Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101108

Financial Crisis
»EU Asks Greece to Repay 347.5 Mln
»Interview With German Finance Minister Schäuble
»Lame Duck Pork-Laden Omnibus
»Solar Company Faces Dark Days Ahead
»Taxed Enough Already!
»UK: Archbishop Blasts Tory Crackdown on the Workshy as Jobseekers Are Ordered to Do Unpaid Work
»Voters Own the Choices They Make
»Audio: CAIR’s Shariah Defender Dodges Questions on Terror Ties
»Communist Party Covers Up Support for Obama
»Court Grants Temporary Order to Block Oklahoma From Shariah Amendment
»Cutting Hair Without a License: Florida Barbershops Raided
»Indictment: Somali Gangs Trafficked Girls for Sex
»Islamaphobia is Really Islam-Awareness
»Jury in Conn. Home Invasion Murders Recommends Death Sentence
»Obama Empowers U.N. Tyrants to Prosecute Bush
»Oklahoma Shariah Ban is Blocked
»Pentagon Openings Give Obama New Options
»The Insanity Virus
»The Obama Administration Bows Before the UN Human Rights Star Chamber
»Who is Really Distorting Islam?
Europe and the EU
»Brussels: Senior Eurocrats Caught Fighting or Running Brothels Keep Their Jobs
»‘Doomsday Vault’ Gets New, Large Shipment of Rice
»Eurabia Watch: November 8, 2010
»George W Bush: ‘Waterboarding’ Saved British Lives
»Germany: Jewish WWI Soldiers Remembered at Frankfurt Ceremony
»Italy: Film: Waked Offered Only Bad Guy Roles After Syriana
»Italy’s Biggest Union Elects First Woman Leader
»Italy to Import 600,000 MW Per Year From Tunisia
»Italy: FLI Threat to Leave Government if PM Refuses to Resign
»Sweden: Police Call for Tips on Malmö Shootings
»Turkey: Danny the Red and Davutoglu
»UK: ‘Terror’ Tube Driver With Al Qaeda Links Walks Free
»UK: Freed Islamic Terrorists Face New Controls as 46 Prepare for Prison Release
»UK: Islamic TV Channel Rapped for Advocating Marital Rape
»Vatican: Church Warns Bishops About ‘Angels and Demons’ Sect
North Africa
»Egypt Gripped by Rising Muslim-Christian Tensions
Israel and the Palestinians
»Talks: Livni Against Netanyahu, Extend Moratorium
»UNRWA and the Code of Silence
Middle East
»Iraq: More Attacks on Christians in Baghdad a Week After Massacre
»Radical Yemeni Cleric Awlaki Calls for Killing of Americans
»The Arabs’ Worst Enemy: Themselves
»Yemen Muslim Cleric Al-Awlaki in US Death Threat Video
»Reporter in Artificial Coma After Ambush
South Asia
»Afghan Soldier Turns Weapon on American Troops, Kills 2
»Hardline Group Plans Widespread Indonesian Protests Over Obama Visit
»Indonesia: Islamists Plans to Intensify Anti-Obama Protests
»Indonesia: Police Seize Thousands of Porn DVDs in Capital
»Muslim Leaders Approve Obama’s ‘Jihad’ Remarks
»SAS Parachute Dogs of War Into Taliban Bases
»The World Powers Court Central Asia
Far East
»China Unveils First Moon Photos From New Lunar Orbiter
Latin America
»20 Killed Over Weekend in Mexican Border City
»Italy: Government Approves New Security Package
»Ketzaleh: Tel Aviv Jews Will Flee to Yesha From ‘African Flood’
»UK: Roma Rights Campaigner Jailed for £2.9m Benefits Scam Lavinia Olmazu Admitted a Fraud Charge in July a Woman Who Helped More Than 170 Romanians Illegally Claim £2.9m in Benefits Has Been Jailed for Two Years and Three Months.
Culture Wars
»UK: Shop Assistant Banned From Wearing a Poppy Because ‘It is Not Part of the Uniform’
»Former ‘Tenth Planet’ May be Smaller Than Pluto
»IPCC Climate Science is Fundamentally Wrong: Carbon Footprint is All Wet

Financial Crisis

EU Asks Greece to Repay 347.5 Mln

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 5 — Athens has been given rude awakening by the EU: Greece will have to repay the European Commission 347.5 million euros that were “wrongfully spent”, against the rules of the common agricultural policy. The announcement came today from Brussels, which asked 19 states to repay the EU a total of 578.5 million euros. Athens is paying the highest price, since they have a long list of unfulfilled obligations. The sum includes 210.9 million euros for deficiencies in the identification system for agricultural parcels and the geographic information system as well as onsite inspections for the 2006 questions regarding spending for aid received for land, including rural development measures associated with land. Another 54.7 million euros involve raisin production, due to shortcomings associated with reducing the minimum yields, the specialisation of lands, management of the vineyard register and the integrated management and control system for the 2003-2007 fiscal years. Another 50.16 million euros will be reimbursed for not having reduced the aid distributed for not adhering to requirements associated with keeping records for sheep, a lack of onsite and administrative inspections and the absence of specific risk criteria regarding inspections for supplementary bonuses for disadvantaged areas. Another 19.76 million euros will be repaid due to tobacco deliveries after preset limits, a lack of payment of the primary processors and the transferral of cultivation contracts. The entire amount to be paid back totals 347.5 million euros. “We are working to carefully control agricultural spending and to guarantee that the taxpayers’ money is being well-spent,” said EU Agricultural Commissioner Dacian Ciolos. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Interview With German Finance Minister Schäuble

‘The US Has Lived on Borrowed Money for Too Long’

In an interview with SPIEGEL, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, 68, criticizes US calls for Germany to reduce exports, outlines his plans for an insolvency framework for indebted European nations and the emphasizes the significance of the German-French axis for Europe.

SPIEGEL: Minister Schäuble, how well do you get along with your American counterpart, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner?

Schäuble: Mr. Geithner is an excellent minister. We have a good personal relationship.

SPIEGEL: Nevertheless, he constantly criticizes government officials in countries that are achieving high export surpluses and not doing enough to stimulate their domestic economies. He’s referring to you, isn’t he?

Schäuble: It would appear that way. That’s why I tell him again and again that I think his point of view is incorrect in this regard.

SPIEGEL: All the same, the value of goods Germany sold to the United States exceeded imports from that country by almost €14 billion ($19.8 billion) last year. Can’t you understand that the American treasury secretary is concerned about this?

Schäuble: No, because since we introduced the euro in Europe, the determining factor is no longer US trade with Germany, but US trade with the totality of countries in the euro zone. And in that respect the balance of trade tends to be even. So what’s the problem? After all, we don’t complain about the export successes of individual American states.

SPIEGEL: But the German economy benefits from the fact that German industry has focused primarily on foreign markets and wages have hardly gone up in years. The Americans see this as unfair.

Schäuble: The German export successes are not the result of some sort of currency manipulation, but of the increased competitiveness of companies. The American growth model, on the other hand, is in a deep crisis. The United States lived on borrowed money for too long, inflating its financial sector unnecessarily and neglecting its small and mid-sized industrial companies. There are many reasons for America’s problems, but they don’t include German export surpluses.

SPIEGEL: The US government sees it differently. It wants to see German exports to the United States curtailed in the future once they reach a certain threshold. Will you give in to the pressure?…

Interview conducted by Michael Sauga and Peter Müller

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

Lame Duck Pork-Laden Omnibus

If the rumors coming out of the House and the Senate are true do not expect any spending cuts this year. An Omnibus Bill which will fund the federal government until the end of next September has been in the works for several months now and has to be passed before Christmas Recess. This bill which is projected to be $1 trillion will give the Democrats and some Republicans a last chance for major earmarks before the house control changes over to the Republicans. Once this happens they will have to start keeping their promises of smaller government and lower spending.

Reports are circulating on Capitol Hill: Senate Republicans are teaming up with the Democrats to craft a pork laden omnibus bill. Jim DeMint (R-SC), John McCain(R-AZ) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) will be fighting to limit what could be a huge bill. In the House both Cantor(R-VA) and Boehner(R-OH) are said to be pushing for an extension on the House earmark moratorium. The couple weeks in November preceding the Christmas recess will be their last chance to cut the size of this legislation.

This bill will be passed but the million dollar question (or trillion dollar question) will be how much pork will be added. If the Republicans are smart they will make good on their promises now and try to hold up this legislation in the Senate until January and force the Dems to pass another stop gap measure to keep the Government running through February. When the new session begins next year the Republicans in the House can put together a reasonable spending bill that will take us through to September. This would show the public that the GOP does get it and will set them up for the battles that they will face in 2011.


[Note: Big IF about those Republicans…]

[Return to headlines]

Solar Company Faces Dark Days Ahead

Inquiring Minds Are Looking at Northern California and an Article by the Always Great Katy Grimes. In Her Latest Piece Ms. Grimes Seems to Expose the Dirty Little Secret of How the California Citizens Got Taken by Solar Company Solyndra Inc.:

The day after the election, the Los Angeles Times reported that Solyndra Inc., a solar power system manufacturing company in the San Francisco Bay area, is closing one of its factories, laying off 40 employees and letting the contracts for more than 150 temporary workers expire.

It’s hard not to question the timing of this information.

Even with substantial government subsidies, credits and loan guarantees, many are wondering if Solyndra enticed by the Schwarzenegger administration and/or opponents of Prop 23 to keep the news of the downsize quiet until after Tuesday’s election, in order to guarantee failure of the proposition. It certainly appears so.

Solyndra was visited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Vice President joe Biden and President Barack Obama. The company has reportedly received “a $535-million federal loan guarantee, more than $1 billion in private equity funds and supportive visits from dignitaries such as .” And of course, the company has friends in high places:…

           — Hat tip: Bobbo[Return to headlines]

Taxed Enough Already!

Now that we have new representatives, it’s time to advance immediately on them and address the issue that can both rebuild our economy and relieve us of government oppression: tax reform.

As I began to point out in last week’s column, Congress’ plan to subsidize all its outrageous borrowing and spending will demand far more than the tax man just collecting on expired Bush tax cuts. There is a host of other levies coming down the turnpike from Washington as well.

Who isn’t already completely fed up with the feds’ utter waste of our tax monies? Just a week ago, war analysts and government auditors reported that only 10 percent of U.S. taxpayers’ money being poured into Afghanistan is actually being used to stabilize the country, with as much as $1 billion in aid ending up in the hands of the Taliban and other insurgency groups!

And how about that all the frivolous spending like the incredible $192 million splurge fest in taxpayer money to plaster every possible highway with signs (covert election propaganda) touting how stimulus cash is “Putting America to Work” with infrastructure projects?


And then there are the inevitable taxes that are coming due to the feds’ massive and compounding deficits and debts. Even if all the Bush tax cuts were repealed, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, concludes that the deficit will still be nearly $1.1 trillion in 2011. The cumulative deficit from 2010 to 2019 under President Obama’s proposals will total $9.3 trillion. And the 2020 end-of-decade national debt will top $24.5 trillion, even exceeding the Gross Domestic Product projection for 2019 of $22.8 trillion. And here’s the kicker! By 2020, half of all income tax revenues will go toward paying interest on that $24 trillion national debt.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Archbishop Blasts Tory Crackdown on the Workshy as Jobseekers Are Ordered to Do Unpaid Work

Benefits reforms which would force the unemployed to undertake unpaid manual labour will send claimants into a ‘downward spiral of despair’, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

He spoke as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith prepared to reveal his controversial scheme.

Under it, job seekers would be expected to undertake 30 hours a week of litter picking or gardening for four weeks.

For this, they would receive no extra money but anyone who refused to comply could have their £65-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance stopped for at least three months.

Mr Duncan Smith’s argument is that it is only by breaking the vicious cycle of benefits dependency that those without work will seek to better themselves.

But Archbishop Rowan Williams said Coalition plans to crack down on Britain’s bloated welfare system were ‘unfair’.

He said the five million on out-of-work benefits were not ‘wicked, stupid or lazy’ and should not be penalised to simply save money.

‘People who are struggling to find work and struggling to find a secure future are I think driven further into a sort of downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair when the pressure’s on in that way,’ he said.

‘And quite often it can make people start feeling vulnerable — even more vulnerable as time goes on — and that’s the kind of unfairness that I feel.’

The row comes as a new report found cuts to housing benefit will make large swaths of southern England off limits to poorer families, forcing a mass migration to the north.

The Chartered Institute of Housing report shows that in just ten years most two-bedroom homes in the south will become out of reach to those claiming local housing allowance.

Dr Williams’s comments provoked anger within the Coalition, with one senior Tory saying it was time for the Archbishop to ‘pipe down’.

A Government source said Dr Williams did not appear to understand the Government’s plans.

The source said: ‘We don’t want to get into a public slanging match with the Archbishop about this, but he is wrong.

‘There is nothing noble about trapping people in unemployment and condemning them to a life on benefits. This is about helping people out of a downward spiral by giving them experience of work.

‘Many people who have been on benefits for years have self-esteem problems. We want to give them the experience and practical help they need to get back into work.’

Tory MEP Roger Helmer said: ‘The Archbishop of Canterbury clearly knows nothing about either economics or welfare: he should pipe down.’

