poland the largest beneficiaries.

Figures show 11 million Britons “at risk of poverty”, a measure defined as someone earning less than 60 per cent of average incomes.

Although the number is second only to Italy, the UK does not take part. EU auditors now want reforms and recommend devolving the programme.

They say: “The fact that the programme is managed at operational level by thousands of charitable organisations, mainly staffed by volunteers and dealing with an unstable and not easily monitored target population, poses particular challenges for the administration of the scheme.”

European whistleblower turned politician Marta Andreasen is investigating sensational claims that millions of pounds of taxpayers money is being siphoned off to fund terrorism.

She was fired as the European Commission’s chief accountant after uncovering massive corruption, but has won a seat in the European Parliament for Ukip.

Now she has access to a vast library of documents revealing how the budget is carved up.

“I have been told that a sum of 1.5 billion euros was given to a country to pay for improved security measures,” she said last night.

“However, I’ve been informed that the money assigned to the agency has not gone through for the correct purpose and that some of the money is being used to support terrorism. We’re talking about 1.5 billion euros for security measures going missing here.”

She added: “The madness is in the way the system is set up because there are no controls to make sure the money gets through to the right people. That is what I highlighted when I was chief accountant and that is what I will continue to highlight as a politician.”

Ms Andreasen, 54, says the Court of Auditors are already getting nervous about publishing the budget in November as it is believed that once again they will not be able to sign off it off because they cannot get to the bottom of the secretive procedures.

“There is a fear about publishing these accounts because the problems have not been resolved and the controls are not strong enough,” she said.

“Most of the payments made are not going to the right people.”

[Return to headlines]

Germany: Merkel’s Conservatives Win With FDP: Exit Polls

Early exit polls showed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives winning Germany’s election on Sunday, with a centre-right coalition with the Free Democrats likely.

That will mean that Merkel, Germany’s first female leader and the only chancellor from the ex-communist east, can serve another four-year term.

“We have achieved something fantastic,” Merkel told cheering supporters at CDU headquarters in Berlin before trying to strike a conciliatory note. “I want to be the chancellor of all Germans. There are a lot of problems to solve for our country.”

Her favoured partners, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), captured around 15 percent, exit polls suggested, meaning they will likely return to government for the first time since 1998.

“We are naturally pleased by this result,” said FDP leader Guido Westerwelle, who is now set to become Germany’s next foreign minister. “But this means responsibility, and we are ready to take on this responsibility.”

Under Germany’s complex electoral arithmetic, their combined score of about 48 percent will likely be enough to put them over the top.

“A black-yellow coalition looks set, we have reached our goal,” a jubiliant Volker Kauder, general secretary of Merkel’s party, told reporters, referring to the colours of the centre-right.

Click here for The Local’s election night photo gallery.

The Social Democrats (SPD), junior partners in Merkel’s loveless “grand coalition,” plummeted to between 22 and 23 percent — their worst score since the war — and will be banished to the opposition after 11 years in government. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Merkel’s SPD challenger for the chancellorship and her foreign minister for the past four years, conceded defeat just after the first exit polls were released.

“This voters have decided. The results are bitter defeat for the Social Democracy,” said Steinmeier. “I’d like to thank the voters that supported us. Those votes were not in vain.”

But he said he aimed to lead the SPD’s opposition in the next parliament.

The next government “will have to prove they can handle it. And I have my doubts where they can,” he said to heavy applause from SPD supporters.

Smaller parties on the rise

The election results confirmed the growing trend towards more support for the country’s smaller parties at the expense of both two big Volksparteien, the Christian and Social Democrats.

All three smaller political outfits — the Free Democrats, The Left, and the Greens had their best parliamentary results ever.

“We have all the reason to celebrate,” said Lothar Bisky, The Left party’s leader in the European Parliament. “The Left is growing, and a Left that won double-digits has a chance to show what it can do.”

Record low voter turnout

Public broadcaster ZDF reported that a record low number of Germans had voted, with turnout dropping to 71.2 percent from 77.7 percent in 2005. A told of 62.2 million people were eligible to vote on Sunday.

German election officials Sunday said they would investigate the appearance of broadly accurate exit poll results on the Twitter microblogging site before voting had ended. It is illegal in Germany to publish exit polls before the cut-off point for

voting but a number of tweets claiming to show the scores for the main parties surfaced one hour before polling stations closed.

The Twitter figures were very similar to those of the first official exit polls. A spokesman for the Federal Election Commission said an investigation would be carried out to ascertain whether actual figures obtained from pollsters were leaked. Anyone releasing figures early is liable for a fine of up to €50,000 ($73,000).

Firmer results were to trickle in over the course of the night, at the end of a campaign dominated by Germany’s deep economic troubles, as the world’s number-two exporter bore the brunt of the global crisis.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

In Ireland’s European Union Referendum Campaign Yes Side on Course for Victory

The final opinion poll in Ireland’s European Union referendum campaign on Saturday night put the Yes side on course for a comfortable victory in Friday’s crucial vote.

It enters the last week of the campaign with the support of 55 per cent of voters, compared to the 27 per cent who say they will vote against the controversial Lisbon Treaty — a majority in favour of two to one in favour of overhauling the EU’s institutions.

Unless Yes voters stay at home in unexpected numbers, those who have yet to make up their mind would not change the outcome of the referendum even if they all voted against, according to The Sunday Business Post/Red C poll.

However Declan Ganley, the multi-millionaire businessman who is the leading opponent of the treaty, remained defiant and reminded opponents that the No side was also trailing at the same stage of the 2008 campaign, but pulled ahead to win by almost seven per cent — some 110,000 votes.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “Friday is a date with destiny and people must realise they are making a decision they can never go back on. The Lisbon Treaty will end democracy as we know it in the European Union.”

Sources inside the No camp say they will hope to damage Yes support in coming days by attacking the government’s hard-won legally binding guarantees of sovereignty on the issues that alarmed voters last year — workplace rights, military neutrality, abortion and inheritance rights.

If Ireland rejected the treaty for a second time it would throw the EU into chaos. The further delay to ratification would make it almost certain that the Conservative Party would have the chance to hold referendum in Britain if, as expected, David Cameron becomes prime minister after the next election.

The pace of the Irish campaign will quicken from today as political parties intensify efforts to make a final pitch to tens of thousands of undecided voters.

In an desperate move this weekend, the Government party, Fianna Fail, sent a begging email to thousands of members looking for 20 euro donations. “To help us make our crucial last week’s push, we need to raise as much as possible in the next 48 hours,” the message said.

The tough-talking Mr Ganley failed to get elected to the European Parliament for the Ireland West constituency in June, and had vowed not to get involved in the second Lisbon referendum campaign.

However his change of heart two weeks ago which led him to re-enter the debate may help to crystallise fragmented No support in the crucial remaining days.

Mr Ganley said: “We have European commissioners coming over here, putting a gun to our heads and trying to bribe us. Ireland is giving up a lot in this deal and in return we are getting exactly nothing that we don’t already have.”

The campaign for Lisbon II has thrown up a cast of colourful opponents, each claiming to be acting in the best interests of the country.

The most surprising entrant on the Yes side is Ryanair’s ebullient boss Michael O’Leary, a constant critic of the Irish government who has previously branded the EU as an evil empire and Eurocrats as “morons”. Last week he used one of his jets to fly himself and EU transport commissioner Antonio Tajani on a tour of Irish regional airports to lobby for ratification.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso drew sharp criticism from the No camp when he jetted into Limerick last weekend to announce a multi-million euro rescue package for the Dell computer plant, which shed 1,900 local jobs earlier this year.

Other EU leaders may make rallying statements in the days ahead to help bolster a Yes verdict in Ireland.

“We are bankrupt,” Mr O’Leary said. “At the end of the year there are going to be half a million people unemployed. If we’re going to get those people back to work, if we’re going to attract foreign investment, we need the Lisbon Treaty.”

One housewife who emailed RTE’s flagship Morning Ireland programme appeared concerned at the possibility that Tony Blair could become European Commission president in the future.

In the Holy Family Parish Centre in Dublin’s north inner city, a dozen residents met to pore over issues such as workers’ rights, taxation, defence and security.

Nadine Murphy, 36, a single mother of two teenage boys, was among those who voted No in 2008 because they feared their sons might face conscription to a European army. She did not appear to have changed her view. “I’m sorry, but no government will make me force my children to go and fight — especially somebody else’s war,” she said.

Author Marie O’Connor, who is in her early fifties, conceded that the Yes camp had been better organised than before. But she said she could not support the treaty.

“It is almost unreadable and I don’t believe it was every designed to be read by the man and woman on the street.

“It’s an indictment of democracy that we’re being asked to vote on a treaty that nobody can read.”

Sinn Fein activist and lawyer Ruadhan MacAodhain, 26, who opposes the treaty, disagreed with claims that the Yes vote ws rising. “There are very few doors that I’ve knocked on where people are saying they voted ‘No’ last time and are now voting ‘Yes’. Despite what the polls are telling us, it is going to be very, very close.”

