Monday, September 21, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/21/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/21/2009Deposed president Mel Zelaya is back in Honduras, and is reportedly holed up in the Brazilian embassy. His return was accomplished with at least the passive acquiescence of the United States. As usual, see Fausta for more details on this and other Latin American news.

In other news, the Czech Republic is reportedly planning to delay its ratification of the Lisbon Treaty until after the upcoming general elections in the UK, in order to give the Tories a chance to hold their promised referendum — assuming that the Tories win the election.

Thanks to Amil Imani, C. Cantoni, CSP, Fausta, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, Michael Freund, Sean O’Brian, TB, TV, Zenster, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Bernanke’s ‘Essays’
Dems Push Expanded Community Reinvestment Act; Deny Act’s Role in Mortgage Meltdown
Obama Open to Newspaper Bailout Bill
 
USA
Are Politicians Serving US, Or Are We Serving Them?
Baucus’ Cheaper Trojan Horse
Benson Goes to Supreme Court for All of Us
Dell to Buy Perot Systems for About $3.9b
Frank Gaffney: The Obama Doctrine
Governor Paterson Bucks President Obama: I’m Still Going to Run in 2010
Historic Gift to Children’s Clinic From Abu Dhabi
The Arrogance is Breathtaking
The U.S. Missile Shield: What’s All the Fuss About
 
Europe and the EU
Banks: France Approves Sharia-Compatible Bonds
Barroso Brings Dell Aid to Ireland Before EU Vote
Belgium: In Knots Over Headscarves
Belgium: ‘Taouil is an Extremist Muslim’
Czech Delay Could Mean British Referendum on Lisbon Treaty
Czech Republic ‘Planning to Delay Signing Lisbon Treaty’
Demography: Population Growth on Small Italian Islands
EU Funding ‘Orwellian’ Artificial Intelligence Plan to Monitor Public for “Abnormal Behaviour”
Gas: Mantica Gives the Go-Ahead to EU-Central Asia Corridor
Hijab Symbolises Rift Between Islamic and European Values
Hitler Admiring Child Minder to Face Court Action in Belgium
In Milan Protests Against the Burqa, Politician La Santanchè Socked in the Face by Muslim
Ireland: Why the 18-35 Year Age Group Voted No Last Time
Italy: Muslim Leader Expresses Solidarity Over Soldiers’ Deaths
Italy: Escort Probe Suspect Arrested
Majority of Norwegians Oppose EU Membership
Next Stop Britain? The Afghan Boys Groomed as Taliban Suicide Bombers Who Are Fleeing Calais’ Jungle to Head to UK
Rule Britannia? Not if the EU Gets Its Way
Spain: Number of Divorces Down by 13% in 2008
Spain: Gains From Real Estate Boom Lost in a Year and a Half
The Quran on My Mind
UK: Labour’s EU Cheerleader Blasts the Lisbon Treaty
UK: Machetes by the Door, Drugs on the Table — And Mothers Paid by the State to Have Babies With Men They Barely Know. What Have We Done to the British Family?by Harriet Sergeant
UK: Mandelson, Blair and a Sordid Little Ploy to Deny British Voters a Choice on the European Superstate
UK: Nanny State Snatches Kids for Being Too Fat
UK: The Debate About Our Membership of the EU Has Always Been About Sovereignty
 
Mediterranean Union
EU: EP: Panzeri (PD), Maghreb One of Our Priorities
EU: Strengthen Women’s Roles With Tangible Plan of Action
Morocco: 1 of 4 Km of New Roads Financed by EU Funds
 
North Africa
Algeria: Instructions for Circumcisions
Egypt: Sorour: Commitment Against Organised Crime Needed
Energy: Gas: In 2014, Algeria Will Export 85 Bln M3
Finmeccanica: Stampa, 100 Helicopter Contract With Algeria
Internet: Study Shows Algerians Getting to Love the Web
Libya: Commission, Algerian Prisoners Were Tortured
TLC: Egyptian Mobile Phone Subrscribers Top 50 Millions
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Netanyahu Pardons Terrorists Who Killed Israelis
PNA: USA Agrees on State by 2011
 
Middle East
Compassion: The Islamic Republic Style
Emirates: 70% Rise in Companies Violating Labour Laws
Italy-Lebanon: New University Cooperation Programme
Kuwait: Woman Guilty of Mass Murder Will Sue Minister
Post Report Sparks Congressional Anger at Saudis Over Israel Boycott
Turkey: Journalist Sentenced for Insulting President
‘We May Have to Attack Iran by Dec.’
 
Russia
Defense: Moscow Asks Ankara to Buy Russian Missiles
 
South Asia
Afghanistan: New Zealand Sends Special Forces to Boost Force
Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families From Europe
Italy: Leaders Divided Over Afghan Troop Numbers on Day of Mourning
Wounded Soldier Filmed Bomb Attack
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Scores Die in South Sudan Attack
 
Latin America
Zelaya Back in Honduras
 
Immigration
Australia: Boatload Stretches Border Protection
Frontex ‘Involved’ In Return of Migrants
Obama’s Public Health Option and Amnesty
 
General
Andrew Bostom: Apostasy and the Islamic Nations
Carolyn Glick: Our Iredeemable International System

Financial Crisis

Bernanke’s ‘Essays’

One of the benefits of having an intellectual at the helm of the Federal Reserve during this ongoing economic crisis is that intellectuals tend to leave a paper trail. Bernanke, famous for being a student of the Great Depression, is without question very well-informed on the relevant historical issues. His book reveals an intelligent and scholarly mind that does not shirk from the details but, rather, leaps without hesitation into statistical analysis of the most technical economic minutiae. The book simply wallows in charts, equations and log changes; the net result is impressive, especially when compared with his predecessor’s lightweight, revisionist chronicle, “The Age of Turbulence.”

On the one hand, it is reassuring to know that there is a genuinely intelligent man in full possession of the significant historical information at the helm of the monetary authority right now. On the other, Bernanke’s “Essays” serves as a reminder that even the most brilliant man’s abilities are limited by the conceptual models he is using to understand the situation as well as by the data available for plugging into those models. For example, on several occasions Bernanke resorts to utilizing proxies, and in one case, a proxy for a proxy, when the data required by the model cannot be found. While this is perfectly understandable, it necessarily raises questions about the reliability of his conclusions even if one assumes that his model is flawless. The Misean calculation problem does not only apply to socialists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dems Push Expanded Community Reinvestment Act; Deny Act’s Role in Mortgage Meltdown

GOP cites ACORN connection

A number of experts believe that aggressive enforcement of the 1970s-era Community Reinvestment Act contributed to the mortgage meltdown, and thus to the greater financial crisis, by requiring financial institutions to lend to unqualified borrowers. Now, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is responding to that situation by proposing to expand the scope and power of the Community Reinvestment Act.

[Return to headlines]


Obama Open to Newspaper Bailout Bill

The president said he is “happy to look at” bills before Congress that would give struggling news organizations tax breaks if they were to restructure as nonprofit businesses.

“I haven’t seen detailed proposals yet, but I’ll be happy to look at them,” Obama told the editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Toledo Blade in an interview.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced S. 673, the so-called “Newspaper Revitalization Act,” that would give outlets tax deals if they were to restructure as 501(c)(3) corporations. That bill has so far attracted one cosponsor, Cardin’s Maryland colleague Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had played down the possibility of government assistance for news organizations, which have been hit by an economic downturn and dwindling ad revenue.

[Comments from JD: “economic downturn”…hmmmm… no mention of the incredible bias of the newspapers that is turning off its readers…]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

Are Politicians Serving US, Or Are We Serving Them?

There’s a lot of talk about “service” these days from the government, but where public service traditionally meant the government serving the people, today it seems to mean the public serving the government. Serve.gov, rolled out by the Obama administration as part of the “United We Serve” initiative, has as its mission directing everyone into public service, either as an ad hoc community organizer or as a volunteer “on a path to sustained service”. The goal being to get the public to do all the things that even Obama’s out of control spending budget can’t afford to pay anyone to do.

Behind all the cheerful sloganeering though, hides a fundamental shift from a definition of public service that requires politicians to serve the public, to one that requires the public to serve the politicians? The shift can best be summed up as, who is serving whom? With congress giving itself pay raises and Obama using Air Force One for a date in New York all at public expense, while the rest of the country suffers from unemployment and has to squeeze every penny to make ends meet—it’s not too hard to figure out just who is serving whom.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Baucus’ Cheaper Trojan Horse

A cheaper Trojan horse is the “health-care deform” bill unveiled last Wednesday by Sen. Max Baucus. It makes the same promises that are made by the president and H.R. 3200, but with different body parts.

Before I explain why this is the case, I want to remind the liberals again that there is a Republican alternative (H.R. 3400) which will achieve everything the Democrats’ plan (H.R. 3200) will not, namely, to rein in costs, cover everybody and improve the health-care system.

But with the help of the mainstream media, the Democrats have ignored the Republican alternative because “they won” last November as they remind us, which is why H.R. 3400 has been sent to eight committees and will remain there, until Speaker Pelosi gives the order to release it. I will not hold my breath.

Democrat-care (H.R. 3200) will not deliver what the Democrats claim, even with a moving price tag of between $856 billion to $1.5 trillion. And the latest Senate panel version released by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., falls equally short.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Benson Goes to Supreme Court for All of Us

“In this historic 16th Amendment litigation, the Government has sued Bill Benson seeking an injunction prohibiting him from falsely telling people the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was not ratified and therefore people are not required to file an income tax return. The Government contends it is entitled to an injunction because Benson is promoting an abusive tax shelter, conduct made subject to a penalty per 26 U.S.C. Section 6700.”

This case isn’t about tax evasion or “paying your fair share.” Benson has never promoted any form of abusive tax shelters. It is about the First Amendment. It is about oppressive government deciding they can change the language of the First Amendment to suit their own totalitarian needs. It is about real men who have sacrificed their freedom (Bill Benson), good times and forget getting paid big legal fees (Becraft and Dickstein) the whole way to stand and fight for what is right. Now, we must fight with them with our support.

[Return to headlines]


Dell to Buy Perot Systems for About $3.9b

Dell Inc. said Monday it has agreed to buy Plano-based information technology services company Perot Systems Corp. for about $3.9 billion as it looks to expand beyond the personal computer business.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]


Frank Gaffney: The Obama Doctrine

Undermine our allies. Embolden our enemies. Diminish our country. Those nine words define the Obama Doctrine with respect to American security policy. All three elements were much in evidence in the President’s benighted decision last week to cancel the “Third Site” for intercontinental-range missile defenses in Eastern Europe. They will be on display as well during this week’s several conclaves with foreign leaders.

The cumulative effect is predictable: A world in which the United States has fewer friends, more enemies and less options for assuring its security…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Governor Paterson Bucks President Obama: I’m Still Going to Run in 2010

Gov. Paterson pushed back yesterday against President Obama’s stunning attempt to shove him from New York’s political stage, insisting he won’t abandon his run for governor.

[…]

Team Obama fears that Paterson is so vulnerable that if former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, runs, he would make mincemeat of him in a head-to-head fight — and, worse for the President, drag down other Democrats and threaten his agenda in Washington.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Historic Gift to Children’s Clinic From Abu Dhabi

(ANSAmed) — WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 17 — The Abu Dhabi government is to donate 150 million dollars to the Children’s National Medical Centre in Washington, the main children’s hospital in the USA. This is one of the largest sums ever given to a paediatric centre. In the words of the hospital’s director, Edwin K. Zechman: “it’s an extraordinary gift”. As Zechman told the Washington Post, “The donation will not just allow us to transform the hospital completely, but to revolutionise the entire paediatric surgery section”. The multi-million cheque will be signed by the government of Abu Dhabi, on of the seven United Arab Emirates. The benefactor behind the project is Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the sheik who came to an agreement with the US philanthropist Joseph E. Robert, who came up with the idea for the initiative. Robert, who is fighting a brain tumour — similar to the one that killed Senator Ted Kennedy, persuaded the sheik to gift the huge amount in order to ensure that “children’s surgery can make an early start on its journey into the future”. The 150 million dollars will, in fact, help promote new research projects, to try out advance technologies, to work on new therapies and reduce the amount of pain felt by infants undergoing surgery to a minimum.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Arrogance is Breathtaking

What is it about this administration and the mainstream media that grates on people’s nerves? Why are folks so angry that they’re holding heated town hall meetings, rallies and tea parties from coast to coast? Why do we object so strongly to current policies that we’re willing to travel great distances at our own expense to protest, only to be called loathsome names?

Is it that the government is trying to shove health-care reform down our throats despite the fact that 83 percent of Americans are satisfied with what they have? Is it the cap-and-trade farce that will skyrocket prices on every conceivable good and service for no discernible benefit? Is it Obama’s goal to spread our hard-earned wealth to those who haven’t earned it?

It’s all of those things, of course, and more. But the objections of many Americans can be summed up in one single word: ARROGANCE.

Have you noticed the arrogance of this administration and its media? If you combine a liberal president with a liberal Congress, reported by a liberal press … the result is a degree of egotism and superiority toward the citizens of this country seldom equaled in any presidential term.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The U.S. Missile Shield: What’s All the Fuss About

Warsaw,Poland: President Barack Obama announced his decision to scrap U.S. missile defense plans for Poland (10 interceptors) and the Czech Republic (X-band Radar) on September 17 at night. There couldn’t have been a worse timing and a more surprising way to communicate that. September 17 was a painful 70th anniversary of the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, synchronized with Hitler’s conquest of that country, which began the most devastating Word War II on September 1, 1939.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Banks: France Approves Sharia-Compatible Bonds

(ANSAmed) — PARIS — As of today French banks are allowed to issue ‘sukuks’, or sharia-compatible bonds, in other words bonds that comply with the rules of Islamic law, which prohibit interest on loans. The French parliament took the decision by approving a bill that aims to allow national banks to issue financial instruments that are complaint with the Islamic law. The measure, which was adopted two days ahead of the end of Ramadan, adds new strength to Islamic finance which, contrary to what may be imagined, enjoys its peak during Ramadan, when people are focused on abstinence and meditation. This circumstance was certified by a research paper carried out by three university professors, Jedrzej Bialkowski, Ahmad Etebarri and Thomas Wisniewski, which was printed by French daily paper Les Echos. The report illustrates the unexpected effects that Ramadan has on the performance of stock markets in Muslim Countries. The research paper states that “Insofar as a spiritual experience shared by all Muslims, Ramadan encourages a certain dose of optimism which in turn influences investor decisions”. Between 1989 and 2007, during Ramadan, the stock markets of the 14 surveyed countries, which include the Arab Emirates, Jordan, Pakistan and Egypt, registered a performance that was twice the yearly average. Only Tunisia and Morocco did not swing far from the average. The French parliament’s decision to allow sukuks is not the first taken to support the development of Islamic finance in France as well. Last February the ministry of Finance published a first circular letter indicating the tax regime that must be applied to certain instruments of sharia-compatible finance. One of these is given by ‘murabaha’, a contract on the basis of which a bank acquires an asset in the name of its client, undertaking to transfer property of the same to the mentioned client against the payment of a commission.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Barroso Brings Dell Aid to Ireland Before EU Vote

The European Commission offered 14.8 million euros to help workers at Dell’s Irish plant find new jobs on Saturday (19 September), just weeks before the Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso unveiled the aid in an official trip to the western city of Limerick, which is still reeling from the loss of about 2,000 jobs at the world’s No. 1 chipmaker.

