Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/24/2008

USA
5th Grader Suspended for Anti-Obama Shirt
Bush Calls Bailout Vital to Economy, Will Meet With McCain and Obama
Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind
Obama Worked Closely With Terrorist Bill Ayers
Online Critics Take Aim at $700 Billion Financial Bailout Proposal
September 11 Suspect Grills U.S. Judge on Religion
The Jihad Prevention Act
 
Europe and the EU
Brussels is ‘EU Burglary Capital’
Bulgaria: Imam Shortage Forces 200 Mosques to Close
Dutch Cabinet to Ban Foreign Polygamists
London’s Olympic Park Toilets to Turn Away From Mecca Out of Respect for Islamic Law
New Dutch Right-Wing Party’s Donations Laid Bare
UK: Family Barred From Burying Their Dead Stepfather on a Saturday… Because He Isn’t a Muslim
 
Balkans
The Hague vs. Karadzic: a Grim Update
 
North Africa
Morocco: Probe Into Children Marriage Fatwa
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Iran Predicts ‘End of US Empire’
Palestinians Unlikely to Let it be Over Sir Paul’s Concert in Israel
PNA: EU Supports Palestinian Private Sector
Soldier Who Eliminated Terrorist Recalls Attack
 
Middle East
Jordan’s Outreach to Hamas: the Politics of Distress
Mortgage Crisis: Emirates Central Bank Helps Markets
 
South Asia
Christophobia in India and the European Parliament
Pakistan: Suspected Marriott Bombing ‘Mastermind’ Emerges
 
Far East
N. Korea Bars Inspectors From Nuclear Plant
Philippines to Seek UN Terror Tag on Moro Chiefs
 
Latin America
China, Venezuela Raise Investment Fund to $12 Bln
Venezuela: Iran to Finance 25 Factories
 
Immigration
Immigration: “A National Crisis”, Malta Opposition Leader
Immigration: Italy; New Regulations for Reunions, Refugees
Italy: Illegal Immigration Jumps 60% in 2008
Italy Risks Legal Battle Over Expulsion of EU Citizens
Norway: a More Coherent Official Line on Immigration?
UN: European Union Urged to Accept Iraqi Refugees
 
Culture Wars
Dictatorship of the Rainbow
PETA Urges Ben & Jerry’s to Use Human Milk
Sir Ian McKellen Tours Schools to Tell Children Being Gay is OK
 
General
Kazakhstan Steering a Middle Course Between Russia and the West
Liberation by Internet

Thanks to Abu Elvis, C. Cantoni, da, Dan Riehl, Fausta, Fjordman, Henrik, Holger Danske, Insubria, JEH, Srdja Trifkovic, The Observer, TV, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Details are below the fold.
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USA

5th Grader Suspended for Anti-Obama Shirt

AURORA (MyFOXColorado.com) — An 11-year-old in Aurora says his first amendment rights are being trampled after he was suspended for wearing a homemade shirt that reads “Obama is a terrorist’s best friend.”

[Return to headlines]


Bush Calls Bailout Vital to Economy, Will Meet With McCain and Obama

President Bush said yesterday that the credit crisis that had seized world markets could devastate the U.S. economy unless Congress acted quickly to approve a $700 billion bailout plan for the nation’s financial system, a message aimed at reluctant lawmakers as much as a deeply skeptical public.

“Our entire economy is in danger,” Bush said in an address from the White House, emphasizing that the massive bailout was not targeted at “any individual company or industry. It is aimed at preserving America’s overall economy.”

Warning that “America could slip into a financial panic,” Bush blamed the crisis on “easy credit” in the housing markets and urged Congress to act soon because the “widespread loss of confidence” in the financial sector could affect all levels of the domestic economy and cause the nation to “experience a long and painful recession.”

“Given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later,” he said, warning of job losses ranging in the millions.

Bush delivered the prime-time speech, his first in over a year, after a clamor on Capitol Hill for him to acknowledge the most serious financial crisis in decades and to personally make the case for the government intervention his administration has proposed.

[Return to headlines]


Homeland Security Detects Terrorist Threats by Reading Your Mind

Baggage searches are SOOOOOO early-21st century. Homeland Security is now testing the next generation of security screening — a body scanner that can read your mind.

Most preventive screening looks for explosives or metals that pose a threat. But a new system called MALINTENT turns the old school approach on its head. This Orwellian-sounding machine detects the person — not the device — set to wreak havoc and terror.

MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security’s directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers.

It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye — signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack.

But this is no polygraph test. Subjects do not get hooked up or strapped down for a careful reading; those sensors do all the work without any actual physical contact. It’s like an X-ray for bad intentions.

Currently, all the sensors and equipment are packaged inside a mobile screening laboratory about the size of a trailer or large truck bed, and just last week, Homeland Security put it to a field test in Maryland, scanning 144 mostly unwitting human subjects.

[Return to headlines]


Muslim Group Seeks Probe of ‘Radical Islam’ DVD

Obsession, Radical Islam’s War Against the West

A U.S. Muslim advocacy group Tuesday asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether a nonprofit group that distributed a controversial DVD about Islam in newspapers nationwide is a “front” for an Israel-based group with a stealth goal of helping Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

The promoters of “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West” denied trying to promote any presidential campaign. They said it’s also incorrect to tie the DVD campaign to Jerusalem-based educational group Aish HaTorah International, although current and former employees are involved with the project.

           — Hat tip: Dan Riehl[Return to headlines]


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***Unclosed Item!***Muslim Group Reports Jump in Workplace Bias Complaints

CAIR: Reports of Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes and Violence Decrease in 2007

WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 24, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) — A report released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group shows an increase in American Muslim complaints of workplace bias in 2007.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report, called “Without Fear of Discrimination,” outlines 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2007. That is the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in the Washington-based group’s report — the only annual study of its kind. (Note: The higher number of cases is due in part to inclusion of a new category of cases related to mailed, faxed and e-mailed hate messages. Without the inclusion of those cases, the total number of cases dipped slightly over the previous year.)

According to the study, discrimination in the workplace against those already employed increased by 18 percent, with 384 cases reported in 2006 and 452 cases reported in 2007. There was also a 34 percent increase in reports of discrimination against those seeking employment. Cases involving denial of religious accommodation in the workplace jumped eight percent.

Since its founding in 1994, one of the main categories of CAIR’s work has been employment discrimination and religious accommodation issues in the workplace. One of the most recent cases CAIR is dealing with involves religious accommodation for Muslim workers at JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Colorado and Nebraska. Another recent case involved allegations of a new “English-only” policy for Somali Muslim workers at a Macy’s department store in Minnesota.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Neo-Cons, Ex-Israeli Diplomats Push Islamophobic Video

WASHINGTON, Sep 24 (IPS) — A group of hard-line U.S. neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats, among others, are behind the mass distribution, ahead of the November U.S. presidential election, of a controversial DVD that critics have denounced as Islamophobic.

The group, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), is working with another organisation called the Clarion Fund, which produced the 60-minute video and is itself tied closely to an Israeli organisation called Aish Hatorah.

The Fund is currently distributing some 28 million copies of the DVD through newspaper inserts in key electoral ‘‘swing’’ states — states like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida that, according to recent polling, could go either way in November’s presidential election.

According to Delaware incorporation papers, the Clarion Fund is based at the same New York address as Aish Hatorah, a self-described “apolitical” group dedicated to educating Jews about their heritage.

The Clarion Fund’s street address as listed on the group’s website and a DVD mailer for the film is apparently not a physical address, but rather a “virtual address” that goes to a post office box in New York City.

Critics allege that the movie “Obsession” is “hate propaganda” which paints Muslims as violent extremists and, among other things, explicitly compares the threat posed by radical Islam to that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

At least two major metropolitan newspapers solicited to insert the paid advertisement into their product have refused to do so because of a perceived bias in the film.

“Despite the perilous state of American newspapers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch advertising department took an ethical stand and refused to distribute the DVD of a film that for two years has troubled American Muslims,” wrote Tim Townsend, a reporter at Missouri’s most influential newspaper earlier this month after it rejected the ad.

While the initial press reports about the mass distribution focused on the Clarion Fund’s financing role, it was EMET that organised and oversaw the distribution, EMET’s spokesman, Ari Morgenstern, told IPS. Morgenstern, a former press officer for the Israeli embassy here, said he contacted IPS at the Clarion Fund’s request.

EMET, according to a recent press release, is “a non-partisan, non-profit organisation dedicated to policy research and analysis on democracy and the Middle East.”

According to filings made in compliance with the organisation’s tax-exempt 501(c)3 status, “the organisation hosts seminars, debates and educational films featuring Middle East experts in order to educate policymakers and the public at large on the common threats facing Israel and the United States.”

           — Hat tip: da[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Harvard Years: Questions Swirl

By: Kenneth R.. Timmerman

How exactly did Barack Obama pay for his Harvard Law School education?

The way the Obama campaign has answered the question was simply hard work and student loans.

But new questions have been raised about Obama’s student loans and Obama’s ties to a radical Muslim activist who reportedly was raising money for Obama’s Harvard studies during the years 1988 to 1991.

The allegations first surfaced in late March, when former Manhattan Borough president Percy Sutton told a New York cable channel that a former business partner who was “raising money” for Obama had approached him in 1988 to help Obama get into Harvard Law School.

In the interview, Sutton says he first heard of Obama about twenty years ago from Khalid Al-Mansour, a Black Muslim and Black Nationalist who was a “mentor” to the founders of the Black Panther party at the time the party was founded in the early 1960s.

