Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100727

Financial Crisis
»Another Recession Due in 2012
»Boom Turns to Bust
»How Italy’s Permanent Crisis Saved it From the Downturn
»Italy: Diplomats Strike in Protest Over Berlusconi Cuts
»Struggling Islamic Bank of Britain is Bailed Out With £20m by Qatar
»Twenty Reasons Why the U.S. Economy is Dying and is Simply Not Going to Recover
»Caroline Glick: The New, Improved Obama
»Dyson: Far-Right Addicted to Paranoia About Race
»From the White House to the Big House: 25 Impeachable Crimes and Counting
»Gulf of Mexico Oil Slick Appears to Vanish Quickly
»Maryland Synagogue Spray Painted With Swastikas
»Maryland and D.C. Storm Aftermath
»Rep. Barney Frank Causes Scene Demanding Discount
Europe and the EU
»Berlin Politician in Trouble for Inviting Dutch Populist Wilders
»Cameron ‘Anger’ At Slow Pace of Turkish EU Negotiations
»Cameron Pledges to Support Turkish EU Membership
»David Cameron Urges European Union to Drop ‘Prejudice’ Against Turkey
»EU Foreign Ministers Approve Diplomatic Service
»EU: An Outsized Diplomatic Machine
»EU: Huge Satellite Poses 150-Year Threat of Space Debris
»French Diplomat to Head EU Intelligence Agency
»Germany: Need More Turks in Office
»Italy: Jolie and Pitt Buy $40mln Villa Near City of Romeo and Juliette
»Man Jailed for Muslim Veil Attack
»Netherlands: 82-Year-Old Faces Jail for Growing Marijuana
»Özdemir: Europe Should Build Its Own Islamic Culture
»PM Cameron: Paving the Road From Ankara to Brussels
»Poland’s Ambassador to Switzerland Says There Are Good Reasons to Continue Payments to Boost Economic Development in the New European Union Countries.
»Regions Making Themselves Heard
»Reversal: Czechs to Build New Nuclear Reactors
»Sweden: Young Girl Raped by Stranger in Stockholm
»Turkey Must Join EU, Says Cameron: ‘Those Who Are Against Are Playing on Fears of Islam’
»UK: Gel That Can Help Decayed Teeth Grow Back Could End Fillings
»UK: Jeremy Clarkson Outrages Viewers by Announcing on Top Gear He’d Seen Saucy Underwear Beneath Muslim Woman’s Burka
»UK: Motorist Who Killed Trainee Barrister Walks From Court After Judge Hears Victim Was on Mobile Phone as She Crossed the Road
»UK: Record Numbers of Fake £1 Coins Could Force Royal Mail to Scrap Entire Denomination
»UK: Seven Arrested Over Bournemouth Far-Right Mosque ‘Bomb Plot’
»UK: Unprecedented Police Shake-Up Will See Unpaid Civilians Patrol With Bobbies
»Mirafiori’s Money Heads for Serbia as Fiat’s Italy-Based Production Shrinks
North Africa
»New Office Begins Investigating Lost Property of ME Jews
Israel and the Palestinians
»Archaeologists Find Ancient Hammurabi-Like Law Code in Israel Clay Tablet
Middle East
»British Prime Minister in Turkey Takes Out Hard Against Israel
»Iraq: Audit: U.S. Can’t Account for $8.7 Billion in Iraqi Cash
»Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Attacks Octopus Paul
»Nepal — Iraq: United States Central Command in Iraq to Repatriate More Than 30,000 Nepali Workers
»Saudi Arabia: Growing Condemnation of Illegal “Tourist Marriages”
»Turkey: Politicization of Law: ‘Sledgehammer Revisited’
»Turkey: Is America Losing Ground?
»A Russian Milestone: 1st Black Elected to Office
South Asia
»Daily Brief: Blowback From Wikileaks Disclosures Continues
»Indonesia: Support for Sharia Drops by 10 Per Cent in Indonesia
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Chinese Search for Ming Shipwreck Off Kenyan Coast
»Somalia: AU to Send 2,000 More Troops to Combat Al-Shabab
»Greece’s Locked Up Migrant Children Attempt Suicide
Culture Wars
»‘Armed Citizen’ Blog Bludgeoned by Lawsuit
»Toy Marijuana?
»BP Announces $17 Billion Loss, Names Dudley Chief Executive
»Demoralization, Destabilization, Insurgency, Normalization
»What the Left Really Thinks of Hitler
»Why Do IQ Scores Vary by Nation?

Financial Crisis

Another Recession Due in 2012

A new recession would be due around 2012 but central banks will not be able to throw cash at it anymore, Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, told CNBC Tuesday.

India’s central bank raised its interest rate Tuesday, joining other monetary authorities such as the Canadian and Norwegian central banks in hiking rates to stem inflation.

“We do have inflation in the world… most central banks should resign,” Rogers said.

There has always been a recession every four to six years in the US “since the beginning of time,” and that would mean another one is due around 2012…


“When the next one comes the world is going to be in worse shape because the world has shot all its bullets,” he said.

“Is Mr. Bernanke going to print more money than he already has? No, the world would run out of trees,” Rogers added…

[Return to headlines]

Boom Turns to Bust

California, Nevada, and Florida ranked among the nation’s most robust economies five years ago. But since the real estate bubble burst, the leaders have become the laggards.


Nevada, California, and Florida have collectively lost 1.69 million jobs since 2005. All are currently saddled with double-digit unemployment rates, with Nevada the worst at 14.0 percent.

Surprises can also be found at the top of the new midyear standings. Tiny North Dakota enjoys the nation’s strongest economy at the moment, and Alaska holds second place, according to the rankings.

Both front-runners registered impressive gains during the past half decade at a time when most other states were suffering sizable declines. North Dakota expanded its employment base by 7.8 percent from 2005 to 2010, adding 21,300 jobs. Alaska’s corresponding gain was 4.4 percent, or 10,100 jobs.


The recent half decade was not kind to most parts of the country. Forty states had fewer jobs in May 2010 than five years earlier. The nation lost a total of 4.51 million private-sector positions between mid-2005 and mid-2010.

But the severity of the economic recession has been tempered in states with affordable housing, especially those in the heartland that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border.

Six of the top 10 states are located within that broad belt, including North Dakota (first place), Texas (third), South Dakota (fourth), Nebraska (sixth), Louisiana (seventh), and Utah (10th).


The employment bases of these bottom states have eroded at an alarming pace. California’s loss of 950,300 private-sector jobs since 2005 is the equivalent of losing 520 jobs every day for five years. Florida’s rate of decline is 350 jobs per day, and Michigan’s is 280 per day…

(Complete listing of all states:

[Return to headlines]

How Italy’s Permanent Crisis Saved it From the Downturn

In theory, Italy, with its huge public debt, should be one of the euro zone’s problem children. In reality, the country has come through the current crisis relatively unscathed. Can the rest of Europe learn something from its southern neighbor?

Maria Cannata can’t think of a job that would be more exhausting than hers. She has been la signora del debito, Italy’s “debt lady,” for almost 10 years. During that time, she has done an outstanding job.

Cannata leans back, relaxed, in a black leather chair. On the walls of her office in the Finance Ministry in Rome hang family photos and promissory notes from the year 1850. Cannata manages the liabilities of the second largest debtor among the world’s industrialized countries and ensures that Italy remains solvent.

An unpretentious woman, Cannata, 56, sports a practical hairstyle and no makeup. She says that she sleeps well at night — she’s known worse times.

Italy’s public debt is over €1.76 trillion ($2.27 trillion), or 115.8 percent of its gross domestic product, making it Europe’s leading debtor. By comparison, the average public debt of the euro-zone countries comes to 78.7 percent of GDP.

Along with Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, Italy is one of the unfortunately named PIIGS countries — the axis of mismanagement, if you will. It’s an appalling performance for a state that belongs to the exclusive G-8 club of the world’s seven leading industrialized nations and Russia. Rating agencies put Italy on par with such shaky countries as Ireland, Malta and Portugal. Does Italy pose a threat for all of Europe?

Trusting in Italy

Cannata is familiar with the rumors. The bottom line is numbers, though, not words — and how much interest Italy will ultimately have to pay on its debts. Every percentage point reflects a degree of trust, and every 10th of a percent less is a personal triumph for her.

When Cannata had to restructure billions in debts again last April — €9.5 billion to be exact — for a long time it looked as if there weren’t enough buyers for the new government bonds. Some experts advised her to float fewer bonds on the market, to avoid driving down prices. But Cannata stuck to her course and, in the end, got what she wanted. She often negotiates better conditions than Spain, which doesn’t have nearly as much government debt.

Is this an extraordinary ability? Gambling against the trend? Or just a cheap trick? Why, in the midst of the financial crisis, should anyone believe in this country, whose government debt can be partly attributed to Roman nepotism and corruption?

Ongoing Crisis

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 73, is politically weaker than at any other time since his re-election two years ago. For weeks now, his government coalition has appeared paralyzed, bitterly wrangling over a wiretapping law that Berlusconi wants to push through before the summer break, and mired in one bribery and justice scandal after the other. Two ministers have had to retire since May, and now, of all people, Economy Ministry undersecretary Nicola Cosentino has also had to step down amid allegations of mafia contacts and founding a secret society.

When Berlusconi received the “Grande Milano” award last week in Milan for his life’s work, he was praised as a “statesman with rare abilities who leads his country with a clear conscience into the future.” In reality, however, Berlusconi’s political days are numbered. The struggle over his succession is already underway.

Cannata doesn’t talk about politics — she’s not allowed to. She says that Italy has been plagued by an ongoing crisis for the past 20 years — that’s how long the country has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. In 1994, its debt peaked at 121.8 percent of GDP. There was already a lot of talk of action back then — even though there was no global financial crisis at the time — but that didn’t have much of an impact on the amount of debt amassed by the country. Italy continued along the same path.

Ironically, the country’s state of permanent crisis has perhaps had the effect of staving off the worst during the current crisis. It doesn’t have to weather a burst real estate bubble or a construction crisis. Italy didn’t have to bail out any banks, either. The government already had its hands full with its own debts.

Avoiding Others’ Mistakes

While in Spain and Ireland a debt-financed construction boom and dubious deals by investment bankers were generating high growth rates, Italy was busy tinkering with its high government debt. “A more highly regulated banking system offered fewer opportunities to copy the mistakes made by other EU countries,” says Alexander Kockerbeck, an analyst at the US rating agency Moody’s. Italy hasn’t engaged in the excesses of the past few years.

Italy is suddenly seen as the country that has shown its mettle in the crisis by taking the toughest stance, as an expert in debt management.

No country in Europe has been forced to tighten its belt as brutally as Italy. Cannata’s boss, Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, has just enacted draconian cost-cutting measures for his country. He did so against the will of Berlusconi, who has been scoffing at the crisis for months — even promising tax cuts and maintaining that Italy is the richest country in the EU.

The austerity measures aim to save nearly €25 billion by the year 2012, with the main burden being shouldered by municipalities and regions. Its budget deficit amounts to 5.3 percent of GDP, roughly twice as much as in the past, yet remains significantly lower than the European average. The Italians plan for it to drop low enough to meet the Maastricht criteria, which stipulate that a euro-zone member’s budget deficit can not exceed 3 percent of GDP, by the year 2012…

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

Italy: Diplomats Strike in Protest Over Berlusconi Cuts

Rome, 26 July (AKI) — Italy’s diplomats walked off the job on Monday to protest prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s plan to cut civil service salaries and freeze hiring for two years, among other cost reductions that are part of a plan to trim 25 billion euros off the country’s annual budget.

The strike comes one day before Italian ambassadors converge on Rome from all over the world for the country’s annual two day meeting prior to the August vacation period.

The meeting is traditionally attended by the prime minister and president.

Eighty percent of Italy’s foreign service workers participated in Monday’s strike, according to SNDMAE, the union that represents foreign service workers.

Television images of the Farnesina, the Italian foreign ministry, showed an empty parking lot surrounding the vast modern concrete building in Rome.

On 25 June thousands of workers went on strike for a day to protest the austerity cuts that came amid worries about the state of European countries’ finances following Greece’s near debt default earlier this year. The countries judges are among other public sectors that have carried out anti-austerity strikes.

“The cuts can force the system to be more efficient but beyond a certain point it makes you cut back on action and ambition,” Giampiero Massolo, head of Italy’s foreign service, told reporters on Friday. “These cuts hurt moral.”

Berlusconi (photo) aims to pass the budget cuts by the end of this month.

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

Struggling Islamic Bank of Britain is Bailed Out With £20m by Qatar

Islamic Bank of Britain, the country’s largest Shariah bank, was today bailed out by its largest shareholder Qatar.

