Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/9/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/9/2009An alliance of 136 local councilors in Ireland has been formed to oppose the Lisbon Treaty, asserting that if it is passed, the influence of local government in Ireland will be reduced or eliminated.

In other news, Sen. Max Baucus’ version of the Obamacare bill would make buying health insurance mandatory for all Americans, with a fine of up to $3,800 for those who fail to comply.

Thanks to 4Symbols, A Greek Friend, Barry Rubin, Fausta, Fjordman, Israel Matzav, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, REP, Sean O’Brian, TB, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
A Year After Financial Crisis, The Consumer Economy is Dead
Commercial Real Estate Tsunami Remains on Track, Attorney Says
UN Wants New Global Currency to Replace Dollar
Communist Sympathizer Introduced Top Adviser?
IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards] Implicated in 9/11, According to Class-Action Case in New York Federal Court
New Jersey Mosque Organizes National Prayer Gathering
Obama to Seal US-UN Relationship
Obama is Fast Losing White Voters’ Support
Obama Set to Force Obamacare While His Eligibility Trial Date Set?
Red Flag to Fly Over White House
Shocker! Judge Orders Trial on Eligibility Issue
Some Politically Incorrect Observations
Tennessee Grand Jury Joins DOJ in Obstructing Justice
The Establishment Media’s Temper Tantrum
Training Kids to be Obama’s Servants
Up to $3,800 Fine for Failure Get Health Insurance
Van Jones: Obama’s Alter Ego
Watch Chilling Video on Islamic Threat in U.S. — Free!
‘We Need to Kill’ Christian Girl
What Van Jones Tells US About President Obama
Europe and the EU
Danish Far-Right Launches Anti-Mosque Campaign
‘Dutch-Speaking Moroccans the Most Criminal’
France to Use Swine Flu to Gut Laws: Report
Germany to Lisbon
German Lower House Passes EU Treaty Law
Half of EU Electronic Websites Breaking Rules
Ireland: Alliance of 136 Councillors Urges Rejection of Treaty
Student Fined for Israel Flag in Germany
UK: ‘Doctors Told Me it Was Against the Rules to Save My Premature Baby’
UK: Farage Calls for No Vote in Referendum
North Africa
Africa MPs Cheer Lockerbie Bomber
Israel and the Palestinians
Amidror: Ashkelon Rocket Warnings Were Ignored
Beersheba Police Arrest Palestinian on Suspicion of Indecent Act on 14-Yr-Old
IDF Dismantles Two Explosive Devices Planted Along Gaza Fence
Keeping Israel on the Defensive as Long as Possible With Lie After Lie
Sa’ar to British MPs: Schools Will Continue to be Built in W. Bank
The Rise of Israel’s Military Rabbis
Three Left Wing Myths About Israel
UN Chief: Continued Settlement Construction is “Contrary to Int’l Law”
Middle East
“Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign Renews Call to Boycott Dutch and Danish Products
All Jordanians Support the “Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign
‘Israel Link’ In Arctic Sea Case
Jonathan Spyer: A New, Old and Ugly Spirit
Saudi Arabia Cooperating With Israel
South Asia
Afghan Sceptics Alarm NATO Chief
Australia — Pacific
Australia to Probe E Timor Deaths
Police Assaulted, Riot Avoided in Sydney’s West
Latin America
Brazil: Tourist Jailed for Kissing Daughter on Beach
The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela
Uruguay Allows Same-Sex Adoption
Denmark: Burmese Quota Refugees Favoured Over Iraqis

Financial Crisis

A Year After Financial Crisis, The Consumer Economy is Dead

The first faint signs that the U.S. economy may be clawing its way back from the worst recession since the Great Depression are only now starting to appear, a year after the panic began. Similar indications are sprouting in Europe, China and Japan.

Still, economists concur that a quarter-century of economic growth fueled by cheap credit is over. Many analysts also think that an extended period of slow job growth and suppressed wage growth will keep consumers — and the businesses that sell to them — in the dumps for years.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Commercial Real Estate Tsunami Remains on Track, Attorney Says

Think the worst is over and that the economy is headed for an unbounded rebound?

Keith Mullen says think again.

The 53-year-old co-chairman of Winstead PC’s financial services industry group and a leading Dallas attorney when it comes to the financial affairs of commercial real estate, is warning of impending disaster for real estate lenders waiting for the tide to turn.

“The tsunami is still coming our way,” says Mullen, who knows about real estate carnage from his legal experience in the late 1980s. “Workouts are coming, perhaps in the fourth quarter. If not then, the first quarter for sure.”

Thursday, he’s meeting with two of the country’s largest players in real estate — a mammoth retirement fund and a huge national bank — seeking his take on what lies ahead.

He’ll tell them this is about as grim as it gets. Why? Capital markets are frozen solid. Venture money is stuck on the sidelines waiting for values to plunge. Bank regulators are about to move in and force write-downs. Nonbank lenders will have to follow suit, he predicts.

Chiming in

Longtime real estate developer Craig Hall agrees: “In my 42 years in business, I have never seen a more challenging time, and that says a lot after having gone through the 1980s.”

What comes next, Mullen says, may be similar to the fire sale created by the Resolution Trust Corp., which caused real estate values to tank but wiped overvalued property off the market. Unfortunately, that’s probably what has to happen.

“A fire sale would be short-term pain with a long-term gain,” Mullen says, likening it to a brush fire in a forest. “You know spring is going to come, and you’re going to get real green shoots as opposed to this long, drawn-out winter.

“There’s some thinking that you should take your hits. Then you can start to heal vs. water torture over the next several years. Ultimately, we’ll work through this. But we have a lot of pain coming.”

Profits ahead

This is perversely good news for Mullen’s practice.

His group serves as outside counsel for one of the three largest apartment lenders in the country. That lender is gearing up for a massive write-down of nonperforming loans by hiring 20 workout specialists, he says. That’s because it expects its portfolio of 200 troubled loans to mount to as many as 500 in the next 12 months.

Lawyer confidentiality prevents him from naming names.

A major regional bank has “blown up” its commercial loan origination group, transferring the survivors to its workout group, he says.

“Banks already have so much commercial real estate on their books and values have dropped so far that it will severely restrict how many loans they can make next year,” Mullen says. “I think it’s at least until 2012 [before the market recovers]. And it could be longer.”

Nationwide, default rates are up and getting worse. “Fitch, the rating agency, recently put 17 percent of all CMBS [commercial mortgage-backed securities] loans on its watch list,” Mullen says. “We’re about to get slammed. Congress and the public may not have the appetite for doing a commercial real estate bailout right now.”

The only slightly positive thing Mullen had to say was that things are better here than anywhere else.

Blogging for clients

To keep clients informed and bring in new ones, Mullen has built a blog:

Five months ago, the site drew 400 unique visitors a month. Last month, it attracted nearly 3,000, including the general counsel for investments for a major life insurance company, a multitude of workout specialists and media from around the world.

“It helps when someone asks what we know about workouts, and we can say, ‘We have 90-plus postings about workouts. Go read them,’ “ Mullen says. “I need to give information away so they will hire me for the really difficult things that deserve my $425-an-hour expertise.”

He’s experimenting with Twitter postings, but it’s too early to know whether that will take hold.

He watches Google Reader, blogs, news sites and Twitter looking for companies, trends and phrases. He’s teaching clients how to do it, too.

This hot topic, he fears, is about to become a firestorm.

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

UN Wants New Global Currency to Replace Dollar

The dollar should be replaced with a global currency, the United Nations has said, proposing the biggest overhaul of the world’s monetary system since the Second World War.

In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.

It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world’s reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.

Is this the death of the dollar?

China calls for the reign of the dollar to endAlthough a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion.

In essence, the report calls for a new Bretton Woods-style system of managed international exchange rates, meaning central banks would be forced to intervene and either support or push down their currencies depending on how the rest of the world economy is behaving.

The proposals would also imply that surplus nations such as China and Germany should stimulate their economies further in order to cut their own imbalances, rather than, as in the present system, deficit nations such as the UK and US having to take the main burden of readjustment.

“Replacing the dollar with an artificial currency would solve some of the problems related to the potential of countries running large deficits and would help stability,” said Detlef Kotte, one of the report’s authors. “But you will also need a system of managed exchange rates. Countries should keep real exchange rates [adjusted for inflation] stable. Central banks would have to intervene and if not they would have to be told to do so by a multilateral institution such as the International Monetary Fund.”

The proposals, included in UNCTAD’s annual Trade and Development Report , amount to the most radical suggestions for redesigning the global monetary system.

Although many economists have pointed out that the economic crisis owed more to the malfunctioning of the post-Bretton Woods system, until now no major institution, including the G20 , has come up with an alternative.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]


Communist Sympathizer Introduced Top Adviser?

Valerie Jarrett’s family worked closely with Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis

NEW YORK — Was Valerie Jarrett, one of President Obama’s closest advisers, introduced to the president’s political circles by her father-in-law, a communist sympathizer who worked with the radical Obama mentor Frank Marshall Davis?

Jarrett reportedly interviewed Obama’s former environmental adviser Van Jones for his White House position from which he resigned this past weekend. WND exposed Jones is an admitted black nationalist and radical communist.