Sutton described al-Mansour as advisor to “one of the world’s richest men,” Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Prince Alwaleed catapulted to fame in the United States after the September 11 attacks, when New York mayor Rudy Guiliani refused his $10 million check to help rebuild Manhattan, because the Saudi prince hinted publicly that America’s pro-Israel policies were to blame for the attacks.

Sutton knew Al-Mansour well, since the two men had been business partners and served on several corporate boards together.

As Sutton remembered, Al-Mansour was raising money for Obama’s education and seeking recommendations for him to attend Harvard Law School.

“I was introduced to (Obama) by a friend who was raising money for him,” Sutton told NY1 city hall reporter Dominic Carter. “The friend’s name is Dr. Khalid al-Mansour, from Texas.”

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told Newsmax that Sutton’s account was “bogus” and a “fabrication that has been retracted” by a spokesman for the Sutton family.

He referred Newsmax to a pro-Obama blog published on Politico.com by reporter Ben Smith.

In a September 3 blog entry, Smith wrote that “a spokesman for Sutton’s family, Kevin Wardally” said that Sutton had been mistaken when he made those comments about Obama and Khalid Al-Mansour.

Smith suggested the retraction “put the [Obama/Al-Mansour] story to rest for good.”

Wardally told Smith that the “information Mr. Percy Sutton imported [sic] on March 25 in a NY1 News interview regarding his connection to Barack Obama is inaccurate. As best as our family and the Chairman’s closest friends can tell, Mr. Sutton, now 86 years of age, misspoke in describing certain details and events in that television interview.”

Asked which parts of Percy Sutton’s statements were a “fabrication,” LaBolt said “all of it. Al Mansour doesn’t know Obama. And Sutton’s spokesman retracted the story. The letter [to Harvard, which Percy Sutton says he wrote on behalf of Obama], the ‘payments for loans’ — all of it, not true,” he added.

Newsmax contacted the Sutton family and they categorically denied Wardally’s claims to Smith and the Politico.com. So there was no retraction of Sutton’s original interview, during which he revealed that Khalid Al-Mansour was “raising money” for Obama and had asked Sutton to write a letter of recommendation for Obama to help him get accepted at Harvard Law School.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


Obama Worked Closely With Terrorist Bill Ayers

Records show collaboration on funding leftists despite claim he’s just ‘a guy’ in neighborhood

JERUSALEM — In spite of Sen. Barack Obama’s claims to the contrary, the Democratic presidential nominee had a close working relationship with former Weathermen terrorist leader William Ayers when the two served alongside each other on a hundred-million-dollar education foundation, according to the group’s own archived records.

The records also show Obama’s and Ayers’ foundation granted money to radical leftist activist causes.

News reports, archived records, interviews and Ayers’ own curriculum vitae document that Ayers was the founder of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, or CAC, which bills itself as a school reform organization. Ayers also served as co-chairman of the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, one of the two operational arms of the CAC, from its formation in 1995 until 2000.

In 1995, Obama was appointed as the CAC’s first chairman.

In response to a query by National Review Online writer Stanley Kurtz, the Obama campaign issued a statement claiming Ayers was not involved with Obama’s “recruitment” to the CAC board. The statement said Deborah Leff and Patricia Albjerg Graham, who served as presidents of other foundations, recruited Obama.

Last April, Obama dismissed Ayers as just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” and “not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis.”

But Kurtz reviewed the CAC archives at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which houses CAC board meeting minutes and other documentation from the education foundation. He found that along with Leff and Graham, Ayers was one of a working group of five who assembled the initial board of the CAC, which hired Obama…

[Return to headlines]


Online Critics Take Aim at $700 Billion Financial Bailout Proposal

Internet criticism of the Bush administration’s proposed $700 billion financial bailout package is growing, with skepticism crossing normal ideological boundaries.

On Tuesday, the conservative RedState.com pointed out that the Republican Party 2008 platform, adopted just weeks earlier, says “we do not support government bailouts of private institutions.” An article on the liberal site DailyKos.com said there was “deep skepticism” toward the Mother of All Bailouts. Paleo-conservative doyen Pat Buchanan called the plan’s backers “foolish and incompetent financiers and politicians,” while a Huffington Post contributor said that the Bush administration “put a gun to the head of Congress.”

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who presciently warned five years ago that taxpayers would be “forced to bail out investors, wrote an article for CNN.com saying that the bailout will create “even greater instability in the financial system in the long term.” The libertarians at LewRockwell.com showered their readers with a deluge of posts, including ones titled “The Mugging of America” and “The Rescue Scam.”

Mostly absent have been enthusiastic endorsements of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s three-page bailout bill that was submitted to Congress. The conservative Heritage Foundation said that “incompetent executives” needed to lose their multimillion-dollar severance packages, a requirement not in the Paulson plan, and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute offered a cautious defense with this tepid conclusion: “Something good may yet come out of all this.”

For his part, Paulson has painted a nearly apocalyptic scenario of what could happen were the taxpayer-funded bailout not approved. His testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday said that bad loans have already created deep financial uncertainty, and “if that situation were to persist, it would threaten all parts of our economy.”

The online skepticism—or, in some cases, outright condemnation—seems to be mirrored on Capitol Hill…

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]


September 11 Suspect Grills U.S. Judge on Religion

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) — Accused September 11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked a U.S. military judge whether he belonged to an “extremist” religious group, at an unusual Guantanamo war-crimes court hearing on Tuesday

Mohammed, acting as his own attorney, asked Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann about his views on religion and torture at a pre-trial hearing of five accused September 11 co-conspirators.

“We are well-known as extremists and fanatics, and there are also Christians and Jews that are very extremist,” Mohammed told the judge.

“If you, for example, were part of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson’s groups, then you would not at all be impartial toward us,” he said, referring to U.S. evangelical Christian leaders who have denounced Islam as violent.

Kohlmann replied that he did not belong to a congregation. “When I have attended church, I was a member of various Lutheran churches and Episcopal churches, and I have not attended any of them for a long time because I have moved so often,” the judge said.

Kohlmann dismissed as “inaccurate,” an assertion by co-defendant Ramzi Binalshibh that he had a “Jewish name.”

Kohlmann was also asked about how he followed news coverage on the day of the attacks and replied that his memory was imprecise. He also said he had no opinion on the facts of the September 11 incident, which triggered U.S. President George W. Bush’s “war on terror.”

Binalshibh, Mohammed and three other defendants — Mustafa Ahmed al Hawsawi, Walid bin Attash and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali — are charged with conspiring with al Qaeda to kill civilians in the attacks.

The men face 2,973 counts of murder, one for each person killed when hijacked airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Prosecutors want to execute them if they are convicted.

           — Hat tip: JEH[Return to headlines]


The Jihad Prevention Act

By Kathy Shaidle

International reaction was almost uniformly negative last week when news broke that Britain had officially granted Muslim Sharia courts permission to rule on everything from divorce to domestic violence. After all, in its strictest form, Sharia law requires the stoning of women accused of adultery, and the execution of converts from Islam, among other draconian punishments for offences that aren’t even considered crimes in the West. In the U.K. and abroad, pundits and politicians denounced Britain’s capitulation, but only one elected official responded with a daring proposal aimed at preventing Sharia law from gaining such a foothold in America.

That that politician was Rep. Tom Tancredo won’t surprise observers of American politics. The Colorado congressman has long been an outspoken critic of the unofficial “open-borders” policy that encourages millions of undocumented immigrants — including would-be terrorists — to enter the U.S. each year. During his short-lived presidential campaign in 2007, Tancredo repeatedly raised the immigration issue during televised debates. He also aired a provocative television ad in which he promised to “stop all visas to nations that sponsor terrorism and [to] arrest and deport any alien who preaches violence and hatred.”

The ad earned Tancredo scorn on the Left and also on some parts of the Right. Undaunted, he has now proposed a “Jihad Prevention Act” that “would bar the entry of foreign nationals who advocate Sharia law [and] make the advocacy of Sharia law by radical Muslims already in the United States a deportable offense.” In his official announcement on September 18, Tancredo observed: “This is a case where truth is truly stranger than fiction. Today the British people are learning a hard lesson about the consequences of massive, unrestricted immigration.”

“When you have an immigration policy that allows for the importation of millions of radical Muslims,” he explained, “you are also importing their radical ideology — an ideology that is fundamentally hostile to the foundations of western democracy — such as gender equality, pluralism, and individual liberty. The best way to safeguard America against the importation of the destructive effects of this poisonous ideology is to prevent its purveyors from coming here in the first place.”

Tancredo hopes his bill will spur public debate, and “send a clear message that the only law we recognize here in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws passed by our democratically elected representatives…If you aren’t comfortable with that concept, you aren’t welcome in the United States.”

So far, reaction to the “Jihad Prevention Act” has been muted on both sides, possibly because the media is providing wall-to-wall election coverage. Nonetheless, some prominent supporters have emerged. Having advocated similar measures in the past, the group Muslims Against Sharia praised Tancredo’s initiative. So did scholar Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad. Bostom hailed Tancredo’s “sane approach,” adding, “Thank goodness for Congressman Tancredo’s courage and clarity on this pressing matter!”…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Accused ‘Had Al Qaida Contact Book’

A man accused of directing terrorism possessed a contact book containing important phone numbers of al Qaida members, a court has been told.

The book, belonging to Rangzieb Ahmed, was carried into the UK by an associate whose job was to allegedly help him in directing his al Qaeda activities.

The jury at Manchester Crown Court was told that covert surveillance recordings of the defendant in Dubai and Manchester would also help show that he was an important member of the terror organisation.

Rangzieb Ahmed, 33, of Fallowfield, Manchester admitted to the court that he was a member of Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, a proscribed terror group, but denies being a member of al Qaida. He also denies directing terrorism between April 2004 and August 2006.

