Free Enterprise — Not Government Oversight — Key to GM Turnaround, Say Company Officials
… GM officials said the government has had almost nothing at all to do with the company’s rapid return to profitability. According to one GM official, who spoke to CNSNews.com on background, the government has been a “silent investor,” and GM’s senior leadership does not seek “approval or permission” from the government before making business decisions.
“They haven’t done anything, in the sense of telling us how to run our business,” the GM official told CNSNews.com. “The fact is that a new team has come in, and this is what they were handed. We don’t want to be under this guise of ‘Government Motors’ or the 61 percent equity stake of the government a moment longer then we have to.”
The man responsible for the GM turnaround is new CEO Ed Whitacre. In fact, Whitacre only took the job — after declining it several times — on the condition that the government stay completely away from GM’s business decisions. If the government tried to give Whitacre and his team orders, Whitacre promised to quit on the spot, the official told CNSNews.com.
“He finally accepted under the airtight provision that if he so much as got a sense that the government was dictating terms and how to do business and what color to paint Camaros and what have you, he would quit that day,” the official said of Whitacre.
“Political hacks,” he added, do not tell Whitacre what to do…
Whitacre and GM have gone to great lengths to demonstrate that the company is now focused on one thing and one thing only: building quality cars and trucks that consumers want to buy. This is more than a mantra, the GM official explained, and Whitacre has made it an all-consuming focus of the company…
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So Long, Middle Class
Dreams of average Americans dashed by taxes, higher costs and little job security
The 25 statistics below prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate.
Why? Compared to the rest of the world, American workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing rules, regulations and taxes that make it even more difficult to conduct business here. What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while the average family barely gets by. Entitlement programs are expanding at unprecedented rates, but it is the people in the middle — who shoulder the costs of these programs, while their salaries stagnate — who are being squeezed in a sea of depressing statistics . . .
1. According to a 2009 poll, 61% of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49% in 2008 and 43% in 2007.
2. 36% of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
3. A staggering 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
4. 24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
5. The number of Americans with incomes below the official poverty line rose by about 15% between 2000 and 2006, and by 2008 over 30 million US workers were earning less than $10 per hour.
6. According to Harvard Magazine, 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
7. In New York, the top fifth of earners collect more than 53% of the income; the bottom fifth takes home less than 3%.
8. Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32% increase over 2008.
9. Only the top 5% of households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
10. For the first time in US history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Fox News to Get Front Row Seat in White House Briefing Room
by Matthew Boyle
The White House Correspondents’ Association decided Sunday to give a front row seat in the White House briefing room to Fox News.
The WHCA moved the Associated Press into former Hearst Newspapers columnist Helen Thomas’ recently vacated center seat in the front row and Fox News was given the AP’s former front row seat.
Each major cable television news network now has a seat in the front row of the White House briefing room. Fox News had been lobbying for the spot since before Thomas’ abrupt departure in June, vying for the position against Bloomberg News and National Public Radio.
Left-wing organizations MoveOn.org and CREDO each circulated separate petitions to push the WHCA to place NPR into the coveted spot. The petitions ignored Bloomberg’s candidacy for a front row seat and claimed that Fox News is not a legitimate news organization.
NPR released a statement saying it had nothing to do with either of the petitions or organizations.
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Leftist “Historian” Howard Zinn Lied About Red Ties
The prominent “progressive” historian Howard Zinn, whose books are force-fed to young people on many college campuses, was not only a member of the Moscow-controlled and Soviet-funded Communist Party USA (CPUSA) but lied about it, according to an FBI file released on Friday.
The file, consisting of three sections totaling 423 pages, was made available on the FBI’s website and released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from this writer.
Zinn taught in the political science department of Boston University for 24 years, from 1964 to 1988, and has been a major influence on the modern-day “progressive” movement that backed Barack Obama for president.
Although Zinn denied being a member of the CPUSA, the FBI file discloses that several reliable informants in the party identified Zinn as a member who attended party meetings as many as five times a week.
What’s more, one of the files reveals that a reliable informant provided a photograph of Zinn teaching a class on “Basic Marxism” at party headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951. A participant in the class said that Zinn taught that “the basic teaching of Marx and Lenin were sound and should be adhered to by those present.”
The FBI file also includes information on Zinn’s pro-Castro activism and support for radical groups such as the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Progressive Labor Party (PLP), Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and Black Panther Party. Much of the latter was in connection with Zinn’s support for a communist military victory in Vietnam. His dealings with the Communist regime in Hanoi included a visit to the communist capital.
Zinn was included on the “Security Index” and “Communist Index” maintained by the FBI. The “Security Index” was more ominous and included individuals who could be detained in the event of a national emergency.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Liberal Journalists Suggest Government Censor Fox News
by Jonathan Strong
On Journolist [an online meeting place for liberal journalists]…conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies,
On Journolist, there was rarely such thing as an honorable political disagreement between the left and right, though there were many disagreements on the left. In the view of many who’ve posted to the list-serv, conservatives aren’t simply wrong, they are evil. And while journalists are trained never to presume motive, Journolist members tend to assume that the other side is acting out of the darkest and most dishonorable motives.
When the writer Victor Davis Hanson wrote an article about immigration for National Review, for example, blogger Ed Kilgore didn’t even bother to grapple with Hanson’s arguments. Instead Kilgore dismissed Hanson’s piece out of hand as “the kind of Old White Guy cultural reaction that is at the heart of the Tea Party Movement…
I am genuinely scared” of Fox, wrote Guardian columnist Daniel Davies, because it “shows you that a genuinely shameless and unethical media organisation *cannot* be controlled by any form of peer pressure or self-regulation, and nor can it be successfully cold-shouldered or ostracised…
“I agree,” said Michael Scherer of Time Magazine. Roger “Ailes understands that his job is to build a tribal identity, not a news organization…
Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA, suggested that the federal government simply yank Fox off the air. “I hate to open this can of worms,” he wrote, “but is there any reason why the FCC couldn’t simply pull their broadcasting permit once it expires?”…
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Obama May Help Dems by Staying Away
Three months before the midterm elections, the president is stepping up his involvement in the fight to preserve the Democratic Party’s control of Congress. But advisers said he would concentrate largely on delivering a message, raising money and motivating voters from afar, rather than on racing from district to district.
It is a vivid shift from the last two elections, when Mr. Obama was the hottest draw for Democratic candidates in red and blue states alike. And it highlights the tough choices Democrats face as they head toward Election Day with the president’s approval ratings depressed, Republicans energized, the economic slump still lingering and two veteran House Democrats now facing public hearings on ethics charges.
