Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2008

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2008Don’t miss “Letter From Iceland” under the “General” heading. The most concentrated essence of the financial crisis can be found in Iceland, and the account of recent events there is fascinating — and sobering.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Conservative Swede, Diana West, Insubria, JD, no2liberals, RRW, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
USA
America’s Economic Crisis is Beyond the Reach of Traditional Solutions
An Examination of Obama’s Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches
Shelbyville, TN and Somali Immigration Fraud
 
Europe and the EU
History of the Italian Muslim Assembly
Iraqis Accused of Murdering British Troops Get Thousands of Pounds in Legal Aid
Spain: Catalan Govt., Economist Libels Our Region
Spain: a New Era in Justice as New Criminal Code Presented
Spain: Francoism, Prosecutor Calls for Stop to Exhumations
 
Balkans
Immigration: DVD Shows Unknown, Pre-Exodus Albania
 
Mediterranean Union
Cooperation: Puglia and Lebanon Towards First Partnership
EU Status Becomes New Battleground Sahrawi-Morocco
Mediterranean: Scotti, Italy’s Future Bound to This Region
 
North Africa
Algeria: Law Change, Bouteflika Gets Himself 3rd Mandate
W. Sahara: Maghreb Still Divided, Polisario Hopes in Obama
 
Israel and the Palestinians
A Little Enlightenment
Israel: Soldier Jailed for Yawning at Memorial Service
Obama Links Israel Peace Plan to 1967 Deal
 
Middle East
China Concludes Biggest Oil Agreement Since Saddam
Iran Returns to the Global Stage
Islamists Claim Syria Backed Lebanon Attack
Italy-Syria: First Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Damascus
Lebanon: Hezbollah Re-Elects Nasrallah, Eyes Cousin as Heir
Santa Claus is My Favorite Politician: Haifa Wehbi
 
South Asia
After Interreligious Summit at UN, Pakistani Christians Say It’s Time for Action
Pakistan, Between Jihad and Afghan Temptations
 
Culture Wars
Another PBS “Documentary” on the Bible
Obama to Fund Forced Abortions
Owner Says Prop 8 Opponents Hacked Into LDS Site
 
General
Energy: Expert Says Time Not Ripe for Gas Cartel
Letter From Iceland
World Charter for Compassion

USA

America’s Economic Crisis is Beyond the Reach of Traditional Solutions

By most accounts the US economy is in serious trouble. Robert Reich, an adviser to President-elect Obama, calls it a “mini-depression,” and that designation might be optimistic. The Russian economist, Mikhail Khazin says that the “US will soon face a second ‘Great Depression.’“ It is possible that even Khazin is optimistic.

[…]

What Reich and the American economic establishment do not understand is that the recession paradigm does not apply. There are no jobs waiting at US manufacturers for a demand stimulus to pull Americans back into work. The problem is not a liquidity problem. To the contrary, there have been many years of too much liquidity. Credit has grown far more than production. Indeed, US production has been moved offshore. Jobs that used to support the growth of American incomes and the tax bases of cities and states have moved, along with US GDP, to China and elsewhere.

The work is gone. All that are left are credit card and mortgage debts.

Anyone who thinks that America still has a vibrant economy needs to log onto Economy In Crisis and face the facts.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


An Examination of Obama’s Use of Hidden Hypnosis Techniques in His Speeches

THE EVIDENCE IS HERE: This document contains over 60 pages of evidence and analysis proving Barack Obama s use of a little-known and highly deceptive and manipulative form of hack hypnosis on millions of unaware Americans, and reveals what only a few psychologists and hypnosis/NLP experts know. Barack Obama s speeches contain the hypnosis techniques of Dr. Milton Erickson, M.D. who developed a form of conversational hypnosis that could be hidden in seemingly normal speech and used on patients without their knowledge for therapy purposes.

Obama s speeches intentionally contain:

  • Trance Inductions
  • Hypnotic Anchoring
  • Pacing and Leading
  • Pacing, Distraction and Utilization
  • Critical Factor Bypass
  • Stacking Language Patterns — Preprogrammed Response Adaptation
  • Linking Statements/ Causality Bridges
  • Secondary Hidden Meanings/Imbedded Suggestions
  • Emotion Transfer
  • Non-Dominant Hemisphere Programming

Obama’s techniques are the height of deception and psychological manipulation, remaining hidden because one must understand the science behind the language patterns in order to spot them…

[Return to headlines]


Shelbyville, TN and Somali Immigration Fraud

Once again, the award-winning Tennessee newspaper, the Times Gazette, is leading the mainstream media in reporting on a critical issue involving our flawed legal immigration system and its impact on national security. Last week the US State Department quietly released in ‘fact sheet’ format a bombshell admission—tens of thousands of Somali refugees are in the US illegally.

Focusing on Tennessee Somali and other African refugees, the Times Gazette interviewed leaders of the refugee industry who dismissed the importance of the State Department’s fact sheet, saying the fraud was not happening in Tennessee.

[…]

Dear Ms. Johnson, we hear Tennessee is actually a hotbed for Somali immigration fraud.

[…]

An afterthought! The State Dept. has admitted that 80% of Somali family reunification cases involve fraud, but you gotta laugh, you watch, every state will say it’s not our Somalis who are illegally in the US.

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

History of the Italian Muslim Assembly

And the Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community

In 1982 a group of Italian converts to Islam and Muslim immigrants living in Naples felt the need to create an organization that could shape the Italian branch of the Islamic Ummah and grant its fidelity to the ‘aqidah of Ahl as-Sunnah wa-l-Jama’ah. During that period, in Italy there was no regular organization that could help reaching such a goal, since the only groups that claimed to be “Islamic” were depending on bid’ah holder foreign sects, like Wahhabis and Ikhwanu-l-Muslimun. After studying the milieu and getting informed about the Italian acts dealing with cultural and non-profit organizations, this group of Muslims decided to found the “Italian Muslim Association”. Its original legal seat was in Naples, but was moved to Rome in 1985. The founders unanimously decide to elect Shaykh ‘Ali Mo’allim Hussen as President. Shaykh ‘Ali Mo’allim Hussen is an Italian citizen coming from Somalia, a Qadi and Qari descending from Ahmad al-Badawi as-Siddiqi and retired official of the Italian Army…

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


Iraqis Accused of Murdering British Troops Get Thousands of Pounds in Legal Aid

Two Iraqis accused of murdering British prisoners of war have been granted thousands of pounds in legal aid to fight being handed over to the Iraqi authorities to face trial.

Faisal Al-Saadoon and Khalaf Mufdhi are accused of killing Staff Sergeant Simon Cullingworth and Sapper Luke Allsopp in cold blood during the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.