His co-defendant, Habib Ahmed, 28, of Cheetham Hill, Manchester also denies being a member of al Qaida. Habib Ahmed, who is unrelated to Rangzieb, denied a charge that he attended a place for terrorist training between April and June 2006.

His wife, Mehreen Haji, 27, of Cheetham Hill, Manchester admits sending money to her husband while he was in Pakistan but denies knowing what the funds were allegedly being used for or suspecting the reason.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Brussels is ‘EU Burglary Capital’

Brussels is not only the hub of European Union business — it is also the burglary capital of the EU, according to a new survey. The Urban Audit report puts Brussels just ahead of London, with 11.2 domestic burglaries per 1,000 residents, among the 27 EU capitals. The wide-ranging survey by the EU statistical body Eurostat includes various quality-of-life data. It says Almere in the Netherlands is the EU’s fastest-growing city. The data released on Tuesday was mostly collected in 2004. Cambridge in the UK tops the list for people employed in the service sector — 94.4%, followed by Luxembourg with 93.3%. In contrast, Greek cities dominate the list for self-employed people, forming the top eight in that category, followed by two Italian cities. Self-employment is very rare in Scandinavia, with rates below 5%. Seven of the 10 cities with the highest unemployment rates are in Poland, the survey says. Urban Audit covers 321 cities, with populations ranging from 50,000 to 10 million in the EU member states, as well as 26 Turkish cities, six in Norway and four in Switzerland. All the cities with the highest proportion of elderly people are in Italy, with the sole exception of Lisbon in Portugal. Five of the 10 fastest-growing cities are in Turkey, but top of the list is Almere in the Netherlands, a city created only in 1984 to accommodate the population overflow from Amsterdam.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Bulgaria: Imam Shortage Forces 200 Mosques to Close

Sofia, 24 Sept. (AKI) — Bulgaria’s highest Muslim authority has announced the closure of 200 mosques due to a lack of religious leaders or imams to lead prayers.

“Although the number of faithful has grown, we are forced to close the mosques due to a lack of religious leaders,” said Bulgaria’s Grand Mufti, Mustafa Haji.

“Many years of Communist rule and a lack of funds are the reasons for this crisis,” he said.

Bulgaria has 1,500 mosques, but only 900 are currently open to the faithful and 200 of those are likely to be shut down indefinitely.

Bulgaria has 8.7 million inhabitants, of whom 12 percent are Muslim. The country joined the European Union in January last year.

Most Muslims in the country are Bulgarians of Turkish origin that have been living in the area since the time of Ottoman rule from the late 14th until the late 19th century.

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


Dutch Cabinet to Ban Foreign Polygamists

The Dutch government is going to close a loophole in the law that currently allows immigrants with more than one wife to obtain Dutch citizenship if they have lived here for more than 15 years.

Justice Minister Nebahat Albayrak stressed that polygamy is not only banned in the Netherlands but is also unacceptable. The move comes after MPs questioned the minsiter regarding 173 people registered in the capital Amsterdam with more than one wife. Thirty-one of them are Dutch nationals.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


First Guide Dog Allowed to Enter UK Mosque

After months of work by The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), guide dog Vargo has become the first guide dog in the UK to enter a mosque after the Islamic Shari’ah Council issued a historic fatwa11 stating “a blind person, in the light of Shariah Law, will be allowed to keep a guide dog to help him and if required to take him to the mosque for his prayers2”.

In this momentous event today (on Wednesday 24 September), Vargo accompanied his 18-year-old owner Mahomed-Abraar Khatri to his local mosque in Leicester, seen as a massive step forward for other blind and partially sighted Muslims. Previously a guide dog has not been able to accompany its owner into a mosque as the Islamic faith recognises dogs as being used for guarding and hunting only. However Vargo — and other guide dogs — are working dogs and so necessary adjustments to encourage independent mobility are supported.

A specially constructed rest area has been set up in the entrance of the mosque for Vargo to stay in whilst Mahomed-Abraar is praying. Previously Mahomed-Abraar — who attends the RNIB College in Loughborough — had to be accompanied to the mosque by a sighted assistant.

           — Hat tip: Holger Danske[Return to headlines]


Italy to Send Army to Fight Mafia

Italy will send 500 troops to the southern Campania region to help police fight the local mafia, the government has announced. The move follows the killings of six African immigrants and an Italian near the city of Naples last week.

The killings — which sparked a riot by immigrants — are blamed on the local mafia, the Camorra, and are believed to be drug-related. On Monday, police made their first arrest in connection with the killings. […]

Clear message — Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni announced a three-month deployment of 500 soldiers to Campania after a cabinet meeting. They will join an extra 400 police and paramilitary carabinieri who have already been deployed in an effort to break the Camorra’s stranglehold on its heartlands around Naples.

Mr Maroni said that strengthening local police with troops had had “excellent results” in the past. The government will be hoping that the move sends a clear message of intent to the crime syndicate in Campania, the BBC’s Mark Duff says. […]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


London’s Olympic Park Toilets to Turn Away From Mecca Out of Respect for Islamic Law

Toilet facilities are being built at London’s Olympic Park so Muslims will not have to face Mecca while sitting on the loo. The Olympic Delivery Authority has said it wants to produce an ideal venue for people of all cultures, faiths, ages and abilities for the 2012 Games and beyond.

The Islamic religion prohibits Muslims from facing the Kiblah — the direction of prayer — when they visit the lavatory.

An ODA spokeswoman confirmed that a ‘percentage of general toilets would not face Mecca’ out of sensitivity. She could not say how many toilets would turn away from the East. Also as part of the design, special washing facilities will be linked to Islamic prayer rooms. It is not the first time toilets have changed direction to accommodate Muslims.

Last year, thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money was used to ensure toilets at Brixton prison in London did not offend Islamic law. Muslim prisoners complained of having to sit sideways on toilets so as to not break code. Faith leaders in the government pressured officials to approve turning the toilets 90 degrees.

But ODA chairman John Armitt said it was about making the London Olympic venue the ‘most accessible and inclusive public park’ for future generations. […]

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


New Dutch Right-Wing Party’s Donations Laid Bare

Dutch television’s current affairs programme, Netwerk, has revealed leaked details of donations to the political party, Proud of the Netherlands (TON). It was set up in October 2007 by former immigration minister and right-wing firebrand Rita Verdonk after she split with the conservative VVD party.

Donations from media tycoon, John de Mol, real estate agent Harry Mens, businesswoman Sylvia Tóth and property magnate Chris Thunnessen are said to be detailed in the party’s books. It is also revealed that hundreds of people have made more modest donations to TON, totalling about 700,000 euros.

Ms Verdonk has described the leaking of the details of her party’s donors as “really awful”. She has also confirmed that, early in her political career, she was indeed a member of the PSP, one of the forerunners of the present Green Left party.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK: Family Barred From Burying Their Dead Stepfather on a Saturday… Because He Isn’t a Muslim

The family of a 75-year-old man has accused the local council of religious discrimination after being refused permission to bury him on a Saturday because he is not a Muslim. Harold ‘Charlie’ Lemaire died last week from pneumonia and his family wanted the burial service to be held on Saturday to make it easier for relatives living across the country to attend.

But plans for a memorial service followed by a burial in the City Road cemetery in Sheffield had to be changed because the local authority has a policy only to allow Muslim and Jewish funerals at weekends and bank holidays.

The ‘extended service’ is offered to Muslims because their faith requires the dead to be buried as soon as possible and Jewish people usually bury their dead within 24 hours. Other councils across the country are understood to also only offer weekend burials to these faiths.

However, the ‘two-tier’ system has been slammed as discriminatory and Islamic groups have also backed calls for all faiths to be treated in the same way. […]

Mrs Maltby, who was told the council policy on allowed for Muslim burials, said: ‘It’s 2008 but there seems to be a group of rules for one section of society and a group of rules for another. ‘I am told that although Muslims like it to take place as quickly as possible their faith allows up to six days for burial. I am not criticising Muslims — my criticism is directed at Sheffield city council. It’s another case of political correctness gone mad.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Bosnia: Muslim Leader’s UN Speech Sparks Controversy

New York, 24 Sept. (AKI) — A Muslim member of Bosnia’s rotating presidency has provoked a controversy after demanding the abolition of the Serb entity, Republika Srpska, and correcting what he called ‘war errors’, during his speech before the United Nations.

Haris Silajdzic, who currently chairs Bosnia’s three-man rotating state presidency, told the General Assembly on Tuesday that the RS was “created by genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

Silajdzic also added that the “UN should correct the errors made during the war in Bosnia and send a clear message that the genocide will not be rewarded”.

The statement provoked immediate condemnation by Bosnian Serb leaders who called for an emergency meeting of the RS Parliament to take a position on Silajdzic’s speech.

The session was set for 7 October, but RS opposition parties said it was an intolerably late date.

According to the Dayton peace accords which ended the 1992-1995 civil war, Bosnia was divided into two entities, the RS and a Muslim-Croat Federation with most state prerogatives.

But majority Muslims and the international community have been pushing for the abolition of entities and the creation of a strong central government.

RS Prime Minister Milorad Dodik said Silajdzic’s speech represented his own views, and not those of the presidency, comprising Muslim, Serb and Croat representatives.

Dodik accused Silajdzic of “trying to devalue any attempts of a consensus in Bosnia-Herzegovina”, saying Muslim political parties have started “an orchestrated campaign to destroy the Dayton agreement and the RS”.

Silajdzic has spearheaded the campaign since the International Court of Justice ruled last year that Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, when up to 8,000 Muslims were killed.

