Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100925

Financial Crisis
»Budget: Brussels and the Begging Bowl
»Chrysler Won’t Repay Bailout Money
»Independents Droppping Dems Over Economy
»Obama’s Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse
»Public Employees vs. The Public Will
»The American Home is Shrinking. Toll the Bell for the McMansion.
»The Enraged vs. The Exhausted
»“Economist” And “Foreign Policy” Attack “Constitution-Worshipers”
»Famed Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Artist Losing Hope
»GOP “Pledge to America” Is Drek
»Islamic Deception in Lower Manhattan
»John Kerry: Democrats’ Woes Stem From Uninformed Voters
»Rahm Emanuel Leading Exodus of Obama Aides From White House
»University of California Gets Bonus From Feds for Selecting Foreign Grad Students
Europe and the EU
»Europe: How the Left Lost It
»France: The Moment Robbers Armed With Kalashnikovs Raid Bureau De Change and Escape With Hostage
»French Court Convicts Google and Boss of Defamation
»Germany: Catholic Church Wants to Pay Abuse Victims on Case-by-Case Basis
»Germany: Renewable Energies: Green Revolution Will Cost You
»Netherlands: Caring Mayor Wants Roma Register
»Plane Bomb Suspect Released in Sweden
»Rotterdam: Top Official Has Links to Radical Turkish Organization
»UK: Asian Men Preyed on Four Girls for Sex, Court Hears
»UK: Dog Gets Award for Saving Sex Attack Victim
»UK: Eight in Court on Sex Charges
»UK: How 70% of New Zealand Lamb Imports to Britain Are Halal… But This is Not Put on the Label
»UK: MI6 Spook Did Not Die Alone: Police Certain He Was Padlocked in Bag by Someone Else
»UK: New Name Atop Britain’s ‘Most Wanted’ List
»Will France and Italy Capsize the Union?
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jerusalem Defeats IAEA Resolution Targeting Israel
Middle East
»Ahmadinejad: Iran Willing to End Uranium Enrichment
»Jordan: Abdullah: If Freeze Issue Not Settled, War May Follow
Australia — Pacific
»Muslims Demand Apology for New Zealand Minister’s Joke
»Ft. Morgan Police Chief Sent to Denmark to Learn More About Refugees
Culture Wars
»Pastors as Leftist Shills?

Financial Crisis

Budget: Brussels and the Begging Bowl

Got any spare budget?As the EU fights a losing battle to finance its increasingly wide range of roles and responsibilities, member states reluctant to contribute to community institutions are being held to blame for an imminent cash flow crisis.

Alain Frachon

It may be in poor taste to kick Europe when it’s down, but the facts are plain to be seen. The EU appears to be increasingly irrelevant in global politics. Notwithstanding the spectacular face-off over the Roma issue, it is at best viewed with indifference by public opinion within its borders. But now the 27-member bloc has been overtaken by yet another malaise, Europe is on the verge of financial bankruptcy.The subject at issue is not the threat posed by sovereign debt accumulated by its member states, but the budget of the EU itself — the operating and investment budget. The cashbox in Brussels is all but empty!

This autumn, the struggle over the budget which will dominate the activity of the European Parliament will almost certainly draw plenty of blood in Brussels. For the first time, the issue will be decided in compliance with the rules of the Lisbon Treaty, which gives the last word to Parliament. And before the curmudgeons among you shout me down: if there is one area in which the EU continues to make progress, it is in the field of democratisation, and notably with regard to the powers granted to the 736-member parliament. At last we have a parliament worthy of the name: it is even votes on the budget.

A legislative giant with feet of clay

But the good news stops there. This summer the Commission presented a proposal for a 2011 budget of approximately 126.6 billion, or 1.02% of the EU’s GDP. Given the context of the sovereign debt crisis, it was an austerity budget which took into account the fact that the main priority for member states remains the restoration of national public finances, and that EU spending would have to take second place. But it was still too much for the European Council, which pared it down before passing it on to the European Parliament’s Finance Committee. “We have reached a point of deadlock over the budget,” remarks the Committee President, France’s Alain Lamassoure.

Lamassoure goes on to explain that the EU has now become “a legislative giant.” With each new treaty — Maastricht (1993), Amsterdam (1999), Nice (2003) and Lisbon (2009) — the European Council has charged the EU with more extensive responsibilities. Or put more simply, Europe’s national leaders have increased the number of tasks assigned to Brussels: which now include the development of policy for energy, the environment, higher education and research, and the creation of a 6,000-strong diplomatic service etc.

However, at the same time the Council has somewhat imperiously refused to provide the EU with the means to achieve these new goals. In fact, the EU’s budget has been progressively reduced: in the mid-1980s, it represented 1.28% of Europe’s GDP, in the 1990s this figure was scaled back to 1.02%. And who knows where it will be in the wake of this autumn’s debate?

As a result, the EU now appears to be a waning power whose summits are followed by the announcement of ambitious projects that never see the light of day. Can anyone remember the Lisbon summit where the Council decreed that Europe would shortly become “the world’s most dynamic knowledge economy?” It would be funny if it was not so sad, but how many patents have been lodged in Europe since then?

Finance ministers — formerly reluctant to pay, now unable

As Mr Lamassoure explains, Europe may well be a “legislative giant,” but it remains a “budgetary midget.” In its early years, with the treaty that established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC, 1951), it benefited from its own sources of revenue in the form of customs and excise duties (the common external tariff). However, this influx of funds progressively dried up in the course of major negotiations on the global dismantling of trade barriers. To refill the coffers in Brussels, in 1984, it was decided that revenues would temporarily be supplemented by contributions from member states to be calculated on the basis of their GDP and VAT revenue streams.

What began as a provisional measure became permanent, the supplement became the main course, and there have been no further decisions on EU funding since then. Today the bulk of the EU’s budget is still sourced from national contributions, and the EU still features as an expense in the financial provisions of its 27 member states, where it is regularly criticised by national representatives and continues to provoke the ire of the governments who pay the most.

This state of affairs has paved the way for a mentality that privileges a “return on investment” approach — i.e. that each member state should recover the cost of its contribution to Europe — which is the very antithesis of the community spirit of times gone by.

It is a situation that weighs heavily on Mr Lamassoure who remarks that in the past “finance ministers were reluctant to pay,” but today in the context of the current crisis, “they are unable to pay.” If the deadlock surrounding the European budget is to be broken, the first line of attack must target the chains that bind it to national contributions.

And that can only mean one thing: the allocation of specific European resources. The majority political party in the European Parliament, the European People’s party (EPP), is proposing to introduce a European tax on financial transactions or CO2 emissions. Mr Lamassoure favours a more inventive approach that will enable the EU to directly receive VAT for certain types of imported products (for example, from cars).

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

Chrysler Won’t Repay Bailout Money

An administration official confirms that a $4 billion bridge loan and $3.2 billion in bankruptcy financing

won’t be paid back by Chrysler following bankruptcy

Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.

This revelation was buried within Chrysler’s bankruptcy filings last week and confirmed by the Obama administration Tuesday. The filings included a list of business assumptions from one of the company’s key financial advisors in the bankruptcy case.

Some of the main assumptions listed by Robert Manzo of Capstone Advisory Group were that the Treasury would forgive a $4 billion bridge loan given to Chrysler in the closing days of the Bush administration, a $300 million fee on that loan, and the $3.2 billion in financing approved last week by the Obama administration to fund Chrysler’s operations during bankruptcy.

An Obama administration official confirmed Tuesday that Chrysler won’t be repaying the loans, though a portion of the bridge loan may be recovered by Treasury from the assets of Chrysler Financial, the former credit arm of the automaker which is essentially going out of business as part of the reorganization.