The British government wants to hand the two Iraqis over to the Iraqi government for trial. But their British lawyer has launched a High Court legal challenge saying such a trial would breach his clients’ human rights.

If he succeeds, the men, who are currently in British custody in Iraq, could be brought to the UK to face trial. Senior British Government officials are concerned that the two men will claim political asylum if they are tried in the UK.

The challenge, to be heard this week, has angered the dead British soldiers’ relatives and opposition politicians.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Spain: Catalan Govt., Economist Libels Our Region

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 12 — The Catalan Government has clashed with British weekly magazine ‘The Economist’ over its report ‘The party’s over’, about Spain, in which according to the regional executive Catalonia is ‘libelled’’ and the former Catalan President Jordi Pujol is “insulted”. Legal advisor to the Generalitat Montserrat Tura explained in a press conference that the Catalan government had asked the magazine for a correction in a letter to UK delegate to the Generalitat Xavier Solano. In the letter Solano describes as “unfortunate” and “unacceptable” the fact that the Economist described Pujol as a “caciqué (the name given to indigenous chiefs in Central South America during the Spanis occupation) saying that he has a “nationalistic obsession for the Catalan language” Since 1979 the Catalan political institutions have used Catalan as the official language and as a tool for promoting social integration, not assimilation” said the letter. Monserrat Tura said that “ the degree of ignorance that some people have about our nation is worrying “. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: a New Era in Justice as New Criminal Code Presented

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 14 — With a sharpening of penalties for terrorism and paedophilia, with sentences of up to twenty years of restricted freedom for re-offenders once their sentence has been served and the introduction of the new offence of corrupting managers and employees of private companies, based on that in force for public officials. These are some of the main innovations in the project to reform Spain’s Penal Code, which was approved today by its governing Cabinet.In the words uttered by Deputy Premier, Maria Teresa Fernandez at the end of the meeting “it will not leave loopholes of impunity open”. Among the measures included, supervised parole for re-offending paedophiles and terrorists, which may last as long as twenty years beyond the end of their sentences and a dozen preventative measures including periodic appearances before judiciary bodies, electronic tagging, programmes of re-education and rehabilitation, as well as voluntary chemical ‘castration’ for perpetrators of sexual violence and abuse of minors. As explained by Justice Minister, Mariano Fernando Bermejo, during a joint press conference with the Deputy Premier, it is based on two pillars: greater protection for minors following the case of little Mari Luz, the four-year-old baby girl kidnapped and killed by a convicted paedophile on parole; and the need to tackle “new forms of criminality that call for new responses”. Crimes connected with terrorism, attacks leading to death or serious, irreversible injury, are not to be subject to the statute of limitations, as is already the case for crimes against humanity. The penal reform includes new categories of crime for the first time, including mobbing and psychological intimidation which targets “the moral integrity and dignity’ of workers. Trading in humans will be differentiated from illegal immigration, from exploitation for sexual or economic ends and dealing in human organs. The reform also implements the EU directive on the illegal trafficking and transfer of toxic materials. Another transportation measure adopted from EU norms and armoury of international law against new forms of criminality is the inclusion in the code of the new crime of piracy, with sentences of between 10 and 15 years’ imprisonment to “punish crimes against air and sea travel”. But one of the most significant innovations is the introduction of the new crime of corruption between private parties, which envisages custodial penalties — from four months to four years’ imprisonment — for those offering or delivering “unjustified benefits and advantages” to managers and employees of private enterprises and associations in exchange for “the acquisition or sale of goods or in the contracting of services”. In parallel to the crime of extortion, as already exists for public officials, there will be an extension to private managers who “solicit or receive benefits for favours to third parties”. The crime of corruption between private individuals will appear under the heading of crimes related to the market and consumers. This is an implementation of the European framework directive of 2003, which states that the corrupting of mangers or employees of a company to the prejudice of onés own company or that of a third party, provokes, due to unfair competition, a disruption of the good functioning of the market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Francoism, Prosecutor Calls for Stop to Exhumations

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 7 — The battle between Spain’s public prosecutor, Judge Balthazar Garzon and his superiors in the Central Court of Instruction Number 5, in Spain’s National Court (the Audienca Nacional) is getting more and more bitter. Mr. Garzon has opposed the opening of an inquest into presumed crimes against humanity committed during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and Francoism. According to reports on the website of El Pais, a newspaper, the Public Prosecutor has asked that the opening of the mass graves of Civil War victims and the Francoist regime be suspended, as a precautionary measure until the Penal Court rules in a plenary session over the competence of the Magistrate to investigate the crimes. The exhumations have been denounced by over 20 Associations for the Recovery of Historical Memory. The Penal Court has announced the convening of an extraordinary plenary session, on the request of the Public Prosecutor. Yesterday there was news of an order from Spain’s National Court judge, Santiago Pedraz (standing in for Baltazar Garzon, due to presumed illness) about the mass grave in Viznar (Granada), where it is thought that the remains of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, the maestro Dioscuro Galindo, and the bullfighters Francisco Galadì and Joaquin Arcollas. The judge has assured that the opening of the grave will be done in a way that is respectful of “privacy and the dignity of the victims and their relations”. Pedraz’s announcement follows the granting of Garcia Lorcàs descendants permission to open the grave. The poet’s descendants were originally against the exhumation but have now given their permission. Lorcàs granddaughter, Laura Garcia Lorca, explained to El Pais that the exhumation could procede as long as the family are “kept updated on the steps that are taken and are present on the day of the exhumation, which will be carried out in private and far from the television cameras”. Meanwhile, the team of experts selected by the Granada Court to work on the recovery of the remains, are finalising the document which outlines the procedures which must be observed during the exhumation. There are two possible locations of Lorcàs tomb. The first is that which was noted by Ian Gibson, the Hispanist, where until now it has been thought that the poet was buried. The second is another grave, just 430 metres away, in the area of El Caracolar, suggest by a living witness who is thought to have spent time with the four executed men, just hours before they were shot to death. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Immigration: DVD Shows Unknown, Pre-Exodus Albania