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander denied claims that ministers wanted to see the unemployed join ‘chain gangs’. But he admitted the new placements would be used as a ‘sanction’ against benefit claimants who did not try to get a job.

The scheme is targeted at layabouts who choose a life of benefits rather than going out to work.

It is also designed to tackle people who sign on for benefits while working in the black economy.

It is part of a ‘carrot and stick’ approach to reforming the £192billion welfare system, which will also see the unemployed offered a new guarantee that they will always be better off in work than on benefits.

Labour’s work and pensions spokesman, Douglas Alexander, said the biggest problem with the Government’s drive to get people back to work was that there are too few jobs.

He added: ‘The real flaw in the Coalition’s plan is that without work it won’t work.’

The Archbishop also attacked plans to cap housing benefit payments, saying these could lead to ‘social zoning’ in Britain’s cities, with poorer families forced out of affluent areas.

Dr Williams said: ‘My worry there is that people’s housing is part of their sense of stability, part of their sense of having a secure future, and I’m also a bit worried about the way in which this could lead to a kind of social zoning, where middle class areas get more solidly middle class and other people are pushed out to the edge.’

The Archbishop’s intervention is not the first time he has courted controversy.

In 2008 he was criticised for claiming that the adoption of aspects of sharia law in the UK was ‘unavoidable’. He was also an outspoken critic of the invasion of Iraq.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Voters Own the Choices They Make

No federal bailouts for irresponsible state governments, New York and California both stand on the edge of fiscal insolvency.

Despite massive rejection of the progressive agenda throughout the nation last Tuesday, two states, New York and California, remained virtually immune to the groundswell. Voters in both states elected or re-elected liberal Democrats by healthy margins. Unlike my liberal counterparts, who characterize voters as “remarkably insightful” when they embrace the progressive agenda and “fearful and uninformed” when they reject it, I will not question the wisdom of the electorate.

On the other hand, one idea has to remain inarguable: people must take responsibility for their choices.

New York and California both stand on the edge of fiscal insolvency, due in large part to their embrace of progressive policies: bloated public sector payrolls, high taxes, illegal alien-protecting “sanctuary cities” and massive amounts of deficit spending. Voters in both states, exactly like the rest of America, had a chance to rid themselves of the Democrat politicians overwhelmingly responsible for creating the mess. They chose not to do so.

So what’s the problem? Nothing—as long as what happens in New York and California stays in New York and California. What I mean by that is simple: no federal bailouts for irresponsible state governments heading for bankruptcy. None whatsoever.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Audio: CAIR’s Shariah Defender Dodges Questions on Terror Ties

Fights against voter will in Oklahoma, but silent on national agenda

The leader of Oklahoma’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations got into a feisty exchange on air in which he defended the use of Islamic law in state courts while refusing to answer questions about his organization’s national agenda.

CAIR-OK Executive Director Muneer Awad was interviewed today by WND senior reporter Aaron Klein on New York City’s WABC 770 AM.

At one point, Awad grew so heated he accused Klein of lying and asked the blusterous question, “Do you condemn the KKK?”

The discussion began with questions about CAIR’s legal challenge to a ballot initiative passed by Oklahoma voters that bans judges from using Islamic law — known as Shariah — in court decisions.

Awad argued that the voter-passed constitutional amendment is a violation of Muslims’ First Amendment rights, and that “Shariah law has never been used in Oklahoma before this amendment came about.”

Klein pointed out, however, that the amendment was intended to be preventative.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Communist Party Covers Up Support for Obama

Radical group previously mapped out strategy for president’s 1st term in office.

The Communist Party USA has scrubbed its website of references that stated it “actively supported” President Obama’s election.

An article posted on the party’s official website on Dec. 30, 2007, previously stated, “Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election.”

The article was referring to Obama’s 2004 election to the Senate. It detailed how the African-American community and trade unionists played key roles in defeating the “ultra right.”

“This was also reflected in the historic election of Barack Obama. Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election,” stated the article, a screen shot of which was captured by the New Zeal blog.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Court Grants Temporary Order to Block Oklahoma From Shariah Amendment

OKLAHOMA CITY — “A temporary restraining order has been issued to block a state constitutional amendment that prohibits state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases. U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange handed down the ruling Monday morning in Oklahoma City following a brief hearing. The order will remain in effect until a Nov. 22 hearing on a requested preliminary injunction. It prevents the state election board from certifying the results of Tuesday’s general election in which the amendment was approved by 70 percent of the voters.”

The order was sought in a lawsuit by Oklahoma Muslim Muneer Awad. Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Oklahoma and said during the hearing that the law stigmatizes his religion.

A Clinton appointment

Vicki Miles-LaGrange (born 1953) is the Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma. She was the first African American woman to be sworn in as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. She was also the first African American female elected to the Oklahoma Senate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Cutting Hair Without a License: Florida Barbershops Raided

By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel

As many as 14 armed Orange County deputies, including narcotics agents, stormed Strictly Skillz barbershop during business hours on a Saturday in August, handcuffing barbers in front of customers during a busy back-to-school weekend.

It was just one of a series of unprecedented raid-style inspections the Orange County Sheriff’s Office recently conducted with a state regulating agency, targeting several predominantly black- and Hispanic-owned barbershops in the Pine Hills area.

In “sweeps” on Aug. 21 and Sept. 17 targeting at least nine shops, deputies arrested 37 people — the majority charged with “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor that state records show only three other people have been jailed in Florida in the past 10 years.

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will. Deputies said they found evidence of illegal activity, including guns, drugs and gambling. However, records show that during the two sweeps, and a smaller one in October, just three people were charged with anything other than a licensing violation.


Barbers and witnesses at several shops told the Orlando Sentinel that deputies shouted and cursed during the raids, demanding the location of illegal drugs, which they searched for extensively. They never found more than misdemeanor amounts of marijuana at eight of the nine shops they raided.


Harris-Perry, author of “Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought,” called the idea of deputies invading shops during both a recession and an election year “pretty horrifying.”

She said by violating the barbershop’s role as a “safe place” in the black community, deputies may have placed the community’s trust in local law enforcement at risk. “It’s exactly counterproductive,” she said, adding that targeting minority barbershops sends a message about “which communities deserve to be disrupted and which don’t.”


[Return to headlines]

Indictment: Somali Gangs Trafficked Girls for Sex

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Twenty-nine people have been indicted in a sex trafficking ring in which Somali gangs in Minneapolis and St. Paul allegedly forced girls under age 14 into prostitution in Minnesota, Tennessee and Ohio, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

The 24-count indictment, unsealed in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Tennessee, said one of the gangs’ goals was recruiting females under age 18, including some under age 14, and forcing them into prostitution so the defendants could get money, marijuana or liquor.

The indictment details several instances in which young Somali or African American girls were taken from place to place and forced to engage in sex acts with multiple people. One girl was under 13 when she was first prostituted. Another girl was 18 when she was raped by multiple men in a hotel room, the indictment said.

John Morton, director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the case is significant because the girls were repeatedly victimized over several years and transported to many places. The indictment lists incidents involving four victims, but says “other minor children” were involved. It’s not clear how many victims there were in all.

“Human traffickers abuse innocent people, undermine our public safety, and often use their illicit proceeds to fund sophisticated criminal organizations,” Morton said. “ICE is committed to bringing these criminals to justice and rescuing their victims from a life in the shadows.”

Van Vincent, the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, wouldn’t comment on the status of the girls, other than to say they were safe.

The indictment claims the ring involved three Minneapolis-based gangs _ the Somali Outlaws, the Somali Mafia and the Lady Outlaws _ and that all three gangs are connected. The men and women charged were either gang members or associates of the gangs, the indictment said. They range in age from 19 to 38.

The indictment says the sex trafficking ring operated for 10 years, with the defendants recruiting young girls to engage in sex acts.

One girl was just 13 when, in 2005, she was taken from the Minneapolis area to an apartment in Nashville to engage in prostitution, it said. The girl was also taken to Columbus, Ohio, and other locations for prostitution.

In another case, a girl was under age 13 when she was first forced to engage in sex acts in November 2006. Two defendants had sex with her the next month at an apartment in St. Paul, and then other males arrived and were charged money to do the same, the indictment said. That scenario happened on many occasions.

The indictment refers to the girl as Jane Doe Two. The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes.

“Jane Doe Two was informed … that selling Jane Doe Two for sex would be called a ‘Mission.’ It was a rule that members of the (gangs) would not be charged for sex with Jane Doe Two as they were fellow gang members,” the indictment said.

One defendant, Haji Osman Salad, nicknamed “Hollywood,” later made Jane Doe Two “his girl,” picking her up from school, engaging in sex acts with her, and then instructing her to engage in sex acts with other men, the indictment said…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamaphobia is Really Islam-Awareness

On November 5, a memorial to the twelve soldiers and one civilian killed by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan was unveiled at Fort Hood, Texas, one year to the day when they were murdered while Hasan in full combat uniform shouted ‘Allahu Akbar!”, Arabic for “God is great!”

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and American-born Muslim, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. An Article 32 hearing is scheduled to determine if there is enough evidence to send him to trial. The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow.

The latest assault on humanity and civilization by Islamofascists is the news that al Qaeda’s Yemen branch is taking credit for having blown up a UPS air cargo plane a while back and that packages containing bombs were thankfully intercepted before they killed people on commercial airlines.

In the week of November 1 through 5, eleven children were among 67 worshippers at a mosque in Pakistan by a suicide bomber yelling—guess what?—”Allahu Akbar!” The same day in Afghanistan, nine people at a bazaar were blown to bits by a teenage suicide bomber; seven worshippers in Peshawar, Pakistan were killed when terrorists threw grenades into a mosque; a young boy was killed by rockets fired into Khyber, Pakistan; two people were killed in Yemen by al Qaeda bombers; and two civilians were killed by a Taliban attack in Helmand, Afghanistan. (Source:

Ever since September 11, 2001, Americans have had a heightened sense of fear regarding Muslims, but it would appear that it is Muslims who have even more reason to fear other Muslims than Americans. This is not to say that some aren’t planning to kill Americans as this is being written.

The worst of this is President Obama’s continual efforts to whitewash a threat to the West and civilization in general as he has done again on his trip to India when he claimed that Islam is “distorted” by a few extremists. The problem, of course, is that there are more than a billion people worldwide who regard themselves as Muslims and the vast majority of whom who have remained conspicuously silent about Islamic terrorism.

What I don’t understand is the charge of “Islamaphobia” that is dragged out by various spokespersons for the Muslim community in America as if it is some sort of deranged response to the fact that Americans and everyone else in the world are at risk from those who get their kicks yelling “Allahu Akbar!” before killing either fellow Muslims or infidels, i.e. unbelievers, who do not want to embrace the religion of peace.

I would argue that Islamaphobia is just Islam-awareness that, at the street level, means keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior, cars parked in Times Square with smoke coming from their trunk, packages or backpacks left unattended in subways, and all the other nasty greetings from Allah’s most dedicated believers.

I’d like to say at this point that I have complete confidence in the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies charged with keeping us from being blown to hell, but I do not.

This is based largely on the glassy-eyed comments of Secretary Janet Napolitano who probably needs help selecting something from a menu or reminders what day it is. She is the very definition of clueless and this is why, I suspect, she was selected for the post by Barack Hussein Obama.

How Islamaphobic can Americans be when they elected the son of a Muslim father, a man who spent his boyhood in Indonesia with a Muslim step-father, and who just came within a hair’s breath of endorsing the building a mosque near Ground Zero after having been seen bowing to the kind of Saudi Arabia?

The greatest tribune I can pay Americans is that they have not gone on a rampage dragging native-born Muslims from their beds and slaughtering them. We are so attendant to their feelings that some judges want to incorporate Sharia law into their decisions concerning homicidal behavior, schools are now adding Islamic holy days to their calendars, and various other efforts to avoid hurting their feelings are widely found.

I do not care if Muslim’s feelings are hurt. I am still angry about having the Twin Towers destroyed and the Pentagon attacked with the loss of just under 3,000 American lives. I am increasingly unhappy about the billions being spent in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, along with the cost of the lives of our military personnel. I have pretty much concluded that we have wasted too much blood and treasure in these places where Islam resists precepts of democracy, tolerance, and moral, moderate behavior.

The Americans for whom I have real sympathy are Arab-Americans and here’s why. Two thirds (63%) of Arab-Americans derive from Christian minorities in the Middle East. These are people whose families have suffered at the hands of extremist groups in their former home countries. More than half of all Arab-Americans are Maronite Christians from Lebanon who fled Syrian Baathists, Palestinian terrorists, and the Shiite Hezbollah.

So do not talk to me about Islamaphobia. A phobia is an irrational fear of something. It is just common sense to fear members of a so-called religion more devoted to death than life; a religion that authorizes, sanctions, and demands that unbelievers be killed in the name of Allah.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Jury in Conn. Home Invasion Murders Recommends Death Sentence

A jury in Connecticut voted on Monday to impose the death penalty for a long-time criminal convicted for his role in a home invasion in Cheshire, Conn., that left a mother and her two daughters dead. The panel had deliberated just more than three full days.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Empowers U.N. Tyrants to Prosecute Bush

One of the most irritating features of the Obama presidency is his penchant for apologizing for his country while twisting its history.

