Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110825

Financial Crisis
»Netherlands: Finnish-Greek Deal Invalid: Finance Minister
»ADL Criticise Angelina Jolie’s Dad for Palestinian ‘Holocaust’ Remark
»F.B.I. Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime
»Flag to Fly Over All 48 of NH’s 4,000-Footers as Tribute to Memory of 9/11 Victims
»Obama’s Approval Drops to 44% With Hispanics — Down 41 Points Since ‘09
»Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream
»Two Tourists Killed by Heat Stroke After Getting Out of Car to Go for Help in California Desert
Europe and the EU
»Berlusconi Tells Bossi “Italy is and Will Always be”
»Climate Protestors Sentenced in Denmark
»Germany: Citizen Patrols Mooted to Stop Car Arsons
»Italian Court: Foreigners Must be Allowed to Buy Poste’s Property
»Italy: Court Rules Against ‘Unfair’ Discounts on School Books
»Italy: Austrian Tourist Slapped With €200 Fine for Buying Fake Prada Bag
»Italy: Thousands of Minors Sexually Exploited and Trafficked
»Switzerland: Calmy-Rey Criticises US Tactics on Tax Evasion
»UK: By Christmas We Should Have a Clear Idea of Cameron’s Character
»UK: Cameron’s Leadership — A Holiday Persistently Interrupted by Reality
»UK: Cameron Must Get Back to Work on Broken Britain
»UK: Racist EDL Not Welcome in East London
»UK: Respect Party Chair in Court Over Abusive Behaviour Charges
»UK: The Law is ‘Aving a Laugh — But the Joke is on Britain
»Why Do Tourists Dress Like Toddlers?
North Africa
»Christian Blogger Jailed for Criticizing Egyptian Military Goes on Hunger Strike
»ENI ‘Needs Up to 18 Months’ To Bring Back Libyan Oil, Gas Production
»Libya’s Destiny: Eurafrica or Africa?
Middle East
»Burying the Arab Spring
»Can Blossom Come From the Arab Spring?
South Asia
»Pakistan: Punjab: Muslims Kidnap 14 Year Old Christian to Convert Her to Islam
»Amnesty Now! Lawless Presidency? GOP Leadership Mute?
»Another 155 Tunisian Migrants Arrive on Lampedusa
»Italy: Moroccan Injured in ‘Drug-Linked’ Rome Gunfight
»Obama’s Administrative Amnesty
»Obama Administration Decision to Defer Deportations Hurts Unemployed Americans
»Texas to Begin Deporting Foreign Convicts
»UK: Net Immigration Soared by 20% Last Year — Making a Mockery of Government Pledge to Bring it Downmigration Watch UK: ‘These Figures Lay Bare the Legacy of the Labour Government’
Culture Wars
»Daily News Haiku: All the News, Made to Fit
»Study: Number of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Performing Abortions Drops to Only 14%, Down 8 Points Since 2008…
»Astronomers Discover Planet Made of Diamond

Financial Crisis

Netherlands: Finnish-Greek Deal Invalid: Finance Minister

The deal for a secured loan for Finland in return for its contribution to the Greek bail-out is invalid, finance minister Jan Kees de Jager told parliament on Monday afternoon in a memorandum.

Since the deal was announced last Thursday several other eurozone countries, including the Netherlands, said they too wanted their loans secured.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Friday he did not think secured deals were necessary but if the Fins had a deal, he wanted one too.

De Jager said in his memorandum the Finnish-Greek deal is a bi-lateral agreement and will only be valid if all the Euro countries and the IMF agree.

The finance minister also said the cabinet will in future report confidential information on the Greek bail-out to parliament on a weekly basis. In this way, he hopes to avoid the sort of confusion that arose in last week’s debate on the subject and after Thursday’s announcement.

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


ADL Criticise Angelina Jolie’s Dad for Palestinian ‘Holocaust’ Remark

The Anti-Defamation League has criticised Hollywood actor Jon Voight for a remark in which he compared Palestinian radicals to a “new Holocaust”. The non-Jewish actor, who is estranged from his daughter Angelina Jolie, is a well-known supporter of Israel and regularly hosts telethons in aid of Lubavitch. He is currently in Israel for the “Restoring Courage” rally, organised by right-wing US pundit Glenn Beck. At an event on Monday Mr Voight spoke of to the way that “media propaganda portraying the Palestinians as victims endangers the state of Israel”. Referring to the slaughter of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar in March, he said: “How have we come to a time when blowing up babies and cutting their throats are an acceptable means to a political goal.” But he added: “We are facing a new holocaust, and people of all faiths must demand that the truth be heard. The Palestinian radicals have only one prayer on their lips: To remove every Jew from Israel.” Abraham Foxman, the national director of the ADL, said the remark was “off-the-mark and inappropriate”. He added: “If anything, it’s the Iranians who are threatening a Holocaust, not the Palestinians. I wish he had not used that characterisation.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

F.B.I. Focusing on Security Over Ordinary Crime

Data from a recent two-year period showed that the bureau opened 82,325 assessments of people and groups in search for signs of wrongdoing. Agents closed out most of the assessments, the lowest-level of F.B.I. investigation, without finding information that justified a more intensive inquiry.

Separately, the bureau also initiated 1,819 assessments during the period to identify any possible threats within particular geographic districts. That activity ranged from looking for the presence of particular organizations, like gangs or terrorist groups with definable characteristics, to evaluating other potential vulnerabilities, like a university with classified research and many foreign students.


During an assessment, agents may use a limited set of techniques, including searching databases about targets, conducting surveillance of their movements and sending a confidential informant to an organization’s meetings. But to use more intrusive techniques, like secretly reading e-mail, agents must open a more traditional “preliminary” or “full” investigation. Such inquiries require agents to first have a greater reason to start scrutinizing someone: either an “information or allegation” or an “articulable factual basis” indicating possible wrongdoing.

According to the data, during the 2009-11 period agents opened 42,888 assessments of people or groups to see whether they were terrorists or spies. A database search in May 2011 showed that 41,056 of the assessments had been closed. Information gathered by agents during those assessments had led to 1,986 preliminary or full investigations.


[Return to headlines]

Flag to Fly Over All 48 of NH’s 4,000-Footers as Tribute to Memory of 9/11 Victims

By Sara Young-Knox

In the days following the 9/11 attacks that brought down the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and badly damaged the Pentagon, the skies across the country were empty of civilian aircraft.

Three days after those attacks, on Sept. 15, 2001, six hikers packed an American flag measuring 96 square feet, 10 yards of PVC tubing, 100 feet of rope and rolls of duct tape up the White House Trail on Mount Liberty.

It was a cool day, with the Mount Washington Observatory posting a high of 34 degrees for the day, but by 6 a.m., the partial fog on the 6,288-foot peak was giving way to partly sunny conditions, with visibility reported at 40 miles.

Mount Liberty, at 4,459 feet, is nearly 2,000 feet lower than Washington, but it’s likely that the weather on top of this Franconia Ridge summit was similar to Washington’s when the six hikers hoisted the flag on top of its rocky outcrop.

The hiking community has continued to honor those who died in the attacks by flying the American flag at the summits of all 48 mountains 4,000 feet and higher in New Hampshire. This year is especially noteworthy, as it is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Organizers of the Flags on the 48 tribute, which falls on a Sunday, are expecting a large turnout.

Hundreds have signed up to take part in the event this year, with all 48 peaks having at least some coverage. Registration is full on 25 peaks, with Boy Scout Troop 47 covering Tecumseh and Troop 91 bringing the flag up Wildcat “D”.

The plan is for the hikers to display the flag from noon to 2 p.m. After that, hikers will take the flags and accessories down the trail with them, abiding by the Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

Three peaks are reserved for non-hikers: Washington, Cannon and Wildcat “D”, which have lifts or other transportation to their tops. Each peak has a coordinator who delegates who brings what and other details.

Registration for the 2011 event is still open, and you can sign up by going to, or email

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Approval Drops to 44% With Hispanics — Down 41 Points Since ‘09

In the same week that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that her department was going to review the cases of 300,000 illegal aliens in deportation proceedings and allow “low priority” cases to stay in the country and receive work permits—a move House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith called a “back door amnesty”—President Barack Obama’s approval dropped to an all-time low of 44 percent among Hispanics, according to Gallup polling data released today.

That is a drop of 41 points from the spring of 2009, when Obama’s approval among Hispanic Americans peaked at 85 percent (in the weeks that ended April 26, 2009 and May 17, 2009).

Obama’s approval among Hispanics dropped 5 points last week alone, falling from 49 percent in the week that ended Aug. 14 to its new low of 44 percent in the week that ended Aug. 21.

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream

President Barack Obama has a problem on his hands when even his stalwart allies at The New York Times have no choice but to admit to a glaring reality: The President’s “green jobs” promise has failed miserably.

On Friday, the Times printed a harsh assessment of the state of the “green” economy—including a conclusion that the President’s promise to create five million green jobs over 10 years has proven to be nothing more than “a pipe dream,” with California’s Bay Area providing a particularly poignant example of how “green” jobs have actually been lost, not gained:

In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned . . .

A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.

California isn’t the only place, though, where the green dream is falling short of reality. Last year, Seattle won a $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization programs. The money was to be spent on insulating crawl spaces, serving to create jobs while helping the environment by reducing the energy needed to heat homes. The program, which was announced at the White House on the eve of Earth Day, has proven to be a total flop. reports:

[M]ore than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable.

Those failures aren’t just hitting the West coast, either. In Oak Park, Michigan, a state-government-funded hybrid bus company sits dormant, out of business just two years after it drew acclaim for being part of Michigan’s green future, despite millions in state taxpayer funding and a contract to sell buses to be purchased with federal taxpayer dollars. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports that the company failed to meet two performance “milestones” as part of its $2.6 million total loan agreement with the state—and without government funding, the company couldn’t survive.

