Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100420

Financial Crisis
»Goldman Sachs Faces Probe by UK’s City Watchdog Over Fraud Allegations as Bank’s Income Leaps 91% to £2.25bn
»Greek Government: Cover for Debts Due in May
»Next Bubble: $600 Trillion?
»Dead Man Elected Town’s Mayor
»Dick Morris: Bill Clinton Personally Orchestrated the 1993 Waco, Texas Tragedy
»Four Out of Five Americans Don’t Trust Obama (But His Approval Ratings Are Soaring Overseas)
»Fox Reports: “Retribution” Could be Coming to South Park, Updated
»Left-Wing McCarthyism
»More Seeds of Confusion Sown on Eligibility
»Security Brief: Radical Islamic Web Site Takes on ‘South Park’
»Southern Poverty Law Center Publishes Patriot Hit List
»The Ownership Society vs the Ownerless Society
Europe and the EU
»Agca: Writes to Pope and Requests Meeting at Fatima
»Catholic Abuse Scandal
»France: Algerian Origin Jurist Leads Equal Opportunities
»Greece: Police, EA Arsenal Found, Deadly Blow
»Italy: Indian Priest to be Tried “In a Couple of Months”
»Italy: Porn Film Director Hospitalised
»Italy: Lazio: Correct Eating Habits in Respect of Diversity
»Italy: Fini Not Leaving Premier’s Party
»Malta: Sex Abuse Victims Welcome Pope’s Visit
»Spain: Suspended for Wearing Veil, Classmates Protest
»Sweden: Parents Plead for Return of 7-Year-Old Son
»Sweden: Echoes of the 1930s in the Streets of Malmö
»Switzerland: Child Abuse Inquiry Launched by Monastery
»Syria: ATR, Aircraft Delivered to Syrian Air
»UK: Arrests After Pig’s Head Thrown at Crawley Mosque
»UK: Couple Sue for £380k After Being Driven Out of Home by Noise From Wind Turbines
»UK: England Branded Least Patriotic Nation in Europe as Citizens Are Too Scared to Fly the Flag
»UK: High-Tech Speed Cameras Which Use Satellites to Track Motorists on Secret Trial in Britain
»Volcano in Iceland: Euro Flight-Control,50% Flights OK Today
»Kosovo: UK Wants Pristina at the 2012 Olympic Games
North Africa
»Climate: Bad Weather Hits South Med, 50 People Die in Arabia
»Gas: Export Forum, Price Levelled With Oil
»Sahel States Military Committee Set Up
Israel and the Palestinians
»Eritrean Clandestine Migrant Killed at Israeli Border
»Gaza’s Coffers Empty, Hamas Imposes Tough Taxes
»Independence Ceremonies, ‘Jerusalem is Ours’
»Report: Hamas Members Switch Loyalties to Al-Qaeda
»Reports of Mahmoud Abbas Illness, Appears in Cairo
Middle East
»British Woman Risks Illegal Sex Charge After Claiming She Was Raped in Dubai Desert
»Gulf: Dubai Market Recovering, S. Arabia Doing Well
»Hezbollah Arms: Hariri, Same Accusations to Iraq in 2003
»Italy-Lebanon: Committed to Italian Cooperation in Lebanon
»Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearming, Beirut Sceptical
»Syria: More Gas and Oil to Cover Demand
»Turkey’s Transformation Under AKP-I: Rise and Demise of Moderate Islamism
»Turkey: Divorce Acrimony Evolves Into Major Military Scandal
»Turkey: Council of Europe, Corruption Laws Still Poor
»USA-Syria: State Dept Summons Diplomat Over Arms to Hezbollah
South Asia
»India: Madhya Pradesh: Christian Dies Fleeing Hindus
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Africa and Ashes From Iceland
»South Africa: After Months of Drought, Desalinated Seawater
»UK: Sex Offender Wins Appeal Against Deportation on Human Rights Grounds
»Vatican: Forced Returns Violate Human Rights
Culture Wars
»Canada: Mr. McGuinty, Withdraw Explicit Sex Ed for 8 Year Olds
»Italy: Bari Hospital ‘Ready to Dispense Abortion Pill’
»UK: First Birth Certificate to Cut Out ‘Father’: We’re Making History, Say Lesbians
»How Evil Works

Financial Crisis

Goldman Sachs Faces Probe by UK’s City Watchdog Over Fraud Allegations as Bank’s Income Leaps 91% to £2.25bn

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is to be investigated after U.S. authorities issued fraud claims against it, the City regulator said today.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said it would launch a ‘formal enforcement investigation’ into Goldman in relation to the Securities and Exchange Commission allegations in the U.S.

Gordon Brown has called for a special investigation into Goldman Sachs after reports that it is to rack up a bonus pot of £3.5 billion for the first quarter and he accused the bank of ‘moral bankruptcy’.

A trader works in the Goldman Sachs booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange while a television reports airs about the company’s lowered stock price

Goldman Sachs’ first-quarter profits has nearly doubled, the bank announced this lunch time.

Net income rose by 91 per cent to £2.25 billion, up from £1.17 billion in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenues rose by 36 per cent to £8.32 billion, fuelled by £4.8 billion in revenues from the fixed-income business.

The investment banking unit saw revenues rise by 44 per cent from a year ago to £768 million.

The bumper results come just days after the fraud allegations emerged.

U.S. regulators have launched a civil lawsuit against the investment bank.

The SEC alleges Goldman, which employs 5,500 people in the UK, failed to disclose that one of its clients helped create — and then bet against — sub-prime mortgage securities that Goldman sold to investors.

It claimed investors — including the Royal Bank of Scotland — £650 million as a result of the alleged fraud, which Goldman has vigorously denied.

The case is the U.S. government’s most significant legal action related to the mortgage meltdown that ignited the financial crisis and helped plunge the country into recession.

Goldman’s role as an adviser on debt issuance by the Government, as well as other issues such as the return of Northern Rock to the private sector, has come under fire from the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

The FSA said it would ‘be liaising closely with the SEC’ in its review of Goldman.

Staff at the bank, which paid out 16.2 billion dollars (£10 billion) in compensation and benefits for 2009, will not receive the latest bonanza until next year.

The banker at the centre of the fraud claims, Fabrice Tourre, is is in line for a massive bonus, it emerged yesterday.

Bank bosses let Tourre go on working in London despite a lawsuit against him by U.S. regulators.

The bank said the 31-year-old Frenchborn broker has done ‘nothing wrong’ and there was no need to suspend him during the American investigation.

It means Mr Tourre, who moved from the U.S. to London in 2008, can claim a sizeable slice of the £3.2billion bonus bonanza expected to be announced by the Wall Street giant today.

Only two months ago he shared in the bank’s £10billion bonus pot for 2009.

Last night he was reported to be in France on ‘temporary leave’.

News of his expected bonus brought furious criticism last night.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said Mr Tourre should have been suspended, and added: ‘Goldman Sachs shows extraordinary arrogance in the way they are handling this case.

‘In any other profession, teachers or doctors or policemen, if someone faces allegations of serious professional misconduct, they are automatically suspended while they are investigated. The FSA should have made it absolutely clear that it is not acceptable for him to continue working.’

Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle, a member of the Commons Business and Innovation Select Committee, said: ‘Once again people’s confidence will be shattered by the news that a senior broker has been charged and yet carries on working, no doubt rubbing his hands at the thought of his next bonus.

‘People will be absolutely appalled and want to know what action has to be taken

before these bankers get the message about public anger and distrust of the industry.’

Tory spokesman Mark Hoban said: ‘We have consistently called for a tougher approach to all financial crime.

‘For far too long people didn’t take allegations like these nearly as seriously enough.’

Gordon Brown promised on Sunday to crack down on the ‘moral bankruptcy’ at Goldman Sachs.

Dog’s life: Gordon Brown and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson arrive at Oxford Station where they will be visiting the Mini Assembley plant while on the General Election campaign trail

The revelations came as a study by the London School of Economics found that soaring salaries in the financial sector have been responsible for 60 per cent of the increase in the gap between rich and poor over the past decade.

Goldman will today report bumper first-quarter profits estimated at £1.4billion after

salaries and bonuses, up from £1.1 billion a year ago. It is expected to earmark some

£3.2billion in quarterly pay and bonuses for its 32,500 staff worldwide, up three per cent from the previous year.

Mr Tourre, who earned £1.5million a year in the U.S., works in the bank’s bond, currency and commodity department in Fleet Street in London.

He is in line for a big bonus because his trading desk was one of Goldman’s most successful departments.

Banking sources say he was paid a handsome bonus for 2009, likely to have been several hundred thousand pounds, in February.

The latest bonus, with any others piled up over the current year, will be paid next February.

Sources close to the FSA revealed that it had not been notified that Mr Tourre was

being investigated by U.S. authorities when he returned to London in November 2008,

even though the inquiry had then been running for four months.

The absence of any warning meant UK regulators gave him a free rein to work.

Goldman Sachs which has 5,500 UK staff, said last night that it had not been aware the SEC was targeting Mr Tourre specifically when he moved to London.

‘He (Tourre) has made a personal decision to have some time off’ — Goldman Sachs spokesman

A spokesman said: ‘We were aware that the SEC was looking into Abacus

[investment Tourre worked on] but they had not narrowed it down to him.’

The bank said it believed Mr Tourre had done nothing wrong, and planned to vigorously defend itself against the SEC lawsuit.

A spokesman said: ‘He is still employed by the firm. He is not suspended. He has made a personal decision to have some time off.’

In a letter to clients, the bank insisted: ‘Goldman Sachs would never condone one of its employees misleading anyone. We take our responsibilities as a financial intermediary very seriously and believe that integrity is at the heart of everything that we do.’

Investigators at the SEC claim Mr Tourre bragged in emails about his scheme,

which allegedly involved creating sub-prime mortgage investment deals that were

designed to fail.

They have released one email in which he allegedly wrote: ‘The whole building is about to collapse anytime now… Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab… standing in the middle of all these complex, highly-leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities!!![sic]’

One of the biggest victims of the alleged scam was the Royal Bank of Scotland, which had to be bailed out with billions of pounds from UK taxpayers.

A Wall Street expert who helped to raise the alarm about the alleged fraud said: ‘This is the most cynical scheme I ever saw.

‘Tourre was very aggressive about trying to make the assets look better than they were. You could tell from his emails that this was the kind of kid who was in his element.’

Mr Tourre was not at his office yesterday and a concierge at his home in Islington,

north London, said he had gone to France.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Greek Government: Cover for Debts Due in May

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 20 — Still under pressure from sky-high spreads, Greece is not losing its head but has reassured its people and the markets: there will be no further cuts to wages or to pensions in 2010, there is no cause for alarm over short-term financial commitments or over covering debts due to be met by May. In a wide-ranging press conference, the country’s Finance Minister, Giorgio Papaconstantinou, kept up the uncertainty over whether the EU-IMF support mechanism would be activated, ahead of talks to be held in Athens. While an auction of Treasury Bonds met with exceptional success, bringing 1.95 billion euros to the state’s depleted coffers, Papaconstantinou also warned that “negotiations with the EU-IMF will not necessarily conclude with an agreement”. Which is as good as saying, it depend what terms he is offered. And in this regard, the Minister has already staked out one key demand, clearly reaffirming that 2010 will not see the need “for any further measures, even if the debt figures should change” following the EU’s scrutiny of the state’s books. “2010 has already seen us adopt brave measures,” he said, “and nobody has asked us to go any further”. So everything is to be put off to 2011 and 2012. The qualification was intended to soothe markets and Greek citizens amid rumours of fresh wage and pension-cuts especially in the private sector, and as an attempt to defuse the ticking bomb of the trade-unions. Tomorrow sees the start of a 48-hour strike by communists affiliated to the Pame, to be followed by a public sector strike by the Adedy union on April 22. But there is still no decision from the private-sector confederation, although it has warned Premier Giorgio Papandreou not to call on workers to make further sacrifices to please Europe and the International Monetary Fund, if he wishes to avoid “a social hurricane”. Papaconstantinou, who is heading to Washington at the end of the week for meetings with the IMF, where he will meet Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has also made reassurances to the markets. Athens is not contemplating any debt-restructuring, which is one of the ideas floated by the centre-right opposition, as an alternative to an IMF intervention. Indeed, he promised, there is no risk that Athens will be unable to meet its obligations in May, when it will meet due-dates on public debt. If it needs to, Athens will turn to the markets once more, or it may decide to activate the aid mechanism, in which case it will do so “without hesitation”. Despite all these reassurances from the Finance Minister, uncertainty lingers, even though it is a small one, as to the country calling on the IMF, and today spreads continued to rise, reaching a new record of 476 points on the German Bond. The Athens Stock Market, relieved of fears of fresh cuts, went in the opposite direction, rising 0.91% on the day.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Next Bubble: $600 Trillion?