Dodik responded that Bosnian Serbs would not accept the abolition of the RS or revision of the Dayton accords, but would sooner resort to a referendum on independence.

Silajdzic, on the other hand, said that the present situation amounted to “ethnic apartheid in Bosnia-Herzegovina” and was intolerable.

The high representative of the international community in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak, criticised Bosnian political leaders of tending only to their parties’ interests, instead of those of the state.

“I have seen only twice in my life the atmosphere like the one between Sarajevo and Banja Luka (RS’s capital),” said the Slovak diplomat.

“The first time it was in relations between Bratislava and Prague, and the second between Belgrade and Podgorica,” Lajcak said, referring to the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Serbia and Montenegro.

“We all know how it ended,” Lajcak concluded.

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


Kosovo’s Man in Brussels Sets Out Priorities

The main tasks of Kosovo’s new embassy in Brussels will be to lobby the EU for wider recognition of the country’s independence and to raise awareness of Serbia’s attempts to sabotage the young state, Kosovo envoy Ilir Dugolli told EUobserver. Mr Dugolli also plans to keep the EU institutions informed about Serbian attempts to sow division in Kosovo. Belgrade is currently opening new “Co-ordination Centres” in ethnic Serb enclaves that could act as rallying points for anti-government opposition. “We will push EU officials to make sure [Serbia] is more constructive when it comes to Kosovo. It aspires to make Kosovo a black hole, divided internally and then maybe to call us a black hole as a [legal] entity. This is not something the EU would look forward to,” he said. “We will try to raise awareness of any destructive steps that are interfering with our path to the EU.” The EU’s new police and civilian administration mission to Kosovo, EULEX, has itself stayed out of the largest Serb enclave in North Mitrovica so far for fear of aggravating tension. EULEX is gradually taking over from the UN mission to Kosovo, which was set up in 1999 following a NATO bombing campaign to stop a Serb crackdown on the ethnic Albanian majority. Some 1,000 out of 2,000 planned EULEX staff are already on the ground. But the EU mission has no UN mandate and is seen by ethnic Serbs as a de facto guarantor of Kosovo statehood.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


The Hague vs. Karadzic: a Grim Update

by Srdja Trifkovic

The amended ICTY indictment against Radovan Karadzic was made public by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on September 23. Its objective is not only to reinforce the charge of genocide against the former Bosnian-Serb leader himself and ipso facto against the Bosnian-Serb Republic (Republika Srpska), but also to make yet another attempt to assert the culpability of Serbia — and by extension the collective guilt of the entire Serbian nation — in that alleged crime.

The Tribunal is making the assertion of Belgrade’s complicity in an indirect and partly concealed manner. Unlike the original indictments (July-November 1995), amended in May 2000, in the latest modified indictment the OTP (Office of the Prosecutor) narrows down it focus on one “overreaching” and three “common” joint criminal conspiracies. The first of them accuses Karadzic of being part of a criminal conspiracy to carry out genocide in Bosnia in the areas claimed by Serbs. It claims that, in addition to a number of persons from the Republika Srpska, this “joint criminal conspiracy” included several former top officials of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Republic of Serbia, specifically former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, former security service chief Jovica Stanisic, his aide Frenki Simatovic, and prominent politician Vojisal Seselj (Art. 11), as well as an indeterminate number of unnamed and unindicted personnel of the Serbian Interior Ministry, MUP, the Yugoslav People’s Army, JNA, and the Yugoslav Army, VJ (Art. 12).

It is noteworthy that Karadzic’s named alleged co-conspirators from Belgrade are either unable to defend themselves against this new charge, or else have not been accused of it — although they are in ICTY custody…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: Probe Into Children Marriage Fatwa

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, SEPTEMBER 23 — The prosecution of the King of Morocco has ordered an investigation into a “fatwa” allowing the marriage of girls aged only nine, issued in the past days by the self-proclaimed mufti Mohamed Abderrahmane Al Maghraoui. The prosecution’s intervention follows a statement published on Saturday by the Superior Council of Ulema in Morocco which firmly condemned the “fatwa” issued by “a person know for his subversive inclinations”, Aujourd’hui Le Maroc daily wrote today. After a serious of discussions of religious character the council, chaired by Mohamed Yessef, made the decision, recalling that “the current system in the Kingdom of Morocco regarding the legal age for marriage is regulated by a law approved by the Umma in each of its components, devised and elaborated with the participation of the ulema”. Under Moroccan legislation marriage is allowed for persons aged 18 and above. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Iran Predicts ‘End of US Empire’

The Iranian president last night said “a few bullying powers” were trying to ruin his country’s “peaceful nuclear activities”. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also told the UN General Assembly that the “American empire” was “reaching the end of its road” and Iran’s nuclear programme was opposed only by a minority of nations.

He used his high-profile speech at the world body’s annual meeting in New York to denounce Israel, saying “the Zionist regime is on a definite slope to collapse, and there is no way for it to get out of the cesspool created by itself and its supporters”. Mr Ahmadinejad has previously been criticised for saying he wanted to wipe Israel off the map.

Just hours after US President George Bush accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism from the same stage, Mr Ahmadinejad attacked the US and Nato. He said they acted as aggressors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and started wars “in order to win votes in elections”.

During Mr Bush’s speech earlier, Mr Ahmadinejad turned to Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki and gave a thumbs down.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Palestinians Unlikely to Let it be Over Sir Paul’s Concert in Israel

In 1965, the Israeli government banned The Beatles from performing on the grounds they would corrupt the nation’s youth. Now the Palestinians want Sir Paul McCartney back in the UK.

The former Beatle, whose lyrics champion peace and harmony, has provoked the ire of Palestinians with his decision to play his first concert in Israel.

Sir Paul has insisted ahead of his performance tomorrow night at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park that he is “quite apolitical”. But Palestinians charge him with betraying the peace and love heritage of The Beatles by performing in Israel, accusing him of ignoring their suffering.

“A lot of Palestinians who adored The Beatles are let down,” said Lisa Taraki, a professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank and an activist on the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. “Despite appeals, he has not made a single gesture to the Palestinians.”

By contrast, there is great anticipation in Israel ahead of the concert, with radio stations giving prominent airtime to Beatles and Wings favourites and historians debating why exactly the Fab Four were banned in 1965. About 35,000 of the 50,000 tickets have been sold, with a minimum price of £70 for standing space in the park.

Ms Taraki’s group believes that international artists should boycott Israel to pressure it into ending the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in similar fashion to international boycotts of South Africa during the apartheid era.

Her group’s entreaties to Roger Waters in 2006 led the former Pink Floyd star to change his concert venue from Tel Aviv to a joint Arab-Jewish coexistence village, Neve Shalom.

Sir Paul, who was due to arrive last night, has taken a more easy-going approach to his Middle East visit, telling the Jerusalem Post: “I’m always interested in visiting places. I hear from a lot of people Tel Aviv is a great place.”

But William Parry, writing on the pro-Palestinian Electronic Intifada website, asked yesterday: “What will McCartney open with — Pipes of Peace or Ebony and Ivory? Given the reality on the ground, which he refuses to acknowledge, why not open with Live and Let Die to a rapturous Israeli audience?”

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


PNA: EU Supports Palestinian Private Sector

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 23 — The European Union has provided a further EUR 4.7 million to support the payment of the Palestinian Authority’s arrears to the private sector, bringing the EU contribution to this programme to a total of over EUR 24 million in 2008. Since the beginning of 2008, the European mechanism for assistance to the Palestinians, PEGASE, has provided direct support to almost 650 businesses in the occupied Palestinian territory, around 40% of which are in the Gaza Strip and 60% in the West Bank. These are mostly small and medium sized businesses which provide a variety of goods and services to the Palestinian Authority, including maintenance, rent, fuel, furniture and equipment. “As a result of the financial crisis and the particularly difficult trading environment, the Palestinian Authority’s unpaid bills to the private sector led to the bankruptcy of several businesses”, explains John Kjaer, the European Commission Representative in Jerusalem. “This scheme has provided critical support to private businesses, supporting the PA in its efforts to revive the Palestinian economy”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Soldier Who Eliminated Terrorist Recalls Attack

(IsraelNN.com) Lt. Elad Amar shot terrorist Kassem Mughrabi on Monday night after Mughrabi ran down a group of soldiers and civilians near Jerusalem’s Old City, wounding 23. On Tuesday Amar recounted the attack, saying he had realized it was a terrorist attack after seeing Mughrabi run pedestrians down at top speed, making no attempt to stop.

Amar said he saw the terrorist recovering from the initial attack and shot him before he was able to back the car up and continue running people down. Amar’s account contradicted claims from Mughrabi’s family that the attack was merely a traffic accident.

The terrorist was from Jabel Mukaber, the Jerusalem neighborhood that was also home to terrorist Ala Abu Dheim, who murdered several high school students in an attack earlier in the year. The officer who shot Dheim, ending the high school attack, served as one of Amar’s commanders.

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Italy-Lebanon: Nahr Al-Bared Reconstruction Deal Signed

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 23 — Italy and Lebanon today signed a 5.0 million euro cooperation agreement in Beirut to contribute to the reconstruction of the refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, in the northern part of the country, destroyed in the war between extremist militants and the Lebanese army in the summer of 2007. The agreement was signed at the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) by the Italian ambassador to Lebanon, Gabriele Checchia, and the president of CDR, Nabil al-Jisr. “The systematic and continuous contribution of Italy to all components of the Lebanese society and the improvement of the living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps are a clear indication for the Italian commitment to promoting the development and stability of Lebanon,” Checchia said. The Italian embassy in Beirut recalled in a statement that 13 million euro has been provided iin the past two years as part of the Italian efforts to improve the living conditions in the Palestinian camps. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan’s Outreach to Hamas: the Politics of Distress

Until recently, Jordan was the only Arab country that had boycotted the fundamentalist Hamas movement. However, in 2007 Jordanian intelligence held a series of meetings with Hamas leaders to end hostile relations and start afresh.