“I am very glad that the Commission can demonstrate concretely the Union’s solidarity with Limerick […] in this manner,” Barroso said in a city that has become one of the biggest casualties of the Celtic Tiger’s demise.

Ireland has to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, which is designed to give Brussels a stronger role in world affairs, in order for it to take effect across the 27-member bloc.

Irish voters, accounting for less than 1% of the EU’s near half a billion population, rejected the charter in a referendum last year and a second ‘no’ would likely plunge the Union into a crisis.

The importance of Europe for the battered Irish economy is the central theme of the government’s campaign to ratify the EU’s reform treaty on 2 October and Barroso reinforced that argument.

“The European Central Bank has lent more than 120 billion euros to the Irish banking system, 15% of total ECB lending,” Barroso told an audience of councillors and local representatives from Limerick.

“Being in the euro area has provided a vital anchor of stability for Ireland at this difficult time.”

Opinion polls suggest Ireland will approve the treaty, which is intended to speed up decision-making in the enlarged bloc, but a significant proportion of the electorate is undecided and officials are worried the government’s deep unpopularity will generate a large protest vote.

After rejection last year, Dublin is hoping concessions from Brussels, including the right to retain an Irish commissioner, and the need for EU support in the recession, will help secure ratification this time around.

Barroso warned in Limerick that Ireland could lose its right to nominate an EU commissioner if it rejects the Lisbon Treaty for a second time and a ‘no’ vote would create uncertainty about Ireland’s place in Europe, further damaging its economy.

The grant from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) will help 2,400 redundant workers in the computer industry find new jobs, Barroso said.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the vote was too early to call.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Belgium: In Knots Over Headscarves

Antwerp’s cautionary tale about the complexities of educating Europe’s Muslim children

FOR all its grand central squares and lively cultural scene, the Belgian port of Antwerp is not always a happy town. Flemish old-timers share its gritty streets with Arabs, Africans, Asians and, in the diamond district, Hasidic Jews. Race relations are not easy: in the latest local elections, a third of the vote went to Vlaams Belang, an anti-immigrant, far-right Flemish nationalist party. The handsome stone bulk of the Royal Atheneum, a once-elite state school with a 200-year history, has produced legendary free-thinkers and radicals in its day. Now, however, it is enjoying unhappy fame: as the centre of an experiment in multiculturalism wrecked by intolerance. The story defies neat conclusions.

In September 2001 Karin Heremans became headmistress of the Atheneum, which has students of 45 nationalities. The September 11th attacks on America came ten days after she took charge, and her schoolyard became the scene of “very intense” arguments. Ms Heremans responded by working hard to turn her school into a place of “active pluralism”. A project about Darwin was led by science teachers but backed by a dialogue among the school’s religious instructors. A local composer wrote a work with Christian, Jewish and Muslim passages for pupils to sing. There were debates on sexuality and elections. A fashion show saw girls invited to wear Muslim headscarves, or not: one teenager wore half a scarf to symbolise indecision.

In France Muslim headscarves, along with all ostentatious religious symbols, have been banned at state schools since 2004. It helps that France has a record of separating religion from the state going back more than a century (even a Christmas nativity play would be unthinkable at a French state school).

By contrast Belgium has muddled through. Most schools in Flanders are state-funded but church-run (and pretty secular in outlook). All schools have been left to craft their own rules on headscarves and, in recent years, Antwerp’s schools began banning religious clothing, leaving just three that allow scarves—among them the Atheneum. Ms Heremans soon noticed Muslim girls moving to her college. Between 2006 and 2008 the proportion of Muslim pupils at the Atheneum rose from half to 80%.

“At the beginning, I didn’t see a problem,” she explains. But then, a number of “very conservative” families moved their daughters to the school. By 2007 about 15 girls came to school wearing all-concealing robes and gloves, with only their faces showing. Ms Heremans confronted them. “I said: ‘You’re stigmatising yourselves. You’re breaking with society by wearing those clothes.’“ The girls replied that she was stigmatising them. Pupils began donning longer scarves. Others started covering up at school, even though teachers saw the same girls walking in the streets unveiled. When questioned, such girls said they felt uncomfortable at school without head coverings. In 2007 it proved impossible to organise a two-day school trip to Paris—a longstanding annual treat for 15-year-old pupils. “Suddenly it was a problem for girls to stay overnight. Their older brothers had to come too,” Ms Heremans says. Most of all, an oppressive, “heavy” atmosphere hung over the schoolyard.

On September 1st Ms Heremans reluctantly reversed herself and banned headscarves at her school. This triggered some nasty protests, including threats from a small clutch of hardliners. The results have been serious: about 100 of the school’s 580 pupils have left. Local politicians have raised fears that some may not get an education at all. On September 11th the Flemish education board banned religious symbols in all 700 secular state schools under its control, including the Atheneum. (Religious schools remain free to set dress codes.) It was the opposite of what Ms Heremans once sought, she admits. “But now I feel supported.” Some older girls quietly thanked her, saying: “You’ve no idea of the pressure we were under.”

Yet it is not just fiery conservatives who have condemned Ms Heremans. “Boss of my own head”, or BOEH in the Dutch acronym, is a feminist group with a mixed Muslim and non-Muslim membership. Its members protested outside the school with whimsy, turning up with sieves and toys on their heads. A spokesman for BOEH, Samira Azabar, says that schools are making it harder for Muslim girls to be “emancipated” through education. She is probably right. Other Antwerp schools banned scarves on the ground of equality but in reality, says Ms Azabar, they wanted to repel pupils from poor backgrounds who might pull them down academic league tables. Ms Azabar dislikes the idea of all-Muslim schools, thinking them bad for integration in the community. But barring scarves “doesn’t help girls”; in her view, Ms Heremans has “given up the battle”.

The paradox of liberalism

In short, the story of the Atheneum is complicated. Unintended consequences abound. There are people of goodwill on both sides, and actors with murkier motives. The row will probably lead to the establishment of Muslim state schools in Antwerp: the city already has Catholic and Jewish schools. Patrick Janssens, the city’s mayor, regrets this, saying he is “not particularly in favour” of single-faith schools. He puts his trust in long-term development: as more Muslims go to university, or feel that society offers them equal opportunities, they will be “liberated” and “realise that religion is not dominant over all other values.”

The story of the Antwerp Atheneum is the latest example of a paradox: how should liberal, tolerant Europeans protect their values, even as they protect the rights of less liberal minorities in their midst? Blanket laws banning headscarves are hardly a liberal solution. But Belgium’s piecemeal approach left Karin Heremans running something approaching a ghetto-school. Distrust anyone with a simple answer.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Belgium: ‘Taouil is an Extremist Muslim’

Taouil appeared in the news in two contexts recently. One was a report on Islamic extremism in Antwerp that Filip Dewinter published on his site — Taouil announced he will sue Dewinter for accusing him of encouraging Belgian youth to go on Jihad.

The second is the headscarf debate. After two Antwerp school announced they will ban the headscarf, the last schools in Antwerp to do so, Taouil called on Muslims to boycott Flemish schools. He later backed down, but more recently, when the Flemish public school authority decided to ban headscarves across all public schools, he again warned that Muslims ..would set up their own schools.

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Imam Nordine Taouil is a extremist Muslims, Alain Winants, administrator-general of the Belgian State Security Service said on Belgian TV (Terzake) yesterday.

Winants said that on the basis of the information they have about Mr. Nordine Taouil, they think he’s an extremist Muslim of the Salafist-Wahhabist movement, who is militantly active in the Salafist circles. Taouil supposedly organized training for young Belgian Muslims in radical Koran schools in Pakistan.

Salafism is an uncompromising version of Islam. “It is actually a movement that wants to go back to the original Islam and which rejects all Western influences on Islam,” according to Winants.

Taouil set himself up as the spokesperson for the Muslim community in Belgian and in recent months made very sharp statements on the headscarf debate. He’s also chairman of the Muslim council, which represents all movements within the Muslim community. But not all Muslims agree with him. His supporters are a small ultra-conservative minority.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Czech Delay Could Mean British Referendum on Lisbon Treaty

David Cameron might be able to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty because the Czech Republic will probably delay its ratification of the agreement until after a general election in Britain, European Union leaders have been told.

c the Czech prime minister, has privately warned other EU leaders that a legal challenge could impose a “long delay” on his country’s ratification, perhaps until after the British election, widely expected next May.

Mr Cameron has pledged to put the Lisbon Treaty, formerly the European Union’s constitution, to a popular vote in Britain as long as it has not been ratified by all 27 member states. If every country has given its approval and the Treaty has officially come into force, Mr Cameron’s options would be extremely limited.

Opinion polls suggest that Irish voters will endorse the agreement in a referendum next month, while Germany and Poland are close to completing their own ratifications, leaving the Czech Republic as the only laggard.

The delay in Prague might create an opening for Mr Cameron — assuming he wins a British election — to hold a referendum in his first weeks in office.

Sources told The Daily Telegraph that EU leaders learned of the development during private — and ill-tempered — talks in Brussels last Thursday. Senior diplomats said that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France erupted with “fury” after Mr Fischer raised the prospect of a long delay.

“Sarkozy exploded and described the Czech position as scandalous and unacceptable,” said an EU diplomat. “He warned the Czechs to get it ‘sorted out’ quickly if Ireland votes ‘Yes’, as the Irish Prime Minister had just told them is likely.”

Mr Sarkozy then threatened the Czech leader with unspecified “consequences” if Prague allowed the delay to trigger a British referendum that would probably lead to the Lisbon Treaty’s rejection.

“There is no question that we will accept to stay in a no-man’s land with a Europe that does not have the institutions to cope with the crisis,” the French president is believed to have said.

The Conservatives want to keep the Treaty unratified until after the British election — and they have privately urged the Czechs to drag their feet. “We’ve made ourselves quite clear. The Czechs know where we stand on this and what we hope for,” said a Tory source.

If, however, Mr Cameron wins power and the Lisbon Treaty has come into force, he has not spelt out what would follow, saying only that he would “not let matters rest there”. Privately, Mr Cameron’s aides are worried that he would then come under pressure from eurosceptic Tories to hold a referendum even on a ratified treaty.

This would effectively become a vote on whether Britain should stay in the EU — and Mr Cameron would be highly reluctant to allow such a referendum. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, has privately called this issue a “ticking time bomb” under Mr Cameron’s leadership.

[Return to headlines]


Czech Republic ‘Planning to Delay Signing Lisbon Treaty’

EU leaders are said to be furious that the Czech Republic is planning to delay signing the Lisbon treaty for up to six months even if the Irish vote “yes” in their referendum next month.

The country might even try to delay it until after the British general election campaign when a Tory victory would see the question put to voters by David Cameron.

Nicolas Sarkozy, who helped to draw up the treaty after the French and Dutch voted against its predecessor, the EU Constitution, has warned Prague that it faces “consequences” if it does not swiftly follow an Irish “yes” with its own ratification.

The outburst followed a private warning from Jan Fischer, the Czech caretaker Prime Minister, to his EU counterparts over dinner at their summit in Brussels last Thursday, it has emerged.

Mr Fischer said that Václav Klaus, the country’s unpredictable President, was planning to have a group of loyal senators in the Czech Upper House refer the treaty back to the country’s constitutional court for a second time, which could delay ratification for between three and six months.

This would mean that the treaty could still be unratified going into the British general election campaign, expected next April or May. Mr Cameron has pledged that, if the document remained a live issue, even though Britain has completed its own ratification, he would call a referendum on it. This prospect horrifies most EU leaders, given the strong vein of euroscepticism in Britain.

Tensions are already running high among EU leaders over whether the Irish will vote in favour of the treaty on October 2 after a close-run referendum campaign. They are desperate that the momentum of a “yes” is not lost on the eurosceptic Czech and Polish presidents, the final two signatures required for EU ratification.

The treaty further erodes national powers to veto EU decisions, and a Tory government would campaign against it. President Klaus is understood to have told allies that he wants to wait if possible to see if Mr Cameron wins the next election.

Speaking after last Thursday’s dinner, Mr Sarkozy said: “I stated clearly that if the Irish say ‘yes’, there is no question that we will accept to stay in a no-man’s land with a Europe that does not have the institutions to cope with the crisis,” he said.

Asked about what could be done to persuade President Klaus to sign, he added: “It will be necessary to draw the consequences — but those will be the subject of another meeting.”

Mr Fischer is acting as caretaker Prime Minister after the Government of Mirek Topolánek fell in the summer and while fresh elections are organised. He has warned privately that he has little control over the country’s headstrong President. Speaking to Czech journalists after last week’s summit, he admitted: “It is certainly a fact that several government leaders perceive the ratification process in the Czech Republic with a degree of nervousness.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Demography: Population Growth on Small Italian Islands

(ANSAmed) — PORTOFERRAIO (LIVORNO), SEPTEMBER 14 — On small islands, population is growing at a constant rate, average educational level has been slowly rising over the past few years and the young are having great difficulty finding a steady job, according to Teresa Savino, researcher at the Tuscany Regional Institute for Economic Planning (IPERT), speaking during the second day of Insulae, a European conference on the smaller Italian islands held in Portoferraio. “Almost forty years ago in 1971, 178,000 people were living on small Italian islands, whereas today there are 214,000,” said the scholar. “Population levels have grown and often more than the average of individual regions. Many have moved. However, its is a population which is older than average, with double the number of elderly inhabitants, more adults and fewer young people and children. Demographic aging, a trend common to all Italy, seems more acute on small islands.” As concerns employment, Savino said that “on islands employment seems more flexible than in other territories, with a fair share of opportunities but very little stable employment.” She added that the fact that a large part of this employment is linked to tourism also means a lower number of high school and university graduates than the regional average.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU Funding ‘Orwellian’ Artificial Intelligence Plan to Monitor Public for “Abnormal Behaviour”

The European Union is spending millions of pounds developing “Orwellian” technologies designed to scour the internet and CCTV images for “abnormal behaviour”.

A five-year research programme, called Project Indect, aims to develop computer programmes which act as “agents” to monitor and process information from web sites, discussion forums, file servers, peer-to-peer networks and even individual computers.

Its main objectives include the “automatic detection of threats and abnormal behaviour or violence”.

Project Indect, which received nearly £10 million in funding from the European Union, involves the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and computer scientists at York University, in addition to colleagues in nine other European countries.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, described the introduction of such mass surveillance techniques as a “sinister step” for any country, adding that it was “positively chilling” on a European scale.

The Indect research, which began this year, comes as the EU is pressing ahead with an expansion of its role in fighting crime, terrorism and managing migration, increasing its budget in these areas by 13.5% to nearly £900 million.

The European Commission is calling for a “common culture” of law enforcement to be developed across the EU and for a third of police officers — more than 50,000 in the UK alone — to be given training in European affairs within the next five years.

