Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/9/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/9/2009The big news tonight — which Dymphna will be blogging on separately — is that, in response to Yale University’s craven behavior, Voltaire Press has just published a book of “banned” Mohammed images, including the infamous Danish cartoons.

In other news, the Supreme Court has denied an appeal by the Beltway sniper John Allen Muhammad. If the governor doesn’t issue a stay, Mr. Muhammad will die by lethal injection tomorrow night.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, CSP, Fausta, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, JP, Nilk, SC, Sean O’Brian, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Army Shooter’s Mosque Run by Muslim Mafia
Barack Obama ‘Insensitive’ Over His Handling of Fort Hood Shooting
Chuck Norris: Enemies Within
Danish Cartoons Illustrated in New Book of Images of Muhammad — Just as FBI Arrests Two for Conspiring to Kill the Cartoons’ Publisher
Did Hasan Radicalize Others at Fort Hood?
Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Awake, Talking
Frank Gaffney: It’s the Jihad, Stupid
Ft. Hood Shooter’s Computer Reveals Al Qaeda Connection
Mark Steyn: The Hole at the Heart of Our Strategy
Muslim Mafia Booster Rep. Myrick: I’m on the Hasan Case
PC Sickness Killed Our Soldiers
The ‘Muslim Mafia’ Hard at Work
The Mystery of Barack Obama Continues
What is Obama’s Real Education Agenda?
Wife of Washington Sniper Reveals the Chilling Reasons Why Her Husband Gunned Down 13 Strangers
Canadian Tossed From UN Over Israel Remarks
Europe and the EU
Berlusconi: Relationship With Miss Noemi is Slander
Concern Over Iceland EU Bid as Public Support Tanks
EU: ‘Strong’ Support for D’Alema
Sarkozy Reinvents History: French Leader Posts Facebook Image of Him at Berlin Wall ‘The Night it Came Down’… Except That He Was Still in Paris That Night
UK: Get Me a Rope Before Mandelson Wipes US All Out
UK: How Could the Thugs Who Did This Get Away With Just Cautions?
UK: Is the Chief Rabbi Worried About Muslim Immigrants?
UK: Poppy Day and a War We Won’t Want to Remember
UK: Tory Eurosceptics Threaten ‘All-Out War’ Over Brussels
Vatican: ‘No Bid to Lure Anglicans’
We Were Fools to Think the Fall of the Berlin Wall Had Killed Off the Far Left
North Africa
Algeria: 55% of Imports From EU
Israel and the Palestinians
Mofaz: Provisional, Demilitarised Palestinian State
Palestinian Missile Near Sderot
Phones to Ring as Missle Risk Warning
Secret Obama Deal for Palestinian State?
Middle East
Ahmadinejad in Turkey for Summit
Dubai: Islamic Banks Continue to Grow
Europe Sells Out to Syria and Gets Slapped: A Middle East Case Study in Begging to Give Something for Nothing
Iranian Wins Dutch Rights Award
NATO: Italy to Lead New Mine Clearing Project in Jordan
Syria: EU Funded 60 Haemodialysis Machines to 11 Hospitals
Turkey: Alevis Voice Demands at Mass Rally in Kadiköy
Turkey: 32 Million Euro Fine for Google
Turkey: Prison Population Doubles in Nine Years
U.N. Fails to Act After Iran Caught ‘Red-Handed’
South Asia
Afghanistan: Allied Forces ‘May Abandon Most of Northern Helmand’
Far East
Teacher Beheaded in Philippines
Australia — Pacific
Australia: Girl, 12, Gives Birth to Baby Boy
Sub-Saharan Africa
Africa: Global Community Has Turned Its Back, Moyo
Mid-Ocean Pirate Attack on Tanker
Spain: “Free the Two Pirates”, Alakrana Crew Families
Latin America
A New Mosque in Nicaragua Fires Up the Rumor Mill
Hugo Chavez Tells Venezuela’s Military to Prepare for Possible Conflict With Colombia
Australia: Newspoll Finds Kevin Rudd Doing a ‘Bad Job’ On Managing Asylum-Seekers
UK: Do Labour’s Immigration Scaremongers Fool Anybody?
UK: New Immigration Row as Memo Reveals Home Office Officials Told to ‘Take Risks’ On Letting Migrants Into Britain
Culture Wars
Catholic Bishops Help Pass Pelosicare
Historic Review Shows Current Climate Change is Normal
Side-Effects Alert for All Statin Users as Drug is Linked to Depression and Memory Loss
Wide Dissatisfaction With Capitalism — Twenty Years After Fall of Berlin Wall


Army Shooter’s Mosque Run by Muslim Mafia

Islamic center preaches violent jihad, Shariah law

The suspected Fort Hood terrorist’s former mosque in Maryland is controlled by the radical Muslim Brotherhood, a Saudi-funded worldwide jihadist movement which controls many of the mosques in America.

Conventional wisdom holds that Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan “self-radicalized” without any help from the Muslim establishment before allegedly shooting 46 fellow soldiers and security guards, and murdering 13 of them at the sprawling Texas base.

Witnesses say the devout Muslim officer jumped up on a desk and shouted, “Allahu akbar!” — Allah is greatest — before opening fire and spraying more than 100 bullets inside a crowded building where troops prepared to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, WND has learned that the Maryland mosque where Hasan worshiped before his transfer to Fort Hood preaches violent jihad and a harsh Saudi-style Islamic doctrine that denies women the right to individual expression.

Imam Faizul Khan ministered to Hasan when he worshiped at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, Md. Khan has been portrayed in the media as a moderate, but he sits on the national board of directors of the radical Islamic Society of North America, or ISNA.

Federal prosecutors recently named ISNA as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator in the largest terror finance case in U.S. history. ISNA, they say, is a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood, parent of Hamas and al-Qaida.

“ISNA has a long and disgraceful record of promoting radical Islam,” says Islamic scholar and author Stephen Schwartz, a practicing Sufi Muslim.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Barack Obama ‘Insensitive’ Over His Handling of Fort Hood Shooting

President Obama came in for growing criticism over the weekend for his “insensitive” handling of the bloody shoot-out in Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 people were killed by a Muslim officer in the US Army. Mr Obama is not scheduled to arrive at America’s largest military base until tomorrow to attend a memorial service for victims of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who opened fire on a group of unarmed soldiers.

The President’s jarring absence from Fort Hood — in contrast to a low-key visit by the former president George Bush on Friday — is not the only element of his response to the tragedy that is bothering his critics, Democrats and Republicans alike.

In particular, much has been made of a transcript of the press conference where Mr Obama first gave his official response to the mass shooting. The President opened his remarks — he was attending a Tribal Nations Conference for America’s 564 federally recognised Native American tribes — with jocular “shout-outs” to various people in the audience. Only later did he turn his attention to the attack, saying: “I planned to make some broader remarks. But as some of you have heard, there has been a tragic shooting.”

In particular, much has been made of a transcript of the press conference where Mr Obama first gave his official response to the mass shooting. The President opened his remarks — he was attending a Tribal Nations Conference for America’s 564 federally recognised Native American tribes — with jocular “shout-outs” to various people in the audience. Only later did he turn his attention to the attack, saying: “I planned to make some broader remarks. But as some of you have heard, there has been a tragic shooting.”

“(Obama) did not appreciate the gravity of what he represents,” Brad Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to George Bush, told Fox News. “He should have begun his official remarks with the tragedy. The fact that he used colloquialisms like ‘shout out’ — and was so cavalier at the beginning — was a reflection of his inability to be presidential. He’s not comfortable enough in his role yet.”

Unusually, the liberal Boston Globe agreed. In an editorial at the weekend the newspaper said: “It takes more than scripted eloquence for Presidents to connect with fellow Americans. It requires a visceral ability to grasp the scope of tragedy, calculate its impact on the national psyche, and react swiftly. Obama missed the first moment to show he understood how much it hurt.”

As further details emerged about the shooting — including allegations that Major Hasan felt persecuted for his Muslim faith, and had stood on a table and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” (God is greatest) before opening fire — opinion was divided on whether or not it could be classified as a terrorist attack.

The Army’s top officer, General George Casey, did not rule it out in an ABC News television interview, saying only: “We all want to know what happened and what motivated the suspect, but I think we need to be very, very careful. Speculation could potentially heighten a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers. What happened at Ford Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.”

Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that he would begin an investigation into the mass shooting. The names of all 13 victims have been released, and accounts of the massacre are emerging as family members of survivors talk to the press. The suspect is thought to be in a coma.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Chuck Norris: Enemies Within

Last Thursday, Nov. 5, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and devout Muslim, fatally shot 13 U.S. American citizens (12 service men and women) and wounded an additional 30 people at the largest U.S. military installation, Fort Hood, Texas.

Faizul Khan, a former imam who attended services at the same mosque with Hasan for 10 years in Silver Spring, Md., described him as “very serious about his religion” and wanting an equally religious woman “who prayed five times a day and wears a hijab.”

Hasan vehemently opposed the U.S. missions in the Middle East, arguing with co-workers, senior officers and even patients. He quarreled with Col. Terry Lee, who testified that Hasan “said maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor.” Dr. Val Finnell, a former classmate, said that Hasan was “very vocal” about equating the war on terror with a war on Islam. He said Hasan even gave a PowerPoint presentation once justifying Islamic suicide bombing.

A few days before Hasan’s killing spree at Fort Hood, he proved his premeditated intentions by giving away all his belongings (including his Qurans) to his neighbors, saying he would no longer need them and adding “I’m ready.”

Just hours before the shooting spree, he attended prayer services at a local mosque, where he normally wore street clothes but that morning wore white Muslim attire.


And the one question that keeps coming to my mind is: Have we become so tolerant and politically correct that we can’t see or confront a rotten apple when it’s right in front of our eyes?

To those roughly 3,500 Muslims who faithfully serve in the U.S. military, God bless you. We appreciate what you do and pray for you along with all of our dedicated service men and women. I fully realize Muslim extremists don’t represent mainstream Islam. We must not quarantine all Islamic theology and practice as un-American.

At the same time, we must not stick our heads in the religious sands and call all these fatal acts “isolated incidents.” We should not ignore the systemic nature and embryonic potential of fanaticism inherent within many. And we must not allow our cultural infatuation with passivity and tolerance to restrain us from searching for and stopping such militant rudimentary resistance, especially on our military posts.

[Comments from JD: List of all the injured and dead is at the end of Chuck’s article. Among of the dead were a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Danish Cartoons Illustrated in New Book of Images of Muhammad — Just as FBI Arrests Two for Conspiring to Kill the Cartoons’ Publisher

Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, which includes the Danish cartoons, 30 other images of Muhammad, and an essay calling for free speech unfettered by fear, appears in print shortly after 2 men were arrested for planning to kill editor Flemming Rose.

(EMAILWIRE.COM, November 09, 2009 ) Durham, N.C. — The provocatively titled Muhammad: The “Banned” Images adds another chapter to the saga of the Danish cartoons, which were back in the news recently after the FBI arrested David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana for plotting to kill Flemming Rose. Rose is the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that sponsored and first published the controversial cartoons back in 2005.

In August, Yale University Press announced that it would exclude all images of Muhammad from The Cartoons that Shook the World, a book by Brandeis professor Jyette Klausen. The Press cited an anonymous panel of experts who claimed that publication of the illustrations “ran a serious risk of instigating violence.” Muhammad: The “Banned” Images, with an introduction by Duke professor Gary Hull, fills the rift in Klausen’s book with 31 high-quality, full-color images of Muhammad. Complete with captions, the images span the 12th through 21st centuries, and include paintings by Muslim artists working in the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires, as well as paintings and drawings by William Blake, Gustave Dore, and Salvador Dali.

Hull points out, “Muhammad: The ‘Banned’ Images is a ‘picture book’ — or errata to the bowdlerized version of Klausen’s book. It is of course more than that. It is a statement of defiance against censors, terror-mongers, and their Western appeasers. It is a rallying cry for free speech, freedom of the press, and for open scholarship unfettered by fear.” Hull has been involved with the Danish cartoon controversy since 2006, when his program at Duke hosted a speech by Flemming Rose. His introduction includes a brief survey of the reaction of Western intellectuals to Muslim violence and threats, including the Rushdie fatwa, the Theo van Gogh assassination, and Yale University Press’s recent spineless self-censorship.

The consequences of self-censorship are reiterated in a Statement of Principle with distinguished signatories: “The failure to stand up for free expression emboldens those who would attack and undermine it. … It is incumbent on those responsible for the education of the next generation of leaders to stand up for certain basic principles: that the free exchange of ideas is essential to liberal democracy; that each person is entitled to hold and express his or her own views without fear of bodily harm; and that the suppression of ideas is a form of repression used by authoritarian regimes around the world to control and dehumanize their citizens and squelch opposition. To paraphrase Ben Franklin, those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, will get neither liberty nor safety.”

[Return to headlines]

Did Hasan Radicalize Others at Fort Hood?

