Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/22/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/22/2009The illegal immigrant shantytown near Calais — known locally as “the Jungle” — was finally shut down in a special operation by the French police. Immigrants’ rights protesters attempted to prevent the police from closing the camp, and some arrests were reported. Nearly 300 immigrants, both adults and children, were relocated to “special centers”. It’s not clear what will happen to them next.

In other news, a Coptic Christian in Egypt was murdered and beheaded by a Muslim. The killer roared away on a Harley-Davidson and attempted to murder two more Copts before he was caught by police.

Thanks to AP, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, Zenster, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
FDIC Could Seek Bailout From Banks
Italy: Jobless Figure Rises as Recession Worsens
 
USA
A Casino Coming to Your Neighborhood?
Another Obama Program Caught in Undercover Sting
Austria in the ‘30s: Mirror to America
‘Drunk Boris Yeltsin Tried to Hail Taxi Outside White House in Underpants’
Get Ready! Here Come the Energy Police
Islamic Rally on Capitol Clouded by Organizer’s Terror Ties
Killing Granny
‘Nut’-House Empire
Steven Chu: Americans Are Like ‘Teenage Kids’ When it Comes to Energy
Sunstein Picked for Sharing Obama’s Radical Views?
The Globo Threatens National Sovereignty
U.S. Charges Obama Fund-Raiser in $290 Million Fraud
Vatican Official: Church Erred in Holding Kennedy Funeral
 
Europe and the EU
‘Dark-Haired’ Voters Become Focal Point of German Elections
Ireland: ‘No’ Side Are More Committed — Ganley
Ireland: Blow to ‘Yes’ Bid as Church Refuses to Take Sides
Ireland: We Are Parasites. We Moralised, Postured, And Lectured as We Received Billions in Aid From EU
Ireland’s National Sovereignty Under Threat
Italy-Slovenia: Berlusconi, Good Neighbours
Italy: Premier and Fini Lunch to Mend Rift
Obama’s Treachery in Eastern Europe
OECD: Italy: Productivity Could Increase by 10% With Reforms
Spain: Even Bullfight Fans Against De La Vega Bull Death
Spain: Teacher Become Public Officers Against Bullies
Supposedly Pacifistic Calls for a Withdrawal of German Troops From Afghanistan Raise Thea Dorn’s Hackles
Terrorism: France/Italy Trade Northern Africa Information
UK: Council Spends £100k of Public Money on Rebranding Museum… Only to Keep Original Name
UK: Forgetful Patients to be Fitted With Microchips to Remind Them to Take Their Pills
UK: Father Arrested for Carrying Out Citizen’s Arrest on Yobs ‘Who Threw Apples at Him and His Wife’
UK: Jilted Student ‘Watched Beheadings and Terror Videos to Beef Himself Up Before Stabbing His Ex-Girlfriend’
UK: Most Rivers Fail to Meet Tough New EU Pollution Standards
UK: New US Ambassador Wants to Show America is Not a ‘Dumb’ Or ‘Bullying’ Power
UK: One in Six Patients ‘Wrongly Diagnosed by NHS Doctors’
UK: Police Told to Treat Hundreds More Attacks as ‘Honour’ Crimes
UK: Public School Teacher Jailed for Lesbian Trysts Can Still Meet Victim, 15, On Release From Prison
UK: Payouts to Inmates Who Wait Too Long for Parole
UK: Retired Couple’s Home Trashed by 150 Yobs Who Gatecrashed Granddaughter’s Party Advertised on Twitter
UK: Social Workers Ignored Mental Patient Brandishing Knife Days Before He Stabbed Grandfather to Death
UK: School Children ‘Tried to Strangle’ Boy, 9, With Skipping Rope in Playground
 
Balkans
Serbia: Gay Parade Activists Vow to Fight
Serbia: EU to Approve Additional Eur 200 Million Aid
 
Mediterranean Union
Animals: Mediterranean; Agriculture Top Cause of Extinction
Mammals: Mediterranean, One in Six Species Risks Extinction
 
