Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120428

Financial Crisis
»25 Horrible Statistics About the U.S. Economy That Barack Obama Does Not Want You to Know
»As Crisis Continues, Wen Pledges China’s Support During Europe Visit
»Greece: Aged Vehicle Fleet on Streets to Get Older
»Greece Faces Dilemma, Chaos or Coalition Gvt
»Greece: Young Greeks Hesitant About Moving Abroad
»Greece: EIB to Delete Drachma Clauses
»Italy: Profumo Aims to Restore Confidence at World’s Oldest Bank
»Nearly Half of Irish Voters Will Back EU Treaty: Poll
»Spain: Elderly “Indignados” Mobilised in Barcelona
»American Muslims Lead the Way
»Radical Muslims Target of Former U.S. Attorney General’s Breakfast Speech (With Video)
»The New York Times’ War on Police
»Video: Congressman Grills Secretary Sebelius on HHS Mandate
»Canada Promotional Blitz Urges Free Trade With EU
»Islamic Community Planning National Interfaith Dialogue
Europe and the EU
»Denmark: Terror Arrest Trio in Court
»France: ‘I’m Arab, a Muslim, and I Vote Marine Le Pen’
»French Prison Doctor: Nurses ‘Charged for Italian’s Death’
»Hi-Tech Controls Partly Blamed for Airbus Crash
»Italian Summer Vacationers Fewer and Closer to Home
»Italy: Naples’ ‘Savile Alley’ Preserves Bespoke Tailoring
»Italy: Berlusconi ‘Met With Mafia Bosses in 1974’
»Italy: Top ‘Ndrangheta Mafia Fugitive Captured
»Italy: Lega: Belsito: Leaders Made No Objection to Investments
»Italy: Head of Lega Nord Group in the Senate Resigns
»Italy: Northern League Denies Taking Finmeccanica Kickbacks
»Italy: Lega Nord Chauffeur Fired After Filming Bossi’s Son in Car
»Italy: Heatwave in Alto Adige, Temperature Rose to 31 Degrees
»UK: [Pictured] Interfaith in London
»UK: Alcohol Ban at Aldgate University Could Lead to Attack on Muslim Students, London Met Islamic Groups Claim
»UK: British Muslims Urged to Vote on 3 May
»UK: Five Reports of Voting Fraud Made
»UK: Tower Hamlets Electoral Fraud: Here’s Some More Evidence
»UK: When Did Britain Become the Kind of Country That Tolerates Voting Fraud?
»Vatican Sets Up Probe Into Leaks
»Kosovo: More Troops Against Escalation of Violence, NATO
»Serbia: Green Light for Calzedonia Plant
Mediterranean Union
»EU-Morocco: Talks Begin for New Fisheries Accord, Damanaki
North Africa
»Egyptian Panel Drops Maspero Massacre Case for ‘Lack of Evidence’
»Egypt: Revolutionary Youth Block Mussa, From ‘Old Regime’
»Egypt: Controversy Over Marriage Bill for Brides at 14
»Tunisia: Qatar Opens Doors to 20,000 Unemployed Tunisians
Middle East
»Arms for Syrian Rebels Found in Lebanon on Ship From Libya
»Jordan Turn to Renewables to Tackle Shortage
»Muslims Revive Old Pilgrimage Route Via Jerusalem
»‘Obama Mulls Compromise on Iranian Nuke Program’
»Security: Turkey and Tunisia Sign Cooperation Agreement
»Soccer: Middle East Petro-Dollars Changing Europe’s Game
»Turkish Catholic Church Calls for a Return of 200 Properties. Better to Ask for Legal Recognition
South Asia
»India: Trinamool Student Leader Issues ‘Fatwa’ For Teachers Supporting Cpm
»India: Kashmir Religious Leaders Deny Sectarian Tension
»Italian Troops to Stay in Afghanistan After 2014
»Pakistan: No to Forced Conversions to Islam and Marriage Without Consent, Says Justice and Peace
Far East
»North Koreans Destroy Effigy of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak
»Satellite Photos Show Preparations for New North Korea Nuclear Test
Sub-Saharan Africa
»China Boosts Investments in South Sudan to 8 Bn Dollars
»China Offers Billions in Loans to South Sudan
»Nigeria’s President One of World’s 100 Most Powerful Men
»Uganda: Muslims to Museveni: Keep Off Our Issues
Latin America
»Venezuela: Trial of ‘The Turk’, One of the World’s Top Drug Lords, Threatens to Expose Chavez Regime’s Involvement in Cocaine Trafficking
»Immigrants Land in Malta and Gozo
»Italy: Napolitano in Rome’s Mosque, Strengthen Ties With South
»Migrants Land in the Area of Agrigento, One Dead
»The Number of Foreigners in Italy Trebles in a Decade
Culture Wars
»Gaia’s Bill of Rights
»Sociopathocracy, Part 1 and 2

Financial Crisis

25 Horrible Statistics About the U.S. Economy That Barack Obama Does Not Want You to Know

The human capacity for self-delusion truly is remarkable. Most people out there end up believing exactly what they want to believe even when the truth is staring them right in the face. Take the U.S. economy for example. Barack Obama wants to believe that his policies have worked and that the U.S. economy is improving. So that is what he is telling the American people. The mainstream media wants to believe that Barack Obama is a good president and that his policies make sense and so they are reporting that we are experiencing an economic recovery.

A very large segment of the U.S. population still fully supports Barack Obama and they want to believe that the economy is getting better so they are buying the propaganda that the mainstream media is feeding them. But is the U.S. economy really improving? The truth is that it is not. The rate of employment among working age Americans is exactly where it was two years ago and household incomes have actually gone down while Obama has been president. Home ownership levels and home prices continue to decline. Meanwhile, food and gasoline continue to become even more expensive.

The percentage of Americans that are dependent on the government is at an all-time record high and the U.S. national debt has risen by more than 5 trillion dollars under Obama. We simply have not seen the type of economic recovery that we have seen after every other economic recession since World War II.

The horrible statistics about the U.S. economy that you are about to read are not talked about much by the mainstream media. They would rather be “positive” and “upbeat” about the direction that things are headed.

But lying to the American people is not going to help them. If you are speeding in a car toward a 500 foot cliff, you don’t need someone to cheer you on. Instead, you need someone to slam on the brakes.

The cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy is in far worse shape than it was four or five years ago.

We have never come close to recovering from the last recession and another one will be here soon.

The following are 25 horrible statistics about the U.S. economy that Barack Obama does not want you to know…


#6 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.


#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.


#14 Incredibly, one out of every four jobs in the United States pays $10 an hour or less at this point.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

As Crisis Continues, Wen Pledges China’s Support During Europe Visit

The Chinese leader arrives in Germany from Iceland in a trip that will take him to Sweden and Poland. Only by focusing on the “real economy” can the world “walk out of the shadow of the [financial] crisis,” he said.

Berlin (AsiaNews/Agencies) — “Currently, the international financial crisis is not over and the global economic recovery is difficult and tortuous,” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said during a state visit to Germany. China will however back the euro zone because it has confidence in Europe. At the same time, it will also create better legal protection for foreign investors at home.

Premier Wen is on a four-nation European tour. After visiting Iceland, he travelled to Germany. Today he is Sweden and tomorrow he will be in Poland.

During the Chinese leader’s visit to Iceland, the foreign minister of the island nation, Ossur Skarphedinsson, signed a number of agreements on geological cooperation, but also expressed his government’s concerns over human rights in China.

The issue was not addressed in Hannover. In Germany, Wen noted that whilst the debt crisis has caused difficulties in Europe, it also represents an opportunity to strengthen the region’s unity, Xinhua reported Wen as saying.

In relation to the host country, “China fully recognises the status and role of Germany within the European Union (EU),” he said, according to Xinhua.

German investments such as cars and electrical goods have found a major market in China. The economies of China and Germany, the world’s second biggest exporter, are increasingly intertwined, with bilateral trade jumping to 130 billion Euros in 2010 from 94 billion in 2009.

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

Greece: Aged Vehicle Fleet on Streets to Get Older

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 26 — A recent amendment to the law for the deregulation of taxis and tour buses, which increases the age at which they have to be replaced, has likely dealt the final blow to Greece’s flagging vehicles sales industry, especially in regard to those intended for professional use. At the same time, as daily Kathimerini reports, amendments to the contentious Law 4070/2012, whose formal title is “Regulations for Electronic Communications, Transportation, Public Works and Other Directives,” are also expected to add to the already excessive number of aged vehicles in circulation on the streets of Greece, an issue that is also raising concerns about the impact such vehicles will have on the environment and public safety. Specifically, Law 4070/2012 raises the retirement age for taxis with up to 1.9-liter engines from 12 to 15 years, and for vehicles for professional use with over 1.9-liter engines from 14 to 18 years. These limits are to be enforced in Athens and Thessaloniki only. In towns with fewer than 3,000 residents the retirement age for cabs is 24 years, while for other parts of Greece it is 20 years. Tour buses have also seen an increase in their retirement age, which, based on a law from 2001, was set at 23 years, while now, under the law drafted by Transport Minister Makis Voridis, the age is 27 years. The argument put forward for this significant increase in the retirement age for professional vehicles is that the crisis is making it difficult for owners to replace their cabs and buses at shorter intervals.

At the same time, however, professionals in the vehicle sales market warn that beyond environmental and public safety concerns, the cost of maintaining a taxi running routes in central Athens and over 10 years old would ultimately be greater than the cost of replacing the car altogether. Experts also note that Greece has the oldest fleet of vehicles in circulation in the European Union. The average age of cars in Greece is 10.5 years, compared to an EU average of 8.2 years.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Faces Dilemma, Chaos or Coalition Gvt

The only chances left after the end of the two-party system

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, 12 APRIL — “This a brand new chapter in Greece’s history”, the leader of Nea Dimocratia (centre-right) Antonis Samaras stated last night after Prime Minister Lucas Papademos announced the date of the early legislative elections.

Indeed, today marks the dawn of a totally new situation for Greece. Since 1974, when the Colonels’ regime fell, until today, in Greece the name of the winner of legislative elections was known well before the opening of the electoral boxes. The winner always belonged to one of the country’s two major parties: either Pasok, the Socialist Party created by Andreas Papandreou, or Nea Dimocratia, the party founded by Constantinos Karamanlis.

In Greece, the two political groups have been in power alternatively for all these years, leading the country’s to what is before everyone’s eyes today: the total destruction of the country’s economy alongside many other issues. Today, Greek citizens are called to vote in a general atmosphere of uncertainty concerning not simply the political systems, but also , and overall, the Greece’s future. The collapse of the two major parties (which was proved by the most recent polls) and the strengthening of the left-wing parties and of those opposing the country’s financial recovery plan agreed by Greece’s international lenders and the national rescue government makes it difficult to make predictions about the outcome of the elections. This is proved by the data collected during the latest opinion poll carried out by Public Issue on behalf of Skai TV: according to the poll’s outcomes, the two major parties together will hardly gain 33.5% of votes. In the latest 2009 elections the two parties gained nearly 80% of votes (77.39%), winning 251 electoral seats on 300. According to these data, it is clear that the two-party system is near to its end and that a single-party government is impossible to form; moreover, the two parties together will probably not be able to win a respectable share of votes, at least 51%, in order to win the moral right to rule the country. After all, as the Financial Times wrote quoting sources close to Nea Dimocratia, “the credibility of Greece’s political class has sunk so low that both main parties of the centre-right and centre-left have faced problems finding suitable candidates to stand for election early next month”. Therefore, there are two main scenarios unfolding before everyone’s eyes: either chaos or a coalition government.

