Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100327

Financial Crisis
»CBO Report: Debt Will Rise to 90% of GDP
 
USA
»2010: A Race Odyssey — Disproving a Negative for Cash Prizes
»Attorney Links Eligibility, Health Care Challenges
»Ejected From God’s House
»Iowa Man Joins Protest Against Obama and Health-Care Reform
»New Atrocity: The Beginning of USA Disarmament
»Obamacare Prescription: ‘Emergency Health Army’
»Obama Ally Targets 401(K) Dollars
»Robert Menendez Poll Draws Scrutiny
»Tom Tancredo: Why Obama and the Left Fear the Tea-Party Movement
»Without the Consent of the Governed
 
Canada
»Professors to Children of Dead Canadian Soldiers: The Hell With You
»Shop Claims Soap Made From Holocaust Victims
 
Europe and the EU
»Dozens Rally in Warsaw to Protest Plans for Mosque
»Dutch Police Taught Respect for Youth Gangs
»Italy: Vatican to Quiz Verona ‘Child Abuse’ Victims
»Italy: Police Smash Multi-Million Euro Fraud Scheme
»Netherlands: Rotterdam Bishop Knew About Abuse
»Spain: Francoism, ‘No’ To Garzon’s Appeal Againts Abuse Charge
»Spain: Gov’t Reform Law to Seal Electoral Loopholes
»Spain: Central Bank Approves 3 Mergers of Savings Banks
»The Net is Closing Around Pope Benedict XVI
»UK: Pregnant Woman Who Killed Cyclist and Drove Off Escapes Jail ‘To Save Baby Indignity of Being Born in Prison’
»UK: Schoolgirls in Murder Gang: Teenagers Face Quiz Over Stabbing That Terrified Commuters
»UK: Slaughter of the Swans: As Carcasses Pile Up and Migrant Camps Are Built on River Banks, Peterborough Residents Are Too Frightened to Visit the Park
»UK: The Unteachable Pupils Sent Back to Terrified Staff Despite Assaults and Sex Attacks
»UK: The Pygmies and Sleazebags Who’ve Wrecked Britain and How I Nearly Became a Labour MP
»UK: The £60,000 Croydon Health Chief Who Lives in Canada
»UK’s Muslim TV: Wives Must Not Refuse Sex With Spouse
»Vatican: No to Immoderate Sex, Drugs and Greed
»Vatican: Pope ‘Unaware’ of Move to Reinstate German Priest
 
Balkans
»Saudis Fund Balkan Muslims Spreading Hate of the West
 
North Africa
»Algeria: Israeli ‘Kidnapped by Al-Qaeda’
 
Israel and the Palestinians
»Diplomatic Spat Between Israel and USA, Palestinians Hope
»European Politicians Are Living a Lie About Israel
 
Middle East
»Baghdad Today: Safer, Unstable and Corrupt
»Israel Could Use Tactical Nukes on Iran — Think-Tank
»Turkey: Fathers Do Not Want Daughters to Flirt
 
Russia
»U.N. Opens Door for Moscow’s ‘Military Action’
 
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Tribal Powers Shift as Dutch Leave Uruzgan
»Afghanistan: UN Calls for Repeal of Amnesty Law
»Indonesia: Prominent Cleric Says Sharia Highest Law
»New Moore Island, Contested by India and Bangladesh, Has Re-Submerged After 40 Years
»Vatican — Thailand: Paedophile Priests Scandal Seen With the Eyes of the Thailand of Sex Tourism
 
Far East
»A Cloud of Smog Hovers Over Mongolia’s Capital
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
»How Bashir Ruined Sudan by Exploiting Islam
 
Immigration
»More Asylum Seekers to Norway
 
Culture Wars
»Spain: Classroom Sex Images, Christian-Bashing Draw Lawsuit
»USA: Judge Advances Student’s Lawsuit Against School
»White House Visitor Logs: Obama Had Pro-Abortion Leader at Christmas Party
 
General
»Earth Hour ‘Will Not Cut Carbon Emissions’

Financial Crisis

CBO Report: Debt Will Rise to 90% of GDP

President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, and raise the federal debt to 90 percent of the nation’s economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

In its 2011 budget, which the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Feb. 1, the administration projected a 10-year deficit total of $8.53 trillion. After looking it over, CBO said in its final analysis, released Thursday, that the president’s budget would generate a combined $9.75 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

“An additional $1.2 trillion in debt dumped on [GDP] to our children makes a huge difference,” said Brian Riedl, a budget analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “That represents an additional debt of $10,000 per household above and beyond the federal debt they are already carrying.”

The federal public debt, which was $6.3 trillion ($56,000 per household) when Mr. Obama entered office amid an economic crisis, totals $8.2 trillion ($72,000 per household) today, and it’s headed toward $20.3 trillion (more than $170,000 per household) in 2020, according to CBO’s deficit estimates.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

2010: A Race Odyssey — Disproving a Negative for Cash Prizes

…or, How the Civil Rights Movement Jumped the Shark

by Andrew Breitbart

As I have said over and over and over, the left has one trick that it will use again and again when its back is in the corner: shout ‘racist’ in a crowded country.

On Saturday, during the peaceful and patriotic tea party protest at the Capitol, the Democrats staged a series of symbolic acts meant to manipulate the media to do its bidding. The Congressional Black Caucus pulled the Selma card and chose to walk through the crowd in the hopes of creating a YouTube incident. This is what it looked like:

and this:

There is no reason in 21st century America on an issue that is not a black or white or a civil rights issue to have a bloc of black people walk slowly through a mostly white crowd to make a racial point. The walk in and of itself — with two of the participants holding their handheld cameras above their heads hoping to document “proof” — was an act of racism meant to create a contrast between the tea party crowd and themselves.

This is the same failed symbolism that Janeane Garofalo and MSNBC have been trying to implant for the last year. The only supposed evidence of white-on-black racism at a tea party that MSNBC was able to find was a man carrying a gun at an Arizona Obama rally. But, wait, MSNBC cut off the man’s head with a photo editing software. That Second Amendment fan was actually black. Never mind.

Saturday’s “never mind” moment will live in infamy as the Congressional Black Caucus claimed the N-word was hurled 15 times. YouTube video shows that at least two of the men in the procession were carrying video cameras and holding them above the crowd. They have not come forth with evidence to show that even one person hurled the vile racist epithet. The video also shows no head movement one way or another. Wouldn’t the N-word provoke a head turn or two? Is it really possible that in 2010, in a crowd of 30 or 40 thousand people — at the center of a once-in-a-lifetime media circus — not one person’s flipphone, Blackberry, video recorder or a network feed caught a single incident? And if not, then at least someone could have found an honest tea partier to act as an eyewitness — or the Congressional Black Caucus would have confronted the culprit(s). If that had happened, there would be an investigation to see if the perpetrator was a left-wing plant.

Let’s remember that Nancy Pelosi followed this procession with a “perp walk” of her own, as she carried the giant gavel that hammered down the passage of Medicare in 1965 to its rendezvous with destiny. Does any rational person seriously believe that the Capitol Police or her security people would have let the Speaker of the House — second in line of succession to the presidency, right after the Vice President — walk into danger as alleged by the Congressional Black Caucus? Please.

That’s how much the Democrats need a racist Tea Party moment. To stop it in its tracks. That’s why on Saturday they used the Congressional Black Caucus to try to manufacture the false appearance of one. And when they didn’t get it, they did what they always do: they lied.

Alinsky taught them well: the ends justify the means. And that’s how the Democrats play. They love using black people as symbols of oppression. They love to use them for staged rallies, staged walks and staged protests. It’s why they fought so hard to keep the heavily minority ACORN alive. They were the portable army that would cry racism in front of your place of business until the company paid them off to go away.

Haven’t we had enough? Are we going to allow the left to use its despicable acts of lies and intimidation to shut up legitimate dissent on a subject that has nothing to do with race? Are we going to allow the professional race hustlers like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to continue their shakedown rackets — so memorably exposed by Shelby Steele in his book White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promised of the Civil Rights Era?

If we let them get away with Saturday’s stunt — using the imagery of the Civil Rights era and hurtful lies to cast aspersions upon the tea party whole — then they really will have won the day.

It’s time for the allegedly pristine character of Rep. John Lewis to put up or shut up. Therefore, I am offering $10,000 of my own money to provide hard evidence that the N- word was hurled at him not 15 times, as his colleague reported, but just once. Surely one of those two cameras wielded by members of his entourage will prove his point.

And surely if those cameras did not capture such abhorrence, then someone from the mainstream media — those who printed and broadcast his assertions without any reasonable questioning or investigation — must themselves surely have it on camera. Of course we already know they don’t. If they did, you’d have seen it by now.

THOUSANDS OF TIMES.

Rep. Lewis, if you can’t do that, I’ll give him a backup plan: a lie detector test. If you provide verifiable video evidence showing that a single racist epithet was hurled as you walked among the tea partiers, or you pass a simple lie detector test, I will provide a $10K check to the United Negro College Fund.

           — Hat tip: Escape Velocity[Return to headlines]


Attorney Links Eligibility, Health Care Challenges

Motion says new law invalid because of Obama’s missing documentation

What President Obama has described as a monumental victory — the passage of health-care reform legislation — could be linked in court to the ongoing controversy over his eligibility to hold the nation’s highest office.

Attorney Orly Taitz — now a candidate for secretary of state in California — today provided to WND a court filing in which she asks that her eligibility challenge be joined with a case that contests the constitutionality of the Democrats’ massive health-care plan.

Taitz argues, “H.R. 3590 was signed into law by Mr. Barack Hussein Obama, who … never proved his legitimacy to the presidency. Therefore the act is invalid, as it was not signed by one legally entitled to sign it.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Ejected From God’s House

by Margot Badran

“I thought here we are in a mosque in the United States, and in the nation’s capital no less, and the mosque authorities, as self-identified, call in municipal security forces to eject a bunch of women just because they wanted to pray in the main congregational space. Absurd. Is this where our tax dollars should go? To defend gender segregation? I had thought the days of segregation were long gone in this country. I asked myself: Who owns God’s house anyway?”.

This article was originally published by Al-Ahram Weekly (4 — 10 March 2010).

It was a bright winter Saturday in Washington with a strong sun bouncing light off the high piles of snow lining the streets after the recent blizzards. I was in high spirits as I made my way to the mosque on Massachusetts Avenue, sometimes called the “national mosque”, sitting proudly on Embassy Row. I entered by the front door and as I was early I sat down to wait on a chair at the back of the main hall. A few men arrived — one passing within inches of me as he deposited offerings in the box next to me — and went about saying their prayers in scattered parts of the hall appearing intent only upon their devotions. Soon several women came through the door. I assumed that they were part of the group that was going to pray together in the mosque’s main hall rather than behind the physical partition standing out like a scar against the beauty of the Iznik faience lining the pillars and walls. All that the women wanted to do was to pray in the main hall behind the men where they could see and hear the imam.

As the women sat down on the carpet toward the back of the hall, a man approached me. He pointed to the barricades said: “Tell the women to go there.” I asked if he spoke Arabic and he replied yes. I looked him straight in the eye and said: “I cannot tell people where to go.” With no further word he turned and left me alone. When the prayers began the women went to the front of the mosque forming a row behind the two rows of men. All in all there were very few people who had come to the mosque to pray. From my vantage point on a chair in the back I noticed a woman who had tried unsuccessfully to get the women to retreat behind the barrier, now after the communal prayers had begun, dashing about busy on her cell phone. The next thing I observed was two Washington police officers standing around her and noticed frenetic comings and goings. When the midday prayer ended the women returned to the rear of the mosque and once again sat down on the carpet. The cops honed in and hovered over them. A man who had been bustling about with disdain written on his face identified himself as the mosque administrator and the woman obsessed with her white cell phone as his assistant. The administrator levelled a barrage of questions at the seated women. He asked them if they had come to pray or to protest. Suddenly he turned to me, looked at me square in the face, and asked: “Did you pray?” I retorted: “This is not a question for you to ask. It is a question for God to ask.” He turned his head.