Cities, states, universities could sink from monster derivatives meltdown

As interest rates begin to rise worldwide, losses in derivatives may end up bankrupting a wide range of institutions, including municipalities, state governments, major insurance companies, top investment houses, commercial banks and universities.

Defaults now beginning to occur in a number of European cities prefigure what may end up being the largest financial bubble ever to burst — a bubble that today amounts to more than $600 trillion.


To comprehend the relative magnitude of derivative contracts globally, the CIA Factbook estimates the 2009 Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, of the world was just under $60 trillion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dead Man Elected Town’s Mayor

A DEAD man has been elected mayor of a small Tennessee town eager to oust a woman who’d been appointed to the job, local media reports.

Carl Robin Geary Sr, a local alderman known for “straight-talk” and always wearing overalls, was a candidate for mayor when he died of a heart attack on March 10.

He defeated incumbent Barbara Brock 268 votes to 85 in the town of Tracy City’s election on Wednesday, the Chattanooga Times reported today.

“If he were to run again next week I’d vote for him again,” Chris Rogers, owner of the town’s Lunch Box restaurant, told the paper.

“I knew he was deceased. I know that sounds stupid, but we wanted someone other than her.”

Elections officials said the seat would be declared vacant and the city’s four aldermen would select a new mayor.

Ms Brock, who was appointed in 2008 after the previous mayor died of a heart attack, campaigned on her efforts to beautify the town of 1652 people.

She told the paper that she’d been defeated by a bunch of “good old boys” who didn’t like the changes she’d made in town.

When asked how she felt about losing to a dead man, Ms Brock said “I’ll live”.

           — Hat tip: DK[Return to headlines]

Dick Morris: Bill Clinton Personally Orchestrated the 1993 Waco, Texas Tragedy

It looks like somebody is going to have to update the Waco Siege page on Wikipedia. Apparently the whitewashed history that former President Bill Clinton would like us to believe regarding the 1993 federal assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, is missing important details regarding his own personal involvement.

In response to Bill Clinton’s highly publicized linking of the Tea Party movement to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in an op-ed piece for the New York Times, former Clinton adviser Dick Morris disclosed on Monday that it was Clinton himself, and not Attorney General Janet Reno, as Americans have been led to believe for the past 17 years, who called the shots during the 1993 botched invasion that led to the death of seventy-six people.

Speaking on the Hannity program on the Fox News Network, Morris criticized Clinton for his Oklahoma City comments: “Let’s understand what was Timothy McVeigh’s motivation …he himself had said that it was the reaction to the Waco takeover. Bill Clinton orchestrated that takeover.” Morris went on to say, “Clinton in fact was so ashamed about what he did in Waco that he was not going to appoint Janet Reno to a second four-year term. She told him in a meeting right before the inauguration day … ‘If you don’t appoint me I’m going to tell the truth about Waco.’ And that forced Clinton’s hand … It’s never been said (publicly) before.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Four Out of Five Americans Don’t Trust Obama (But His Approval Ratings Are Soaring Overseas)

Four out of five Americans don’t trust President Obama’s administration to deal with the nation’s problems, according to a new poll published today.

The public backlash against the president’s policies has left confidence in the U.S. government at one of its lowest points in half a century.

Nearly half of the people questioned in the Pew Research Centre poll said Washington negatively affects their daily lives.

Ironically, Mr Obama’s damning report card at home comes as he gets top marks abroad for boosting America’s image around the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fox Reports: “Retribution” Could be Coming to South Park, Updated

by Diana West

Have been meaning to post about a sicko Islamic death threat video about “South Park” founders Matt Stone and Trey Parker, with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Theo van Gogh, Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Kurt Westergaard and Lars Vilks rounding out the cast of those similarly targeted for “offending” Islam, even as I have been simultaneously monitoring the reluctance (read: fear) of the MSM to report the story, period.

Imagine: Mega-star animators Stone & Parker are threatened with death by jihadists for their “South Park” cartoon satirizing Mohammed for being off limits to mockery (to the point, in the cartoon, where both redheads or “gingers” and celebrities all want some of what he’s got), and the MSM, most of it, wants to pretend nothing is happening.

It’s happening, whether clean shaven in Geneva, or in beards in Brooklyn.

By “it” I mean submission to Islam.

And what to make of this Fox News headline on the story?

‘South Park’ Creators Could Face Retribution for Depicting Muhammad, Website Warns

“Retribution”???? My Webster’s tells me retribution means “1. deserved punishment for evil done, or, sometimes, reward for good done; merited requital. 2. in theology, reward or punishment in another life for things done in this.

Did News Corp stakeholder, Saudi scion, and Murdoch crony Prince Talal bin Alwaleed write the headline?

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Left-Wing McCarthyism

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) hates us. Who? According to several reports they have released over the past year, “us” is the following: One concerned over the economy; loss of jobs; foreclosures; antagonism toward the Obama Administration (that it’s racist); criticism of free trade programs like NAFTA and the Security and Prosperity Partnership; anti-abortion; oppose same-sex marriage; believe in the “end times;” stock pile food, ammunition and weapons; oppose illegal immigration; opposition to the new world order; opposition to the United Nations; opposition to global governance; fear of Communist regimes; opposition to loss of US manufacturing to overseas nations; opposition to loss of US prestige; use of the Internet (or alternative media) to express these ideas. Did this list miss anyone reading it? You are all haters and potential terrorists.

The above list was published in a report issued last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) entitled, “Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” The report, while issued by the DHS, was in fact, written by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which labels itself as a civil rights organization which “tracks the hate movement.” Ironically, SPLC is becoming one of the biggest purveyors of hate and discord in the nation. Worse, SPLC’s reports are often so inaccurate and misleading that they would be simply laughable if they didn’t have the support of the Federal government.

In its latest report entitled, “Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” issued March 2, 2010, SPLC sounds the alarm that the “patriot” movement is growing. They, of course, are alarmed about this. Again, SPLC lumps groups fighting such issues as healthcare with groups like the National Socialist Movement — the white supremacist group. The connecting issue between the true freedom movement and skin heads is opposition to illegal immigration. That’s enough, according to SPLC, to get anyone opposed to illegal immigration labeled as a white supremacist. You see, in their view, the reason we want the borders closed and the flood of illegals stopped is because they have brown skin — we’re racists, of course.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

More Seeds of Confusion Sown on Eligibility

Headline from CBS/New York Times Poll: ‘Birther’ myth persists among tea partiers, all Americans

How’s that for objectivity?

How’s that for fairness?

How’s that for balance?

The American people have not made up their mind about Barack Obama’s constitutional eligibility for office, but CBS and the New York Times sure have.


This is how the question was asked — of both self-described tea partiers and others: Do you think President Obama was born in the U.S. or another country?

I suppose that information may be of some interest to the folks at CBS and the New York Times. But it is hardly the relevant question. The relevant question is whether Obama or anyone else has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is constitutionally eligible to serve as a “natural born citizen.”

The honest answer for anyone responding to the CBS/New York Times poll is “I don’t know.”


One thing you have to understand is that polls like this one aren’t actually about gathering information. They are what is called in the polling business “push polls.” They are actually designed to shape opinion. The purpose is to show how stupid anyone is who believes Obama hasn’t proven his eligibility — even though everyone knows darn well he hasn’t.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Security Brief: Radical Islamic Web Site Takes on ‘South Park’

The radical Islamic Web site is going after the creators of the TV cartoon series “South Park” after an episode last week included an image of the Prophet Mohammed in disguise., based in New York, was the subject of a CNN investigation last year for its radical rhetoric supporting “jihad” against the West and praising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Its organizers insist they act within the law and seek to protect Islam.

On Sunday, posted an entry that included a warning to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they risk violent retribution — after the 200th episode last week included a satirical discussion about whether an image of the prophet could be shown. In the end, he is portrayed disguised in a bear suit.

YouTube: Watch Trey Parker and Matt Stone talk about the decision

The posting on says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

Theo van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004 after making a short documentary on violence against women in some Islamic societies. The posting on features a graphic photograph of Van Gogh with his throat cut and a dagger in his chest.

The entry on goes on to advise readers:

“You can contact them [the makers of South Park], or pay Comedy Central or their own company a visit at these addresses …” before listing Comedy Central’s New York address, and the Los Angeles, California, address of Parker and Sloane’s production company.

Contacted by CNN, the author of the post, Abu Talhah al Amrikee, said that providing the addresses was not intended as a threat to the creators of South Park but to give people the opportunity to protest.

Over still photographs of Parker, Stone, van Gogh and others, the Web site runs audio of a sermon by the radical U.S.-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is now in hiding in Yemen. The sermon, recorded some time ago, talks about assassinating those who have “defamed” the Prophet Mohammed — citing one religious authority as saying “Harming Allah and his messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill whoever does that.” U.S. officials say al-Awlaki is on a list of al Qaeda leaders targeted for capture or assassination.

The clip ends with a warning on a graphic directed at Parker and Stone, saying “The Dust Will Never Settle Down.”

Al Amrikee said the purpose of including the al-Awlaki sermon in his posting was to remind Muslims that insulting the prophet is a severe offense for which the punishment in Islam is death. He said RevolutionMuslim may hold protests about the show.

Calls to Comedy Central were not returned.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Southern Poverty Law Center Publishes Patriot Hit List

In a report on its web site dated April 2010, entitled “Meet The Patriots,” the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) profiled “36 individuals at the heart of the resurgent [patriot] movement.” (In reading the list, I counted only 35 “patriots” and 5 “enablers” for a total of 40. I’m not really sure how the SPLC came up with “36.” Perhaps their ability to count is commensurate with their ability to appreciate patriotism and liberty.) The SPLC (founded by Morris Dees) sees itself as America’s guardian against “right wing militias” and loves to label conservatives and libertarians that it doesn’t like as “extremists.” The SPLC is one of the most ultra-liberal organizations in the country and should be dismissed as a group of paranoid leftists, not worthy of thought or mention.

The sad truth is, however, our federal government has chosen to exalt the SPLC to the position of being its “go to” source for information regarding “potential domestic terrorists” and similar characterizations. As a result, the information and reports disseminated by SPLC wind up in police reports and bulletins all over the United States. As an example, the SPLC had its fingerprints all over the infamous MIAC report. One could even question whether the SPLC is merely a front organization for Big Brother.

Therefore, it is highly likely that the report negatively profiling 40 American patriots will find its way into Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fusion centers and be distributed to police agencies all across the country. So, should the 40 people who find themselves targeted by SPLC expect some kind of government/police attention? Are we really that close to Nazi-style persecution in America? If the SPLC has its way, the answer seems to be a definite yes.

I remind readers that in the book, Nazi Justiz: Law of the Holocaust (page 3), there were five steps to Hitler’s plans for the destruction of European Jews. Step 1: Identification/registration of the targeted group as a public menace. Step 2: Ostracism of the targeted persons. Step 3: property confiscation. Step 4: Concentration of members into geographical locations. Step 5: Annihilation. In this latest report, SPLC seems quite willing to accomplish steps 1 and 2.

Here are the 40 names that are targeted in the SPLC report (and guess who is listed at the very top? Yours truly):


The report further states, “According to a senior government official who served with high-level security clearances in five administrations, ‘There exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived “enemies of the state” almost instantaneously.’“ At this point, Skousen noted, “And that is precisely why the census bureau took a GPS coordinate on every front door in America, secretly linking this to dissidents and their known addresses.”

This database of Americans who are perceived to be potential “enemies of the state” goes by the code name “Main Core.” And according to the report, “One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Ownership Society vs the Ownerless Society

How do you trick someone into giving you something they have? First you offer them something worthless, while convincing them that it’s actually much better than what they have. Second, you convince them that what they do have is worthless. This is a typical approach used by both con artists and governments.

So one day you’re driving down the street, and you run out of gas. And that’s where a fellow in a shiny hat comes up to you, and asks why you’re bothering to drive cars, and spend money on gas and repairs, when for just 25 dollars a month, you can give up your old clunker and be enrolled in a People’s Collective Motor Pool, which will always be available when you want it, and extend the benefits of transportation to those who don’t own cars.