Alleged Army terrorist counseled 48 Muslims in chaplain’s absence

The suspected Fort Hood terrorist served as a lay Muslim leader running Islamic services on the base in the absence of the Muslim chaplain, WND has learned. He also mentored at least one young convert to Islam whose parents worked at the sprawling Texas post.

Hasan’s religious activities raise the specter that others may have been radicalized, investigators worry. There are nearly 50 Muslim soldiers serving on the base.

Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly shot 46 fellow soldiers and security guards and murdered 13 in the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11.

Witnesses say the devout Muslim officer jumped up on a desk and shouted, “Allahu akbar!” — Allah is greatest — before opening fire and spraying more than 100 bullets inside a crowded building where troops were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“He was preparing for a martyrdom operation,” a U.S. Army intelligence official said. “There is no evidence that this was an issue of an emotional aberration. It was well planned.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Fort Hood Shooting Suspect Awake, Talking

Army Increasingly Believes Maj. Hasan Acted Alone

Army officials said their investigators increasingly believe that Maj. Hasan was the lone gunman in the carnage. “Right now we’re operating on the belief that he acted alone and had no help,” said a military official familiar with the Army Criminal Investigation Division probe.

To help settle the question more definitively, the official said, military investigators were trying to determine where Maj. Hasan had purchased his handguns and the large quantity of ammunition used in the attack.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: It’s the Jihad, Stupid

Poll after poll indicates that official Washington is held in very low regard by the American people. One reason is that our leaders are seen as out of touch with the realities confronting ordinary folks — and with what those folks’ common sense suggests are appropriate responses to such realities. There could scarcely be a more graphic example of that disconnect — and its ominous implications — than the contortions the U.S. government is now going through in the wake of the murder of 13 people and the wounding of dozens more at Fort Hood last week. For example, the FBI declared immediately after the attack that it was not an act of terrorism. Other officials are promoting the idea that it is simply a case of an individual afflicted by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or deranged by the prospect of an upcoming deployment to a war zone. President Obama insists that we should reserve judgment, evidently because the facts are open to varying interpretations…

           — Hat tip: CSP [Return to headlines]

Ft. Hood Shooter’s Computer Reveals Al Qaeda Connection

9 November 2009: According to an intelligence source speaking to the Northeast Intelligence Network, forensic analysis of Nidal Malik HASAN’s computer and other media determined that HASAN had routinely visited al Qaeda and Islamic terrorist web sites in months and weeks leading to last week’s massacre at Fort Hood. According to this investigative source, HASAN also downloaded material from the web site operated by former Dar al Hijrah mosque leader and terrorist facilitator Anwar Nasser al Awlaki. As reported here, al Awlaki was an imam at the Dar al Hijrah mosque in Fall Church, Virginia in 2001, where he advised and facilitated two of the 9/11 terrorists in the months prior to the attacks. Al Awlaki also counseled HASAN during that same period.

The information obtained from HASAN’s digital files reportedly shows a “pattern of deliberate and willful planning to conduct some type of attack against the U.S. military prior to his deployment” [to Afghanistan], stated this source who requested anonymity as he is not authorized to speak publicly. “The motive behind the massacre appears to be rooted in his ideology, an ideology which was emboldened by online activity,” added this source.


According to this source, the now infamous pre-9/11 walls erected within government agencies have returned, “but this time they are higher and stronger.” “There is an unwillingness to address ‘delicate’ intelligence and security matters by sharing information outside of the beltway, and that directive comes right from the top. That’s all I’m going to say right now,” stated this source.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Mark Steyn: The Hole at the Heart of Our Strategy

We’re scrupulously non-judgmental about the ideology that drives terrorism.

But we’re scrupulously non-judgmental about the ideology that drives a man to fly into a building or self-detonate on the subway, and thus we have a hole at the heart of our strategy. We use rhetorical conveniences like “radical Islam” or, if that seems a wee bit Islamophobic, just plain old “radical extremism.” But we never make any effort to delineate the line which separates “radical Islam” from non-radical Islam. Indeed, we go to great lengths to make it even fuzzier. And somewhere in that woozy blur the pathologies of a Nidal Malik Hasan incubate. An army psychiatrist, Major Hasan was an American, born and raised, who graduated from Viriginia Tech and then received his doctorate from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, which works out to the best part of half a million dollars’ worth of elite education. But he opposed America’s actions in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and made approving remarks about jihadists on American soil. “You need to lock it up, Major,” cautioned his superior officer, Col. Terry Lee.

But he didn’t really need to “lock it up” at all. He could pretty much say anything he liked, and if any “red flags” were raised they were quickly mothballed. Lots of people are “anti-war.” Some of them are objectively on the other side — that’s to say, they encourage and support attacks on American troops and civilians. But not many of those in that latter category are U.S. Army majors. Or so one would hope. Yet why be surprised? Azad Ali, a man who approvingly quotes such observations as “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq I would kill him because that is my obligation” is an adviser to Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (the equivalent of the U.S. attorneys). In Toronto this week, the brave ex-Muslim Nonie Darwish mentioned en passant that, on flying from the U.S. to Canada, she was questioned at length about the purpose of her visit by an apparently Muslim border official. When she revealed that she was giving a speech about Islamic law, he rebuked her: “We are not to question sharia.”

That’s the guy manning the airport-security desk.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Muslim Mafia Booster Rep. Myrick: I’m on the Hasan Case

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), who wrote the foreword to Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize America, said today she is “very concerned” about infiltration of the military by jihadists.

“We can’t continue to be so politically correct that we’re going to say this wasn’t religiously motivated,” Myrick told the Charlotte, North Carolina, CBS affiliate. She noted the reports that Nidal Malik Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” before he allegedly opened fire in the shooting spree at Fort Hood Thursday.

With the line about political correctness, Myrick was echoing conservative writers like Michelle Malkin, who declared today “political correctness is the handmaiden of terror.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

PC Sickness Killed Our Soldiers

How many times do we need to see man-made disasters like this occur before we recognize we are at war? This is not some game. This is not an enemy that will go away if we turn our backs and pretend it really doesn’t exist. This is war — all-out war against Americans and America.

The questions are legion:

  • How did Nidal Malik Hasan rise to the rank of major in the U.S. Army with his background? I’m not talking about his Muslim faith. I’m talking about his troubled history — the disciplinary record of inappropriate proselytizing, the extremist Internet postings, the statements to comrades about American foreign policy, the mandatory counseling he had to receive because of his behavior. How could he ever have been placed in such a position of authority?
  • How is it possible that an officer who had expressed such grave misgivings about a deployment to Afghanistan or Iraq had been assigned to such a mission without careful scrutiny?
  • What kind of screening goes on in the military for security safety risks?
  • Why was this man chosen to participate in transition plans for the new administration less than a year ago by a major university — particularly on an issue involving homeland security?
  • Why are soldiers on U.S. military bases strictly forbidden to carry firearms — weapons that could have prevented this travesty? If they are to be trusted with firearms to carry out their foreign missions, why not at home to defend themselves like other Americans? Why have military bases, of all places, been turned into virtual gun-free zones?
  • And how is it possible after so many incidents like this in America are the U.S. media still so obsessed with withholding information and denying terrorism as even a possible motivation?

These are actually dangerous questions to pose in our country today. I will most assuredly be attacked for even asking them. Yet, like them or not, most Americans are clear-thinking enough to know exactly what I am talking about.

I write these words as an Arab-American. I bear no hostility toward people from the Middle East. I bear no hostility toward people who are Muslim. However, I do bear hostility — and, I believe, rightly so — to people who want to destroy America or radically alter its form of governance.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The ‘Muslim Mafia’ Hard at Work

Are you sick to your stomach about the way the media have soft-pedaled the latest Islamic terrorist attack at Fort Hood?

Do you share my disbelief at the way the press has gone out of its way to portray this slaughter as something other than what it clearly is?

Do you plan to share your revulsion with members of the media who have attempted to bury coverage of the shocking findings of the new book, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” at the very moment this book needs maximum attention if we are to protect our country from future attacks?

Far from being a setback to the organized front groups for jihadism, the massacre at Fort Hood has been a public relations boon to them.

While the courageous American authors of this book have been systematically shut out of mainstream media coverage, the stealth jihadists who pose as Muslim civil rights proponents have had a press field day warning against phantom retribution against innocent Muslims.

Hey guys! This is America. Not one Arab-American, not one Muslim-American has been attacked in response to the wholesale slaughter at Fort Hood. I’m an Arab-American, and I don’t have any fear that my neighbors are going to hunt me down because of what happened at Fort Hood. I do, however, fear that I may be a victim of a terrorist attack. And I know I will face retribution in some form for publishing “Muslim Mafia.”

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

The Mystery of Barack Obama Continues

Researchers have discovered that Obama’s autobiographical books are little more than PR stunts, as they have little to do with the actual events of his life. The fact is we know less about President Obama than perhaps any other president in American history and much of this is due to actual efforts to hide his record. This should concern all Americans.

A nation-wide network of researchers has sprung up to attempt to fill in the blanks, but at every opportunity Obama’s high-priced lawyers have built walls around various records or simply made them disappear. It is estimated that Obama’s legal team has now spent well over $1.4 million dollars blocking access to documents every American should have access to. The question is why would he spend so much money to do this?

[Comments from JD: Long and detailed article — worth reading.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

What is Obama’s Real Education Agenda?

The record of how Obama and Ayers worked closely together and wasted $150 million dollars is so embarrassing that Obama supporters tried, unsuccessfully, to block researchers from accessing the records of the Annenberg Challenge, now held by the University of Illinois.

Obama’s current education proposals have been largely ignored, but appear to be a repeat of his Annenberg Challenge years. His proposals will have far reaching consequences, as they involve a massive increase in federal funding and will result in increased federal regulation with a corresponding loss of local control and accountability. Indeed, Obama has allocated $110 billion in stimulus funds alone to education, and that’s not counting the normal education budget. The areas heavily funded are largely teacher preparation, universal pre-school, child care, and after school programs.

While this federalization trend began long before “the Messiah” came to power, he has dramatically increased the speed of this transition. Traditionally, the policy areas targeted by Obama were funded by school districts and states but, of course, with federal dollars, come federal control. What we are watching here is the transformation of schools from being locally controlled entities, to basically a branch of the Federal Government. This is what Obama means by education reform.


Moreover, Darling-Hammond wrote an education blueprint for the Obama campaign that listed the repayment of the “education debt” as its #1 priority. After combing through all the wacky touchy-feely education websites, one can find that the phrase basically means racial reparations. Racial reparations are based on the theory that due to slavery and discrimination, we owe blacks centuries of education funding. This means the Department of Education will be looking for ways for funnel billions of dollars to black students at the exclusion of other students. I’m sure the Obamaites at DOE will figure out how to do this without being obvious, even if they have to disguise such a program. Incidentally, Bill Ayers endorsed this concept so you can be sure Obama thinks highly of it.

[Comments from JD: Article details Obama’s education plan. Re-education plan is more accurate.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wife of Washington Sniper Reveals the Chilling Reasons Why Her Husband Gunned Down 13 Strangers

For 18 unforgettable days, he struck fear into the heart of every man, woman and child living in Washington DC, effectively paralysing the U.S. capital.

All outdoor sporting events were cancelled; shoppers ran zigzag from their vehicles to the supermarkets; motorists cowered behind their cars as they pumped petrol, never knowing whether they might be next in the telescopic sights of his high-powered rifle.

In all, 13 seemingly random victims were picked off in those grim autumn days of 2002, only three of whom survived.

But for the warped former U.S. Army marksman who staged this act of mass slaughter, the so-called Washington Sniper, today is pay-back time after his final appeal was refused by the Supreme Court yesterday.

Barring some last-minute stay of execution, at 9.30pm, John Allen Muhammad will be killed by lethal injection at a prison in Virginia, closing the book on one of the most nightmarish and perplexing episodes in American criminal history.

Every spectator seat in the death chamber will be filled, for many of his victims’ relatives have declared their determination to stare into the sniper’s eyes as he dies.

Yet one question remains unanswered: why did Muhammad do it?

His legal team argues that he was mentally ill at the time of his murderous rampage, a condition exacerbated by Gulf War syndrome.

It’s an intriguing defence, all the more so at a time when America is reeling from the killing spree of another hardline Muslim serviceman at Fort Hood army base in Texas.

But as his final hours approach, the sniper’s former wife, Mildred Muhammad, has advanced a different and altogether more extraordinary theory about his motivation.

In a sensational new book, she claims her ex-husband shot all those people simply to lay the ground for another murder — her own — so that he could regain custody of their three children.

After their bitter divorce, some three years before the shootings, Mrs Muhammad was awarded custody of their son, John, now 19, and daughters Salena, 17, and Taalibah, 16.

It was in his determination to get them back once and for all, she says, that he hatched his twisted plot.

By murdering a great number of people all around her home, just outside Washington, he would make the authorities believe that a serial killer was on the loose.

‘He was trying to place me in the middle of all these killings, so that when he finally took me out, the police would think I was just another sniper victim,’ Mrs Muhammad told me.