Jordan’s greatest fear is that it be considered the “alternative homeland” for the Palestinians. That is why all political formulas that Jordan is ready to consider are based on the “two-state solution” — a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and a Jordanian state in the East Bank. Jordan would only consider confederation arrangements with the Palestinians after a Palestinian state is declared west of the Jordan River.

Israel’s regional policies have thrown Jordan off balance. The tahdiya (calm) agreement with Hamas caused great embarrassment to moderate Arab countries and exploded the policy of isolating Hamas. In addition, in its prisoner deal with Hizbullah, Israel agreed to hand over to Hizbullah the bodies of Jordanians. If Israel, for pragmatic reasons, finds it appropriate to engage with Hamas, why shouldn’t Jordan do the same?

Traditionally, Jordan has cooperated closely with Israel to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem, and Israel has formally recognised Jordan’s role as the sole custodian of the Holy City’s Muslim shrines, in line with the 1994 “Arava agreement.” However, Israel’s preference to work with UNESCO as opposed to Jordan regarding repairs to the Al Aqsa staircase was seen to be aimed at ending Jordan’s exclusive role as sole custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim shrines…

[Return to headlines]


Mortgage Crisis: Emirates Central Bank Helps Markets

(By Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 23 — The Central Bank of the rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) intervened with an injection of liquidity of over nine billion euro to reinvigorate the local financial market, weakened in the past few days by the shock waves from the mortgage crisis which swept away giants of international economy, and to keep the local real estate market healthy. Although the financial sector of the Gulf states has suffered ‘‘minimum damage’’ for the low exposition to the international markets, the repercussions were felt mainly on the stock exchanges, which felt to record lows, and in the prospectives for economic growth connected with the construction-real estate-infrastructure sector, the first financial resource for the strongboxes of the countries of the area after oil exports. The new move of the UAE Central Bank aims to guarantee enough funds to allow the continuation of the projects launched or about to be launched in the Emirates and hence avoid a possible stalemate in the economic growth. The paralysis of the interbank loans between the financing institutions engaged in the funding of projects in the Emirates and in the region was actually one of the immediate effects which the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the uncertain fate of AIG caused. The oxygen intake offered by the liquidity from the Central Bank — equal to 5.6% of the Emirates credit market, Standard Chartered Bank calculated — will allow to restore the normal loan operations between the financial operators and to ensure more relaxed investments in the short term. Thus, enough monetary availability is assured also to the mortgage lending companies which continue to oil the aggressive real estate market of the confederation of the seven emirates favouring acquisitions of private investors. The two stock exchanges of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which fell to record lows last week, are also expected to take advantage of the fund, thanks to a strengthening of the banking and real estate shares. The other side of the medal is that it may affect inflation: already galloping above 11 percentage points, it is bound to increase more, some analysts warn. They also stress on the possibility that the Central Bank’s initiative may not be efficient to heal all the wounds of the moment. Extension of further financing is being studied, which could be made available ‘‘if necessary’’, the board of directors of the Bank anticipated. (ANSAmed9.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Praying in Wrong Direction for Decades

MAKKAH — Worshippers at a mosque in Makkah discovered that they have been praying in the wrong direction for 26 years.

When a trained engineer visited Al-Khutaabi Mosque here, he realized that something was amiss and made his suspicions known to the imam.

Measuring equipment was brought in and, to the imam’s and everybody’s surprise, the Qibla was not pointing in the direction of the Ka’ba.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Turkey: 16 People Taken Into Custody Within Ergenekon Case

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 23 — Sixteen people, including Tuncay Ozkan, an anti-ruling Akp journalist, were taken into custody in the controversial Ergenekon operation, Turkey’s Cnn Turk reports. Ozkan’s stance is fiercely anti-government and pro-nationalist. He founded a website, “Biz Kac Kisiyiz? (How many are we?)”, as a platform for opposition against the Akp’s Islamist policies. He was also the founder and former owner of Turkish TV channel Kanalturk which was the fiercest opponent of the ruling Akp and was sold to a pro-Akp group in 2008 in a controversial transaction. Gurbuz Capan, a columnist in the leftist anti-Akp Cumhuriyet daily and former mayor of Esenyurt district in Istanbul, Duygu Dikmenoglu, a former narrator in Kanalturk and Adnan Bulut, former executive of the channel and journalist, were among the detainees, Cnn Turk said. The Ergenekon operation, which started in June 2007 with the discovery of grenades in a house in Istanbul’s Umraniye district, is allegedly a crackdown on an illegal organization believed to be planning provoking events that would pave the way for a military coup to overthrow the ruling Akp government. The detainees will be charged with a number of crimes including “forming an armed terrorist organization, being a member of a terrorist organization, and aiding the organization”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

CEO Murdered by Mob of Sacked Indian Workers

Thousands of protesters recently forced Tata to halt work on the plant being used to produce the world’s cheapest car

Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, an Italian-headquartered manufacturer of car parts, died of severe head wounds on Monday afternoon after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said.

The incident, in Greater Noida, just outside the Indian capital, followed a long-running dispute between the factory’s management and workers who had demanded better pay and permanent contracts.

It is understood that Mr Choudhary, who was married with one son, had called a meeting with more than 100 former employees — who had been dismissed following an earlier outbreak of violence at the plant — to discuss a possible reinstatement deal.

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A police spokesman said: “Only a few people were called inside. About 150 people were waiting outside when they heard someone from inside shout for help. They rushed in and the two sides clashed. The company staff were heavily outnumbered.”

Other executives said they were lucky to escape with their lives. “I just locked my room’s door from inside and prayed they would not break in. See, my hands are trembling even three hours later,” an Italian consultant, Forettii Gatii, told a local newspaper.

More than 60 people were arrested and more than 20 were in hospital yesterday.

A spokesman for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said: “Such a heinous act is bound to sully India’s image among overseas investors.”

The murder has stoked fears that outbreaks of mob rule risk jeopardising the subcontinent’s economic rise.

In the most high-profile incident so far, thousands of violent protestors recently forced Tata, the Indian conglomerate that owns Land Rover and Jaguar, to halt work on the plant being built to produce the world’s cheapest car — the £1,250 Nano. The move could result in nearly £200 million in investment written off.

Tata halted work three weeks ago, claiming it could not guarantee its workers safety at the factory in the state of West Bengal. In a rare show of support for a competitor, the billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani, one of India’s most powerful businessmen, said that the Nano crisis showed how protestors were creating a “a fear-psychosis to slow-down certain projects of national importance.”

Other companies, including Vedenta, the London-listed mining company, have encountered similar problems in India.

In a statement issued from Rivoli in Italy, Graziano said that some of Mr Choudhary’s attackers had no connection to the company. It added that the chief executive was killed by “serious head injuries caused by the intruders.”

“We absolutely condemn the attack,” Marcello Lamberto, the head of Oerlikon Segment Drive Systems, which owns Graziano, said.

“This is by no means a regular labour conflict but is truly criminal action. The whole of Oerlikon Group is close to the family of Mr Chaudhary in this terrible moment.”

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


Christophobia in India and the European Parliament

The European parliament adopts a resolution against anti-Christian violence in Orissa and other Indian states. Meanwhile Green, Liberal and Socialist MEPs boycott an address by Bartholomew I to parliamentarians.

Brussels (AsiaNews) — The European parliament condemned anti-Christian violence in India but failed to stop the christophobia of its members during the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in the chamber.

In today’s plenary session, the European parliament adopted (392 in favour, 44 against with 29 abstentions) a wide-ranging resolution ahead of the upcoming European Union-India summit scheduled to take place on 29 September in Marseille (France).

The extension of the EU-India strategic relationship (between the world’s two largest democracies) is at the core of the motion, especially in terms of the economy, international politics and India’s social problems.

One (of the 34 paragraphs) addressed the issue of anti-Christian violence in the Indian state of Orissa. It expressed “deep concern” for attacks against Christians, calling for compensation to be paid out to Churches and individuals for the property they lost. The resolution also stressed the need for the perpetrators of the destruction to be brought to justice and called on the central government and national authorities to “fully protect” India’s Christian minority.

In today’s session held in Brussels, the European parliament welcomed the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who spoke to the assembly around noon.

In his address the patriarch referred to the value of religion for Europe and Turkey and the potential of building cultural bridges thanks to religious faiths this year, which the European parliament dedicated to intercultural dialogue.

The event however highlighted the christophobia that also existing within this European institution. Many Green, Liberal and Socialist MEPs were absent during the patriarch’s address, probably because a Belgian Social MEP, Véronique De Keyser, released a statement in which she “sounded the alarm for democracy and the separation of church and state.”

The Belgian lawmaker warned that under the “mantle of the intercultural year” religions “have gone on the offensive,” something which violates the principle of separation of church and state on which the European parliament is based.

In her statement she accuses the patriarch of Constantinople and Benedict XVI for daring to claim that “Europe’s moral values are Christian moral values.”

In addition, she warns that if people are not careful in upholding the division between politics and religion “the extreme right might take advantage.” For this reason she urged her fellow MEPs to boycott the session to which the patriarch was invited to speak.

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


Pakistan: Suspected Marriott Bombing ‘Mastermind’ Emerges

Karachi, 24 Sept. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — The alleged mastermind of last Saturday’s deadly truck bombing of the Marriott hotel in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has emerged.

