Monday, January 26, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/26/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/26/2009If you look in the “General” section below, you’ll find two separate stories sent in two separate batches of tips. Each concerns a proposal for a “new world order” as a response to the current financial crisis, with the proponents being Gordon Brown and Henry Kissinger.

I find this to be ominous.

The current crisis is going to continue for a while. The bad debt has to be burned out of the global economy, and the process will destroy a large proportion of the world’s wealth. Before the conflagration is through, billions of people will experience grievous suffering. Unemployment, dislocation, social unrest, and destitution will be unleashed upon the world, and the possibility of mass starvation and disease cannot be ruled out.

But to the elites in the permanent governing class, the financial meltdown is a seen as a golden opportunity, an unprecedented stroke of good fortune that will allow them to amass yet more power and extend their control even further over the lives of ordinary citizens.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Insubria, JCPA, JD, Reinhard, RRW, Steen, Tuan Jim, VH, Zenster, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
USA
After Less Than a Week in Office, Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Plunges 15 Points
Google Plans to Make PCs Ancient History
Harvard vs the Hood
History’s Tragic Farce
Lawmakers Seek Ammo Control Laws
Napolitano’s Priority: Canada Border
Obama’s Auntie Zeituni is Back in the News
Pelosi Signals Willingness to Add to TARP Funds
Peter Schiff: Let the Housing Market Crash
Real Reasons for Big Bailouts
 
Europe and the EU
“Revolutionary Whore” to Rest Alongside Calvin
Anger in Britain as Broadcasters Refuse to Air Gaza Appeal
EU to Propose $200 Billion Climate Tax on Rich Nations
Farmers Cut Greece Into Three as Protests Intensify
Finland: 1000s of Foreign Workers Leave Depressed Construction Sector
France: the Engineer of Diversity
France: SocGen Rogue Trader Jerome Kerviel ‘Hit the Jackpot’ on 7/7
Holocaust Denier Row Played Down
Iceland’s Coalition Government Terminated
Italy: Political Standstill Stunting Sicily, Says Business Leader
Italy: Minister Says Govt Must Expel Immigrants Who Fail to Integrate
N. Ireland: Logic of the Madhouse Takes Hold in the North
Not Welcome at the U.S. Embassy
Spain: A Jewel for the Queen, Campanian Pearls in Madrid
Survey Shows Alarming Lack of Integration in Germany
Sweden: Arrests at Pro-Israel Demonstration in Malmö
The Charities Are Guilty, Not the BBC
The UK Will Not Take Any More Guantanamo Prisoners, Says Miliband…
UK: Another Winter of Their Discontent
UK: Muslims in the Lords
 
Balkans
Bosnia-Italy: Trade in 2008 Tops 1.2 Billion Euro
Serbia: Fiat Confirms ‘Punto’ Production to Start in March
Serbia: Support for EU Membership Falls
 
North Africa
Egypt-Thailand:USD 850 Million Trade Exchange and Investment
Sahara: Polisario Creates Exclusive Fishing Zone
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Jane’s: Hamas to Probe Gaza Failings
Netanyahu to WS Journal: Iran is the Terrorist ‘Mother Regime’
The George Mitchell Appointment:
 
Middle East
A Saudi Prince’s Threat to the Obama Administration
Defence: Cooperation Accord Signed Between Turkey-Kuwait
Defense: Turkish and UK Contractors Sign Cooperation Deal
Doubts and Problems Over Saudi Succession
Jordan: IPR; 350 Copyright Cases Taken to Court in 2008
Turkey: Istanbul; Cameras to be Installed on the Minarets
U.S. Navy Hunting Iran Ships Sent to Rearm Hamas in Gaza’
UAE Mountain Covered in Rare Snow
UAE: More Freedom of Press But Journalists Don’t Like Law
Vatican — Iraq: I Asked the Pope for a Mideast Synod to Renew the Christian Presence, Says Mgr Sako
 
Russia
Risking All for Press Freedom
 
Caucasus
Russia to Open Naval Base in Georgian Rebel Region — Reports
 
South Asia
Indonesian Ulamas Announce Conditional Smoking Ban
Malaysia: Religious Leaders Call on BBC to Show Gaza Ad
Pakistan: Sectarian Attacks Spark Violent Protests
Thailand: Pictured: Hundreds of Refugees Left to Die After ‘Being Towed Out to Sea and Abandoned by Thai Army’
 
Immigration
Finland: Problems for Immigrants Without Language Skills
Illegal Immigrants to be DNA Tested Under New Crackdown in France
Sweden: Six Men Flee Migration Board Detention Centres
 
Culture Wars
Pelosi Says Birth Control Will Help Economy
 
General
A New World Order by Henry Kissinger
Brown Sees ‘New World Order’ After Crisis

USA

After Less Than a Week in Office, Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Plunges 15 Points

Barack Obama might have been in office for less than a week, but the euphoria is beginning to wane.

The new President’s approval ratings have fallen from a stratospheric 83 per cent to a more modest — although still impressive — 68 per cent.

Washington analysts said the scale of the drop in the Gallup poll underlines the immense challenges Mr Obama faces in trying to turn round the U.S.’s battered fortunes.

One commentor below article writes :

So far, the”idea’s coming from this colossal waste of time are not inspiring. Look for our debt load to increase to the point that it can never be repaid (we’re talking trillions here now), the regulatory burden of both people and industries to the point that the only job creator will be the federal government and every aspect of our lives is regulated. Watch for the amnesty for millions more of the illegals in this country and throwing open the gates to anyone who wants to get in. When he’d done, Bush will look like a saint.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Beloved Caesar Obama

Anyone with a sixth grade civics education understands the wisdom of the Founding Fathers in their design of three specific branches of government and the accountability each enforces.

Apparently President Obama skipped the sixth grade.

Within the first three days of taking office, Obama has signed five specific executive orders without any advice or the consent of the legislative or judicial branches — the same branches the founders believed were essential for effective and accountable government. This is an unprecedented number given past presidents like Kennedy, Carter and Clinton only signed one in the first few days of taking office and Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush signed zero in the same time frame.

Maybe Obama has abandoned the whole concept of a constitutional republic and is embracing early on what many of us feared: a Socialist dictatorship with our supreme, beloved leader Caesar Obama. Castro’s Cuba, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China may soon see the list include Obama’s America unless some of the Republicans in Congress grow a set of … well, nerves.

An executive order becomes law unless it is challenged by Congress or the courts. With a two-thirds majority of Congress an order, referred to as a decree in other countries, can and has been overridden — especially if it deviates from the original, congressional intent of any law or statue it eliminates or adds.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Google Plans to Make PCs Ancient History

Critics warn of danger in giving online leader more power

Google is to launch a service that would enable users to access their personal computer from any internet connection, according to industry reports. But campaigners warn that it would give the online behemoth unprecedented control over individuals’ personal data.

The Google Drive, or “GDrive”, could kill off the desktop computer, which relies on a powerful hard drive. Instead a user’s personal files and operating system could be stored on Google’s own servers and accessed via the internet.

The long-rumoured GDrive is expected to be launched this year, according to the technology news website TG Daily, which described it as “the most anticipated Google product so far”. It is seen as a paradigm shift away from Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which runs inside most of the world’s computers, in favour of “cloud computing”, where the processing and storage is done thousands of miles away in remote data centres.

[…]

It is this prospect that alarms critics of Google’s ambitions. Peter Brown, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, a charity defending computer users’ liberties, did not dispute the convenience offered, but said: “It’s a little bit like saying, ‘we’re in a dictatorship, the trains are running on time.’ But does it matter to you that someone can see everything on your computer? Does it matter that Google can be subpoenaed at any time to hand over all your data to the American government?”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Harvard vs the Hood

Barack Obama’s inauguration was an enormous magnet for the stars of stage, screen, TV, and the radio, the celebrity-stuffed culmination of the goals of the Sixties civil rights movement. Some of the most prominent stars were black musicians. This is an opportunity to raise the question: Whither goest black popular culture, especially hip-hop music, under the new president?

1. Will the Obama presidency drain the swamp of hip-hop hate? Can he remake the dividers into uniters? On Tuesday night, the rapper Jay-Z performed on the ABC Inaugural ball special in a tux and nerdy glasses, toning down the thug-rap with a song called “History.” ABC didn’t have to bleep a single word, even if the older demographics in the audience were still wondering why this is called music. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the pendulum of rap music swung away from glorifying the “thug life” of drug dealers, pimps, and gangsters? With a black man in the White House, could rappers be less pessimistic about authority? When talking about The Man, there is no more powerful man in Washington than the black man just sworn in as our 44th president.

The early signs aren’t promising. On YouTube, Jay-Z and another rapper, Young Jeezy, appeared at a Monday night “Hip Hop Inaugural Ball” in Washington. They certainly weren’t in the spirit of optimism and nonpartisanship. Jeezy proclaimed: “I wanna thank two people. I wanna thank the mother [profanity] overseas that threw two shoes at George Bush. Listen, listen! I wanna thank the mother [profanity] who helped them move their [profanity] up out of the White House…My president is mother [profanity] black!”

Jay-Z rapped: “You can keep ya puss, I don’t want no more Bush / no more war, no more Iraq, no more white lies, my president is black!”

Looking at rappers like this, you really have to wonder if they really believe their own wealth-building bluster about how terrible America’s been to them. What kind of dystopian country have these young black millionaires been living in? Jay-Z was born a few weeks before 1970, Young Jeezy was born in 1977. When they were growing up in the Carter and Reagan years, was America a land of apartheid and oppression? Sadly, some of the most successful hip-hop music thrives on an extreme of pessimism and despair, and spreads it, like poisoned peanut butter. But they never lived it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


History’s Tragic Farce

It is a fundamental truth that while history always repeats itself, it almost never repeats itself precisely. There is always a measure of newness to events that allows otherwise intelligent people to repeat the mistakes of their forebears without looking completely ridiculous.

Given this, it is hard to believe that with the advent of the Obama administration, we are seeing history repeat itself with nearly unheard of exactness. US President Barack Obama’s appointment of former Sen. George Mitchell as his envoy for the so-called Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” will provide us with a spectacle of an unvarnished repeat of history.

In December 2000, outgoing president Bill Clinton appointed Mitchell to advise him on how to reignite the “peace process” after the Palestinians rejected statehood and launched their terror war against Israel in September 2000. Mitchell presented his findings to Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, in April 2001.

Mitchell asserted that Israel and the Palestinians were equally to blame for the Palestinian terror war against Israelis. He recommended that Israel end all Jewish construction outside the 1949 armistice lines, and stop fighting Palestinian terrorists.

As for the Palestinians, Mitchell said they had to make a “100 percent effort” to prevent the terror that they themselves were carrying out. This basic demand was nothing new. It formed the basis of the Clinton administration’s nod-nod-wink-wink treatment of Palestinian terrorism since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Lawmakers Seek Ammo Control Laws

With a liberal Democrat now sitting in the Oval Office and both houses of the US Congress boasting Democrat majorities, lawmakers in Washington, DC and around the country are displaying renewed interest in gun control legislation, according to sources within both law enforcement and gun owner rights communities.

“Ever since the so-called ‘Beltway Sniper’ case in 2001, there’s been talk about not just gun registration, but ammo registration. This will make it mandatory for manufacturers of firearms ammunition to number every cartridge they make and to keep records of those cartridges,” said Lt. Steven Rodgers, a cop in New Jersey.

“Can’t control guns? Well, they’ll control the ammunition,” he added during an interview with NewsWithViews.com.

While a federal law is being considered by proponents of such laws, gun owners in individual states are witnessing what’s referred to as Ammunition Accountability Acts being pushed through they’re state legislatures by impatient lawmakers.

Ammunition Accountability, a liberal gun control organization, has developed sample legislation to achieve its purposes and reports that versions of it have been introduced in the legislatures of Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, according to John Snyder.

While state legislatures differ in the wording of their proposed laws, basically they all require that any and all ammunition be encoded by the manufacturer and they will maintain a mandatory data base of all ammunition sales.

“We of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms oppose this backdoor approach to gun control,” stated Snyder, an official with that gun rights group.

[…]

“If this new proposed Ammo Accountability Act legislation is only another attempt to chip away at the 2nd Amendment, it is just plain wrong. Since the 2nd Amendment defines a citizens “right” to defend themselves, with a gun, it clearly does not address ammunition. What a novel way to “back door” the issue” said Josephine County, Oregon’s Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.

“It is clearly no secret, many in our government would like to see America disarmed. Our government has authored books mapping out a strategy on how to do just that. Simply look back in history to see what happened after people lost their arms and ability to defend themselves,” he told NewsWithViews.com.

“Our government leaders slash funding in support of law enforcement throughout America, leaving our citizens more vulnerable — but on the other hand feel compelled to send hundreds of millions of dollars, each year, to enhance police in foreign Countries. Weaker law enforcement coupled with escalating crime is a receipt for disaster,” said the career lawman.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Napolitano’s Priority: Canada Border

[Comment from JD: Priority!? Perhaps they want to secure it to prevent Americans fleeing to Canada?]

Vulnerabilities along the Canadian border are one of more than a half-dozen priorities identified by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during her first week, along with cybersecurity and ensuring that federal officials are properly communicating with state and local officials.

“The northern border of the United States has become, since 9/11, important to our national security,” Miss Napolitano wrote in an action directive issued Friday.

“As we have designed programs to afford greater protection against unlawful entry, members of Congress and homeland security experts have called for increased attention to the Canadian border,” the directive said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Auntie Zeituni is Back in the News

Barack Obama is not just the first black president — he’s also probably the first president to have an aunt who is an illegal alien. And George W. Bush made sure to protect her before he left office. The Associated Press reports:

The Homeland Security Department still is requiring high-level approval before federal immigration agents can arrest fugitives, a rule quietly imposed by the Bush administration days before the election of Barack Obama, whose aunt has been living in the United States illegally.

The unusual directive from the Homeland Security Department came amid concerns that such arrests might generate “negative media or congressional interest,” according to a newly disclosed federal document obtained by The Associated Press.

The directive makes clear that U.S. officials worried about possible election implications of arresting Zeituni Onyango, the half-sister of Obama’s late father, who at the time was living in public housing in Boston. She is now believed to be living in Cleveland…

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Indonesian Dazzles at State Dept.

ABC News’ Kirit Radia Reports: As President Obama worked the rope-line at the State Department Thursday, a State Department staffer named Charles Silver, knowing the President once lived in Indonesia, shouted out, “good afternoon” in the local language.