As the Pasok leader and former Finance Minister Evanghelos Venizelos stated during an interview to Athens’ daily newspaper Kathimerini, “the basic dilemma is: will Greece be able to stay in Europe and overcome the crisis suffering the least possible damage, showing sense of responsibility and solidarity, or will it step upon a risky road, leading the country to exit Europe and, subsequently, to a social catastrophe with the huge national risks it implies”. In the meantime, the debate between the two major parties’ leaders Pasok’s Venizelos and Nea Dimocratia’s Antonis Samaras is getting increasingly heated, even if both leaders perfectly know that the outcome of the elections will force them to work together. The Nea Dimocratia leader does not miss a chance to ask the electors the absolute majority in order to rule the country “ with untied hands”, as he always says. On the other hand, Venizelos states that Samaras “wants to be an all-mighty Prime Minister at all costs”, leaving out his party’s responsibilities and the responsibilities of Costas Karamanlis government, which Samaras was part of. The spokesman of Nea Dimocratia Giannis Michelakis replied that Venizelos was the strongest supporter of Papandreou’s government, even when the former Prime Minister announced the catastrophic referendum on Greece’s presence in the Eurozone which was later called off. In their turn, Greece’s partners, are sceptic about the unfolding of the situation and worried about the possibility of an unstable Greece, because they know well that a weak political scenario would make it very difficult to implement the financial recovery plan. The declarations of the Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Cristine Lagarde speak for themselves: Lagarde called on Greek electors not to vote for extremist political parties and on politicians to show sense of responsibility.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Young Greeks Hesitant About Moving Abroad

Seven out of ten would like to leave the debt-wracked country

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Seven out of 10 young Greeks would like to leave the debt-wracked country and seek their fortune elsewhere but less than one in five have taken steps to emigrate, as daily kathimerini reports quoting a new research carried out on behalf of Athens’s Panteion University. The survey, conducted by the firm Focus Bari in January on a sample of 444 people aged between 18 and 24, found that 76% believe leaving the country would be the ideal response to the repercussions of the economic crisis. However for most this still appears to be a pipe dream. Half (53%) of the respondents said the idea of emigrating is in the back of their minds while 17% claimed to be determined to leave and to have made steps in that direction. A slightly smaller percentage of respondents, 14%, said they had made a conscious effort to stay in Greece, considering that it is their generation that will bring much-needed change to the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: EIB to Delete Drachma Clauses

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 27 — European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said drachma clauses being inserted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) into new loan agreements with Greek companies are “unfortunate”, as daily Kathimerini reports. The Commission has put pressure on the lender to withdraw all clauses that relate to a possible Greek exit from the eurozone or the collapse of the euro area in general. Its intervention appears to have borne fruit. According to sources, Rehn met this week with his Greek colleague, Maria Damanaki, and informed her of his personal disagreement with the EIB requirements. He also reported that the bank’s governor, Werner Hoyer, had promised that the the clauses will be removed from the agreements. The same sources told Kathimerini that the Finnish commissioner branded the terms “bureaucratic” and the EIB’s intention to impose them “unfortunate and incomprehensible.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Profumo Aims to Restore Confidence at World’s Oldest Bank

Siena, 27 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Alessandro Profumo’s main role as Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA’s new chairman will be liaising with investors and trying to restore confidence in the world’s oldest bank. That’s a challenge that cost him the top job at Italy’s biggest lender 19 months ago.

Profumo, 55, will be approved in the position at the bank’s annual meeting Friday following his nomination by the lender’s largest investor, Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena. He replaces Giuseppe Mussari, who’s stepping down from the Siena- based bank, Italy’s third largest.

“Monte Paschi needs a strong leader able to challenge local powers and restore confidence with investors,” said Giorgio Mascherone, who manages 36 billion euros ($48 billion) as chief investment officer at Deutsche Bank Italy. “Profumo has the authority to confront the challenge.”

Profumo, who made $60 billion of acquisitions as part of UniCredit SpA (UCG)’s expansion into central and eastern Europe, faces a different mission at Monte Paschi. (BMPS) He must help General Manager Fabrizio Viola shore up capital and scale back the bank’s business after it paid more than its own market value to buy Banca Antonveneta SpA in 2007, just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. triggered a financial crisis.

“Alessandro’s comeback with an active role in the banking industry is good news for the sector, which will benefit from his experience,” said Federico Ghizzoni, who replaced him as UniCredit chief executive officer in 2010.

Record Loss

Monte Paschi, which reported a record loss of 5 billion euros last year because of writedowns related to acquisitions, has a capital shortfall of 3.3 billion euros, according to the European Banking Authority. The bank must repay 1.9 billion euros of state aid provided in 2009, and plans to sell assets and convert hybrid securities to bolster finances.

The lender’s capital shortfall has deepened during the European debt crisis, hurt by holdings in Italian sovereign debt. Monte Paschi owned 26 billion euros of Italian government bonds as of Dec. 31, according to figures on the bank’s website.

To help raise funds, the bank is seeking to sell its Biverbanca unit and some assets of Padua-based Antonveneta, which it bought for 9 billion euros. That purchase led to 4.5 billion euros of writedowns last year. The lender has ruled out a share sale or an additional request for state aid to meet capital requirements set by the EBA.

New Investors

Monte Paschi, which has a market value of about 3 billion euros, has dropped 2.5 percent this year, compared with the 3 percent increase of the Bloomberg Banks and Financial Services Index.

Profumo, who tapped UniCredit’s shareholders for 7 billion euros from 2008 to 2010, may need to find new investors to recapitalize the bank. “His main challenge will be finding new investors available to put money in the bank, as Fondazione cannot do anymore,” said Wolfram Mrowetz, chairman of Milan brokerage Alisei Sim.

Fondazione Monte Paschi, one of Italy’s non-profit foundations, sold a 12 percent stake in the lender last month to repay loans to finance Monte Paschi’s acquisition of Antonveneta. The foundation, which now owns 36.4 percent, spent almost 4 billion euros to buy shares in two Monte Paschi rights offers that raised about 7 billion euros from 2008 to 2011.

The foundation is partially run by the Tuscan city of Siena, and local politicians sit on its board. “Profumo must deal with local interests and make compromises, a mission in which he failed at UniCredit,” Mrowetz said.

Top Manager

In addition, Profumo is taking a position without executive powers. The top manager at Monte Paschi is Viola. “We will work well together,” Viola said March 29 at the bank’s 2011 earnings presentation.

Monte Paschi is working on a new “stand-alone” business plan that will be presented by the end of May, Viola said. It will include asset disposals, possible joint ventures and job reductions.

Profumo became CEO of Credito Italiano in 1997, and transformed the lender into UniCredit, a bank with operations stretching from the U.S. to Kazakhstan. After leaving the bank, he started a Milan consulting firm and was hired by OAO Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, to advise on its expansion in the region.

Profumo stepped down as UniCredit CEO in September 2010, ending his 13-year tenure as head of Italy’s largest bank, after clashing with shareholders over Libyan investments in the company. Some of UniCredit’s largest shareholders asked him to resign after he failed to tell them about the intention of Libyan investors to raise their stakes in the bank.

Asked to comment about his role at Monte Paschi, Profumo said in an e-mailed response, “I’m very happy about this appointment that’s coming at a time when the bank is facing a big challenge. It’s aiming for a distribution model focused on a national retail network.”

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

Nearly Half of Irish Voters Will Back EU Treaty: Poll

(DUBLIN) — Nearly half of Irish voters will back the European Union’s fiscal pact treaty in a May 31 referendum, according to an opinion poll to be published Sunday. The Sunday Business Post/Red C poll found 47 percent of likely voters said they would vote for the treaty and 35 percent planned to vote against it, while 18 percent remained undecided.

The No camp had gained two percentage points since the last poll in March, matched by a fall of two percent in the Yes vote, but the treaty is “on course to be passed” by Irish voters, the newspaper said.

When the undecided voters were excluded, the poll found the Yes side was leading with 58 percent in favour of the treaty, while 42 percent were against.

Ireland’s referendum is expected to be the only plebiscite in an EU country on the pact, which is designed to strengthen the euro through tighter oversight of public finances.

The vote will be watched closely by Ireland’s EU partners, as the country has previously sent shockwaves through Europe on treaty plans. It had to vote twice before it passed two founding EU treaties, the Nice and Lisbon accords.

In November 2010, Ireland was forced to seek an 85-billion-euro ($113-billion) rescue package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund when massive debt and deficit problems left its economy on the verge of collapse.

The new fiscal pact, drawn up in response to the eurozone crisis, forces countries to enshrine in national law a so-called “golden rule” to balance budgets or face automatic sanctions. Any state which fails to ratify the new pact, which comes into effect once 12 states have ratified, will lose the right to future EU bailouts.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael party and coalition partner Labour are in favour of the treaty, as is the main Fianna Fail opposition party. The republican Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party and a number of independents are against.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Elderly “Indignados” Mobilised in Barcelona

Social protest at cuts grows, 2 arrested over metro block

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 26 — Around 50 elderly people from the “Yayoflautas” movement, the senior branch of the 15-M Indignados movement, today occupied the offices of the home affairs department at Catalunya’s regional government. The elderly indignados are protesting against cuts in public services and are demanding the release of three protesters arrested on March 31 in incidents during the general strike.

In recent weeks, they have been involved in a series of protests, including the occupation of a public bus in protest against the rise in prices. Today’s occupation of the home affairs department ended after a group of protesters, including the grandfather of one of the three men detained over the earlier incidents, was received by the director general of the department.

Mobilisation is growing from the north to the south of Spain against measures adopted by Mariano Rajoy’s government to reduce Spain’s public deficit to 5.3% per year, as imposed by Brussels.

The most spectacular protest was Wednesday’s boycott in Madrid by the spontaneous movement “Toma el metro’“ (Take the metro), a protest against the forthcoming increase in prices, which users’ associations say have risen by 90% since last August. At 08:30, activists simultaneously pulled the emergency alarm on 13 trains, that were already stopped in stations, blocking 9 metro lines that were carrying 10,000 people.

Police today arrested two of the people thought to be responsible for the stunt, a 24-year old man of Ecuadorean origin and a woman of the same age, both of whom are accused of public disorder and threatening behaviour. Responsibility for the boycott was claimed in an anonymous email by the group “Paremos El Tarifazo” (Let’s stop the squeeze), which announced that it would continue to act until the price rise has been dropped.

Residents, ecologists and consumers mobilised through social networking sites cried “Yo no Pago” (I’m not paying) and acts of disobedience were recorded in both Madrid and Barcelona.

The Indignados will take to the streets in the main Spanish cities on Sunday April 29 with the slogan “No messing around with health and education”. The demonstration has been called by the Platform for the Defence of the Welfare State, which includes 55 social organisations, including the leading trade unions UGT and CcOo. “Society has a right to self-defence,” say trade union leaders, who on May 1 will reprise the protests with marches by workers and the unemployed across the country.

On May 3, the focus of demonstrations could shift to Barcelona, where the European Central Bank summit will be held. The Interior Ministry has announced a tightening of the penal code, which will see sentences of at least 2 years behind bars handed down to anyone found using the Internet to organise protests that might affect public order. For “dissuasive and preventative” purposes, the Catalan police has opened a web page carrying photos of 230 people suspected of acts of urban violence, calling on citizens to help identify them.

Amid such a context, the first Indignados are preparing to return one year on to Plaza del Sol, where the protest began, and where they will remain between Saturday May 12 and Tuesday May 15, despite a ban imposed by local authorities.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


American Muslims Lead the Way

by Idris Tawfiq

Cairo — The journey from New York to the Canadian border passes through some of the most beautiful countryside in the United States. Lakes, hills and forest form part of the backdrop as the train sweeps you North, away from the hustle and the bustle of New York City, with its vast population and non-stop pace of life. For much of the journey, you will travel along the Hudson valley, at times just metres away from the mighty Hudson River itself.