Of course the 25 dollars a month quickly turns into 50 and then a 100 dollars, and there are never enough available cars in the pool, the waiting period to actually get to where you want is many times what it used to be when you owned your own car—and the only people benefiting from the system are the ones who run the People’s Collective Motor Pool, where a statue of the fellow in the shiny hat stands in the parking lot, lauding him for the wonderful contribution to mankind he made to mankind by convincing everyone to give up their cars.

This is how the game is played. To turn an “Ownership Society” into an “Ownerless Society”, you have to convince people that they’ll be much better off having their possessions in a common pool than actually owning anything themselves. This is tricky, because Wealth Redistribution is hard to sell to people who are owners.


…The ObamaCare debate is a classic example of the left preying on middle class fears about security (with a subtle dose of guilt about the less well off to make the case seem like a moral one) and promising them “ownerlessness” as the preferred alternative to self-reliance.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Agca: Writes to Pope and Requests Meeting at Fatima

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 20 — Through his lawyer, the former Turkish ‘Grey Wolf’, Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 in St Peter’s Square, has written to Father Federico Lombardo, director of the Vatican press office, asking for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI when the Pope visits the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal on May 13. The request is contained in a letter from his lawyer, Aci Hali Ozhan. In the letter, which totals just 11 lines, the lawyer writes that “as is well know, Mehmet Ali Agca was released on January 18, 2010, after serving 29 years and 2 months of incarceration. Mehmet Ali Agcà request, already made in 2008, was taken personally by myself to Pope Benedict on February 13, 2009. We found out about the Pope’s upcoming visit on May 13, 2010, to the city of Fatima, in Portugal. Mehmet Ali Agca will also be in Portugal then and would like to meet with the Pope. This request was made to the President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva, and to the Premier Jose Socrates. In anticipation of your response, we would kindly ask you to forward our request to the Pope. With best regards. Signed: Mehmet Ali Agca.” The letter was copied to the Secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, the Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation of Causes of Saints and the Vatican Nunciature in Ankara. Last week Mehmet Ali Agca’s lawyer said that his client had written to the Portuguese Premier asking for permission to go to Fatima at the same time as the Pope but the Portuguese government has not yet responded to the letter.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Catholic Abuse Scandal

Was Munich’s Vicar General Forced to Serve as Ratzinger’s Scapegoat?

During his time as archbishop in Germany, Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, chaired a meeting in which a pedophile priest’s living arrangements and therapy were discussed. He must have been familiar with the man’s criminal past.

Catholic Church officials assigned full responsibility for the reassignment of a known pedophilic priest to retired vicar general Gerhard Gruber who served as deputy to Joseph Ratzinger when he was archbishop. Gruber is now challenging a Church statement that he “acted on his own authority,” a claim he says was never discussed with him.

The emergency plan was hastily assembled in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising on the evening of March 11, a Thursday. The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper had exposed the scandal surrounding pedophile priest Peter H., and the affair over sexual abuse in the church was getting dangerously close to the pope.

Peter H., a vicar from the western German city of Essen who had molested boys on several occasions, was sent to Munich in 1980, where he was assigned to work as a pastor again. As a result, he was able to abuse even more boys. The archbishop and chairman of the diocesan council, which approved H.’s appointment, was Joseph Ratzinger.

Ratzinger also chaired a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, in which the pedophile priest’s living arrangements and therapy were discussed. He must have been familiar with H.’s criminal past. Because of this, the diocese has, in recent weeks, left no stone unturned in its effort to explain why the current pope could not be held accountable for H.’s continued service in his diocese.

That effort has been supported by documents found in the diocese records office that related to H., and that were signed by someone else at the time: the loyal Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, Ratzinger’s deputy during his time as archbishop.

Apparently no one on the crisis team objected to the idea of taking Pope Benedict XVI “out of the firing line” and using Gruber, 81, as a scapegoat instead. On the morning of March 12, while the press office was busy drafting a statement in which Gruber was given the full blame for H.’s appointment to serve as a pastor, and that included Gruber’s personal apology, a church official was badgering the retired priest on the phone.

But Gruber, who felt put under pressure, later confided in theologian friends. He told them that he had been emphatically “asked” to assume full responsibility for the affair, and that church officials had promptly faxed him a copy of the statement and instructed him to make any changes he deemed necessary.

‘Incorrect Decisions’

According to the statement released by the archdiocese, Ratzinger was partly responsible for making the decision to accept H.’s appointment. “Notwithstanding this decision,” however, H. was assigned “by the then Vicar General” to assist in pastoral care, without restriction, in a Munich parish. The statement also read: “Gruber assumes full responsibility for the incorrect decisions.” A spokesman for the archdiocese later added that Gruber had “acted on his own authority” in the case of Peter H.

Gruber’s friends say that the old man was only familiar with parts of the statement, that he was apparently being used as a scapegoat and that he was also under additional emotional pressure. To everyone’s surprise, Gruber wrote an open letter in which he qualified the archdiocese’s statement, writing that he did not sign any documents over which he had no influence. He also noted that he was “very upset” about the “manner in which the incidents were portrayed” by the archdiocese. “And the phrase ‘acted on his own authority’ also wasn’t discussed with me,” he wrote.

The archdiocese was unwilling to comment on the accusations, except to state it continued to believe that the former vicar general had acted on his own authority in the case of Peter H., and that he had admitted to having made mistakes. Gruber has gone on a trip to recuperate from “weeks that have been very stressful for me.” His loyalty is greatly appreciated in Munich. Archbishop Reinhard Marx, Gruber writes, has sent him his best wishes and “expressed his appreciation for my ‘participation’.”

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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

France: Algerian Origin Jurist Leads Equal Opportunities

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 20 — Chosen personally by President Sarkozy, a young French jurist with Algerian origins, Jeannette Boughrab, is the new President of HALDE, an official organisation that fights against discrimination in French society and in favour of equal opportunities. Jeannette Boughrab, 36, was born in France in a harki family, harkis being the Algerian citizens who fought alongside the French during the Algerian war and who were partially deported in France after 1962’s independence. Many of them are socially ostraciaed and she experienced this herself when, as a candidate for the 2007 elections in the UMP ranks (Sarkozy’s majority party), she had to face a defamatory campaign that urged “not to vote for a traitor’s daughter”, an episode that pushed her to retire from political life and find her calling in matters of discrimination, finding strength from the painful life of a father who was an illiterate outlaw in Algeria and an unwelcome immigrant in France. She was a jurist in the Constitutional Court, member of the High Council for Integration, member of the board of the Arab World Institute, of the Audiovisual High Council’s Diversity Observatory, and President of the Agency for Social Cohesion and Equality’s board. While she is against ethnic representative quotas and positive discrimination, she intends to fight particularly against discrimination in the workplace, because “employment is the only way to fight social ostracisation.” Socialist Malek Boutih was also considered for the HALDE presidency, but after UMP’s defeat in the local elections last March, several attacks to Sarkozy’s policy of dialogue with the left have been moved from the parliamentary right wing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Police, EA Arsenal Found, Deadly Blow

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 20 — Greek police have dealt a deathly blow to the principal armed organisation, Revolutionary Struggle (EA), by discovering in the centre of Athens what they believe is its arsenal of arms and explosives. After the recent arrests of 6 people accused of belonging to the armed group, large quantities of explosives, arms and munitions were found in an apartment in the capital yesterday evening. These include dozens of Kalashnikovs, grenades, remote controlled bombs and anti-tank missiles, as claimed by EA. The arms and explosives were wrapped in plastic, suggesting that the members of the group were preparing to transport them elsewhere out of fear that they had been discovered. Over recent weeks, the antiterrorism unit has arrested six people, five men and one woman, believed to be members of the EA action group and accused of belonging to the armed group and attempted murder. They also found another storage of at least 150 kg of explosives. Documentation was also found which would connect the Revolutionary Struggle with dozens of attacks committed since 2003 and a list of targets that include politicians, bankers and journalists, including George Papandreou. Today’s discovery confirms that the large-scale operation underway, the most important in recent years, has dealt a deathly blow to EA, disarming the most important and dangerous of the armed groups active in Greece, heir to the historical November 17 Marxist organisation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Indian Priest to be Tried “In a Couple of Months”

Teramo, 19 April(AKI) — An Indian priest who confessed to sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in central Italy will face trial in a “couple of months”, his defence lawyer, Giovanni Gebbia said on Monday. Gebbia said his client, whose name has not been disclosed, could face up to 14 years in prison.

“The trial will happen and it will happen soon,” Gebbia told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a telephone interview on Monday.

The priest, names only as ‘David’, comes from the southern city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. He was released from prison on Thursday and remains under house arrest in the town of Teramo 175 kms northeast of Rome.

His lawyer said he spent the weekend in silent prayer at the local convent where he is under house arrest. He said his spirits had improved.

“He is a little better now that the risks of being in prison have been removed,” Gebbia said. “He spent the weekend praying, in meditation, in total silence.”

The priest admitted to visiting the young girl at her home while her parents were out on 19 December last year and after offering her a Santa Claus doll allowing her hand to touch his genital area.

The 40-year-old priest was ordained in 1987 and was arrested a week ago after he returned from India where he was visiting his ailing mother.

The sexual allegations surfaced soon before the Vatican came under fire for shielding priests and other clergy from child sex abuse.

Gebbia said his client faces 14 years in prison in Italy if he is convicted of sexual violence against a minor.

“The sentence can total between seven and 14 years,” he said.

The priest has had no visitors because the court has not authorised any visits, he said.

He will request a visit from Teramo bishop Michele Seccia, and his personal priest and colleague Davide Pagnottella and a “fellow priest who will come from India,” Gebbia said.

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

Italy: Porn Film Director Hospitalised

Vicenza, 19 April (AKI) — Tinto Brass, the Italian porn film director, is reportedly in a stable condition after being admitted to a hospital in northern Italy with a brain haemorrhage. Brass directed ‘Caligula’, the 1979 movie produced by Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione and written by Gore Vidal.

He is recovering in the intensive care unit of the neurological ward of San Bortolo hospital in Vicenza.

“My father is lucid,” Brass’ son Bonifacio said, according to a report on the Italian daily La Stampa’s website. “My sister and I talked to him and he responded.”

Brass, 77, known for his trademark cigar, was admitted to the hospital after feeling ill in a hospital in the town of Marostica, near Vicenza.

Brass’ international hit ‘Salon Kitty’, released in 1976, was about a brothel patronised by the Nazi SS.

It caught the attention of Penthouse magazine’s Guccione who then recruited the Venice-born director to make ‘Caligula’ about the cruel and sexually perverse Roman emperor.

Brass has directed 27 movies during his 51-year movie career, according to the website,

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

Italy: Lazio: Correct Eating Habits in Respect of Diversity

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 20 — To fight obesity in adults by teaching correct eating habits and a healthy style of living to children: this is the aim of the intercultural food education project promoted by the National Institute for the promotion of migrants’ healthcare and the control of poverty-related diseases (INMP) in collaboration with the Regional Schools Office for Lazio. The receivers of the project ‘Inter-tasting: the meeting of tastes and the taste of meeting’ are the pupils of primary and secondary schools in Lazio. It is a project that was born out of the need to promote “nutritional education from the earliest age in order to fight obesity, a worrying phenomenon which is spreading in Italy too, where it is calculated that 10% of children are obese and 30% are overweight,” Paola Scardella, head of the INMP project, explained to ANSAmed. It is a condition that is the result of bad nutritional habits and scarce physical activity, habits that you learn as a child and that you take forward to adult age with the result of 4 million obese people and one out of two adults in the risk category, together with the spread of a series of chronic-degenerative illnesses related to obesity, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This is why it has been decided to intervene from infancy with an intercultural project that takes into account the national situation, with an increasing number of foreign pupils in school: “it is estimated,” underlines Scardella, “that 7% of pupils in Italian schools are foreign, a figure that means that the number will hit 10% in the space of one or two years.” In this context, teachers have been trained, using a playful way, to bring their pupils “to reflect on the culture of others, people who come from different countries, who pray to a different god and who eat different things, to help them get to know their classmates.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fini Not Leaving Premier’s Party

But speaker demands more say and right to dissent

(ANSA) — Rome, April 20 — House Speaker Gianfranco Fini said Tuesday he was not breaking away from the People of Freedom (PdL) party which he founded with Premier Silvio Berlusconi but demanded more say and the right to dissent.