‘It might sound bizarre and far-fetched, but not if you knew John Muhammad.

‘You have to remember that he was trained in psychological warfare in the army, and he was prepared to do anything to get what he wanted.

‘That means all those innocent people were killed just because he was trying to kill me. I still have a hard time living with that. I constantly blank out of my mind the number of people who died in my name.’

Seven years on, Mrs Muhammad is embittered that American society refuses to regard her as one of her ex-husband’s victims.

She has therefore set up a self-styled help group for the families of abusive men, called After The Trauma, and spends her time travelling the country on speaking engagements.

It is a non-profit organisation, but provides her with an income and a dubious kudos as ‘the DC sniper’s ex-wife’. (Imagine the reaction in Britain if the Yorkshire Ripper’s wife, for example, behaved in this fashion.)

But what of her story? Can it really be true? To fully examine the truth we must turn the clock back more than 25 years to the early Eighties, when Mildred Green, as she was called, fell for Muhammad — then known as John Williams — after being introduced to him by a friend in their home town of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Though old photos show her as a radiantly beautiful young woman, she says she was deeply shy and naive, and still lived at home with her mother.

Having narrowly escaped being raped at 16, she was also very wary of men.

Muhammad, by contrast, was an outwardly confident National Guardsman with the ability to sweet-talk any girl who caught his eye.

They had been dating for several weeks before she learned that he was married to his childhood sweetheart, Carol Williams, by whom he had two sons, now in their 20s.

But he assured her they were on the verge of splitting up and, when he was posted to Washington State — 3,000 miles from the U.S. capital, she agreed to wait for his divorce to come through and then travel north to join him.

They were married in March 1988 and at first it seemed they would live happily together.

But as the months and years passed, she discovered her husband was not the contented, self-assured man she thought him to be.

For one thing, he was illiterate, so she had to teach him to read and help him bluff his way through military exams.

One of six children, he was also emotionally scarred by his wretched upbringing. His father had abandoned the family when he was a small boy, and when he was five years old his mother died of breast cancer.

Muhammad was then sent to live with relatives, and during the murder trial his lawyers claimed that one uncle often beat him.

Perhaps as a result, he developed a callous streak and set out to manipulate and control his wife in bizarre ways.

‘I would buy things I really liked and they would mysteriously go missing,’ she told me.

‘And once, when I bought a beautiful Sony clock, I came home to find that John had taken it to pieces. He said he just wanted to see how it worked, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to put it back together.’

Muhammad also began staying out until the early hours and she learned he was conducting a string of affairs.

Asked why she didn’t leave this overbearing, adulterous oddball far sooner, she says she was simply playing the role to which most Deep South black girls were raised: that of the dutiful wife.

As an army sergeant, Muhammad was posted to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War.

A combat engineer, he specialised in explosives and demolition. During his tour of duty, however, he was accused of deliberately setting off an explosive device in his tent, in what appeared to be an attempt to murder his colleagues and commit suicide.

Quite why he might have done this remains unclear, but it seems to have been connected with his insistence that black soldiers were suffering discrimination in the Gulf.

Muhammad was disciplined, but after he returned home his behaviour rapidly spiralled downwards.

Moody and depressed, he developed a bitter hatred for authority, and behaved in a bizarre manner.

One day he announced the family would be taking in a homeless lodger, called Steven.

Muhammad and his new friend acquired matching black bicycles and went out on mysterious ‘missions’ at dead of night, refusing to explain to Mildred what they had been doing.

While they were on one of these strange nocturnal bike rides, she learned that someone had been shot in the neck, and mentioned this to her husband.

‘Don’t ask,’ he said flatly, ending the conversation before it had begun. She now wonders whether it was then that the sniper claimed his first victim.

Whatever the truth, Muhammad left the army in 1994 and started a mobile mechanic firm.

It was successful at first, and his wife — who did the bookwork — harboured dreams of a wealthy life at the head of a booming business.

But her husband did not share her ambitions. He was more interested in having sex with women clients, offering to mend their cars for free in return.

Mrs Muhammad tolerated him for five more years before demanding a divorce. By then, the couple had become followers of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

While Mildred Muhammad saw religion as a means for peaceful social change, her husband was convinced that America’s injustices could be overcome only by subversion and violence.

However, after they parted, in 1999, and she was awarded custody of the children, she became the prime target for his anger.

Muhammad would break into the house in the night, she recalls, and she would awake to find him looming over her, like some ghostly apparition, beside the bed.

He repeatedly made sinister threats. ‘You have become my enemy and as my enemy I will have to kill you,’ he once warned her, his eyes glazed with fury.

‘John is a man of his word,’ Mrs Muhammad told me. ‘I have no doubt that he intended to do exactly what he said.’

In March 2000, Muhammad kidnapped the children and fled with them to Antigua, where his parents were born.

There they lived in a hovel without running water and Muhammad eked out a living by fixing documents for islanders who wanted to migrate illegally to the U.S.

He also began a relationship with the mother of Lee Malvo, the boy who later accompanied him on the shooting spree, and who is said to have been his brainwashed disciple.

(In many of the shootings, Malvo is believed to have pulled the trigger — hiding in the boot of Muhammad’s battered old saloon car and pointing the gun through a hole drilled in the boot. Too young to be sentenced to death for his part in the killings, he received a life sentence without parole).

Meanwhile, distraught at losing her family and terrified that he would ‘take me out with a head shot,’ Mrs Muhammad hid in a women’s refuge while fighting to find her children and win them back.

It would be 18 months before the U.S. authorities traced the ragged, bewildered youngsters, after Muhammad attempted to claim child welfare, and reunited them with their mother.

She is still angry at the way the authorities handled her case. And because Muhammad did not physically assault her, she claims the police did not take her seriously enough when she told them that he was planning to kill her in order to snatch them back.

Had they done so, she maintains, at least some of the sniper’s killings might have been averted, because they would have made him a suspect much sooner.

Desperate to start a new life with her family, Mrs Muhammad fled across the country with her children in September 2001. She settled near her sister in the Maryland suburbs, just outside Washington DC.

But Muhammad would not give up that easily, and after tricking a father’s advocacy group into believing he was the children’s rightful custodian, he tracked the family down.

Then, with Malvo at his side, he travelled 3,000 miles to the East Coast, towards Washington. Soon afterwards, the bloodbath started.

I was in Washington DC at the height of the mayhem, and the apprehension one felt, simply when walking in the open, was almost overwhelming. Mrs Muhammad recalls that she felt even more terrified than everyone else.

‘You have to remember I thought I was looking over my shoulder for two maniacs — the Washington Sniper and my husband,’ she says.

She insists she had no idea they were one and the same person until the police knocked on her door and told her they were about to name Muhammad as America’s most wanted man.

He had been identified after his accomplice, Malvo, dropped a weapons magazine with his fingerprints on it near the scene of one of their crimes and a link between the pair was established on the police database.

This was on October 23, 2002, four days after the final shooting. Soon afterwards, Muhammad’s car was spotted at a service station by a keen-eyed trucker, and the biggest U.S. manhunt of modern times was over.

There seems no reason to doubt any of this, yet today Mrs Muhammad is the target for a different kind of sniping.

For in Washington some people still point an accusing finger at her, suggesting she ought to have made the connection between her husband — whom she knew to be a trained marksman with a grudge — and the sniper much sooner.

‘Others tell me I should have stayed married to him,’ she shrugs. ‘That way, I would have been the only one to die.’

Mrs Muhammad no longer pays heed to such criticism, for she has totally reinvented herself and, through her victims’ rights group, she says she has found her true vocation.

Two years ago, she also remarried, to Reuben Muhammad, a drug abuse counsellor whom she met through a website for single U.S. Muslims.

The extended the family still live in the Washington suburbs, close to the scene of several shootings, and despite all they have been through, she says her children are doing remarkably well.

Her son is studying engineering and computer science at a leading university, and her two daughters are budding opera singers. They have not seen Muhammad in the seven years since his arrest.

However, they remain loyal to their father, and 19-year-old John Muhammad even applied to visit him on death row to say his goodbyes. His request was denied — unfairly, his mother says.

So, this evening, the children will gather around the TV with their mother and await confirmation of their father’s death.

And when it is all over, Mildred Muhammad will go back on her travels, explaining to anyone who will listen why she ought to be considered as the sniper’s 14th victim, even though the bullet with her name on it was never fired.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness [Return to headlines]


Canadian Tossed From UN Over Israel Remarks

Scholar critical of report alleging Gaza war crimes

By Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service

Guards at the United Nations whisked away a UN-accredited Canadian commentator this week after she denounced a controversial report that focuses heavily on alleged Israeli war crimes.

Anne Bayefsky, a York University political science professor, offered the only pro-Israel commentary at a microphone outside the UN General Assembly Hall on Thursday night following remarks by the assembly’s Libyan president, Ali Treki, and the chief Palestinian official at the UN, Riyad Mansour.

Arab and Muslim countries had overcome western opposition in the adoption of a resolution endorsing the report by South African judge Richard Goldstone, which focuses on the Israeli assault last winter on Gaza.

           — Hat tip: SC [Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi: Relationship With Miss Noemi is Slander

(AGI) — Rome, 5 Nov. — “I can’t find something grievous if it doesn’t exist. I have offered positions of responsibility only to women with a high-level profile that is moral, intellectual, cultural and professional.” In an excerpt from the soon-to-be-published book by Bruno Vespa, Silvio Berlusconi responds to the anchorman who pointed out that “proposing the candidature for European elections of attractive young girls with modest CVs has been seen as grave behaviour.” Berlusconi returns to the Noemi case, saying: “I have no sort of relationship with Miss Noemi. Everything written and said to suggest otherwise is slander.” And in the book, there is a note from the author’s office: “the journalist reconstructs the four occasions when the president said he had seen the young Neapolitan girl and it was always in the presence of others.” Another issue, regarding the “improper use of security services against witnesses, magistrates and journalists.” “The violent attacks on me,” responds Berslusconi, “which are always remote from any semblance of reality and a result of a preconceived hostility, are there for everyone to see. But I have never thought of using these resources against anyone. Only distorted and dishonest minds can ask me a question like this, imagining how they would probably behave if they were in my position.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Concern Over Iceland EU Bid as Public Support Tanks

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Iceland this week appointed its chief EU accession negotiator, but the country’s application is already hitting the buffers domestically and Brussels fears that the Arctic nation may “pull a Norway”, meaning an application that the government is sincere about, but which the people strongly reject.

The country’s finance minister, Steingrimur Sigfusson and leader of the government’s junior coalition partner, the Left Green Movement, said last Tuesday at a meeting of the Nordic Council in Stockholm that while Iceland had applied to join, the people did not want to become members of the EU, a statement that has not been met with great enthusiasm in Brussels.

On 1 November, the former Social Democratic foreign minister of the country, Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson, one of Iceland’s biggest supporters of joining the EU, told a meeting at the University of Reykjavik that accession would probably be rejected in a referendum and criticised the current government as providing weak leadership.


Iceland’s governing coalition is divided over the EU application. The normally euro-sceptic Left Greens gave their okay to moving ahead with negotiations in order to join the government, but much of their membership has not reacted well to the decision and MPs are under pressure from local branches of the party. Some analysts are speculating that it could split the party in two, with the more environmentally minded wing of the party the more pro-EU.

But the EU question is not the only point of fragility. The centre left Social Democratic Alliance and their far-left coalition partners are also split over what attitude to take toward energy-intensive industries and a range of other policy issues.

Moreover, all parties apart from the Social Democrats are having internal wrangles over the subject of EU accession. It is far from certain if the government were to fall that any new coalition would continue with the application process.

On Friday, a poll carried out by the Research Center of Bifröst University for the TV channel Stöð Two found that 54 percent of Icelanders now oppose membership while only 29 percent are in favour, with 17 percent uncertain.

The survey suggests that opposition to joining the bloc has hardened in the last few months, as a poll in August had EU supporters on 34.7 percent and opponents on 48.5 percent. In September, another poll put backers of accession on 32.7 percent and opponents on 50.2 percent.

At the height of the crisis, polls had reported that some two thirds backed adhesion to the EU.

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

EU: ‘Strong’ Support for D’Alema

Ex-Italian foreign minister tipped for EU job

(ANSA) — Brussels, November 9 — The European Parliament’s Social Democratic caucus leader Martin Schulz “strongly supports” the candidacy of Italian ex-foreign minister and ex-prime minister Massimo D’Alema to be the European Union’s new diplomatic chief, caucus sources told ANSA Monday.

The sources said the caucus had swung behind D’Alema after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband appeared to have ruled himself out.

However, several news outlets including Reuters and British newspapers were still saying Miliband was among the favourites.

D’Alema, for his part, said his candidacy was “a very delicate affair on which I cannot and must not say anything”.

Diplomatic sources said Monday’s meeting of European leaders in Berlin to mark the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall could bring a “breakthrough” in the appointment debate.

Also up for grabs is the post of the EU’s first standing president.