North Africa
Muslim Man Beheads Christian in Egypt
 
Israel and the Palestinians
EU: Veneto Wins Project for Israel and Palestinian Activity
Morocco: Investment Fund Buys Land in Jerusalem
Music: Elvis Unites All Just a Stone’s Throw From Jerusalem
Swedish-Israeli Relations Continue to Deteriorate
 
Middle East
Barry Rubin: How the West’s Enemies Are Saving it
Brzezinski Suggests Obama Shoot Down Israeli Jets
Cinema: Lebanese Press Attacks Israeli Film ‘Lebanon’
Iran Nuclear Head Says New Centrifuges Built
Yemen: Army Defeats Shia Attack, 140 Rebels Killed
 
South Asia
Kabul: Flowers and Cards for the Fallen, You Are Our Heroes
U.S. Says Pakistan, Iran Helping Taliban
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Kenya Criticises US Somali Raid
Muslims Mass-Producing Children to Take Over Africa, Says Archbishop
 
Immigration
Denmark and Ireland Drop ‘Sham Marriage’ Demands
France: Police Dismantle Migrant Camp in Calais
Italy’s Migrant Crackdown Sparks Political Tensions
Rome’s Migrant Policy in Spotlight
Video: Police Clear French Migrant Camp
 
Culture Wars
Abortion: Spain; Go-Ahead From State Council for New Law
Obama Science Chief: Abortion Can Save Planet
 
General
Bulgarian Chosen to Head UNESCO

Financial Crisis

FDIC Could Seek Bailout From Banks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators have approached big banks about borrowing billions to shore up the dwindling fund that insures regular deposit accounts.

The loans would go to the fund maintained by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. that insure depositors when banks fail, said two industry officials familiar with the conversations, who requested anonymity because the plans are still evolving.

Regulators also are considering levying a special emergency fee on all banks, charging regular fees early or tapping a $100 billion credit line with the U.S. Treasury, the officials said.

FDIC spokesman Andrew Gray said that while borrowing from the banks “is an option, it’s not being given serious consideration.” The board meeting where the plans will be discussed is scheduled for next week.

But a government official familiar with the FDIC board’s thinking said earlier Tuesday that the plan was being considered. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

The fund, which insures deposit accounts up to $250,000, is at its lowest point since 1992, at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis. Ongoing losses on commercial real estate and other loans continue to cause multiple bank failures each week.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair wants to avoid tapping the Treasury credit line, and Treasury officials insist that the strongest big banks have enough extra capital to operate, the officials said. Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan, who is a voting member of the FDIC board, has said he doesn’t want to levy another fee on banks while the industry is still recovering.

The loans would give big, healthy banks a safe harbor for their money and would limit their risk-taking, said Daniel Alpert, managing director of the investment bank Westwood Capital LLC in New York.

It also would allow the industry’s strongest players — which still rely on FDIC loan guarantees and other emergency subsidies — to help weaker banks avoid paying another fee, he said.

“Lots of banks are going to require more capital, and (Bair is) trying to rob from the rich and give to the poor,” said Alpert, who supports the plan as a creative way to avoid another bailout.

Bankers and lobbyists strongly support the plan to have some big banks lend money to the fund, since it would help still-struggling institutions avoid another fee.

In a letter to Bair Monday, American Bankers Association CEO Ed Yingling endorsed borrowing from the industry or collecting regular premiums early as alternatives to charging another fee.

An earlier special fee already is having a negative economic impact, and another fee “may do more harm than good,” he said.

The FDIC may settle on a plan that combines two or more of the options being considered.

A spokesman for the agency did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday morning. The New York Times reported details of the possible bank lending plan earlier Tuesday.

The FDIC estimates bank failures will cost the fund around $70 billion through 2013. Ninety-four banks have failed so far this year. Hundreds more are expected to fall in coming years largely because of souring loans for commercial real estate.

The FDIC’s fund has slipped to 0.22 percent of insured deposits, below a congressionally mandated minimum of 1.15 percent. The $10.4 billion in the fund at the end of June is down from $13 billion at the end of March, and $45.2 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

Bair last week said the FDIC board would meet at the end of the month to consider options including taking Treasury funds, assessing fees on banks in advance and again increasing the fees they must pay.

“We don’t want to stress the industry too much at this time, when they’re still in the process of recovery,” she said.