“I have no intention of getting out of the way or keeping quiet,” Fini told 54 loyalist MPs gathered ahead of a major party meeting on Thursday.

The PdL was officially founded last year by the merging of Fini’s right-wing National Alliance (AN) and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) party, after the two parties ran on a single ticket to win the April 2008 general elections.

Long-standing differences came to a head last week when Fini reportedly threatened to form his own parliamentary faction during a working lunch with the premier. Since then, despite bickering among Fini and Berlusconi loyalists, a number of PdL heavyweights, including Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno (ex AN) and Cabinet Undersecretary Gianni Letta (ex FI), have been trying to patch up the rift.

Berlusconi has dismissed the spat as “small issues” within the party and told a group of businessmen on Saturday his government would not be jeopardised no matter what happens. “I hope Berlusconi accepts that there can be dissent within the PdL”, said Fini, paraphrasing American poet Ezra Pound by saying “If a man is not ready to fight for his ideas, either the ideas are worthless or he is”.

“I want to be able to speak my mind without being accused of being a traitor,” the speaker said, stressing that the PdL could not be run by Berlusconi alone.

“We’ve got broad shoulders,” he told his followers, dismissing accusations launched by media close to Berlusconi, including his brother’s daily Il Giornale, that Fini and his followers are “traitors”.

Referring to reports that he and his loyalists want more power, Fini said he always “raised political issues, never personal ones, and always in a constructive spirit”.

He said he hoped that in an address to the party on Thursday he would finally clear up rumours that he was “jealous or envious” of the premier’s clout.

“I don’t think I’ve attacked the party or the government by saying that we have different political stances on some issues.

“Whoever over the past few days has twisted my thoughts and talked about a break with the party or early elections has just added fuel to the debate”, said Fini.

A document supporting Fini’s stance was signed by 36 MPs at the House and 14 senators as well as by an undisclosed number of other MPs unable to attend.

However, a statement issued shortly afterwards by 75 ex members of AN, including Alemanno, Youth Policy Minister Giorgia Meloni and Public Works Minister Altero Matteoli said there could be no going back on the decision to merge the two parties.

“We’re firmly convinced that the PdL represents the right and irreversible choice. We want to further strengthen the PdL by remaining in the party.” “The party embodies the standards and values of the centre right” and got the majority of votes in general elections in 2008 and the 2009 European and 2010 regional elections, they said.

Nevertheless, they urged the PdL to consider a number of issues raised by Fini and ensure “the utmost democracy within the party and respect for every stance”. The Speaker is said to be fuming over the way the party is run and by the increasing clout on the government’s agenda wielded by the Northern League, the PdL’s ally which garnered huge gains in last month’s regional elections.

Speaking to his followers, Fini confirmed that he was indeed concerned about the League’s increasing power in the coalition.

“It’s undeniable that the League, which is an important and loyal ally, is also the power player at the moment”.

Fini has said that Thursday’s meeting is “a first positive response to the political problems” he had raised with Berlusconi, stressing that he hoped it could help solve “issues at hand, starting with the relationship between the PdL and the League”.

Fini’s lieutenants in the PdL say the speaker wants more space for debate within the party as well as moves made to distance it from the devolutionalist League’s pet issues, especially fiscal federalism.

Fini has also made clear that Berlusconi must be allowed to govern till the end of his mandate in 2013 because “that was what Italians had decided” at the polls.

But, he said, the PdL “must be strengthened and not weakened”, make moves to respond to the country’s economic needs and spearhead a drive to promote constitutional reforms that should be backed by the centre-left opposition.

Fini has publicly distanced himself from the League and Berlusconi on a number of issues since the centre-right coalition swept to power two years ago.

His recent and more centrist stances on these issues, including voting rights for immigrants and criticism of the government’s reliance on confidence votes to push its bills through parliament, have placed him at loggerheads with many ex- FI MPs as well as the League.

On Wednesday, Bossi told reporters his party was also not ruling out that one of its men could become premier should Berlusconi step down at the end of his mandate in 2013.

Fini has, until recently, been touted as one of Berlusconi’s possible successors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Malta: Sex Abuse Victims Welcome Pope’s Visit

Rabat, 19 April (AKI) — Victims of clerical sex abuse in Malta said on Monday they were moved by their meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and his compassion. “It was emotional, I saw tears in his eyes,” alleged victim, Lawrence Grech, told Adnkronos International (AKI) by telephone. “It was great.”

It was the first time the pope had met abuse victims since the worldwide scandal involving the Catholic Church emerged in the United States, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy and other countries including Malta.

Eight victims — seven of whom were abused at St Joseph’s orphanage in the town of Santa Venera in the 1980s and 1990s — have been campaigning for the church to recognise their suffering and are still waiting for justice through the legal system.

Grech said he and the other victims only learned of their appointment with the pope one hour before it took place.

“It wasn’t organised, it wasn’t part of the plan,” he said.

The group met the pontiff in a small chapel in the town of Rabat and prayed with him together.

“When you feel the pope next to you, it is something great,” Grech said. “He was emotional when he heard our stories.”

Grech, a 37-year-old father of two, said while the pope did not formally apologise to the alleged victims, he felt sorrow for what they had suffered.

Grech previously claimed that he was abused by two priests and a lay Christian brother while he attended the school.

“I feel sorry for him because all the mistakes and all the abuse were under the other pope (Pope John Paul II). Benedict is a very courageous man because he is meeting the victims and crying with them.”

Another alleged sex abuse victim, who declined to be named, told AKI he too was moved by his encounter with Benedict on Sunday.

“I was very happy to meet the pope,” he said. “The pope prayed for me and all my friends. He said ‘I will try to help you all’.

The 39-year-old man claimed to have been abused by two priests while he attended St. Joseph’s as a teenager.

The Vatican said the pope expressed his “shame and sorrow” about what happened in Malta.

“He prayed with them and assured them that the church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse, and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future,” the Vatican said after the meeting, on the second day of the Pope’s visit to the island.

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

Spain: Suspended for Wearing Veil, Classmates Protest

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 20 — Controversy surrounds the case of Najwa Malha, the 16-year-old Moslem student of Spanish citizenship who was suspended from attending lessons at the “Camilo José Cela” secondary school in Pozuelo (Madrid), because she wore her Islamic hiyab, an item of clothing banned by school rules. According to reports in Spain’s media, five of Nejwa’s classmates, all of them non-Moslem Spanish, turned up to school today wearing veils, defying the institution’s ruling in a show of solidarity with their friend. Of Moroccan origins but born in Spain, Najwa did not go to school today: the law states that her attendance is compulsory, even though she has been banned from lessons, until the school’s board makes a ruling this afternoon on a possible change to its rules. In the words of the girl’s father, Jarid, she “is depressed and requires the help of a psychologist because of the pressure she has come under at school” to stop her from wearing the Moslem veil, and especially “because of her fear of being expelled from school”. “We shall stand by her through the whole time it takes, even if we are risking being suspended,” her classmates told the media, standing up for Najwa’s right to wear a veil. For his part, Spain’s Education Minister, Angel Gabilondo, maintained “every person’s right to their own image and to express their beliefs” if, as in the case of the veil, “they do not attack other symbols”. But this is a right should always be “secondary to the right to education”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Parents Plead for Return of 7-Year-Old Son

Dad, mom being allowed 1 hour visit every 5 weeks

A plea has been sent worldwide for moms, dads, brothers, aunts and grandparents — in fact anyone — to contact Swedish authorities and ask them to return to his parents a 7-year-old boy taken into police custody over a dispute that includes the family’s decision to homeschool.

As WND reported last June, Swedish police barged into a passenger jet awaiting departure from Sweden to India and forcibly took into custody Dominic Johansson, 7.

The Home School Legal Defense Association and members of the Alliance Defense Fund have been advising Christer and Annie Johansson on the “state-napping” of their son as they were preparing to move to India, Annie’s home country.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Echoes of the 1930s in the Streets of Malmö

By Philip Wendahl

Last year in Malmö, the number of hate crimes against Jews quadrupled in comparison with the preceding year. The grim figures are especially surprising given that, as is usual with hate crimes, many victims do not dare to report them out of fear that doing so might bring on further harassment.

As the same time that this is happening, the city’s leading politician, Social Democrat Ilmar Reepalu, maintains that there have been no attacks on Jews and that if Jews wish to leave Malmö for Israel it is not the city’s concern.

One is tempted to pinch oneself in the arm in hopes of waking up from all this. The situation I am describing is that of Sweden in the year 2010, yet the odor of 1930s Germany lingers in Reepalu’s words: there have been no attacks on Jews.

That the harassment of Malmö’s Jews is principally the work of Muslims is a source of bewilderment for Swedish politics, which is fixated on, first, ethnicizing conflicts and then assuming the perspective of the victimized minority. At best, the anti-racist groups blind themselves to the current reality, and at worst they choose instead to take on the alleged enemy known as Islamophobia.

That there is Muslim anti-Semitism in our country should not surprise anyone — not even the sleepy Social Democrats — but Reepalu’s words give it a tacit approval, and for this reason Swedish politicians share the blame for these atrocities which are an offense against individuals as well as aganst our civilized society.

Malmö’s politicians should stand up for the Jewish minority whose numbers are lower than those of the Muslim street terrorists and should defend them. There are about 1500 Jews in Malmö and (one hopes) an equal number of friends of Israel. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Malmö with Muslim or Arabic backgrounds.

The Swedish state, too, in its dealings with those who come from homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-democratic countries around the world, should consider it an imperative to stress our nation’s democratic and humanistic values…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Child Abuse Inquiry Launched by Monastery

A monastery in canton Schwyz has engaged prominent legal experts to carry out its independent inquiry into alleged cases of child abuse by priests in the past.

On Monday, the monastery in Einsiedeln announced that it had tapped Pius Schmid, canton Zurich’s former public prosecutor, to lead the inquiry.

The team will also include Zug lawyer and mediator Judith Wild-Haas as well as Richard Kälin, canton Schwyz’s former youth lawyer. Additional specialists such as child psychologists will be summoned if needed.

In Monday’s statement, the monastery said it wished to achieve transparency while saving its credibility. In addition, it said it hoped to lay the groundwork to prevent child abuse in the future.

The monastery has urged victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

The inquiry follows an announcement last month by the Swiss Bishops Conference that there have been 70 alleged victims of abuse by Catholic priests in Switzerland in the last 15 years.

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

Syria: ATR, Aircraft Delivered to Syrian Air

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, APRIL 20 — Italian-French consortium ATR (Finmeccanica group) has in recent days delivered two aircraft worth some 40 million dollars to the Syrian national airline, Syrian Air. The two aircraft, points out the newsletter from the Italian Embassy in Damascus, will cover domestic and regional route and will enter into service within a few days, immediately after the opening ceremony. The purchase of the two aircraft by Syrian Air will allow the airline to fill the gaps that Syrian civil aviation has been suffering. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Arrests After Pig’s Head Thrown at Crawley Mosque

Three men have been arrested after a pig’s head was thrown into the car park of a mosque in West Sussex.

Police were alerted by people attending Langley Green mosque, in Crawley, on Saturday after a white car drove by.

A 21-year-old man from Horley was arrested nearby on suspicion of a racially or religiously-aggravated public order offence, police said.

On Sunday two other men, aged 20 and 25, both from Crawley, were also held. All three have been bailed until May.

Ch Insp Steve Curry, Crawley district policing commander, said: “While this was a very unusual incident, it has obviously caused great distress to those involved and we have worked closely with community leaders in dealing with the matter.

“This was immediately declared a racist incident and is being investigated as such.

“Crawley is a diverse and generally peaceful community and any incident aimed or likely to cause unrest will be robustly dealt with, as our rapid response to this incident has shown.”

Farakh Jamal, secretary of the Crawley Islamic Culture Centre, said: “This unprovoked incident was intended to cause hate and incitement towards racial or religious hatred.

“We have urged the community not to react and are grateful for their resilience in dealing with this situation.

“We are also grateful to the authorities that as soon as the incident was reported, swift action was taken and within 24 hours three suspects were apprehended.

“At Langley Green Mosque we have always strived to work with other faiths and other communities and to come to a common ground, as the Holy Quran instructs.

“Interfaith dialogue is of utmost importance for healthy community cohesion our society needs. Keeping this at the forefront, we would not wish any faith or group to be recipients of such intolerance.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

UK: Couple Sue for £380k After Being Driven Out of Home by Noise From Wind Turbines

The 150-acre farm was the answer to Julian and Jane Davis’s dreams of a quiet life in the country.