Obama responded back in what Silver later told ABC News was “very good” Bahasa Indonesian. The two then chatted briefly about the neighborhood Obama once lived in.

When the staffer asked if Obama had lived in the Jakarta neighborhood where embassy staffers live, Obama replied that was for rich people, and he lived in another neighborhood with a similar name, one that Silver said is where the “real people” live.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Pelosi Signals Willingness to Add to TARP Funds

[Comment from JD: “investment”!? ]

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday the federal government may need to pump more taxpayer funds into the faltering banking system and that taxpayers should receive equity as compensation.

Pelosi told ABC’s “This Week” program that “some increased investment” might be needed beyond the $700 billion approved last year under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, to stabilize the nation’s banks and get them to resume making loans.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Peter Schiff: Let the Housing Market Crash

Earlier this week, I chatted with Peter Schiff, the president of Euro Pacific Capital. Schiff, a notorious bear, argued that the government’s response to the housing crisis has only made matters worse and that the best way to help the market would be to let home prices fall further. Some excerpts from the interview:

[…]

So, what would you advise policy makers to do? They should do nothing. They’ve done enough damage. Why don’t they just let the market work? Why can’t we just let housing prices go down? In California, housing prices got to like five or 10 times median household incomes—it was insane. Even though prices have dropped 20 percent, housing is still ridiculously priced. Prices need to come down. It’s interesting: Initially, Fannie and Freddie’s mission was to help houses be affordable. Now, their mission is to keep housing prices expensive. They are trying to prop up prices and not let them come down. That’s the kind of stuff that the government did in the Great Depression. The government tried to stop food prices from coming down; they were destroying cattle and plowing under fields because they didn’t want food prices to go down. In bad economic times, they were trying to maintain high food prices so that people who are unemployed have to spend more money to eat. So, now they are trying to maintain high home prices. It’s stupid. Why not let home prices fall so that people can buy houses cheaper? […]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Real Reasons for Big Bailouts

President Obama’s proposed $825 billion “stimulus” bill will make matters much worse.

While the Bush plan was a bailout of the private sector, the Obama plan is a bailout of government and a transparent plan to transform government into the dominant entity of American life and the Democratic Party as the permanent ruling class.

Under the Obama plan, hundreds of billions of dollars would go to cash-strapped local and state governments with the most irresponsible of those getting the most aid.

California, for example, has committed to spending $42 billion more than the state has over the next 12 months. The Democrat-controlled legislature has repeatedly stymied spending cuts, arguing for tax increases, while California’s unemployment rate is poised to break into double digits. Look for California to seek the $42 billion from national taxpayers under the Obama public sector rescue plan.

Under the Obama plan, tens of billions of dollars will go to special interest groups within the Democratic Party coalition. ACORN, for example, will be eligible for more millions of taxpayer dollars than it already has to continue voter registration (voter fraud?) activities to help cement Democrat majorities across the country. Planned Parenthood, environmental organizations and even trial lawyers have all been in Washington to make sure they get a piece of the “bailout” as well.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“Revolutionary Whore” to Rest Alongside Calvin

A decision to transfer the tomb of a former prostitute to Geneva’s most prestigious cemetery, where Jean Calvin is buried, has sparked controversy.

Supporters of the move claim Grisélidis Réal, who died in 2005 at the age of 75, played an important role in Geneva society as a writer, personality and activist. But opponents say relocating Réal alongside Geneva’s heroes is an outrage.

Following a decision by the city council last year, Réal’s remains are to be transferred to the Cimetière des Rois graveyard in the centre of Geneva on March 9.

The former prostitute will be buried near the Protestant reformer — whose 500th anniversary is being celebrated this year — as well as Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Viera de Mello and 350 other famous politicians, artists, lawyers and local celebrities.

“She spent part of her life defending the dignity of prostitutes,” said Geneva city councillor Patrice Mugny, in charge of cultural affairs, who was one of the driving forces behind the move to honour Réal as a writer and personality.

Mugny told swissinfo that he was not defending prostitution, but “from the moment we accept the phenomenon exists, it’s legitimate that it is practised in the most decent conditions possible”.

“Réal was also an important novelist who wrote several books about subjects that had rarely been dealt with before; she deserves her place at Cimetière des Rois,” he added.

The fact that few women were buried at the prestigious graveyard was also said to be a motivating factor…

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Anger in Britain as Broadcasters Refuse to Air Gaza Appeal

LONDON (AFP) — Britain’s Sky News television channel on Monday joined the BBC in refusing to broadcast a Gaza charity appeal despite heavy pressure, saying it risked compromising its objectivity.

Sky, the BBC’s only domestic rival as a 24-hour news channel, will not screen the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella group of 13 charities including the British Red Cross and Oxfam.

“We have concluded that broadcasting an appeal for Gaza at this time is incompatible with our role in providing balanced and objective reporting of this continuing situation to our audiences,” John Ryley, head of Sky News, said in a statement.

ITV, Channel 4 and Five, Britain’s three other terrestrial television broadcasters beside the publicly-funded BBC, are all airing the appeal, which highlights the plight of suffering children in Gaza.

It is “not about the rights and wrongs of the conflict,” says the voiceover of the appeal, screened Monday night. “These people simply need your help.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, several government ministers, more than 11,000 viewers and more than 100 lawmakers have called for the BBC to reconsider its decision…

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]


EU to Propose $200 Billion Climate Tax on Rich Nations

[Comment from JD: Communism in action: “take from those who have and give to those who don’t.” This plan borders on criminal.]

BRUSSELS/LONDON, Jan 22 (Reuters) — Rich nations could raise $200 billion in climate funds through a levy on their greenhouse gases from 2013-2020 to help poor countries prepare for global warming, the European Union will say next week.

The plan is set out in an EU paper outlining the bloc’s position ahead of U.N.-led climate talks in Copenhagen in December, meant to agree a new, global climate treaty.

The fund-raising idea is the most specific yet from any rich country or bloc on how to persuade developing nations to agree binding, concrete steps to slow their greenhouse gas emissions — one of the key obstacles in climate talks so far.

The draft paper to be published next week, and seen by Reuters, calls on rich countries to pay for developing countries to cut their greenhouse gases, called mitigation, and prepare for unavoidable warming, called adaptation. “All developed countries will need to contribute to financial resources for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries via public funding and the use of carbon crediting mechanisms,” it said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Farmers Cut Greece Into Three as Protests Intensify

ATHENS (AFP) — Greek farmers effectively cut the country into three Monday as they blocked roads south-west of Athens in a six-day dispute with the government over the low prices for cotton, corn and wheat.

Hundreds of farmers used their tractors to block the Isthmus of Corinth, one of the two road access points to the southern Peloponnese peninsula.

Livestock farmers from Greece’s Macedonia region also joined the protest demanding higher prices for their goods.

Similar protests have been taking place in the north and centre of the country since January 20, where farmers still occupy key junctions on the Athens-Thessaloniki highway and other major roads.

Border routes to Bulgaria and Turkey are also blocked and freight traffic has slowed to a trickle, with the protesters only making exceptions for perishable goods and medical emergencies.

Bulgaria’s government urged the European Union to help reopen border crossings that have been shut for nearly a week by the Greek farmers.

Traffic across the border with Bulgaria has slowed to a trickle as Greek farmers have all but sealed off the three border crossings between the two countries.

In a letter to the head of the European Commission’s Transport and Energy Directorate, Matthias Ruete, Bulgaria’s transport ministry appealed for “urgent help to ensure at least one permanent transport corridor for Bulgarian freight and passenger vehicles travelling across Greek territory.”

It also called on Brussels “to bring to the attention of the Greek authorities that the current situation infringes on the rights of other citizens of the EU and the principles of the common market.”

Greek Agriculture Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis said Sunday the government would honour its promise to provide a 500-million-euro (646-million-dollar) support package to the country’s agricultural sector

But farmers said they already expected the aid package to be paid out and want prices adjusted product by product, region by region.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Finland: Refugees Chafe at Remote Accommodations

Finnish officials are feverishly seeking accommodation for an unprecedented influx of refugees entering the country. Authorities are turning to privately-owned and -operated facilities to house refugees, they the temporary receptions centres appear to be falling short of expectations.

So far nearly over 3,000 asylum seekers have come to Finland, crowding reception centres designed to accommodate only 2,500 residents. Authorities have increasingly turned to private accommodation to house refugees.

One of the emergency reception centres set up for refugees is located in Salo, southwest Finland,in a hotel known as Family Dream. The location is known to many as the Syvälampi motel, and its newest inhabitants have been transferred from Helsinki. The 50 or so refugees currently living at the temporary reception centre are anything but happy about their accommodation.

The asylum seekers were relocated in Suomusjärvi from Helsinki, where they were allowed to move about the city freely. Food is a particular bone of contention. For the Somalis, the ability to prepare traditional meals is very important. The Helsinki reception centre gave them the opportunity to buy the ingredients they needed to prepare their everyday meals.

“They have separated us from the cities and all the places we should have to buy something. Even if we need to buy something we need to go 20 kilometres and there’s no regular transport,” said Abdulgadir Hassan.

Providing basic services for refugees at temporary reception centres is also creating headaches for the authorities. At Suomusjärvi, health care services are provided by a visiting nurse. The refugees are also concerned about other shortcomings.

We have no television sets in our rooms, or any other form of entertainment, and no place to go. We can’t decide make any decisions ourselves,” complained Abdi Mohamed Abdi.

[Return to headlines]


Finland: 1000s of Foreign Workers Leave Depressed Construction Sector

According to the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries, the economic downswing has forced to 8,000 — 12,000 foreign construction workers to leave the country. Most of those who have returned home were from Estonia.

The figures are broad estimates because there is no full registry of foreign construction workers.

Local construction workers are also facing gloomy employment prospects, especially in commercially-financed construction. Many projects have been put on hold. More work is available doing renovations.

The latest projections of employment in the sector by CEO of the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries Tarmo Pipatti are alarming reading. He believes that by mid-summer the entire sector, including building supplies, will have 70,000 to 80,000 unemployed.

The Finnish Construction Trade Union is estimating around 50,000 unemployed and has little sympathy for anyone looking to work here on the payroll of foreign labour contractors.

Finnish construction workers who are out of work can rely on social benefits to see them through. Many foreign workers who go back home will have a much harder time.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


France: the Engineer of Diversity

Recently Nicolas Sarkozy announced plans to pursue a vigorous policy of diversity and métissage. Concretely, this means giving preference to minorities in job hiring and prosecuting those who do not comply. In other words, affirmative action as a government policy from which none are exempt.

In his message Sarkozy insisted that the French people must change, that there will be dire consequences if they don’t, and that not to intermarry racially is bad for the survival of the country. Thus he amalgamated the concepts of preference for minorities in job hiring with that of the need for the French to intermarry racially.

These are two separate things. But in the mind of Sarkozy they go together. Last December he chose a highly successful Algerian-born businessman, known as an impassioned advocate of diversity, Yazid Sabeg, to be his “high commissioner on diversity and equal opportunity”, and to implement these government orders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


France: SocGen Rogue Trader Jerome Kerviel ‘Hit the Jackpot’ on 7/7

It was a day of carnage that left 56 people dead and a dark shadow for ever cast over the history of London. But for Jérôme Kerviel, the French rogue trader, 7/7 was the jackpot.

Mr Kerviel, whose wild bets on the stock market ended with record losses, celebrated as Britain’s worst terror attack helped him to register a €500,000 profit and to continue a winning streak that brought him “orgasmic pleasure”.

The trader made the confession as he told the newspaper Le Parisien how he had lost touch with reality in the pursuit of money-making at Société Générale, the bank that employed him. It is alleged that his rogue dealings resulted in record losses of almost €5 billion and plunged the 144-year-old French financial institution into crisis.

(…)

“The best trading day in the history of Société Générale was September 11, 2001,” he said. “At least, that’s what one of my managers told me. It seems that profits were colossal that day.

“I had a similar experience during the London attacks in July 2005.”

A few days earlier he had bet on a fall in the share price of Allianz, the German insurance giant, he told Le Parisien. Everyone was losing money when the 7/7 bombings sent the insurance sector into a downward spiral “except for me”, he said. “Thanks to the positions I had, I earned €500,000 in a few minutes. It was the jackpot. I was jubilant.”

[Return to headlines]


Holocaust Denier Row Played Down

Breakaway bishop’s rehabilitation ‘unconnected’ to his views

(ANSA) — Vatican City, January 26 — Italian Jewish leaders on Monday played down a fresh row with the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI rehabilitated a British bishop who has denied the existence of Nazi gas chambers.

Italian Jewish Community Union President Renzo Gattegna said that while Holocaust denial was a “disgrace”, the fact that the Church had welcomed back Richard Williamson was an “internal matter” in which he did “not wish to interfere”.

The head of the Jewish community in Milan, Leone Soued, echoed Gattegna’s comments.

“The revocation of excommunication must lead to a moment of reflection, but the Church immediately clarified that the rehabilitation was a religious matter and has nothing to do with (Williamson’s) personal ideas, above all Holocaust denial,” he said.

Williamson, who also claimed the number of Jews who died during WWII was closer to 300,000 than six million in an interview with Swedish television in November, was among four bishops rehabilitated by the pope on Saturday.

The four had been excommunicated in 1988 along with the late dissident French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who had ordained them without permission from the Vatican.

Their rehabilitation is a step towards reuniting the followers of the ultra-traditionalist French archbishop, who belong to the Society of Saint Pius X which he set up in 1970, with the Church of Rome.

The decision to revoke Williamson’s excommunication sparked anger over the weekend, with Rabbi David Rosen from the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations claiming it had “contaminated the entire Church” and undone years of progress in Jewish-Catholic relations. Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi was quick to clarify that the rehabilitation had “absolutely nothing to do” with Williamson’s comments, which the Holy See “does not share in any way”.

The Yad Vashem memorial to victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem on Sunday recognised that the rehabilitation was “an internal matter” but said it was “scandalous that someone of such stature in the Church should deny the Holocaust”.

“Even if the revocation of excommunication is independent of Williamson’s comments, what type of message does that give about the attitude of the Church towards the Holocaust?”, it asked.

But Israeli government sources said a planned visit by Pope Benedict to the Holy Land, rumoured to have been scheduled for May, was still “in the works” despite the latest row.

Tensions between the Catholic Church and Israel have been strained in recent months by ongoing polemics over beatification plans for Pius XII, the wartime pope accused by critics of not doing enough to help the Jews.