Despite these green failures—and reports that 80 percent of the $2 billion set aside in the “stimulus” package for green jobs is going overseas, mostly to China—President Obama is continuing to make the pitch that a federally funded green future is central to his plan for rescuing the economy, going so far as to pledge an additional $2.4 billion for green jobs, especially to make batteries for electric cars. The Heritage Foundation’s Ernest Istook explains why the President’s plan will fail, just like it has in the past:

Green jobs are about government subsidies, cronyism, and job cannibalism. They aren’t self-sustaining because they rely on giveaways of taxpayer money and they cannibalize existing jobs…

The green agenda soaks taxpayers. But it also packs a double wallop because taxpayers are first hit to pay for the subsidies, then everyone is hit by higher energy prices caused by energy taxes and regulations.

As President Obama stays the course, pursuing a well-worn path toward government-subsidized green jobs failures, it’s important to point out that there is another way toward real job growth that doesn’t require taxpayer subsidies. As Heritage lays out in its “Saving the American Dream” plan, by reversing the growth of the federal government, eliminating unnecessary regulations, and repealing Obamacare, Congress can set America on a better course. It’s one that preserves the reality of the American dream, rather than chasing the fiction of a green pipe dream.

[Return to headlines]

Two Tourists Killed by Heat Stroke After Getting Out of Car to Go for Help in California Desert

A Dutch music promoter and his German girlfriend died from heat stroke after apparently getting out of their car in the California desert to go for help.

Augustinus Van Hove, 44, and Helena Nuellet, 38, drove into Joshua Tree National Park before noon on Monday and took a remote, dirt road to head towards Arizona, according to police.

Nearly seven hours later, a couple visiting the park found Mr Van Hove’s body on the edge of Black Eagle Mine Road.

Sheriff’s deputies later found Ms Neullet’s body around a mile away from her boyfriend, who was the director of 013 — a popular concert venue in the Netherlands.

The black Dodge Charger they were renting was found stranded around five miles away on the same road.

Temperatures during the day in the park topped 41 Celsius.

The road had signs warning drivers that it should only be for four-wheel-drive vehicles because they may run into soft sand, park spokesman Joe Zarki said.

He said it was possible the couple was trying to walk for help.

While an autopsy hasn’t been completed, Riverside County Sheriff’s Captain Raymond Gregory said evidence indicated the couple ‘both succumbed due to exposure to the elements’.

Mr Zarki said: ‘It doesn’t take long to go from being in trouble to being in a life-threatening situation.

‘Heat exhaustion or heat stroke could happen very quickly, you brain and body malfunctions seriously.’

Joshua Tree National Park sprawls over more than 1,200 square miles of the rugged Colorado and Mojave deserts. It attracts around 1.4million visitors a year.

Mr Zarki said many Europeans come to the park during the summer months, usually as part of a tour of U.S. national parks.

‘You can anticipate that many of these folks don’t have experience travelling in desert environments, it’s possible they weren’t fully prepared for the kind of conditions that you can get out here,’ he said.

The park has brochures in several languages providing safety tips on travelling in the desert. Mr Zarki said heat-related emergencies rarely occured in the park.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi Tells Bossi “Italy is and Will Always be”

(AGI) Rome — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is distancing himself from Northern League leader, Umberto Bossi, on the future of Italy. “I’m sorry,” said Berlusconi in a statement put out by Palazzo Chigi, “that I am not in agreement with my friend Umberto Bossi. I am deeply convinced that Italy is and will always be. We are celebrating 150 years of unity of a country that has always known how to react with great pride to the difficulties that history has placed before us. A country that is united,” Berlusconi concluded, “with a north and a south that are participants in a common history and common destiny.” ..

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

Climate Protestors Sentenced in Denmark

A Danish court has given two-week suspended sentences to 11 environmental activists, including two Swiss, over an unusual protest at the 2009 world climate conference.

The Greenpeace members gatecrashed a dinner party given by Queen Margrethe of Denmark. Once inside, they held up signs demanding action to stop global warming.

Their banners read: “Politicians talk, leaders act.”

Two of the protestors posed as the president and first lady of Georgia after gaining access to the building in a limousine equipped with a false police light. One of the Swiss took on the role of bodyguard; after his arrest he spent 20 days in detention in Denmark. It is not clear what role the other Swiss played.

The Copenhagen City Court found the protestors guilty of trespassing, falsifying a licence plate and impersonating a police officer. The Greenpeace office in Copenhagen that planned the stunt was fined 75,000 kroner (SFr11,400).

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

Germany: Citizen Patrols Mooted to Stop Car Arsons

As night-time car arsons in Berlin continue unabated, some citizens are calling for neighbourhood groups to prowl the streets looking for culprits, an idea that appears to be gaining ground.

The idea for citizen patrols has gained support during the week-long spate of arson in the German capital, which have left dozens of cars, mostly expensive models, burned out.

More than 300 vehicles have now been set alight since the beginning of the year, including five overnight Sunday.

Police have struggled to deal with the crisis, but the city actually assigns more people to give out traffic tickets than track down the car arsonists, according to the daily newspaper Die Welt.

Many people told the newspaper they were ready to join citizens’ groups to combat the attacks, because the government isn’t doing enough.

Some have suggested that neighbours begin carrying weapons and go on the hunt for perpetrators. Others have suggested a less vigilante-style response with simple unarmed neighbourhood patrols.

One 72-year-old who lives with his wife in the Berlin’s Westend district told Die Welt that residents have been debating what to do over the last few days. His idea is for a citizens’ patrol to go out for about an hour per night per night. It would alert police if it sees anything suspicious.

“Some residents here want to arm themselves,” he said. “What we need here is a kind of militia.”

Some people appear to be looking to London as a model, where many community groups lost confidence in police and formed successful vigilante groups to combat recent riots.

In Berlin, Burkhard Dregger, a politician with the centre-right Christian Democratic Union has long called for a special auxiliary police made up of volunteers that would have uniforms, batons and handcuffs.

But others have raised concerns about the idea, even as they acknowledge that police are struggling.

Klaus Eisenreich of the GdP police union said the local government has “failed” to find a solution. But, he said, bringing an end to the burnings should still be the responsibility of the police.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italian Court: Foreigners Must be Allowed to Buy Poste’s Property

(AGI) Brescia — A court in Brescia ruled that also foreigners must be allowed to buy property put up for sale by Poste Italiane. The court ruled that the tender notice for sale of 22 properties owned by Poste Italiane in Brescia, Novara, Vercelli, Catanzaro, Bologna, Milan, Ferrara and Verona, which included among its conditions being an Italian citizen, was discriminatory and, therefore, should be changed and re-published.

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

Italy: Court Rules Against ‘Unfair’ Discounts on School Books

(AGI) Campobasso — Campobasso courts rule against wholesaler’s attempts to undercut textbook retailers. The incident relates to one wholesaler’s offer of a 15pc discount on the cover price of school books on top of free coupons. With Italian law capping discounts on textbook cover prices at no higher than 15pc, the Court assessed that the wholesaler’s attempt to deliver a further incentive to purchase — by way of shopping coupons — ranks as unfair competition, and detrimental to smaller bookshops.

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

Italy: Austrian Tourist Slapped With €200 Fine for Buying Fake Prada Bag

Jesolo, 22 August (AKI) — An Austrian tourist was fined 200 euros for buying a fake Prada handbag from a hawker in Jesolo near the northern lagoon city of Venice.

Police caught the Austrian making her illegal purchase on the Jesolo beach front during a routine patrol. Police said the hawker ran off as soon as he saw police arriving, dropping another pirated designer bag as he fled.

The purchaser and the seller of fake designer goods can be fined up to 3,000 euros each under Italian law.

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

Italy: Thousands of Minors Sexually Exploited and Trafficked

(AGI) Rome — Save the Children says there are thousands of underage victims of sexual exploitation, beggars and illegal workers. The Association issued its “Little Invisible Slaves” dossier in collaboration with the On the Road-Corsorzio Nova Association on the eve of the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. It says that there are thousands of these children in Italy, largely of foreign extraction, and that the situation is getting worse.

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

Switzerland: Calmy-Rey Criticises US Tactics on Tax Evasion

Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey has criticised the United States’ demands on Switzerland over suspected US tax evaders.

Calmy-Rey told a meeting of Swiss diplomats in Lucerne on Monday that the procedures demanded by Washington were either “too tedious, or legally impermissible, or politically unjustifiable”.

US authorities are investigating several Swiss banks for allegedly helping Americans hide money from the Internal Revenue System.

Calmy-Rey said an existing tax treaty and other procedures were sufficient. She added Switzerland did not accept US attempts to tell the country which legal procedures it should use to transfer data.

Switzerland recently concluded a new treaty against tax evasion with Germany and is reportedly close to finalising a deal with Britain.

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

UK: By Christmas We Should Have a Clear Idea of Cameron’s Character

by Tim Montgomerie

I’m filling in for Matthew d’Ancona in tonight’s London Evening Standard. I reflect on my fear that the national mood to do something big in response to the recent riots — big in both policing and social terms — might be passing. I urge Cameron not to lose this opportunity. I warn that “we risk consigning another generation of marginalised people to the scrapheap and we risk more, possibly greater social explosions in years to come.”The Liberal Democrats are particularly keen to stop Cameron using the riots to toughen penal policy, strengthen family policy and review human rights laws. They are using their weapon of choice, ‘the policy review’;

“The junior partner in the coalition Government has studied the Prime Minister up close for more than a year now. Like many others who’ve had a ringside seat during Cameron’s leadership, they’ve concluded that the Prime Minister is a master of the big occasion but is more hare than tortoise. He’ll dazzle when the curtain is raised for the matinee performance but, backstage, Cameron doesn’t put in the hard yards to prevail over ministers, civil servants and other interest groups that exist to protect the status quo. Nick Clegg’s advisers talk of a two-week window from when a big idea enters Cameron’s head to the moment he has moved on to another subject. If they can prevent him from instituting policy change during that period they are confident they have prevented it altogether. The Liberal Democrats’ weapon of choice is the government review. The review into the NHS gave them an opportunity to mobilise every powerful lobby against Cameron’s ambition to modernise the health service. They are confident that the review into human rights laws will do the same. They are also optimistic that the reviews announced last week into Government social policy can also be run into the sand. Every day that passes is a day further from the sense of urgency that gripped Cameron at the height of the riots crisis.”