He would grow crops while she planned to build a wooden chalet to run reflexology, therapy and counselling sessions.

Their rural peace was shattered, however, when eight giant wind turbines were erected nearby.

Their constant roar was so bad that the couple and their 20-year-old daughter Emily say they were forced to move into a rented home five miles away.

Mr and Mrs Davis have launched a High Court writ claiming £380,000 compensation from the owners of the 320ft turbines, the builders and the landowners.

They claim the constant 66-decibel hum — close to the sound a vacuum cleaner generates — was ‘unbearable’ even though they wore earplugs at night and installed double glazing at the farmhouse in Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: England Branded Least Patriotic Nation in Europe as Citizens Are Too Scared to Fly the Flag

The English rate themselves the least patriotic nation in Europe, a poll suggests.

Almost half said their country had lost its identity in the face of European interference and political correctness.

The findings were published in advance of St George’s Day which, as two thirds of those polled did not know, is on April 23 — this Friday.

They showed that on average, English people rate their patriotism at slightly below six on a scale out of ten, behind the Scots, Welsh and Irish and far in the wake of the Dutch, the most patriotic people on the continent.

Only one in ten would happily fly the cross of St George to celebrate the national saint’s day.

Double that number said they thought they would be told by authorities to remove it if they flew it from their house.

Despite calls from public figures ranging from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to Gordon Brown for more celebrations of the English national day, there has been clear disapproval from many public authorities.

In 2008 St George’s Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were ‘unhealthy’ and ‘tribal’.

Last year Mr Brown’s instruction that public buildings in England should fly the flag on 23 April were undermined by the production of a European map drawn up in Brussels that wiped England off altogether and replaced the country with a series of EU regions.

The new survey showed that six per cent of English people are scared to show the flag and around 18 per cent are worried that if they do they will be instructed by officialdom to take it down.

Only a third are aware that 23 April is St George’s Day and four out of 10 have no idea why he is England’s patron saint.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: High-Tech Speed Cameras Which Use Satellites to Track Motorists on Secret Trial in Britain

Speed cameras which communicate with each other by satellite are being secretly tested on British roads.

The hi-tech devices can follow drivers’ progress for miles to calculate whether they have broken speed limits.

Combining number plate recognition technology with global positioning satellites, they can be set up in a network to monitor tens of thousands of cars over huge areas for the smallest breach.

Known as SpeedSpike, the system uses similar methods of recognition as the cameras which enforce the congestion charge in London, and allow two cameras to ‘talk’ to each other if a vehicle appears to have travelled too far in too short a space of time.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Volcano in Iceland: Euro Flight-Control,50% Flights OK Today

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 20 — According to an update issued at 11am today, EuroControl reported that 50% of scheduled flights were operational today. Europe’s air traffic control agency estimated that there would be 14,000 flights, while a normal Tuesday would have seen between 27,000 and 28,000. This is, then, “around half of normal traffic levels, up on previous days”, a communiqué notes. A mere 32.6% of yesterday’s scheduled flights managed to take off. By the end of the day, Eurocontrol expects the total number of cancelled flights since last Thursday to have reached over 95,000. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: UK Wants Pristina at the 2012 Olympic Games

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, APRIL 20 — Great Britain would like to see Kosovo taking part in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, to which end the British government intends to push for consent from those countries that have not recognised Kosovo’s independence. The news was confirmed by the British Ambassador to Pristina, Andy Sparks, as quoted by the Tanjug agency. The diplomat made his statements at the end of a meeting with Kosovo’s Culture Minister, Ljutfi Haziri, with whom he had discussed issues concerning the protection of Kosovo’s cultural heritage. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Climate: Bad Weather Hits South Med, 50 People Die in Arabia

(ANSAmed) — RYADH, APRIL 19 — The strong downpours and floods that have been devastating Saudi Arabia for the last four days resulted in 50 casualties and 385 wounded. This is the latest update of a climatic situation that has been characterized in the last months by unusually rainy and stormy weather in the Middle East and the Mediterranean Southern and Eastern banks, a terrible weather that, as well as causing several casualties and severe wounds to people in the involved areas, is also severely damaging these countries’ infrastructures and agriculture. In the last days, Saudi Arabian Traffic General Administration Manager Sulaiman Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ajlan announced, the heavy rains caused 4,596 traffic incidents. On Saturday alone, website Arabian writes, in the Bisha and Asir areas, 250 people have been rescued from floods. But it’s probably March that will be remembered by Maghreb inhabitants as the worst month of recent times: the violent downpours, the strong wind and the terrain slips resulted not only in several casualties and wounded and the necessity to evacuate citizens in many Moroccoan regions, but also in houses and bridges crumbling and huge damages to farming. In the Alawite Kingdom, in Meknes, the fall of an ancient mosque’s minaret caused 41 casualties in early March, but between January and February things haven’t been better either. From the heavy rains hitting Cyprus’ northern half (25 million euros in damages) to the rains plaguing Northern Albania, forcing the European Union’s intervention, from Turkish Bosphorus’ violent tides to the ones hitting Southern Spain and the Canary Islands (that interested the Iberian peninsula in February), damages in the Mediterranean have been incredibly high. Eleven casualties and 34 wounded in Egypt, during the storms and prolonged rains that have incredibly damaged Southern Sinai and the country’s South as well in January, a month when Israel’s Neghev desert and Gaza Strip as well were hit by a 24-hour time span of unprecedented downpours, resulting in casualties and huge property damages. In September 2009 it was Tunisia’s turn, with 30 casualties, dozens missing and about fifteen wounded for the floods in the Gafsa governorate, south of the country. But there is one positive side to all this disaster. The water supply of some countries where water is regarded as a really precious commodity have been benefitting from this weather. In Morocco alone, for instance, thanks to the heavy precipitations, the water resources’ level in the Kingdom’s more than one-hundred dams reached the historical record of 87.3% in January (a total of 2.8 billion cubic metres). Agriculture will benefit greatly from the bad weather as well. It will be an excellent year for the Moroccoan citruses: 1.4 million tonnes with a 10% increase compared to last year. It’s not going as well for Algeria, though, where 2009’s bad weather resulted in the decrease of olive oil production and relative price increase. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gas: Export Forum, Price Levelled With Oil

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, APRIL 19 — Members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) have struck a deal in Oran today indexing gas prices at the same level as oil prices. The news was revealed by Russia’s Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko. “The final declaration was unanimously approved,” said Shmatko, according to the agency APS, “all the ministers of the countries (of the GECF) agreed that the price of gas should draw level with that of oil”. The eleven exporting countries recognised the existence of competition without, however, deciding to reduce the surplus to the international market, as proposed by Algeria, though they did accept the appeal to stabilise the market. The GECF said that it was concerned at the intentions of consumer countries to introduce a carbon tax on gas, saying that on the contrary the consumption of clean energy should be encouraged. During the session in Oran, the Forum approved the activity plan for 2010, which will see a strengthening of cooperation with other gas-producing countries that are not members of the GECF, such as Australia and Turkmenistan. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sahel States Military Committee Set Up

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, APRIL 20 — A joint military committee involving Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger will be officially installed tomorrow in Tamanrasset, in the south of Algeria. The announcement was made by Algeria’s Defence Minister, who added that the measure was designed to strengthen military cooperation between the four countries in order to tackle terrorism and arms and drug trafficking. The creation of the committee, which will include high-ranking officials, was decided during the August 2009 meeting in Tamanrasset of the heads of state of the four countries concerned. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Eritrean Clandestine Migrant Killed at Israeli Border

Egyptian border guards fired shots against a group of six illegal African migrants trying to cross the border with Israel, killing one boy and wounding another. The officers arrested the other surviving migrants, all of whom Eritreans, near Rafah. The episode brings the number of migrants killed in the Sinai to 12 since the start of 2012. After years of failing to take action to stop the phenomenon, since 2007, the Egyptian government has started to respond to international pressure, including special pressure from Israel, to stop the flow of migrants coming from sub-Saharan Africa, authorizing a heavier use of force in areas close to the border. UNHCR has estimated that between July 2007 and October 2008, at least 33 clandestine African migrants have been killed. After an apparent pause, 19 more people were killed between May and December 2009. Other sources said that the actual number of victims could be far higher. [AB]

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

Gaza’s Coffers Empty, Hamas Imposes Tough Taxes

(ANSAmed) — GAZA — You can hear more and more grouses these days every time anybody lights a cigarette in Gaza’s houses and streets. Smoking has become a pricy habit of late: a packet of Egyptian cigarettes, which find there way into Gaza from Sinai, that used to set you back 5 shekels (one euro), will now cost you 8. The better brands have gone up from 8 shekels to 11. This 3-shekel-a-packet difference goes to the coffers of Hamas (the Palestinian fundamentalist Islamic movement which has ruled in the Strip since 2007). The movement’s finances, which have been drained by the recession and by the continuation of the double blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, have now hit an unprecedented trough. In order to make ends meet, people are having to improvise jobs for themselves: some open a shop, some set themselves up as mechanics, some trade in second-hand goods. But Hamas’ taxes are becoming increasingly stringent and the latest blow has hit many hard: new trading licences to be bought directly from Hamas. A graduate in ‘business administration’, Muhammed Abed has been unemployed for some time now and is now selling falafel on the roadside, at a popular price of one shekel a portion. “At the end of the day, if it has been a good one, I’ve get between 30 and 40 shekels in the kitty”, he says shaking his head and fanning himself with a leaf. The new injunction means I’ll have to pay out 1,100 shekels to the authorities for my ‘licence to trade’. A similar fate has befallen Ala a-Shawa, a software specialist who used to run an internet cafe in Gaza until it was trashed by a fundamentalist Islamic group. A dogged survivor, Ala has set up a friut and vegetable shop which brings him a guaranteed daily incomes of a few euros. He, too, now faces a tax claim of 900 shekels. This is an enormous amount of money for him, he told ANSA: “As far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to hand over the whole shop to the authorities: I’d be happy if they gave me 500 shekels a month to help me survive”. The Mayor of Gaza, Rafik Mekki, complains for his part that the council is also up to its neck in debts. He hasn’t been able to pay the staff their wages for six months now and he has to find funds somehow. He said he would not as yet be sending in the police to enforce licence payments, but it has to be made clear that “services cost money” and the “population has to play its part”. These words fail to soothe the raised tempers, and do little to convince Abed, who had to sell what jewellery his wife was left with in order to set up his stall. “It is the government’s duty to find work for the citizens: instead, they impose unreasonable licence fees on us” he complains. “If they press on this, I will not allow myself to sink further into debt: I will opt to go to prison”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Independence Ceremonies, ‘Jerusalem is Ours’

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — Rallying cries calling Jerusalem the “united and indivisible capital of Israel” have rung out in the last few hours in speeches made during official ceremonies marking the National Day of Independence of the Jewish state, which was founded 62 years ago. “We will never say sorry for the settlements we are building in Jerusalem”, said the speaker of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) Reuven Rivlin, during one of the days public events. Rivlin reiterated the refusal of the government to suspend building in the “holy city” (including East Jerusalem, which is inhabited by a majority of Arabs, and whose annexation by Israel is not recognised by the international community), despite calls from the U.S. and other concerned governments for the dormant peace process with the Palestinians to be revived. Among the various ceremonies during the day, this morning saw the recognition of soldiers who have distinguished themselves in service, an event held in Jerusalem in the residence of President Shimon Peres and attended by the Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, and the Defence Minister, Ehud Barak. “You convey a splendid image of the country,” Peres told the decorated soldiers. According to the official schedule for the celebrations, parades and shows are expected for a large part of the day, with a traditional biblical quiz involving young Israeli students expected in the afternoon. More generally, a million people have headed for parks and natural reserves, the traditional meeting places for the classic independence celebration picnics. The only people not to celebrate the event are members of ultra-orthodox Jewish communities, who do not recognise the Zionist state and the Arab minority (20% of the population), who in May commemorate the Naqba, the exile of the large majority of Palestinians provoked by the 1948 conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Online media, meanwhile, have paid particular attention to the good will message sent by Washington last night. In the message, President Barack Obama insisted upon the solidity of the alliance between the U.S and Israel, despite recent friction over the Jerusalem issue and the peace process.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Report: Hamas Members Switch Loyalties to Al-Qaeda

Thousands of former Hamas members have switched their loyalties, and now belong to a Salafi terrorist group inspired by Al-Qaeda, a Gaza terrorist told the Palestinian Authority-based Maan news agency.