The Holy See and Israel also exchanged words this month after Pope Benedict XVI’s pointman for peace and justice, Cardinal Renato Martino, likened Gaza to “a big concentration camp” following Israel’s three-week military offensive.

The pope’s decision to reintroduce a Good Friday prayer that calls for the conversion of Jews also created a rift.

POPE WANTS REUNION WITH LEFEBVRE FOLLOWERS.

In the interests of Christian unity, Pope Benedict has long been interested in drawing the followers of Lefebvre back to the Church.

The ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X broke with Rome over the changes made at the Second Vatican Council, the ground-breaking meeting of all the world’s Catholic bishops in the early 1960s.

The Council, which tried to equip the Church for life in the modern world, introduced reforms in liturgy, ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue and religious liberty.

Among the changes was the shift from the ‘Tridentine’ or Latin Mass towards ceremonies held in modern languages. This change particularly outraged Lefebvre, who saw it as a betrayal of the Catholic Church’s identity.

Pope Benedict himself is an admirer of the traditional rites in Latin and his initiative to allow its return in June 2007 — as an option alongside the modern mass — had been expected almost since he was elected in April 2005.

The Society of Saint Pius X is the only group to break away from the 1.1-billion strong Roman Catholic Church since the reforms of the early 1960s.

Despite its lack of official status the Fraternity is present in 59 countries and counts 453 priests and four bishops. It also runs seminaries in Switzerland, France, Australia, Argentina, the United States and Germany.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Husband’s Kiss Woke ‘Sleeping Beauty Wife’ in Coma After Heart Attack

After two weeks sitting by his wife’s bedside hoping she would wake from a coma, Andrew Ray was at his wits’ end.

Doctors had told him Emma could become a real-life sleeping beauty when she failed to regain consciousness after a heart attack.

The distraught father of two played her tapes of their baby son crying and their daughter shouting ‘wake up Mummy!’.

Finally, in desperation, he leant over her hospital bed and pleaded: ‘Emma, if you can hear me, please just give me a kiss.’

‘What happened next was beyond my wildest dreams,’ he said. ‘She turned her head towards mine, puckered up her lips and gave me a little kiss.

‘I couldn’t believe it. My heart felt like it was going to leap from my chest — it suddenly felt like a huge weight had been lifted.’

The kiss was witnessed by doctors who were astonished by the 34-year-old’s sudden response.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Iceland’s Government Falls Amid Crisis

LONDON (MarketWatch) — Iceland’s coalition government fell apart Monday, Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced Monday, succumbing to a financial crisis that’s wrecked the tiny, North Atlantic island nation’s economy.

The decision follows Haarde’s announcement last week for early elections on May 9. Haarde at the time also said he wouldn’t run due to health elections.

Monday’s announcement followed unsuccessful talks between the coalition partners made up of Haarde’s Independence Party and the Social Democrats.

Iceland fell into crisis last October as its once-vibrant banking sector collapsed, sending its currency into a nosedive and unemployment soaring.

The International Monetary Fund in November approved a two-year, $2.1 billion loan for Iceland. The country has also secured loans from other countries

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]


Iceland’s Coalition Government Terminated

Iceland’s Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde announced approximately half an hour ago that the coalition between the Independence Party and the Social Democrats in Iceland’s government has been terminated.

Haarde told reporters that the Independence Party refused to comply with the proposition that the Social Democrats take over the position of prime minister, mbl.is reports.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said in a press conference that she had proposed that Minister for Social Affairs Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir assume the post as prime minister, RÚV radio reports

Haarde will meet President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson today and formally resign as prime minister. He will then meet with the chairmen of all political parties to discuss the formation of the government until the upcoming elections in spring.

Haarde said he believed that a national government would probably be the best solution and that it was natural for the largest political party-which is the Independence Party, according to the results of the 2007 elections-to lead in such a government.

The PM said he was dissatisfied with the termination of the Independence Party-Social Democrat coalition and that his fears that a cabinet crisis would be added to the economic and currency crisis had materialized.

Haarde criticized the Social Democrats, saying it was falling apart and that it had in fact become three political parties. He said the Social Democrats had lacked the strength to complete their coalition with the Independence Party in the conventional manner.

The primary issue now is for Icelanders not to lose their focus and further credibility abroad and that the country’s political parties reach an agreement on how the country be governed in a responsible manner until after the spring elections.

Haarde revealed that he had proposed resigning as prime minister-in case his presence was considered a problem-and having Minister of Education and vice-chairperson of the Independence Party, Thorgerdur Katrín Gunnarsdóttir, take over his post.

Haarde then thanked Minister for Foreign Affairs and chairwoman of the Social Democrats Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir for her cooperation in government, emphasizing that their cooperation had always been on good terms.

Haarde said he and Gísladóttir had terminated their cooperation in the same way that they had started it 18 months ago, with a kiss.

The leaders of the government discussed possible solutions to the cabinet crisis all day yesterday after Minister for Business Affairs Björgvin G. Sigurdsson made a surprise announcement of his resignation.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Italy: Political Standstill Stunting Sicily, Says Business Leader

Palermo, 13 Jan. (AKI) — A political and administrative standstill is stunting the development of Italy’s southern Sicily region, the main local employer’s association head, Ivan Lo Bello, warned on Tuesday in Palermo. “Political and administrative stagnation is dampening business activity at a time when economic recession calls for urgent and well targeted action to kick-start things,” said Lo Bello, who is president of Confindustria Sicilia.

Lo Bello said he hoped that a climate of political unity would return that would allow needed reforms and accompanying legislation to be enacted “quickly”.

“Business leaders have long been calling for such action to be taken,” he stated. He called on Sicily’s regional government to nominate new director generals of the various councillors’ departments (local ministries) as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, the various councillors (local ministers) should sign off on all outstanding payments and grant authorisations requested by companies, Lo Bello urged.

Normally, administrative provisions are authorised by the director generals of the councillors’ departments. But as these are all due to be replaced, the outgoing incumbents have been refusing to sign anything.

“This has very serious consequences for the whole of Sicily’s economic system,” Lo Bello said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Minister Says Govt Must Expel Immigrants Who Fail to Integrate

Rome, 22 Jan. (AKI) — An Italian Minister said on Thursday that immigrants who did not want integrate must be deported from the country. “We must fight everything that is related to violence, because our will is to integrate, however, in order to integrate we must expel all those that do not want to take part in it,” said Andrea Ronchi, Minister of Department for European Community Policies.

Ronchi made the remarks during a roundtable with members of the Italian Islamic Religious Community (COREIS) in the northern Italian city of Milan. During the meeting, Ronchi attacked the UCOII, the largest Muslim umbrella group in Italy, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

According to Ronchi, the UCOII “supports terrorism and fundamentalism.”

“For example, I have always been a supporter of a register of the imams and muslim prayers in the Italian language. I also enthusiastically support the initiative by Rome’s Grand mosque to publish on its website all sermons preached there ,” said Ronchi.

“I am not against mosques, but I say no to those tied to the UCOII, an organisation whose sources of finance must be clarified.”

Ronchi, whose political career began in the post-fascist political party, Alleanza Nazionale, was sworn on 8 May 2008 as the European Union Affairs Minister in the cabinet of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

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


N. Ireland: Logic of the Madhouse Takes Hold in the North

Northern Ireland’s Consultative Group on the Past is expected to recommend this week that the families of every “victim” of the Troubles should receive compensation of £12,000 (€12,700). At first blush the proposal sounds uncontroversial. Except that the group appears to have decided the definition of victims should include families of paramilitaries killed while trying to inflict carnage on innocent fellow citizens.

Reconciliation is all well and good but this is the logic of the madhouse. As Colin Parry, whose 12-year-old son Tim was killed by an IRA bomb in Warrington, put it: “The idea that somebody who sets out to kill is a victim as much as I am . . . is offensive.”

The result would be that the family of Thomas Begley, the Shankill bomber, would be compensated at the same time as his nine victims, two of them children. The next-of-kin of such despicable killers as Dominic McGlinchey, Jim Craig and Bobby “Basher” Bates would be given the same pay-out as those of innocent and tragic victims such as Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball, the three-year-old killed alongside him at Warrington.

Nationalist parties suggest they may take a different view. Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein said the group’s report “should be studied” while Alex Attwood of the SDLP said “people should reserve judgment”. No amount of reflection will turn this into a sensible idea; it should be ditched with extreme prejudice.

Even the notion of €12,700 a family for genuine victims of the Troubles is badly flawed. Does €12,700 cover the cost of grief and the suffering of the lives of survivors? Many will regard it as an insult. What they want, if anything, is genuine remorse and assurance that this will never happen again.

The end of the Troubles was a cause for celebration but the mopping-up process has been a shocking waste of public money. The Bloody Sunday inquiry, when it finally reports next year, will leave little change from €200m. The Irish government, which will be asked to pay for this latest compensation scheme, has already paid out over €5m to Troubles’ victims, including a €15,000 “acknowledgement payment” in cases of fatal injury.

The people of Northern Ireland want lasting peace and reconciliation and an escape from the fear of the bomb and the assassin’s bullet. But they acknowledge that the passage of time and a desire to live together harmoniously, without reliving historical grievances, will be the best means to achieve that end. At least the Consultative Group is expected to come up with one proposal that we have no hesitation in endorsing. It will say there should be no more public inquiries. Amen to that.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Not Welcome at the U.S. Embassy

Three weeks ago, all the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Senate received an invitation of the US Embassy in Brussels to attend the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama at the Embassy on 20 January. Senators Karim Van Overmeire and Freddy Van Gaever, both belonging to the Vlaams Belang (VB) party, the largest party in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, accepted the invitation.

On the very morning of the inauguration, however, the secretary of the two VB senators received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy. The embassy told her that the invitation of the VB politicians was “a mistake” and requested them “not to come.”

Senator Van Gaever is a good friend of mine. He is not easily discouraged and does not take “No” for an answer. That is how he made his fortune in the aviation business. Before he went into politics Freddy was a successful businessman with many American contacts. He knew the late President Ford personally and was invited to attend the inauguration of the late President Reagan in Washington. When Freddy was told not to come to the Embassy he decided to go anyway and see what would happen. Would he, a democratically elected politician and a lifelong friend of America, whose daughter lives there and whose grandchildren are U.S. citizens, be barred from entering the Embassy?

As it happened, Freddy was not prevented from attending the inauguration at the Embassy. He chatted with the former Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens and former Aviation Minister Rik Daems and the guards did not dare to throw him out. “Everything went fine,” he told me afterwards, “but it was not nice of the Embassy to ask us NOT to come.”

Who took the decision to snub the VB members of the Belgian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee by disinviting them, while members from other parties, such as the vehemently anti-American Socialists and Greens, were welcomed most heartily? […]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Spain: A Jewel for the Queen, Campanian Pearls in Madrid

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 22 — The excellence of Campania’s gold working and jewellery manufacturing will be the centre of attention for the gala event entitled ‘A Jewel for the Queen: Gold, Cameo and Coral from the Master Craftsmen of the Bay of Naples’, which will take place on January 27 at the Italian Embassy in Madrid. The event is part of a series of initiatives that feature the Province of Naples and the Region of Campania working to promote gold working and tourism in the Spanish capital, at both the Iberjoyas Fair and at FITUR, the primary showcases for the sector that take place at the Juan Carlos I convention centre in Madrid. For the occasion of the gala evening, Neapolitan gold workers and engravers from Torre del Greco and from the area around Vesuvius, have created new exclusive pieces that recall, with a modern twist, designs from the Rococo, Neo Classical and Neo Gothic periods, faithfully reproducing the traditional techniques of the Old Masters. The project, financed with funds from the European Union , falls under the Public Local Agency Project for International Trade (PLAIT), for which the Region and the five provinces of Campania are promoting a network for the excellence of Made in Naples on the international market. “Campania will ‘invade’ Spain for several days with its pearls: quality craftsmanship and the best tourist destinations”, the councillor for tourism for the Province of Naples, Giovanna Martano, explained to ANSAmed, who will be in Madrid for the occasion. During the same period, the region will present three important sectors for tourism — the sea, culture, and food and wine — focusing on the three tourist offers: Naples, the area around Flegrea and that of Vesuvius. “The objective is to create value and promote our jewels — the councillor confirms — it is part of the activity we have undertaken for some time to promote artisans with initiatives aimed internationally, looking to the consolidation and the enlargement of the commercial networks in a sector connected to luxury, which has been the only one exempt from the tsunami of the international financial crisis”. Again as a part of marketing efforts, on January 26 a workshop will take place at the registrar’s office of the Italian Embassy with Spanish and Campanian tour operators, followed by a press conference with the regional councillor for tourism, Claudio Velardi, and a dinner based around Campaniàs food products. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Survey Shows Alarming Lack of Integration in Germany

A third of all children born in Germany belong to immigrant families, but many immigrants are poorly integrated into German society. A new study has shown that Turks in particular are faring poorly in Germany.

A new study has delivered a damning verdict on the integration of Germany’s immigrants, concluding that an alarmingly high percentage of them live in a parallel world with poor prospects of a decent education and career advancement…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Arrests at Pro-Israel Demonstration in Malmö

Police in Malmö arrested four men after eggs and bottles were thrown at pro-Israel demonstrators in the town’s main square on Sunday, disrupting a protest that drew hundreds of people, police said.

“Around 300 people were gathering in the beginning of the afternoon supporting Israel when some persons started to shout and threw eggs and bottles on the demonstrators,” a police spokeswoman in Malmö told AFP.

“Nobody was injured. We arrested four people. They are young men,” she said.

One of the suspects “became violent and tried to fight with a policeman” during the arrest, the spokeswoman said.

“The demonstration was broken by the incident,” she said.

In early January, thousands of people had protested in Nordic countries against Israel’s 22-day offensive on the Gaza Strip.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


The Charities Are Guilty, Not the BBC

The Corporation is right not to run the Gaza appeal. Oxfam and others are clearly anti-Israel

Mark Thompson, the Director-General of the BBC, is quite right to refuse to broadcast the appeal of the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) for humanitarian relief for Gaza, but not for the reason he thinks. He is under the impression that it will damage the BBC’s reputation for impartiality in reporting the Israel-Palestine question, but the fact is that the BBC does not have any such reputation, having for years been institutionally pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli. The reason that his decision is brave and right, however, is that many of the 13 charities that make up the DEC are even more mired in anti-Israeli assumptions than the BBC itself.

Mr Thompson rightly appreciates that the issue of humanitarian relief in this conflict is quite unlike humanitarian relief for victims of a tsunami or a famine.