[Return to headlines]

Ireland’s EU Referendum is the Last Stand Against the ‘Project’

Brussels has pulled out all the stops to get a Yes from the Irish, says Christopher Booker.

This week, when the Irish have a second chance to vote “Yes” to the Lisbon treaty, might just mark the beginning of the end for one of the more degrading and long-drawn-out farces of recent times — the eight-year-long battle to unite “Europe” under a single political constitution.

Short of Karzai-style stuffing of the ballot boxes, the European and Irish political establishments could scarcely have done more to push this second Irish referendum in the way they want. To ensure a “Yes” vote, all the normal rules governing balanced media coverage were suspended. The European Commission has poured €1.5 million into an unprecedented advertising blitz. EU commissioners, led by President Jose-Manuel Barroso, MEPs and officials have been flooding in to promote the cause. However, when one or two British outsiders — including Nigel Farage, leader of a group in the European Parliament, and Lorraine Mullally, director of the think-tank Open Europe, and of good Irish stock — came over to campaign for a “No” vote, their “foreign intervention” was greeted by orchestrated howls of abuse.

The question inevitably aroused by such startling behaviour is why has the political class of “Europe” been so desperate to get its way over this treaty? It was back in December 2001 that the EU’s leaders met at Laeken in Belgium to agree that, to “bring Europe closer to its peoples” and to make it more “democratic”, the EU should, like any aspiring state, be given a constitution. This was to be the consummation of the central driving force of the “European project” — the drive to place the nation states of Europe under an entirely new form of supra-national government. As long ago as 1957, the original Treaty of Rome put together what was always intended to be the embryo of a “government for Europe”, as Jean Monnet put it.

Treaty by treaty, without most people recognising its true underlying agenda — and leaving the nation states and their institutions in place as if nothing too dramatic was happening — this new government gradually took over the powers of national parliaments. It already decides far more of our laws and how we are governed than any mainstream politician ever dares admit.

In 2001, however, the EU’s leaders decided the moment had at last arrived for their project to come out in the open. It was ready to take its place on the world stage as a sovereign power in its own right, complete with president, foreign minister, currency, armed forces and all the attributes of a fully-fledged state. What was needed above all to mark this historic step was a constitution.

A puppet convention spent two years drafting the constitution they wanted, and in 2004, after a further year of bickering about details, it was unveiled — on the assumption that its acceptance by the peoples of Europe would be little more than a formality. But in 2005 the French and Dutch had the audacity to say “No”. Faced with the most serious reverse the project had ever suffered, the EU’s leaders went into catatonic shock.

Their eventual solution, of course, was simply to repackage the constitution as if it were just another of those treaties, ensuring that they would not repeat the mistake of allowing mere voters to turn it down. The only country under whose own constitution a referendum was unavoidable — because it would lose so much more of its power to govern itself — was little Ireland. And of course, in June last year, to the horror of the “European” political class, the Irish again said “No”, pushing the constitution back into limbo.

This was simply not in the script. Inevitably the EU’s leaders pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Irish were whipped into line. The stakes were too high to contemplate anything else. So next Thursday, those who now rule over us are trusting that, after eight tortuous years, they will at last be on the verge of getting the new state and form of government they have wanted all along.

Curiously, all this was foreshadowed nearly 70 years ago by one of the two men who, more than any others, were responsible for creating the government we now live under. Altiero Spinelli, an Italian Communist sitting in a Fascist jail, sketched out how, in order to build a new United States of Europe after the Second World War, it would be necessary to piece together the new form of government gradually over many years without explaining its ultimate aim.The day would come, however, when enough of it had been assembled and a convention could be summoned to draft, as its “crowning glory”, a constitution. At last, said Spinelli, the peoples of Europe would see what had been done in their name and would greet it with “acclamation”.

Many years later, as Richard North and I described in our book The Great Deception, Spinelli would in effect be the posthumous father of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union, giving his name to the vast office block in Brussels which houses the European Parliament. Other than Jean Monnet, no visionary did more to shape the way the “project” was to develop through the 50 years after the war.

The only lacuna in Spinelli’s vision was that, when the peoples of Europe were presented with that constitution, they failed to acclaim it as the “crowning glory” he predicted. As they were by now at least dimly aware, what was offered them was no more than a hugely cumbersome, inefficient, corrupt and remote form of government, riddled with dishonesty and wholly undemocratic, which they could never again call to account.

On Thursday the voters of Ireland will be the last in Europe with a chance to say “No” to the political class which now rules over us — thanks to what has amounted to the most extraordinary slow-motion coup d’état in history.

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Merkel’s Party Hails Dream Result

From the moment the first exit polls appeared, the celebrations began at the Christian Democrats’ Headquarters in Berlin. Every good result was met with whoops and a clinking of beer glasses. They even managed to offer sausages with “CDU” branded on them!

Angela Merkel’s supporters had grown nervous in recent days that they might have to continue their awkward partnership with the Social Democrats.

Soon it sunk in that Germany would have a centre-right government. It was more than many at Mrs Merkel’s party headquarters had dared to hope for. One woman told us she thought it would be bad for Germany if the current coalition had continued.

When Angela Merkel arrived she was met with cries of “Angie, Angie”. She had made the election about herself and so this was a significant victory for her.

Although this is a shift to the right, Angela Merkel stressed that she wanted to be “the Chancellor of all Germans”. Certainly her record in power suggests she will be pragmatic. In 2005 she had talked of radical economic reforms. Now she has the opportunity to reveal where her true instincts lie.

Angela Merkel’s new partners are the pro-business Free Democrats. They won’t get their way with all their demands but they are tax-cutters, they want to reduce the state, they are reluctant to bail-out companies and they are against generous stimulus packages.

Even if some of their ideas are adopted it will sharpen the political divide in Germany.

But one story tonight is this: at a time when Germans are outraged at the excesses of capitalism, the greed of the bankers and the bonuses they take, they have given the centre-left its worst result in nearly 60 years.

The voters may not like casino capitalism, but they seem to treasure more an efficient crisis-manager, which is how Angela Merkel sold herself.

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

Nigel Farage on the EU: ‘It’s Our Country — Let US Run It’

What is so awful about asking the people of a country how they wish to be ruled and by whom, asks Nigel Farage.

José Barroso, president of the European Commission, has told us that the reason for the European Union is to stop Germany invading France. Again. Now Berlin has realised that Paris is not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian Grenadier, that’s dealt with, so what reason for the EU’s continuation can there be?

Quite, there isn’t one, but as ever with bureaucracies and political structures, the expiry of their reason for existence never means the expiry of their existence.

What we thought, what we were told, we were joining all those years ago — a Common Market to open up the markets and riches of Europe to us and our trade — has become an over-arching government. One that has taken to itself the powers to determine how we may light our living rooms, how many hours we may legally work and even where we may put our rubbish. Our own Parliament at Westminster has become a mere county council, enacting by rote decisions made elsewhere.

Tony Benn’s questions about power have uncomfortable answers when we ask them of the EU. “What power do you have? How? For whom? With what limits and how do we get rid of you?” To which the answers are: “Too much, they took it, themselves, very few and we can’t”.

That isn’t the set of answers that we want to have in a democracy or a free and pleasant land. At the very minimum, we need to be able to take powers back, exercise them for ourselves and, most importantly, we have to be able to get rid of those in power in some manner, all of which are extremely difficult at present.

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

Polish Priest Fined for Comparing Abortion to Holocaust, Saying Abortion is “Killing”

KATOWICE, Poland, September 23, 2009 ( — In a ruling that Church leaders are calling a serious infringement of freedom of speech, a Polish judge has accused the Archdiocese of Katowice and the priest-editor of their Catholic weekly newspaper of comparing a woman who sought an abortion to the Nazis, and has ordered them to publish a court-dictated apology.

Judge Ewa Solecka, further, fined the Gosc Niedzielny (Sunday Visitor) paper $11,000, objecting to comments from editor-in-chief Fr. Marek Gancarczyk that she deemed offensive, such as his statement that in seeking to get an abortion, the woman sought to ‘kill’ her child.

Fr. Gancarczyk was writing in an October 2007 editorial about the European Court for Human Rights’ earlier ‘wrongful birth’ ruling in favor of Alicja Tysiac.

Ms. Tysiac, who suffers from an eye condition, has become something of a symbol for the Polish abortion rights movement, following her failed attempt to abort her third child after she became pregnant in 2000. Claiming that her condition would be exacerbated by the continuation of her pregnancy, she sought permission for an abortion.

Poland, which is largely Catholic and pro-life, permits abortion only in cases of rape, serious handicap in the baby, or serious health risk to the mother.

In Tysiac’s case, her doctors concluded that, while she was “significantly disabled,” her condition was not serious enough to warrant the death of her unborn child. Thus she was not given permission for abortion, and the baby was born.

In 2005, Tysiac took the Polish government to the European Court. The court ruled in March 2007 that Poland’s laws resulted in a ‘wrongful birth’, ordering the government to pay her 25,000 Euros in damages. The government appealed but the decision was upheld in September 2007.