By Christmas we’ll know if Cameron has used the review process to bring Liberal Democrats on board for his social mission or if they’ve used the review process to kill the possibility of radical action. We’ll also know if the growth hawks have forced a more radical approach to supply side reform or if we’re still in the land of half measures. These next three months will be crucial for assessing whether this government can rediscover its early radicalism.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron’s Leadership — A Holiday Persistently Interrupted by Reality

The Prime Minister has long positioned himself above the fray, at the expense of a coherent message for his party.

For a prime minister to lose one holiday to events may be regarded as a misfortune. Two in a month verges on carelessness. David Cameron didn’t retreat to a Tuscan villa, sensing that wanton pillage was about to erupt on the streets of London. Nor did he slink off to a Cornish cottage in full knowledge that Libyan rebels were about to surge into Tripoli. He is allowed to go on holiday and was just a bit unlucky that the news rained on his barbecue. There is, however, something resonant in Cameron’s twice-forfeited vacations; something that describes the governing style of a man who has cruised through life. A holiday that is persistently interrupted by reality might be the emblem of his leadership.

It isn’t a question of physical absence from No 10 (although some Tories doubted the wisdom of flying off on an African trade mission in July at the height of the phone-hacking scandal). The problem is more the Prime Minister’s leisurely habit of mind that leaves him vulnerable to nasty surprises. In case anyone had forgotten about Cameron’s complacency over phone-hacking, new allegations have emerged that Andy Coulson continued to receive payments from News International (NI) while working for the Tory leader in opposition. The NI perks only stopped shortly before he followed Cameron into No 10. The Conservative Party, Coulson’s employer at the time, claims not to have known about this supplementary income. Cameron appears not to have asked. The extraordinary aspect of the saga is not that the Prime Minister made bad decisions, but that he seems to have been consistently uninterested in the truth.

Double fantasy

Cameron has a sharp mind but not an enquiring one. He parries well in parliament and opines prettily on television. He does not, however, immerse himself in detail; nor is he famed for his attention span. One minister describes the experience of briefing the Prime Minister as similar to teaching a bright and restless child, willing to learn but unable to listen.

The government’s most ambitious public services reform to date — Andrew Lansley’s NHS bill — turned into a fiasco largely because of Cameron’s inattention and lack of intellectual curiosity. He devolved all responsibility for a vital policy area to his secretary of state and seemed to notice what Lansley was cooking up only when the stench of political crisis drifted over to No 10. The Prime Minister wasn’t on holiday then but, in terms of his engagement with a critical brief, he might as well have been on a sunlounger by the pool.

This detachment was initially a deliberate strategy. Cameron was intent on learning from the mistakes of his predecessor. Gordon Brown was an obsessive micromanager who paralysed government with a need to know every detail before making decisions. He refused to delegate. Cameron, according to one former adviser, entered No 10 “determined to be the anti-Brown”. He let it be known that he was happy to be seen as “more a chairman than a chief executive”.

The NHS fiasco put a stop to that kind of talk. Yet senior Tories still complain about the lack of focus in Downing Street. A common gripe is the foggy relationship between Andrew Cooper, director of political strategy, and Steve Hilton, Cameron’s main policy adviser. The two men have overlapping briefs and different temperaments. Cooper, a pollster by trade, is focused on positioning the Tory party to win a second term. He tends to judge policy in terms of its utility in that mission. Hilton is more ideological, especially in his distaste for the civil service, which he sees as a monstrous, bureaucratic anachronism. He is impatient for change and prone to flights of policy fancy. (A memo of some of his bizarre notions, including ignoring EU law and scrapping maternity leave, was leaked to the Financial Times in July, probably by one of those civil servants he so mistrusts.)

The two rival strategists are not in conflict; but nor do they work in concert. “It isn’t exactly dysfunctional,” says one Tory insider. “It’s just separate.” Crucially, no one seems to know where Cameron’s instincts lie. He seems to bathe alternately in warm, Hiltonian fantasy and cold, Cooperite calculation. The result is the absence of a coherent message that Tory MPs can pass on to their constituents about what the government is for, other than cuts. Complaints that surfaced in opposition about the infuriating vagueness of Dave are re-emerging. One normally mild Tory tells me that he is “ready to explode” over the lack of a positive economic message. Many more are restive over Europe. A new Eurosceptic group of roughly 70 backbench MPs is being formed with the explicit purpose of lobbying the government to “reverse the process” of European integration. One of the group’s founders tells me that an auxiliary goal is to turn the idea of Britain’s exit from the EU into a mainstream proposition.

Above the fray

That isn’t official Conservative policy. Or is it? Hilton is increasingly hostile to the EU; Cooper sees the obsession with Europe as a proven short cut to the electoral wilderness. What is Cameron’s view? Like so many things, it isn’t clear. This isn’t just a problem of organisation. There is something in the Prime Minister’s temperament that stops him from engaging consistently in policy. He needs pressure to perform. He rises to the occasion when emergencies demand a statement in the House of Commons. He deployed stock parliamentary bravura to stabilise his position over phone-hacking and the riots. Having dealt with the matter in hand, however, Cameron goes into standby mode, waiting to be fired up by the next big event. At first, this looked like a clever strategy. Cameron floated presidentially above the fray, intervening only when there was good news to be delivered or a crisis to be resolved. This calculated hauteur infuriated Labour frontbenchers, who felt that they couldn’t get close enough to land blows on the Prime Minister. Yet the sheer volume of crises — at home, abroad, in the economy, on the streets — makes Cameron’s patrician distance look more like unexplained absence.. He doesn’t have a coherent enough vision for the country to be authentically presidential and, without that side of the strategy, he is left simply floating. That is not a good look in a prime minister.

Rafael Behr is chief political commentator of the New Statesman

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Must Get Back to Work on Broken Britain

Two weeks ago London stood on the edge of an abyss. The riots seemed like a seismic event that would profoundly shake British politics. Here was the task that would test Cameron’s brand of compassionate and socially aware Conservatism: fixing “broken Britain” at the same time as restoring order. But a fortnight later Cameron is back on holiday, this time in Cornwall. Libya is monopolising his and our attention. The moment at the height of the riots when social reform seemed so urgent is in danger of passing. In part that is because order was restored so quickly. On that Monday night when London was on fire, we all feared what might be next.. But the surge in police numbers and more aggressive riot control measures kept the peace. Every day since the looting the Met has made new arrests, each one rebuilding public confidence. The courts have dispensed tough sentences that, for once, are offending the civil liberties brigade rather than the vast majority of ordinary, law-abiding people.

Yet if politics does return to normal it will amount to a terrible missed opportunity. People can legitimately question whether Britain as a whole is fundamentally “broken” but it’s beyond dispute that many communities and households are in deep trouble. Too many kids never see their fathers. Drugs, alcohol and debts form a poisonous cocktail in too many young lives. Extreme poverty and educational failure actually became deeper during the Labour years, despite a favourable economic backdrop. There’s too much long-term unemployment, passed down from one generation to the next. Two-and-a-half million people are officially jobless. In the 1980s similar numbers caused national soul-searching. Today we risk losing the power to be shocked..

While social fragmentation can never be an excuse for law-breaking or violence, it can put many young people on to the conveyor belt to crime. So we miss this moment to change course at great peril. We risk consigning another generation of marginalised people to the scrapheap and we risk more, possibly greater social explosions in years to come.

There are certainly people in Cameron’s circle who are desperate to ensure that the crisis isn’t wasted. Led by Iain Duncan Smith and Steve Hilton, Cameron’s chief adviser, they see this as an ultimate test of Cameron’s qualities as Prime Minister.

Does Cameron have the strength to overcome Liberal Democrat resistance to human rights reform and a new approach to family and parenting? Will he find the money to invest in the kind of early intervention and anti-gang programmes that the Centre for Social Justice think-tank has proven are vital to change social behaviour? Will he have the guts to replace the current Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, with someone like David Davis, who will restore a tougher approach to prisons policy? Many Liberal Democrats have calculated that the answer to all of these questions is “no”. The junior partner in the coalition Government has studied the Prime Minister up close for more than a year now. Like many others who’ve had a ringside seat during Cameron’s leadership, they’ve concluded that the Prime Minister is a master of the big occasion but is more hare than tortoise. He’ll dazzle when the curtain is raised for the matinee performance but, backstage, Cameron doesn’t put in the hard yards to prevail over ministers, civil servants and other interest groups that exist to protect the status quo.

Nick Clegg’s advisers talk of a two-week window from when a big idea enters Cameron’s head to the moment he has moved on to another subject. If they can prevent him from instituting policy change during that period they are confident they have prevented it altogether. The Liberal Democrats’ weapon of choice is the government review. The review into the NHS gave them an opportunity to mobilise every powerful lobby against Cameron’s ambition to modernise the health service. They are confident that the review into human rights laws will do the same. They are also optimistic that the reviews announced last week into Government social policy can also be run into the sand. Every day that passes is a day further from the sense of urgency that gripped Cameron at the height of the riots crisis.

If social policy is one test for Cameron in the next few months, the other big challenge is on the economic front. Throughout the past 12 months the Liberal Democrats have objected to measures that will supercharge the economy. The result is a lopsided Government that is cutting spending but isn’t giving businesses the help they need to expand and take on new workers. We’ve told the world that we’re determined to pay our debts but we haven’t reassured global investors that we’re open for business. This is dangerous, for reasons that have been articulated by London MP Mark Field. He has warned that we will miss our deficit targets if we don’t have any growth. We need tax cuts for small businesses and entrepreneurs, a freeze on expensive energy policies and no new regulations on the banks until the economy is strong again.

These measures might not be enough to overcome desperately discouraging international economic conditions — but until we’ve seen Cameron exhaust the possibilities for supply-side reform he’ll bear some of the guilt if the economy tanks. So when Cameron returns from his fifth break of 2011 he has two big items in his in-box. Will he take the action necessary to begin to fix Britain’s broken society and its underperforming economy? If he doesn’t do so in the next two or three months it will be getting too late for this parliament, thereby risking drift as the Coalition hits mid-term. If he does do so, of course, he’ll deserve as long and luxurious a Christmas holiday as he wishes.