The suspect, Qari Zafar (photo), has become part of Al-Qaeda’s hardline Takfiri inner circle. He enjoys the protection of Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and is believed to be hiding out in the lawless South Waziristan tribal area of North West Frontier Province.

Zafar is not only the suspected mastermind of the Marriot bomb blast, but has created a network which will shortly target strategic installations belonging to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, military headquarters in Karachi and police stations across the country, according to security officials.

“Zafar is behind the planning, arrangement of transportation and procurement of explosives for the attack against the Marriott Hotel on 20 September,” a top security source told Adnkronos International on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

“Some of his men have been arrested in Punjab which further confirms his involvement in the whole scheme,” the official added.

The connection to Zafar was established from phone numbers found on the mobiles of some of those arrested in Punjab.

According to security agencies, the chances of arresting Zafar are slim as he rarely moves from his alleged hideout in South Waziristan to visit the various cities of North West Frontier Province.

To most Pakistanis he is an obscure figure, and is considered by security agencies to be a ghostlike figure whose trail went cold after he managed to escape from custody last year.

But he is known to international intelligence services which credit him with fox-like cunning and great bravery when organising and carrying out attacks against identified targets.

Originally from Karachi, Zafar was previously named as the leader of the banned militant Laskhar-i-Jhangvi group.

In 2007, he escaped from the custody of security services in the Punjabi capital, Lahore.

The United States government has put a 5 million dollar bounty on Zafar, according to the Rewards for Justice website.

Zafar is wanted for questioning in connection with the 2 March, 2006 bombing of the US Consulate in Karachi.

The attack killed three Pakistani citizens and US diplomat David Foy. Zafar is suspected of being a key figure involved with this attack.

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

Far East

N. Korea Bars Inspectors From Nuclear Plant

WASHINGTON: North Korea’s move to resume the reprocessing of plutonium, perhaps as soon as next week, left the country on the verge of restarting a nuclear weapons program whose shutdown had been portrayed by the White House as a significant diplomatic achievement.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the United States still hoped to preserve a hard-won agreement that called for the North to dismantle its nuclear reactor. But North Korea has refused to resume talks, and no new ones are planned.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna announced Wednesday that North Korea had barred international inspectors from a reprocessing plant at its nuclear reactor complex in Yongbyon. The agency said that North Korea, which tested its first nuclear device in 2006 and is believed to have enough plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs, intended to resume production of nuclear weapons-grade fuel there within a week.

While reversible in theory, any resumption of nuclear work would violate the terms of the agreement, which was announced with fanfare in June and solidified, it appeared, by North Korea’s public demolition of a cooling tower at Yongbyon.

North Korea’s actions have at best returned negotiations to where they stood months ago, leaving little time for a resolution before the next American administration takes office in January.

[Return to headlines]


Philippines to Seek UN Terror Tag on Moro Chiefs

The Arroyo government is set to make a call to the United Nations, urging the latter to declare certain leaders of the Moro insurgency in Mindanao as “terrorists,” authorities revealed on Tuesday.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said they are looking into the possibility of asking the United Nations to declare 12 commanders and sub-commanders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), including Ameril Umbra Kato, Abdullah Macapaar a.k.a. Commander Bravo and Sulayman Panglian, as “terrorists.”

Kato is currently being hunted by the military for the attack in several towns in North Cotabato early last month, while Bravo and Panglian are also the subjects of current military offensives in Mindanao.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said on Tuesday that government troops are closing in on Bravo.

AFP chief Gen. Alexander Yano said government forces will strike at Bravo’s group “in a matter of time” although rough terrain was posing difficulties in tracking down the MILF commander.

With regard to Ameril Umbra Kato, another MILF leader sought by the military, Yano said “it will take time” for the government forces to close in on him and to take control of his camps in North Cotabato.

He said he was told by sources that Kato had become wary of those around him and “he could not trust even many of his sub-commanders” primarily because of the 10-million-peso bounty offered by the Arroyo government to anyone who can provide information on his whereabouts.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Sudan Finds Kidnappers’ Location

Authorities know the whereabouts of kidnappers who seized 19 hostages in the Egyptian desert, but have no plans for any rescue operation that could harm the captives, a Sudanese Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.

Masked kidnappers snatched the hostages — five Italians, five Germans, a Romanian and eight Egyptians — from a desert safari near Egypt’s southern border with Sudan and Libya on Friday and were thought to have whisked them out of Egypt.

The kidnappers have threatened to kill the hostages if authorities try to find them by plane, an Egyptian official with strong ties to security agencies said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But Egypt’s tourism minister denied there was any such threat, state news agency MENA reported.. “The location of the kidnappers has been pinpointed… It’s no-man’s land between the Sudan, Libya and Egypt borders,” said Mutrif Siddig, Sudanese undersecretary of foreign affairs. “We are not going to have an operation that harms the hostages,” he added, noting Khartoum was coordinating with Egyptian authorities on the case.

The kidnapping of foreign tourists was the first of its kind in Egypt, and posed a new challenge to the security-conscious government in a country that depends on foreign tourism for 6 percent of the national economy. Islamic militants hit the country’s tourist industry in the 1990s and again in the mid-2000s with bomb and gun attacks that killed hundreds of people and weighed heavily on tourism.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

Latin America

China, Venezuela Raise Investment Fund to $12 Bln

BEIJING, Sept 24 (Reuters) — China and Venezuela have agreed to double a joint investment fund to $12 billion, President Hugo Chavez said on Wednesday, lauding the socialist ideology which he said protected both countries from the global financial crisis.

The massive expansion cements a tightening relationship between energy-hungry China, which provided $4 billion of the original fund, and Venezuela, which says it hopes to eventually sell Beijing a million barrels of oil a day.

The two nations also agreed plans for a joint venture refinery in Venezuela’s heavy oil heartland, a fleet of four massive oil tankers and increased oil shipments to China.

“The document we signed to build a joint Chinese-Venezuelan refinery in Cabruta, in Orinoco, is very important, as is the document we have signed for the construction of a fleet of boats,” Chavez told a high-level forum in the Chinese capital.

China’s state owned Sinopec and Venezuela’s state oil firm PDVSA agreed to a feasibility study for a plant to process extra heavy crude, documents seen by Reuters showed.

The tanker deal covers 4 very large crude carriers.

Most of the agreements, including a series of others covering agriculture, technology and petrochemicals are scheduled to be signed and formally announced after an afternoon meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

China is keen to play down the political nature of its ties with one of the United States’ top oil suppliers and bitter ideological foes, but fiery leftist Chavez relishes emphasising their position outside mainstream Western political systems.

“In the face of the collapse of global capitalism, we can say: how fortunate that China had a revolution, how fortunate that Venezuela had and still has a revolution, how fortunate that we got to know each other,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]


Venezuela: Iran to Finance 25 Factories

Tehran, 24 Sept. (AKI) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced that 25 Iranian-built factories will open in the country in the near future.

The factories announced by Chavez in a televised speech will draw on Iranian technology and financial backing.

The factories will include corn flour mills, cement plants, dairies, automobile parts manufacturing units and petrochemical plants.

Economic and political cooperation between both countries has grown tremendously in the past three years.

Iran and Venezuela have also created a joint 2 billion dollar fund to finance investments in friendly third countries and has financed seven projects in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba in the past few months.

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

Immigration

EU: Integration of Roma Gypsies an ‘Urgent Problem’

Brussels, 16 Sept. (AKI) — Integrating the Roma Gypsies in European countries is an “urgent problem,” European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Tuesday.

“The problem we face across Europe, as politicians and citizens, as members of society, as Gypsies, is of great urgency. In humanitarian terms as well as political,” Barroso said.

Barroso was opening the first top-level EU summit aimed at improving the situation of the Roma Gypsies across Europe.

Roma organisations are among 400 representatives from EU institutions, national governments and parliaments and non-government organisations attending the summit.

Two members of the European Parliament of Roma origin, Ilvia Jaroka and Viktoria Mohacsi, were also taking part in the summit.

In his opening address, Barroso was interrupted by several Roma Gypsy protesters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘Stop Ethnic Profiling’.

“We agree with the T-shirts,” said Barroso, to applause from most participants at the summit.

The Italian government is currently carrying out a controversial census of Italian Gypsy camps including fingerprinting where necessary. The EU recently ruled this does not infringe their human rights.

There are an estimated 150,000 Roma Gypsies in Italy, around half of whom have Italian citizenship.

The Italian government claims it wants to give those who are in Italy legally better access to schools, medical and social services.

France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is attending the summit on behalf of the French EU Presidency and several ministers from EU states and candidate countries are also taking part, the European Commission said.

Following the enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007 to countries such as Slovakia and Romania, Roma communities now represent one of the largest ethnic minorities in the European Union.