Belgium’s conservative PM Herman Van Rompuy is seen as hot favourite for this job.

But according to The Times newspaper, ex-British PM Tony Blair is still trying to canvass support for his bid.

If Blair succeeds, the other post would have to go to a conservative leader since its caucus is the biggest in the EP. Both posts, with new powers attached, have been set up in the Lisbon Treaty which comes into effect on January 1.

The Swedish presidency of the EU said Monday it had yet to set a date for an extraordinary summit to make the appointments.

Diplomatic sources said the meeting would “probably” be on November 14, 15 or 18.

Earlier, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said D’Alema had an excellent chance of becoming the EU’s first ‘foreign minister’.

There were “excellent prospects” for D’Alema if Miliband confirmed he was not running for the job.

Miliband, he noted, had yet to openly throw his hat into the ring.

“Frankly, that candidacy has so far never been there,” Frattini said.

If Miliband has definitely ruled himself out, as Schulz now appears to believe, D’Alema is the prime candidate to become new High Representative, Frattini observed.

Frattini, too, said the picture should become clearer after the talks in Berlin late Monday.

“The heads of government will certainly have another chance to think about it (today). We’ll see,” Frattini said.

Italy’s conservative PM, Silvio Berlusconi, has shown firm support for D’Alema over the last week.

D’Alema, 60, was premier when Italy took part in the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999 and was foreign minister seven years later, playing a role in helping end the 2006 Lebanon conflict.

When he took office in 1998 he was Italy’s first ex-Communist premier.

After excelling in school, D’Alema gained a place at the prestigious Scuola Normale di Pisa but did not complete his philosophy studies because of his duties as youth chief of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

He was one of the PCI’s top figures when it went into upheaval after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

With D’Alema playing a key role, the PCI became first the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) in 1991 and then the Democrats of the Left (DS) in 1998.

He was foreign minister to Romano Prodi when the more moderate heirs of the old PCI merged with centrist parties in 2007 into today’s Democratic Party.

D’Alema served as chairman of the PDS-DS from 1994 to 1999.

He was premier from October 1998 to April 2000 and foreign minister from May 2006 to May 2008.

A professional journalist, D’Alema is married to a Siena university lecturer. The couple have two children.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Reinvents History: French Leader Posts Facebook Image of Him at Berlin Wall ‘The Night it Came Down’… Except That He Was Still in Paris That Night

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been accused of reinventing history after he posted on Facebook a photo that he claimed showed him chipping away at the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

The photo, posted on Sunday, shows a younger Sarkozy taking what appears to be a small pickax to the graffiti-covered wall on the day it fell 20 years ago.

The problem is that official council records show that Sarkozy, then the mayor of Neuilly, was in Paris that night celebrating the anniversary of Charles de Gaulle.

The earliest he could have arrived in Berlin was November 11.

Yet in a text accompanying the photo, Sarkozy said he arrived in West Berlin on the morning of the 9th and then crossed Checkpoint Charlie to the East, where he chipped at the wall.

‘The night continued amid general enthusiasm,’ the posting read. ‘The reunion of the German people signaled the end of the Cold War and the start of a period of great liberty in Europe.’

In 1989, Sarkozy was 34 and a top official in France’s conservative RPR party.

As such, his movements were already being well-documented — a fact which appears to have escaped his memory.

Even without the council records, critics have attacked his story as dubious.

For a start his claim that he ‘decided to leave Paris’ on the morning of November 9th 1989 because he wanted ‘to take part in the event which was looming’ sounded unlikely.

Journalist Alain Aufray, of Liberation newspaper, said : ‘Nobody in Paris, not even in Berlin, could tell that the Wall was going to fall…

‘Radios and televisions in West Germany had began to describe what was happening at 8pm… It was not until 11pm that Berliners in the west began to gather infront of the border.’

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

UK: Get Me a Rope Before Mandelson Wipes US All Out

Jeremy Clarkson

It’s a lovely idea, to get out of this stupid, Fairtrade, Brown-stained, Mandelson-skewed, equal-opportunities, multicultural, carbon-neutral, trendily left, regionally assembled, big-government, trilingual, mosque-drenched, all-the-pigs-are-equal, property-is-theft hellhole and set up shop somewhere else. But where?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: How Could the Thugs Who Did This Get Away With Just Cautions?

[Comments from JD: Warning: Graphic photos.]

The first thing you notice about Dean Martin isn’t his sandy hair or warm smile. It’s the two curved scars that arch across his forehead, one above each eye, like a second set of eyebrows.

These puckered lines are a permanent reminder of the night earlier this year that ended with Dean being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. But perhaps more damaging than the physical injuries he suffered was the sense of impotent rage when he failed to secure any justice.

His story is shocking not just because it features the casual violence that’s become an everyday part of life in Britain.

But also because it illustrates how readily those who commit a crime that would once have been considered serious get off virtually scot-free.


A BBC1 Panorama investigation by reporter Shelley Jofre tonight asks whether government initiatives meant to help police deal with crime more efficiently actually mean that those who commit serious crimes are increasingly being let off the hook.

Its findings offer a devastating critique of the British justice system.

As the Mail revealed on Saturday, the use of cautions to punish everything from burglary to shoplifting is soaring — with an astonishing 2.2 million being issued to criminals from 2000-08.

But it is their use for violent crimes, exposed by the investigation, that is most disturbing.

‘It used to be straightforward,’ says Jofre. ‘Commit anything more than the most petty crime and the chances were you’d be prosecuted. Now, half of all cases are dealt with by cautions and fines.’


So what is going on? The rules are that everywhere except Scotland, if a person admits their guilt, the police can use discretion to issue a caution for a minor offence.

But there are concerns that the term ‘minor offence’ is being stretched to cover crimes many of us would not consider minor.

Through Freedom of Information requests to police forces, Panorama learned that last year nearly 39,000 people received a caution for actual bodily harm.

More astonishingly, 739 cautions were issued for grievous bodily harm.

According to Crown Prosecution Service guidelines, GBH is defined as ‘serious bodily harm’. Examples of serious harm include: injury resulting in permanent disability or permanent loss of sensory function; injury which results in more than minor, permanent disfigurement, broken or displaced limbs or bones, including fractured skull; compound fractures, broken cheek bone, jaw, ribs, etc.’

All these injuries, in any normal person’s eyes, should merit more than just a ticking off. Yet police chiefs argue that cautions are not a soft option because they go on your criminal record and will be taken into account by a court in the event of a second offence.


Nor is it only assault that is being dealt with by cautions. Last year, cautions were issued to deal with burglary, child neglect, sexual assault and even rape.


Simon Reed, vice chairman of the Police Federation, believes government targets are to blame for crimes being dealt with in this apparently perfunctory manner.

‘I think it’s about making the system quicker and cheaper by bypassing the courts,’ he says. ‘I don’t think justice is being served.’

The introduction of Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) in 2004 as part of the Government’s strategy to tackle low-level nuisance behaviour has attracted criticism. These allow police to fine offenders £50 or £80, thus reducing paperwork.

According to the Ministry of Justice, PNDs can be issued for a ‘specified range of offences including being drunk and disorderly and cannabis possession’.

But last year they were given to people guilty of criminal damage, robbery, fraud, ABH and burglary.

This means offenders escape with a fine scarcely bigger than a parking ticket for something that, had they gone to court, might have merited a prison sentence.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

UK: Is the Chief Rabbi Worried About Muslim Immigrants?

I was unable to make the speech given by Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, at Theos, the religion think tank, on Wednesday evening. But I hope he wasn’t making a thinly-veiled attack on European Muslim immigrants, when he said that Europeans are more interested in material things than having children.

Our report has him saying this: “Where today in European culture with its consumerism and instant gratification — because you’re worth it — where will you find space for the concept of sacrifice for the sake of generations not yet born? Europe, at least the indigenous population of Europe, is dying.That is one of the unsayable truths of our time. We are undergoing the moral equivalent of climate change and no one is talking about it.”

Lord Sacks was ostensibly attacking our secular, consumerist culture. But a regular canard of European racists is that the Muslim immigrant population is “out-breeding” other ethnicities. They usually add that the name Mohammed is now the most popular boy’s name in some cities. The truth is that immigrant birth-rates settle down to mirror local trends. And the much greater pluralism of non-Muslim names is bound to make the Mohammeds stand out statistically.

But I worry about the Chief Rabbi’s remark that “the indigenous population of Europe is dying”. That “indigenous” is a dangerous word, as Lord Sacks must know. Clarification please.

From the comments

“Good for Lord Sacks — he’s telling an “inconvenient truth”, but because it is inconvenient to the left wing establishment it is greeted with abuse. Oh, to be sure, he doesn’t get the Tebbit treatment. He isn’t described as a polecat, unfit for polite society, but everywhere among the pinko commentariat we will presumably now see the raising of eye brows and hear the heaving of sighs. One of the most flatulent of these weary exhalations is to be heard emerging from the oh-so-pious person of Pitcher. And what is this truth? It is that Europe has an indigenous population too. It is that the same population has been demonised by the left, ascribing the crimes of the Nazis to the whole people and ignoring all slave trades other than the Atlantic. As a punishment, those of us who identify with this people are only allowed to express mutual solidarity in the process of accepting blame. Otherwise, we must resign our identiy and suffer the resettlement of our lands. Other races, cultures and societies are permitted a collective identity — us? No, sir. This vile policy of self hatred, like all such contemptible collaborations is a form of “heaping up our own funeral pyre”. Can you not see the first flickers of that conflagration in 9/11? Moreover, Lord Sacks is perfectly correct to see in a culture the immemorial processes of regeneration. A society is more than an agglomeration of imported labourers and a culture which purchases its children overseas is sterile, empty and doomed.”

“If the Chief Rabbi was making a thinly veiled attack then I blame him for the veil and I blame you Mr Pitcher for the word “attack” which is plucked from the mohemmedan lexicon of self-pitying terms of abuse and which many of us are doubtless weary of. You should know better than to fall for it..

Many, indigenous or otherwise (and I’m in the first category), are concerned about mohammedans. That much is crystal clear. Nothing veiled about it. Probably quite a proportion of the 1 in 5 that would consider a BNP vote, take the islamosceptic view. Many who wouldn’t vote for the BNP might still feel anxious about what the mohammmedan community is up to on a good day. And why not? Many mohammedans make no secret of the wish to replace our Judeo-Christianity with an entirely rival and highly questionable creed and a wholly contrasting way of life. The dozens of gestating plots currently “watched” by the security services aren’t, let’s face it, coming from the Methodists or the Reformed Jews. The demands for sharia aren’t emanating from the Rastafarians. The questionable centres of worship that are also centres of mohammedan discontent aren’t melodic Welsh Chapels. The belligerant and insulting literature widely in circulation and that’s long overdue for exposure and intellectual, reasoned utter demolition isn’t born of the local Madrigal Society. So what’s this talk of “attack” when we — and the Chief Rabbi — intimate that we’d rather not have any of it or that at least, it needs most careful watching? This is not “attack”; it’s just stating the blindly and reasonably b****y obvious for which absolutely no apology is required.

And for which no veil is required either.

Mr Pitcher, with great respect, grow up!”

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Poppy Day and a War We Won’t Want to Remember

David Dimbleby mentioned in his TV commentary ‘the unconscionable millions’ killed in war during yesterday’s Cenotaph service for our ‘glorious dead’.

Unconscionable, as in ‘without conscience or scruples; outrageous; unthinkable; unreasonable; excessive’. Are the 230 military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 glorious, or unconscionable?

According to the latest opinion poll, 64 per cent of us think Afghanistan is ‘unwinnable’. In other words, a waste of blood and treasure.

The senior British commander, Lt Gen Jim Dutton, says the situation is ‘serious and deteriorating’. But he adds: ‘It is worth some soldiers having to die for, because the consequences of it going wrong are greater.’

What consequences?

Prior to joining the Queen at the Cenotaph yesterday , the Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Jock Stirrup, said on TV that we were making progress but he expected us to be there until 2014.

That would mean it would have lasted for 13 years — more than twice the length of World War II.

Those who support our military action in Afghanistan say it needs to be explained properly. If we were told exactly why we were there and what we were doing, all would be well.

The problem is we’re told repeatedly why we’re there. It’s to help Afghans repel the Taliban and prevent the country becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. But most of us don’t believe it.

Gordon Brown & Co say we have to be there in order to keep terrorism off the streets of Britain. But most of us don’t believe that either. We think being there increases the danger of terrorism at home. So what else can we be told about why we have to be there?

Removing ourselves now would be admitting it always was a waste of British lives. Imagine how families who have lost sons and daughters in battle — or had them grievously injured — would feel. Think of how we’d feel on their behalf.

So we wait for something to turn up. That something might be a decision by President Barack Obama. America is the reason we’re in Afghanistan. It’s also key to when we leave. Obama has spent two months considering whether he’ll increase America’s troops there by 40,000. What’s taking him so long?

My feeling about Obama is that he’s a prisoner of the Pentagon. He’s expected to do what they say must be done. Otherwise, they’ll leak to the media that he’s jeopardising America’s security and sink his presidency by the time he has to fight for a second term in 2012.