The women were told on no uncertain terms they could not remain in the mosque and the DC cops ordered us to leave or be ushered out. As the police were beginning to show muscle and tension was building an Egyptian male sympathizer with us suggested we leave to avoid arrest. As the cops continued to step up the pressure, doing the bidding of the mosque administrator and his assistant, it became clear we had no choice but to exit. I thought here we are in a mosque in the United States, and in the nation’s capital no less, and the mosque authorities, as self-identified, call in municipal security forces to eject a bunch of women just because they wanted to pray in the main congregational space. Absurd. Is this where our tax dollars should go? To defend gender segregation? I had thought the days of segregation were long gone in this country. And here it is on display in the nation’s showcase mosque which boasts tens of thousand visitors each year. Do they include the story of gender segregation in their script for the visitors?

As the scenario with the women and cops and mosque authorities was playing out suddenly from out of the blue I caught sight of a large number of men, women, and children enter the mosque. I heard later that they had arrived by bus. Bussed in did the cops and mosque segregation vigilantes think? It turned out to be a group of mainly South Asians, it seemed, from Maryland. There were also other visitors who appeared. No sooner did the visitors enter the mosque, after the prayers had ended, than the whole lot, men, women, and children, were unceremoniously tossed out along with the unwanted women. As we were dispatched beyond the wrought iron gates, our numbers having now swollen, a male visitor in evident pain shouted back through the wrought iron fence to the officious mosque administrator and his gloating female assistant standing inside the mosque courtyard: “What a terrible way to treat women. What are you teaching our children?”

Out in the street I turned to one of the cops, who like the other policeman, was African-American, and said: “You know about race and gender in this country. How did you feel about throwing women out? Did you ever think in your job you would be called upon to do such a thing?” All he said was: “That’s why I didn’t arrest you.” He repeated what the other cop had said: “The mosque is a private place and they have the right to eject out if you do not play by their rules.” This cop did not say as the other one had done menacingly: “We are the police and we can throw you out.” All I could say to my compatriot, the “good cop,” was: “The lunch counter was also private.” What if the young men sitting down there had played by the rules? Whose rules? As I picked my way back to my car parked up against a towering bank of snow, the 1960s came flooding back: anti-war, civil rights, women’s liberation. Is the tape rolling backward? And who’s rolling it and why? Where is it all coming from? I asked myself: Who owns God’s house anyway? The sun was still shining bright on our Washington afternoon but the day had suddenly turned terribly dark.

POSTSCRIPT: I dedicate this piece to the memory of Malak Hifni Nasif who 100 years ago in Cairo in a set of demands presented to the Egyptian Nationalist Congress meeting in Heliopolis asked that women be allowed into mosques for congregational prayer.

The writer is currently holding the Reza Khatib and Georgianna Khatib Chair in Comparative Religion at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iowa Man Joins Protest Against Obama and Health-Care Reform

He had no plans to throw bricks, issue death threats, spit in faces or scream racial slurs. But Randy Millam, 52, intended to make a scene, so he woke up early Thursday morning to prepare for President Obama’s visit.

Millam sat at his kitchen table in Lowden, Iowa, with 14 Sharpie markers and a piece of foam board, working to condense a year of frustration into a 3-by-3-foot catchphrase. “Chains We Can Believe In,” he wrote, drawing the communist hammer and sickle on the poster’s top left corner. Then he grabbed an American flag, inserted batteries into a megaphone bought on the cheap for $25 and guzzled a 24-hour energy drink. Just as Obama took off in Air Force One for Iowa City, Millam loaded into his muddy Ford Fusion and drove 50 miles across the cornfields of eastern Iowa.

[…]

He walked to the front of the protest crowd and lifted the megaphone to his mouth.

“Fellow patriots,” he bellowed. “We are standing outside the arena right now because the president controls the crowd, controls the message, controls the people of this country. That is not freedom! That is not democracy! That is not the America I grew up in!”


The demonstrators cheered and began to gather around Millam, and two police officers came to stand nearby. “If you’re going to deny me my constitutional rights, you can arrest me,” Millam told the officers. Then he leaned into the megaphone and started shouting again.

I got news for you, Barack,” Millam said. “You can’t blame everything on Bush anymore. You either are the president, or you’re not. We’ve got 17 percent real unemployment. Home sales are at historic lows. . . . And now the most pro-choice president this nation has ever elected is forcing us to have health care. Every single person’s body in this whole country belongs to the government now.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


New Atrocity: The Beginning of USA Disarmament

What our Founders warned against has now come to pass—in the form of a clear and present danger. The Obama announced, today, that he had made a deal with Russia to reduce the USA’s nuclear arsenal by 30%.

Russia is supposed to reduce its arsenal, also, but we suspect that will not occur. This comes on the heel (no doubt a jack-booted one) of Obama’s and the US Marxist Party’s passage of ObamaCare which restricts all Americans former liberties. As those who can still think on their own know, ObamaCare has little-to-nothing to do with either health or the care of others. It has everything to do with control by the ObamaGov over the people of the country.

Below are only a few examples that prove my point:

  • US Marxist Party Representative from Michigan John Dingell said recently: “The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re passing legislation that will cover 300 million American people in different ways, it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people.”
  • Page 1312 of the now signed-into-law Senate version of ObamaCare provides for funding of Obama’s private militia referred to as “Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps” Sec. 5210. This “Corps” is given broad powers to control the US citizenry
  • All Student College Loans are taken from the private sector and placed in the hands of the ObamaGov. The better to fully indoctrinate young minds into totalitarianism—only. No dissenting opinions will be allowed and this time it’s mandated by Obama & Co. Did you know that this is also included in ObamaCare?
  • And for the more prurient Marxist, Viagra is to be funded by the American taxpayer for sex offenders. Yes—it is.


           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obamacare Prescription: ‘Emergency Health Army’

Force subject to ‘involuntary calls to active duty’ during ‘public crises’

President Obama’s recently passed health-care reform legislation includes a surprise for many Americans — a beefing up of a U.S. Public Health Service reserve force and expectations that it respond on short notice to “routine public health and emergency response missions,” even involuntarily.

According to Section 5210 of HR 3590, titled “Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps,” the force must be ready for “involuntary calls to active duty during national emergencies and public health crises.”

The health-care legislation adds millions of dollars for recruitment and amends Section 203 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 204), passed July 1, 1944, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is one of the seven uniformed services in the U.S. However, Obama’s changes more than double the wording of the Section 203 and dub individuals who are currently classified as officers in the Reserve Corps commissioned officers of the Regular Corps.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Ally Targets 401(K) Dollars

Trillions in IRA funds could be forced into U.S. Treasury debt

A key labor union ally of the Obama administration has mounted an effort to create government-mandated worker retirement accounts as an entitlement program, with the possibility that a portion of all private retirement funds could be forced into U.S. Treasury debt.

Branding the program “Retirement USA,” the Service Employee International Union, or SEIU, has joined with the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based economic left-leaning think tank that receives substantial labor funding and two other left-leaning interest groups, the Pension Rights Center and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Robert Menendez Poll Draws Scrutiny

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has begun an unofficial “diversity survey” of Fortune 500 companies and has told the companies that if they do not participate in the survey, he will make their names public.

The survey has already drawn fire from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “a fishing expedition” and from legal experts, who say companies may violate federal employment laws by even asking such questions of their employees or suppliers.

Menendez, the only Hispanic in the Senate, wants to find out how many minorities, women and disabled people serve as top executives or members of the firms’ corporate boards, as well as the “demographic makeup of your suppliers.”

If a company responds to Menendez’s request, its information will be kept anonymous, although it will be aggregated in a report Menendez plans to issue later this year.

“Completion of this survey will show your commitment to improving diversity among the highest ranks of your corporation,” Menendez wrote in a March 8 letter sent to the companies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Tom Tancredo: Why Obama and the Left Fear the Tea-Party Movement

The intensity and nastiness of the attacks on the tea-party movement tell us how much the left fears ordinary American citizens who take an interest in politics.

Left-wing anti-war protests or rampaging anarchists at the G-8 summits are wonderful expressions of democratic dissent, but protests against Obamacare and catastrophic public debt are un-American?

In the past few days, the attacks on the tea-party movement have taken a turn toward outright suppression of dissent. The liberal media are now engaged in a concerted campaign to smear and discredit all criticism of Obama as un-American and dangerous.

Memo to David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel: The smear campaign won’t work. Tea-party patriots will not be intimidated.

The new smear campaign started a week ago when a few House Democrats were heckled by protesters at the Capitol. Then some Democrats began telling stories of telephone threats. Suddenly, news commentators are issuing dire warnings that the tea-party movement is full of violent extremists who at any moment may march on Washington with pitchforks, guns and blazing torches.

On one level this is nothing new, the name-calling and smears aimed at legitimate dissent. We can remember the DHS memo on right-wing extremism among returning war veterans issued just days after Obama took office. The political left is full of pious platitudes about free speech, but when they are the targets of protests, they turn to smears instead of honest debate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Without the Consent of the Governed

Obama’s Unconstitutional Health Care Treachery is just the beginning of a dark and sinister age in American history. Now that Obama & Co. have found the legislative mechanisms to subvert the Law of the Land on the federal health care grab, they intend to rush forward with the passage of “financial reform”—”energy reform”—and “Immigration reform”—none of which are any type of “reform.”

All of these measures are massive federal power and resource grabs, moving the vast resources of the United States from private sector control to public sector control. It is called socialism, by way of democratic process.

All of it will be done over the next few months without the consent of the governed, before the November election when leftists expect to lose their fifteen minutes of power in the voting booth. They plan to advance their anti-American agenda no matter how many stand opposed, and in such a manner that it can never be reversed.

As I pointed out very clearly in my most recent column, for any federal law to be “constitutional,” it must meet this minimum standard…

1. It must be within the limited federal powers enumerated in the Constitution 2. It must enjoy the support of the vast majority of “the governed,” from which all federal powers are derived 3. It must not infringe upon the unalienable individual rights of any citizen 4. It must not infringe upon the rights of any state, protected by the Tenth Amendment 5. It must become law by way of legal legitimate legislative process

Obama’s Health Care treachery violates all five of these standards and as a result, it cannot be allowed to stand. They are just getting started. This is about much more than health care, yet health care is where the people must put a stop to all of it.

[…]

The left is working around the clock to paint every resister a “domestic terrorist” despite the well-known fact that it is demonstrators on the left, ACORN, SEIU and Teamsters who have a long history of violence.

It’s the leftist green movement and even the leftist anti-war movement which has again and again resorted to violence to get their message across.

Last September, more than a million American patriots showed up for the 9/12 March in DC and there was not one arrest, not one broken window, not one reported act of violence, no burning streets, and, in fact, not even any garbage left behind.

In contrast, when Obama’s inaugural event ended, it looked like Woodstock had just left town, with piles of garbage in the wake. When a handful of Berkeley students heard that their college “entitlements” might be reduced in this tough economy, the streets of Berkeley burned once again.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Canada

Professors to Children of Dead Canadian Soldiers: The Hell With You

Project Hero was launched last summer by Rick Hillier, former chief of defense staff and now chancellor of Newfoundland’s Memorial University. Kevin Reed, an honourary lieutenant-colonel in Canada’s Armed Forces took it to other post-secondary schools throughout the country. Currently many universities and community colleges have signed on.

Project Hero provides scholarships to those who have had a parent killed in action while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Earlier this month the University of Regina signed on to Project Hero and the awarding of scholarships will commence at the beginning of the next school year. To be eligible to receive the scholarship, the applicant must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. He or she must be under the age of 26 and have been a dependant of a person who died while serving with the Canadian Armed Forces on an active mission. The applicants must be full time students and maintain a 75% average each semester in order to be eligible for funding during the next semester. Those applicants who qualify will have tuition and compulsory student fees paid for and will be given $1,000 a year for books and other expenses.

This week, 16 professors at the university wrote an open letter to the administration asking the university to cease participation in Project Hero. The 16 didn’t like the fact that soldiers who died in combat in Afghanistan were portrayed as “heroes”. One of the professor’s, Jeffrey Webber, was quoted as saying, “We think this program is a glorification of Canadian imperialism in Afghanistan.” Webber went on to describe the war in Afghanistan as the “occupation of a sovereign country”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Shop Claims Soap Made From Holocaust Victims

Montreal vendor’s offering sparks outrage

A vendor’s claim that soap for sale in his Montreal trinket shop is made from the corpses of Second World War victims is under investigation by Montreal police after the B’nai Brith League for Human Rights lodged a complaint under a Criminal Code ban on violating human remains.