Qatar International Investment Bank is injecting £20 million of fresh capital through an issue of two billion new shares at just 1p each.

IBB said that without the injection it would not be able “to continue operating as going concern”.

It also said the cash was needed to ensure that it complied with the Financial Services Authority’s capital adequacy rules. Shariah banks in the UK have suffered during the economic downturn and particularly from the slump in the housing market.

Lloyds recently withdrew from the UK market for Shariah loans while HSBC said it sees better growth opportunities in overseas Muslim communities.

IBB, which has some 50,000 customers, saw its losses mount last year from

£5.9 million to £9.5 million. It raised £7.5 million of extra capital in January 2009.

Today it warned that it could be forced to cut back its growth plans and possibly reduce the number of branches and employees.

IBB shares dropped 1.12p to 2.13p on the news.

The bank floated on the stock market in October 2004 when it issued shares at 25p each.

Qatari investors, who are deemed to be acting as concert party, will end up owning just over 88% of the shares up from their current holding of just over 50%.

IBB said it “continues to face challenging trading conditions and continues to review its operating cost base”.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]

Twenty Reasons Why the U.S. Economy is Dying and is Simply Not Going to Recover

Even though the U.S. financial system nearly experienced a total meltdown in late 2008, the truth is that most Americans simply have no idea what is happening to the U.S. economy. Most people seem to think that the nasty little recession that we have just been through is almost over and that we will be experiencing another time of economic growth and prosperity very shortly. But this time around that is not the case. The reality is that we are being sucked into an economic black hole from which the U.S. economy will never fully recover.

The problem is debt. Collectively, the U.S. government, the state governments, corporate America and American consumers have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world. Our massive debt binge has financed our tremendous growth and prosperity over the last couple of decades, but now the day of reckoning is here. And it is going to be painful.

The following are 20 reasons why the U.S. economy is dying and is simply not going to recover:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Caroline Glick: The New, Improved Obama

You have to hand it to US President Barack Obama. He is relentless. Just when you thought he was shifting gears — easing up on Israel and turning his attention to Iran’s nuclear weapons program — he pulls out a zinger.

His recent courtship of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu led some Israelis and supporters of Israel in the US to believe the administration had seen the light. After 18 months, we were told Obama finally realized that contrary to what he had thought, Palestinian statehood is not the most urgent issue in the Middle East, Iran’s nuclear weapons program is.

In the past week alone, two prominent commentators — Aluf Benn from Haaretz and Ehud Ya’ari from Channel 2 both wrote articles claiming that Obama’s Middle East policy has undergone a transformation. As Benn put it, “President Barack Obama’s campaign of wooing Israel reflects a fundamental about-face in US policy in the Middle East.”

And in Ya’ari’s words in an article in the Australian, “The foreign policy team of US President Barack Obama is undertaking a reassessment of its policy all over the Middle East, including Israel.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Dyson: Far-Right Addicted to Paranoia About Race

Georgetown Professor Says Obama Admin. Scared of Tea Party; Cornel West Says Real Race Issue Is Poverty

(CBS) Sensational accusations of racism propagated by the far-right are depriving America of the chance to talk about more substantial issues like poverty and education, prominent racial scholars said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“The Obama administration has been intimidated by the far-right wing, which is addicted to a kind of paranoia of race that then leads to paralyzing racial conversation,” Rev. Michael Eric Dyson, a professor of sociology at Georgetown University and an author of many books on African-American issues, said. “There’s no word from the White House that’s positive about the issue of race.”

The debate over the Shirley Sherrod controversy — in which the former Agriculture Department official was forced to resign after conservative blogger Andrew Breibart posted an out-of-context video of her commenting on race — is distracting from high joblessness among young black adults and a disproportionate number of African-Americans in prison…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

From the White House to the Big House: 25 Impeachable Crimes and Counting

Last week Rep. Michelle Bachmann was asked what Republicans had in mind should they retake the House of Representatives this November, she replied “I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another and expose all the nonsense that is going on.”

Considering the sheer volume of illegal and impeachable offences committed by Obama and his cohorts over the past couple of years, the House will be very busy indeed.

Putting aside Obama’s inept leadership, weakening of our national defenses and transparent attempt to socialize our great nation, there are a number of more practical crimes that once investigated could lead to Obama’s impeachment and perhaps even his well deserved imprisonment.

25 Obama Crimes the House Should Investigate in 2011

1. Convicted felon and Chicago real estate developer Tony Rezko’s purchase of land adjacent to Obama’s house in Hyde Park, IL. In 2006, Rezko sold a 10 foot strip of his property to Obama for $104,500, rendering the remainder of Rezko’s $625,000 investment too small to be developed and, for all intents and purposes, worthless. 2. The provision of Obama campaign donor lists to ACORN in 2007 and 2008, more complete than the ones he provided to the FEC. ACORN used the lists to raise money for Obama’s election from donors who had already maxed out their legally allowable contributions. 3. Widespread voter fraud including voter intimidation, ballot stuffing, falsified documents, and threats of violence against Hillary Clinton supporters committed by the Obama campaign and ACORN during the 2008 Democrat primary election. For more information see my CFP article How Obama Used an Army of Thugs to Steal the 2008 Democratic Party Nomination.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gulf of Mexico Oil Slick Appears to Vanish Quickly

The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected, a piece of good news that raises tricky new questions about how fast the government should scale back its response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the April 20 oil rig explosion are largely gone, though there continue to be sightings of tar balls and emulsified oil here and there.

Reporters flying over the area Sunday spotted only a few patches of sheen and an occasional streak of thicker oil, and radar images taken since then suggest that these few remaining patches are quickly breaking down in the warm surface waters of the gulf.

[Return to headlines]

Maryland Synagogue Spray Painted With Swastikas

…Swastikas were spray-painted across the entire building and sidewalk and German references to the Holocaust were found on lampposts even parking spots.

“The words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei,’ which translate to ‘work will set you free,’“ said Rabbi Ari Sunshine. “Those are the words that are written above the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp.”

“The remarks about Jews, the German writing, this was done by someone who knew German or was copying it from something,” said synagogue member Elaine Senter. “I don’t think it was done by kids. It just was too perfect.”

Rabbi Sunshine believes the vandalism happened sometime overnight. Montgomery County police are investigating more than a dozen different slogans and symbols as a hate crime, including change found at the door, which Rabbi Sunshine believes insinuates Jews are money hungry.

As hurtful as the images and words are, the rabbi said, he decided not to have them painted over early Monday morning. He wanted his congregation and members of the community to see what happened to try to use the act of hate to bring the community together.


Also in Olney, mailboxes of two residences in the 18500 block of Rolling Acres Way were spray-painted red. Several swastikas, the symbol “14/88,” and the symbol “SS” were spray-painted on the yards and trees at those residences…

[Return to headlines]

Maryland and D.C. Storm Aftermath

The lights are back on for 280,000 Pepco and Baltimore Gas and Electric customers, but another roughly 140,000 still remain without electricity after Sunday’s powerful storms.

Pepco is working to restore more than 133,000 outages, most of which are in Montgomery County.

“I know you are frustrated. We’re frustrated as well. This was a major, major event,” says Pepco spokesman David Morehead.


“I expect that we will have the majority of people back up fairly soon. By fairly soon, I mean the next day or so.

“The rest could go into the end of the week. I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

At the height of the storm, Pepco had 304,000 customers without electricity. Morehead says about 160,000 have had their electricity restored. BGE says it’s restored more than 120,000 customers.

The region hasn’t seen an outage of this magnitude since Hurricane Isabel in 2003 when some customers went a week or more without power…


Crews from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Delaware are assisting local power companies to make needed repairs 24/7…

[Return to headlines]

Rep. Barney Frank Causes Scene Demanding Discount

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank caused a scene when he demanded a $1 senior discount on his ferry fare to Fire Island’s popular gay haunt, The Pines, last Friday. Frank was turned down by ticket clerks at the dock in Sayville because he didn’t have the required Suffolk County Senior Citizens ID. A witness reports, “Frank made such a drama over the senior rate that I contemplated offering him the dollar to cool down the situation.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlin Politician in Trouble for Inviting Dutch Populist Wilders

CDU politician Rene Stadtkewitz is in trouble with his party for a provocative invitation.

A local Berlin politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives is under fire for inviting Dutch populist Geert Wilders to a meeting on Islam on October 2. Rene Stadtkewitz, who is known for his anti-Islamic views, has refused to cancel the invitation, and now faces eviction from his party’s parliamentary group in the city assembly.

A local Berlin politician is in trouble for inviting Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders, who is known for his provocative positions on Islam and immigration, to a political event in Berlin.

Rene Stadtkewitz, 45, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), looks set to be excluded from the CDU’s parliamentary group in the Berlin city assembly after inviting Wilders to Berlin on October 2 to discuss integration and Islam. He had also discussed founding a branch of Wilders’ Freedom Party in Germany.

Frank Henkel, the CDU’s regional parliamentary group leader, gave Stadtkewitz an ultimatum: Withdraw the invitation by July 26 or face the consequences.

Stadtkewitz refused in an open letter in which he also suggested that the CDU should be doing more to combat Islam politically. Up until now, public debate about the Islamic faith had been “too timid” in Germany, Stadtkewitz wrote. He added that the debate should focus on the defense of freedom and of Christian values, including concerns about “countless young women, who are forced into arranged marriages, enslaved and who sometimes become victims of so-called honor killings.”

‘No Place in Our Party’

Henkel responded Monday by saying that he would propose a motion to exclude Stadtkewitz from the parliamentary group because he had distanced himself from “the goals of the conservatives.”

Henkel said Berlin set a positive example of integration and immigration for the whole of Germany. “There is no place in our party for people who demonize Islam and pass judgment on believers in other religions,” Henkel explained.

The party looks likely to back the motion to exclude Stadtkewitz from the parliamentary group in a vote on September 7. This is not the first time Stadtkewitz has been in trouble for his anti-Islamic views. In 2006, he organized an unsuccessful protest against the building of a mosque in Berlin’s Pankow district — Germany’s far-right National Democratic Party was also involved in the protest.

If the October 2 meeting in Berlin goes ahead, it would be Wilders’ first official appointment in Germany.

In the past, Wilders has declared Islam a fascist ideology, proposed a tax on head scarves, such as those worn by Muslim women and described the Koran as a terrorist book. In 2008 he was denied entry to the United Kingdom when he went there to show a controversial film about Islam.

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

Cameron ‘Anger’ At Slow Pace of Turkish EU Negotiations

David Cameron has promised to “fight” for Turkey’s membership of the European Union, saying he is “angry” at the slow pace of negotiations.

On his first visit as prime minister, he said the country could become a “great European power”, helping build links with the Middle East.

He compared hostility to the membership bid in some parts of the EU with the way the UK’s entry was once regarded.

After his visit to Turkey, Mr Cameron will travel on to India.

He will be joined by a host of British business leaders as he seeks to boost trade links with one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Mr Cameron was expected to agree a new strategic partnership with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during his visit.

‘Frustrating progress’

In a speech at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Mr Cameron said he wanted to “pave the road” for Turkey to join the EU, saying the country was “vital for our economy, vital for our security and vital for our diplomacy”.

A European Union without Turkey at its heart was “not stronger but weaker… not more secure but less… not richer but poorer”.

Cameron values Turkey ties Send us your comments Hewitt: Turkey’s future path Mr Cameron added: “I’m here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU. And to fight for it.”

At a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Cameron suggested the UK would impose provisional restrictions — as with Bulgarians and Romanians after they joined — on the right of Turkish people to live and work in the UK after it joined the EU.

But the rapid rate of Turkey’s economic growth would make any restrictions unncessary in decades to come, he added.

He said: “One of the effects here is that [as] economies grow and become more evolved, the pressure and flow [of people] between countries isn’t so great.”

Referring to former French President General Charles de Gaulle’s efforts to block British membership of the EU’s predecessor, the European Economic Community, in the 1960s, Mr Cameron said in his speech: “We know what it’s like to be shut out of the club. But we also know that these things can change.

“When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a Nato ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan, alongside our European allies, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been.

“My view is clear. I believe it is just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit in the tent.

“So I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy.”

Turkey opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005 but is considered very unlikely to join in the next 10 years, partly because of opposition from countries such as France.

Its refusal to recognise EU member Cyprus, growing support for pro-Islamic parties on the mainland and the treatment of the Kurdish minority in the country all remain potential stumbling blocks.

Since 2005, only 11 out of 35 “negotiating chapters” relating to accession talks have been opened for discussion and only one has been “provisionally closed”.

Regional role

Mr Cameron said those who opposed EU membership were driven by protectionism, narrow nationalism or prejudice.

“Those who wilfully misunderstand Islam, they see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists. They think the problem is Islam itself. And they think the values of Islam can just never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures.”