Subsequently, Fr. Gancarczyk published an editorial condemning the court’s decision. While he did draw the connection between the horrors committed by the Nazis and the horror of abortion, he nowhere compares Ms. Tysiac to the Nazis, but rather compares the judges who ruled against the Polish government to the Nazis, contrary to Judge Solecka’s Wednesday determination.

“[The Nazis] got used to murders committed behind the camp fence,” wrote Fr. Gancarczyk. “And what is it like today? Different, but equally scary.”

“The European Tribunal of Justice in Strasbourg just rejected the appeal from the Polish government on the well-known by now case of Alicja Tysiac,” he continued. “In consequence, Ms. Tysiac will receive 25,000 euro damages, plus the costs of proceedings, for not being able to kill her child.”

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

Spain: Compostela, The Portico on the Walk of Glory

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — SANTIAGO DI COMPOSTELA (SPAIN), SEPTEMBER 22 — The ascent to glory occurs through two scaffolding ramps at a height of abut ten metres. And, with the element of safety in mind, one finds themselves face to face with the monumental Christ the King, between two lateral arches that symbolise the descent to hell and the Last Judgement. Seen this close, the Portico de la Gloria, the imposing group of Romanic sculptures created between 1168 and 1188 by master Matteo in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which for over eight centuries has been the destination for millions of pilgrims who participate in the Camino de Santiago, is impressive. But the signs of time, left by sunlight and humidity over the course of the centuries, are evident on the painted murals and the bright colours are corroded and deteriorated. To try to remedy the situation, the Pedro Barrié de la Mazaha Foundation promoted an ambitious conservation and restoration programme for the portico and the murals of the main chapel, the cleaning of the crypt and the reorganisation of the cathedral’s museums in July 2006, financed with 3 million euros through 2012, representing the largest intervention to be carried out on the cathedral to this date. In agreement with the Arcivescovado and the cathedral’s council since March, when the work directed by Concha Cirujano, restorer from Spain’s Institute of Cultural Heritage of the Minister of Culture, a pilot experience was also started, providing for the possibility of free visits to the platform of the scaffolding to contemplate this architectural jewel from a privileged perspective, that together with the room and the tomb of the Apostle, is the most representative feature of the cathedral complex and among the primary symbols of Christianity. Access is limited to six daily visits of groups of ten people, four of which are open to reservations via internet, the rest of which are reserved for pilgrims who, after the long walk, arrive at the last, coveted stop, the tomb of the Apostle. Until now there have been over 6 thousand people to live the unforgettable experience of looking at the apostles and Christ the King in the eyes. In indicating the contact sensors with the different parts of the sculptures, and those that allow for the preventative monitoring for the restoration of the paintings, Concha Cirujano, who guides the visit, explains that “the programme includes a phase of structural research into the causes of the deterioration, on the basis of which the correct preventative conservation measures will be chosen for the complex, which will be very respectful”. Among the three companies chosen after an international public contest, there is also the Italian company Cooperativa Beni Culurali (Coo.Be.C.) of Spoleto and Perugia, which started in 1975, that has already worked on the restoration of the Tower of Pisa and the Giotto frescoes in the Cappella Degli Scrovegni in Padova, where they were also granted the preliminary research. “The selection criteria”, Cirujano explained, “privileged the character of specialisation and wide experience in restoration work of the groups of sculptors and colourists. I don’t think that the work will be finished for the Xacobeo year of 2010”. But the cathedral’s dean confesses of a “recurring dream” in which the Pope comes to inaugurate the restored portico and chapel in 2011. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain: Motion Against Pope’s Statements on Condoms Rejected

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 24 — The Spanish Congress rejected today a motion proposed by Isquierda Unida-Iniciativa Verde para Catalunya to protest statements made by Pope Benedict XVI on his trip to Cameroon in March on the use of condoms. The motion, which requested that the government protest “through official and diplomatic channels”, via Spain’s ambassador to the Holy See, was voted down by all political parties except for proponents of the motion, while the PSOE abstained from voting. The IU-ICV motion proposed that Parliament express its “dismay and refusal” in regards to the statements made by Pope Benedict XVI, in which he stated that AIDS “cannot be beaten by distributing condoms”, which, on the contrary, “increase the problem”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sweden: Several Arrests Made in Helicopter Heist Probe

Several people were arrested on Sunday afternoon for their suspected involvement in last week’s spectacular helicopter robbery of a cash depot south of Stockholm.

“This is the fruit of some solid criminal investigative work by police,” National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen) spokesperson Arne Andersson told the TT news agency.

He confirmed that several people were arrested in a number of raids carried out in the Stockholm area on Sunday morning.

Those detained are suspected of aggravated robbery and being an accomplice to aggravated robbery.

“The arrests were uneventful. They were taken in by our national task force,” said Andersson.

Andersson wouldn’t rule out that more arrests might be on the way.

“We’ll see, but I don’t see that happening for the time being,” he said.

The theft of the G4S cash depot in Västberga south of Stockholm early Wednesday morning will go down in the annals of Swedish criminal history.

After having sabotaged the police’s helicopters, the robbers broke into the building by lowering themselves to the roof from a stolen helicopter. They then hoisted up an undisclosed sum of cash before escaping again in the helicopter.

In an usual move for Sweden, G4S has offered a reward of 7 million kronor ($1 million) to anyone who provides information which leads to arrests or an indictment, or which contributes to the recovery of the money.

According to Andersson, however, Sunday’s arrests did not come from acting upon a tip, bur from old-fashioned police work.

Attorney Leif Silbersky has been appointed to defend one of the men arrested on Sunday.

“He asked to have me as his lawyer. I’ve met him and we’ve had a long set of negotiations. Now I’m waiting for the police to interrogate my client,” Silbersky told TT.

According to Silbersky, his client is a Swedish citizen and he denies any involvement in the helicopter robbery.

According to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, Silbersky’s client is one of 552 people registered with the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) as having a licence to operate a helicopter and is s resident of the Roslagen region north of Stockholm.

The helicopter which was used in the heist was stolen from a Roslagens helikopterflyg AB, a helicopter training company based in the region. One of the owners of the company said that the theft would have required familiarity with the area.

In August of this year, the 34-year-old suspect was convicted by the Stockholm District Court for a number of drug-related crimes. He confessed and was fined the equivalent of 110 days’ pay.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Thousands of Non-Irish Residents Sent Polling Cards

Thousands of non-Irish nationals in Co. Kildare who are not entitled to vote in the Lisbon referendum have inadvertently received polling cards to do so.

It is understood the county’s local election data base was used for the distribution of polling cards which resulted in the blunder.

The error could cause mayhem at polling stations on Friday unless steps are taken to undo the damage.

The matter was brought to the attention of Labour TD for North Kildare Emmet Stagg by a local constituent.

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

UK: A Photo of Tony Blair? That Will be £180 Please

ADMIRERS of Tony Blair have paid £180 a time to have their photographs taken with him.

It is the latest gimmick to boost the former prime minister’s earning potential on lecture tours. As many as 100 people will be whisked through in a one-hour session in which they will meet, but barely greet, Blair while the cameras flash.

“It’s a unique souvenir,” said Norman Stowe, one of the organisers of an event that Blair is being paid to attend in Canada next month, which has sold out.

The 100 premium tickets for the Surrey Regional Economic Summit in British Columbia on October 6 cost about £420. This buys a “photo opportunity with Tony Blair” and the best seats.

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For £180 less, there are 500 tickets but, the promotional material states, “photo opportunity not included”.

Stowe said: “We only have 100 of the top-price option, with a photo opportunity with Mr Blair. The people who are doing this are quite keen and obviously follow his career.

“There is a process where you can put a lot of people through in a very short amount of time for the photographs. It doesn’t take more than three or four seconds per person.”

Blair is attending the event for about two hours and will speak for 30 minutes. His fee has not been disclosed, but is likely to be more than £100,000.

Blair is said to be concentrating his efforts on his unpaid role as a special envoy in the Middle East, on climate change and on his charitable work. He presented a new report on climate change to the United Nations in New York last week, urging faster action to cut carbon emissions.

In parallel, appearances on the lecture circuit and corporate work are building up his personal fortune. In March this year he earned nearly £400,000 for two speeches in the Philippines.

It is thought Blair has been paid at least £15m since he left Downing Street two years ago, helped by an almost unrivalled network of political and business contacts. He is also raising funds for his faith foundation.

He has a series of speeches planned in the autumn with at least three in the United States and Canada.

Tom Kenyon-Slaney, director of the London Speaker Bureau, said: “Blair is revered in north America. They perceive him as a combination of the Queen, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.”

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UK: Euro MPs Still Cream Off Big Rise

ONLY six of Britain’s 72 Euro MPs turned down this summer’s £20,000 pay rise, a Sunday Express survey found.