Bowing repeatedly to foreign leaders (the emperor of Japan seemed mildly amused, the king of Saudi Arabia looked like he expected Obama’s deference), denying the U.S. is a Christian nation in a speech in Turkey, denouncing “American exceptionalism” in Greece — Obama has too often acted like a leftist foreign critic of America rather than its president.

Now Obama’s bowing to a gaggle of tyrannical governments gathered at the U.N. under the Orwellian title “U.N. Human Rights Council.” The council was formed at the U.N. in March 2007 as a vehicle to attack President Bush based on allegations of “torture” of terrorists.

Forty-seven countries are members of this council, including such human-rights champions as Cuba, China, Nigeria, Uganda, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Bush ignored the council; Obama bows to it. The U.N. council had targeted the U.S. as the first nation to receive an “assessment” of its human-rights record. Bush wouldn’t cooperate. Now, an American administration will allow the council to “assess the U.S. record on human rights.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Oklahoma Shariah Ban is Blocked

A federal judge blocked Oklahoma officials Monday from implementing a voter-approved referendum that singles out Islamic religious law, or Shariah, as a threat to the state.

Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, of U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, set a Nov. 22 hearing to consider whether the Save Our State Amendment violates the U.S. Constitution. Until then, she issued a temporary restraining order preventing the state Election Board from certifying State Question 755, which passed by 70% on Nov. 2.

The measure directs state courts to ignore “legal precepts of other nations or cultures” and specifically forbids consideration of “international law or Sharia Law.”

A Muslim activist in Oklahoma City, Muneer Awad, filed suit last week, alleging the measure violated the First Amendment, which forbids government from promoting an “establishment of religion” or interfering with “free exercise” of religion.

The measure “would enshrine disapproval of Islam in the state constitution,” said Mr. Awad, 27 years old, in an interview. He is executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In addition, he said, the provision could invalidate his will, which refers to Islamic teachings on the distribution of property.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Pentagon Openings Give Obama New Options

President’s choices could have lasting consequences for national security agenda.

WASHINGTON — With critical decisions ahead on the war in Afghanistan, President Obama is about to receive an unusual opportunity to reshape the Pentagon’s leadership, naming a new defense secretary as well as several top generals and admirals in the next several months.

It is a rare confluence of tenure calendars and personal calculations, coming midway through Mr. Obama’s first term and on the heels of an election that challenged his domestic policies. His choices could have lasting consequences for his national security agenda, perhaps strengthening his hand over a military with which he has often clashed, and are likely to have an effect beyond the next election, whether he wins or loses.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Insanity Virus

Schizophrenia has long been blamed on bad genes or even bad parents. Wrong, says a growing group of psychiatrists. The real culprit, they claim, is a virus that lives entwined in every person’s DNA.

Steven and David Elmore were born identical twins, but their first days in this world could not have been more different. David came home from the hospital after a week. Steven, born four minutes later, stayed behind in the ICU. For a month he hovered near death in an incubator, wracked with fever from what doctors called a dangerous viral infection. Even after Steven recovered, he lagged behind his twin. He lay awake but rarely cried. When his mother smiled at him, he stared back with blank eyes rather than mirroring her smiles as David did. And for several years after the boys began walking, it was Steven who often lost his balance, falling against tables or smashing his lip.

Those early differences might have faded into distant memory, but they gained new significance in light of the twins’ subsequent lives. By the time Steven entered grade school, it appeared that he had hit his stride. The twins seemed to have equalized into the genetic carbon copies that they were: They wore the same shoulder-length, sandy-blond hair. They were both B+ students. They played basketball with the same friends. Steven Elmore had seemingly overcome his rough start. But then, at the age of 17, he began hearing voices.

The voices called from passing cars as Steven drove to work. They ridiculed his failure to find a girlfriend. Rolling up the car windows and blasting the radio did nothing to silence them. Other voices pursued Steven at home. Three voices called through the windows of his house: two angry men and one woman who begged the men to stop arguing. Another voice thrummed out of the stereo speakers, giving a running commentary on the songs of Steely Dan or Led Zeppelin, which Steven played at night after work. His nerves frayed and he broke down. Within weeks his outbursts landed him in a psychiatric hospital, where doctors determined he had schizophrenia.

The story of Steven and his twin reflects a long-standing mystery in schizophrenia, one of the most common mental diseases on earth, affecting about 1 percent of humanity. For a long time schizophrenia was commonly blamed on cold mothers. More recently it has been attributed to bad genes. Yet many key facts seem to contradict both interpretations.

Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25, but the person who becomes schizophrenic is sometimes recalled to have been different as a child or a toddler—more forgetful or shy or clumsy. Studies of family videos confirm this. Even more puzzling is the so-called birth-month effect: People born in winter or early spring are more likely than others to become schizophrenic later in life. It is a small increase, just 5 to 8 percent, but it is remarkably consistent, showing up in 250 studies. That same pattern is seen in people with bipolar disorder or multiple sclerosis.

“The birth-month effect is one of the most clearly established facts about schizophrenia,” says Fuller Torrey, director of the Stanley Medical Research Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland. “It’s difficult to explain by genes, and it’s certainly difficult to explain by bad mothers.”

The facts of schizophrenia are so peculiar, in fact, that they have led Torrey and a growing number of other scientists to abandon the traditional explanations of the disease and embrace a startling alternative. Schizophrenia, they say, does not begin as a psychological disease. Schizophrenia begins with an infection.

The idea has sparked skepticism, but after decades of hunting, Torrey and his colleagues think they have finally found the infectious agent. You might call it an insanity virus. If Torrey is right, the culprit that triggers a lifetime of hallucinations—that tore apart the lives of writer Jack Kerouac, mathematician John Nash, and millions of others—is a virus that all of us carry in our bodies. “Some people laugh about the infection hypothesis,” says Urs Meyer, a neuroimmunologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. “But the impact that it has on researchers is much, much, much more than it was five years ago. And my prediction would be that it will gain even more impact in the future.”

The implications are enormous. Torrey, Meyer, and others hold out hope that they can address the root cause of schizophrenia, perhaps even decades before the delusions begin. The first clinical trials of drug treatments are already under way. The results could lead to meaningful new treatments not only for schizophrenia but also for bipolar disorder and multiple sclerosis. Beyond that, the insanity virus (if such it proves) may challenge our basic views of human evolution, blurring the line between “us” and “them,” between pathogen and host…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Obama Administration Bows Before the UN Human Rights Star Chamber

Once the Obama administration decided last year to join the circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council, it would only be a matter of time before the U.S. faced judgment day on its own human rights record before this dysfunctional UN body.

Our turn came on November 5, 2010. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer told the Council on the occasion of its examination of the United States’ human rights record that “it is an honor to be in this chamber.” Star chamber would be a more fitting description.

The “honor” that Brimmer was referring to was the Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing dissecting America’s human rights record. The UPR is a rotating periodic examination of all UN member states’ human rights records by the Human Rights Council. The Council includes, among its own proud roster of members, such countries as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These serial human rights abusers exploit the UPR process to heap praise on each other and whitewash their own abysmal records, while scoring propaganda points against Western democracies for falling short of perfection.

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental monitoring the Human Rights Council, captured perfectly the absurdity of America in the dock when he said that the “U.N. system failed today by allowing non-democracies to hijack the session for political propaganda and to drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Who is Really Distorting Islam?

But while liberals assail Judaism and Christianity, condemn America and Israel, their choirs of academics and politicians sing the praises of Islam.

“All of us recognize that this great religion (Islam), in the hands of a few extremists, has been distorted.” —Barack Hussein Obama

“Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all!”—Ayatollah Khomeini

While we now know that a young Obama rebelled against his mother and attended Koran classes, he clearly didn’t attend nearly enough of them. Or the Harvard genius is back to playing dumb.

According to Obama, and so much of the political establishment, the Koran is being distorted by a “few extremists” somewhere who are trying to convince the billion peaceful Muslims, that it actually promotes violence. But first a few obvious questions.

How many exactly is a “few”? Are we talking about a few dozen, a few thousand, a few million? Naturally Obama and the Islam apologists never really address that question. Because it is a rather inconvenient question. Since Muslims are defined by religious streams and mosque attendance, it should be easy enough to come up with a realistic figure.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Brussels: Senior Eurocrats Caught Fighting or Running Brothels Keep Their Jobs

Senior Eurocrats caught fighting or running brothels have been allowed to keep their jobs

SENIOR Eurocrats caught fighting or running brothels have been allowed to keep their jobs.

European Commission records show an official who got a suspended jail sentence for “keeping a brothel” was demoted instead of being sacked.

Officers who assaulted colleagues just had their promotions delayed, while a retired man had his pension cut after being convicted of paedophile offences. Two others were sacked only after being absent from work for several years.

Tory MEP Roger Helmer, who obtained the files from the EC’s Investigation and Disciplinary Office, said the treatment was absurdly lenient.

He compared them to the case of Ukip MEP Marta Andreasen, who was sacked as the EC’s chief accountant in 2004 for highlighting concerns that the EU’s budget was open to abuse.

He said: “If you do almost anything, no matter how outrageous, you get a slap on the wrist — unless you criticise the European project.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

‘Doomsday Vault’ Gets New, Large Shipment of Rice

In hopes of bolstering our defenses in the event of a major food crisis, researchers sent tens of thousands of seeds from different types of rice last week to a “doomsday vault” in the archipelago Svalbard.

Contained in black boxes, the 42,627 samples of rice seeds traveled to the mountains of the Norwegian archipelago, about 746 miles (1,200 kilometers) from the North Pole. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is buried deep inside the icy mountains, where it protects all of the world’s important crop seeds in case of a man-made or natural disaster.

The rice collection was sent from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), whose first deposit to the doomsday vault included 70,180 rice-seed samples sent in 2008. If ideal temperature and storage conditions remain inside the vault, seeds can be stored for hundreds of years, scientists say.

Polar bear protection

The giant icebox of sorts, which was officially opened on Feb. 26, 2008, is designed to protect the world’s crop diversity from natural or man-made disasters.

The vault, which officially opened on Feb. 26, 2008, is dug into the Platåberget mountain (“plateau mountain”) located near the village of Longyearbyen, Svalbard — a group of islands north of mainland Norway. The arctic permafrost offers natural freezing for the seeds, while additional cooling brings the temperatures down to minus 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 18 degrees Celsius).

And if the mountain of snow enshrouding the storage rooms wasn’t enough protection, what better bodyguard than one of nature’s biggest beasts.

“The region on Svalbard surrounding the seed vault is remote, severe, and inhabited by polar bears,” according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which helps to support the vault’s operations.

The preciousness of such seeds is reflected in the inaccessible nature of the vault. “Anyone seeking access to the seeds themselves will have to pass through four locked doors: the heavy steel entrance doors, a second door approximately 115 meters down the tunnel and finally the two keyed air-locked doors,” the Trust writes. “Keys are coded to allow access to different levels of the facility. Not all keys unlock all doors.”

Fail-safe backup

Like all seeds coming to the vault, the new ones are duplicates of those from other collections — in this case, duplicates are from those kept by IRRI’s International Rice Genebank in Los Baños, in the Philippines.

So if seeds are lost due to natural disasters, war, or lack of resources, the seed collections can be reestablished from Svalbard.

The vault can hold 4.5 million seed samples — and since each sample contains about 500 seeds, a maximum of 2.25 billion seeds will fit into the vault. That means all the unique seed samples conserved today by the 1,400 or so genebanks located across the globe could have duplicates in the seed vault.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurabia Watch: November 8, 2010

This is the start of an ongoing series, where we will bring you news of what is happening in relation to Islam, Islamism and political correctness in Europe. In Europe, the indigenous cultures have lost their sense of identity, replacing this with bland leftism and PC dogma. In this weakened state, Europe has allowed the uncompromising ideology of Islamism to take root.

The term Eurabia derives from the title of a book by Bat Ye’or, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis. In this book, Ye’or described a growing relationship between the progressives and leftists of Europe and intolerant Islamists whose ideologies and funding sources mostly came from the Arab world. Similar demographic and political changes are taking place in Canada and the USA. If we learn from the lessons of Europe, we may be able to stop North America going the same way.

Carcassonne, France: Christian Congregation Attacked with Rocks

As reported on Thursday in Midi Libre, Chrétienté.info and TF1 News, the congregation of a church in Carcassonne, south central France, was attacked by two youths who threw stones at worshippers. The incident took place in the quarter of the historic town known as Viguier, whose population is predominantly made of migrants from North Africa and their offspring. Translation from Midi Libre:

The faithful who attended the memorial service for the dead late Tuesday afternoon in a church in a sensitive area of Carcassonne, were the victims of two teenagers who, after entering the building threw stones and pine cones at them. One person was hit. In addition, a statue of the Virgin, target of the young desecrators, was damaged.

Two audience members who left the service to eject the two young intruders, gave chase but to no avail. The youths blended into the neighborhood, after copiously insulting their pursuers. The priest, Bruno Garrouste, described the youths throwing projectiles as large as a fist, being 13/14. He complained to the police.

