Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/18/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/18/2009Here’s an interesting new twist to the trans-Mediterranean immigration problem: Algerian illegals are reported to have landed on the Sardinian coast after crossing from North Africa on jet skis. The Italian Coast Guard has investigated, but is so far unable to confirm or refute the report.

In other news, two French hostages in Somalia will reportedly be tried under sharia law. That’s reassuring, since sharia law, as we are often told, is a boon to Europe, so it must be even better for Somalia.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, DK, Gaia, Insubria, islam o’phobe, JD, Lexington, TB, Zonka, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
As Goldman Sachs Posts Huge Profits From the Economic Crisis, The Question is: Did it Cause the Problems in the First Place?
France: Extra Compensation for Workers After Threat
 
USA
America’s Collective Stockholm Syndrome
Big Brother in Your Car
Islamic Supremacist Group Holds First U.S. Conference
Key Democrats Flee Obama on Healthcare, Economy
 
Europe and the EU
Any Real Men Left in Britain?
Bear Hug — Germany’s Future Lies to Its Right
Female Spectator Killed in Crash With Police Motorcycle During Tour de France
Gazeta Wyborcza Interviews Poland’s Public Enemy Number One
Germany: CSU Speaks Out Against Iceland’s EU Entry
Germany: How ‘Nazi Gnome’ Making Heil Hitler Salute Could Get Artist Jailed
Italy: Gasparri, Irregular Letter by Napolitano
Italy-Slovenia; Mantica, Minority Reports to Ministers
Italy Goes Out on Patrol
Spain : Tajani, EU Co-Finances 4 Infrastructure Projects
Sweden’s Know Prophet Day
Terrorism: Italian Group ‘Sought Links With Oppressed Muslims’
The Future of European Democracy
UK Muslim Convert Gets 10 Years for Suicide Plot
UK: Christian Teacher Tells of Race Slurs by Pupils Aged 8
UK: Judge’s Anger After Couple Who Tidied Up Garden Thrown Into Riot Van for Attempted Burglary
UK: Mod Defends ‘Spying’ On Soldiers
UK: Revealed: How a Public Schoolboy Was Turned Into a Muslim Terrorist by Online Hate Preachers
UK: Sarah Kennedy ‘Spoken to’ by BBC for Praising Enoch Powell During Radio 2 Show
UK: the Jihad Fanatic Peddling a Message of Hate to 11-Year-Old Londoners (Funded by the Taxpayer)
 
Balkans
EU: Visa Abolition Proposal, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia
 
North Africa
Egyptian Security Refuses to Return Abducted Christian Coptic Girl
Italy: A Parliament and a Government of Fools
Morocco: Too Many Foreigners, Royal Air Pilots Strike
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza: Anti-Zionist Rabbis Visit Hamas Leader
 
Middle East
Iran: Nuclear; Israel Sends Serious Warning, Defence Sources
Iran: Leading Feminist Lawyer ‘Arrested’
Israel Reiterates Terms for Talks With Syria
Jordan Condems Remarks Over Alleged Assassination of Arafat
Nokia Accused of Being in the Service of Vevak, Iran’s Spy Agency
Saudi Arabia: New Rules for the Religious Police
 
Caucasus
Allegations Against Chechen President Kadyrov Over Murder of Journalist Estemirova
Chechnya’s Dissenting Voice Silenced
 
South Asia
Afghans Look With Indifference on Death of Soldiers
Despite Threats From the Taliban, We Are Working for the Good of the Country, Pakistani Catholic Say
 
Far East
China: Eerie Friday in Urumqi: Under Tight Army Control Mosques Remain Almost Deserted
Uighur Are Not Tibetan
 
Australia — Pacific
Director Ken Loach Exits Melbourne Film Festival in Protest of Israeli Funding
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
‘My Cousin in Kenya’
Sharia Trial for Somalia Hostages
Somali Hijackers Release German Ship for Ransom
 
Immigration
116 Migrants Found in Siracusa Area
Arrival of Algerians on Jet-Ski, No Confirmation
HIV Travel Ban May be Lifted for Infected Visitors
Netherlands: Local Councils: Gender-Segregated Integration Only Natural
Sbai: Morocco Exports Talent and Issues Reforms
Spain’s Moroccan Community Poorly Integrated
 
General
Fetuses Found to Have Memories

Financial Crisis

As Goldman Sachs Posts Huge Profits From the Economic Crisis, The Question is: Did it Cause the Problems in the First Place?

No name is more ubiquitous in the pantheon of global finance than that of Goldman Sachs. At a time when world commerce and banking has been brought to a shuddering halt by greed, excess and foolishness, this investment bank provoked astonishment and disgust this week by handing out record bonuses.

[…]

It is an old City adage that when someone makes a big loss on the financial markets, there must always also be a big winner. And that is certainly true of the bank that was founded in 1869 in New York by the German immigrant Marcus Goldman and his son-in-law Samuel Sachs.

Of course, Goldman Sachs’s bosses would like us to believe that it has come out on top, during the worst financial catastrophe since the Great Depression of the Thirties, through sheer brilliance.

Certainly, it seems to have an ability to capture the best and the brightest of every generation. But like a bookmaker who enjoys a special relationship with one horse-racing trainer, Goldman has proved highly skilled at fixing the odds.

The bank’s employees make so much money in their early careers that alumni are able to ‘retire’ in their 40s and go into what the current chairman Lloyd Blankfein described to me as ‘public service’ or giving back something to society. This, one hastens to add, does not mean working in the soup kitchens of Deptford or among the starving millions in sub-Saharan Africa.

Instead it means filling the top jobs in the Treasuries, central banks and stock exchanges around the world where, like members of a secret society, they are able to ensure the wealth of the next generation of Goldmanites.

The tentacles of this operation reach right into the heart of Washington. It is no coincidence that President Barack Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, who shaped much of the bail-out plan and stimulus package which has helped to save America — and Goldman Sachs — from ruin, served his time inside the hallowed walls of the bank.

So did President Bush’s last Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the nervy, shaven-headed financier who decided that rival investment bank Lehman Brothers should be allowed to go under last September and who then persuaded Congress to cough up $700bn worth of rescue funds for America’s banks — an estimated $5bn chunk of which (yes, you guessed it) went to Goldman Sachs.

In a searing analysis of Goldman Sachs’s survival strategy down the generations, the American writer Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine has described the firm as ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jabbing its blood funnel into anything that smells like money’.

Taibbi’s thesis is simple and he sets it out in meticulous, if one-sided, detail — written with a fury not seen in the more conventional financial press. According to him, Goldman Sachs is at the heart of all that has gone wrong with Anglo-Saxon capitalism.

‘Manipulation’

He alleges that it has been ‘manipulating whole economic sectors for years, moving the dice game as this or that market collapses, and all the time gorging itself on the financial vicissitudes that are breaking families everywhere — high petrol prices, rising consumer credit rates, devalued pension funds, mass lay-offs, future taxes to pay off bail-outs.’

In other words, Goldman Sachs is to blame for many of our ills, ranging from the surging cost of petrol to the collapse in value of pension funds and the stock market, as well as other investments which have suffered big losses.

Certainly, there can be no dispute that while much of the world i

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


France: Extra Compensation for Workers After Threat

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JULY 17 — Workers at JLG France, in Tonneins in the south west of France will receive extra redundancy compensation worth 30 thousand euros after they threatened to destroy some of the company’s machinery. The workers, who have been on strike for three weeks, had placed canisters of gas around the goods lifts produced at the plant, which is part of the American Oshkosh group, and were ready to make them explode. Last night a deal was signed with the company management. The deal regards 53 out of the 161 employees who were dismissed as part of a restructuring plan. Work at the plant will start up again on Monday. This is the third such case in recent days in which French workers have resorted to threatening to use bombs in order to obtain their demands. The previous instances took place at New Fabris in Chatellerault and Nortel France in Chateaufort. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

USA

America’s Collective Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that occurs when hostages develop empathy for their captors. The name originated after a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, turned into a five-day hostage crisis during which four of the victims exhibited this reaction. The common thread in all cases is that the victims are fearful, have no control of their fate and are completely dependent upon their captors. The process is facilitated by information deprivation. Victims receive information only from their captors, who, in a sense, have exclusive control of the press. Gosh, where have we seen this before? Maybe we could call this the ABCs of Stockholm syndrome.

[…]

The “Obamafication” of America will result in an ever-greater loss of our personal liberty and control over our own lives, making us dependent on the government and career politicians. Admittedly, these realizations resulted in an emotion I have always refused to allow myself — fear! We who love our Constitution and our country do not fear death, but that which our founders feared most of all: the loss of our liberty. Patrick Henry said: “Give me liberty or give me death.” The greatest fear of most liberals is personal discomfort. Liberals will gladly exchange liberty for perceived personal security, ultimately losing both in the bargain.

Stockholm syndrome cannot be perpetuated by individualism and liberty. People develop this syndrome precisely because they are not allowed freedom of thought and action. Those who think independently and dare to openly oppose the mainstream are not afflicted with this syndrome; they are immune to it. The syndrome does not affect free people no matter what their race. Only true racists like Garofalo and Olbermann believe that African-Americans must follow a particular ideology and are incapable of independent thought, unless they are mentally deranged! It is really liberals who are the captors and we who are the victims.

Stockholm syndrome, resulting from fear, loss of freedom and complete government control, was responsible for seemingly decent people becoming followers of fascism. It seems to be necessary for the promotion of a close relative of fascism, modern American liberalism. A well-known radio personality and author wrote the book “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder.” I have associated liberalism with malignancy. It is obvious that liberalism is a multi-system disease of such pathological impact that adherence to it can only lead to the decay and death of our republic. It can cause any of us to develop a transient case of the Stockholm syndrome. It is only by understanding this pathology and vigorously defending our freedom that we can prevent ourselves from slipping into this syndrome permanently.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Big Brother in Your Car

Government control of every automobile is the perfect way to control — reward or punish — every citizen. This GPS road tax system is being promoted as a way for road tax revenue to keep pace with road maintenance and construction requirements. This goal can be easily achieved by simply increasing the tax rate collected on each gallon of gasoline sold. For electric cars, a tax could easily be applied at the recharger.

Tax collection is simply an excuse to put this system into every vehicle. Once in place in every vehicle, every automobile owner will be a slave to the government. By increasing or reducing the tax rate, the government can lead the automobile owner around like a dog on a leash. Should the owner become uncooperative, the government can transform him into a pedestrian in the twinkling of an eye.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Islamic Supremacist Group Holds First U.S. Conference

A group committed to establishing an international Islamic empire and reportedly linked to Al Qaeda is stepping up its Western recruitment efforts by holding its first official conference in the U.S.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a global Sunni network with reported ties to confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Al Qaeda in Iraq’s onetime leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It has operated discreetly in the U.S. for decades.

Now, it is coming out of the shadows and openly hosting a July 19 conference entitled, “The Fall of Capitalism and the Rise of Islam,” at a posh Hilton hotel in a suburb of Chicago.

Hizb ut-Tahrir insists that it does not engage in terrorism, and it is not recognized by the State Department as a known terror group.

But some terrorism experts say it may be even more dangerous than many groups that are on the terror list.

“Hizb ut-Tahrir is one of the oldest, largest indoctrinating organizations for the ideology known as jihadism,” Walid Phares, director of the Future of Terrorism Project at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told FOXNews..com.

Phares said that Hizb ut-Tahrir, rather than training members to carry out terrorist acts like Al Qaeda, focuses instead on indoctrinating youths between ages of 9 and 18 to absorb the ideology that calls for the formation of an empire — or “khilafah” — that will rule according to Islamic law and condones any means to achieve it, including militant jihad.

Hizb ut-Tahrir often says that its indoctrination “prepares the infantry” that groups like Al Qaeda take into battle, Phares said.

“It’s like a middle school that prepares them to be recruited by the high school, which is Al Qaeda,” he said. “One would compare them to Hitler youth. … It’s an extremely dangerous organization.”

Phares said Hizb ut-Tahrir has strongholds in Western countries, including Britain, France and Spain, and clearly is looking to strengthen its base in the U.S.

“The aim of this conference is to recruit within the Muslim community in America,” he said. “The Middle East governments go after them, but in the U.S.. they are protected, so having a base here is going to help their cells around the world.”

Representatives of Hizb ut-Tahrir declined to comment when contacted by FOXNews.com.

Oren Segal, director of Islamic Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League, said the conference is cause for concern.

“While they’re not, for the most part, engaging in violent activities, and they publicly say that they’re against violence, there have been examples around the world where people who have spun off of this group have engaged in violent activity,” Segal told FOXNews.com. “That’s why they’re banned in several Arab and Central Asian countries, as well as Germany and Russia.”

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the group’s most famous alumni, New Statesman journalist Shiv Malik reported, citing intelligence sources. In addition to plotting the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he also is implicated in the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, the Bali nightclub bombings and the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Key Democrats Flee Obama on Healthcare, Economy

NEW YORK — Could it be that President Barack Obama’s Midas touch is starting to dull a bit, even among members of his own party?

Conservative House Democrats are balking at the cost and direction of Obama’s top priority, an overhaul of the nation’s health care system. A key Senate Democrat, Max Baucus of Montana, complains that Obama’s opposition to paying for it with a tax on health benefits “is not helping us.”