Tim Montgomerie is editor of

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Racist EDL Not Welcome in East London

Two national unions have joined local union branches and community leaders in backing the demo to celebrate diversity and oppose the racist English Defence League in Tower Hamlets on 3rd September 2011. The Islamophobic and rascist English Defence League (EDL) has stated its intention to march through the East End of London. Its website bears the provocative message, “Tower Hamlets — we’re coming”. But Tower Hamlets has a proud history of challenging prejudice and promoting equality. We oppose discrimination of all kinds. We will not accept attempts to create fear and instability in our community.

Assemble: 11am, Weavers Fields, London E2 6HW

Called by United East End and United against Fascism. Supported by One Tower Hamlets — No Place For Hate


The EDL — an organisation of racist and fascist thugs — is threatening to march through the east London borough on that date. This is the planned culmination of the EDL’s summer of hate. But its attempts to stir up racist hatred against Muslims in the multicultural, multiracial East End of London have been met with a wave of condemnation from across Tower Hamlets’ diverse community and beyond. Two national unions — the Communication Workers Union and the civil servants’ PCS — have joined Tower Hamlets Unison, East London NUT and Tower Hamlets College UCU to support the event organised by UAF and the United East End coalition and backed by One Tower Hamlets — No Place for Hate.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Respect Party Chair in Court Over Abusive Behaviour Charges

The chair of the Respect Party in Tower Hamlets has appeared in court charged with using threatening or abusive language.

Carole Swords, of Grenville House, Arbery Road, in Bow, appeared at Westminsiter Magistrates Court yesterday accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior. The alleged incident happened at a Tesco store in Bedford Street in London’s Covent Garden on August 13. Ms Swords denies the charges and the case was sent for trail at City of London Magistrates Court on November 3.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Law is ‘Aving a Laugh — But the Joke is on Britain

by Allison Pearson

Europe’s stand on human rights is too often a kick in the gut for the victims of crime.

‘They drive me mad, too.” That’s what the Prime Minister told me in a more innocent time, before the riots. Back in April, I was sitting in Number 10, reading him a list of the human rights abuses that drive the public to despair. I don’t mean abuses under the Human Rights Act 1998. I mean abuses of the rights of humans whose children have been mown down by foreign drivers with no licence, humans whose husbands have been stabbed to death. Humans still astounded by grief who have to attend a British court and hear a judge tell them that the conscienceless wretch who extinguished their happiness cannot be deported post haste or hurled, preferably, over the white cliffs of Dover. No, the wretch must be allowed to remain in our country because they have the right to “a family life”.

I keep a shoebox stuffed with newspaper cuttings about such cases. They bring to mind the Ricky Gervais catchphrase, “Are you ‘avin a laugh?” On Saturday, I added another surreal snippet to the pile. The Court of Appeal in its wisdom had just torn up powers that allowed judges to ban convicted paedophiles from unfettered access to their children. Apparently, the paedophile’s right to a family life must be taken into account, even if the kids in question fear Dad’s tread at the bedroom door. Are their honours ‘avin a laugh? Our judges’ ever-widening definition of what constitutes “family life” almost dislocated my jaw recently when a Bolivian immigrant escaped deportation because he owned a pet cat with his girlfriend. We cannot know the name of the moggy, let alone the Bolivian, but Judge Judith Gleeson joked that the cat “need no longer fear having to adapt to Bolivian mice”. Was she ‘avin a laugh?

Here’s another. In a landmark ruling, Strasbourg judges decided that two Somali men, who had abused our hospitality by robbery, drug dealing and threats to kill, could not be deported because there was a possibility they might face “ill treatment” at home. Remember the case of Mustafa Jama who was was convicted for his part, along with two other Somalians, in the murder of WPC Sharon Beshenivsky in November 2005? Jama, who had previous convictions for robbery and burglary, had been considered for deportation shortly before that tragic shooting, but officials decided it was “too dangerous” for him to return to Somalia. After the cold-blooded killing of Sharon — mother to Samuel, Lydia and Paul — in a Bradford travel agency, Jama evaded capture for four years by fleeing to… guess where? Yup, Somalia. The very place his lawyers had claimed it was unsafe for him to return to. Were they ‘avin a laugh? Sharon’s widower, Paul, certainly wasn’t. He said his wife would never have been murdered if “do-gooders” hadn’t kept her killer in Britain.

Why are we powerless to send these frightening, violent individuals back to where they came from? Because, according to the European Court, it’s too frightening and violent. Anything I’m missing here, chaps? Are our learned friends in Strasbourg ‘avin a laugh? If so, there is no longer a shred of doubt that the joke is on the British people. A nation that carried the torch of liberty with Magna Carta, parliamentary sovereignty, judicial independence, Press freedom, habeas corpus and trial by jury needs no lessons in justice from its pious neighbours, who loaded Jews, gipsies and homosexuals into cattle trucks. The waffly preamble to the European Convention on Human Rights speaks of “countries which have a common heritage of political traditions, ideas, freedom and the rule of law”. Well, we don’t have a common heritage or laws. As the distinguished QC Geoffrey Robertson has pointed out, torture was a prescribed part of the Continental legal process for centuries after it was abolished in England in 1641. It was Great Britain, not Europe, that taught the world how to right human wrongs.

The riots have made scrapping the Human Rights Act more urgent. More than 150 people born abroad have been arrested so far. Immigration minister Damian Green said: “We strongly believe that foreign national lawbreakers should be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity.” Good luck with that, Damian. You do realise the poor darlings can’t possibly leave the country, don’t you? They’ve got pussy cats to look after and drug addicts to supply.

While judges increasingly warp Article 8 of the Convention in favour of villains, why do they never seem to consider the right to a family life of people like Frances Lawrence and the four children she had with headmaster Philip? In 2007, the Home Office failed to secure the deportation of Learco Chindamo, Mr Lawrence’s murderer. An Asylum and Immigration Tribunal insisted that to deport the Italian-Filipino would breach his human rights. Like Paul Beshenivsky, Frances Lawrence was aghast to discover that the needs of her spouse’s killer outweighed those of her bereft family.

Chindamo, who was cleared in court yesterday of a street robbery, is a cocky youth who, like so many, had been emboldened by the knowledge that wrongs, however grievous, will never prevent him having human rights on his side. He is one of thousands of foreign-born criminals who have humiliated the Home Office and who have shown with brutal clarity that the law of the land is not ours, for what Briton in their right mind would put the domestic comfort of a murderer before the safety of their fellow citizens?

This is what Cameron was getting at in his forceful speech following the riots. He noted how the “greed and thuggery” could not be separated from the “growing sense that individual rights come before anything else… I am determined we get a grip on the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights.” Three cheers for those noble words, Prime Minister, but what the hell are you going to DO about it? In Opposition, Cameron pledged to scrap the Human Rights Act “so we can throw foreign terrorists and criminals out of our country”. When I asked him about it in April, he looked exasperated. “Obviously, this is something which is more difficult in Coalition. I won’t hide that from you. The Liberal Democrats have a different view on the Human Rights Act.” He assured me the Government was setting up a commission to look into a British Bill of Rights. What he omitted to tell me was that Nick Clegg would be in charge of it. I’m sorry, but allowing the Deputy Prime Minister to head a body to scrap the Human Rights Act is like appointing a vegan to the Texas Beef Council.

Tensions in the Coalition are said to be running high with senior Lib Dems warning the PM not to “water down” Britain’s commitment to human rights. Good. Let battle commence. Some things are worth fighting for. As a sop to his Coalition partners, Cameron permitted a referendum on the AV voting system, a notion commanding such widespread support that only Eddie Izzard and five blind jugglers in Camden voted for it. So why can’t we have a referendum on something the public feels passionate about? Like a British Bill of Rights.

The PM could do himself and the country a power of good by jettisoning a law that makes a mockery of the very justice it is intended to dispense. To stiffen his resolve, here are some sage words from a predecessor in Number 10. “We are with Europe but not of it; we are linked but not compromised. We are associated but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.” Winston Churchill’s words are as relevant as they were on May 11, 1953. The time for Strasbourg ‘avin a laugh at our expense must end. The case for a British Bill of Rights is overwhelming. Human rights can be wrongs.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why Do Tourists Dress Like Toddlers?

Despite 40 years of Communist brutalist architecture, Prague remains a city of extreme beauty, a unique combination of Gothic, baroque and Renaissance buildings. What it does share with all cities across the Western world, though, is the shocking summer clothes of its tourists. Irrespective of nationality, age or class, the international tourist has made the collective decision to dress like a three-year-old.

The gentleman in the picture, standing to the right, illustrates the point well. I didn’t catch his nationality, but it makes little difference — he is symptomatic of the way the British, French, Germans, Americans, Russians and every single other nation dress under the extremely hot, Czech sun. Even some of the locals have followed the fashion. What went through this man’s mind this morning when he was selecting his wardrobe? No middle-aged male ever looks good in shorts but they are understandable in temperatures climbing into the 90s,as they are here. T-shirts, too, are understandable in this temperature, but an electric green one, stretched tightly over the belly? That hat, too, can’t be helping much; without a brim, it’s probably increasing body temperature, rather than relieving it. The trainers and the tightly pulled-up white socks hardly add to the look.

Both he and his neighbour (sporting the extremely unflattering three-quarter length trouser, that has the magical double effect of making people look smaller and fatter) have also chosen to carry their belongings in unattractive little bags with over-long straps that dig deeply into the shoulder. Why do tourists actively choose to look this terrible? Part of the reason might be carelessness — not minding what they look like. But then again, all these clothes look new, perhaps bought with this very trip in mind. And I bet this man doesn’t dress like this when he’s back at home or at work — the last place in Western Europe where the adult male dresses fairly respectably. (Women, as this picture shows, tend to dress slightly more thoughtfully, but only slightly.)