The idea of a community centre in the Hudson Valley for New York’s Muslims grew out of one family’s desire to do something in memory of Emad El Jamal, their brother and son. Driven from his home in Palestine along with hundreds of thousands of others when the State of Israel was created on Palestinian land, El Jamal’s family had moved to the United States. On his death on the first day of Ramadan ten years ago, Emad’s family vowed to honour his memory with a living testament to Islam itself. While Muslims here in Egypt, for example, fast and celebrate the holy month of Ramadan it is a salutary lesson to us all to see what other Muslims in different parts of the world are doing for Allah’s sake. Instead of just talking about their love for Islam and its Prophet (pbuh), American Muslims are leading the way. Like their brothers and sisters all over the United States, the Muslims of Hudson Valley have made great sacrifices to establish a centre where Muslims can gather to pray and to support one another in their faith.The goal of the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Centre is to provide religious, educational, recreational, sporting and social services to the Muslim community, just as its founders had been involved in Islamic and social responsibility projects for many years. HVICC (as it has become known) was established on the premises of a former secondary school on May 15, 2006. The 50,000 square foot Centre, built on seven acres of prime property in the Mohegan Lake area of Westchester County, New York, now has impressive plans for the future.

Its goals are to establish a mosque, develop an Islamic school, provide day care and a nursery school, appoint a full-time Imam, conduct a comprehensive Ramadan programme, organise sporting activities, offer summer camps and host conferences, community functions, and bazaars. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Centre is that it is far more than just a mosque for worship. The Sports hall of the former school is now used on a Friday by hundreds of worshippers but, in addition, the Centre has a small Prayer Room, classrooms, Recreation Centre and Indoor Gymnasium, Catering Facilities, a Full Service Kitchen and a Banquet Hall for weddings & family functions. Isn’t this how Muslims should be gathering as communities? By living as US citizens right in the midst of their neighbours, the Muslims of Hudson Valley are showing that Islam is not a threat to any countryIndeed, their actions show far louder than any words that there is no clash of civilisations, as mischief makers would have us believe, but that Islam is actually at home in any nation and any culture. With a US flag flying high outside the Centre itself, America’s Muslims are showing the rest of the United States that Islam, far from being a threat, can be a blessing to any nation, if only it is given the chance.

British Muslim writer, Idris Tawfiq, is a lecturer at Al-Azhar University . The author of eight books about Islam, he divides his time between Egypt and the UK as a speaker, writer and broadcaster. You can visit his website at

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Radical Muslims Target of Former U.S. Attorney General’s Breakfast Speech (With Video)

HARWINTON — President George W. Bush is long gone from the White House, but one of the stalwarts of his tenure appeared Friday in northwest Connecticut in the form of U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, imparting fear of the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad and Shariah law to a predominantly business-driven crowd at Fairview Farm Golf Course.

Mukasey served as the 81st U.S. Attorney General under Bush, and on Friday, served the business community as a keynote speaker during Thomaston Savings Bank’s 14th Annual Business Breakfast. Last year, Thomaston Savings Bank brought in University of Connecticut Head Football Coach Paul Pasqualoni who spoke on passion and motivation — two targets Mukasey aimed at with political intentions and formidable arguments.

Introduced by Thomaston Savings Bank Board of Directors Chairman and attorney George Seabourne, Mukasey was called “our Tom Paine” and a man who has “taken positions that might not be interpreted as conservative, but interpreted as right.” Mukasey, who published an Encounter Broadside book entitled “How Obama Has Mishandled the War on Terror” and regular contributor to op-ed sections in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, tackled issues Friday ranging from “Islam on display” in the American judicial system, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, and the future of Muslims in America.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The New York Times’ War on Police

At The New York Times annual meeting on April 25, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arthur Sulzberger Jr. denied that his paper was waging a war on the New York City Police Department and its commissioner, Ray Kelly. The denials are not convincing.


The real agenda became clear later in the story. It said that government agencies, academics and reporters “complain that the department is unwilling to provide insight into its workings—even statistics on lower-level crime or Mr. Kelly’s daily schedule.”

So Kelly doesn’t spill his guts to the Times and tell them about his schedule on any given day. Perhaps he is suspicious of the press and their agenda. He should be.

Then the article moved on to one of the Times’ pet peeves—surveillance of potential terrorists, in order to keep the city safe from terrorist attack. It said, “Muslims have denounced the monitoring of their lives, as Mr. Kelly has dispatched undercover officers and informants to find radicalized youth.”

The paper added, “This year began with the revelation that a film offensive to Muslims, which included an interview with Mr. Kelly, had been shown to many officers.”


In fact, the film is narrated by a Muslim and is only offensive to radical Muslims, the kind that associate with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), linked to the terror group Hamas. It was CAIR and the George Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice that ginned up the controversy over the film.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Video: Congressman Grills Secretary Sebelius on HHS Mandate

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) completely destroys Kathleen Sebelius’ claim of ‘balance’ over her HHS abortifacient mandate, exposing the fact that she completely ignored seeking any legal basis for her mandate, whether it be directly constitutional or based on Supreme Court precedent. She claims to have relied on discussions from her lawyers on the mandate’s constitutional basis, however she says there are no legal memos to back up that claim, which means it never happened.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Canada Promotional Blitz Urges Free Trade With EU

(OTTAWA) — Government ministers on Friday set out across Canada to promote a free trade pact with the European Union described as the “most ambitious” deal in Canadian history. However, key obstacles must still be overcome in the ongoing negotiations, such as Canada’s clinging to its dairy supply management system and a few EU member states irked by visa restrictions.

“This is, by far, the most ambitious trade initiative in our nation’s history, with the potential to be broader in scope and produce even more benefits to Canadians than the historic NAFTA,” Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa.

The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created the largest trading bloc in the world by eliminating import tariffs on goods circulating among partners Canada, the United States and Mexico.

A trade accord with the EU, the largest integrated economy in the world with over 500 million consumers, would boost bilateral trade by 20 percent, adding $12 billion a year to Canada’s economy and 80,000 new Canadian jobs, according to a joint Canada-EU study.

A trade deal is expected to be finalized within six months, Denmark’s Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr said on Monday. But Canada’s dairy supply management system and rules of origin labeling — as much as 65 percent of Canadian manufactured goods contain foreign parts — still need to be hammered out, she said.

The EU currently has a small import quota for dairy products, but anything beyond that is slapped with a heavy tariff that makes European cheese and other dairy products expensive to buy in Canada.

As well, Canada may have to satisfy EU member states Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic, which are irritated by Canadian visa requirements on their citizens, Maurizio Cellini, head of the economic and commercial affairs section at the European Union Delegation to Canada, told AFP. “We’re not talking about a trade question, but it’s related,” he said.

Canada imposed visa requirements for travelers from the Czech Republic in 2009 after refugee claims soared particularly among Roma people. Bulgaria and Romania have long faced visa requirements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamic Community Planning National Interfaith Dialogue

The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada is planning to hold a national interfaith dialogue with Christian and Jewish leaders in Canada. Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said the council wants to hold a series of interfaith dialogues in all major cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Mississauga, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Surrey and Vancouver. He said the purpose is to discuss: religious and secular fundamentalism and extremism in Canada; the role of religion in Canadian society; the impact of international events on faith communities and their relationships in Canada; the perceived threat of sharia law; Canadian values versus religious values; Jewish-Christian values versus Islamic values; freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in Canada and around the world; and improvements in interfaith relationships in Canada.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Terror Arrest Trio in Court

Three men arrested in connection with an ongoing terror probe will be held for four weeks pending an investigation, Danish police said.

The men appeared in a Copenhagen court today on suspicion of illegally dealing with firearms by acquiring two automatic weapons and ammunition. They were arrested in the Danish capital yesterday.

The country’s intelligence service, PET, says the arrests are linked to a terror probe and that the men were “suspected of having been in the process of preparing a terrorist act”.

Preliminary charges for terrorism have not been filed.

The suspects are a 22-year-old citizen of Jordan, a 23-year-old Turkish man living in Denmark and a 21-year-old Danish national who lives in Egypt.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

France: ‘I’m Arab, a Muslim, and I Vote Marine Le Pen’

If French Muslims are largely left-leaning in their voting preferences, there are exceptions. spoke to three French Muslims of Arab descent, all of whom vote for the far-right National Front party. Here are their testimonies.

Karima, policewoman: “Many of my colleagues of Arab descent vote far right, but don’t dare say so.”

A 33-year-old naturalised French citizen of Moroccan origin, Karima is a mother of three, married to a Frenchman. She arrived in France 15 years ago, and has a diploma in Computer Science from a French university. Now she works as a policewoman in Paris and declined to provide her last name.

Karima says she started becoming interested in the ideas of Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the extreme-right National Front party, in 2002. That was almost a decade before Le Pen handed over the party leadership to his youngest daughter, Marine, in 2011. These days, Karima says she regularly attends party meetings and votes for National Front candidates whenever she can.

“My vote is an expression of my rejection of certain Muslim Arabs [in France], whom I personally consider ‘thugs’. They’ve destroyed French society. At least in the old days, they lived in the same suburbs,” said Karima, referring to the largely immigrant, impoverished “banlieues” of major French metropolises. “But for the last several years, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, has done everything in his power to house them in nice neighbourhoods — like the 15th district, where I live.”

She says she is generally furious at these French-born citizens of North African origin who show no consideration for their country. If the National Front ever gets a candidate elected to the presidency, she would like to see people who “don’t deserve” their French nationality stripped of their citizenship.

According to Karima, many of her “colleagues of Arab descent vote far right, but don’t dare say so”.

Farid Smahi, former National Front office employee: “I’m Arab, I celebrate Ramadan, and I vote Le Pen”

Farid Smahi, 59, is a Frenchman of Algerian descent, a father of three children, and graduate of a French university with a degree in French literature. He currently works for an association that offers aid to people in need in the Paris area. His father fought in the French army during World War II, before becoming an activist for Algerian independence.

“You can’t be both Algerian and French,” Smahi noted. His conversion to far-right politics occurred when he returned from a trip to the Palestinian Territories, which he describes as a giant open-air prison. His opposition to French citizens having two passports, coupled with his appreciation for Jean-Marie Le Pen’s criticism of Israel, led Smahi to join the National Front. Though he was once employed by one of the National Front’s bureaus, Smahi no longer works for the party; he was asked to leave after publicly denouncing Marine Le Pen’s “closeness with Zionists”.

Before he joined the party, Smahi confronted then-leader Jean-Marie Le Pen over his stance toward France’s black and Arab residents. He says he wanted to make sure that Le Pen was not planning to expel them. “I looked him in the eye, and he told me that was not his plan,” Smahi recalled. “I saw that he was an experienced and free-thinking politican.”

According to Smahi, most of the Arabs and Muslims who voted for Marine Le Pen in the first round of this year’s presidential election are those who arrived in France recently: doctors and engineers, for example, who had good jobs in their native countries, but decided to flee the repressive dictatorships of these countries.

“These are people who suffered to become French,” Smahi said. “Unlike those others who were born here and continue to vote for the left, when they still don’t understand that it’s the left that dumped them in the ghettos to begin with.”

Smahi expressed his distaste for Arabs and Muslims who have not yet adopted the ways of their country of residence. “I’m Arab, I celebrate Ramadan, and I vote National Front. I don’t like halal meat anymore. I can’t stand women who wear the headscarf, and even less, women who wear the burqa. France is a beautiful country,” he said. “In France, we drink wine and we eat pork. My Muslim compatriots need to calm down, and stop imposing their religion on society.” His bottom line: “We’re in France: love it or leave it.”