Another Democrat, Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, tells his local newspaper that Obama is too liberal and is “very unpopular” in his district.

From his first days in office, Obama’s popularity helped him pass the landmark $787 billion stimulus package and fueled his ambitious plans to overhaul the nation’s health care system and tackle global warming.

Obama continues to be comparatively popular. But now recent national surveys have shown a measurable drop in his job approval rating, even among Democrats. A CBS news survey out this week had his national approval rating at 57 percent, and his standing among Democrats down 10 percentage points since last month, from 92 percent to 82 percent.

With the economy continuing to sputter and joblessness on the rise, many of Obama’s staunchest Democratic supporters are anxious for his agenda to start bearing fruit.

“We are eager and impatient, so you’re seeing a little bit of that,” said Chris Redfern, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. “Elections have results, and those in the base are the most anxious to achieve what’s promised in the election. That’s why Democrats are showing some impatience in reaching our goal.”

Obama won Ohio, a key swing state, by 4 percentage points in 2008 over Republican John McCain. But the one-time industrial powerhouse has been hit hard by the weak economy, and a Quinnipiac University poll released this month showed Obama with a lackluster approval rating of 49 percent.

Redfern argued that the stimulus program has begun to show tangible results in his state and people shouldn’t expect the economy to turn around instantly.

A similar argument came from Nevada, another swing state Obama carried. Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross counseled patience, saying that voters in his state want Obama to succeed and that their support would be solidified once they saw stimulus-driven building projects under way.

“Generally, folks in Nevada are waiting to see the effects of the stimulus package,” Ross said. “I think the president is probably just as impatient to get this money out in the country to employ people as anyone.”

In Missouri, which Obama narrowly lost to McCain, Democratic strategist Steve Glorioso said hardcore base voters were as enthusiastic as ever for Obama but that there was a sense of disappointment about him among less committed Democrats and independents.

“People are scared,” Glorioso said. “This is the worst economic time anyone under the age of 80 has ever experienced, and you can’t discount people being afraid. Now that we are in July, the fear is turning to disappointment that the president hasn’t fixed everything yet. I don’t know why they thought he could change everything by now, but some did.”

Glorioso said an open Senate race next year in Missouri, where Democrat Robin Carnahan is likely to face former Republican Rep. Roy Blunt, will be a crucial test of Obama’s appeal.

“If the economy gets better and they pass a reasonable health care bill, his popularity will be way back up and Carnahan will win,” Glorioso said. “If none of that happens, it’s a moot point.”

In Michigan, where the near-collapse of the auto industry has driven the unemployment rate to 14.1 percent, the nation’s worst, the state’s Democratic chairman, Mark Brewer, said support for Obama among Democrats has remained strong.

“People are very worried and concerned, I don’t want to dispute that,” Brewer said. “But they voted for the president in overwhelming numbers and want to support the things he’s trying to do.”

Obama traveled to Michigan this week to unveil a $12 billion program to help community colleges prepare people for jobs. There, he made an audacious declaration.

“I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, ‘Well, this is Obama’s economy,’“ the president said. “That’s fine. Give it to me!”

Redfern, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, said he welcomed that statement but cautioned it came with a price.

“When it’s the president’s economy, it’s the president’s trouble,” Redfern said. “Americans are eager for the change that they voted into office. They support him, they just want to see results sooner rather than later.”

           — Hat tip: Zonka[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Any Real Men Left in Britain?

It had to happen. For decades English teachers taught Kinsey-based Planned Parenthood-style sex education in their classrooms.

Now a recent U.K. Daily Mail Online headline reads, “Schoolchildren given sex lessons … in what’s available at the local brothel.”

The press reports that school children as young as 14 heard a brothel owner describe his sex services, allegedly to protect the children against sex trafficking.(?) The Mail Online states that at least 15 schools played a “tape recording of a madam explaining the attributes of the girls she has on offer.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Bear Hug — Germany’s Future Lies to Its Right

Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s prince of diplomacy, once remarked, “With France we shall never have peace; with Russia never the necessity for war, unless Liberal stupidities or dynastic blunders falsify the situation.” While all is thankfully quiet on the Western front, Berlin is taking a page from the Iron Chancellor’s playbook and forging strategic links with Moscow.

Energy has proven essential between Germany and Russia, since Moscow supplies the German economy with over 40 percent of its natural gas. And to ensure that German end-users will not be affected by Russia’s various disputes with transit nations, the Kremlin is building a new pipeline. The Nord Stream project, set to run through the Baltic Sea and slated to come online in 2010-2011, would cement ties between Moscow and Berlin and bypass countries like Ukraine and Poland. The Germans, whose companies have a significant stake in the venture, prefer to sidestep East European issues entirely and maintain a secure link to Russia’s resource base.

While energy is a key dimension of the Russo-German relationship, it’s not the only one. In June Moscow’s Sberbank acquired 35 percent of the automaker Opel in a deal orchestrated at the top levels of power. Opel has been racked by financial woes brought on by the economic crisis, which were only compounded since its parent company had been the now-bankrupt GM. German Chancellor Angela Merkel considered GM responsible for the mess and was angered by Washington’s refusal to take part in the clean up. Berlin was happy to accept Russian funding for Opel, while the Russians have gained access to advanced manufacturing technologies they can put to use for domestic production.

What German diplomats call Verflechtung, or strategic interlocking, with Russia has been driven by joint interests. Partnership with Moscow has also coincided with a downturn in relations with Washington. It’s no secret that Angela Merkel and Barack Obama don’t get along well, but the matter extends beyond poor personal chemistry to divergent national priorities.

A major point of disagreement between the two capitals has been how to grapple with the world financial crisis. As the U.S. amasses trillions in debt through stimulus spending- and paves the way for hyperinflation—Obama is encouraging Western partners to follow suit. But the Germans aren’t taking the bait. Merkel and her colleagues share a collective memory of the ruin that postwar debts and fiat currency brought to the Weimar Republic. Answering Obama’s request for substantive European assistance in Afghanistan, Berlin pledged just a few hundred additional troops to its force there. Germany’s reluctance to become further involved in the Afghan counterinsurgency speaks volumes about its lack of confidence in NATO efforts to stabilize the Hindu Kush, as well as the general direction of U.S. “global leadership”.

Since the collapse of Soviet power, it’s been all but inevitable that Germany would begin to chart a course separate from that of the United States. Berlin’s objections to the U.S. invasion of Iraq were only the first major manifestation of discord between NATO allies. The Bundeskanzlerin has effectively put the brakes on Washington’s expansion of the North Atlantic alliance into the Caucasus and Ukraine. In light of Russian resurgence heralded by the 2008 war in Georgia, the Germans consider further U.S. encroachment in the former Soviet Union an unwise and dangerous proposition.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Female Spectator Killed in Crash With Police Motorcycle During Tour de France

[Comments from JD: Another incident also at the race. Scroll down to the third picture. The blurb reads “Tour de France rider Oscar Freire of Spain was shot in the leg during yesterday’s stage. Police are hunting two teenagers thought to be responsible.”]

A woman was killed today after being struck by a motorcycle as she watched the 14th stage of the Tour de France.

The spectator was hit by a Republican Guard vehicle in Wittelsheim, a village 40 kilometres from the start of today’s stage from Colmar to Besancon.

Two others were injured in the incident. They are being treated in hospital.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Gazeta Wyborcza Interviews Poland’s Public Enemy Number One

Gazeta Wyborcza 20.06.2009 (Poland)

Having gone to great lengths to get authorisation, the paper is finally able to print an interview with Poland’s public enemy number one, Erika Steinbach, the president of the Federation for Expellees (BdV). She seems very composed. “I understand the concerns and anxieties of the Polish people very well. But they are unfounded.” Yet she remains resolute: “Hitler opened Pandora’s box with appalling inhumanity. But the responsibility for the expulsions at the end of the war lies with those in power at that time. The allies are largely to blame, but the responsibility also lies with the states from which the Germans were expelled.” When asked whether she has been affected by the harshness of her Polish critics, she answers: “I can take it because I am not acting in my own interests, but on behalf of people who are often powerless. The criticism does not affect me too much because I know it is a result of Polish suffering. It is absurd, nevertheless.”

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


Germany: CSU Speaks Out Against Iceland’s EU Entry

The Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, has spoken out against Iceland’s entry to the European Union, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Saturday.

“The EU cannot play saviour to Iceland’s economic crisis,” said Markus Ferber, head of the CSU’s members of the European parliament, after the Icelandic parliament voted on Thursday to apply for entry to the EU. The EU Commission responded by promising to process the application quickly.

“We should discuss the structure of the EU before we discuss extending it,” CSU General Secretary Alexander Dobrindt told the newspaper at the CSU party conference in Nuremberg on Friday. The move continues the Bavarian party’s Eurosceptic line.

Dobrindt repeated the CSU’s demand that any further admissions to the EU must be subject to a referendum in Germany. “That goes for Iceland too,” he said.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the joint CDU/CSU manifesto for this September’s election will indirectly oppose any further EU admissions, with the exception of Croatia. Germany’s two main conservative parties are calling for a “consolidation phase” in the EU.

But the idea of referendums to decide EU extensions has been vehemently dismissed by the CDU — one of a number of disagreements between the two allied parties in recent months.

Despite these fractures, mainly on the issues of taxes and Europe, CSU party leader Horst Seehofer repeated his support for Angela Merkel at the opening of the conference.

“It will be a Merkel election campaign. She is the strongest personality we have,” he declared in his speech.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Germany: How ‘Nazi Gnome’ Making Heil Hitler Salute Could Get Artist Jailed

At just 14in, few would think a tiny gnome would offend anyone.

Unfortunately for this model, he has been made giving a stiff-armed Hitler salute — which breaks Germany’s strict laws against the use of Nazi symbols.

The gnome is one of 700 made by German artist Ottmar Hoerl which have been displayed in Belgium and Italy.

But Hoerl has landed himself in hot water after a member of the public made a complaint to police about the works.

Now German prosecutors in Nuremberg have launched an investigation into whether the artist’s gold-coloured gnome violates the law.

Giving the outlawed Hitler salute or using Nazi symbols is a crime in Germany punishable by up to three years in prison.

Prosecutor spokesman Wolfgang Traeg said police have asked the artist and gallery what the intention of the work was.

‘It’s not a crime if it can be proved that the artist was being critical of the Nazis,’ he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy: Gasparri, Irregular Letter by Napolitano

(AGI) — Rome, 16 July — Maurizio Gasparri, speaking to the press during the Summer School, stated that the letter which president of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano addressed yesterday to the presidents of parliament and the government is irregular, “not so much in content, as for the instrument chosen by the president of the Italian Republic. I do not have an outdated and hypocrite vision of the Constitution. I am for all forms of innovation and novelties, and open to any debate.

Yesterday’s move by the president of the Italian Republic is typical of a presidential republic”. The press asked him if there is the chance to consider a further step in the direction of a presidential reform of the Constitution? The senate Pdl group leader replied that “I’m ready to debate the issue, also because I have been fighting for a presidential reform for years, not only on a personal level”. Gasparri then aired his doubts over the timeliness of a parliamentary debate, as requested by the opposition. He explained that “I ask myself how a debate in parliament would end. Especially, I ask myself what would happen if I, or another group leader, presented an agenda of the day for voting. How would that vote be interpreted? For or against the government or the president of the Italian Republic”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy-Slovenia; Mantica, Minority Reports to Ministers

(ANSAmed) — KOPER (SLOVENIA), JULY 15 — The Italian government undertook to take reports by the Italian minority in Slovenia to the committee of Italian and Slovenian ministers that will meet on September 9 in Ljubljana. Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Alfredo Mantica assured representatives of the Italian community that they will be heard in a meeting in Koper, which was also attended by the president of the Italian union and Italian member of Croatian parliament Furio Radin. Mantica stated that “by the end of July we will prepare a joint memo between the Italian government and the Italian minority in Slovenia to take to the September 9 meeting”. Flavio Forlani, president of the Coastal Italian Self-Governing Community (which groups the communities of the three municipalities of Koper, Piran and Izola), explained that “the Italian minority is recognised and protected by the Slovenian constitution, but in real life we have trouble asserting our rights”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy Goes Out on Patrol

Citizen patrols of all kinds — from extreme-right militia squads to groups of pensioners that supervise streets outside schools — are increasingly common in Italy. Social, cultural and political rifts have prompted the emergence of a phenomenon whose dangers have yet to be evaluated by public authorities.

Via Padova, Milan. They certainly stand out on the sidewalks: the mixed police patrols with their escort of soldiers in camouflage combat suits; then come the Blue Berets, controversial for their ties to right-wing extremists; the red berets of the City Angels, the oldest “volunteers” [i.e. vigilante group] in the city; and the Green “Volunteers”, the Lega Nord (Northern League) members with their Po Valley armbands and the double V. All these “security workers” — should they be considered as temporary or as a necessity? A map of the vigilante groups in Italy might reveal some surprises. It was in the 1990s that the North discovered it was vulnerable. Villa break-ins prompted politicians to play sheriff. Among the first to sign up were the Lega Nord, who took a rib from the Po National Guard and fashioned the Green Volunteers out of it in 1998 and ‘99. They are now under the baton of Max Bastoni, an LNist famed for his punning slogan “Bastoni contro gli immigrati” (“Sticks Against Immigrants”). But the LN often fail to practise what they preach, reciting racist refrains and then working to improve administrative efficiency. “What we do is we take group walks,” explains Bastoni, “at best we know how to defend ourselves. And we’re really volunteers, whereas nowadays I see a certain trend towards some sort of external funding.”