Yesterday, a news report said our army chiefs want to retreat from outlying bases in Afghanistan. This is denied by Stirrup, but not convincingly. He says: ‘You have to focus on people, not geography.’

Does Remembrance Day validate our struggles in Afghanistan — or does it make them seem even more pointless? Its purpose is to focus on those who have fallen in all wars, including Afghanistan, in order to console their families. But aren’t some wars more justifiable than others?

There was opposition to both world wars at the time, but we accept now that we were fighting for our survival in both, particularly in the last one. Are we fighting for our survival in Afghanistan? Only in the narrow sense that if we were defeated there, it would embolden our enemies.

For Gordon Brown, Remembrance Day was an opportunity to demonstrate his support for the military past and present, but are you convinced by his performance? He was accused yesterday of failing to bow his head properly at the Cenotaph.

I doubt anyone believes Brown would show such disrespect deliberately, but we know perfectly well he’s capable of claiming to support our troops while at the same time denying them vital equipment, which is worse.

It would be better if Remembrance Day was separated entirely from current wars, but that isn’t possible. We always have some doubts about the wars we fight, but these are magnified in a 24/7 broadcasting and news environment. Especially when the war in question does not seem to most of us to threaten our existence.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: Tory Eurosceptics Threaten ‘All-Out War’ Over Brussels

David Cameron has been given an 18-month deadline by a powerful band of Eurosceptic Tory MPs to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels or face an “all-out war” for a referendum, it emerged yesterday.

The Conservative leader last week tried to buy more time from the Eurosceptic wing of his party by promising that the Tories’ 2015 election manifesto would contain a promise for a referendum should the EU “move in the wrong direction”.

Mr Cameron unveiled a list of proposals to assert Britain’s sovereignty over Brussels and repatriate certain powers during the next Parliament, if the Tories win the 2010 election.

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

Vatican: ‘No Bid to Lure Anglicans’

New body ‘a response to aspirations,’ Vatican says

(ANSA) — Vatican City, November 9 — Pope Benedict XVI is not trying to lure Anglicans into the Catholic Church, the Vatican said Monday as recently announced rules on conversions were officially published. A new section of the Catholic Church in which the converted Anglicans can gather “is not an initiative that came from the Holy See” but “a generous response by the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of some Anglican groups,” said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesman.

“It is not an initiative by the pope to attract new members,” he said, stressing that dialogue with the Anglican Church would not be affected.

“The institution of this new structure is in full harmony with a commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church”.

The decision to make it easier for Anglicans to join won’t change the Holy See’s rules on celibacy, the Vatican stressed.

Unmarried Anglicans will have to abstain from sex just like Catholic priests do, the Vatican said in a statement.

The new body for Anglicans who want to convert is called the Apostolic Constitution or, in Latin, ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’.

It allows Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining some of their traditions and practices.

The Constitution comes as a response to demands from some conservative Anglicans, unhappy with progressive developments like women bishops, for an easier and larger-scale way to convert. The Holy See has previously approached the issue only on a case-by-case basis and only a handful of Anglican priests have become Catholics in recent years.

If married, they have been allowed to stay that way.

The new rules will allow bishops in too but only if they are single.

The new section of the Catholic Church was announced on October 20, taking some top Anglicans aback. A former archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, said the Anglican Church should not be treated as a “junior partner”.

He claimed the Vatican had only given Church of England chief Rowan Williams two weeks’ notice of its plan.

Pope Benedict XVI is set to receive Archbishop of Canterbury Williams on November 31.

William was already scheduled to visit Rome for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Catholic ecumenical pioneer Johannes Willebrands.

The Apostolic Constitution lays out formal procedures for unmarried bishops, married and unmarried priests and other members of the Anglican Church to join the Catholic Church.

Several hundred unhappy Anglicans are reported to be mulling a ‘return to Rome’.

A conservative Anglican group called Forward With Faith has said many of its members are eager to convert because the Church of England was becoming “the church of political correctness”.

One of its leaders, Father Geoffrey Kirk, said they objected not only to the ordination of woman but also to “many attitudes on human sexuality” including divorce and homosexuality.

On the Vatican side of the question, meanwhile, some observers had speculated that the arrival of more married Anglicans might eventually open a chink in the Holy See’s ironclad insistence on celibacy for its own clergy.

But Monday’s statement appears to have put paid to that. The Church of England is regarded as the ‘mother’ of all the other churches in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which considers itself to be both a product of the Reformation and also Catholic.

With some 77 million members, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The English church was under papal authority for nearly a thousand years before splitting from Rome in 1534 when King Henry VIII was refused an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

We Were Fools to Think the Fall of the Berlin Wall Had Killed Off the Far Left

They’re back — and attacking us from within

Twenty years ago today, supporters of freedom and human rights cheered and wept for joy as the Berlin Wall was torn down by jubilant young Germans.

To so many, that heady day seemed to herald the emergence of a better world. The spectre of communism had finally been laid to rest. Liberty had triumphed over tyranny.

The end of the Cold War even led some to proclaim that this was ‘the end of history’ — which was to say that liberal democracy was now the dominant and unchallengeable force in the world.

However, the 9/11 attacks on America tragically proved this to be absurdly over-optimistic. The eruption of radical Islamism revealed that, while the West may have been rid of one enemy in the Soviet Union, another deadly foe had risen to take its place. So much is, sadly, all too evident.

But what is perhaps less obvious is that communism did not just vanish in a puff of historical smoke. The Soviet Union was defeated and fell apart, for sure. But the communist ideology that fuelled it did not so much disintegrate as reconstitute itself into another, even more deadly form as the active enemy of western freedom.


Soviet Communism was a belief system whose goal was to overturn the structures of society through the control of economic and political life. This mutated into a post-communist ideology of the Left, whose no-less ambitious aim was to overturn western society through a subversive transformation of its culture.

To grasp the extent to which this has in fact taken place, we have to go back in time to well before the moment the Berlin Wall fell. The collapse of communism was actually a slow-burning process. Its moral and political bankruptcy became obvious decades before that glorious Berlin day in November 1989.

For many communist fellow travellers, the scales fell from their eyes when the Hungarian uprising was crushed in 1956. Others, over the years, lost faith not just in communism but in its less radical sister, socialism, as their core tenet of ‘equality’ proved itself in a myriad different ways to be the enemy of freedom and justice, with market forces appearing to carry the torch of liberty instead.

But as communism slowly crumbled, those on the far-Left who remained hostile towards western civilisation found another way to realise their goal of bringing it down.

This was what might be called ‘cultural Marxism’. It was based on the understanding that what holds a society together are the pillars of its culture: the structures and institutions of education, family, law, media and religion. Transform the principles that these embody and you can thus destroy the society they have shaped.

This key insight was developed in particular by an Italian Marxist philosopher called Antonio Gramsci. His thinking was taken up by Sixties radicals — who are, of course, the generation that holds power in the West today.

Gramsci understood that the working class would never rise up to seize the levers of ‘production, distribution and exchange’ as communism had prophesied. Economics was not the path to revolution.

He believed instead that society could be overthrown if the values underpinning it could be turned into their antithesis: if its core principles were replaced by those of groups who were considered to be outsiders or who actively transgressed the moral codes of that society.

So he advocated a ‘long march through the institutions’ to capture the citadels of the culture and turn them into a collective fifth column, undermining from within and turning all the core values of society upside-down and inside-out.

This strategy has been carried out to the letter.

The nuclear family has been widely shattered. Illegitimacy was transformed from a stigma into a ‘right’. The tragic disadvantage of fatherlessness was redefined as a neutrally-viewed ‘lifestyle choice’.

Education was wrecked, with its core tenet of transmitting a culture to successive generations replaced by the idea that what children already knew was of superior value to anything the adult world might foist upon them.

The outcome of this ‘child-centred’ approach has been widespread illiteracy and ignorance and an eroded capacity for independent thought.


Law and order were similarly undermined, with criminals deemed to be beyond punishment since they were ‘victims’ of society and with illegal drugtaking tacitly encouraged by a campaign to denigrate anti-drugs laws.

The ‘rights’ agenda — commonly known as ‘political correctness’ — turned morality inside out by excusing any misdeeds by self-designated ‘victim’ groups on the grounds that such ‘victims’ could never be held responsible for what they did.

Feminism, anti-racism and gay rights thus turned men, white people and Christians into the enemies of decency who were forced to jump through hoops to prove their virtue.

This Through The Looking Glass mindset rests on the belief that the world is divided into the powerful (who are responsible for all bad things) and the oppressed (who are responsible for none of them).

This is a Marxist doctrine. But the extent to which such Marxist thinking has been taken up unwittingly even by the Establishment was illustrated by the astounding observation made in 2005 by the then senior law lord, Lord Bingham, that human rights law was all about protecting ‘oppressed’ minorities from the majority.

None of this is to say there has been a giant, organised conspiracy to undermine Britain in this way. Admittedly, some Left-wingers did so conspire, but many others bought into these ideas for different reasons.

Of particular importance was the demoralisation of the British ruling class by the loss of Empire and the indebtedness of Britain to America at the end of World War II — a profound loss of cultural nerve that made the Establishment vulnerable to any ideas, however outlandish, that promised to bring about the New Jerusalem.

These ideas gained general traction within the intelligentsia, the universities and the media — which is why the BBC is so institutionally skewed towards political correctness.


However, the terrifying fact is that they form a totalitarian mindset that replicates the way communist societies clamped down on any other than permitted views. Thus the intolerance — or even arrest — of Christians opposed to gay adoption and civil union, or the vilification as ‘racists’ of those opposed to mass immigration.

This mindset also led to the belief that a sense of nationhood was the cause of all the ills in the world, precisely because western nations embodied western values. So transnational institutions or doctrines such as the EU, UN, international law or human rights law came to trump national laws and values.

But the truth is that to be hostile to the western nation is to be hostile to democracy. And indeed, with the development of the EU superstate we can see that the victory over one anti-democratic regime within Europe — the Soviet Union — has been followed by surrender to another.

For the republic of Euroland puts loyalty to itself higher than that to individual nations and their values. It refused to commit itself in its constitution to uphold Christianity, the foundation of western morality.

Instead, it is committed to moral and cultural relativism, which sets group against group and guarantees supreme and antidemocratic power to the bureaucrats setting the rules of ‘diversity’ and outlawing all dissent from permitted attitudes.

When the Berlin Wall fell, we told ourselves that this was the end of ideology. We could not have been more wrong.

The Iron Curtain came down only to be replaced by a rainbow-hued knuckle-duster, as our cultural commissars pulverise all forbidden attitudes in order to reshape western society into a post-democratic, post-Christian, post-moral universe. Lenin would have smiled.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: 55% of Imports From EU

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 2 — 54.9% of the overall volume of Algeria’s imports come from the countries of the European Union, according to the latest figures published by the country’s national statistics office (ONS) and reported by the APS news agency. According to ONS, imports from the EU stood at 804.3 billion dinaris in the first six months of 2009 (around 8.5 billion euros),up 24.2% on the 648.1 billion of the same period of 2008. Behind Europe are Asian countries with 21.9% of total imports, while those coming from other Arab countries are a mere 2.5% of the total. In the first six months of this year, the overall volume of Algerian imports grew by 17.7% to around 1,466 billion dinaris. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Mofaz: Provisional, Demilitarised Palestinian State

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 9 — The need to create a provisional, demilitarised and independent Palestinian state as soon as possible was urged by Kadima’s second-in-command, Shaul Mofaz, in presenting a detailed plan for peace to the press. In the first phase of the plan, Palestinians would agree to control of the Gaza Strip and 60% of the West Bank within their state, while Israeli sovereignty would be recognised over the areas in the West Bank in which only Jewish settlers live. In the second phase Israel and the Palestinian Authority would have the possibility to reach an agreement for a definitive peace which would allow Palestinians to take control over almost the entire West bank. Mofaz told ANSA that in the first phase of the plan no settlements would be vacated. However, he added, in the second phase about 60,000 Israeli settlers (out of a total of over 300,000) would have to be removed and helped by the government to resettle in the Negev or in Galilee. Mofaz said that he did not on principle rule out talks with Hamas, if the party were to win democratic elections in the Palestinian Territories and were willing to engage in negotiations with Israel. He noted that “at that point it would be a Hamas with an entirely different political agenda.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Palestinian Missile Near Sderot

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 9 — Over the night, a Palestinian rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit Israeli territory without causing material damage or resulting in victims. The missile hit a field near the city of Sderot. According to a tally by the Israeli army, at least 266 missiles and mortar rounds have been fired at Israel since the end of the Israeli offensive against the Islamic movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, in January. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Phones to Ring as Missle Risk Warning

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 9 — Israel is putting the final touches on a new technology which, in the case of a missile attack behind its front lines, in the zone under risk all mobile phones would ring automatically. The innovation is meant as a preventative life-saving device. One of the leaders of the Home Front Command, Colonel Hilik Sofer, told the Jerusalem Post that sensors were being developed that would be able to establish — by way of a “virtual ellipse” — the exact trajectory of every rocket or missile launched at Israel. The new system, noted Colonel Sofer, will be much more accurate that the currently used alarm signals, and therefore the population alerted will over time be more and more restricted. Last week alarm bells rung in Tel Aviv as part of a Home Front exercise simulating a rocket attack on the city. According to Israeli military leaders, both Hamas from Gaza and Hezbollah from Lebanon could theoretically pose a threat to the city, or at least to its outlying areas. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Secret Obama Deal for Palestinian State?