Myriam, hotel maid: “The day the National Front is in power, things will be different.”

Myriam, aged 45, is a French woman of Tunisian origin who also declined to provide her last name. Married, with four children, she has lived in the Parisian suburb of Melun for the past 20 years. After dropping out of school because of “family problems”, she began working as a maid in a Parisian hotel.

Myriam does not have kind things to say about her black and Arab compatriots. In her view, they are the cause of all of France’s problems. “If I could change my origins, I’d do it with pleasure,” she admitted.

“The only concern of Blacks and Arabs is looking for a way to get around French law to profit from the social benefits offered here, and to make money without making any effort. They’ve ruined our reputation,” she said. “It’s true that some of them struggle and work hard, but many others…take advantage of the help offered by the government. The day the National Front is in power, things will be different.”

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

French Prison Doctor: Nurses ‘Charged for Italian’s Death’

Daniele Franceschi died in Grasse jail in 2010

(ANSA) — Viareggio, April 25 — A French prison doctor and two nurses have been charged with manslaughter over the death in custody of an Italian man 18 months ago, French media said Wednesday. Daniele Franceschi, a 36-year-old Viareggio-born scaffolder, died in allegedly unclear circumstances after suffering chest pains in a prison in the French Riviera town of Grasse in August 2010.

French authorities said Franceschi, who had been in jail for five months after being found guilty of credit-card fraud, died of a heart attack.

His mother, Cira Antignano, who said her son wrote to her during his detention complaining about physical abuse, has been fighting to uncover the full circumstances of his death.

She also claims some of her son’s organs mysteriously disappeared after an autopsy.

“I’m finally starting to see some justice,” Antignano said after Wednesday’s news.

She said she would travel to Paris on May 2 to stage a hunger strike “and I won’t budge until they give all my son’s organs to me”.

According to French dailies, “more charges could be on the way” in the case.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Hi-Tech Controls Partly Blamed for Airbus Crash

The Air France A330, which fell 38,000 feet to its doom on 1 June 2009, was the victim of a chain of events exacerabted by small ‘side sticks’ used by pilots to control the aircraft, they say.

A full report on the loss of Flight AF447 is due out in June, and is expected to concentrate on pilot error, making only a passing reference to the ‘side sticks’, similar in appearence to joy sticks on computer game consoles.

But analysis of the crash points to a crucial misunderstanding between the pilot flying the aircraft and the two more senior pilots in the cockpit.

When the jet’s airspeed indicators failed in a thunderstorm, Pierre-Cedric Bonin thought the plane was losing altitude rapidly and raised its nose — but this action put it into a fatal stall by lowering its airspeed to a mere 60 knots.

He was using a ‘side stick’ control, which is only a few inches high, and therefore his fellow pilots may not have had a clear view of what he was doing.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italian Summer Vacationers Fewer and Closer to Home

Travel abroad 50% less than 2011

(ANSA) — Roma, April 23 — Italians will be vacationing closer to home this summer and will be 7-10% fewer than last year, said the Italian tourism association Trademark on Monday.

An estimated 36 million travellers, slightly less than 2011’s summer vacationers, will take shorter holidays and less than half of those will leave the country.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Naples’ ‘Savile Alley’ Preserves Bespoke Tailoring

Area has everything the discriminating gentleman needs

(ANSA) — Naples — An Italian answer to London’s Savile Row, ‘Savile Alley’ is a collection of storied bespoke-tailoring houses dotting the narrow central streets of Naples.

Harking back to the city’s aristocratic traditions as a European powerhouse to rival Paris and London, the boutiques are proud to tell visitors they have everything the discriminating gentleman needs to step out about town.

“We take care of all a man’s needs, from head to toe,” says Ugo Cilento of the ‘Cilento 1780’ emporium. “Everything is hand-made and made to measure by legions of craftsmen,” says Cilento, 39, the eighth generation of his family to cater to well-heeled clients from Italy and abroad.

“Some of our fabrics are even exclusively created for us by (famed top-of-the-range French textile group) Dormeuil”. Massimo Massaccesi, president of the ultra-exclusive Capri Yacht Club, says he’s glad he doesn’t have to travel much farther than his front door to find the quality he craves. “I’m an extremely demanding customer and Naples suits me down to a tee. I find superb levels of excellence here”.

Massaccesi says he appreciates the more visible high-end Kiton store that is reaching out to a wider market but prefers the backstreet ateliers where tailors are passing on their skills to their sons. Sauntering into the workshop-boutique of 70-year-old Antonio Panico and his son Luigi, Massaccesi can barely keep his enthusiasm under wraps.

“I feel I’m in a London club,” he says. Antonio Panico once stunned a wealthy client in Japan by snipping out a perfect jacket in 10 minutes from a single roll of fabric. But he is more famous for his overcoats, which Italy’s great-and-good recognise instantly by the cut of their jib. Another ‘Savile Alley’ stalwart, 77-year-old Renato Ciardi, says: “Tailoring is a delicate and meticulous thing here (in Naples). We’re not shaping fashion here, we’re making history”.

Ciardi recalls fondly a master, the “late, great” Vincenzo Attolini, who invented a new generation of Neapolitan jackets by removing padding and ‘destructuring’ the garment, a trick later imitated by Versace and others. But coats and jackets don’t tell the whole story here.

Savile Alley also runs to ties, whether the world-famous ones made by Maurizio Marinella (and, incidentally, handed out like confetti as gifts and thank-yous by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi) or the newly relaunched Ulturale range with typically Neapolitan touches like hidden lucky charms and mini-pockets. Then there are the famously lightweight shirts, such as those made by Luigi and Fabio Borrelli, or by up-and-comers like Luca Avitabile who says: “a shirt is like a second skin; to make it fit perfectly you need great technique and experience”.

Not to mention shoes that vie with the best old England can produce; or gloves, a Neapolitan pride since the glory days of the Bourbon monarchy. Or the umbrellas fashioned by another legendary craftsman, Mario Talarico, 79, who says: “In most ways my trade hasn’t changed since the days of (prewar British Prime Minister Neville) Chamberlain”. Massaccesi, the Capri yacht-club chief, says he guards Talarico’s creations jealously. “I tend to take them with me everywhere, even when it isn’t raining. But I never leave one around, anywhere. I wouldn’t find it again, and I’d be quite unconsolable”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi ‘Met With Mafia Bosses in 1974’

‘No doubt’, says top court

(ANSA) — Rome, April 24 — A court document released by Italy’s Supreme Court on Tuesday said that there was “no doubt” that ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi met with Mafia bosses in 1974.

The 146-page document said that Senator Marcello Dell’Utri, together with Berlusconi, met with Mafia bosses Francesco Di Carlo, Stefano Bontade and Mimmo Teresi in one of Berlusconi’s Milan offices.

Based on testimonies from ex-Mafia boss Di Carlo, the court could not specify the precise meeting location.

During the meeting, the deal was sealed for the hire of Vittorio Mangano, a convicted Mafioso, who was allegedly employed to protect the future premier and media magnate’s family after a wave of kidnappings of industrialists or their children.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Top ‘Ndrangheta Mafia Fugitive Captured

Trimboli was considered one of Italy’s most dangerous men on run

(ANSA) — Reggio Calabria, April 24 — Police on Tuesday captured a fugitive considered to be one of Italy’s most dangerous when they apprehended suspected ‘Ndrangheta boss Rocco Trimboli in the Calabrian town of Casignana.

Trimboli must serve an 11-year prison sentence for drug trafficking and he was also wanted on allegations of mafia association.

Prosecutors believe the 45-year-old was a key figure in the Calabrian-based ‘Ndrangheta’s growing operations in the northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Lega: Belsito: Leaders Made No Objection to Investments

(AGI) Milan — The leaders of the Lega Nord made no objection to Francesco Belsito’s foreign investments and purchase of diamonds. The former treasurer of the Lega made this clear in his interrogation by Milan magistrates on Monday. Belsito is under investigation for embezzlement, money laundering and serious fraud. It now appears that Belsito advised Rosi Mauro and senator Pierluigi Stiffoni on how to purchase jewellery. . .

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

Italy: Head of Lega Nord Group in the Senate Resigns

(AGI) Rome — Senator Piergiorgio Stiffoni has announced his resignation as head of the Lega Nord group in the Senate.

Stiffoni also announced that he had suspended himself from the Lega Nord and its group in the Senate, in order not to damage the party’s reputation, until the ongoing probe is over.

Stiffoni is confident that the investigation will shed light on what really happened. ..

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

Italy: Northern League Denies Taking Finmeccanica Kickbacks

‘Never taken bribes’ says party statement

(ANSA) — Rome, April 24 — The Northern League on Tuesday denied taking kickbacks after media reports that prosecutors suspected the party had been the main beneficiary of millions of euros in bribes from defence giant Finmeccanica.

“Regarding the insinuations in some newspapers today, the Northern League has nothing to do with this affair and has never taken bribes from Finmeccanica or anyone else,” read a party statement.

The statement added that anyone “who associates the Northern League with this affair will be prosecuted in the civil and criminal courts”. Finmeccanica has been hit by an investigation into allegations that its managers were involved in issuing false invoices and the creation of slush funds to bribe politicians.

Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, who had been Finmeccanica’s chairman and chief executive since 2002, was forced to resign in December after being named as one of the managers being probed.

The Northern League is at the centre of a separate probe into alleged fraud by former treasurer Francesco Belsito that led to Umberto Bossi quitting as leader at the start of this month and other party heavyweights resigning from their posts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Lega Nord Chauffeur Fired After Filming Bossi’s Son in Car

(AGI) Milan- Lega Nord has fired Alessandro Marmello for filming Renzo Bossi while he was handed money belonging to the party. According to sources near to Lega Nord’s leaders Marmello was fired with “just cause” as a direct consequence of Renzo Bossi’s resignation as regional councillor, brought about by the scandal surrounding the party’s use of money obtained through electoral reimbursements for private expenses.

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

Italy: Heatwave in Alto Adige, Temperature Rose to 31 Degrees

(AGI) Bolzano — Today it was the hottest day in 2012 in Alto Adige. Temperature rose to 31 degrees in Bassa Atesina, in the south of the province, while in Bolzano it was 31 degrees. The column of mercury rose to 29 degrees also in Bressanone and Merano. The forecast for the night is a dense clouding over with possibility of rain for tomorrow afternoon. Possible downpours on Monday and Tuesday May 1. Summer temperatures, fluctuating between 27 and 30 degrees, again from Wednesday.

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

UK: [Pictured] Interfaith in London


Note the Koran is placed BEFORE the Bible and stands TALLER than the Bible signifying it HIGHER status…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Alcohol Ban at Aldgate University Could Lead to Attack on Muslim Students, London Met Islamic Groups Claim

Two Islamic societies at London Metropolitan University in Aldgate have demanded an apology from their vice chancellor for making “undemocratic, ill devised and misleading remarks” in support of a student drinking ban.