Those not to taking the cash are Gerard Batten, Godfrey Bloom and Derek Clark of Ukip, Tory Philip Bradbourn and the SNP’s Alyn Smith and Ian Hudghton.

But every Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green MEP now rakes in about £85,000 a year.

MEPs voted themselves the new package to harmonise pay for all 736 members of the European Parliament.

Under the old system they earned the same as their counterparts in national parliaments.

That meant the British got about £65,000 a year, Italian MEPs were paid about £128,000 but the Bulgarians got only £8,000 a year.

Ironically, when they debated the reforms, British MEPs thought they were voting for a pay cut but then the pound collapsed, meaning a pay rise.

But Mr Batten said: “In the current climate I did not feel justified in taking a massive pay rise.”

Lib Dem MEP Diana Wallis said she voted for the reforms “on the principle of equality”.

But Robert Oulds of the Bruges Group think-tank said taxpayers would be appalled.

He added: “Those who have taken the pay rise should be ashamed. Their job is not exactly demanding.”

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UK: Facing Ruin: BA Cross Martyr Must Pick Up the Bill if She Loses Court Battle, Judges Rule

A Christian airport worker faces financial ruin after judges decided she must pick up the bill if she loses her court battle with British Airways over her treatment for wearing a silver cross at work.

Three senior judges refused to grant an order guaranteeing that Nadia Eweida, 58, would not have to pay BA’s estimated £58,000 legal costs if she lost the case, which is scheduled for the Court of Appeal in January.

The ongoing battle has already cost the airline £289,000, which it cannot recover.


She argues that, while Muslims and Sikhs were allowed to wear hijabs and religious Kara bangles respectively, she as a Christian had been asked to remove her cross necklace or hide it from sight.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Mother-of-Five Died From Overdose of Chemotherapy Drug After Gross Neglect by Hospital

An inquest jury today ruled that a cancer patient died as a result of manslaughter by gross neglect after she was mistakenly prescribed a lethal dose of chemotherapy.

Dr Jacqueline James admitted earlier this week at Bristol Coroner’s Court prescribing Anna McKenna, 56, quadruple the amount of a chemotherapy drug required for her bone marrow cancer treatment.

The mother-of-five was diagnosed with Myeloma in March 2006 and put on a four-day course of Idarubicin.

But instead of getting 60mg of the drug over the course of four days, she was given the same amount on each of the four days.


Pathologist Dr Hugh White, who carried out the post mortem, said in a statement: ‘Instead of being given 15mg over four days she was given four times this on each of the four days.

‘Records show she had a normal white blood cell count, but following the chemotherapy she had vomiting, diarrhoea and pain.’

Shortly after the error, another patient was also given an overdose.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Planners Ban Family From Their Own Barn Conversion… But Rule Holidaymakers Can Live There

When Jonathan and Emma Jones spent £100,000 converting an old barn, they thought they had created the perfect countryside home for their family.

Their dreams were shattered when they were banned from living in it by the local council.

But the couple were told they could still rent it out to holidaymakers — because it would ‘diversify the rural economy and support the tourist industry’.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Straw Joins Debate Alongside BNP

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has agreed to take part in a debate alongside the British National Party on the BBC’s Question Time programme.

Mr Straw told the BBC he would join a panel which will include BNP leader Nick Griffin, the Tories and Lib Dems, in London on 22 October.

He said the BNP were defeated when Labour “fought them hard”.

Labour has previously refused to debate with the BNP, and some activists have branded the policy change “a disgrace”.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had already said they would take part in the programme.

Speaking on the Politics Show in the North West, Mr Straw said: “Wherever we have had BNP problems in my area and when we have fought them hard, we’ve pulled back and won the seats back.

“And that’s what we have to do. We’ve got to make the argument for people and I am delighted to do so.”

Policy reviewed

The BBC had already confirmed that it may invite Mr Griffin, who was elected as an MEP in June, to appear on a future edition of the Question Time, saying it was bound by the rules to treat all political parties with “due impartiality”.

No BNP representatives have yet appeared on the BBC’s flagship panel show.

But the corporation reviewed its position following the party’s success in last June’s European elections, in which Mr Griffin was one of two BNP candidates to be elected as an MEP.

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

UK: They All But Called Me a Terrorist … Muslim Woman Hits Back Over Race Row With Hotel Couple

The Muslim woman whose complaint about two Christian hoteliers led police to charge them with a religiously aggravated offence is a British-born convert who turned to Islam a year ago.

Ericka Tazi, 60, told police she was offended by alleged remarks made about her faith by Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang during a heated exchange at the breakfast table when she was staying at their hotel.

As The Mail on Sunday revealed last week, the couple are now being prosecuted under public order laws originally aimed at targeting yobbish and abusive behaviour on the streets.


The pair are alleged to have said that Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was a warlord and that Muslim dress for women was a form of bondage.


Last night, Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge said: ‘Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang have been advised not to make any statement, but they deny saying or implying that Mrs Tazi was a terrorist.

‘In our view, this was a straightforward debate about religion, and we believe it is regrettable that the police have taken action over it.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: The Policewoman Branded an Illegal Childminder — for Looking After Her Colleague’s Toddler

A policewoman told last night how she was banned from looking after her colleague’s daughter because she was not a registered childminder.

Detective Constable Leanne Shepherd was ordered by the education watchdog Ofsted to end her private arrangement with her friend, DC Lucy Jarrett, or they would face prosecution.

The Thames Valley Police detectives — who gave birth within a few months of each other — share a job at Aylesbury Police Station in Buckinghamshire.

But the mothers, both 32, have now been told by Ofsted that surveillance teams will spy on their homes to make sure they are not continuing to care for each other’s daughter.

For the past two-and-a-half years, one looked after both of the girls while the other worked a ten-hour shift. Both worked two days a week.

But in July, after a complaint believed to be from a neighbour, DC Shepherd received a surprise visit from an Ofsted inspector, who accused her of running an ‘illegal childminding business’.

Rules state that friends cannot gain a ‘reward’ by looking after a child for more than two hours outside the child’s home unless they register with Ofsted and follow the same regulations as normal childminders.

Under the rules, reward is defined as ‘the supply of service or goods’ or ‘reciprocal arrangement’. The mothers were told their ‘reward’ was free care for their daughters.


She said: ‘The first month’s nursery fees were £260, which is a huge expense considering I only earn just over £900 a month. I cannot understand why the Government is punishing me for wanting to get back to work and pay tax.

‘Now I’ve applied for childcare benefits to pay the nursery fees. This ridiculous legislation needs to be reviewed. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of mothers wanting to do the best for their children who have no idea they are breaking the law.’

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

William Hague on the Lisbon Treaty: The EU Question That Goes Unanswered

In the final part of our series, William Hague tells Benedict Brogan exactly where the Tories stand on the Lisbon Treaty

For the next hour at least, I am to the right of William Hague. Or rather, he is specific about where I should sit. He likes to face right for interviews, as he does for most things. At the close of the Telegraph’s landmark series on Europe — he says he can’t remember one like it — the shadow foreign secretary is in table-thumping, “read my lips” mood about Conservative policy on the Lisbon Treaty: there will be a referendum.

Hang on. That should read: there will be a referendum, but only if the treaty is not ratified by all 26 other European countries before the general election. If, however, the treaty has been approved before polling day, then… you will just have to wait and see what happens.

That, in a paragraph, is the Tory line on this particular European issue. And if you find it confusing, you are not alone. It is a holding policy. Neither Mr Hague nor David Cameron will say what they will do if, as so many expect, ratification of the treaty is completed before we go to the polls next spring. This uncertainty hangs heavy over the party as it gathers in Manchester next week. He denies ever saying it, but the idea that Lisbon is a “ticking timebomb” under the Tories is a view shared privately by many of his colleagues.

All Mr Hague will say when we meet is that we should make no mistake about the leadership’s resolve. They promised a referendum, and democracy must be respected. If the treaty is ratified before the election, he and the Tory leader will issue an immediate statement setting out the way forward. It is being drafted even now.

When it comes, we will be left in no doubt that they mean business, he says. Anyone who assumes otherwise “is making a serious error”. To underscore the point, he reminds us that he and Mr Cameron defied the sceptics and delivered their pledge to create a new group in the European parliament.

To those who question his resolve, or Mr Cameron’s, he says: “People often say ‘do you really mean it?’. Well, yes, we do really mean it. We have shown we do mean what we say. We choose our words carefully and we do mean what we say.” He points to the decision to withdraw British MEPs from the dominant EPP block in the European parliament as proof that “we will do what we say we are going to do, despite scepticism that we can do things or that we mean things”.

Pulling out of the EPP to form a new group was a promise to the Tory Right that helped secure Mr Cameron the leadership in 2005. Far from marginalising the Tories in Strasbourg, they now have more influence, including a coordinator seat on the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, and the chairmanship of the Internal Market Committee.