“The reality now is that the face value [of the $4 billion bridge loan] will be written off in the bankruptcy process,” said the official, who added that the 8% equity stake that Treasury will be receiving as part of the company’s reorganization is meant to compensate taxpayers for the lost money.

“While we do not expect a recovery of these funds, we are comfortable that in the totality of the arrangement, the Treasury and the American taxpayer are being fairly compensated,” said the official.

The company filed for bankruptcy Thursday as part of a deal with the federal government, unions, some lenders and Italian automaker Fiat to keep the company from being shut down.

The Canadian government also agreed to kick in about $900 million in bankruptcy financing. According to the filings, Chrysler’s advisor assumes that this loan will be forgiven as well.

The Obama administration official said that other money being made available to Chrysler, such as the $4.7 billion that will go to the company as it exits bankruptcy, will be a loan that the government expects to be paid back. In addition, that loan will be secured by company assets, unlike the previous loans to Chrysler…

[Return to headlines]

Independents Droppping Dems Over Economy

Independents are angry about the economy, and they’re ready to take it out on the party in power… Independent registered voters now lean 47% to 43% towards the GOP. As a Democratic pollster put it, “Independents are independent again instead of being a relatively reliable Democratic bloc.”

More troubling for Pres. Obama and Democrats: the independents most fired up are moving away from them. Among independent likely voters, Republicans lead Democrats by 13 points, 49% to 36%. Just two years ago, Pres. Obama carried independents by 8 points, 53% to 45%, and in ‘06 independents broke overwhelmingly for Democrats, 57% to 39%, according to exit polls.

Democrats still outnumber Republicans in partisan identification in most surveys, including this one, but because Republicans appear more excited about this election, Pew predicts that they will equal Democrats as a share of the vote on Election Day. As a result, the GOP’s advantage among independents may well be the tipping point in many state and local races this cycle…

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Obama’s Stimulus Made Economic Crisis Worse

U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration weakened the country’s economy by seeking to foster growth instead of paying down the federal debt, said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan.”

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”


“Today there is a dependency on people who have never been able to forecast anything,” Taleb said. “What kind of system is insulated from forecasting errors? A system where debts are low and companies are allowed to die young when they are fragile. Companies always end up dying one day anyway.”

Taleb, a native of Lebanon who gave his speech in French to an audience of Quebec business people, said Canada’s fiscal situation makes the country a safer investment than its southern neighbor.

Canada has the lowest ratio of net debt to gross domestic product among the Group of Seven industrialized countries and will keep that distinction until at least 2014, the country’s finance department said in March. Canada’s ratio, 24 percent in 2007, will rise to about 30 percent by 2014. The U.S. ratio, now above 40 percent, will top 80 percent in four years, the department said, citing IMF data.

[Return to headlines]

Public Employees vs. The Public Will

Government workers get more powerful as they grow less popular.

by Tim Cavanaugh

Many state and local governments have made the mistake of courting the votes of public employees by fattening salaries and benefits, all the time imagining that pension-fund investments could only go up,” the tirade warns us. With tales of “lavish retirements for relatively youthful public servants” illustrating the “ugly…issue of public-employee pay and benefits,” the jeremiad estimated that state governments are anywhere from $1 trillion to $3 trillion short of their public pension commitments.

This end-of-days screed did not appear at, nor was it printed in folio, stapled together, and handed out at a Tea Party. It’s a cover story published this summer in Time magazine.


In 2009, the Gallup research group reported that for the first time in 70 years of polling, a majority of Americans opposed labor unions. An April Pew study showed that favorable ratings for unions had plummeted from 58 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2010. In the same month, the Republican research group Resurgent Republic found more than two-thirds opposition to current levels of compensation for government employees…

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The American Home is Shrinking. Toll the Bell for the McMansion.

“Home buyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage,” said Steven Pace of the North Carolina-based Pace Development Group, which builds both custom and tract houses ranging in price from below $250,000 to more than $2 million.

“They’re saying, ‘Maybe we don’t need that 5,000 square footage;” he said. “‘Maybe our bath doesn’t need to be big enough for our whole family and all our neighbors to take a shower at the same time.’“

Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, pointed out that consumers don’t ask for as much for spaces devoted to single purposes, such as media rooms for watching videos and game rooms for shooting pool. Instead, the requests are for rooms with shared uses.

“We continue to move away from the ‘McMansion’ chapter of residential design,” he said…

[Return to headlines]

The Enraged vs. The Exhausted

by Peggy Noonan

Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee suggests I have the wrong word for the Republican base. The word, she says, is not enraged but “livid.”

The three-term Republican deputy whip has been campaigning in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. We spoke by phone about what she is seeing, and she sounded like the exact opposite of exhausted.

There are two major developments, she says, that are new this year and insufficiently noted, but they’re going to shape election outcomes in 2010 and beyond.

First, Washington is being revealed in a new way.

The American people now know, “with real sophistication,” everything that happens in the capital. “I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time response,” Ms. Blackburn says. “We hear about it even as the vote is taking place.”

Voters come to rallies carrying research—”things they pulled off the Internet, forwarded emails,” copies of bills, roll-call votes. The Internet isn’t just a tool for organization and fund-raising. It has given citizens access to information they never had before. “The more they know,” Ms. Blackburn observes, “the less they like Washington.”

Second is the rise of women as a force. They “are the drivers in this election cycle,” Ms. Blackburn says. “Something is going on.” At tea party events the past 18 months, she started to notice “60% of the crowd is women.”

She tells of a political rally that drew thousands in Nashville, at the State Capitol plaza. She had brought her year-old grandson. When the mic was handed to her, she was holding him. “I said, ‘How many of you are grandmothers?’ The hands! That was the moment I realized that the majority of the people at the political events now are women. I saw this in town halls in ‘09—it was women showing up at my listening events, it was women talking about health care.”

Why would more women be focusing more intently on politics this year than before?

Ms. Blackburn hypothesizes: “Women are always focusing on a generation or two down the road. Women make the education and health-care decisions for their families, for their kids, their spouse, their parents. And so they have become more politically involved. They are worried about will people have enough money, how are they going to pay the bills, the tuition, get the kids through school and college.”…

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“Economist” And “Foreign Policy” Attack “Constitution-Worshipers”

The editors of the Economist have declared constitutionalists mentally ill. “Indeed, there is something infantile in the belief of the constitution-worshipers that the complex political arguments of today can be settled by simple fidelity to a document written in the 18th century,” the editors wrote on September 23. “When history is turned into scripture and men into deities, truth is the victim.”

According to the Economist, the framers were aristocrats who “did not believe that poor men, or any women, let alone slaves, should have the vote.” The Constitution does not address the “hard questions thrown up by modern politics,” namely should gays be allowed to marry?

The Economist argument against the Constitution is the same one used by liberal academics. The document is antiquated, the product of a bygone era. The founders were afraid of “democracy taking hold,” so they crafted a document designed to exclude the common people and preserve their aristocratic position.

Globalists love democracy. It is an easy enough task to fool the people, especially these days with 24-7 media and satellite television. It is a relatively simple matter to have the benighted masses vote away their natural rights under some cooked up false pretense. “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote,” wrote Marvin Simkin. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

Soon after the Economist article appeared, the establishment publication Foreign Policy posted an article slamming the idea that we should follow the Constitution. Joshua Keating writes that he suspects “most Americans don’t realize quite how old the Constitution is by world standards,” that is to say globalist standards. In order to make his point, Keating cites an article published in the Onion, a popular satire publication.

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Famed Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Artist Losing Hope

In an exclusive interview with National Journal on Thursday, Shepard Fairey expressed his disappointment with the president — a malaise that seems representative of many Democrats who had great expectations for Obama.

Fairey explained that when he came up with the poster in 2008, he was trying to find a single image that embodied the issues he cared most about — promoting health care, helping labor, and curtailing lobbyists. He likened the issues to projectiles.