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 14 — “The story ends in 1991, just as the great exodus of Albanians into Italy is getting under way. I was to be found on board one of those ships, and now I have the honour of telling our story”. The narrator is Roland Seiko, text-writer and co-director alongside Mauro Brescia of the DVD “Albania. Il paese di fronte” (Albania. The Country across the Way), produced by Istituto Luce and Fox Channel Italia, and released for sale at the moment. The documentary speaks of a country located just 60 miles from Italy but which was still as good as terra incognita up to the fall on the Henver Hoxha Communist dictatorship and the first mass landings of Albanians on Italy’s coasts. But there were nevertheless many ties binding Italy and Albania in the first half of the twentieth century, from the decisive role played by Italy in the country’s independence between 1912 and 1913, to inter-war economic investment, to Mussolinìs occupation of the country in 1939. And even during the period that historian Roberto Morozzo della Rocca, a consultant for the DVD, calls the postwar “black hole”, Albanians continued to fix their sights on Italy. “This has been a great responsibility for me, both as Albanian and as Italian — Seiko noted at the DVD’s premier showing at Romés Casa del Cinema — to complete this work maintaining the necessary objectivity, seeing that the archives we had to work from were all slanted as propaganda”. The archives in question are those of the Istituto Luce — where Seiko is employed when he is not editing the periodical for Albanians living in Italy, ‘Bota shqiptare’ — and the Tirana Film Archive. “Albania has been a long-forgotten country — notes Leonardo Tiberi of the Luce Institute — partly due to the regimés autocratic isolationism, soon breaking with the USSR to side with Maòs China. But the Tirana Archive, founded by the Luce Institute itself, managed to survive all the changes and is rich in fascinating Chinese footage”. The words of Indro Montanelli, who visited the Eagle Country during the 1920s and 1930s are heard over the first images we see of that era, of splendid seafronts and cities sprouting bell towers and minarets, and the faces of proud men, confident in their own identities. Because “before religion, be it Catholic, Orthodox or Moslem — Morozzo della Rocca explains — what comes first in the soul of an Albanian is their nation”. “We are a people that always wants to shine”, notes Kledi Kadiu, a ballet dancer from Tirana famed with Italy’s public for such TV spectacles as ‘Buona domenica’ and ‘Amici’, who was among the invited guests at the premier. The equating of Albanian immigrant and criminality now belongs to the past, says Kledi, who sees today’s Albania as “a beautiful building site in full swing” and in Italy as “a country that offers opportunities to those with abilities”. And he, too, was among the new citizens of Italy received yesterday morning by President Napolitano at his Quirinal Palace. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Cooperation: Puglia and Lebanon Towards First Partnership

(ANSAmed) — BARI, NOVEMBER 14 — National health and agricultural systems will be the main sectors upon which the region of Puglia and Lebanon could build a partnership during a support and development ‘Art Gold’ program started a year ago under the Un, by Italy, Belgium, Spain, The Principality of Monaco, and Canada. With this objective, on the initiative of Mediterranean Councilman in the Puglia region, a delegation from the Lebanese region of Bekaa met representatives from local institutions yesterday in Bari and will visit some important areas for the development of common projects today. “The ‘Art Gold’ program, financed for 2007-2009 by the Italian government with over 8 million euro — explained the coordinator of the Undp-Art program of the UN, Luciano Gonnella, is to support of the possibility of having a stable government in four areas of Lebanon: the south, north, Bekaa, and Southern Beirut. The scope of this project is to create local conditions of decentralised cooperation to facilitate the participation of these areas in projects/platforms in an organised context. And we are favouring the creation of a public-private agency to streamline paperwork, including for banking”. “In Lebanon — underlined the director general of Lebanese Municipalities, Khalil El Hajal — the main problems regard waste treatment, the water cycle, forestation, the cleanliness of forests, and preventing forest fires. First of all however, it is important to give the municipalities autonomy, as the current democratic government is doing, and resolve problems in an equal way in all the regions in Lebanon to avoid imbalances and to continue towards real development”. The Italian Embassy in Lebanon, in the meantime, has contributed spreading and translating in all Lebanese municipalities, decrees on equality for women and “supporting economic and rural development of the country -added program coordinator of the ‘Art-gold Lebanon’ program, Walid Atallah — also through the presence of the Army committed in peace missions”. For the Puglia region, which signed an agreement with his provinces to allocate 20,000 euro to start up a partnership, “we hope that — concluded Vito Amoruso, from the office for cooperation in the Mediterranean — the collaboration goes beyond the program and is long lasting, and is defined on the base of needs of both countries”. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU Status Becomes New Battleground Sahrawi-Morocco

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, OCTOBER 20 — The “advanced status” granted a few days ago by the European Union to Morocco could represent “a real danger for the evolution of the question of the Western Sahara and for the future, stability and peace in the Maghreb region”. The president of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (Rasd), Mohamed Abdelaziz, addressed EU on-duty president Nicolas Sarkozy, saying that “a prestigious institute as the European Union cannot, risking to lose credibility, become the accomplice, in the 20th century, of the politics of colonisation and repression Morocco has been responsible for in the Western Sahara for decades”. “Signing a special and privileged status with Morocco” the letter of the president continues “the European countries cannot have assessed its risks seriously”. Rabat, with this “special status”, the first granted by the EU to a third country, will be able to participate in European crisis management operations and in meetings of EU institutes, and receive more economic aid. For Abdelaziz Morocco will “take advantage of these privileges” and “will consider them an encouragement of its colonial enterprise”. If Morocco “doesn’t stop the repression of the civilian population in its occupied territories and doesn’t keep its promises made officially in UN context to allow the Sahrawi people to exercise its right for self-determination and independence” continues Abdelaziz, “serious consequences for stability and peace in the whole Maghreb and negative repercussions on its relations with Europe can be expected”. The question of the Western Sahara, former Spanish colony occupied by Morocco after its independence in 1975, is a continuous reason for tensions in the region, in particular between Algeria and Rabat. Around 150,000 refugees and the leaders of the Polisario Front survive on humanitarian aid in the camps near Tindouf. Reaching the fifth round, the direct talks between Morocco and Western Sahara, foreseen in the last UN resolution (1754) and “aimed at reaching a political solution that is mutually acceptable and that guarantees the right of self-determination of the people of west Sahara” haven’t led to any result. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mediterranean: Scotti, Italy’s Future Bound to This Region

(ANSAmed) — RAGUSA, NOVEMBER 10 — “To cooperate and integrate matters more than competing and one should take note. Foreign policy can be but one: Italy can find a lot of room for itself if it links up with niche markets. The future of our Country is bound to the Mediterranean region”, Italy’s Foreign Minister Enzo Scotti said in a speech at the Conference on Integration and Cooperation in the Mediettranean Area at Ragusa Monday. In another speech, the President of the Ragusa Province, Franco Antoci, said “the Union for the Mediterranean must represent the foundation to create a region of shared prosperity infusing fresh sap to the Mediterranean partnership which would otherwise end up amid failed hopes and unfulfilled dreams”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Law Change, Bouteflika Gets Himself 3rd Mandate