He said: “All of these arguments are just plain wrong. And as a new government in Britain, I want us to be at the forefront of an international effort to defeat them.”

While praising Turkey’s secular and democratic traditions, Mr Cameron stressed that Turkey must continue to push forward “aggressively” with economic and political reform to maintain momentum towards EU membership.

He said the country had a “unique influence” in helping to build a stable Afghanistan through political and economic co-operation and fostering understanding between Israel and the Arab world.

Mr Cameron said the Israeli inquiry into the attack on the Gaza flotilla had to be swift, transparent and rigorous — and said the situation in the Palestinian territory had to change.

“Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza can not and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp,” he said.

“Hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it’s Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.”

He also delivered a firm message to Iran, against whom Turkey opposes further sanctions, saying there was no other “logic” to Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme than to produce a bomb.

“So we need Turkey’s help now in making it clear to Iran just how serious we are about engaging fully with the international community,” Mr Cameron said.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Cameron Pledges to Support Turkish EU Membership

Ankara, 27 July (AKI) — UK prime minister David Cameron on Tuesday pledged that that he would give strong support for Turkey ‘s membership in the European Union.

“It makes me angry that your progress can be frustrated in the way that it has been,” Cameron said in a speech on a visit to Ankara. “My view is clear. I believe that it’s just wrong to say that Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent.”

“I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy,” Cameron said.

England has supported Turkey’s membership even as other European countries have spoken out against the country’s EU ascension.

Turkey’s drive for membership has been received coldly by some of the bloc’s biggest economic and political powers.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Turkey should have a “privileged partnership” rather than EU membership, while French President Nicolas Sarkozy also opposes Turkey joining the group.

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

David Cameron Urges European Union to Drop ‘Prejudice’ Against Turkey

David Cameron will today demand an end to the anti-Muslim ‘prejudice’ which he claims is blocking Turkey’s membership of the European Union.

In a speech in the Turkish capital of Ankara, he will tell of his “anger” that a country which is a member of the Nato coalition fighting in Afghanistan should be asked to: “guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent”.

He will claim that those who seek to block the incorporation of a Muslim nation into the 27-member EU are misguided and prejudiced. His words are likely to be construed as criticism of France and Germany, which both oppose the country’s membership.

The Prime Minister has embarked on a four-day trip which will also take him to India where, accompanied by a large trade delegation and several members of the Cabinet, he will seek to forge a new relationship based on trade with the emerging Asian powerhouse rather than aid.

In Ankara, he will hold talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish premier, before the two leaders sign an accord setting out plans for future co-operation.

Addressing the EU membership which Britain has supported for years along with nations including Italy and Spain, but which has stalled amid opposition from Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he will tell the Turks: “I will remain your strongest possible advocate for EU membership and for greater influence at the top table of European diplomacy.

“Together, I want us to pave the road from Ankara to Brussels.”

Mr Cameron will attack: “those who wilfully misunderstand Islam” and who “see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists.”

He will also criticise those who view international relations as “polarised” or a clash between eastern and western civilisations. Nations who want to keep Turkey out of the EU for protectionist reasons will also come under attack.

Mr Cameron will say it makes him “angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been.”

“I believe it’s just wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent,” he will add, criticising those who suggest

that the country should pick between the east and the west, saying Turkey was stronger because it had chosen both.

“I’m not asking you to be a different country, to abandon your values, your traditions or your culture.

“But we want you to push forwards aggressively with the EU reforms you’re making.”

Downing Street said that it was a sign of how important Mr Cameron considers the matter that he had chosen to make only his fifth overseas trip since being elected to Turkey.

Mr Cameron will lay a wreath at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey.

In his speech, Mr Cameron will also urge Turkey to “make it clear to Iran just how serious we are about engaging fully with the international community.”

And he will tell the Turks to “remain a friend to Israel” after relations between the two became strained when Israeli troops killed nine Turkish activists on an aid convoy bound for the Gaza Strip.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

EU Foreign Ministers Approve Diplomatic Service

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — EU foreign ministers on Monday (26 July) gave the nod to the overall structure of the Union’s new diplomatic service, paving the way for chief of diplomacy Catherine Ashton to begin making appointments to the service that will employ thousands.

“It is historic to be able to witness the birth, at least at the decision level, of a European diplomacy,” Belgian foreign minister Steven Vanackere, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency, said following the meeting.

Due to be on its feet by 1 December, the service will see Ms Ashton backed up by a secretary general — likely to be France’s ambassador to the US Pierre Vimont — as well as two deputy secretaries general.

Monday’s decision puts to rest a lengthy period of infighting between the EU institutions on the exact balance of power within the diplomatic service but opens the door to a power struggle between member states about who should land which posts within the service.

Ms Ashton is soon expected to announce a series of names for the heads of EU embassies abroad — including to prestigious countries such as China and Brazil. But appointments to key internal posts, such as the secretary general job, can only be made once the European Parliament has agreed new staffing rules, a move expected towards the end of September.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: An Outsized Diplomatic Machine

After long months of negotiations between the European Commission, Parliament and member states, the European External Action Service is set to be operational by fall. It remains to be seen whether the efficiency of its operations will justify its cost and complexity.

Boris Biancheri

The new diplomatic service of the EU will be phased in just as summer ends. Its creation has been marked by difficulties linked to protracted talks between the Commission, the European Council, the Strasbourg Parliament, and of course Lady Ashton, the British baroness named as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy following the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

As always, at the heart of the dealing lies the question of the distribution of power among the various players, who represent the different branches of the EU: How are tasks distributed between the Commission and this new service, notably in the sensitive dossiers concerning development aid and humanitarian projects? How much control will the Parliament have over the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and this new diplomatic service? Who will be responsible for its administration?

Behind the struggle waged by each of the principal actors to defend his or her role and privileges, there remain certain questions on basic principles: the Commission is a supranational organisation, as is the Parliament; conversely, the Council, to which Lady Ashton is attached, is composed of sovereign states. This indirectly creates yet another battlefield for proponents of collective action versus the interests of individual sovereign states.

The final decision is the fruit of a rather torturous process and several compromises: in principle, the political aspects external to EU interests will be the domain of Lady Ashton and her diplomatic personnel, while financial resources will be managed by the Commission. The EEAS will only be allowed to participate in non-financial strategic planning, except at best in the case of monetary instruments earmarked for development projects.

No one expected that the creation of a veritable European diplomatic corps and the definition of its role would happen without clashes, and it is still possible that such a compromise will work. Without a doubt, its structure will be anything but modest, with 6000 to 7000 diplomats coming from community institutions and from the 27 member states. Most will be based in Brussels, while the rest will be spread out in 136 foreign locations, for a total budget of nearly 3 billion euros.

If Europe must have a foreign policy and unified security, the creation of a diplomatic corps which supports and promotes these aims is a natural corollary to the process. In the months following her nomination to the post of High Representative, Lady Ashton has almost exclusively dedicated herself to her role.

At the same time, one can legitimately ask if it is really necessary to urgently create such a costly, complex structure at a time when national budgets have seen drastic cuts. At a time where public opinion is focused on harmonising divergent national interests and stabilising the euro and political objectives within the EU, allowing little consideration for external political policy. At a time when everyone can see that the larger external issues facing the EU, including dealings with Russia, Turkey and the United States, have met with more divergence than agreement. And finally, at a time when it is more than ever necessary to have a concrete sense of reality, one wonders if it is in the EU’s best interests to advance a project whose function and role have yet to be clearly defined.

The Community machine has in the past known the problems of gargantuan bureaucracy, where the desire for prestige mixes with national ambitions: some have already placed their bets on the identity of the future Secretary General of the new European diplomatic corps, which will probably be — Hear, hear! — a Frenchman, the ambassador Vimont, flanked by — and not by chance — a German woman. However, it would be a shame if the first child of the Treaty of Lisbon were not the embryo of a concrete and efficient external policy, but rather just another weighty bureaucracy, the fruit of secret agreements, with no identity of its own.

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

EU: Huge Satellite Poses 150-Year Threat of Space Debris

BREMEN, Germany — In three years, the European Space Agency will become the owner of what is possibly the most dangerous piece of space debris circling the Earth for the next 150 years: the 17,636-pound Envisat Earth observation satellite.

The space agency will take control of the Envisat satellite, which has been extended to 2013 and appears to set records wherever it goes.

Launched in 2002, Envisat was the biggest non-military Earth observation satellite ever built. At $2.9 billion in today’s dollars, it is one of the most expensive. Its mission is viewed as a success by its users, all the more so insofar as the original five-year mission has been stretched to 11 years.

And now, once in retirement and in a near-polar orbit at 486 miles (782.4 km) in altitude, Envisat will become what space debris experts say is a huge problem that will not go away for about 150 years. That is how long it will take for Envisat, given its orbit and its area-to-mass ratio, to be gradually pulled into the Earth’s atmosphere…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Diplomat to Head EU Intelligence Agency

(BRUSSELS) — French diplomat Patrice Bergamini will head the European Union’s intelligence agency, replacing Britain’s William Shapcott atop an office observers see as a potential “European CIA,” a diplomat said Tuesday.

Bergamini, 40, a specialist in defence and security matters, works in the cabinet of EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton, who named him to head the Joint Situation Centre, said the diplomat who requested anonymity.

The agency, known as SitCen, had been headed by Shapcott since it was launched in 2001.

The agency is now part of the European External Action Service, the 27-nation bloc’s diplomatic corps headed by Ashton which was formally launched on Monday…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Need More Turks in Office

Lawyer-by-training and German by naturalisation Özkan also sees German courts as an “alien authority” and would like to see more Turks in that office.

Now Özkan is about to introduce a “Media Charter” for Lower Saxony. During a collective act on August 16 in Hannover, the invited media representatives are supposed to sign this so-called “Media Charter Integration”. The written invitation says that the collective declaration of intent is supposed to generate a publicity effect and all undersigned will have to pledge themselves to “strongly support the integration process in Lower Saxony”.

Özkan’s ministry asks the media to declare in writing to increase reporting about circumstances and challenges connected to integration, to use “culturally sensitive” language doing so, to further “intercultural openness (which is, of course, humbug, because the term “intercultural” does not imply a one-way-street and don’t we all know the “intercultural openness” of Muslims towards the West), to improve their “intercultural competence” (ditto), to initiate relevant projects and to cover them as journalists.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Jolie and Pitt Buy $40mln Villa Near City of Romeo and Juliette

Verona, 26 July (AKI) — Hollywood superstar couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie spent $40 million (31 million euros) for a villa near Verona, the same city where William Shakespeare’s tragic teenage couple Romeo Montague and Juliette Capulet took their lives rather than sacrifice their love for the sake of their fueding families.

The 2,000 metre, 16-room villa in the style of 16th century Venetian architect Andrea Palladian is located in the Valpolicella hills northwest of Verona, according to Italian news reports.

The couple choose the villa after looking at two other properties — for sale for 10 million euros and 8 million euros — in the same area.

The area in the Veneto region is famous for its red marble and Amarone red wine.

Brangelina pal George Clooney has a villa on Lake Como near Milan in Italy’s north west.

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

Man Jailed for Muslim Veil Attack

A man who ripped a veil from a Muslim woman’s face as she walked though Glasgow has been jailed for two years.

William Baikie, 26, admitted racially assaulting 26-year-old Anwar Alqahtani by forcibly removing her niqab in the city’s Hope Street on 27 April.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard how Baikie, who has previous convictions for racist behaviour, ran off but was later identified through CCTV footage.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Lindsay Wood branded the assault “shameful”.

The court heard how Ms Alqahtani had come to Scotland from Saudi Arabia to study a masters degree.

‘Absolute disgrace’

The 26-year-old, who wears the niqab to protect her modesty as part of her religion, was attacked as she walked to get a train from Central Station.

The force of Baikie’s actions damaged Ms Alqahtani’s niqab and she had to find another item of clothing to cover her.

Sentencing Baikie, Sheriff Lindsay Wood told him that what he did was an “absolute disgrace”.

He said: “The offence you committed was a shameful one.

“You are a man who has a number of racist convictions and you knew full well how offensive the act would have been to the lady.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: 82-Year-Old Faces Jail for Growing Marijuana

An 82-year-old woman and her 44-year-old son face two years in jail for growing marijuana worth €1m at their home in Maastricht, the Telegraaf reports on Tuesday.

Police were tipped off that the duo had converted the garage and one bedroom of their home into professional plantations.

During their trial on Monday, the woman, known as Madeleine H, said they began cultivating marijuana after her son got into financial difficulty seven years ago.