Jarrett defended Jones after his appointment in March. She stated in an interview that the White House staff were “so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House.”

“We were watching him, uh, really, for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland. And all the creative ideas he has. And so now, we have captured that. And we have all that energy in the White House,” she said.

In the vicinity of Oakland, Calif., Jones founded several radical organizations, including the communist revolutionary organization Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, as well as the socialist-oriented Ella Baker Human Rights Center.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards] Implicated in 9/11, According to Class-Action Case in New York Federal Court

Mohsen Sazegara, a founder of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) who has become an opponent of the regime, told the Voice of America’s Newstalk program minutes ago that a class-action suit filed before New York Federal Court Judge George Daniels contends that the IRGC was implicated in the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Sazegara is a regular guest on the Newstalk show on Wednesday nights. Speaking by satellite from New York, he said that he was in the city to testify before the court as an Iran expert. The call-action suit has been filed by six family members of victims of the 9/11 tragedy and comes after years of independent investigation by the lawyers involved in the successful class-action suit against cigarette manufacturers. It alleges that the IRGC had been in contact with Al-Qaeda since the mid-1990s and aided and abetted the operation that brought down the Twin Towers and killed thousands.

Sazegara, currently the head of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, said that even he had been astonished by the documents in the independent investigation and that he had been given permission by the court to reveal the news, which has not been reported in any other media outlet thus far.

Alireza Nourizadeh, the other regular guest on the show and the director of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London, said, ‘I have no doubt that there is a close relationship between the Islamic Republic — the IRGC and its intelligence branch — and part of Al-Qaeda, particularly Al-Zawahiri’s wing.’

The full program can be viewed on Windows Media Player or Real Player.

The following is a transcript of the section in which Sazegara speaks about the case against the IRGC and Nourizadeh provides additional information. It begins at the 10:30 mark.

Host Jamshid Chalangi:

Mr. Sazegara, greetings to you in New York.

Mohsen Sazegara:

I also send my greetings to you, Mr. Nourizadeh, and all the dear viewers.

Host Jamshid Chalangi:

You’ve gone to New York just before the anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. Is this a private visit?

Mohsen Sazegara:

It has to do with a sensitive issue. A group of prominent lawyers who, several years ago, won a case against cigarette makers who will have to pay billions of dollars to thirty states over a 20-year period… these lawyers have represented six family members of 9/11 victims since 2002. They carried out an investigation which was completed recently, after seven years. They filed a suit before New York Federal Judge George W. Daniels, who decided that the evidence was sufficient for the case to be pursued.

According to this case… I’m in a daze over it… the Iranian regime, more exactly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was in contact with Al-Qaeda from the mid-1990s, and this contact was maintained after September 11. I’m considered an expert on Iran and, in this capacity, the judge wants to question me. But I have to say that I never personally imagined such evidence… that the IRGC not only provided logistical and financial help to Al-Qaeda, but that it engaged in broad cooperation with it.

I can’t judge this matter, of course, at this time. The American judicial system is independent, and once the trial begins in two or three weeks, the judge will be able to pass a verdict. But the strange thing is that the 9/11 commission report, that was subsequently published as a book, mentions a third country without naming it on pages 240 and 241 and says that eight of the 12 perpetrators of 9/11 traveled to that country. If the judge rules that that third country was Iran, then we must expect there to be a clamor in the US.

The Bush administration will be put under question, because we must accept that the American intelligence services possibly knew that the IRGC and the Iranian regime were involved in some way and that nothing was said because they didn’t want to enter a conflict with Iran or attack the country. I personally can’t make any judgment now, but I can say one thing. The IRGC, with complete irresponsibility and lack of wisdom, as if it owned the country, has become such a leviathan, and has imperiled the future of a nation and country. It has taken and is still taking such dangerous action. It just boggles the mind. […]

           — Hat tip: VH [Return to headlines]

New Jersey Mosque Organizes National Prayer Gathering

A mosque in Elizabeth, Dar-ul-Islam, is spearheading a national prayer gathering in Washington that organizers are billing as the first event of its kind — organized prayer for tens of thousands of Muslims outside the U.S. Capitol.

The event will not include political speeches or placards, just prayer, said Hassen Abdellah, president of Dar-ul-Islam and a main organizer of the event, which is scheduled for Sept. 25.

“Most of the time, when Muslims go to Washington D.C., they go there to protest some type of event,” Abdellah said. “This is not a protest. Never has the Islamic community prayed on Capitol Hill for the soul of America. We’re Americans. We need to change the face of Islam so people don’t feel every Muslim believes America is ‘the great Satan,’ because we love Amer-ica.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama to Seal US-UN Relationship

Barack Obama will cement the new co-operative relationship between the US and the United Nations this month when he becomes the first American president to chair its 15-member Security Council.

The topic for the summit-level session of the council on September 24 is nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament — one of several global challenges that the US now wants to see addressed at a multinational level.

“The council has a very important role to play in preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons, and it’s the world’s principal body for dealing with global security cooperation,” Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, said last week.

[Comment from JD: Prediction: Watch for Obama to promote the idea that America should lead by example and begin the process of unilateral disarmament.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Obama is Fast Losing White Voters’ Support

His approval ratings with the crucial bloc have plunged since April. Strategists say the healthcare debate is largely to blame, but that’s not the only reason.

Reporting from Washington — After a summer of healthcare battles and sliding approval ratings for President Obama, the White House is facing a troubling new trend: The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract.

New surveys show steep declines in Obama’s approval ratings among whites — including Democrats and independents — who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.

Among white Democrats, Obama’s job approval rating has dropped 11 points since his 100-days mark in April, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It has dropped by 9 points among white independents and whites over 50, and by 12 points among white women — all groups that will be targeted by both parties in next year’s midterm elections.

“While Obama has a lock on African Americans, his support among white voters seems to be almost in a free fall,” said veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse.

Strategists in both parties blame Obama’s decline on growing discontent with his policy agenda, particularly after a month of often-rowdy debate over his proposed healthcare overhaul, in which some conservatives accused him of socialism. Obama’s ratings seem likely to rise again if he wins passage of healthcare legislation this fall.

But the drop in support among whites also comes as some conservatives have stoked controversies that have the potential to further erode Obama’s standing among centrists — including some controversies that resulted from White House stumbles.

One such episode came to a head Sunday when Van Jones, Obama’s green jobs czar, resigned after a week of criticism over past inflammatory statements and for signing onto conspiracy theories questioning whether the U.S. government played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman [Return to headlines]

Obama Set to Force Obamacare While His Eligibility Trial Date Set?

As rumors that Obama plans to—again—resuscitate his hard line Marxist push for his government-controlled ObamaCare (the so-called “public option” that is no option at all) down the throats of the American people during his Wednesday night speech, something else is looming on the horizon for the dictator-in-chief.

While Obama was delivering his “love me and support me” speech to our nation’s children, the hearing on a motion for discovery regarding the eligibility of Barack Hussein Obama to even occupy the Office of the Presidency of the United States—Keyes v Obama—was underway.

Note: All other efforts from multiple other attorneys handling multiple other cases have been denied by courts that strongly appear to have been intimidated by Obama’s DOJ.

On Friday 7 September, the US Justice Department advised federal Judge David O. Carter to dismiss the case on their previously highly successful (if bogus) “standing” argument; which claims that—even if the merits of the case are correct—plaintiffs cannot show they have experienced harm. Instead, on Tuesday, Judge Carter heard Attorney Orly Taitz’ motion and set a tentative and expedited trial date for 26 January 2010. The date is tentative as Judge Carter will be addressing the ObamaAttorneys’ motion to dismiss the case on 5 October. If Obama’s motion to dismiss is not granted, Taitz’ discovery hearing will take place that same day and the case challenging Obama’s eligibility will proceed. As Obama has reportedly spent between $1-1.5 Millions to hide his school and true birth records, this would be the first time We-the-People would have access to them.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Red Flag to Fly Over White House

Trying to find words to describe the extreme offensiveness of flying the Communist Chinese flag over the White House challenges my vocabulary. Words such as UNBELIEVABLE, UNREAL, HORRIFIC, OBSCENE, even TRAITOROUS quickly come to mind. Maybe Obama really is the Manchurian Candidate.

Remember, the communist leaders of Mao’s China are not called the “Butchers of Beijing” for nothing. Since seizing power in 1949, it is estimated that the communist government in China has murdered more than 50 million people (some reports say the number is over 70 million). As many as 3 million were killed in Mao’s initial revolution.

The historical record of Mao’s murderous march to power staggers the imagination. According to Chinese historian Jung Chang, from 1958-1961, 38 million Chinese people were starved or worked to death, and 27 million died in Laogai death camps through 1976. The Weekly Standard quotes Chinese freedom fighter Harry Wu as saying that 15 million died in China’s labor camps through 1997. According to Agence France Presse, as many as 5 million were killed in rural purges from 1946-1949, and 1 million were killed in urban purges through 1957.

Then there is Tiananmen Square in 1989, when the Communist Chinese army murdered more than 2,000 college students. The number first reported by Chinese officials was 2,600, but then was quickly retracted. Early American estimates put the number at more than 3,000. The true number of deaths will likely never be known.