According to the Open Europe think tank, the increased emphasis on co-operation and sharing intelligence means that European police forces are likely to gain access to sensitive information held by UK police, including the British DNA database. It also expects the number of UK citizens extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant to triple.

Stephen Booth, an Open Europe analyst who has helped compile a dossier on the European justice agenda, said these developments and projects such as Indect sounded “Orwellian” and raised serious questions about individual liberty.

“This is all pretty scary stuff in my book. These projects would involve a huge invasion of privacy and citizens need to ask themselves whether the EU should be spending their taxes on them,” he said.

“The EU lacks sufficient checks and balances and there is no evidence that anyone has ever asked ‘is this actually in the best interests of our citizens?’“

Miss Chakrabarti said: “Profiling whole populations instead of monitoring individual suspects is a sinister step in any society.

“It’s dangerous enough at national level, but on a Europe-wide scale the idea becomes positively chilling.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Gas: Mantica Gives the Go-Ahead to EU-Central Asia Corridor

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 15 — Italy’s hope to create the “Southern Corridor’, of which the gas pipeline project ITGI (connecting Greece and Turkey) will be a part, were stressed once again by the Foreign undersecretary Alfredo Mantica, who took part in the Ministerial Conference between European Union and Central Asian Countries, in Brussels. “Our country shares the fundamental EU objective, which is made of stable and effective relationships with the Central Asian area, also identifying new transport means for oil and gas,” Mantica said. In the environmental and water sectors, Mantica recalled the coordinating role carried out by Italy with the European Commission, as part of the strategy on Central Asia adopted by the European Council in June 2007. In this environment, on November 5 and 6, 2009, the third High Level meeting on environment and water will take place in Rome, in the Italian Foreign Ministry offices, with the aim to re-launch and expand the cooperation between the EU and Central Asia in this delicate sector. The aim is to promote a “regionalization” of relationships between EU and Central Asia, by identifying concrete cooperation themes starting with the preservation of water basins, tackling climate changes and environmental integration.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Hijab Symbolises Rift Between Islamic and European Values

EUROPEAN DIARY: A decision by Flemish schools to ban Muslim headscarves has divided communities in Belgium, writes JAMIE SMYTH

COMMUNITY TENSIONS are running high in Belgium following a decision by the Flemish public school board to ban pupils wearing Muslim headscarves.

“This decision promotes the feeling of equality and prevents group formation or segregation on the basis of external symbols of life philosophy,” said the school board, which runs 700 schools in the Flemish-speaking region of Brussels, in a statement published last Friday.

The ruling follows weeks of angry protests by Muslims outside two schools in Antwerp and the neighbouring town of Hoboken, which introduced their own bans on the traditional Islamic headscarf, known as hijab. The schools argue that Muslims were being pressured to wear headscarves by families and peers, which encourages the radicalisation of pupils.

“There is a problem when there is pressure on one group because we want to live together in reciprocity and it’s very important for us,” said Karin Heremans, principal of the Royal Athenaeum school in Antwerp, which has banned all religious symbols such as the hijab.

“Everyone has to feel good in this school, so a social minority here become majority. So it was a problem.”

Her decision enraged sections of the Muslim community and provoked weeks of protests outside the school with people holding placards saying “No headscarves, no pupils” and “Everybody free except us”.

Heremans has received death threats, the school on Hoboken was vandalised and several Muslim campaigners were arrested last week outside one of the schools.

Muslim students at the schools now find themselves in the middle of a bitter debate that threatens to undermine integration efforts in the community. “I find going to school important, but also wearing the scarf is very important,” one pupil told VTM television as she left school without wearing a hijab.

In Belgium, schools have typically allowed individuals to take their own decision on whether to ban the wearing of Muslim headscarves.

About a third of schools have implemented a ban, another third allow the hijab while the remaining schools have not issued any guidance to parents on the issue.

Giving local schools’ autonomy over the contentious issue of the hijab allows principals to consult with the local community and has been credited with reducing tension in many areas.

However the Flemish public school board says it was forced to introduce the ban because of a court challenge lodged by one of the Muslim pupils at a school introducing the headscarf ban.

The Belgian Council of State is expected to issue a ruling today that follows advice already issued by its advocate general that stated: “Such a ban is not lawful and that only the umbrella organisation of state schools can decide on whether or not to introduce such as measure.”

The Council of State’s ruling is likely to force school boards in Wallonia, the French-speaking region in Belgium, to reconsider their own advice to schools on the issue. A blanket ban on all religious symbols, including crucifixes, will prove difficult to implement due to the large number of Catholic schools in the country.

Antwerp imam Nordine Taouil has predicted many Muslims will withdraw their children from the community schools.

“We are getting the signal of ‘you are not welcome’. This forces us to establish our own schools,” Taouil said. Campaign groups are also considering a new legal challenge against the school board’s ban on the hijab.

“For us, this decision is a downright disaster,” Kitty Roggeman, spokeswoman for the “Boss of our own heads” group, told the Belgian media following the board’s decision last Friday.

The far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang and the right-wing List Dedecker party both welcomed the ban. However local Green MP Meyrem Almaci said local consultations should have taken place before the ban was announced.

The tensions in Belgium arise as controversy continues in many European countries about the best way to integrate Muslims into mainstream society.

France, which introduced a ban on religious symbols such as hijab from schools in 2004, has recently set up a parliamentary commission to consider a ban on the burqa, the full body Muslim dress for women that typically includes a face veil.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy said recently the burqa was “a sign of subservience” and had no place in French society.

Denmark is currently grappling with a proposal to ban judges from wearing headscarves and in Switzerland a female Muslim basketball player has been banned from wearing a scarf while playing league games.

Other EU countries have taken a more tolerant approach. For example last year the Government decided last year not to issue a directive to schools on wearing Islamic headscarves.

But with 16 million Muslims now living in the EU, friction between Islamic traditions and European values, as seen in Flanders this week, are sure to bubble up periodically across the Union.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Hitler Admiring Child Minder to Face Court Action in Belgium

The woman has a portrait of Hitler, Nazi literature and a banner of a banned Flemish neo-Nazi group in the reception area of her home

The Flanders regional minister reponsible for youth affairs, Jo Vandeurzen, said that despite the right to freedom of expression, the woman’s remarks to television “were unacceptable and intolerable.”

BRUSSELS (AFP-EJP)—-A Belgian child minder who openly admires Adolf Hitler is set to be taken to court and is likely to lose her business permit, Belgian media reported Wednesday.

The woman, who claims to be married to a “former Nazi”, has a portrait of Hitler, plenty of Nazi literature and a banner of a banned Flemish neo-Nazi group VMO in the reception area of her home in the port city of Antwerp, where she minds local children.

Speaking to VRT television, she compared the presence of Turks and Moroccans in Flanders to that of the Jews in Germany during the 1930s and ‘40s.

She described Hitler as a “great visionary, a man with fantastic ideas,” according to the daily newspaper La Libre Belgique.

The woman and her husband were reported to be so extreme that they were

banned by Flemish extreme-right party Vlaams Belang.

The Flanders regional minister reponsible for youth affairs, Jo Vandeurzen, said that despite the right to freedom of expression, the woman’s remarks to VRT “were unacceptable and intolerable.”

The body reponsible for licensing day care centres, Kind en Gezin (Child and Family), has begun moves to take her permit away, while the regional centre for equal opportunity has begun to take legal action.

Michael Freilich, editor of local Jewish magazine Joods Actueel called on the authorities to prosecute the woman and her husband under the law against negationism.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


In Milan Protests Against the Burqa, Politician La Santanchè Socked in the Face by Muslim

MILAN: Italian female politician protesting burquas punched by muslim in scuffle. (hat tip Adam)

Santanche is currently running a campaign in Italy to expose the burqua and veil as oppressive to women. She took the fight to the front line today, entering a muslim ‘prayer meeting’ and asking to speak to some women to tell them they were being oppressed by a male-dominated regime masquerading as a religion, and was subsequently attacked.

Google translation here…

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


Ireland: Why the 18-35 Year Age Group Voted No Last Time

ERASMUS GENERATION: Many under 35s said No in the last referendum. Some of those who voted against the treaty then have been asked how they will vote second time around, writes MARY FITZGERALD

THEY ARE sometimes referred to as the Erasmus generation. The moniker stems from the EU university exchange programme that has, since its founding in 1987, allowed more than 1.2 million young Europeans to study in another member state.

But the expression has a broader meaning, encompassing an entire generation that has known nothing but European integration, a generation considered to be more at ease with the notion of a common European identity. In Ireland, it means those born after the State joined the EU in 1973.

But what happened to Ireland’s Erasmus generation in last year’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? Aside from the usual issue of low turnout among voters aged under 35, that demographic returned an overwhelming No vote.

According to research commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs, 55 per cent of those aged 18-24 voted No, and 45 per cent Yes. In the 25-34 year age group, the No vote was even more pronounced: 59 per cent against, 41 per cent who voted Yes.

The fact a majority of young Irish voters rejected the Lisbon Treaty did not go unnoticed elsewhere in Europe. President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said it was one of the aspects of the Irish No he found most worrying. When French president Nicolas Sarkozy visited Dublin to “understand” the result, he made sure that young people were among those he met.

Andrew Byrne set up Generation Yes, a civil society campaign group that targets young voters, in response to the fact so many voted No last year.

“We know from research that this age group is not anti-European, in fact it’s the most pro-European of any age group,” he says. Byrne believes young people felt “disconnected” from last year’s Yes campaign.

“They were ignored last year. The campaign didn’t speak in their language and it didn’t use their media. If there’s a deeper issue at work here, it is perhaps a disconnect between the major political parties and younger people.

“I think there is a sense that our age group is perhaps more independent-minded than previous generations, and more willing to question authority.

“That’s a big difference in mindset, and may have perhaps fed into the whole anti-Government sentiment.”

Byrne says he and fellow Generation Yes canvassers have detected a trend towards a Yes vote.

An I rish Times /TNS mrbi poll published earlier this month, however, found that those in the 18-24 age group are the most negative towards the treaty, and the only age group in which the No campaign is in the lead.

BreandÁn Macgabhann (27)

Breandán MacGabhann (27) is completing a PhD in geology at NUI Galway. He voted No last year and intends to vote No again.

“I have read the entire treaty and the consolidated version, and I think it takes the EU in the wrong direction. There are a lot of problems with the EU — particularly in terms of the lack of democracy — that I think the treaty actually makes worse. I am worried about implications for taxation. Overall, I think the guarantees don’t even come close to changing the treaty enough for me to change my mind.

“It’s not addressing the fundamental democratic deficit in the EU, and they seem to be ignoring democracy when the result doesn’t suit.”

Padraic Doorey (34)

Padraic Doorey (34), from Castledermot, Co Kildare, has just finished a Masters in law. He voted No last year and intends to vote No again next month.

“I read the treaty and I also studied the EU constitution as part of my degree. I believe this is a step towards federalism. If Lisbon is passed, it allows for the EU to later make decisions which will affect smaller countries like Ireland that will have a reduced voice. We shouldn’t be voting again. I feel it is very undemocratic. The content of the treaty itself has not changed and I don’t believe the legal guarantees will stand up . . .

“This idea we have to pass the treaty to get out of this economic mess is not something I believe at all.”

Treasa O’brien (31)

Treasa O’Brien (31) from Killarney, Co Kerry, is a film-maker. She voted No last year and intends to vote No again.

“I feel like a European and I want to stay with Europe, but I think the EU, which was originally an economic model, is becoming too much of a political and then ultimately a militarised model. It’s a step too far.

“There are no facts to back up the Government’s argument that this will be better for the recession. Some people voted No because of a sense of nationalism or because they are afraid abortion is going to come in, and that’s definitely not where I’m coming from at all.

“My argument is Yes to Europe, No to Lisbon.”

Ciara Coy (26)

Ciara Coy (26), from Loughrea, Co Galway, is studying for a Masters in community development. She voted No last year and intends to vote No again next month.

“I am not against Europe at all but I have reservations about the direction it’s going in. A lot of my friends were undecided last year. They didn’t vote, or they didn’t know what way to vote — that confusion is still there.

“I think this is about the United States of Europe, and that raises alarm bells for me. The guarantees are worthless. Nothing has changed in the treaty. We are told to vote Yes but never given reasons why that actually reference the treaty. It’s like offering a lollipop to a child without warning them that it will rot their teeth.”

Adam Douglas (19)

Adam Douglas (19), from Fermoy, Co Cork, is studying international relations at DCU. He ran for the Green Party in local elections. He voted No last year and intends to vote Yes this year.

“The big issue for me last year was to do with the commissioner, and the fact I thought more countries should have the opportunity to vote on the treaty.

“I decided recently to vote Yes this time. A lot of the arguments on the No side lost credibility for me after hearing them the second time. The commissioner question has been addressed and there is also the realisation we are in a very different economic situation. The best thing at the moment would be to get the treaty sorted so we can concentrate on the bigger issues.”

Andrew Hanrahan (32)

Andrew Hanrahan (32) is a primary school principal in Monageer, Co Wexford. He voted No last year and intends to vote Yes next month.

“Like most people I know who voted No last year, my vote didn’t really have anything to do with the treaty itself. It was mostly to show dissatisfaction with the Government. And while I am still very dissatisfied with the Government, I don’t think the country can afford to waste any more time debating Lisbon when we have more important things to sort out at the moment.

“I was struck by the fact last year we were cheered by British Eurosceptics when we voted No. I don’t see how we could be siding with a crowd like that.”

Andrew O’Brien (30)

Andrew O’Brien (30), from Co Cork, works as a physics research scientist at NUI Galway. He voted No last year and is leaning towards No again.

“I didn’t see any point in voting Yes last year. I wasn’t convinced enough. I fell into the ‘If you don’t know, vote No’ category, and most people I know also voted No for this reason. I am about 90 per cent sure I will vote No again because they have ignored the fact we voted No last time. I am not convinced by the legal guarantees and I can’t see how the Lisbon Treaty itself can improve the economic situation.

“I am not against the EU . . . I feel offended when people say voting No is a vote against Europe.”

Brian Hayden (28)

Brian Hayden (28), from Duleek, Co Meath, is completing a PhD in fish biology at UCD. He voted No last year, but plans to vote Yes.

“It was very difficult to make a decision last year due to all the disinformation and scaremongering. I thought a No vote would lead to some sort of renegotiation and a better deal for Ireland, especially on the commissioner issue.

“Because the economic situation in Ireland has changed, I think we need to ally ourselves as closely as possible with Europe. Some people might want to punish the Government by voting No, but I think we should take the treaty on its merits, and wonder what we are going to do with the Government when the next general election comes around.”

[Return to headlines]


Italy: Muslim Leader Expresses Solidarity Over Soldiers’ Deaths

Rome, 21 Sept. (AKI) — An Italian Muslim leader on Monday expressed solidarity with the country as it holds a day of mourning to commemorate the six soldiers killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Abdellah Redouane, secretary general of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy and director of Rome’s Grand Mosque released details of a letter sent to president Giorgio Napolitano.

“The Muslims of Italy feel close to their Italian brothers at this tragic time,” said Abdellah Redouane.

The funeral of the soldiers were due to take place at Rome’s Saint Paul Outside the Walls Church, where Redouane was to attend, representing Rome’s Grand Mosque (photo).