Congress in May more than tripled the amount the FDIC could borrow from the Treasury if needed to restore the insurance fund, to $100 billion from $30 billion.

The FDIC then adopted a new system of special fees paid by U.S. financial institutions that shifted more of the burden to bigger banks to help replenish the insurance fund. The move cut by about two-thirds the amount of special fees to be levied on banks and thrifts compared with an earlier plan, which had prompted a wave of protests by small and community banks.

Bair had earlier promised a reduction in fees charged to banks if the Treasury credit line could be expanded.

The FDIC emergency premium, to be collected from all federally-insured institutions, is 5 cents for every $100 of a bank’s assets minus its so-called Tier 1, or regulatory capital, as of June 30. Banks and thrifts paid an average premium of 6.3 cents last year. A measure of a bank’s health, Tier 1 capital includes common and preferred stock as well as intangible assets such as tax losses that can be used to reduce future earnings.

In addition, the FDIC raised the regular insurance premiums for banks to between 12 and 16 cents for every $100 in deposits starting in April, from a range of 12 to 14 cents.

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


Italy: Jobless Figure Rises as Recession Worsens

Rome, 22 Sept. (AKI) — Italy’s unemployment rate rose to 7.4 percent in the second quarter of 2009, its highest level since 2005. The country’s national statistics office ISTAT said on Tuesday employment fell sharply as the worsening recession affected the labour market.

The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose to 7.4 percent from 7.3 percent in the previous three months to hit its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2005.

At least 378,000 jobs were lost in Europe’s fourth-largest economy, which recorded a 1.6 percent decline in the employment rate compared to 2008.

The number of unemployed rose to 1.18 million from 1.7 million a year earlier as the country failed to recover from the worst recession since World War II.

The worst job losses were recorded predominantly in the less developed south of the country where 71 percent of the 378,000 total job losses were recorded.

Unemployment in the south is now at 12 percent, compared to 6.7 percent in central Italy and 5.0 percent in the north.

The country’s employment rate thus now stands at 57.9 percent compared to 59.2 percent posted in the second quarter of 2008.

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

USA

A Casino Coming to Your Neighborhood?

According to a Wall Street Journal article, the Obama administration, ever eager to expand government revenues, is considering changing existing federal parameters for tribal casino gambling. Both cash-strapped tribes and government entities view casinos as money sources, usually ignoring both economic facts and sociological “collateral damage.”

While current restrictions require that casinos be built on or within “commuting distance” of actual reservation lands (note — on any land that the tribe can lease or purchase!), a push is on to allow them to build anywhere, including your downtown.

The primary rationale of expanding casino gambling on and off tribal reservations to create economic benefit for tribes and state governments has proven to be a pipe dream. The moral, criminal and family-related issues aside, it simply and literally does not add up.

Professor John Warren Kindt, professor of business administration at the University of Illinois and the foremost researcher on the economic impact of gambling, has proven for years that the direct costs of casino expansion outweigh any revenue increases by a two-to-one margin.

[…]

We know that building casinos in towns and cities where they have not previously existed has catastrophic impact on the most vulnerable in those communities. EVERY category of crime increases, as illustrated in a comprehensive study done by economists Earl Grinols and David Mustard:

“We show that casinos increased crime after a lag of three to four years, consistent with the theoretical predictions of the role of problem and pathological gamblers. Furthermore, by studying the crime rates in counties that border casino host counties we show that the data suggest casinos create crime, and not merely move it from one area to another: Neighbor county data indicate that casino crime spills over into border areas rather than is moved from them.”

Burglaries, robberies, white-collar crime, divorce and numerous other crimes and social pathologies escalate as part of the natural increase of families impacted by gambling addiction. The National Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ studies regularly confirm this dark reality. In addition, the corruption spawned by greed and organized crime impacts businesses and government at every level as many flies swarm to the honey.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Another Obama Program Caught in Undercover Sting

‘Milk it, baby — It’s free money’

[Comments: An insider’s view of the program.]


While President Obama delivers speeches praising the alleged success of Cash for Clunkers, a former rebate processor for the federal program — also working undercover for WND — is calling it “complete chaos.”