Mr Hague wants proponents of the treaty to accept that ratification before Britain votes is no longer the certainty it once was. The Czech Republic has just launched a constitutional review of the treaty that may take six months at least; Poland has yet to ratify; and while a “yes” vote in next week’s Irish referendum seems likely, it is not guaranteed. It is for the promoters of the European constitution to say what they would do if at the 11th hour it is killed stone dead by a resounding “no”.

In a few months’ time, Mr Hague may find himself in charge of British diplomacy. British diplomats told the Telegraph last week that Conservative policy on Europe risked diminishing our influence on the world stage.

His reply is polite but terse: “Our policy won’t ever be made for the convenience of diplomats, let’s be clear about that, good hard-working public servants though they are.” But is the Foreign Office, as some suggest, culturally wedded to Europe? To a degree, yes.

“I wouldn’t want to exaggerate it because when you say the Foreign Office, you are talking about thousands of people. I have a very high opinion of the Foreign Office and of the Civil Service, because they are very responsive to ministers who know what they want.” Without direction, though, they can choose the path of “least resistance”, as happened with the Lisbon Treaty.

For the moment Mr Hague has no direction to offer on the questions that remain unanswered: will there be a referendum come what may? And if there is, will it boil down to a choice between staying in the EU or pulling out altogether? His opponents insist it would, and argue that the 26 other members would refuse to renegotiate a treaty in order to keep Britain happy, leaving a Conservative government with few options.

Mr Hague will not answer the question. Until we know the fate of the treaty, it is all too hypothetical. Such talk, he says, smacks of the kind of bullying that has forced Ireland to hold a second vote after rejecting the treaty last year.

“Clearly, there are quite a few uncertainties remaining. We hope we will come to a general election with the treaty unratified, of course we do. We think it is bad for Britain in the long term and we want to give the British people their say. The assumption that it’s all over now on the treaty is a rash one,” he says.

“We can only have one policy at a time, you know. This is our policy in this situation. The treaty has not been ratified by all 27 nations and in that situation a Conservative government elected at the next general election will hold as an immediate priority a referendum. I have asked the Foreign Office to have a referendum bill ready immediately after the election.” A referendum would be held “within a few months”.

Ireland votes next Friday, days before the Tory conference opens in Manchester. Mr Hague has a message for any colleagues planning trouble. “It is important to be clear. As we can only have one policy at a time, there will be no new announcement, no departure from that in Manchester, whatever the result of the Irish referendum.”

But if in the coming months all other obstacles are cleared and the treaty comes into force, Mr Cameron will not wait any longer. “We would set out what we would do in that contingency and it would be in our manifesto to seek a mandate for it. And those people who say, ‘Oh, well, let’s pack the whole thing in now’, would be making a serious error.”

What is evident is that he is unable to give a clear commitment that we will get a referendum, come what may. Whichever way you package the question, he bats it away. All he has is “a policy for the current circumstances”, adding: “I won’t concede defeat ahead of any subsequent events.”

But is he really prepared to see Europe dominate the first year of a Cameron administration, at a time when all energies should be focused on the economy and the public finances? “True, the prime focus of Conservative government must be a return to economic health. But that does not mean we do not have time for democracy. This is a democratic country whose people were promised a referendum. We will always make time for the people to have their say.”

Mr Hague has been giving thought to Europe’s wider predicament. Advocates say its value is as an economic block to rival the United States and China. But he points out that its share of global GDP is, by the Commission’s own admission, going to shrink over time. In a world increasingly made up of overlapping networks, the premium is on nations that encourage enterprise and educate their citizens.

But there is no safety in numbers. “We should never be bullied by this idea that because the world is going into powerful blocks, which it isn’t, that we have to give up more and more control of our own affairs. This is going to be an age of a networked world, of nations showing flexibility to adapt to changing trends, where democracy is highly valued by countries that have enjoyed it, and taking powers to remote institutions will only be resented by people.”

Take the European ruling that employers could have to compensate workers for sick time on holidays: “It might be a good idea or a bad idea but it should be decided here in Britain. That is the sort of freedom that we need to have back for the future.”

As Tory leader, Mr Hague championed resistance to further European integration and the single currency. Have his views evolved since then? Some whisper that in private he is far more hardline, an “outer” who would happily see the UK withdraw from the EU.

“No, that’s not the case, no, no, no, no, no. I’m a very straightforward person. I believe it is in our national interest to be in the EU but it’s not in our national interest to lose ever more of our democratic rights to run our own affairs to the EU. And there’s no contradiction between those things. In 1999 my slogan was ‘In Europe not run by Europe’ and that, in six words, is what I really do believe in.”

[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Paper: Coins Found Bearing Name of Joseph

Biblical patriarch ID’d in hieroglyphs, depiction of cow linked to pharoah’s dream

Egyptian coins carrying the name of Joseph, the biblical patriarch whose arrival in Egypt as a slave eventually provided salvation for his family during decades of drought across the Middle East, have been discovered in a cache of antique items shelved in boxes in a museum, according to a new report.

The report from the Middle East Media Research Institute said the coins with Joseph’s name and image were found in a pile of unsorted artifacts that had been stored at the Museum of Egypt.

MEMRI, which monitors and translates reports from Middle East publications and broadcasters, said the original report was in Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper in Cairo.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Avoiding the Unthinkable: Missile Defense is Israel’s “Secret” Weapon Against Iran’s Nuclear Weapons

by Barry Rubin

Remember the name Uzi Rubin because he might emerge as the most important individual in the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. Rubin is the former head of Israel’s missile defense program and now a defense consultant. He has developed the best alternative (or supplement) to blocking the dangers of a radical Islamist, genocidal-oriented, terrorist supporting, antisemitic regime having nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at Israel.

Briefly, Rubin and his colleagues have been developing a multi-layered defense system consisting of long-range Arrow missiles (developed in cooperation with the United States), medium-range David’s Sling interceptor missiles, and the short-range Iron Dome system aimed against the kind of rockets being fired by Hizballah and Hamas. By the time Iran gets nuclear weapons, and in some cases well before, these systems will all be operational.

None of these systems are perfect. For example, Iron Dome will not protect small areas of Israel closest to the Gaza border but will shield more populated places deeper inside Israel.

For those actually facing attack by rockets or missiles, what is most important is that the number of incoming warheads—and hence both casualties and damage—be reduced to the minimum possible number.

This would undermine the strategy used by Hizballah against Israel in 2006 and Hamas from the Gaza Strip more recently of mass rocket attacks as a means of sowing terror among civilians, disrupting life in Israel, and gaining strategic leverage. In addition, if Israel ever does attack Iran’s nuclear installation, these systems will reduce the effectiveness of retaliation by Iran’s client groups…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Cyprus: EU Court Condemns Turkey of Human Rights Violations

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 23 — The fourth section of the European Court of Human Rights issued yesterday its decisions on 18 cases Greek Cypriots brought against Turkey, condemning Ankara of human rights violation due to the continuing occupation of Cyprus’ northern part, which deprives them of their home and properties. All the cases, as CNA reports, rely in particular on Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) and most also on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life). The Court decided that it is not disputed that the applicants, who were arrested and remanded in custody by the so-called Nicosia district court in the Turkish occupied areas, were deprived of their liberty or that there was an ill-treatment by the so-called Turkish Cypriot authorities. Lawyer Achilleas Demetriades, who represented 7 of the 18 cases relating to property, said that the Court judgment will become final in three months, unless one of the parties involved submits an appeal to the Grand Chamber. He expects that Turkey, as in previous cases, will apply close to the end of the three-month period in a bid to delay the whole procedure. He anticipates also that the Court will reject the application, so the applicants and Turkey will present their observations on the compensation to be claimed. Most of the applications against Turkey were submitted before the ECHR in 1990. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Ankara does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

‘Last Chance for Engagement With Iran’

Israeli officials believe the revelation of a hitherto-hidden uranium enrichment facility near the Iranian holy city of Qom will spur the international community to act more forcefully to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

“The free world has reached the last opportunity for engagement with Iran. We believe many Western countries now see that the Iranian mask is slipping,” a senior official told the Post on Saturday night.

“But we don’t yet know if Russia and China understand this,” the official added, citing two countries that have disagreed with Israel and many Western states on the need for further sanctions.

Later on Saturday night, a senior Obama administration official revealed that the US and its five partners — France, Russia, the UK, Germany and China — plan to tell Teheran at a meeting in Geneva on Thursday that it must provide “unfettered access” to its previously secret Qom enrichment facility within weeks…

           — Hat tip: CB [Return to headlines]

Turkey, Armenia to Restore Ties

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will sign a deal to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia on 10 October.

Mr Erdogan said the deal would still need parliamentary approval in Turkey and Armenia after being signed by their foreign ministers.

The two countries remain deeply divided over the fate Armenians suffered under Turkish Ottoman rule.

A roadmap for normalising relations between them was agreed in April.

Anticipation of a diplomatic breakthrough had been growing ahead of a planned visit by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian to Turkey on 14 October.

He is due to attend the return leg of a World Cup qualifying football match between the two countries.

Turkey has resisted widespread calls for it to recognise the mass killing of Armenians during World War I as an act of genocide.