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano as well as prime minister Silvio Berlusconi were expected to attend the state funeral for the soldiers.

“Muslims are feeling the pain and hope that the supreme sacrifice of six soldiers can contribute to peace in Afghanistan,” said the statement.

“In this day of national mourning, I wish to express our most profound grief on behalf of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy as well as the Muslim community, for the tragic loss of six Italian soldiers who were committed to a mission of peace and who were victims of their strong sense of duty, for which every Italian should feel proud of,” concluded the statement.

The suicide attack last Thursday killed six soldiers when a suicide bomber positioned his car between the two armoured vehicles in which the soldiers were travelling. One of the armoured vehicles was completely destroyed in the attack.

All those killed were from Italy’s 186th Lightning Brigade.The blast also killed 10 Afghans and injured four Italian soldiers as well as dozens of Afghan civilians.

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


Italy: Escort Probe Suspect Arrested

Businessman case raised scrutiny of PM’s private life

(ANSA) — Bari, September 18 — A southern Italian businessman was arrested Friday in a sex for favours case that has led to scrutiny of the private life of centre-right Premier Silvio Berlusconi. Gianpaolo Tarantini, 35, was stopped at Bari airport on drugs charges after recent interference with evidence and because police had discovered he was planning to escape, a prosecutor said.

“The arrest was made after an acceleration in our work, following major interference in evidence over the last few days” said Bari Chief Prosecutor Antonio Laudati.

The businessman, who has said he fears for his life, was under investigation for allegedly providing prostitutes and cocaine to Puglia centre-left officials to boost his healthcare business.

“The arrest was made on suspicion of peddling drugs but investigations will now focus on all Tarantini’s incriminated activities,” Laudati said. In another part of the probe, Tarantini also allegedly paid escorts to attend parties at the residences of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, presenting them as acquaintances.

Leaks about the premier, following a claim from Berlusconi’s estranged wife that he frequents minors after he attended an 18-year-old’s birthday party, have been given wide play in the international press.

Berlusconi, who faces no liability in the case, vigorously denies the suggestions and has sued Italian and foreign dailies.

He says he has never paid for sex in his life and was unaware that some of the women who came to his official residence in Rome and his Sardinia villa were escorts.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Majority of Norwegians Oppose EU Membership

Euroscepticism rising in Norway despite electoral setbacks for anti-EU parties.

Opposition to membership of the European Union has increased in Norway in the past month, with most Norwegians now saying they would vote against accession.

The poll, which was carried out in the week running up to general elections on 14 September, found that 51.0% of Norwegians are opposed to joining the EU, up from 48.3% in August.

The poll, which carried out by Sentio for two national dailies, Nationen and Klassekampen, found that the percentage of Norwegians in favour of joining the EU has fallen to 35.7%, from 38.5%. Another 12% of those questioned said they do not know whether Norway should join the Union or not.

Three anti-EU parties — the Centre Party, the Socialist People’s Party and the Liberals — emerged weakened from the parliamentary elections. By contrast, the country’s leading pro-EU parties — Labour and the Conservatives — made big gains.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Next Stop Britain? The Afghan Boys Groomed as Taliban Suicide Bombers Who Are Fleeing Calais’ Jungle to Head to UK

[…]

EU justice commissioner Jacques Barrot has demanded a change in European law to allow a ‘significant number’ to be fast-tracked into Britain, it was reported.

Mr Johnson said’The UK has a robust system for dealing with both asylum seekers and immigration and provides protection to those who are genuinely in need.

‘Reports that the UK will be forced to take illegal immigrants from the ‘jungle’ are wrong.

‘Both countries are committed to helping individuals who are genuine refugees, who should apply for protection in the first safe country that they reach.

‘We expect those who are not in need of protection to return home.’

Some migrants have started holding banners protesting at the planned clear-out — even calling the slums of the Jungle their home.

The camp’s closure comes as Europe’s Justice Commissioner will today demand a change in the law to allow ‘Britain-obsessed’ asylum seekers into the UK at their earliest convenience.

Jacques Barrot, a former French minister, believes the reform would assist migrants who are sleeping rough in Calais, waiting for a chance to enter Britain.

Army units were also preparing for the destruction of the camp, which could take up to four days, as makeshift shelters will have to be destroyed.

[…]

Under current law the asylum seekers should be sent back to the country where they entered the EU.

But, referring to a proposal which would allow foreigners to claim asylum in any EU country they want, Mr Barrot said: ‘In order for the closure of the Jungle to make sense, it is necessary to share the burden between France and Great Britain.

‘There should be a solidarity within the EU over asylum.

‘National solutions to the problem are not viable.

‘The people who are in Calais have crossed Europe and have one obsession — to get to Great Britain.

‘With the modification of the current system, we should be able to convince the British to consider the claims of the asylum seekers who are stuck in the Jungle, because they have family links with the UK, or the ability to integrate thanks to the communities of their compatriots (in the UK).’

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Rule Britannia? Not if the EU Gets Its Way

We should have the referendum we were promised, whatever the result of the Irish vote on Lisbon

by William Rees-Mogg

Early in the election campaign of 2001, I was asked to write a couple of regional reports for The Times. I visited seats in the West Midlands, and another group in Scotland. In the West Midlands, one of the Labour women candidates was outstanding. Gisela Stuart was already a junior minister in the Department of Health. When I interviewed her I was impressed by her intellectual approach, perhaps derived from her German upbringing and early education.

At the election, she held Edgbaston, her Birmingham seat, quite comfortably, but had the misfortune to be present when Tony Blair, campaigning in a local hospital, was upset by an angry woman complaining about the poor treatment her partner was receiving for cancer.

Mr Blair seems somehow to have blamed Miss Stuart for this hitch. In his post-election reshuffle she was dropped, a loss to the Government.

She was subsequently appointed to an important role in European politics, becoming the British representative on the Presidium of the Convention on the Future of Europe, with the ex-President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, in the chair. The Presidium produced its draft for the European Constitutional treaty. That treaty was rejected in referendums held in France and the Netherlands.

Miss Stuart and her Conservative colleague on the Convention, David Heathcoat-Amory, had fought to introduce a modicum of democratic liberalism, but were overruled. President Giscard was not interested in cranky English notions of habeas corpus or electoral accountability.

After its rejection, the treaty was rewritten in a bureaucratic dialect, and resurfaced as the Lisbon treaty. Britain had been promised a referendum on the Constitutional treaty by all three parties in the 2005 general election. The Labour Government and the Liberal Democrats did not honour these commitments when it came to ratification by Parliament.

One could reasonably describe this change of policy as dishonest and shameful.

Britain is now waiting for the result of the repeated Irish referendum on October 2. In their first referendum, the Irish voted “no” to Lisbon, but now they are being asked to overrule themselves, and may do so. If this happens, there do not seem to be any further obstacles to the monstrous fraud of Lisbon being trundled past the winning post by its dubious acolytes.

Last week Miss Stuart warned of the potential constitutional consequences. She said that the Lisbon treaty puts the future of democracy in Britain at stake, that it would allow the European Union to launch power grabs unchecked, that it would leave a “democratic deficit”, in which the EU’s leaders would be accountable to no one, and that it would breach the democratic principle that voters can get rid of those in power. All of these criticisms are true and important. They would have been true of the original Constitutional treaty, which Miss Stuart and Mr Heathcoat-Amory fought to amend, and they remain true of the Lisbon treaty.

Lisbon would in effect repeal all the main legal safeguards of British liberties. The European Arrest Warrant has already repealed habeas corpus; Lisbon would repeal Magna Carta and the sovereignty of Parliament. The EU might as well have inserted a clause repealing “Rule Britannia”, and particularly the assurance that “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”. We are already much less free than we once were.

There is also an immediate threat. The Lisbon treaty contains a proposal to create a European president, who might well be Mr Blair. Like the Mayor of London, the president of Europe will be tempted to interpret his powers so as to expand his jurisdiction. How can those who object to Mr Blair becoming president of Europe give any expression to their opposition? The Europhiles always rush to explain that the fears of Eurosceptics are mere bogies.

I would put a question to them.

How can I vote against Mr Blair as my president? Who will provide me with a ballot paper on which I could vote for some other candidate, preferably one who has not helped to trick Britain into the Lisbon treaty, without a referendum? To that question there is no answer. Mr Blair cheated the British out of a referendum; if he becomes president, there will be no referendum on that.

This faces David Cameron with a dilemma. If the Irish vote “no”, the Conservatives would undoubtedly call a referendum, but if they vote “yes”, as they probably will, the Lisbon treaty could become law before the next British election.

The constitutional issues are so serious that the Conservatives should promise to hold a referendum even if the treaty has already become law. The EU countries have known throughout that the British electorate was promised a referendum by all three parties. They were co-conspirators in the deception. They can scarcely complain if a referendum is in fact held.

If Britain were to withdraw from the Lisbon treaty because the British electorate had voted against it, that would be a healthy challenge to Europe. It is possible that the EU would then break up, but it is unlikely. The trading Europe is too valuable for Britain and the other EU countries to wish to lose it.

The Commission and Mr Blair himself might be annoyed by a British declaration of independence but Lisbon is deeply flawed, as Miss Stuart has shown. Europe, as well as Britain, would benefit from a new and more democratic approach.

[Return to headlines]


Spain: Number of Divorces Down by 13% in 2008

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 17 — The number of divorces in Spain is in decline despite a law known as “express-divorce” passed last term by the socialist executive branch headed by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. In 2008, 118,939 divorces were registered, a 13.5% decrease compared to the previous year according to a report published today by the National Statistics Office. Separations decreased by 24.4%, while divorces declined by 12.5% according to the nullity, separation, and divorce statistic cited. The majority of couples that separate are less than 40-years-old and have been married on average for 15.4 years. Couples have a child who is a minor in 54% of the cases. Eighty-six percent of the time the custody of the child is given to the mother, while in 9.7% of the cases, joint custody is granted. According to some associations of separated parents, the decrease in divorces is due to the economic crisis, since many couples have difficulty paying rent and household expenses. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Gains From Real Estate Boom Lost in a Year and a Half

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 15 — It only took a year and a half for real estate companies to burn the gains they made in the golden years of the building boom between 2003 and 2007. Sources in the sector calculated that from January 2008 until June 2009, these companies on the whole lost 7.217 billion euros compared to 8.114 billion gained in the 5-year period of speculation. If losses continue at their current rate, according to the sources, real estate companies will see all of the gains made in the boom period lost at the end of 2009. In any case, much of the revenue, up to half, was distributed as dividends to shareholders. The only positive sign after two years of negative figures came after the first 6 months of 2009, with real estate companies quoted on the stock market in Spain able to cut their losses by 75% for a total value of 1.217 billion euros. The debt registered with the banks in the first 6 months of the year totalled 31.851 billion euros, 17% less compared to the same period in 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Quran on My Mind

Remarkable german documentary about the gradual radicalisation and moral deroute of Barino Barzoum. Son of a coptic christian father and german catholic mother.

It details how the Quran disguises seeds of hate and scorn as indisputable opinions of the creator of the universe. This mixture of ruthlessnes and worship has a very interesting albeit devastating influence on the believer. Making an otherwise intelligent person loose his natural capacity for making moral judgements.

Highly recommended for anyone intererested in the psychology of islamic mindgames and memes

I went through the trouble of translating and subtitling this one myself mainly because I consider it the most important german documentary about Islam. In the sequel which I hope I will be able to translate at a later time, Barino leaves Islam and joins the church of the coptic christians. And today he is one of the most dedicated and outspoken people in germany warning against the threat of radical Islam. I have this gut feeling that a day will come when everybody will know who Barino is, and thought it would be good to present this record of his years in the Abu Bakr Mosque to an international audience.

If you like the film, please recommend it to friends and family.

German Speakers can also visit his website at www.dasistislam.de/

[Return to headlines]


UK: Labour’s EU Cheerleader Blasts the Lisbon Treaty

The Labour architect of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty has warned it puts the future of democracy in Britain at stake.

Former health minister Gisela Stuart said the treaty breached the fundamental democratic principle that voters can get rid of those in power.

Just weeks before the Irish are asked to vote again on the measure, she said it would also allow the EU to launch future power grabs completely unchecked.

Miss Stuart is a pro-European who sat on the committee which drew up the original EU Constitution, later repackaged as the Lisbon Treaty.

She said it would leave a huge ‘democratic deficit’ if passed, leaving the EU’s leaders accountable to no one.

She said there would be ‘no more treaties, no more referendums anywhere’ on EU integration.

The treaty contains a ‘ratchet clause’, meaning that national vetoes can be scrapped one by one without the need for summits or referendums.

Voters will also have no power to choose or remove a new allpowerful EU president, who will be selected by EU leaders.

Tony Blair is current favourite for the post.

Miss Stuart said: ‘My basic test of democracy is: can I get rid of them? By casting a vote, you can change the people who are in control of you.

‘Lisbon does not give you, as a citizen, the means to control the executive or the politicians who decide on your behalf, and that’s the hurdle it falls on.

‘The nature of democracy is really at stake.’

Miss Stuart’s comments will increase controversy ahead of the crunch Irish vote on October2.

Voters there threw the ratification process into chaos when they rejected it last year.

Miss Stuart’s comments will embarrass Labour, which broke a promise to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


UK: Machetes by the Door, Drugs on the Table — And Mothers Paid by the State to Have Babies With Men They Barely Know. What Have We Done to the British Family?by Harriet Sergeant

It’s the most destructive crisis of our age — a generation of violent, illiterate, lawless young men living outside civilised society.

The Mail asked a leading investigative journalist to spend nine months exploring their world.

Here, in the second part of a fascinating series, she reveals her chilling findings — and exposes how the benefit system is breeding boys condemned to a life of crime and despair because they’ve never known the benefit of a loving family. . .

When Prince opens his front door, the first thing you see is a machete hanging from a hook on the inside.

As a drug-dealer living alone on a South London estate, he needs to be on guard. With his Gucci trainers and single diamond ear-stud, he seems an unlikely candidate to be a caring father.

Yet Prince, who is of black Caribbean origin, has five children — by three different mothers — and sees them all regularly.

As he sorted out ‘sweeties’ — ecstasy tablets — on a coffee table for his night’s work, I asked him how he came to be a dad.

It always started the same way, he said: he’d start seeing a woman, and she’d tell him she was on the Pill.

Then two weeks later: ‘Bang, she gets pregnant.’ There was never any discussion about the pregnancy.

As far as he was concerned, they were barely an item at that stage — and they were certainly not about to move in together.

Prince, who is 37, laid the blame squarely on benefits: ‘Women get money from the Government; men get eradicated. What do you need a man for? The Government has taken our place.

‘I’m old-fashioned, from the ghetto, and I’m serious for my kids — but the Government is the provider now.’

Unfortunately, he is absolutely right. He may be a Peckham drug dealer, but he can clearly see what the Government has failed to register: that the benefit system is cutting fathers out of the equation.

Not only that, but it is condemning thousands more children every year to a poor start in life.

Politicians, for their part, blame the rising numbers of troubled children on the breakdown of the family and the absence of fathers.