But let’s bring the discussion closer to home. Does the name Chosin Reservoir mean anything to anyone? Obviously, the name doesn’t mean anything to President Barack Obama. However, that name means much to the tens of thousands of American families who lost husbands, sons, and fathers there.

By mid-1950, the Korean conflict was all but over. U.S. Army and Marine forces had handily defeated the North Korean army. It looked realistic that our fighting men would be home by Christmas. But from October of that year, more than 60,000 communist troops from China crossed the border into North Korea. During the next two months, the invading communist forces killed more than 4,000 American troops. Of course, China’s involvement in the conflict ensured a long, protracted war that resulted in the deaths of more than 50,000 brave Americans. And, of course, don’t forget that Communist China also helped the Communist North Vietnamese kill more than 50,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines.

Now President Barack Obama is going to hoist the Communist Chinese flag above the White House to “celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of PRC.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Shocker! Judge Orders Trial on Eligibility Issue

Arguments planned Jan. 11 for major Obama challenge

A California judge today tentatively scheduled a trial for Jan. 26, 2010, for a case that challenges Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president based on questions over his qualifications under the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

If the case actually goes to arguments before U.S. District Judge David Carter, it will be the first time the merits of the dispute have been argued in open court, according to one of the attorneys working on the issue.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Some Politically Incorrect Observations

I recently read a poll reporting that the majority of Israelis believe that Obama favors the Palestinians. Well, duh. I mean if it’s not bad enough that the Community Organizer in Chief curtsied to a Saudi prince, gets angrier about homes being built in Israel than nukes being built in Iran, can’t say enough nice things about the religion of our sworn enemies and denies that we’re at war with Islamic fundamentalists, there’s the matter of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. It seems that it is dedicated solely to Palestinian interests. It has $530 million with which to fund summer camps, free movies, business classes and “promoting and preserving Palestinian cultural heritage,” whatever in hell that might be. Notable suicide bombers down through the annals of history? The programs are translated into Arabic, but not Hebrew. The education finance grants are available to candidates who must be a Palestinian resident of the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Gaza Strip. Is my memory going or aren’t they the same folks we saw dancing in the streets on 9/11?

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Tennessee Grand Jury Joins DOJ in Obstructing Justice

The US Constitution and the entire American way of life hang in the balance. Yet it is clear that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is engaged in running interference for someone very likely to be an unconstitutional fraud, busily dismantling our sovereign nation while his high-dollar Ivy League lawyers play politics with the justice system.


DNC Documents that could Hang Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama

Not one, but TWO DNC nomination documents were signed, notarized and delivered to the DNC on the same day, August 28, 2008. The purpose of these documents was the official party nomination of Barack Hussein Obama and Joe Biden as the DNC national ticket for president and vice president of the United States.

Normally, one will do. In this case, the TWO nominating documents are identical except for one very important sentence, which is missing from the second version of the document.

—Document #1

—Document #2

Present in document #1, but missing from document #2 is this sentence, –

“and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.”

Document #1 includes this language, but document #2 does not. Both appear identical, with this exception. Both appear to be dated and signed by DNC Chair Nancy Pelosi and DNC Secretary Alice Travis Germond. Both appear to be notarized by the same notary of public on the same date.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Establishment Media’s Temper Tantrum

On the “Meet the Press’“ round-table discussion, retired “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman were protesting the grass roots’ and alternative media’s unmasking of Van Jones as a radical leftist.

Brokaw said: “A lot of people will repeat back to me and take it as face value something that they read on the Internet. And my line to them is you have to vet information. … It is across-the-board … and it’s something that we all have to address, and it requires society and political and cultural leaders to stand up and say, ‘This is crazy.’ We just can’t function that way.”

As opposed to “functioning” what other way? Perhaps he means the old way of having his beloved mainstream media spoon-feed us ignorant masses only the information and slant they want us to hear. Does Brokaw believe his colleagues properly “vetted” Barack Obama and his mysterious past and dubious associations during the presidential campaign? Do they ask him any penetrating questions today? Have they ever pressed him to explain his voluminous inconsistencies and deceptions on health care alone?

To borrow your terminology, Mr. Brokaw, society — mainstream America, at least — is indeed standing up and saying: “This is crazy. We just can’t function with an extremist president trying to turn America into a socialist and insolvent state and installing a cadre of unconstitutionally appointed, immensely powerful and wholly unaccountable Marxist czars at the highest levels of our government. And we’re sick and tired of the mainstream media’s aiding and abetting this reckless destruction.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Training Kids to be Obama’s Servants

A significant part of Barack Obama’s plan to “change” America involves having the federal government take control of public school curriculum, plus compiling a database of personal information about each student. The takeover is planned to be accomplished by talking directly to the kids in their schools and by attaching extraordinary strings to the $128 billion of stimulus funds shoveled into education.

Obama’s announced Sept. 8 speech from the White House website to every schoolchild in America kicked up a storm of controversy. A study plan for his speech produced by the U.S. Department of Education, which exposes the political motives, was pre-circulated.

The politics of Obama’s extraordinary Internet visit to all classrooms was reinforced by the Aug. 28 showing of the “I Pledge” video at an assembly of the Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington, Utah. This four-minute video calls on viewers to pledge “to be a servant to our president” and pledge “to be of service to Barack Obama.”


The hero worship and brainwashing built into these lesson plans are, to say the least, inappropriate. Parents should rise up and stop the public schools from using classroom or assembly time to teach schoolchildren to be cheerleaders for Obama and his policies.

Now comes the iron fist in the velvet glove. President Obama’s nearly trillion-dollar stimulus law designates $128 billion for education, so it’s no surprise that tight strings are attached.

Buried in the fine print is an ominous requirement to build a national electronic database of all children. Any state that receives federal education funds must “establish a longitudinal data system that includes the elements described in … the America COMPETES Act.”

That law, passed a couple of years ago, sets out the goal of longitudinal databasing of “student-level enrollment, demographic and program participation information” for all students from preschool through postsecondary education. This electronic database will contain “yearly test records of individual students,” “a teacher identifier system with the ability to match teachers to students,” “student-level transcript information, including information on courses completed and grades earned” and “student-level college readiness test scores.”

Database collection on each student continues through college and into the workforce. States are required to enter “information regarding the extent to which students transition successfully from secondary school to postsecondary education.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Up to $3,800 Fine for Failure Get Health Insurance

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top senator is calling for fines of up to $3,800 on families who fail to get medical insurance after a health care overhaul goes into effect.

The plan from Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana would make health insurance mandatory, just like auto coverage. It would provide tax credits to help cover the cost for people making up to three times the federal poverty level. That’s about $66,000 for a family of four, and $32,000 for an individual.

But those who still don’t sign up would face hefty fines, starting at $750 a year for individuals and $1,500 for families. The maximum penalty on individuals would be $950.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Van Jones: Obama’s Alter Ego

Exclusive: Ellis Washington urges Americans to help purge other ‘useful idiots’ in D.C.

What caused Van Jones to get fired was that he wasn’t as sufficiently adept at concealing his radical intentions as Obama, Rahm Emmanuel, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett have been so far. Indeed, Jones’ entire career is Karl Marx revisited and is contained in Marx’s famous aphorism: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Jones may act and talk crazy, but he isn’t crazy. He’s is a shrewd demagogue, a vulgar political opportunist no different than Obama whose racialism, community organizing past and the street thug tactics of “The Chicago Way” make Van Jones merely President Obama’s alter ego. Jones just took his Marxist ideology too far, too fast and too obvious.

For example, in a radio interview in April 2008 Van Jones gleefully and repeatedly condemned America and capitalism while praising Marxism, tying it all together into a perverse, civil rights continuum:

“…Right now we say we want to move from suicidal gray capitalism to something eco-capitalism where at least we’re not fast-tracking the destruction of the whole planet. Will that be enough? No, it won’t be enough. We want to go beyond the systems of exploitation and oppression altogether. … So the green economy will start off as a small subset, and we are going to push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Watch Chilling Video on Islamic Threat in U.S. — Free!

‘We all know about terrorism; this is the war you don’t know about’

To commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the producers of the stunning new video documentary “The Third Jihad” are making the 72-minute-long exposé on radical Islam’s infiltration and subversion of America viewable online, in its entirety, for free.

For one week only, from Sept. 9 through Sept. 15, the feature-length video will be streaming on the website,

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

‘We Need to Kill’ Christian Girl

Teen who fled Muslim family gets online threat

An Internet blogger who has followed closely the case of a teenager who fled her Muslim family after she converted to Christianity, expressing concern she would become the victim of an “honor killing,” is reporting an Internet threat to the life of the young girl.

Blogger Pamela Geller, writing at Atlas Shrugs, has posted screen captures of the alleged threat to Rifqa Bary, whose future remains to be decided by a court process in Florida.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

What Van Jones Tells US About President Obama

Now the media, which ignored all of Van Jones’ foibles back when President Obama appointed him in March, has determined that there’s nothing more to report here. With Jones gone, all has returned to normal.

Except that one unanswered question remains: Why did the White House appoint Jones in the first place?

We were told during the 2008 campaign that President Obama was the most technologically able candidate in our history. The Obama campaign ran commercials targeting John McCain’s ignorance of the Internet. Obama was so connected that he wanted to keep using his BlackBerry from the Oval Office.