(by Laura De Santi) (ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 12 — No surprises for Algeria where there is an ever-increasing likelihood of a third term for Abdelaziz Bouteflika: with a crushing majority, the Algerian Parliament adopted revisions to the Constitution which do away with the limit of two successive five-year sessions for a President. Algiers lines up with many Arab and African countries such as Tunisia and Cameroon where the heads of state have granted themselves power for life. During the joint sessions in both Houses this morning, there was no debate. After the Fatiah (prayer) and the National anthem, the explanation of the amendment and then the vote by a show of hands: 500 for. Opposition was inexistent (21 votes against and 8 abstentions), “more than ever anaesthetised and crushed”, writes El Watan. Article 74 keeps the duration of the mandate at 5 years but sanctions the guaranteed ‘re-election’ , guaranteeing “ popular will in its full and free expression” according to Bouteflika. Even though he has not yet announced his candidacy for April’s elections, many are taking his participation and victory for granted. The electoral machinery appears to be in place for some time. “We will campaign for a third mandate for President of the Republic” said head of Government and Secretary of the RND (National Democratic Group) Ahmed Ouyahia, after today’s vote, and along with the Presidential alliance parties the National Liberation Front of Abdelaziz Belkhadem, and the Islamic MSP (Movement of the Society for Peace, former Hamas) voted in favour of the constitutional change. Hands up too from the Trotskyite PT party of Luisa Hanoune (Workers Party) and Moussa Touatìs FNA. The online petition ‘No to the constitutionalisation of authoritarianism’ launched at the start of 2008 and signed by hundreds of Algerian intellectuals, and the condemnation of ‘yet another constitutional coup d’etat’ by Said Sadi, leader of the RCD opposition party made no difference. Yesterday, several Communist MDS militants “were arrested while handing out leaflets against the revision” according to a statement by the Party. The new Constitution also introduces the job of the Prime Minister (previously head of Government) who has to put the President’s programme into effect, and several articles for the “glorification and protection of symbols of the Republic, history and the Revolution (like the hymn, ed)” and to maintain a greater political input by women. The 1996 Constitution was modified in 2002 to introduce Tamazigh (Berber) as the national but unofficial language along with Arabic. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


W. Sahara: Maghreb Still Divided, Polisario Hopes in Obama

(by Laura De Santi) (ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 11 — While the Saharans place their hopes in “the sensitivity over human rights” and “the African origins” of Barack Obama, the region continues to be divided by the conflict in the Western Sahara: the stances by Algiers and Rabat are still far apart, and in recent days the old tensions rose again over the land borders between the two countries which have been closed since 1994. After a speech by Mohamed VI who, on the 33rd anniversary of the occupation of the former Spanish colony criticised the “official line” of Algeria on the Western Sahara, accusing them of “doing everything to maintain the current situation, running the risk of the balkanisation of Maghreb and Shael”, Algiers’ response was immediate. “Nobody can accuse Algeria of wanting to Balkanise the Maghreb” said Algeriàs Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni. “History will show that these accusations are unfounded. Algeria has always done everything it can to build a great Arab Maghreb. But what kind of Arab Maghreb do we want to build? One at the service of the people or something else with hidden objectives?” Rabat has proposed the reopening of the border several times, but for Algiers, always on the side of the pro-independence Polisario Front “the border question must be tackled by evaluating the bilateral and regional context”. The borders were closed in 1994 following an attack on a hotel in Marrakesh for which the Rabat authorities blame the Algerian secret services. It is certain that without a solution to the Western Sahara question it is impossible to consider reopening the borders or a truly functioning Union of the Arab Maghreb (UMA) which has been effectively blocked since its creation (1989). But so far the latest in a long line of talks between representatives of RASD (Democratic Republic of the Arab Sahara, self-proclaimed) and Morocco, under way for more than a year under UN auspices and “aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable political solution which guarantees the rights to self-determination by the people of the Western Sahara” have not produced results. Today the Saharan people are putting their hopes on support from Obama. “The new US President is a reason for hope. We expect independence during his mandate” said RASD President Mohamed Abdelaziz to Algeriàs daily El Khabar. “Obama is very sensitive to the question of human rights and international law, and he will be more interested than his predecessor in the Western Sahara, the last colony of Africa, his land of origin”. Rabat continues to propose autonomy for the former Spanish colony, while the RASD, which has Algiers’ support, refuses and wants the referendum on self determination promised by the UN. “If diplomacy fails” said Abdelaziz “we will take up the armed struggle again without doubt”. A ceasefire has been in place since 1991. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A Little Enlightenment

Quoted from Barry Rubin:

Let me stress that the following is not typical but it is revealing. On November 12, 2008, MEMRI published its video clip No. 1903 which you can see here. It is from a television show aired on October 31, 2008. First, I will tell you what it says, which is profoundly shocking. But then I will give you seven reasons why it is far more shocking than you thought.

The person being interviewed proposes that Arab men sexually harass Israeli women as a new means of resistance against Israel. “They are fair game for all Arabs,” the interviewee explains, because they “rape the land” by their very existence.

Might this cause a legal problem if an Egyptian or Jordanian rapes an Israeli tourist? No problem, the interviewee explains, “Most Arab countries do not have sexual harassment laws. Therefore, if [Arab women] are fair game for Arab men, there is nothing wrong with Israeli women being fair game as well.”

If an Israeli woman is threatened, abused, or harassed, she has no right to defend herself. They are merely being given a choice: “Leave the land so we won’t rape you.”

Now you might say that is pretty shocking. Even in the context of Arab political discussion, the above-quoted position is very different. There are many Arabs who would disagree and even ridicule such an idea.

And yet it still tells us a great deal about mainstream thinking and the weakness of moderation. Consider these points:

The person saying this, Nagla al-Imam is a woman. She obviously has no idea of women’s solidarity. Nationalism and religion come first. Her priority is not to demand stronger laws in her country to protect women but the exploitation of such law’s absence to lower the level of treatment for all women. The philosophy is: It doesn’t matter if you abuse me if you treat the Israelis even worse. Don’t take that idea lightly, it defines how millions of people behave…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]


Israel: Soldier Jailed for Yawning at Memorial Service

Tel Aviv, 12 Nov. (AKI) — An Israeli soldier was sentenced to 21 days in prison after yawning during a memorial service for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The soldier, from the Israeli Defense Forces, yawned in what was described as a ‘long and loud yawn’, during a speech by commander of the Ramat David Israel Air Force, reported Israeli daily Haaretz.

The commander then paused for a few minutes after the yawn. The soldier was tried on account of his “disrespectful act” and sentenced to 21 days in a military prison.

Israeli prime minister and Nobel peace prize winner Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated during a peace rally in Tel-Aviv by a Jewish militant in 1995.