Who adjudicates on which victims to support via such charitable aid — and according to whose political morality? Why did the BBC not launch an appeal for the victims of collateral damage during Nato’s bombing of Serbia in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign? And had it done so, would it have given money to ethnic Serbs as well as to Kosovars and Bosnian Muslims, all of whom were “cleansed” during the Balkan wars of that decade? What about the victims of insurgencies and counter- insurgencies in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Chechnya or Georgia? Or Israeli victims of the next Hamas suicide attack? Indeed, what about the Palestinian victims of Hamas’s hideous human rights abuses, still so shamefully under-reported by the British media as a whole?

And who are these supposedly impartial charities who are attacking Mr Thompson’s (albeit belated) attempt to uphold the Corporation’s traditional standards? While groups such as the British Red Cross and Christian Aid are generally impartial in other areas of the world, that cannot be said to apply to their role in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, where they regularly view the conflict through a deeply partisan lens.

In the months prior to the decision by Hamas to end the six-month ceasefire and resume rocket attacks, these charities issued a flood of one- sided denunciations aimed at Israel. Their campaign repeated tendentious and often highly inaccurate terms such as “collective punishment” and “violation of international law”. On March 6, 2008, CARE International, Cafod, Christian Aid and Oxfam (among others) published a widely quoted report under the headline “The Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion”. The authors did not bother to hide their political bias against Israel, repeating standard Palestinian political rhetoric and including claims that Israeli policy “constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children” and is “illegal under international humanitarian law”.

The report was wrong on many counts, including allegations over the availability of food and basic necessities, which were later contradicted by both the World Bank and World Health Organisation, neither of which are exactly Israeli stooges. The fact that Hamas chose to pursue war with Israel rather than the welfare of its people, was not covered in these reports. There was no sense that any of these claims might be disputed by the other side or by genuinely neutral observers.

During the three-week war, Oxfam and other charities were extremely active in the ideological campaign that highlighted Palestinians as the sole victims and Israelis as the sole aggressors. Numerous Oxfam press statements included language such as: “The international community must not stand aside and allow Israeli leaders to commit massive and disproportionate violence against Gazan civilians in violation of international law.”

Violence against Israelis, including deaths, are virtually ignored by Oxfam officials, who have referred to “collective punishment illegal under international humanitarian law yet tolerated by the international community”. For those of us who reject such gross ideological bias, which absolves the Hamas leadership for a confrontation which they openly sought, such statements by charities are unacceptable and should not be rewarded by the BBC.

The final issue is the fraught one of the practicability of actually distributing the aid on the ground. After Hamas seized total control of Gaza in June 2007 there have been many well-documented reports of Hamas officials diverting assistance for themselves. On February 7 last year, for example, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that “at least ten trucks with humanitarian aid sent to the Gaza Strip by the Jordanian Red Crescent Society were confiscated by Hamas police shortly after the lorries entered the territory”. Journalists also reported that the aid was “unloaded in Hamas ministry warehouses” and that a similar seizure took place in January 2008.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, used to say that Hamas was like a bird that needed two wings to fly — the armed branch, but also the charitable-welfare side of the organisation. Do the 13 charities and their political allies that are so vocally attacking the “cowardly” BBC really have the guts and wherewithal to do a proper audit on how those monies might be spent in today’s Gaza Strip? I, for one, do not believe it.

Andrew Roberts is the author of Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and Alanbrooke Won the War in the West (Allen Lane)

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


The UK Will Not Take Any More Guantanamo Prisoners, Says Miliband…

as EU foreign chief predicts bloc will help Obama

Britain has ruled out helping Barack Obama close down Guantanamo Bay by accepting detainees from other nations, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said today. Mr Miliband said Britain had its plate full in dealing with its own nationals in U.S. custody and ruled out taking ex-prisoners from other nations.

He said Britain had already taken nine British nationals and three foreigners who have British residency rights, while the cases of two others still in Guantanamo were being processed. ‘We feel that is already a significant contribution,’ Mr Miliband said. ‘We’re happy to offer our experience to other European countries, as they think about what steps they want to make, to help in the closure of Guantanamo Bay.’

However his statement came as the EU split over the issue, with foreign policy chief Javier Solana saying the bloc ‘will say yes’ to taking in detainees — but individual countries dragging their heels. […]

The UK government has already brought home 13 detainees who are either UK nationals or who have rights of residence and has requested the return of two further residents, Binyam Mohamed and Shaker Aamer.

But yesterday Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell indicated the government was ‘not planning to go beyond that’ and take in Guantanamo detainees with no UK links. ‘This is an American problem and they have to solve it but we’ll be ready to help if necessary … I think the answer of the EU will be yes,’ EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said, asked if the bloc would be willing to take in some detainees. […]

Under the Bush administration, Washington tried in vain to persuade its allies, and in particular in the 27-nation EU, to take in inmates who cannot go back to their home country and who the United States does not want to accept either.

They number 55-60, including Chinese Muslim Uighurs who Washington says cannot return to China because they would face persecution, together with Libyans, Uzbeks and Algerians also seen at risk.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


UK: Another Winter of Their Discontent

Britain’s top economic policymakers, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are desperately casting about for an answer to Britain’s crisis. Brown, who famously promised “no more boom or bust” after Tony Blair’s Labor Party took power in 1997, has watched as the economy swooned and the British pound collapsed (see chart).

Things have gotten ugly very fast, with the banking system — once among the world’s most respected — now in near insolvency. Things are so bad that U.K. banks’ liabilities now total more than four times the size of Britain’s total GDP, leading some pundits to gibe that it has become “Reykjavik on the Thames” — a reference to Iceland’s bank meltdown last year that paralyzed its once-prosperous economy.

[…]

But Britain’s ills hold some lessons for the U.S. Believe it or not, Britain has outspent the U.S. in trying to get its economy back on its feet. It has put more capital, as a share of its economy, into its banks. And it’s spent lavishly on Keynesian stimulus. It hasn’t worked.

Now, it’s talking about nationalizing its banks. But this won’t work either, and the U.S. would do well not to emulate its British cousins overseas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Beware: the Daft Egg-Box Warning That Contents ‘May Contain Eggs’

In these health-conscious times food companies are increasingly keen to warn consumers if ingredients may cause allergic reactions.

But one firm has gone a step further by advising shoppers that its boxes of eggs contain…egg.

The Happy Egg Company’s six-pack of eggs — which features the company’s name and is decorated with a picture of an egg and a cartoon chicken — contains the message ‘allergy advice: contains egg’ inside the lid of the boxes.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Church Vows to Keep Faith With Its Schools, Despite Muslim Majority

Christian families are such a rarity in some inner-city communities that two Church of England schools now cater exclusively for Muslim pupils, The Times has learnt.

In many church primary schools in English cities, more than half of the pupils are Muslim. In at least a dozen such schools, more than 80 per cent are from Islamic homes.

Five church schools, in Blackburn, Birmingham, Bradford, Oldham and London, have become 99 per cent Muslim and in two — another school in Blackburn and one in Dewsbury — every pupil is Muslim.

The Church has defended its continuing educational role in such areas and is putting £750,000 towards the construction of a new primary school in Blackburn whose intake will be almost 100 per cent Muslim. The Times has been told that some parishes in the town — where eight of the 24 church primary schools have a majority of Muslim pupils — have questioned the justification for the investment.

It is also understood that at least one Church school no longer observes the requirement to have an act of daily collective worship that is “consistently and recognisably Christian”.

A former school governor in Bradford has warned that some Christians in her city have chosen to send their children to secular schools, fearing they would be isolated at their local, Muslim-dominated church school.

In 1998 the General Synod resolved that church schools should “stand at the centre of the Church’s mission to the nation”. Three years later, the Dearing Commission recommended that “all church schools must be distinctively . . . Christian institutions”.

It said the four-part mission of the Church was to proclaim the gospel, to “nourish Christians in their faith”, to “bring others into the faith” and “to nurture and maintain the dignity of human beings through service”.

The first three aims are not achievable in a school where every pupil is Muslim, because “the beliefs and practices of other faiths must be respected” and “church schools . . . should not be agents of proselytism”.

The Rev Jan Ainsworth, the Church’s chief education officer, said that in such schools the Christian mission was “the honourable but gentler route” of service to the community.

“That is at the heart of the Church’s educational endeavour. [Church schools] were founded for the education of the poor, whoever those poor were. Those schools which today are majority Muslim are still carrying out the Church’s mission of providing service to those who need it. They are schools which take faith seriously.”

Some church schools whose pupils are overwhelmingly Muslim have received glowing Ofsted reports and there is widespread evidence of Muslim parents opting for a Christian school in preference to the secular alternative. Some believe that it is Christians who are missing out.

For four years Ruth Weston was a governor at a church school in the Girlington area of Bradford, where 96 per cent of pupils were Muslim, many still learning to speak English. Mrs Weston, a Christian theologian, said she enrolled her daughter at the school because she wanted to support multiculturalism, but “after much soul-searching” withdrew her after three terms.

“When push came to shove, my daughter’s welfare came first. She was not thriving socially or educationally in an environment where she was the only girl of her religion, culture and first language,” she said.

Most of her white neighbours sent their offspring to a secular school 15 minutes’ walk away, across a busy main road, rather than to their local, almost exclusively Muslim, church school. Mrs Weston said that while some may have been motivated by latent racism, it was “a sad irony” that Christian families felt it necessary to turn their backs on a church school.

The Ven Peter Ballard, Archdeacon of Lancaster and director of education for the Blackburn diocese, said that when the proportion of pupils from one particular ethnic minority background reached 70 per cent at any school, white flight tended to follow. He maintained, however, that the ethnic make-up of most church schools in Blackburn was a close reflection of the surrounding community.

The decision to spend money on a new church school, knowing that almost every pupil would be Muslim, had been taken because “we’re here for the long term”.

“Demographics change. There was certainly a Christian population there at one time and, who knows, 20 years from now the Christians might be back. This is not the time for us to pull out.

“The Church of England has always provided schools for the community. We’ve never provided primary schools [solely] for churchgoing children. That’s been the case for 200 years and we’re not going to change now.”

Class of 2009

- 4,470 (25.3 per cent) of all state primary schools in England are Church of England schools

- 220 (5.8 per cent) of all state secondary schools in England are Church of England schools

- 8 out of the 24 Church primary schools in Blackburn have a Muslim majority

Average age of UK resident by ethnic group

White British 39 Black Caribbean 35 Indian 31 Pakistani 22 Bangladeshi 21

UK households with two or more dependent children

Bangladeshi Muslim 58 per cent Pakistani Muslim 50 per cent Black African Christian 29 per cent White British Christian 16 per cent

Sources: Church of England; Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council; Office for National Statistics

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


UK: Locations of Secret New Bail Hostels Revealed: is There One Near You?

Ministers have today revealed the postcode locations of hugely controversial bail hostels used to house thousands of criminals in residential streets. The Ministry of Justice has come under repeated fire for signing a multi-million pound contract with a private firm to house a mixture of convicts on early release and suspects who are awaiting trial, in a desperate bid to ease prison overcrowding. They are being placed in homes in residential streets, rather than being held in jail. They are free to come and go, and have only limited supervision. Shockingly, neighbours are only informed about the plans by letter once the hostels have been given the go-ahead. Many people in neighbouring streets have no idea the hostels, run by ClearSprings, are there. But, after coming under pressure to reveal the locations, the Government has published a list of postcode areas. They have stopped short, however, of revealing precise street names. The Mail lists the postcodes below. It came as residents forced a review one of the private bail hostels after complaints of drug use and rising crime. Families living near the hostel in Lewisham, south-east London said they were threatened by residents, found syringes in the street and became afraid to let their children play nearby, the BBC said. Justice Minister David Hanson today accepted that the premises, which housed four offenders, was a ‘very poor example’ of the scheme. It is now empty and its future under review. He said: ‘I’m not going to defend the situation in Lewisham. It was a very poor example of the scheme not working well.’ The probation officers’ union Napo said there were ‘minimal’ checks on those staying in the hostels and called for closer supervision of their behaviour. Assistant General Secretary Harry Fletcher said: ‘It’s clearly not right if people are doing drugs and committing crime.’ ClearSprings was paid £8.3 million for the contract to house the crime suspects and offenders between June 2007 and November last year, Parliamentary written answers have revealed. The contracts are ongoing. More than 1,050 offenders given home detention curfew and 1,338 defendants on bail have used the hostels Councils criticised the lack of ‘genuine consultation’ with councils over the location of the hostels, and accused ministers of ‘disregarding’ the wishes of residents over where they were located. A spokesman for the Local Government Association said it was ‘vital’ for councils to be informed ‘well in advance’ of the properties being set up. He said: ‘Some councillors are quite understandably concerned that they have not been adequately consulted on what is happening in their area. ‘It’s pure folly to dump this kind of accommodation into the middle of a residential street without properly asking for the views of local people and councils. ‘The failure to consult properly with councils gives the unfortunate impression that these properties are being established under a veil of secrecy. This doesn’t help the local community or the people who are on bail or home detention. If local residents are unnecessarily alarmed the people staying at the property just come up against resentment.’ Mr Hanson said: ‘The security of the public remains paramount. Anyone who poses a risk to the public will continue to be held on remand. Anyone accused of sexual offences, arson and those who pose a threat to staff, other residents or the public are not housed in these properties. ‘The Government remains committed to ensuring that ClearSprings are reminded of the importance of fulfilling their obligations to consult with local authorities, the police and probation.’

* Here is a list of the postcode areas where bail hostels provided by ClearSprings are sited…

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


UK: Mother Banned From Being Alone With Her Baby After Hospital Finds Tiny Mark on One Ear

Social services banned a mother from being alone with her baby after she took him to hospital with a tiny mark on his ear.

Lyndsey Craig worried that six-month-old Daniel might have meningitis after she found the blemish.

But doctors who examined him referred the case to social services who then banned Mrs Craig and her husband Tim, 30, from being alone with the child while they investigated.

Responsibility for Daniel had to be handed to his grandparents. Mrs Craig, 24, who works as an accounts assistant, took Daniel to Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool last month as he was suffering from vomiting and had a small purple mark on his ear.

She said doctors took blood tests and confirmed he did not have meningitis, but decided to keep him in overnight for scans. During this time, she and her husband were asked questions about domestic violence and a social worker was sent round to check their home in Liverpool.

When the scans and X-rays came back clear the Craigs expected to be given an apology from social services. But instead they were told they were not allowed to be left alone with Daniel.