Armenia says 1.5 million people died. Turkey insists it was not genocide and that that figure is inflated.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: U.S. Chief Surprised by the Strength of Taliban Comeback

The top American commander in Afghanistan has admitted he was caught by surprise by the Taliban’s comeback this summer in the bloodiest fighting of the war so far.

General Stanley McChrystal said that despite bringing in thousands of extra U.S. troops, the conflict had gone ‘a little worse’ than expected.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

India: Yet Another Acquittal for a BJP Politician Behind Massacres Against Christians in Orissa

Manoj Pradhan, a member of the Hindu nationalist party and parliamentarian in Orissa, was acquitted of the murder of Kantheswar Digal, a 60-year-old Catholic from the village of Sankarakhole. During the trial eyewitnesses confirmed the allegations and Pradahn’s responsibility. The bishop of Bhubaneshwar, asks for trials to be transferred out of Orissa.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) — A member of the Hindu nationalist party, charged with the murder of a Christian in Orissa, has been acquitted because of lack of evidence. Manoj Pradhan, member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was accused of having helped to kill Kantheswar Digal, a 60-year-old Catholic from the village of Sankarakhole.

It is the latest in a series of acquittals obtained by the Hindu parliamentary party in Orissa, accused in several trials of being behind the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008. Pradhan was jailed last October, but this did not prevent the BJP candidate from being elected to the State Assembly in April. Pradhan’s judicial case is a political one and the chain of acquittals are being seen by most people as yet another sign of weakness of the justice system before the most extreme fringe of militant Hinduism.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Mgr. Raphael Cheenath, Bishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, said that the acquittal confirms “the lack of good will to help the victims and to establish justice.” The prelate calls for “reflection on the situation of the judiciary” and invites the “moving of trials to courts outside Orissa”.

The ruling came on the first anniversary of the disappearance of Kantheswar Digal. The 60-year-old Catholic from Sankarakhole had managed to flee to Bhubaneshwar, with his wife and the only son, after the first attacks against Christians. Concerned about the fate of his house, shop and small flock of goats, the work of a lifetime, he returned to the village in September. Family members report that he had no intention of staying in Sankarakhole because the situation was very tense, but as he was preparing to return to the capital of Orissa he ran into a group of Hindu extremists.

On September 24 Kantheswar was aboard a public bus when the fundamentalists, led by Pradhan, blocked the vehicle and kidnapped the 60 year-old dragging him with them into the forest. All under the eyes of many people in local rush hour traffic. Rajendra, the 28 year old son of Kantheswar, on discovering his father’s disappearance immediately reported it to police. But the young man says: “The police were not interested in the case. After 12 days his body was found 40 kilometers from our village, naked, his face scarred with acid and his sexual organ cut off”.

The news of Manoj Pradhan’s absolution has left Kantheswar’s family and members of the Christian community of Sankarakhole without words. The prosecution is appealing, but his son Rajendra has little hope. During the trial witnesses described the scene of the kidnapping and confirmed the presence of Pradahn. But their evidence failed to convince the Court to condemn the BJP politician.

(with the collaboration of Nirmala Carvalho)

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

Indonesia: American and Muslim, Band of Sufi Mystics Go Global

Band of adherents of Sufi mysticism becomes perennial hit during holy month of Ramadan.

DEPOK — With a discombobulating mix of blonde hair and ecstatic cries of “Allah, Allah!”(God!God!), the members of Islamic band Debu sway on stage at a strip mall on the edge of Indonesia’s capital.

Led by a clutch of American siblings, the band of adherents of Sufi Islamic mysticism have become a perennial hit during the holy month of Ramadan here in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

The band — who live communally under the tutelage of a 60-something California-born Sufi teacher in Jakarta’s southern sprawl.

A tour of Iran last year netted the band wildly popular TV appearances and an audience with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

“One of the things that totally blows them out of the water is that, okay, there are these Americans and the women are all in head scarves, singing in Indonesian,” said lead singer Mustafa Daood, a 28-year-old with an American accent and a blonde ponytail.

“Or in Turkey we’re singing in Turkish, from Indonesia, so they have no idea where to put us,” Daood said, laughing.

Asked what Ahmedinejad was like, Daood said that in their brief meeting the Iranian leader, who is reviled as a bogeyman by pro-Israeli media, seemed to be a “really sweet person”.

Debu, whose name means “dust” in the Indonesian language, formed in 2001 and play instruments ranging from the oud, a type of Middle Eastern lute, to tabla drums, flamenco guitar and electric bass.

That sound has seen the band sell around 200,000 albums in Indonesia and win their own daily show on national television before evening prayers during Ramadan, Daood said.

But while the 12-member band — which includes Indonesians and one Briton — sings about religious themes, it is cautious over being labelled religious.

Singing in nine languages including Indonesian, English, Arabic, Spanish, Turkish and Persian, the band says it is not about an Islam of dour moralising.

“‘Religious’ is like ‘oh, you need to pray five times a day, you need to…’,” Daood said, trailing off, “these are basic things that they teach kids in pre-school — you don’t need to sing about these things anymore.

“We try to reach them on a much deeper level, on a meaning level, as opposed to just a kind of ritualistic Islam.

“We have one of our songs which says: ‘If my path and my religion doesn’t fill this heart of mine with honey and illumination, I don’t want to waste my time.”

Before the band, Debu members say, there was the Shaykh.

Shaykh Fattaah is a bearded Californian who converted to Islam in his thirties and turned teacher in the esoteric ways of Sufism, a broad set of Islamic disciplines that aims to bring people to a closer experience of God.

The band, which includes four of the Shaykh’s children, is just part of a community that has followed him around the world.

The group of around 60 people moved from homes and trailers in the US state of New Mexico to the Dominican Republic and then, in a move they say was directly inspired by God, to Indonesia.

The group now lives in a housing complex at the city’s edge, where families gather together on the tiled floor of the Shaykh’s house to pray, study and eat. Costs are shared communally.

“Most of us are related, many of us. And if we’re not exactly blood related somehow, we’ve been together so long it’s like we consider it family,” percussionist Naseem Nahid, 32, said.

Although money can be short, “We just makes things work with what we’ve got and we never go without. We always have a good time,” she said.

The Shaykh himself is rarely seen, only occasionally descending from his room for communal meals. His influence instead carries through lyrics written for the band in a poetic style inspired by Sufi masters such as Rumi.

“Your wine of love intoxicates/ This state my mind cannot conceive/ So I can’t differentiate/ Between Adam and his wife Eve” — the lyrics may at first seem startlingly un-Islamic.

But the band says it is all firmly within the Sufi tradition and part of efforts to break Islam away from mere ritual.

The spiritual message is also, according to 30-year-old bassist Ali Mujahid, part of the band’s push to go from being a Ramadan act to mainstream, global success.

“(Many Muslims) tend to take ‘Islamic’ and box it up and use it on Fridays and Ramadan,” Mujahid said.

“Our message from the music and the message from the poetry is that we want (Islam) to be daily, it’s a daily thing.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia: More Than 50,000 Have Fled to Kenya Since Start of 2009

More than 50,000 Somali refugees have fled from the worse humanitarian crisis that Somalia has seen in recent years finding refuge in Kenya said UNHCR. It noted that in 2009, an average of an average of almost 6500 people corssed the border toward the refugee camps in northern Kenya. The UN complains that the rekindling of the conflict between government and insurgency is to blame. The overcrowded refugee camp at Dadaab hosts 280,000 people and in the recent few weeks, some refugees have been moved to other camps. The process must be ended quickly because the weather is expected to turn toward rainy in the next few weeks in northern Kenya. “We fear — says a note — that the entire area of Dadaab might be flooded in the next few weeks , creating a serious threat to the health of the refugees”. UNHCR stressed that living conditions for the refugees have been terrible. As of May over 250,000 Somalis have left Mogadishu, liviing in conditions that the UN describes “squallid”.[AB]

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

Latin America

Brazil Rejects Honduran Ultimatum

Brazil says it will not comply with a demand from interim authorities in Honduras to define the status of ousted leader Manuel Zelaya within 10 days.

Mr Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa after sneaking back into the country on Monday.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the embassy was protected by international law.

Meanwhile the interim government denied entry to a group of four diplomats seeking to mediate in the crisis.

The group, some of whom were representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), had been sent to lay the groundwork for mediation efforts between the two sides.

The OAS suspended Honduras in July after Mr Zelaya was ousted, and government spokesman Rene Zapeda told the Associated Pres the diplomats’ visas were revoked in retaliation for this.

‘Toxic gas’

Speaking at a South America-Africa summit in Venezuela, President Lula demanded an apology from interim leader Roberto Micheletti for the demand.

“Brazil will not comply with an ultimatum from a government of coup mongers,” he said.

Earlier, a spokesman for Mr Micheletti said Brazil should “immediately take measures to ensure that Mr Zelaya stops using the protection offered by the diplomatic mission to instigate violence in Honduras”.