In a joint letter to Professor Malcolm Gillies, the Islamic Society and Shia Muslim Society said his “divisive” and “irresponsible” plan had led to student confrontations and warned it is only a matter of time before a Muslim student is physically assaulted. It comes after Professor Gillies is reported to have told a conference last month that a high percentage of the university’s students consider drinking “immoral” and that it was a matter of “cultural sensitivity” to provide drink free areas. Professor Gillies reportedly said: “Many of our students do come from backgrounds where they actually look on drinking as a negative. And given that around our campuses you have at least half a dozen pubs within 200 meters I can’t see there is such a pressing reason to be cross-subsidising a student activity which is essentially the selling of alcohol.” The university has 30,000 students of which around 20 per cent are Muslim.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: British Muslims Urged to Vote on 3 May

Ahead of Friday prayers, the Muslim Council is calling on mosque imams to urge their congregations to vote at the local and London Mayoral elections on Thursday 3 May. Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the MCB said “It is an important civic duty in which all Muslims should participate”. “I would encourage all mosques to raise this during the Friday Khutba (sermon) and explain the importance of voting. There is a lot of pressure on the government to tackle vital issues that affect us all, such as youth unemployment, high crime rates, lack of affordable housing and congested transport. Muslims should exercise their judgement and use this opportunity to vote for candidates who will make a positive difference” said Farooq Murad. Spearheading the campaign, the Muslim Council’s Membership Committee Chair, Talha Ahmad, said: “We are not telling you who to vote for, but it is really important for Muslims to engage with their candidates and decide on what is best for their communities. We then need to hold them accountable for their commitments.” The Muslim Council is non-partisan and its main objective is to encourage British Muslims to exercise their democratic rights. Download the election leaflet here.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Five Reports of Voting Fraud Made

FIVE reports of potential postal vote fraud in Peterborough has been reported to Cambridgeshire police this week. Peterborough City Council has issued advice and warnings about postal voting after reports of people knocking at doors asking to collect postal votes, on one occasion pretending to be a council worker. Returning Officer Gillian Beasley said: “We have received a few reports this week of people knocking on doors and asking for people’s postal votes. “We do not believe this is a widespread issue but as Returning Officer it is my role to make sure people understand what they need to do with their postal vote. “Council officers will never call at your door asking to collect your vote. If someone does, do not hand them your postal vote and contact the police.” Postal votes have been issued to 18,841 residents this year, who have until 10pm on election day, Thursday, May 3, to return them. The ET understands the reports of potential postal fraud relate to the Central Ward, which has historically received the most anti-fraud focus from council and police. A police spokeswoman said: “We work closely with the council and have processes in place to share information and maintain a joint log of incidents.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tower Hamlets Electoral Fraud: Here’s Some More Evidence

by Andrew Gilligan

Both the BBC and the Standard are today running hard with the story I broke on Sunday about fake votes and postal vote harvesting in last week’s Spitalfields byelection, narrowly won by Gulam Robbani, the candidate of the extremist-linked and Ken Livingstone-backed mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. The allegations have now been referred by the Electoral Commission to the police. The Electoral Commission was in its usual hopeless form on the World at One this afternoon, claiming there was no evidence of widespread fraud in Tower Hamlets. Here is some more evidence they might like to consider. At a flat in Hobsons Place, Hanbury Street, a man named Abdul Manik is shown on the council’s official records as having cast a postal vote in the byelection. I called at the flat on Tuesday. Mr Manik’s daughter, Jona, told me that he was dead. He’d died in Bangladesh, where he’d lived for several years, the previous week.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: When Did Britain Become the Kind of Country That Tolerates Voting Fraud?

by Graeme Archer

Labour’s massive expansion of postal voting opened the door to electoral fraud.

The old woman was pleased to see me, though undoubtedly confused as to why a 16-year-old boy she’d not previously met was crouched by her chair. I’d never been in a sheltered housing day-room before, but it doesn’t take more than a moment to register the residents’ tangible desire for company — any company — and it unsettled me. Because it was this desire that we were there to abuse. “Hello. I’m here on behalf of the local Conservatives. It’s to remind you about the elections next week. Have you sent in your postal vote, yet?”

I’d accepted the canvassing mission because “We have to get there before the Labour Party does; they’ll vote for whoever comes first”; and of course, as a new Young Conservative, I wanted our party to win. But even a teenager’s conscience is sufficiently developed to tell right from wrong, and I knew, from the elderly woman’s trusting smile, that this was wrong. Twenty-odd years before the Electoral Commission got round to suggesting that maybe party activists should stop asking voters for their postal votes (PVs), I resolved that I’d never ask for one again.

My decades-old embarrassment seems almost quaintly innocent now: I was only asking for completed and sealed PVs, in order to ensure they reached the returning officer on time; no one in Ayrshire Conservatives would have dreamt of interfering with the actual vote itself. For there was once a sanctity to the act of voting; your vote was between you and your conscience. Even Presbyterians like me understood something inviolable to take place in the instant between the pencil being gripped and the cross being marked; the act was so secular-holy that it would have been an obscenity for a third party to witness it, let alone interfere with it. That’s why we had curtains on polling booths. And that’s why only the bedridden (and servicemen) were excused the walk to the polling station: it was your civic duty to make the effort to vote.

No more. Since those days, of course, we’ve had a Labour government, and were it still in power, I suspect by now we’d be voting on X Factor-style 0898 numbers (“Hello! You’ve got through to Harriet Harman’s Vote-Line! Votes cast after polling day may not be counted, though you’ll still pay a heavy price”) or by scraping at petrol station scratch-cards (“They’re All The Same! So Why Not Vote By Lucky Dip?”). What Labour did achieve was a deliberate, massive expansion in voting by envelope. Since nearly every government minister started off as a party activist, they must have known the potential for abuse that such a switch entailed, but they pressed on regardless; we reap what they sowed.

In the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where a Ken Livingstone supporter is mayor, the number of registered voters increased by a “surprising” 7,023, in a single month, between April and May 2010. Likewise, in a borough with a large Bangladeshi community — not a society to which the concept of communal voting is unknown, or one famous for its liberated women — the proportion of postal votes has inexorably grown. Some of the worst frauds have made their way to the courts. In a case in Birmingham, in 2005, Judge Richard Mawrey likened our postal vote-heavy system to that of a banana republic. The same judge is reported this week as saying that postal voting fraud remains rife. It’s not the cases that get to court that matter, though. It is sufficient for us all to be aware of the ongoing violation of the secret ballot’s sanctity, for a mockery to be made of our entire democratic process. Postal vote fraud is widespread; we all know this; the effect is corrosive.

But it’s OK. A report by the Electoral Commission — which rates electoral registration in Tower Hamlets as “good” — tells us to chill. The key finding in its review of 2010 general election fraud was to declare itself not “aware of any case reported to the police that affected the outcome of the election to which it related nor of any election that has had to be re-run as a result of electoral malpractice”. It’s bad enough we pay for this quango at all, worse that it prefers to be “not aware” of the widespread voting malpractice in such boroughs as Tower Hamlets. The Electoral Commission is still led by Jenny Watson, even after the 2010 polling day debacle. She’s on a hundred grand a year, and is described on her Wikipedia page as a “long-term campaigner for women’s rights”. Were I a “long-term campaigner for women’s rights”, let alone in charge of the state outfit that regulates elections, I’d have something to say about patriarch-driven postal vote farming in communities where many women remain culturally and linguistically excluded from the mainstream. Jenny Watson’s quango may be blithely unconcerned about the potential of postal vote fraud to affect next week’s London mayoral election. I wonder if Ken Livingstone’s supporters in Tower Hamlets take a similarly indifferent view of its potential?

[JP note: Wiki profile of Jenny Watson here ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Vatican Sets Up Probe Into Leaks

Pope acts after documents alleging corruption reach media

(ANSA) — Vatican City, April 25 — Pope Benedict XVI has set up a special commission to investigate the leaking of sensitive Church documents to the Italian media earlier this year, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The documents included letters to the pope and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from the Holy See’s ambassador in Washington, Maria Vigano, who was the deputy governor of the Vatican City when they were written. The letters contain allegations of corruption in the management of the Vatican City.

“In the wake of recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media, the Holy Father has ordered the creation of a Commission of Cardinals to undertake an authoritative investigation and throw light on these episodes,” read a Vatican statement.

The commission will be presided over by Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, who will work with Cardinal Jozef Tomko of Slovakia and Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi of Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: More Troops Against Escalation of Violence, NATO

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, 25 APRIL — Additional NATO troops will “soon” be deployed in Kosovo, as a response to “a possible increase in violence”, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu stated. During a press conference in Brussels, Lungescu also confirmed that the 700 troops (550 of them are German and 150 are Austrian) leaving for Kosovo will ensure that the NATO forces on the field “is strong enough to ensure security and stability” in the region, “as was the case in the past 10 years”. The decision to send new troops is based on “the assessment of security” in Kosovo, taking into consideration that next May 6th Serbian elections are approaching.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Green Light for Calzedonia Plant

In Subotica. 20 mln in investment, 1,000 jobs

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE — The Italian company Calzedonia, market leader in hosiery and lingerie, has obtained eight hectares of land for the building of plant facilities in Subotica, in northern Serbia. As reported by Tanjug, the head of Calzedonia’s Serbia office Francesco Ruffoli and Mayor Sasha Vucinic have signed an agreement on the basis of which the Italian group will have the use of the land in the Mali Bajmok industrial zone without the need for any sort of payment. If everything goes according to plans, the facilities will begin being built in later May or early June, with the works expected to take about 10 months. Investment totals 20 million euros, and in its initial phase the Calzedonia plant will employ 1,000 workers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Morocco: Talks Begin for New Fisheries Accord, Damanaki

EU Parliament blocked extension in December

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 24 — Talks have resumed for a new agreement protocol on fisheries between the EU and Morocco. This was announced by the European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki after her visit from April 20 to 21 to Rabat (Morocco).

“We have begun exploratory talks,” Damanaki said, who went on to point out that “for the European Union and Morocco, cooperation is not a choice, it is an obligation. We have to cooperate if we want to manage fish reserves in an effective manner.” In December the European Parliament blocked an extension to the fisheries protocol, asking the European Commission to negotiate a new agreement that would be more sustainable in both environmental and economic terms, taking into consideration also the interests of the Saharawi people. For this reason Damanaki said that “we are seeking a new agreement that respects environmental sustainability, is advantageous to both and complies with international law.” The European commissioner said that there are the necessary requirements for the talks to move in the right direction. “The beginning was very good,” said Damanaki, “and it is necessary to continue in this direction.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Panel Drops Maspero Massacre Case for ‘Lack of Evidence’

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — On April 24 the panel of judges appointed by the Egyptian minister of justice to investigate the Maspero massacre of October 9, 2011 (AINAÂ 10-10-2011), which claimed the lives of 27 Christians and injured 329, closed the case. In his explanation of the verdict, judge Sarwat Hammad said the case was closed for “lack of identification of the culprits” who killed the army conscript Mohammad Shata and nine protesters (all Christians) with ammunition, as well as attempting to break into a government building and assaulting military personnel.

Charges against 28 Christian Copts and prominent Muslim activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah, who were previously detained, were also dropped for lack of evidence, said the judge. According to their defense lawyers, most of the detainees were arrested after October 9, and some were not even at the Maspero protest and were collected from the streets for just being Christians. Three of them were teens under 16 (AINAÂ 11-5-2011).

The judge referred two Copts, Michael Adel Naguib and Michael Shaker, to the criminal court for allegedly stealing a heavy-duty machine gun from one of the military armored vehicle and “using it to kill Copts” during the Maspero protest. According to Naguib’s father, the army and police raided their home in the early hours two days after the massacre and found nothing at home. He said they beat his son and took him away in his underwear (AINAÂ 11-5-2011).

Commenting on the panel’s report, attorney Said Fayez, one of the Maspero defense team, said sarcastically “I am happy that we were able to prove the innocence of the Coptic defendants of killing their Coptic brothers.” He said the rights of those killed have been denied by a judiciary that is just filling space. “We said all along that it was just a show and this is the outcome we got, but the families of the victims will never forsake the rights of their children.” He vowed to continue with the case until the victims receive justice.