The name “Po National Guard” seems to have inspired the “Italian National Guard”, commanded by right-wing extremist Gaetano Saya, with a whole slew of brown uniforms and symbols out of history books. Their rhetoric smacks of a wooden version of the “Illinois Nazis” in the movie The Blues Brothers. Saya seems rather isolated, but in fact you never know, say the carabinieri: they fear the rise of neo-Nazi youths, often linked to football hooligans, who increasingly hate Jews, blacks and globalisation.

All manner of forces lurk behind these “security committees”: by tentative counts, a hundred-odd organised groups are involved so far. The most fanciful one is in the Tuscan town of Follonica, where a restaurateur has mustered “Volunteers for the Wives of the Squad Members”. But the vast majority are hardcore. They personify sociologist Slavoj Zizek’s notions of biopolitics and postpolitics: “Postpolitics is about leaving ideologies behind to concentrate on competent administration…while biopolitics seeks to regulate security and well-being.” The only way to get us to embrace these politics wholeheartedly is through fear: “fear of immigrants and crime, of wicked sexual depravity, ecological disasters, and harassment.”

In Veneto the social, cultural and political divides are striking. In Padua there were Lega Nord vigilance committees and left-wing counter-committees. And a little further away is the only existing phone-line committee: “Pronto soccorso civico” (“Civic First Aid”). Whilst Jesolo was one of the first municipalities to organize vigilance committees, chiefly against prostitutes, the first community watch groups to include immigrants in their ranks formed up in the same area. At Vittorio Veneto the townsfolk are organizing against motorcyclists who “lean in” too far on hairpin curves. Basically, the committees are formed according to highly specific local needs. Grugliasco in Piedmont has “ecological committees” that try to ferret out those who fail to sort their trash.

The Friuli Venezia Giulia region has passed a law providing for a register and days reserved for vigilance committee training. In Trieste a fishermen’s association has come up with a food security squad. In the South, on the other hand, the phenomenon is having a hard time catching on. There are committees in Naples province to defend the statues of the patron saint and in Agropoli (Salerno) to curb thefts of refuse bins; in Acireale (Catania) they combat illegal bill-posting, while in Bari pensioners keep watch over the kids as they leave school. In Calabria, however, vigilance committees are not exactly the order of the day: in ‘ndrangheta territory, you wouldn’t want to stop the wrong guy in the street. That could be your last mistake.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Spain : Tajani, EU Co-Finances 4 Infrastructure Projects

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, JULY 10 — During a press conference in Madrid, EC vice president and transport commissioner Antonio Tajani have presented four major Spanish infrastructure projects that will be co-financed by the European union. The projects concern a high-speed railway stretch on the La Hiniesta-Perrilla-Otero-Cernadilla section of the Madrid to Galicia line, which is to receive 35.2 million euros from the EU; a high speed railway link on the Valladolid-Burgos-Vitoria section of the north Valladolid to Quintana del Puente line, that will receive 15.4 million euros from the EU; two SE-40 highway sections in Seville and the A-49 junction, and the A-32 from Torreperogil to Villanueva del Arzobispo, respectively co-financed with 23.9 million and 11 million euros taken from European funds. The commissioner pointed out that 90 of the 500 million euros allocated by the EC’s economic recovery plan will go to Spain. Turning to the question of air transport, Tajani renewed his offer of creating a global black list of risky airlines, extending the present European one. He promised that the Spanish government would back this proposal during the air security summit scheduled to take place in Montreal in March of 2010 when Spain will be presiding the EU. Speaking of sea transport, Tajani stated that EU member States must increase cooperation to reduce the high number of deaths registered every year. He emphasised the need to set up intelligent transport systems with the creation of trans-European networks to boost transport, which “is crucial for the development of Europe’s internal market”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sweden’s Know Prophet Day

CAIRO — Muslims in Sweden’s fourth largest city are organizing on Saturday, July 18, a special day devoted to introducing the noble traits and characteristics of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) and addressing media-propagated misconceptions.

“We are presenting one of the world’s most famous persons,” Ibrahim Blicksjo, a spokesman for the organizers, told IslamOnline.net over the phone from Uppsala.

“Why? Because we want to spread his message to the people and to give them a fair chance to get to know him.”

The day, themed “Muhammad, Messenger of God”, is organized by the International Association of Science and Culture, and held in Stora Torget, the biggest square at the heart of the city.

The first of a kind in Sweden, the event will introduce the prophet to Swedes through his life story, message and merciful teachings.

“We will have speakers who will talk about Prophet Muhammad and his message,” said Blicksjo.

“We want to shed light on his qualities and how he treated others around him. And most importantly, we want to tell the people what message he came with,” he explained.

“We want to show them why we love him so much, what an extraordinary person he is.”

The attendees, including local organizations and media outlets, will get free literature about the inspiring life of Prophet Muhammad and how he changed the course of human history.

“We have 10,000 brochures that we will hand out and we will also have books in more than 20 languages,” said Blicksjo.

“People will also have the opportunity to ask us questions and get first-hand answers.”

Needed

Organizers believe the Uppsala event, the first of its kind in Sweden, is much needed because people lack the basic knowledge about Islam’s prophet and message.

“The Swedish society of today does not know much about Prophet Muhammad. They actually know nothing about him,” regrets Blicksjo, a Muslim convert.

He heaps the blame for that on the media which propagates only misconceptions and insults about the prophet and Islam.

“Mainly what they know about Islam is what the media writes,” says Blicksjo.

“We want to give the right image of Prophet Muhammad to set the records straight and defend him against all lies propagated about him.”

In 2007, the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper published a cartoon by Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks of a person he described as Prophet Muhammad depicted as a dog to illustrate an editorial on self-censorship and freedom of expression.

Justice Chancellor Goeran Lambertz said the anti-Prophet cartoon did not constitute incitement to racial hatred.

Muslims in Sweden, estimated at nearly 400,000, took the issue into their strides and refused to internationalize the crisis like Danish Muslims did in 2005 when a Danish daily printed 12 lampooning drawings of the prophet.

Blicksjo hopes the “Muhammad, Messenger of God” day would help non-Muslims understand why insulting caricatures, considered blasphemous in Islam, are offensive to Muslims.

“The Swedish society as a whole does not understand how high we hold Prophet Muhammad.

“This is why they do not understand why we get insulted when newspapers print caricatures about him.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Terrorism: Italian Group ‘Sought Links With Oppressed Muslims’

Rome, 16 July (AKI) — An Italian terrorist group alleged to have been planning an attack on the G8 summit sought to link its actions with oppressed Muslims in the Palestinian territories, according to a secret document to be published on Friday.

The document, to be released in the Italian weekly Panorama, says the left-wing New Red Brigades wanted to “speak” to “proletarians” who they claimed were waging a class struggle in the occupied Palestinian territories and other Muslim lands.

“They are fighting against oppression that is always imperialist and class-based, even if they are not conscious of this,” the document said.

It said the New Red Brigades, an offshoot of the notorious group that terrorised Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, also wanted to contact “proletarians” in Spain’s separatist Basque region and in Northern Island, in an apparent bid to revolt and conduct international acts of terrorism.

Police reportedly found the document at the home of a former member of the original 1970s Red Brigades, 57-year-old Luigi Fallico.

He was among at least five people arrested on 10 June over an alleged plot to carry out a major attack at the G8 summit when it was to have been held at its original location in Sardinia.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi decided to move the summit to the central Italian city of L’Aquila, to renew international attention on the devastation caused by the 6 April earthquake.

Members of the group face several charges including criminal association, terrorism and arms possession after the nationwide arrests which ended a two-year investigation.

The New Red Brigades are an offshoot of the Leninist-Marxist Red Brigades, a group responsible for bank robberies and political assassinations in the 1970s and 1980s.

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


The Future of European Democracy

Card-carrying Europeans reacted in dismay to a recent far-reaching ruling on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty by Germany’s Constitutional Court. But the judges have in fact done Europeans a huge service by tackling the issue of how democracy can work in the era of supranational institutions.

Do the people want to be deceived? Niccolò Machiavelli — who was, it’s safe to say, something of a cynic when it came to state power — once wrote that anyone who wishes to reform a government “must, if his measures are to be well received and carried out with general approval, preserve at least the semblance of existing methods, so as not to appear to the people to have made any change in the old order of things, although, in truth, the new ordinances differ altogether from those which they replace.”

The Florentine diplomat’s wisdom was valid in the Renaissance, when the world was being fundamentally restructured, and it also applies to the restructuring of the international order in the 21st century. As stated in the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty: “The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy.” Is this a promise? Or have they been reading Machiavelli again? Are they really telling us the truth about what they have planned for democracy?

Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court proclaimed the truth on June 30. It ruled that the EU of the Lisbon Treaty does not satisfy the minimum requirements for a democracy of the type described in the German constitution, and the European Parliament is effectively little more than an expensive, Machiavellian glass façade. And without proper supervision by the national parliaments, the politicians in Brussels are not legitimized by the people, it ruled.

[…]

Can Western Democracy Work for Supranational Politics?

But how democratic can supranational politics really be? The judges’ first important contribution is that they are taking the problem seriously. The hackneyed words of Europe’s proponents are a mere smokescreen. A parliament like the European one is no democratic representation of sovereign populations if the vote of a citizen of Malta counts 12 times as much as that of a French citizen. A parliament like the one in Strasbourg and Brussels cannot legitimize the work of the European Commission, which effectively functions as a government, because it is hardly capable of controlling it.

It is naïve to believe that one can build a transnational super-state based on the model of conventional Western democracies, political philosophers argue. The difficulties do not lie solely in the attempt to channel the process of shaping the political will within large, heterogeneous areas like the European continent, across cultural and linguistic barriers, into an equitable process with a unified outcome. More importantly, there is a fundamental problem: Who exactly is the subject of this democracy supposed to be, as represented by its super-parliament? The people of Europe? It is not just the notoriously suspicious British, but each nation in Europe, which sees its sovereignty challenged when it is defeated in a vote. After all, being sovereign means, in a conventional sense, not having to do what another nation says.

Because it is so difficult (perhaps impossible?) to democratically control political actors in international institutions, constitutional experts and political scientists are working on alternatives to the Western nations’ traditional model of democracy everywhere such organizations exist. What legitimizes the power of the World Trade Organization? Which parliament monitors the activities of the International Criminal Court? How democratic is the Basel Committee, which supervises banks’ credit policies? And who monitors the voting behavior of the nuclear powers on the United Nations Security Council?

“Output” Democracy

Does democratic legitimacy still play any kind of role anymore? According to the Frankfurt-based sociologist and legal scholar Gunther Teubner, a web of regulations and norms has developed over the heads of citizens and nations as a result of international treaties, economic regulations, interest groups and non-governmental organizations. This complex of rules has a significant influence on the daily lives of people without ever having been approved by a parliament, he argues.

In this regard, the insistence on the classical model of democratic legitimization from the bottom up — in other words, from the citizen to the state — has become downright old-fashioned. European politics threatens to become hopelessly ineffective if it allows itself to become too closely tied to parliaments. It is not surprising that Europe, too, is to be streamlined in what Udo Di Fabio, a member of the Federal Constitutional Court and one of the authors of the June 30 decision, calls the “wake of the global community.” Di Fabio’s former colleague Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem has already reflected publicly on the possibility of “no longer securing legitimization solely through institutions and processes, but also through results.”

In other words, the Brussels bureaucracy no longer needs to ask itself: What is the interest of citizens? Instead, it can ask itself: What is in the interest of citizens? And it also needs to try to convince Europeans of its legitimacy on the basis of its results. Heidelberg-based international law expert Armin von Bogdandy speaks of “gubernative (sic) law-making” and expresses similarly paternalistic ideas when he argues that it is the executive which should decide which rules are to apply in Europe.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


UK Muslim Convert Gets 10 Years for Suicide Plot

Muslim community tips off police about plot to blow up mall

A British student who converted to Islam was jailed for at least 10 years on Friday for plotting to blow up a shopping center using his own homemade “suicide vest.”

Isa Ibrahim, 20, a student from Bristol in southwest England, was arrested in April last year after police received what they described as a “landmark” tip-off from a member of the local Muslim community.

JudgeIbrahim denied both charges but admitted a third indictment of making an explosive substance, during the trial at Winchester Crown Court in southern England.

The student, who is also a drug addict, said he thought suicide bombing was wrong, telling the jury that he just wanted to set the vest off and film it for the website YouTube.

During a search of his home, police found a quantity of hexamethylene, triperoxide, diamine — a high explosive that can be made from household ingredients and the same substance as used in the deadly London suicide bomb attacks of July 7, 2005.

Also found in his one-bedroom apartment was an electrical circuit capable of detonating the explosive as well as a half-made suicide vest.

Detectives said his intended target was a busy shopping center in Bristol.

“You were, in my judgment, a lonely and angry young person at the time of these events, with a craving for attention,” said the judge, Justice Neil Butterfield, giving him an indeterminate jail sentence with a minimum of 10 years.

“You are a dangerous young man, well capable of acting on the views you held in the spring of 2008.”