Democrats who are on the ballot hope to make the election about issues other than Mr. Obama…
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Summer of Corruption: The Enablers of Charlie Rangel. Update: Obama’s Kiss-Off
At a press conference to preempt the bipartisan House ethics panel’s announcement of 13 ethics and federal regulation charges against Rangel on Thursday afternoon, [Nancy] Pelosi claimed to take “great pride” in her swamp-draining record. Unblinkingly, she cited the House trial against Rangel as proof that the “process” is working. But that beleaguered panel has been pathetically understaffed, has dragged its feet for two years on the Rangel case…
… Pelosi carped about Bush-era GOP corruption. (Cue a chorus of “Let’s do the time warp again!”) Her lips were sealed, however, on the continuing wheeling and dealing behind the scenes…
A full-blown public trial would thoroughly air his self-dealing, habitual bad-faith failures to report income…and a fundamental “pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations of the United States and House of Representatives…
[NOTE:See update at link]
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Why Are Liberals So Miserable?
No wonder lefties are unhappy. They have a wrong view of human nature that sets them up for continual disappointment. That would be like a parent expecting two year olds to play nice and share toys. They don’t do it. Neither do nations squabbling over territory. Neither do countries fighting over fundamentally different ideals. Wanting peace doesn’t make peace happen. Wanting fairness often ends up creating unfairness (see Affirmative Action).
A leftist has all the panicked mission of a person struggling to Change The World Or Else. So, every generation has had a pseudo-religious substitute whether it be the next Ice Age, Ebola, HIV, or now, Global Warming aka Climate Change aka Gaia be pissed.
When it all depends on you, the anxiety must be nearly impossible to bear. And then, when the leftist has it all—all branches of government—in their very grasp; and for the elected officials to fail at stopping war and famine and general unfairness and badness, it’s so defeating and misery-inducing.
The biggest hippie dream came to fruition with Barack Obama and guess what? He’s in bed with corporations. He acts like a war-monger (who knows what’s rolling around his noggin on this score). He refused to ensure the public option, aka socialized medicine.
Sad part is, for them at least, right now, this moment, is the pinnacle for like forever. They worked for a generation to achieve this win. They have the most liberal president in ages, who has set America on the road to the kind of socialism most only dreamed of (if only they could be French), and it’s not enough.
So yeah, miserable…
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A couple is facing a $750 hospital bill after they had to leave a ward in Kingston General Hospital’s maternity ward because a Muslim woman was breastfeeding her newborn.
John Kennedy said he and another man were also forbidden from using the sink in the shared bathroom to dampen cloths so they could clean their babies.
He and his wife and the other couple were moved out of the room on religious grounds that were made clear to him by medical staff on the floor, who said unrelated men are forbidden from being in the room while the Muslim woman was breastfeeding.
Kennedy’s wife had an emergency C-section on Nov. 15 and was barely able to move, let alone care for their newborn, as a result of the surgery.
The couple were moved into a private room, where Kennedy could use the sink but the couple were later billed $250 a day by the hospital for the upgrade.
After seven months of trying to have the hospital cancel the bill for a room he never asked for or needed, he says he has had enough.
“It’s political correctness gone mad,” he said.
“My wife and I were quite content in that room, and we would have been quite happy if they had moved us into a closet, quite frankly.”
Most rooms in the maternity ward have four beds, each of which are screened off by floor-to-ceiling curtains.
Kennedy said his wife was in one of those quads, as was another non-Muslim couple. A single mother occupied the fourth bed.
Kennedy said staff told him he was not allowed to use the shared washroom in the room, which he said did not initially seem to be an issue.
“We were told we couldn’t use the bathroom and that was no big deal because when I needed to use the bathroom, I went to the one down the hall,” he said.
“I work in a hospital and you never use the bathroom in a patient’s room, but they told us we couldn’t even use the sink,” said Kennedy.
“I needed to wash out cloths when I changed my baby’s diaper, and I couldn’t be going down the hall to the public washroom every time I needed to do that.”
He also said he and the other man had to leave the room every time the Muslim woman was breastfeeding, which she did in the bed behind the curtain, invisible to the other occupants of the room.
Her husband was the only man allowed in the room with her during that time.
He said he had no problem with another culture’s values but questioned why the Muslim couple were not moved into a private room if the presence of other men in a shared room in a public hospital was an issue.
He, his wife and their new baby were moved to a private room after saying that the conditions on the ward were untenable, especially as he was providing most of the care to his new baby after his wife’s operation and couldn’t keep leaving the room.
After he and his wife left the hospital after three days, he got the $750 bill, which he refused to pay and over which he has been fighting the hospital since, with no success.
Kingston General Hospital officials say they cannot discuss the particulars of Kennedy’s case owing to laws protecting patient’s privacy but say patients who upgrade from OHIP-covered ward rooms to private or semi- private rooms sign a financial responsibility form agreeing to pay for the room.
Kellie Kitchen, the hospital’s program manager in obstetrics and pediatrics, said the hospital does its best to accommodate patients with special requirements but again, could not speak to the November case.
“I can tell you we do accommodate patents’ religious and cultural values,” she said.
“We do have situations, and we deal with them on a one-to-one basis,” she said.
Kennedy says he has gone to the patient advocate and other officials at the hospital, who reviewed the bill but ultimately told him he had to pay it. He does not have insurance at work that would cover the upgrade.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, charge nurses and other people who work at the hospital and they think it’s outrageous. They say ‘No way,’ “ he said.
“I have nothing bad to say about the medical care there because when my wife arrived they were on her like a SWAT team. They were working on her before I even had time to get my gown on, but I don’t think we should have to pay a bill for a private room that we didn’t require.”
|— Hat tip: AP||[Return to headlines]|
Lifting the Veil on Airport Security
Air security won’t ask for veiled Muslims to prove ID
OTTAWA — Frequent flyers know the drill: take off your shoes, surrender your tweezers and pack your shampoo in those little plastic baggies before lining up for the naked body scanners. But lift your niqab? Apparently not.
QMI Agency can reveal that neither airlines nor security services are asking Muslim women to lift their veils and prove that the face beneath matches their photo ID.
The issue came to light through a video taken by Mick Flynn of Bradford, England. Flynn was boarding a flight at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport when he witnessed two women with their faces covered board an Air Canada Heathrow bound flight without being asked to remove their veils.
In fact, in the video that Flynn has posted online, a man traveling with the group hands in all the passports and is the only one to interact with airline staff while two veiled women simply walk through.
“I complained at the desk — and again as I boarded the plane — asking if the pilot was happy that two women boarded without being identified,” Flynn told QMI Agency. “Both members of staff whom I spoke to were flustered and clearly embarrassed.”
Flynn’s communication with Air Canada and his video posting have resulted in a threatened lawsuit from the airline. As for answers from the company about security procedures, their response reveals holes in Canada’s air security.
“Airline passengers have already undergone multiple security checks before arriving at the boarding gate,” Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told QMI. “A final check is made at the gate prior to boarding in order to confirm passengers on the flight.”
Air Canada says it is capable of checking identification in a private room away from the check-in counter, but said the real responsibility for security measures lies with CATSA, the Canadian Air Transport Security Agency.
Not so, says CATSA.
Greg MacDougall, a spokesman for CATSA, tells QMI that their guards are primarily looking for metal, weapons or other banned material, not ensuring that veiled faces match passport photos.
“We don’t have concerns with that. We have concerns with the fact if the person has any metal under their clothing,” MacDougall said.