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


Obama Links Israel Peace Plan to 1967 Deal

President-elect set to pursue withdrawal to early borders in return for full recognition

Barack Obama is to pursue an ambitious peace plan in the Middle East involving the recognition of Israel by the Arab world in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, according to sources close to America’s president-elect.

Obama intends to throw his support behind a 2002 Saudi peace initiative endorsed by the Arab League and backed by Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister and leader of the ruling Kadima party.

The proposal gives Israel an effective veto on the return of Arab refugees expelled in 1948 while requiring it to restore the Golan Heights to Syria and allow the Palestinians to establish a state capital in east Jerusalem.

On a visit to the Middle East last July, the president-elect said privately it would be “crazy” for Israel to refuse a deal that could “give them peace with the Muslim world”, according to a senior Obama adviser.

The Arab peace plan received a boost last week when President Shimon Peres, a Nobel peace laureate and leading Israeli dove, commended the initiative at a Saudi-sponsored United Nations conference in New York.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

China Concludes Biggest Oil Agreement Since Saddam

It is worth 3.5 billion dollars, and provides for exploration and development in the extensive oil fields of Ahdab, estimated to be able to produce at least 90,000 barrels a day. Iraq wants to triple its production of crude, and expects that other agreements could be announced soon.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) — An agreement worth 3.5 billion dollars between Iraq and the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), for exploration and development, over 20 years, of the the oil fields of Ahdab in eastern Wasit, which Baghdad estimates could produce 90,000 barrels of crude per day (bpd).

But the CNPC, in conjunction with another Chinese company, Norinco, maintains that the use of “advanced” technologies could produce 115,000 bpd within three years. It is the largest agreement between Baghdad and a foreign company since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Experts predict that this contract could open the way to the announcement of other agreements that Iraq is currently negotiating.

Ahmed al-Shamaa, Iraq’s deputy oil minister who announced the agreement, comments that a similar contract was reached by the CNPC in 1997, with Saddam Hussein. But he says that the former agreement was for a production-sharing contract, while this is a service contract.

Iraq is third in the world for oil reserves, but the war and the previous sanctions against Saddam have seriously compromised its production until now. Now it wants to triple this, and reach 6 million bpd by 2016, with the help of foreign companies.

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


Iran Returns to the Global Stage

By George Friedman

After a three-month hiatus, Iran seems set to re-emerge near the top of the U.S. agenda. Last week, the Iranian government congratulated U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on his Nov. 4 electoral victory. This marks the first time since the Iranian Revolution that such greetings have been sent.

While it seems trivial, the gesture is quite significant.

[…]

The temperature in U.S.-Iranian relations was surging, at least publicly. Then Russia and Georgia went to war, and Iran suddenly dropped off the U.S. radar screen. Washington went quiet on the entire Iranian matter

[…]

Washington wanted not only to make Iran feel threatened, but also to increase Tehran’s isolation by forging the U.N. Security Council members and Germany into a solid bloc imposing increasingly painful sanctions on Iran.

Once the Russo-Georgian War broke out, however, and the United States sided publicly and vigorously with Georgia, the chances of the Russians participating in such sanctions against Iran dissolved. As the Russians rejected the idea of increased sanctions, so did the Chinese.

[…]

The Iranians have a long history with the Russians, including the occupation of northern Iran by Russia during World War II. The Russians are close to Iran, and the Americans are far away. Tehran’s desire to get closer to the Russians is therefore limited, although under pressure Iran would certainly purchase weapons from Russia, just as it has purchased nuclear technology in the past.

[…]

The United States did not want to give Iran a motive for closing an arms deal with Russia, leaving aside the question of whether the Russian threat to sell weapons was anything more than a bargaining chip with the Americans. With Washington rhetorically pounding Russia, pounding Iran at the same time made no sense. For one thing, the Iranians, like the Russians, knew the Americans were spread too thin. Also, the United States suddenly had to reverse its position on Iran. Prior to Aug. 8, Washington wanted the Iranians to feel embattled; after Aug. 8, the last thing the United States wanted was for the Iranians to feel under threat. In a flash, Iran went from being the most important issue on the table to being barely mentioned.

[…]

According to the leaks, U.S. President George W. Bush intended to open diplomatic relations with Iran after the election regardless of who won, in order to free the next president from the burden of opening relations with Iran.

[…]

The issue of Iran’s nuclear program was part of this negotiation. The Iranians were less interested in building a nuclear weapon than in having the United States believe they were building one. As Tehran learned by observing the U.S. reaction to North Korea, Washington has a nuclear phobia. Tehran thus hoped it could use the threat of a nuclear program to force the United States to be more forthcoming on Iranian interests in Iraq, a matter of fundamental importance to Iran. At the same time, the United States had no appetite for bombing Iran, but used the threat of attacks as leverage to get the Iranians to be more tractable.

[…]

There is a fundamental issue blocking the agreement. The United States has agreed to an Iraqi government that is neutral between Washington and Tehran. That is a major defeat for the United States, but an unavoidable one under the circumstances. But a U.S. withdrawal without a residual force means that the Iranians will be the dominant force in the region, and this is not something United States — along with the Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis, the Saudis and Israelis — wants.

           — Hat tip: Conservative Swede[Return to headlines]


Islamists Claim Syria Backed Lebanon Attack

A Lebanese newspaper on Saturday published statements purporting to be by members of Fatah al-Islam showing the radical group had links with Syria and that Damascus had backed an attack in Lebanon.

The publication of the “evidence” in al-Mustaqbal newspaper, owned by anti-Syrian majority parliamentary leader Saad Hariri, comes barely a week after Syrian television broadcast alleged “admissions” by Fatah al-Islam members that the group was financed by Hariri’s Future Movement.

Al-Mustaqbal published undated and unsigned “copies” of statements by men held by Lebanese security services and prosecuting judges.

One of them, Ahmad Merhi, said a Syrian general with whom he had “excellent” relations” told him in 2007 that there was coordination on information between Syria and Fatah al-Islam, which battled the Lebanese army in summer 2007.

The 15-week struggle in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli left 400 people dead, including 168 soldiers.

Merhi said General Jawdat al-Hassan, head of the fight against terrorism and fundamentalist groups within the Syrian army’s information service, “asked me to help Shaker al-Abssi,” the Fatah al-Islam leader who fled the camp.

Thanks to his links with the general, he was able to allow

“dozens of Fatah al-Islam fighters” to escape to Lebanon, he said.

One of the detainees said that he had met with Major General Assef Shawkat, head of military intelligence. There was no Syrian comment on the accusations.