Winchester Crown Court heard the former private schoolboy turned to religion after being addicted to drugs and spent several months researching Islamist extremism on the Internet, including the motivation behind suicide attacks.

He also used the Internet to find instructions on how to make explosives from household products.

“Dirty toilet”

The jury was told that he had described Britain as a “dirty toilet” and believed the Sept. 11 attacks were a justifiable response to U.S. and British aggression towards Muslims, the Press Association reported.

Ibrahim denied plotting a bomb attack and told the court he had become involved with explosives to get attention.

However, he was convicted of preparing terrorist acts, making explosives, carrying out “reconnaissance” before the act, and “making an improvised suicide vest in which to then detonate an explosive substance.”

Detective Superintendent Nigel Rock, who led the investigation, said the fact a member of the Muslim community had provided the information was “hugely significant.”

“The police and the public of Bristol owe a huge thank you to our Muslim community,” he said.

“Ibrahim had all the credible components for a credible explosive device, he had increased the destructive power of that device the night before his arrest by obtaining shrapnel to add to it.”

The Council of Bristol Mosques said in a statement it believed strongly in community ties and cohesion.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


UK: Christian Teacher Tells of Race Slurs by Pupils Aged 8

A teacher claims he has been sacked for reprimanding pupils who made racist remarks about his being a Christian.

Nicholas Kafouris said he lost his £30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the ‘openly racist’ behaviour of pupils as young as eight.

He said the predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class, and hailed the September 11 terrorists as ‘heroes and martyrs’.

Greek-born Mr Kafouris, 40, taught for more than ten years at Bigland Green Primary in Tower Hamlets, East London, where according to the most recent Ofsted report ‘almost all’ the 465 pupils are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not speak English as a first language.

He is taking the school, its headmistress and assistant head to an employment tribunal where he will claim he was forced out after highlighting the rise in racism among pupils.

In 2006, said Mr Kafouris, he brushed against a boy while giving him a book.

‘He said rather brusquely to me, “Don’t touch me, you’re a Christian”. I found this very offensive.’

Later that year, he said children aged eight and nine in his class praised the suicide bombers in the 9/11 attacks.

‘In late November and December 2006, many various unacceptable and openly racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks were being made by many and various children in Year 4,’ he said.

‘These included, “We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up”, “the Twin Towers bombers are heroes and martyrs”, “we hate the Jews” and “we hate the Christians”.’

And in January 2007, he claims some pupils ‘expressed delight’ that a child had died when a wall collapsed on him in London.

When asked why, he said one of the children replied: ‘Because he’s English.’ The following month, during a religious education lesson about Jonah and the whale, he claims one of the pupils asked if Jonah was a Jew, before shouting: ‘I hate the Jews, they’re our enemies.’

Mr Kafouris says he completed ‘Racist Incident Reporting Sheets’ and notified headmistress Jill Hankey in writing about each incident.

But he claims his concerns were ignored because she wanted to maintain the school’s ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

Mr Kafouris, who is unmarried and has no children, was also reprimanded for handling a discussion about religion with a child ‘inappropriately’, which he denies.

He says assistant head Margaret Coleman accused him of shouting at pupils and telling them Muslims had produced suicide bombers — claims he rejects.

‘I believe after I complained to the head about the racist and religious discrimination incidents, I suffered victimisation,’ he says.

‘I also suffered less favourable treatment and incurred harassment by the head and assistant head.

‘The two people above created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, threatening, humiliating and offensive environment for me at my work.’

Mr Kafouris says the way he was treated brought on stress and depression, and that he was forced to take time off work. He was finally dismissed because of his absence, on April 30 this year.

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council, on behalf of the school, said: ‘The governing body stands by its decision and we believe all the correct procedures were followed.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Judge’s Anger After Couple Who Tidied Up Garden Thrown Into Riot Van for Attempted Burglary

A judge has blasted a waste of taxpayers’ money after a couple who picked up items of rubbish from the garden of an abandoned house were thrown into a riot van for attempted burglary.

Public-spirited Richard and Lynne Small, both 38, believed they were helping the environment when they recovered leftover junk from the garden near their home in Hull, East Yorks.

They collected a pair of old boots, a hose-pipe, a plant, half a shoe lace and used tins of paint from the empty property and used a wheelie bin to carry the trash to their home just a few yards down the road.

But they were left stunned and humiliated when they were arrested, handcuffed and bundled into a police van after being confronted by four officers.

After a five-month ordeal ending at the city’s Crown Court the couple were finally released without charge.

And the case judge has condemned the decision to pursue the matter as a sickening waste of taxpayers’ money.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Mod Defends ‘Spying’ On Soldiers

The Ministry of Defence has defended the practice of effectively spying on servicemen suspected of lodging false claims for damages for injuries.

Since 2000, 284 claims have been secretly tracked and monitored, less than 1% of all claims, the MoD says.

It says the tactics have helped stop fraudulent claims and saved millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

But families of wounded soldiers have criticised the MoD for failing to understand what soldiers go through.

‘Insulting’

Diane Dernie, mother of 25-year-old paratrooper Ben Parkinson who was badly injured in Afghanistan, said she was “surprised and heartbroken” by the tactics used.

“I think the whole implication that there are fraudulent claims shows a complete lack of understanding on behalf of the people who are sending them out there of what the soldiers go through and what they experience,” she said.

“I have met so many of these boys now and the implication that they are not genuine is insulting.

“It insults what they do and it insults them and their families.”

The Daily Mail has reported that solicitors representing servicemen and women received letters from the MoD this week warning them that claims were being “investigated thoroughly”.

The letter read: “[It] can involve an assessment of the claimant’s physical capability undertaken covertly by surveillance when necessary and proportionate.”

It went on to say that where there was “a reasonable suspicion of fraud”, cases were now routinely passed to the MoD police, according to the paper.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


UK: Revealed: How a Public Schoolboy Was Turned Into a Muslim Terrorist by Online Hate Preachers

A former public schoolboy planned a suicide bombing after being radicalised by extremist preachers on the internet.

Andrew ‘Isa’ Ibrahim, 20, was arrested just ‘a matter of hours or days’ before he was about to strike at Bristol’s biggest shopping centre.

The son of Christian church-going parents converted to Islam after falling under the spell of radicals such as Abu Hamza, Omar Bakri Mohammed and the 7/7 bombers, in speeches recorded on the internet.

He had also become a regular hard-drug user, after first experimenting with cannabis at 12.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Sarah Kennedy ‘Spoken to’ by BBC for Praising Enoch Powell During Radio 2 Show

Radio 2 presenter Sarah Kennedy has been chastised by the BBC for praising right-wing politician Enoch Powell during her show.

During her early-morning show on Wednesday, Kennedy, 59, described Powell as ‘the best prime minister this country never had’.

Enoch Powell was famously sacked from the shadow cabinet by Ted Heath in 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech about the dangers of mass immigration.

A spokesman for the BBC said that the corporation had received 25 complaints by Friday and that the presenter had been ‘spoken to’ about the remark.

She said: ‘It was inappropriate for Sarah to offer an off-the-cuff political opinion and we have spoken to her and made that clear.’

This is not the first time Kennedy has run into trouble over comments made on her show.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: the Jihad Fanatic Peddling a Message of Hate to 11-Year-Old Londoners (Funded by the Taxpayer)

On a hot summer afternoon, a man with a microphone stands on a busy London street. He is a tubby figure and sports a black, bushy beard, flecked with grey. He is shrieking at passing shoppers, insisting they follow him — and save their souls.

Teams of young, tough-looking men — all clearly devoted to their leader — dart through the crowds, handing out leaflets and haranguing anyone who questions their message.

From the other side of the street, you could be forgiven for thinking this is a harmless, if colourful, example of citizens making full use of Britain’s ancient tradition of free speech.

But there is nothing harmless about what is really going on here. For the man with the microphone is Anjem Choudary, branded the most dangerous man in Britain.

An extremist who believes his sole-calling is to wage holy war against Britain and her ‘infidel’ allies, he is trying — and succeeding — to prepare the ground for his global Islamic jihad.

Funded by the taxpayer — he claims benefits so that he has plenty of free time to spread his message — Choudary is openly staging these ‘Islamic roadshows’ across Britain. And their aim is to recruit young British men prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his chilling cause.

Islamic law in Britain

Exhorting Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims to follow his example, Choudary dreams of seeing the black crescent flag, which is the symbol of his organisation, flying over Downing Street, and a draconian form of sharia law imposed across the UK.

He wants alcohol banned, amputations for thieves, and adulterers to be stoned to death.

‘People are living in anarchy,’ he says. ‘There is a rape every minute. Islam has the answer to everything.

‘It is a deterrent. If you steal, you know you will face having your hands and feet cut off. Why should I not invite the British people to embrace Islam and save themselves from punishment in the hereafter?’

In the last six weeks, Choudary has staged six ‘roadshows’ around Britain. He rose to particular prominence when he posted a video on his website of an unidentified 11-year-old white youth called ‘Sean’ being converted to Islam during a show in Birmingham last month.

This was not an isolated incident. The extent of Choudary’s activities in the UK, disclosed here following a Mail investigation, raise disturbing questions about how individuals with known terror links are allowed to flout the law and openly recruit on British streets.

For, to the dismay of anti-terrorism experts and the security services, his recruitment strategy appears to be working. Reports this month revealed that British Islamic militants are fighting alongside extremists intent on overthrowing the government in Pakistan.

‘Brummie’ fighters

And in Afghanistan, where British forces have already lost 16 men during bloody clashes with the Taliban this month, it has been reported that men with broad English accents have been battling our soldiers. One militant shot dead by the British earlier this year even had an Aston Villa football club tattoo on his body.

‘People are always going back and forth to the UK,’ reveals Maajid Nawaz, a former militant with links to Choudary, who has since renounced violence.

He added that religious leaders such as Choudary: ‘Set the mood music for suicide bombers to dance to.’

According to terrorism experts, Choudary is the recruiting sergeant for what U.S. intelligence dubs Britain’s ‘Generation Jihad’.

Richard Dart is one of Choudary’s protége’s. This white British 26-year-old from Weymouth, Dorset, converted to Islam last week. He joined Choudary in a private house in East London and, after swearing oaths on the Koran, was re-named ‘Salahuddin’ — after the medieval leader who drove King Richard I from Jerusalem during the Crusades.

For years, ‘Salahuddin’ — the son of teachers — drifted from job to job, working at one point as a security guard at the BBC’s Broadcasting House. He drank heavily and didn’t know what to do with his life. And then he met a member of Choudary’s circle while studying carpentry at a West London college.

The meeting changed his life. ‘I’d already gone off pork,’ he tells me. ‘I had my last drink on holiday in Cyprus last year — just one pint. Michael Jackson’s death to me was a sign — he said he was a Muslim, but he didn’t live the life of a good Muslim.’

As members of the ‘Islamic brotherhood’ come up to greet him as we walk down the street, ‘ Salahuddin’ also says he would be happy to fight — and die — overseas for the cause and that Islam must defeat Western aggression.

Insisting the Koran preaches love, he adds: ‘The soldiers taking part in these wars are the enemies of Islam so I don’t support them in any way nor any man-made government or law. These governments are the terrorists.

‘I would love to see sharia law in the UK,’ he adds. ‘There are a lot of people who need to have fear in their lives. It would bring back standards.

‘If there is no fear, people just act on their whims, drinking alcohol and taking drugs and having sex.’

Choudary, for his part, denies he has links to terrorism. During an interview in the Desert Rose Algerian cafe in the heart of London, he plays the fool, saying he has not personally made any bombs. ‘But I do make a very good omelette,’ he chuckles.

A former lawyer, he understands the pitfalls of telling the ‘enemy’ too much. Privately, however, he has been secretly taped urging his followers to raise money for Islamic fighters in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying this would help them kill the ‘butchers and cowards’ from the U.S. and Britain.

Captured Al Qaeda terrorists, held at Guantanamo Bay, have also claimed that Choudary staged a ‘camping trip’ for militants in 2003, at an Islamic school in East Sussex.

Here, another leading Islamic fundamentalist taught young Britons how to use AK-47s and rocket launchers. Choudary insists they were only ‘paintballing’. Under the Terrorism Act 2000, it is an offence to ‘invite another to provide money or other property’ for the purposes of terrorism. Offenders risk a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

A founding member of extremist groups which are banned in many countries, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and Al-Muhajiroun, which praised the ‘magnificent’ July 7 London terror attacks in 2005 that killed 52 innocent people, Choudary now runs a hardline sect called Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’aah Muntada. It currently has an estimated 1,000 members — and exactly the same aims as earlier banned groups.

Other original members of this organisation are currently in prison, including Simon Keeler, a white Briton who was sentenced to four years in 2008 for raising money for terrorism, and is a devout follower of Osama Bin Laden.

Abu Izzadeen, a Jamaican formerly known as Trevor Brooks, and a close friend of Choudary’s, is also serving a prison term after his sermons at the Regent’s Park mosque were found to be inciting terrorism and calling for its funding.

Leading voice

In their absence, Choudary is the group’s leading voice. He certainly retains impeccable jihadist connections, for he is also right-hand man and close confidant of Omar Bakri, who often addresses Choudary’s meetings via video-link from Lebanon.

Known as the ‘Tottenham Ayatollah’, Bakri is an Islamic firebrand who supports Al-Qaeda and is regarded as a threat to Western security.