A former CATSA employee, who, until recently worked as a frontline screener, tells QMI: “We were never allowed to ask anyone with a veil to lift it. It is their religion.”
Frontline workers for several airlines say that any checks, if they happen at all, would likely happen at the check-in desk, not at boarding or security.
Most airports have wide gaps between where baggage is checked and the secure portions of the airport.
Transport Canada says there should be no confusion: “The airline must be able to verify the identity of all passengers before they are allowed to board,” the department said in a written statement.
Lawyer David Harris of INSIGNIS Strategic Research says Canadians should be concerned about what he deems preferential treatment.
“Full veiling has been a boon for those participating in criminal and terrorist operations,” Harris said pointing to the story of Mustaf Jama.
Jama, a Somali national with a long criminal record, was wanted in Britain for the 2006 murder of police constable Sharon Beshenivsky. As police closed in to arrest the career criminal, Jama was able to escape back to Somalia by wearing a full veil and boarding a flight at Heathrow airport.
Harris’ call for lifting the veil is backed up by two Muslim groups often at odds with each other, the Muslim Canadian Congress and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Canada.
“You cannot allow a person wearing a mask to be in the perimeter of an airport,” says Tarek Fatah of the Congress. “If you don’t want to take off the mask, take the TTC (public transit) to Cairo.”
“Women who wear the niqab are not constrained by the religious belief from removing their veil for legitimate reasons, and security is one of them,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of CAIR-CAN.
Gardee admits that Canadian officials may be reluctant to deal with this issue head-on due to concerns about political correctness. “It’s something that needs to be addressed,” Gardee said.
Gardee says it would be preferable if female staff were able to conduct any screening that involved removing the veil but adds that if female staff are not available, the women must still be forced to remove their niqab.
|— Hat tip: Vlad Tepes||[Return to headlines]|
As David Cameron Calls for Turkey to Join the EU, Peter Hitchens on the Disturbing Picture of Growing Repression at the Heart of ‘Eurabia’
By Peter Hitchens In Istanbul
Among the bayonet-like minarets of ancient Istanbul, an East wind is blowing. It will chill us all… says The Mail On Sunday columnist in the week David Cameron calls for Turkey to join the EU
Down a glum, dark back alley in Istanbul, I found a sinister sight. In a workshop two stern and bearded men were bent over sheets and patches of very black cloth, their sewing-machines whirring urgently.
I was plainly unwelcome and they objected to the very idea of being photographed. I quickly saw why. They were making dark robes and masks for women to wear. They looked to me as if they longed for the day when every woman in sight was clad in their workmanship.
They knew the women would wear them, because one day, not far off, they would have to. These robes would be, literally, a ‘must-have’ for the women of Turkey.
Those who think of Turkey as a relaxed holiday destination, or as a Westernised Nato member more or less ‘on our side’ need to revise their view.
And that very much includes our Prime Minister, David Cameron, who last week joined in the fashionable chorus urging Turkish membership of the European Union. Mr Cameron plainly hasn’t been properly briefed.
Leave aside the fact that such a step would allow millions of Turks to live and work in Britain, and give us — as EU members — a common border with Syria and Iraq. Mr Cameron really ought to realise that the new Islamist Turkey he so ignorantly praises is much more interested in making friends with Iran than it is in joining the EU. And it is becoming less free and less democratic by the day.
I would say there is a strong chance that we will soon lose Turkey to the Islamic world, much as we lost Iran to the ayatollahs 30 years ago. And there is not much we can do about it — least of all the daft scheme to include this nation in the EU.
Panic-mongering? Well, perhaps. But I would rather monger a bit of panic now than ignore what I saw.
I will come in a moment to the bizarre alleged plot against the Turkish state, which has swept dozens of government opponents into prison in dawn raids.
But first let us take a stroll round the Istanbul district of Fatih. It is noon, and the rival calls to prayer of two mosques are wavering in the baking, humid air.
Not far away is a gigantic Palestinian flag draped over the side of a building. Nearly opposite, a group of pale, intense men in turbans loiter on a street corner whispering into their mobile phones. Where am I? The flag suggests Gaza. The whispering men bring to mind Peshawar or some other Taliban zone.
Or am I in Saudi Arabia? For round the corner comes a phalanx of veiled women, under the vigilant eyes of a bossy man in a prayer cap. There are several grades of these women. First there are the wholly shrouded, their downcast eyes glimpsed through a slot, imprisoned in shapelessness. Most disturbing for me — because I have been to Iran — are those in chadors exactly like those commanded by the ayatollahs in Tehran. There is something particularly harsh about the inverted triangle through which their pale and sombre faces peer.
With them come the women they call ‘Tight-heads’ — ‘Sikmabash’ in Turkish. These are a new feature of Istanbul since I was last here a few years ago, in evidence all over this enormous city.
They are mostly young and often attractive. But they have swathed their heads tightly in voluminous, brightly coloured scarves. Their lower limbs are covered by long dresses or trousers, and over this, in the oppressive heat, they wear thin raincoats. Such outfits are available in a successful chain of shops called Tekbir, which means ‘God is great’.
Covering up the female sex is big business here now. The owner of an independent Islamic clothes shop complains to me that trade isn’t as good as it used to be because he now faces so much competition. He notes that more and more of his clients are young women, rather than conservative rural grandmas.
The Tight-heads are startlingly similar to their Iranian sisters a few hundred miles to the east, who wear a near-identical uniform. Like them, they look as if they are making a point. But there is one crucial difference. The point they are making is the opposite one. The Iranian women mock the headscarf as they wear it, pushed as far back as possible on the head, revealing as much bleached-blonde, teased hair as the piety police will allow.
Their message is: ‘The law can make me wear this, but it cannot make me look as if I want to.’ The young Turks, by contrast, are saying: ‘This is how I want to look, even if the law says I cannot.’ For the scarf is banned by law in many universities and in government offices, and they view this ban as a challenge they must defy.
There is no simpler way of making the point that, while Iran is a secular country with a Muslim government, Turkey is a Muslim country with a secular government.
Or so it was. Now Turkey is in the midst of a revolution. In a fashionable waterfront cafe looking across the Bosphorus towards Asia, I spotted two young women sharing milkshakes — one veiled, the other displaying her curly hair and attired in barely-there T-shirt and jeans. I asked them if they didn’t find each other’s garb awkward. No, they didn’t. The swathed one explained that she had decided, from religious devotion, to wear a scarf aged 15. Now 19, she had to go to university in North Cyprus, because most mainland universities banned the veil.
Her companion said she thought it quite possible that, in a few years, she too would be covered from head to toe. My guess is that she will be — the growing numbers of covered women across the Middle East place pressure on others to do the same.
But these are just symptoms. A deeper change is under way. Deliberately unremarked by Western commentators for some years, Turkey has a fiercely Islamist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Even now, Barack Obama, like George W. Bush before him, still bleats about how Turkey should be allowed to join the EU. And establishment commentators, encouraged by liberal Turkish intellectuals, absurdly continue to insist that Erdogan is in some way ‘moderate’.