“Looking at Obama’s standpoint on various policies, it was like, ‘Why throw all these particular projectiles over the wall… when I could put all those things in one projectile that I could hurl over the wall,’“ Fairey said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he lives. “Obama was the delivery device in theory. Now, I realize that he maybe is not the correct delivery device, and I’ll just deal with those issues separately.”


“There’s a lot of stuff completely out of Obama’s control or any of the Democrats’ control,” Fairey allowed. “But I think there’s something a little deeper in terms of the optimism of the younger voter that’s happening. They wanted somebody who was going to fight against the status quo, and I don’t think that Obama has done that.”

To be sure, Fairey still supports Obama, and he says he would use his talents to assist the president’s re-election efforts in 2012. But he said that he couldn’t design the same Hope poster today, because the spirit of the Obama campaign hasn’t carried over to the Obama presidency…

[Return to headlines]

GOP “Pledge to America” Is Drek

…the Contract with America was 869 words and this is 21 pages. The Contract told you everything you needed to know about how a Republican Congress would be different from a Democrat Congress after 40 years of Democrat control.

These 21 pages tell you lots of things, some contradictory things, but mostly this: it is a serious of compromises and milquetoast rhetorical flourishes in search of unanimity among House Republicans because the House GOP does not have the fortitude to lead boldly in opposition to Barack Obama.

I have one message for John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and the House GOP Leadership: If they do not want to use the GOP to lead, I would like to borrow it for a time.

Yes, yes, it is full of mom tested, kid approved pablum that will make certain hearts on the right sing in solidarity.


The pledge begins by lamenting “an arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites” issuing “mandates”, then proceeds to demand health care mandates on insurance companies that will drive up the costs of health care for ordinary Americans.

The plan wants to put “government on the path to a balanced budget” without doing anything substantive. There is a promise to “immediately reduce spending” by cutting off stimulus funds. Wow. Exciting.

There is a plan to cut Congress’s budget, which is pretty much what was promised in 1994. Seriously? In 4 years did the Democrats really blow up the Congressional budget? No — the GOP did that too.

There is no call for a Spending Limitation Amendment or a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just meaningless stuff the Democrats can easily undo and that ultimately the Senate GOP will even turn its nose up at.

The entirety of this Promise is laughable. Why? It is an illusion that fixates on stuff the GOP already should be doing while not daring to touch on stuff that will have any meaningful longterm effects on the size and scope of the federal government.

This document proves the GOP is more focused on the acquisition of power than the advocacy of long term sound public policy.


Read “Pledge to America here:

[Return to headlines]

Islamic Deception in Lower Manhattan

At the direction of some of the principal planners of the Islamic cultural center at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, Muslims from across the five boroughs of New York and New Jersey are quietly being urged to attend Friday prayer services that are being held at the former Burlington retail store on Park Place. This is being done to deceptively inflate Muslim demographics in lower Manhattan while creating a misleading but convincingly effective visual display of the need for the center.

This tactic is currently being used in Paris, as shown in this CBN video report.

An undercover French videographer captured covert video footage of Muslims lining the streets of Paris, blocking and closing off the streets as a display of their power and influence. According to his observations, the Muslims engaged in these activities are not indigenous to the area. He has observed vehicles filled with Muslims coming from different parts of the city to purposely swell the numbers.

During the course of my investigation, I interviewed a long-time business owner located in close proximity to the planned Islamic center on Park Place. He told me that ever since the opposition to the Islamic center became public, the numbers of prayer participants at the intended site has increased dramatically. “A year ago, there was hardly any foot traffic to and from [Park Place]. Within the last few months, I’ve seen cars and other vehicles with out of state license plates parking at various lots and the men walking to Park Place. A lot of the cars have New Jersey license plates.” In consideration of his business and fearing for his safety, he has requested that his name and address not be published.

As part of my continuing investigation into this matter, I’ve personally verified his claims. I’ve conducted surveillance of Park Place and the adjacent areas on different occasions, observing numerous vehicles bearing license plates from New Jersey and even Pennsylvania parking in nearby lots. I’ve observed the occupants walk to the Park Place location, and following the services inside, walk back to their vehicles and leave the area.

Also according to this source, the mood among the Muslims participating in the Friday services has changed dramatically within the last several weeks. “Last year, I would talk to three, maybe four Muslims, at most, after Friday prayers. They were quite reserved. Now, I see dozens of Muslims in groups and their mood, attitude, behavior and conversation is anything but reserved. It is contentious. They appear to be activists on a mission,” he stated.

Meanwhile, there are those who continue to assert that the proposed “victory mosque” is neither a mosque nor located at “Ground Zero.” They also cite the existence of a simple, chapel like prayer room from Muslims that existed within one of the World Trade Center towers well before the attacks on 9/11 in their argument favoring construction. They are “technically” correct on both counts, but like the visual display of Muslim demographics in lower Manhattan, their assertions are deceptive and disingenuous at best.

To help illustrate that the planned mosque need not be situated within the footprint of the former World Trade Center to be considered “Ground Zero,” I created the above graphic to offer a reasonable perspective that its location is well within the area of destruction and death caused by Muslim terrorists. Using a declassified military aerial photograph of the area, the planned Muslim construction is shown by an Islamic graphic inserted over 45-51 Park Place. The inset at the lower left shows the debris cloud encompassing the area well beyond the propped construction site as well.

In this general area, 2,752 innocent victims were murdered. To date, authorities recovered 21,812 remains of bodies and body parts from the carnage inflicted, some as close as 348 feet from the proposed Islamic center. Although it is not widely publicized, artifacts are still being found in lower Manhattan.

Semantics and technicalities aside, I’m convinced that anyone present at 45-51 Park Place on the morning of 9/11 would rightfully assert they were at Ground Zero that day. We must not allow what is seen as an iconic symbol of Muslim conquest in the eyes of our enemies to be built as a result of deception, semantics or technicalities. We must not allow it to built — period.

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John Kerry: Democrats’ Woes Stem From Uninformed Voters

A testy U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry yesterday blamed clueless voters with short attention spans for the uphill battle beleaguered Democrats are facing against Republicans across the nation.

“We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening,” Kerry told reporters after touring the Boston Medical Center yesterday.


Kerry made the remarks on voters following questions about U.S. Rep Barney Frank’s re-election campaign and queries about securing federal funding for the Hub hospital.

“I think a lot of the anger today — while it’s appropriate because Washington is broken — is not directed at the right people,” said Kerry. “Barney is prepared, as others are, to explain what we’re doing. I think when people hear the facts and they see what we’re doing, it frankly makes sense.”

In the interview, Kerry added that voters should be mad at stonewalling Republicans and “big money” in politics instead, referring to a bill blocked by Republicans Thursday that would reveal corporate and union leaders who fund big-bucks political ads.

He went on to blame the legislative logjam in Washington, D.C., for fewer federal dollars sent to the state.

John Feehery, a Washington D.C.-based Republican consultant, said Kerry’s comments mark yet another embarrassing stumble for the gaffe-prone senior senator. In 2006, the former presidential candidate had to apologize for a statement he made at a California college that U.S. students who did not study hard and stay in school would end up “stuck in Iraq.”

“I think that arrogance sums up why John Kerry didn’t get elected president,” Feehery said. “He’s out of touch.”…

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Rahm Emanuel Leading Exodus of Obama Aides From White House

The likely departure of the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, to run for Mayor of Chicago is part of a half-term reshuffle of top aides that will signal a new chapter in the history of Barack Obama’s increasingly embattled presidency.