Banned from Britain on the orders of the Home Secretary, and now directing operations from the Middle East, Bakri admitted to being in contact with the July 7 suicide bombers and giving them ‘religious guidance’ at mosques in Leeds and Bradford.

According to former members of his sect, Choudary also holds classes to help new recruits avoid surveillance by British intelligence. He teaches them to regularly change mobile phones and computers so they don’t leave an electronic trail.

He certainly doesn’t shy away from preaching about jihad.

‘Jihad is part of the Koran,’ he says. ‘What the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Palestine are doing is defending themselves from foreigner fighters coming to kill them. It’s outrageous that we get called terrorists if we speak about the right to defend ourselves.’

But Choudary doesn’t draw the line at fighting holy war in Asia. He wants the UK to become an Islamic state itself.

Sharia courts throughout Britan

As the Mail revealed last month, there are already at least 85 sharia courts in the UK. These courts rule on civil matters, such as divorce and financial disputes, and make a mockery of the principle that there should be one law for all Britons.

But Choudary believes these courts do not go far enough. He believes Muslim immigrants will eventually breed out the native British population, pointing out that Medina once had just 200 Muslim inhabitants but went on to become the second city of Islam.

This, he says, will pave the way for the implementation of a brutal form of sharia law that forces women to cover themselves completely in public, and bans them from education and employment.

But his message, preached in mosques and private halls around Britain, is attracting an enthusiastic audience.

In addition to ‘Salahuddin,’ Choudary claims to have converted 25 young men to his cause in the last six weeks alone. Many are former alcoholics and addicts, who now zealously promote Islam and want to see people publicly lashed for consuming alcohol.

Four of these converts agreed to speak to me, even though they regard non-Muslims as ‘unclean’.

‘It is only permitted for us to speak to you if we are propagating Islam — otherwise we would ignore you,’ explains Abdul, 24.

‘Of course we must support Osama bin Laden,’ adds another of the youths, who refuses to give his name. ‘I would be proud to give my life in the name of Islam. We are the oppressed. We are involved in a defensive jihad to protect ourselves.’

Benefits of Islam

None of those I speak to let real work get in the way of their holy war; Choudary’s recruits are told that it is their Muslim duty to claim benefits, ensuring that they make no contribution to the ‘enemy’ British state.

Choudary leads by example. Now separated from his wife and three children, for years he has received more than £1,700 a month in benefits from the British taxpayer.

Choudary is the son of immigrants from Pakistan, part of a wave of Muslims who came to Britain from the sub-continent in the Sixties.

But he found the strictures of religion suffocating as a child growing up in Kent and as soon as he left home, he went wild.

As a medical student at Southampton University, he was known as Andy and was a hard-drinking womaniser with a fondness for cannabis and LSD. So bad was his drinking and drug-taking that he flunked his first-year medical exams, forcing him to switch to commercial law.

He moved to London after university, teaching English to foreign language students and, say colleagues, trying to sleep with as many of them as possible. In the Nineties, after qualifying as a lawyer, he became bitter and depressed when his application for a lucrative post at a City law firm was rejected.

He then started attending mosques around London, and was introduced to Bakri and Abu Hamza, the hook-handed Islamic firebrand who also supports terrorism in this country and abroad.

Choudary stopped drinking and womanising and grew a beard. He was ‘radicalised’, deciding that Islam was the answer to his problems. And now he wants to foist his extremist views on the rest of us.

‘Dangerous’ appeasement

So why is he allowed to preach hate on Britain’s streets? Many anti-terror experts believe Britain’s tolerant policy towards Islamic radicals is dangerously misguided. Quoting Churchill’s famous views on appeasement, one told me it was like ‘feeding a crocodile, hoping it will eat you last’.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of Parliament’s counter terrorism committee, certainly believes that there should be an urgent police investigation into Choudary’s activities.

‘He is subverting and suborning vulnerable youngsters with a view to turning them into mujahedin,’ he says.

‘We should focus attention on banning organisations which poison the minds of young Muslims and are conveyor belts to terrorism.’

But back at the Algerian cafe, Choudary again tries to persuade me to convert to Islam.

‘We’d have to give you a new name — how about Osama?’ he smirks.

Then he gets to his feet; the interview is over. With his four minders — burly men in Islamic garb — he strolls out into the London streets.

As they leave, they all snigger at a private gag. Even wearing smirks, they look dangerous. The joke, it seems, is on us.

           — Hat tip: Lexington[Return to headlines]

Balkans

EU: Visa Abolition Proposal, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 15 — The EU Commission has today proposed visa abolition for citizens from the former republic of Yugoslavia of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. A similar proposal for citizens of Albania and Bosnia has conversely been postponed. If the proposal is accepted by the Member States in October in consultation with the European Parliament, citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia will be able to freely travel with new biometric passports in the Schengen area (all EU Member States with the exceptions of Great Britain and Ireland, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) from 1 January 2010. “It is a historic step in relations between the EU and western Balkan states,” said the EU Commissioner for Justice, Jacques Barrot. “It is great news for citizens from these three countries who will be able to travel without queuing at embassies and spending money on visas and translations,” added EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, underlining in particular the benefits of the new system for the free movement of students and businesspeople. The proposal for Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, announced the two commissioners, could be presented by the Commission by mid-2010, if the two countries maintain the pace of reforms in order to respect the requirements. “Our new common aim is that Albania and Bosnia can quickly follow their three neighbouring countries,” said Rehn. “We don’t want to make them wait too long,” added Barrot. Areas that are affecting Albania’s and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s chances for visa abolition regard the fight against corruption and organised crime, the management of immigration and borders and a lack of biometric passports. “The issue is in the hands of the two countries’ leaders,” said Rehn, pointing out that the timetable will depend on reform progress. In particular in Bosnia, the commissioner pointed out, political leaders have “lost time in nationalist rhetoric, instead of making the progress required”. Kosovo is also missing from today’s proposal, but for reasons that are “technical, relating to the country’s security”, which is still not fulfilling the conditions of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Security Refuses to Return Abducted Christian Coptic Girl

By Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Two incidents of abduction of Coptic girls to force them to convert to Islam took place within one week in Upper Egypt. In both cases the Egyptian security predictably played a key role in the outcome of the cases.

Rania Asaad was returned to her family, while Irene Labib is still missing, in spite of pleas from human rights organizations to the security authorities to end this Coptic family’s misfortune.

In view of the security authorities’ complete neglect in the handling of Irene’s case, and false government media reports that Irene was returned to her family, a spokesman for the Coptic Church’s Sohag Diocese issued a statement on 7/16/09 calling for the immediate return of the abducted girl.

Irene Hanna Labib, 20-years old, disappeared on 7/1/2009 from Sahel Tahta, Sohag Governorate, 500 km south of Cairo.

After carrying out their own investigations, the well to do Labib family discovered that Irene was abducted by Muslim Hisham Saad Mohamed, who works as a waiter in the IT institute where she studies.

“Her brother Girgis Labib went and met with the abductor Hisham, who confessed to Irene being in his possession,” said Reverend Sawires Rady pastor of St. Shenouda Church, Sahel Tahta in Sohag.”The Labib family filed a report with the police and accused Hisham Mohamaed of abducting their daughter. The police detained Hisham and Irene’s brother Girgis, who was subsequently released after taking a pledge not to harass Hisham.” Hisham was released three days later after promising security to bring back Irene at 8 pm of the same day, but he has subsequently disappeared. Reverend Sawires said “the abductor never kept his promise and I now ask security to bring back the abducted girl as they know her whereabouts.”

Mamdouh Nakhla, head of Al Kalema Human Right Organisation told Copts United “Security must disclose the whereabouts of the girl kidnapped by the Muslim man, as they know her whereabouts from the confessions of the abductor who pledged to bring her back on the same day.” Nakhla holds security responsible for bringing the girl back to her family safe and unharmed. Also the Bareek Center for Anti-Violence Against Women Advocacycriticized the role of security. Until her return, the Labib family is keeping quiet about the circumstances of their daughter’s disappearance.

The family of 21-year old pharmacy student Rania Tawfik Asaad from Samalut, Minya Governorate, were successful in getting back their daughter, one week she disappeared on 6/27/2009; she was held by her abductor in the small village Of Taha Bosh, Nasser district, in the Beni Suef Governorate.

Rania was approached by Muslim army officer Mohamed Sayed Farag, 29 years old, who posed as a Copt called Mina who was living in Cairo. After a brief courtship, the army officer proposed to her and asked her to meet his elderly mother. According to Ayman Eid of Free Copts advocacy Rania knew the true identity of her abductor only when she arrived at a secluded house in Beni Suef.

Mohamed was also discovered to be a member of the Islamic Welfare Association, which is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood. He asked Rania to convert to Islam and marry him, but she refused. After a great ordeal her family discovered her whereabouts and learnt that she was forced to convert to Islam by the Association and married Captain Mohamed two days after her abduction.

Her father reported the incident to security and accused the army officer of abducting his daughter. According to an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous, the State Security had made a deal with Rania’s father to bring her back on condition of dropping all changes against the army officer, as he would be subjected to trial by the armed forces and due to the negative publicity to the reputation of the Defence Ministry, in return for his daughter’s safe return.

The issue of abduction of Coptic girls forms one of the most explosive problems in the relations between Christians and Muslims of Egypt — especially as abductions are carried out in cooperation between Arab-funded legitimate associations and the State Security.

In the opinion of Magdy Khalil, political analyst and researcher that abduction of Coptic girls is an organized crime. “Abducting and converting Coptic girls to Islam is not only a result of the paranoid and racist incitation against the Copts, it is an organized and pre-planned process by associations and organizations inside Egypt with domestic and Arab funding, as the main role in seducing and luring Coptic girls is carried through cunning, deceit, and enticement, or through force if required,” he said.

Khalil tells of incidents of abduction he witnessed when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Pope Shenouda intervened, and where the abducted girls were returned to their families within 24 hours. “What can we call this? And what about the poor ones whose voice could not be heard, or have no connections?” he said.

Activist Medhat Kelada, PR for Copts United advocacy believes that the Islamization business represents a permanent source of livelihood for security officials, “Especially with the flow of funds from the rich and extremist Wahhabis who try to Islamize the Egyptian Copts with the help of some of the security service officers”, he said.

The Egyptian Al Fagr (the Dawn) independent newspaper was the first to report on the lucrative business of the ‘brokers’ of Islamization of Christians, in its May 19th 2008 issue, taking the city of Alexandria as an example.

Al Fagr reporter Tamer Salah-el-Din highlighted how the operation which is funded by Muslim businessmen is carried out with the collusion of State Security and Mosque sheikhs. The ‘trading rates’ cashed by brokers for each Christian male and female conversion to Islam, at the time of writing his report, was 7000 Egyptian pounds for the male and 6000 for the female. The rates for Coptic girls fluctuate depending on how good-looking she is and her family’s social status.

Coptic Pope Shenouda III openly protested on December 17th, 1976 about this problem and in spite of the multiplicity of incidents, not one single person accused of abduction of Coptic girls was brought to justice.

“Amid the government’s inaction and its collusion, awakening the international conscience may be the more effective means in exposing the perpetrators and those who support them.” says Khalil.

[Return to headlines]


Italy: A Parliament and a Government of Fools

MicroMega 11.06.2009 (Italy)

Fools, a parliament and a government of fools. Furio Colombo describes the pompous state reception for the Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gadaffi (complete with a tent in the garden of the Villa Doria Pamphili) as a pathetic farce: “What are we celebrating in Italy in the Palazzo Chigi and in the Senate, at the grand Roman receptions, in the idiotic and barbaric ritual of 1000 women requested by the bloodthirsty Libyan clown and granted by the party-mad Italian clown, while posing like an ageing James Bond with his hundred female body guards? The truth about this Roman feast is that we are celebrating a twofold spilling of the blood of innocents: firstly the victims of terror attacks like Lockerbie (no one knows or has ever published the complete list of Gaddafi’s terrorist activities), and secondly, the fate of those migrants who were killed in the desert, in the sea, in the Libyan camps — in the name of and at considerable expense (5 billion dollars) to the Italy of Maroni, Bossi and Berlusconi.”