How odd. Back in the Nineties, this supposed moderate was railing that: ‘The Muslim world is waiting for Turkey to rise up. We will rise up! With Allah’s permission, the rebellion will start.’ Erdogan was even imprisoned for quoting a fervent Islamist poem that declared: ‘The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…’
Covering up the female sex is big business here now. Black robes will one day be a must-have for all Now he is Prime Minister, he has not stopped thinking this. He simply knows better than to blurt it out.
Fashionable liberals in the West prefer to worry about the sinister Deep State, or Derin Devlet, which they claim really governs Turkey through a combination of military power and thuggery. And they have a point, though not as much of one as they used to.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the dictatorial-founder of modern Turkey, was almost as ruthless as Stalin, using military and police power in the Twenties to sweep away the fez, the turban and the veil, impose Western script and emancipate women. His inheritors are the Turkish army, who have emerged from their barracks four times since the Second World War to stage a putsch, hang a few politicians and drive the mullahs back into their mosques. Even further out of sight, and based on a Cold War organisation designed to perform acts of resistance in the event of a Soviet takeover, are profoundly secret networks of government agents committed to safeguard Ataturk’s secular order.
They have made some unsavoury allies. Their existence gives credence to the genuinely creepy Ergenekon trials, aimed at a misty and possibly non-existent secret network of conspirators. The plotters are supposed to have sought to foment a fifth military coup. Personally, I think it a swirling tub of fantasy. In a brilliant demolition job (Ergenekon: Between Fact And Fiction: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation), Turkish expert Gareth Jenkins has gone through more than 4,000 pages of indictments. And he accepts some wrongdoing has been uncovered.
But he concludes: ‘The majority of the accused…appear to be guilty of nothing more than holding strong secularist and ultranationalist views.’
As the case wears on, Turkey slips decisively towards the more alarming end of the Islamic spectrum. Sudan’s sinister president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has been an honoured guest — despite being indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Erdogan defended the visit by saying: ‘It’s not possible for a Muslim to commit genocide.’
Equally welcome has been the unlovely Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, tainted by the repression of democratic protesters and by his simpering Holocaust denial. No wonder he is welcome. Iranian gas heats the homes in Turkey’s eastern provinces.
And the real significance of the recent clashes off the Israeli coast was missed in the West. Gaza and its problems were not the point. Turkey’s new Islamic ruling class was glad of the pretext to downgrade its alliance with Israel. This link, dating back to Cold War days, got in the way of Erdogan’s plans to snuggle up to Syria, Israel’s bitterest enemy.
Were Turkey only shifting her foreign policy from West to East, that would be startling enough. Remember Turkey is a long-standing Nato member with a huge American airbase on its territory. Thanks to its position, its religion, its military strength, its language and its former imperial rule over this region, it has a powerful influence in the Middle East and in the new oil and gas states of Central Asia. Remember, too, that Turkey’s attitude will be crucial to the future of post-war Iraq, with which it has a border.
But things are changing, and growing darker, at home as well. And this is thanks to the Ergenekon affair. Foes of the Islamist government are arrested in surprise dawn raids. One of those scooped up in the arrest net was a 73-year-old woman, head of an educational charity, in the final stages of cancer. Many of the 200-odd accused have been held for years on vague charges. But their arrests fuel the government’s claim that it is threatened by a vast alleged conspiracy to bring it down. This supposedly implicates everyone from army officers to journalists.
Above all, the charges are aimed at the army, the force that has kept the mullahs in check, and incidentally kept the women unveiled, in Turkey for the past 90 years.
This is a curious echo of warnings from European conservatives that a new continent called ‘Eurabia’ is taking shape around the shores of the Mediterranean, which will in the end mean the Islamisation of northern EuropeThe supposed plot has now become so enormous that a special courthouse has been built in the suburbs of Istanbul to handle the hearings.
Ilter Turan, Professor of Political Science at Bilgi University, Istanbul, says: ‘Erdogan has authoritarian proclivities. He will take journalists to court if he does not like what they write about him. He scolds them for writing critical things. He asks editors, “Why don’t you come and tell us about the problem in private before printing it?” He’s a potential autocrat who likes to engage in acts of personal generosity, like an old-fashioned monarch.’
But such personal government cuts in more than one direction. If Erdogan disagrees with members of the public he can treat them harshly too. Prof Turin says: ‘A farmer came to him about some grievance and said, “My mother is weeping.” Erdogan replied, “Take your mother and get out of here!” ‘
Under Turkey’s proportional representation voting system, Erdogan can — and does — choose all his candidates. Critics and opponents can be easily got rid of. His power is about to increase if he wins a planned constitutional referendum set for September 12. If voters want increased ‘human rights’ they will also have to increase Erdogan’s power to appoint judges and other key officials.
Not everyone agrees with the professor. On the far, Asian side of the Bosphorus, I get a different point of view from Ahmet Altan, a columnist and breaker of stories on the dissident newspaper Taraf (the name translates roughly as Partisan). I have to pass through elaborate security to find his paper’s office. Altan is without doubt a brave journalist, who has got into trouble by challenging the orthodoxy of oldfashioned nationalism.
And he believes there is a profound, reactionary plot against Turkish democracy, and that the Deep State is out of control.
‘Ergenekon is a most serious conspiracy,’ he says. ‘Their objective is chaos, to keep the Kurdish war going, to topple the government and keep the way open for a coup d’etat, to keep the army in politics and to keep the civilian government weak.’
He is also icily critical of European snobbery towards his country, saying: ‘Europeans are mistaken about Turkey. They tried to keep Turkey always at the door, but did not let Turkey in.’
But, in a blast of worrying prophecy, he mocks the weakness of modern Europe, compared with China and America, and predicts that one day Europe will need the Middle East. This is a curious echo of warnings from European conservatives that a new continent called ‘Eurabia’ is taking shape around the shores of the Mediterranean, which will in the end mean the Islamisation of northern Europe…
|— Hat tip: Gaia||[Return to headlines]|
Finland: Nordic Extremist Groups Intensify Collaboration
Neo-Nazis in Finland, Sweden and Norway have intensified their collaboration in recent years. YLE’s Swedish language news reports that leaders of the Finnish extremist group Kansallinen vastarinta (‘National Resistance Front’) meet regularly with the Swedish extremist group Svenska Motståndsrörelsen (‘Swedish Resistance Movement’).
The neo-Nazi groups are mainly focused on immigrants returning to their home country, defending the ‘Nordic race’ and pulling out of the European Union.
The extremist groups are also willing to use violence to reach their goals. Members practice different fighting techniques and using knives. Many Swedish members have already been convicted of violent crimes.
In Sweden, the number of neo-Nazis is on the rise. Up to 3,000 activists take part in protests. Some of the demonstrators come from Finland.
The extremist groups tend to focus their actions on minorities. For instance, a gas attack against the Helsinki Pride festival in July showed markings of neo-Nazis. Indeed, the perpetrators said they are Nazi sympathisers, although they are not leaders in the group.
|— Hat tip: KGS||[Return to headlines]|
Italy: Iranian Women’s Rugby Team Take to the Field Wearing Modesty-Preserving Headscarves and Tracksuits
If the rugby-playing women of Iran’s national sevens team had cauliflower ears, no-one could tell.