Carcassonne attorney Francis Battut Carcassonne has ordered an investigation to identify the adolescents. “We take this very seriously,” he said. The facts date back Tuesday but the details were not disclosed until Thursday. The motives of these young people are unknown. Abdallah Zekri, regional delegate of the French Muslim Council, condemned an “attitude of thuggery.” The desecration of the church Saint-Jacques and the stoning of the faithful in a packed church — the first instance of its kind in a difficult area — sparked a big stir within the Christian community.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

George W Bush: ‘Waterboarding’ Saved British Lives

In an interview publicising his new book “Decision Points”, Mr Bush vigorously defended waterboarding, a kind of simulated drowning that was known as an “enhanced interrogation technique” by the Bush administration but regarded as “torture” by many opponents, some allies and a few internal dissenters.

“Three people were waterboarded and I believe that decision saved lives,” said Mr Bush, who denied that the practice amounted to torture. When asked if he authorised of waterboarding to gain information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the captured al-Qaeda leader, he responded: “Damn right!”

In his book, Mr Bush writes: “Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States.”

He writes that although the procedure was “tough”, it was legal.

The British government has long viewed waterboarding as torture. Last month, Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, said in a speech that Britain had “nothing whatsoever” to do with torture. Mr Bush was being interviewed by The Times, which is serialising the book. He hailed Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, as a modern-day Winston Churchill but was dismissive of the significance of British public opinion during the run-up to the Iraq war and subsequently.

Mr Bush recalled that when Mr Blair faced a possible Parliamentary vote of no confidence in on the eve of the Iraq invasion he gave him the chance to decide not to send British troops to Iraq because “rather than lose the Government, I would much rather have Tony and his wisdom and his strategic thinking as the prime minister of a strong and important ally”.

According to Mr Bush, Mr Blair responded: “I’m in. If it costs the Government, fine.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany: Jewish WWI Soldiers Remembered at Frankfurt Ceremony

German officials attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Frankfurt on Sunday to honour thousands of Jewish soldiers who gave their lives for Germany during the First World War.

The memorial was held at the Jewish cemetery in Frankfurt. Gideon Römer-Hillebrecht, deputy chairman of the German Association of Jewish Soldiers (RjF), said it was the first time that representatives of the German government, as well as the German Bundeswehr and other national militaries, took part in the ceremony.

Bundeswehr parliamentary liaison Hellmut Königshaus was in attendance, as well as Defence Ministry parliamentary liaison Christian Schmidt, and Frankfurt Jewish Community Chairman Salomon Korn. Representatives from Israel, Austria and the United States were also present at the ceremony.

Schmidt said the deaths of the estimated 12,000 Jewish soldiers who fought for Germany during World War I have been rarely acknowledged — and that remembering their sacrifice was a duty.

He added that many Jews entered the war out of patriotic conviction but were denounced as “scapegoats” after WWI ended in 1918.

Following the wreath-laying ceremony, the names of the 50 Jewish soldiers buried at the cemetery were read aloud. According to the German Association for Jewish Soldiers, some 467 Jewish men in uniform from Frankfurt were killed during World War I.

The RjF’s Römer-Hillebrecht said the ceremony should not only pay tribute to the lives of fallen Jewish soldiers, but also honour their relatives and comrades killed during the Holocaust. The Nazi regime murdered six million European Jews during World War II.

“Because of the Shoah, there are few relatives still here today who can honour the dead with us,” he said.

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

Italy: Film: Waked Offered Only Bad Guy Roles After Syriana

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 1 — “Films serve to break down barriers and not to create new ones. Even actors exchange experiences and learn a lot about each other’s cultures,” said the Egyptian actor Amr Waked, in Rome for the fifth edition of the Rome International Film Festival.

Waked has been harshly criticised for his professional choices and his ideas by the entertainment world of Arab countries, such as when in 2008 he agreed to act in “House of Saddam” (coproduction between BBC Television and HBO) alongside Igal Naor (who played the role of the Iraqi dictator). Waked said that “in the beginning I had no idea that the lead actor was Israeli, and even I thought it was an ill-advised choice.

However, I was already involved and shooting had got underway, and later I thought to myself: but I like this actor. He’s a colleague of mine, and good at what he does. And I am not ashamed to say that we are good friends, even if he is Jewish.

What is the problem?”.

Due to this choice of his, the Egyptian actors’ union covered him in insults and even now the public remembers it. However, the 38-year-old with a degree from the American University of Cairo seems to have that something extra which the Arab film world overall needs to get out of its current stagnation.

With over ten years of working in the theatre to his name, Waked set out on his film career in 1997. In Europe, however, it was with the role of a recruiter for suicide attackers in “Syriana” that he became famous. Could it be that to break into the world of Western films an Arab must necessarily take on the role of the bad guy and terrorist? “In part perhaps this is the case,” he admitted. “However, I agreed to play that role in Syriana since I thought the screenplay was well-done, and because the one who wrote it proved that he knew the Middle East and US foreign policy in that part of the world very well. Later I turned down 18 screenplays in which I was supposed to play the role of suicide bomber.” As concerns the film market in Arab countries, he said that “even now Egypt has no rivals, though Egyptian films are going through a very deep crisis.” He noted that the quality is not keeping up with the quantity. “Many films are produced in Egypt every year but they are addressed to an uncultured, naive public which is interested in mediocre stories. We need to focus on a new generation of actors and directors and look towards the future,” he said. And he himself has chosen to shift to the other side of a film camera and, under age 40, already has his own production house. “Along with the director Ahmad Maher,” he revealed,” between April and May we will begin to shoot a film which deals with the story of an Egyptian who has been living in Italy for 20 years.” It is an educational film, he added, “which helps to make others understand that to emigrate preparation is needed. Because if you aren’t ready for it, if you don’t know what you’ll be going up against, you will end up living a nightmare.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Biggest Union Elects First Woman Leader

Susanna Camusso new CGIL secretary general

(ANSA) — Rome, November 3 — Susanna Camusso on Wednesday became the first woman to head one of Italy’s leading trade unions.

CGIL, Italy’s biggest union, elected the 55-year-old Camusso to be its new national secretary general in a vote which saw her receive 79.1% of the votes cast by the union’s executive assembly.

“My task will be a difficult one not only because of the attacks which have been made on CGIL, but also because of the state Italy finds itself in,” Camusso said after her election.

“I hope I can be a reference point for all”.

Camusso, who replaces Guglielmo Epifani, has never worked in a factory but has had a long career in the union movement. She earned a reputation as a tough negotiator when she worked for 22 years for FIOM, the auto and metal workers division at CGIL, where she became its first woman leader.

In congratulating the new CGIL leader, who was his hand-picked successor, Epifani said Camusso “has the ability and the experience to do well, along with the qualities needed to lead this great organization: brains and a heart”.

Among the first politicians to congratulate Camusso was Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna who said her election represented “an historic watershed”.

“For the first time a woman is at the helm of Italy’s biggest trade union. This is an historic watershed which as minister for equal opportunities and as a woman fills me with pride.” Carfagna said.

“With Camusso’s election, which follows that of Emma Marcegaglia as head of (industrial employers association) Confindustria, another small tabu has been broken. Women are now, without a doubt, achieving a primary role also in the economy,” the minister said.

Speaking last week, when it was clear Camusso would be elected, Marcegaglia said “I have a very positive opinion of her. She knows how companies operate and I hope she will do well and is able to control the more conservative elements of her union”.

“We face an enormous challenge in which either we all win or we all lose. I hope we can all work together to ensure this country has higher growth, productivity and competitiveness,” Marcegaglia added.

One of Camusso’s first challenges will be dealing with FIOM’s staunch opposition to Fiat’s push for individual factory contracts, which would override the national collective contract.

Fiat maintains these contracts are needed in order to boost productivity at its plants enough to justify implementing a 20-billion-euro investment plan for Italy.

Camusso will also face the task of patching up relations with Italy’s two other leading unions, the CISL and UIL, which have been more open to accepting government attempts to revise labor relations and meeting the demands imposed by Fiat.

UIL leader Luigi Angeletti on Wednesday sent his “sincere” congratulations to Camusso and added “we have different opinions on contract bargaining and this will be a testing ground to see whether our relations will evolve in a positive way. And on this I am confident”. CISL leader Raffaele Bonanni expressed his hope that “it will be easier to find common ground” with Camusso than with her predecessor.

“We will see whether this is possible in the coming days.

In any case, unions can always overcome their divisions. What is important is that we understand what is the final goal,” he added. Also sending Camusso her congratulations was Renata Polverini, who before her election this year as the governor of the central region of Lazio led the smaller UGL union, which is considered right-wing while the CGIL is traditionally left-wing.

“As a woman and as a former national union leader I wish her the best of luck in her new, difficult task. I am sure she will tackle this as she has the others: alongside the workers to protect their rights and interests,” Polverini said. Although she is known to be very determined in contract negotiations, unafraid to resort to strikes and other labor actions to achieve results, Camusso is recognised by both her peers and management for being open to suggestion and able to produce results.

Camusso left FIOM in 1997 after 22 years reportedly because then-leader, Claudio Sabattini, considered her to be too ‘moderate’. She moved to the regional Lombardy branch of the CGIL and worked her way up to the national governing committee in 2008.

At least in the beginning Camusso is expected to follow the reformist polices Epifani adopted at the last CGIL congress, which included finding other means aside from strikes to achieve union goals.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy to Import 600,000 MW Per Year From Tunisia

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, OCTOBER 29 — Italy will start importing 600,000 megawatt (Mw) of power per year from Tunisia in 2018, after the completion of the production area and the indispensible connections. The announcement was made by Italian Undersecretary for Industry, Stefano Saglia, during an international conference in Tunis on the Tunisian solar energy plan. The production area will have a daily capacity of 1,200 Mw, of which 800 Mw will be transferred to Italy through undersea cables with a capacity of 1,000 Mw. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: FLI Threat to Leave Government if PM Refuses to Resign

Fini says: “We are not against Berlusconi. We are beyond the PDL and Berlusconi. Legislature pact only with new agenda”

MILAN — Beyond the People of Freedom (PDL) and beyond Berlusconi. The PDL is a turned page. That was the message from Future and Liberty (FLI) leader Gianfranco Fini in his eagerly awaited speech at Bastia Umbra. Mr Fini pointed out that a new pact for the legislature was possible but only with a new political agenda. First, the PM must resign and trigger a crisis. If he does not resign, FLI is ready to leave the government.

PRELUDE — Actor and FLI parliamentarian Luca Barbareschi read the party value manifesto to introduce the closing speech of the new Centre-right movement’s conference. Shortly before, Mr Barbareschi had accepted the pledge of the two FLI ministers Ronchi and Urso, who announced they were returning their mandate to Mr Fini. “With our friends Antonio Bonfiglio and Roberto Menia, with whom we have shared a government commitment that you granted to us, we place our appointments in government in your hands and those of Gianfranco Fini. Our interest is not in positions but in the mission for change in Italy”, said deputy minister Adolfo Urso, announcing that he was returning his mandate to Mr Fini along with the three junior ministers.

IDENTITY OF NEW PARTY — “Men pass and ideas remain”, said Mr Fini, opening his speech. “This is not personal resentment. Our challenge springs from a courageous shouldering of responsibility”. As phrase followed phrase, Mr Fini did not mention Silvio Berlusconi by name but in effect he was referring to the criticisms of FLI by the PDL leader, replying to them one by one and defending his actions as “someone who will never ask you to sing ‘Thank Goodness for Fini’“. “There was a longing in Italy for a different politics, clean and done in the name of values and ideals. Thank you to those who made possible this little big miracle”, added Mr Fini, who quoted the poetry of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, author of the Little Prince. “Some rather presumptuously wrote us off too quickly as a small group, as if our adventure made no political sense. From Mirabello, today we are in this splendid setting with an event that has few precedents. We are not just politically pivotal for the fate of the government. We are also crucial for the destiny of the country”, Mr Fini pointed out. “FLI will not be a pocket version of National Alliance but neither will it be a sort of raft of the Medusa picking up sundry shipwreck survivors. Our doors are open to all, except deal-makers and self-promoters”, said Mr Fini. “How sad it was to read the news that went all round the world” he said, referring to the collapse of the House of the Gladiators at Pompeii. Things like that, he went on, project an image of Italy that is certainly not the one Italians deserve.

ATTACK ON PDL — Mr Fini then turned his fire on the PDL and Northern League, starting with immigration and the family. “Nowhere in Europe, and I say this after due consideration, is there a political movement like the PDL, which on civil rights is so culturally backward and in thrall, as in other things, to the worst Northern League culture. Our manifesto of values features respect for the human person and safeguards the civil rights of every human being, without distinction or discrimination. Respect for the person means not discriminating between black and white, Christians and Muslims or Jews, heterosexuals and homosexuals or Italian citizens and foreigners. The person is at the heart of any political culture that strives to lay the foundations of harmony. And legality is the essential precondition of freedom”.