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

Özdemir: Europe Should Build Its Own Islamic Culture

A Belgian deputy of Turkish origin in the Brussels Regional Parliament has defined the absence of an Islamic culture containing European elements as one of the main causes triggering xenophobia and Islamophobia, especially against the Muslim minority living in Europe, and has urged European authorities to take steps towards building up a European Islam which she thinks will accelerate the integration of Muslim immigrants in Europe.

A Belgian deputy of Turkish origin in the Brussels Regional Parliament has defined the absence of an Islamic culture containing European elements as one of the main causes triggering xenophobia and Islamophobia, especially against the Muslim minority living in Europe, and has urged European authorities to take steps towards building up a European Islam which she thinks will accelerate the integration of Muslim immigrants in Europe.

According to Mahinur Özdemir, the most effective way to tackle religious radicalism in Europe and to fight extremism is to create a European Islam.

“That would also pave the way for non-Muslim Europeans to have a closer look at Islam and get to know European Muslims better,” Özdemir told Today’s Zaman in an exclusive interview.

She also expressed her hope that such an initiative accompanied by the expansion of tolerance in Europe would decrease the risk of religious confrontation “because it would result in providing people who have prejudices against Islam with a greater knowledge of the subject,” she emphasized.

Özdemir underlined that just as Islamic principles have been introduced into different societies, some cultural aspects of these societies which do not contradict the basic pillars of the religion have also had an effect on how Muslims interpret Islam.

The Turkish-Belgian deputy maintained that a European Islam would definitely help European decision-makers and facilitate the integration process of immigrants, most of whom are Muslim, into European society.

“It will be more beneficial for Europe to have an Islam with a European approach rather than a Moroccan or Algerian-oriented Islam or an extremist view of Islam that creates the opportunity for radical organizations to attract more interest,” she said.

A Belgian Muslim of Turkish origin, Özdemir said that she has encountered many Christian deputies in parliament who are keen to find answers to their questions on Islam and has had several conversations with her non-Muslim colleagues on the matter. “As a devout Muslim, which is visible because of my headscarf, they ask me questions about Islam,” she said, defining these conversations as a humble platform for cultural and religious dialog.

Özdemir was the first headscarved deputy of any of the parliaments in Europe and was elected to the Brussels regional capital parliament in June 2009, an event which kicked off a controversial debate on secularism, the Muslim minority’s political rights and the political engagement of European Turks.

Özdemir, the youngest member of the Brussels Regional Parliament, complained about the Turkish media’s increased interest in her after the election and said she does not want to appear in the news just because she wears a headscarf. “The media showed great interest in my election. It was unprecedented that at the opening of parliament, there were more reporters than deputies. This was because of my headscarf, and it is disturbing because I want to be mentioned for my work in parliament,” she said.

The young politician voiced her criticism to Belgian reporters for not accepting her as a Belgian citizen. “At my inaugural ceremony, some of the local reporters in attendance told me that the headscarf is banned in ‘your country,’ referring to the headscarf ban in Turkish universities and Parliament. They were surprised when I told them my country is Belgium.

This is my country.” She highlighted the inconsistency of European attitudes towards Turkey, arguing that most of the European secularists applauded the country’s critical stance on the headscarf; however, they also accuse Turkey of not being a democratic country, although secularism and democracy are not separate things.

Commenting on the headscarf ban in Turkey’s universities she noted that for her the ban is not ethical. “The headscarf cannot prevent people from enjoying a human right — access to education. I hope this problem will be resolved as soon as possible,” she said.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

PM Cameron: Paving the Road From Ankara to Brussels

by Diana West

The argument over whether to admit Turkey to the European Union seems eternal, at least among EU elites. Among the peoples of of Europe, when give the rare chance to make their will known at the ballot box — increasingly window-dressing as far as the soft totalitarians of the EU are concerned — there is little argument. There is bona fide consensus: NO to Turkey becoming a part of Europe. Why? For one thing, because it is not.

Tell that to British Prime Minister David Cameron, currently in Ankara selling the inclusiveness-for-Turkey-line (something the US has quite meddlesomely clamored for), pushing Tukish membership in the EU as an antidote to “anti-Muslim prejudice.” Such prejudice is typically portrayed as being based in a senseless bias rather than in a historically grounded, contemporarily confirmed fear for the obliteration of bedrock Western values and principles.

As I noted back in 2005, the inclusion of Turkey is a political move with more than political consequences: Demographically alone, it promises to apply, or, rather, accelerate the finishing touches on the Islamization of Europe:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Poland’s Ambassador to Switzerland Says There Are Good Reasons to Continue Payments to Boost Economic Development in the New European Union Countries.

Jaroslaw Starzyk said the funds paid by the EU Cohesion Fund — and independently by Switzerland — are needed to ensure stability and prosperity throughout the European continent.

The statement in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper comes amid speculation that non-EU member Switzerland is expected to contribute a further SFr1.6 billion ($1.5 billion) towards countries, including Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the three Baltic Republics.

Starzyk said the so called cohesion payments were also in the interest of other countries to develop the economies of central and eastern Europe.

He rejected allegations by Swiss companies that they were not granted contracts for projects in Poland.

Switzerland has been paying SFr1.25 billion towards projects in eastern European countries, mostly in Poland and Hungary, between 2007 and 2012, following a nationwide vote in 2006.

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

Regions Making Themselves Heard

The International Court of Justice’s decision to uphold Kosovo’s declaration of independence will rekindle debate on the future of European regions with strong identities. On 24 July, the Romanian Vice-President of the European Parliament Laszlo Tökes called for autonomous status for Transylvania. And in Brussels, more than 300 regional delegations are lobbying to protect the interests of sub-national entities across the continent.

Ovidiu Nahoi

Does the former Institut Pasteur in Brussels ring any bells? Most people have not heard of it. The small palace, which is only a short walk from the city’s European Quarter, is not mentioned in any of the guides to the Belgian capital. Then again the organisation that is headquartered there is not really involved in the promotion of tourism, at least not in Brussels.

The historic building is home to the Bavarian Representation, or to give it its full title, the Representation of the Free State of Bavaria to the European Union. What you may wonder is the role of this representation which was established in 1994. The short answer to that question is that it lobbies European institutions to promote Bavarian interests, whether they be in car manufacturing (i.e. on behalf of BMW), or agriculture (for example on behalf of livestock farmers).

Romanian regions have a low profile in Brussels

If you are unfamiliar with regional lobbying, you might be tempted to think that the Bavarian delegation is something of an exception, but in fact it is by no means unusual in Brussels which is home to 300 such representations, which function as embassies for regions as diverse as Scotland, Catalonia, Veneto, and the Hungarian region of Transdanubia. And all of these organisations send money home in different forms, which improve the lives of citizens in their particular territories. Brussels is the world’s largest negotiating table, and as it is in other fields, one of the recipes for success in negotiations is “Think global and act local.”

Romanian regions do not maintain this level of presence in Brussels, though in recent years we have seen the timid emergence of a few of regional offices. But as a rule these tend to lack the essential quality which makes regional politics tick: motivation. They do not have local patriotism of the kind that impels a guest-house owner in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to announce that he is first and foremost a Bavarian.

Populist sparring between Tökes and Basescu

As Romanians, we have to content ourselves with regional representation in the European capital that is limited to a handful of officials with a brief to lobby on behalf of odd groups of counties that were arbitrarily linked together under Ceausescu and later designated as development regions. Unfortunately, we have yet to overcome a ridiculous national complex that prevents us from recognizing the existence of strong regional identities.

Worse still, in Romania one of the side effects of the International Court of Justice’s ruling on the independence of Kosovo will be to further postpone honest debate on the future of regions, and the amplification of the hysteria that surrounds this issue. And that is how we should interpret the populist sparring between European Parliament Vice-President Laszlo Tökes and Romanian President Traian Basescu on the theme of the autonomy of Transylvania (a region with a Hungarian speaking majority), which was greeted by an ironic or perhaps a self-satisfied smile from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the 24 July colloquium on Central Europe. In the meantime, the hundreds of regional representations in Brussels continue to work hard to obtain definite goals. And the results of their efforts are clearly visible.

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

Reversal: Czechs to Build New Nuclear Reactors

Prague — The Greens did not manage to pass the 5 percent threshold in the late May legislative elections, which means there is virtually no opposition in the Lower Chamber of the Czech Parliament against plans on nuclear energy build-ups in the Czech Republic.

This means that the center-right coalition can easily implement its nuclear energy program, which includes building new reactors in the Temelín nuclear plant and modernizing the Dukovany nuclear plant.

“We are going to support the nuclear program,” Environment Minister Pavel Drobil from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the main government party, said when he was presenting his policy objectives. His pro-nuclear stance makes him an exact opposite of his predecessor in the minister’s post, Martin Bursík from the Greens.

It was precisely the Green Party that, as a member of the coalition that ruled the Czech Republic in 2006-2009, forced the government of PM Mirek Topolánek (ODS) to declare that it would not build any new nuclear power plants.

Now, the coalition consisting of the ODS, conservative TOP 09 and centrist Public Affairs gives nuclear energy a green light. In addition, even the opposition left-wing parties, the Social Democrats and Communists, are in favor of the modernization of Temelín and Dukovany.

Czech energy giant CEZ, which operates both nuclear plants, is thus one of the biggest winners of the late May legislative elections — they gave birth to a government friendly to its interests.

However, CEZ will have to make its peace with the fact that the expansion of Temelín will be closely observed by the government’s deputy for energy security Václav Bartuška, appointed by the previous caretaker government of PM Jirí Fischer (2009-2010).

In two years, CEZ wants to select the main contractor and start the construction of the new blocks of the Temelín plant.

CEZ argues that the energy produced by Temelín will compensate for the gradual downgrade of the brown-coal power plants.

Global trend

The expansion of Temelín is in accord with the global trend that favors nuclear energy. Or, at least according to the Nuclear Energy Technology Roadmap study published by the International Energy Agency and OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

The study, quoted by President of Czech Nuclear Society Václav Hanus, estimates that in 40 years, the global nuclear energy production will triplicate.

“Nuclear energy is the strongest and most successful advantage in efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” said Hanus, quoting the study.

“Nuclear pig in a poke”

On the other hand, the environmentalist organizations Calla and Hnutí Duha (Rainbow Movement) call the expansion of Temelín a “nuclear pig in a poke”. They argue there is no independent economic study that would compare the reconstruction plan with a project of savings and renewable resources utilization.

“The cost of a reactor in Olkiluoto, Finland, increased from three to 5.3 billion euro, the costs of a project being prepared in Belene, Bulgaria, increased in a similar manner from 2.5 to nine billion euro,” the organizations warned.

The organizations also reminded that the construction of the first two reactors of Temelín in the 1990s was much more expensive than anticipated. When the first bloc was finally launched 10 years ago, the total costs equaled CZK 100 billion (EUR 4 billion).

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

Sweden: Young Girl Raped by Stranger in Stockholm

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward on Tuesday after an eight-year-old girl was raped by a stranger in a Stockholm suburb.

The girl was attacked in a forest in Sollentuna, to the north of the capital, at around 2pm on Tuesday.

“The girl was lured into a car and driven to the Sjöberg area where he raped her,” said Diana Sundin, spokeswoman for Stockholm police.

Following the attack, the girl ran home and told her parents what had happened. She was undergoing a hospital examination on Tuesday afternoon.

Police are asking for witnesses who saw the man, who was driving a dark-coloured car.

“We don’t want to release a description at the moment, as this is information from a small child,” Sundin said.

The man’s approach to the girl differed substantially to the methods used by a paedophile who has molested some twenty children in Stockholm over the past year, and who has so far not been caught.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey Must Join EU, Says Cameron: ‘Those Who Are Against Are Playing on Fears of Islam’

David Cameron today accused critics of Turkey’s membership of the EU of playing on fears of Islam — as he pledged to ‘pave the road from Ankara to Brussels’.

In a speech in the Turkish capital the Prime Minister promised to ‘fight’ to help the Islamic state achieve its 50-year goal of EU membership.

He said that, by embracing the moderate Muslim nation, the EU can improve relations with the rest of the Islamic world.

And he hit out at those who ‘wilfully misunderstand Islam’ in order to oppose Turkey’s membership.

He said: ‘They see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists.

‘They think the values of Islam can never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures.

‘All these arguments are just plain wrong. I want us to be at the forefront of an international effort to defeat them.’

Mr Cameron’s words put him at odds with France, Germany and Tory Right-wingers who believe Turkey may be incompatible with the EU.

EU countries are in a position to use their veto to block a move for Turkish accession. But they are now coming under pressure from the U.S. as well as Britain.

The Prime Minister hit out at ‘protectionists’ who see Turkey as an ‘economic threat’.

And he criticised those who see the world as a ‘clash of civilisations’ in which Turkey must choose sides.

Turkey has been trying to join the EU for more than half a century and formally applied in 1987.