[…]

Willey said she was the only non-minority applicant in the room. While human resources required a strict dress code for the position, she said she was shocked by the clothing and conduct of other candidates who were interviewed:

I was the only one dressed for a job interview. Everyone else had on jeans and T-shirts. Most women wore flip-flops. One woman was barefoot. The women were dressed extremely unprofessionally, in jeans and very revealing tops. A lot of them wore T-shirts that barely covered their stomachs. What I noticed most were the foul mouths of everyone around me.

The next day, Willey reported that as many as 300 new employees attended orientation for new positions with Vangent.

“One of the first things we were told was that Cash for Clunkers will help the environment,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Austria in the ‘30s: Mirror to America

In the past weeks you’ve heard me talk about the How to Take Back America Conference being held in St. Louis this Friday, Sept. 25, and Saturday, Sept. 26, with speakers like: Gov. Mike Huckabee, “Joe the Plumber,” U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Trent Franks, R-Ariz., Steve King, R-Iowa, Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Dr. Tom Price, R-Ga., and Three-Star Gen. Jerry Boykin. But someone who’ll be there that you didn’t hear about is Kitty Werthmann. Kitty was 12 years old when Adolf Hitler was elected fuhrer of Austria.

She is 83 with a “vivid memory” of what happened in her homeland next. She witnessed the government take over the banks and the auto industry. Sound familiar? In the last nine months, Obama and the Democrats in Congress have successfully orchestrated the government takeover of Chrysler and General Motors along with countless banks.

She witnessed the “compulsory youth” service and indoctrination. That sounds a little like Obama’s call for “mandatory volunteerism” for America’s youth.

The government takeover of the schools immediately replaced crucifixes with pictures of Hitler and Nazi flags. “All religious instruction was replaced with physical education,” said Werthmann. No prayer was allowed. That all happened here decades ago. It is interesting, however, that Obama’s speech to the captive audience in the government schools — complete with the essay assignment about how students could help him achieve his political goals — was replaced once the American people got wind of it. And speaking of government control of education, if the Senate agrees, all student loans will be government issued, according to a bill that passed the House last week.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Drunk Boris Yeltsin Tried to Hail Taxi Outside White House in Underpants’

Boris Yeltsin got so drunk during a presidential visit to Washington that he was found standing outside the White House in his underpants, trying to hail a taxi so he could go out for a pizza.

The following night, a guard mistook him for an intruder after the former Russian president was discovered stumbling drunkenly around the basement of the official visitor’s residence.

The embarrassing details about the extent of Mr Yeltsin’s drinking habits have been revealed by Bill Clinton.

Crete hails woman accused of setting fire to British tourist’s genitals using SambukaThe former US president made the disclosures to Taylor Branch, a writer and former flatmate, whom he invited to compile a new “oral history” of the presidency based on 79 taped interviews.

Mr Clinton, who would regularly summon Mr Branch for afternoon chats during his eight-year presidency, was more coy about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, merely saying that he “just cracked” under personal and political pressure.

According to excerpts in USA Today of Branch’s new book, the 707-page The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President, Mr Clinton kept the tapes of the interview hidden in his sock drawer.

Mr Branch, however, would make his own tape after each interview in which he would immediately record what Mr Clinton had told him.

Another excerpt relates how Mr Clinton had an argument with Al Gore, his vice president, shortly after the latter failed to win the presidency in 2000.

Mr Clinton complained that he could have won the election for him if he had been more involved, to which Mr Gore responded that the former president had been a “drag” on his ticket because of the Lewinsky affair.

The pair then “exploded” at each other, blaming each other for the Democratic defeat in a two-hour argument, according to the book.

Mr Yeltsin was reportedly staying at Blair House, the White House guest residence, in 1995 when the Secret Service discovered him standing alone and barely clothed on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The president, who died two years ago, told them in slurring words that he wanted a pizza, wrote Mr Branch.

The writer said it wasn’t always easy to keep Mr Clinton to the point.

On one occasion, the president made them interrupt their discussion of matters of state to help his daughter, Chelsea, finish an English literature essay about Dr Frankenstein.

Mr Branch said he sent his book to Mr Clinton to proof-read but he did not ask for any changes.