The terrorist, Abu Al-Hareth, is the founder of Jund Ansar Allah, a Salafi group that has clashed with Hamas and challenges its control of Gaza. There are more than 11,000 Salafists in Gaza today, Hareth claimed, 70 percent of them former members of Hamas.

The once-Hamas, now Salafi terrorists are termed Jaljalat, he said. Jund Ansar Allah is one of the four groups comprising the Jaljalat; the others are Jund Allah, A-Taweed wa-Jihad, and the Army of Islam (Jamat Jaish al-Islam).

The Army of Islam was behind the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was later turned over to Hamas. It also kidnapped British journalist Alan Johnston, who was released unharmed after several weeks in captivity.

The Jaljalat is not officially linked to Al-Qaeda but is influenced by its worldview and models itself after Al-Qaeda cells in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, Hareth said. Its followers obey religious figures such as Shiekh Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, a senior figure in Al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch.

Hamas and Al-Qaeda: From Cooperation to War

As the Shalit kidnapping demonstrates, the Salafi groups once worked alongside Hamas, and carried out “qualitative military attacks, during which a number of Israelis were killed,” Hareth said.

Recently, tensions have developed between Hamas and the Salafis. In 2009, Jund Ansar Allah declared an “Islamic emirate” in Gaza. Hamas declared war on the group and for hours a battle raged around a Salafi mosque in Gaza town of Rafiah. When the smoke cleared dozens were dead, including Salafi leader Abdel-Latif Moussa.

Following the battle, Al-Qaeda offshoots around the world accused Hamas of “abandoning Islam” and called for revenge.

Hamas continues to battle the Jaljalat, Hareth states, monitoring its members and often conducting arrests. The Jaljalat, for its part, accuses Hamas of failing to enforce Sharia (Islamic law) in Gaza.

The Salafis and other rival terrorist groups have increasingly challenged Hamas rule in Gaza. Salafist groups have carried out dozens of bombings targeting restaurants, music stores, and other businesses deemed “un-Islamic,” while members of Fatah’s Al-Aksa brigades have carried out attacks on Israel without coordinating with the Hamas leadership. (

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Reports of Mahmoud Abbas Illness, Appears in Cairo

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, APRIL 20 — Alarming reports on the health of the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas, today continued to circulate around the region’s online media, but were immediately denied by the PNA’s entourage. The denial was helped by apparently encouraging footage shot only yesterday in Cairo. The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi, confirmed that Abbas’s condition had worsened, saying that the 75-year old had undergone at least 6 secret medical visits in the last few weeks, organised in a private Jordanian clinic. Other publications picked up on the news, supported by the fact that the PNA President had cut down his public engagements to almost zero in the last 10 days. He also cancelled an imminent trip to Rome (though this was more likely down to tensions linked to the non-revival of the peace process), where he was due to meet the Israeli President Shimon Peres, upon invitation from the mayor Gianni Alemanno. In the meantime, pictures from yesterday’s meeting in Egypt between Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, in which the Palestinian President appeared in good condition, have allayed fears and suspicions. A PNA spokesman in Ramallah dismissed as “untrue” the reports published by Al-Quds al-Arabi, tersely adding “the President is in good health”. The PNA President, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2004, has controlled only the West Bank since 2007, following the the radical Islamist group Hamas’ bloody seizure of power in the Gaza Strip. His mandate, which officially expired over a year ago, has been effectively extended, though this is not recognised by Hamas. Abbas recently confirmed that he did not want to stand for re-election, despite pressure from the West, and attempted to call new elections in the Palestinian Territories. He may though have to backtrack in the wake of Hamas’ announcement of a boycott of the Gaza Strip. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Woman Risks Illegal Sex Charge After Claiming She Was Raped in Dubai Desert

A British woman risks being charged for breaching Dubai’s strict decency laws after claiming she was raped after a drunken night out.

The 24-year-old claims an Arab man raped her after driving her into the desert.

But the alleged attacker, 30, claims the woman consented — and if his version is believed she could face prison for having sex outside marriage in the strict Muslim state.

The man, 30, allegedly insisted on driving the trading company executive home after she had spent the night drinking with friends at the Dubai Marina in January.

After she accepted, he then allegedly drove her to a remote area and attacked her.

According to The Sun, the woman claims her attacker then drove her back to her flat where he raped her again on her bed.

A court source told the newspaper: ‘She told police she screamed and cried out begging him to stop during both attacks, which were entirely against her will.’

‘She went straight to the nearest police station and reported the sex attack at 3.20am the same day.’

Police tracked down the alleged rapist, known as Saif, after the woman had saved his mobile number after they met during the night.

If a court was to find in the man’s favour, the woman could face a charge of having unlawful sex, which could result in a jail term.

It is also an offence to be drunk in Dubai.

‘The case will be heard in full before a judge who will decide who is telling the truth, but the girl may face difficulties if her story is not believed,’ the source said.

‘She is still regarded as the victim at this stage.’

The allegations follows a string of indecency cases against foreigners in Dubai.

A British pair caught kissing in public in Dubai were given month-long prison sentences after an Emirati mother complained her child had seen their indiscretion.

The pair, a British man living in Dubai and a female friend, were arrested in November on accusations of kissing and touching each other intimately in public and consuming alcohol, their lawyer said. They were sentenced to one month in prison.

In a high-profile case in 2008, a British couple narrowly escaped jail after a court found them guilty of engaging in drunken sexual activity out of wedlock, and for doing so in public on a beach.

They were sentenced to three months in prison followed by deportation, but had their jail terms overturned on appeal.

In a separate case this year, a British couple who shared a hotel room managed to escape trial in Dubai for having sex out of wedlock by producing a marriage certificate.

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

Gulf: Dubai Market Recovering, S. Arabia Doing Well

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, APRIL 20 — Dubai’s job market is undergoing a sustained recovery. According to figures released by Patways Resourcing, one of the region’s most important employment agencies, the number of available jobs rose by 20% in the first quarter of 2010. “There is a gradual month by month increase which is silencing those who talk of a dead economy in the Emirate,” says Hasnain Qazi, Middle East director of Patways Resourcing. The positive curve has reached most professional sectors, from banking, financial and legal services to technological information and engineering. For foreign professionals, the safest Gulf country in which to make a living is currently Saudi Arabia, according to a Gulftalent study. During the last quarter of 2009, the foreign workforce in the kingdom increased by 2.4%, with a 2.2% rise in Qatar and a 0.3% rise in Oman. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, however recorded falls of 2.8%, 4.2% and 7.7% respectively. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Hezbollah Arms: Hariri, Same Accusations to Iraq in 2003

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT/ROME — On his official visit to Rome, Lebanese Premier Saad Hariri has said that the Israeli accusations of an alleged supply of Scud missiles by Syria to Shia movement, Hezbollah, are similar to those made about weapons of mass destruction against Iraq in 2003 which brought about the Anglo-American invasion. “The accusation against Lebanon of possessing large calibre missiles are similar to the those that were used to say that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” said Hariri, quoted by Beirut-based newspaper An Nahar. “Those arms were never found but the Israelis are trying to reproduce the same scenario for Lebanon,” added Hariri on the fringes of a meeting with representatives of the Lebanese community in Italy. Following Israel’s accusations that Syria is supplying Lebanese Hezbollah with Surface-to-Surface Scud missiles, the US State Department officially protested with Syria’s top diplomat in Washington, describing it as “provocative behaviour”. For its part, in recent days Damascus has denied any involvement in the matter, whilst in an interview Hezbollah’s second in command, Naim Quassem, neither confirmed nor denied the news. For the first time since he came into office, Hariri is in Italy today, to meet the President Giorgio Napolitano and the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The situation in Lebanon and of course bilateral relations (with Italy’s significant presence in the Unifil contingent) are on the agenda. The Middle East peace process and Iran will certainly feature in the talks, with the UN Security Council’s debate on possible pressure exerted on Tehran still ongoing. Lebanon is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and will chair it from May. Particular attention, however, will be reserved for bilateral relations, with the Italian presence in the Unifil contingent, economic relations and cooperation. These are fields in which Italy is particularly active: from 2006 to the present day, Italy has provided aid totaling 190 million euros. The EU has also asked Italy to guide talks on the coordination of donors to Lebanon. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy-Lebanon: Committed to Italian Cooperation in Lebanon

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 20 — Italy, after the 2006 conflict, offered its commitment to Lebanon by being one of the first donor countries, with more than 110 million euros, to which another 82 million euros destined mostly to infrastructure building must also be added. With an investment of 60 million euros in credit and 8 million euros in donations, sources from the Foreign Affairs Ministry report say that Italy is the main donor country in environmental contributions, with interventions in matters of water purification, farming irrigation, fire prevention and the Shouf area cedars’ protection, with the involvement of the Italian National Guard, the Italian Natural Park Federation (Federparchi) and the Abruzzi National Park. The cooperation is also financing (with 11 million euros) a programme for the protection of the cultural heritage in the archeological sites of Baalback, Tiro and Saida. Italy was also given by the European Union the task of guiding the coordination activities of the donor countries in matters of environmental protection, decentralisation and local development, and the social role of women. Significant resources, the same sources remark, have been spent in the reconstruction of the country’s South and in the demining process, but also for the poorer areas in Northern Lebanon (with a Sunni demographic prevalence), in the Mount Lebanon area (where the majority of inhabitants are Christian) and in the Chouf. More than twenty NGOs and several Italian local authorities also participated in these initiatives. Five Italian companies (Opere Pubbliche ltd, Elsag Finmeccanica, Degremont Italia and others) received contracts for projects financed by the Italian government for a total of more than 45 million euros. Furthermore, the Italian embassy and cooperation promoted the creation of a civilian-military coordination round table involving the Italian Unifil contingent and the Italian NGOs, developing important integrated actions as well. More than 17 million euros have been reserved to improve life conditions in the refugee camps and help the Lebanese population living in the surrounding areas, in a perspective of dialogue and integration promotion. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearming, Beirut Sceptical

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, APRIL 20 — Lebanon has implicitly denied a report circulated by Israeli media, according to which Hezbollah has been supplied with long-range Scud missiles by Syria. Local observers in Beirut say that they are not convinced that the anti-Israeli Shia movement could use such an “elephantine” form of equipment. During his state visit to Rome which began last night and ends today, the Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, said that the Israeli accusations are similar to those levelled at Iraq by the United States in 2003 over Iraqi possession of illegal weapons. “To say that Lebanon has high-calibre missiles is reminiscent of what was said about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,” Hariri said. Those weapons were never found, yet Israel is attempting to reproduce the same scenario for Lebanon,” the PM added. Hezbollah, which has never hidden the fact that it possesses Iranian-made missiles, has in the last few days refused to confirm or deny Israeli accusations which, according to local observers, end up “favouring the Shia movement in the current psychological warfare”. Analysts in Beirut maintain that Hezbollah’s strength lies in its “manoeuvrability” and in the “lightness” of its arsenal, and that the armed group is unlikely to burden itself with 11-metre long Scud missiles. The transport and functioning of these missiles, Lebanese military experts told local media, require the use of vehicles that are easily identifiable by Israeli radars. Scuds, the experts add, would therefore be destroyed by enemy finders before even being launched. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: More Gas and Oil to Cover Demand

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, APRIL 20 — To increase the production of gas and oil that is currently insufficient to cover the domestic demand. This is the aim of the Syrian government, which recently has put into action a policy to boost its production, which also includes the use of alternative energies. In its newsletter, the Italian Embassy in Damascus has pointed out the importance that natural gas is slowly taking on, the current production of which has reached 28 million cubic metres per day and which, according to statements by the Ministry for Oil, should hit 32 million cubic metres per day in 2010. As regards oil, the Government said it was confident about the discovery of new fields, so much so that it recently signed 12 new contracts for prospecting with foreign companies that are specialised in the field. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Transformation Under AKP-I: Rise and Demise of Moderate Islamism

The Anatolian landscape is dotted by a tall slender tree in the aspen family, known to the Turks as kavak, a fragile-looking but sturdy tree. When the harsh Anatolian wind blows across the steppe, kavak can bend at incredible angles, adjusting to the power of the wind, and somehow not break. Turkey is like the Anatolian kavak. The country has come to bend with the powerful political, social and foreign policy choices that its elites have ushered in over the ages, bowing to the power of such winds. Ever since the sultans started to Westernize the Ottoman Empire in the 1770’s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk continued these reforms making Turkey a secular republic in the 1920’s, and the various political parties of the Turkish democracy in the 20th century cast their dice with the West, the Turks have adopted a pro-Western stance in foreign policy, embraced secular democracy at home, and marched towards the European Union (EU).