A CBC radio reporter first disclosed that a shop on St. Laurent Boulevard was selling a bar of soap allegedly made from the fat of Holocaust victims. The light brown bar had a swastika and was on display with a card that said it was from Poland, from approximately 1940, according to CBC.

In spite of rumours to the contrary, there is no evidence the Germans ever made soap out of human flesh, most Holocaust experts agree.

But Marvin Kurz, B’nai Brith’s national legal counsel, said just the offer to sell such an item is outrageous.

“It is despicable to claim you’re selling the remains of a dead person, when it would be the product of the greatest crime in history,” he said. “Nobody would go around selling the fingers of a murder victim.”

Frank Chalk, director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, doubted the soap is authentic as the vendor claims.

“The consensus among historians of the Holocaust is that the Germans never made fat out of human remains.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Dozens Rally in Warsaw to Protest Plans for Mosque

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Dozens of people are protesting plans by the country’s Muslim community to build a second mosque in Warsaw.

The protesters gathered Saturday at the mosque’s construction site in the city’s outskirts. They chanted “Radical Islam, no thanks” and held up banners saying “Stop the Radicals” and “Political Islam is threat to Europe.”

A tiny group of counter-protesters turned out carrying banners reading: “Warsaw is for everybody” and “Stop Islamophobia.”

Poland’s Muslim population is tiny but growing. It includes not only Tatars, an ethnic group that settled in Poland centuries ago, but also a growing number of students and businessmen from Arab countries. So far Poland has been spared the tensions over Islam that Western Europe has experienced in recent years.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Dutch Police Taught Respect for Youth Gangs

THE HAGUE, 27/03/10 — Police corps and school managements are increasingly sending officers and teachers on courses where they learn to adapt to street culture. They go to coaches like Frank van Strijen, who explained his views Friday in De Pers newspaper.

Van Strijen’s most important lesson is humility. As an example of one of his course participants, the newspaper refers to a police officer who was beaten up by a pair of street kids. He was then taught how to deal with them: on approaching a group of street kids, it is best first to shake hands with the leader of the group.

Someone who wants to get a grip on street gangs must drop some Dutch standards, is Van Strijen’s principle. He refers to a group of kids who literally pushed around a homosexual janitor at their school. Van Strijen’s solution was for the school director to make agreements with the leader of the group.

“If someone in the group does something wrong, then he, the leader, is punished. Because groups of street kids are strongly hierarchical, you can achieve a lot if you get the leader on your side.”

According to Van Strijen, who does not believe that his therapy further erodes the police and teachers’ waning authority, a permanent street culture arose about seven years ago. This holds sway not just in cities but also in villages, and not only among Moroccan youths but also among white youngsters, he stresses.

Characteristics are a strong group feeling, an antipathy to the society, emphasis on macho behaviour, and a strong hierarchy. Youngsters for example intimidate police or teachers by taking a weapon to school. “You see it at primary schools as well,” says a participant in the course.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italy: Vatican to Quiz Verona ‘Child Abuse’ Victims

Verona, 26 March (AKI) — As the Vatican sought to contain a widening sex scandal that has provoked outrage in Ireland, the United States and Germany, it announced plans to investigate fresh allegations of abuse in Italy. The Vatican has ordered the diocese in the northern city of Verona to interview 67 deaf men and women who claim two dozen Catholic priests raped and molested them for years at an institute for deaf children.

The move comes amid as the sex scandal deepens on both sides of the Atlantic amid claims that Pope Benedict XVI knew of child abuse in his previous positions before he became pope.

“The victims of the alleged abuse will be interviewed quickly,” the diocese of Verona said in a statement.

The 67 former pupils at Verona’s Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf were due to appear on Italian state TV show ‘Mi manda Rai 3’ late on Friday with their faces blurred.

The students in November last year sent a signed statement to the diocese describing paedophile sexual abuse and corporal punishment they said they had endured at the school from the 1950s to the 1980s.

The ex pupils said they could name 25 priests, brothers and lay religious men, who had abused them.

While not all of the former students at the school acknowledged they were vicitims, 14 of the 67 wrote sworn statements and made videotapes detailing abuse against them by by priests and brothers of the Congretation for the Company of Mary.

One victim, Gianni Bisoli, reportedly claimed he had been molested five times by the late bishop of Verona, Giuseppe Carraro, who had tried to sodomise him with a banana.

The current bishop of Verona, Giuseppe Zenti, has vehemently denied wrongdoing by Carraro, who is being considered for beatification — a step on the road to sainthood.

“These tall stories about him are unbelievable, diabolical conjecture. These are psychiatric cases,” he said, quoted by Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The Verona case was first reported last September as part of an Associated Press news agency investigation and subsequently in a January issue of Italian investigative weekly magazine l’Espresso.

Zenti ordered an internal investigation after one of the accused lay religious men admitted having sexual relations with students at the school.

This internal probe found some abuse had occurred but only a fraction of what had been alleged, and a report was forwarded last may to the Vatican’s office for disciplining the clergy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Representatives of the victims said the dicocese probe was fatally flawed because it had not interviewed any of the former students.

The Verona case bears an eerie resemblance to that of a Wisconsin priest, Lawrence Murphy, who allegedly molested some 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee from 1950 to 1975.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, from 1981 to 2005 headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which halted a church trial of Murphy after an appeal to Ratzinger, according to documents first reported earlier this week by the New York Times.

The New York Times also reported on Friday that the future pope was copied on a memo saying a priest accused of abusing boys in the Munich diocese 30 years ago while Ratzinger was archbishop, would be returned to pastoral work.

Church officials could not rule out that Ratzinger had read the memo, according to The New York Times.

The Munich archdiocese has said Ratzinger was involved in a 1980 decision to allow the priest to be transferred there for therapy.

The priest, Peter Hullermann, was in 1986 convicted of sexual abuse against children during a later posting.

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


Italy: Police Smash Multi-Million Euro Fraud Scheme

Nola, 26 March(AKI) — Italian investigators on Friday announced they had smashed a tax-evasion scheme which allegedly drew on an estimated 150 million euros in unpaid taxes to invest in luxury hotels and other real estate.near the southern city of Naples.

Tax police in Nola, near the southern city of Naples, seized a 20.6 million-euro real estate fund that was allegedly used to recycle profits from the evaded taxes and to buy hotels by industrial and real estate company Gruppo Ragosta, according a statement from investigators.

“The investigation led to the uncovering of a complex system of fraud,” police said in statement.

Investigators allege that the company evaded 150 million euros in value-added tax by faking 730 million euros of transactions.

The fund has hotels in Rome, the Amalfi coast and Taormina, the historic Sicilian town which is a popular tourist destination.

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


Netherlands: Rotterdam Bishop Knew About Abuse

Rotterdam bishop Ad van Luyn knew about several cases of sexual abuse of children at Catholic boarding schools run by the Salesian order, a spokesman for the bishop told the NRC and Dutch world service radio RNW.

Van Luyn was head of the Salesian order from 1975 to 1981. The bishop was aware of ‘several concrete cases’ and ‘had to take action’, the spokesman said.

It is the first time the bishop has admitted knowing about the abuse. He declined to make any further comment pending the outcome of an independent inquiry into abuse at Catholic schools and seminaries nationwide.

Claims rising

Since the NRC and RNW broke the scandal at the end of last month, over 1,100 reports of abuse have been made to the church authorities. The NRC has had 128 reports from people who were abused by priests, monks and nuns while under their care.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said cardinal Ad Simonis totally missed the point when he used the German phrase ‘Wir haben es nicht gewusst’ (we did not know) about the growing sexual abuse scandal.

The phrase was used by Germans after World War II as the horror of the Nazi concentration camps unfolded. But the phrase is seen an excuse for a lack of action. This could be seen to imply the church authorities did have their suspicions.

The Dutch bishops conference has stressed Simonis was speaking personally, not as a representative of the church.

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


Spain: Francoism, ‘No’ To Garzon’s Appeal Againts Abuse Charge

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 25 — Spain’s Supreme Court cleared the way further for Audiencia Nacional Judge Baltazar Garzon to face trail. The Court today rejected an appeal presented by Garzon’s legal advisors against the ruling by Examining Magistrate Luciano Varela not to close the inquiry opened into alleged abuse of authority by the Judge in having declared himself competent to investigate crimes committed under Franco. According to court sources, cited by the EFE agency, the Supreme Court confirmed Varela’s decision to go ahead, considering that “there is neither the certainty that no crime has been committed, nor is it arbitrary or illogical or absurd to entertain the notion of an accusation of abuse”, as the ruling was worded. The judges did not go into the merits of the case, which will be assessed during the debating phase. But after today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, the examining magistrate is now free to oblige Garzon to stand trial, although he will first have to rule on the request for evidence urged by the defence. For its part, the Association for the Recovery of Historic Memory, (Armh), has censured the fact that the judge “is to be condemned for having exercised the duty of any judicial representative in investigating crimes committed during the Franco dictatorship”. According to the Armh, “Spain’s judicial system has been abusing its authority for the past three decades as it has been incapable of passing judgement on the thousands of murders and violations of human right committed during the dictatorship”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Gov’t Reform Law to Seal Electoral Loopholes

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 26 — The Spanish government is to propose a reform in Parliament to prevent the far-left Basque separatist movement from subscribing to ‘catch-all’ electoral lists in the 2011 municipal elections. The move was announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega during her usual press conference at the close of the Cabinet meeting. The executive’s proposal will affect electoral law reform, which will be made ‘watertight’ to prevent leaving any loop-holes allowing entry for parties that have condoned violence. As explained by Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, elected candidates of an outlawed party have to denounce violence in an “express, registered and actual declaration” and denounce all the grounds for which their political grouping has been outlawed. Reference is to members of the Batasuna formation, which was declared illegal in 2005, but which has nonetheless managed to introduce its candidates in cover-all electoral lists at every election since then. Should there be no outright refutation of violence, the elected councillor will be obliged to step down from their seat. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Central Bank Approves 3 Mergers of Savings Banks

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MARCH 26 — The executive commission of the Bank of Spain yesterday approved three mergers between savings and loan banks, as part of the reorganisation of the sector. The first merger regards Caixa Catalunya, Manresa and Tarragona; the second Caixa Manlleu, Sabadell and Terrasa; and the third Castilla y Leon, Caja Duero and Caja Espaa. In total the mergers will receive 2.155 billion from the bank restructuring fund (FROB) allocated by the government. According statements issued by the central bank, the three projects are in line with the “criteria of solidity and economic rationality required for this kind of operation”. On Wednesday the governor of the Bank of Spain, Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoez, warned that the central bank will intervene in savings banks that fail to propose reorganisation or merger plans.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Net is Closing Around Pope Benedict XVI

Now that it has been revealed that the pope failed to act against the sexual abuse by clerics when he could have, he has become part of the problem.

The Dutch archbishop, Johannes Simonis, appeared on national television this week to argue that the Dutch Catholic Church had been ignorant of the massive sexual abuse that had taken place within its ranks over the last few decades. If there is one single Roman Catholic prelate who could not argue the same, it is pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Simonis demonstrated a shocking naiveté by his choice of words. “Wir haben es nicht gewusst,” he said, German for “we didn’t know”. This phrase recalls the excuse German citizens used after the war to explain their failure to prevent atrocities committed by the Nazi regime.

Whether Simonis was telling the truth or not, the pope cannot possibly say he was unaware. In July of 1996, then cardinal Ratzinger, chief ideologist for the Vatican in his capacity as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, received a letter from the archbishop of Milwaukee in the United States. The archbishop asked Ratzinger for advice regarding two priests in his diocese who had sexually abused children in their care. One of them had done so at a school for the deaf. And ecclesiastical authorities knew of the abuse but failed to act.

Ratzinger never even bothered answering the letter. The New York Times revealed this striking example of the Vatican’s callousness and arrogance on Thursday.