Kitted out in tight-fitting headscarves and full tracksuits to protect their modesty, the players caused quite a stir when they played in Europe for the first time.
Taking to the field in a women’s seven-a-side tournament in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, they were dealt a 10-0 by the host nation and then suffered a further 33-0 setback in a second game.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Little Britain in Urdu
In so many ways, Mirpur is like any other place in Pakistan — congested and chaotic, unpredictable and slightly unhinged. It has one unique distinction, however; it provides the largest flow of immigrants to Britain of any city in Pakistan, possibly the world.
In Britain, Mirpuris make up more than 70 per cent of the Pakistani community; in Mirpur, according to locals, more than 90 per cent of the people have a British connection — a cousin, an uncle, someone in the family who has made the transcontinental journey to the prosperous land.
The effects run through every aspect of society, from the advertising boards for the Mumtaz Restaurant in Bradford, West Yorkshire, to the ubiquitous money changers displaying giant pound signs on their shop fronts to the numerous travel agents luring Britain-bound clients with discounted fares to London, Manchester or Leeds.
Mirpur’s reputation as Pakistan’s Little Britain is not misplaced. It’s the details that stand out: the Heinz Ketchup and the Worcester Sauce on sale at the local supermarket, the neatly arrayed, ready-plucked chickens at the butcher’s shop (that they’re dead is in itself a departure from the typical Pakistani butcher who will normally dispatch a chicken in front of you), and the licence plates on buses and private cars, designed to mimic British licence plates, complete with the European Union’s yellow circle of stars on blue background.
the groundwork for Mirpur’s transition was laid more than 150 years ago, in 1858, when Britain ruled the subcontinent. The British planned to build a dam on the Jhelum River, the building of which would have forced the displacement of tens of thousands of people.
“At the time, the Maharaja of Kashmir agreed to let the British build the dam,” says Khalil, “but only with the guarantee that the displaced people would be given one piece of land equal to the land that would be flooded. He wanted his people to move together to the new place so they would keep their culture and family ties. The British refused, saying they did not have a piece of land that size available.”
The plan collapsed. One hundred years later it was resurrected, this time with the help of the World Bank, the British, and a conglomerate of US construction firms. But instead of relocating the people somewhere in Pakistan, a plan was devised to provide them with monetary compensation and a chance to migrate to Britain.
Thousands took up the offer.
“The first group went in 1958,” says Khalil. “The second in 1962. In both cases, the head of the household went first, bringing over his family once he had a chance to see what life was like there. That trend has continued to this day.”..
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UK: Anjem Choudhary Does an Enoch Powell ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech
TOP Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s burka outburst could see “rivers of blood” on Britain’s streets.
The TV loudmouth caused outrage by claiming Muslim women wear G-strings under their burkas on last Sunday’s show.
And hate preacher Anjem Choudary warned Islamic fanatics will “go to war” to protect the honour of their women.
He declared: “Clarkson may think he was funny or was telling a joke when he said these things.
“But this is not funny to everyone. And by making fun or disrespecting the burka and Muslim women he has deeply offended many people.
“It is a grave offence to disrespect a Muslim woman. People have gone to war to protect the honour of Muslim women. And they will go to war again.
“Clarkson has stirred a hornets’ nest among young Islamic fundamentalists. He has fanned the flames of their cause. I believe that one day Britain, and indeed every part of the world, will be governed by and under the authority of the Muslims implementing Islamic Law.
“And it will happen. It may come peacefully. But it may come through a holy war that will see rivers of blood on the streets. Clarkson has brought this day closer.”
Choudary’s warning echoes the words of right-wing MP Enoch Powell, who made his “rivers of blood” speech in 1968.
The Tory politician stunned the country when he warned that uncapped immigration would see mass unrest and blood spilled on the streets. Clarkson, 50, confessed he gets distracted by women in burkas when driving, because he recently discovered what undies they wear.
He claimed a woman in a burka “fell head over heels” in front of his taxi in London’s Piccadilly and revealed her “red G-string and stockings”.
British-born Choudary, 42, said Clarkson could be in danger unless he says sorry.
He said: “Clarkson’s comments may not have been directly against Islam but he has upset many people — and actions have consequences.
“He has angered many young believers of Islam and he may face repercussions.
“There are a growing number of young Islamic fundamentalists in this country and many are ready to cause violence to protect Islam.
“I would urge Clarkson to make a full and public apology to those he has mistakenly offended. Otherwise his safety could be at risk.”
|— Hat tip: Steen||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Clone Farm’s Milk is on Sale: Food Watchdog Investigates After Dairy Farmer’s Astonishing Admission
Milk from the offspring of cloned cows is secretly — and illegally - going into high street shops.
Despite deep unease among consumers, the milk is not being labelled or identified in any way, leaving shoppers in the dark about what they are drinking.
The dairy farmer involved said he wanted to remain anonymous because the British public regards cloning as so distasteful that buyers would stop taking his milk.
Last night the Food Standards Agency said it would investigate. It told the Mail that it believes the sale of milk from such cows is illegal under food regulations.
Research has identified serious concerns for the health and well-being of animals produced as a result of cloning. There is evidence of premature births, deformities and early death.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Jacqui Smith Applies for Top BBC Job: £77k a Year for Just 21/2 Days a Week… And All the Expenses Former Minister Can Claim
The ex-cabinet minister, who famously charged taxpayers for the cost of watching two pornographic films, is lobbying to become vice-chairman of the BBC Trust.
The plum position pays £77,000 a year for a two-and-a-half-day week and also offers generous perks.
Ms Smith is hoping to replace the current vice-chairman, Chitra Bharucha, who is stepping down at the end of October.
Last month Ms Bharucha, who is deputy to Chairman Sir Michael Lyons, was at the centre of her own expenses furore when it was revealed that she had claimed back the cost of a Sky TV subscription from the BBC.
It was part of more than £60,000 of claims made by the 12 members of the trust in just six months.
The Government is likely to be alarmed by news of Ms Smith’s bid at a time of growing friction between ministers and the BBC.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt — who would have to approve any new BBC trustee — recently attacked the organisation’s ‘extraordinary and outrageous’ waste, particularly in relation to its executives’ lavish pay and perks.
He said he could ‘absolutely’ see viewers being asked to pay less than the current licence fee of £145.50.
A BBC source said there had been ‘a certain degree of surprise’ when Ms Smith’s CV arrived two weeks ago.
‘I am not sure she is quite what we are looking for at a time when we are desperately trying to repair our own battered image,’ the source said.
Yesterday, when contacted by The Mail on Sunday, Ms Smith said: ‘How did you know that I had applied?’
Asked whether she thought her bid was likely to succeed, she said: ‘I have made an application, that’s all I know’, before adding ‘f*** off’ and terminating the conversation.
The deadline for applications for the vice-chairman post expired last week. An announcement about the successful candidate is expected to be made by the end of the summer.