This is a fundamental mistake: they are presuming there is a family in the first place.

Above all, the Government needs to recognise that benefits are a powerful incentive, particularly for young girls.

For the past few years, Britain has had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe, with 90 per cent of births occurring outside marriage.

The consequences are dire. Babies born to teenage mothers are 60 per cent more likely to die in their first year, compared with those born to other parents.

And 72 per cent of children born to single mothers of any age will grow up in poverty.

Two young men from council estates as far apart as the South Coast and the North-East told me girls giving birth at 16 or 17 were no longer the exception in their area, but the norm.

‘They only go down that path because not too many paths are open to them. By 18 or 19, they’ve got two kids,’ one of them said.

Over the past nine months, I have been investigating why teenage boys from low-income white and black Caribbean backgrounds are the most at risk of failing at school, and of being sidelined into a life of benefits and crime.

I talked to dozens of these boys themselves, as well as to men in their 20s and 30s from the same background — and found that most of them had grown up in single-parent families.

The cycle seemed likely to be repeated with their own children.

A young white man from the North-East, recently released from prison, told me: ‘If I had a father, I would have got a good hiding and I probably wouldn’t be here now.’

His 17-year-old friend, who is on the police list of top-ten troublemakers in his town, nodded. ‘You need a dad for growing up,’ he said.

An overhaul of the benefit system is clearly at the heart of transforming the lives of disadvantaged children. But to accuse their mothers of being feckless is unjust: they are merely responding to the economics of the situation.

They have grasped the consequences of our poor education system better than our politicians ever have.

Last year, less than half of teenagers finished compulsory schooling with five good GSCEs that included maths and English. Of those, the ones who do worst of all are children from lowincome families.

Then what happens? The boys take to crime — and the girls get pregnant.

Incredibly, more than a quarter of British children are now raised in single-parent families — and nine out of ten of them are headed by women.

Children with one parent, according to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, are more likely to have behavioural problems, to do less well at school, have sex earlier, suffer from depression and turn to drugs and heavy drinking.

And, according to evidence from the U.S., they are more likely to get involved with gangs and crime.Four out of ten of these children will have no contact at all with their fathers by the age of three. Indeed, for many boys, their first experience of spending any significant time with adult males is when they enter prison.

Prince, however, is determined not to let that happen with his own three daughters and two sons. On the day we met, he’d taken his eldest daughter, aged ten, to her new private secondary school, for which he is paying the fees.

Proudly showing me a photograph of her dressed in school uniform and playing the piano at a school concert, he commented: ‘The school’s wicked. They discipline the children and she learns the right values.’

Then he pointed to the ecstasy tablets on his coffee table. ‘When she’s here, I never discuss business or have weapons or pills lying around.

‘Estate people leave everything in front of their kids: knives, guns, their stash, the lot. Not me,’ he said, nodded emphatically. ‘I try and show her the right way.’

By ensuring his daughter has a good education, he is doing the one thing most likely to give her a chance of escaping poverty and making a success of her life.

What future is there in Britain today for a girl without qualifications?

Skilled and hard-working immigrants now monopolise menial jobs, and the next step up — a job, for example, in catering or hairdressing — pays about £10,000 a year before tax.

Which is slightly less than a girl with two children receives in benefits, and without the incentive of somewhere to live rent-free.

In Streatham, South London, I overheard two young girls pushing buggies talking about a friend. ‘Why she got pregnant?’ asked one. ‘She’s got a good job!’

In other words, if you were in well-paid employment, with good prospects, there was no reason to have children.

Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire Police, summed up the situation starkly: ‘We are talking here about the perverting influence of welfare. The more kids you have, the more money you get.’

Nor does that include the extras the mothers receive from the fathers of their various children.

As Prince pointed out: ‘All those little trainers and bikes — £50 here, £40 there. If I had no children, I’d be a rich man now.’

Many single mothers are excellent parents, of course. But the Government has put disadvantaged girls in a position where the only career open to them, the only possibility of an independent life, is to have children — whether they want to or not, whether they are likely to be good mothers or not.

The state, as Prince pointed out, has indeed taken over the role of both husband and employer.

With a combination of financial incentives and poor schools, it is ensuring a steady supply of babies who start life with all the factors in place to become the next generation living on benefits or the proceeds of crime.

What is the Government doing about this cynical cycle of deprivation?

Over the past few years, it has come up with a plethora of schemes to intervene ever earlier in the life of a disadvantaged child. In other words, it has concentrated on the consequences of single parenthood — but not the cause.

Failing to address the poor education on offer at too many of our schools and the incentive of benefits is self-defeating.

What is the point of setting targets to end child poverty when the Government’s policies are creating tomorrow’s poorest children — and grandchildren? Between 1979 and 2003, the number of single parents more than doubled — from 1.4million to 3.2million.

Even Government advisors acknowledge that this is a major factor in the increase in child poverty.

So why hasn’t the Government reformed the benefit system? It’s as if they’re offering car drivers a bonus for every crash — then acting surprised when accidents shoot up.

Boys with two parents are more likely to attend school regularly; they are also far less likely to be thrown out of school.

There is a wealth of research to show that boys, in particular, need fathers — but single mothers don’t always see it that way.

In Manchester, I visited Simone, the mother of three boys from three different fathers — all well-known criminals in her community.

An attractive, slender black woman in her 30s, with elaborately tattooed shoulders, she was bouncing a baby on her lap in the sitting-room of her council flat.

At a side-table, next to an empty bottle of Moet and Chandon, her 18-year- old son Dion, who’d recently been convicted of driving without a licence, was folding up a pile of ironed clothes.

Dion had begun truanting in Year 9, and now Simone didn’t know what to do with him. ‘His school should have got the kids out more, taken them away on holidays and at weekends. One day’s work experience would have helped,’ she complained.

The idea of going to college held no appeal for Dion. ‘I can’t sit in one place too long,’ he said.

Simone commented: ‘You talk and talk and talk until you tired of talking. I don’t want him to be a lawyer.’ She turned to him: ‘Just do your ting on the side [sell drugs] and have a job.’

Dion, she said, spends ‘too much time’ hanging about with his friends. ‘It’s boring, they’re in each other’s face all the time.

‘That’s where this violence comes from — boredom. One’s got better trainers than another and they kick off.’

When I asked Dion about his father, he said: ‘I don’t know where he is — he’s never played a part in my life.’ Did Simone feel he lacked a father figure? ‘Once upon a time, I would have said it didn’t matter,’ she said. ‘Now I think it’s important. You do need a man around.’

Simone is obviously a loving mother, but she had Dion at 16 and has never worked.

It hasn’t occurred to her to march her son down to the local college to sign up; nor does she know anyone in work to give him a helping hand.

This is crucial because, according to Britain’s chief inspector of schools, boys like Dion are unlikely to get it from school.

The requirement to include ‘ work-related’ and ‘enterprise learning’ in secondary schools has not yet been ‘embraced wholeheartedly’ by all, she admitted in her annual report.

The result? The number of vulnerable young people like Dion — who are not in education, employment or training — ‘is alarming and unacceptable’.

The contrast between Dion and a group of boys living on an estate not 15 minutes’ walk away was sharp. They looked similar: all seven of them, aged between 13 and 15, were wearing hoodies; and when I came across them, they were jumping up and down on a garage roof and throwing things to the ground.

But unlike Dion, these boys — one Somali, one Iraqi, two white, two black and one mixed race — could talk confidently about what they expected to be doing in five years’ time.

The two white boys were attending Cadets and thinking about joining the Army.

Mustapha explained he wanted to be a plumber because ‘most of my dad’s friends are plumbers’ — and they’d offered him work experience.

Raphael played a lot of sport and planned to be a PE teacher. Hussain was going to be an engineer, like his uncle: ‘My dad drops me off at my uncle’s most weekends and he shows me what he’s doing.’

What effect does a father have, I asked? ‘You want to follow in their footsteps,’ said one, and they loudly chorused their agreement.

Only Gabriel had relied on his mother to find him work experience. And Cody planned to work for his mother’s boyfriend, who’d come out of prison, failed to find a job and started his own scrap-metal business.

As far as they knew, the families of their classmates weren’t making any effort to find activities for them. ‘So they go out,’ said Mustapha. ‘And follow bad boys.’

Steve said he knew his dad was sending him to Cadets ‘because he doesn’t want me getting into gangs. I could get seriously injured and hurt.’

And, poignantly, Raphael added:

‘Everyone will give up on you, but a dad doesn’t because he’s your dad.’

Later, I talked to Bigs, a black man in his late 20s who is the former leader of one of the most notorious gangs in Brixton, South London.

There was a big divide at school, he said, between those who had single parents and the mainly white boys who had fathers.

At primary school, the boys ‘had all started from the same place.’ But when they all began misbehaving at 14, the white boys’ fathers would send them off to the Cadets or to their mates, who worked in various manual trades, for training.

The father of one boy — ‘a nut case, a real live-wire,’ according to Bigs — took him to the Cadets and told the colonel: ‘I don’t care what you do to my boy, but he’s going down the wrong road and needs straightening out.’ Bigs, who was brought up by a single mother, wasn’t so lucky.

Far from being taken in hand, he was serving his first jail sentence at 15.

The absence of a male role model has a particularly profound effect on disadvantaged boys during their teenage years.

A third of 14-to-25-year-olds questioned for a survey by the Prince’s Trust did not have a parent whom they considered a role model.

More than half said they’d joined a gang to acquire a sense of identity, while a quarter said they were in search of someone to look up to.

These boys are unlikely to find male role models in schools. The number of male teachers has slumped to its lowest level in at least 20 years; and in primary school, 85 per cent of teachers are female. Even in youth offending teams, women make up the majority of the staff.

This year, according to the latest research, one in three children who live with a single mother will spend less than six hours a week with a male role model — whether a father figure, relative or teacher.

All the odds are stacked against them. Even children on the ‘at risk’ register are five times more likely to have single teenage mothers — as Prince knows all too well.

Two of his children, he discovered recently, were being neglected by their 19-year-old mother.

‘The house was like a crack house: dirty clothes everywhere,’ he said. ‘She fed them crappy food, she left the kids [to] fall asleep in front of the TV. My boy was underweight and quiet.’

Social services removed the children and gave them to their maternal grandmother to bring up. But Prince’s ex-girlfriend, he says, has made no attempt to get her children back.

He shrugged. ‘She’s never had a job. She’s lived off the Government and what men give her.’

Now, she is pregnant by another man. Having another baby, she has told her friends, will allow her to keep her council flat.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]


UK: Mandelson, Blair and a Sordid Little Ploy to Deny British Voters a Choice on the European Superstate

A new and swanky European Union headquarters is being planned in Brussels at a cost of £280million. Named the Residence Palace, it will contain the no doubt sumptuous offices of the first President of the EU, as well as of its first Foreign Minister.

The man who hopes to become President of Europe is none other than our own Tony Blair.

According to an authoritative new book, the sole remaining raison d’etre of this Government is to see Mr Blair safely installed as President, picking up the telephone as Europe’s number one politician to chew the cud on equal terms with Barack Obama.

The book is by the political journalist Adam Boulton, a New Labour insider married to Anji Hunter, a former close aide of Mr Blair’s. If anyone has worthwhile insights into what is going on in the ex-Prime Minister’s mind, it is Mr Boulton. He says Lord Mandelson is propping up Gordon Brown only so that his friend Tony Blair can become President of Europe.

What we have here is a nasty little plot, chiefly orchestrated by Lord Mandelson, whose overwhelming purpose is to see the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and, if at all possible, secure the coronation of Tony Blair as President. Even the timing of the General Election is part of the plot.

[…]

The trouble is that once the treaty has been ratified, it will be difficult for the Tories to unpick it, as it will have become part of European law accepted by every member state.

The reason Lord Mandelson wants the General Election to be held next June, which is the latest possible date, is not because he seriously believes that Gordon Brown has an earthly chance of winning by leaving it until then. He would like to provide as much time as possible for the treaty to be ratified before David Cameron arrives in No 10.

Yesterday’s ICM poll only confirms what we already knew — that most people want a referendum on the treaty because they oppose further integration. That, of course, is why the Government does not wish to give us a referendum. Gordon Brown bangs on about listening to the people, but when the people want something he does not approve of, he closes his mind and ears, and carries on regardless.

The Tories are admittedly in a difficult position for the reason I have mentioned. How could they renege on a treaty which had already been ratified, forming the new legal basis of the European Union? They could hardly deny the legitimacy of the President of Europe, be it Tony Blair or anyone else, or pretend that he did not exist.

That said, their present position is a potentially weak one. Their policy is to hope against hope that President Klaus, or conceivably the Polish President, will hold out until June and a Tory victory in the

General Election. In that case, there would be a referendum which would almost certainly lead to a ‘No’ vote, and the Lisbon Treaty would come crashing down across Europe. Unlike Ireland, Britain is too big and important a country for its people to be forced by Brussels to vote again.

But this is to leave too much to chance. The Czechs and the Poles are unlikely to stand firm against bullying and intimidation. It is not good enough for the Tories to say cryptically that, in the circumstances of the treaty having already been ratified when they came to power, they would not ‘stand idly by’.

That is too vague. If it becomes necessary, a new Conservative government should hold a referendum on Lisbon and, if that led to a rejection of the treaty, insist on its renegotiation. Anything less would be a betrayal of the British people, who have been cheated by this Government.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


UK: Nanny State Snatches Kids for Being Too Fat

‘This whole case has been dreadful; neither of these parents takes drugs’

A couple soon expecting their seventh child has had their fifth and sixth taken by social workers after warnings that the family needed to slim down their overweight kids or risk losing custody.

The unnamed 39-year-old mother from Dundee, Scotland, told the United Kingdom’s The Sun newspaper, “This is every family’s worst nightmare.”

Scotland’s television station STV reports the family was warned last year that they risk losing all of their kids, ages 3 to 13, unless the children lost weight. At the time, the youngest, a girl, weighed 56 pounds. The oldest, a boy, has since grown to over 220 pounds.

“This whole case has been dreadful,” said Kathleen Price, the couple’s attorney. “Neither of these parents takes drink or drugs. They have a big, happy, noisy family, which is prone to being overweight.”

Price added, “To remove their children for that reason is scandalous. They had their children taken from them … and have no idea where they are. I have also had to warn them I believe social workers will enter the labor suite when their new baby arrives next month. They feel they are being victimized and are a complete mess.”

The family’s 3- and 4-year-old have been moved into foster care, and STV reports the parents have been told “active steps” are being taken to remove the remaining children as well.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: The Debate About Our Membership of the EU Has Always Been About Sovereignty

SIR — The articles and letters on the EU during the last week have been excellent, and have shown what many of us felt 35 years ago — that the issue about Britain and Europe would run and run.

However, a frequent misleading comment on the 1975 referendum is that we thought we were only voting about a trading bloc. I took an active part in 1975 in the “Get Britain Out” campaign. Both sides of the argument knew that sovereignty was the key issue. Ted Heath denied we would lose it. Others said it was an outdated illusion. It is disingenuous for people now to say that they thought the referendum was only about trade. Referendums are not offered on trade treaties.