Israeli officials fear White House’s ‘very dangerous move’

TEL AVIV — The U.S. is considering adopting a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence in the West Bank and Jerusalem regardless of negotiations with the Jewish state, according to Israeli sources speaking to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.

WND first reported in September that according to a top Palestinian Authority official, the Obama administration has largely adopted the positions of the PA to create a Palestinian state within two years based on the pre-1967 borders, meaning Israel would retreat from most of the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.

WND reported that the White House had accepted the positions of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who had quietly called for a state on the pre-1967 borders within two years.

Now Haaretz is quoting reports indicating that Fayyad has reached a secret understanding with the Obama administration over U.S. recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ahmadinejad in Turkey for Summit

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Istanbul for a one-day Islamic summit as pressure mounts on Tehran to agree to a UN-brokered plan on its nuclear programme.

Iran’s president is among the speakers at a meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a 57-state bloc.

Presidents Bashar Assad of Syria and Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan are also attending the meeting.

But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, indicted by the International Criminal Court, has pulled out of the summit.

Controversial invitation

Sudan’s state-run Suna news agency said “new developments” had required Mr Bashir’s presence in Sudan.

The Turkish government had previously welcomed the attendance of Mr Bashir at the meeting and said that he would not be arrested, as Turkey was not a signatory to the treaty which set up the Hague-based ICC.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan went as far as saying over the weekend that no war crimes had occurred in Darfur and that he would be more comfortable meeting Sudan’s president than the prime minister of Israel.

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

Dubai: Islamic Banks Continue to Grow

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 6 — The Islamic banks are continuing to grow despite the stagnation dominating the banking sector. The news was reported by the online edition of the daily newspaper, Gulf News. The percentage of growth is at 28.6% with profits bouncing from 639 to 822 billion dollars. For 2010, revenues are forecast in the order of 1033 billion dollars. The member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council represent the dominant segment of Islamic banks, which alone make up 42.9% of the global set-up. Iran represents 35.6% whilst the UK participates with a percentage of around 2.5%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Europe Sells Out to Syria and Gets Slapped: A Middle East Case Study in Begging to Give Something for Nothing

by Barry Rubin

Ugarte: “But think of all the poor devils who cannot meet Renault’s price. I get it for them for half. Is that so parasitic?”

Rick: “I don’t mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.” —From the film “Casablanca” 1942

Wow what a great lesson in Middle East politics! Bear with me. The issue seems obscure but the story is a treasure house of dark humor and educational value.

For many years the European Union has talked with Syria about a trade treaty giving Damascus lots of benefits. For some time, the EU balked, insisting that Syria make some commitments on improving human rights in the country. Yet step by step, while Syria did nothing in the way of concessions, the EU gave in until it offered to sign the treaty unconditionally.

And guess what happened? When the EU was ready to sign, Syria said “No!” Get it, the Syrians are getting a big concession which will help their country but they turn it down as insufficient. They get the other side to beg them to accept goodies by merely saying no repeatedly, even though the EU had nothing and Syria had everything to gain.

See any parallels to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Western negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons, and many other examples?

Before we go any further, ask yourself these questions…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin [Return to headlines]

Iranian Wins Dutch Rights Award

Iranian lawyer and journalist Shadi Sadr has been awarded a prestigious human rights prize in the Netherlands.

Ms Sadr received the Human Rights Tulip, worth up to US $165,000 (UK £100,000), at a ceremony in the Hague.

She has been repeatedly threatened and arrested for her work through advocacy groups and as a family lawyer.

On receiving the award, she said it was important that “human rights in Iran remain on the table of negotiations alongside the issue of nuclear energy”.

She added: “All those who have ordered violation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran should be prosecuted and tried.

“Western governments can ask the UN Security Council to pursue the issue of crimes against humanity through setting up an international court for Iran.”

Ms Sadr is the co-founder of the group Stop Stoning Forever and has carried out work for the Volunteer Lawyers’ Network.

She was arrested during the demonstrations that followed the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential election.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry said she had shown “extraordinary courage and determination”.

She received a US $15,000 (UK £10,000) cash award and US $150,000 (UK £90,000) sponsorship for a project of her choice.

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

NATO: Italy to Lead New Mine Clearing Project in Jordan

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 6 — Italy will lead NATO’s new mine clearing operation in Jordan: Trust Fund NATO, created within the framework of the ‘Partnership for Peace’ programme and the ‘Mediterranean Dialogue’. The official launch is scheduled for Thursday November 19, when Italy and NAMSA (NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency) will sign an agreement. Italy has also had a part in the first NATO mine clearing operation in Jordan, organised by Spain, Norway and Switzerland. The new Trust Fund will deal with the problem of protecting around 100,000 people from the devastating effects of mines and other explosive war material that has been left behind. The initiative will deal with the problem on two fronts: education on the risks of mines in the provinces of Ajloun, Jerash and Zarqa on one side, and on the other side the supply of equipment for the destruction of bombs and ammunition to the demilitarisation centre managed by the Jordan armed forces in Zarqa. This centre, with the right equipment, could become a mine clearing training centre for other countries in the region as well. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Syria: EU Funded 60 Haemodialysis Machines to 11 Hospitals

(ANSAmed) — BRUXELLES, 6 NOV — The European Union has donated 60 haemodialysis machines to 11 hospitals located in different governorates of Syria, worth over 1.5 million euros. The contribution- according to the ENPI site ( — would help meet the structural challenges brought by the influx of Iraqi displaced people, improving the Syrian health systems capacity to offer haemodialysis treatment to Syrians and Iraqis alike. The Syrian government provides Iraqis with the same access as Syrian citizens to medical health care. However, with the influx of Iraqi displaced people concentrated in specific regions (estimated at around 1.5 million people in 2008, or 9% of the population), the demands on the system have severely increased especially with the high prevalence of chronic kidney diseases among the Iraqi population. The European Union’s overall support to the Syrian Health sector totals 39 million euros. This assistance includes 9 million euros to upgrade Syria’s primary and secondary public health facilities in areas affected by a large influx of Iraqi displaced people. In all fields, the EU supports Syria in meeting the needs of the Iraqi displaced people with a total of over 60 million euros.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Alevis Voice Demands at Mass Rally in Kadiköy

President Abdullah Gül’s symbolic visit to an Alevi house of worship in Tunceli last week had little effect in silencing Alevi demands as thousands rallied in Istanbul’s Kadiköy district on Sunday for equal religious rights.

Alevis from across Turkey called on the government to abolish the Religious Affairs Directorate, eliminate compulsory religious-education classes, recognize cemevis as legitimate houses of worship, and transform the Madimak Hotel in Sivas, where 33 Alevis were killed by a fundamentalist mob, into a museum.

Last week, Gül made a historic visit to the southeastern province of Tunceli and visited a cemevi, but the visit was deemed “insincere” by Alevis. Alevis are commonly viewed as a liberal sect of Shia Islam.

“Many presidents have visited cemevis, but what difference does it make when they are not recognized as legal houses of worship?” Ali Balkiz, chairman of the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, said during his speech at the rally.

Hüseyin, a 26-year-old demonstrator who declined to give his last name, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that nothing good could come from the initiatives the government launched. “We will continue to rally and make our voices heard until our demands are addressed,” he said.

Comparing this year’s rally with last year’s rally, Hüseyin said the turnout was much greater this year. He told the Daily News this is an indication of the strength of Alevis’ strong belief in their faith.

“We cannot make our voice heard through the media and columnists,” Balkiz told protesters. “It is only through these mass movements that awareness can be raised among the public and the Alevi voice can be heard. A year after our rally, nothing has changed. We will continue to rally until our demands are met.”

“What some call the ‘Alevi issue’ we call a ‘political disgrace.’ What is actually being done by the government as part of their so-called Alevi reform?” Balkiz said. “We ask for visible changes to be made; we ask for our prayer houses to be legalized and for the government to pay utility and operating expenses on them.”

Splits within

Despite the large turnout, not all Alevi organizations supported the rally. Last year, Professor Izzettin Dogan, the chairman of the Cem Foundation, said those organizing the demonstrations are “trying to portray Alevism as a belief separate from Islam.” Dogan welcomed Gül’s latest visit to a cemevi, interpreting it as a sign of “symbolic presidential recognition of cemevis as legitimate places of worship.”

Kadiköy resident and bakery owner Sebnem Çiçek, who was a spectator at the rally, said the meeting was not so much about demonstrating Alevi demands as it is about targeting the government. “This demonstration is 100 percent political and about politics, nothing else,” she said.

Erdem Çolak, a local businessman, told the Daily News that the Alevi issue should be addressed more effectively by the government. “But their demand to abolish the Directorate of Religious Affairs is extreme and unrealistic,” he said.

Protesters colored the streets of Kadiköy with Turkish flags and portraits of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, while also holding placards that read, “End discrimination” and “Turkey is secular, it will remain secular.” Large groups held up posters depicting the 33 Alevis who lost their lives in the July 2, 1993, Sivas massacre, while groups of Alevi dancers made their way through the crowds, singing and chanting.

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

Turkey: 32 Million Euro Fine for Google

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — The Turkish Ministry of Finance has issued Google a 71 million Lira (32 million euro) tax fine for Turkish advertisement billing conducted in oversees companies and not in Turkey, daily Sabak reports. As the recent tax levy issued on Dogan Media Group has hit the agenda, it turns out the Ministry of Finance has been busy auditing a number of giant companies based both internationally as well as in Turkey. According to findings from a recent tax investigation, Google Ireland conducted all commercial and advertisement transaction from Turkish companies through their Turkish representative Google Reklamcilik however the bills for the transactions were issued outside of the country. Due to the resulting loss in tax payments, Google has been issued a fine of 71 million liras combining both a taxation levy and fines. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Turkey: Prison Population Doubles in Nine Years

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 3 — The population of Turkey’s prisons has more than doubled since 2000, when a law was passed releasing more than 20,000 inmates from the Turkish prison system, daily Today’s Zaman reports. When the law went into effect, the number of incarcerated people in Turkey fell to around 50,000 but Turkish prisons quickly filled up once again. The number of inmates in Turkey has increased more than 100% since then, reaching 111,000 and experts are concerned that this figure will continue to grow to frightening proportions. In addition, statistics show a high correlation between a lack of education and incarceration, with more than 80% of Turkish inmates only having received an elementary school education. According to data from the Justice Ministry Prisons and Correctional Facilities Directorate, while at the end of 2000 there were 49,512 inmates in Turkish prisons, the latest figures for 2009 show that there are now 111,964 inmates. Most of the prison population is male — there are 107,857 men in Turkish prisons and 4,107 women — and in recent years the growing number of incarcerated minors has attracted attention. According to recent data, there are 1,478 minors in jail and most inmates are between 21 and 39 years of age. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

U.N. Fails to Act After Iran Caught ‘Red-Handed’

Massive weapons shipment in full violation of multiple binding resolutions

It’s been five days since Israel seized a cargo ship reportedly carrying enough weapons and munitions for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group to fight Israel for at least one month. And for the past five days, the United Nations has failed to take any action even though Iran was caught red-handed arming a terrorist group in full violation of binding U.N. resolutions.


The Iranian arms shipment set sail in violation of U.N. Resolution 1701, a binding resolution which ended the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and prohibits the delivery of weapons to any entity in Lebanon but the Lebanese government. The shipment also breaks multiple international laws against funding and supporting terrorist organizations.

Israel’s U.N. ambassador last week complained to the international body about Iran’s blatant disregard for international law, but no response has been forthcoming from U.N. officials.

Coincidentally, on the very day that Israel captured the cargo vessel, the U.N. was debating a so-called investigation authored by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, which claims both Hamas and Israel were guilty of war crimes during the Jewish state’s defensive war in Gaza this past December and January.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Allied Forces ‘May Abandon Most of Northern Helmand’

A new strategy for Afghanistan that could lead to a British troop withdrawal from a former Taleban stronghold in northern Helmand province sparked immediate controversy yesterday.

According to a senior Nato source, Western military commanders in Afghanistan are considering a radical shift in policy that would see British and US forces conduct a tactical pull-out from most of northern Helmand, including the town of Musa Qala. The source said that the plan to withdraw from northern Helmand would be considered if proposed reinforcements, currently being examined by President Obama, were not approved. General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander in Kabul, has asked for 40,000 more troops but President Obama has yet to make a decision.