Last night, Conservative MP Philip Davies said: ‘I have no idea what she thinks she has to offer the BBC Trust. Maybe she wants to go down with another sinking ship, like she did with her Government.
‘The last thing they need is another Labour luvvie. I just hope they have the sense to blast it out of court.’
Ms Smith, 47, became one of the earliest victims of last year’s expenses scandal when The Mail on Sunday revealed that she had designated a house in London owned by her sister as her main residence, enabling her to claim Commons second-home allowances on her constituency house in Redditch, despite claiming on her website that she lived in the town.
Over six years, the then home secretary banked more than £116,000 for items including a flat-screen TV and scatter cushions.
Ms Smith’s embarrassment deepened when it was disclosed that she had charged the taxpayer for a telecoms bill containing four pay-per-view films, including two adult titles.
She blamed her husband Richard Timney, who worked as her parliamentary adviser, for watching the films while she was away.
Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon later concluded that Ms Smith was in breach of Commons rules for claiming for the films and stating that her constituency home was not her main home.
Ms Smith, who was forced to make a personal statement of apology to the Commons, said she was ‘disappointed that this process had not led to a fairer set of circumstances’.
Ms Smith returned to the back benches last summer in Gordon Brown’s Cabinet reshuffle, before losing her seat in May’s General Election.
She was entitled to receive a Commons ‘parachute payment’ of £32,300 to help her adjust to life outside Parliament and a ‘winding-up allowance’ of up to £42,000 towards the costs of closing down her offices, including a redundancy payment for her husband.
As a former MP, she is also entitled to a gold-plated pension worth an estimated £20,000 a year, which she can pick up when she turns 65.
But the couple will need to find work: they have two children, and are still paying the mortgage on the detached home in Redditch which they bought six years ago for £300,000.
Before winning the Redditch seat in 1997, Ms Smith worked as a schoolteacher. Mr Timney trained as a civil engineer before joining his wife’s payroll.
Yesterday, her former constituency agent Graham Vickery said that Mr Timney was setting up a public-sector consultancy business. ‘It is only exploratory at the moment, but I am sure it will go well,’ he said.
When asked about Ms Smith’s BBC application, he said: ‘It was not something I thought she would do. I thought she would involve herself in academic work, where she is particularly strong.’
In the wake of Ms Smith’s election defeat, Mr Vickery admitted that she had been ‘blindly optimistic’ about her chances of keeping her seat, which she held with a 2,700 majority.
But at the polls she lost to the Conservatives’ Karen Lumley by a margin of nearly 6,000.
He said at the time: ‘I don’t think Jacqui knows what she will do next.’
The trust was set up as the BBC’s governing body in October 2006 by Tessa Jowell when she was culture secretary.
Independent of the BBC’s management, it is responsible for setting the corporation’s strategic direction and for ‘acting in the best interests of licence-fee payers’.
Appointments are made by the Queen on the recommendation of government ministers.
Those who apply to be trustees are shortlisted and interviewed by a panel chaired by a senior civil servant.
The panel sends its recommendation to the Culture Secretary.
Ms Bharucha was among four trustees who were heavily criticised in February 2008 for spending £20,000 of licence-payers’ money to take a group of ‘opinion-formers and stakeholders’ to the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
Last month it was disclosed that the trust had spent £60,000 in expenses over a six-month period.
That figure included more than £16,000 claimed by Sir Michael, in addition to his annual £142,000 salary and use of a car and driver valued at £27,499.
Ms Bharucha included a claim for £175 to cover the cost of seven months of her Sky TV subscription.
The chairman is expected to spend three to four days a week on trust business, the vice-chair about two-and-a-half days and other trustees just two days.
Mr Hunt has said publicly that he doubts the efficacy and usefulness of the trust, but he has granted it a stay of execution in the run-up to next year’s licence-fee negotiations.
Last month he said: ‘There are huge numbers of things that need to be changed at the BBC. They need to demonstrate the very constrained financial situation we are now in.’
A spokeswoman for the BBC trust said: ‘We would not comment on what is an ongoing recruitment process. Although the trust chairman sits on the interview panel, the final decision on the appointment will be made by the Government.’
A spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport also said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing appointments process.
|— Hat tip: Gaia||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Police Banned From Putting Suspects in Blue Boiler Suits — Because of Their Human Rights
Police officers have been banned from ordering suspects to change into blue boiler suits — in case it infringes their human rights.
Instead, they are being encouraged to fetch clean clothes from the suspected criminal’s own home so they can feel more comfortable while in the cells.
The new rules — introduced by Greater Manchester Police after fears that the garments could be deemed ‘oppressive’ — were exposed by a whistle-blowing chief inspector.
Normally when a suspect is taken into custody, their clothing may be taken away if it is needed for forensic examination, and they are given a blue paper boiler suit instead.
However the force’s custody sergeants have been told that detainees must be given the opportunity to wear their own clothes while they await questioning.
If a relative of the suspect cannot bring in a preferred outfit, an officer can be dispatched to pick one out. Failing that, the alleged offender can be given a white tracksuit.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Rapist Freed From Romanian Jail Attacked Women Twice Within Months of Entering Britain
[Comments from JD: WARNING: Disturbing content.]
A Romanian rapist after fleeing his homeland to prey on British victims was jailed for at least 11 years today.
Two women in their 20s feared they would die at the hands of Gheorghe Avadani, 32, after he held them prisoner, throttled them and tried to gouge out one of his victim’s eyeballs.
The scarred and tattooed criminal was freed from a Romanian jail in mid 2007 after serving a three-year sentence for raping a teenager.
Avadani came to Britain in July 2008 and struck twice within a matter of months after preying on sex workers.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Blackberry Service is ‘Beyond UAE Law’
BlackBerry is operating beyond the reach of UAE law, the Government said yesterday, casting doubt on the future of the popular mobile e-mail and messaging service in the Emirates.
The BlackBerry offers data communication encrypted using one of the world’s most complex security codes and is operated by the device’s Canadian maker, Research In Motion (RIM). About 500,000 residents subscribe to the service in the Emirates, in addition to visitors on business or holiday.
“BlackBerry operates beyond the jurisdiction of national legislation, since it is the only device operating in the UAE that immediately exports its data offshore and is managed by a foreign, commercial organisation,” the Government said in a statement on the official news service, WAM.
“As a result of how BlackBerry data is managed and stored, in their current form, certain BlackBerry applications allow people to misuse the service, causing serious social, judicial and national security repercussions.”
The statement comes after recent investigations into security issues posed by the use of BlackBerry technology by regulatory authorities in India, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia…
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EU and Teheran: A Collision in Slow Motion
by Jonathan Spyer
This week, the European Union approved sanctions of unprecedented severity against Iran, because of its refusal to desist from enriching uranium. The EU decision follows the recent fourth UN Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran, and the subsequent additional package of measures approved by Congress and the White House.
Three things are worth noting regarding the new sanctions. They are substantive.
They are likely to have a serious effect on aspects of the Iranian economy. This effect is almost certain not to cause a rethink on the part of the Iranian regime regarding its nuclear ambitions.