Mrs Craig said: ‘They said that if I took him home, they would be able to arrest me and put both of my children into foster care. That’s when I broke down.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslims in the Lords

The House of Lords is a venerable British institution, but what does one get if one accepts Muslims in? This:

A member of the Lords intended to invite her colleagues to a private meeting in a conference room in the House of Lords to meet the Dutch politician Geert Wilders, an elected member of the Dutch parliament, to watch his controversial movie Fitna and discuss the movie and Mr. Wilders’ opinions with him.

Barely had the invitation been sent to all the members of the House when Lord Ahmed raised hell. He threatened to mobilize 10,000 Muslims to prevent Mr. Wilders from entering the House and threatened to take the colleague who was organizing the event to court. The result is that the event, which should have taken place next Thursday was cancelled.

Lord Ahmed immediately went to the Pakistani press to boast about his achievement, which he calls “a victory for the Muslim community.”

A victory for the Muslim community, but a defeat for British democracy where topics to which Muslims object cannot even be debated. That, apparently, is what one gets when one accepts Muslims into the House of Lords.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Royal Mail Suspends Deliveries to Entire Street After ‘Dog Attack’ on Postman

Residents are fuming after the Royal Mail cancelled deliveries to an entire street after one of its workers was allegedly attacked by a dog.

The decision means people have been forced to pick up their mail from the local sorting office even though the dog problem stems from only one house.

Every resident on Penfield Grove in Bradford, West Yorks., received a letter from the Royal Mail saying that a postal worker had been attacked and until the dog in question had been secured or removed, there would be no deliveries on the street.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Teenager Died in the Arms of His Sister After Being Stabbed as He Left Anti-Violence Party

[Comment from JD: ‘gang’ is an understatement…below the young man’s picture further down is this blurb — “Steven Lewis is believed to have been set upon by up to 30 youths after the party”]

A teenager was repeatedly stabbed in front of his 13-year-old brother before dying in his sister’s arms.

Stephen Lewis, 15, was attacked by a gang of youths as he left a charity event aimed at campaigning against youth violence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Bosnia-Italy: Trade in 2008 Tops 1.2 Billion Euro

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JANUARY 23 — In 2008 commercial trading between Bosnia and Italy reached 1.2 billion euro (2.4 billion Bosnian marks). The news comes from the Bosnia Herzegovina Statistics Agency according to which exports towards Italy, compared to the previous year, increased by 8.2% reaching a total of 843 million Bosnian marks (431 million euro). Imports, instead, reached 1.5 billion Bosnian marks (770 million euro) recording an increase of 21%. The value of Bosniàs foreign trading last year increased to a total of 23 billion marks (11.8 billion euro). Exports totalled 6.7 billion Bosnian marks (3.43 billion euro) whilst imports increase to 16.3 billion marks (8.33 billion euro). The major commercial partner during the observation period was the EU towards which 55.2% of the total export was directed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Fiat Confirms ‘Punto’ Production to Start in March

(ANSAmed) — NAPLES, JANUARY 23 — The beginning of the production of the ‘Punto’ model in Serbia has been confirmed for March. This was announced by the president of Fiat Automobili Srbija (the joint venture composed of Fiat and Serbia), Giovanni De Filippis, according to Balcani Online. De Filippis declared that there would be no delays in production of the Punto, revealing that only a part of the long-term investment, which Fiat had planned for Zastava, will be postponed due to the global crisis striking the world automobile market. De Filippis’ statements were also confirmed by a privatization agency official, Aleksandar Ljubic, who said that Fiat did not expect any postponement to the Punto production start date at the Zastava plant in Kragujevac. Ljubic announced that Fiat and Economy Ministry representatives were due to meet next week in Italy, in order to discuss the Fiat ‘business plan’ in Serbia for 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Support for EU Membership Falls

Belgrade, 23 Jan. (AKI) — Support for joining the European Union has fallen significantlyin Serbia in the past year, while support for indicted war criminals is on the rise, according to a new survey published on Friday.

The survey, conducted by strategic marketing for Belgrade television B92, showed that 61 per cent of Serbia’s citizens supported the drive for EU membership, six per cent down from May 2008.

At the same time, 65 per cent of those surveyed said they would not report indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic to the police, if they saw him.

Mladic, the wartime Bosnian Serb general, and Goran Hadzic, former leader of rebel Serbs in Croatia, are the only two individuals accused of war crimes indicted by the United Nations war crimes tribunal (ICTY) still at large.

The EU has conditioned Serbia’s membership to full cooperation with the ICTY and the arrest of all indictees.

Despite the fact that more than 40 indictees have been handed over to the tribunal over the past several years, the country was still just on the beginning of the road to Brussels.

In addition, most EU countries and the United States have recognised Kosovo, which declared independence by last February despite opposition from Serbia.

Milica Delevic, director of the government’s office for European integration, said that the fall of support for EU membership was an expression of disappointment, because citizens had expected speedier advances towards the EU.

She said that most people also blamed Brussels and the Serbian government for the stalemate.

Last year Serbia signed the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU and people expected speedier moves towards the membership, she said.

B92 ascribed the strong support for Mladic, who is seen as a hero by many Serbs, to the fact that the state was not working hard enough to dilute the myth of Ratko Mladic.

“In all likelihood, Mladic should have no fears,” it said.

The ICTY has indicted 161 individuals, mostly Serbs, for crimes committed in 1991-1995 war that followed the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, and close to sixty have been sentenced to over one thousand years.

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

North Africa

Egypt-Thailand:USD 850 Million Trade Exchange and Investment

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, Jan 22 — Thai Ambassador to Egypt Noppadon Theppitak said the volume of Egyptian-Thai trade exchange and investments reached 850 million dollars in 2008, compared to 250 million dollars in 2005, when he assumed his post in Cairo. Speaking at a symposium held at the Syndicate of Journalists, he said the investments had surpassed the expectations of the two countries, which targeted 500 million dollars. The Egyptian-Thai joint committee will be holding its third session in Bangkok this year to discuss promoting bilateral cooperation and sign a memorandum of cooperation in the tourism field, he said. Last year, 11,000 Egyptian tourists visited Thailand while 17,000 Thais visited Egypt, he said, adding he expected 15,000 Egyptians to travel to Thailand this year. He said there were prospects of higher tourist activity between the two countries and this is what they are working on.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sahara: Polisario Creates Exclusive Fishing Zone

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 23 — The Polisario Front, the movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco, has approved the creation of an exclusive economic zone in the waters off the same territory. The initiative is the first step in a legal offensive against the fishing treaty signed in 2005 between the European Union and Morocco, which mainly benefits Spain. Spanish daily newspaper El Pais today reports that the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) has rubber-stamped the creation of a 200-mile exclusive economic area, and that the leader of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz, has warned the EU to “be watchful that Sahrawi territorial waters and the exclusive economic area are explicitly excluded from the fishing agreement with Morocco”. The agreement in question allows 138 fishing boats (mostly from Andalusia and Galicia) to operate in waters under Moroccòs control or sovereignty until 2014. The areas permitted would therefore include those belonging to Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which the European country withdrew from in 1975. “The SADR initiative is important because it is preliminary to the condemnation of the fishing treaty in various appeals”, notes Carlo Ruiz Miguel, lecturer at the University of Santiago di Compostela and expert in Sahrawi politics, in statements made to the newspaper. According to Ruiz Miguel, the Polisario could take recourse to the European Court of Justice or award fishing licences in its territorial waters to the any one of the 80 states which have recognised SADR, so that it can then move to a complaint at the International Justice Court in the Hague. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jane’s: Hamas to Probe Gaza Failings

The respected British defense weekly Jane’s reports that Hamas is going to ‘investigate’ its failings in Gaza.

Citing an unnamed top Hamas military commander, Jane’s said a full report due soon would be critical of almost every decision taken by battlefield commanders during the 22-day assault, which ended last week. The source quoted by Jane’s added that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and his followers had effectively pushed for a conflict that it was not ready for.

The report will highlight the losses of interior minister Said Siam [pictured. CiJ] and around 50 of Hamas’s top explosives experts as among the most significant. Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and intelligence department have admitted shortcomings in how they responded to Israeli attacks, Jane’s added, which Palestinian officials say killed over 1,300 people.

Heavy criticism has been levelled at Ezzedine al-Qassam commanders who unilaterally declared an end to the truce with Israel on December 19, even though conflict preparations such as building a new safe communications network were incomplete, Jane’s said.

The investigation will also reportedly look at why fighters were unable to achieve many of their defensive aims. London-based Jane’s highlighted the failure to defend the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood and the weak response to Israeli naval forces.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Netanyahu to WS Journal: Iran is the Terrorist ‘Mother Regime’

Israel’s would-be prime minister says he was mocked for warning of the Gaza rocket threat. [Excerpts from Interview of the Week By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal]

…When elections were held three years ago, bringing Mr. Olmert to power, “we [his Likud Party] were mocked” for warning that Gaza would become Hamastan, and that Hamastan would become a staging ground for missiles fired at major Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Ashdod.

“I think we’ve shown the ability to see the problems in advance,” he says. “Peace is purchased from strength. It’s not purchased from weakness or unilateral retreats. It just doesn’t happen that way. That perhaps is the greatest lesson that has been impressed on the mind of the Israeli public in the last few years.

“The polls seem to agree. As of Wednesday, an Israeli poll gives Likud a 30-seat plurality in the next Knesset, ahead by eight of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. Well behind both of them is the left-leaning Labor Party of Defense Minister Ehud Barak (at about 15 seats), which in turn is running roughly even with Avigdor Lieberman’s right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu.

The dovish parties of yore, particularly Meretz, barely exist as political entities anymore. Whether they’ll ever be back will be a testament, one way or another, to the kind of prime minister Mr. Netanyahu will be this time around.

The complete interview can be read here

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


The George Mitchell Appointment:

The Tactics of “Symmetrical Negotiations” May Not Work in “Asymmetrical Conflicts”

by Lenny Ben-David

The appointment of former Senator George J. Mitchell as Middle East envoy was warmly received in Washington, Jerusalem, and Ramallah. Yet, the Middle East that Mitchell will confront today is much changed from the one he wrestled with eight years ago as chairman of the 2001 Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which was created to investigate the outbreak of the Second Intifada.

The 2001 Mitchell Report was seen as an “even-handed” document, reflecting President Clinton’s directive to “strive to steer clear of…finger-pointing. As a result, the committee attempted — even at the risk of straining credibility — to split the blame for the crisis. The Mitchell Committee could not ignore Palestinian terrorism and the Palestinian use of civilians as human shields. Israel’s transgression — and there had to be one to balance Palestinian sins — was its settlement activity. The committee recommended a “freeze [of] all settlement activity, including the ‘natural growth’ of existing settlements.” Israelis objected that the freeze — never mandated in the interim stages of the Oslo Accords — would serve to reward the Palestinians’ terrorism.

The committee was appointed before the 9/11 al-Qaeda attack. Its report came prior to the capture of two weapons-laden ships bound for Gaza — the Santorini in May 2001 and the Karine A in January 2002 — and prior to President Bush’s 2004 recognition of “new realities on the ground [in the territories], including already existing major Israeli populations centers.” Bush continued: “[I]t is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”

The 2001 Mitchell Report was issued years before Hamas’ coup in Gaza. Hamas remains dedicated to Israel’s destruction. Its alliance with Iran and its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood mark Hamas as an enemy of moderate Arab regimes. Hamas may yet prove to be a fatal flaw to Mitchell’s axiom that “there is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended.”…

           — Hat tip: JCPA[Return to headlines]

Middle East

A Saudi Prince’s Threat to the Obama Administration

Born in 1945 in Mecca to the future King Faisal, his official biography informs us Turki studied at the Ta’if Model Elementary and Intermediate School, the Lawrenceville School, and Georgetown University. His career began in 1973 as an advisor in the Royal Court. He served as director general of the kingdom’s main foreign intelligence service for nearly a quarter-century, from 1977 to 2001, leaving that office just before 9/11. Between 2002 and 2007, he represented his government as ambassador to London and Washington. In retirement, he is chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh and co-chair of the C100 Group, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum.

[…]

These credentials help gauge the import of the remarkable op-ed Turki published on Jan. 23 in London’s Financial Times, “Saudi Arabia’s patience is running out.” He begins it by recalling his own efforts over the decades to promote Arab-Israeli peace and especially the Abdullah Plan of 2002. “But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza,” he writes, “these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory.” Then comes a threat: “Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Defence: Cooperation Accord Signed Between Turkey-Kuwait

(ANSAmed) — KUWAIT CITY, JANUARY 23 — A memorandum of understanding in the field of military cooperation was signed today between Kuwait and Turkey after a compromise was reached regarding a number of its articles, Kuna news agency reports. A memo related to training and the exchange of expertise was signed initially on the Kuwaiti side by Head of Military Justice Major General Mohammed Al-Affasi, while General Mehmet Tactin signed for the Turkish side, with the official signature of the memo to take place in an upcoming visit to Turkey by Kuwait’s Commander and Chief Air Marshal Fahad Al-Ameer. Major General Mohammed Al-Affasi told KUNA that before signing the memo he had a meeting with Head of Operations and Planning in the Turkish Army General, Nusrat Tacdeler, during which they discussed bilateral relations and means to bolster them particularly in the military field. The deal is the result of a previous visit made by the First Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to Ankara on June 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Defense: Turkish and UK Contractors Sign Cooperation Deal

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 23 — Turkey’s Koc Informatics and Defense Technologies signed a cooperation agreement with British Ultra Electronics in projects for the Australian and the Us naval forces, Anatolia news agency reported. Koc Informatics and Defense Technologies will participate in Ultra Electronic’s underwater acoustic systems projects for Australian and the American naval forces as a sub-contractor of software development. The Turkish company will invest 5 million dollars in the construction of an acoustic facility under the agreement. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Doubts and Problems Over Saudi Succession

Problematic scenarios are being presented by the fact that in Saudi Arabia, there has been open talk about the health of Prince Sultan, the designated successor to King Abdullah. The monarch is selected from among brothers, which means that a sick and elderly king could be followed by another elderly and frail king, and another.

Riyadh (AsiaNews) — Problematic scenarios are being presented by the fact that in Saudi Arabia, there has been open talk about the health of Prince Sultan, the designated successor to King Abdullah, who is 86 years old. Having undergone surgery for a tumor on his colon in 2005, the crown prince, who is 84 years old, will visit the United States next month, for “medical tests and treatments,” according to his son Khaled. Succession to the Saudi throne, unlike what generally happens in monarchies, does not pass from father to son, but from brother to brother. After the death of the founder of the monarchy, King Ibn Saud, in 1953, in fact, the throne passed to the oldest of his 35 sons, and it was from among them that the next heir was chosen, who accompanied the reigning monarch until succession.