It also raises a vital question: will Mr Obama continue to rely on the small and trusted group of intimates who have followed him from Chicago to Washington — or will he seize the chance to bring in new blood from the outside…

The official word at the White House remains that Mr Emanuel is still “in the process of thinking about what he’s going to do next”. Unofficially, it is virtually taken for granted he will leave. The filing deadline for the race to succeed the outgoing mayor, Richard Daley, is 22 November, and the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday that Terry Peterson, head of the city’s transit authority, had signed up as Mr Emanuel’s campaign manager.

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University of California Gets Bonus From Feds for Selecting Foreign Grad Students

The University of California (UC) receives an extra $15,000-a-year payment from the federal government every time it admits a high-tech graduate student from overseas, as opposed to one from the United States.1 The payment comes to UC after it puts the student on the payroll of a federal grant.

We estimate that UC gets a $50 million yearly bonus from this unusual system.


Whether these financial bonuses, in fact, encourage the 10 UC campuses to discriminate against would-be U.S. grad students is a different and very interesting question, but one we are not going to tackle in this report. Here we describe the internal workings of this bizarre program.

UC, like most other state universities, receives substantial amounts of federal research money, notably from the National Science Foundation and various arms of the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services. Foreign grad students in science and engineering routinely are employed as researchers on these grants.

UC, unlike most, if not all, state universities, charges the feds more for tuition remission for foreign rather than U.S. graduate students working on funded research projects. It does so by charging out-of-state tuition rates for foreign grad students and lower in-state rates for domestic ones. Typically, other state universities charge the federal government the in-state rate for both domestic and foreign grad students.

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at UC is about $15,000 per student, per year. It does not cost any more or less to educate a foreign student compared to a domestic one. The two-tier tuition system was designed by state legislators many years ago so that local tax funds would not, or would not seem to, subsidize out-of-state students.

What the University of California has done is to use, in combination, the traditional two-tier tuition system and a permissive federal funding process and to twist the combination to its own advantage. While I find the system abusive, for reasons noted below, I must admit that the UC billing system is a stroke of genius…

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Europe and the EU

Europe: How the Left Lost It

With its representatives confined to the opposition benches nearly everywhere in Europe, the left is increasingly unable to propose a real alternative in a world where ideology is progressively disappearing.

Polska Warsaw 22 September 2010

Jacek Stawiski

In some countries like Germany, France and Italy, centre-right and right-wing parties have been at the helm for several years. The situation is a little more complex in the United Kingdom, where the ruling Conservative Party has entered into a coalition with the liberal democrats, who could be described as centre-left. To complete this picture, we could add that centrist and right wing parties were also the winners of the most recent European elections.

The domination of the centre-right has not only been prompted by the weakness of the left. Much of its success can be attributed to strong and efficient political leaders like Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and David Cameron who played a key role in election victories in France (2007), Germany (2009) and the UK (2010). The same can be said of the Spanish left, which benefited from the charisma of its leader Zapatero in its successful bid to retain power in Madrid.

Today, however, both Sarkozy and Merkel have run into difficulties. Sarkozy’s popularity has plummeted, and the fates have been less than kind to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who until recently was celebrated as Ms. Europe, but now resembles a beleaguered Frau Germania struggling to rally support for her coalition government.

The immigrant question

In its quest to reconquer some of the territory it has lost in the EU, the European left should be able to take advantage of a number of factors including the economic crisis, which persists despite the relative resurgence of growth in some countries of the Union. But its chances of obtaining election victories over the right remain slim. Socialists and the social democrats have run short of coherent ideas to solve the problems that Europe now faces. At the same time, our contemporary developed societies are now beset by difficulties that could be described as “new types of crises,” which are devoid of ideological colour.

The two most reported political stories of recent weeks — the deportation of Bulgarian and Romanian Roma from France and the publication of an anti-Islamic book by SPD member Thilo Sarrazin — appear to corroborate the general right-wing thesis which warns that Europe is unable to manage the problem of immigrants who, for the most part, are resistant to integration in Western society and are notably ungrateful to their host countries. At the same time, their presence is also viewed as a threat to national security.

According to this rhetoric, the lack of a sufficient commitment to the preservation of Europe’s cultural heritage has meant that Europe can no longer hold its own against Islam. For many commentators, the fact that this book has been penned by a social democrat is proof that left-wing ideas have run their course. Clearly it’s a far cry from the left’s traditional opposition to nationalism and racism, and the decades-old drive to construct a tolerant multicultural society.

At the same time, traditional left-wing recipes do not offer an effective remedy to other key problems in our societies. And this is particularly the case in the field of economics, where the left announced the end of the right-wing “neo-liberal” model, but consistently failed to propose a viable alternative.

Chavez and Lula — heroes of a weakened European left

In the domain of counter-terrorism legislation, the strictest measures have been introduced by left-wing governments in the UK, Germany and even more remarkably in Spain. And let’s not forget that it was a Labour government that brought the United Kingdom into the war in Iraq, which marked a clear shift from the traditional pacifist stance adopted by left-wing parties.

On a global level, the weakening of the European left has been accompanied by the rise to power of more aggressive left-wing politics typified by the Venezuelan model. For many intellectuals weary of capitalism, the main advantage of the ideology proposed by Hugo Chavez, which has been marked by a host of radical measures — including the nationalisation of private property and companies, state control of the media, and anti-Western and in particular anti-American rhetoric — is the fact that it has stopped short of introducing a Marxist-Leninist totalitarian system.

Venezuela is in a position to finance the export of its eccentric brand of socialism, because it is an ideology that has its basis in the modern economy. Another anti-capitalist champion, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has also succeeded in promoting his own version of left-wing politics to ensure the prosperity and well-being of a majority of Brazilian citizens. The formula adopted by Lula, which is different to the one proposed by the traditional left, is mainly marked by the promotion of a strong economy that is adapted to the needs of the state. And it is not for nothing that anti-globalisation campaigners in Europe and North America are so enthusiastic about Lula but much less fanatical in their support for Chávez, or Spanish PM Zapatero, who has been forced to limit his left-wing programme to the traditional tussle with Catholicism and other conservative Spanish traditions.

Europe is now characterised by the ongoing blurring of the left-right divide, and political ideologies are increasingly seen as irrelevant. Class background is no longer important, and much less significant than nationality and regional identity. And that is why the road towards the resurgence of left-wing ideology in Europe will be long and full of potential pitfalls.


European left-wing burnout

“The whole European left should storm Sweden,” urges Le Monde in an editorial. Sweden, the “cradle of modern social democracy and of the most successful welfare state of the past half century”, has been rocked by a “double political earthquake”: the far right’s entry into parliament and the Social Democrats’ abysmal score at the polls. In an effort to explain the decline of the European left, Le Monde spoke with Italian linguist Raffaele Simone, who attributes the “triumph of the right just about everywhere on the Old Continent” to the “intellectual exhaustion of the left”.

The left “doesn’t seem to have understood a thing about the sea change in civilisation wrought by the victory of individualism and consumption”, and until quite recently it “refused to discuss mass immigration and illegal immigrants”. Le Monde argues that the controlled immigration “needed to keep the welfare state going in our aging societies presupposes a huge integration effort that hasn’t been made”. But there may be a price to be paid for integration, the Parisian daily suggests: “Will the European-style welfare state survive by doing less in its traditional domains — health care, pensions — and more to tackle its new task: integrating immigrants?” For Le Monde, that is the crux of the message from Stockholm.

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

France: The Moment Robbers Armed With Kalashnikovs Raid Bureau De Change and Escape With Hostage

This is the moment armed robbers raided a Bureau de Change in broad daylight, making off with bags of cash and gold.

Extraordinary pictures show how the four men, wearing balaclavas over their heads and dressed top to toe in black, held up the shop in the centre of Lyon in France.

The raid yesterday happened at around 3.15pm — and it was all the more audacious because the Bureau de Change is right opposite the city’s town hall.