Nevertheless, the European decision is significant for an additional, slightly less tangible reason. It is the latest evidence of a hardening attitude on the part of the Western democracies with regard to the Iranian nuclear program.
The new sanctions are focused on the Iranian financial sector and the country’s vital gas and oil industries. These are precisely the areas of the Iranian economy most vulnerable to international measures.
From this week on, any further investment or technical assistance from EU companies in these areas will be prohibited.
Iran is particularly vulnerable in this area because, despite its vast oil reserves, the country lacks the ability to produce sufficient refined petroleum to meet its population’s needs.
In addition, the new sanctions will ban European companies from providing insurance services to Iranian bodies, and will ban Iranian banks from opening any additional branches in the European Union.
The former measure is significant because it will negatively affect the Iranian transport and shipping sectors.
The EU decision was sufficient to coax from Iran a renewed expression of willingness to reconsider the long-standing proposal for Teheran to export its enriched uranium to another country, where it would be converted into fuel rods for a medical research reactor.
Teheran has enjoyed toying with the West over this proposal since its emergence last year, as an exercise to buy time.
But why will the new measures not be anywhere near sufficient to cause the regime to reconsider its nuclear stance? They do not threaten to really strike hard at vital parts of the Iranian economy. And there is reason to believe that even in the face of genuinely “crippling” sanctions, the rising elite within the Iranian regime might well calculate their interests according to a different scale than that used in the West — and choose to brazen it out.
Despite the recent and ongoing revival of protests, the Islamist regime remains firmly in the driver’s seat…
|— Hat tip: Barry Rubin||[Return to headlines]|
Islamic Channel Launches Express Fatwa Service
The Islamic satellite channel al-Daleel announced the groundbreaking launch of a new express service that delivers fatwas round the clock to Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan.
Al-Daleel TV, supervised by prominent Saudi cleric Sheikh Salman al-Oouda, issued a statement declaring that the final touches of its new show Fatwa of the Hour are in place and that it is ready to launch on the first day of Ramadan, which falls on August 11 this year.
The new show is 10 minutes long and will be aired every hour. Each episode, which will be aired live, will feature inquiries via mobile text messages and phone calls and a guest who will answer them on the spot.
The new fatwa express show, the statement added, aims at offering a fast service for Muslims whose request for religious edicts generally increases in the holy month.
“In Ramadan, Muslims have several inquiries about issues like what invalidates fasting, when is it allowed to exceptionally break the fast, and so on,” said Abdel Rahman Qaed, head of the channel’s Scientific Affairs Department, in a press statement.
Qaed added that the purpose of airing the show every hour is to make sure all inquires are answered without delay.
“We feel it is our duty to offer clear answers to matters that are sometimes ambiguous for many Muslims and to do so promptly,” he added.
Qaed declined to reveal the names of guests to be hosted in the show, but stressed that they are all very well-established and trust-worthy scholars whose names are linked to rational interpretation, extensive knowledge, and power of speech.
Satellite fatwas slammed
The increasing number of programs that offer fatwas on satellite channels, commonly known as ‘satellite fatwas,’ have lately been stirring much controversy amongst Muslim scholars and raising questions about who is authorized to issue religious edicts and what are eligible topics.
The abundance of fatwa offering programs, critics argue, made several Muslims seek legitimacy for their actions through searching for the most lenient cleric and following the fatwas that best suits their purposes. Some call several programs asking about the same issue till they find the fatwa they are more or less looking for.
The issues tackled in fatwa programs have also been the source of heated debates. Some Islamic scholars argue that issuing fatwas about matters that involve the relationship between Muslims and God — - like praying, fasting, and faith — - is not a problem since these involve a degree of flexibility even if clerics differ about them.
However, opponents of satellite fatwas consider issuing edicts about matters related to the rights of others, including civil laws, a genuine problem since of the cleric who issues the fatwa is not necessarily familiar with the relevant laws.
Consequently, people following the edict could inflict damage upon others, thinking their actions are in line with the teachings of Islam.
The al-Feqh al-Islami (Islamic Jurisprudence) website posted a detailed report on satellite fatwas issued in the first quarter of the current Hijri year (1431), highlighting the rise of the phenomenon.
According to the report, programs of 11 Saudi and Arab channels received in 244 episodes more than 5,000 inquiries from 17 different countries,with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Libya, and Morocco at the top of the list.
Muslims from European countries, the report added, also called with their religious inquiries. Most of them from Austria, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and France.
|— Hat tip: TB||[Return to headlines]|
UAE: Accused Girl, 14, Denies Incident With Bus Driver Ever Took Place
A Brazilian girl charged with consensual sex after her parents told police she was raped by a Pakistani bus driver testified yesterday in the Criminal Court of First Instance that the incident never happened at all.
The 14-year-old girl and the 28-year-old driver are being tried according to Sharia law, in which people are treated as adults if they have reached the age of puberty.
But it has not been decided whether the girl has reached that age, officials said yesterday.
The girl’s lawyer argued that although she had reached puberty physically, Sharia law also required a person to be mentally mature. Even if the girl is found guilty of consensual sex, the driver, MH, would still be charged with statutory rape if the court ruled that the girl was not an adult.
Officials said yesterday that prosecutors found text messages in the phones of the defendants showing she arranged the meeting. Both denied the charges when they appeared before the court last week.
The defendants’ lawyers told the court yesterday there was no evidence the incident happened. Lawyers said the girl was tested at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department’s forensic unit 37 days after the incident.
The girl’s parents accompanied her to court. She is free on bail, but MH remains in police custody.
If the judge accepts that she is not an adult under Sharia law and that the incident was falsely reported, he can “hand her to her parents”, lawyers said. The legal procedure means a judge asks the family to educate their children about an issue….
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Afghanistan: British Troops Find Secret Taliban Bomb Factories
British troops have uncovered at least two Taliban bomb-making factories in a massive offensive against a key insurgent stronghold in Afghanistan.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, took just 45 minutes to clear enemy fighters from Sayedebad, a rebel-held town in the Nad-e Ali district of southern Helmand.
After a brief series of firefights during Operation Tor Shezada — Black Prince — the troops found dozens of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) left to booby-trap their advance. And pushing forward to secure the Taliban stronghold, they found two caches of bomb-making materials.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Gun Ownership Laws Trigger Indian Debate
Tejinder Singh Ghei, the owner of a tidy, one-room gun shop near Kashmiri Gate in Old Delhi, has not had a customer all week.
An old plastic telephone on Mr Ghei’s counter rings and, after a short conversation, Mr Ghei hangs up with a sigh.
“That was a dealer in Amritsar,” Mr Ghei said. “He says there is no business there either. It’s dead everywhere.”
Business has been bad for years thanks to ever tighter gun laws, Mr Ghei said, but since March, when the government introduced a new set of amendments, it has been even worse.
Along with highly restrictive curbs on the sale of ammunition and the creation of a national database of firearm owners, the new regulations also require gun-licence applicants to prove a “grave and imminent threat” to their lives in order to be approved.
“Who can prove this? It’s ridiculous,” Mr Ghei said. “India is a dangerous place. We are all at risk, but we don’t get threats.”