Ms. Vivian Magdi, fiancee of Michael Mosad, who was crushed under the wheels of a military armored vehicle as she watched, told Christian Middle East News Agency (MCN) that dropping the case against an “unknown” was a “farce.” She has stated from the start that the Maspero case has to be taken to an international court “because in Egypt we were unable to get justice for those who were martyred.”

Mary Daniel, sister of Coptic activist Mina Daniel, who was killed at Maspero by a sniper’s bullet, said that she expected this outcome for the case. “You can expect anything from whoever kills with such brutality.. This case is being handled by the killer [the state] and of course it would be impossible for the killer to condemn himself.”

Mary said the ruling “proved” that armored vehicles which crushed the protesters “killed them by mistake,” and that those who were shot were the “Coptic protesters killing each other.”

The second part of the case is the trial by a military court of three conscripts, who were driving the military armored vehicles which crushed 14 Copts under their wheels (AINA 12-28-2011). They are charged with involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor which under the Penal Code carries penalties of imprisonment of not more than seven years. Eyewitnesses and video clips showed the armored vehicles chasing protesters over the pavements.

On April 12 lawyers representing the Maspero victims and prominent human rights organizations quit the military trial, accusing the court of bias.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Revolutionary Youth Block Mussa, From ‘Old Regime’

Only a few hundred in Tahir Square, mainly Salafis

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 28 — The Union of the Youth the Egyptian Revolution has appealed to the Prosecutor General to exclude former Arab League secretary Amr Mussa from standing in the presidential elections in view of a regulation approved within the past few days that prevents leading figures from the “ancien regime” from standing as candidates.

Mr Mussa served as foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak from 1991 to 2001. As a communique’ states: “Mussa was a vital partner of corruption during Mubarak’s regime and in the affair surrounding gas exports to Israel”.

The Union of Youth of the Revolution is also attacking Ahmad Shafik, the last premier under the former dictator, who has been nominated at the last minute after being crossed off the list of candidates specifically under the regulation banning figures from the ancien regime.

Against the danger of their return to power, a demonstration was held in Tahrir Square, staged by several hundred people, mainly Salafis, whose candidate Hazem Salah Abi Ismail was excluded from the election because his mother holds a US passport. Much more modest in terms of numbers than the demonstrations of last week, the protest was not supported by revolutionary organisations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Controversy Over Marriage Bill for Brides at 14

Women’s rights NGO appeals to Parliament: Don’t let it pass

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, APRIL 27 — A rumour that Egypt’s Islamic-dominated parliament was preparing two bills relating to women has for days now been giving rise to controversy and concern on the social networks and in the country’s media.

One of the proposed laws would have reduced the minimum age for marrying for girls from the present 18 to 14 and the other would have allowed a husband to enjoy sexual relations with a deceased wife within six hours of her death. Daily paper Al Ahram wrote that the head of the National Council for Women, Mervat el Talawi, had appealed to the Speaker of the House, Saad el Katatni, to ensure that these proposals, which reduce women’s rights, are not approved. According to daily paper El Talawi, Ms Talawi emphasized how the marginalization and reduction in status of women in Egypt would have repercussions on the country’s overall development, given that women are half of the population. The Islam-inspired movements have recently attacked the Council of women, maintaining that it wishes to destroy the family. Having increased in strength following the January revolution, these movements have also aimed at Egypt’s divorce law, that allows women to be granted a divorce despite obstacles set up by the husband. They have argued that all of this legislation has been the product of First Lady Suzanne Mubarak.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Qatar Opens Doors to 20,000 Unemployed Tunisians

To be recruited among young professionals looking for a job

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 26 — Qatar is willing to hire 20,000 young and unemployed qualified Tunisians. The news was announced after the visit by Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to Doha a few days ago. During his visit, Marzouki announced the decision of the Tunisian authorities to cancel the need for a visa for Gulf citizens who want to enter Tunisia. The measure is meant to boost the Tunisian tourism sector.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Arms for Syrian Rebels Found in Lebanon on Ship From Libya

(AGI) Selaata — Three containers filled with weapons destined for Syrian rebels discovered on board the “Lutfallah II”, the Sierra Leone-flagged ship intercepted two nights ago by teams from the Beirut Navy off the Lebanon’s northern coast, according to classified information obtained from sources within Lebanon’s security forces. The ship is said to have been carrying machine-guns, rocket and grenade launchers, shells, missiles and explosives. After initially docking at the port of Selaata, around 50 kilometres north of Beirut, the Lutfallah raised anchor again this morning and, with a huge escort, headed for an undisclosed destination. The ship had set sail from Libya and after a stopover in Alexandria, was heading for the southern Lebanese port of Tyre, where it had been authorised to dock. The captain and crew members have been handed over to the city’s military intelligence teams for further questioning. The weapons cargo has been taken to Beirut on board three lorries, escorted by armoured off-road army vehicles and a helicopter. Bashar Al Assad’s regime has complained on several occasions that neighbouring Lebanon, whose government is favourable to Assad, is used as a corridor for weapons bound for rebels in Syria.

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

Jordan Turn to Renewables to Tackle Shortage

Chairman of regulatory commission, many investment opportunities

(by Mohammad Ben Hussein) (ANSAmed) — AMMAN, APRIL 24 — Officials from Jordan’s national electric company say investment in renewable energy is becoming a serious option to mitigate impact of severe shortage in energy resources for cash-strapped Jordan.

Chairman of electricity regulatory commission, Ahmed Hyasat, told ANSAmed that demand on electricity in Jordan is increasing considerably and alternatives energy sources is becoming essential to the aid dependent kingdom. He said the kingdom aims to achieve 10% of its total energy demand in 2020 using renewable energy.

Investment in Renewable Energy (RE) is another promising field for investment in Jordan. “The parliament has recently issued the renewable energy Law. This already opened many investment opportunities. More than 60 international companies have already submitted proposals to the Energy Ministry to compete for possible investment in this important and promising field,” he said.

Jordan imports from Egypt gas that powers up electric generation stations in the south but recent turmoil in Egypt saw the kingdom pushed to seek alternative sources of gas. The financial bill is becoming increasingly difficult to handle in a country that already suffers from lack of financial resources and heavily depends on foreign aid to keep its fragile economy going.

According to Hyasat, some of the most significant challenges facing the kingdom in terms of electricity supply include; high dependency on imported energy (95% import in 2010), high cost (the energy imports accounted for 13.3% of GDP in 2010), high growth of primary energy demand, electricity consumption has been doubling up ever 10 years in Jordan, while this is a positive economic development indicator and a sign of rising standard of living, it can also be alarming for a country that depends almost entirely on foreign supply of oil and gas to generate power, among other issues. He said the National electricity Power Company (NEPCO) looks for best interest of the kingdom’s energy needs through applying the government policy of restructuring the electricity sector on bases of equity of fairness, and balanced regulation of the sector. It also ensures that electricity companies are providing high quality safe services, provide electricity services with acceptable competitive prices, encourage investment in the sector, protect interest of consumers and overview, monitor and solve complains submitted by consumers.

“ERC receives hundreds of complaints each year and addresses them in a satisfactory approach,” he said. On achievements of the regulatory commission, Hyasat outlined a number of areas where he believes the authority was able to make substantial progress including: creation of confidence in the electricity sector which lead to increasing the participation and investment of private sector.

Other achievements include passing of a range of by-laws, regulations and instructions are currently in force, the establishments of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Law. “This is a major step forward that allows the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to work in closer collaboration with other entities to conserve energy and increase energy efficiency in different sectors of the economy. The law also sets incentives to promote renewable energy utilization in Jordan as well as establishing the Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund (JREEEF),” he said.

On the regional Mediterranean regulation commission project, Hyasat believes there are there are differences in the maturity of energy markets between different MEDREG countries (MEDREG is the network of Mediterranean energy authorities). “We still need to do more work under the umbrella of MEDREG ad hoc groups to reach to a final draft for the regulatory agreements that could be help in establishing Mediterranean energy market and regulatory framework,” he said.

But Hayasat admits Jordan has much to gain from its partnership within the MEDREG project including exchange of experience in the regulation and open market mechanisms. Jordan is involved in all MEDREG ad hoc groups (electricity, institutional, gas, environmental and RE), and this helps us in the exchange of information and surveys, he said.

Hyasat concluded that Jordan fully supports EU efforts to strengthen MEDREG since this has a very positive impact on Jordan’s electricity sector and enhances ERC experience knowledge and capabilities in legal and technical expertise, as well as across-the-border interconnections in order to develop a Mediterranean interconnected network.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Muslims Revive Old Pilgrimage Route Via Jerusalem

JERUSALEM (AP) — After decades of shying away from an ancient pilgrimage route, Muslims are visiting Jerusalem to pray at Islam’s third-holiest site, the revered Al-Aqsa mosque.

In doing so, they find themselves caught in a disagreement between some leading Muslim clerics, who oppose such pilgrimages, and Palestinian leaders who encourage them as evidence of the city’s Muslim credentials. Palestinians say the only Arab visitors have been officials from Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel. Recent trips here by a top Egyptian cleric and a Jordanian prince sparked angry backlashes in their home countries. The vast majority of the pilgrims are from non-Arab countries like South Africa, Malaysia and India, where the stigma of visiting Israeli-controlled areas isn’t as powerful. “Jerusalem is a beautiful place,” said Ali Akbar, 51, a Shiite Muslim who was visiting recently with a group of 40 pilgrims from Mumbai, India. “All Muslims should try to come to Jerusalem and pray and seek the blessings of Allah, the almighty,” Akbar said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Obama Mulls Compromise on Iranian Nuke Program’

Washington to consider allowing Iran to continue uranium enrichment up to 5%, ‘LA Times’ quotes US gov’t officials as saying.

The Obama administration is hinting that it would be open to making concessions over Iran’s nuclear program so long as the country agrees to numerous safeguards, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

According to the report, US government officials have been hinting that in upcoming P5+1 (United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia) talks, Obama may allow Iran to continue to enrich uranium up to 5 percent purity- the upper end range for civilian purposes- in exchange for Tehran agreeing to unrestricted inspections, strict oversight of the nuclear program and numerous other safeguards long demanded by the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog.


Diskin says he has ‘no faith’ in current leadership

The idea of allowing Tehran to continue to enrich uranium is contentious considering that even at 5% enrichment, Iranian scientists might still be able to gain the knowledge and experience to someday build a bomb, the report stated.

The White House has long denied being open to a compromise on Iranian enrichment.

Talks between Iran and the P5+1 that took place earlier this month were praised by the White House as a “positive first step,” but Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called them a “five-week gift for Iran to continue enriching uranium.”

The P5+1 are due to meet Iran for a second round of nuclear negotiations on May 23 in Baghdad.