It looks like tourists are actively choosing to dress like three-year-olds. That in itself might be part of the reason — dress like the very young and you will look young, goes the logic. In fact, childish, garish clothes only serve to exaggerate the paunches of older men, to make their hair look even greyer. “Only the young can be alone freely,” wrote Philip Larkin. And only the young can dress ridiculously and still look attractive. Not that the young don’t look even better, dressing well. The best-dressed man in this picture is in fact the young man standing behind our subject, the one in the blue shirt, dark trousers and dark shoes. How much better, and younger, the man in the electric green T-shirt would look if he’d followed the younger man’s example, and worn more grown-up clothes.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Christian Blogger Jailed for Criticizing Egyptian Military Goes on Hunger Strike

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Activist and blogger Dr. Michael Nabil Sanad, 25, began a hunger strike on Tuesday in his cell at Al-Marg prison, in Quliubia province, to protesting the deliberate disregard by the court in setting a hearing for his appeal, presented on July 14 against his prison sentence and the bad treatment he is receiving in prison.

On 10 April 2011 Michael Nabil Sanad was sentenced by a military court to three years imprisonment on charges of “insulting the military and dissemination of false news about the armed forces” in his blog “Son of Ra.” The evidence against him was a CD including information from his blog which he had collected from news agencies. Michael Nabil was sentenced in absentia and in violation of legal procedures.

He was arrested at his home in the district of Ain Shams, Cairo on March 28 over an article on his blog titled “The army and the people were not united. Is The Egyptian Army Standing Beside the Revolution?” The article discussed the relationship between citizens and the Egyptian army, criticizing the human rights violations and the political influence of the Egyptian military during and after the Egyptian January 25 Revolution. He wrote “Although the armed forces repeatedly pretended to have taken the side of the revolution, they continued to detain and torture activists just like before the revolution, as if nothing had changed.” His allegations were backed by photos and videos.

Nabil Sanad, Michael’s father, said he went to Al-Marg prison with his other son Mark, but the prison authorities told him that Michael cannot go on hunger strike as “he is not in an individual cell, but is placed with many other prisoners.” He informed them that Michael will go ahead with his strike regardless. The family was not allowed to see him.

“Michael is the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution, and the only one who received such a harsh sentence for expressing his opinion ,” said his father. “Others in a similar situation, whether activists or journalists, were all set free.” He said that they presented three appeals to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to pardon Michael but have received no reply.

Michael’s attorney, Maged Hanna, said his client went on a hunger strike on August 23 and he will advise prosecution of this fact whatever the prison authorities say, “as certain steps have to be taken by the prison authorities in a hunger strike, such as informing the prosecution.” He advised that he already presented a complaint about Michael’s ill treatment in prison.

Hanna said that he was advised today that an appeal hearing was set for December 20, 2011.

Many activists and NGOs are calling for a stop to military prosecution of civilians and equal treatment for Michael regarding his sentence.

Ms Asma Mahfouz, an activist from the April 6 Youth Movement, was charged with defaming the army and inciting armed violence on her Facebook page. The media took up her case and on August 19 the military prosecutors pardoned her.

Dr. Naguib Gabriel, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, sent a message to SCAF asking for equal treatment for Michael with the recently freed activists Loay Najati and Asma Mahfouz. “The release of the Coptic activist Michael Sanad will confirm the principle of citizenship among all citizens without any discrimination based on religion,” he said.

Eight Egyptian human rights organizations issued a statement on April 6 criticizing the military council. “A military court is trying an Egyptian blogger over expressed opinions while at the same time extremists cut off a citizen’s ear and are pardoned (AINA 3-26-2011). This points to a fatal error, either in the application of justice in Egypt or in how to deal with freedom of opinion and expression after the January 25 revolution.”

On April 8, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk and Member of Congress Frank Wolf wrote personally to Field Marshal Tantawi, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, asking him not to sentence Nabil but set him free. “Dr. Nabil should not be punished for a simple online blog similar to thousands of others online. Dr. Nabil’s arrest appears to have violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore, we urge you to release Dr. Nabil to demonstrate the commitment of both our governments to a new era of human rights and democracy in Egypt.”

The sentencing Michael on April 10 was done in a secretive way while neither he nor any of his lawyers were present. According to the Arab Network for Human Rights, which was also represented by a lawyer in Michael’s defense team, “Lawyers for Michael Nabil had gone on Sunday April 10 to the military court to hear the court’s decision, however, the Chief of the military courts told them that the court decided to extend the provision to Tuesday, April 12. Several hours after the lawyer departed news leaked that the verdict against the blogger was a three- year sentenced which was confirmed the next morning.”

Michael was arrested twice during the revolution. The first incident was on February 4, before President Mubarak was ousted. He was arrested while participating in the anti-Mubarak protests, holding a banner that read “civil, not military or religious.” He was blindfolded, tortured and sexually harassed for two days before being set free. He wrote an article on his blog detailing his experience.

“What was in his blog was common knowledge to all human rights activists and organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,” said activist George Sidhom. “He was one of the first to criticize the role of the military, and they wanted to make an example of him to all bloggers who dared criticize the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.” Sidhom believes the differential Michael receives is because he is a Christian as well as a pacifist and founder of the “No to Compulsory Conscription” Facebook page. He refused to do his military service in 2010 on pacifist grounds. “Most significantly, he is paying the price of daring to openly admire Israel and defends its right to existence, which made the media denounce him as a ‘Zionist agent.’“

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

ENI ‘Needs Up to 18 Months’ To Bring Back Libyan Oil, Gas Production

Milan, 25 August (AKI) — Eni needs between 6 and 18 months to restart its oil and gas fields in Libya, chief executive officer Paolo Scaroni said Thursday in Milan following a meeting with Libyan Transitional Council Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril.

“To tell you the truth, I can’t say I like it at all to lead into winter with one of our main fuel sources stopped,” Scaroni said, explaining why his company is giving priority to bringing gas production in line over oil.

“There exists no security problem” with Italy’s oil supply,” he said.

Italy depends on Libya to meet 10 to 12 percent of its gas demand, according to Scaroni. “I can confirm that we can get by without the Libyan gas supplies but it’s not like I am totally calm about our other gas sources,” he said.

“Before I go to bed at night the last thing I want to think of are winter gas supplies,” he said.

Most of Italy’s gas comes from Russia, Algeria and Libya. Italy has suffered shortages amid disagreements between Russia and Ukraine, a transit point for Russian gas en route to markets in western Europe.

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

Libya’s Destiny: Eurafrica or Africa?

Rushing into the center of Tripoli, jubilant Libyan rebels shouted: “We’ve got kinky head!” The slur was directed at Seif Al-Islam, the dark-complexioned son of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who as it turns out had evaded capture. Since the start of the rebellion in February, the Arab militants of the Benghazi-headquartered National Transitional Council (NTC) have repeatedly perpetrated overt acts of racial violence, including mob lynching and physical mutilation of unarmed black Libyans, indigenous Berbers and Tuareg nomads among them.

The NATO-led multinational intervention force, known as Operation Unified Protector, has tolerated heinous race crimes that would be severely prosecuted and punished if they had occurred in Paris, London, Washington D.C. and Ottawa. The unwillingness of NATO to stop or even acknowledge the racist terror tactics puts into question the underlying strategic objective behind the intervention — a geopolitical project known as the Mediterranean Union (MU).

The hate crimes bring an uneasy and practically unspeakable issue to the world’s attention — Arab racism. It is simplistic and historically incorrect to attribute this variant of racism to Arab slave trading, even though most of the raiding groups who captured African villagers for colonial plantations in the Americas were comprised of Arabs. Europeans and white Americans were also enslaved by North African pirates, a practice that provoked the United States to wage the two Barbary Wars in the early 1800s. In contrast to the race-conscious European and American plantation owners, the Arab world then perceived bondage as simply a category of human capital, irregardless of the captives’ race.

At the level of household and community, intermarriage with persons of African ancestry has not been a major problem throughout most of the Arab world, so long as the spouse belongs to the Islamic faith and follows the customary rites and habits. Sharply contrasting with America’s discriminatory segregation policy during his lifetime, this is the Islamic multi-racialism that Malcolm X observed in Mecca.

The Race Card

Arab racial attitudes, therefore, cannot be simplistically reduced to skin tone but are more an issue related to culture, especially the residual beliefs and customs of so-called “kaffir” or pagans. Ever since the Umayyad invasion that swept across North Africa in the 7th century, the Arabs encountered, subdued and incorporated an array of tribes in the Saharan region, or Magreb. Black Africans who adopted the totality of Arabic cultural behavior integrated with relative ease into the dominant society, many ascending to high rank. Those who stubbornly held to their “superstitious” beliefs in native deities and matriarchal customs, including many Berbers and the majority of the Tuareg, were deemed Africans and not Arabs.

These ill-defined racial divisions helped European colonizers promote institutional discrimination during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The biases of French, Italian and British colonial administrators were imposed on the Semitic peoples — Arabs and Jews of North Africa and the Levant. The stress on skin tone — white standing for civilization and black for savagery — was already well-established in Europe and North America. Color-based images were deeply ingrained, for example, in a long-haired Nordic Jesus of Nazareth, as opposed to the “kinky head” that he was likelier to have been, versus swarthy despots and tanned Saracen pirates. European scholars, writers and artists recast the history of North Africa into racial stereotypes, portraying light-skinned pharaohs when, in fact, most ancient statues reveal African facial and physical features.

Skin tone affected a Semitic individual’s chances of employment and career promotion under European colonialism. The lingering sense of insecurity is still reflected, for instance, when some — not all — of my Arab friends try to pass themselves off as whites inside posh lounges in Berlin or even Dubai, an understandable guise in our present context of the war on terrorism. Prejudices of the master are adopted by the servants, and “second-class whites” can often be more vicious and vulgar in their racism. Extreme examples can be seen in the propaganda posters of the Maronite Christian militias of Lebanon, presenting themselves as lily-white crusaders against the dark hordes.

Son of Africa

More than any other leader in the region, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi challenged this deplorable legacy of European colonialism and Arab conquest. Proudly adopting sub-Saharan- style robes and turbans and embracing the indigenous cultures of the continent of his birth, he declared Libya to be an inseparable part of Africa. The Libyan leader took the identity issue a giant step further, financing and arming Africans to fight European supremacy and, in Nimery’s Sudan, against domination by the Gulf states.