Negotiations on entry began in 2005, but have stalled because of resistance from France and Germany, which are pressing for a lesser ‘privileged partnership’ deal.

Critics in Britain have warned that Turkey’s entry will provoke an influx of immigrants flocking to the UK.

Mr Cameron pledged to become the country’s ‘strongest possible advocate’.

He said: ‘I’m here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU. And fight for it.’

Many are sceptical about the capacity of the EU to absorb a nation of 72million, two-thirds of under the age of 35, and with a GDP per head of less than half the European average.

Population projections suggest Turkey would overtake Germany to become the biggest state in Europe by 2020.

Many are also concerned about the prospect of an Islamic state joining the mainly Christian EU.

But Mr Cameron pointed to Turkey’s support for Western efforts in Afghanistan and its moderating influence in the Middle East.

He highlighted economic forecasts suggesting Turkey is set to become one of the world’s biggest economies.

Mr Cameron also plans to kickstart a special relationship with India with a visit to the country later this week.

Five members of the Cabinet, two ministers of state and more than 50 FTSE chief executives will begin a mission to drum up trade and diplomatic relations with the nation.

Mr Cameron will be joined by Chancellor George Osborne, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Mr Osborne said: ‘India matters, its economy is growing at three times the speed of ours.

‘That’s why this week David Cameron will lead the strongest British delegation to visit India in modern times.’

One of the first deals of the trip is expected to be a £500million deal for BAE Systems to supply Hawk jets to India.

           — Hat tip: DT[Return to headlines]

UK: Gel That Can Help Decayed Teeth Grow Back Could End Fillings

A gel that can help decayed teeth grow back in just weeks may mean an end to fillings.

The gel, which is being developed by scientists in France, works by prompting cells in teeth to start multiplying. They then form healthy new tooth tissue that gradually replaces what has been lost to decay.

Researchers say in lab studies it took just four weeks to restore teeth back to their original healthy state. The gel contains melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or MSH.

We produce this in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized gland just behind the bridge of the nose.

MSH is already known to play an important part in determining skin colour — the more you have, the darker your flesh tone.

But recent studies suggest MSH may also play a crucial role in stimulating bone regeneration.

As bone and teeth are very similar in their structure, a team of scientists at the National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris tested if the hormone could stimulate tooth growth.

Their findings, published in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano, could signal hurtnot just an end to fillings, but the dreaded dentist drill as well. Tooth decay is a major public health problem in Britain. Around £45m a year is spent treating decayed teeth and by the age of 15, teenagers have had an average of 2.5 teeth filled or removed.

Decay is caused by bacteria, called streptococcus mutans, that live in the mouth and feed on sugar in the diet. Once the bacteria stick to the enamel, they trigger a process called demineralisation — they turn sugar in the diet into a harmful acid that starts to create holes in the teeth.

For decades, the main treatment for cavities has been to ‘drill and fill’. However, an estimated one in five Britons suffers from dental phobia, a fear of dentists which means some would rather endure pain and suffering than face the prospect of having their teeth drilled.

The new treatment is painless. And although fillings halt decay, they can come loose and sometimes need refilling.

Experts believe new tooth cells would be stronger and a permanent solution.

The French team mixed MSH with a chemical called poly-L-glutamic acid. This is a substance often used to transport drugs inside the body because it can survive the harsh environments, such as the stomach, that might destroy medicines before they get a chance to work.

The mixture was then turned into a gel and rubbed on to cells, called dental pulp fibroblasts, taken from extracted human teeth. These cells are the kind that help new tooth tissue to grow.

But until now there has been no way of ‘switching’ them back on once they have been destroyed by dental decay. The researchers found the gel triggered the growth of new cells and also helped with adhesion — the process by which new dental cells ‘lock’ together.

This is important because it produces strong tooth pulp and enamel which could make the decayed tooth as good as new.

In a separate experiment, the French scientists applied the gel to the teeth of mice with dental cavities. In just one month, the cavities had disappeared. The gel is still undergoing testing but could be available for use within three to five years.

Professor Damien Walmsley, the British Dental Association’s scientific adviser, said the gel could be an interesting new development, but stressed it is unlikely to be able to repair teeth that have been extensively damaged by decay.

‘There are a lot of exciting developments in this field, of which this is one,’ he said. ‘It looks promising, but we will have to wait for the results to come back from clinical trials and its use will be restricted to treating small areas of dental decay.’

Scientists have developed a ‘tongue’ gel as part of a new approach to tackling bad breath and preventing tooth decay.

Halitosis is usually caused by bacteria in the mouth. The latest treatment, developed by Meridol, takes a mechanical and chemical approach. It consists of a tongue scraper, gel and mouth wash.

The extra-flat tongue cleaner is used to scrape bacteria off the tongue. The tongue gel and mouthwash are anti-bacterial and contain chemicals that attach themselves to odour-producing compounds, which are then flushed out with the mouthwash. Both gel and mouthwash contain fluoride.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Jeremy Clarkson Outrages Viewers by Announcing on Top Gear He’d Seen Saucy Underwear Beneath Muslim Woman’s Burka

Jeremy Clarkson has joined the debate on whether burkas should be permitted in Britain in his own inimitable style.

The outspoken presenter provoked a flurry of complaints after telling viewers of Top Gear on Sunday night that he had seen a Muslim woman wearing saucy underwear beneath her gown.

Clarkson had been discussing the best way to stop drivers being distracted by female pedestrians, along with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Motorist Who Killed Trainee Barrister Walks From Court After Judge Hears Victim Was on Mobile Phone as She Crossed the Road

The green man was still flashing when Victoria Johnson stepped on to the pedestrian crossing and was hit by a motorist.

But although the trainee barrister never regained consciousness, driver Foysal Ali — who was travelling at 37mph in the 30mph zone — has escaped jail because Miss Johnson was on her phone at the time.

Police had told the court that a smashed handset found at the scene was not hers. However, a witness said Miss Johnson, 23, was chatting on her mobile as she crossed the road.

And when Judge Alan Pardoe sentenced Ali, who was convicted of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving after an eight-day trial, he suggested the victim’s phone use meant she was partly at fault.

Yesterday, he allowed Ali, who has a series of convictions, to walk free after suspending his 12-month jail sentence for two years. He ordered him to carry out 250 hours’ community service, and disqualified him from driving for a year.

The judge told Ali: ‘Victoria Johnson stepped into the carriageway without looking to her left. If she had, the evidence was that she would seen you very clearly.

‘There’s evidence from a bystander that at the time of entering the carriageway, she was speaking on her mobile phone.’

Prosecutor Paul Raudnitz told the jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court, in East London, that the killer driver had a ‘history of dishonesty’, with previous convictions including shoplifting, deception and theft.

The accident took place in January last year when Miss Johnson, a graduate of Nottingham University — where Ali, by coincidence, was studying for an MA in social work — was on her way home to Bow, East London.

As she went to cross the road outside Mile End Underground station, Ali, 25, was approaching at speed in his Ford Ka.

Mr Raudnitz told the court: ‘Miss Johnson crossed the north side of the highway, came to the pedestrian island in the middle and then made to cross the highway.

‘She had started to cross that part of the road after the green man to pedestrians had begun to flash. Mr Ali hit her while the lights to motorists were still flashing amber.

‘He was unable to warn Miss Johnson of his presence as his horn did not work.’

When Miss Johnson’s life-support machine at the Royal London Hospital was switched off, her organs helped save the lives of eight critically ill patients — including a one-year- old girl who had liver failure.

Ali, of Forest Gate, in East London, said Miss Johnson ‘just came out from nowhere’. He added: ‘Sometimes I’d sit for hours in front of Mile End station to see if I could have done anything differently.

‘I think about her every single day. I see her face all the time.’

Miss Johnson’s father David, 55, of Stradbroke, Suffolk, said it was of some comfort to the family that her organs had helped save lives.

Mr Johnson said: ‘It was something as a family we had talked about.

‘She was a registered donor and eight people benefited.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Record Numbers of Fake £1 Coins Could Force Royal Mail to Scrap Entire Denomination

Record numbers of fake £1 coins in circulation could force the Royal Mint to scrap the entire denomination and reissue it.

There are now about 41million counterfeits, or one in every 36 coins in current use. It is thought that the proportion of fakes has tripled in the last decade.

Experts and MPs said there was now a serious risk that consumer confidence in the coin was becoming compromised.

The figures were published in a Parliamentary answer supplied by Justine Greening, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell.

Mr Rossindell said the number of counterfeits was ‘a genuine matter for concern’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Seven Arrested Over Bournemouth Far-Right Mosque ‘Bomb Plot’

Seven men were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to blow up a Bournemouth mosque.

The men, six of whom are members of the England Defence League, were taken to Poole and Southampton police stations for questioning before being released without charge.

Among those arrested was EDL member John Broomfield, 27, who was pulled from his stationary vehicle after armed police opened fire on his van in Corfe Castle village.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: ‘Dorset Police can confirm that as part of an investigation surrounding threats to a Bournemouth mosque a total of seven people were arrested for conspiracy to cause an explosion.

‘Following an investigation police can now confirm these people have been released without charge.’

He added: ‘One of the people arrested was detained safely by armed officers in the Corfe Castle area.

‘We’ve been working very closely with the Muslim community and our local safer neighbourhood teams have been providing advice and reassurance throughout.

‘At this stage there is no indication whatsoever that any of the mosques in Dorset are under threat of attack.’

Officers had followed Broomfield home from work and waited until he was stuck in traffic in the tourist spot before they pounced.

When his van came to a halt they fired rounds into the tyres.

They then smashed a window and dragged him out in shocking scenes that followed an investigation into alleged plans to blow up a nearby mosque.

The marksmen used special rapid tyre deflation rounds to disable the white Ford Escort van.

Police then swooped on Mr Broomfield’s home in Swanage and seized computer equipment, mobile phones and passports.

Mr Broomfield, the head of the Dorset EDL, said yesterday: ‘While travelling home from work I was stopped and arrested by armed police.

‘I approached a roundabout near Corfe Castle and there were about six cars in front of me.

‘There was an unmarked police car in a lay-by and within seconds of me stopping police appeared from it, ran up the road and shot at my tyres and smashed the window in.

‘It was extremely scary. I was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion at a Bournemouth mosque.’

He continued: ‘Five other members of the EDL were also arrested and held for 24 hours for questioning while searches of their homes took place. Then all of us were released without charge.’

Of the alleged plan to blow up the mosque, he added: ‘There has been no conspiracy, there has never been any conspiracy.

‘The EDL is not a terrorist organisation. We are not anti-Muslim, we are anti-Muslim extremism.’

The EDL has been leading demonstrations against Muslim extremism around England since 2009.

Thousands of people have attended its protests — many of which have involved racist and Islamophobic chanting. Organisers, however, insist it is not a racist organisation.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Unprecedented Police Shake-Up Will See Unpaid Civilians Patrol With Bobbies

In the biggest shake-up of policing for 50 years, ministers want the public to patrol alongside beat bobbies.

They also intend to recruit up to 50,000 extra special constables to flood crime-plagued neighbourhoods with an army of volunteers.

And villages will be protected by a new breed of ‘police reservists’, modelled on part-time firemen and the Territorial Army.

The coalition government yesterday set out plans for communities to ‘reconnect’ with police forces which have disappeared behind their desks, engulfed by a flood of red tape.

But the radical reforms are already being dismissed by Labour as ‘policing on the cheap’ and a fig leaf for cuts in fully sworn officers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mirafiori’s Money Heads for Serbia as Fiat’s Italy-Based Production Shrinks

Fears of “Pomigliano effect” send successor of Musa, Idea and Multipla to Kragujevac

AUBURN HILLS — Fiat’s commitment to Pomigliano is absolute but for now, the Campanian plant is also where the group’s Fabbrica Italia programme for manufacturing in Italy stops. There have been too many stoppages and too many threats, accompanied by foretastes, of “ungovernability in the factories” from the FIOM union.

The upshot is that Fiat’s investment schedule is going ahead as planned: stage two will go into effect immediately, but not in Italy. Production lines for the L-0, the code name for the vehicle that will replace the Musa, Idea and Multipla, were due to open at Mirafiori. Now they will go to Serbia. With them will go the 350 million-euro investment that Sergio Marchionne had intended for Turin but which has now been rerouted to Kragujevac, where Fiat will also have additional funds to give the entire factory a makeover. Not one euro of aid would have been requested from the Italian government. In contrast, the Belgrade authorities have stumped up 250 million euros. Add to that the 400 million euros available from the European investment bank to get the plant off the ground and the total comes to one billion euros. But public money was not the clincher. Belgrade’s offer and access to EIB funds were already in place for the L-0 project when Fiat pencilled in Mirafiori as the manufacturing site. Then came the battle of Pomigliano and FIOM’s ongoing “obstructionism”. For Sergio Marchionne, there is no going back — “We confirm our undertaking with those unions that wish to ensure production of the Panda and will do everything in our power to achieve the 270,000 vehicles planned” — but he has no wish to run risks over anything else.