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


Morocco: Too Many Foreigners, Royal Air Pilots Strike

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, JULY 17 — Pilots from the Royal Air Maroc airline will strike from tomorrow afternoon until Monday July 20 in protest of the number of foreigners being employed by the airline, which the pilots believe is excessive. A statement from the association of pilots released in Rabat reads that the decision to strike from 5pm today until 8am on Monday was made due to the lack of guarantees from the national Moroccan airline on a halt to the recruitment of foreigners over Moroccan pilots. The association specified that it is a “first strike”, hinting at the possibility that other strikes could follow. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza: Anti-Zionist Rabbis Visit Hamas Leader

(ANSA) — GAZA, JULY 16 — A committee of Rabbis belonging to a niche sect of ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist Jews has been welcomed in the Gaza Strip today by the head of the self-proclaimed radical Islamic government, Ismail Hanyeh, in power in this part of the Palestinian territory under Hamas control. The religious figures, an offshoot of the Neturei Karta movement, arrived in Gaza across the Egyptian border as part of a delegation led by the controversial British MP, George Galloway. Their presence is a demonstration that ‘ Hamas has not the least hostility to the Jews, but only a problem with Israeli occupation founded on Zionist ideology,” Hanyeh said, calling on all “Jews who renounce the occupation” to contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza in the wake of the Cast Lead military operation by the Israeli army at the beginning of the year, despite the ongoing blockade to which the territory is subjected. The delegation handed over the second tranche of a convoy of aid destined for the population of Gaza as part of the project Galloway has named “an artery of life”. After the meeting, the British MP spoke of the possibility of a future visit to the Strip by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, which, if confirmed, would be the first visit by a foreign head of state. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: Nuclear; Israel Sends Serious Warning, Defence Sources

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 16 — The last round of military tests and manoeuvres conducted by Israel in recent days represent “a message to Iran” that “should be taken seriously” and show the intensification of preparations for a possible attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities, according to sources from the Israeli Defence Ministry quoted today in the Times, reflected in local on-line media. “This preparation must be taken seriously because Israel is investing a lot of time in addressing all of the complexities of an attack against Iran”, said a high level official, who was quoted anonymously, adding that “the manoeuvres are a clear message to Iran in the sense that Israel is ready to follow-up on the warnings if they are not heeded”. The reference treated particularly the naval manoeuvres conducted by the Israeli Navy in the Red Sea, after passing through the Suez Canal with a submarine and at least two warships. Manoeuvres that, according to the Israeli press, are being coordinated with Egypt on the basis of shared fears over Iran’s nuclear programme. Further reinforcing the possibility of such a scenario was the news that came yesterday evening of the testing of a new anti-missile system in Israel which, according to military leadership, proved itself able to intercept rockets in flight. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran: Leading Feminist Lawyer ‘Arrested’

Tehran, 17 July (AKI) — Campaign group Amnesty International said it fears the wave of arrests of human rights activists in Iran is intensifying after a prominent lawyer and feminist, Shadi Sadr, was violently arrested in Tehran on Friday on her way to Friday prayers.

Sadr, 34, was walking with a group of women’s rights activists along a busy road when unidentified plain clothed men pulled her into a car. She lost her headscarf and coat in the ensuing struggle but managed briefly to escape. She was quickly recaptured and beaten with batons before being taken away in the car to an unknown location, Amnesty said.

At least fifteen people reported to have been arrested in the Iranian capital on Friday during street protests in the centre staged by supporters of defeated opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. He and other members of the opposition want a re-run of the 12 June presidential vote which overwhelmingly re-elected hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and which they claim was rigged.

“This was an illegal, arbitrary and violent arrest in which no attempt was made by the authorities to show identification or provide any explanation for their action,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“This is the latest of a continuing series of high profile arrests of Iranians — students, journalists, intellectuals, political and civil society activists — in the wake of protests over the disputed outcome of the presidential election.”

Amnesty International is calling for Sadr to be immediately and unconditionally released.

Two female student protesters were allegedly stabbed near a student dormitory in Tehran on Friday by members of the pro-Ahmadinejad Basij militia, according to reports posted on several blogs.

The street protests took place after weekly Muslim prayers led by influential cleric and Ahmadinejad foe Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani at Tehran University on Friday.

At least 20 people died and hundreds were arrested during protests held in the days that followed the disputed 12 June polls, triggering condemnation from western countries.

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


Israel Reiterates Terms for Talks With Syria

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JULY 16 — Israeli deputy minister for foreign affairs Danny Ayalon has today reiterated his country’s willingness to resume peace talks with Syria, but at the same time insisted that Damascus must first distance itself from all radical forces in the region. Ayalon reiterated this position in his meeting today in Jerusalem with US diplomat Fredd Hoff, advisor for Syria and Lebanon in the team of experts under US envoy for the Middle East George Mitchell. Over the past few days the Israeli press has voiced speculation that Hoff’s visit might be part of an attempt by the United States to resume peace talks. According to a statement released by the ministry for foreign affairs, Ayalon told Hoff that Israel is prepared to “enter into direct talks with Syria without any preliminary conditions being set.” He also said that Syria “cannot speak of peace while strengthening its relations with Iran and instigating clashes, as it is doing by way of Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.” “These things must end,” said the deputy minister to the Israeli state radio. Over the past few days he had also said that the conditions “were not yet ripe” for progress to be made on the diplomatic roadmap with Syria. The latter has said that negotiations can resume only after Israel pledges to withdraw all its forces from the Golan Heights, occupied in the 1967 conflict. Hoff, who during his four-day stay in Israel met with several government representatives, is the author of an academic research paper in which he proposed a solution to the dispute over Golan, providing for the transformation of a large part of this area of such strategic importance into a natural reserve open to both Israelis and Palestinians.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Jordan Condems Remarks Over Alleged Assassination of Arafat

(ANSAmed) — JULY 16, AMMAN — Jordan on Thursday condemned a statement from Amman by Faruk Kaddumi — the radical rebel PLO leader who has always been against the Oslo peace agreements and secretary general of the Fatah Party — in which he accused Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of conspiring with Israel to kill Yasser Arafat. Jordan had nothing to do with Kaddumi’s statement. “They were made during a private meeting between Qaddoumi and several other people in the capital,”said Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesperson Nabil Sharif in a statement run by the official news agency, Petra. Sharif reiterated “the Kingdom’s support for the Palestinian Authority and Abbas’ efforts to establish an independent Palestinian state, calling on all Palestinians to adopt a unified stance against the challenges that face them.” Kaddumi’s political bombshell came as a slap for Jordan, which maintains a strong relation with the Palestinian National Authority and its pro-west leaders. Abbas met with Jordanian prime minister Nader Dahabi in Egypt on Wednesday and expressed regret over the place from which the statements were aired, according to sources in the Palestinian Authority. Kaddumi, whose rift with Abbas reached a boiling point over where to hold Fatah general assembly, told a group of reporters in Amman earlier this week that Abbas and his security advisor Mohammad Dahlan were involved in the alleged poisoning Arafat. The Tunis-based Fatah official refuses to go to the West Bank for the general assembly, which will translate into him losing his coveted post. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Nokia Accused of Being in the Service of Vevak, Iran’s Spy Agency

Iran’s opposition calls for a boycott of Nokia and Siemens, accused of providing Iran’s secret services with technology capable of monitoring telephone use. Along with the Pasdaran and Basij, the powerful spy agency has one main purpose, to crush the country’s democratic aspirations, by torture and beheading if necessary.

Tehran (AsiaNews) — A month ago Ahmadinejad’s opponents used electronic means of communication to organise and broaden their protest. The regime’s first reaction was to unleash the brutal Basij, the “volunteers” of the Revolution.

Such armed militiamen are the foot soldiers of Iran’s domestic secret service, the VEVAK, which is part of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOI). With some 20,000 employees, the MOI is at the disposal of Iran’s hard-line rulers, men like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. But at one time, when Rafsanjani was president, the VEVAK was in the “state terrorism” big time, threatening and killing the regime’s opponents even in Western countries.

According to Yves Bonnet, a former director of the Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (DST) (Directorate of Territorial Surveillance, the French secret service), in just two month in 1988 the VEVAK executed some 33,000 people on the order of Khomeini. No wonder then, that the VEVAK is listed as a “terrorist organisation in some countries like Canada”.1

Today the domestic spy agency runs its own prisons, torturing and beheading enemies of the state. Unlike the Pasdaran and the Basij whose task is to keep an eye on the streets of Iranian cities, VEVAK’s business is spying on Iranians and propaganda, great tools to undermine Iran’s pro-reform and pro-democracy movement.

Recent reports suggested that two major European mobile phone companies, Nokia and Siemens, with big sales in Iran (especially Nokia), have sold Iranian authorities sophisticated surveillance technology. As soon as the information became public a boycott of Nokia products was launched in Iran.

Boycotts are nothing new in the Islamic Republic. In the past “anti-Islamic” or “Zionist” firms have been targeted, sometimes on behalf of the former’s foreign competitors. Whether directly involved or not, this boycott campaign is of high propaganda value for VEVAK because in the current economic climate, fewer Iranians can afford to have a mobile phone. With fewer Iranians willing to test high tech phone surveillance, fewer dangerous messages will be sent.

All this does not mean that the report about Nokia and Siemens is not true. Over the years, business people, journalists and politicians in Tehran have developed the habit of not taking their mobile phones with them into rooms where they meet, leaving them instead outside the entrance or in a separate room. The reason for this is VEVAK’s capability of using any mobile phone left on standby as a microphone to pick up conversations.

Such high level espionage is not the only card up the spy agency’s sleeve. The best way for it to keep on eye on everyone is to monitor phone text messages. Indeed what Tehrani hasn’t received or sent a joke about the clergy or Ahmadinejad? Now fear of getting caught will lead many to censor themselves. And by blocking communications (a technique used at the height of the protest movement), the VEVAK can weaken the opposition and reinforce the image of an all-powerful state.

In order to manipulate public opinion the VEVAK does not rely on technology alone. It has established charities (in favour of suffering Iraqis and Lebanese for example) to show how good Iran is compared to the wicked West.2

Another way for the VEVAK to manipulate public opinion is to organise and invite Westerners on visits to Iran, showing nice things about Iran which will be picked up by the CNN or the BBC. The intent of Iran’s spy masters is not so much to change opinions in the West in favour of the Islamic regime, but rather to show to Iranians with access to Western media that their country is not so bad after all.

In its 30 years of existence the Islamic Republic has learnt how to stay in power. The VEVAK is the equivalent of the Shah’s brutal SAVAK. One of the reasons for the collapse of the Pahlavi regime lies in the decision made by many SAVAK officials and agents to jump ship and join Khomeini and the regime he was setting up.

At present such a “migration” appears very unlikely and this despite the contacts and parallel networks Rafsanjani built years ago inside the services which are now in the hands of his political opponents.

———————————————————————————

1. BONNET Y., Vevak, Au service des ayatollahs, Paris : Timée-Éditions, 2009, 454 p.

2. So-called collateral damage in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and provocative speeches by George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon have been very useful in demobilising Iran’s opposition.

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


Saudi Arabia: New Rules for the Religious Police

Riyadh, 17 July (AKI) — Saudi Arabia’s religious police, also known as the committee for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice, must have long beards, Islamic attire, and a degree in Islamic Sharia law in order to serve in the corps, local media reported.

The new measures apply to new recruits as well as policemen already serving in the forces, said Saudi daily Okaz.

“We will hire only those who have a degree in Sharia law,” said an official. “The commission that is selecting the candidates wants the future agents to have a long beard and wear Islamic attire to set a good example for Saudis.”

The religious police will also undergo training including English language courses and have signed an agreement with the British consulate in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The accord is the first of its kind.

The religious police contains over 3,500 members as well as volunteers. They police Saudi Arabia’s streets and are tasked with enforcing strict Sharia law.

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

Caucasus

Allegations Against Chechen President Kadyrov Over Murder of Journalist Estemirova

Kidnapped in Grozny yesterday morning her body was found in Nazran in Ingushetia. She had been investigating crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Chechnya. Human rights activist who had won numerous awards, she was considered the heir to Politkovskaya her friend and colleague.

Oscan (AsiaNewe / Agencies) — “I know and I am sure who is guilty of the murder of Natalya. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov”. Oleg Orlov, chairman of Memorial — the organisation for which she worked — accuses the president of Chechnya, for the murder of journalist Natalya Estemirova (see photo) found murdered yesterday in Ingushetia. On the organization’s website (www.memo.ru) Orlov writes that “Ramsan had already threatened Natalya, insulted her and he considered her his personal enemy.”

Russian President Medvedev said he is “outraged” by the murder and a Kremlin spokesman says the President has given orders “to the Office of the Prosecutor Alexander Bastrykin to do everything possible to investigate the assassination”. But the murder of the a 50 year-old journalist who for years had been investigating war crimes in Chechnya has already become another Politkovskaya case that is shaking Russia to its foundations.

Estemirova was kidnapped and killed yesterday. Forcibly abducted in front of her home in Grozny at 8.30 am, she disappeared into thin air until her body was found at 4:30 pm near the town of Nazran, Ingushetia.

The murdered journalist had received numerous international awards for her work covering all the Caucasus’ republics. In 2004 the Swedish parliament awarded her the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize, in 2005 she received the Robert Schuman Prize from the European Parliament, in 2007 she was awarded the prize in honour of her friend and colleague Anna Politkovskaya.

Estemirova was one of the most significant voices of investigative journalism in Russia and the public face of NGO Memorial, one of the oldest organizations in the Federation involved in the defence of civil rights since the time of Mikhail Gorbacev, with who it began its work in 2000.

Her death adds one more name to a long list of assassinated journalists and activists who investigated and denounced violence and arbitrary executions by soldiers in Chechnya since the beginning of the conflict between separatists and the Russian army began after the fall of the Soviet Union.

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


Chechnya’s Dissenting Voice Silenced

The murder of Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova shows that life in Chechnya — although more peaceful than it was a decade ago — can still be brutal, says Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

A picture of Natalia Estemirova Now Natalia herself has become a victim of the brutality she had worked so fearlessly to document

I cannot pretend to have been a friend of Natalia Estemirova.

I met her only once, in April this year, in her little office in the Chechen capital Grozny.

We sat for an hour sipping tea as she told me about the latest horrors she and her team had uncovered in the dirty war that is still going on in southern Russia.