PAGE TURNED ON PDL — “We are not against Berlusconi. We are beyond the PDL and beyond Berlusconi. Our project goes beyond. We have turned the page on the PDL and Berlusconi. That page has been turned, or is turning, because it was unable to put flesh on aspirations and projects. The great liberal revolution was implemented only in very small measure. Italy is not the Pinocchio-esque Toy Country Berlusconi makes it out to be. This government has not got its finger on Italy’s pulse. It has no idea what Italians worry about. The government is adrift. It plugs the leaks but it has lost its bearings. It has no project to build the Italy of tomorrow. It’s a government that lives from day to day. The government has failed to take on board that there are four or five issues that must be faced, priorities on Italy’s agenda, which do not include bills on electronic eavesdropping. Policies for recovery need to be put in place. You can’t just dismiss it all by talking about ridiculous plots or saying that the government of doing is in power. I get the impression that this government of doing is the government of kidding on everything is all right and taking no account of society’s problems. What’s needed is another kind of politics that goes beyond side-taking. It is just not possible that every time you seek shared ground this is labelled as the worst sort of stitch-up or pulling wool over voters’ eyes. Bipolarism is a value but when the election campaign is over, the other coalition cannot remain an enemy to be fought with propaganda overkill and a policy shortfall”.

ECONOMIC QUESTION — “We disagree with Mr Tremonti’s policy of across-the-board cuts”, said Mr Fini, who believes the approach is “the best way not to choose where to cut back and where to invest”. Mr Fini did, however, acknowledge the “merit” of the economy minister “for the spending curb policy”. Nevertheless, Mr Fini thinks “the middle class is getting poorer and struggles to get through the month. There is an advancing conflict of generations. Many young people realise that when they no longer have their family, it will be a serious problem for them. This conflict is alarming”, said Mr Fini.

MORAL ISSUE — “There is a sort of moral decadence. These are slippery issues. In my view, moralism is one of the worst attitudes of the many whited sepulchres ever ready to preach but never to look inside themselves”, said Mr Fini, in an indirect reference to the Ruby case. “I believe this decadence is a consequence of the loss of decorum and rigour in the behaviour of those who are called to be examples, because as a public figure you have a duty to set an example”.

NEW PACT FOR LEGISLATURE — “A legislature pact is possible only if there is a new political agenda and a government pact from now until 2013. That pact, without offence to Mr Berlusconi, cannot be a five-point test that Parliament’s schoolchildren have to tick or be accused of lèse-majesté. The agenda also needs two or three reforms to modernise our system of institutions. First of all, we need to eliminate an electoral law that is merely an embarrassment”, said Mr Fini.

PREMIER’S RESIGNATION — “Mr Berlusconi should hand in his resignation and precipitate a government crisis. If he does not resign, we will leave the government. If Mr Berlusconi fails to make a move and listens to his bad counsellors, then obviously Ronchi, Urso, Menia and Bonfiglio will not stay in the government for one minute longer. The problem for us is not passing the lighted match or pulling the plug. It’s clear that if we carry on playing these smart-alecky tactical games, the plug will be pulled by Italians fed up with a government that doesn’t govern”, concluded Mr Fini.

English translation by Giles Watson

08 novembre 2010

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

Sweden: Police Call for Tips on Malmö Shootings

Malmö police have declared that the investigation into spate of racist shootings in the city is “far from solved” despite the arrest of a 38-year-old man suspect on Saturday.

“It is a long way from being concluded,” deputy chief constable Åsa Palmqvist said in a Monday morning press conference.

Palmqvist told reporters that the investigation is ongoing and called on the public for more information.

“We want to continually get in more tips. We need that,” she said.

It has been confirmed that the 38-year-old has been arrested on “probable cause”, the highest level of a three grade suspicion scale used in Sweden.

The man is suspected of one murder in October 2009 and seven attempted murders between then and October 2010.

Police remained on guard at the man’s home on Sunday night after several gangs of curious youths found their way to the location.

“It is all part of the security-building measures we have taken. So that the residents can feel safe,” said the county officer in charge of Skåne and Blekinge police on Sunday night.

The prosecutor and police have been cautious in their public statements over the weekend regarding details of the case. The arrested suspect’s name has not been revealed and police have refrained from officially linking him to what the Swedish press have dubbed “the new laser man”, who may be behind a series of immigrant shootings.

According to media reports on Monday the man is confirmed to be an “ethnic Swede” and the man’s father told the Aftonbladet daily that his son “lived in fear of immigrants taking over Swedish society”.

It has also been confirmed that the 38-year-old, described as a “loner” by neighbours, possessed a licence for two weapons, which police seized during their search.

The search of the man’s apartment on Sunday resulted in a strengthening of the suspicions against the man.

The chief prosecutor Solveig Wollstad has confirmed that the man denies all involvement in the shootings and that a decision over whether to charge him will be taken on Tuesday.

The arrest comes after a massive Malmö police investigation was launched on October 22nd into whether a lone shooter with racist motives was behind some 15 attacks, killing one person and injuring many others.

Dozens of regional police officers have been dispatched to Malmö to help in the hunt as of late October.

Of the 50 to 60 shootings that have taken place in Malmö over the past year, police consider about 15 of them as “unaccounted for”.

Police have furthermore indicated that the shooter may even have committed unsolved murders dating as far back as 2003.

Authorities said at the time it might take weeks or months to find the perpetrator or perpetrators of the attacks.

At Sunday’s press conference, Skåne county criminal investigation department superintendent Börje Sjöholm, described the arrest as the result of traditional police work.

“We were interested in him following information obtained from the population,” he said of the suspect.

The October announcement spread panic in the city and a link was quickly made with a spate of racist attacks carried out with a chilling similarity by an immigrant-shooting sniper in Stockholm in the early 1990s dubbed “Laser Man”.

“Laser Man” was the nickname given to John Ausonius, who shot 11 people of immigrant origin, killing one, around Stockholm from August 1991 to January


Ausonius, who got his nickname by initially using a rifle equipped with a laser sight, was sentenced to life behind bars in 1994 and remains in prison.

Unlike Ausonius, the Malmö shooter does not appear to use a laser sight rifle, but police say the same gun has been used for several of the shootings, including the attack on the only known ethnic Swedish victim.

Trez Persson, 20, was killed last October when someone fired numerous shots into the car she was sitting in with a friend, a man of immigrant origin, who was seriously injured in the attack.

In October alone, numerous shootings appear linked to the case, including two men shot in the back, a week apart, as they waited alone in the dark at separate, isolated bus stops.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Danny the Red and Davutoglu

Representatives of the Greens in the European Parliament have paid a visit to Istanbul, after six years.

I remember two stars of the show six years ago at the Greens general convention were the co-chairman of the Greens, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and the German foreign minister at the time, Joscha Fischer.

This time, Cohn-Bendit had the stage to himself.

Cohn-Bandit controlled the agenda by his remarks during meetings. In the meantime, he managed to have a short press briefing with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Frankly, I am curious about a meeting between the pious-conservative Davutoglu and this madcap politician who transformed into “Danny the Green” after earning reputation as “Danny the Red” for his involvement in anarchism in the incidents of 1968.

Cohn-Bendit came to the breakfast much earlier than Davutoglu, who had just returned home from a visit to China.

As we were shooting the breeze, the subject was the future of the Greens Party in Turkey.

The 10 percent obstacle in the Greens Party

The Greens in Turkey was formed in 2008. Co-chairman of Greens in the EP rightfully said that it cannot stand any chance if the 10 percent national election threshold is not lowered.

“If the Greens take action, I will vote for them,” this is what I hear from more people everyday who are in search of a political party suits to them.

However, it is too much optimism to expect the party to speak up until the elections next June.

As for the Cohn-Bendit and Davutoglu meeting, “Danny the Red” acted faster than the reporters and posed the first question to Davutoglu.

He asked what Davutoglu did for Sakine, who is awaiting execution in Iran.

Davutoglu said the Turkish Foreign Ministry had requested her release from Tehran several times.

The minister shared his views, from the Mavi Marmara raid to Turkey’s European Union bid, after saying that he doesn’t believe sanctions against Iran could work and that Iranians will be most harmed by the sanctions.

China European as well

I want to underline Davutoglu’s remarks on the EU.

“As you go to China, you realize your European identity. Nothing has changed in Turkey’s European vision. If Europe cannot learn to live together with the Turks, how will the Unites States and the world, for instance, learn to live with the Chinese?”

That is to say, the issue has become multiculturalism, which is the hottest issue in Europe.

It started when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, “We have utterly failed with our Multikulti policy.”

At this point Cohn-Bendit passed the ball to Davutoglu’s court and asked:

“Turkey, too, deals with multiculturalism problems. Are the right of Alevis, Christians and atheists being protected?”

Then he touched upon Islam. “We have to accept Islam as the second religion in Europe,” however he said Islam scares away some people and needs to be changed to be secularized like other religions.

Let me recall here, France, where Cohn-Bandit lives, has become a stage for the fiercest debates over the secularization of Islam.

As far as I follow the French press, Muslim intellectuals living in France have been involved in similar philosophical or religious discussions.

And Turkey stands far away from all of them.

I don’t know if Davutoglu took note of Cohn-Bandit’s remarks.

However, I noted when the minister said: “I like the Greens’ vision. It is more impressive than that of the other parties in Europe. They have much more innovative and creative ideas. I have a lot to learn from them.”

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

UK: ‘Terror’ Tube Driver With Al Qaeda Links Walks Free

A Tube driver on the Bakerloo line was this afternoon cleared of plotting terror attacks despite writing a farewell letter to his wife and admitting he knew an al Qaeda terrorist.

The verdict at Snaresbrook crown court puts pressure on London Underground to order a comprehensive overhaul of its vetting policy.

Amir Ali, 28, a qualified LU train driver earning £41,000 a year, is said to have bought survival equipment and booked flights to Pakistan intent on committing “violent jihad” in Afghanistan.

The married father of two from Ilford wrote a letter to his wife Miriam and his children proclaiming “Allah came first,” the court heard.

Ali admitted he knew Anthony Garcia, who was jailed over an al Qaeda plot to blow up the Bluewater shopping mall and other targets with massive fertiliser bombs.

He was also said to be associated with Garcia’s brothers, Lamine Adam and Ibrahim Adam, who are still on the run after going missing while subject to control orders.

During the Bluewater trial it emerged that Lamine Adam, a former Tube driver, had been asked by terrorism leaders in Pakistan to launch a suicide attack on the Tube network.

Ali was today found not guilty of preparation for acts of terrorism between April 2006 and March last year after claiming he was framed by the British security services after he refused to become an MI5 mole.

During the trial Ali was asked whether Muslims were obliged to carry out jihad. He replied: “I think it’s the obligation of a Muslim to follow the Koran.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Freed Islamic Terrorists Face New Controls as 46 Prepare for Prison Release

Dozens of Islamic terrorists who have finished their prison sentences are so dangerous that a secret list of restrictions has been drawn up to limit their freedom, it has been disclosed.

The curbs have been introduced by ministers who are concerned about the release or impending release of a ‘significant’ number of extremists.

Restrictions are understood to include a ban on using computers, visiting certain mosques, associating with imams who are not approved by the Government and not associating with known criminals.

Ministers will apply the curbs to at least 20 convicted terrorists who have been freed from jail this year as well as 26 eligible for release within the next two years.

One of those recently eligible to be freed is Abu Bakr Mansha, who was jailed for plotting to kill a British soldier.

Probation officers have been given a catalogue of restrictions that can apply to terrorists freed on licence.

The restricted document, has been drafted by the Ministry of Justice and is entitled, The Management of Critical Public Protection Cases and Terrorist or Terrorist Related Offenders.

It states: ‘There is now a small but significant number of terrorists being held in custody or managed on licence.

‘This instruction ensures that processes to manage offenders who pose a risk of harm to the public or whose cases pose complex management issues are effectively configured to meet the challenges of managing terrorist offenders.’

Some estimates show there are more than 100 convicted Islamic terrorists in the UK prison system.

But according to the Royal United Services Institute, 800 Muslims have been radicalised while in prison and could present a danger to the public when they are released.

Among those eligible to be freed over the past two years was Khalid Khaliq, who associated with the 7/7 bombers and was jailed for possessing documents useful for terrorism.

The document also expresses concern that released terrorists may try to seek work which puts them in contact with people who may be vulnerable to their ideas.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Islamic TV Channel Rapped for Advocating Marital Rape

In one programme on the Islam Channel, which broadcasts on Sky and Freesat, the presenter of a discussion of sex within marriage said that “it shouldn’t be such a big problem where the man feels he has to force himself upon the woman”.

During another programme, a woman phoned in to ask if she had the right to hit a violent husband back. The presenter responded: “In Islam we have no right to hit the woman in a way that damages her eye or damages her tooth or damages her face or makes her ugly. Maximum what you can do, you can see the pen over here, in my hand, this kind of a stick can be used just to make her feel that you are not happy with her.”

In March this year, the channel was the subject of a report by the Quilliam Foundation, a London-based organisation that describes itself as “the world’s first counter-extremism think tank”.

Ofcom subsequently launched an investigation into the channel’s programmes, under its rules relating to harm and offence.

In its decision, the regulator acknowledged that some TV channels “will broadcast programming that will derive from a particular religious or spiritual viewpoint” and that “such advice might cause offence to different sections of the audience”.

However Ofcom went on to say that “the advocacy of any form of violence (however limited)… is not acceptable” and that “it was highly likely that any advocacy and support at all of forced sexual relations would be offensive”, and found the Islam Channel in breach of the Broadcasting Code.

Ofcom said that it would not impose a fine, but that the Islam Channel would be requested to attend a meeting with the regulator to discuss its procedures for ensuring compliance with the Code.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Church Warns Bishops About ‘Angels and Demons’ Sect

Vatican City, 5 Nov.(AKI) — The Vatican has instructed Catholic bishops to closely monitor a sect that prays to angels to offer encouragement in their battle against demons and believes that women who have undergone abortions are possessed by the devil.