Speaking to reporters at Auburn Hills as he emerged from the quarterly spin-off board meeting, Mr Marchionne said that the move to Serbia was not “withdrawal from the Fabbrica Italia project”, adding “we will decide on a plant-by-plant basis”. But there is no disguising the fact that the head-to-head clash with FIOM could block Fabbrica Italia (“not because we or the other unions want to”). Investment of 700 million euros is already in place at Pomigliano but the money could go up in smoke if the agreement with the FIM, FISMIC, UIL and UGL unions were to be stymied by low-level workplace conflict. Mr Marchionne is waiting to see how things develop. He wants to sure that he “can, in a year and a half’s time, make 270,000 Pandas without stoppages or interruptions”. This means that: “Until the situation is unblocked with absolute clarity”, the 20 billion-euro investment plan for Italy will be decided step-by-step and factory-by-factory. Mr Marchionne is aware that all this will stoke the flames of an already incandescent situation but, he says, the blame cannot be laid at Fiat’s door. “The debate has been polluted with regard to our intentions and our objectives. Fiat cannot take unnecessary risks with industrial projects. Our survival is at stake”.

That is why a few weeks on, Fiat’s entire executive staff convened at Auburn Hills for the board meeting and decided that Kragujevac, not Mirafiori, was the plant that could guarantee problem-free production of 190,000 L-0s a year without risk of workplace conflict. A second piece of the Fabbrica Italia jigsaw has been lost. As for the others, “We’ll see on a case-by-case basis. We’ll be working at Pomigliano with the unions that have signed up but the model is not replicable. What we need to do to go forward is convince everyone of the absolute need to modernise industrial relations in Italy”. If possible, without political interference (the “pollution” Mr Marchionne referred to).

It is no coincidence that the Serbia move was announced from Auburn Hills and the board meeting that approved an unexpected profit. Crucially, it signals the group’s farewell to the “old Fiat”. As chair John Elkann regularly points out, the spin-off would not have been possible without Chrysler since a fair portion of the value that the split will free up is in Detroit. At the same time, it is tangible proof of just how multinational Fiat is today and throws into relief, with respect to Italy, what can be done if there is a genuine alliance with workers’ representatives. Mr Marchionne likes to cite the United Auto Workers as a model “responsible union”. Now, the UAW points to Mr Marchionne. The Americans wants no part of Pomigliano, the FIOM or Italian squabbles. Cynthya Holland, the UAW representative for the Jefferson plant, merely says: “We realised a year ago it was our last chance. That was why we agreed to the sacrifices. But in exchange, we found genuine, not token, partnership and we are grateful to Sergio and Fiat for this”.

She smiles, because the results of that partnership can already be seen here at Jefferson, Michigan, where they make the new Grand Cherokee Jeep: “On Monday, we started the second shift, which means almost doubling the number of workers with 1,300 new jobs”. Another 1,700 new jobs have been created elsewhere in the group. “And do you know what? It’s not the company on one side and the union on the other. We are one. We are Chrysler. And we are proud of that”.

Raffaella Polato

22 luglio 2010(c) all rights reserved — unauthorized reproduction forbidden

English translation by Giles Watson

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

North Africa

New Office Begins Investigating Lost Property of ME Jews

Pensioners Ministry: Jewish property in Arab countries valued in billions, and is worth 50% more than the property of Palestinian refugees.

A new department set up by Ministry of Pensioners Affairs to manage the legal claims of Israeli Jews of Middle Eastern descent who lost their property when they left countries throughout the region has begun collecting information.

The office will help identify, locate and seek compensation for the assets of the more than one million Jews who came to Israel from Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Syria.

The initiative follows a law approved earlier this year by the Knesset requiring the compensation of Jews from Arab countries and Iran to be included in any peace negotiations.

“The Palestinians have been collecting evidence of their losses for many years,” said Yoni Itzhak, a spokesman for the Pensioners Affairs Ministry.

“So we are not waiting until there is a negotiation for a peace accord. We need to be prepared, so that if there are negotiations and the Palestinians say, ‘We are owed a few billion dollars,’ We will say, ‘OK, no problem,’ and be ready with a much higher figure of what we are owed.”

The ministry says that as of 2007 “the estimated value of Jewish property in Arab countries is 50 percent more than the value of the property of Palestinian refugees and is valued at billions of dollars.” The ministry did not provide specific figures.

Following the establishment of the state, most Muslim states declared or supported war against Israel, and the status of Jews in these countries became threatened.

According to estimates by the United Nations and a number of civil society organizations, during Israel’s first decade about 265,000 Jews left Morocco, 140,000 left Algeria, 135,000 left Iraq, 120,000 left Iran, 103,000 left Tunisia, 75,000 left Egypt, 63,000 left what is now Yemen, 38,000 left Libya, 30,000 left Syria and 5,000 left Lebanon. More than half a million additional Jews have left these countries since.

Most of the emigres headed to Israel, and just a few thousand Jews remain in the Arab world today…

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Archaeologists Find Ancient Hammurabi-Like Law Code in Israel Clay Tablet

Archaeologists have uncovered for the first time in Israel fragments of a law code that resemble portions of the famous Code of Hammurabi.

The code was found on two fragments of a clay tablet, and is between 3,700 and 3,800 years old, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said today in an e-mailed statement.

The fragments “refer to issues of personal injury law relating to slaves and masters, bringing to mind similar laws in the famous Babylonian Hammurabi Code of the 18th century B.C. that were found in what is now Iran over 100 years ago,” the statement said. “The laws also reflect, to a certain extent, biblical laws of the type ‘a tooth for a tooth’.”

The discovery opens an interesting avenue for investigation of a connection between Biblical law and the Code of Hammurabi, according to Wayne Horowitz of the Hebrew University Institute of Archaeology, who is preparing the law code fragments for publication. The style of the text is similar to that of the Hammurabi Code, he said.

The tablet, written in Akkadian cuneiform script, was discovered in Hazor, in the north of Israel. Words that have been deciphered include “master,” “slave” and a word referring to bodily parts, apparently the word for “tooth.”

The two fragments are the 18th and 19th cuneiform finds from the Hazor excavations, which now form the largest body of documents of cuneiform texts found in Israel. Previous documents found dealt with subjects including the dispatch of people or goods, a legal dispute, and a text of multiplication tables.

The Hazor excavations are under the direction of Amnon Ben-Tor and Sharon Zuckerman of the Hebrew University. Previous excavations were directed at the site by Yigael Yadin in the 1950s and 1960s.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Prime Minister in Turkey Takes Out Hard Against Israel

by Jeroen Langelaar [translation by VH]

The British Prime Minister David Cameron during his visit to Ankara, the capital of Turkey, lashed out hard at Israel. He for instance compared the situation in the Gaza Strip with that of a “prison camp”. Cameron’s speech however, was full of praise for Turkey and the Turkish-British relations.

He promised to commit himself “passionately” to Turkey’s accession to the EU. Accession is according to the Conservative leader “vital to our economy, vital to our security and vital to our diplomacy.”

Cameron also took the opportunity to bash Israel. The British government leader called the actions of the Israeli Navy against a boat with Gaza activists in late May — in which nine people were killed — “unacceptable” and demanded a further exhaustive investigation into the incident.

He also compared the situation in the Gaza Strip with that of a “prison camp”. “Let me be clear that the situation in Gaza must change,” Cameron said. “Humanitarian goods and people must in both directions be able to cross the border. Gaza can not and should not be a prison camp.” He did not mentio Hamas.

Cameron did call though, for both Turkey as well as Israel, not let water down the friendship between the two states, which recently had been marred.

Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to Britain, finds the statements of Cameron inappropriate. “People in Gaza are prisoners of the terrorist organization Hamas,” said Prosor. “The situation there is a direct result of Hamas’ rules and priorities.”

[note: no mention by Cameron of Gilad Shalit, who today is 1493 days hostage of Hamas — VH]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Audit: U.S. Can’t Account for $8.7 Billion in Iraqi Cash

BAGHDAD — A U.S. audit has found that the Pentagon cannot account for over 95 percent of $9.1 billion in Iraq reconstruction money, spotlighting Iraqi complaints that there is little to show for the massive funds pumped into their cash-strapped, war-ravaged nation.

The $8.7 billion in question was Iraqi money managed by the Pentagon, not part of the $53 billion that Congress has allocated for rebuilding. It’s cash that Iraq, which relies on volatile oil revenues to fuel its spending, can ill afford to lose.

“Iraq should take legal action to get back this huge amount of money,” said Sabah al-Saedi, chairman of the Parliamentary Integrity Committee. The money “should be spent for rebuilding the country and providing services for this poor nation.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Attacks Octopus Paul

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader, says Paul the Octopus, the sea creature that correctly predicted the outcome of World Cup games, is a symbol of all that is wrong with the western world.

He claims that the octopus is a symbol of decadence and decay among “his enemies”.

Paul, who lives at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre, in Germany, won the hearts of the Spanish by predicting their World Cup victory.

He became an international star after predicting the outcome of all seven German World Cup matches accurately.

However, the Iranian president accused the octopus of spreading “western propaganda and superstition.” Paul was mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a speech in Tehran at the weekend.

“Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values,” he said.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Nepal — Iraq: United States Central Command in Iraq to Repatriate More Than 30,000 Nepali Workers

Nepali workers will have 20 days to go home. The order touches all workers from countries that have a formal ban on travel to Iraq, and that includes Nepal. The goal is to limit illegal human trafficking between South Asia and the Middle East.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) — The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) in Baghdad has ordered the repatriation within 20 days of foreign workers in Iraq whose countries have banned its citizens from entering that country. The decision also includes 30,000 Nepali workers employed in US military bases. The purpose is to stop human trafficking between South Asia and the Middle East.

In 2004, twelve Nepali workers were beheaded by a Sunny militant group, causing Nepali Hindus to retaliate against Nepali Muslims. The government in Kathmandu reacted by banning Nepalis from working in Iraq. However, thousands of them still made it to that country looking for work. Currently, many are employed in menial jobs or are hired as security staff by foreign companies.

According to Nepali police, each migrant pays close to US$ 4,000 to traffickers to get into Iraq.

Despite the dangers, a group of Iraqi-based Nepali workers has set up a committee to press the government to lift the ban.

“We talked to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry and the Labour Ministry to legalise the status of Iraq based Nepali workers,” said Deuman Tamang, a Nepali from Kathmandu who works in an office at US army camp. “But we have not received any response”.

“If the government does not lift the ban, we will lose our job and more importantly, the country, which is largely dependent on remittances, will face grave economic problems,” he warned.

About 40 per cent of the government’s budget depends on money sent home by Nepalis working abroad.

“We are having a discussion on this issue,” Nepal’s Labour Minister Mohamad Aftaf Alam told AsiaNews. “We are positive that if Nepali workers are safe in Iraq, we shall lift the ban.”

However, for him, the real problem lies in the constant traffic of Nepali workers to Iraq via India; a number that is increasing because of the country’s political crisis.

In fact, for over a month, Nepali political leader have failed to find a replacement for Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, who resigned.

Existing divisions between parties do not bode well for a solution any time soon.

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

Saudi Arabia: Growing Condemnation of Illegal “Tourist Marriages”

Saudi men who go abroad, especially to poor countries, for “short term marriages” with local women, argue that in this way they do not commit adultery. But all the major schools of Islamic law deny the legality of such marriages. And there are those who, once unmasked, are forced to always bring their “permanent” wife with them.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) — Condemnation of “tourist marriages” is growing among Saudi Islamic experts, lawyers and doctors, a practice in vogue among Saudi men who, during their foreign trips, undertake “short-term” marriages to women of the country where they are.

The influential Arab News points out that the “ tourist marriages” has been added to the long list of restrictions the Saudi Interior Ministry imposes on different types of marriage to foreign women. In fact, Saudi ‘travellers’ often marry foreign women for weeks, sometimes even hours, during their stay in a foreign country. Officials involved in the celebration of the wedding always demand the presence of two witnesses, but often are unaware of the fixed time periods that the “couples” fix between them. A clause that would, according to the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, render the marriage illegal.

The lawyer Rayan Mufti defines tourist marriages “legalized prostitution”. “These marriages are popular among men who want to commit adultery with licenses. All of the four major schools of Islamic jurisprudence, the Hanafi, the Maliki, the Hanbali and the Shafie, agree that marriages such as these are illegal”.