If there is one thing that the second-tier “white” of Arab or Israeli descent disdains more than a black African it is, of course, the “kaffir lover,” a charge often leveled against Gaddafi. The race hatred is so intense that even American diplomats have had to warn the Benghazi rebels against committing massacres. The warning is being scoffed at by the gathered clan of special-forces commandos, warships and air forces from 19 European, North American and Mideast nations, which are launching indiscriminate attacks on Libyan cities.

Re-colonization of North Africa

The race factor sheds a harsh light on the Mediterranean Union, being promoted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The super-regional group, formed in 2008, includes most European nations, with the notable exclusion of Serbia, and all the Mediterranean nations except for Libya. On a 2007 visit to Morocco, Sarkozy described the MU as “the lynchpin of Eurafrica.” This new hybrid sounds very much like the Old Africa, this time around with Arab corporate raiders depriving the southern continent of its oil, strategic minerals, uranium, diamonds and other natural resources for the benefit of the idle Europeans.

Following his banishment from the international community after the Lockerbie crash, Gaddafi was offered a seat in the MU but he never accepted full membership, settling for observer status. His father’s generation had struggled against fascist Italian occupation under the Mussolini regime, which promoted the notion of Mare Nostrum, or the Mediterranean as “our sea,” an inheritance from the Romans and the Hellenistic Greeks. The view from the North African shore offers quite a different perspective, of a glorious ancient Carthage burned to the ground by vengeful Roman legions, its surviving population chained and forced en masse into slavery.

In Sarkozy’s words: “It is in the Mediterranean that Europe will secure its prosperity, ensure its security… While Europe’s future is in the South, Africa’s is in the North.” His comment is not an endorsement of multiculturalism, considering his anti-immigrant record; rather, it represents a call for selective assimilation of North African Arabs willing to convert themselves into Europeans — as opposed to non-assimilable Asiatic Turks and black Africans.

The Libyan intervention was sold to Americans as a democratic Jasmine Revolution of peaceful protesters. Soon thereafter, it became clear that the vanguard fighters were fanatic militants allied with Al Qaeda and the rebellion’s leaders were stooges of European intelligence agencies. In continuing to support the thinly disguised invasion of Libya, Washington has abandoned the principle of self-determination. Most tragically, this brutal violation of an African nation’s sovereignty is happening under the watch of a president whose paternal origins are in Kenya.

Two competing visions are at war in Tripoli — Sarkozy’s Eurafrica versus Qadhafi’s Africa. Whatever the fate of the Libyan leader, his legacy can be summed up as: Africa is the Motherland of humankind and a son’s duty is to defend her.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Burying the Arab Spring

by Daniel Greenfield

Arab Spring is becoming a dangerous embarrassment to the foreign policy experts

It was only three months ago that you could hardly open a newspaper without encountering columns full of growing predictions about the revolution sweeping the Middle East. Now the Arab Spring is swiftly becoming the embarrassing relative in the journalism family. The predictions as silly as crystal healing and alien visitations. In Libya and Syria, the Arab Spring has become a slow grinding death match between the government and the opposition. And the Libyan rebel on the verge of taking Tripoli has become as much a myth as the Gay Girl in Damascus, who turned out to be just another American leftist cheerleader for the farce. In Egypt, the revolution has been more like a realignment, with the army and Muslim Brotherhood sharing power. Tahrir Square is over. The Western backed leftists who were meant to benefit from the coup are hanging around foreign capitals giving speeches about the importance of a movement that has already made them irrelevant. El Baradei is a punchline in an Egyptian joke, and the only one who doesn’t get it is Thomas Friedman.

In Tunisia and Yemen, the Islamists have a clear path to power. And if Libya and Syria do fall, it won’t be to the enlightened forces of secular democracy, but to a populist Islamic state that will make the Taliban look like secular humanists. Bahrain has been allowed to go on repressing the Shiites. Turkey’s suppression of Kurdish parties is one of those obscure things unmentioned by newspapers too busy running tourism ads urging Americans to travel to Istanbul. More importantly, the most repressive regimes in the region have emerged untouched. Iran bludgeoned and butchered its protesters. Saudi Arabia sent tanks to massacre protesters in Bahrain. The UAE is still running its slave empire, and Western companies are still eager to set up shop in Dubai.

The odds are good that Gaddafi and Assad will survive their own civil wars. The message that will send is that it’s good to be a violently repressive regime. That Western alliances and human rights concessions create a dangerous weakness. And that no matter what deals you make with the United States and Europe, they will sell you out for the sake of some illusory democratic movement. The winners of the Arab Spring will take that lesson to heart, especially the final beneficiaries of the coups in Egypt and Yemen. Mubarak and Saleh both made the mistake of forgetting what happened to the Shah. And not realizing that Carter’s successor was poised for a grander repeat of the Ayatollahs. Their successors will profit by their example. There will be more repression and Western NGO’s will be stepped on. The State Department’s favorite local human rights activists will meet with unfortunate accidents similar to those so commonly encountered by Russian human rights activists. If they aren’t shot down in the street outright.

The Arab Spring will become an Arab Winter. And the Western media columnists who drove the narrative will go on associating themselves with a grand revolution that failed. The difference between them and A Gay Girl in Damascus will be slight at best. They all worked to manufacture and distribute a narrative that had as much in common with regional realities as Harry Potter does with the British public school system. And they will go on feeding off it, writing books and articles about it, and giving speeches about it at 20k a pop.

The American and European intervention in Libya will become another footnote in history. An obscure one at that. Sarkozy might be crazy and desperate enough to send in ground troops, but Cameron and Obama have their limits. A divided Libya with the oil in the right place serves everyone’s interests. Especially those of the oil companies. But that state of affairs will not continue forever.

Western leaders who thought that Gaddafi’s insanity would make him easy to dislodge were guilty of misreading regional realities as badly as those who thought that popular protests in Egypt were happening out of an enthusiasm for free elections and human rights-rather than fixed low bread prices and more jobs. And quite often they were guilty of listening to what they were told. Washington D.C. and Brussels are full of Arab revolutionaries who are eager to explain how with only a little support, their country of choice can become a beacon of freedom and democracy for the region. America has played host to a large number of these folks, some of whom were also collecting checks from Tehran.

But if conservatives allowed themselves to be convinced that removing Saddam would usher in a free Iraq-then liberals were far more foolish for believing that removing every moderately repressive ruler would lead to free nations, rather than the rise of a new breed of thugs and dictators. After spending five years tearing apart the very idea of regime change-they fell head over heels for the idea that what couldn’t be accomplished with a 150,000 soldiers could be accomplished with mob protests and bouts of self-immolation.

It was the same infatuation with democracy that had turned the wars against the Taliban and Saddam into grand nation building projects writ large. Unsatisfied with experiments in democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan-the Arab Spring was an experiment across the length of the Arab world. And again as the ballot box was torn open, inside was chaos, violence and Islam.

It is a more cheerful thought that the Arab world can be reformed, than that it cannot. That the problem is not a Saddam or Mubarak or Assad-but that there is something in the water. And if that is then importing large numbers of Muslim immigrants will not turn out newly minted Americans, but will repeat the same experiment with the same disastrous results. An experiment already approaching its hazardous point in Europe. Western world leaders want stability around the world and at home. And they’ve tried everything from colonialism to appeasement. But regime change is clearly not the answer, unless the question is, “How can we make the Muslim world even angrier and more violent than it already is.” That leaves just the humiliation of appeasement, or a new iron curtain put up by the free world to shut out the unfree world that desperately wants to cross its borders and introduce its citizens to the joys of child murder, polygamy and terrorism.

Those aren’t good options, but the slow collapse of the Arab Spring leaves less room for dishonesty. What the Bush Administration couldn’t establish at the cost of thousands dead and a global war-the Obama Administration has managed to prove at a far lower cost. That may be its great unintentional foreign policy accomplishment. A thesis that lays out on a grand scale the futility of trying to bring human rights and democracy to the Muslim world, with obvious implications for Muslim migration. The majority of the Muslim world is not interested in Whiskey, Sexy and Democracy. Rather they want Whippings, Sharia and Dhimmis. They want security and stability, and that can only come from either a dictatorship or an Islamic state. They want state subsidized prices and jobs, which makes for a stagnant economy. And they want Islamic morals policing and second class status for non-Muslims and women, which means there is no room left for human rights.

Both the Bush and Obama models wrongly assumed that greater democracy, through forcible regime change or by encouraging popular protests, would allow the populations of the Muslim world to show their true peaceable natures underneath. And that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. What they actually showed was that the grim brutality and oppression of the Muslim world was not imposed from without, as the leftist model had it, but emerged from within. That is why the Arab Spring is becoming a dangerous embarrassment to the foreign policy experts. If dictators and our foreign policy can no longer be blamed for conditions in the Muslim world-then all that’s left is to admit the truth. It is the Muslim world that is to blame for the state that it’s in. And what is the Muslim world but the green brush of Islam splattered in dribs and drabs across the globe. Poverty is their last stand. The claim that global warming and Western industry creates the poverty and resource shortages that make the Muslim world such a miserable and violent place. Pity that argument doesn’t hold up too well. If it did, there would be Christian Africans ramming planes into our buildings and Tibetan Buddhists detonating car bombs in Times Square. Turkey’s wealth increase has gone hand in hand with its Islamism. The Gulf states are the richest parts of the world and the most viciously bigoted Islamic hellholes.

But after the decline and fall of the Arab Spring into tyranny and brutality, there are no other arguments to make. None that can avoid the central issue of Islam. And none that can shift the blame to us.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Can Blossom Come From the Arab Spring?

Those hoping for a transformation in Libya and Syria are in for a rude awakening.

Are we being thoroughly naive about the Arab Spring? The term itself is deeply misleading, with its connotations of Prague and peaceful progress towards democracy. Recent events have been more like a series of earthquakes than the green shoots of spring. Regimes have been destroyed; most have been shaken to their foundations. Populations don’t know how to put their shattered lives back together. Is it progress?