The interim government said it would take unspecified “additional measures” if Mr Zelaya’s status was not defined within 10 days.

Hundreds of soldiers and riot police have surrounded the Brazilian embassy since Mr Zelaya’s arrival there.

But Mr Micheletti has said he has no plans to storm the embassy and arrest Mr Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya has accused the interim government of violating the rights of those inside the embassy by pumping toxic gas into the building.

But the Red Cross spokesman would not confirm or deny the deposed president’s allegations.

The UN Security Council has called on Honduras’ interim government to “cease harassing” the Brazilian embassy.

Mr Zelaya was driven out of Honduras at the end of June, after he announced plans to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

His opponents said the move was unconstitutional and was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, so paving the way for Mr Zelaya’s possible re-election. He has denied this.

A new presidential election is planned for November.

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

Venezuela Summit Criticises West

The leaders of Libya and Venezuela have called on Africa and South America to create a new alliance to counter Western dominance.

They were speaking at the second South America-Africa (ASA) summit held in the Venezuelan island of Margarita, attended by nearly 30 leaders.

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez called on the two continents to unite to secure prosperity for future generations.

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi said he was in favour of a military-style pact.

The summit agenda covers hunger in Africa, the global economic crisis, energy, and the creation of a joint investment fund between Africa and South America.

The leaders agreed to launch a new development bank for South America, the Banco del Sur, with an initial start up investment of $20bn.

Nato of the South

President Chavez also offered to create a “South-South bank” with African nations in the future.

During his address at the summit, Col Gaddafi said Western countries wanted to hold on to their power.

“When they had the chance to help us, they treated us like animals, destroyed our land. Now we have to fight to build our own power.”

Col Gaddafi proposed a defence alliance of South American and African nations, calling it “a Nato of the South”.

The political crisis in Honduras is expected to figure prominently at the meeting, especially in bilateral talks between the Latin American leaders.

Other attending leaders include Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.

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


Anti-Semitism May be Spurring Wave of Aliyah From Sweden

2009 may prove to be a peak year for immigration from Sweden, according to Jewish and Christian Zionist officials involved in facilitating this immigration, which they say may be connected with anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred in Sweden.

“We are seeing an upward trend in interest in aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Sweden, possibly owing in part at least to various attacks on Jews,” said Howard Flower, director of aliyah for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

According to Aryeh Jacobson, who represents the Jewish Agency in Sweden, 24 immigrants from Sweden finalized their aliyah during the first eight months of 2009 — exceeding the total of 16 during all of 2008. This figure also tops the average number of Swedish immigrants per year, totaling 19 new arrivals.

Flower, who heads the Russian branch of the Evangelical Zionist body from a permanent office in St. Petersburg, Russia, describes the anti-Israeli protests in Malmo in March surrounding a tennis match between Israeli and Swedish players as a watershed occurrence.

“There is suspicion that there maybe an increase in aliyah because of the events in Malmo,” said Flower, “but also because of other attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in Sweden and their non-Muslim Swedish sympathizers.”

Swedish police arrested more than 100 people in March at violent riots outside the arena where Sweden and Israel played in the Davis Cup. The matches were played without spectators because of the riots, which carried anti-Semitic overtones.

Flower’s organization has for several years been handling and subsidizing aliyah flights from Scandinavia and facilitating the arrival of Scandinavian Jews to Israel for the Jewish Agency, which does not have permanent staff of its own in that part of the world.

“In Malmo, it is not a good idea to walk with a skull cap or wear a Star of David in the street,” said Raffi Zender, a prospective new immigrant from the city who said the riots and “the atmosphere they represented” were “an important part” of his decision to leave, as well as some of his friends.

Zender — whose two older sisters immigrated to Israel over the past few years — added this month’s issue of the community’s publication focuses on anti-Semitism, and whether Malmo Jews should hide their Jewishness or advertise it in protest of the current situation.

Jacobson, the emissary for Bnei Akiva to Scandinavia ? who also represents the Jewish Agency ? says that some aliyah applicants from 2009 have already immigrated to Israel while others are expected to come within weeks.

The Jewish population of Sweden numbers roughly 18,000 people. Stockholm has the largest community, but Malmo with its 1,000-strong community is also an important center. Gothenburg, Borås, Helsingborg, Lund, and Uppsala also have Jewish communities.

In Sweden, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has taken on the Jewish Agency’s traditional role, and is currently organizing and paying in full for immigrant flights to Israel.

The Christian Zionist organization allows immigrants from Sweden to take aboard 75 kilograms of luggage instead of the usual 20 kilograms limit. The flights also offer certified kosher meals ? a rare commodity in Sweden. People from distant towns receive free boarding near the international airport while waiting for the flight to Israel.

“Since WWII, the Jews have enjoyed safety in Sweden,” says Flower, the organization’s aliyah manager. “But, it seems that temporarily, maybe now it is less pleasant for some Jews in Sweden, and young people are leading the way back to Israel.”

But Flower recognizes that some community members and leaders have a less alarmist view of the scale of anti-Israeli sentiment in Sweden, and the degree to which it affects the lives of Jews. “The Jewish community is very diversified and just about every opinion about this issue can be found in its spectrum of views,” he said.

Flower also noted that the recent scandalous publication of an article which accuses Israeli soldiers of killing Palestinians and harvesting their organs may push others to leave as well.

“People are not telling me that they decided to come to Israel from Sweden because of the riots in Malmo or anti-Israel sentiments,” said Jacobson, the 28-year-old son of veteran immigrants from Sweden who are now living in Jerusalem. Speaking from his office in Gothenburg, he added: “They tell me they wanted to come to Israel all along, and are now more confident about their decision.”

During Operation Cast Lead, Sweden saw a number of pro-Palestinian rallies, and an attempt to set fire to a synagogue. “The main voice heard in the media was the Palestinians and the images came from Al Jazeera,” Jacobson said. “What remained for the average Swede was to conjure up anti-Semitic hatred and go on radio talk shows to tell listeners that Jewish law preaches to kill anyone who isn’t Jewish.”

Jacobson nonetheless noted that Jews in Gothenburg “do not suffer too many expressions of anti-Semitism,” but added this may be connected to the fact that “they do not show their Jewishness.”

Two weeks passed before paramedic Raffi Zender from Malmo, Sweden, received permission to tell Israeli media about his close encounter with rowing champion Yasmin Feingold, immediately after her near-fatal drowning in the Yarkon Stream in May. But by then, the press had lost interest.

Zender, who will be making aliyah to Israel in a few weeks, was a paramedic for Magen David Adom while attending a Bnei Akiva program in Israel. He was the first paramedic to reach Feingold, a medal-winning athlete who inhaled the stream’s polluted water after flipping over with her kayak. But MDA officials allowed Zender to tell the story only 14 days later.

“She was unconscious and I gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until she was taken away,” he recalls, telling the story to the media for the first time. “There was polluted water coming out of her mouth and no one there knew whether she would survive.”

Onlookers used their cellular phones to record videos of Feingold as she was drowning, explaining later they were afraid to jump in to rescue her because of the pollution, which in 1997 caused the death of three people who inhaled the water in the Maccabiah bridge collapse.

She fully recovered after being rescued by a passerby, Avi Toibin, 62, who leaped into the stream’s water ? now significantly detoxified — almost as soon as he saw her, suffering no medical problems as a result of the exposure.

Zender, 20 whose mother is Israeli and who speaks fluent Hebrew, says he wasn’t worried about coming into contact with the water on Feingold’s mouth. “I wasn’t aware of the pollution issue at the time. I would have jumped in to rescue her had I seen her drowning without understanding the problem at all.”

           — Hat tip: Steen [Return to headlines]

British Ambassador Calls for Less Discrimination in Romania

British Ambassador to Romania Robin Barnett said today (Weds) a common fight against discrimination was needed to stop it against gays, Gypsies and the disabled.

Barnett took part in the release of results of an INSOMAR poll showing that gay people, the disabled, the HIV/AIDS infected and Gypsies were the groups most discriminated against by Romanians.

Barnett said people who were discriminated against had a serious problem but everyone had a right to life and freedom.

The survey, made for the National Council for Fighting against Discrimination, showed that 90.5 per cent of the interviewed didn’t want a family member to marry a homosexual person, 84.1 per cent didn’t want a family member to marry an AIDS-infected person and 53.3 per cent said didn’t want a close relative to marry a Gypsy.

Homosexuals are not wanted as friends (70.9 per cent), neighbours (54 per cent) or work colleagues (54 per cent).

Thirty-eight per cent said they wouldn’t want to have a Gypsy as a friend, 29.9 per cent as a neighbour and 25 per cent as a work colleague.

Council President Roxana Truinea said tolerance of Gypsies had risen from 43 per cent in 2008 to 57 per cent in 2009.

The survey questioned 1,201 persons in 44 urban localities and 52 rural areas.