The poor health and advanced age of both King Abdullah and Prince Sultan, currently head of the armed forces, leaves room for various hypotheses, recently examined by Simon Henderson, director of the Washington Institute, keeping in mind the fact that in 2006, King Abdullah created the “council of fidelity” — made up of the older sons and grandsons of King Saud — which has a consultative role and now should share responsibility in the decision of succession. It is headed by one of the stepbrothers of the king, Mishal, considered one of Abdullah’s allies. The first hypothesis sees Prince Sultan dying before King Abdullah. In this case, a new crown prince would have to be chosen. The nod should go to one of the “Sudairy Seven,” the largest and strongest group, made up of the sons of King Saud and one of his wives, Hussa Ahmad Al Sudairy. It includes Sultan, interior minister Nayef, and the governor of Riyadh, Salman. Nayef is not considered very popular, for which reason one possible choice could be his younger brother Prince Salman.

If King Abdullah dies before Sultan, the latter becomes king. The problem then becomes the selection of the crown prince, provided that the new monarch does not decide to abolish the council and decide the succession himself. Apart from this improbable hypothesis — even less possible than the theoretically viable chance that the council could declare the king or the prince unfit for health reasons — the selection should be among Abdulrahman (78), Nayef (76), Abdulillah (74), and Salman (73). Except for Abdulillah, they all belong to the Sudairy Seven.

In this last case, if the succession to the Saudi throne remains as it is now, a country that is key in both Middle Eastern politics and in the world oil market would find itself ruled by a sick and elderly king (Sultan) in the place of another elderly and frail king (Abdullah), who would be followed by another elderly monarch, given the current age of the potential crown princes. In addition to this, little is known about the ideas and character of these men.

This is unless a king decides to change the line of succession. This last hypothesis could clear the way for one of the younger sons of Saud, like Salman or the 66-year-old Muqres, currently the head of the intelligence services.

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


Jordan: IPR; 350 Copyright Cases Taken to Court in 2008

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JANUARY 21 — Authorities have referred more than 350 cases of intellectual property rights (IPR) violation to court last year as part of efforts to clamp down on piracy, an official said today. Officials from the National Library Department said at least one case is reported every day whereby individuals or companies are apprehended while dealing with pirated copies. According to Director Mamoun Talhouni, the majority of violations was regarding the sale of illegal DVDs. The court should shut down any shop found in violation of this law, he insisted. Other forms of piracy included music CDs, books, software and satellite receivers used to pirate television broadcasts. The move comes following pressure from major US firms, which has been lobbying to enforce the implementation of the law in developing countries in a bid to protect its interest. According to the law, downloading software, music or movies is considered a crime, with offenders face a prison sentence between three months and three years and a fine ranging from JD1,000 to JD6,000. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Istanbul; Cameras to be Installed on the Minarets

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 22 — After many incidents such as fires and robberies took place in various mosques around the city, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has decided to install on the minarets security cameras for 24-hour surveillance and protection, Hurriyet Daily reported. Fifty mosques in Istanbul have been choosen for the project and according to information on municipality’s Web site, “The first step of the project will be locating 50 cameras in 23 places around the historic peninsula and Beyoglu”. The cameras will provide sufficient control of the historic sites and be helpful in emergencies. The project foresees that illegal construction, fires and similar damage caused to artifacts will be witnessed and stopped. Viewing an expanded area, the cameras will not only protect the mosques, but also will operate for the safety of the whole field of view. The cameras will be installed on minarets by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Protection Implementation and Control Directorate, or KUDEB. They can supply long distance images and even see small details on the artifacts once zoomed in. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


U.S. Navy Intercepts Iranian Arms Vessel

Covert operations aim to cut Tehran’s supply lines to terrorists

HERZLIYA, Israel — The U.S. Navy is conducting covert operations aimed at intercepting Iranian ships carrying weapons to rearm Hamas in the Gaza Strip, informed defense officials told WND.

The setup, which has already halted a vessel carrying Iranian munitions in recent days, acts on intelligence information provided by Israel, Egypt and Cyprus, the defense officials said.

The U.S. Navy refused to comment, but informed sources said the U.S. last week intercepted an Iranian-owned vessel found to be carrying weapons, including rockets, mortar and artillery shells. It is suspected the ship was attempting to reach the Egyptian Sinai area. If successful, the delivery would have represented a major escalation by providing Hamas with artillery, something the terrorist organization is not thought to possess.

The ship is now docked at an Egyptian port on the Red Sea after being escorted by the U.S. Navy out of the Suez Canal, which leads to the Mediterranean, the defense officials said. Due to complicated maritime laws, the U.S. and Egypt may let the ship sail to the Mediterranean, where either Israeli or Egyptian naval units would need to decide whether to entirely halt the vessel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Navy Hunting Iran Ships Sent to Rearm Hamas in Gaza’

A United States naval taskforce has been ordered to hunt down weapons ships sent by Iran to rearm its Islamist ally Hamas in Gaza, The Sunday Times reported.

Quoting U.S. diplomatic sources, the British daily said that Combined Task Force 151, which is countering pirates in the Gulf of Aden, has been instructed to track Iranian arms shipments.

The intelligence community in Israel believes that Iran intends on rearming Hamas after the Israel Defense Forces’ recent offensive in Gaza seriously depleted the Islamist militant group’s arsenal. […]

— Adding:

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232643736860&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

US seizing of Iranian ship ‘a covert op’

The interception of an Iranian arms ship by the US Navy in the Red Sea last week likely was conducted as a covert operation and is being played down by the US military due to the lack of a clear legal framework for such operations, an American expert on Iran told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening.

International media reported that an Iranian-owned merchant vessel flying a Cypriot flag was boarded early last week by US Navy personnel who discovered artillery shells on board.

The ship was initially suspected of being en route to delivering its cargo to smugglers in Sinai who would transfer the ammunition to Hamas in Gaza, but the US Navy became uncertain over the identity of the intended recipient since “Hamas is not known to use artillery,” The Associated Press cited a defense official as saying.

It was then allowed to sail toward the Suez Canal, where Egyptian authorities have been asked to conduct another search of the vessel, according to the report. In an e-mail to the Post, Lt.-Col. Patrick Ryder of the US Air Force, who is a spokesman for the Defense Department, said the US military was “aware of the media reports and are looking into them, but we have nothing to provide at this time.”

Prof. Raymond Tanter, president of the Washington-based Iran Policy Committee, said, “It is not surprising that the US Navy is reluctant to acknowledge the operation, which may have been covert,” adding that maritime law posed challenges when it came to intercepting ships that fly the flag of a sovereign country. “The navy generally uses special forces, sometimes including Navy Seals, to conduct interceptions on the high seas,” Tanter said.

Maritime law provides a basis for the interception of suspicious vessels not flying a country’s flag (called “stateless vessels”), such as the North Korean ship carrying Scud missiles intercepted in the Arabian Sea by the American and Spanish navies in 2002. However, in last week’s incident, “it was a Cypriot-flagged, Iranian-owned commercial vessel, and the maritime law is less able to justify stop and search operations against such ships,” Tanter said.

Iranian arms smuggling ships are not subject to the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), launched by the US in 2003 to “stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern,” he noted.

“Indeed, there is a need for international institutions like the PSI to interdict rockets from Iran to Hamas, but it is unlikely for such a multilateral regime will be established in the near-term,” he said. “Without such international legitimacy, the United States has to act publicly alone to interdict suspected January Iranian shipments to Hamas.”

Legalities aside, however, the US interception was likely helped by “intelligence provided by friendly states, such as Egypt,” Tanter added. “Because of fear in intelligence circles that a ‘dirty bomb’ might make it into Gaza, there is some thought to apply the PSI to interdict ships en route to Hamas,” he added.

For the time being, the interceptions and searches are being carried out on the basis of the memorandum of understanding signed between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on January 16, which is “aimed at halting arms smuggling into Gaza as part of efforts to clinch the cease-fire,” Tanter said.

“I suspect that the 19-20 January interception stemmed from that deal. Moreover, having the US Navy intercept the suspect ship would have significantly better prospects for unopposed boarding than if Israeli commandos took it down. Were this ship to be operated by Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Corps or Quds force, and Israelis came aboard, it would not be a pretty scene, to say the least,” he said.

Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Teheran would do its utmost to replenish Hamas weapons stocks in the coming months.

“Iran has a very strong interest in terms of its regional hegemonic designs to continue to support its two proxies in our part of the Middle East,” Landau said. “I think the result of the war and the obvious poor performance of Hamas will also have implications on Iran’s regional standing. Iran hoped Hamas could have declared victory — this would give Iran more bargaining chips when it came to nuclear negotiations with the US,” she said.

At the same time, “Iran is not looking for an armed confrontation [with the US Navy] at this point,” Landau said. “An armed confrontation would start a whole different set of dynamics that could have implications for what Iran could achieve.” Iran’s arms-smuggling and nuclear program “all tie in to the same agenda. Iran wants to be the leading power in the Middle East and to call the shots,” she said

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


U.S. Navy Seeks Arms Bound for Hamas

AN American naval taskforce in the Gulf of Aden has been ordered to hunt for suspicious Iranian arms ships heading for the Red Sea as Tehran seeks to re-equip Hamas, its Islamist ally in Gaza.

According to US diplomatic sources, Combined Task Force 151, which is countering pirates in the Gulf of Aden, has been instructed to track Iranian arms shipments.

Last week the USS San Antonio, an amphibious transport dockship that serves as the command and control centre for the taskforce, boarded the former Russian cargo vessel Monchegorsk, which is registered in Limassol and flying a Cypriot flag.

The ship docked at an Egyptian Red Sea port for a detailed search during which, according to unconfirmed reports, weapons were found.

The naval clampdown follows growing disillusion in Israel at the outcome of the 22-day war in Gaza. Although the incursion enjoyed overwhelming public backing, with 91% support at the time, opinion polls suggest that only half the electorate now believe that the military goals were achieved.

With a general election due on February 10, conservative Israeli politicians have been scathing at the government’s failure to eliminate the threat from Hamas, the militant faction that seized control of Gaza in June 2007 and remains a proxy for Iran.

A document circulated to ministers by Israeli military intelligence last week suggested that despite the bombardment, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is well advanced with a huge programme of arms resupply for Gaza.

According to the document, the Iranians are attempting to smuggle munitions from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the arms shipments are loaded onto commercial vessels.

In recent weeks at least two Iranian destroyers have been sent to the Gulf of Aden on the pretext of fighting piracy. The Israelis suspect that the destroyers, which are currently in port in Aseb in Eritrea, may have had some role in the shipments.

In January 2002, Israeli naval commandos stormed the Iranian cargo ship Karine A in the Red Sea. They found 50 tons of arms, long-range rockets and explosives being shipped to Yasser Arafat, then the Palestinian leader. Israeli defence sources believe the same route and methods are being used again.

According to the sources, once in the Red Sea the cargo is taken on one of two routes. The first is to dock in Somalia and Sudan, where professional smugglers carry the cargo overland to Sinai. In Sinai, Bedouin specialists smuggle the shipment into Gaza through the notorious border tunnels.

Despite intensive Israeli bombing, some tunnels remain open. Palestinian sources in Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s southern town, estimate that 100 tunnels are still in action, about 20% of the pre-war total.

A second arms smuggling route into Gaza has also been used by Tehran, according to well briefed sources. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard has sent shipments through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean to anchor off the Gaza coast, inside Egyptian territorial waters, where the Israeli navy is barred.

After dark, Iranian frogmen transfer weapons in sealed containers to Palestinian fishing boats. This can prove dangerous as the Israeli navy may open fire without warning, but according to the sources it has worked well in the past.

The intelligence report suggested that Iran plans to ship Fajr rockets with a 50-mile range to Gaza. This would bring Tel Aviv, its international airport and the Dimona nuclear reactor within reach for the first time.

Tehran has also promised to rebuild Gaza. Last week Hamas announced that every home-owner whose house had been destroyed would receive €4,000 (£3,820). The families of those who died will receive €1,000 and the wounded will receive €500.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


UAE Mountain Covered in Rare Snow

DUBAI (AFP) — A blanket of snow has covered a mountain in a part of the United Arab Emirates, a rare phenomenon for the desert Gulf country, according to local media report.

Al-Jees mountain, 5,700 feet (1,737 metres) above sea level and 25 kilometres (15 miles) northeast of Ras al-Khaimah city, was covered in 20 centimetres (eight inches) of snow, the state news agency WAM said.

“Although limited snowfall was recorded on the mountain some years back, for the first time the peak of the mountain was fully covered in snow,” it said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UAE: More Freedom of Press But Journalists Don’t Like Law

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 21 — The National Federal Council has passed a new press law which will abolish prison sentences for journalists, will protect their sources, but will take measures against “damage to the nation and its image”, with five times higher financial penalties than before. The 45 articles contained in the new law, described as “a soft revolution” by Saqr Gobash, President of the National Media Council (Nmc) — the government body which drafted the law — were criticised for their “vagueness” by the Journalists’ Association of the United Arab Emirates. “This law has nothing to do with the media” said President of the Association Mohammad Yousef, writing in the Gulf News. “four articles talk about code of conduct, which the others talk about ownership and licences. “If the Council for the Media decides that a newspaper has gone too far it has the right to suspend the paper’s licence. This is a detail which should scare us. This is a law which damages the nation”, added Yousef, adding that journalists will call for the law not to be ratified by the council of ministers. Several analysts quoted by the press also highlight the lack of a precise definition of what is “damaging for the nation and its image”. The removal of prison sentences in favour of big fines which was hailed by the Nmc as an important victory for the freedom of the press was cut down to size by the Journalists’ Association however, who said that it is simply the application of a law passed last year by Sheikh Mohammad al Maktum. A freer press is one of the Sheikh’s favourite objectives, for example in 2006 he abolished the Ministry of Information. The UEA is number two in the Gulf nations for freedom of the press according to the Reporter Without Borders classifications, in 69th place worldwide, after Kuwait, in 61st place. Following them are Qatar (74th), Bahrain (96th), Oman (123rd) and Saudi Arabia (161st). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Vatican — Iraq: I Asked the Pope for a Mideast Synod to Renew the Christian Presence, Says Mgr Sako

The archbishop of Kirkuk met Benedict XVI today and described to him his plan for Synod of Middle East bishops. He wants to see “catechesis and pastoral care” renewed and “adapted to today’s reality.” He makes an appeal for “young people to be trained for Iraq’s social and political life.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) — The difficult but hopeful situation of the Church and Christians in Iraq and a proposed General Synod of Middle East Churches were the topics discussed by Pope Benedict XVI and Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, during a private audience this morning. Iraqi bishops are currently in Rome for their ad limina visit to the Vatican.