A senior administration official was quoted by the Times as saying that “there can be a discussion” of allowing low-level domestic enrichment. The report also cited Gary Samore, a top White House official on nuclear proliferation, as saying that which parts of Tehran’s program can continue “is a matter for negotiations.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Security: Turkey and Tunisia Sign Cooperation Agreement

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 26 — Turkish and Tunisian interior ministries signed a security cooperation agreement in Ankara on Thursday, as Anatolia news agency reports. The agreement envisages cooperation in countering crimes such as terrorism, organized crime, illegal migration, human trafficking, and illicit drug trafficking. “Turkey is determined to boost its relations with Tunisia, and we will be pleased to share our political, economic and administrative experiences with our Tunisian brothers,” Turkey’s Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin said. On his part, Tunisia’s Interior Minister Ali Laareydh said more agreement were ahead of Turkey and Tunisia, and Tunisia’s aim was to boost cooperation with Turkey in its own restructuring efforts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Soccer: Middle East Petro-Dollars Changing Europe’s Game

Shopping spree changes cultures, bankruptcies included

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 20 — Oil money from the Middle East is changing the European football landscape, including its Mediterranean shores in Spain and in France, with Italy involved to a lesser extent. Millions are being spent on clubs and although these are having the effect of changing the business culture of football, sometimes these operations prove of short-term impact only or even lead to club bankruptcies. So says a report by Turkey’s daily paper Hurriyet. The article reviews operations conducted by Middle East tycoons in Europe, especially in the UK and in Germany over recent years. Behind the acquisition of clubs and of television rights, the newspaper sees a strategy both of national pride and of seeking out business opportunities. But they have so far led to few football trophies, as Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton pointed out last year: money is not enough to win the English league.

As Hurriyet Daily News points out, this wave of acquisitions was started in 2004 by the sponsoring of Arsenal over 15 years by Emirates Airlines. They went on to sponsor Milan, Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Hamburg and FIFA itself. The first Middle Eastern club purchase in Europe was that of Manchester City by Abu Dhabi United Group. This was greeted by turban-wearing fans, who also drew the portrait of the Sheik to replace that of Queen Elizabeth on banknotes. The euphoria was justified by the great number of player acquisitions totaling 100 million pounds, acquiring Brazilian star Robinho from Real Madrid for a record 32.5 million, ahead of Chelsea. This campaign brought Manchester City its first silverware in England in 42 years, as well as qualification for the Champions League.

The club also signed a ten-year sponsorship agreement worth 400 million pounds with Abu Dhabi airline Etihad. The Royal Emirates Group, based in Dubai, also acquired Spanish club Getafe for an estimated 100 million euros while in Germany Jordanian businessman Hasan Abdullah Ismail saved 1860 Muenchen from a financial crisis. But money from the Middle East also brings with it cultural restrictions linked to Islam. The Turkish site points out how William Hill Plc was dropped as a sponsor for its gambling interests and how a pavilion was dedicated to Arab culture in the Getafe stadium. Also in Madrid, Real players had to give up the cross on their shirts. This choice was justified by pointing to the global dimensions of the football business, which includes the construction of a sporting resort costing one billion dollars in the United Arab Emirates. But even the sheikhs pockets are not bottomless: Hurriyet notes how Qatar had to give up its bid for Manchester, Roma and for the agency that controls the TV rights of the World Cup, as Dubai International Capital’s bid for Liverpool failed many moons ago. And even a successful bid may be of short duration: three months after buying Portsmouth, Emirati multimillionaire Sulaiman al-Fahim sold his stake on to Suadi tycoon Ali al-Faraj, who then left the club to face bankruptcy. A similar fate befell Austria’s Admira Wecker and Geneva’s Servette following acquisitions by Iranian businessman Majid Pishyar.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish Catholic Church Calls for a Return of 200 Properties. Better to Ask for Legal Recognition

The bishops’ request is based on a 1913 list, signed by the Ottoman Empire and France, once the protector of Catholics. The request, difficult to resolve, has stirred controversy and embarrassment among other Christian communities. Archbishop Lucibello, Nuncio in Turkey. It is urgent that Ankara recognize the Catholic Church, after 60 years of diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — The Turkish Catholic Church is trying to regain possession of 200 properties confiscated by the government in Ankara in the 1930s. But several elements of the community think the church should focus its efforts on the legal recognition of the community.

A few days ago, some Catholic bishops, including Msgr. Ruggero Franceschini, president of the Episcopal Conference, met with the Commission for Reconciliation of the Turkish parliament. The Commission has been working to study the return of properties confiscated by the government of Ataturk to non-Muslim communities (see: 29/08/2011 Historic decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities). But Catholics are not in the list of “non-Muslim communities” because at the time they were recognized as a “foreign” community.

The Turkish Church has submitted a list of over 200 properties (churches, schools, orphanages, hospitals, cemeteries, …) based on a list drawn up in 1913 between the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and France, erstwhile protector of the Church Catholic.

The problem of return of these properties is very complex: first, these assets have passed from hand to hand and it is not certain that they can be returned. But the most important issue is the lack of legal status of the Catholic Church in the current Turkish law. To date, the Catholic Church in Turkey can not own property and these can only be made payable to Turkish private citizens (often secular or church-related nominee), with ambiguous consequences.

Several political parties and newspapers have taken on the requests of the bishops, judging them “greedy”. The request has embarrassed other Christian communities.

Some Church Turkish figures have stressed to AsiaNews that the real problem that needs to be addressed it is obtaining legal recognition by the State. Sources close to the episcopate state that this topic was not even addressed at the meeting with the Commission for Reconciliation,.

“On this recognition — said the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello — there are pour parler dating for decades. Even the pope, in meeting the new Turkish ambassador to the Vatican [January 7, 2010], once again asked for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church. This recognition should have already been granted because a country like Turkey has relations with the Holy See for 60 years and really should give this recognition : it would be a logical consequence because the Church in Turkey is in a sense as a derivation of the Holy See. “

According to experts, the forthcoming Turkish constitutional reform could lead to openings for the legal recognition of the Catholic Church.

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

South Asia

India: Trinamool Student Leader Issues ‘Fatwa’ For Teachers Supporting Cpm

Kolkata: A student leader of the Trinamool Congress has virtually issued a fatwa against anyone supporting the CPM in Bengal’s colleges. It is a fatwa that the party leadership has not opposed as yet. Shanku Panda, the president of the Trinamool Chatra Parishad, yesterday told a meeting at Bhangar near Kolkata that teachers could support CPM, but at their own risk. “You are a teacher and do CPM politics, then we will fight you to the end. We will not yield an inch to you,” Mr Panda had said. His statement has been condemned by the CPM and a large section of civil society.

Mr Panda’s statement came three days after an angry exchange between Trinamool leader Arabul Islam and a section of teachers of Bhangar Mahavidyalay. During the exchange, Arabul Islam, who is the president of the college’s governing body, is reported to have hurled a jug of water at a woman lecturer and injured her. Debjani Dey, the injured teacher, did not file an FIR because she was afraid to do so. Some teachers said how could they file an FIR against the president of the governing body of their own college. Arabul Islam, however, claimed Debjani Dey had not suffered any injury. He claimed she was a hardcore CPM supporter and had wagged her finger at him during the angry exchange. He also claimed that he was unhappy with the teachers’ attendance at college.

However, sources in the college say the real issue is upcoming elections to the West Bengal College and University Teachers’ Association (WBCUTA). The system for this election is, each college selects representatives who will vote for the WBCUTA candidates. The Bhangar college teachers had selected their representatives but Arabul Islam was unhappy with that selection. He wanted different representatives. The teachers were actually discussing this is the staff room when Islam barged in with a number of outsiders, allegedly abused the teachers present there and hurled the jug in rage at them. Arabul Islam also, apparently, incited the students. Coincidentally, Islam’s son is a student at the Bhangar college. Two days after the incident, students plastered the college walls with posters condemning the teachers of the college for the face-off with Arabul Islam. And yesterday, the Trinamool Chatra Parishad held a protest march in the area, culminating in Shanku Panda’s speech warning teachers not to support the CPM. The Bhangar College incident comes after Trinamool supporters attacked the headmaster of a school in Jadavpur in Kolkata in December last year and the principal of a college in Raigunj in January.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: Kashmir Religious Leaders Deny Sectarian Tension

Srinagar: Amid talk of tension between Kashmir Valley’s predominant Barelvi Muslims and the fast spreading Ahle Hadith school of thought, their leaders have dismissed it as “false propaganda” and say Kashmiris can ill afford sectarian strife after two decades of bloodbath. There have been news reports that some central agencies are propping up the Barelvis to oppose the influence of the Jamiat Ahle Hadith, which is generally perceived as less tolerant of the Sufi ethos of the majority of Kashmiri Muslims. But Abdul Rehman Bhat, general secretary of the Jamiat Ahle Hadith here, said his organisation does not believe in sectarian conflict and does not concern itself with what others do. “The Jamiat Ahle Hadith has been growing by leaps and bounds since its establishment. A decade back we had 150 mosques and 30 schools. The total membership of the organisation was 2,000 to 3,000 then. Today we manage 700 mosques and 125 schools and the membership has gone up to over 1,500,000,” Bhat said. The Jamiat Ahle Hadith, ideologically close to the Wahabi sect in Saudi Arabia, was established in the valley in 1946 although it was formally registered as a non-political religious organisation in 1958.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italian Troops to Stay in Afghanistan After 2014

(AGI) Rome — NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he believes Italy will maintain a military presence in Afghanistan after all combat troops are withdrawn in 2014.

“Based on my experience, I think Italy will want to stay on to train Afghan troops also after 2014,” said Rasmussen in an interview with SkyTg24. “Current operations will end in 2014,” added NATO’s Secretary General, “and at that point the Afghan Army will assume responsibility and we will stay on with training duties. I will discuss the terms of this deployment with the Italian government.” Rasmussen is in Rome for a series of meetings in view of the May 20-21 NATO summit in Chicago .

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

Pakistan: No to Forced Conversions to Islam and Marriage Without Consent, Says Justice and Peace

Catholic activists urge the Supreme Court to stop violations and protect abuse victims. They appeal on behalf of three young Hindu women forced to marry three Muslim men against their will. In a “male dominated, violent and bigoted environment,” women cannot truly exercise free will.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — In a press release sent to AsiaNews, Fr Emmanuel Yousaf Masi and Peter Jacob, respectively the national director and executive secretary of the Catholic Church’s National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), call on the Supreme Court of Pakistan to stop forced conversions, protect the victims of abuses, ensure justice and enforce respect for human rights. In the statement, the Christian activists urge the highest court in the land to reopen the case of three young Hindu women (Rinkel Kumari, Asha Haleema and Lata) who were forced to convert to Islam and marry three Muslim men.

For the NCJP officials, Pakistan’s legal system has become a source of injustice because the principle of ‘free consent’ is applied loosely or selectively, in disregard of the social realities and the circumstances of life.

In fact, not only in the “above mentioned cases but in many cases of so-called conversions of minority women, the courts have overlooked ascertaining the age of the converted and whether the marrying male (Bashir Ahmad) had taken permission from his first wife according to Muslim Personal Law,” the two NCJP officials write.

Applying the principle of free will without looking at the evidence in a social context in which religious freedom and gender equality are a pipe dream can result in the miscarriage of justice.

In a “male dominated, violent and bigoted environment,” the law and the courts cannot work on that assumption that armed and unarmed, minority and majority, men and women enjoy the same scope of free will.

The ruling by the Supreme Court on 18 April to hand over the women to their husbands raises grave concerns among religious minorities at a time of rising “religious intolerance” and demographic decline.

For this reason, the NCJP wants the court to examine the case in question more closely and look more carefully at the repercussions its ruling might have. For the Catholic agency, the decision should have been informed by the “legal principles of safeguarding the vulnerable.”

For Fr Masi and Peter Jacob, “The Supreme Court or the Government can control the damage to religious diversity by defining forced conversion according to international standards of religious freedom which inter alia includes a right to re-convert” to one’s former religion.

In this sense, “If a conversion comes simultaneously with marriage and the newly converted cannot meet her parents, then it is not an exercise of free choice of religion”.

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

Far East

North Koreans Destroy Effigy of South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak

An outpouring of anti-South Korean feeling culminates in a lifelike effigy of Lee Myung-bak being attacked by a dog, run over by a tank and stoned by protesters.

North Korean state media has intensified its criticism of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak after he criticised the state’s failed rocket launch on April 13.