And yet he couldn’t get a single member of his administration to do a simple Google search on Van Jones.

Every tidbit of information on Van Jones was publicly available. There were videos on YouTube and articles at major websites. And yet just three weeks ago, Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s special adviser, told a crowd of leftists at the Daily Kos conference that “We were so delighted to be able to recruit him into the White House.”

So, why did Obama pick Jones in the first place?

He picked Jones because he is deeply insecure about his racial status. Despite his repeated insistence that he is the culmination of the American dream of racial unity, Obama surrounds himself with racial radicals — and he has for decades. Obama’s associations with black communist Frank Marshall Davis during his teenage years, his apprenticeship to Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright during his adult years, and his continuously comfortable relationships with racialists like Cornel West and Van Jones demonstrate his commitment to racial polarization.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Danish Far-Right Launches Anti-Mosque Campaign

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

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

The party, whose votes in parliament are essential for the survival of the center-right government, linked its campaign to the municipal elections on November 17.

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

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

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

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

The mosque, financed through private donations, will cost between 40 million and 50 million kroners ($7.9 million and 9.7 million) to build.

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

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

‘Dutch-Speaking Moroccans the Most Criminal’

UTRECHT, 09/09/09 — Moroccan youths in prison are better integrated with Dutch society than other Moroccan youngsters. The conclusion comes from two young researchers at the University of Utrecht.

Criminal Moroccan youths speak Arabic or Berber with their family and friends less often than the average Moroccan youngster. Their parents use the Dutch language more often and are also more likely to have Dutch friends. The criminal Moroccans themselves are about twice as likely to feel Dutch as Moroccans outside prison, according to the sociologists.

In the research project, 141 Moroccan youths and 158 white Dutch youths aged 12 to 18 in pre-trial custody were interviewed, as well as their parents. About 300 youths from both ethnic groups who were not in prison were also interviewed.

According to justice ministry statistics, Moroccan youths are five times more criminal than white Dutch youngsters. They also re-offend more often. But the Utrecht researchers say that the crimes in which the Dutch youths are suspects are on average more serious.

The Moroccan youngsters in custody were mostly (80 percent) suspects of robbery with or without violence, such as bag-snatching or hold-ups. This was 45 percent among their white Dutch peers, who had a relatively higher score on arson and sexual assault, which are seen as more serious crimes.

According to the researchers, Moroccan crime suspects more often say they feel discriminated against than the average Moroccan youngster. “I will now do follow-up research on the question: What does it do to youths, if they are discriminated against?” said one of the sociologists, Gonneke Stevens.

Nearly all judicial youth institutions participated in the research. Stevens found it remarkable that the Moroccan parents were more willing to participate in the survey than the Dutch.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

France to Use Swine Flu to Gut Laws: Report

In case of a swine flu pandemic the French government has a plan to introduce emergency measures that would gut legal protections for citizens, the daily Liberation reported Tuesday.

According to documents provided to the daily by a judges’ union, the plan would extend the period police can keep a suspect in detention without charge or a hearing before a judge to up to six months.

Suspects would also not be able to contact a lawyer until after spending 24 hours in custody.

Under the plan children could be tried in adult courts and more trials held behind closed doors.

The Syndicat de la Magistrature called the measures “revolting” and said they would amount to “liberticide,” and called on Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to abandon the plan.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Germany to Lisbon

STEP BY step, painfully slowly it seems, the Lisbon Treaty is struggling across the finish line to ratification. Yesterday, responding to a ruling by the country’s constitutional court in June, Germany’s lower house, the Bundestag, importantly approved by 446 to 46 legal changes that reinforce domestic parliamentary and court supervision over European Union legislation. Specifically, the government will now be required to inform parliament “thoroughly and as early as possible” about EU business and give parliament the right to express an official view on any EU matter the government discusses in Brussels.

Yesterday’s decision will be followed on September 18th by one in the Bundesrat, where the country’s Länder, or states, are represented, although observers say that the political deal has already been done there, and it should pass without difficulty. Both houses have already approved the treaty itself which is unaffected by the domestic procedural changes enacted yesterday, and so President Horst Köhler will then be able to sign the ratification Bill into law ahead of the German election on September 27th.

Germany’s ratification will leave Ireland substantially master of Lisbon’s fate, as both Eurosceptic presidents of the Czech Republic and Poland, Vaclav Klaus and Lech Kaczynski, have promised to sign the treaty, already duly approved by both their respective parliaments, once Ireland does so.

Yet, while Germany’s new legislation may only have domestic legal application, the court ruling which prompted it has a substantially wider significance, not least to the Irish Lisbon debate. The constitutional court found unanimously against the arguments made by Lisbon Treaty opponents both in Germany and Ireland that it creates a fundamentally new Europe-wide super-state, substantially diminishing the sovereignty of member states. “The German constitution permits transfer of sovereign powers to an interstate body like the EU, but does not permit entry to a European federal state,” the court’s vice-president Andreas Vosskuhle said. “The treaty of Lisbon changes nothing in that the Bundestag remains the representative organ of the German people.”

Other elements of the ruling also have a resonance for the debate here. “The wording . . . does not oblige member states to provide national armed forces for European Union military deployments,” the judges ruled. And they added that member states retain control of crucial competences from criminal law to tax law.

[Return to headlines]

German Lower House Passes EU Treaty Law

Germany’s lower house on Tuesday (5 September) passed legislation allowing the final ratification of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, pushing the focus once more back to Ireland and its referendum.

In a special sitting, 446 deputies in the Bundestag voted in favour of a package of laws that would give it more say over EU affairs, and 46 voted against.

Germany has been scrambling to ready the legislation since the country’s constitutional court in June ruled that while the Lisbon Treaty was in line with the German charter, the proposed national laws accompanying its ratification did not give parliament enough oversight over EU decisions.

The tweaked proposals, comprising four laws in total, involve the parliament in any possible future changes to the Lisbon Treaty. One clause in the treaty allows for moving from an issue that needs unanimity for a decision to qualified majority voting if all member states agree.

A second law governs the changes that need to be made to the German constitution for ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, while the third says the government must in writing inform the parliament of its intentions on EU issues. The parliament is also allowed to take a position on the issue and while government is not obliged to follow the parliament’s position in Brussels, it must then justify why it did not.

The parliament’s approval will be needed for the opening of EU membership negotiations with a country as well as for beginning negotiations on changing an EU treaty.

A fourth law spells out how Germany’s regions and the government should co-operate on EU affairs.

The upper house, or Bundesrat, still has to approve the laws in a vote on 18 September before the final step of ratification of the Lisbon Treaty — signature by German President Horst Koehler — can be taken.

The whole process is expected to be wrapped up before the country’s general election on 27 September.

The German parliament’s vote will mean that renewed focus is expected on Ireland, which is facing a referendum on the treaty on 2 October.

Falling support for the document — although 46 percent plan to say “yes” and 29 percent “no” according to the most recent poll — as well as a government distracted by the economic crisis has led to concern in Brussels about the outcome.

Poland and the Czech Republic have also yet to complete ratification, with their presidents waiting for the outcome of the Irish vote before putting pen to paper.

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

Half of EU Electronic Websites Breaking Rules

More than half of the websites selling a range of popular electronic products across Europe are breaking EU consumer law, according to an investigation co-ordinated by the European Commission.

A majority of websites selling products such as digital cameras, mobile phones or mp3 players fail to comply with rules on price clarity, company address and right of return details.

Online retail sales of digital goods are worth nearly €7 billion in Europe each year. Increasingly consumers are turning to the internet to buy everyday electronic gadgets like phones, cameras, iPods or games consoles.

But consumers have also become more disenchanted about the purchase of electronic equipment online, with one third of all customer complaints now relating to digital products.

A survey by enforcement agencies in 27 European countries found that 55% of some 370 websites showed irregularities.

On most of these websites consumers were not informed about their right to return goods within seven days without giving a reason. Consumers were also misled about whether they could receive cash rather than credit, or about their entitlement to have faulty products replaced.

In nearly half of the problem sites, online retailers appeared to obscure address and contact details.

The investigation targeted 15 Irish websites selling electronic equipment and have identified six potential problem sites, although so far the National Consumers Association has refused to name and shame offenders.

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

Ireland: Alliance of 136 Councillors Urges Rejection of Treaty

AN ALLIANCE of 136 councillors, including four Labour members, has called for a No vote in the Lisbon Treaty referendum, stating that its ratification would be a bad deal for Ireland.

The alliance said ratifying Lisbon would undermine democracy, militarise the EU and pave the way for the privatisation of public services. The group includes Independent councillors and members of Sinn Féin, the People Before Profit Alliance, the Socialist Party and Labour, which has voiced its support for the treaty.

A Labour spokesman said the councillors involved in the alliance — Patrick Nulty (Dublin West), Dermot Looney (South Dublin) Collette Connolly (Galway) and Jane Dillon Byrne (Dún Laoghaire) — were expressing personal opinions that did not reflect the views of the party.

Ms Dillon Byrne, whose father was an army provost marshal, said that neutrality was the issue that brought her to the No side.

“Article 28A creates a mutual defence between the member states of the EU, similar to that which exists between member states of Nato. It legalises the battle groups and expands the tasks for which they can be used,” she said.