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


Immigration: “A National Crisis”, Malta Opposition Leader

(ANSAmed) — VALLETTA, SEPTEMBER 23 — Opposition Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat said today that illegal immigration had become a “national crisis” and unless European leaders agreed to help Malta through resources and better regulations, Malta should reject the proposed Immigration Pact. In a joint statement with Opposition Home Affairs spokesman Michael Falzon, Muscat said that despite assurances before the summer that measures would be taken for Malta not to shoulder burdens it could not bear, facts showed the contrary. The number of immigrant arrivals this year was a record, up 30% over last year. The solution, they said, was not to to mistreat the migrants or to let them drown. What was needed was a strong political will. Once what had been promised had not come about, the government needed to move from words to action by taking a firm stand in the EU structures, starting this week during the EU talks on new regulations on immigration. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Italy; New Regulations for Reunions, Refugees

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 23 — The council of ministers has given the green light to a decree law which amends the regulations on the right of family reunion and on the recognition and revocation of a refugee status. The new regulations envisage limitations to the exercise of the right of reunion regarding the spouse, children of age and parents. Amendments to the regulation regarding the recognition of a refugee status are also envisaged. “If the consular authority is not capable of establishing the identity of those who request asylum in the case of kinship, the consul demands from those who request entrance the DNA test with expenses paid by the applicant,” Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said, among other things, during a news conference. Another decree law, which envisages allocations for the establishment of ten new centres for identification and expulsion (CIE) in the regions still lacking ones, was also approved by the council of ministers. The number of illegal immigrants who arrived in Italy in 2008 rose by 60% compared to last year, Maroni said. In 2007, in fact, from January 1 to September 30, a total of 14,200 immigrants arrived in Italy. During the same period of 2008, a total of 23,600 arrived. Hence the decision to speed up the procedure for the CIE centres. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Illegal Immigration Jumps 60% in 2008

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 23 — The number of illegal immigrants arriving in Italy in the first nine months of the year was 60% higher than the same period in 2007, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said today. The minister made his remarks after the cabinet approved a bill to build ten new centers for the identification and deportation of illegal aliens. According to Maroni, the sharp rise in the number of illegal immigrants made the new centers necessary. A total of 23,600 illegal immigrants arrived in Italy from January through September, compared to 14,200 during the first nine months of last year. Maroni also said that relatives who met the requirements to join legal immigrants in Italy would have to undergo and pay for special DNA tests. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy Risks Legal Battle Over Expulsion of EU Citizens

RENATA GOLDIROVA

The Italian government of Silvio Berlusconi risks a legal battle with the European Commission over the rules on the automatic expulsion of EU citizens, a part of the so-called security package introduced by Rome earlier this year.

EU commissioner Jacques Barrot, in charge of home affairs and justice, stated on Tuesday (23 September) that the controversial piece of law “poses problems of compatibility with community law”.

If it is not changed shortly, he warned, the commission “would launch infringement proceedings as provided for by the [EU] treaty”.

The decision comes weeks after Italy adopted a set of measures designed to deal with the “exceptional and persistent influx” of irregular immigrants and a sharp rise in crime blamed on foreign nationals.

Under the package, undocumented migration is considered a criminal offence punishable by six months to four years in prison, while the property rented to an immigrant without papers can be confiscated.

In addition, the interior ministry announced plans to increase the number of intake places throughout the country — labelled “centres for identification and expulsion”.

Interior minister Roberto Maroni — a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party — is the main figure behind the security package.

According to media reports citing interior ministry data, some 10,600 undocumented migrants entered Italy in the first half of 2008 — a figure twice as high as during the same period in 2007.

The Italian government argues that foreigners, and Roma migrants in particular, are a main cause of increased street crime.

The Berlusconi government has also found itself the target of heavy criticism for plans to conduct a census under which all Roma people, including children, would be fingerprinted. Left critics of the move compared it to the policies of Benito Mussolini, the country’s fascist leader during the Second World War.

However, the European Commission stated earlier this month that no EU principles of human rights protection or non-discrimination were being violated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Norway: a More Coherent Official Line on Immigration?

Promises a More Coherent Official Line on Immigration

[In Norwegian, translated by The Observer]

Frp’s (The Progress Party) shadow minister for immigration, Per Willy Amundsen, categorically denies that the party is about to liberalize their stance on immigration, and promises that the party’s demand for a stricter national immigration policy will be a key issue in the lead up to the next general election in 2009.

Up until now the FRP has in their official party program proposed to limit the intake of asylum seekers to 1000 per year. However the FRP party committee, supported by deputy leader, Per Sandberg, have suggested discarding the proposal. They have also advocated scrapping a proposed ban on marriage between cousins.

FRP’s change of heart has been well received by Høyre (The Conservatives). The party’s shadow minister for immigration, Bent Høie, recently told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) that he’s pleased that FRP has finally decided to scrap these ‘unrealistic proposals’. He believes that FRP are starting to lean more towards Høyre on this issue.

Important issue

Per Willy Amundsen emphasizes that the proposals launched by the party committee are only proposals, and that it doesn’t involve a change in the official party line. He categorically denies that FRP has caved in to pressure from Høyre on this issue.

- Everybody who follows Norwegian politics closely, realise that Høyre has warmed to our policies, and not the other way around, Amundsen says.

He admits that it is vital for FRP to make their stance on this issue more obvious to the voters.

- This is a very important issue for us, and it is unfortunate if an impression has been created that we somehow have caved in to pressure from Høyre on this matter, he says.

He predicts that immigration will be a key issue at the next party convention which is going to be held next year, and he denies that there are conflicting views on this matter within the party.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]


UN: European Union Urged to Accept Iraqi Refugees

New York, 24 Sept. (AKI) The United Nations refugee agency is calling on the European Union to reaffirm its commitment to protect Iraqi refugees ahead of a meeting of justice ministers this week.

Nearly 40,000 Iraqis applied for asylum in 27 EU member states last year, and some 16,000 applied for asylum in the first seven months of 2008, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees .

About two million Iraqis remain displaced in Syria, Jordan and other countries in the region, it said.

Earlier this month at a conference convened by the French presidency, High Commissioner Antonio Guterres said he hoped that the majority of Iraqi refugees would be able to return to their home country once security had been increased. But the security environment remains precarious, especially in central and southern Iraq.

“We hope that the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs will commit the European Union to participation in organised resettlement efforts,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler said in Geneva.

“At present, only a minority of the 27 EU member states have implemented resettlement programmes.”

The agency resettled 14,600 Iraqi refugees from Syria, Jordan and other regional nations between last April and this month.

The United States has admitted nearly two-thirds of them while only 10 percent were accepted by EU countries.

UNHCR is also appealing for the resettlement of 3,000 Palestinian refugees — including a large number of women and children — who have fled Iraq. Only 300 of them have been resettled to date, with only 47 to EU member states.

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

Culture Wars

Dictatorship of the Rainbow

by Diana West

In many ways, this is the most sharply revealing photograph to emerge from the debacle in Cologne last weekend when leftists, much to the shameful approval of the local authorities including the mayor, seized control of the streets and prevented a political demonstration against Islamization from taking place. The photo was taken by “Aviel,” whose eyewitness account is posted at Gates of Vienna. He says it “shows a band of some sort of humans preventing the police from moving about. I find it odd that even they were powerless to deal with that lot. However, I think that they were probably just unwilling.”

These policemen, mere instruments of a corrupted state, were not just “unwilling” to “deal with that lot.” I think they were also unable. They, like their state, are bereft of the core beliefs that, under unfortunately outmoded moral corcumstances, would have guided them in their duty to preserve civic space for freedom of assembly and speech. Bedazzled by the rainbows, they failed to see the totalitarian heart underneath—or, worse, they recognized it as their own…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


PETA Urges Ben & Jerry’s to Use Human Milk

VERMONT — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow’s milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk, according to a statement recently released by a PETA spokeswoman.

“PETA’s request comes in the wake of news reports that a Swiss restaurant owner will begin purchasing breast milk from nursing mothers and substituting breast milk for 75 percent of the cow’s milk in the food he serves,” the statement says.

PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health.

“The fact that human adults consume huge quantities of dairy products made from milk that was meant for a baby cow just doesn’t make sense,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.”

In a statement Ben and Jerry’s said, “We applaud PETA’s novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother’s milk is best used for her child.”

           — Hat tip: Abu Elvis[Return to headlines]


Sir Ian McKellen Tours Schools to Tell Children Being Gay is OK

It’s OK to be gay: Sir Ian McKellan, who played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings, has visited schools to talk to pupils

Actor Sir Ian McKellen has revealed he is to tour Britain’s schools preaching about gay tolerance.

The openly gay star, who is best known to youngsters as Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings blockbusters, wants to encourage other homosexual men to go back to their former schools and lecture pupils on homophobia.

Revealing his campaign in gay magazine Attitude, Sir Ian said: ‘I’ve been busy at quite a few schools recently. I went to a wonderful co-ed faith school in Harpenden.

‘They were Christians and absolutely determined that their pupils did not discriminate.

They invited me to come and give prizes to 13-year-olds in front of the parents and to talk, partly, about being gay.

[Return to headlines]

General

Kazakhstan Steering a Middle Course Between Russia and the West

In a quick succession Kazakhstan drops two large-scale projects in Georgia, a billion dollar oil refinery and a big grain terminal. Still the Kazakh military takes part in joint exercises with NATO as the country’s leaders seek closer ties to the West. China remains a wild card.

Astana (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Kazakhstan, a major foreign investor in Georgia, drops billion dollar plans in Georgia, citing political instability, but holds joint military exercises with NATO.

Today Kazakh state oil and gas company KazMunaiGas decided to pull the plug on a planned oil refinery in the Georgian port of Batumi. Company officials said that the decision was not political but due to technical problems that made it unfeasible.

For expert opinion though, Georgia remains essential for any oil and gas pipeline linking Central Asia to Europe without going through Russia. For this reason Moscow is opposed to any major oil refinery in the Georgian port, especially after the August war in the still Russian-occupied breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

At the height of Georgia’s conflict with Russia last month, Kazakhstan suspended oil shipments through Batumi but flows were restored in early September.

On Monday, Kazakh Agriculture Minister Akylbek Kurishbaev announced that his country would not go ahead with plans to build a grain terminal in another Georgian port, Poti, due to political uncertainty surrounding the country following its armed conflict with Russia.

The Poti terminal was expected to reach a capacity of 350,000-500,000 tonnes a year and would have provided Kazakhstan with another outlet for its grain. Last year the central Asian country had a bumper crop, harvesting a record 20.1 million tonnes of grain.