Amid mounting speculation over a possible third nuclear test by Pyongyang, state broadcaster KRT aired footage of massive anti-Lee rallies in various locations on Friday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Satellite Photos Show Preparations for New North Korea Nuclear Test

A train of mining carts and other preparations showed on images of the Punggye-ri site, following reports by South Korean intelligence earlier this month of a new tunnel being dug.

Analysis of the photos, taken between March 8 and April 18, indicate that around 8,000 cubic metres (282,500 cubic feet) of rubble has been excavated at the site, where nuclear tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009.

“While it’s very clear from looking at these photos that the North has stepped up preparations for a nuclear test over the past few months, it’s unclear exactly when the blast will occur,” said Joel Wit, editor of the 38 North website, which published the pictures. They were obtained by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

China Boosts Investments in South Sudan to 8 Bn Dollars

(AGI) Juba — China aims at bringing South Sudan into its sphere of influence. Beijing, considered to be the man financier of Khartoum, has offered funds totalling 8 billion dollars to South Sudan, in order to develop agricultural and infrastructure projects through Chinese companies. South Sudan Information minister Benjamin Barnaba said so.

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

China Offers Billions in Loans to South Sudan

South Sudan’s information minister has said the country has been offered $8 billion in development funds by China. The loans follow President Salva Kiir’s first official visit to Beijing.

Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said on Saturday that China had offered South Sudan $8 billion (roughly 6 billion euros) in development loans. The minister said the money would fund initiatives including roads, hydropower, infrastructure, telecommunications and agriculture projects.

South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, visited China last week for the first time.

“China has offered financial funding to the value of $8 billion for major development projects,” Benjamin said, adding that the funds would be provided over two years, with Chinese companies carrying out the projects.

The minister also said China would “consider” a request to finance an alternative oil pipeline to Kenya’s northern coast that would bypass Sudan’s pipelines.

South Sudan’s government is almost entirely dependent on oil revenues — and on transportation via Sudanese pipelines. The recent, increased tensions with Sudan have almost halted oil production, with fierce fighting in the oil-rich area on the border between the two countries. South Sudan gained independence in a referendum last year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nigeria’s President One of World’s 100 Most Powerful Men

(AGI) Abuja — Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is one of world’s 100 most powerful men according to Time magazine. The African politician is now on a list that includes leaders such as Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the president of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.These are people, as reported by ‘Time’, “who play a strategic role in changing our world.” According to the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the acknowledgment to Jonathan reflects “Africa’s political Renaissance when the people of the continent are beginning to enjoy the fruits of their resources and their hard work.” .

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

Uganda: Muslims to Museveni: Keep Off Our Issues

Muslims opposed to the leadership of Mufti Shaban Mubajje have asked President Museveni to stop meddling in their affairs, warning that this might “cost his government dearly.”

The leaders accuse the President of allying with Mufti Mubajje to cause confusion within the Muslim community by manipulating the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) constitution to sell off Muslim property. Speaking to Muslims at Kibuli Mosque on Thusday, Hajj Muhammad Kisambira, the secretary general for the Kibuli-based faction, said of all the regimes which have governed Uganda, it is the NRM government which has despised Muslims to the extent of making non-Muslims supervise their affairs.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Venezuela: Trial of ‘The Turk’, One of the World’s Top Drug Lords, Threatens to Expose Chavez Regime’s Involvement in Cocaine Trafficking

Claims that Venezuela has deliberately turned a blind eye to the trafficking of vast quantities of US-bound cocaine have been furiously denied by the country’s president, who insists it is just another Washington plot to discredit him.

Now, though, backing for the US version of events has come from an unlikely, if arguably well-informed source — an alleged Venezuelan drug lord who claims that dozens of “top level” figures in the Chavez government, including ministers, generals and judges, were on his payroll.

Walid “The Turk” Makled, a portly Venezuelan of Syrian descent described as “the king of kingpins” by US officials, went on trial in Venezuelan earlier this month, where he faces indictment over a $1.4 billion (£1 billion) drug empire that he claims was built with help from Chavez officials.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Immigrants Land in Malta and Gozo

Confusion reigned today as authorities were led to believe for some time during the day that 52 immigrants who landed in Malta this morning had actually been here and were trying to escape.

The migrants were intercepted in Manikata and near Qbajjar. Although sources said during the day they were trying to escape, the police confirmed in a statement in the evening that the two groups 29 in Manikata and 23 in Gozo, had arrived illegally.

The immigrants claimed they were from Palestine, Egypt and Libya.

The police, with the help of the Armed Forces of Malta rounded up the immigrants and gave them water as they waited for coaches to take them to the police headquarters for questioning.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Italy: Napolitano in Rome’s Mosque, Strengthen Ties With South

President consoles Tunisian woman who seeks ‘missing’ son

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The Islamic Cultural Conference Room inside Rome’s Grand Mosque is packed with people. All are keenly awaiting the arrival of President Giorgio Napolitano.

There are high representatives of the Islamic community in Italy, as well as men and women who just want to celebrate an historic moment: the visit by Italy’s head of state. President Napolitano arrives with Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri and the Minister for Integration, Andrea Riccardi. And it is Riccardi’s speech that puts the seal on a new pact of “integration” and living together. Riccardi recalls the 1970s, when the decision was taken to build this great mosque in Rome: “The times and people’s outlooks have changed so much since then”. The laying of the first stone by President Sandro Pertini in 1984 has been followed by a visit by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro in 1997, and now this one by President Napolitano today. Riccardi remarks how “the mosque’s dome fits in well with all the other church domes in Rome,” making the capital city “a model for integration between religions and cultures”.

“Integration arises from differences. Many predicted after the September 11 attacks that there would be a clash between the West and Islam. Ten years later, the Arab Spring has drawn a different scenario: reasons for living together and getting on have multiplied”. President Napolitano appreciated this reference to the Arab Spring. We are “focusing closely on the new governments that are being formed in the countries of the Arab Spring, such as that in Tunisia”. In a reference to his upcoming visit to Tunisia, the president noted the will that existed and the efforts being made “to strengthen relations between the two shores of the Mediterranean”. All of the ensuing speeches concentrated on the theme of “dialogue”. Mohammad al Gramdi, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador and Chair of the Islamic Cultural Centre noted “the tolerance and friendliness of Italian society”. “The Islamic community is among the most genuine components of Italian society”. “We hope to receive the support of the tax advantages that are offered to other faiths and cultures”. The Imam of the mosque, Al’a al-Din Muhammad Isma’Il al Ghobashi, spoke of “postive integration, which does not mean erasing one’s roots”. Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wahid Pallavicini of the Italian Islamic Religious Communities called the president’s visit a “sign of hope” and of “closeness to the whole of the Muslim community on Italian territory”. During the visit, a woman from Tunisia stopped President Napolitano and asked him in French for help in getting news about her son who had immigrated to Italy, with whom she had lost contact. The head of state listened carefully to her request and replied in French: “Do not cry”. The woman is mother to twenty-year-old Mohammad Rawati, who arrived in Lampedusa on March 11 2011 with another forty immigrants, before being transferred to Trapani. In Italy for the past three months to find her son, the woman is sure she saw his face on at TV news report made as the immigrants were boarding a bus. Since then, the woman has heard nothing, but news reports speak of the boy having been identified by other immigrants in Trapani.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Migrants Land in the Area of Agrigento, One Dead

(AGI) Agrigento — A new tragic landing occurred on the coasts of Agrigento. During the night, a boat made landfall on Pisciotto beach in Licata (Agrigento). Police officers rescued 18 persons, including 8 minors, all Egyptian males. However, at the break of dawn, a few people reported a dead body on the beach. The body belongs to one of the foreigners who probably drowned during disembarkation. Indeed, the foreigners allegedly reported having been thrown out into the water in the proximity of the beach. The site is being patrolled by police agents of the Licata Police Precinct.

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

The Number of Foreigners in Italy Trebles in a Decade

ROME — Italy family sizes are shrinking but the population is still managing to grow thanks to immigration, the national statistics office said Friday, giving figures for 2011 compared with 2001.

The population stood at 59.464 million in October 2011, with 2.468 million more people than in 2001 — largely thanks to the number of foreigners in Italy, which grew three-fold over the last decade, rising to 3.769 million.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Gaia’s Bill of Rights

So inclusive are universal rights and entitlement that, now, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has established a declaration to secure rights for Mother Earth.[3] Yes, Mother Earth. Whereas the late Geologian Father Thomas Berry outlines three rights for every component of the Earth community— namely, right to “be,” right to habitat, and right to fulfill its role—Mother Earth’s rights are copious and not to be ignored.[4]

Article 2 of the declaration outlines her inherent rights to existence, genetic integrity, life, respect, self-regulation, water, clean air, integral health (minus contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste), freedom from human disruption and reparations for damaging human activities tantamount to “torture” and/or “cruel treatment.”

In tandem with International Mother Earth Day (April 22) is a push to attain a million signatures in support of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth—just in time for the upcoming United Nations conference, Rio +20 (20-22 June 2012), plugged as “the future we want”—namely, poverty eradication through a Green economy in the context of sustainable development.

Signers acknowledge human obligations as outlined in Article 3 of the Earth-doting document. Since humans bear the brunt of responsibility, it stands to reason that all States and public/ private institutions must commit to living in accordance with rights and obligations being put forth. The charge is to establish and apply effective norms and laws for defense, protection and conservation of Mother Earth. This includes eliminating nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and promoting non-capitalistic economic systems considered friendly to the cause.


According to Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women of America, sustainable development is a specious term the UN uses to say that wealth and resources must be redistributed; and populations must be controlled. Indeed, sustainability is the globalist’s central organizing, ruling principle, its three “E’s” being environment, economy, and equity. The mission is to integrate eco-nomic policies (with emphasis on “eco”) and to define for all world citizens the proper (i.e., politically-correct) conduct, supposedly “voluntary,” but with forced equity and selective tolerance in view. In a word, producers are expected to provide for non-producers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sociopathocracy, Part 1 and 2

Is sociopathic too strong a word to use for town and county officials who would set about to utterly destroy a man’s life, knowing full well what they are doing and continuing anyway? Here is the most complete account I have found of the Andrew Wordes case. But read on!]

Two recent articles by Doug Casey, the investing and financial planning strategist who founded Casey Research, probably qualify as Keepers (they are here and here) Every American ought to read these articles and print copies for future reference.

Begin with Pareto’s Law, the infamous 80-20 principle which says that 80 percent of the work in any organization is done by 20 percent of its people. Twenty percent of a sales force achieves 80 percent of its sales. Likewise, 20 percent of any population is responsible for around 80 percent of its crime rate. In my experience in the classroom, I would estimate that approximately 20 percent of students accomplish 80 percent of whatever is accomplished in one of my philosophy classes. I wouldn’t be surprised if 80 percent of all advances of Western civilization can be attributed to 20 percent of the population. The rest are just along for the ride.

Pareto’s Law, according to Casey, has applications in social ethics, and personal motivation. Eighty percent of us humans are basically decent and mean well. Even if we sin, we are not overtly malicious and will not purposefully harm others except to defend ourselves and our own. We have an inner moral compass that checks our behavior, at least most of the time.

The other 20 percent lacks this moral compass. Most of this other 20 percent act benign most of the time. They don’t torture animals, for example. They don’t go out of their way to look for trouble, and if no opportunities arise, they won’t act differently from the 80 percent. But in the last analysis they are opportunists. They identify with authority. They are attracted to occupations and positions that allow them to wield unchecked power over others. They may work to gain your trust, and then stab you in the back when you become an inconvenience; they will enjoy having done it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]