Mr Looney said he objected to the rerunning of the referendum and the liberalisation of public services. He said he respected Labour’s position on Lisbon and that he would not be campaigning against the treaty.

The alliance said the policies of local government management involving privatisation and outsourcing have “seriously undermined the quality of essential services and community development” and that ratifying the treaty would copperfasten this approach.

It said that under Lisbon, the role of local councillors would be “further eroded to that of powerless observers of private companies, national and international, profiteering from public services that should be available to their communities irrespective of income or ability to pay.”

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin yesterday, attended by five alliance members, Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett of the People Before Profit Alliance, said the argument for a No vote in the referendum was “even more conclusive” given the economic crisis that the European Union and pro-Lisbon leadership had created.

He said that “at best” European institutions had failed to address the economic crisis and “at worst they had actively facilitated it.”

“Competition laws and the liberalisation of financial services actively promoted by the EU are precisely what have led us to the catastrophe of the economic crisis we now face,” he said.

He said rerunning the vote at a time when the Government should be focused on economic recovery was “scandalous” and that the Referendum Commission was being “dishonest” by claiming Ireland’s neutrality would not be undermined.

Independent Cork city councillor Chris O’Leary, who resigned from the Green Party in January, said the Yes campaign’s claims that a vote for the Lisbon was a vote for Europe were untrue.

“This is a vote about democracy, the future and how we would like to see Europe,” he said.

Catherine Connolly, an Independent member of Galway City Council, said the Yes campaign was bullying people and using scare tactics to generate support, but rarely referred to treaty articles to back up their claims.

She said the treaty was deliberately difficult to understand and that, even as a practising barrister, she found it to be complex.

[Return to headlines]

Student Fined for Israel Flag in Germany

A local district court in the West German city of Bochum fined a student 300 Euros on Wednesday for displaying an Israel flag at a demonstration organized by Muslim organizations against the IDF Operation Cast Lead in January. According to Der Westen, a regional paper in Bochum, the public prosecutor termed the Israeli flag as “provoking” within a special situation.

The 30-year-old student, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears for her safety due to “massive problems with Nazis”, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the “Israeli flag is a provocation for the anti-Semites.” She asked rhetorically, “What is provocative about an Israel flag?” The public prosecutor in Bochum was not available for an immediate comment on the case.

According to Der Westen, the local district court judged deemed the protest of the five activists expressing solidarity with Israel as a “dangerous situation.”

A spokesman for the district court, Volker Talarowski, told the Post that there was a “violation of the right to assembly” and the court’s decision was issued “independent of a political motivation.” Talarowski added that the pro-Israel demonstrators failed to register their protest 48 hours before the event.

Yet the student, who is appealing the fine, said a special regulation permits “spontaneous” demonstrations without a pre-registration. In response to a hardcore anti-Israeli demonstration in Bochum attended by 1,600 protesters on January 17, the student, along with four pro-Israeli activists, displayed a banner stating “Against anti-Semitism and fascism: Solidarity with Israel” as well as the Israel flag. She told the Post that pro-Palestinian supporters “compared Israel with Nazi Germany.” Chants of “children murderer Israel” and “Israel terrorist” filled the protest as well as a banner reading “stop the Holocaust in Gaza.”

“There is no basis” to draw a parallel between Nazi Germany and Israel, she said. “A Holocaust did not take place in Gaza. Israel defended its territory from rocket fire” emanating from Hamas, added the student. She termed the argument comparing the Israeli military operation in Gaza with the Holocaust as anti-Semitic.

In the Der Westen news report, the student said there is a “confusion of perpetrator and victim. You can only call that anti-Semitism.” She told the Post that the protestors in Bochum designated Israelis as Nazis and the Palestinians in Gaza as Jews during the Third Reich.

During Operation Cast Lead over 100,000 mainly German Muslims protested across German cities and frequently compared Israel with the Hitler movement. The European Union’s working definition of anti-Semitism defines such comparisons between the Nazis and the Jewish state as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism, largely because the parallel delegitimizes Israel’s right to exist.

[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Doctors Told Me it Was Against the Rules to Save My Premature Baby’

Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday.

Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy — almost four months early.

They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment.

Miss Capewell, 23, said doctors refused to even see her son Jayden, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support.

She said he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was even moving his arms and legs, but medics refused to admit him to a special care baby unit.

Miss Capewell is now fighting for a review of the medical guidelines.

Medics allegedly told her that they would have tried to save the baby if he had been born two days later, at 22 weeks.

In fact, the medical guidelines for Health Service hospitals state that babies should not be given intensive care if they are born at less than 23 weeks.

The guidance, drawn up by the Nuffield Council, is not compulsory but advises doctors that medical intervention for very premature children is not in the best interests of the baby, and is not ‘standard practice’.

James Paget Hospital in Norfolk refused to comment on the case but said it was not responsible for setting the guidelines relating to premature births.

A trust spokesman said: ‘Like other acute hospitals, we follow national guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine regarding premature births.’

Miss Capewell, who has had five miscarriages, said the guidelines had robbed her son of a chance of life.

She said: ‘When he was born, he put out his arms and legs and pushed himself over.

A midwife said he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat, and described him as a “little fighter”.

I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, “They won’t come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him”.’

She cuddled her child and took precious photos of him, but he died in her arms less than two hours after his birth.

Miss Capewell, who has a five-year-old daughter Jodie, went into labour in October last year at 21 weeks and four days after suffering problems during her pregnancy.

She said she was told that because she had not reached 22 weeks, she was not allowed injections to try to stop the labour, or a steroid injection to help to strengthen her baby’s lungs.

Instead, doctors told her to treat the labour as a miscarriage, not a birth, and to expect her baby to be born with serious deformities or even to be still-born.

She told how she begged one paediatrician, ‘You have got to help’, only for the man to respond: ‘No we don’t.’

As her contractions continued, a chaplain arrived at her bedside to discuss bereavement and planning a funeral, she claims.

She said: ‘I was sitting there, reading this leaflet about planning a funeral and thinking, this is my baby, he isn’t even born yet, let alone dead.’

After his death she even had to argue with hospital officials for her right to receive birth and death certificates, which meant she could give her son a proper funeral.

She was shocked to discover that another child, born in the U.S. at 21 weeks and six days into her mother’s pregnancy, had survived.

Amillia Taylor was born in Florida in 2006 and celebrated her second birthday last October. She is the youngest premature baby to survive.

Miss Capewell said: ‘I could not believe that one little girl, Amillia Taylor, is perfectly healthy after being born in Florida in 2006 at 21 weeks and six days.

‘Thousands of women have experienced this. The doctors say the babies won’t survive but how do they know if they are not giving them a chance?’

Miss Capewell has won the support of Labour MP Tony Wright, who has backed her call for a review of the medical guidelines. He said: ‘When a woman wants to give the best chance to her baby, they should surely be afforded that opportunity.’

What the medical guidelines say…Guidance limiting care of the most premature babies provoked outrage when it was published three years ago.

Experts on medical ethics advised doctors not to resuscitate babies born before 23 weeks in the womb, stating that it was not in the child’s ‘best interests’.

The guidelines said: ‘If gestational age is certain and less than 23+0 (i.e at 22 weeks) it would be considered in the best interests of the baby, and standard practice, for resuscitation not to be carried out.’

Medical intervention would be given for a child born between 22 and 23 weeks only if the parents requested it and only after discussion about likely outcomes.

The rules were endorsed by the British Association of Perinatal Medicine and are followed by NHS hospitals.

The association said they were not meant to be a ‘set of instructions’, but doctors regard them as the best available advice on the treatment of premature babies.

More than 80,000 babies are born prematurely in Britain every year, and of those some 40,000 need to be treated in intensive care.

The NHS spends an estimated £1 billion a year on their care.

But while survival rates for those born after 24 weeks in the womb have risen significantly, the rates for those born earlier have barely changed, despite advances in medicine and technology.

Medical experts say babies born before 23 weeks are simply too under-developed to survive, and that to use aggressive treatment methods would only prolong their suffering, or inflict pain.

The guidelines were drawn up by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics after a two-year inquiry which took evidence from doctors, nurses and religious leaders.

But weeks before they were published in 2006, a child was born in the U.S. which proved a baby could survive at earlier than 22 weeks if it was given medical treatment.

Amillia Taylor was born in Florida on October 24, 2006, after just 21 weeks and six days in the womb. She celebrated her second birthday last year.

Doctors believed she was a week older and so gave her intensive care, but later admitted she would not have received treatment if they had known her true age.

Her birth also coincided with the debate in Britain over whether the abortion limit should be reduced.

Some argued that if a baby could survive at 22 weeks then the time limit on abortions should be reduced.

The argument, which was lost in Parliament, followed a cut to the time limit in 1990 when politicians reduced it from 28 weeks to 24 weeks, in line with scientific evidence that foetuses could survive outside the womb at a younger age.

However, experts say cases like Amillia Taylor’s are rare, and can raise false expectations about survival rates.

Studies show that only 1 per cent of babies born before 23 weeks survive, and many suffer serious disabilities.