The robbers, who witnesses said were armed with Kalashnikovs, could be seen climbing running in and out of the building.

They then grabbed a terrified man and bundled him into the silver Mercedes before making their getaway, as crowds of eyewitnesses looked on.

As they sped off, they fired shots into the air. The loot is thought to have been around 100,000 euros in cash but also included gold.

They are thought to have abandoned the car some hundreds of metres away and set it on fire in a bid to destroy any evidence.

According to reports, the car was registered in Seine-and-Mare and was stolen the day before in Villeurganne.

The hostage was quickly released, sources said, and was then interviewed by police. It is thought the robbers may have been slightly injured as they escaped.

A member of staff at another Global Cash shop in Lyon said: ‘The staff are very shocked.’ A shop assistant in a neighbouring pharmacy said: ‘I didn’t see anything but I heard a huge noise.’

She added that there were around 10 police cars at the scene shortly after the raid. Two helicopters also circled overhead shortly after the robbery.

Armed robbers have targeted the centre of Lyon over the past year but have more usually raided jewellers.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

French Court Convicts Google and Boss of Defamation

PARIS (AFP) — A Paris court has convicted US search engine giant Google and its chief executive Eric Schmidt of defamation over results from its “suggest” function, a French legal affairs website has revealed.

The new function, which suggests options as you type in a word, brought up the words “rapist” and “satanist” when the plaintiff’s name was typed into the search engine, reported.

The court ordered Google to make a symbolic payment of one euro in damages and take measures to ensure they could be no repeat of the offence.

The plaintiff in this case had been convicted on appeal to a three-year jail sentence for corruption of a minor, a conviction that was not yet definitive, when he discovered the results on entering his name in a Google search.

The court concluded that the search engine’s linking his name to such words was defamatory.

The court ruled that Google had not showed its good faith in the matter and ordered it to pay 5,000 euros (6,700 dollars) towards the plaintiff’s costs.

A Google spokesman told AFP by email that they would be appealing the ruling.

The statement said that the Google Suggest function simply reflected the most common terms used in the past with words entered, so it was not Google itself that was making the suggestions.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Germany: Catholic Church Wants to Pay Abuse Victims on Case-by-Case Basis

The Catholic Church would be ready to compensate victims of abuse on a case-by-case basis rather than with a single lump sum, according to papers prepared ahead of discussions to be held next week.

German bishops will bring this suggestion to the round-table talks on child sexual abuse set to start on Thursday, according to a report in Der Spiegel on Saturday.

A spokesman for the Bishop’s Conference said the compensation should be “appropriate to the severity of the act, and helpful to the victims.”

Similar cases which have been decided by German courts have resulted in compensation payments of between €5,000 and €10,000 — well short of the €82,373 general payment per head called for by victims’ representatives.

Costs for therapy and other necessary help would also largely be paid for by the Church though, said the bishops.

Even if the first payments were to be made this year, Christine Bergmann, the government-appointed independent commissioner for the matter, said the Church was being slow in acting.

“Those concerned want the perpetrators or the institutions take on responsibility,” she said.

“Most of those who contact us want financial compensation because they have often been unable to establish themselves professionally due to the abuse — or have been financially burdened by sometimes very lengthy therapy.”

Matthias Katsch, spokesman for the victims, said he wanted to see no bureaucratic acknowledgement process — and insisted that payments should not come with the condition of a victim agreeing not to sue.

The Local/hc

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

Germany: Renewable Energies: Green Revolution Will Cost You

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s vision of completing Germany’s conversion to renewable energy by 2050 is bold and ambitious. But she has remained silent about the risks and the tremendous costs the green revolution will entail — for Germany and all of Europe.

Germany’s dream of an energy revolution has already come true in the small town of Morbach, nestling between wooded hills in the southwestern Hunsrück region. Morbach boasts 14 wind turbines, 4,000 square meters of solar panels and a biogas plant, all located on the site of a former military base straddling a hill above the town. Together, they produce three times more electricity than the 11,000-strong community needs.

Politicians and corporate executives from all over the world have visited the site. Morbach has already achieved what Merkel is now planning for the whole of Germany.

She wants to lift Germany to Morbach’s levels in just four decades, after which Europe’s largest economy will meet most of its energy requirements from the sun and the wind, biomass and water. Drawing on the inexhaustible supply of energy on land and at sea would help combat global warming. And it would mean an end the dependence on Arab oil and to fears of nuclear accidents and of the mood swings of Russia’s gas suppliers.

The government laid out this bold, green vision in its draft energy plan earlier this month. It wants to increase the share of renewable energy from 16 percent today to 80 percent by 2050.

Silence on True Cost of Energy Plan

It will mark the end of an energy system that has been based almost exclusively on fossil fuels — coal, oil and gas — for the last two centuries. That is why Merkel keeps on emphasizing the scale of the revolution Germany faces. But she is keeping quiet about the huge cost this will entail.

For a start, new power lines need to be built to transport the growing amounts of wind power from Europe’s north and solar power from the south. The power industry estimates that constructing these power motorways — the lines, switching stations and transformers — will cost some €40 billion ($53 billion) in the coming 10 years.

The Era of Cheap Power is Over

The strategists at RWE, Germany’s biggest power company, estimate in an internal study that Europe will require a staggering €3 trillion ($4 trillion) of investment just to convert its power generation to green energy. That doesn’t include the necessary spending on networks and storage. The price of electricity production would increase rapidly in the coming 25 years to up to 23.5 cents per kilowatt hour in a worst-case scenario, if Germany were to switch to complete self-sufficiency in energy production, from 6.5 cents now, RWE estimates.

It is impossible to arrive at precise forecasts for the cost of the green revolution over the next 40 years. Besides, most scenarios don’t factor in the problems that could arise in terms of arduous approval procedures, legal disputes and public protests. But six main factors can be identified that can help to determine whether a renewable energy system can work reliably and what cost levels can be expected…

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

Netherlands: Caring Mayor Wants Roma Register

De Volkskrant, 23 September 2010

“Ethnic registration for Roma”, headlines De Volkskrant. Social democratic mayor Cor de Vos of Nieuwegein, a town in the central Holland, says that councils with the largest Roma populations should keep an ethnic register of the community. “We are dealing with a group of people which is not integrated in Dutch society,” he declared. “They need to be helped, for their own sake and that of their neighbourhood. But we can’t do that without knowing their situation.” Last Wednesday it was revealed that the city council of Ede has been holding police, child welfare and justice department files on the Roma since 1978. The council apologised but also said: “The law isn’t in step with the issues.”

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

Plane Bomb Suspect Released in Sweden

STOCKHOLM — Swedish police evacuated 273 people from a Pakistan International Airlines jet diverted to Stockholm due to a bomb alert Saturday and briefly detained a passenger on suspicion of preparing aircraft sabotage, officials said.

However, no explosives were found on the man, who was released after questioning by police, or on the Boeing 777. All passengers — except the suspect — were allowed back on the plane nine hours later.

It took off for Manchester, England, from where the passengers would continue their journey to Karachi, Pakistan, said Jan Lindqvist, a spokesman for airport operator Swedavia.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating whether the incident was a “terrorism hoax.”

The plane was traveling from Toronto to Karachi when the pilot asked to land after Canadian authorities received a tip that a passenger was carrying explosives.

A SWAT team detained the suspect as he was evacuated from the aircraft along with the other passengers. An Associated Press reporter at the airport saw the passengers boarding yellow airport buses parked near the aircraft.

Police described the suspect as a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin, aged about 30, but said they had not confirmed his identity.

A spokesman for the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines said the suspect was a 25-year-old Canadian national.