This is changing. The rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), a party rooted in Turkey’s Islamist opposition, to government in 2002 introduced new social, political, and foreign policy winds across the Turkish society. These forces include solidarity with Islamist and anti-Western countries in foreign policy and orthopraxy in the public space, promoting outward displays of homogenous religious practice and social conservatism, though not necessarily directed by faith. After seven years of AKP rule, the Anatolian Turks are bending over to the power of the AKP, orthopraxy and the Islamist mindset in foreign policy are taking hold. According to a recent poll by TESEV, an Istanbul-based NGO, the number of people identifying themselves as Muslim increased by 10 percent between 2002 and 2007; in addition, almost half of those surveyed describe themselves as Islamist. Moreover, orthopraxy seems to have become internalized: bureaucrats in Ankara now feel compelled to attend prayers lest they be bypassed for promotions. Public display of religious observance, often devoid of faith, has become a necessity for those seeking government appointments or lucrative state contracts. Where is Turkey heading under the AKP, and what are the lessons that can be drawn from the AKP experience?

The AKP has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement, including the Welfare Party, or RP, the mothership of Turkish Islamism. The AKP’s founders, including party leader and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, cut their teeth in the RP, an explicitly Islamist party, which featured strong anti-Western, anti-Semitic, anti-democratic, and anti-secular elements. The RP joined a coalition government in 1997 before alienating the secular Turkish military, the courts, and the West, leading to being banned in 1998. Yet the party never truly disappeared. Erdogan and his comrades drew a lesson from this experience; the Turkish Islamists would be better served to reinvent themselves in order to be successful. In due course, Erdogan re-created the party with a pro-American, pro-EU, capitalist and reformist image.

When the AKP came to power in 2002, after taking advantage of the implosion of the country’s centrist parties in the 2001 economic crisis, it tried to reassure the moderates’ concerns it might chip away at the country’s secular, democratic and pro-Western values. The AKP renounced its Islamist heritage and began working instead to secure EU membership and to turn Turkey into an even more liberal and pro-Western place. At the time, few thought that the party could transform Turkey for the worse. After all, Turkey had been a multi-party democracy since 1946; it had a vigorous free media, secular courts, a large business class, and a strong army, all deemed to be guardians of Western values. What is more, the United States support for the secular, Western Turkey and the EU process were viewed as the fail-safes of the Turkish liberalization process that would entice the AKP to maintain its pro-West stance and reform path.

The AKP indeed promoted reforms, pro-business and pro-EU policies after coming to power. However, soon the party’s transformation appeared to be a cynical one. The AKP began to undermine the liberal values it supposedly stood for. For instance, it began to hire top bureaucrats from an exclusive pool of practicing, religious conservatives. Concurrently, the percentage of women in executive positions in government dropped. In years past, Turkish women served as chief justice, prime minister, and ministers of the Interior and Foreign Affairs. Some 30 percent of Turkey’s doctors and 33 percent of its lawyers are women. Yet under the AKP, women are largely excluded from decision-making positions in government: there is not a single woman among the 19 ministerial undersecretaries appointed by the AKP. Moreover, whereas in 1994, the percentage of women in executive positions in government was 15.1 percent, according to IRIS, an Ankara-based women’s rights group, today this statistic is at 11.8 percent.

The AKP’s lack of commitment to liberal values is a testimony to the party’s tactical view of EU membership: the AKP pushes for EU membership when it brings the party’s public approval, but not to make Turkey truly European. The nail in the coffin for the AKP’s EU tactical drive came in 2005, when the European Court of Human Rights upheld Turkey’s old ban on Islamic headscarves on college campuses. The AKP had hoped Europe might help recalibrate Turkish secularism into a more tolerant form. But this wasn’t in the cards. Thus, as soon as actual talks of EU membership began in 2005, the AKP became reluctant to take on tough, potentially unpopular reforms mandated by the EU, making accession seem less and less a likely. Statements such as Erdogan’s calling the West “immoral” in 2008 only eroded popular support for EU membership: by last year, about one-third of the population wanted their country to join the EU, down sharply from more than 80 percent in 2002, when the AKP first came to power.

Efforts by secular Turkish institutions to curb the AKP have backfired. In 2007, the secular opposition and the military, which issued a declaration against the AKP on its Web site in spring that year, attempted to block the AKP from electing its own presidential candidate, Abdullah Gül. The AKP successfully challenged the claim, suggesting that the secular opposition and the military did not want Gül to run because of his personal religious views. The AKP thereby created a secular-vs.-Muslim divide, in lieu of Turkey’s traditional Islamist-vs.-secular political divide along whose fault line it had always lost in the past. The party successfully positioned itself on the winning Muslim side of the new fault line. Additionally, when the Turkish Constitutional Court tried to prevent the AKP from appointing Gül as president, the AKP cast itself as the underdog representative of Turkey’s poor Muslim masses. The two strategies worked: the AKP won 47 percent of the vote in the July 2007 parliamentary elections, defeating the opposition in a monumental victory and exposing the fact that hell does not freeze over when the Turkish military is ignored.

* This piece originally appeared on Majalla on Nov. 26, 2009.

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

Turkey: Divorce Acrimony Evolves Into Major Military Scandal

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 20 — A divorce case has triggered a major scandal embarrassing the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, as the wife of a retired admiral accuses her husband of “selling confidential military information” and having “connections to religious sects.” According to newspaper reports, the General Staff has launched an investigation into the allegations. Speaking to various newspapers and television channels throughout last week, Sunahanim Guven claimed that her husband, retired Rear Adm. Ilker Guven, had “received $20,000 various times” through selling “classified documents.” Rear Adm. Guven had previously filed for a divorce from his wife. According to Sunahanim Guven, her husband “brought home suitcases full of classified documents” when he retired in 2004 and then sold the documents. Between 2004 and 2006, she said, the retired admiral had gained USD800,000 in cash. “What kind of a job would earn one this kind of money in two years?” she asked. Guven also claimed her husband was “put on payroll for a monthly fee of USD20,000,” and was paid extra money from the people who received the classified documents. She said the retired admiral had “USD 5 million in five or six bags at home.” Speaking to daily Hurriyet, the angry wife claimed her husband was “receiving money from two holdings that are known to be very close to a religious sect.” “In return, he was giving (classified) documents. This sect was preparing my husband to be the president of the country,” she said.”If Abdullah Gul had not been elected president, my husband would (be president).” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Council of Europe, Corruption Laws Still Poor

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 20 — Turkey’s anti-corruption regime is still inadequate. This is a finding of the report published by the group of states of the Council of Europe’s (Greek) Anti-Corruption Group, which focuses on two separate issues: criminalisation of the offence and transparency of the parties. Regarding the first point, the document stresses the complexity of Turkey’s legal framework of the criminalisation of corruption, which still needs to realise the requirements established by the Council of Europe’s Convention of Criminal Law on Corruption. According to the report, the legislation should be reviewed in order to show in a clear way what kind of conduct constitutes an act of corruption, which is still a limited concept. This excludes the possibility that such behaviour can arise without an agreement between the parties and without infringing the duties of a public servant. Another point is that the notion of corrupting foreign officials does not get full treatment, including in the private sector. On the other hand, Turkey’s norms on the transparency of public funding of political parties are up to scratch, although individual persons standing as candidates, whether or not they are independent ones, as well as elected representatives, are not subject to the same set of rules. Meanwhile the parties often publish incomplete figures which have not been passed by an independent auditor. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

USA-Syria: State Dept Summons Diplomat Over Arms to Hezbollah

(ANSAmed) — WASHINGTON, APRIL 20 — Syria’s top diplomat in Washington has been summoned to the American State Department to review the “provocative behaviour” that the US believes Syria is carrying out with the potential transfer of weapons to Hezbollah. The news was announced by a US State Department spokesman, underlining that Washington condemns “in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms” to the Lebanese Islamic extremists. “This is the fourth occasion on which these concerns have been raised to the Syrian embassy in recent months,” said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid in a statement. As it emerged a week ago, the issue of the Scuds to Hezbollah in Lebanon (model ‘D’, with a range of 650km capable of hitting Israel) indirectly froze the confirmation procedure of the new US Ambassador to Damascus at Capitol Hill with Republicans announcing their intention to block it. Five years ago the US recalled its Ambassador to Syria after the deadly attack against former Lebanese Premier, Rafik Hariri, meanwhile the Obama administration has chosen a policy of dialogue with Syria and the appointment of an ambassador is part of this strategy. On April 14 the US however already expressed concern over the transfer of Syrian Scud missiles to Hezbollah, underlining that it had presented its concern to Syria “at the highest levels.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Madhya Pradesh: Christian Dies Fleeing Hindus

A 25-year-old man drowns in a well after a group of radical Hindus breaks a prayer meeting. The archbishop of Bhopal tells AsiaNews that the State has failed to protect Christians.

Betul (AsiaNews) — A 25-year-old Christian, Amit Gilbert, drowned in a well trying to flee from the fury of a group of Hindu radicals who had attacked a prayer meeting in Madhya Pradesh, seriously wounding three participants. The attack occurred last Saturday in the village of Saliya, near Betul. According to Abhishek Rajan, a local police official, the body of the man was found in the well after he jumped inside trying to escape from his attackers.

Mgr Leo Cornelius, metropolitan archbishop of Bhopal, told AsiaNews that “the Home Ministry and the Law Ministry have failed in their duty to protect the minority community. I just spoke to the chief minister. He is always well disposed towards the Christian minority and cordial with the Catholic Church, but he has failed to translate this attitude into protection against fundamentalists. It is the duty of the State to uphold the law and give people confidence.”

For the prelate, “the climate of terror and the attacks against the Christian minority are growing by the day. These attacks are well planned and systematically carried out. What is more, extremists have started to use a new method. Some file complaints against local Christian leaders whilst others disrupt Christian assemblies. When Christian leaders go to the police to file their own complaints, they find themselves detained on charges of conversion activities”.

Many Indian States have in fact adopted anti-conversion laws. Even though they are unconstitutional, they impose stiff sentences on anyone who converts a Hindu to another religion.

“These laws are open to interpretation and discretionary in their application,” Mgr Cornelius said. “Madhya Pradesh was the first Indian State to adopt a law on religious freedom, which is in fact an anti-conversion in disguise. Yet everyone benefits from the presence of Catholics who provide education and health care to all. Even the children of extremists study with us.”

As a way to protest against the situation, the archdiocese organised a large demonstration. “Some 2,500 people took part in the event, including eminent Muslim leaders and Communist Party officials. Those who addressed the crowd came to our defence, telling everyone that each Indian citizen has a constitutional right to practice and preach their faith, a right that applies to minorities who must be protected.”

For Sajan K George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, Hindu radicals “have unleashed a reign of terror all over the country. The death of 25-year-old Amit Gilbert, who was a Master of Divinity student, shows how extremists want to wipe out the tiny minority of Indian Christians. Right now, every Christian celebration triggers their ire. Last Wednesday, two days before Amit’s death, they attacked a gathering of 5,000 Protestants.”

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa and Ashes From Iceland

The Kenyan flower industry, coastal tourism in Senegal, street market sales in Burkina Faso: these are but examples of the effects that the ash, and the related problems to air travel, from the Icelandic volcano of Eyjafjallajiokull is having in Africa. Security reasons have prompted European air space officials to extend their limitations on air travel in European air space. Algeria’s airline “Air Algérie has made contingencies to deal with the situation says the “Liberté” newspaper, according to which, many flights have already been shifted to operate from and to Hassi-Messaoud, an oil producing town on the edge of the Sahara. Senegalese newspapers report that hotels in the beach and sun resort of Thie’s have been hosting hundreds of European tourists, who are unable to return home and who are refusing to pay for the unexpected extension of their stay. The flight suspension is also having serious consequences for the Kenyan economy, a country were flowers and roses, account for some 20% of exports. According to Jane Ngige, who heads the “Kenya Flower Council”, in the hangars of Nairobi International Airport, some 500 tons of flowers risk rotting and every day there are additional losses of some 1.5 million Euros. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines, has asked that EU controllers open up at least one or two ‘corridors’ in air space today, noting that decisions to ban flights are based on “abstract models” not facts”. ‘Fasozine’ a web portal in Burkina Faso suggests that the “suspension of flights to Europe — says a report from Ouagadougou — is a tough blow for exchange agents, taxi drivers and the street sellers crowding the airport’s parking lot.