Alleged members of the al-Qaeda linked Fatah al-Islam appeared to confess on Syrian TV earlier this month to carrying out the car bombing that killed 17 people, mainly civilians, in the Syrian capital in September. They claimed the group had received money from Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, prompting Hariri to call last week for an Arab League investigation into the allegations.

The Future movement is part of the March 14 coalition that leads Lebanon’s anti-Syrian parliamentary majority and is heavily backed by the United States.

Mehri was also quoted as saying that the “Syrians asked Shaker al-Abssi to carry out the double attack at Ain Alak in February 2007” which targeted two passenger buses in the north of Beirut, killing three people.

The aim of the attack, committed the day before the second anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, “was to dissuade people from participating” in a ceremony of commemoration, Merhi added.

Damascus is accused by Lebanon’s anti-Syrian majority of responsibility for the murder of Hariri, who had turned against Syria’s domination of Lebanon. Syria denies any involvement in the killing.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italy-Syria: First Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Damascus

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, OCTOBER 27 — There was also a bit of Italy in the first bone marrow transplant unit which was recently inaugurated ath the Tishreen military hospital in Damascus, Syria. The 26 doctors in the new and only ward currently at work in the Country received their training thanks to a training program launched by Romés IME (Istituto Mediterraneo di Ematologia — Mediterranean Institute of Haematology). IME’s inititiative includes also treatment and research and, above all, the setting up of a wrold-wide network to fight against haematological illnesses. The doctors of the new unit already successfully carried out three complex surgical operations. Projects IME has in store for Syria setting up two paediatric units, one at the Tishreen hospital and the other in the Damascus University Hospital — and the creation of a national registry of bone marrow donors. IME, jointly with other Italian hospitals, has undertaken other projects concerning Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Kurdistan. The IME Foundation has been engaged since 2003 in health cooperation in the Mediterranean and Middle East regions, mostly in the paediatrics field. Sinergy between treatment and training activities is typical of the method adopted by IME with the aim of gradually transferring the clinic skills required to manage haematologic matters on the spot. IME has signed operational agreements including both treatment and staff training with Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Israel the Maldives, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, while more are being negotiated with Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan and China. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Lebanon: Hezbollah Re-Elects Nasrallah, Eyes Cousin as Heir

(by Ziad Talhouk) (ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, NOVEMBER 12 — Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has been re-elected chief of Hezbollah for the fifth time since 1992 and his cousin is the ‘‘favorite’’ heir in case the top post at the Iranian-backed guerrilla group became vacant, according to a Lebanese daily newspaper. An-Nahar daily said the alleged re-election of Nasrallah, 48, was taken during the eighth congress of Hezbollah, which is being held in the usual top secrecy, especially that Israel has threatened to liquidate the Hezbollah leadership following the 2006 war. The paper said the re-election of Nasrallah, an un-opposed ‘‘historical’’ leader of the Shiite organization, needed a special fatwa (religious edict) by the Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for Hezbollah’s ‘‘constitution’’ forbids the re-election of the Secretary General beyond two consecutive three-year terms. On the other hand, Mustafa Shehadi is ‘‘favoured’’ to lead Hezbollah’s military wing, which had been for years headed by Imad Mughniyeh until his assassination in Syria last February, according to An-Nahar. What is ‘‘almost certain’’, the paper added, is that Sayyed Hashem Safieddin, 44 and currently head of Hezbollah’s executive council, is the potential successor to Nasrallah, his cousin, in case of vacuum at the helm of the Party of God. Beirut’s French-language L’Orient-Le Jour said Hezbollah has a ‘‘ready alternative’’ to each of its key officials, who are all targets for Israel. A spokesman for the secretive Hezbollah contacted by Ansa, refused to comment on the report by An-Nahar or to respond to the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat which described Safieddin as ‘‘Nasrallah’s shadow’’ and ‘‘number two’’ of the Shiite party. Officially, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general is Sheikh Naim Kassem. By virtue of his position in the ‘‘executive’’, Safieddin is also member of Shura (consultative) council, the decision-making organ made up of seven senior members elected for three years and headed by the secretary-general. Despite his key role in the party, Safieddin is seldom shown by the media outlets of Hezbollah, which claims that it is now stronger militarily than before the 2006 Israeli offensive. The man has striking physical resemblance to his cousin Nasrallah and have the same lisping. Like him, he is a bespectacled cleric with a black beard and a black turban, indicating their alleged belonging to the lineage of prophet Mohammad. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Santa Claus is My Favorite Politician: Haifa Wehbi

Santa Claus may not come to mind as a political figure worthy of note, but for Lebanese superstar and sex icon Haifaa Wehbi the jolly old elf tops her list, far above Lebanon’s sectarian leaders, she said in an interview Sunday.

Wehbi told the morning show Sabah Al Arabiya that she does not support any political party or group in Lebanon and is not fond of any of her country’s political figures.

She also sought to squash rumors that she had tried to bribe the executive producer of World Music Awards, singer Melissa Corken, to award her Best Selling Artist in the Middle East. Wehbi denied knowing Corken, who accused her of trying to buy the international award for $400,000.

“It’s a disgrace to buy an award and I don’t need that,” she said. “I congratulate my colleague Nancy Ajram for getting it.”

“ It’s a disgrace to buy an award and I don’t need that “

Singer Haifa WehbeThe singer, whose face has graced more than 100 magazine covers according to her website, was among People Magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful Women in 2007. The accolade has prompted several invitations to international events like the Cannes Film Festival as well as charity events, she noted.

“It is an honor to take part in such humanitarian events,” she said.

The 32-year-old entertainer is one of the most controversial in the Arab world because of her skimpy outfits and seductive performances, which conservatives and Islamists in the region have deemed provocative and indecent. Her concerts in the many Arab countries have been met with protests and government officials and public figures have called for bans on her performances at various times.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

South Asia

After Interreligious Summit at UN, Pakistani Christians Say It’s Time for Action

After the conference organized by Saudi king Abdullah, the Christians of Pakistan are waiting for words to turn into action. The secretary of the justice and peace commission of the Catholic Church and the director of the ecumenical organization the Christian Study Centre are optimistic for the future. Great expectations of Zardari government and the package of constitutional reforms announced by the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — After the solemn affirmations of the interreligious summit held at the UN on November 13-14, Pakistani Christians are waiting for words to turn into action. Judgment on the initiative organized by Saudi king Abdullah and supported by the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, is positive. The appeal to mutual respect among all religions and to the avoidance of exploiting faith is widely shared.