You might think I am being a little too pessimistic. But let’s consider Libya. Like many other countries in the region, it has been ruled by a ruthless dictator, expert in wielding raw power. The secret police were the key to this. We in the West can hardly imagine living in constant fear of a dawn commotion at our front door, being wrenched from our homes and families to be thrown into jail with the prospect of torture and indefinite detention in the harshest of conditions. One in four of your neighbours is likely to be an informer — perhaps even a member of your family. This iron hand is accompanied by skilful footwork as the ruler holds the ring between competing groups and distributes money, jobs and influence between them.

It is this structure that has been so badly shaken in the past months. The desire for more freedom, dignity and decent employment had been growing steadily in the region, but was suppressed by fear. That fear has now gone up in smoke. It was partly the arrival of Twitter, which swept through and had the astonishing effect of neutralising the secret police and transforming the balance of power in society. All well and good. But what will replace dictatorship? Let us not expect a blossoming of democracy in the wake of Gaddafi. These are revenge cultures and there are a great many people who have every reason to seek it, just as there are plenty of secret policemen who can feel the ground shaking beneath them.

Existing power relationships have been shredded and in Libya there is no mechanism for resolving the remaining tensions. Even in such a small, relatively wealthy country, there is a serious risk of chaos.

And that chaos may spread further. How will Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad react to developments in Libya? He will certainly not take Hillary Clinton’s advice and meekly hand over power to “democratic forces”. Syria, like most other countries in the region, is an extremely complex society. Myriad regional, ethnic and religious communities have been held together by the Alawite Assad dynasty — using the traditional methods, of course.

The Alawites, a mountain community with a faith distantly related to Shia Islam, joined the armed forces in droves in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Sunni majority were busy politicking and making money. They achieved dominant positions in the military to such a degree that Hafiz al-Assad, father of the current president, was able to seize power, ruthlessly eliminate any opposition and rule unchallenged for 30 years. These are the shock troops on which Bashar is now relying to put down the demonstrators with whatever force necessary. Raw power is still being wielded here.

And so far he has succeeded. There is a reason for that. Many Syrians are deeply fearful of what might happen if the regime were to fall. It could be a bloodbath for the Alawites, leading to wider ethnic conflict. They have watched the ghastly events in Iraq in recent years and even give shelter to nearly a million Iraqi refugees. They also remember the events in their sister country, Lebanon, in the 1970s, when rival checkpoints were set up and anyone of the wrong religion was simply murdered. Bashar is well aware of all this and so is not in the least interested in Western advice. He will cling to power by force while introducing some concessions in the hope of drawing the opposition’s teeth.

Meanwhile, Western criticism could well strengthen him at home. Syrians hate to be pushed around. And Syria’s key position in the politics, history and geography of the Arab world means that there will be no serious regional pressure. The Saudis will be very cautious, as always, and the Turks have little clout in domestic Syrian politics. Egypt is, to put it mildly, preoccupied, while Iran is a strong supporter of its only ally in the Arab world. Internally, there are two dangers. One is that parts of al-Assad’s army will eventually refuse orders to fire on civilians. The other is that the opposition will progressively take up arms. Assad claims that there are already “armed gangs” at work. He means the Muslim Brotherhood who, in a long struggle, might well come to be the prime opposition to his regime, an unwelcome eventuality at a time when their rise is already causing alarm in the West. So much for the effortless blossoming of democracy. Whatever the outcome, the struggle will be long and deadly — and certainly no spring.

Sir Andrew Green is former British ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: Punjab: Muslims Kidnap 14 Year Old Christian to Convert Her to Islam

Mehek Masih was taken from her home in broad daylight and under the threat of a gun. Muslim man intends to “purify her” making her “Muslim and my mistress.” Archbishop Saldanha cases of this type are “frequent,” the law does not protect minorities. One of the many “crosses” that Pakistani Christians have to endure.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — A group of Muslims have kidnapped a 14 year old Christian girl from her home under the threat of a gun and in front of witnesses. The incident occurred on August 17 last in Shisharwali, residential area of the city of Gujranwala, Punjab. According to reports from the Pakistan Christian Post (PCP), Mohammad Tayeb Butt along with four other Muslims raided the house of Rashid Masih in broad daylight, pointed the gun to the head of his daughter Mehek forcing her to climb aboard a white car .

Two young Christians, Imran Masih and Mehboob Masih, tried to rescue the girl, but Mohammad Tayeb pointed the gun at them and threatened to shoot. “She is a Choori” the Muslim shouted, at Mehek, using derogatory and insulting Punjab slang, to define a Christian (for example, when Muslim restaurant owners or street food vendors reject minority religious customers, ed) . He also added that the Choori Mehek will be purified “convert to Islam and become my mistress.”

Sources report that the local Christian activists from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) have tried to report the incident to the police. But the agents did not want to open an investigation — as is often the case — at the expense of an influential Muslim personality.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, the Archbishop Emeritus of Lahore and former president of the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference Mgr. Lawrence John Saldanha stresses that such cases are “common in Pakistan,” and families “can do little or nothing” to save the victims from their captors. He adds: “The Muslim family has an advantage, because the law favors them.”

Added to the tragedy of the kidnapping, the prelate continues, are “the future difficulties that the unfortunate young girl will suffer in the Muslim family.” These are “sad and tragic” episodes for the Christian community and represent, concludes Mgr. Saldanha, “one of the many crosses that the small minorities (even the Hindus) without hope must bear in Pakistan.” (DS)

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


Amnesty Now! Lawless Presidency? GOP Leadership Mute?

“In an announcement I would have expected them to try to bury on a Friday afternoon instead of Thursday, the administration said it would review the cases of 300,000 illegal aliens already in removal proceedings — and not just let some of them go, but give them work authorization as well.

“This is further proof, as if any is needed, that the administration is using the pretext of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ as a tool of policy. In other words, any executive needs to exercise some discretion, because the law is a blunt instrument and requires those carrying it out to have some wiggle room to deal with the handful of highly unusual cases that might warrant it. But this administration is using this necessary, but limited tool as an instrument of policymaking, which can only be described as a lawless act.” — Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of CIS

NumbersUSA’s Chris Chmielenski reveals today in his “Obama’s Administrative Amnesty: From Rumor to Reality’ —

“Last year, we were the first to break the news that the Obama Administration was considering options that would grant an administrative amnesty to illegal aliens living in the United States. Yesterday, that possibility became a reality when White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Cecilia Munoz announced a change to the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation policy. Going forward, DHS will review deportation cases on a case-by-case basis and focus future deportations only on criminal illegal aliens, allowing non-criminal illegal aliens to stay in the country. Making matters worse, the Wall Street Journal has confirmed that illegal aliens who receive deferred action or parole from deportation can apply for work permits allowing them to compete with 22 million Americans looking for full-time work. That’s 300,000 illegal aliens who could potentially receive work permits!”

Except for a statement today from House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith, at press time we see nothing on the websites of speaker John Boehner or majority leader Eric Cantor about this travesty. Smith, however, weighed in —

“The Administration has again made clear its plan to grant backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants. They have created a working group that appears to have the specific purpose of overruling, on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, an immigration court’s final order of removal, or preventing that court from even issuing such an order.”

“The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them. The Obama administration should not pick and choose which laws to enforce. Administration officials should remember the oath of office they took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.”

The House Judiciary panel has serious remedies to explore when the president of the United States fails to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” on such a grand scale.

In the meantime, the House of Representatives could vote to deny funds to the Executive Branch starting next fiscal year on October 1, 2011 for granting work permits to illegal liens.

But then again, maybe not.

Maybe that would be the kind of action majority leader Cantor deplores —

“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged rank-and-file Republicans in a Wednesday memo to avoid brinksmanship in battles over Washington spending. The message from the majority leader is an effort to prevent the kinds of fights over government spending that could lead to government shutdowns this fall if Congress cannot agree on legislation to fund the government.”

After all, it is only about jobs. Hardly worth risking a government shutdown over that.

[Return to headlines]

Another 155 Tunisian Migrants Arrive on Lampedusa

(AGI) Palermo — Migrants continue to arrive on Lampedusa as the immigration influx from Tunisia heightened in the past few days while it slackened from Libya. Other 155 Tunisians arrived on the island last night on three boats with 9,57 and 89 persons on board, sighted by the Coast Guard and the Financial Police.

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

Italy: Moroccan Injured in ‘Drug-Linked’ Rome Gunfight

Rome, 23 August (AKI) — A Moroccan immigrant was shot in the face on Tuesday in Rome when a gunfight broke out that police believe was drug-dealing in the deprived southern suburb of Centocelle.

The man admitted himself to a nearby hospital for treatment and his life was not in danger, doctors said.

Police rushed to a Centocelle street after receiving a call from local residents who heard the gunfire. They found spent cartridges, bloodstains and hashish on the ground when they arrived, as well as an abandoned car.

Police said the Moroccan was with another compatriot when a quarrel broke out between them and the second Moroccan opened fire before fleeing the scene.

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

Obama’s Administrative Amnesty

When the president spoke to La Raza recently and said he couldn’t just go around Congress and enact an amnesty, the assembly started chanting, “Yes, you can! Yes, you can!”

Well, he did.

In an announcement I would have expected them to try to bury on a Friday afternoon instead of Thursday, the administration said it would review the cases of 300,000 illegal aliens already in removal proceedings — and not just let some of them go, but give them work authorization as well.

Many of those who will benefit from this administrative amnesty will be people who might have qualified for the DREAM Act amnesty which Congress has repeatedly rejected. In fact, this is the final piece of the Obama administration’s administrative amnesty, because in June the immigration service announced it would no longer arrest whole categories of illegal aliens — yesterday’s announcement is just a way of amnestying the ones that had already been arrested.

This is further proof, as if any is needed, that the administration is using the pretext of “prosecutorial discretion” as a tool of policy. In other words, any executive needs to exercise some discretion, because the law is a blunt instrument and requires those carrying it out to have some wiggle room to deal with the handful of highly unusual cases that might warrant it. But this administration is using this necessary, but limited tool as an instrument of policymaking, which can only be described as a lawless act.