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

Cyprus: Turkey Must Assume Responsibility for Illegals

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, SEPTEMBER 23 — Turkey must undertake its responsibilities on the issue of illegal immigration to Cyprus, Interior Minister, Neoclis Silikiotis, was quoted as saying by Cyprus Weekly News. During the EU Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Brussels the minister presented evidence confirming that 40% of illegal immigrants who arrive in the government controlled areas come from Turkey through illegal ports. In statements at Larnaca airport, after attending the Council, Sylikiotis said the ministers discussed issues concerning migration and asylum, the June Council conclusions and ways to implement them. “One of the issues discussed was forging re-entry agreements between the EU and countries such as Libya and Turkey, which are transit points to the EU for economic and illegal immigrants”, Sylikiotis said. Vice President of the European Commission, Jacque Barrot and Sweden’s Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Tobias Billstrom, are scheduling a visit to Ankara by the end of the year to discuss this issue. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Spain: An Abortion Every Half Hour Among Teenagers

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 24 — Spain is at the top of the list of European countries for the abortion rate among minors below the age of 20, according to a report from the Institute of Family Policy (IPF), based on data from the national statistics institute, Eurostat and the Ministry of Health. Every 18 minutes a teenager gets pregnant, adding up to a total of 29,000 pregnancies per year, half of which, 53%, ends in an abortion. “This means that a pregnant adolescent gets an abortion every half-hour”, IPF sources assured to ANSAmed. In the ten years between 1996 and 2007, cases of adolescent pregnancies in Spain increased by 10,000, while the European Union in total registered a decrease of 50,000 for the same period. In Spain, in 1996, the abortion rate for young women under the age of 20 was 4%, increasing to 7.2% in 2007. There were 15,307 voluntary interruptions of pregnancies in this age range in 2007, equal to 53% of the pregnant teenagers; about 500 of the abortions involved minors of 15 years old. In the previous decade, according to IPF, the percentage of Spanish minors that chose to undergo voluntary interruption of pregnancy was 40%, the same as the average for other European countries. A figure that indicates the failure of the education policy aimed at preventing abortions, according to IPF, which highlighted the fact that the increase in teenage abortions among adolescents is also due to the “permissiveness of current legislation”. The legislation permits abortion in three cases: serious risk of deformation of the foetus, rape or health or mental risks to the mother, the latter of which is the motivation behind 98% of abortions. The reform law approved by the Zapatero government and Parliamentary examination fixed time limitations for the first time. It legalises abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, with a possible increase to 22 in cases of foetal deformation or physical or mental risks for the mother, as well as allowing for abortion among minors from 16 to 18 years of age without their parents consent. The Council of State in recent days expressed a positive judgement on the constitutionality of the law, recommending that parents “are listened to” and consulted, even if the final word rests with the minor. Against the abortion reform and in defence of the right to life, bishops have organised a large demonstration that will take place in Madrid on October 17. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Spain Unveils Abortion Law Change

Spain’s socialist government has formally unveiled plans to liberalise the country’s abortion law.

Under the proposal approved by the cabinet, abortion would be made available on demand for the first time.

Girls as young as 16 would be allowed to terminate a pregnancy without parental consent.

Ministers say it is about “rights and respect” for women. The conservative opposition says young people may see abortion as a form of contraception.

Spain’s current law allows a pregnancy to be terminated in three circumstances — in the aftermath of a rape, when a foetus shows genetic defects, and when the health of the pregnant woman is at risk.

The government’s proposal is that abortion should be made available on demand during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy.

Ideological clash

The opposition has vowed to challenge the bill, arguing that it does not have broad support in Spanish society.

The Catholic Church also opposes any change in the law, and has called on its followers to join an anti-abortion rally in Madrid next month.

This is the latest ideological clash between Spain’s Catholic right and a left-wing government, which has already legalised gay marriage and made it easier to get divorced.

The existing abortion law was passed in 1985 — a decade after the death of General Franco.

On paper, it appears strict. But in practice, many Spanish women have been able to secure abortions by arguing that pregnancy was endangering their mental health.

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


The Big Nuclear Problem

Nuclear disarmament, like most forms of disarmament, remains a pacifist vision. Most countries who have weapons are willing to endorse it, but only fools would actually practice it. That is because every weapon is also a deterrent, and we live in a world in which deterrents remain necessary. While nuclear weapons are horrifying, they are only horrifying when they are used. Which means disarmament is primarily an issue for those who would use them, or pass them along to those who would.

Nuclear weapons, like any other weapons, are not universally bad. They are however quite bad in the hands of a homicidal maniac. Not even the most passionate Second Amendment defender would suggest that a serial killer has the right to own a machine gun. Serial killer states in turn have no right to own nuclear weapons, because only in their hands are nuclear weapons a true threat. Such states who develop nuclear weapons are like a serial killer stockpiling weapons in his attic. It’s only a matter of time before those weapons will be used.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Lost Art of Handwriting

“My generation was schooled in good handwriting, and we spent the first months of elementary school learning to make the strokes of letters. The exercise was later held to be obtuse and repressive but it taught us to keep our wrists steady as we used our pens to form letters rounded and plump on one side and finely drawn on the other. Well, not always — because the inkwells, with which we soiled our desks, notebooks, fingers and clothing, would often produce a foul sludge that stuck to the pen and took 10 minutes of mucky contortions to clean.

The crisis began with the advent of the ballpoint pen. Early ballpoints were also very messy and if, immediately after writing, you ran your finger over the last few words, a smudge inevitably appeared. And people no longer felt much interest in writing well, since handwriting, when produced with a ballpoint, even a clean one, no longer had soul, style or personality.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Muslim Wolf at Feminism’s Door — Honor Killings

More than 5000 women are victims of honor killings each year. Most of those women are Muslim, and while most of them are killed in Muslim countries— more and more of them are being killed in Europe, Canada and America. A 2007 study by Dr. Amin Muhammad and Dr. Sujay Patel in Canada’s Memorial Hospital observed that honor killing spreads when those whose who practice it emigrate to Western countries.

But why speak of countries under medieval Islamic laws, when you can speak of the “Free West”. A French survey found that 77 percent of the women who wear Hijabs did so because of threats by Islamist groups. 77 percent. France. We are not speaking about some backward little Third World nation where the tribal elders decide what goes. We are speaking of Paris, the glittering city of lights, the capital of art and music. The birthplace of Republican Europe.

Rather than confront the threat to women posed by Islamic law, feminist authors like Naomi Wolf are instead claiming that the wolf is really a misunderstood poodle. They have tried to transform the Hijab into a statement of Muslim feminism, while completing ignoring the fact that the Hijab only exists because Islamic law views all of a woman as obscene and treats the woman’s presence in the public sphere as a source of Fitna and Zina, Discord and Immorality, that incites men to do immoral things, including rape her. Under Islam the woman is a threat to men that can only be rendered safe for men by fully covering her up and keeping her apart from men as much as possible.

What does Naomi Wolf think is an urgent issue? Based on her blog, it isn’t women, but Muslim men. Specifically defending the sort of Muslim men who kill women who don’t wear the veil. Wolf’s blog is filled with posts fulminating against Guantanamo Bay and the plight of the Taliban and assorted other Islamists imprisoned there. The same men who if given a chance would have a knife to her neck in minutes.

This spring in Pakistan’s Sindh province alone, 40 honor killings took place. One woman took refuge in a police station, only to be handed over to her brother who killed her. A 14 year old girl was burned to death. Two women had acid poured on them after being raped. Two women had their noses chopped off for violating family honor. The Sindh province had been overrun by the Taliban.

Rather than writing about any of these women, Naomi Wolf instead wrote demanding to know “What Happened to Mohamed al-Hanashi?” Her article describes Mohamed al-Hanashi as “a young man” who could shed light on many crimes. Not the crimes of Islamist terrorists, but the crimes of the US in detaining in Islamist terrorists. At no point in time throughout the article does Naomi Wolf mention that Mohamed al-Hanashi was a member of the Taliban. The same Taliban which mandated complete covering for women, forbade women to be treated by male doctors or to get an education.

In April 2009, Sitara Achakzai, a leading women’s rights activist in Afghanistan, was murdered by the Taliban because she supported rights for women. 3 days later, Naomi Wolf did not write about her. Instead she wrote an article claiming that the American people had “blood on their hands” over Gitmo and demanded that we hold Nuremberg Trials to determine who gave the order to “torture” captured Al Queda and Taliban terrorists in order to gain information about future attacks against America.

Unfortunately, Naomi Wolf, like most modern liberal feminists had no interest in defending those women, only in defending their abusers. While women were being murdered by the Taliban, she sweated blood and tears to defend members of the Taliban. Finally in August, Naomi Wolf went to a Muslim country, put on a headscarf and described how it made her feel free. That seems like a reasonable preparation for the sort of environment that Naomi Wolf and much of the feminist movement are helping to create for women in the West.

[Return to headlines]

One thought on “Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/27/2009

  1. According to the latest polls, the Treaty of Lisbon will coast to an easy victory in next week’s replay of the Irish referendum.

    I think that “poll” is more likely an attempt to condition the electorate than a real poll.

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