The Islamic researcher Abdullah al-Jifin states that marriages that have a fixed time are not healthy or legal, under Shariah law. “So-called tourist marriages, which are designed to end after a certain period of time are totally haram (forbidden by Islamic law). “A man — he adds — who travels abroad during the weekend, gets married on Wednesday afternoon and divorced on Friday before getting on the plane back home commits a sin. How can a true marriage last 72 hours? “.

The Saudi ambassador to Yemen Ali Al-Hamdan, defines marriage tourism “legalized fornication” and condemns some permissive fatwa issued by some scholars. “Some young Yemeni — he says — find themselves in these unlawful situations because of their extreme poverty. Then they come to the embassy to ask for help finding their Saudi husband”. The Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Abdul Rahman Khayyat, said that diplomats can not help women if they do not have the necessary documents to prove their marriage to a Saudi man, but try to help abandoned children.

Sometimes, however, the “tourist” gets caught out. Abu Fadi, a 45 year old who often went to Southeast Asia, during one of his trips undertook a short term marriage. But his “short-term” wife sent his “permanent” Saudi wife photos of the wedding. “It ‘s been a terrible experience,” he said. “My wife has forgiven me, provided I would allow her to always accompany me abroad, whether I for work, studies or vacation.”

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

Turkey: Politicization of Law: ‘Sledgehammer Revisited’

Following a press bulletin by the general staff spokesman referring to the innocence of military members who are on trial and saying that they could be promoted, on Friday evening a new arrest order for 102 military officers, some retired and some in office, who would face the court five months later, is a clear-cut picture of how law and politics interlock in Turkey.

The detainees were released previously, but none made an attempt to run away. No evidence had been submitted to the court between the period of their release and of the new arrest order. The arrest order is still issued!

Çetin Dogan was taken under arrest at the Bodrum Airport as he was willing to surrender. This is a visual message of the political decision.

One of the two sides said to the other, “We don’t buy it. We’ll do however we wish to do!”

Any kind of case in connection with the Ergenekon crime-gang suit is turning into a political plea, although each has a legal content at first and even is based on legitimate justifications.

Nobody cares anymore about how battered institutions of law become.

And “arrest orders” and “orders for release,” even transfer of detainees to hospitals for some health reasons, are considered in the public eye as a “score” to one or the other.

I believe the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) case is a fight to eliminate military officers who were among the pro-coup and anti-government wing of the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, in the period of 2003-2004.

Commanders under arrest will not be promoted at the Supreme Military Council, or YAS, meeting this year. The promotion plan, as a result of long years of hard work in the TSK, will turn upside down.

In the meantime, if the lawyers of the 102 defendants have a release order from another court within a few days, they could prevent this liquidation operation to some level.

Don’t be surprised by a new release order!

However, 25 generals and other military officers whose detention was requested by prosecutors will be warned that it will be very difficult for them to continue with critical military tasks. Promotions will only be possible if the TSK manages to resist political authority, even against a certain group in society.

Political authority will intervene in the TSK’s human sources planning by exploiting law. Military personnel, including the next Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner, who will be promoted at the end of Aug., have already been harmed.

Kosaner will have a hard time working with other military men.

I know there were some staunch pro-coup people in the TSK between 2003 and 2004.

I hope they will be punished and those in office will be removed from the military.

However, I believe that every attempt must base on the rule of law.

I react against people believing the law is simply a detail and that the spirit of removal will not be spoil if a few babies are thrown out with the bathwater.

My reaction is for a simple reason:

I may need law some day, and I could be one of those babies who are thrown in the bathwaters with the guilty ones!

I don’t get the plan prepared by 102 military officers to burn down the Fatih Mosque to ashes. If the claim is right, it is better indeed to abolish the TSK and set-up a new one as suggested by Mümtazer Türköne.

But if it is not, then Mümtazer’s gotta do what Mümtazer’s gotta do!

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

Turkey: Is America Losing Ground?

Half a century ago there was a widespread hostility (especially among the young generation who were ignorant about the Second World War years) toward the United States. During the Vietnam War, when leftist ideas were gaining sympathy and power in the western hemisphere, hostility not only toward the U.S. but also toward the American people reached its highest level.

Some European authors became famous when they published books claiming that American capitalism was trying to conquer the European economy and even “defying” all European people in order to halt their increasing sympathy for leftist ideas. It is interesting now to remember how these books became bestsellers in a very short time. (Years later, one of these famous authors published another book confessing that all his analyses were false.)

Like an epidemic, these ideas spread to every country and of course to Turkey. The sympathy for the U.S. which was accepted as a world leader and who supported Turkey against the Soviet threat began to diminish. Street demonstrations became daily incidents with those well known slogans: “Yankee Go Home!,” “The Sixth Fleet, get out!”

Later on, world politics changed. First, the Common Market became the European Union. This eased the “American complex” among Europeans who thought that a united Europe would be another superpower in the foreseeable future. Then the Soviet empire collapsed and Europeans began to think that they did not need America’s protective shield further against the Soviet threat. This was a relief for the European people and a new wave of sympathy for the U.S. was awakened. However after a short time when it was understood that the U.S. had become the only superpower, the old-fashioned allergy against the supremacy of America began to spread once more among Europeans.

But contrary to traditional and historical efforts seen in the past to try to lessen this kind of allergy, the U.S. administration this time seemed to prefer to stay passive or to act even to create an impression that it did not care. As a result, a new sympathy born after 9/11 began to be eroded again.

Suddenly, the elderly began to ask why the American marines did not act like the ones they watched in WWII movies. Youngsters got angry when they learned that “weapons of mass destruction” allegations were a big lie. Ordinary people on the street saw that in spite of all statements, there was no special care for civilians on hostile grounds.

American authorities seem not to look for international cooperation to solve worldwide problems. American diplomats generally prefer to touch only the friendly circles their predecessors recommended but not neutral opinion makers to get sound information. And sometimes they create an impression that they are the super advisors sent by a superpower to humiliate the intelligence of the host country.

For some Americans all these matters might not be very important. At least their country is a superpower which does not need anybody’s sympathy. However, the problems of the world economy and the world politics, bloody wars going on in various parts of the world without indicating any probable end, show that the reality is quite different.

As for every country, for a superpower it is also acceptable that the domestic political, social and economic problems have priority. And nobody can underestimate the importance of the pressure on the American administration because of domestic problems. Even some tactical mistakes of this administration, which sometimes put friendly countries into difficult positions, might be tolerated if the general strategy is correct. However, it must be remembered that accumulated tactical mistakes might destroy that strategy. From history it is known that even a superpower cannot solve all problems, even some domestic problems, without worldwide cooperation. To only listen to the ideas of familiar circles and to underestimate the wisdom of the unfamiliar is not wise.

Real friends must tell the truth they believe in whether they are right or wrong. This does not matter: even a wrong perception gives an idea about the created image. If this image seems unpleasant for a friend, it is not difficult to imagine the negative effects of unfriendly comments.

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


A Russian Milestone: 1st Black Elected to Office

NOVOZAVIDOVO, Russia July 26, 2010, 12:00 am ET

People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare — an honest politician.

Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply a Russian who cares about his hometown.

He promises to revive the impoverished, garbage-strewn town where he has lived for 21 years and raised a family. His plans include reducing rampant drug addiction, cleaning up a polluted lake and delivering heating to homes.

“Novozavidovo is dying,” Sagbo said in an interview in the ramshackle municipal building. “This is my home, my town. We can’t live like this.”

“His skin is black but he is Russian inside,” said Vyacheslav Arakelov, the mayor. “The way he cares about this place, only a Russian can care.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Daily Brief: Blowback From Wikileaks Disclosures Continues

By Katherine Tiedemann, July 27, 2010

Damage control

U.S. officials are reportedly in damage control mode as they seek to limit the impact of the Wikileaks disclosures on the U.S.’s relationship with Pakistan, after Pakistani officials hotly objected to reports that the Pakistani spy service aids the Taliban (NYT, WSJ, AP, ET, Geo, FT, WSJ, McClatchy, Reuters). One senior ISI official reportedly said that if the CIA does not “denounce the suggestions” of ISI-Taliban complicity, the ISI might need to “reexamine its cooperation” (Wash Post). Gen. Hamid Gul, a former ISI chief frequently mentioned in the documents as a link with the Taliban, called the reports “completely baseless” (Times, WSJ).

Current and former intelligence and military officials are concerned about the operational repercussions of the Wikileaks, though the disclosures are not expected to affect the passage of a $60 billion war funding bill currently in the House or drastically change public opinion about the war in Afghanistan (AP, CNN, Wash Post, LAT). White House and Pentagon officials and analysts have emphasized that the documents contained few new revelations, did not generally contradict official assessments of the war, and consisted of mostly low-level material, unlike the Pentagon Papers, to which Wikileaks founder Julian Assange likened this disclosure (Wash Post, CNN, Wash Post).

The U.S. military is on the hunt for the Wikileaker, as some speculate that the Army specialist already awaiting trial for allegedly leaking information about the Iraq war to Wikileaks may be involved (Reuters, Tel, AJE). And Assange said yesterday that 15,000 more documents are currently being reviewed for possible release (Independent).

Resource: the NYT, Britain’s Guardian, and Germany’s Der Spiegel all received advance notice of the Wikileaks disclosures; their full coverage is available here (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel).

Bargaining chips

The AP reports on a video from Col. Imam, the former Pakistani spy kidnapped four months ago by a militant group he said is called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, in which the colonel threatened to reveal the Pakistani government’s “weaknesses” unless it releases the some 160 prisoners demanded by the militants holding him captive (AP). Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami is believed to be an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an anti-Shiite militant organization that has increasingly targeted the Pakistani government. The group is also holding a British journalist, Asad Qureshi (The News).

The bodies of around 20 suspected militants have been found in Khyber in northwest Pakistan following Pakistani military operations there (Dawn). And Emily Wax has a must-read interview with the chief minister of Indian Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, a “third-generation scion of Kashmir’s most famous political family” (Wash Post).

Mixed accounts

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials have alleged that 52 Afghan civilians were killed on Friday in the Rigi village of Sangin, a district in the southern province of Helmand, in a NATO airstrike, which the alliance disputes (NYT, AP, AFP, BBC, LAT, Bloomberg, CNN). If the Afghan government’s account is true, it would be the highest number of civilians killed since September 2009.

Justin McNeley, one of the two U.S. Navy personnel kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s eastern Logar province last week, has been confirmed dead and his body recovered, after the Taliban claimed to have killed him because he resisted arrest (AP, LAT, Pajhwok, AJE, AFP). NATO has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the location of the surviving sailor, and the search continues.

U.S. authorities have arrested two U.S. former soldiers and suspended two Afghan trucking companies from doing business with the U.S. government for at least 18 months because of allegations that the companies helped the soldiers steal $1.6 million in fuel from a base in Logar (WSJ, AP). The two ex-soldiers, who were discharged, were allegedly caught with some $400,000 in cash and have been charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government property; authorities don’t know what happened to the stolen fuel.

           — Hat tip: Pundita[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Support for Sharia Drops by 10 Per Cent in Indonesia

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country. The mayors of Bekasi and Tangerang continue to demand the implementation of Sharia. However, just over one third of people in a recent survey agrees; that is 10 per cent lower than a year ago. In March, only 32 per cent was in favour of chopping off the hands of thieves or whipping adulterers to death.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Support for Sharia has dropped in Indonesia. When asked whether “Sharia should be introduced in my area”, the number of respondents in favour of the proposition declined from 43 per cent to 36 per cent between April 2009 and March 2010. The results are taken from a survey conducted by Roy Morgan Single Source, a highly respected Australian-based public opinion poll firm. The findings reflect the views of over 85 per cent of the population, 14 years of age and older.

These results contradict statements made by the mayors of Bekasi and Tangerang, who are in favour of the implementation of Islamic law, arguing that it is the will of the people who elected them. However, in Bekasi, only 42 per cent agrees with the mayor, whilst in Tangerang, support stands at 38 per cent.

Looking more closely, support for Sharia is even lower on specific issues. In March 2010, it dropped to 32 from 38 per cent from a year earlier as regards to cutting off the hands of thieves and publicly whipping adulterers to death.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation in the world. About 86 per cent of its 230 million people are Muslim; Catholics represent only 3 per cent.

For the past several years, Muslim extremists have targeted Christians in violent attacks.

Since the start of 2010, Muslim radicals in the city of Bekasi have disrupted Christian religious services, prevented Christians from holding Mass, destroyed Christian places of worship and stopped the construction of new churches.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Chinese Search for Ming Shipwreck Off Kenyan Coast

Chinese archaeologists are due to begin searching for the remains of a Chinese ship believed to have sunk off the Kenyan coast 600 years ago.

The shipwreck could provide evidence of the first contact between China and east Africa.