Stockholm police spokesman Kjell Lindgren told AP that a prosecutor decided to let the man go after questioning. Lindgren declined to give details and said investigators would release more information about the incident later Saturday.

The tip was “called in by a woman in Canada,” police operation leader Stefan Radman said, adding that Swedish police took the threat seriously.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Sgt. Marc LaPorte said an anonymous caller called twice Friday saying a man on the flight had explosives.

“The first call provided vague information. It did lay out that there was an individual on that specific flight in possession of explosives and then the second call provided more details with regards to the identity of the person,” LaPorte said.

He declined to elaborate on the caller, saying there was potentially a criminal offense involved.

“We take any call of this nature very seriously. Basically we have to ascertain the credibility and reliability of the call and try to determine whether there was a deliberate intent on behalf of the caller to mislead the police or if it falls into the definition of a terrorism hoax.”

In Washington, the FBI was assisting Swedish and Canadian authorities in their investigation, FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said Saturday.

Swedish police said the man was not on any international no-fly lists and had cleared a security check in Canada. He didn’t resist when the SWAT team took him into custody.

In Pakistan, a spokesman for state-run PIA confirmed the incident involved Flight PK782 to Karachi.

The passengers waited at the “international holding area” at the airport as they and their luggage were scanned and searched, airline spokesman Sultan Hasan said. Pakistani diplomats were at the airport to coordinate with the security officials.

PIA said there were 255 passengers and 18 crew members on the plane. Of the passengers, 102 were Canadian nationals, 139 Pakistanis, eight U.S. citizens, three Indians and one each from Japan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

The Canadian Embassy in Stockholm was in contact with local authorities to gather additional information, Foreign Affairs spokesman Alain Cacchione said.

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

Rotterdam: Top Official Has Links to Radical Turkish Organization

A top official in Rotterdam, Bilal Taner, is in contact with a Turkish radical-Islamist organization, which is fiercely anti-Israeli and anti-American, openly supports the Hamas terror organization and glorifies martyrdom for Jihadists.

The warm personal connection with Rotterdam senior adviser Bilal Taner was recently clarified when he was extensively congratulated in an orthodox-religious manner on the Haksöz Haber website for the birth of his daughter. This website serves as a platform for radical Islamists, anti-Israeli and anti-American authors. The radical Turkish movement reject societies which are not based on the Koran.

The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism wrote in a 2005 report that “Haksöz is a Turkish-language Jihad website which glorifies martyrdom, calls for resistance against the occupation in Iraq and the Palestinian territories and shows torture scenes in Iraq”. The website shows photos of dead Hamas members with titles such as “to the light of the Koran” and “The martyrs light our way.”

The movement supports the armed struggle of Hamas, Which is called a terrorist organization by the EU. In the German-language American Jewish Committee 2006 report “Antisemitism — Made in Iran” (Antisemitismus — Made in Iran) it says: “The goals of Haksöz include uniting Muslims in the battle against Israel and the United States”.

The orthodox-religious congratulations to ‘our brother in Rotterdam’ is signed by prominent members of the Turkish Hasöz Haber movement…

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

UK: Asian Men Preyed on Four Girls for Sex, Court Hears

A GROUP of Asian men in Rotherham preyed on young teenage girls for sex, with one calling his victim a “white bitch”, a court heard today.

Eight men allegedly committed sexual offences on four girls, three of whom were aged 13 at the time and one aged 16.

The attacks, which included rape, took place in a local park, on the back seat of cars, in toilets and in a bedroom, the court heard.

Threats were also made to the girls who were sometimes plied with drink to make them comply to the sexual demands over a 12-month period in 2008.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Umar Razaq, 24, tried to pull off a 13-year-old girl’s clothes. When she resisted he later pulled her hair and called her a “white bitch.”

The girl’s cousin, then aged 16, was taken to a friend’s house by Razaq and plied with vodka and cider.

Prosecutor Sarah Wright said: “He then raped her on the bed. At the end he told her that she deserved it.”

Umar then introduced the 13-year-old girl to his brother Razwan Razaq, 30, who had sex with the girl in his car. Afterwards he said to her: “I’ve used you and abused you.”

The 16-year-old girl knew Ramzan from school. They began sleeping together when she was 16 at her house, the court heard.

When arrested and asked by police what age he was attracted to he replied: “As long as they’re not too young and they’re legal, that’s it.”

Razwan Razaq introduced another defendant Shalzaad Hussain, 22, to the first 13-year-old girl.

The girl regarded him as her boyfriend although she was also having sex with Ramzan and his friend Adil Hussain, 20, at the same time.

Ms Wright said the second 13-year-old girl knew another defendant Saeed Hussain, 29, from visiting his takeaway.

While in his car Hussain made her give his friend oral sex and “threatened to kill her if she didn’t do it.”

Saeed Hussain also forced her to have sex with another man in his car on another occasion.

The two girl cousins were chatted up by the final two defendants Mohsin Khan, 21, and Shazad Aklbar, 22, who are best friends, after they pulled up in their car.

Khan and Akbar both deny four joint charges of rape. Zafran Ramzan denies three rape charges and Umar Razaq one charge of rape.

Umar Razaq, Razwan Razaq, Ramzan, Shalzaad Hussain, Adil Hussain and Khan all deny charges of inciting sexual activity with under-age girls.

All the defendants are from Rotherham except Akbar who lives in Sheffield.

The trial is expected to last six weeks.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Dog Gets Award for Saving Sex Attack Victim

A rottweiler who stopped a sex attacker in his tracks during an indecent assault of a woman has received a bravery award.

Jake, a former rescue dog, was on a walk in a park with his owner when a woman’s screams were heard in the distance.

The fearless hound darted off into a woodland area and found Esmahil Adhami, 18, molesting a woman, aged in her 20s.

Jake lunged at Adhami and chased him away — and stayed with the distraught victim, circling her “like he was guarding”, until the police arrived.

His owner, Liz Maxter-Bluck, said Jake had been “incredible” during the incident that took place on Hershall Common, Coventry, last July.

She said: “I heard shouting and screaming but thought it was just kids but Jake ran off into the woods.

“I went to catch up with him and the next thing I knew this bloke is running towards me a terrified look on his face and Jake is about 2ft behind him.”

The attacker has since been convicted of serious sexual assault and jailed for four years.

Jake received his bravery award and a medallion from the RSPCA in recognition of his actions that prevented a life-threatening situation.

Mrs Maxter-Bluck said: “He is such a lovely natured dog and is very nosey so I think that was why he went to investigate that day when he heard the screams. After I called the police he stayed alert and close to us like he was guarding us.”

She added: “It is brilliant that he is receiving this award from the RSPCA, I am really proud. It is especially touching because we got him from the RSPCA. As soon as I saw him that December in the kennels I wanted him.

“Rottweilers don’t always get good publicity so it is great to see a rottweiler being recognised in such a positive way.”

DC Clive Leftwich, from Coventry Police, who nominated Jake for the award, said: “From our point of view Jake the rottweiler stopped a serious sexual assault from becoming even worse.

“The dog frightened off the attacker and stayed at the scene until we arrived.”

Glenn Mayoll, manager of RSPCA Coventry Animal Centre which cared for and rehomed Jake in 2008, said his team were “immensely proud” of the courageous canine.

“This story just goes to show that a rescue dog can be a great addition to any family,” he said.

“Certain breeds of dogs, such as rottweilers, often stay too long in rescue kennels but I really cannot stress enough that dogs should never be judged simply by their breed and Jake certainly proves this point.

“It is wonderful that Jake is now part of a loving, caring family and that his brave actions are being recognised.”

           — Hat tip: GB[Return to headlines]

UK: Eight in Court on Sex Charges

The men, seven of whom are from Rotherham, are accused of 23 offences between them, including rape, sexual activity with a child and inciting a child to indulge in sexual activity.