James Lewis Wembley, Middlesex

***

SIR — Your explanation of “How EU law reaches us” (September 17) doesn’t reveal the whole frightening process. This is that the unelected Commission enjoys the monopoly to propose all EU law in secret. Their proposals are then negotiated, again in secret, by bureaucrats from nation states, in the Committee of Permanent Representatives. When the horse-trading is complete, the proposed laws go to the Council of Ministers for decision, still in secret, where the UK has 8 per cent of the vote.

The EU Parliament cannot propose legislation, but can amend and even block some of it. It doesn’t do so, of course, because it is loath to delay or derail the gravy train.

British Governments have promised for many years that they won’t agree to any new law in the Council which is still being “scrutinised” (that’s all we can do) in the select committee of either House of Parliament. But they have broken that promise 435 times in the last six years.

Our Parliament is powerless to change any of the laws, which are then enforced by the Commission and the Luxembourg Court, against which there is no appeal. And they call this “the democratic deficit”.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch London SW1

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU: EP: Panzeri (PD), Maghreb One of Our Priorities

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 17 — “The delegation is committed over the coming months to concentrating on three geographical priorities”: this was the programme announced today by Antonio Panzeri, Euro MP and member of the PD party (Asde group), who was elected President of the Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb countries and the Union of the Arab Maghreb in the European Parliament today. Panzeri spoke about the organisation “of inter-parliamentary meetings with Tunisia and Libya, and the setting up of a joint parliamentary commission with Morocco. Finally our activities with focus on policies of building relationships, cooperation for development and problems of immigration in relation to the relevant parliamentary commissions”. Panzeri is already a member of the Foreign Affairs and Internal Markets Commission for the protection of consumers, and a member of the Delegation to the Euromediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU: Strengthen Women’s Roles With Tangible Plan of Action

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 17 — Moving from words to actions: to give women a greater role in society, a tangible plan of action is necessary with objectives and a timeframe. This is the proposal made by the EU that emerged from the guidelines approved by the EU Council of Foreign Ministers in view of the second Mediterranean Union (MU) meeting of ministers, which will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 11-12 and will focus on strengthening the role of women in society. Promoting equal rights between men and women is a priority for EU neighbourhood policy, which involves EU partner countries (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, and Tunisia). But according to the report from 2008, “in general, the participation of women in social, political, and economic life still has to be strengthened at various levels”. Specifically, “discrimination against women” was stressed as well as “violence perpetrated by family members against women, which remains widespread”. This does not take away from the fact that several EU partner states in the Mediterranean are acting on this front, including Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, with specific bilateral programmes regarding equal gender rights. Despite the existence of important obstacles,” continued the report, “numerous countries have taken steps to continue to promote equality between men and women.” But there is still a long way to go, and in the wake of the experience of the Euro-Mediterranean conference in Istanbul in 2006, now Europe is considering new developments for the next meeting of the 43 countries of the MU, formulating a specific plan of action that is “more targeted and realistic with an operative plan that is accompanied by a strategy, objectives, and a timeframe, equipped with human and financial resources from external financial instruments already existing in the EU”. The priorities and actions must be defined for political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. For example, taking the current economic crisis into account, they should aim at equality in terms of salaries between the different genders and female entrepreneurship. The EU, proposes establishing adequate mechanisms that follow the progress of the process that are objective and allow for verifications to be made on the various commitments. In this sense, the EU has various ideas, including a progress report, creating measurable national or regional indicators, or instituting a fixed network of observers and a committee defining the responsibilities at a regional, national, and European level. Society, NGO, and union participation should also be pointed out, with whom the EU Commission has proposed preparing a meeting that will proceed or follow the upcoming conference. Certainly, the EU will make its instruments available, and possibly the ministers themselves, suggest EU guidelines, will “propose making gender equality issues among the priorities for the realisation of projects in the framework for the Mediterranean Union”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Morocco: 1 of 4 Km of New Roads Financed by EU Funds

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 15 — One out of every four kilometres of the roads built today in Morocco is financed by the EU funds allocated for the transport sector. Through the programme that supports reforms in the sector, according to the information published on the ENPI site (www.enpi-info.eu), the EU supplies aid to projects for road and maritime transport, as well as the port and airport systems, for which Morocco has already signed the Euro-Mediterranean treaty, with the reciprocal opening of the markets (Open Sky). The EU therefore contributes to diverse initiatives beginning with the development of motorways, for example the enlargement of the Casablanca-Rabat, a north-south axis, on which work will conclude in 2011, o the new connection between Fez and Oujda, which started work in 2007, lengthening the Rabat-Meknez-Fez, creating a east-west axis. Next year work on the Marrakesh-Agadir motorway is scheduled to finish. Moreover, the European partner in encouraging Morocco’s government to change the rules of road circulation, giving an incentive to the safety factor. In total, between 2003 and 2008, the EU’s contribution to the entire transport sector in Morocco was 96 million euros.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Instructions for Circumcisions

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 15 — In preparation for the “night of destiny”, the 27th day of Ramadan which will fall on Thursday, during which thousands of children are traditionally circumcised in Algeria, the Ministry of Health has released a statement “to protect health and integrity”. “The act of circumcision”, the statement quoted by APS reads, “must be carried out by a surgeon in a public or private healthcare structure”. A preventative measure “to avoid the painful incidents that occur and the transformation of an act of joy and faith into a moment of grief”. Every year numerous cases are recorded with health problems, sometimes serious, that derive from circumcision practiced rudimentarily and by unspecialised personnel. For the “night of destiny”, when as tradition has it, the Archangel Gabriel revealed the first verses of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed, collective circumcision ceremonies are organised throughout the country.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Sorour: Commitment Against Organised Crime Needed

(by Cristiana Missori) (ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 15 — Security, the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking, the development of parliamentary diplomacy: Egypt will be able to give a contribution in all of these sectors. The President of the Egyptian People’s Assembly, Ahmed Fathi Sorour, is convinced of it. In an interview with ANSAmed, he addressed without reticence the difficult question of human rights during the same period in which the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights is sending its report to the United Nations on the efforts made by the country to support fundamental liberties. Sorour left Rome with positive results, after having taken part last weekend in the eighth meeting of G8 parliamentary representatives, which for the first time included emerging countries (Mexico, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Egypt). “The analysis traced in the report made by the deputy secretary general of the UN, Antonio Costa, gave me the possibility to propose some recommendations that were welcomed by the speaker”, explained Sorour, adding that in this meeting, and more in general, the summit between parliamentary leaders can play an important role to encourage dialogue between governments. A famous jurist, elected for the first time to the People’s Assembly in 1989 as part of the National-Democratic Party, Sorour has led Egypt’s Lower House since 1991. It is a rather uncomfortable position for one of the most illustrious criminal lawyers in the country, with a fixation on human rights. Human rights which, in recent days, return to the centre of attention with the reception by the Council for Human Rights in Geneva of the official report sent by the Egyptian National Council which asks for, among other things, the national government in Cairo to end torture in prisons, the repeal of special laws and the death penalty, as well as more protection for the freedom of expression. “Our organisation already condemns torture”, Sorour replied. “It is true that we must spread the concept, including new cases in point”. As for the repeal of the special laws (which have been in vigour since the assignation of President Sadat in 1981), on the basis of which anyone can be held for any length of time, without being charged or tried by a court of law, responded: “Every country has its own emergency legislation which is passed to combat external and internal threats to the state”. The emergency laws, he observed, “have been modified over the years, reducing their scope, but our objective is that of repealing them once and for all by passing an anti-terrorism law”. As for the appeal supporting norms that ensure the free flow of information and the protection of the right to expression of the bloggers who criticise the work of the government, Sorour warned, “it is necessary to be careful about who uses the internet, because defamation is a crime”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Energy: Gas: In 2014, Algeria Will Export 85 Bln M3

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 15 — “Algeria will gradually increase its gas exports until it will reach, in 2014, 85 billion cubic metres per year,” compared to the 58.8 cubic metres exported in 2008. The news was announced by the Algerian Minister for Energy and Mining, Chakib Khelil, in an interview to specialized publication The Arab Oil & Gas Magazine. Khelil also spoke about the projects aiming to increase the gas export capacity of the country, as the Transmed (a gas pipeline to Italy, crossing Tunisia) and the Galsi (a gas pipeline which will directly link Algeria to Sardinia). “The 85 billion cubic metres objective,” he added, “will be reached following the completion of the Medgaz project,” which will move 8 billion cubic metres of Algerian gas to Spain. “The three pipelines will allow us to increase gas exports roughly by 21 billion cubic metres per year,” Khelil explained, “to which we must add the LNG units from Skikda (East) and Arzew(West), with a further 15 billion cubic metres”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Finmeccanica: Stampa, 100 Helicopter Contract With Algeria

(ANSAmed)- ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 16 — The Italian company Agusta Westland of the Finmeccanica Group is reported to have signed at the end of June a contract with the Algerian ministry of defence for supply of 100 helicopters of various types. The contract, according to an article in the specialised magazine Air Force Monthly and reprinted in the Algerian press, includes 100 helicopters for the gendarmerie, the police and civil protection agency which will be assembled in Algeria, a decision was made on the wishes of the Algerian government to begin developing the country’s aeronautic industry. Finmeccanica, continues the magazine report, already won a contract with the Algerian navy for six AW101s helicopters and four Super Lynx 300 MK 130. The first Super Lynx should be delivered shortly. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Internet: Study Shows Algerians Getting to Love the Web

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 17 — Algerians have become Internet freaks and consider it “an indispensible tool”. According to a study carried out for WebDialna (in Algerian, our Web’) by the country’s Medcom and Ideatic, to look into the habits and interests of Algeria’s internauts’, as well as their impressions of such matters as broadband ADSL, advertising on the web and e-commerce. WebDialna was created from a sample of nearly 6 thousand web surfers of the 4.5 million people, or 12.8% of the population, online in Algeria. 75% of those interviewed stated that ‘internet is an indispensible tool’ and more than 90% confessed not being able to get by without going online ‘at least once a day’ spending an average of ‘between one hour and two hours a day in front of the screen’. Two thirds of web users were men (74.2%) and university graduates (66.2%), with women comprising a mere 25.8%. The three most widespread ways of using the net were: simply sending and receiving mail 82.6%; habitual use of search engines 80.7%; seeking business contacts 22,9%.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Libya: Commission, Algerian Prisoners Were Tortured

(ANSAmed)- ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 16 — Twenty seven Algerians released from detention a few days ago in Libya were tortured during the imprisonment. The statement was made in Algiers by Farouk Ksentini, the president of the government’s national commission on human rights. “Unfortunately, the 26 Algerians suffered acts of torture”, Ksentini told the press. “These practices are not humane and we ask that they stop”, he added. The group of Algerian prisoners were released after long negotiations with the Algerian authorities while “another 30 Algerians”, according to Ksentini, “are still in prison in Libya.” Most of the detainees are accused of theft and drug trafficking. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


TLC: Egyptian Mobile Phone Subrscribers Top 50 Millions

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 17 — The number of mobile phone subscribers in Egypt rose by more than 1.7 million to 50.069 million at the end of July from 48.311 million at the end of June, a government website said . The country had 41.272 million subscribers at the start of the year, the government-run Egyptian Cabinet Information and Decision Support Centre said on its website. Mobile subscribers in the most populous Arab country have been rising by roughly 1 million a month since February 2008.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Netanyahu Pardons Terrorists Who Killed Israelis

Continues controversial policy in spite of deadly track record

TEL AVIV — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has quietly continued a controversial practice of granting amnesty to terrorists as a gesture to help bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Last week, Israel pardoned 13 members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Abbas’ Fatah organization.

According to information obtained by WND, seven of the pardoned gunmen were directly responsible for killing Israelis, while 11 of the 13 are accused of collaborating in attacks in which Israelis were murdered.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


PNA: USA Agrees on State by 2011

(ANSAmed) — RAMALLAH, SEPTEMBER 16 — The United States agree on the objective indicated by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) for the creation of the conditions for the proclamation of an independent Palestinian State, in peace and side-by-side with Israel, in two years’ time. The staff of the president of the PNA, Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen), said that they were convinced in quotes today by on-line media from the meetings in the area with President Barack Obama’s special emissary to the Middle East, George Mitchell. According to the sources, Mitchell made it understood that Washington looks favourably on the plan recently illustrated by the Premier of the PNA, Salam Fayyad, centred on the necessity of the creation by 2011 of the economic and institutional conditions for a de facto Palestinian State. The USA, the sources said, show that they are determined to jump-start the peace process quickly, in spite of the attempts made by the Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu to “stall”. They also seem decided in insisting on the request of the complete freezing of Jewish settlements in particular, asked by the Palestinians as a pre-condition for negotiations on the Road Map. Mitchell continued again today the shuttle from Jerusalem, where he met with Netanyahu again this morning, and the residence of Abbas in Ramallah (West Bank). The climate in Jerusalem has been defined as “good”, but for now signs of a definitive agreement are lacking. With Netanyahu, who is contrary to a complete stop to settlements, yet another meeting has been planned for Friday.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Compassion: The Islamic Republic Style

by Amil Imani

It is not true that the Islamic Republic of Iran lacks compassion. It is not true that the Islamic Republic hangs people without a hint of mercy. Here is the proof.

Recently, I met Mrs. M at a gathering of Iranian ex-pats in a park. I would also like you to meet this elderly widow who is suffering from a variety of brain, neurological, and vision disorders. She is a lone woman without a country, moving from one shelter to the next on her way to the final resting place to which we all are destined…

           — Hat tip: Amil Imani[Return to headlines]


Emirates: 70% Rise in Companies Violating Labour Laws

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 17 — The number of companies caught violating regulations prescribing work breaks during the hottest part of the day has gone up by 70%. The figures comes in a report by daily paper, The National, which stresses how the numbers of inspections have risen since considerably last summer. A law enacted in 2005 demands that — on pain of a 2,000-euro fine and a 3-month recruitment stop — it is forbidden to work outside between the hours of 12.30 and 15.00 during the summer months, as temperatures reach as high as 48 degrees, possibly leading to dehydration and fainting. Companies reported this year of ignoring the law totalled 667, the Ministry reports. The Emirate with the highest number of violations was Dubai (176) and that with the least was Sharjah (33). The United Arab Emirates have often come under fire from Human Rights organisations, with a series of initiatives to protect workers being set up since 2002. These include more frequent inspections and the opening of a complaints counter at the Ministry of Labour where abuse can be reported. The latest damning report from Human Rights Watch, in May, still found these measures insufficient. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy-Lebanon: New University Cooperation Programme

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 16 — Rome’s La Sapienza University and the Saint Exprit University in Kaslik (Usek), north of Beirut, will launch a new interuniversity cooperation programme called ‘University Cooperation for Peace and Development’ in January. The masters course, financed by the Italian Foreign Ministry, aims to deal with the principle issues of peace, development and civil coexistence in Lebanon. Cooperation for development, international economy, the environment, public health and the role of peace missions will be at the heart of issues dealt with. The masters, which will end in the summer of 2011 with the presentation of theses by students, includes joint lessons which will be given by Italian and Lebanese professors, both in Italy and in Lebanon. Twenty Lebanese students from the Lebanese University (the only state university in Lebanon) and the Saint Exprit University in Kaslik will receive scholarships. Together with La Sapienza, the universities of Pavia and Palermo will also be directly involved in teaching and in the reception of Lebanese students. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kuwait: Woman Guilty of Mass Murder Will Sue Minister

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, SEPTEMBER 16 — The woman that, in August, set fire to the marquee where her former husband’s wedding was being celebrated, causing the death of 49 between women and children, will sue the Interior Minister for losing her unborn baby while in jail. The news was reported by United Arab Emirates’ newspaper ‘The National’. “I was pregnant at the time of arrest and I lost my baby following the abuses suffered in jail. This is why I will sue the Interior Minister,” said the woman, who, after having first admitted to the crime, is now proclaiming her innocence, and blaming her state of shock for her earlier confession. “I was arrested,” she said, “only because my sister-in-law accused me”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Post Report Sparks Congressional Anger at Saudis Over Israel Boycott

By Michael Freund

Leading Democratic and Republican congressmen expressed outrage following a report in last Monday’s Jerusalem Post that Saudi Arabia has been violating its promise to Washington to stop enforcing the Arab League boycott of Israel.