The Church is hoping the matter will blow over. Papal spokesman Federico Lombardi called the case “tragic”, but said the Vatican did not learn about the case until the late 1990s. Lombardi made a splash before by going on the offence and saying sexual abuse is not exclusively committed within the Church. But the New York Times’ article goes a long way towards debunking this ‘pot calling the kettle black’ argument.

The net is closing around pope Benedict XVI. His letter to the Irish faithful last weekend was full of consoling words, but little promise of action. It was mostly political in nature and an attempt at damage control.

Now that it has been revealed that the pope failed to act when he could have, he has become part of the problem. It can be assumed that the scandal within the Church is not yet over, and that we will one day learn whether archbishop Simonis was really ignorant of the crimes committed in his church.

Why should non-Catholics care about this? The Church has its own means to deal with the matter after all: canonical law. If the Vatican fails to use this disciplinary instrument enough, is up to the faithful to act. The recent surge in apostasy is a good example of people taking measures of last resort to punish the Church

But, in spite of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and right of assembly, it is not that simple. Catholic clerics are currently accused of crimes that carry punishments of up to 8 or 12 years, depending on the age of the victim. In the Netherlands, the statute of limitations specifies that crimes such as these, dating back more than 12 to 20 years, cannot be prosecuted. This means that any accusations of abuse committed after 1990 can be prosecuted by the state. The Catholic Church cannot prevent criminal persecution by hiding behind papal letters, canonical law, or a committee chaired by a former politician, such as the one that will study the matter in the Netherlands.

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


UK: Pregnant Woman Who Killed Cyclist and Drove Off Escapes Jail ‘To Save Baby Indignity of Being Born in Prison’

A heavily pregnant woman who killed a cyclist and drove off escaped jail today.

Debra Kelly, 38, struck businessman Kevin Lush as he cycled home from work, knocking him onto a dual carriageway and his bike into the bushes.

However, at St Albans Crown Court today Judge Andrew Bright QC suspended Mrs Kelly’s 24-week jail term for 2 years to spare her the ‘indignity’ of giving birth in jail.

Judge Bright said: ‘You are expecting a baby in a few weeks. If I send you to prison there is every chance you would give birth in the mother and baby unit at Holloway Prison.

‘To inflict that indignity on an innocent baby is not in the public interest, though you richly deserve to go to prison.’


Mrs Kelly, of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to causing the death of 47-year-old Mr Lush by careless driving at 9.15pm on May 13 last year.

Her Fiesta overturned on the dual carriageway and ended upon the central reservation. She fled the scene after getting a lift from a stranger in a van, before giving herself up to the police seven hours later.

[…]

Mr Lush’s family and friends were clearly upset by the sentence, but were not able to talk.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Schoolgirls in Murder Gang: Teenagers Face Quiz Over Stabbing That Terrified Commuters

Several schoolgirls are to be questioned over the horrific mob stabbing of a 15-year-old boy at a major railway station in the middle of the rush hour.

The girls were spotted by witnesses as part of a gang, many in school uniform, who chased their victim into a ticket hall before cornering and killing him as terrified commuters looked on.

He was named last night as London-born Sofyen Ghailan, a pupil at the Henry Compton School in Fulham.

Twenty boys aged 14 to 17 were being held over the stabbing at Victoria Tube station in central London.

They were questioned at several police stations across the capital.

But the fact that schoolgirls were on the fringes of the murder gang has shocked police, who will now investigate what led up to the attack at 5.20pm on Thursday.

A major line of inquiry is that the victim was targeted during a planned fight between rival gangs of pupils from west and south London. The feuding gangs are said to have fought each other in the days leading up to the murder.

[…]

A police source said: ‘This as a chilling and murderous ambush carried out by a pack of wild dogs.

‘They were so brazen they did it in the full glare of dozens of CCTV cameras and more than 600 people. It’s completely lawless.’

[…]

Last night a Daily Mail reporter who approached the victim’s home in Acton, West London, was told by three youths to leave immediately under threat of violence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Slaughter of the Swans: As Carcasses Pile Up and Migrant Camps Are Built on River Banks, Peterborough Residents Are Too Frightened to Visit the Park

Creating 50 miles of cycle routes, parkland and dozens of delightful picnic spots, the Millennium Green Wheel project — which runs through the Cambridgeshire market town of Peterborough — was designed to encourage families to make the most of living beside the river.

At a cost of £10million, it should be a delight. With recreated woodland and hedgerows alongside the water, the project was also intended to give a boost to wildlife in the area — a traditional mating place for Mute, Bewick and Whooper swans, which congregate in vast numbers as the Nene flows through Peterborough town.

With salmon and sea trout spotted in the river for the first time in decades, the regeneration work has also seen the Nene come alive with other aquatic life, ranging from fish such as pike, carp, tench and barbel, to water voles, snails and freshwater prawns.

But this week, with spring in the air and flowers in bloom on the banks, few local people were brave enough to venture for an evening stroll along this delightful waterway, following disturbing allegations that Eastern European immigrants are ‘plundering’ and ‘pillaging’ local wildlife.

For, according to a flurry of alarming reports, Eastern Europeans are stalking the creatures of the River Nene and, to the horror of local residents, are reputedly now targeting the city’s swans.

Rather than simply enjoying the spectacle of these majestic birds, it was claimed that immigrants see the swans as a rich source of food, and are trapping the birds, then roasting them on open fires along the river bank.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph, which this week revealed details of the scandal, has been inundated with letters and emails since claiming that ‘legally-protected swans’ were being ‘butchered’ by immigrants who are ‘raping’ Peterborough’s waterways by snaring the birds then battering them to death with iron bars.

Of course, stories of immigrants killing and eating swans — once a treasonable offence punishable by hanging because all swans are Crown property and owned by the Queen — have emerged with increasing regularity since Britain’s borders were thrown open to Eastern Europe in 2004.

Equally regularly, of course, such claims have been dismissed as urban myths spread by opponents of immigration, fabricated as part of some sinister racist agenda.

Indeed, no less an authority than Professor Roy Greenslade, media commentator of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper, denounced one report in The Sun — headlined ‘Swan Bake’ and revealing how the Queen’s swans were being poached and barbecued by Eastern Europeans — as a cynical attempt ‘to inflame passions’ about immigration.

And, in truth, I was also deeply sceptical about these latest reports from Peterborough, believing there must be some other reason for the mysterious appearance of swan carcasses along the river — the work, perhaps, of foxes or some deadly swan blight?

But, I can report, the reality is even more disturbing than hitherto reported. Indeed, so bad is the situation that the people charged with protecting the river believe the situation is grave and acutely perilous for Peterborough’s swan population if the killing is not stopped.

For the first time, there’s irrefutable evidence that swans and vast quantities of fish are being killed by immigrants who have set up camp along the River Nene and are living off the land.

With more than 16,000 new Eastern European immigrants arriving in the past five years, those unable — or unwilling — to pay for accommodation in Peterborough have instead adopted the lifestyle of ancient hunter-gatherers, albeit with a penchant for vast amounts of strong Polish vodka and beer.

Living in crude shelters made of wood and plastic sheeting, scores of immigrants have taken up permanent residence all along the Nene.

Using crude snares and nets, the inhabitants are preying on swans, fish, rabbits, pigeons and even snails — all plundered from this expensively-restored habitat and cooked on open fires.

Indeed, at one camp I visited, hidden in bushes on the edge of a field 500 metres from the river and just a ten-minute-walk from the centre of Peterborough, it was abundantly clear that these people are dug in for a long stay.

This camp is also where three swan carcasses were recently found hanging from a tree branch beside a fire built around stones and other bricks which are used to balance heavy steel cooking pots.

Beside the cooking area was a living area — another wood and tarpaulin structure, with a table surrounded by boxes to sit on. Food such as sugar and bread hung in plastic bags from trees to prevent wild animals from eating them.

There was no one at home when I visited, but the camp was clearly still in use. As well as feathers and other bones around the fire, I found piles and piles of snail shells, which had been cooked and emptied of their contents.

A separate ‘bathroom area’ had been created ten metres away from the huts, where soap and toothpaste hung in bags from trees, along with a bucket used for washing.

The residents had even put down pieces of wood and cardboard to try to keep the mud off their feet following their morning ablutions. The camp was also littered with empty beer cans and vodka bottles.

Intriguingly, as well as all sorts of animal detritus, I also discovered one of the weapons of choice for capturing and killing swans. Propped against a tree was a thick, strong sea angling rod — built to take the strain of hauling big fish from the oceans.

According to walkers, river wardens and RSPCA officials, heavy treble-barbed hooks are attached to lines and cast out into the Nene using these sea rods and giant landing nets. The prize is not fish, but swans.

Out patrolling the river on Wednesday night, Jonathan Means, head bailiff for Peterborough and District Angling Club, points out where he caught one immigrant with a giant net trying to lure swans towards him with bread.

‘The guy was hiding behind a tree,’ says Mr Means. ‘First, he threw bread into the pool so that the swans would come towards him. Then he tried to catch them in his net. I couldn’t believe it. I started shouting and hollering at him and he ran away.’

A mild-mannered man, 44-year-old Mr Means has fished these waters since childhood, spending weekends and holidays on the bank, often only reluctantly packing up when night fell and he could not see to fish.

Giving his time for free as a volunteer, he has been a warden for the past ten years and knows the river and its wildlife well. Yet he no longer finds his patrols by the river relaxing.

Pointing out cooking fires used by immigrants to roast fish and fowl, not to mention piles of empty Polish beer cans, cigarette packets and liquor bottles, he shudders at the destruction along his beloved Nene.

‘These people have a total disregard for our wildlife and our country,’ he tells me quietly. ‘These people know exactly what they are doing. They are catching swans and decimating fish stocks.’

And much as Mr Means loves the river and believes it helps teach people about nature, he says he would not let his son fish here alone, as he did as a boy, because of the threat from these gangs of Eastern European poachers.

‘This park and river should be an absolute joy,’ he says, as night falls and gangs of Eastern immigrants carrying crates of cider decamp along the water. ‘But people are scared to come here.

‘I know of people who have fished here all their lives, who now will only come if they have friends with them for protection. Polish leaders say these people just need education — but that’s rubbish. People do not need to be educated to know they are breaking the law.’

Indeed, these poachers know enough about the law to destroy all signs warning — in several different languages — that illegal fishing and taking of wildlife will not be tolerated. Every week, Mr Means replaces these warnings posted along the river bank after they have been torn down.

Nor are these the poachers of lore, taking ‘one for the pot’. Last weekend, a gang of Polish men was caught using nets to try to empty a pool full of spawning fish. By killing females and young, they threaten the entire fish stock in the river.

‘People call this immigrant-bashing,’ says Mr Means. ‘It’s not. I’d be saying exactly the same if it was English people. But it’s not — it’s Eastern Europeans. They play it daft when I catch them with fish — but what can you do?’

As we are talking, Kathy Hornig, an animal welfare officer, is on a secret mission further downstream at a place called Black Bridge.

Here, another immigrant camp has been built amid high bushes near the river, and the occupants have been seen repeatedly taking swans from the water.

With the camp residents scattering as she approaches with other animal welfare officers, her mission is a success: she discovers the carcass of a mature, adult swan inside a plastic bag hanging from a tree branch by the camp.

Acutely conscious of the potential for tensions between locals and immigrants over the slaughter of British wildlife, the investigators removed the carcass of the dead swan for further tests to determine how it died.

‘We’ve been aware of this [killing swans] going on for some time,’ Ms Hornig said. ‘The people trying to catch swans are causing them extreme distress. But I cannot say with 100 per cent proof that the swan was killed for food, nor will I speculate about why it was here. I do not want to make any further comment.’

Marion Todd, a former Mayor of Peterborough, whose house is near the Nene, has spotted countless carcasses of birds, as well as bags full of fish, being carried by immigrants back to their camps.

‘I’ve absolutely no doubt that these swans are being killed for food. We cleared one overgrown area where camps have been built — and found lots of swan carcasses. Put it this way: the swans did not disappear and their bones were not found on fires before the immigrants came.’

And so the carcasses are piling up and the death toll is mounting. Officially, there have been six recent confirmed cases of swans being killed by immigrants to eat. But the true number is believed to be far higher.

Of course, it’s not just animals that are affected by this influx of immigrants. Few locals dare to use the park in the evening now, and even in daylight hours many will only use paths in sight of other people.