Sheffield Crown Court heard this morning that the defendants committed the offences at several different locations, including Clifton Park and houses in Eastwood and the town centre.

The eight men charged are: Adil Hussain (20), of Nelson Street, Rotherham town centre Saeed Hussain (29), of Hatherley Road, Eastwood. Shalzaad Hussain (22), of Clough Road, Masborough. Mohsin Khan (22), of Haworth Crescent, Moorgate. Zafran Ramzan (21) of Broom Grove, Broom. Razwan Razaq (30), of Oxford Street, Clifton. Umar Razaq (24) , of Oxford Street, Clifton. Shazad Akbar (23), of Shirecliffe Lane, Shirecliffe, Sheffield.

One of the victims is expected to give evidence this afternoon.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: How 70% of New Zealand Lamb Imports to Britain Are Halal… But This is Not Put on the Label

More than 70 per cent of the New Zealand lamb sold in Britain comes from halal slaughterhouses without the fact being declared on the label.

All the slaughtermen in these establishments must be Muslim and say a prayer when making the cut across the animal’s throat which kills it.

The New Zealand meat industry has taken the step to ensure its lamb can be sold in Muslim markets round the world.

It emerged last week that British restaurant chains and venues such as Wembley and Ascot are serving up different types of halal meat without telling customers.

In conventional slaughterhouses, animals are stunned before they are killed by having their throats cut. However, in most Muslim countries, halal means the animals must not be stunned first.

The trade body Beef & Lamb New Zealand said the form of halal slaughter used there does allow for the animals to be stunned.

A spokesman said: ‘In New Zealand the process for halal slaughter is virtually the same as for non-halal slaughter.’

He said there was no need to label the meat as halal on animal welfare grounds and it would too expensive to introduce labelling simply to provide the information.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: MI6 Spook Did Not Die Alone: Police Certain He Was Padlocked in Bag by Someone Else

Murdered? Police are now certain that Gareth Williams was padlocked inside the holdall he was discovered in

The MI6 spy whose naked body was found in a sports bag in his bath could not have died alone, police believe.

They are now certain he was padlocked into the large holdall by someone else.

Gareth Williams, 31, who was working on secondment for MI6, was alive when he got into — or was forced into — the bag and died from suffocation.


But in another mysterious twist, the Mail can reveal that the outer door to Mr Williams’s flat in Pimlico, Central London, had apparently been locked from the outside when police arrived on the scene.

Detectives have now intensified their search for a Mediterranean couple known to have been with Mr Williams in the weeks before his death. They are understood to have had a set of keys to the flat.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: New Name Atop Britain’s ‘Most Wanted’ List

Spymaster identifies ‘new faceoff global terrorism’

LONDON — MI5 chief Jonathan Evans, the British Security Service’s spymaster not given to hyperbole, has publicly identified “the new face of global terrorism,” according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

And it is no surprise to those who have been following the links to recent terror trails. He is American-born citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. For months, MI5 computer technicians have assembled a stunning library of his videoed lectures — so far 1,900 — which have been posted on Internet sites such as YouTube. He reads the text in Arabic and then translates it into faultless English.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Will France and Italy Capsize the Union?

The Roma affair is evidence of an existential crisis in the European Union. A Romanian editorialist argues that it highlights the degree to which certain governments, on the look-out for easy votes, now hold the EU and its values in contempt.

Adevarul Bucharest 21 September 2010

Ovidiu Nahoi

The European Union, or rather the European project, has been plunged into a profound crisis by France’s inadequate response to the real problem of illegal camps. And there is no denying the seriousness of the debate now that a French Minister [Pierre Lellouche, Secretary of State for European Affairs] has rejected the assertion that France should act as “a guardian for treaties” of the European Commission. Can member states citing the need to protect national interests simply ignore the terms of treaties they have signed, and act in any way they choose?

Apparently, they can. But if this is the case, further discussion of the project for peace and prosperity launched in the wake of the Second World War, which was later extended to include post-Cold War Eastern and Central Europe, will be little more than a joke. And the scene will be set for economic protectionism and the affirmation of rival nationalisms — a worrying prospect, because history has taught us that this scenario inevitably results in the domination of smaller nations by their larger neighbours, the restriction of civil liberties, the collapse of democratic regimes, and an ultimate recourse to conflict.

Overweening focus on vote-winning on a national level

But why are certain political leaders behaving in such a fashion? Because that is what the market for votes demands. With the disappearance of the threat of Soviet oppression, many Western Europeans have come to envisage the common project in terms of profits and losses, and not in terms of peace and solidarity. In so doing they disregard the fact that today’s world continues to be marked by conflict over these values: we have nothing in common with the savage capitalism of the Chinese state or the Russian authoritarian-oligarchic regime. We have to defend the political territory of Europe, but many European citizens no longer give credence to this priority, and in this regard they have been encouraged by leaders who are eager to cultivate the cheapest form of popularity — in particular Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, who are past masters at this type of manoeuvering.

Will their overweening focus on vote-winning on a national level, which appears to have supplanted any vision of Europe as world power, lead them to scupper the European project? There is no doubt that such an outcome would be a historic catastrophe for Romania. Europe provides an essential framework for the only modernisation project that we have in this country, and under current conditions, it is impossible to imagine any alternative. Without the European project, our country along with a number of neigbouring nations would slide back into the space from which we fought for so long to break free. The Westernisation of Romania, which was launched 150 years ago by a handful of young enthusiasts studying in Paris, would once again grind to halt.

The threat we now face is a very real one, and for this reason, we should look beyond the current crisis prompted by the illegal camps issue. We have to focus on our values and contribute to the strengthening of the European project. It is the only choice we have left.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Jerusalem Defeats IAEA Resolution Targeting Israel

Arab-backed measure calling for Israel to accede to Nuclear Proliferation Treaty narrowly defeated at meeting of UN watchdog.

After weeks of intense lobbying efforts, Israel succeeded in defeating a resolution put forward at the annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna calling for Israel to accede to the Non Proliferation Treaty and place its nuclear facilities under IAEA guidelines.

The resolution put forward by the Arab group and viewed in Jerusalem as another example of anti-Israeli resolutions tabled regularly in international forums, was defeated by a vote of 51-46.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ahmadinejad: Iran Willing to End Uranium Enrichment

In New York press conference, Iranian president conditions halting enrichment on world powers supplying Iran with nuclear fuel for research reactor

Iran would consider ending uranium enrichment, the most crucial part of its controversial nuclear activity, if world powers were to supply Tehran with nuclear fuel for a medical research reactor, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters Friday.

Addressing a packed press conference in a New York hotel, Ahmadinejad also said Iran was prepared to set a date for resumption of talks with six world powers to discuss Tehran’s nuclear program, saying October would be the likely time for the two sides to meet.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Jordan: Abdullah: If Freeze Issue Not Settled, War May Follow

Jordan’s King Abdullah warned Thursday that if the issue of the building moratorium in West Bank settlements was not solved a regional war could break out by the end of the year. King Abdullah’s comments came in an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.

“If we fail on the 30th [of September], expect another war by the end of the year. And more wars in the region over the coming years,” Abdullah said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Muslims Demand Apology for New Zealand Minister’s Joke

WELLINGTON (AFP) — New Zealand’s Islamic community has written to Prime Minister John Key demanding an apology for a joke one of his ministers made about Muslims, the Dominion Post newspaper reported Saturday.

The president of the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand, Anwar Ghani, said Muslims were “very upset” about the remarks made in a speech by Building Minister Maurice Williamson.

“We brought it to the notice of the PM saying that what was said was highly inappropriate and the minister should be reprimanded and apologise,” Ghani told the newspaper.