Democrat Howard Berman of California, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Post from Washington that he had read the report in Monday’s paper.

“This is a very disturbing report,” Berman said, “particularly in light of the fact that US officials assured us four years ago that Saudi Arabia would abandon the boycott as the condition for its entry into the World Trade Organization.”

Berman declared that he would take action on the issue.

“I intend to pursue this matter with the administration,” he said.

Across the aisle, Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana, who chairs the House Republican Conference, also criticized Riyadh for its duplicity.

“Saudi Arabia’s disregard of its 2005 pledge to end the boycott against Israel is unacceptable,” Pence told the Post.

“Congress and the administration must hold Saudi Arabia accountable. The United States cannot stand by and continue to witness this mistreatment towards the peace-loving people of Israel,” he said.

“Ending the Arab League boycott and establishing trade relationships with Israel would help foster much needed peace in the region,” Pence added.

Last week, the Post revealed that the Saudis have been steadily intensifying their enforcement of the anti-Israel trade embargo in recent years, despite a November 2005 pledge to Washington to desist in exchange for admittance into the World Trade Organization.

A review of Commerce Department figures conducted by the Post found that the number of boycott-related and restrictive trade-practice requests received by American companies from Saudi Arabia has increased in each of the past two years, rising by more than 76 percent between 2006 and 2008.

US law bars American companies from complying with such demands, and requires them to report any boycott-related requests to the federal government.

The Saudi boycott of Israeli-made goods is part of the decades-old Arab League effort to isolate and weaken the Jewish state economically.

Washington has been attempting to get Riyadh to improve relations with Israel, thus far without success.

           — Hat tip: Michael Freund[Return to headlines]


Turkey: Journalist Sentenced for Insulting President

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 15 — Today, a Turkish journalist was given an 11 months suspended prison sentence by a court in the city of Adana, in the southern part of the country, as she was found guilty of insulting president Abdullah Gul and his Islamic-rooted party(AKP). The news was announced by local TV stations. The journalist, Sevda Turaclar, was taken to court by Abdullah Gul, by the premier Tayyip Erdogan and by former Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan for publishing a joke, sent by e-mail by an anonymous reader, on non-religious newspaper Ekspres.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘We May Have to Attack Iran by Dec.’

Israel will be compelled to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if Western powers do not impose serious sanctions against Teheran by the end of 2009, former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh said on Wednesday.

“We cannot live under the shadow of an Iran with nuclear weapons,” he was quoted as telling Reuters in an interview on a visit to the UK. “By the end of the year, if there is no agreement on crippling sanctions aimed at this regime, we will have no choice.”

Sneh reportedly stressed that a military strike would be “the very, very last resort. But ironically it is our best friends and allies who are pushing us into a corner where we would have no option but to do it.”

“I wonder if they will [put a tougher sanctions regime in place] quickly enough. If not, we are compelled to take action.”

Sneh, who holds no position in the government and was speaking in his personal capacity, told Reuters it was not clear the US and EU had the decisiveness to take such steps, which should include tougher banking and oil curbs, by year’s end. He added that the need for the involvement of “Russia and China is a myth,” as strict sanctions imposed by the West would be tough enough to work.

“It is bloodless, and it even stops short of a naval blockade,” he said.

Sneh reportedly explained that Jerusalem could not accept a nuclear-armed Iran because government processes would be “substantially distorted,” as the cabinet’s decision making would be hostage to the fear of Teheran’s nuclear retaliation.

If the Islamic republic completes its military nuclear program, immigration to Israel would stop, young men and women would emigrate to pursue their future in places seen as more secure and investment in Israel would be reduced, he reportedly said.

The former deputy minister also warned that Iran would pressure moderate Arab states to toughen their positions vis-a-vis Israel, and that a nuclear Iran would prompt Saudi Arabia and Egypt to obtain nuclear weapons themselves, bringing about a Middle East “fully loaded with nuclear weapons.”

[Return to headlines]

Russia

Defense: Moscow Asks Ankara to Buy Russian Missiles

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 16 — The Russians have prepared a $9.5 billion offer for Turkey against US Patriot missiles worth $7.8 billion, daily Vatan reports. “Buy our missiles; they are stronger and we will cut the price”, Leonid Gladchenko, spokesperson for Russia’s giant arms producer Rosoboron Export, told Vatan, adding that “we will also propose two new systems to Turkey besides S-300V air defense missile systems. Our systems are stronger and cheaper than Patriots. I think Turkey will buy them”. “There may be some reduction and e will join the tender with very flexible alternatives”, Gladchenko declared. Besides the United States, Turkey received missile defense system proposals from Russia and China. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: New Zealand Sends Special Forces to Boost Force

Wellington, 21 Sept.(AKI) — New Zealand has sent 71 members of its special forces to boost NATO forces in Afghanistan and support the government of president Hamid Karzai, prime minister John Key said on Monday. Accusations of widespread fraud are calling into question Karzai’s dominant position in last month’s vote count.

His legitimacy is seen as key to the country’s future democracy and stability.

Quoted by New Zealand public radio, Key refused to specify what the SAS mission was but he described it as a dangerous assignment, and said he could not rule out the possibility of casualties.

He said the SAS forces would be deployed for 12 to 18 months.

The SAS troops will be under the control of the commander of the NATO international security assistance force in Afghanistan, but overall command will be retained by the chief of the New Zealand defence force, through an SAS commander in the field, Key said.

Another group of about 130 New Zealand troops is working in central Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province on civilian reconstruction projects.

Key made the announcement as the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, warned that the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan could fail “within the next 12 months” unless a genuine counter-insurgency strategy is implemented and countries send more soldiers.

McChrystal made the warning in an urgent, confidential 66-page assessment of the war that was obtained by US daily The Washington Post.

“Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible,” McChrystal wrote in his assessment, which was sent to US defence secretary Robert Gates at the end of August.

The document is now being reviewed by US president Barack Obama and his national security team.

Obama said last week that he will not decide whether to send more US troops until he has “absolute clarity about what the strategy is going to be.”

McChrystal said president Hamid Karzai’s government was riddled with graft and civilians were alienated by the tactics used by the international forces and by the widespread government corruption and abuse of power.

Al-Qaeda and other extremist movements “based in Pakistan channel foreign fighters, suicide bombers and technical assistance into Afghanistan, and offer ideological motivation, training, and financial support,” he said.

A powerful suicide blast in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul last Thursday killed six Italian soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians, and injured four Italian soldiers and dozens of civilians.

The Taliban claimed the bombing, and an unnamed commander linked to Pashtun warlord and military leader Sirajuddin Haqqani’s militant network based in the northestern Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan said Haqqani had planned the attack

The attack prompted calls for Italy to withdraw its almost 3,000 troops and Italy’s prime minister Silvio has said Italy needed a ‘transition’ strategy in which local soldiers would assume greater responsibility for the nation’s security.

There are currently some 100,000 soldiers from 40 countries serving in Afghanistan, including 63,000 US troops.

McChrystal has proposed speeding the growth of Afghan security forces to expand the army from 92,000 to 134,000 by October 2010.

He wants the Afghan army to reach 240,000 and the police to 160,000 making a total security force of 400,000.

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


Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families From Europe

A German Jihad Colony

By Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark

The German government is trying to secure the release of a group of suspected German Islamists who were arrested by Pakistani authorities while making their way to a jihadist colony in the Waziristan region along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Entire families from Germany are moving to the region to join the jihad.

The young speaker, who calls himself “Abu Adam,” praises the stay in the mountains — almost as if he were shooting an ad for a family holiday camp. “Doesn’t it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!” Abu Adam says, raising his index finger. He lists all the things this earthly paradise has to offer: hospitals, doctors, pharmacies as well as a daycare center and school — all, of course, “a long way from the front.” After all, they don’t want the children to be woken up by the roar of guns.

The latest recruitment video from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a half-hour in length and is addressed to our “beloved” brothers and sisters back in Germany. The video is presented by, among others, Mounir Chouka, alias “Abu Adam,” who grew up in the western German city of Bonn.

The video shows shacks erected against a backdrop of lush greenery and craggy rock formations. Women wearing blue burqas are seen surrounded by their children. One small girl is holding an artillery gun.

Welcome to the wild world of Waziristan, the region along the Afghan-Pakistani border controlled by Pashtun tribes, al-Qaida and other splinter groups which has become a regular target of US drones and their remote-controlled missiles.

Islamists Recruiting Entire Families

The ad for Waziristan appears to be finding fertile ground in Germany. Security officials here believe the IMU is currently the largest and most active Islamic group recruiting in the country. But there’s an unusual development here, too — militants don’t normally recruit women and children as the IMU appears to be doing. The families move to mujahedeen villages in the rough terrain which are used as bases for supporting the battle against the US troops and the Afghan army.

The German government in Berlin is also examining the propaganda offensive. For several weeks, diplomats in the German Foreign Ministry have been negotiating with Islamabad over the fate of a group of suspected Islamists from Germany’s Rhineland region who have been held in custody in Pakistan for several months now. The group includes a young Tunisian and six Germans, including Andreas M. of Bonn, a Muslim convert, and his Eritrean wife Kerya.

A Child in Custody

The case is being viewed with concern by the federal government. The married couple’s four-year-old daugher has been held in custody together with her parents since May and has suffered particularly in the tough conditions. Germany’s Foreign Ministry has made several attempts to negotiate a swift return to Germany for the mother and her daughter at least, but Pakistani authorities have so far refused.

The travelers, who apparently met each other in a Bonn prayer room, left Germany in several small groups in March and April. They traveled through Turkey to the Iranian city of Zahedan. Located close to the border with Pakistan, Zahedan is notorious for its jihad tourism — hotels even set aside entire room allotments for radical foreigners making their way to the city.

From Zahedan, most take taxis to Pakistan. For the group of Germans, though, that’s where the problems started. After crossing the border, the Germans were captured by police and taken to a jail in Peshawar. The prisoners claim they were handled roughly by Pakistani officials. When German consular officials finally got access to the prisoners, several of the men claimed, in mutually corroborating statements, that they had been beaten.

Initially, the detainees claimed they were from Turkey and had lost their identification papers — leaving authorities with little information to start with. In August, however, the Pakistani ISI intelligence service got involved in the case, moving the prisoners to Islamabad and confirming to the German government that the detainees were Germans. During the first visit by a consular employee from the German Embassy, two of the group’s members, identified as Azzedine A. and Bilal Ü., openly admitted that they had wanted to join “the jihad.”

Security officials believe that the goal of Mounir Chouka and the IMU was to strengthen the German “colony” in Waziristan. The detainees also include Chouka’s brother-in-law, the German-Libyan Ahmed K.

Release Could Be Imminent

Ahmed K.’s arrest is now creating problems for the center-left Social Democratic Party back in Bad Breisig, the German town where he resides. Ahmed K. works as a market analyst at a consulting firm that specializes in the Middle East. The company’s boss, Arnold Joosten, also happens to be the head of the local SPD chapter in Bad Breisig. Joosten has appealed to the federal government to do all it can to secure the group’s release from jail. “I hope that Ahmed will come home soon,” says Ahmed K.’s father Mohamed.

It appears that hope might soon come true. The Pakistani government has signalled that it might not prosecute the group for entering the country illegally or for supporting a terrorist organization and instead put the Germans on a plane back to Frankfurt.

But one of the travelers won’t be part of the group if that happens: Atnan J., a Tunisian from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In a development similar to that of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany who was wrongly imprisoned by the United States at Guantanamo, the German Interior Ministry wants to prevent Atnan J. from returning to Germany because his residence permit has expired. Officials in Berlin have asked Islamabad to deport the man to Tunisia.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Italy: Leaders Divided Over Afghan Troop Numbers on Day of Mourning

Rome, 21 Sept. (AKI) — As Italy held a day of mourning on Monday for the six soldiers killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan last week, key leaders clashed over whether the country’s troops should continue to back NATO forces in the country. Foreign minister Franco Frattini said Italy would continue to support NATO’s strategy in Afghanistan, but the government’s key ally,Umberto Bossi, demanded the troops be brought home.

“The G8 countries will continue to support the UN’s and NATO’s strategy in Afghanistan,” said Frattini in an interview with Italian daily Il Mattino, before leaving for the UN general assembly meeting due to take place on Wednesday in New York.

“Our second objective will be the most important one: How to win the hearts and the minds of the Afghans, and show with visible acts, that coalition forces are there for the well-being of Afghanistan, and not to occupy it like the terrorists say,” he said.

Frattini’s remarks were published as the country’s leaders attended a state funeral for the six Italian soldiers in Rome, a day after their bodies were flown to the capital.

President Georgio Napolitano, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and members of the armed forces attended the ceremony with the victims’ families at Rome’s Saint Paul Outside the Walls Church.

Thousands applauded outside the church, as comrades of the victims carried their coffins to and from the service.

Four soldiers injured in the attack also attended the service.

In a message of condolence read during the ceremony, Pope Benedict XVI said he was “deeply saddened” by the attack, and prayed for God’s support for “those who work every day to build solidarity, reconciliation and peace”.

Later, Berlusconi’s key ally and coalition partner, Umberto Bossi, from the anti-immigrant Northern League party, clashed with Frattini and insisted on a withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan.

He made the remarks after the funeral of the soldiers.

“There are small and big things, but it would be a tiny step to bring at least a few (soldiers) home for Christmas. It is a wish, a hope,” said Bossi on Monday.

Bossi also said that withdrawal from Afghanistan was not just an American, but an international problem and thus “we would have to ask Berlusconi, who is in between us and America”.

Italy’s defence minister Ignazio La Russa rejected Bossi’s call, saying Italian soldiers were there to keep war and terrorism away from “our home.”

Elsewhere, Italy’s education minister Mariastella Gelmini said she was disappointed when certain schools refused to observe a minute of silence, according to the minister “for political reasons”.

“It is really sad to learn that some schools decided not to observe the minute of silence in memory of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan,” said Gelmini who also apologised to the families of the soldiers.