           — Hat tip: REP [Return to headlines]

UK: Farage Calls for No Vote in Referendum

The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has today claimed that ratification of the Lisbon treaty will see Ireland lose its independence to a European super-state that will benefit career politicians and have unlimited powers over sensitive issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Speaking on radio, British MEP and UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “The Irish said No, they are being forced to vote again. What this is all about is power. They are desperate to get this treaty through because this treaty turns the European Union into a state in its own right with the powers in future to do whatever it likes.

“Right across Europe, we have had the emergence of a professional political class . . . people who would struggle in many cases to get a similar job in the private sector, and the European Union is the best thing that has ever happened for bureaucrats and professional politicians, they all support it, but increasingly the peoples of Europe don’t want it.”

Mr Farage, speaking on RTÉ’s Today With Pat Kenny , said clarifications secured by Ireland since the last vote were not legally binding and “frankly, not worth the paper they are written on”.

“This is an attempt just to con the Irish people into thinking there is some fundamental change . . . you are voting on an identical legal document.

“The point is I am representing a group in the European parliament that comes from nine different nationalities. I’m not representing UKIP, I am here as a representative of that group . . . to say you’re not just voting in Ireland for yourselves, you’re voting for democracies right across the European Union, and if you vote No, it will bring this bulldozer to a juddering halt, and it will give the rest of us a chance to have a referendum.”


UKIP intends to send a leaflet to every Irish home urging a No vote. The leaflet will claim a rejection of the treaty will close an “open door” to immigrants.

Elsewhere, a Church of Ireland theologian has expressed fear that racism was ecoming one of the factors in the referendum debate. Preaching in Co Wexford on Wednesday night, Canon Patrick Comerford said: “I am not going to dare suggest how anyone should vote in the Lisbon referendum. But I am already worried about the type of nationalism and exclusivism that has found voice in the referendum campaign.”

Preaching at a service to mark the 300th anniversary of the arrival of German-speaking Lutheran refugees, Canon Comerford said his worry was that as unemployment rose, “more and more of the blame for unemployment will be placed on the new immigrants and arrivals, on the stranger in our midst, rather than on our political and economic decision-makers who have treated the mess we are in today”.

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

North Africa

Africa MPs Cheer Lockerbie Bomber

Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi has made his first public appearance since receiving a hero’s welcome on his return to Libya.

Megrahi, looking frail in a wheelchair, received a standing ovation from a group of African MPs in the hospital where he is receiving care for cancer.

But after five minutes he began to cough and signalled he wanted to leave.

The Scottish authorities freed Megrahi last month on compassionate grounds because he is terminally ill.

He is the only person to be convicted of the blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people.

His release and subsequent welcome in Libya caused a political storm in the UK.

Opposition groups have accused the British government of tying his release to a trade deal.

Carefully orchestrated

The BBC’s Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says a nurse wheeled Megrahi to a small stage in the lecture hall at the city’s medical centre.

He appeared to be frail, wearing a surgeon’s mask that covered most of his face and a colourful, sequined traditional skullcap, she says.

He remained silent in his wheelchair as he was greeted by about 40 African MPs who are in the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the African Union.

After he started coughing, he was immediately wheeled off the stage.

Our reporter says it seemed a carefully orchestrated event intended to send a signal to the Scottish, British and US governments.

Speaker of the African Union (AU) parliament Idriss Ndele Moussa, who is from Chad, said he and his colleagues had come to “express solidarity”.

“He is the victim of international injustice and a policy of double standards,” Mr Moussa said.

A Libyan member of the AU parliament, Mohamed Jibril, compared the welcome Megrahi received with that of a group of Bulgarian nurses who were convicted of infecting babies with HIV in Libya, but were pardoned in Europe.

“The visit by the African parliament to Mr Megrahi is no different from the reception given to the Bulgarian nurses by the European Parliament,” he said.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Amidror: Ashkelon Rocket Warnings Were Ignored

A secret Military Intelligence Directorate report dating back to 1993 warned of the dangers of rockets raining down on Ashkelon in the event that the Palestinians fail to uphold their end of the Oslo Peace Treaty, a former army intelligence chief revealed on Monday.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, who once headed the IDF’s Research and Assessment Division, said during a lecture at the Netanya Academic College that the government had completely ignored the military’s warning on the security pitfalls of the peace deal with the PLO.

“There were clauses which clearly could not be upheld from a military perspective, like pursuing terrorists in Palestinian Authority territories,” Amidror said.

He added that Shimon Peres, who was then foreign minister, called for military officers to leave a meeting room when a vote was taken on the peace agreement.

The remarks were made as part of a series of talks given at the college, marking 16 years since the Oslo peace treaty.

Amidror told The Jerusalem Post, “One week after Oslo, we said the agreement could end in a historic compromise, or with Katyushas being fired on Ashkelon. Katyusha rockets were being fired from Lebanon, and it was clear that they would end up in additional territories.”

Noting that Israel left Gaza “twice, once in 1994 and again in 2005 during the disengagement,” Amidror said, “We have learned that the loss of control of territory and the creation of a border between the PA and an Arab state meant that there will be Katyusha rockets. Today, this is 100 times more true in regards to leaving Judea and Samaria than it was in 1993.”

Amidror said Israel must maintain control of the Jordan Valley to prevent arms smuggling and terrorist infiltration into the West Bank and warned, “If we leave Judea and Samaria, Hamas will overthrow Fatah again. Fatah is so rotten that no amount of US training of its security personnel will help. The threat will arrive at Tel Aviv’s gate.”

Amidror expressed regret over what he said were “insufficient efforts by the intelligence community to point out how the Palestinians were cheating us and how we turned a blind eye to this.

“We didn’t ignore the violations as much as the politicians did, but I regret that our efforts to expose the transgressions were not determined enough,” he said.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend [Return to headlines]

Beersheba Police Arrest Palestinian on Suspicion of Indecent Act on 14-Yr-Old

Beersheba police on Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old Palestinian on suspicion of committing an indecent act on a 14-year-old girl.

The suspect allegedly followed the girl to her building and attacked her in the elevator.

Police said he admitted to the offense and would be brought for a remand extension hearing on Thursday.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend [Return to headlines]

IDF Dismantles Two Explosive Devices Planted Along Gaza Fence

IDF troops on Wednesday uncovered two explosive devices that had been planted by Palestinian terrorists along the Gaza Strip border fence.

No one was hurt in the incident and military sappers dismantled the bombs.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend [Return to headlines]

Keeping Israel on the Defensive as Long as Possible With Lie After Lie

by Alex Grobman

Opponents of Israel repeatedly accuse her of being an occupier, disenfranchising the Arabs and humiliating them in order to keep the government on the defensive. The objective of these alleged human rights violations is to pressure the international community to establish a separate Palestinian state according to Bar-Ilan professor Ron Schleifer.

One the most pernicious of these recurring lies is that Israel is an apartheid state. The dispute between Israel and the Arabs is not racial. Zionism is not a racial or a discriminatory movement any more than any other national liberation movement in Europe in the 19th century or in Africa and Asia in the 20th century. Jews do not constitute a separate race, even though Nazi pseudoscience branded them as such. Arabs are not a separate race and are not different than Jews. Zionism is less discriminatory and racist than most other movements, because it is defined in religious terms—not ethnic ones. Rabbinical law proscribes that the mother determines the religion of the child regardless of the race or religion of the father.

Practically every member-state of the United Nations practices some form of discrimination against those not in the dominant group—whether according to race, language, culture, religion, sex or origin…

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Sa’ar to British MPs: Schools Will Continue to be Built in W. Bank

Speaking to a group of visiting conservative British parliamentarians on Wednesday, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that Israel would continue to build schools and classrooms in the West Bank.

“Israel will continue to build schools, kindergartens and classrooms in Judea and Samaria as they’re needed,” he said.

“There’s a need for a response to the natural growth occurring in Judea and Samaria, and by building the schools and classrooms, we will allow the pupils better learning conditions,” he added.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend [Return to headlines]

The Rise of Israel’s Military Rabbis

Israel’s army is changing. Once proudly secular, its combat units are now filling with those who believe Israel’s wars are “God’s wars”.

Military rabbis are becoming more powerful. Trained in warfare as well as religion, new army regulations mean they are now part of a military elite.

They graduate from officer’s school and operate closely with military commanders. One of their main duties is to boost soldiers’ morale and drive, even on the front line.

This has caused quite some controversy in Israel. Should military motivation come from men of God, or from a belief in the state of Israel and keeping it safe?

The military rabbis rose to prominence during Israel’s invasion of Gaza earlier this year.

Some of their activities raised troubling questions about political-religious influence in the military.

Gal Einav, a non-religious soldier, said there was wall-to-wall religious rhetoric in the base, the barracks and on the battlefield.

As soon as soldiers signed for their rifles, he said, they were given a book of psalms.

And, as his company headed into Gaza, he told me, they were flanked by a civilian rabbi on one side and a military rabbi on the other.

“It felt like a religious war, like a crusade. It disturbed me. Religion and the army should be completely separate,” he said…

           — Hat tip: Israel Matzav [Return to headlines]

Three Left Wing Myths About Israel

Myth 1: “Israel was created because Europe felt guilty about the Holocaust.”

This left wing myth has been widely repeated, most recently by Desmond Tutu. While blatantly false on a level that even the most serious anti-Israel historian can recognize, it persists because its function is to delegitimize as the product of post-war colonial guilt, rather than longstanding Israeli national aspirations.