Outside, a group of rough-looking country folk were sitting in the hallway, their faces strained, their eyes haunted.

Natalia was the person they all came to, to tell of a missing son or husband, of a fresh abduction in the middle of the night, or a house burned in retribution for a rebel attack.

Most recently, Natalia had been investigating a killing by a government death squad in a small village in southern Chechnya.

Last words

Locals told her an old man had been accused of giving one of his sheep to the Islamic insurgents. On 7 July, government troops came to his home, dragged the old man to the village square, and then — as villagers looked on — they shot him in the head.

“This,” they were told, “is what will happen to any of you who help the rebels.”

Now Natalia herself has become a victim of the brutality she had worked so fearlessly to document.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghans Look With Indifference on Death of Soldiers

As the Italian paratrooper who died in Farah is laid to rest, an AsiaNews source describes the social and political situation in which Western democracies are losing the war, because they can not change the social situation to give hope to people.

Kabul (AsiaNews) — “In a country where one child in every five will never see their 5th birthday, people are pretty indifferent to the deaths of soldiers, be they Italian or British or American. The people do not applaud those deaths, rather they have become part of the daily routine”. AsiaNews sources tell of the daily plight of Afghanistan, while the coffin of Alessandro Di Lisio (see photo), the paratrooper killed by a bomb June 14, about 50 kilometers from Farah, arrives home to Italy.

An honour guard together with civilian and military authorities greeted the arrival of Di Lisio’s body yesterday at Ciampino airport (Rome) with the highest honours. This afternoon the solemn funeral will take place in the Cathedral of Campobasso, his hometown.

But perhaps the worst aspect of the deaths of Western soldiers, is that the Afghan population seems almost indifferent to it as something that does not concern them. AsiaNews sources say that “everyone knows that nobody can win this war, neither foreign armies nor the ‘insurgents’, or those that people nowadays call the Taliban. But the Taliban have the advantage of time that passes, because one day the foreigners will grow weary and leave. They will not. They know that foreigners will sooner or later have to accept a compromise, and perhaps the most intransigent among them will not want to accept it. “

“After the intervention of the United States in 2001 — continues the source, requesting anonymity — people were ready to change. For years they hoped and they waited and they were willing to renounce feuds, factions and tribes. Now they don’t believe anymore, they no-longer believe that the country can arise to compete on the same level as other countries “. The presidential elections of 5 years ago were followed with great interest and enthusiasm. The new elections will be in August, but there is minimal interest. Everyone says the outgoing president, Ahmid Karzai, will win. But they speak as if it does not concern them”. “People go more to school but the level of education is low, teachers are paid little and do not keep themselves up to date, many schools in the south were burned. The girls can go to school, but not for women there has been almost no change in society. Hundreds of private clinics have opened up with no control: just think that in Kabul alone there are around 200 private clinics and nobody cares about controlling their quality. In the south, the war zone, there are few doctors. In this period there is a massive Allied operation taking place in Helmand province, but this also means that no doctor is likely to go there and children can not be vaccinated.

Foreign aid has reached only a small percentage of its objectives and cities still lack basic services: roads, power, sewerage and health systems. Some positive results have been achieved by the many private associations, but they are active especially in big cities, they do not go into countryside for security reasons.

But the real problem is the widespread poverty, says the Dr. Alberto Cairo, an official of the Red Cross in Afghanistan since 1992. “The needs of the population — he points out — are enormous: bread for today, for tomorrow and work. If someone falls sick it becomes another serious problem. With the global economic crisis the funds donated by foreign countries have also diminished. For example, this year Italy has destined about half of what it donated for the Red Cross, worldwide, in 2008. “

“Western States made the mistake of choosing war, opting for a solution of force, rather than working primarily with civil society.”

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


Despite Threats From the Taliban, We Are Working for the Good of the Country, Pakistani Catholic Say

Religious minorities, including the Christian community, are victims of a campaign of intimidation. Fundamentalists want to force conversion and extort money. The executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church highlights its commitment to the population and to the topmost principle of the “separation of state and religion.”

Lahore (AsiaNews) — “In the past we received many threatening letters and phone calls, but so far nothing bad has happened,” Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, said to AsiaNews. However, the activist did confirm that “the situation was delicate and tensions are visible.” Never the less, he insisted that “we shall continue our work for the good of the country and its people.”

In the past few weeks, the Taliban have threatened leaders of Pakistan’s religious minorities as well as volunteers from NGOs involved in helping refugees from the Swat Valley.

The Christian community has also become a target for fundamentalists who demand conversion to Islam and the payment of money. “Anyone who does not obey orders will be killed,” the Taliban said.

According to Peter Jacob, threats of abductions “are meant to extort money”. The “overall situation is troubling,” but not bad enough “to prevent us from doing our work.”

Without a doubt “the organisations involved in helping refugees” from the Swat Valley and the Malakand Division are playing an important role by providing food, water and basic items.

“For the three million refugees the slow trek home has begun,” the Catholic activist said.

“The military now control most of the territory. Led by the government they have made a giant effort to uproot extremism. But much remains to be done for peace in the country.”

For the NJCP executive secretary, Pakistan “is going through a phase of transition in its process of democratisation”. He is certain that the government will be able to “settle the conflict and improve security.”

“All political forces in the country” must make their contribution in order to achieve this objective. Minorities, including the Christian community, are called to “make their presence felt and claim their rights,” increasing their visibility and becoming “an element of strength”.

“We must eradicate religious fundamentalism and encourage a process of reconciliation,” he said. “Christians and Muslims must work towards a common goal. This is the commitment we have made as members of the NCJP,” and this despite threats and attacks from radicals.

For Peter Jacob there is indeed “a margin of hope” in the future. “The situation is difficult but everyone in Pakistan must face the problems it entails, problems like poverty (30 per cent of the population below subsistence level); illiteracy, which touches 48 per cent of the population; and rising inflation.”

“For this reason it is even more important that religion become a factor of unity,” Peter Jacob said. “This is our request, goal and the basis of our work.”

It is inextricably linked to the topmost principle of the “separation of state and religion”. Anything connected with “religious fundamentalism” must be eliminated because “we want a better future for Pakistan.”

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

Far East

China: Eerie Friday in Urumqi: Under Tight Army Control Mosques Remain Almost Deserted

No fresh violence has been reported but tensions remain high in the Xinjiang capital. Many mosques are closed. In others administrators tell worshippers to stay at home for prayer. Authorities announced new arrests in riot-related incidents.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Chief Prosecutor Hamsi Mamuti said the people responsible for the outbreak of unrest in Urumqi (Xinjiang) on 5 July had been identified and “arrest warrants will be issued soon” so that the “violent elements” can “be severely punished.” The city of Urumqi itself is patrolled by thousands of soldiers and tensions remain high as fear grips residents, scaring many away from Friday prayers in their local mosque

Chinese authorities are on the record saying that those who are behind last week’s troubles will be severely dealt with. Li Zhi, the highest-ranking Party official in Urumqi, said that those found guilty of the most serious crimes might even be executed. He added however that many of the rioters didn’t understand what they were doing and would thus be treated leniently.

According to state media, more than 1,400 people were detained last week in connection with the inter-ethnic riots. The clashes claimed at least 192 lives, with 1,721 people sent to hospital, this according to official sources. A total of 331 shops and 627 vehicles were also burnt in the unrest.

Even today tensions were palpable as thousands of soldiers walked the streets, harassing reporters and stopping anyone from taking a picture.

Yesterday security forces even demanded that a group of journalists stop taking photos of a camel and a man who was playing a traditional string instrument near the main bazaar, a major tourist site, because troops were nearby.

Now city residents, especially Uyghurs, are trying to avoid causing tensions and are refusing to talk to the media.

Today is Friday, the traditional day of rest for Muslim Uyghurs, a day usually celebrated in the mosque, but in many administrators told worshippers to go home and avoid creating large gatherings.

Mosques run by another local ethno-religious minority, the Hui Muslim community, were closed.

In a recent report Xinhua blamed three people for inciting worshippers in a mosque to start a holy war.

Two days ago al-Qai’da said that it would retaliate against Chinese workers and companies in Algeria for the persecution of the Uyghurs.

Beijing immediately alerted its diplomatic missions to take greater security measures.

In Algeria al-Qai’da’s is powerful and has already clashed with police.

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


Uighur Are Not Tibetan

“Islam was once found only beyond the western border

Who could have foretold that Muslims were to dwell in China forever?” — A 17th century poem.

Some of us must remember how the Zionist controlled mainstream media orchestrated anti-China media war against Olympics 2008 in Beijing (China) — as early as 2006. It wanted all the western ZOG countries to boycott the Olympics — comparing it with Olympics 1936 in Nazi Berlin — where Afro-American track champion Jessie Owen won four Gold Medals. Jonathan Zimmerman got his Zionist rant published in Seattlepi (March 24, 2006) in which he called Washington to lead the boycott of Chinese Olympics: “To be fair, the Chinese leaders have never demonstrated the genocidal mentality or the global ambitions of Nazi Germany. And nominally, of course, China remains a “communist” nation. But make no mistake: It’s also a fascist one.” Now we have to excuse Jonathan’s ignorance of the fact that a great number of elites both in Nazi and Communist “fascism” happened to be European Jews, who have established a similar “fascism” in occupied Palestine.

The Olympic boycott propaganda had nothing to do with Chinese government’s occupation of Tibet or its racist treatment of minorities in China — but Beijing’s close economic ties with Khourtum under an Islamist regime which is considered a threat to Israeli strategic interests in Africa. US Zionist administration’s double standard were obvious in last week demonstrations in Urumqi (Xinjiang) in which 156 people died and thousands other injured or arrested by the communist authorities.

Mona Eltahawy writing for Israeli mouthpiece ‘The Huffington Post’ (July 12, 2009) said: “Pity the Uighurs — the wrong kind of minority, the wrong kind of Muslims, fighting the wrong kind of enemy……I thought if only the Uighurs were Buddhists like the Tibetans with whom the Uighurs shares almost mirror grievances against Beijing…..The Uighurs are not Buddhists but are Muslims and us Muslims don’t get much love these days. You’d not think the US would be paying a bit more attention to Uighurs after locking up four of their brethern at the prison camp at Guantanamo without charges for seven years. they were release earlier this year to Bermuda….. Perhaps Israel can save the day and invade Xinjiang….” Now some idiot wants us to believe that Zionist regime is stupid enough to kill the hen which gives golden eggs (US$5 billion trade in 2007), second to the US. Israel also sold US Patriot missile secrets to China in the 1990s — which now China is blamed for passing-on to Islamic Iran.

Beijing has blamed Rebiya Kadeer 60, living in exile in the US for inciting the recent protests to cover its Holocaust of over 38 million Turkic Muslims since the occupation of Eastern Turkistan in the 18th century. The Muslim population in China was reported to be over 48 million (1936) which currently stands at around 10 millions. Ann Miller Darling wrote a very informative article for Saudi Aramco.

Professor Mohamed Elmasry (University of Waterloo, Canada) in his July 11 article titled Why Obama does not say a word about Deaths in China? wrote:

“There are 2.3 million Uighurs in Xinjiang (also called East Turkistan). When state repression of minorities occurs, Tibet immediately comes to mind, but China’s measures taken against the Uighurs have been far more severe. Unlike the Tibetans, nobody seems to notice or care.

U.S. President Barack Obama has not say a word about the right of the Uighurs to demonstrate or demanded that the Chinese government respect that right.

Repression of the Uighurs has been widely documented for decades. Amnesty International has accused the Chinese government repeatedly of arbitrarily detaining thousands of Uighurs who were at serious risk of torture or ill treatment. It also condemned China for what it called “an assault on Uighur culture as a whole”- closing mosques, restricting the use of the Uighur language, and burning Uighur books and journals.

“Very appalling forms of torture have been recorded in Xinjiang, which as far as we know have never been occurring elsewhere in China,” reported Amnesty International.

The Chinese government has also been conducting cultural cleansing by moving a huge number of Han to Xinjiang. Uighurs complain that these Chinese immigrants enjoy the benefits of the economical development in their oil-rich province.

After 9/11, the Chinese government linked religion and separatism to terrorism and described the Uighur separatists as terrorists. It succeeded in getting one Uighur organization, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, placed on the United Nations’ list of international terrorist organizations. Four Uighurs captured in Afghanistan were incarcerated at Guantánamo for years before being dumped in Albania because no other country would provide them asylum.

Uighurs, like Tibetans, face open discrimination in the booming cities of China’s east and south, an issue highlighted by the beating to death of at least two Uighurs at a toy factory last month in the southern city of Shaoguan….”

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

Australia — Pacific

Director Ken Loach Exits Melbourne Film Festival in Protest of Israeli Funding

DIRECTOR Ken Loach has pulled out of the Melbourne International Film festival in protest against Israeli funding.

British-based Loach pulled his film Looking For Eric after organisers refused to bow to his demands they reject Israeli government sponsorship.

The festival’s executive director Richard Moore said that Mr Loach’s emailed demands were part of an orchestrated campaign to target events that receive financial support from Israel.

He said Mr Loach, who objects to Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the recent Gaza intrusion, showed another of his films It’s a Free World at last year’s festival — which was also Israeli-funded.