Iraq’s Church is going through a time of suffering and persecution. Many Iraqi Christians have left the country because of attacks, abductions, and murders.

In some parts of the country like Mosul in the north targeted killings of Christians continue as part of a campaign to get rid of them.

Yet, despite the difficulties, Iraq’s bishops are not willing to give in to the “logic of violence.” They are instead trying to find “common ways to share in the rebuilding of Iraq” which would breathe new life into the “Church’s ancient place in the country, history and traditions.”

With this in mind, a proposal was submitted to the Holy Father, to organise “a Synod of Middle Eastern Churches,” the prelate told AsiaNews, “because all of us are going through the same difficulties and face the same problems,” one which Benedict XVI heard and appreciated it, saying that it was “a good idea”.

“We are small communities, but we share a desire to pursue our mission in the region. The Synod will cover a range of topics, including Christian emigration. We have laid out a plan for the synod with a programme and the issues to be tackled.”

For Archbishop Sako this also means that the international community and the Universal Church must “support the Christian presence in Iraq.” Also the Iraqi government should establish a “Minorities Ministry”, a step that would give meaning to their presence in the country, protect their rights and encourage their staying.”

“We must get involved so Christians can play a role in Iraq’s social life,” said the prelate. “We must preserve their ethnic and cultural heritage.”

The Iraqi Church must, he explained, “update its evangelical message” because “we cannot live in and focus on the past. Instead we must look forward into the future with hope” and adapt missionary actions “to today’s society if we want a sincere dialogue with Muslims.”

The prelate also wants to see “missionaries adequately trained,” strong in their faith, good examples “in their lives because teaching the catechism, saying Mass and upholding [Christian] precepts as a routine are not enough.”

Renewal must stem from a global rethinking of “catechesis and pastoral care” that is “adapted to today’s reality” in a society, like that of Iraq, that “has changed.”

The Church “must go back to being the centre for all Christians and all Iraqis, including Muslims, by promoting of a culture of dialogue,” said Archbishop Sako. Its “history and traditions make it the only institution capable of building strong and lasting bridges. Knowing the ground on which to build dialogue and the language that must be used to do so are a must.”

In a final appeal the bishop of Kirkuk said: “We need to train catechists, priests, nuns. Many have left and those of us still in the country are but a few. The Universal Church must look after us; help us train; assist us in rebuilding. The same goes for the country’s youth. They must learn about Christian life, how to take part in active politics, get an education in their land because those who do leave risk losing their identity.” (DS)

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


Vatican — Iraq: Iraqi Bishops Urge Faithful Not to Fear, Invite Them to Return to Missionary Path

Mgrs Warduni and al-Qas call on people to overcome “fears and divisions.” They urge Christians to remain in Iraq as a message of hope. They slam European and US Protestant sects for exploiting people’s suffering to “buy” them with money.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) — Iraq’s bishops have launched a message in favour of “Christian unity” during their ad limina visit now underway in Rome to meet Pope Benedict XVI. In it they exhort the Church of Iraq and its faithful to follow John Paul II’s warning. “Fear not” to bear witness to your faith; go “beyond the divisions” that are a “sign of weakness”; become an “example to follow” until you reach the cross; remain in Iraq, ready to “die for one another” bearing witness to the faith until you answer “the greatest calling, martyrdom.”

“In order to renew our mission in Iraq we must be ‘re-evangelised’ to become strong like the first believers who were capable of giving their lives for Christ,” said Mgr Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary bishop of Baghdad. “Priests and bishops,” he urged, “must be loyal and straightforward; they must not fear sacrificing themselves for Christ.”

For the bishop, who is the Patriarch’s vicar, the Christian community must “transcend the logic of division” that separates Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants because only through “mutual love can we have the necessary strength to face persecution.”

“If we want to renew the Iraqi Church we must first of all renew ourselves,” he said. “We must build instead of destroying.”

In his view “rediscovering unity” means adhering to three key principles, namely obedience, humility and love—through them cooperation can be renewed and enable us to overcome “divisions and misunderstandings.”

He is particularly concerned about the young, who constitute hope in the future of the Church and the country.

“The Church is founded on the young to whom we must guarantee a future of peace and security. [. . .] Priests and bishops must give an example to follow on the path of mission.”

But for Bishop Warduni, we must heed one warning, the danger of so-called Christian sects, that use money to attract the attention of a people scarred by war and suffering.

“There are Protestant sects that come from Europe and America who use money to evangelise among the faithful. There are cases of Catholics who have been baptised by these sects. For this reason the Church must be strong, united and able to respond to such threats.”

For Mgr Rabban Al Qas, the Chaldean bishop of Amadiya and Erbil, the believers must learn to overcome the fear that comes from persecution and suffering. The faithful must “remain rooted in their land” by means of tangible projects in “education” which can enable “ethnic groups to “learn to live together in the classroom.”

The Church, too, must be pro-active. On 16 January three new deacons were ordained in Anwaka’s St Joseph’s Parish and in three months they will join the priesthood.

“We celebrate ten Masses each Sunday and the faithful are thirsty of the Word of God. We guarantee them our presence and serve as an example for others.”

For the bishop, who heads the diocese of Amadiya and Erbil, the Church’s missionary duty is expressed in its presence and its sharing in everyday life.

Our “recent visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome stands as a warning” of what might find on “the path of mission,” he said. “It is an invitation to partake in the suffering, to be strong in the face of persecution, to look upon Christ to give new life to the Iraqi Church.”

For Mgr Rabban al Qas, the Church must be helped in its educational endeavours.” The Church itself “must emphasise the value of its work in schools and seminars.”

“If we begin with the young we can build our future, guarantee their education, favour tolerance and the possibility of expressing one’s faith, without fear.”

For the prelate, the focus “must be on human beings, on fighting poverty and developing real plans that guarantee jobs.”

Likewise priests and bishops must act as “spiritual guides”, able to tell people about “the values and essence of the Christian message, which is love and unity, following Christ’s example.”

“We must,” he said, “be missionaries in our own land and enhance the faith among the people.”

As an example of living together, Monsignor al-Qas cites the example of the diocese’s International School, where the ancient language of Aramaic is taught to breathe new life into a culture that has existed in Iraq for thousands of years.

“Education leads to evangelisation and reinforces a people’s awareness that it must be united and look with hope to the future,” the bishop said. “This is part of the Church’s missionary commitment.”

Therefore, the Church has decided to come up with programmes and books in Kurdish “about the sacraments and Christian history;: they will improve knowledge about the word of God among the people.

In fact for the prelate modern media are a useful tool for evangelisation and spreading the Christian message.

“Midnight Mass was broadcast live on a Kurdish TV station,’ he said. “It is a way to let non-Christians know about Christmas traditions and to contribute to evangelisation.”

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

Russia

Risking All for Press Freedom

Russian Journalists Put Their Lives on the Line

Nowhere in Europe is life more dangerous for journalists than in Russia, and no Russian newspaper has had as many of its journalists killed as Novaya Gazeta. After the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova, the newspaper’s publisher wants to provide its reporters with guns.

A simple glass case stands next to the door leading to the editorial offices of the Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Inside are displayed the newspaper’s trophies, including the mobile telephone that former first lady Raisa Gorbachyova gave the paper a decade and a half ago, as well as various awards and certificates.

But the display cabinet also contains shrapnel that was removed from the bodies of war correspondents during surgery, and the computer that investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya used to write her articles. The upper shelf is reserved for the portraits of the victims of contract killings: Politkovskaya, Yuri Shchekochikhin and Igor Domnikov.

Now space will have to be made for two more portraits. They are still hanging on the wall, together with a black ribbon of mourning: a photo of prominent attorney Stanislav Markelov, 34, who represented the newspaper in various trials, and a portrait of Anastasia Baburova, 25, who wrote about Russian fascists for the paper. Neo-Nazis have been celebrating her violent death on the Internet since she was killed last week — and plotting to hunt down other journalists.

Letters of condolence, including one from French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, lie on a small table. The Russian leadership, however, has had nothing to say about the case.

A masked killer murdered Markelov and Baburova last Monday. It was an execution in broad daylight, in the middle of Moscow’s “Golden Mile,” a neighborhood of high-priced mansions and old townhouses not far from the Kremlin. Once again Izvestiya, a pro-government daily, was quick to assign blame for the killings to the West.

Meanwhile in the West, doubts are growing as to whether President Dmitry Medvedev’s and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s avowed commitment to the rule of law and freedom of the press will ever be more than fancy rhetoric. Conditions in Russia, a member of the Council of Europe, are more like those in Mexico or Pakistan than those in other European countries.

With the exception of countries like Iraq where conditions approach those of a civil war at times, nowhere is the life of a journalist more dangerous than in Russia. And none of the country’s 14,000 newspapers has had more victims of violence than Novaya Gazeta.

The newspaper has exposed corruption and the notorious infiltration of government law enforcement organizations by criminal groups. Its reporters have denounced human rights violations in the Caucasus and growing xenophobia. The individuals who contracted last week’s double murder likely stem from the milieus of military or intelligence officials, right-wing extremists, Chechens or possibly government bureaucrats whose illicit sources of income are threatened by the newspaper’s investigative reporting.

Sixty editors work for Novaya Gazeta, which is partially owned by former President Mikhail Gorbachev and oligarch Alexander Lebedev. Reporters at the paper know that they put their lives at risk whenever they agree to cover a hot story. Because of this risk, Lebedev has requested that Russian intelligence provide them with pistols for self-defense.

“Nowadays when I come home from work in the evening and see men standing around on my street, I feel afraid,” says junior editor Elena Kostyuchenko, 21. She, like her murdered colleague Baburova, comes from a small town.

Russia is not China and certainly not North Korea. There are courageous newspapers and radio stations throughout the country that sharply criticize powerful businesspeople and politicians. Last year the Moscow-based Glasnost Foundation counted 1,450 cases in which journalists were beaten and threatened, editorial offices searched and photos confiscated. Five reporters were killed and two are still missing.

Kostyuchenko writes about guest workers and refugees. She is currently fighting to put behind bars those who arranged for an attack on journalist Mikhail Beketov. Stanislav Markelov, the attorney murdered on Jan. 20, represented Beketov’s family.

As the editor-in-chief of a local newspaper in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Beketov, in his early 50s, has sharply criticized corruption within the local administration. He became the leader of a movement protesting the construction of a highway from Moscow to St. Petersburg, because a stretch of forest near Khimki up to 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) wide is to be cut down to make way for the road.

Russian “bisnesmeny” (businessmen) are already lining up to build shopping centers, service stations and casinos in the deforested zone, which promises to become a goldmine. “Because of Beketov’s resistance, a lot of money has been up in the air for the past year, money that will not simply fall into the pockets of local officials,” says the deputy director of an environmental agency. This, he says, has angered some “very influential people.”

Unknown assailants killed Beketov’s dog and set his car on fire. Then, on a clear November morning, neighbors found the journalist lying in front of his house. He had been beaten so severely that doctors had to amputate one of his legs and several fingers, and they are still fighting for his life today.

Kostyuchenko and journalists with other Moscow newspapers continued to draw the public’s attention to the near-murder until the local police, which has close ties to the district administrator, was taken off the case. The chief public prosecutor has since taken control of the investigation. Kostyuchenko calls it “a partial victory, but nothing more.”

Her colleague Elena Milachina, 31, is sitting in the next room behind a mountain of research documents. In May 2000, thugs killed her former boss, Igor Domnikov, a special projects editor at the paper, with three hammer blows to the head in front of his apartment on the outskirts of Moscow. When questioned by police, the murderers, part of a notorious organized crime organization, revealed the names of those who had ordered the attack. They included the former deputy governor of Lipetsk, a province in central Russia.

Domnikov had disclosed that this civil servant had misused government funds to speculate in banks, had had his apartment renovated at the taxpayers’ expense and controlled certain markets. But when the Domnikov case came to trial, the deputy governor was only questioned as a witness, not as a suspect. He told the court that he had only hired the killers so that he could “talk” to the journalist. The criminal gang, however, was known for its brutality, and for the fact that it had cut off the ears and fingers of the 23 people it had already killed. The deputy governor, a minor oligarch, now owns the largest meat processing plant in Lipetsk.

Markelov, the murdered lawyer, and journalist Milachina had been looking into ways to finally bring the former deputy governor under lock and key. “Our government could do so much,” says Milachina, “but instead of protecting citizens, the courts, police, parliament and the controlled press merely protect criminals and the corrupt government.”

Markelov, a lawyer specializing in journalism and civil rights, was unwilling to accept the status quo. In 2006, he founded the Rule of Law Institute and began to divulge sensitive information to the press, even about well-known figures. It was through his efforts that Germans learned about a secret order issued by the then Russian interior minister, Boris Gryzlov, which authorized the police to establish internment camps (the story was reported in SPIEGEL in 2005). Gryzlov is now the speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.

Markelov told SPIEGEL about the complaints he had filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and that he regretted that the European judges could not issue arrest warrants in Russia. “The murderers are among us,” he said at the time. According to Markelov, Russian law was as far behind European law “as African tribal law.” At a rally to protest “political terror” shortly before his death — in which, as usual, few members of the opposition took part — Markelov said: “I am tired of seeing the names of my acquaintances appear as victims in the crime statistics. We need protection against the power of the mafia and the security authorities, which are often in the pockets of criminals.”

A weak light bulb illuminates the desk in Markelov’s former office. Next to an old computer monitor are documents from a trial that brought fame to Markelov, who was 26 at the time, as well as ruthless enemies — and may have played a role in his murder.

In March 2000, Yuri Budanov, a Russian army officer, tortured and murdered Elsa Kungaeva, an 18-year-old Chechen woman. The case triggered such strong public outrage that a military court sentenced Budanov to a 10-year prison sentence, but he was released on parole on Jan. 15, 2009 — over Markelov’s objections. Markelov was the only Russian among a group of lawyers that represented Chechens, and Budanov and other staunchly nationalistic officers hated him for it.