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

South Africa: After Months of Drought, Desalinated Seawater

South Africa will use desalinated seawater to meet the growing demand of water after a long drought in the southern Cape region, said Water Affairs minister Buyelwa Sonjica to parliament. “South Africa has a boundary consisting of approximately 3,000 kilometres of sea water, and this water is presently unusable because of its high salt content”, explained the minister. The measure was announced due to water shortages caused by the worst drought in 150 years in the vast southern region that extends from Cape Town in the west to the popular tourist coastal town of Plettenberg Bay in the east. South Africa is a water-scarce country with an average rainfall of 450 millimetres, in respect to a world average of 860 mm, and conditions are expected to worsen as a result of global climate warming. Seawater desalination operations have already begin in Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, George and Mossel Bay, as well as treating so-called grey water, waste water generated from domestic activities like laundry and bathing, to help meet their drinking needs. The Berg River was the last available river in the Western Cape that could be dammed to provide water for the city. But the Berg River Dam, the newest of the province’s dams, will meet Cape Town’s growing water demand only until 2014, after which it will be necessary to resort to desalination.

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


UK: Sex Offender Wins Appeal Against Deportation on Human Rights Grounds

A Pakistani man who abducted and had sex with underage girls is to be allowed to stay in the UK because deporting him would breach his human rights.

Zulfar Hussain, 48, was due to be sent back to Pakistan on his release from prison where he is serving a jail term for giving vulnerable girls drugs and alcohol before having sex with them.

But he has won an appeal against Home Office plans to deport him on the grounds that he has a wife and child in Lancashire and has lived in the country for 20 years.

Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, said he was “glad” the Home Office was asking the courts to have another look at the case.

“If they had not, I would have been straight on to the Home Secretary Alan Johnson and he would have insisted on an appeal”, Mr Straw said.

Hussain and his friend Qaiser Naveed, 34, groomed two 15-year-old girls for sex over a period of months in Blackburn, Lancashire.

The two “vulnerable girls” who were in care were plied with drink and on one occasion Naveed had sex with one of them on the back seat of his car while the second girl remained in the front with Hussain.

Both men were caught after social workers raised the alarm and in 2007 Hussain was jailed for five years and eight months after being convicted of child abduction, sexual activity with a child and supplying drugs.

He is about to be released on licence after serving half his sentence.

Judge Andrew Gilbart, QC, said when he sentenced Hussain at Preston Crown Court in August 2007: “This is a truly shocking offence. When young girls such as these are placed in care it can be because they need protection from themselves. They need nurturing. They need help.”

Both men were ordered to be deported back to Pakistan after their release, but while Naveed has accepted his fate, Hussain appealed.

Hussain entered Britain legally in 1990 as the spouse of a British citizen. He was subsequently given indefinite leave to remain although he remained a Pakistani national. He had lived in Blackburn for about ten years.

His appeal against deportation was accepted by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal on the grounds that his right to respect for family life would be breached if he was sent back.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that they are seeking to appeal the decision to allow him “leave to remain”. The spokesman added: “We always seek to remove those foreign nationals who break the law, focusing on the serious offenders as a priority.”

Chris Grayling, shadow home secretary, said: “Most people will be absolutely horrified by this decision.

“It seems like hardly a week goes by without yet another case of a serious foreign criminal getting away with flouting our immigration system. Ministers should be ashamed of the absurd situation they have allowed to develop in our legal system.”

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Forced Returns Violate Human Rights

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has confirmed its “condemnation of anyone not observing the principle of ‘non refouelement”‘, i.e. no forced return, “which is at the basis of treatment to be done for those fleeing from persecution.” These are the words of Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, who, in a speech at an international seminar in Rome, has criticised the policies of European Mediterranean countries — including Italy — with regard to boats of immigrants attempting to “land on their shores”. They are policies, according to Marchetto, that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. In particular, Monsignor Marchetto, targets the “trend amongst Euroepan countries, to delocalise controls on the borders, encouraging their partners on the southern coasts of the Mediterranean, the sea of rights — as he called it -, to carry out stricter controls on migrants, but giving them the possibility of requesting asylum.” According to Marchetto, “there are however serious humanitarian issues connected to this trend, also due to the concrete situation of various countries.” In addition, “the paradoxical fact,” he added, “is that many European countries recognise people as refugees who have arrived on their territory not by sea, but coming from the same countries from which immigrants are intercepted and forcibly returned.” In recent days, Marchetto declared that the agreement between Italy and Libya on illegal immigration violates human rights. “No-one can be transferred, expelled or extradited to a State were there is a serious danger that the person will be condemned to death, tortured or subject to other forms of punishment or degrading or inhumane treatment,” said Marchetto on April 9, underlining that the Italy-Libya agreement does not assess the possibility that there are “refugees” or “vulnerable” people amongst the migrants. The Libyan Foreign Minister replied that “in Libya there are no refugees, just illegal immigrants held in reception centres for a specific period of time, waiting for agreements with their country of origin for their repatriation.” The Church of Tripoli and the Apostolic Nunciature of Malta, on which Libya depends, have also put distance between themselves and Marchetto. The Bishop of Tripoli, Giovanni Martinelli, said in particular that the Libyans themselves ask for assistance from Europe to manage the enormous flow of illegal immigrants and that they are “open to anyone who wants to help them to make the centres better than they are at present.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Canada: Mr. McGuinty, Withdraw Explicit Sex Ed for 8 Year Olds

Leaders from various family focused groups with over 100,000 active members are calling for Premier Dalton McGuinty to withdraw the new Ontario Sex Education Curriculum, set to be implemented this September. The leaders are organizing Ontario parents to protest the new program by withdrawing their children from school on the Monday after Mother’s Day, May 10th and joining a proposed rally in at 12:00 noon in Toronto. The location will be announced at

Dr. Charles McVety, President of Canada Christian College, states that “it is unconscionable to teach, 8-year-old children same-sex marriage, sexual orientation and gender identity. It is even more absurd to subject 6th graders to instruction on the pleasures of masturbation, vaginal lubrication, and 12 year olds to lessons on oral sex and anal intercourse. Mr. McGuinty plans to teach our children sexually explicit material that he did not give to his own. The Premier is not acting in trust. He must stop this form of corruption.”

Brian Rushfeldt, Exec Director of Canada Family Action said “Ontario’s new sex education curriculum for 3rd — 7th graders is bordering on criminal. Canada prosecutes persons for corrupting minors with explicit sex. To cause confusion in a young child’s mind about being male or female is evil, and teachers should refuse to present this onerous material.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Bari Hospital ‘Ready to Dispense Abortion Pill’

Roma, 7 April (AKI) — A hospital in the southern Italian city of Bari was expected to become the first on Wednesday to administer the RU486 abortion pill. Doctors at the hospital were ready to dispense the controversial drug to a 25-year-old woman, an unnamed source at the hospital told Adnkronos.

The drug, also known as known as mifepristone, became available to Italian hospitals last week amid staunch opposition from the Vatican and conservative politicians in Italy.

Sources at Bari’s Policlinic Hospital have said it has taken delivery of 10 boxes of RU486.

The RU486 pill is a highly emotive issue in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy, one of the last countries in Europe to administer the drug.

Its recent introduction in Italian hospitals has divided opinion between secular and non-secular conservative politicians and their voters, as well as local administrators and hospital staff.

“Next week there will be a meeting of gynaecologists who do not object to the RU486 pill to lay down guidelines for its correct use,” the southern Puglia region’s health councillor, Tommaso Fiore, told Adnkronos. Bari is the capital of Puglia.

“It’s not up to politicians to decide such issues,” he said.

The newly-elected governor of Piedmont, Roberto Cota, and Luca Zaia, the northeastern Veneto region’s new governor, last week oppenly opposed the abortion pill being made available in local hospitals.

Cardinal Severino Poletto, archbishop of the Piedmont capital, Turin, in an open letter from the regional bishops’ conference on Tuesday urged observance “of the grave duty to put respect for human life first and foremost.”

Pope Benedict XVI in a pre-Easter mass last Thursday — the day RU486 was due to become available in hospitals — censured the abortion pill.

In a clear message to Italy’s political leaders, he urged Christians not to accept “wrong” laws that sanctioned the practice.

“It is important for Christians not to accept a wrong that is enshrined in law — for example the killing of innocent unborn children,” the pontiff said during a service at St Peter’s Basilica.

It remains to be seen how many Italian doctors will administer the abortion drug.

About 70 percent describe themselves as ‘conscientious objectors’ who refuse to carry out abortions in their clinics or hospitals, according to Italy’s health ministry.

The Catholic Church, which opposes abortion and contraception, has threatened to excommunicate doctors who prescribe or administer RU486.

RU486 was first introduced in France in 1988 and is now used widely in Europe.

The Italian pharmaceutical authority AIFA last July authorised the administration of RU486 in hospitals under medical supervision as an alternative to surgical abortion up to the 49th day of pregnancy.

The move was welcomed by women’s rights groups and Italy’s Association for Demographic Education (AIED) as well as doctors in the northern region of Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany, where RU486 was trialled in hospitals.

Abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978 in the first 90 days of pregnancy and until the 24th week if the life of the mother is at risk or the foetus is malformed.

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

UK: First Birth Certificate to Cut Out ‘Father’: We’re Making History, Say Lesbians

This is the birth certificate that leaves the father off the official record for the first time in nearly 200 years.

It shows only a mother and a ‘parent’ — also a woman — for newly-born Lily-May Betty Woods.

The baby was born to 38-yearold Natalie Woods. The parent named on the form is Miss Woods’s partner, 47-year-old Betty Knowles.

There is no mention of the father, or donor, as the couple prefer to call the anonymous man whose sperm provided half of Lily-May’s genes through IVF treatment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


How Evil Works

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is David Kupelian, award-winning journalist and managing editor of online news giant as well as its popular monthly newsmagazine, Whistleblower. A widely read online columnist, he is also the author of the bestselling culture-war classic, The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised As Freedom, now in its eleventh printing. His new book, released in February by Simon & Schuster, is How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America.

FP: David Kupelian, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Let’s start by talking about the Stockholm syndrome that, as you discuss in your book, is affecting the West right now in its confrontation with Islamic Jihad. Give us your perspective.

Kupelian: Jamie, thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about “How Evil Works.” In Chapter 3, “How Terrorism Really Works,” I use the Stockholm syndrome to explain the inexplicable level of weakness and appeasement we continually see in the West toward Islam — for instance, in our disastrous failure to stop Nidal Malik Hasan before he shot dozens of people at Fort Hood, killing 13, even though we knew full well he was a jihadist time bomb waiting to explode.

Everyone’s heard of the Stockholm syndrome, named after the Swedish bank robbery when two escaped convicts terrorized four hostages in a bank vault for five and a half days, during which time the hostages grew increasingly sympathetic toward their captors and antagonistic toward the police who were risking their lives to rescue them. The hostages, who had been tied to chairs, had nooses around their necks and guns trained on them day after day, ended up siding with their captors wholeheartedly, later raising money for their defense and refusing to testify against them at trial.

The syndrome, which law enforcement psychologists recognized long before it had a name, is pretty simple: When we’re seriously intimidated, in a life-threatening way, some of us start to side with whomever or whatever is intimidating us. I don’t mean just cooperating and “agreeing” with a captor as a survival strategy, which makes perfect sense. Extreme intimidation has a way of sometimes flipping our sympathy and loyalty in favor of the people doing the intimidating. In the news business, we see this in high-profile cases like Patricia Hearst, Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard.

Radical Islam is extremely intimidating — by design. The more crazy it acts, the more powerful it becomes. Just a few weeks ago, in Nigeria, Muslim gangs slaughtered 500 Christians, including many children and pregnant women and old people — hacked them to death with machetes. Islam has spread in this way — “at the point of a sword” — for centuries. As I write in “How Evil Works,” I personally lost many family members, perhaps over 100, in the genocide of the Christian Armenians at the hands of Muslim Turks. I tell one story in which my great grandfather, a Protestant minister, was martyred, along with 60 or 70 other clergymen and their wives, in Adana, Turkey, because they refused to convert on the spot to Islam. This is how it spreads, by traumatizing people. Many, just to survive, join the religion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]