It was in 2004 that Labour threw open Britain’s borders to immigration from other EU states, prompting hundreds of impoverished Eastern Europeans to head to these shores.

With more than 60,000 other immigrants predicted to arrive in Cambridgeshire by 2016, the Polish Mission in Peterborough this week said that migrants should be educated, rather than punished, if they are caught poaching.

When approached by the Mail yesterday, the Polish Mission was unable to comment.

A spokesman for the Polish Embassy in London last night confirmed diplomats were aware of the swan killing allegations but questioned the scale of the problem.

‘How many Polish people are involved?’ he said. ‘Four or five. A minority. If somebody has broken the law by behaving in this bestial way, I’m sure they will be punished according to the British law. I’ve heard of four or five people being arrested. It creates the wrong picture to say that hordes of Polish people are taking British wildlife.’

At the camp where the latest dead swan was found this week, one immigrant from Lithuania had been left behind when her countrymen fled after the raid by animal welfare officers.

As rain lashed down, the woman, who stank of cheap cider and refused to give her name, peered out from beneath her tarpaulin-covered tent. She kept repeating ‘No understand — no passport’ when I asked her about the swan killed and prepared for the camp pot. ‘Please go,’ she said. ‘No say nothing. No trouble.’

Jonathan Means is unimpressed. ‘They know what they are doing is wrong — they just pretend they don’t if they get caught,’ he says.

‘Killing swans and fish has got nothing to do with lack of education. It’s to do with decency, manners and respect for the country you live in.’

[Return to headlines]


UK: The Unteachable Pupils Sent Back to Terrified Staff Despite Assaults and Sex Attacks

It is a shocking document which lays bare the realities of teaching in increasingly unruly schools.

One teacher reports the case of a 14-year-old boy who attacked her and sexually assaulted a female classroom assistant.

Another boy, this time aged only five, threatened to stab a member of staff with a pair of scissors and threw chairs in his reception class.

Most disturbingly, the culprits have all been returned to the classroom against the wishes of teachers — often after initially being excluded or expelled.

Nine ‘unteachable’ children are described in a dossier produced by the NASUWT union. Five were expelled by head teachers only to be reinstated by governing bodies.

The union accuses governors of being more concerned with placating parents of troublemakers than protecting staff.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: The Pygmies and Sleazebags Who’ve Wrecked Britain and How I Nearly Became a Labour MP

On the day of the General Election in 1997, I warned in my Daily Mail column: ‘Tony Blair might not frighten you, but if you vote Labour today you will be putting into office a bunch of people with a gut hatred of individual freedom.

‘They want us all to be clients of the state. Around their Islington dinner tables they pour scorn on suburban, family values.


‘Under Blair, the Labour Party has changed. But these have been changes wrought not of conviction, but of cynical expedience. How do I know this?

‘It’s because I’ve spent my life around the Labour movement. I have plenty of friends in the Labour Party and they still believe in the same things they believed in two decades ago.’

[…]

Old Labour merely wanted to take over the means of production. New Labour intended taking over every single aspect of your life.

[…]

For the entire time that New Labour has been misleading, bullying and cheating the British.’ public, Gordon Brown has been at its dark heart, first as chancellor, then as prime minister.

Brown’s Britain is a failed state, led by an unelected Scottish sociopath and a gruesome gang of crooks, liars, political pygmies and smearmerchants.

He has bankrupted the country, smashed our once gold-standard private pensions system, sold out our sovereignty to Europe and destroyed the special relationship with the U.S. over the release of the Lockerbie bomber for the sake of a squalid, sectarian squabble with the Scottish Nationalists.

We have a ruinous welfare culture which rewards the feckless and a taxation system which punishes enterprise and the traditional family.

Economically, he peddled us a false prospectus and has succeeded in beggaring the country for generations to come.


I don’t want to say I told you so. But I did. When he finally battered his way into Number 10 as Tony Blair’s replacement, his accession was greeted in most quarters like a cross between the second coming of John F. Kennedy and the release of Nelson Mandela. Not by me. I’ve never done honeymoon periods.

[…]

In the Court of Public Opinion Jacqui Smith would be convicted of stealing, for misrepresenting her sister’s back bedroom as her ‘main’ residence for parliamentary expenses’ purposes and all those MPs caught fiddling their allowances would be doing hard time.

Mandelson would have been banged up for dishonestly obtaining a mortgage. Blair would find himself accused of war crimes after sending troops to Iraq on the basis of a dodgy dossier and have been convicted of selling honours and taking bribes from Formula One.

In the Court of Public Opinion, Gordon Brown would be convicted of criminal negligence for selling off Britain’s gold reserves at car boot sale prices.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: The £60,000 Croydon Health Chief Who Lives in Canada

A senior NHS manager with responsibility for thousands of patients is doing her job from Canada.

Janet Clark is head of strategy for a large hospital and healthcare trust, requiring her to help GPs refer their patients quickly and efficiently.

Yet 18 months ago, she moved to Montreal where she apparently does her £60,000 job from the spare room.

This salary includes an annual payment of almost £5,000 a year for outer-London weighting — despite being 3,250 miles away from the trust’s headquarters in South London.

Miss Clark, 40, moved from the UK in 2008 after the breakdown of her marriage and almost immediately started working from her spare room in Montreal. It is understood she met her present partner Gilles Blanchet, who is Canadian, on the internet.

She was allowed to keep her high-flying job at the Mayday Hospital in Croydon — her responsibilities included meeting and advising doctors — despite moving thousands of miles and five time zones away.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK’s Muslim TV: Wives Must Not Refuse Sex With Spouse

Britain’s leading Muslim TV channel was accused of encouraging “marital rape” and promoting other intolerant views of women in a report on extremism published today.

The report by think tank Quillam says that the London-based Islam Channel broadcast comments saying that “the idea a woman cannot refuse her husband relations” was “not strange” and was instead part of “maintaining a strong marriage”.

It says that the channel also broadcast advice that a wife should not leave her home without her husband’s permission and that a woman who wears perfume in public is a prostitute.

The think tank, which is calling for an investigation by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, also accuses the channel of advertising talks by al Qaeda-supporting preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is alleged to have inspired failed Detroit bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and of giving a platform to other extremist Islamists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Vatican: No to Immoderate Sex, Drugs and Greed

(AGI) — Vatican City, 25 March — His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI exhorted the over 70,000 young people who gathered this evening in St.Peter’s Square together with Mayor Alemanno and Minister Meloni, to renounce to immoderate sex, drugs and greed. “They are renunciations which lead you to enjoying a full life. A goal which is worth working for every day, “ the Holy Father said and continued, “to go forward, we must learn the art of living and be true to ourselves. Learning to live means we are willing to make real renunciations which can help us find the truth. It is by renouncing to the slavery of money, drugs and immoderate sex that we learn to live. They are temptations which at first can convey a feeling of freedom but by winning over them, we can fully appreciate how precious life is.” ..

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Vatican: Pope ‘Unaware’ of Move to Reinstate German Priest

Vatican City, 26 March (AKI) — Pope Benedict XVI “had no knowledge” of a decision to reinstate a German priest accused of sexual abuse to pastoral work when he was archbishop of Munich, the Vatican said on Friday. In a media briefing, the pope’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, cited a statement from the archdiocese of Munich concerning the priest, Peter Hullermann, who was suspended from his duties for allegedly abusing boys.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.

“The archdiocese confirms the position, according to which the then archbishop had no knowledge of the decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activities in a parish,” Lombardi said.

“It rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.”

The New York Times newspaper claimed on Friday that Ratzinger was copied on a memo stating that Hullermann would be returned to pastoral work after he was transferred to Munich for therapy in 1980 following sex abuse claims.

The archdiocese said Ratzinger was involved in the decision to transfer Hullerman to Munich for therapy, according to The New York Times.

Church officials could not rule out that Ratzinger read the memo, the New York Times claimed.

“The article in the New York Times contains no new information beyond that which the archdiocese has already communicated concerning the then archbishop’s knowledge of the situation of Father H,” said Lombardi.

Earlier this month, Ratzinger’s former deputy in Munich, Gerhard Gruber, said earlier this month that he took full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to return to pastoral duties, a fact noted by Lombardi.

“The then vicar general, Monsignor Gerhard Gruber, has assumed full responsibility for his own erroneous decision to reassign Father H. to pastoral activity,” Lombardi said.

Hullerman was convicted in 1986 of sexual abuse during a later posting.

The Vatican is furiously working to contain the impact of a widening sex scandal involving thousands of alleged child abuse victims from the United States, Ireland, Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The Vatican has also moved to defend Pope Benedict XVI, who as Cardinal Ratzinger headed the Vatican’s office charged with discplining clergy for over 20 years.

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

Balkans

Saudis Fund Balkan Muslims Spreading Hate of the West

SAUDI ARABIA is pouring hundreds of millions of pounds into Islamist groups in the Balkans, some of which spread hatred of the West and recruit fighters for jihad in Afghanistan.

According to officials in Macedonia, Islamic fundamentalism threatens to destabilise the Balkans. Strict Wahhabi and Salafi factions funded by Saudi organisations are clashing with traditionally moderate local Muslim communities.

Fundamentalists have financed the construction of scores of mosques and community centres as well as handing some followers up to £225 a month. They are expected not only to grow beards but also to persuade their wives to wear the niqab, or face veil, a custom virtually unknown in the liberal Islamic tradition of the Balkans.

Government sources in traditionally secular Macedonia (official title the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), said they were monitoring up to 50 Al-Qaeda volunteers recruited to fight in Afghanistan.

Classified documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that Macedonian officials are also investigating a number of Islamic charities, some in Saudi Arabia, which are active throughout the Balkans and are suspected of spreading extremism and laundering money for terrorist organisations.

One of the groups under scrutiny is the International Islamic Relief Organisation from Saudi Arabia, which is on a United Nations blacklist of organisations backing terrorism. It did not respond to inquiries, but has previously denied involvement in terrorist activities, calling such claims “totally unfounded”.

According to its website, it works in 32 countries to provide relief to the victims of natural disasters and to carry out humanitarian, health and educational projects.

“Hundreds of millions have been poured into Macedonia alone in the past decade and most of it comes from Saudi Arabia,” said a government source. “The Saudis’ main export seems to be ideology, not oil.”

Sulejman Rexhepi, leader of the Islamic community in Macedonia, said a number of mosques had been forcibly taken over by radical groups. Four in central Skopje are no longer under the control of the official Islamic authorities. New imams claim they have been “spontaneously” installed by the “people”.

“Their so-called Wahhabi teachings are completely alien to our traditions and to the essence of Islam, which is a tolerant and inclusive religion,” said Rexhepi.

In some mosques believers are being told that Macedonia, which sent 200 soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan, has been tricked into supporting a crusade against Islam spearheaded by Britain and America. Radical clerics have shown footage from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories to illustrate their claims that the West is waging war on Islam.

Rahman, a 35-year-old cab driver from Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, said he had stopped going to his local mosque since it was taken over by extremists. “Following the Haiti earthquake the new imam said God would punish the West for their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with natural disasters,” he said.

Bekir Halimi, an imam trained in Syria, runs Bamiresia, an Islamic charity that has been investigated for alleged terrorist links and money laundering. Police raided its offices but failed to find any evidence of terrorist links.

“We are fully entitled to receive funding from both governmental and non-governmental organisations from Saudi Arabia,” said Halimi, who refuses to name the sources of his funding but rejects any suggestion of criminal activity.

Macedonia’s law enforcement agencies warn that the European Union and America have failed to recognise the growing problem of Islamic extremism in the Balkans.

Baroness Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, has declared stability in the region to be her top priority, but local politicians complain that the EU and Nato are reducing their presence in troublespots such as Bosnia and Kosovo.

Last month, Bosnian security forces raided a village strongly influenced by Salafi extremists and found a weapons cache.

In raids elsewhere rifles, bombs and rocket-propelled grenades have been uncovered.

The West has put considerable political and financial efforts into helping build democracy in Bosnia following its civil war in the 1990s. Saudi organisations have also asserted considerable influence, giving more than £450m to build more than 150 mosques and Islamic centres.