The three-year project will search in northern Kenyan coastal waters off Lamu island and Malindi.

The joint initiative by China and Kenya comes after porcelain from China’s Ming dynasty was found in the area.

Eleven experts will excavate key sites on land, ahead of the arrival of the maritime team in August.

The ship is believed to have sailed during China’s Ming dynasty as part of a fleet led by Adm Zheng He, who reached Malindi in 1418.

Half a century before Columbus, Adm Zheng is said to have commanded huge expeditions in an effort to increase recognition and trade for Ming rule, which began in 1368.

‘Sultan’s village’

Herman Kiriama, Kenya’s head of coastal archaeology, said he hoped the project would make some important findings about early relations between China and Africa.

“It will be a big achievement because it will tell us a lot about what happened in the Indian Ocean before the European powers — Spain, Portugal — started their trading routes to India,” he told the BBC.

“We have a lot of mixed Chinese pots dating back to that period so we know the ship must have sailed sometime here”.

He says they hope to find out more about ship engineering from that period.

The team, which is due to arrive later on Monday, will try to find the original village of the Sultan of Malindi — who is rumoured to have given Zheng a giraffe as a gift — by digging up areas near the village of Mambrui.

According to legend, some sailors survived the ship’s sinking, swam to shore, and were allowed to stay after they killed a deadly snake.

In 2005, as part of an event in the run-up to the 600th anniversary of Zheng’s first voyage, the Chinese paid a visit to Lamu to undertake DNA tests on a Swahili family, who were found to have had traces of Chinese ancestry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Somalia: AU to Send 2,000 More Troops to Combat Al-Shabab

Kampala, 27 July (AKI) — African Union leaders at a summit in Uganda have agreed to boost their peacekeeping force in troubled Somalia to counter Al-Shabab militants, the group that is associated with Al-Qaeda.

The coalition of African countries on Monday agreed to send an additional 2,000 soldiers to Somali capital Mogadishu, officials said. About 6,000 AU troops, mostly from Uganda and Burundi, are based in Mogadishu.

The troops are needed to prop up the Somali government which is teetering on the verge of collapse under pressure of militant attacks.

New rules of engagement will allow the AU troops to fire first if they are considered under imminent danger of attack.

Al-Shabab two weeks ago took credit for killing about 80 people in Ugandan capital Kampala while the victims were watching the World Cup football final.

The meeting also approved requests for new equipment for the AU force.

Separately, as leaders were meeting in Uganda, AU troops in Mogadishu on Monday attacked militants in the capital’s north. Officials said Shebab fighters were firing mortars at government locations, according to news reports. The officials said the fighting killed at least 11 people died on both sides.

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


Greece’s Locked Up Migrant Children Attempt Suicide

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Greece is imprisoning unaccompanied migrant children in violation of EU laws and often in appalling conditions, human rights campaigners have revealed.

In a report detailing how asylum seekers and irregular migrants are being detained “as a matter of course, rather than a last resort,” Amnesty International has excoriated Athens for its policy of imprisoning children for long periods.

Conditions are so appalling, the report says, that children resort to hunger strikes in protest at their imprisonment, and some even attempt suicide.

“It is never acceptable that children are detained. Children should not be subjected to poor conditions and long periods of confinement,” said says Nicolas Beger, head of the group’s Brussels office.

“Although Greece is experiencing economic hardship and is receiving a large number of migrants, these issues cannot serve as an excuse for treating children in such a way.”

The group documents how conditions in a “vast number” of the country’s immigrant detention centres are poor, with overcrowding and sanitation a problem.

Unaccompanied children who are captured by authorities when arriving in Greece are usually detained following their arrest for irregular entry. Where a deportation order is issued, detention continues until a legal guardian is appointed and a place found in a special reception centre for unaccompanied children.

Overcrowding is problem particularly in the summer when a large number of migrants attempt to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to what they believe to be the promised land of the European Union.

At the Pagani immigration detention centre in the summer of 2009, some 150 children went on hunger strike to protest the length and poor conditions of detention. More than 850 people, including 200 unaccompanied children, 150 women and 50 small children, were kept in overcrowded and insanitary conditions.

It was only after a visit from the UN High Commission for Refugees, and the ombudsman for the rights of the child, that the authorities released 570 people, mainly families with kids and unaccompanied children.

In a letter to the European Commission, the group has demanded the EU executive take action to ensure that Greece adheres to its legal obligations to migrants and refugees — and particularly their children.

Amnesty International believes that there should be a prohibition on the detention of unaccompanied children provided by law, but even in the absence of such a step forward, Greece is beholden to a number of international and EU obligations that should prevent such situations from occurring.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Greece is a party, states that in their best interests, ‘‘unaccompanied or separated children should not, as a general rule, be detained, and that a government provide “special protection and assistance” to children who are not in their family environment.

Furthermore, the EU’s Reception Conditions Directive sets out special provisions for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors.

“The reality for migrants in Greece is dire,” said Mr Beger. “The EU must put pressure on Greece to improve the situation. Each and every person has the right to basic legal assistance and to humane treatment upon arriving in an EU country.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Armed Citizen’ Blog Bludgeoned by Lawsuit

Newspaper claims copyright infringement for handful of excerpts

A popular blog that has kept citizens abreast of how Americans successfully defend themselves from crime by being armed has been suspended while its organizers deal with a copyright infringement claim from a newspaper, the blog itself has announced.

David Burnett said in a statement his Armed Citizen site is closed for now, and its future will depend on what happens in the case.

The site was targeted in a federal court lawsuit filed by Righthaven LLC, which apparently is working on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The lawsuit is one of dozens the plaintiffs have brought to court.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Toy Marijuana?

A web site called Cannabuddies allows people to “adopt” virtual (not real) pot leaves.

Leaves named “Chocolope” and “Train Wreck” will grow for you, produce buds, and even “speak”, hoping to inform listeners about the benefits of pot.

Such educational nuggets include: “Over 25,000 products can be manufactured from hemp, from cellophane to dynamite.” The virtual pets deliver the information in a fast-paced, high-pitched, undecipherable language which makes one think of meth more than pot.


Cannabuddies is busy expanding, adding new virtual leaves to adopt, selling CannaButtons to wear on “all your Hemp Fabric Wear!” and trying to leverage social networking sites.

[Return to headlines]


BP Announces $17 Billion Loss, Names Dudley Chief Executive

BP named Robert Dudley as chief executive Tuesday and reported a record $17 billion loss in the second quarter in the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP set aside $32.2 billion for costs related to the spill, including $20 billion for an escrow fund announced earlier. To help cover the costs, the company plans to sell assets worth $30 billion over the next 18 months.

Mr. Dudley, an American, is to become BP’s first non-British chief executive at the beginning of October, replacing Tony Hayward, who is stepping down following criticism about the way he handled the spill.

[Return to headlines]

Demoralization, Destabilization, Insurgency, Normalization

This amazing interview was done back in 1985 with a former KGB agent who was trained in subversion techniques. He explains the 4 basic steps to socially engineering entire generations into thinking and behaving the way those in power want them to. It’s shocking because our nation has been transformed in the exact same way, and followed the exact same steps.

Interviewer, G. Edward Griffin: Our conversation is with Mr. Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov. Mr. Bezmenov was born in 1939 in a suburb of Moscow. He was the son of a high ranking Soviet Army officer. He was educated in the elite schools inside the Soviet Union and became an expert in Indian culture and Indian languages. He had an outstanding career with Novesti, which was the, and still is, I should say, the Press arm or the press agency of the Soviet Union. It turns out that this is a front for the KGB. He escaped to the West in 1970 after becoming totally disgusted with the Soviet System. And he did this at great risk to his life. He is certainly one of the world’s experts on the subject of Soviet propaganda and disinformation and active measures.

When the Soviets use the phrase ideological subversion, what do they mean by it?

Yuri Bezmenov: Ideological subversion is the process which is legitimate, overt and open. You can see it with your own eyes. All you have to do — all American mass media has to do — is to unplug their bananas from their ears, open up their eyes and they can see it. There is no mystery. There is nothing to do with espionage.

I know that espionage — intelligence gathering — looks more romantic. It sells more deodorants through their advertising, probably. That’s why your Hollywood producers are so crazy about James Bond type, in free words.

But in reality, the main emphasis of the KGB is not in the area of intelligence at all. According to my opinion and the opinion of many defectors of my caliber only about fifteen percent of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage as such. The other eighty-five percent is a slow process which we call either ideological subversion, or active measures, (~Activitia perionachia, in the language of the KGB), or psychological warfare. What it basically means is to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country. It’s a great brainwashing process which goes very slow and is divided into four basic stages. The first one being demoralization.

It takes from fifteen to twenty years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which requires to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words Marxist-Leninism ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students without being challenged or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism, American patriotism. …

[Comments from JD: Highly recommended interview; video might be found on youtube.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What the Left Really Thinks of Hitler

Oliver Stone’s comments about a “Jewish dominated media” exaggerating the Holocaust have shocked some people, but they shouldn’t. Like the rest of Stone’s tirade about Western bankers and Hitler being a product of his time, it’s copy and pasted from Soviet history textbooks. Like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Oliver Stone’s “Secret History of America” is the USSR’s version of American history, backed by some domestic sources.

One of the left’s dirty secrets is that the Soviet Union was the preeminent country engaged in Holocaust denial. At a time when Germany had outlawed Holocaust denial, the Soviet Union mostly suppressed any mention of the Holocaust, focusing only on Russian casualties as a whole. Unsurprisingly that is exactly the line that Oliver Stone takes, when he emphasizes that; “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million killed”. In 1982, Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO, and current leader of the Palestinian Authority, included Holocaust denial material in his doctoral thesis at a Moscow University. Unsurprisingly his doctoral thesis reads a lot like Stone’s comments. That is because both are grounded in the Soviet Communist view of history.


The Big Lie that the left has desperately tried to cover up is the Soviet Union’s complicity in Hitler’s rise to power and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union began by suppressing German Communists to pave the way for Hitler (just as it would later do to Egyptian Communists on behalf of the Hitler-besotted Gamal Abdel Nasser). Why would it do that? For the same reason that the USSR allied with Hitler in the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939, which allowed Hitler and Stalin to carve up Eastern Europe.

Stalin wanted to replay WWI, with another war between Germany, England and France—that would give him a free hand in Eastern Europe, and then allow him to occupy a weakened Western Europe. His plan backfired badly, because Hitler proved too unpredictable for him, and England and France buckled too quickly— but when the dust had settled, the USSR got most of what it wanted, including a sizable chunk of Germany. In 1925, Stalin made his strategy clear; “if war breaks out we shall not be able to sit with folded arms. We shall have to take action, but we shall be the last to do so. And we shall do so in order to throw the decisive weight on the scales, the weight that can turn the scales.” The goal was for the rest of Europe to wear itself down through war, while the Communists would come and clean up afterward.

To that end the USSR did everything possible to strengthen Hitler’s hand in order to make him a more formidable enemy for England and France. While millions of its citizens were starving, Russia provided massive amounts of supplies and aid to the Nazis. In fact trains carrying Russian supplies were still headed to Germany, even while the Nazis were launching their attack. This is particularly ironic in that the US would then go on to provide massive supplies to the Soviet Union of everything from powdered milk to army boots, which enabled the USSR to stay in the fight. After the USSR had supplied Hitler for two years, enabling his conquests in Eastern Europe and the beginning of the Holocaust.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why Do IQ Scores Vary by Nation?

Global differences in intelligence is a sensitive topic, long fraught with controversy and still tinged by the disgraceful taint of pseudosciences such as craniometry that strove to prove the white “race” as the most clever of them all. But recent data, perplexingly, has indeed shown cognitive ability to be higher in some countries than in others. What’s more, IQ scores have risen as nations develop—a phenomenon known as the “Flynn effect.” Many causes have been proposed for both the intelligence gap and the Flynn effect, including education, income, and even nonagricultural labor. Now, a new study from researchers at the University of New Mexico offers another intriguing theory: intelligence may be linked to infectious-disease rates.

The Idea

The brain, say author Christopher Eppig and his colleagues, is the “most costly organ in the human body.” Brainpower gobbles up close to 90 percent of a newborn’s energy. It stands to reason, then, that if something interferes with energy intake while the brain is growing, the impact could be serious and longlasting. And for vast swaths of the globe, the biggest threat to a child’s body—and hence brain—is parasitic infection. These illnesses threaten brain development in several ways. They can directly attack live tissue, which the body must then strain to replace. They can invade the digestive tract and block nutritional uptake. They can hijack the body’s cells for their own reproduction. And then there’s the energy diverted to the immune system to fight the infection. Out of all the parasites, the diarrheal ones may be the gravest threat—they can prevent the body from getting any nutrients at all…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]