Williamson cracked a joke about Muslims and the practice of stoning while giving a speech at a building industry awards ceremony last month.

Ghani said he did not think comments centred on religious intolerance were commonplace in New Zealand, but this issue was “a big problem because it was uttered by someone who is regarded as being responsible and a public figure”.

A spokesman for the prime minister confirmed the letter had arrived and was being considered.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Ft. Morgan Police Chief Sent to Denmark to Learn More About Refugees

The trip, sponsored by the US State Department as part of a program to help communities deal with a refugee influx, is detailed here in a lengthy article in the Ft. Morgan Times:

Fort Morgan Police Chief Keith Kuretich spent two weeks in Denmark recently talking with of-ficials about Fort Morgan’s experience with refugees and immigrants, and learning about that country’s situation.

He flew to Denmark along with seven other Americans as part of the World Learning Visitor Exchange Program supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Citizen Exchanges.

The Chief did learn that terrorism is a real problem in Europe with its open borders.

Read it all.

The Ft. Morgan honor killing

I wonder what ever happened with that Ft. Morgan Somali honor killing we wrote about last in May, here. I wonder if the Chief discussed honor killings with his Danish counterparts?…

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Pastors as Leftist Shills?

Once again the Texas State Board of Education has erupted into the national news scene, this time by considering a resolution shedding light on anti-Christian bias in some history textbooks. Such bias is old news to anyone following the direction of the government education complex over the past 40 years. However, once again Texas can serve as a counterbalance simply due to the volume of its textbook purchases.

Compared to its peers of California and New York, it is also the only large state with any remaining conservative philosophy present at the decision-making level. Hence, the only reason for the attention to the battles in Texas is because a battle is present at all.

The conservative members of the SBOE are essentially serving as the Alamo for the nation’s children in government schools. As usual, the Texas Freedom Network (founded by Planned Parenthood of America Federation president Cecile Richards), Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the ACLU were present and protesting loudly that the resolution and its claims are “political.” It’s always political when you disagree with the left.

They say the board should stick to education because, of course, these liberal, anti-Christian organizations are truly interested in quality, accurate and excellent education for our children, right? Right. However, I expect this of these groups because I know who they are.

Once again, my guns are aimed at the pathetic preachers, pitiful pastors and compromised clergy that TFN, AU, ACLU and their ilk trot out as props for their leftist agendas. They disgust me. Their list of “nearly 100 religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths” who signed a letter opposing the resolution represents a tiny cadre of liberals who have all rejected the fundamentals of their own faiths.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Zenster said...

The Enraged vs. The Exhausted

“I find a much more knowledgeable electorate, and it is a real-time response,” Ms. Blackburn says. “We hear about it even as the vote is taking place.”

The single most and very worst enemy of a career politician is an informed electorate.


“The more they know,” Ms. Blackburn observes, “the less they like Washington.”

'Quelle surprise!

Zenster said...

“Economist” And “Foreign Policy” Attack “Constitution-Worshipers”

“Indeed, there is something infantile in the belief of the constitution-worshipers that the complex political arguments of today can be settled by simple fidelity to a document written in the 18th century,” the editors wrote on September 23. “When history is turned into scripture and men into deities, truth is the victim.” [emphasis added]

Correction, "truthiness" is the victim. Evidently, America's Constitution doesn't manage to fulfill the narrative of these self-appointed mavens.

They can piss off.

Much to my own surprise and that of the entire world, America's Constitution has proven to be one of the most durable and profound political documents ever written in the entire history of mankind.

It borders on miraculous that this nation's founding fathers had sufficient vision to create a method of government that would somehow continue to function over two centuries after its inception.

The Constitution does not address the “hard questions thrown up by modern politics,” namely should gays be allowed to marry?

Pure horseradish. The Constitution addresses this quite well if our leaders and justices would only take the time to read and understand it.

The founders were afraid of “democracy taking hold,” so they crafted a document designed to exclude the common people and preserve their aristocratic position.

There is no other naton in the entire world where the lower classes have the same freedoms and quality of life. Even those who dwell at America's poverty line have a better quality of life than all save the topmost elite in a majority of Third World countries.

Soon enough America may well have to decide that shari'a law should not be able to be installed, even with "a 99% vote".

Zenster said...

Famed Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Artist Losing Hope

In an exclusive interview with National Journal on Thursday, Shepard Fairey expressed his disappointment with the president — a malaise that seems representative of many Democrats who had great expectations for Obama.

An abject plagiarist disappointed with a total imposter?
My heart bleeds.

Examine the link for a vivid sampling of Shepard Fairey's blatant thieving from generations of genuine artists. This wretch is a one-man copyright violation ring.

In the linked article, there is another link to a conclusive demonstration of just how flagrant Fairey's outright theft manages to be.

As an artist myself, seeing this sort of pathetic highway robbery being passed off as creative license is an outrage and nothing other than simple criminal behavior. Fairey belongs in jail after extensive lawsuits to strip away his ill-gotten wealth (and fame).

Some snippets from the linked article:

His imagery appears as though it’s xeroxed or run through some computer graphics program; that is to say, it is machine art that any second-rate art student could produce.

Fairey has developed a successful career through expropriating and recontextualizing the artworks of others

Fairey simply filches artworks and hopes that no one notices

Plagiarism is the deliberate passing off of someone else’s work as your own, and Shepard Fairey may be unfamiliar with the term - but not the act

brazen, intentional copying of already existing artworks created by others - sometimes duplicating the originals without alteration - and then deceiving people by pawning off the counterfeit works as original creations

First, Fairey openly admits to directly copying an image created by someone else (he calls this "referencing"), and then feigns innocence when faced with the odious background of the original Nazi designers. In the same set of remarks made to, Fairey insists that he is "anti-fascist and pro-peace", but what kind of anti-fascist does not recognize the symbols used by the Nazi regime? Fairey’s only defense here is full-blown ignorance - hardly an attribute expected in artists supposedly dedicated to social commentary. [emphasis added]

it was simply the act of an artist too lazy to come up with an original artwork

Zenster said...

University of California Gets Bonus From Feds for Selecting Foreign Grad Students

The University of California (UC) receives an extra $15,000-a-year payment from the federal government every time it admits a high-tech graduate student from overseas, as opposed to one from the United States.

When does this sort of outrageous crap end?

It's not as if the University of California regents are not already involved in a total conflict of interest.

Marketing strategy aside, Blum has taken on two seemingly disparate roles—one as an advocate for a nonprofit university, and the other as an owner of two for-profit educational corporations. However, as a regent, Blum has taken actions that, intentionally or not, have enhanced the value of his vocational schools. Are his loyalties conflicted?

For several years, Blum's firm, Blum Capital Partners, has been the dominant shareholder in two of the nation's largest for-profit universities, Career Education Corporation and ITT Educational Services Inc. The San Francisco–based firm's combined holdings in the two chain schools is currently $923 million. As Blum's ownership stake enlarged, UC investment managers shadowed him, ultimately investing $53 million of public money into the two educational corporations.

The Regents' conflict-of-interest policy requires them to "avoid the potential for and the appearance of conflicts of interest with respect to the selection of individual investments," and says "public officials shall not make, participate in making, or influence a governmental decision in which the official has a conflict of interest." And the California Political Reform Act of 1974 provides civil and criminal penalties for officials who ignore conflicts of interest—as UC makes clear in ethics training presentations specifically created for university officials.

goethechosemercy said...

A GROUP of Asian men in Rotherham preyed on young teenage girls for sex, with one calling his victim a “white bitch”, a court heard today.
end quote.

I don't suppose anyone screamed "RACIST!" at the racist immediately afterward, did they?
Muslims are free to smack us with the racist epithet, but call out their racism?
We'd better start before the Shariah-based segregation laws are enacted, along with slave-raiding.