Dozens of priests and nuns are part of the group, Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, and some of their actions are “disturbing the ecclesiastical community,” the Vatican warned in a letter published Thursday in Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano.

Opus Sanctorum Angelorum (OA), which means “the work of angels” in Latin, was founded in 1949 by an Austrian housewife Gabriele Bitterlich who died in 1978, according to the OA’s English-language website.

The organisation operates primarily in Germany, Austria and Brazil.

The Vatican published regulatory decrees for OA in 1983 and officially recognized it in 1992 provided members followed church law and agreed not to base any activities on information provided in the housewife’s “alleged revelations.”

A number of the sect’s followers “have not accepted the norms dictated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and seek to restore what, according to them, would be the ‘authentic Opus Angelorum’“, the letter signed by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prefect William Cardinal Levada admonished.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the Vatican office responsible for safeguarding the doctrine on faith and morals — was headed from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

“The Congregation has learned that very discreet propaganda in favour of this wayward movement, which is outside of any ecclesiastical control, is taking place, aimed at presenting it as if it were in full communion with the Catholic Church,” the letter said.

The Church faith practices watchdog warned that some members of the “wayward members” were conducting “activities that disturb the ecclesiastical community.”

“In particular, [its] members were not to make use of the ‘names’ of angels derived from the alleged private revelations attributed to Mrs Gabriele Bitterlich and they were not to teach, spread or make use of the theories originating from these alleged revelations,” Levada said in the letter.

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

North Africa

Egypt Gripped by Rising Muslim-Christian Tensions

Around 200 men flooded out of the al-Qa’id Ibrahim mosque into the midday sunlight following the Friday afternoon prayers in Alexandria. They held up banners before the hundreds of black-clad riot police who were there to greet them, and immediately began to chant. “Shenouda is the enemy of God,” they yelled, referring to Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Church, Egypt’s largest religious minority. “Shenouda is an infidel … State security, where is your Islam? Why did you leave the criminals alone?”

Much of the rage expressed by the members of the hard-line Salafi sect of Islam stems from one woman. Not much is known about Camilia Shehata, a priest’s wife from Upper Egypt, whose story (or lack thereof) has gripped the Middle East’s most populous nation since the summer, sparking waves of angry protests and emotional editorials. Shehata disappeared from her home for several days in July after having reportedly converted to Islam — some say in an effort to get a divorce, which is not permitted by the Coptic Church. At first, the Christians protested — accusing Muslims of kidnapping a Christian and forcing her to convert. When she re-emerged, it was the Muslims’ turn. Many now believe Shehata was forcibly returned to her home and the Coptic Church by state authorities, only to become sequestered against her will within the confines of a monastery. (See TIME’s video on brutality in Egypt.)

“We do not know anything except that she was married to a priest and she ran away from that marriage. Everything else is just rumors, and that is the problem,” says Amr Khafagy, the editor in chief of the independent al-Shorouq newspaper, which has run four stories and an editorial about Shehata. “The government never said the absolute truth and the church never said the absolute truth. And the media blew these rumors out of proportion.”

It’s not the first time a Christian has converted to Islam, but conversion has long been a sensitive issue in a state where Copts worry about rising Muslim religiosity and Muslims increasingly see Copts as existing outside the law. It is also one of the first times the state has interfered in an individual’s conversion, claims Rafiq Habib, a Coptic intellectual. If they hadn’t, he says, this never would have gotten so out of hand. “From the public perspective, it was a sign that the role of the church and the position of the Copts has changed in the last years — that they have become allies of the state and allies of the President.”

Wafaa Constantine, who was also the wife of a priest, reportedly converted to Islam in 2004 and wound up in a monastery as well. Neither woman has appeared in public since their returns to the church, and the Salafi protests of late have invoked both names. “Today we hold a standoff to free our sister hostages from the church,” explained one of the protesters, Atef Wael. “Whenever a sister converts to Islam, they keep her in the church and they torture her to make her appear before the media saying that she is a Christian, not a Muslim.” Other protesters outside the mosque on Friday and in recent weeks have displayed pictures of women they allege are Shehata, Constantine and others held captive by the church. Some sobbed as they chanted slogans comparing their struggle to the Crusades.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Talks: Livni Against Netanyahu, Extend Moratorium

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 5 — A harsh attack against the refusal of Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu (Likud, right-wing) to accept an extension to the building project moratorium in the West Bank settlements asked for by Washington to resume stalled negotiations with the Palestinians was launched today by Kadima (centre, opposition) and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The controversy comes two days before Netanyahu’s departure for a fragile visit to the U.S. in which more pressure will come from the Americans and over which shadows are thickening regarding the scandal denounced today in Haaretz on the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, where extreme right-wing Israeli groups were favoured in bids for building projects. Speaking to a crowd of businessmen, Livni said that digging one’s heels in over a few months of an extension is not worth a dispute in the “strategic relations” between Israel and the United States. She also accused Netanyahu of refusing a proposal for a new alliance in the government with Kadima, which would have lightened the burden of the extreme right-wing’s control, allowing him to “make the right choices for the country, both in foreign and domestic policy”. Netanyahu is expected in the U.S. starting on Sunday for meetings with Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Barak Obama will be abroad) during which more requests for Israel to relaunch the peace process are foreseeable. Chief Palestinian National Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat was recently in Washington, and he assured that PNA President Mahmoud Abbas is ready to give the Americans another two weeks before meeting with the Arab leaders on the fate of negotiations. But he reiterated that the PNA will not return to the negotiating table without a renewal of the settlement moratorium. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UNRWA and the Code of Silence

Never, ever tell Palestinians the truth that they’re not going back to their ancestors’ homes.

One of the first rules of being an UNRWA official is omerta. Above all the code of silence means refusing to tell two truths. First is the truth about UNRWA. It is a key mechanism that keeps Palestinians “refugees” over 60 years after their ancestors’ flight during the Arab war against the creation of the State of Israel. It is internationally funded, to the tune of $1.23 billion for 2010-2011, but since it is run by Palestinians, it is a tool for reproducing their sense of grievance against Israel and the West, and a unique culture of dependence and entitlement with respect to the world.

The second thing UNRWA officials need to learn is to never, ever tell Palestinians the truth that they are not going back to their ancestors’ homes in what is now Israel. That pipe dream underlies the entire Palestinian sense of grievance and perhaps of self.

Recently, for perhaps only the third time in UNRWA history, a high official let the truth slip. In a speech to an Arab-American group, Andrew Whitley, outgoing head of UNRWA’s New York office, stated the obvious, “We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent… It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

UNRWA’s reaction was swift…


           — Hat tip: DonVito[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iraq: More Attacks on Christians in Baghdad a Week After Massacre

Two faithful shot dead in Baghdad. Muslim Imams in Kirkuk condemn the violence against the Church and ask “Iraq’s mosaic” be preserved. Agreement on a new government after eight months of political deadlock. Yesterday, the first Mass in the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation after 31 October massacre.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — Another attack against Christians in Iraq, a week after the massacre in the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. Two worshipers were killed yesterday, November 7: Louay Daniel Yacoub, 49, was in front of his apartment when strangers shot him dead. Another Christian was killed the same day, but his identity is not yet known. The shootings were referred by local AsiaNews sources, anonymous for security reasons.

The Muslim community has expressed its solidarity and closeness to Christians under attack in Iraq. On 5 November, during Friday prayers, all the mosques in Kirkuk condemned the “barbaric attack” against the church in the capital. The mayor and the sheikh of the Arab, Kurds and Turkmen tribes, have expressed condolences and solidarity with the Chaldean archbishop of the city. The next day, the Sunni and Shiite imams of the northern Iraqi city also strongly condemned, alongside Archbishop Louis Sako, the carnage that killed over 50 people in Baghdad on Oct. 31. The Muslim religious leaders have been clamouring for the preservation of “the Iraqi mosaic” of ethnic groups and religions.

The same imam called for Muslims to protect Christians, who are a model of loyalty, “and launched an appeal for all the Iraqis do not succumb to fear and do not leave their country.

The violence in Iraq has accelerated the formation of a new Iraqi government, stalled eight months after the elections. According to government spokesman Ali al Dabbagh, an agreement for an executive of national unity is pending. It seems the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been reconfirmed, after gaining the support of the Sunni-Shiite secular Iraqiya Party led by rival former prime minister Iyad Allawi, and winner at the polls in March. The latter will “lead Parliament”, as Speaker, while Jalal Talabani, of the Kurdish Alliance, will remain head of state. The U.S. has not yet confirmed the news, but is urging the Iraqi authorities to form a “inclusive” government.

Christians in Baghdad yesterday held the first mass in the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation after the massacre of 31 October. The interior was without any pews, down the length of the aisle hundreds of candles were laid on the ground, forming a large cross in the middle of which were placed the names of 46 victims of the massacre of the faithful on Sunday. “Today we pray for those who have attacked, who attacked our church and killed our priests fathers Wassim and Thaher,” said Father Mukhlas Habash in his homily, citing the names of two priests of 32 and 27 years of age killed seven days ago. Their smiling faces are displayed in posters on the blackened and bullet riddled walls of the cathedral.

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

Radical Yemeni Cleric Awlaki Calls for Killing of Americans

US-born radical Yemeni cleric Anwar al Awlaki has called for the killing of Americans in a new video message posted yesterday on Islamist websites.

Awlaki said Americans are from the “party of devils” and that no special religious permissions are needed to kill them, the Associated Press reported.

In the 23-minute, Arabic-language message, Awlaki said it was “either them or us.”

Speaking in Arabic, Awlaki appears sitting behind a desk with a sheathed dagger in his belt.

The cleric, who was charged last Tuesday in Yemen over alleged ties to al-Qaeda and incitement to kill foreigners, is also wanted in the US on terrorism charges.

Washington linked the young imam and son of a former Yemeni government minister to a shooting rampage last November at a US army base and to the botched Christmas Day 2009 attack on a US airliner.

Prosecutors told a Yemeni court specialising in terrorism cases that Awlaki corresponded with Hisham Mohammed Assem, a Yemeni accused of shooting dead French energy contractor Jacques Spagnolo near Sanaa in October, for months and encouraged him to kill foreigners.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Usama bin Laden and headquarters of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was coming under increasing pressure from Washington to hunt down the cleric.

“M. Awlaki is a problem,” US Homeland Security and Counterrorism Adviser John Brennan said in January.

“He’s clearly a part of al-Qaeda in [the] Arabian Peninsula. He’s not just a cleric. He is in fact trying to instigate terrorism.”

Mr Brennan directly accused Awlaki of having links with Major Nidal Hasan, who is suspected of shooting dead 13 people at Fort Hood military base in Texas, and said Awlaki also likely had contact with Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, accused of trying to blow up the Christmas Day plane.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Arabs’ Worst Enemy: Themselves

News reports that Iraq is increasingly turning away from Washington and toward Iran for advice on forming a new government are disheartening. They tend to confirm earlier warnings that Tehran would be the major beneficiary after the US invasion of Iraq.

Couple that with a Brookings Institution poll showing that Arab optimism about US policy in the Middle East has dropped from 51 percent to only 16 percent, and it reminds us that the first decade of the 21st century has been a pretty sorry one for American interests in the region.

One might have at least expected some applause and gratitude from the Arab street after President Obama ordered an end to US combat operations in Muslim Iraq.

Instead, it was met with sullen silence. An Arab journalist friend explained, “Arabs are always angry. They always look for the bad and then harp on it.”

Misperceptions and mental rigidity

Much of the responsibility for what has gone wrong in the past decade lies as much with misperceptions and mental rigidity on the Arab street as with US policy failings.

A small vignette is illustrative. First recall the Muslim world’s early infatuation with Barack Obama. After all, his middle name is Hussein, the same as the prophet Muhammad’s grandson.

Recently a group of Arab journalists was at the White House when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was speaking. The US president had a tiny, wireless receiver in his ear, giving Obama an instant, simultaneous translation of Mr. Mubarak’s remarks. The Arab journalists became quite excited, mistakenly believing Obama really understood Arabic because he was nodding his head. They wanted to believe he was one of them.

In a small way, the incident illustrates how unrealistic are Arab perceptions of the world, and of the United States and its president.

When educated Arabs grasp at such flimsy straws, we should recognize a cultural mind-set that helps explain why the US effort to democratize, reshape, and modernize the Arab Middle East by occupying and nation-building in Iraq faltered miserably.

Eight months after elections in Iraq, politicians in Baghdad still haven’t formed a government, as rival sectarian groups fear losing power. Prominent Iraqi Arabs have proved themselves little more than dithering and incompetent complainers, neither proactive nor positive even when it is in their own interest.

Bernard Lewis, the renowned Princeton scholar of Islam, has called attention to the Arab tendency to play “the blame game.”

He notes Arabs traditionally blamed the Mongols, the Ottoman Turks, the colonial powers, and now the Jews and the Americans for everything that has gone awry in their once proud and accomplished history.