In Macedonia, Fatmir, a former disc jockey, explained how he became an adherent of Salafism. The father of two has grown a beard and instructed his wife to wear a niqab. He now makes his living by selling Islamist literature. “Ours is the Islam of the 21st century,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Israeli ‘Kidnapped by Al-Qaeda’

Algiers, 26 March (AKI) — The Algerian government believes an Israeli man has been kidnapped by Al-Qaeda after entering the country on a Spanish passport. According to a report in the Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, the man was abducted in a desert region of the country by an extremist Islamist group linked to the terror group.

It is not clear whether the man had dual citizenship or why he was travelling in Algeria, but there were reports in the Israeli media that he had contacted his family who had notified the Israeli foreign ministry.

Islamist militant organisations often only reveal the identity of their hostages days after their kidnappings take place.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has reportedly kidnapped 12 foreign citizens in the past three years in Algeria and Morocco.

Members of the organisation abducted Italian Sergio Cicala and his wife Philomene Kaboure in Mauritania in December .

They are believed to have been taken to Mali. Al-Qaeda members gave Italian authorities until 25 March to agreed to their demands for the release of imprisoned members in exchange for the couple’s release.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Diplomatic Spat Between Israel and USA, Palestinians Hope

In the context of a restricted cabinet meeting called in to a special session today, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shall present the American suggestions to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians. Having just returned from a three day visit to Washington, Netanyahu did not obtain concessions over the extension of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. A spokesman, who even today was insisting that the US would be backing Israel’s expansion policies, was promptly rebuffed by president Obama’s spokesman. It is still unclear just what the Americans are offering, but according to rumors published by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, apart from the issue of East Jerusalem, the US has identified four areas from which to revive the peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians: access for humanitarian aid in Gaza; transfer of the Territories to the control of the Palestinian National Authority (ANP); a significant release of Palestinian prisoners; a discussion of all the main issues in the context of the indirect talks that the US special envoy George Mitchell is trying to set up. Arab heads of state and government, meeting in the XXII Arab League summit in Sirte, Libya, this weekend will discuss these issues. Meanwhile, the League has allotted USD 600 million to help Palestinians residing in Jerusalem. [AB]

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


European Politicians Are Living a Lie About Israel

An Interview With Fiamma Nirenstein

By Stefan Frank, March 26, 2010, Pajamas Media

The Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein is the author of numerous books on anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Middle East conflict, including (in English) “Israel is Us” (JCPA, 2009) and “Terror: the New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West” (Smith & Kraus, 2005).

In April 2008, she was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies as a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party. She is presently the vice-president of the chamber’s Committee on Foreign Affairs. In February, she accompanied Prime Minister Berlusconi on a three-day visit to Israel.

Stefan Frank spoke with Fiamma Nirenstein about Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, anti-Semitism on the left, European criticism of Israel, and the significance of Berlusconi’s recent visit…

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

Middle East

Baghdad Today: Safer, Unstable and Corrupt

What is life like in Iraq seven years after the beginning of the war? Parliamentary elections have been held and US troops have withdrawn from the streets. Part one in a series on Iraq: Baghdad through the eyes of a police officer.

By Bram Vermeulen in Baghdad

Government official or suicide bomber, they will have to get past him first: officer Mohammed Abdullah, a 36-year-old father of eight, checkpoint guard at the ministry of oil in Baghdad. Some may consider him cannon fodder.

All the roads around this contemporary fortress of armoured watchtowers, this maze of concrete blast walls raised in protection against the bombers, lead to him. He stops the cars, searches them, and, with a quiet wave, approves passage. Ministers, diplomats, oil barons; the new Iraq goes through his hands.

A fortnight after Iraq’s second parliamentary election on March 7 and less than six months prior to the withdrawal of US armed forces, this was Mohammed’s perspective on his country: it is safer than it has ever been in the past seven years, but politically unstable and corrupt.

Security in the hands of locals

“I observe those who race for the oil contracts,” Mohammed said. “The Chinese are the winners; the Turks are working their way in. The Americans now have seven contracts, including three handed to the company of the outgoing ambassador. I see it all happen before my eyes,” said the guard in front of what is still commonly referred to as the ‘Ministry of Greed’ or Wazaret al-Lafad. After Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, this was the only ministry the US troops guarded when Baghdad was looted.

Today, no Americans can be seen in the streets. Tanks and soldiers hardly leave the army base near the airport, Camp Victory, from which they should start withdrawing by the end of August. The US armed forces are only visible in their giant helicopters gunships, or while escorting diplomats, ramming through the city in their armoured Chevrolets.

Iraq’s security is now in the hands of locals such as Mohammed. This week, he received yet another training certificate from the police academy. He learned to operate the latest gadget in bomb detection technology. Iraqis have been equipping all the city’s roadblocks with these ADE651s. It is a gun shaped device with an antenna that is supposed to detect explosives such as C4 and Semtex. It was also the subject of a major scandal when reports revealed that at least half of the devices, sold by a British company, didn’t work. But Mohammed swears by it. “It works, I actually saw it myself,” he said. In Baghdad, safety is all about perception.

Profession for sale

Take the job of police officer, for example. They are responsible for security at large. The public position is for sale, and Mohammed knows its price. “For 2,000 US dollars, you’re in. With the guarantee to get reimbursed in case you fail the test.” To a Westerner’s eye this may look like corruption, but Mohammed thinks it shows progress. “When I became an officer six years ago, everybody thought I was crazy. It was the most dangerous job in the world. That has changed. Now people even want to pay for this job.”

Mohammed lives in Sadr City, home of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose militia, the Mahdi Army, as well as other extremists used to chase officers like him. Policemen were considered a symbol of the progress that had to be stopped. “I never came home, I slept at the police station,” Mohammed recalled. “Once a month, at most, I crept into my house to give money to my wife and children. I didn’t even dare to have my clothes washed at home, because someone might see my uniform hanging out to dry. We would have been killed.”

Shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the police itself fought in the sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Government arms were used in a series of executions. Some of the victims were found tied in police handcuffs. “Officers, too, are made of flesh and blood. They have fears, they feel love and hatred,” Mohammed said. “Sometimes we would rat on each other. If a group of Sunni colleagues were on their way to a specific area, other colleagues would tell terrorist groups to finish them off. But those days are over. Now, we patrol side by side — Sunnis and Shiites.”

The Iraqi army has regained control of Sadr City. Thousands of militants have been arrested and Mohammed was able to return to his wife and children. Once a week, his uniform hangs on the clothesline.

No majority rule

Life in Sadr City is still not easy. Power cuts are a recurrent issue. As in most of the districts in Baghdad, electricity cables dangle in front of the houses like strands of spaghetti. “It is four against one,” Mohammed joked, explaining that for each hour the power is on, it is off for another four.

Five of his children go to school; the other three are still too young. Teachers have been returning to Baghdad after they had been the target in threats, kidnappings and killings between 2005 and 2007.

Iraq is far from finished, Mohammed affirmed. The coming months will be crucial. After the recent election, neither the incumbent Shia prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, nor his predecessor Iyad Allawi, a Shiite who works with Sunni politicians, has enough support for a majority rule. A coalition will have to be formed, maybe even one including Moqtada Sadr.

Mohammed hopes Maliki will be in charge again. Iraq is safer now than it has been for years because of the prime minister, the devout Shiite said. In his opinion, the mortar shells launched at polling stations on election day only proved that enemies of democratic politics are the enemies of Iraq. “We need to work together again. The only alternative is the revival of conflict.”

But even if that were to happen, Mohammed would still be standing guard at the oil ministry.

Bram Vermeulen is NRC Handelsblad’s Turkey correspondent. He visited Baghdad to write a five-part series about Iraq. Mohammed Abdullah is not the police officer’s full name.

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


Israel Could Use Tactical Nukes on Iran — Think-Tank

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Deeply concerned as it is by the risk of a nuclear-armed Iran, Israel has never even hinted at using atomic weapons to forestall the perceived threat.

But now a respected Washington think tank has said that low-radioactive yield “tactical” nuclear warheads would be one way for the Israelis to destroy Iranian uranium enrichment plants in remote, dug-in fortifications.

Despite the 65-year-old taboo against carrying out — or, for that matter, mooting — nuclear strikes, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says in a new report that “some believe that nuclear weapons are the only weapons that can destroy targets deep underground or in tunnels.”

But other independent experts are on record warning that such a scenario is based on the “myth” of a clean atomic attack and would be too politically hazardous to justify.

In their study titled “Options in Dealing with Iran’s Nuclear Program,” CSIS analysts Abdullah Toukan and Anthony Cordesman envisage the possibility of Israel “using these warheads as a substitute for conventional weapons” given the difficulty its jets would face in reaching Iran for anything more than a one-off sortie.

Ballistic missiles or submarine-launched cruise missiles could serve for Israeli tactical nuclear strikes without interference from Iranian air defences, the 208-page report says. “Earth-penetrator” warheads would produce most damage.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s sole atomic arsenal. Israeli leaders do not comment on this capability other than to underscore its deterrent role; President Shimon Peres has said repeatedly that “Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the region.”

A veteran Israeli defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said pre-emptive nuclear strikes were foreign to the national doctrine: “Such weapons exist so as not to be used.”

A fixture of NATO and Soviet arsenals, tactical nuclear weapons are designed to deliver focussed devastation with less contamination than city-killing bombs like those the United States dropped on Japan to end World War Two.

That damage containment would, in theory, off-set diplomatic fallout for whichever country were to use such arms on a foe.

FALLOUT

There has been speculation that the United States — which, like Israel, has not ruled out military force to deny Iran atomic arms — could itself resort to tactical nuclear strikes.

The Pentagon’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, which was leaked to the media, spoke of the need to develop new “mini-nukes” for defeating bunker systems. The review cited Iran among potential enemies that might eventually warrant a U.S. nuclear deployment.

Yet Toukan and Cordesman think it “very unlikely that any U.S. president would authorise the use of such nuclear weapons, or even allow … a strong ally such as Israel to use them, unless another country had used nuclear weapons against the U.S. and its allies.”

They say the United States would be central to any diplomatic solution to the Iranian standoff and is the only country that could launch a successful military strike on Iran.

International experts who contributed essays to the 2003 book “Tactical Nuclear Weapons” mostly shied from hawkishness.

“Who could predict what might happen next if (the) taboo on the use of nuclear weapons were to be broken?” wrote former CIA director Stansfield Turner. “Getting tactical nuclear weapons under control, rather than attesting to their use by building new ones, should be our goal.”

Princeton University physicist Robert Nelson assailed the idea that tactical nuclear weapons, detonated below ground, would pose tolerable risks for civilians and the environment.

“This is a dangerous myth. In fact, shallow buried nuclear explosions produce far more local fallout than air or surface explosions of the same yield,” he argued.

Sam Gardiner, a retired U.S. air force colonel who runs wargames for various Washington agencies, said an Israeli decision on using non-conventional weapons against Iran would come down to how far its nuclear programme was to be retarded.

Israel supports efforts by world powers to rein in Iran — which denies seeking the bomb — through sanctions, and some experts say any pre-emptive Israeli strike would aim to jolt international diplomats into finally knuckling down on Tehran…

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Fathers Do Not Want Daughters to Flirt

Adolescent girls should not have boyfriends or spend too much of their time socializing, the vast majority of fathers polled in a district of Konya told a student researcher.

More than 80 percent of fathers surveyed in the central Anatolian province do not want their adolescent daughters to have boyfriends, while only around 8 percent said they trust their daughters unconditionally.

The poll was carried out by Burcu Erdogan, a student at Konya Seydisehir High School, as part of a research project evaluating the effects of paternal authority on girls’ socialization. Her work is a regional-finals contender in a student competition being held by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBITAK.

Under the guidance of teacher Ayse Ünüvar, Erdogan surveyed 300 fathers who have daughters between the ages of 15 and 18 that attend one of four high schools in the Seydisehir district.

Of the fathers surveyed, 83 percent said they would not approve of their daughters having boyfriends. More than 40 percent also said their daughters would fail in school if they were too social, with over 80 percent of respondents expressing agreement with the statement: “My daughter should go to school; I dislike having her strolling around.”