British military sources said, however, that a withdrawal from Musa Qala would be viewed as a defeat and could not be countenanced. They said it would also be a betrayal of the governor of the district, who risked his life to take a stand against the insurgents.

Mullah Abdul Salaam, a former Taleban commander, switched sides to become district governor of Musa Qala only hours before British troops from 52 Brigade and Afghan soldiers retook the town from insurgent control in December 2007. British troops had withdrawn from Musa Qala in 2006 after a “deal” with the local tribal elders, but the Taleban seized control until the arrival of 52 Brigade.

The plans now being considered in Kabul would pull British and American troops out of the towns of Musa Qala and Nawzad to focus on stabilising the highly populated central areas of the province. The only remaining Western forces in the north of the province would be those defending the hydro-electric dam at Kajaki.

The plans are the most radical among options being considered by General McChrystal under a broader plan to shift forces towards the defence of more populous areas of the country, ceding outlying and remote areas. The new doctrine is focused on concentration of forces around population centres, main arteries and economic corridors with the ultimate aim of protecting the population and allowing intensive reconstruction.

A senior Nato officer confirmed that proposals existed for a pull-out from Nawzad and Musa Qala, but said: “No decision has been made.”

The senior British military sources insisted that total withdrawal from Musa Qala was not an option but acknowledged it was possible that the area in which troops currently operated in the district could be reduced to make available more resources for enhancing security in places such as Kandahar and Lashkar Gah.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, also denied that Britain was planning to pull out of Musa Qala, but he confirmed on the BBC Andrew Marr show that Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) would be focusing more on Afghanistan’s main population centres.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Focusing on people, not territory, is not a retreat, it is the strategy set out by the Prime Minister in April and by General McChrystal in his recent review of strategy for Isaf.. Nevertheless there are currently no plans to withdraw from any area of Helmand.”

US forces in eastern Afghanistan have already begun withdrawing from a number of combat outposts, mostly in remote areas close to the porous Pakistan border. Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Vician, US Army spokesman, confirmed that US forces have so far withdrawn from six outposts, four in Nuristan province and two in Paktika province.

Brigadier James Cowan who commands 11 Light Brigade in Helmand, denied that British troops might withdraw from outlying towns in the province. “We are here to protect Helmand, we have no plans whatsoever to withdraw,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Far East

Teacher Beheaded in Philippines

Police in the southern Philippines say the severed head of a kidnapped schoolteacher has been found in a bag at a petrol station.

Gabriel Canizares was abducted by Abu Sayyaf militants three weeks ago. His body is still missing.

He was travelling with colleagues on the island of Jolo when he was seized.

The militants had demanded a ransom equivalent to $42,000 (£25,000; 28,000 euros) for Mr Canizares, which his family refused to pay.

Security fears

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus expressed shock at the teacher’s killing, saying six other teachers who had been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf earlier this year had all been released despite threats to behead them.

He said his department was at a loss as to how to ensure security for public schoolteachers in high-risk areas, and feared that the kidnappings would discourage others from teaching underprivileged youths in Muslim areas.

“We shall make them pay for the enormity of this savagery,” President Gloria Arroyo’s spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo said in a statement after Mr Canizares’ head was found.

She said Mrs Arroyo had ordered “punitive action” to “put an end to the Abu Sayyaf group’s heinous and inhumane atrocities”.

“The people of Jolo are condemning this dastardly act,” Jolo municipal mayor Hussin Amin said in a television interview aired in Manila.

The beheading came three days before a visit to Manila by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when security issues are expected to be a key topic.

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for many of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, including the firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay that claimed more than 100 lives in 2005, and the abduction of American tourists in 2001.

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

Australia — Pacific

Australia: Girl, 12, Gives Birth to Baby Boy

A GIRL, 12, who fell pregnant to her 15-year-old live-in boyfriend, has given birth to a baby boy.

Earlier this year, the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) was forced to apologise when it was revealed the girl’s father had warned them his daughter was sleeping with her boyfriend at her mother’s house.

Now, the girl’s father has told the latest edition of Woman’s Day he does not think his daughter is up to the task of being a mother.

“She is only a baby herself and now she’s got a baby,” he said.

“She has no maternal instincts at all. She never even played with dolls when she was younger. She never played at being a mummy. This breaks my heart.”

He said the girl was “petrified” when she went into labour and had to have an emergency caesarean.

Three weeks later, he said she was struggling with the demands of being a mother despite receiving regular counselling and parental training from DoCS

Minister for Community Services Linda Burney in June admitted the girl’s case had been overlooked by a “stretched” DoCS.

“We get 300,000 notifications every year and there isn’t anybody collating the figures of child pregnancies,” the minister’s spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph.

The girl’s father said he was not surprised to learn DoCS was clueless about the extent of the “tragedy” confronting his family.

“I phoned that helpline over a year ago and I waited for a local Dubbo DoCS intake officer to ring and they never did,” he said.

When his daughter revealed she was pregnant, her father offered to raise the baby with his new partner.

“I said that I would do everything to help her,” he told Women’s Day, “And I offered to adopt the baby and bring it up so she could get back to school and get on with her life.”

But after consulting with the child’s 15-year-old father and seriously considering abortion, the 12-year-old girl made the choice to raise the child herself.

“He said that he wanted to keep the baby, so my daughter decided to continue the pregnancy. Sadly, they aren’t together anymore.”

“I think she has shown such courage,” he told Women’s Day. “It was so intimidating for her being surrounded by people telling her to have an abortion.”

“It’s not the best start in life, but I know the little fella will be given loads of love.”

Since 2000, the youngest mother in New South Wales was just 11 and fewer than six 12-year-olds had given birth, the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk [Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa: Global Community Has Turned Its Back, Moyo

(ANSAmed) — CAPRI (NAPLES), OCTOBER 30 — “The global community has turned its back on the continent of Africa”. Economist Dambisa Moyo has been addressing the Congress of Young Entrepreneurs currently taking place in Italy’s Capri. “What Africa truly needs right now is that international and African governments take poverty reduction seriously” said the economist born and bred in Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka. “And this has not come about: neither in Africa nor among the international community”. Western aid to Africa, the economist continued, have merely transformed a poor land into one even poorer. “Levels of poverty in Africa today are higher than they were 40 years ago”. But this is not all. European aid has had the effect of sparing African governments from facing up to their own responsibilities. “Services such as schools and healthcare, which are guaranteed by the state in most parts of the world, are underwritten by the international community in Africa. Which is another reason why we don’t want permanent Western aid. African governments have to take on their own responsibilities”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Mid-Ocean Pirate Attack on Tanker

Somali pirates have attacked an oil tanker some 1,000 nautical miles (1,850km) off the coast, the EU’s anti-piracy mission says.

The Hong Kong-registered BW Lion managed to evade an attack by two fast skiffs, firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, it says.

This is said to be the furthest pirate attack yet from the Somali coast.

Meanwhile, a maritime expert reports that pirates have seized a ship carrying weapons.

New tactics

Up to 40 ships from the EU, US, China, India and Japan are involved in anti-piracy operations, mainly around the Gulf of Aden.

The forces believe their presence has deterred and foiled many attacks.

But BBC defence correspondent Nick Childs says the pirates have changed tactics and shifted their focus further out into the Indian Ocean.

The BW Lion was attacked some 400 nautical miles (741km) north-east of the Seychelles.

Pirates are believed to use “mother-ships” to transport small speedboats from the coast so they can stage attacks.

Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told Reuters news agency that a ship carrying weapons to Somalia in contravention of a UN arms embargo was seized on Sunday.

Last month, a British couple sailing a yacht in the Indian Ocean were captured by pirates, who say they will only be freed if a ransom is paid.

Pirates are also threatening to kill three Spanish sailors if two pirates held by the Spanish authorities are not freed.

Somalia has not a functioning national government for 18 years and the lawlessness has spread to the high seas in recent years.

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

Spain: “Free the Two Pirates”, Alakrana Crew Families

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 6 — Family members of the Basque fishermen on the Alakrana fishing boat captured by pirates on October 2 in the Indian Ocean called for the liberation of two Somalis arrested and held in Spain in order to not jeopardise the lives of their family members. The family members, mainly the mothers, wives, and sisters of the 36 fishermen captured along with the Alakrana, held a press conference this morning in Bermeo in the Basque Country to ask the government to accept the pirates’ request who gave a two day ultimatum for the liberation of the Somalis held in Spain, threatening to kill the hostages if they are not released. Three sailors of the Alakrana were brought to the mainland in Somalia by the men who captured the fishing boat. “They took away three of our men and they gave us a two day deadline,” confirmed the captain of the boat, Ricardo Blach in a phone conversation with Spanish national TV. “If the two Somalis that have been captured are not brought here, they told us that they will kill them and immediately after, they will take another three of us.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria [Return to headlines]

Latin America

A New Mosque in Nicaragua Fires Up the Rumor Mill

In Poor Country, ‘Everyone Asks’ if Iran Helped Out; Question for the Contractor

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — With just 300 or so Muslims in all of Nicaragua, it became an instant mystery here when a big new mosque suddenly seemed to spring up recently in a residential neighborhood.

Like, who paid for it?

The ever-present Managua rumor mill quickly turned to the government of Iran. Its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Muslim, and Nicaragua’s leftist leader, Daniel Ortega, a Catholic, say they share a revolutionary kinship. As part of a grandiose effort to show that Iran is a global superpower, Mr. Ahmadinejad and his government promised in 2007 and 2008 to invest up to $1 billion in this impoverished country of 5.7 million, including a new city and deep-water port in a remote jungle on the Atlantic Coast.

Never mind that local Nicaraguan officials say they haven’t heard a word on the port project ever since an Iranian-led delegation was confronted 18 months ago by angry villagers. Or that virtually none of the other announced investments have materialized.

The geopolitical chatter surrounding the gold-domed mosque, which opened in September after more than a year of construction, continues. “Did Iran put up the money? That’s the question everyone asks,” says Ismat Khatib, a native Nicaraguan lawyer and businessman who is of Palestinian descent. One Managua-based diplomat says it is believed Iran subsidized it.

But Mr. Khatib, who is treasurer of the Nicaraguan Islamic Cultural Association, which oversees the mosque, insists that the Iranian government contributed not a single córdoba. In fact, he says the only thing it actually promised to donate was a large, special rug for the mosque’s prayer room — and that it never arrived.

“This is the real version,” says Mr. Khatib. “You can end the mystery with this.”

Not quite. Speculation also surrounds who has been praying at the mosque, or la mezquita, which offers services five times a day, beginning at 4:30 a.m.

“All the Taliban,” declares William Martinez, a 24-year-old barber at Le Moustache, a hair salon across the street. Natalie Melendez, a clerk at the Veo Veo video-rental store on the corner, offers a different account. “There are two types of people who use the mosque,” she says, matter-of-factly. “The Arabs and the Iranians.”

Muslims, particularly Palestinians, have been emigrating to Nicaragua for decades and have established a number of businesses here, especially in the fabric trade. But because their numbers are so small, their faith remains foreign to most Nicaraguans, who are largely Catholic or evangelical Christian. Many here refer to all Muslims or Middle Easterners as Turks, and seem to know next to nothing about their religious beliefs.

“They pray to the god of the moon so they only gather at night,” says Ms. Melendez.

In an interview, Fahmi M. Hassan, a Palestinian fabric merchant and president of the Islamic cultural association, sought to dispel some of the myths surrounding the new mosque, which he says cost about $600,000.

Mr. Hassan — who says Nicaragua’s Muslims mostly are transplanted Palestinians, Jordanians and Pakistanis — scoffs at rumors that Iran paid for the mosque. He says the Iranian Embassy in Managua angered the Muslim community here when it tried about a year ago to compete with his Islamic association by creating a similar entity with a nearly identical name — the Nicaraguan Islamic Cultural Center.

“No one went,” he says, noting that Nicaragua’s Muslims are of the Sunni branch of the Islamic faith while most Iranians are of the smaller Shiite branch. Conflicts between the two main Islamic sects date back to the religion’s earliest days and a dispute over who should succeed the prophet Muhammad as Muslim leader.

Mr. Hassan says the Iranian center closed after a few months. But he still counts Iran’s ambassador to Nicaragua, Akbar Esmaeil Pour, as a friend. In fact, he says, the diplomat occasionally came to Managua’s old mosque — located in a small house a few blocks away from a busy strip of fabric stores — to pray. Mr. Pour declined to be interviewed.

So who did pay for the mosque?

Mr. Hassan says the primary funder was a Pakistani-born businessman who lives in Honduras. After seeing how tiny the old mosque was, the man offered to help finance a new prayer center on a piece of land purchased several years ago by local Muslims, Mr. Hassan says. “He paid around $350,000 and the rest was paid by the [Muslim] community in Nicaragua.”

He identified the donor as Yusuf Amdani. Asked for Mr. Amdani’s contact details, Mr. Hassan suggested using Google to find him.

Reached by telephone in Honduras, Mr. Amdani, who is chief executive of Grupo Karim’s, a textile-and-construction company based in Honduras and Mexico, said, “There’s no mystery about the mosque.”