The soldiers died when a suicide bomber positioned his car between two armoured vehicles in which the soldiers were travelling. One of the armoured vehicles was completely destroyed in the attack for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

All those killed were from Italy’s 186th Lightning Brigade.The blast also killed 10 Afghans and injured four Italian soldiers as well as dozens of Afghan civilians.

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


Wounded Soldier Filmed Bomb Attack

Corporal Buono used his mobile phone to film firefight that followed car bombing

KABUL — Let’s try to imagine the scene, in all its crude violence, as described by someone who has spoken to the casualties. When the bomb went off, the body of machine-gunner Corporal Giandomenico Pistonami fell back into the second of the two Italian Linces, splattering the rest of the occupants with blood. One of those inside was airman Corporal Ferdinando Buono, whom the Folgore paratroopers had gone to the airport to collect and then take to the ISAF headquarters in the centre of Kabul. Obviously, Buono was in shock. He knew all about the dangers of Afghanistan but having only just arrived from Italy, he was not ready to tackle a war situation at such close quarters quite so soon. Although they were wounded, the three surviving paratroopers strove to defend him as best they could and pushed him under the armoured vehicle. The sequence of events is confirmed by Afghan civilian witnesses. “It was odd. We saw the Italians pushing the legs of one of the group to get him under the armoured vehicle. He could have been wounded, or perhaps they wanted to pull him out. There was a lot of smoke and shooting. You couldn’t get close”, at least five eye witnesses told the Corriere two days ago. Why were they trying to push a wounded man under the damaged Lince? The attack was over. In those circumstances, the usual procedure is to give the survivors some air, remove their helmets and get them out of their heavy body armour. There’s no point in squeezing them into a cramped space. “But there is a point if the survivors are under attack”, ISAF-NATO sources involved in the inquiry told the Corriere later.

Now we have proof that the Italians came under fire from automatic weapons after the car bomb went off. From his vantage point under the vehicle, Corporal Buono had the presence of mind to film the scene for a few minutes with his camera phone. The film provides conclusive proof of the attack. The images may be confused and out of focus but they are indisputable, and accompanied by a dramatic commentary. You can hear the attackers firing, one shot at a time almost rhythmically, for two or three minutes, followed by bursts from the Italians”. The Italians’ shouts can easily be made out. “My hand’s open, my hand’s open”, screams one voice. Then: “They’re shooting at us. They’re shooting at us. Get down, down, to the right. Shits!” The pictures show an Afghan ambulance arriving about a minute later. It picks up some civilians and leaves again immediately. You can also make out one of the Italian wounded, Corporal Sergio Agostinelli, who dashes across to the smoking wreckage of the first Lince, where there were no survivors, to remove the secret communication codes. He is carrying out orders: The codes must not be allowed to fall into enemy hands. But Agostinelli comes straight back to his companions. The other vehicle is in flames. Everything inside is burning.

“A heroic action. We’re thinking of putting him forward for a gold medal for military valour”, say senior officers at Camp Invicta. The commander of the ambushed unit, Lieutenant Claudio Scampeddu, confirms this version: “Yes, I spoke to the wounded men before they left for Italy. They said they had come under fire and mentioned a video, which I haven’t seen, though”. It also appears that the cameras on the kite balloon that the Americans fly permanently over Kabul to monitor the territory filmed at least two of the possible attackers as they fled on foot across some low hills. European diplomats in Kabul are non-committal. “None of the Afghans who were on the spot confirm the machine-gun attack. It is only known that the Italians opened fire. The confused and frightened soldiers may have mistaken the ammunition in the vehicles exploding for enemy fire”, maintains one ambassador. For the time being, none of the ROS special operations Carabinieri officers who have arrived in Kabul for the inquiry have declined to release statements about the incident.

Lorenzo Cremonesi

21 settembre 2009

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Scores Die in South Sudan Attack

Militiamen have killed more than 100 people in an attack in southern Sudan in the latest in a series of ethnic clashes, the military says.

UN sources said thousands of armed men from the Lou Nuer ethnic group attacked civilians and security forces in the village of Duk Padiet in Jonglei state.

Last month about 185 Lou Nuers were killed by ethnic Murle fighters in an attack in the same state.

Some 2,000 people have died in similar clashes across the south this year.

Initial reports of Sunday’s attack on the village had a much lower death toll.

Major General Kuol Diem Kuol told the BBC a nearby company from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had been able to retake the village.

He said the attackers had targeted the military and that 22 of the dead were soldiers, including the major commanding the unit.

“This is not a raid for cattle but a militia attack against security forces,” he said.

The United Nations mission in Sudan said it was aware of the incident, but did not have full details about it yet.

Under a 2005 peace deal ending a two-decade war between north and south, former southern rebels formed a power-sharing government with President Omar al-Bashir’s party in Khartoum.

A national election is due next year and southern Sudanese are meant to vote in a referendum to decide whether to secede from the north in 2011.

The BBC’s Peter Martell, in the southern Sudanese capital Juba, says many people fear Khartoum is orchestrating the violence.

Some southern politicians believe Khartoum is arming militias from both sides in a bid to destabilise the region and delay the votes indefinitely.

But the south is made up of a patchwork of rival ethnic groups who have long fought over grazing land, cattle and other resources.

And Khartoum vehemently denies playing any part in the violence in the south.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Zelaya Back in Honduras

According to Noticias 24 reports that deposed president Mel Zelaya is back in Honduras, staying at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.

CNN reports that State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed the news,

U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly confirmed Zelaya was in Honduras, but could provide no further information.

“We have confirmed that he is in Honduras,” Kelly told journalists, adding the State Department was trying to find out more details of Zelaya’s whereabouts.

Enrique Reina, the Honduran ambassador to the United States, told CNN en Español that he could not divulge exactly where Zelaya was for security reasons.

Rodolfo Pastor, the charge d’affairs of the Honduran Embassy in Washington, said Zelaya was at the United Nations offices in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

But Rebeca Arias, coordinator for the United Nations in Tegucigalpa, denied the leader was in the building.

“He’s not here,” she said, adding that Zelaya had called her late Monday morning and told her that he was in the country and would inform her within a few hours where he was.

As you can read in the Noticias 24 report, however, the Brazilian Embassy has confirmed that he is there.

Honduras’s Zelaya Says He’s Returned to Tegucigalpa

“I’m here in the Honduran capital, in the first place carrying out the people’s will, which has insisted on my restoration,” Zelaya said in a separate broadcast on Venezuela’s government-owned Telesur network. “I’m here to initiate a dialogue.”

He’s there, confirmed by the State Department, alright.

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Australia: Boatload Stretches Border Protection

AN uncrewed vessel crammed with 54 people intercepted off the West Australian coast at the weekend has raised new concerns about the number of asylum-seekers attempting the treacherous journey to Australia’s shores.

Over the past fortnight, Australia’s border protection authorities have intercepted six boatloads of asylum-seekers, adding to logistical pressures on Christmas Island’s detention facilities and political pressures on the Rudd government.

Details of the latest vessel, which was found adrift in international waters on Saturday afternoon, were released yesterday. The 54 people, including one child, were without food and water when first sighted by Border Protection Command P-3 Orion aircraft about 550 nautical miles (1018km) north of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The group, whose nationalities were not disclosed, asked for refuge in Australia and last night were en route to Christmas Island for security, identity and health checks.

Their rescue prompted the opposition to again accuse the government of going soft on border protection.

But Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor yesterday pointed to Canberra’s $654 million strategy to combat people-smuggling as proof it was taking the problem seriously.

“The Australian government is pleased that the group is safe, but it is only through Border Protection Command’s and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s vigilance that these people escaped greater harm,” he said.

However, he said that the illegal voyages were “extremely dangerous”.

“Drownings at sea are not uncommon,” he said.

And while the new arrivals are stretching the resources of the facilities on Christmas Island, the island’s nearest Australian neighbours, the Cocos Malays of Home Island, will soon be working at the Howard government’s Immigration Detention Centre under a plan by community leaders to reduce chronic unemployment on their tiny homeland.

Serco, the contractor that will take over the operation of Christmas Island’s Immigration Detention Centre from G4S next month, intends to hire Cocos Malays to work in administration, social care and client services.

Their roles could include helping asylum-seekers prepare food or attend a variety of classes, a Serco spokeswoman said.

Prior to the latest arrival, there were about 700 asylum-seekers and an immigration-related workforce of about 300 on Christmas Island to process them. But the vast majority of the Immigration workers are residents of the mainland who fly in and out of Christmas Island on a roster from as far away as Queensland.

Serco wants to increase its local workforce and start employing Cocos Malays, who live just a 90-minute flight away on the Australian territory of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

“(Last month) we travelled across to the Cocos Islands where we met with leaders from the Cocos Malay community, shire, town council and the imam to discuss employment at the Immigration Detention Centre,” a spokeswoman said.

She said talks would resume this week, after Ramadan ended.

Unemployment among Home Island’s population of about 450 Cocos Malays is estimated to be as high as 65 per cent, and next week a joint parliamentary committee will visit the island for hearings as part of its inquiry into the territories’ economic future.

Tensions built on Cocos this year when the shire banned its Cocos Malay workforce from speaking their native language, and furious public meetings were held amid claims the workforce of the shire and the co-operative had been underpaid.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Frontex ‘Involved’ In Return of Migrants

EU border agency denies claims by Human Rights Watch; Malta also said to have sent migrants back to Libya.

The EU’s border agency, Frontex, has been involved in a number of controversial operations in which migrants have been sent back to Libya, Human Rights Watch said today.

A report by the monitoring group specifically documents an operation on 18 June that resulted in the Italian coastguard intercepting a boat with 75 migrants just off the Italian island of Lampedusa and handing the migrants over to a Libyan patrol boat.

Human Rights Watch says that the Italian coastguard intercepted the boat with the help of a German helicopter operating under instructions from Frontex.

Frontex has “categorically” denied being involved in what it called “diversion activities to Libya” and said that the German helicopter reportedly involved in the Italian interception was taking part in an unrelated Frontex operation in another area of the Mediterranean.

It added that “in general” the role of helicopters “in operations co-ordinated by the agency is only to patrol the operational area, not to divert”.

The Human Rights Watch report also documents one case in which Malta intercepted a boat of migrants and handed it over to Libya.

Only Italy has previously been accused of adopting a policy of forcible return.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has condemned Italy’s ‘push-back’ policy and has produced evidence that asylum-seekers eligible for international protection have been among those returned to Libya.

Speaking today in Brussels at a meeting with EU justice ministers, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, reiterated his “strong reservations” about sending migrants back to Libya.

Libya has provided “no space for bona fide asylum-seekers to exist”, he said.

Human Rights Watch’s own report describes the detention centres that Libya is using to house migrants picked up in the Mediterranean as “overcrowded and dirty”, with “inadequate” and “virtually non-existent” health care. In addition, “there is almost no communication with the authorities and it is hopeless even to contemplate challenging one’s detention in court,” it found.

Jacques Barrot, the European commissioner for justice, freedom and security, would not comment on the allegations of Frontex involvement, limiting himself to saying that the EU is working with the UNHCR to resolve asylum issues.

Barrot wrote to Italy in July asking for information on the push-back operations. Italy has three months in which to report.

The Human Rights Watch report quotes Frontex vice-director, Gil Arias-Fernández, as saying that, in statistical terms, the push-back policy has had “a positive impact” because “fewer lives have been put at risk, due to fewer departures”. He is also quoted as saying that Frontex “does not have the ability to confirm if the right to request asylum as well as other human rights are being respected in Libya.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Public Health Option and Amnesty

Illegal Migrants and the Aztlan Movement

Settle in for a long read… There is NO way to do this topic justice in a column length article. But there is NO more important topic to cover today!

South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson became Democrats’ public enemy #1 when he recently shouted out “YOU LIE!” at Mr. Obama during his internationally televised special address to a joint session of congress. Joe Wilson was the ONLY individual in that joint session who was telling the truth that day!

Obama was indeed lying, as he has been consistently since the moment he arrived on the political scene.

Joe Wilson was the ONLY individual in both houses of congress with the guts to say so. He has since been reprimanded by his fellow members of the House, and the Obama lies have been buried with rushed alterations to the public health bill which will indeed offer free (taxpayer funded) health care to illegal immigrants. But that’s just the beginning of the story!

[…]

The United States faces three very formidable enemies today, all of which are represented by the new US administration.

  • Extreme Islam
  • The Aztlan Movement
  • International Secular Socialism

All three of these enemies are moving as one within the new administration. All three movements are anti-US, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movements.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Andrew Bostom: Apostasy and the Islamic Nations

The 1990 Cairo Declaration, or so-called “Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam”, was drafted and subsequently ratified by all the Muslim member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Now a 57 state collective which includes every Islamic nation on earth, the OIC, currently headed by Turkey’s Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, thus represents the entire Muslim umma (or global community of individual Muslims), and is the largest single voting bloc in the United Nations…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Carolyn Glick: Our Iredeemable International System

Bush’s eventual surrender to the establishment set the course for what under President Barack Obama has become a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Unlike Bush, Obama has enthusiastically embraced the notion that the UN should by rights have a leading role in international affairs. He has also accepted the UN’s basic notion that in the interest of world peace, the US and its democratic allies should bow to the desires of despots and dictators.

So it is that this week he abandoned US allies Poland and the Czech Republic in his bid to appease Russia. So it is that his administration has sided with ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, who, with the support of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, sought to undermine Honduran democracy, against Honduras’s lawful government and democratic defenders. So it is that the administration has sided with the genocidal mullahs in Teheran over their democratic opponents. So it is that the administration has adopted the view that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace in the Middle East and embraced as legitimate political actors Palestinian terror groups that refuse to accept Israel’s right to exist.

Until Obama came along, Israel could afford not to make too much of the fact that its enemies control the UN-led system of international institutions, because it could trust that the US would use its Security Council veto to prevent these forces from causing it any real harm. This is no longer the case. With the Obama administration fully on board the UN agenda, Israel and other threatened democracies like Honduras, Poland, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Japan will have to loudly proclaim the UN-based international system’s inherent moral, political and legal corruption and seek ways to undermine and weaken its power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

4Symbols said...

"UK: Machetes by the Door, Drugs on the Table ..."

The reason why conservatism has no support amongs many of the U.K. population is the fact that it is fixated on blaming welfare for, well for just about everything.

1. Welfare is at subsistance level in the U.K.

2. If you remove welfare there is no economic alternative other than destitution and poverty on a third world scale - if any U.K. politician or commentator wants to deny this I challenge them to scrap all welfare.

3. Dependency (welfare) is a nonsense word, maybe it should be used on those psuedo-capitalists who can not turn a profit even with billions of tax payers money.

Conservatism in Europe has become a form of Communism, a desire for command economics rigged in favour of the inferior - capitalism void of any human competiton.

Rocha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rocha said...

That stupid Lula goverment did it AGAIN! This is another step to throw our constitution on the garbage.

Lets see what it's written:
Art. 4º The Brazilian Fedrative Republic it's reged in it's international relations by the following principles:

I - National Independence;

II - Prevalence of Human Rights;

III - Self Governance of the Peoples;

IV - NON-INTERVENTION;

etc.

So Lula is breaking our law (again and again) to help it's lacays and bolivarian friends.