He was not the only one angered by the recent changes. India’s gun owners are also outraged, and for the first time they are fighting back in a style similar to the US’s National Rifle Association.
In January, a small group of enthusiasts met in Delhi to found The National Association of Gun Rights India (Nagri) to lobby lawmakers and to fund legal cases that make it easier to own and carry arms in India…
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Philippine Ambassador Takes Up Maids’ Pay Fight
The domestic workforce of Filipinas is being systematically short-changed in their pay believes the country’s representative to the UAE, who has announced she plans to do something about it.
On Friday, Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE, told a gathering of the newly formed Filipino Human Resources Practitioners’ Association that she would seek a meeting with UAE authorities to address the issue of contract substitution. It sees women offered one rate when working with agencies in the Philippines, and another, lower rate, either shortly before they leave or after they arrive in the UAE.
Ms Princesa did not indicate when the meeting with the UAE authorities would take place.
The majority of the household workers in the UAE earn US$200 (Dh735) per month, half of the $400 minimum wage set by the Philippine government, said the ambassador.
“We don’t like that,” she said. “We’re selling ourselves short.”
Of particular concern are more than 100 women who have run away from their employers and are staying at the Filipino Workers Resource Centre, a women’s shelter run by labour and welfare officials, at any one time.
With Benigno Aquino’s new government promising more job opportunities, Filipinos may no longer need to leave the country to work. As part of the Philippine government’s reintegration programme, the ambassador wants to link with organisations to provide these women a job or a means of livelihood when they return home. She said at least two women who stayed at the Abu Dhabi shelter had been promised jobs by the Mega Fishing Corporation in Zamboanga City, southern Philippines.
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Mexican Officials: Prison Inmates Released to Commit Killings
Top officials in Mexico said Sunday that authorities at a prison released and armed several inmates to attack a group of people during a birthday celebration last week in a killing spree that left 17 dead.
Ricardo Najera, a spokesman for Mexico’s Interior Ministry said authorities allowed a group of inmates to leave the Cereso prison in Gomez Palacio, in Mexico’s Durango state, in police vehicles to launch an attack on revelers at a farm in Torreon in the neighboring state of Coahuila.
“The delinquents were committing their executions as part of a debt-settling scheme against members of rivaling groups from organized crime,” Najera said Sunday of the July 18 attack.
“Unfortunately, in these executions, these delinquents also cowardly murdered innocent civilians,” he said, adding that the inmates returned to the prison after the attack.
Four top Cereso Gomez Palacio prison workers — including the prison’s director — were named as suspects in the investigation, Najera said.
The interior ministry said Sunday that the four suspects had been “detained,” but it was not clear whether charges had been filed.
Police were able to trace the weapons used in the July 18 incident to other violent attacks, Najera said.
Mexico’s interior minister, Francisco Blake, said Sunday that the Gomez Palacio prison incident sheds light on Mexico’s tenuous security and the “deteriorating state” of Mexico’s local law enforcement.
“Today, it is evident that the Mexican state is facing an enormous challenge in security,” said Blake. He asked local authorities to monitor “the presumed complicity of local authorities” with criminal elements.
According to the U.S. State Department, many of the narcotics-related attacks in Mexico have occurred in the northern border region.
|— Hat tip: Zenster||[Return to headlines]|
ACLU Lawsuits Force Localities to Back Off Tough Immigration Laws
…the city council in Fremont, Nebraska voted Tuesday night to suspend an immigration law that they passed last month in the face of legal pressure from interest groups opposing the law.
Last month, the Fremont city council made headlines for passing an immigration law similar to Arizona’s. Like Arizona, Fremont faced lawsuit threats from organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF). While at the time the Fremont City Council promised to enforce the voter-supported bill, they are now backing down, at least temporarily, in the face of legal challenges.
“We voted to suspend the law because the ACLU and MALDEF had filed an injunction that was to go into place tomorrow,” Fremont City Council member Sean Gitt told The Daily Caller. “We wanted to give our legal counsel time to deal with that.”
However, the suspension is only temporary, according to Gitt. If the law is not struck down in court, it will go into effect as soon as the legal battles are over, Gitt said.
So is this becoming a trend? Will states and cities have to continue to back down from implementing tough immigration laws?
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Group A and Group B
Suppose we have two groups. Group A believes that women are human beings, just like men are, and that they should be equal partners in their society. Group B believes that women were created by the devil to tempt men, that they have no human rights, and that they must be used to have as many children as possible. If Group A and B live in different parts of the world, each region will develop in a way that reflects their different ways of life.
Group A will have highly productive workforces and individual freedom, high divorce rates and low birth rates. By contrast Group B will have high birth rates, no divorces, weak productivity and no freedom. Both groups enjoy the consequences of living in tune with their worldviews. For a while. But what happens when Group B begins to move its surplus population into the region of Group A?
By reaping the benefits of Group A’s social setup, without accommodating itself to those same parameters, Group B is engaging in social parasitism, partaking only of the advantages to themselves, while avoiding their natural consequences. Much the same as a welfare recipient benefits from a social safety not paid for by active workers, exploits a system without paying into it—Group B exploits Group A’s social setup that it cannot recreate on its own.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Oxford Professor Calls for Drugging Water Supply
Drugging the population’s water supply, Savulescu claims, is a form of “enhancement” that can pave the way to a future where mental abilities and other functions could be improved with drugs. Savulescu writes:
“Fluoridation is the tip of the enhancement iceberg. Science is progressing fast to develop safe and effective cognitive enhancers, drugs which will improve our mental abilities. For years, people have used crude enhancers, usually to promote wakefulness, like nicotine, caffeine and amphetamines. A new generation of more effective enhancers is emerging modafenil, ritalin, Adderral and ampakines and the piracetam family of memory improvers.”
But once highly safe and effective cognitive enhancers are developed — as they almost surely will be — the question will arise whether they should be added to the water, like fluoride, or our cereals, like folate. It seems likely that widespread population level cognitive enhancement will be irresistible.
The dream Savulescu argues for is based upon the lie that fluoridation of the public water supply has been a tremendous human advancement. Supporting that lie is the boasted claim by the Center for Disease Control that water fluoridation ranks among the top 10 public health achievements of the 20th Century. Instead, fluoride has been linked with neurological effects, thyroid problems, bone cancer and even crippling-blindness. What’s more, much of it is not even the common-but-toxic sodium fluoride, but an industrial waste derivative known as hydrofluosilicic acid— in an estimated 2/3 of the fluoridated public water in the U.S. and known to be very deadly.
Savulescu is flawed to hope fluoride can pave the way to an alchemically-”improved” society, especially where forced-medication is involved. The vision is distinctly like that of Brave New World, wherein author Aldous Huxley predicts a future dictatorship where people “learn to love their servitude.” What Huxley terms in the novel “Soma” would most likely come in reality in the form of numerous drugs that would tackle individual happiness, and the larger complacency of the masses at large. Solidified by a Scientific Dictatorship, a pharmacologically-treated population would be rendered very unlikely to ever revolt against the regime in power.
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