Georgia said it was “very surprised” by the announcement. Georgian First Deputy Economy Minister Vakhtang Lezhava said that “only Kazakh companies decided after the war to abandon investment plans in Georgia, while others continue to invest in our country.”

Owing to its geographic location and historical role Kazakhstan is an important ally for Russia, especially for overland trade routes. But Astana is also interested in developing good relations with the West. In fact “we want to bring cooperation with NATO to a new level,” Defence Minister Daniyal Akhmetov told reporters at a press conference.

Conversely, whilst Kremlin might be happy about the cancelled Kazakh investments in Georgia, few doubt that it liked yesterday’s joint Kazakh-NATO military exercises in the steppes near Almaty, exercises which took place whilst Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was visiting the Kazakh capital.

By the same token on 29 May, Kazakhstan reached an agreement of co-operation with Azerbaijan to send Kazakh oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, thus avoiding Russian territory.

Astana also did not follow Moscow’s lead in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia

But it is developing closer ties with China. In July work began on the Kazakh leg of the 1,300 km China-Central Asia gas pipeline which, on completion, will run through the entire length of Central Asia, linking Turkmenistan to China via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. (PB)

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


Liberation by Internet

Daily Article by Gennady Stolyarov II

In The Constitution of Liberty, Friedrich Hayek gave a dire prognosis for the future of technology: “[W]e are probably only at the threshold of an age in which the technological possibilities of mind control are likely to grow rapidly and what may appear at first as innocuous or beneficial powers over the personality of the individual will be at the disposal of government. The greatest threats to human freedom probably still lie in the future.”

Hayek, like most of the leading intellectuals of his time, did not foresee the emergence of the Internet — the quintessential Hayekian spontaneous order. As a decentralized communication system facilitating the sending and receiving of messages by billions of people, the Internet has greatly shifted the balance of power away from governments and toward sovereign individuals. Even in its early days, the Internet played a vital role in bringing about the downfall of the Soviet Union’s government. Since then, it has catalyzed tremendous economic, social, and political liberation in countries ranging from Cuba to the United States.

While governments have tried to use modern communication technologies to monitor and regulate private individuals, their efforts are doomed to failure stemming from a much more powerful and competent market response.

Hayek Did Not Know the Internet

When Friedrich Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty was first published in 1960, the Internet did not exist; nor did its military predecessor, ARPANET, which was initiated in 1969. Fifteen years after the horrors of World War II, the means by which the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used mass broadcasting technology to indoctrinate their people were still recent memories. During the Nuremberg Trials, Albert Speer himself expressed the Nazi regime’s effectiveness at using technology to spread propaganda: “Through technical devices like the radio and the loudspeaker, eighty million people were deprived of independent thought. It was thereby possible to subject them to the will of one man.” Faced with such facts, Hayek understandably feared future uses of mass broadcasting technology.

Indeed, in a world where the only mass communication technologies were radio and films, the scales of power were shifted toward totalitarian governments and away from sovereign individuals. According to Christopher Kedzie, “Since traditional broadcast media are located closest to the dictator’s optimum they are almost certain to be employed as a powerful political weapon.”

[Return to headlines]

13 comments:

Henrik R Clausen said...

What Bush does here is, unfortunately, classical fascist: Declare a crisis, demand extraordinary measures and sacrifice, violate basic capitalist principles of individual responsibility and private property for his purpose.

I'd rather have him invest that $700 billion in energy independence than purchase a 'confidence' that the financial sector obviously does not deserve.

BTW, it was Clinton who put down the seeds for the current crisis.

If this goes through, I believe it will cause extensive long-term damage to the American society in general, and to Federal Government in particular.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I'll quote a bit from the article I mentioned above. Here's a crucial part - note the charge of 'racism':

In that same year, Freddie Mac warned of the logical pitfalls of pursuing loans on the basis of skin color and not credit history.

The Washington Post reported that the company conducted a study in which it was found that far more black people have bad credit than white people, even when both have the same incomes. In fact, the study showed a higher percentage of African Americans with incomes of $65,000 to $75,000 had bad credit than white Americans with incomes of below $25,000.

Such data demonstrated that when federal regulators demanded parity between racial groups in lending, the only way to achieve a quota would be to begin making intentionally bad lending decisions.

The study, however, came under brutal attack in the U.S. Congress and was ridiculed with charges of racism.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Another editorial on the roots of the crisis. They seem go back to Carter and the 'Community Reinvestment Act'.

Quote:

"If Congress does not act," McCain said in 2005, "American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole."

Sounds like McCain was spot on.

But his warnings, too, were ignored by Congress.

To hear today's Democrats, you'd think all this started in the last couple years. But the crisis began much earlier. The Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, mostly in minority areas.

Age-old standards of banking prudence got thrown out the window. In their place came harsh new regulations requiring banks not only to lend to uncreditworthy borrowers, but to do so on the basis of race.


Actually, I'm on foreign turn assessing this, and am relying mainly on my habit of evaluating sources for relevance and credibility. Alternative opinions or pointing out flaws of logic are welcome.

Henrik R Clausen said...

'foreign turf', it should have been :)

Baron Bodissey said...

Henrik,

You are understanding this correctly, at least from an American conservative perspective.

This is an urgent bipartisan concern because of all the senators and congressmen who are up for reelection in November. A serious economic crisis generally benefits Obama, but it does not benefit congressional incumbents who want to get re-elected. Since the incumbents are mostly Democrats, both parties will work hard to patch together something, anything, that will put off the worst until after the election.

And it's not even absolutely certain that Obama would benefit from the crisis; the situation is way too unpredictable to be sure of that. I don't think the Democrats would want to throw the dice and bet on the outcome.

spackle said...

"Toilet facilities are being built at London’s Olympic Park so Muslims will not have to face Mecca while sitting on the loo."

Every day it seems the UK gives in to more and more Muslim demands. Just like potato chips you cant eat just one. You may as well start calling it the United Islamic Kingdom. And here is a question. Do these guys carry a compass around with them? I dont know which way I am facing even if I try. Islam seems to have a bad case of OCD.

Remind Myself said...

Recent Finance issue nearly caused an insurance company to bankrupt.

Who fault? Shouldn’t we take this opportunity to tune back the incorrect system, or we will wait till the next few generations to meet the similar issues again…..?

Should the top management bare responsibility....?

The top management of the ( not private company ) listed company salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares.... so when the shares price drop, it don't just penalize the investors, but those who don't take care of the company.....

They only talk about how bad the crsis will be, but they did not give regulation measures…..

Since the congress is discussing….. Shouldn’t we concern about its individual congress members standpoint and their opposition candidates standpoint within their own states…….

Should $700b be pump into the all industries of the economy instead?




最近保险公司将近倒闭。。。。

是谁的错。。。。? 不在这个时候扶正回来,难道要等到下几代在遇到同样的事吗?

高级管理层该不该付起责任?

上市公司的高级管理层工资是不是应该和上市公司的股票价值挂钩呢?

龙的传人应该没这么好骗吧!。。。。先学基本面分析法,才来学技术性分析法。。。。

如果认为有理的话,请支持与告知,让更多人戒乱玩股票,力量才会大。。。。。。还有拨个电回家报平安吧。


http://remindmyselfinstock.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

spackle said: I don't know which way I am facing even if I try.

Seriously, I've always wondered about that--I don't do directions. How do all those Muslims know which way Mecca is? I don't, and I don't really care to know, but if I did, I would have a hard time figuring it out.

Henrik R Clausen said...

How do all those Muslims know which way Mecca is?

You guys don't have a compass?

It isn't that hard, actually. Look at a globus, find that dusty place in the Arab peninsula with an evil-looking black stone, and draw a line back to your point in the civilized world. That will give you a general direction, some count of degrees from south.

As for determining your own direction, try this: At 12:00 (13:00 daylight saving time) the direction towards the sun is south (north on the southern hemisphere). Find a shadow, draw a line. Then recall the number of degrees calculated above, and you can draw a line towards the not particular intelligent stone in the Arab desert.

Actually, the Muslims do this to check out just how stupid rules they can make us implement. So far, it seems the sky is the limit.

The Arabs of Muhammads' time were also very good at finding directions. They were desert travelers, and anyone who could not figure out directions would be exterminated from the gene pool quite swiftly.

Interestingly, the Muslims of the 7th century prayed towards Jerusalem, in open contradiction of their own infallible scripture.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Thanks, Baron :)

Somehow, I just can't get myself to trust people who want to purchase $ 700 billion worth of 'confidence'. What will they buy next, hot air or something?

If it was their own money they were spending, I'd just sell them some 'confidence' - and laugh all they way to my bank :)

CarnackiUK said...

Too bad Ben & Jerry got cold feet over Peta's suggestion. I would go for a Melon Monroe over a Cherry Garcia any day.

Joanne said...

Toilets at London Olympics must turn away from Mecca? How many Muslims are participants in the Olympics anyway and how many will be observers of the games? Now Britain is turning toilets for Islam? I just can't believe how bloody accommodating the spineless British politically correct crowd have become. Get a backbone.

Me, I'd turn the toilets directly to Mecca. The more rules the Muslims could come up with, the more unaccommodating I'd become.

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Call it what it is, then... In South Africa there were toilets marked "blacks" and toilets marked "whites only". Special toilets for muslims would be, I think, quite revealing for a lot of visitors to the olympic stadium. It would reveal that we're living in an apartheid state.

Surely that's a bad thing? I mean, it was bad in South Africa,it was bad in Rhodesia, so why isn't it bad here?

Come on, world! Boycott the UK!