When I question Arabs about this, I find they generally hide behind the mantra, “If only we were better Muslims and followed the Quran, we would do better.” But that becomes a self-set mental trap, excusing any original thought about the need to determine their own destiny.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Yemen Muslim Cleric Al-Awlaki in US Death Threat Video

A radical US-born Yemeni Islamist cleric has called for the killing of Americans in a new video message posted on radical web sites.

Anwar al-Awlaki said no permission was needed to kill Americans as they are from the “party of devils”.

It comes shortly after authorities intercepted air cargo bombs sent from Yemen to the US in a plot linked to Mr Awlaki.

The US has named Mr Awlaki a “specially designated global terrorist”.

Investigators have linked Mr Awlaki to the US army base killings in Fort Hood, Texas, last year’s Christmas airline bomb attempt, and the failed Times Square bombing in New York.

US officials say he is a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an offshoot of the militant network based in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

‘Leaders are corrupt’ In the 23-minute message posted on Monday, Mr Awlaki called all Arab and Yemeni leaders “corrupt”.

“Kings, emirs, and presidents are not now qualified to lead the nation, or even a flock of sheep,” he said.

“If the leaders are corrupt, the scholars have the responsibility to lead the nation.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Reporter in Artificial Coma After Ambush

Oleg Kashin’s appparent transgression was to report on a controversial highway project outside Moscow. The brutal attack on the Russian journalist has outraged many in and outside the country. Still, official organizations had campaigned against the reporter and the case highlights continuing persecution of the free press in Russia.

There was no warning. There were no threats either, the wife of the reporter Oleg Kashin, 30, a reporter with the respected Russian daily Kommersant, said. Except of course for the usual online diatribes, along the lines of how he was a “traitor to the Russian people” who now “needed to be punished.”

Now Kashin is lying in hospital with a double jaw fracture, broken legs and cranial trauma. Doctors have had to put him into a medically induced coma. The journalist’s colleagues believe Kashin was targeted because of his critical reporting. For his part, Kommersant Editor in Chief Mikhail Mikhailin spoke of “demonstrative brutality.” The manager of Kashin’s apartment building, meanwhile, said that, “they didn’t beat him with their fists but with some sort of objects.”

According to another neighbor, two men lay in wait for the journalist on Saturday night. Kashin was on his way home and the men waited at the gate until after midnight with a bouquet of flowers, as though they were waiting for a date. Then they attacked.

A Warning to Russian Journalists

The beating is also a general warning to journalists writing critical stories in Russia. Since 2009, Kashin had been writing mainly about extra-parliamentary opposition for Kommersant. It was for this reason that Molodaya Gvardiya, or the Young Guard, the youth wing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, had made inflammatory comments against Kashin. They said that he belonged to a “fascist-journalistic underground center.” And, on their website, they said that the “journalist-traitor” needed to be punished.

The pro-Kremlin activists had been angered by Kashin’s recent reporting about a conflict just outside of the city of Moscow. Northwest of Moscow, in the city of Khimki, an eight-lane highway is slated to be built through a section of local forest — environmentalists have been protesting the building plans for years and, this summer, the conflict had escalated. First groups of masked thugs had attacked the environmentalists’ tents, then hundreds of anarchists and activists belonging to the “Anti-Fascist Movement” hurled stones and smoke bombs at the Khimki town hall, also firing on the building with gas pistols. Afterwards, Kashin published an anonymous interview with one of the organizers of the latter attack that read:

“If they cut down the forest, wood chips will fly.”

“Who are these ‘wood chips’?”

“The cops.”

Debate Rather Than Violence?

Following the the ambush, Young Guard officials were quick to condemn the “barbaric crime.” “Those who attacked journalist Oleg Kashin must be punished to the full extent of the law,” said a statement on the organization’s website. The group said it preferred the means of “political debate.”

When it comes to political debate, the Young Guard certainly doesn’t hold back. In the minds of the pro-Kremlin youth, journalists like Kashin bring such extremism upon themselves, even just by writing reports. The youth groups greet human rights activists, critical journalists and opposition politicians with the same hateful tirades, declaring them all “enemies of the Russian people” and, thus, outlaws.

Another pro-Kremlin youth group known as Nashi is known for disparaging its opponents as being the stooges of fascism. They dress up dolls that are supposed to look like members of the opposition and human rights activists in German Wehrmacht uniforms from WWII. But of course, they only do this after their international guests and any reporters have left the grounds…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Soldier Turns Weapon on American Troops, Kills 2

KABUL, Afghanistan — A soldier from the U.S.-trained Afghan army apparently turned his weapon on American troops in volatile southern Afghanistan, killing at least two U.S. soldiers, NATO officials said Saturday.

The incident is the latest that calls into question the allegiances of at least some members of the Afghan security forces, which the Obama administration hopes will be the key to an eventual withdrawal of roughly 100,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is still under investigation, said the shootings took place late Thursday in southern Helmand province. The area has been the site of intense fighting between the Taliban-led insurgency and thousands of additional troops President Barack Obama sent to Afghanistan this year.

Few other details of the clash were immediately available. CNN quoted a Taliban statement from a militant website as saying the Afghan soldier shot the U.S. troops on an American base in Helmand’s Sangin district.

Just last week, a squad of Afghanistan’s national police in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, were reported to have crossed sides to the Taliban, although the details of precisely what occurred are murky.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Hardline Group Plans Widespread Indonesian Protests Over Obama Visit

Jakarta. One of the country’s most conservative hard-line Islamic groups has lashed out against the upcoming visit by the “cruel” US President Barack Obama, despite most commentators viewing it as an embrace of the Muslim world.

On Saturday and Sunday, there were rallies organized by Hizbut Tahrir in Jakarta, Mataram in East Nusa Tenggara, and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

A spokesman for the group estimated that across the three cities 20,000 took part, while independent estimates put the Jakarta protest at about 2,000.

Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for the group, called Obama “a cruel president, no different from [George W.] Bush, with blood on his hands, and without [showing] the slightest compassion.”

He lashed out against the role he said the US played in the “destruction of Muslim countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan and the killing of the people there.”

“Obama may be a guest, but there are two kinds of guests: the good kind and the problematic kind,” Ismail said, adding that Obama fell in the latter category.

The hostile reaction in the run-up to the landmark visit comes amid reconciliatory moves by the White House toward Muslims following Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech.

Then, he said he was seeking “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, previously said a planned visit to Istiqlal Mosque, Indonesia’s largest, would “underscore the themes that he’s made in terms of outreach to [Muslims] around the world.”

He said the president would also “be able to speak to Indonesia’s rise as a democracy, Indonesia’s rise as an emerging economy, and the pluralism that its story represents.”

Similarly, Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, said Obama’s visit would strengthen ties between the United States and the Islamic world, and condemned the small groups of extremists opposed to it.

On Friday, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder and chief executive of the American Society for Muslim Advancement and leader of the Al-Farah Mosque in New York, said at the State Palace in Central Jakarta that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s meeting with Obama presented an opportunity to promote cooperation and change negative perceptions of Islam.

“You will have the opportunity to discuss with my president in the next few days … how we can work together and cooperate together to create this kind of momentum — global momentum,” he said.

However, Hizbut Tahrir’s Ismail said the group was determined to greet Obama with protests.

“We’ll certainly be back on Monday, but Tuesday’s protests will depend on whether Obama’s arrival is confirmed,” Ismail said.

“Given the current circumstances, I think he might cancel.”

Tuesday’s demonstrations will take place in Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo, Padang in West Sumatra and Pekanbaru in Riau province.

Ismail said Sunday’s protest in Jakarta also raised Rp 58 million ($6,500) in donations for victims of the tsunami in the Mentawai Islands off West Sumatra and Mount Merapi eruptions in Central Java.

Meanwhile, in Mataram on Saturday, around 1,000 Hizbut Tahrir demonstrators protested against “US imperialism in Indonesia.”

Protesters were seen holding banners that said “Obama is a Jew” — a far cry from accusations he faces at home of being a Muslim — and said Obama’s visit will be an attempt to soften up the Indonesian authorities and boost US economic and political interests in the country and the region.

“We must remember that Obama leads a country that is an enemy to Muslims,” Ismail said in Mataram.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Islamists Plans to Intensify Anti-Obama Protests

Jakarta, 8 Nov. (AKI) — A coalition of radical Islamic groups pledged to intensify their protests against the upcoming visit by Barack Obama accusing the US president of being “cruel and equal to Bush,” referring to his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Tuesday as part of a 10-day visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. He spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.

Led by Hizbut Tahir Indonesia, or Party of Liberation, Muslims over the weekend participated in rallies across Indonesia to protest Obama’s visit. During the two-day visit, Obama is expected to discuss bilateral agreements with the world’s most populous Muslim nation and visit a mosque.

He cancelled two previously scheduled visits because of the health care debate in Congress and the Gulf oil spill.

Hizbut Tahir Indonesia and other Islamist groups accuse Obama of not bringing true change to America’s foreign policy and of “increasing Indonesia’s subjugation by America.”

Hizbut Tahir Indonesia said around 20,000 people attended anti-Obama rallies across the country over the weekend.

Hizbut Tahir’s goal is for all Muslim countries to unify as an Islamic state, or caliphate, ruled by Islamic law.

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

Indonesia: Police Seize Thousands of Porn DVDs in Capital

Jakarta, 8 Nov. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Police said Monday they confiscated more than 13,500 pornographic DVDs and arrested nine people who allegedly produced and distributed them,.

“Three of the suspects produced the DVDs, while the rest distributed them. We also confiscated DVD duplicators from three different locations, namely Karawaci [Tangerang], Sereal [West Jakarta] and Teluk Naga [Tangerang],” Jakarta police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said at the police special crimes bureau on Monday.

Amar added that these rackets had been operating for the last two years.

“They could produce up to 300 DVDs per day. The films were sold for 5,000 Indonesian rupiahs apiece,” he said.

“This could be categorised as a home industry. They used simple equipment that are very effective and efficient at duplicating DVDs,” he said.

According to Amar, the duplicators used by the suspects could produce around one DVD per minute.

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

Muslim Leaders Approve Obama’s ‘Jihad’ Remarks

They sought to draw a line between the real meaning of ‘jihad’ and the current spell of violence targeting the innocent.

In their opinion Obama’s comments on jihad at Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College earlier in the day was a clear attempt at separating the violent campaign from the basic concept of jihad.

“Jihad can in no way assume the form of violence against the innocent and those who are perpetrating such violent acts have done great disservice to Islam,” said Kamal Farooqi, a prominent member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. “To that extent President Obama is correct,” he said.

Farooqi agreed with Obama that certain elements had distorted the image of Islam by resorting to violence in the name of faith.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind leader Maulana Masood Madani said that Obama ‘correctly’ understood that wrong impressions about jihad had been created in the wake of distortions of the concept by certain elements. “It’s true that jihad has been wrongly interpreted by some people; however, I don’t know by what yardsticks the US brands someone a jihadi or non-jihadi,” said Madani, a Rajya Sabha member.

The same view was shared by Congress MP Rashid Alvi who forcefully argued that Islam could in no way be judged by the activity of terrorist organisations like al-Qaida or Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“He is right — jihad originally meant struggle against injustice, it does not mean killing the innocent,” Alvi said.

He said that the current crisis facing Islam had been set off by the activity of a small group. “There is nothing wrong with the religion, Obama is right,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

SAS Parachute Dogs of War Into Taliban Bases

British special forces in Afghanistan are parachuting German shepherd dogs equipped with video cameras into Taliban strongholds to search buildings for insurgents.

The dogs are strapped to the chest of their handlers for parachute drops. Cameras attached to their heads feed back images of buildings and surrounding areas to special forces.

The tactics have been adapted from US special forces, according to the Times. The Ministry of Defence said it could not comment on SAS operations but did not deny the report.

The dogs are reportedly trained to attack armed people. Eight have been killed during operations —”But that would be eight SAS men,” a source told the Times .


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The World Powers Court Central Asia

The world’s great powers are all vying for influence and access in Central Asian countries, which are important supply hubs in the Afghanistan war and could become pivotal in reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas. Despite the interest, the countries in the region still haven’t come up with a vision for a common future.

The politician with the round cheeks and unpronounceable name is the greatest son of his country, of Central Asia and perhaps even the entire world — at least if one is to believe a book published in May, called “The Grandson Fulfills the Grandfather’s Dream.”

In the work, which was distributed to schools and universities, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, 53, the president of Turkmenistan since December 2006, is described as follows: “His authority comes from God. No problem is too much for him. He is not only a doctor who treats the sick, but a great person who assumes full responsibility for the fate of his people — a unique combination that astounds everyone. The successes under the leadership of our revered president are turning the world’s attention to our country.”

His capital is called Ashgabat, or “City of Love.” But there is nothing lovely or graceful about the buildings that make up the city’s skyline, from tasteless apartment towers to cold glass palaces, and from the gleaming white parliament to gilded monuments. Turkmenistan’s capital combines the bland grayness of Soviet architecture with the hideousness of Western wannabe avant-garde, an ostentatious past with a gaudy present. It is a fitting combination for the capital of a country that often looks like a Stalinist Disneyland and is led by a supposedly infallible president.

Berdymukhammedov is actually an improvement. He has toned down the cult of personality nurtured by his predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, the country’s first president, a Soviet-era ruler who called himself “Turkmenbashi,” or “Father of all Turkmen.” Dozens of monuments still celebrate the man. When he was in office, citizens couldn’t even get a driver’s license without quoting his wise sayings. The current president keeps a slightly lower profile, as evidenced by the smaller number of posters showing his likeness.