More than 90 percent of the fathers said they want their daughters to be raised as social and cultured individuals, and 75 percent said they would provide every possible means for their education.

Though just over 6 percent of fathers admitted to beating their daughters, more than 40 percent said they approved of such physical punishment.

Slightly more than 21 percent of fathers said the most important thing with considering something said against their daughter is what other people say.

Feeling closer to mothers

Daughters in the district also answered some questions as part of the project. The majority of them, 77 percent, said they feel closer to their mothers than their fathers. Almost 80 percent said they could not tell their fathers if they had a boyfriend.

Slightly more than 20 percent of the girls said they sometimes found their fathers to be reactionary and uninterested in social developments, while more than 60 percent said they wanted their fathers to be more progressive.

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

Russia

U.N. Opens Door for Moscow’s ‘Military Action’

Kremlin-led group granted sole authority in ‘post-Soviet space’

The United Nations has given a Russian-led security group the authority to initiate military action in the Caucasus and Central Asia without first obtaining international approval, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The decision would allow the Kremlin-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO, to initiate military action for any reason without U.N. approval, as it did in August 2008 with its invasion of the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Tribal Powers Shift as Dutch Leave Uruzgan

The Dutch are not the only ones leaving the Afghan province Uruzgan. Its governor Hamdam is waiting for his dismissal.

By Hanneke Chin-A-Fo

For days now, Asadullah Hamdam, the governor of Uruzgan, has been waiting in his house in Kabul for Afghan president Hamid Karzai to find the time to officially dismiss him. In a phone interview on Thursday, Hamdam said there is no doubt he will be fired. “The minister of local governance has let me know Karzai wants change in Uruzgan and I will have to stay in Kabul.”

Hamdam is not the only one who will leave the southern province. Before the end of this year, the 1,600 Dutch troops stationed there will be withdrawn, following last month’s collapse of the Dutch government over the decision regarding a possible extension of its Nato mission there. It has not yet been determined which country will take over as lead nation in the province.

Heralded as a mediator

In October 2007, Hamdam was heralded as an educated mediator who could build up the Uruzgan provincial administration with help from the Dutch. Today, he is being accused of corruption. “I am said to have requested money from GTZ,” Hamdam said. This German development organisation is constructing a road between Tarin Kowt and Chora, the biggest construction project in Uruzgan.

“I will accept the dismissal,” Hamdam said. “But not the accusation. I believe it is being used as an excuse to get remove me.”

Hamdam is not sure who is behind this, but he named three important power brokers in Uruzgan: former governor and warlord Jan Mohammed Khan; a relative of Khan, militia leader Matiullah Khan; and police chief Juma Gul, who has often been accused of abuse of power and corruption.

A constant struggle

Hamdam’s term in Uruzgan has been an almost constant struggle with Jan Mohammed, who was dismissed as governor in 2006 after the Netherlands has made his departure a condition for embarking on their mission in the province. The former governor had been systematically giving preferential treatment to people of his own minority tribe, the Popolzai, and was not shy to use violence in the process.

“Now that the Dutch have announced their departure, the influence of the Popolzai is on the rise again,” Hamdam said.

On Thursday, the Popolzai were absent from a large gathering of tribal leaders who handed a petition to the Netherlands asking the country to reconsider its decision to leave Uruzgan, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.

“Won’t see me again”

One of the reasons Hamdam was made governor two and a half years ago is that he is not connected to any of the tribes that live in Uruzgan. As an outsider, he was expected to select officials based on their credentials rather than their ethnicity. He wanted to create a composition of the provincial administration that was more representative of local tribes.

But Hamdam never really prevailed over Jan Mohammed, who is an old friend and fellow tribesman of Karzai. Meanwhile, Matiullah Khan’s militia are still guarding the road between Tarin Kowt and Kandahar. “The tribal problems may be bigger now than they were under the Taliban,” Hamdam said in a previous interview with NRC Handelsblad.

An interim governor has already been appointed in Uruzgan. Khodai Rahim Popal, an uncle of Matiullah Khan, is now in charge.

When Karzai will appoint his real successor is unclear to Hamdam. He expects “they” will try to get a Popolzai back in charge. He is not sad about his dismissal, he asked for it himself on a number of occasions. “The last years were the most difficult in my life,” he said. “You won’t see me in Uruzgan again.”

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


Afghanistan: UN Calls for Repeal of Amnesty Law

Kabul, 26 March (AKI) — The United Nations human rights office in Afghanistan has called for the repeal of a controversial amnesty law which it says offers impunity for serious crimes and rights violations.

“This law relieves Afghan authorities of their obligation to investigate and prosecute, on their own initiative, those allegedly responsible for gross violations of human rights,” Norah Niland, the representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told journalists in Kabul.

“The law is likely to undermine efforts to secure genuine reconciliation, which is of course about bringing together different elements of a fractured society.”

In 2007, the Afghan parliament approved the Reconciliation and General Amnesty Law, which provides immunity and pardons for former members of Afghanistan’s armed factions for actions committed before December 2001.

“The High Commissioner for Human Rights and Afghan civil society and human rights NGOs [non-governmental organisations] in and outside of the country have asked that the law be repealed,” she said.

Meanwhile, the special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, met representatives from Hezb-e-Islami, a political party in Afghanistan.

De Mistura said that the ongoing discussions with Afghan authorities further underscored the importance of Afghan-led dialogue to bring stability to this country.

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


Indonesia: Prominent Cleric Says Sharia Highest Law

Makassar, 26 March (AKI/Jakarta Post) — A prominent cleric from Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation, the Nahdlatul Ulama, says that Islamic sharia law should take precedence over laws passed by the parliament.

“The power of positive law is not permanent because everything in the world is not permanent, therefore no law can permanently take effect,” Saifuddin Amsir told the NU’s congress in Makassar, South Sulawesi on Friday.

“Sharia is made based on consensus of Muslim communities,” said Amsir, who is a member of the NU’s law-making body.

Rejection of sharia is the main challenge facing Muslim clerics and scholars (ulema), he said.

“It’s the challenge for ulema and clerics. They must be able to withstand criticism and rejection.

“That’s the risk of being an Islamic teacher but they must not afraid since they follow the way of Allah,” he said.

Earlier, participants of the NU congress concluded that sharia law does set a minimum age to marry.

The NU congress opposed Indonesia’s child protection and marriage laws which sets the marriageable age at 16 for women and 19 for men.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday praised the organisation for its moderation and urged it to continue to reject extremism and violence.

“Since the colonial era, NU has become a pioneer of the development of civilization that embraces both Islamic and Indonesian values,” he told the NU congress.

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


New Moore Island, Contested by India and Bangladesh, Has Re-Submerged After 40 Years

For nearly 30 years, India and Bangladesh have argued over a rather useless island, New Moore Island, or South Talpatti, no bigger than 3.5 X 2.5 km. in area, characterized by sand and rock. The island caused much friction between India and Bangladesh since shortly after Bangladesh gained independence. The debate has come to a close as the island has completely submerged under rising water levels. This is not unusual; many islands have been submerged by the rising waters in the Bay of Bengal, but this time the phenomenon has managed to end an international dispute. Fishermen in the area first noted that the island had disappeared. Suagata Hazra, an oceanographer at the University of Jadavpur in Calcutta confirmed “Now there is no more trace of the island”. Of course global warming alarmists have promptly blamed global warming; however, it should be noted that the island itself only appeared 40 years ago, having risen from the sea after a series of cyclones. Another five similar islands may soon be submerged as well. The island has never been inhabited and has never appeared more than six feet above sea level. [AB]

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


Vatican — Thailand: Paedophile Priests Scandal Seen With the Eyes of the Thailand of Sex Tourism

The testimony of Fr Adriano Pelosin, in Bangkok, who cares for street children, saved from the grips of prostitution and slavery. Abuse must be reported but compassion is also needed for the abusers and their victims. It is a time of purification for the Church and an examination of conscience for the world: abortion, poverty, infant mortality due to lack of care, there are so many abuses before which the rich world seems completely indifferent.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) — “The accusations against paedophile priests shames and embarrasses me, but I also have great compassion for the victims and perpetrators of abuses. So it is important not to reduce everything to the act of reporting abuse. It is far better to be discreet and help those who are guilty — who are certainly wounded people — and the victims who have been abused. Only in this way can something positive come out of these bitter experiences. “

These are the remarks of Fr. Adriano Pelosin, 64, PIME missionary in Thailand for 29 years, and more than 12 years engaged in the recovery of street children abused by their parents, used as instruments of pleasure for sex tourism, abandoned by their families.

The scandal of paedophile priests even if reported in newspapers in Thailand, has no great impact on people. “Here — continues the priest — there is a law that prohibits people speaking about scandals involving the monks and the royal household. The pope and priests are associated with the Buddhist religious world and so little mention is made. Among Catholics, there is a certain degree of shame over the way some ministers have stained their sacred service and betrayed the trust of children or young men and women”. For this, he says, the culprits must be prosecuted and there should be no cover ups or silences. “But — he adds — the time has come to take a deep look at ourselves, priests and laity, believers and non believers: if priests could have done so much wrong, who knows how much wrong has been done by others! Jesus’ would say: Who is without sin cast the first stone. And if God has called an army of journalists to accuse the Church — as he once called the Assyrian army to destroy Jerusalem — we must be careful not to go beyond the limits that God puts on all punishment. “

Father Pelosin believes that reporting the crime is not enough. “I live in the midst of so many cases of victims of paedophilia, not by priests but by members of the family circle of the victims: fathers who abuse their children, older siblings who abuse younger siblings, uncles and relatives who abuse grandchildren…It is something that deeply affects children. Yet I’d rather not talk about it publicly, not make them the subject of conversation. First, because otherwise I risk pushing the victims to despair; secondly because focusing exclusively on the negative leads nowhere. It is much better to be discreet and help the perpetrators and victims. Only in this way can something positive come out of these bitter experiences “. Fr. Pelosin has saved many 12 year old boys from prostitution (mostly homosexual, by Westerners). He is surprised that “the allegations against the priests come from a permissive and anarchic world, where violence and sexual freedom have emerged as a right:” There’s like a vendetta against the Church that stands as a judge on the actions of others. “ “In reality this is a time to become aware of the beauty of children, their dignity and fragility, their need for respect and love that everyone must bring them, from parents, teachers, and society in general. And we should remember the children whose lives are suppressed in the womb: this is the greatest abuse and one which a mother carries out on her own child, perhaps with the formal approval of those very authorities who are bent on pursuing the sexual abuse of priests. “

Another fact that amazes Fr. Pelosin is that “there are allegations of priests only regarding these sex scandals and not on other aspects of their work, such as money laundering, stealing, and laziness.” All this makes him think “there is a real campaign against the Pope and priests’, forgetting that in addition to these humiliating cases “There is so much good that is done. “

The last recommendation of Fr Pelosin is “not to be afraid to tackle all these scandals: they are an opportunity for purification.” And after quoting the letter Benedict XVI wrote to the Irish Catholics on the scandals of paedophile priests a few weeks ago, he adds: “It’s time for a global examination of conscience, we should be aware of the rights of poor children who do not have enough food, can not go to school, who die of common diseases because they can not afford healthcare. The international community ponder its responsibilities in this abuse of millions of children that because of indifference end up being abused by adults in every sense: slavery, sex, begging, child soldiers or drug dealing. Is it not perhaps the rich and indifferent world that denies the rights of millions of children? “.

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

Far East

A Cloud of Smog Hovers Over Mongolia’s Capital

Ulaan Baatar has 150,000 households who burn cheap, low quality fuels that foul the air, filling it with fine particles. A project is now underway to get families to buy more efficient, less polluting stoves.

Ulaan Baatar (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A thick cloud of smog hangs over Ulaan Baatar for seven months a year. Now, local bankers and development organisations plan to combat pollution at its main source, suburban family homes.

From October to April each year, residents of the city’s sprawling ger districts generate 60 per cent of Ulaan Baatar’s air pollution, this according to World Bank data. These residential areas on the outskirts of the capital are home to an estimated 150,000 households, with most residents living in traditional Mongolian gers, also known as yurts, and single-family homes that resemble log cabins. However, they are not linked to the city’s central heating system for flats and office buildings. Thus, most families in the ger districts burn a combination of wood and coal for heating and cooking.