In the festival website, Mr Moore wrote that the festival had a long tradition of programming films that examined various points of view on the Middle East including the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

He said films showing this year included Amreeka, which outlines the difficulties that a Palestinian family faces adapting to life in the US, and Young Freud In Gaza about a young Palestinian psychiatrist dealing with psychological problems faced by Palestinians living under occupation.

Mr Moore said the festival understood that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a particularly emotional one for people “but we will not participate in a boycott against the state of Israel, just as we would not contemplate boycotting films from China or other nations involved in difficult longstanding historical disputes”.

The festival earlier this week refused a demand from Chinese officials to dump a documentary about an exiled Uighur leader who they have branded a terrorist.

           — Hat tip: DK[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

‘My Cousin in Kenya’

Barack Obama had some interesting things to say in Italy to a group of African leaders.

We don’t have a transcript of the exact words. What we have instead is an account from Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman.

“He shared a personal story,” explained Froman. “Everybody knows that his father was from Kenya, that he still has relatives living in poverty, and that while he’s president of the United States, he feels poverty in a very personal way because of his family situation.”

Now understand the context of this statement. Obama was talking about a plan he and other G-8 leaders have been working on to transfer more of your wealth to Africa.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Sharia Trial for Somalia Hostages

Two French security advisers seized in Somalia will be tried under Sharia law, an official from their captors, the Islamic al-Shabab militia, says.

The unnamed spokesman said they would be tried for spying and “conspiracy against Islam”.

The two, who were training government troops, were kidnapped by gunmen in a Mogadishu hotel on Tuesday and later handed over to al-Shabab insurgents.

Al-Shabab and its allies control much of southern Somalia.

The al-Shabab official said no date had been set for the trial of the two men.

They were on an official mission to train the forces of the interim government, which has recently appealed for foreign help to tackle Islamist insurgents.

Moderate Islamist President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was sworn in in January after UN-brokered peace talks.

He promised to introduce Sharia law but the hardliners accuse him of being a western stooge.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991..

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]


Somali Hijackers Release German Ship for Ransom

Somali hijackers said on Saturday they had released the German ship Victoria and its crew which they had been holding for three months after being paid a ransom of $1.8 million.

“We have released the ship and its crew overnight after receiving a ransom. It is free now and gone,” Mohamed Abdi, a pirate in the Somalian coastal town Eyl told news agency AFP by telephone.

A spokesman for the EU’s special nautical operation Atalanta confirmed that the cargo ship Victoria had been released and had already sailed away from the area. There were no German nationals among the crew.

The ship, which sailed for a German company under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda, had been hijacked at the beginning of May and taken to Eyl.

Elders in the town confirmed the ship had been released but could not confirm the ransom. “The German ship was released overnight by the pirates and it moved but I don’t know what has been paid to the pirates,” Abdulahi Garaad Mohamed, an elder in Eyl said.

Somali hijackers attacked more than 130 merchant ships off Somalia last year, a rise of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre.

The world’s naval powers have deployed dozens of warships to the lawless waters off Somalia over the past year in a bid to curb attacks on one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes.

The release comes a day after Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung dismissed the call from German ship operators to station soldiers on cargo vessels sailing along the hazardous Gulf of Aden.

           — Hat tip: islam o’phobe[Return to headlines]

Immigration

116 Migrants Found in Siracusa Area

(ANSAmed) — SIRACUSA, JULY 17 — 116 migrants intercepted during the day yesterday after landing on the beach at Vendicari (in the Siracusa area) have been transferred to the Cassibile reception centre. The group is made up of Eritreans and Somalis and include 18 women and 12 children. One woman, who is pregnant, was taken to the Trigona hospital in Noto as a precautionary measure. Other migrants were also taken to the hospital for check-ups. In addition to the 116 migrants taken to Cassibile, two Egyptians were also sent to the identification centre from where they will subsequently be expelled from Italy. On the basis of initial accounts and the type of boat used (a 13-metre wooden boat which was put to sea again and towed by a Coastguard patrol boat to the fishing port of Marzamemi), it seems that the number of migrants who actually landed at Vendicari could number between 180 and 200. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Arrival of Algerians on Jet-Ski, No Confirmation

(ANSAmed) — CAGLIARI, JULY 16 — “Technically speaking, it would be possible, even it seems like something out of a James Bond or ‘Mission Impossible’ film. In any case we have no confirmation of a jet-ski being found abandoned along the southern coast of the island, nor reports of illegal immigrant landings”. These were the words of the commander of the Italian Coast Guard in Sardinia, Cristiano Aliperta, who immediately carried out a series of investigations, all of which came up negative, after learning of the news published by the Echourouk newspaper about 4 Algerian youths who had reportedly reached Sardinia on a jet-ski. The investigations carried out by Carabinieri from the Province of Cagliari also came up empty handed. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


HIV Travel Ban May be Lifted for Infected Visitors

Foreigners who have HIV would be allowed to travel and immigrate to the United States under a plan by federal health officials to lift a 22-year ban on infected visitors that critics say was unnecessary from the start.

[…]

But immigration critics say they’re leery of the proposal that could allow an average of 4,275 HIV-infected people into the country annually, with a lifetime medical cost of about $94 million for those admitted during the first year, according to CDC estimates published this month in the Federal Register.

“It becomes a matter of collective responsibility because of the cost,” said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. “The American people shouldn’t be in a position where they have to pay for it.”

Others are concerned that HIV-positive visitors and immigrants will spread the disease.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Local Councils: Gender-Segregated Integration Only Natural

THE HAGUE, 18/07/09 — The local councils association (VNG) condemns any criticism of the fact that 41 municipalities offer Dutch language and culture lessons in classes in which men and women are segregated. “Integration classes for women alone are an automatic consequence of the programmes these women are following,” VNG said on Friday.

In 41 of the 443 municipalities, there are classes consisting solely of women. Under pressure from the Lower House, Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan has asked them to stop segregated integration by 1 January 2010 at the latest.

VNG, however, claims that “segregated integration is not so much a political choice as it is a practical outcome.” In most of the cases, it is women rather than men who follow or wish to follow particular courses, the organisation explained.

“Local authorities offer courses to match the needs of the immigrants, such as programmes focusing on support in the upbringing of children. In practice, it is primarily women who participate in such courses, although they are open to men.” Segregated classes in this form exist in 27 municipalities.

Literacy courses, which are offered as preparation for compulsory integration courses, are often followed by women because more men than women have ever been to school. “If it is primarily women who are illiterate, it is logical that there are classes with only women.”

In addition, five municipalities have specific so-called PAVEM programmes: aimed at improving the ‘participation in society” of women from ethnic minorities. “It is logical that these programmes are not open to men, as they are not part of the target group”.

“Al in all, all the 41 municipalities that have indicated that they offer segregated integration courses do so for practical reasons. It would be a good thing to include this in the public discussion,” concluded the VNG.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Sbai: Morocco Exports Talent and Issues Reforms

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 17 — “Morocco on the move, Morocco has been exporting talent for years and has already successfully embraced the path of reform with the aim of modernising the State to prepare it to deal with the challenges of globalisation. We saw it in the surprising success of women in the past local elections”. Pdl party member Souad Sbai, who yesterday appeared on tv show “Le Maroc en marche” which network 2M and 2M Monde dedicated to Moroccans living abroad, spoke of her native country. Speaking of Pdl, Sbai emphasised “the constant effort spared for immigrants in Italy”. Then again, she said, Italy “is the first country in Europe, despite recent allegation of racism, which elected a first generation naturalised Italian citizen to parliament. I’m proud of being part of this government, which is dealing with various aspects of immigration: this year it focused on guaranteeing the security of people in Italy, next year it will focus on integration”. Souad Sbai added that “For years I have been fighting for the rights of the weak and of women, and I introduced to parliament a bill prohibit the use of the burqa or niquab in public places or places open to the public: it is essential that the battle of civilisation that we are successfully waging in Italy be widely reported in the Arab world in order to stimulate debate within the Islamic world and to promote moderate and liberal ideas to counter the advance of extremism and obscurantism”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain’s Moroccan Community Poorly Integrated

(ANSA) — MADRID, JULY 16 — Moroccan immigrants into Spain are less well-integrated than in the rest of Europe, although they feel less marginalised than in other European countries such as Italy and the Netherlands. These are the findings of the first study ever made of Moroccan immigration into Europe, carried out in six European countries — Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany — by French company BVA and commissioned by the Council of Moroccan Communities Abroad, a consultative organ of King Mohamed VI. According to the results of the survey, which took in a sample of 3,000 persons and which appears in today’s El Pais newspaper, the profile of the Moroccan emigrate in Spain is predominantly male, of rural origins, and a regular visitor of mosques — 23% of those interviewed visited a place of worship on a daily basis, double the European average — and would like his children to marry in the Moslem faith as well (83%), if possible a person of Moroccan nationality (74%). One immigrant in three is the owner of land in his country of origin, while 40% work as manual workers. Many have a sense of insecurity, given that 61% of those interviewed had experienced periods of unemployment. Only 32% of immigrants speak Spanish or Catalan at home, compared to a European average which sees 64% usage of the language of the host country. 55% were regular mosque-goers, compared to a European average of 49% for Moroccan immigrants, and 53% complained of the scarcity of suitable places of worship. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

General

Fetuses Found to Have Memories

They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But they can remember.

The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation — or about two months before they are born.

“In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later,” said the research, which was released Wednesday.

Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation.

On five occasions during the last eight weeks of their pregnancies, the women received a series of one-second buzzes on their bellies with a “fetal vibroacoustic stimulator,” a hand-held diagnostic device used to gauge an unborn baby’s heart rate and general well-being.

The baby’s responses — primarily eye, mouth and body movements — were closely monitored over the weeks with ultrasound imaging to gauge “fetal learning” patterns. The researchers found that the babies acclimated themselves to the sounds and vibrations to the point that they no longer bothered to respond — a process known as “habituation.”

“The stimulus is then accepted as ‘safe’ “ by the babies, the study said.

The team also found that the tiny test subjects actually improved these skills as they grew older, with those who were 34- or 36-weeks old clearly showing that they had become familiar with the hum outside the womb.

“The fetus ‘remembers’ the stimulus and the number of stimuli needed for the fetus to habituate is then much smaller,” the study said.

“It seems like every day we find out marvelous new things about the development of unborn children. We hope that this latest information helps people realize more clearly that the unborn are members of the human family with amazing capabilities and capacities like these built in from the moment of conception,” said Randall K. O’Bannon, director of education and research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

A call to NARAL Pro-Choice America for comment on the implications of the research were not returned.

The Dutch medical team, meanwhile, said its findings could help obstetricians track the healthy development of unborn babies during pregnancy. The research was published in Child Development, a medical journal.

Scientists have been curious about fetal responses to sound for decades.

The first real study of “habituation” occurred in 1925 when researchers discovered that fetuses moved less when exposed to a beeping car horn. Since then, door buzzers and even electric toothbrushes have been used to help researchers understand the fetal environment — and the response of the unborn to such influences.

Beeps and buzzes were not always the tools of choice.

In 2003, psychologists and obstetricians at Queen’s University in Canada found a profound mother-baby link. In a study of 60 pregnant women, they found that the unborn babies preferred the voices of their own mothers — both before and after birth.

The heart rates of fetuses sped up when they heard their mother reading a poem, and slowed down when they heard a stranger’s voice — evidence of “sustained attention, memory and learning by the fetus,” said Barbara Kisilevsky, a professor of nursing who led the research.

The Queen’s group has also investigated fetal response to the father’s voice, concluding that if men try a little pre-natal vocalizing to their offspring, the newborn will later recognize the father’s voice.

[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

DP111 said...

BB NOTE

Dems tack hate crimes bill onto defense bill
By Lonely Conservative

The democrats know they have a bad piece of legislation in the hate crimes bill. Rather than debate it out in the open, they are tacking it, as an amendment to an amendment of the defense bill. In the video Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy talks to Fox News about this “very troubling piece of legislation.” Gaffney believes Islamists will use this legislation to fight Americans who sound the alarm about Sharia Law coming to America.

This bill is an assault on our First Amendment rights!

Dems tack hate crimes bill onto defense bill

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

I like Sarah Kennedy but she's on too early for me to listen. She and Terry Wogan are the two old curmudgeons at radio 2 that the corporation can't risk actually getting rid of because they're far too popular, which gives them a lot of leeway to make "accidental" comments about things. They hide behind a façade of comfortable senility.

Anyway:

'Evil destruction' of a happy family (got it from EU Referendum).

When I was a youngster my parents lived in fear of the social services coming to take us away because we were always playing out in the open and getting knocked about by various things. We'd always have a bruise or two on our arms and legs from climbing trees and fording or damming the little brook by our home (ahh the idylic lifestyle of a child in the countryside...).

It reached it's height in the early 90s with the satanic ritual abuse scare and after that I thought it had been put to rest. No such luck. The b*tches (I refuse to call the heartless monsters who run these services "women") are still at it, taking children away from their parents just because they can. Private Eye reports that the woman behind the whole satanic abuse bungle has now been given an OBE for services to child protection. That's this government to a tee. They don't reward failure, they reward active malice.

I can only assume I've died and gone to hell.

islam o' phobe said...

"If the United States is to remain an Asian nation, and a maritime nation, our nation's leaders have a choice to make," he said. "The United States should maintain the quality and strength of its seapower -- if not improve it."

The U.S. is an Asian nation?