Turkmenistan is in the lower half of the United Nations Human Development Index, and it ranks 171st out of 183 nations on the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom. It is ironic that President Berdymukhammedov, a dentist and former health minister, heads a country whose healthcare system the organization Doctors Without Borders holds in such low regard. Amnesty International is critical of Turkmenistan for its persecution of members of the political opposition.

Not surprisingly, many find Ashgabat and its authoritarian leadership disconcerting. But anyone who concludes that Turkmenistan, larger than Germany by a third but with a population of barely more than 5 million, is a banana republic and thus of no interest to Europe is mistaken. Berdymukhammedov’s bizarre realm is floating on a bubble of natural gas. Turkmenistan is estimated to have the world’s fourth-largest reserves and is one of the top exporters of the precious natural resource.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Unveils First Moon Photos From New Lunar Orbiter

China’s space program has released the first moon photos taken by the country’s second lunar probe Chang’e 2, an unmanned spacecraft scouting out potential sites for a planned robotic lunar landing mission in 2013.

The pictures were taken by Chang’e 2 at the end of October, according to the AFP news agency. They show an area in the moon’s northern hemisphere known as Sinus Iridium (Bay of Rainbows), revealing it to be relatively flat area with craters and rocks of various sizes, according to media reports. [New moon photo from Chang’e 2]

China released the pictures with much fanfare today (Nov. 8) and posted five of new Chang’e 2 moon photos on the China Lunar Exploration Program website. Premier Wen Jiabao officially unveiled them at a ceremony in Beijiing, and Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang read out a statement, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

“The success of Chang’e 2 in accomplishing its mission marks another great achievement after the country successfully launched its first lunar probe,” China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted Zhang as saying. “The Chinese people will unswervingly develop technologies for the exploration of deep space and the peaceful use of outer space.”

Chang’e 2 launched Oct. 1 and arrived in lunar orbit five days later. The probe is the second step in China’s three-phase moon exploration program, which includes a series of unmanned missions to explore the lunar surface.

The Chang’e 2 orbiter is scouting for possible landing sites for the Chang’e 3 spacecraft, which is scheduled to land on the moon in 2013, Xinhua reported. The Chang’e spacecraft are named after the nation’s mythical moon goddess.

According to media reports, the Chang’e 2 mission costs an estimated $134 million.

Chang’e 2 will eventually swoop down to an orbit just 9 miles (15 km) above the lunar surface to take high-resolution pictures of landing areas for Chang’e 3, Xinhua has reported.

The Chang’e 1 probe launched in October 2007 and conducted a 16-month moon observation mission, after which it crash-landed on the lunar surface by design, in March 2009.

The Chang’e missions are just one prong of China’s burgeoning space program, which has seen three successful manned spaceflights, including the nation’s first spacewalk on the most recent mission, the Shenzhou 7 flight of 2008.

China hopes to return a moon rock to Earth by 2017 and launch a manned lunar mission by 2020, the AFP reported.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Latin America

20 Killed Over Weekend in Mexican Border City

Seven of the dead were found outside of one house

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At least 20 people were killed in drug-gang violence over the weekend in this northern Mexican border city, including seven found dead outside one house.

The seven men were believed to have been at a family party when they were gunned down Saturday night, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located. Five were found dead in a car, and the other two were shot at the entrance of the home.

There have been several such massacres in Ciudad Juarez, a city held hostage by a nearly three-year turf battle between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.

Few residents now venture out to bars and restaurants. And like those attacked on Saturday, others have discovered that they aren’t even safe in their own homes: Last month, gunmen stormed two neighboring houses and massacred more than a dozen young people attending a party for a 15-year-old boy.

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has become one of the world’s deadliest cities in the time that the two cartels have been fighting. More than 6,500 people have been killed since the start of 2008.

But the violence doesn’t stop there. In the southern city of Oaxaca, police found a human head in a gift-wrapped box left Saturday night on the side of a cliff popular for its view of the picturesque colonial center…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Italy: Government Approves New Security Package

Measures envisage expulsion of foreign prostitutes, hooligans

(ANSA) — Rome, November 5 — The government on Friday approved a new security package which envisages the expulsion of foreign prostitutes and certain European Union nationals, including the homeless and soccer hooligans.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said the government had included the anti-prostitution measure in the package because a parliamentary bill on the issue had been stalled for months.

Under the measure, police will be able to expel streetwalkers, currently only subject to stiff fines by local authorities.

EU residents who stay in the country for longer than 90 days but do not have a job, an income or a house and ignore orders to leave will be expelled, said Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, stressing that this was in line with EU directives.

EU legislation dating to 2004 requires that residents living outside their native countries in the 27-nation bloc must “fulfill certain requirements, including holding a job, income and a proper house,” he said.

“If our invitation to leave is ignored, they can be expelled,” said Maroni, adding that the government had “forwarded the measure to the European Commission to see whether it agrees”.

But he recalled that in the past the EC had never “censured Italy on any of its immigration policies”.

The minister said the package contained measures to crack down on soccer hooliganism, allowing police to expel fans up to 48 hours after screening video footage of incidents.

Berlusconi and his key ally, Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, won the 2008 general elections on the promise their government would approve legislation to stem criminality and illegal immigration. According to Maroni, petty criminality has decreased by 12% in the last two years while bank holdups are down by 50%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ketzaleh: Tel Aviv Jews Will Flee to Yesha From ‘African Flood’

National Union chairman Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz warned a Knesset committee Monday that 100,000 African immigrants will flood Tel Aviv in the next few years.

MK Katz heads a committee on foreign workers and has previously sounded the alarm bells on the flood of refugees that threatens the character of the Jewish state. Most of the refugees previously settled in southern cities, where they began to dominate smaller towns and cities, such as Arad, and are a significant percentage of the population and the crime statistics.

Their movement to Tel Aviv will make Tel Aviv look like an African city, MK Katz told the committee. He added that the city’s Jews, many of whom consider themselves tolerant pacifists but oppose a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, ironically will flee to the hills of Samaria to “escape the flood.”

Rabbi Menashe Zlicha of Pardes Katz, part of metropolitan Tel Aviv, said this week that thousands of Sudanese have fled the industrial hub, where they felt unwanted, and have moved into the suburb.

Last July, Interior Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch informed the Cabinet that two and a half million Africans on Egyptian soil are waiting for a chance to cross the border illegally into Israel. He said that approximately 155,000 illegal foreign workers are in Israel and that 1,200 enter illegally every month,

Journalist Yisrael Eichler and former hareidi religious legislator told the government last year that “bleeding hearts” are making Israel a refuge for non-Jews and criminals.

Many European countries are closing their doors to immigrants from Asian and African countries, and the United States regularly deports illegal immigrants.

Israeli mainstream media and secular groups have tried to prevent the deportation of children of illegal immigrants, deflecting a campaign led by MK Katz against the growing infiltration from Africa.

           — Hat tip: Takuan Seiyo[Return to headlines]

UK: Roma Rights Campaigner Jailed for £2.9m Benefits Scam Lavinia Olmazu Admitted a Fraud Charge in July a Woman Who Helped More Than 170 Romanians Illegally Claim £2.9m in Benefits Has Been Jailed for Two Years and Three Months.

Lavinia Olmazu, a leading campaigner for the rights of Roma (Gypsies), helped mastermind the scam involving 172 members of the Romanian community.

Olmazu, of north-east London, gained access to them through her work with Haringey and Waltham Forest councils.

The 31-year-old admitted a fraud charge at Southwark Crown Court in July.

As well as working as an outreach worker with the councils, the university graduate was involved with the Big Issue.

She set up companies with her boyfriend to help facilitate the frauds they carried out as part of a gang.

Sentencing her, Judge Deborah Taylor told Olmazu, of Woodford Green, her role in the fraud was “made easier” by her involvement with the local authorities and charities which granted her access to people within the Roma community.

She added: “You identified individuals who wished to be involved in this scheme and in doing so, abused your position with a number of charities.

“You were a previously well-respected woman working in human rights. You have now lost your reputation by involving yourself in this fraud.”

Immigrants from Romania are not entitled to a National Insurance number, and therefore a number of benefits, unless they can prove to the authorities they have been employed.

The court heard Olmazu and her partner, unemployed Alin Enachi, would offer false documents for money to the migrants purporting to be from their employers, and also provided them with fake references.

Migrants would pay in cash for help with their applications before going on to receive benefits, such as child tax credits, working tax credits and child benefit, if their applications were successful.

Olmazu, who has an 11-year-old son, admitted one count of conspiracy to supply articles for use in fraud between November 2007 and August 2009.

Enachi, 30, also of Woodford Green, was jailed for two years and eight months after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to supply articles for use in fraud between November 2007 and August 2009.

Olmazu and Enachi were part of a gang of eight, all of whom have now been sentenced for their part in the fraud.

A police spokesman said even though £2.9m had been claimed illegally, the scam would have defrauded the UK of more than £10m if the authorities had not intervened.

A confiscation hearing will be held at a later date, but the court heard £40,000 had passed through Enachi’s account.

Det Con Melanie Groves, from the Metropolitan Police, said: “This is a clear case of Roma families who wished to improve their lives but were prevented from doing so by being exploited by their own people.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Shop Assistant Banned From Wearing a Poppy Because ‘It is Not Part of the Uniform’

A top fashion store banned a shop assistant from wearing a poppy at work — because it was ‘not part of her uniform’.

Harriet Phipps, 18, pinned the poppy to her clothes as a mark of respect to the countless servicemen and women who have been killed or injured fighting for their country.

But bosses at Hollister, which is part of the trendy Abercrombie & Fitch chain, ordered the teenager to remove the tribute.

Miss Phipps works as a ‘model’ at the store in Southampton, Hampshire, wearing the shop’s latest fashion items to give customers an idea of how the clothes look on.

But when she wore a Remembrance Day poppy managers told her to remove it.

Furious Miss Phipps said: ‘I think it’s disgusting, I think it’s awful. ‘I feel it’s very important, it is only for two weeks so it’s not permanent.

‘It is a personal issue and I feel very strongly about it — I have a friend who is serving in Afghanistan and another friend, a girl, who is going out to fight there, as well as my granddad who fought in the war.

‘They said that because it’s not uniform or company policy, I am not allowed to wear it.

‘I’m what is known as a model, we have to wear a uniform key look — we get a selection of clothes which we have to buy and wear to work.

‘We provide an image of what the clothes would look like for the customers and because the poppy is not uniform I was told I should not wear it.’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Former ‘Tenth Planet’ May be Smaller Than Pluto

The bragging rights in the outer solar system may have shifted over the weekend. If the early results hold up, this time it’s the dwarf planet Eris’s turn to be demoted, and Pluto might have just regained its status as the largest object in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune.

The scene for this drama is high in the Chilean Andes, where on Saturday three teams of astronomers caught Eris in the act of passing directly in front of a star. Astronomers had known about this occultation well in advance, but the predicted path had shifted up and down along South America, leaving astronomers unsure who — if anyone — might see the event.

Well, the news from Chile is that three observing teams, all using relatively modest telescopes, saw the star blink out. Emmanuël Jehin of the University of Liège, Belgium, tracked the event with the 60-cm TRAPPIST telescope at La Silla Observatory, and says the occultation lasted about 27 seconds.

Then word came that the occultation had been witnessed by two more telescopes some 740 km to the north. Sebastian Saravia, Alain Maury, and Caisey Harlingten saw the star disappear for 76 seconds through Harlingten’s 50-cm PlaneWave telescope at the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations Observatory. The outage was also recorded by a remotely operated 40-cm telescope in another dome at the SPACE site, under the control of Jose-Luis Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, Spain.

Tricky measurements

Any positive result would be cause enough to celebrate — never before has an occultation involved an object so far away. But successful observations from widely separated sites create two chords across Eris’s shadow that yields a unique solution for its diameter (assuming that the object is spherical).

That number, according to Bruno Sicardy of the Paris Observatory, is hard to pin down exactly because timings derived from the three telescopes’ light curves have some uncertainty. Even so, Sicardy notes in an email, “Almost certainly Eris has a radius smaller than 1170 km.” That would make it ever-so-slightly smaller than Pluto, whose radius is thought to be 1172 (+ or — 10) km. Don’t be surprised if the final value gets pushed another 50 or 60 km lower…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IPCC Climate Science is Fundamentally Wrong: Carbon Footprint is All Wet

It was corruption of science to support a political agenda.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) science deliberately kept public focus on warmer temperatures and blamed it all on radiative forcing due to CO2. They virtually ignore water in all its forms, partly because terms of reference directed them to only human causes and because any consideration of the role of water destroys the CO2 hypothesis.

Water explains many elements of weather as reflected in the response of plants and animals, but they even perverted that evidence.

Michael Mann’s ‘hockey stick’ deliberately rewrote history to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) because it contradicted the false claim the world was the warmest ever. It was corruption of science to support a political agenda. Lost in the furor was the false assumption that tree growth was only about temperature. In reality, the most important growth factor is precipitation and available moisture. If Mann and others involved with the climate science debacle knew anything about climate, or were doing honest science, they would know this.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]