Vyacheslav Izmailov, a star reporter for Novaya Gazeta and the successor of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya, is pursuing another lead, which also leads to Chechnya. A former military officer who commanded a battalion in the Chechen war that specialized in liberating hostages, Izmailov is an expert on the region. It was revelations about a prisoner that stirred the wrath of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov against the reporter and his attorney, Markelov. Izmailov had published an interview with a Chechen Kadyrov had ordered arrested and mistreated in a mountain village. Markelov represented the victim in court.

Last week, the Chechen despot posthumously awarded Markelov a medal “for services to the Chechen Republic.” Markelov had, after all, represented the family of Elsa Kungaeva, the Chechen woman murdered by Yuri Budanov. But Caucasus experts in Russian intelligence treat this as a possible red herring. “For Kadyrov’s people, contract killings of political enemies are routine,” says a Russian colonel.

Markelov is dead. Kadyrov has brought a lawsuit against Izmailov, but so far he has failed to achieve a conviction.

Izmailov has already suffered and recovered from a stroke. He is a diminutive man with darting eyes and a big heart for victims of violence and despotism. He has a daughter and two grandchildren. “Nevertheless, I will continue to write about the truth,” he says. “And if I am ever afraid, it will only be in the last seconds of my life — when I am looking my killer in the eye.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Caucasus

Russia to Open Naval Base in Georgian Rebel Region — Reports

MOSCOW (AFP)—Russia will open a naval base in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, the head of the region’s separatist administration and a Russian military source were quoted as saying Monday. “Indeed, there is an agreement in principle on the creation of a base for ships of the Black Sea Fleet in the town of Ochamchire,” Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. “The sides agreed on certain technical matters. There are no officially signed documents yet,” he added. Bagapsh’s comments came hours after a senior source in the Russian navy told the ITAR-TASS news agency that Moscow had decided to set up a naval base in the Abkhaz port of Ochamchire, on the region’s Black Sea coast. “The principal decision on the question of creating a Black Sea Fleet base in Ochamchire has been made…It will take more than a year to carry out all the necessary work,” the source was quoted as saying. One purpose of the Ochamchire base would be to counter “the threat of diversions and terrorist attacks by the Georgian special services,” he added. Russia recognized Abkhazia and another separatist region, South Ossetia, as independent states after a brief war with Georgia in August. The move provoked intense criticism from abroad and only Nicaragua has followed Moscow’s lead. Since then Russia has based thousands of troops in the breakaway regions, prompting a furious reaction from Tbilisi. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Ukraine’s port of Sevastopol under a lease agreement, and Ukraine has threatened to force the fleet to leave after the lease expires in 2017.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesian Ulamas Announce Conditional Smoking Ban

The Indonesian Ulamas Council (MUI) has issued an edict, forbidding children, pregnant women and MUI members from smoking. The edict, which was issued in a meeting here on Sunday, also bans smoking in public places.

Antara News Agency quoted the council’s Edict Commission chairman Amin Suma in West Sumatera today, as saying that MUI decided in the meeting that smoking for Muslims was between “haram” (forbidden) and “makruh” (objectionable). He said that MUI would later formulate the form of sanctions against council members who smoked.

Suma said that the MUI meeting agreed on two rulings, namely one which banned smoking for children, pregnant women, in public places and MUI members and the other which states that smoking was between ‘haram’ and “makhruh.” According to him, the adoption of the edict was based on the emergence of differences in opinions on whether smoking for Muslims was allowed or forbidden.

He said the decision taken by MUI should not be used by the public to act against smokers. “It is the government which has the right to take action against smokers,” he said, adding that a legal framework was therefore, needed to implement the MUI edict on smoking which placed smokers between ‘haram’ and ‘makruh’.

Nurhayati Hakim, an advisor to MUI for West Sumatra, said the MUI decision on smoking was enough to serve as a guidance for Muslims. “At least, the MUI edict will provide restrictions so that the public would not be free to smoke at will,” she said.

On Sunday, MUI issued an edict banning Muslims from practising true yoga, namely meditation which contains genuine ritual and spirituality of other religion. “The edict is issued to provide guidance for Muslims so that they would not mix the wrong and the right together,” said MUI chairman Ma’ruf Amin.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Malaysia: Religious Leaders Call on BBC to Show Gaza Ad

The two-hour occupation followed criticism from lawmakers and religious leaders who said the BBC’s decision not to air an advertisement from the Disasters Emergency Committee — a group of charities that includes the Red Cross, Oxfam, and Save the Children — was wrong.

The broadcaster which rejected the advertisement saying it might harm its reputation for impartiality, and because it couldn’t be sure the money raised would reach those in need. “My feeling is that the BBC should broadcast an appeal,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams said.

Mark Thompson, the BBC director-general, remained adamant against the showing the advertisement. His comments came in a blog posting on the BBC Web site. “Gaza remains a major ongoing news story, in which humanitarian issues — the suffering and distress of civilians and combatants on both sides of the conflict, the debate about who is responsible for causing it and what should be done about it — are both at the heart of the story and contentious.”

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, also urged the BBC to reconsider its decision. “In the end, it’s not a question of impartiality, it’s a question of those who have been made destitute, those who need food, those who need medicine, those who need help,” he told the BBC.

Stop the War said it had about 100 people in the foyer of the BBC’s Glasgow offices. Strathclyde Police put the number of protesters at about 50, and said the protest was orderly. “We want the BBC to show the Gaza appeal because we believe that the lives of people in Gaza are as important as those in every other part of the world,” Penny Howard, one of the protesters, told the AP in a telephone interview from the building.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Pakistan: Sectarian Attacks Spark Violent Protests

Quetta, 26 Jan. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Simmering sectarian violence once again erupted in Pakistan on Monday. Violent protests took place in Quetta, capital of gas-rich western Balochistan province after the slaying there of a Shia Muslim politician. And at least five people died in a bombing outside the town hall in Dera Ismail Khan, in restive, Pashtun dominated Northwest Frontier province.

The banned Sunni extremist group Lashkar-i-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the drive-by slaying in Quetta of Hussain Ali Yousufi. A prominent Shia figure and ethnic Hazara, he led the Hazara Democratic Party.

Ethnic Hazaras form a sizeable population (around 90,000) in Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran — the country from which they originally migrated to Pakistan.

Clashes between the Taliban and Hazara in Afghanistan have in recent years damaged previously peaceful relations between Sunni Pashtun and Baloch tribesmen.

Hazara Shias have been a frequent target of Sunni extremist groups in Pakistani Balochistan. The Hazara community originally comes from the Afghan province of Bamyan.

Angry Hazara youths ransacked the main commercial centre in Quetta after Yousufi’s killing on Monday. They pelted passing vehicles with stones, set other vehicles alight and smashed the windows of a bank in the city’s main boulevard.

The Hazara Democratic Party meanwhile announced a strike in the city on Tuesday and a 40-day period of mourning for Yousufi.

HDP secretary general Abdul Khaliq Hazara strongly condemned the government and police for the inadequate protection given to ethnic Hazaras targeted by extremists.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast in Dera Ismail Khan, which reportedly occurred minutes before the parliamentary affairs minister, Khalifa Qayyum, had passed through the area.

Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani condemned the bombing and vowed to bring to justice those responsible. Other politicians also condemned the attack as a barbaric act of terrorism.

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


Thailand: Pictured: Hundreds of Refugees Left to Die After ‘Being Towed Out to Sea and Abandoned by Thai Army’

These are the tragic pictures that show hundreds of refugees being pulled out to sea on motorless boats before being abandoned by the Thai army.

Pressure has mounted on the government to come clean after the images, released by CNN, appear to confirm allegations of a Thai operation to evict Burmese refugees.

But the Thai government’s chief spokesman has declined immediate comment on the, a Muslim minority who have fled decades of persecution at the hands of Burma’s military rulers into neighbouring Bangladesh.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Finland: Problems for Immigrants Without Language Skills

Experts working with immigrant women say that illiteracy and a lack of Finnish language skills create many problems in daily life, including often not knowing basic rights.

Elazizi Hanane, who moved to Finland from Morocco six years ago, has learned Finnish by speaking to local residents. He has not been able to take advantage of organized language courses because she looks after her children at home, and in her own words, her husband “is always at work”.

“For example I can read children’s’ books. I learned along with my children,” says Hanane.

The mother of three has many friends who cannot speak a single word of Finnish, even after living for up to a decade in the country.

It is estimated that there are thousands of illiterate immigrants in Finland. They are unable to read or write, even in their native languages. Most are from Africa.

With a sharp rise in the number applicants for asylum, it is probable that there will also be growing numbers of illiterate women. Often, women who come to the country as refugees have no idea that physical abuse and violence in relationships is a crime. Some are not even aware that they have the right to work, if they want.

There are organizations that help immigrants with day-to-day matters, such as shopping. Most immigrant women take care of getting their children to and from school, although the children have to interpret in contacts with school authorities.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Illegal Immigrants to be DNA Tested Under New Crackdown in France

France’s hard-line new immigration minister is set to implement legislation that would allow DNA testing of new arrivals. Eric Besson, who was appointed this month, has said the tests would establish which foreigners were claiming visas by making up fictious family ties with those already settled in the country. Civil liberties groups have reacted furiously to the controversial scheme, which was approved by the French parliament 15 months ago but does not come into effect until the appropriate minister has signed the legislation. Until now that move had been delayed by protests. But Mr Besson has now said he wanted to give it the ‘green light’, confirming that a ministerial meeting would be held on the subject ‘in a few days’. He added: ‘If the decree is accepted, I will scrupulously respect all individual liberties. It’s not my obsession.’ The tests will be for applications for visas of more than three months when there are doubts about an immigrant’s birth or marriage certificates. The move would allow officials to ‘propose’ to applicants that they take a test at their own expense to prove a biological link with other family members. A recent report said there was often doubt over the authenticity of papers in family applications for visas. It claimed that in African countries such as Senegal, Ivory Coast and Togo up to 80 per cent of birth and marriage certificates were forged. Government statistics show there are 23,000 immigration cases a year where visa applications involve children, meaning DNA tests would become widespread.

But immigrant welfare groups said the plan was unacceptable. Daniele Lochak, a former president of GISTI, a group providing information and support for immigrants, said: ‘It’s obvious that applicants who refuse DNA tests will have every chance of having their visas refused.’ The cost of up to £350 for a test is also likely to be beyond the reach of many immigrant families. France has strict controls on DNA testing. Its civil code says studies of a person’s genetic characteristics can only be for medical or scientific research, meaning magistrates will have to authorise the new immigrant tests. Outgoing immigration minister Brice Hortefeux recently announced that France deported 30,000 illegal migrants in 2008 — a record number. It was a rise of more than 25 per cent on the number expelled the previous year.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]


Sweden: Six Men Flee Migration Board Detention Centres

A total of six men escaped from detention centres run by Sweden’s Migration Board (Migrationsverket) on Sunday evening in two separate incidents.

Shortly before 6pm, three men managed to flee from a detention centre in Gävle in eastern Sweden where they were awaiting deportation after having had their asylum claims rejected.

“They somehow managed to open a window and then ran away,” said Gävleborg police spokesperson Daniel Mathsson to the TT news agency.

At just about the same time, three other men also awaiting deportation broke out of detention centre in Ljungaskog in southern Sweden.

The second trio reportedly came into the possession of a set of keys from one of the facility’s staff members and then ran out into the forest.

Police searched the area with dogs, but the men’s tracks ended near a road.

“They most likely had some help getting away, I suspect,” said Skåne police spokesperson Martin Carlsson to TT.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Pelosi Says Birth Control Will Help Economy

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic “stimulus” package, claiming “contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.”

Pelosi, the mother of 5 children and 6 grandchildren, who once said, “Nothing in my life will ever, ever compare to being a mom,” seemed to imply babies are somehow a burden on the treasury.

The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC’s THIS WEEK.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

A New World Order by Henry Kissinger

[Comment from JD: Straight from the horses’ mouth]

The nadir of the existing international financial system coincides with simultaneous political crises around the globe. Never have so many transformations occurred at the same time in so many different parts of the world and been made globally accessible via instantaneous communication. The alternative to a new international order is chaos.

[…]

International order will not come about either in the political or economic field until there emerge general rules toward which countries can orient themselves.

In the end, the political and economic systems can be harmonized in only one of two ways: by creating an international political regulatory system with the same reach as that of the economic world; or by shrinking the economic units to a size manageable by existing political structures, which is likely to lead to a new mercantilism, perhaps of regional units.

[…]

The ultimate challenge is to shape the common concern of most countries and all major ones regarding the economic crisis, together with a common fear of jihadist terrorism, into a common strategy reinforced by the realization that the new issues like proliferation, energy and climate change permit no national or regional solution.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Brown Sees ‘New World Order’ After Crisis

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday the financial crisis must not be an excuse to retreat into protectionism and instead be viewed as the “difficult birth-pangs of a new global order”.

In a speech, he will urge countries to avoid “muddling through as pessimists” and “make the necessary adjustment to a better future and setting the new rules for this new global order”, according to his office.

Official data confirmed Friday that Britain is in recession. Days earlier, the government unveiled a new package of measures to help the flow of credit in the economy, but Brown has argued global action is needed for a quick recovery.

He will warn Monday that the crisis has given the world a choice: “We could allow this crisis to start a retreat from globalisation.

“As some want, we could close our markets — for capital, financial services, trade and for labour — and therefore reduce the risks of globalisation.

“But that would reduce global growth, deny us the benefits of global trade and confine millions to global poverty.

“Or we could view the threats and challenges we face today as the difficult birth-pangs of a new global order — and our task now as nothing less than making the transition through a new internationalism to the benefits of an expanding global society.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

Natalie said...

Question for all of you: is Henry Kissinger bad? I mean, I honestly don't know much about him and I'm wondering if a good, decent, right-wing person such as myself should like him. Because that whole new world order thing he proposes does not sound very good to me...

Baron Bodissey said...

Natalie --

Henry Kissinger is hard to explain to someone who didn't live through the Nixon years. He is the quintessential "realist", and fancies himself a global pragmatist, the Bismarck of the New World Order.

He is a Bilderburg/Davos insider, and for the last 40 years has been a fixture wherever the global power-brokers meet.

He's been on the Saudi payroll for quite a while now; not sure how long.

He's also an astute political analyst, but I certainly wouldn't trust his advice on anything. He's no more respectful of national borders than is George Soros.

Natalie said...

Thanks, Baron. That helps a lot. I had a distorted view of Kissinger before.