The fact that the world political leaders present at the United Nations also included Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is seen as a positive sign. The almost 3 million Christians in Pakistan, about 2% of a population with an overwhelming Muslim majority, expect signs of openness from the country’s government, and hope that they can soon greet significant reforms in matters of respect and attention for minorities.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Peter Jacob, secretary for the national commission of justice and peace of the Catholic Church (NJCP), affirms: “we are encouraged by the UN initiative on interfaith dialogue and the culture of peace, and now hatred against other religions should be discouraged at every level and stopped. After this UN conference, ‘now it is time that words should be translated into actions’.”

Referring to the situation in the country, Jacob says that he expects “a serious and positive policy change regarding religious minorities in Pakistan from the present coalition government, especially in the fields of legislation, media and education. And we expect these changes in the constitutional package that the Pakistan Peoples Party is planning to introduce.

Jacob thinks it is urgent that the parliament be opened to representatives of the various minorities in the country. Still today, there are no Christians or other religious representatives in the high chamber of Majlisnon. In fact, Jacob says, religious minorities had no participation in country’s legislation process, even if the legislation was being done for them. On this point as well, Jacob hopes in the promises made by the coalition headed by Zardari. He hopes that as soon as possible, there will be significant minority representation in the senate, the real decision-making body in the Pakistani legislative system.

The expectations of the secretary of the NJCP are nonetheless being extended to all sectors of social life in the country. Jacob does not omit, for example, the social and economic areas. Minorities are struggling to find space in the world of work and in the various areas of public life in Pakistan. In his view, “the economic rights and advancement of minorities should be top of the list.”

Regarding the recent appointment of the Catholic Shahbaz Bhatti as federal minister for minorities, the secretary of the NJCP believes that this is the best choice for such a position, and says he is convinced that the new minister will be able to play an important role in removing discriminatory legislation still existing in the country. Jacob suggests in this regard the institution, in the near term, of a commission that would investigate the widespread and improper use of the law on blasphemy, which he calls a major hindrance in interfaith harmony and dialogue.

Like Jacob, Meboob Sada, director of the Christian Study Centre (CSC), says that he is hopeful for the future of coexistence among the various religions, and for renewed attention toward minorities.

Interviewed by AsiaNews, the head of the ecumenical organization in Rawalpindi, involved in interreligious dialogue, says that recently “we are seeing a positive sign in the country; media is giving good coverage to this issue now.” For Sada, interreligious dialogue is not the only necessity for the country, but he considers this the basis for the development of civil and peaceful coexistence among the population.

The director of the CSC is also optimistic about the possible effects of the statements by President Zardari at the UN. Sada acknowledges that behind the initiative in New York, as also behind the declarations of the president, there are political motivations that go beyond interreligious dialogue. The head of the ecumenical organization nonetheless says he believes that such meetings can contribute to a change in the media, and to providing opportunities for open debate among Christians and Muslims. In regard to the recent past, Sada notes that today it is not only Christians seeking an encounter and dialogue: “this is a positive sign for all of us.”

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


Pakistan, Between Jihad and Afghan Temptations

This precious contribution photographs the situation in which Pakistan has precipitated since the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The author, beyond examining the different factors which contributed to such a serious, even though not sudden, evolvement of events, underlines the dangerous “radicalization of the Pakistan Islamic panorama” that is taking place. And it is precisely to this radicalism, “much more global and modern than the local and archaic one of the Afghani Taliban” that we must give due attention, also in light of possible threats which could involve “other Countries present in the Isaf Mission”.

Pakistan is in fibrillation. Many are the events which, in this last year, have contributed to generate tension: the attack that killed Benazir Bhutto and the subsequent collapse of the transition pact which, under the American auspices, the ex-Premier, recently returned to his homeland, had stipulated with Musharraf; the elections which saw the total defeat of the President to the benefit of leaders and parties considered to be historic enemies, like the Ppp, dominated by the Bhutto family and the Moslem League of Nawaz Sharif; the campaign of suicide attacks after the “Jihad Defensive” proclamation of insurrection in the Northern provinces and tribal areas; the breaking down of old and new hidden alliances between the Military and the Services of Islamabad on the one side, and the complex panorama of Pakistani and Afghan fundamentalism on the other…

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

Culture Wars

Another PBS “Documentary” on the Bible

If there had been a historical Moses, it would have been 700 years after his death.”

What’s that? Does Glassman say, “if” there was a Moses?

He explains that because the film had to be based on solid scholarship and research, the filmmakers had to look for evidence outside the scriptures. While there is a possibility that there were Jews who fled Egypt 3,200 years ago, the scholars who were interviewed by Glassman’s team found no evidence of a massive exodus of 600,000 men and their families as described in the Bible.

At the same time, Glassman says the film points to other exciting discoveries that help to support parts of the Bible story, such as a huge stone monument known as the Merneptah Stele, which is believed to have been erected by an Egyptian pharaoh around 1208 B.C. On it, the pharaoh lists the peoples he conquered, including the Israelites.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama to Fund Forced Abortions

De-funded during the Bush Administration, US money for the UN Population Fund that supports China’s policy of coercive abortion will flow again during the Obama Administrations, say supporters.

Supporters of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are confident that President-elect Barack Obama will reverse the Bush administration’s 2002 decision to stop the $40 million it received in U.S. funding. The policy was instated because of UNFPA’s support for China’s one-child policy, which includes coercive abortion practices.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D — N.Y.) said the funding will be approved by the Democratic majority Congress. Her comments came while speaking Wednesday at a press conference at the National Press Club where the 2008 U.N. report on world population was released.

“You know the president will have to do nothing,” said Maloney.”He will just have to let the will of Congress go through. One of the changes is that UNFPA will be funded,” CNSNews.com reports.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Owner Says Prop 8 Opponents Hacked Into LDS Site

Owners of a Web site that specializes in advice and information for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say their site was attacked the day following passage of Proposition 8 by people they believe opposed the measure.

Scott Proctor of Meridian magazine said the site was hacked into early Nov. 5, and its home page was replaced with “horrible, explicit lesbians films placed all over the cover.” Engineers took the site down immediately after the break-in was discovered, he said.

The company’s Internet technology director said the electronic breach occurred in “a very elegant way. They had to have someone who really knew what they were doing to accomplish it the way they did it.”

[Return to headlines]

General

Energy: Expert Says Time Not Ripe for Gas Cartel

Rome, 14 Nov. (AKI) — A top natural gas expert said on Friday the world is not ready to create a gas cartel similar to the oil industry’s Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC. “The time is not ripe yet,” said Hamed Korkor, Assistant Chairman of the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

He made the remarks during the conclusion of the Rome Energy Meeting which took place in the Italian capital on Thursday and Friday. The conference looked at energy security and climate change, focusing on Europe and its relations with Russia, Mediterranean and Black Sea countries.