Israel was not created in 1947. By 1947, Israel already was a functioning country with a language, culture, agriculture, universities, newspapers and military forces which proved capable of defending against the armies of several Arab nations. The only thing that happened after the Holocaust was a UN vote in 1947 was for a partition plan that was never implemented because the Arab world instead chose to try and destroy Israel. Israel however would have declared independence and fought for its own survival, with the same exact outcome, regardless of UN Resolution 181. This vote is often described as creating Israel, but it was more accurately an attempt to settle the borders of Israel that failed because of Arab genocidal hostility that expressed itself not only toward Israel, but toward the Jews living in Arab lands.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UN Chief: Continued Settlement Construction is “Contrary to Int’l Law”

[Northern Cyprus, Bank Ki-moon! there you’ll find plenty of truly contrary to int’l law settlement construction! no, wait Northern Cyprus is occupied by moslems so that doesn’t count! sorry, my bad!AGF]

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said Israel’s plans to continue building settlements in the West Bank are “contrary to international law.”

According to AFP, Ban “noted with deep concern” Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s approval of 455 new housing units in in Judea and Samaria settlements on Monday.

“Such actions and all settlement activity are contrary to international law and the roadmap,” a statement released by Ban’s bureau reportedly said, referring to the international plan for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Secretary-General urges Israel to respond positively to the important efforts under way to create the conditions for effective Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and reiterates his call on Israel to stop all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001 in the occupied Palestinian territory,” Ban stressed.

           — Hat tip: A Greek Friend [Return to headlines]

Middle East

“Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign Renews Call to Boycott Dutch and Danish Products

…and for international legislation to prosecute those who insult Islam

The “Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign decided to renew its call to boycott Dutch and Danish products.

This is due to the acquittal of the extremist right-wing Dutch representative, Geert Wilders, who produced a film which attacked Islam, the Holy Koran and the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).

The Dutch Judiciary justified that the film ‘did not create hatred and racial discrimination. It only portrayed the personality of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), in addition, Dutch regulations, laws and the constitution grants freedom of opinion.’

The ‘Campaign’ considers that ‘the Dutch Judiciary’s decision is a dangerous violation of and an attack on the rights of one and half billion Muslims. The Prophet (pbuh) represents all the Muslims in the world. Offending him is considered as an insult to all Muslims.’

Renewing the call occurred during a meeting convened by the Central Committee of the ‘Prophet of God Unites Us’ campaign headed by Dr. Zakaria Al Sheikh, Dr. Tayseer Al Fetyani, advocate Tareq Al Hawamdeh and the campaign’s media official, Marwan Shehadeh.

The ‘Campaign’ pointed out that ‘a decision like this will promote extremism and negative consequences. The West will create disputes and problems between nations, people and pursuers of the heavenly religions if it continues to deal with important and sensitive Islamic issues by adopting these policies.’

The campaign demanded to punish the offenders in order to maintain and protect peaceful co-existence between nations and people.

The ‘Campaign’ said that it would pursue the matter with the Jordanian Court and will wait for a decision from the Prosecutor with whom it is ‘in permanent contact.’

The ‘Campaign’ said that ‘the issues, which were submitted against the Dutch representative and the Danish cartoonist has reached the final stages of the investigation. It is waiting for a decision to send the case into specialized courts.’

The ‘Campaign’ pointed out that ‘the Jordanian Foreign Ministry should adopt practical procedures regarding an international legislative draft, which was submitted by the legal committee, headed by Dr. Ghassan Al Jundi, to the Legal Department of the Ministry, as soon as possible.’

The campaign stated that the legal committee comprises ‘elite experts in international law who are ready to find the best solution with the legal Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.’

The campaign confirmed that it would legally pursue the right-wing Dutch government representative and that it is waiting for a decision from the Jordanian prosecutor regarding Wilders and the Danish cartoonist, Kurt Westergaard.

They are accused of committing the following crimes:

  • Insulting the Prophets
  • Publishing drawings that insults the religious feeling of Muslims
  • Offending Islam and Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)
  • Humiliating the religious feeling of Muslims
  • Creating racial discrimination
  • Violating the laws of electronic transactions

The campaign appealed to Muslims to utilize the Islamic month of Ramadan to support the ‘Prophet of God Unites Us’ campaign through taking part in the boycott.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

All Jordanians Support the “Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign

All Jordanians are supporting the “Prophet of God Unites Us” Campaign and have called for the boycotting of American, Dutch and Danish goods and, the goods from all states which ‘hurt and insults Islam and Muslims.’

Suleiman Hawamdeh, in a phone call to Fact International Radio, said that they are launching a campaign to visit Jordanian merchants and tribal leaders in order to prevent them from importing Danish and Dutch goods.

“We will send emails to our brothers in the Arab States to activate this boycott.”

The poet, Mohammad Abo Romman, requested the Saudi Monarch, Muslim scientists, such as the Sheikh of Al Azhar, and Arab leaders to confront those who hurt Islam and the Prophet (pbuh).

He said: “How can we boycott goods of the States that offend Islam, while there are merchants who are interested in financial profit.”

Akef Al Hadidi, another citizen, appealed to King Abdullah II “to expel the ambassadors of these states.”

Abo Nidal called Fact International Radio and said that the Minister of Trade and Industry “should monitor all merchants and punish those who import Danish and Dutch products because this is an insult to the nation of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).”

Dr. Tayseer Al Fetyani, Head of the Legitimacy Committee, said: “All Muslims are required to defend their Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) because it is also an insult to all the Muslims. The ‘Prophet of God Unites Us’ campaign is making extensive efforts in filing lawsuits and demanding international legislation to criminalize anyone who offends the Prophet (pbuh). The ‘Prophet of God Unites Us’ campaign was launched in 2008 after the publishing of photographs insulting the Prophet (pbuh). The campaign’s role was effective in Jordan. Western states have lost billions of US Dollars due to boycott of Danish and Dutch products.”

Marwan Shehadeh, the media leader of the campaign, said that the campaign concentrated on the following points:

  • Cultural element; which are important to change the opinions of people
  • Enlightening Arab and Muslim citizens
  • Conveying our message to western societies
  • Communicating with many civil society organizations in western societies
  • Activating economical dimensions through the boycotting of products

“We succeeded in activating the boycott in other countries. The boycott is continuous. There was an attempt by the Dutch government to abort the campaign by accusing the Jordanian Prosecutor,” said Shehadeh.

The advocate of the campaign, Tareq Hawamdeh, said: “The lawsuits were filed six months ago. The investigation is complete and we are waiting for the prosecutor’s decision. The issuing of a subpoena will prevent the extremists from joining the states which signed the international legislation treaty. At least it will prevent them from entering the Arab and Islamic States.”

Regarding the acquittal by the Dutch judiciary of the Dutch extremist, Geert Wilders, Al Hawamdeh said; “The Dutch judiciary is depending on the article which indicates that it is not allowed to sentence a person two times. The extremist Geert Wilders was sentenced in the past and was acquitted. This is an attempt to deceive and mislead the Jordanian Judiciary.”

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]

‘Israel Link’ In Arctic Sea Case

Israel was linked to the interception of the missing cargo ship Arctic Sea last month, a senior figure close to Israeli intelligence has told the BBC.

The source said Israel had told Moscow it knew the ship was secretly carrying a Russian air defence system for Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed speculation that S-300 missiles were on board the ship.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, has denied making a secret visit to Moscow on Monday.

Mr Netanyahu’s office says he was visiting an Israeli security installation when he vanished from public view for much of the day.

A BBC correspondent points out that the claim of a secret arms shipment come as Israel seeks to highlight the threat posed by Iran.

Tehran faces a deadline to open talks on its nuclear programme or face possible sanctions from the UN.


The Maltese-flagged Arctic Sea and its 15 Russian crew vanished in July days after leaving Finland with an apparent cargo of timber destined for Algeria.

It was found on 16 August off West Africa. Moscow announced that the Russian navy had captured the hijackers and rescued the crew.

Eight men were later charged with hijacking and piracy.

However, the Israeli source told the BBC that the piracy story was a cover and that Israel told Moscow it was giving officials time to stop the shipment before making the matter public.

On Tuesday, Mr Lavrov called media speculation that S-300 missiles were on board the Arctic Sea “groundless”.

He also promised a “transparent” investigation into the disappearance of the ship.

Israeli media are linking the Arctic Sea incident to reports in the Hebrew language daily Yediot Aharonot of a clandestine visit by Mr Netanyahu to Moscow on Monday.

The prime minister’s office insisted that he had been visiting a “security installation inside Israel”.

The Kremlin press service said “nothing is known” about the reports, AP news agency reported.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, added that he had no information about any visit by Mr Netanyahu, Russia’s Interfax news agency said.

           — Hat tip: 4Symbols [Return to headlines]

Jonathan Spyer: A New, Old and Ugly Spirit

The article in the popular Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet alleging the Israel Defense Forces were involved in organ theft was the latest and most heinous example of an increasingly familiar phenomenon: classic anti-Semitic tropes and expressions of open hostility to Jews turning up in statements by members of the European liberal left.