When my colleague Jessica Vaughan testified before the House Judiciary Committee last month on Rep. Lamar Smith’s HALT Act, intended to prohibit the executive branch from exercising such discretion in immigration matters until January 2013, the Democrats on the panel dismissed the need for such legislation, saying the president would never abuse his authority and express his contempt for Congress in the way Smith feared.

Oops! Yes he did.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Decision to Defer Deportations Hurts Unemployed Americans

Three years into a jobs Depression the Obama Administration again turned its back on unemployed Americans. The Department of Homeland Security announced it will individually review the 300,000 cases of illegal aliens currently holding deportation orders in an effort to appease his pro-amnesty critics. With this move illegal aliens will become eligible to receive work permits and compete with 22 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job.

The Administration has come under fierce opposition from pro-amnesty groups for its record number of deportations, despite its policy of focusing on only criminal illegal aliens. President Obama, now in full campaign mode, apparently has bought into the idea that millions of illegal aliens are potential votes in the future.

Although public anger at 30 years of mounting illegal immigration has driven officials into a political stance of pledging to try to stop future illegal immigration, few have shown even an ounce of interest in opening up at least 7 million jobs for unemployed Americans by moving illegal aliens out of those jobs.

Illegal aliens living in the United States typically don’t apply for work permits for fear of deportation, but under the new policy, they could apply for work permits if granted deferred action or parole. The President appears willing to do almost anything to make sure that illegal workers remain in this country, remain in their jobs and remain available for an amnesty and the right to vote some day.

This is a jobs issue and the president is taking sides, putting illegal aliens ahead of unemployed Americans. With his “jobs” speech next month the President can turn the economy around with three simple steps. He could:

•Open up the 8 million U.S. jobs (more than 7 million of them non-agricultural jobs) held by illegals and make them available to unemployed and underemployed workers by requiring every business to use E-Verify.

•End chain migration, the primary source of the 125,000 foreign workers the U.S. imports every month.

•End the Visa lottery, where 55,000 American jobs are raffled to the world each year.

The decision by President Obama to defer deportation and grant work permits while millions of unemployed Americans are looking for work is distressing. It sends a message to the 22 million Americans who can’t find a full-time job that the next election is more important than their future.

[Roy Beck is the Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

NumbersUSA’s blogs are copyrighted and may be republished or reposted only if they are copied in their entirety, including this paragraph, and provide proper credit to NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA bears no responsibility for where our blogs may be republished or reposted.]

[Return to headlines]

Texas to Begin Deporting Foreign Convicts

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas parole officials can soon use a new state law to begin deporting some of the 11,000 foreign citizens who are incarcerated in state prisons.

The Austin American-Statesman reports the deportations could save taxpayers millions of dollars.

The state law, which takes effect Sept. 1, allows the parole board to approve convicts for parole on the condition that they are deported to their home country. The law covers foreigners convicted of both violent and nonviolent crimes.

During a meeting Wednesday in Austin, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was assured by federal immigration officials that foreign citizens who are deported — most probably back to Mexico — will actually be sent to their home countries and not turned loose in Texas.

Officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement assured state officials convicts not deported will be handed back to state prison officials.

“That’s nothing we can’t take care of,” Cari Cephas-Kimbrough, an ICE assistant field office director in Houston, told the board.

Parole officials are worried about how to implement the new law because in recent years, several hundred foreign-born felons were paroled and released to federal officials for deportation but were instead allowed to remain in Texas on parole at the cost of state taxpayers.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Net Immigration Soared by 20% Last Year — Making a Mockery of Government Pledge to Bring it Downmigration Watch UK: ‘These Figures Lay Bare the Legacy of the Labour Government’

The number of people migrating to the UK soared by more than 20 per cent last year, according to official figures released today.

The rise from 198,000 in 2009 to 239,000 last year flies in the face of the Government’s pledge to bring net migration down to just tens of thousands by 2015.

Net migration is the difference between those arriving and leaving the country in 12-month period.

‘These figures lay bare the legacy of the Labour government,’ said campaign group Migration Watch UK’ chairman Sir Andrew Green.

‘Immigration last year was close to a quarter of a million.

‘The coalition Government will have to face down some vested interests if they are to get anywhere near their target of tens of thousands.’

The increase was fuelled by sharp drop in the number of people leaving the UK to live abroad.

Gerard Batten, Ukip’s home affairs spokesman, branded the Government as ‘losing the plot’ when it comes to the figures.

‘The rise of 21% in year-on-year net immigration figures tears a gaping hole in any pretence that this Government has the faintest idea of how to deal with runaway migration,’ he said.

‘This gives a lie to all those silky promises made by (Prime Minister David) Cameron at the time of the General Election and the thousands of soundbites by Government ministers since then. They have lost the plot.’

He said the rise meant ‘that the population of a city the size of Stoke-on-Trent has arrived in the UK in the last year alone’.

‘These headline net figures also disguise an even more concerning trend, and that is the transfer of population made clear by the gross figures which show that over half a million — more than the population of Sheffield — have arrived in the last year, while 336,000 have left,’ he said.

‘The social impacts of this are even greater than the bald figures make clear.

‘This Government is afraid of dealing with the issue and it is frightened of talking seriously about the it.’

Shadow Home Office minister Shabana Mahmood accused the coalition of not being ‘honest’ with the public.

‘These figures reveal the gulf between the Government’s rhetoric on immigration, and the reality we see in the official figures,’ she said.

‘Since an immigration cap was introduced by the Government, the number of work-related visas issued has gone up.

‘Net migration, the Government’s measure for its pledge to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands, now stands at 239,000.

‘The Prime Minister said “no ifs, no buts” on immigration, but on the contrary “ifs and buts” sum up the Government’s policies.’

She went on: ‘The Government is not being honest with the British public.

‘They have shown a keen interest in hyperbole around immigration, doing everything they can to make it a party political issue, but they are busy further eroding trust in Government’s ability to manage it.’

But Immigration Minister Damian Green defended the figures.

‘After almost two years of increasing net migration the figures stabilised in the last quarter,’ he said.

‘This explains why the Government radically changed immigration policy, from our first months in office, to drive the numbers down with a limit on economic migration and changes to student visas to ensure we attract the brightest and best whilst tackling widespread abuse of the system.

‘We are currently consulting on a range of further measures which will drive down numbers further.

‘These statistics cover a period before we introduced our radical changes to the immigration system to bring net migration back down to the tens of thousands.’

Matt Cavanagh, associate director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank, slammed the figures, saying: ‘Politicians shouldn’t promise what they can’t deliver, particularly on immigration.

‘Before the election, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said immigration was out of control; afterwards, they said they would cut it dramatically. Neither was true.

‘Today’s figures reinforce how stable immigration has been both before and after the election: the ONS estimate non-British immigration for 2010 at 455,000, compared to 437,000 in 2009 — and broadly stable since 2006.

‘Emigration has continued to fall, down over 20 per cent since 2008, meaning that “net inward migration”, the Conservatives’ chosen target, remains high at 239,000, a 21 per cent increase on 2009.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Daily News Haiku: All the News, Made to Fit

Sesame Street, or Sissy Me Street

Same sex marriage advocates petition Children’s Television Workshp to acknowledge the unspoken homosexusl partnership of iconic characters Bert and Ernie:

“Closeted Muppets
Insist they’re merely friends.
Elmo heard gigglilng.”

[Return to headlines]

Study: Number of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Performing Abortions Drops to Only 14%, Down 8 Points Since 2008…

(LA Times) — Obstetricians and gynecologists are trained as women’s health specialists. But only 14% provide abortions.

The nationwide survey of 1,144 ob-gyns published Monday found a lower rate of abortion providers than a 2008 survey did, which put the figure at 22%.

Other doctors, such as family practice physicians, may also provide abortions. And there is some evidence that the number of ob-gyns willing to provide abortions may increase in the future. The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and Duke University, found that younger doctors, ages 35 or younger, were the most likely to perform abortions, compared with other age groups.

Female physicians were more likely to provide abortions than were male physicians, 18.6% compared with 10.6%. Ob-gyns in the South were the least likely to offer abortions. Although almost 35% of the respondents were from the South, only 8.2% said they provided the service.

A 2010 opinion paper from the ethics committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists argued that ob-gyns are obligated to refer their patients to abortion providers if they do not offer the service themselves. But that paper was met with controversy, according to the authors of the new survey.

“. . .previous research has shown that substantial minorities of physicians do not believe they are obligated to refer patients for or provide information about how to obtain procedures to which the physician has a religious or moral objection,” they wrote.

The study appears in the current issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

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Astronomers Discover Planet Made of Diamond

LONDON (Reuters) — Astronomers have spotted an exotic planet that seems to be made of diamond racing around a tiny star in our galactic backyard.

The new planet is far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon. Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” said Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Lying 4,000 light years away, or around an eighth of the way toward the center of the Milky Way from the Earth, the planet is probably the remnant of a once-massive star that has lost its outer layers to the so-called pulsar star it orbits.

Pulsars are tiny, dead neutron stars that are only around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) in diameter and spin hundreds of times a second, emitting beams of radiation.

In the case of pulsar J1719-1438, the beams regularly sweep the Earth and have been monitored by telescopes in Australia, Britain and Hawaii, allowing astronomers to detect modulations due to the gravitational pull of its unseen companion planet.

The measurements suggest the planet, which orbits its star every two hours and 10 minutes, has slightly more mass than Jupiter but is 20 times as dense, Bailes and colleagues reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

In addition to carbon, the new planet is also likely to contain oxygen, which may be more prevalent at the surface and is probably increasingly rare toward the carbon-rich center.

Its high density suggests the lighter elements of hydrogen and helium, which are the main constituents of gas giants like Jupiter, are not present.

Just what this weird diamond world is actually like close up, however, is a mystery.

“In terms of what it would look like, I don’t know I could even speculate,” said Ben Stappers of the University of Manchester. “I don’t imagine that a picture of a very shiny object is what we’re looking at here.”

[Return to headlines]