At this time of the year, the poorest families also burn tires, trash, and whatever else they can find, releasing large quantities of particulate matter. On average, this kind of pollution is two to ten times above Mongolian and international air quality standards.

When inhaled, these particles can settle in the lungs and respiratory tract and cause health problems. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), air pollution-related health costs account for as much as 4 per cent of Mongolia’s GDP.

At the government’s urging, several major development organisations, including the World Bank as well as foreign and local development agencies have launched a project to make new stoves available, thereby reducing fuel consumption and particulate emissions.

In the past, similar programs have met with mixed success. Some fuel-efficient stoves required specific, often expensive fuel types, subject to unreliable availability.

GTZ, the development arm of the German government, developed a new ger stove model, which can burn all types of fuel and cut emissions.

A traditional stove can use up 40 per cent of a family’s monthly income in winter, according to Xac Bank estimates. Hence, fuel efficiency means savings.

Even so, high consumer costs appear to be hindering the spread of the improved stoves, which cost 152,000 tugrik (approximately US$ 110).

“The people who are creating the mass of the pollution are [living] in poverty,” lamented Munkhbaatar Tsagaadai, a Xac Bank product officer.

Proponents of the fuel-efficient stoves are now searching for ways to improve distribution. Xac Bank maintains that its eco-loan borrowers who receive their loans and buy their stoves directly from bank branches save money from reduced fuel consumption, whilst re-paying the loan.

Only a few hundred families have obtained loans for the stoves, along with other eco-products, from Xac Bank since the lending program began last December.

Nevertheless, the project has access to US$ 30 million earmarked for clean energy initiatives.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

How Bashir Ruined Sudan by Exploiting Islam

Marc Lavergne talks to Marco Cesario

On April 11th Sudan will hold a general election. These are the first multi-party elections in a quarter of a century. General Al Bashir, who came to power with a military coup in 1989, has held his people in check for over twenty years thanks to a fanatical interpretation of Shari’a law. Marc Lavergne, director of research at the CNRS in Paris and an expert on Sudan, explains the behind-the-scenes for these elections to ResetDoC. A member of the Scientific Council at the French Institute for the Middle East and the author of a number of books on this subject, Marc Lavergne has been the coordinator of the United Nations Security Council’s group of experts on Darfur since 2006.

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Elections at last in Sudan, the first multi-party elections since 1986…

Yes, that is true. But in totally different conditions. In 1986 elections were held after protests by the people caused the regime to fall. Today’s elections are organised by a military junta that came to power in a coup d’état. They are multi-party elections in appearances alone, power is exercised by the National Congress which is an emanation of the National Islamic Front that organised the military putsch in 1989. There is no democratic organisation behind these elections.

Al Bashir appears to be the candidate for his own succession. He can rely on the state apparatus and it does not seem that his victory is up for discussion…

Al Bashir came to power thanks to a revolutionary clandestine organisation. His junta has committed so many crimes that he has lost the support of the people. The power he exercises is absolute and only seemingly shared with other political movements. The 1989 coup d’état implicitly acknowledges the fact that this group could never have risen to power in a democratic manner. The Sudanese people could, at the time, rely on parties that really did represent them. There were secular and Muslim political parties people identified with and there was no room for extremist movements such as the one that rose to power.

In the past you have said that in Darfur one is not observing an ethnic or religious conflict, but a political one. In your opinion, why then is the Sudanese government continuing to massacre the non-Muslim and non-Arab population in Darfur.

I said that in an interview given in 2004, when it appeared that the crisis in Darfur seemed to be drawing to an end. The Khartoum regime is one of profiteers. If there is an ethnic element in this conflict it is purely an excuse. The regime provides a fanatical ideology that does not oppose western-styled secularism, but Sudan’s old religious alliances. The regime uses history to apply pressure and the Islam it presents is like ‘fast food’. In the absence of any real support for the people, Shari’a is used to oppress them. There is a rejection of Sudan’s ‘African’ dimension and it is in the sense that the people of Darfur are considered citizens of an inferior rank. There is, however, an ideological front that conceals the exploitation of the provinces’ wealth and the systematic elimination of those who oppose this.

Last February 23rd in Doha, the Sudanese government signed an agreement with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). What do you think of this agreement?

The Sudanese government is intelligent and manipulative since it relies on a small rebel movement. The JEM, whose main ethnic group is the Zagawa, only represents 2% of Darfur’s population. The JEM acts as a private militia for the President of Chad, fighting against the rebels (supported by Sudan) who want the government in Chad to fall. This agreement between the governments of the Sudan and Chad is of no importance to the over 2.5 million refugees (who do not belong to the Zagawa ethnic group) living in camps. These are people who want to return to their land and are asking for the Janjaweed to be disarmed. It is an ideal agreement for the regime since it does not envisage the possibility of refugees returning home or the disarming of the Janjaweed.

A year ago, the International Penal Court (CPI) issued an international arrest warrant for Al Bashir, accused of crimes against humanity. At the time the Movement for the Liberation of Sudan (MLS), reported the en mass expulsion of NGOs. What is the situation today?

Unchanged. But the NGOs were expelled from Darfur, not from Sudan. NGO’s bring a great deal of money to Sudan, especially to the regime’s ‘barons’ who provide them with planes, cars, homes and offices. This is a contradiction managed by balancing the regime’s superior interests and the individual ones of its members. Al Bashir continues to move around freely. However, he is not the only one responsible for this situation. Responsibility also lies with the international community that, since 2003, has done nothing to prevent the massacres. World powers knew perfectly well what was happening in Darfur. At the time, the American government and the European Union focused on peace negotiations between the government and the rebels in the south. Once the agreement had been signed by both parties, the expectations were that peace would automatically come to Darfur. This was a mistake that resulted in the death of three hundred thousand people and created over two and a half million refugees. Before Khartoum, responsibility lies with Washington, London and Paris.

Translated by Francesca Simmons

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Immigration

More Asylum Seekers to Norway

Around 17,200 persons applied for political asylum in Norway last year, an 160 per cent increase over the past two years, according to the annual report from the Immigration Directorate (UDI).

However, a report from the UN High Comissioner for Refugees shows that the number of persons who seek asylum in the West, remains nerly unchanged from the year before.

The report covers 44 industrial nations. Last year 377,200 persons applied for asylum in these countries, around 100 more than in 2008.

The Nordic countries experienced a collective increase in the number of asylum seekers by 13 per cent.

Most of the asylum seekers arriving in Norway come from countries plagued by war and conflicts.

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

Culture Wars

Spain: Classroom Sex Images, Christian-Bashing Draw Lawsuit

Action follows complaints from thousands of parents

SPAIN: A lawsuit has been filed against the Spanish government over mandatory classes that expose children to sexually explicit images and bash Christian beliefs.

The case over classroom teaching described as “leftist” by critics has been brought by the Alliance Defense Fund and the Spanish organization Professionals for Ethics.

“Americans should take note of this case because this sort of situation is not restricted to Spain,” said Roger Kiska, legal counsel for ADF based in Europe. “Many parents would be dismayed to know that there are organizations in the U.S. that have attempted to persuade school districts to use similar types of curriculum.

“If the Spanish government is allowed to continue this instruction, it only emboldens arguments that the U.S. should follow suit,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


USA: Judge Advances Student’s Lawsuit Against School

Graduate program participant ejected over religious beliefs

A federal judge will allow to continue a lawsuit by a former student against a long list of university officials who tossed her out of a graduate counseling program after she said her Christian beliefs would not allow her to affirm homosexual behavior.

She sued following “disciplinary proceedings” that resulted from her request that a training class “client” be referred to another student because she could not counsel him concerning his homosexual relationship, according to the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom.

[…]

But David French, senior counsel for the ADF, said then, “When a public university has a prerequisite of affirming homosexual behavior as morally good in order to obtain a degree, the school is stepping over the legal line.”

[…]

The student had been targeted by the school’s disciplinary process as a result of her decision, and she was “informed that the only way she could stay in the graduate school counseling program would be if she agreed to undergo a ‘remediation’ program … to see the ‘error of her ways,’“ ADF said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


White House Visitor Logs: Obama Had Pro-Abortion Leader at Christmas Party

The White House released a new set of visitor logs today and they revealed President Barack Obama invited Nancy Keenan, the head of the pro-abortion group NARAL for one of the Christmas parties it hosted on December 14. The logs show Keenan and the president of Planned Parenthood getting big access.

Obama hosted a part with 661 total people at the “Holiday Reception” party honoring Christmas and other holidays in mid-late December.

Keenan received an invitation to the event, which took place during the late afternoon and evening hours.

But that was hardly the only time Keenan has been to the White House since Obama took it over in January 2009. In total Keenan has been a guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue a total of 10 times during Obama’s 13 months in office.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Earth Hour ‘Will Not Cut Carbon Emissions’

A climate change campaign to get everyone to switch off their lights will not reduce carbon emissions, according to electricity experts.

Earth Hour, organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will see millions of people switch off their lights for an hour this weekend.

But the fall in electricity use for such a short period is unlikely to result in less energy being pumped into the grid, and will therefore not reduce emissions.

Even if power stations are turned off, the upsurge in turning the lights back on one hour later will require power stations that can fire up quickly like oil and coal.

Energy experts said it could therefore result in an increase in carbon emissions “rendering all good intentions useless at a flick of a switch”.

But WWF said the campaign was about raising awareness and saving energy in the long term, rather than a short-term fix.

Millions of buildings around the world are expected to go dark at 8.30pm on Saturday including the Sydney Opera House and Big Ben.

WWF Earth Hour is designed to raise awareness of climate change and has been supported by Al Gore and the United Nations.

This year more than 50 million people are expected to take part on every continent in the globe in the biggest Earth Hour since the event began three years ago.

Ross Hayman, of the National Grid, said only a small fall in demand is expected in the UK, meaning the event will not cause less energy to be put into the grid.

However, he warned that even if there is a significant drop and supply is turned off, the reduction in energy will be offset by the surge needed to turn bring energy back onto the grid from firing up coal or gas stations.

“It might not have an effect on overall carbon emissions because we might have to use more carbon intensive power sources to restore supply afterwards,” he added.

Mr Hayman said the best thing for climate change would be for people to insulate their homes and get into the habit of turning appliances off at night.

“People ought to focus on general efficiency measures to reduce their energy use overall rather than switch everything off for an hour because that might not have an efficiency effect on the network overall,” he said.

James Millar, managing director of the sustainable lighting company Greenled, said when the lights come back on there is “enormous strain thrust upon the national grid”.

“Energy companies always retain spare capacity and will continue to produce energy at the same rate throughout the hour-long demonstration which will end up being dumped off the grid with the loss of millions of tonnes of energy due to lack of demand; thereby, rendering all the good intentions of Earth Hour useless — at the flick of a switch,” he added.

But Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF, said it was not about saving energy for just an hour but raising awareness.

“Earth Hour is an opportunity for people to show that they care about climate change and want global leaders to take action. Earth Hour is not about saving energy, it’s a positive inspiring event that will show the level of public concern about climate change, and for that reason we will not be measuring energy saved during the hour or reduction in CO2 emissions,” he said.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Zenster said...

Israel Could Use Tactical Nukes on Iran — Think-Tank

It's nice to know that someone is taking Ahmadinejad's threats seriously. No, it's not particularly wonderful that the countermeasures include a possibility of nuclear attack. However, it's long past tea for all of Islam's saber rattling to be taken at face value instead of shrugging it off as so much bluster intended solely for popular consumption by Muslims alone.

The propaganda value of Islamic bellicosity has long been underestimated. It is more than a little important that both Muslims and their leaders become keenly aware of the risks they take by tacitly accepting such rubbish without any objections. Should Islam continue its acquiescence about genocide and terrorism, then it is incumbent upon Western nations to take their collective silence as nothing but agreement.

Anything less will lead to surprise nuclear terrorist attacks that Muslims will collectively deny all responsibility for despite their enabling behavior.

4Symbols said...

In hoc signo vinces

Ahmadinejad broke the nuclear deterrence threshold when he made his threats and intent known even under conventional rules of engagement his was a de facto declaration of war making any preemptive strike justified and an act of self-defence.