This process derives from the growing popularity of openly anti-Semitic, Islamist organizations in the Middle East, and the accompanying regional political culture. These Islamist organizations are seen by a growing part of the Western left as partners for civilized dialogue. Some toward the more radical fringes see them as natural comrades in the joint battle against common enemies.

It is normal to give a respectful hearing to a friend’s allegations and claims. One is not accustomed to believing that respected friends have a tendency for pathological lying and paranoia. And the fact is that if you have decided to make friends with the regional political culture of anti-Israel militancy, you are going to be hearing an awful lot of claims of the kind that appeared in Aftonbladet.

Both oppositional and mainstream political discourse in the Middle East afford numerous examples of the crudest anti-Jewish stereotyping and sentiment. There is Hezbollah, which invented the curious allegation that 4,000 “Israelis” failed to turn up for work at the World Trade Center on September 11. The accusation was first broadcast on its television station Al-Manar, which three years ago also screened the Syrian-produced series “Al-Shatat” (“The Diaspora”), which contained dramatic depictions Jews making matzot with the blood of Christians. Officials from the organization have referred to Jews as a “lesion on the forehead of humanity,” along with a variety of other medical metaphors…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia Cooperating With Israel

Kingdom sharing information regarding possible Iran attack

NEW YORK — Saudi Arabia is cooperating with Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue, an Egyptian intelligence official told WND.

The official said Saudi Arabia is passing intelligence information to Israel related to Iran. He affirmed a report from the Arab media, strongly denied by the Israeli government, that Saudi Arabia has granted Israel overflight permission during any attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Sceptics Alarm NATO Chief

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen says he is alarmed by growing scepticism about the war in Afghanistan.

In remarks prepared for a Nato ceremony in the US, Mr Rasmussen says he is worried the public debate “has started to go in the wrong direction”.

The secretary general’s comments came as EU leaders urged the UN to hold a major summit on Afghanistan’s future.

Increasing violence is raising concern about the future of the country eight years after the US-led invasion.

Mounting allied casualties, a rising Afghan civilian death toll and claims of widespread electoral fraud have led to growing opposition to the campaign in Western countries.

“What we need is a clear step towards transition to Afghan leadership in all areas — security, health, education, development and governance,” Mr Rasmussen’s remarks, released by Nato, say.

He says the fact that Nato countries are losing soldiers in the fight against the Taliban is turning public opinion against the operation.

He describes allegations of widespread fraud in last month’s presidential election as “disturbing” and says there is a sense among many people in many countries “that we are not making progress fast enough”.

But he adds: “We must stay in Afghanistan as long as necessary, and we will stay as long as necessary. Let no-one think that a run for the exits is an option. It is not.”

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

Australia — Pacific

Australia to Probe E Timor Deaths

Australian police have launched a war crimes investigation into the deaths in East Timor in 1975 of the “Balibo Five” group of journalists.

In 2007, an Australian coroner found that they were executed by Indonesian special forces in the town of Balibo.

It is believed they were killed to stop them revealing details of an impending Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

Indonesia maintains the men were killed in crossfire. An official said Jakarta had no intention of reopening the case.

Successive Australian governments have accepted Indonesia’s version of events.

In June, East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta — a Timorese resistance commander at the time — accused Indonesian soldiers of having tortured and deliberately killed the journalists.

“Allegations of war crimes committed overseas give rise to complex legal and factual issues that require careful consideration by law enforcement agencies before deciding to investigate,” the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

Hard-hitting movie

The AFP said that if sufficient material was uncovered to show “criminality or a real possibility of criminality”, it would ask Australia’s chief prosecutor to consider whether war crimes charges should be laid.

“The standard of proof in a criminal proceeding is high, and differs from that of a coronial inquiry,” it added.

The inquiry follows the recent release of a hard-hitting movie, Balibo, depicting the deaths of Australians Greg Shackleton and Tony Stewart, Britons Brian Peters and Malcolm Rennie and New Zealander Gary Cunningham.

The film shows them being shot on the orders of Indonesian army officers.

But Indonesia Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told the BBC that for his country, the case was closed and the government would not reopen it.

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

Police Assaulted, Riot Avoided in Sydney’s West

RIOT police have been sent in to break up a crowd that gathered in western Sydney following police raids on a number of homes in the area.

Detectives from the Middle Eastern Organised Crime squad stormed three residences in Cumberland Road and one home in Normanby Street, in Auburn, about 6pm (AEST) yesterday.

Stun guns, cannabis, ecstasy, pills, a large sum of cash and a handgun and ammunition were seized from the properties, police said.

One officer was struck in the face during the operation and suffered a cut nose.

A short time later, groups of men began congregating in the area in a threatening manner.

After the crowd had swelled to an estimated 150 people, police confronted several groups of men, urging them to leave.

The Daily Telegraph reports officers were forced to use capsicum spray to subdue the angry crowd, with the PolAir helicopter and the riot squad called in to help.

The crowd dispersed about 10pm.

The injured officer was taken to hospital to have the wound stitched and was released.

A 25-year-old man, a 17-year-old boy and a woman aged in her 20s were arrested.

The man was charged with one count of wounding a police officer and two counts of assaulting police and obstructing police in their duty.

He was refused bail and is due to appear in Burwood Local Court today.

The boy was charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest and hindering police.

He was granted conditional bail and will appear in Parramatta Children’s Court on September 29.

The woman was questioned by investigators and released, with charges expected to be laid.

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

Latin America

Brazil: Tourist Jailed for Kissing Daughter on Beach

Charged under anti-pedophile law following complaint from bystanders

The businessman, 48, who has not been named, was arrested following a complaint from an elderly Brazilian couple who thought he was overly affectionate towards his daughter.

Despite protests from the girl that her father had done nothing wrong, the man is being kept in custody.

The man’s Brazilian wife, who was with them on the Fortaleza beach at the time, also denies any wrongdoing on the part of her husband and said she is astounded at the way he has been treated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela

The prospect of Iranian missiles in South America should not be dismissed.

The diplomatic ties between Iran and Venezuela go back almost 50 years and until recently amounted to little more than the routine exchange of diplomats. With the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the relationship dramatically changed.

Today Mr. Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez have created a cozy financial, political and military partnership rooted in a shared anti-American animus. Now is the time to develop policies in this country to ensure this partnership produces no poisonous fruit.

Signs of the evolving partnership began to emerge in 2006, when Venezuela joined Cuba and Syria as the only nations to vote against a U.N. Atomic Energy Agency resolution to report Iran to the Security Council over its failures to abide U.N. sanctions to curtail its nuclear program. A year later, during a visit by Mr. Chávez to Tehran, the two nations declared an “axis of unity” against the U.S. and Ecuador. And in June of this year, while protesters lined the streets of Tehran following the substantial allegations of fraud in the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chávez publicly offered him support. As the regime cracked down on political dissent, jailing, torturing and killing protesters, Venezuela stood with the Iranian hard-liners.

Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meet in Tehran, Sept. 5.

Meanwhile, Iranian investments in Venezuela have been rising…

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

Uruguay Allows Same-Sex Adoption

Same-sex couples in Uruguay will be able to adopt children following the approval of a controversial bill by the country’s senate.

The move means Uruguay becomes the first Latin American country to allow gay couples the chance to adopt.

Some 17 of 23 senators voted in favour of the new legislation, AFP reports.

The change — opposed by the Catholic Church — is the latest in a series of liberalising measures supported by left-wing President Tabare Vazquez.

The archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolas Cotugno, said before the vote that it would be a “serious error to accept the adoption of children by homosexual couples”.

“It’s not about religion, philosophy or sociology. It’s something which is mainly about the respect of human nature itself,” he said in a statement quoted by AFP.

Under the new law, the power to make decisions on adoptions shifts from judges to the national Institute of Children and Adolescents.

The country, says the BBC’s correspondent in the region, Gary Duffy, has a history of adopting a more liberal stance on social questions.

In 1907, for example, it became the first country in the region to approve divorce and women were given the right to vote in 1932.

Last year, gay civil unions were legalised and earlier this year earlier this year the way was cleared for gay candidates to enter military schools.

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


Denmark: Burmese Quota Refugees Favoured Over Iraqis

The immigration minister has changed her mind about accepting Iraqi refugees under a UN programme

Denmark will now not be taking Iraqi quota refugees from Jordan and Syria this year, instead favouring Burmese refugees in Malaysia.

Despite announcing just two months ago that Denmark could accept the Iraqi refugees as agreed by the UN, Immigration Minister Birthe Rønn Hornbech has now said they will not be the first choice this year.

Head of the Social Liberal party Margrethe Vestager is demanding an explanation for the u-turn and said she suspected that domestic politics may be responsible. ‘Birthe Rønn doesn’t want to be in a position where she is throwing Iraqis out of the country, while at the same time bringing more in,’ said Vestager to Politiken newspaper.

The minister did not wish to elaborate on the reasons for the change, but told the paper that past experience showed that Burmese refugees were good at integrating into their new country.

Quota refugees are different to asylum seekers in that they are resettled in a country following agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Denmark has agreed to take approximately 500 of these refugees annually, who are selected under a number of criteria, such as geographical regions, those who are critically ill and need treatment, those who are at risk of being sent back to their original country or those who are currently in danger where they are living.

           — Hat tip: TB [Return to headlines]