He confirmed Mr. Hassan’s account, saying his company, which also financed the only mosque in Honduras, agreed to pay for the new Managua prayer center, although he scaled back the original plans. He also says he didn’t pay for an adjoining annex that includes a school and an apartment for the imam, and suggested the Iranian government may have helped fund that.

“I wouldn’t doubt if they gave some money to help them out,” he says. “I would say they must have.”

Mr. Khatib says his family paid for the annex.

On a recent visit to the mosque, a Wall Street Journal reporter was stopped by security guards at the front gate and, without explanation, was denied access to an afternoon ceremony. Just then, two local Nicaraguan businessmen drove up in a car and attempted to enter.

They publish a Managua tourist map and were hoping to discuss with Mr. Hassan including the new mosque in next year’s edition. Unfolding the map, Julio Gonzales noted that the current one has a cathedral, but no mosque and said that many tourists have been asking where the new one is.

“He’s very busy,” said a man inside the front gate. “He’ll have to call you back.” Turning to leave, Mr. Gonzales took another look at the mosque. “Good building,” he said in English.

Maybe so, but it turns out that this one shares something in common with many construction projects the world over — a dispute with the contractor.

José Ocon, who built the mosque for Mr. Amdani, says he’s owed $15,000 because of some last-minute changes to the dome he made at the local Muslim community’s request — increasing its height and adding a row of windows.

He says he called Mr. Hassan and said, “I need to get together to discuss the extras that you all requested.”

The builder says Mr. Hassan replied, “What extras?”

Mr. Hassan says he doesn’t know anything about the contractor’s claim. Mr. Khatib says it’s Mr. Amdani’s problem since he agreed to pay for the mosque. Mr. Amdani says he’ll look into the matter.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ocon recalled that at one point during construction, a local newspaper called him and asked if he was building a new Iranian Embassy. “I said, ‘No, I was making a mosque.’“

           — Hat tip: Fausta [Return to headlines]

Hugo Chavez Tells Venezuela’s Military to Prepare for Possible Conflict With Colombia

President Hugo Chavez has ordered Venezuela’s military to prepare for a possible armed conflict with Colombia, saying his country’s soldiers should be ready if the United States attempts to provoke a war between the South American neighbours.

Mr Chavez said Venezuela could end up going to war with Colombia as tensions between them rise, and he warned that if a conflict broke out “it could extend throughout the whole continent”.

“The best way to avoid war is preparing for it,” Mr Chavez told military officers during his weekly television and radio program. Venezuela’s socialist leader has also cited a recent deal between Bogota and Washington giving US troops greater access to military bases as a threat to regional stability.

There was no immediate reaction from either the Colombian or US government, but in the past they have denied intentions to start a war with Venezuela and said the base deal is needed to fight the war on drugs and insurgents in Colombia, which is a major cocaine producer struggling with a decades-old internal conflict.

Tensions along the Venezuela-Colombia border have been exacerbated in recent weeks by a series of shootings and slayings.

Four men on motorcycles shot and killed two Venezuelan National Guard troops at a checkpoint near the border in Venezuela’s western Tachira state last week, prompting Chavez’s government to temporarily close some border crossings.

And last month, Venezuelan authorities arrested at least 10 people in Tachira alleging involvement in paramilitary groups. The bullet-ridden bodies of 11 men, nine of them Colombians, were also found last month in Tachira after being abducted from a soccer field.

The violence prompted Venezuela to send 15,000 soldiers to the border with Colombia on Thursday. Officials said the build-up was necessary to increase security along the border.

[Return to headlines]


Australia: Newspoll Finds Kevin Rudd Doing a ‘Bad Job’ On Managing Asylum-Seekers

THE Prime Minister has again been forced to defend his handling of the asylum seeker issue as the Government looks to strike a deal aimed at stemming the flow of Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka for Australia.

As Foreign Minister Stephen Smith met with officials in Colombo on Monday, the Prime Minister remained under pressure over his so-called “Indonesia solution”.

The 78 asylum seekers aboard the Australian Customs vessel the Oceanic Viking are still refusing to disembark in Indonesia, more than three weeks after arriving off the island of Bintan.

The asylum seekers have threatened suicide if forced to disembark in Indonesia.

The 78 Tamils are believed to have been offered a deal that would fast-track their resettlement and see them placed in community housing rather than detention while their refugee claims are assessed.

But Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today appeared to rule out Australia being a part of any such deal.

“Let me be absolutely clear that policy of ours in the Australian national interest will not be changed in response to any protests, any threats, any threats of harm, and threats of self harm,” Mr Rudd said in Bathurst.

“We will take as long as it takes to resolve this matter and any other matters into the future.”

There have also been reports that authorities on the Oceanic Viking have used water cannons in an attempt to stop media from approaching the vessel.

A spokesman for Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor could not confirm the reports.

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

UK: Do Labour’s Immigration Scaremongers Fool Anybody?

Yesterday we learned, from information extracted from the Home Office by the former Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, that back in 2003 the Government’s most senior immigration official, Sir Bill Jeffrey, successfully encouraged ministers to allow immigration officials to adopt a free and easy policy when it came to deciding applications for visas from people applying to work, study and marry here. It was one way of clearing a backlog of 45,000 applications. The new “risk-taking” policy involved fast-tracking 337,000 applications in total with little regard for any merit they might have and with no follow-up checks.

That’s only the latest revelation about the background to the handling of immigration over the past 12 years, which the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, last week described as maladroit. It’s one way of assessing a policy that, at a conservative estimate, has resulted in three million new citizens settling here. That’s quite apart from the illegal immigrants who have crept under the radar, who may, according to one study, number another one million. Remember David Blunkett, as Home Secretary, saying that there wasn’t any obvious upper limit to the extent of immigration?

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

UK: New Immigration Row as Memo Reveals Home Office Officials Told to ‘Take Risks’ On Letting Migrants Into Britain

Ministers were accused yesterday of inviting migrants into the country regardless of the security risk they might pose.

Documents released under Freedom of Information rules revealed that a senior official had said Home Office staff were to be ‘encouraged to take risks’ over immigration.

He also said in a memo that staff were told to be biased in favour of allowing immigrants into the country rather than refusing them visas or work permits.

The Tories said the Government’s handling of migration had been ‘disgraceful’ and condemned attempts to prevent the release of the documents.

But the Home Office said there has never been an ‘open door policy’ and the allegations were ‘seriously misleading’.

The row follows publication of memos between Sir Bill Jeffrey, who was the Home Office civil servant in charge of immigration policy, and then immigration minister Beverley Hughes in 2003.

The memos came as the Home Office tried to clear a backlog of 45,000 applications for visas, work permits and permits for extended stays in Britain.

During the process, 337,000 applications were fast-tracked under the code name Brace.

Sir Bill’s memo to Mrs Hughes was written after a public outcry that followed the admission to Britain of more than 20 members of the Taliban who had left Afghanistan to escape American forces.

Sir Bill, who is now the senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, said in the memo released to a Sunday newspaper: ‘We are still in a situation where some risks have to be taken, and staff should feel that if they are encouraged to take risks they will be supported when something major goes wrong.’

Mrs Hughes replied that the Taliban decision was unjustified. Her office said that while staff ‘have to take some risks, this was a decision that flew in the face of common sense’.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said the incident was becoming ‘a major political scandal’ and the Government ‘abused the system for what appears to be party political purposes’.

The Home Office said the allegations were ‘seriously misleading in relation to the events and figures’ and the facts behind the affairs were already on the public record.

           — Hat tip: JP [Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Catholic Bishops Help Pass Pelosicare

The AARP and American Medical Association supported H.R. 3692, the Affordable Health Care for America Act of 2009, but a careful analysis of the media coverage demonstrates that it was the U.S. Catholic Church that provided the winning margin. Yet, the liberal media are failing to raise the issue of the alleged separation of church and state.

Contrary to some media reports, the U.S. Catholics Bishops never opposed a national health care scheme. In fact, their main objection was to a provision for federal funding of abortion. Once that provision was eliminated, the Catholic Bishops embraced the bill.

On Saturday, after Catholic lobbyists had finalized a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most prominent Catholic in the U.S. Government, the Politico reported that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had “delivered a critical endorsement” to Pelosi “by signing off on late-night agreement to grant a vote on an amendment barring insurance companies that participate in the exchange from covering abortions.” The anti-abortion amendment by Rep. Bart Stupak, a Catholic Democrat, passed. Hence, the Bishops are now officially in favor of a bureaucratic plan that could spell the end to freedom of choice in health care and financially bankrupt the U.S.

“A half dozen lobbyists for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops joined negotiators in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to come to terms,” reported the Christian Science Monitor.

The Hill newspaper reported that Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) had been trying to broker a deal and appealed to the Catholic Bishops. “I would like the [U.S. Conference of Catholic] Bishops, who as I understand it want a bill, to help us work out a plan where we don’t have winners and losers,” Waxman was quoted as saying. “Because the losers will make us lose the bill and the winners won’t have won anything.”

NBC’s Doug Adams reported that the Catholic Bishops were “lobbying hard.”

The shocking turn of events once again demonstrates the extreme left-wing drift of the Catholic Church, which is the nation’s largest religious denomination with 67 million members and run by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But their role in passing Pelosicare is not the only evidence of such a turn. The Bishops poured more than $7.3 million of parishioners’ money into the corrupt left-wing organization ACORN over the last decade before publicity over the organization’s scandals forced suspension of the funding.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]


Historic Review Shows Current Climate Change is Normal

Earlier warm periods were not a threat in the first reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their mandate required they only look at human causes, which they interpreted to mean the industrial period. However, as experts who were denied participation in the IPCC process began to examine what was said they identified earlier warmer periods, especially the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), and more rapid temperature increases.

The MWP was problematic as the most recent and clearly pre-industrial. Figure 1 shows temperatures for Europe for the last 1000 years shown in the 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Second Assessment Report.

It shows general warming from 1680 following the cold of the Little Ice Age (LIA) that was coincident with the Maunder Minimum of sunspots. This warming shows why charges that others and I were global warming deniers were false. What we questioned was the claim humans were the cause. “Dickens Winters” relate to Charles Dickens and the cold weather, poor harvests and hard economic times typified by “A Christmas Carol”. The period correlates with the Dalton Minimum of reduced sunspots. Conditions of that time are similar to those anticipated for the next 30 — 40 years.

[Comments from JD: Check out the graph showing the medieval warm period, and compare that to today.]

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Side-Effects Alert for All Statin Users as Drug is Linked to Depression and Memory Loss

New health warnings are to be issued over popular cholesterol-lowering drugs after evidence that thousands of users suffer side effects such as depression and sexual problems.

More than six million adults who are prescribed statins by their GPs will be told about five new ‘ undesirable effects’ in leaflets issued with packets of the drugs.

These are sleep disturbances, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, depression and a rare lung disease that can kill if left untreated.

           — Hat tip: JD [Return to headlines]

Wide Dissatisfaction With Capitalism — Twenty Years After Fall of Berlin Wall

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new BBC World Service global poll finds that dissatisfaction with free market capitalism is widespread, with an average of only 11% across 27 countries saying that it works well and that greater regulation is not a good idea.

In only two countries do more than one in five feel that capitalism works well as it stands—the US (25%) and Pakistan (21%).

The most common view is that free market capitalism has problems that can be addressed through regulation and reform—a view held by an average of 51% of more than 29,000 people polled by GlobeScan/PIPA.

An average of 23% feel that capitalism is fatally flawed, and a new economic system is needed—including 43% in France, 38% in Mexico, 35% in Brazil and 31% in Ukraine.

Furthermore, majorities would like their government to be more active in owning or directly controlling their country’s major industries in 15 of the 27 countries. This view is particularly widely held in countries of the former Soviet states of Russia (77%), and Ukraine (75%), but also Brazil (64%), Indonesia (65%), and France (57%).

Majorities support governments distributing wealth more evenly in 22 of the 27 countries —on average two out of three (67%) across all countries. In 17 of the 27 countries most want to see government doing more to regulate business—on average 56%.

The poll also asked about whether the breakup of the Soviet Union was a good thing or not. While an average of 54% say it was a good thing, this is the majority view in only 15 of the countries polled. An average of 22% say it was mainly a bad thing, while 24% do not know.

Among former Warsaw Pact countries, most Russians (61%) and Ukrainians (54%) believe the breakup of the Soviet Union was a bad thing. In contrast, four in five Poles (80%) and nearly two-thirds of Czechs feel the disintegration of the USSR was a good thing (63%).

The results are drawn from a survey of 29,033 adult citizens across 27 countries, conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland. GlobeScan coordinated fieldwork between 19 June and 13 October 2009

GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller says: “It appears that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may not have been the crushing victory for free-market capitalism that it seemed at the time—particularly after the events of the last 12 months.”

“Some features of socialism, such as government efforts to equalise wealth, continue to appeal to many people around the world,” comments Steven Kull of PIPA.

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