Kokur said that the time for a cartel was not right despite appeals launched by some of the gas exporting countries taking place in the forum.

Korkor said that gas consuming countries ‘fear’ the creation of a so-called gas cartel in light of what he calls ‘pressure’ exerted against OPEC when it raised oil prices.

OPEC has arged that oil prices are not just a supply and demand issue, but also depend on ‘speculation’.

Korkor concluded by underlining the importance of Algeria, Egypt and Libya in providing natural gas, calling this a “source of clean energy” in comparison with oil.

Gas producing countries in 2001 set up the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Iran in 2001. An initiative of Egypt, the GECF aims to create a mechanism to coordinate cooperation among gas exporting countries and to promote dialogue between gas producers and consumers.

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


Letter From Iceland

By Robert Jackson

Give it a population of 300,000, about the same as Coventry, 70 per cent of them in the cities of Reykjavik and Akureyri. Ensure they are all related and give the majority the ability to trace their ancestry back to the times of settlement, more than a thousand years earlier. Endow these people with industry and ambition. Give them their own language — all but unchanged for a millennium — a literary tradition, three national newspapers, two television channels, free universal healthcare and education and close to zero unemployment. Give this country a consistently high ranking in the world standard-of-living charts and you have the Iceland of the recent past. Not a bad place, all in all.

Now allow this country’s banks — virtually unregulated — to borrow more than 10 times their country’s gross domestic product from the international wholesale money markets. Watch as a Graf Zeppelin of debt propels its self-styled “Viking Raiders” across the world’s financial stage, accumulating companies like gamblers hoarding chips. Then sit on the sidelines as the airship flies home and explodes, showering its blazing wreckage over this once proud, yet tiny, nation.

There you see the Iceland of today — the victim of an economic 9/11 and one of the very few places in the world where the words “financial meltdown” can be used without fear of exaggeration.

           — Hat tip: no2liberals[Return to headlines]


World Charter for Compassion

CAIRO — Eying harmony among followers of different faiths, a website has been launched to help craft a universal platform for compassion between all religions.

“The chief task of our time is to build a global society where people of all persuasions can live together in peace and harmony,” US faith scholar Karen Armstrong said on the website.

“If we do not achieve this, it seems unlikely that we will have a viable world to hand on to the next generation.”

The brainchild of Armstrong, who wrote 20 books about the common ground among religions, the website, www.charterforcompassion.org, will allow people worldwide to take part in drafting a groundbreaking, universal platform for compassion.

“The Charter for Compassion is a collaborative effort to build a peaceful and harmonious global community,” said a statement on the website.

People of all faiths will be allowed through the website to post their words and stories related to the Charter.

“Over the next months this site will be open for the world to contribute to Charter for Compassion.”

Early next year, a Council of Sages, a multi-faith group of high-level religious leaders and thinkers, including Islamic Studies Professor Tariq Ramadan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rabbi Julia Neuberger will use the words submitted and jointly craft the final document.

The Charter will then be signed by religious leaders of all faiths, and promoted and publicized around the world.

“Instead of being seen as part of the problem, the religions could make a vital contribution to this urgent undertaking.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

4 comments:

Czechmade said...

I read Khazin. He states that up to 1/3 of US production comes to stillstand, that this crisis was postponed several times, but the root was abandonment of the gold reserves as a monetary check in 1971.

He states that opening of the ex-communists markets was the last chance to use the money for reducing the dept (postponing the crisis for 30 years).

He claims that 9/11 was self-inflicted in a tradition ranging from Pearl harbor, Panama, caribic etc., that WTC was hit on purpose to create a smoke-screen and drw attention away from Wall stret. That Obama was installed to be sacrificed as a scape-goat, that Clinton had the last chance to introduce some measures and in his books he described this crisis already in the late nineties.

He worked in a team under Yeltsyn as a deputy director for economic analysis.

All these accusations should be in your article, otherwise it has no sense to publish an excerpt.

My reading this article was purely accidental, I am surprized it appeared here and why abridged, when you find Khazin an authority on anything.

NJArtist said...

Obama'a hypnosis technique:

The question is: Is Obama the expert in the NLP techniques or is it his speech writer Axelrod? Does Obama demonstrate the speaking and writing capabilities to carry this off; or, is he parroting others?

Baron Bodissey said...

Czechmade --

You, like so many others, seem to misunderstand the purpose of the news feed. What makes you think that I "find Khazin an authority on anything"?

My including something here is not an endorsement, an assertion of its truth, or an indication that I agree with it.

The news feed is a collection of items which have been sent to me as tips. Many of them are sent with excerpts included, so that I don't even have to open the original article.

I look at the text, check that it's not offensive, obscene, or obviously insane. Then if it looks like it might be of interest to GoV readers, I put it in the news feed.

I can afford to allocate between 30 seconds and 2 minutes for each news feed item -- no more than that.

If I have to research and verify everything in an item, then it would have to become a post and not a news feed item. Which, by definition, I don't have time for -- that's why it goes in the news feed in the first place.

So what you are asking for, in effect, is that I stop placing items in the news feed. There is no other way to solve the particular problem you raise.

However, the good news is that the distributed intelligence of GoV readers can go to work on these items, and research them, expand on them, and/or refute them. Then the whole truth can be displayed here.

Also: readers who are prompted by items here may send me longer research articles (include all links, please) that are in a ready-to-post form. Then their viewpoints can be represented in posts here, as posts.

To meet your criteria, I would either have to find a way to insert extra hours into every day, or abandon the news feed. I can't do the former, and I refuse to do the latter.

So your job is to extend, analyze, refute, refine, and kibitz.

I know for a fact that Khazin is not the only unreliable resource I've posted here. In fact, that's one of the important things I want to do: to include ideas by people who have been deemed beyond the pale, just in case they might have value.

After all, I've been judged to be beyond the pale myself, so I have sympathy.

If people are not intelligent and resourceful enough to research and evaluate what's presented here, then they shouldn't be reading Gates of Vienna. They should be reading a site that hands out received wisdom, where independent thinking is not wanted.

Someplace like LGF, just to pick a random example.

Czechmade said...

I am myself beyond the pale (think Dublin/Ireland) according to ConSwede. So you have my sympathy and none of us is able to be in full control of all the news. I agree, the time table is inexorable.

I have no idea how to treat this article. But the full article would definitely generate a response from more qualified people than me.

Maybe it would be worthwhile to put a graphic pale on your/our page and explore the job of a virtual pale.
(think Dublin/Ireland).

Or a full article dedicated to the "pale" only? A picture of the pale might be a memento to all of us.
Slavery can be occasionally a very subtle thing!