[Return to headlines]


Get Ready! Here Come the Energy Police

‘Google PowerMeter’ could mean regulation of your private home

Google is developing an Internet-based power monitor designed to monitor energy usage inside homes. As a result, the meter will provide utilities and any government regulators access to data on a household’s energy footprint and carbon footprint, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.

“Get ready,” Corsi warned. “Here come the energy police.”

Named the “Google PowerMeter,” the software is intended to measure the precise amount of energy a house consumes and provide an accounting that lists by household location and device that consumes the electricity.

“An easy next step would be for government regulators to demand more household energy efficiency or a reduction in carbon emissions,” Corsi wrote. “‘Energy offenders’ could be charged substantial fines, with the possibility that the truly recalcitrant could be deemed ‘energy criminals’ subject to severe consequences.”

He noted, “As always, government extermination of civil liberties first arrives with a helping hand.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Islamic Rally on Capitol Clouded by Organizer’s Terror Ties

As 50,000 Muslims prepare for D.C., leader’s history called into question

As an anticipated 50,000 Muslims prepare to descend on Capitol Hill for “A Day of Islamic Unity” this Friday, several blogs and online news sources have spotlighted the history of the movement’s leader and his ties to terrorists in the U.S.

As WND reported, one of the key organizers is Hassen Abdellah, an attorney from Elizabeth, N.J. Abdellah formed part of the legal team that defended four men in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, including Mahmud Abouhalim, who was convicted and sentenced to prison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Killing Granny

A virulent moral blindness has seized hold of a substantial slice of America’s educated elite. Convinced they know better, they argue for a shallow, illogical, and horrifying vision of people as disposable.

I was wrong last week when I declared that Newsweek’s cover showing a baby next to a headline declaring that we’re all born racist was evidence that the mainstream media had hit bottom and destroyed itself. It was intellectual arrogance on my part that led me to underestimate the determination of Newsweek’s editors to find new deeper bottoms to hit.

This week’s Newsweek cover exceeds the sheer breathtaking ugliness of last week’s cover: “The Case for Killing Granny.” Alongside a photo of an electrical plug. The cover story is penned by Evan Thomas, (Andover, Harvard, Virginia Law), currently teaching at Princeton, alongside Peter Singer, who believes newborn infants can be killed because they lack “rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness” and thus don’t qualify for personhood.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Nut’-House Empire

ACORN grabs up $50M in city homes

ACORN has quietly become one of the Big Apple’s biggest owners of low- and moderate-income housing, amassing a real-estate empire worth at least $50 million, The Post has learned.

New York ACORN and a tangled web of affiliates own or manage nearly 1,500 housing units across three boroughs and draw in an estimated $5.7 million in rents, fees and profits from sales.

The properties are controlled by an opaque collection of nonprofits, holding companies and development funds. Many have generic names, like the 385 Palmetto Street Housing Development Fund or the Mutual Housing Association of New York, leaving no clue of their ties to the national ACORN conglomerate.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Steven Chu: Americans Are Like ‘Teenage Kids’ When it Comes to Energy

When it comes to greenhouse-gas emissions, Energy Secretary Steven Chu sees Americans as unruly teenagers and the Administration as the parent that will have to teach them a few lessons.

Speaking on the sidelines of a smart grid conference in Washington, Dr. Chu said he didn’t think average folks had the know-how or will to to change their behavior enough to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“The American public…just like your teenage kids, aren’t acting in a way that they should act,” Dr. Chu said. “The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is.” (In that case, the Energy Department has a few renegade teens of its own.)

The administration aims to teach them—literally. The Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on real children. Partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization, the agency earlier this month launched a cross-country tour of 6,000 schools to teach students about climate change and energy efficiency.

“We’re showing people across the country how energy efficiency can be part of what they do every day,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “Confronting climate change, saving money on our utility bills, and reducing our use of heavily-polluting energy can be as easy as making a few small changes.”

Still, Secretary Chu said he didn’t think that the public would throw the same political temper tantrum over climate legislation has has happened with the healthcare debate.

Asked if he expected a town-hall style pushback, Dr. Chu said he was optimistic the public would buy the administration’s arguments that energy efficiency and caps on greenhouse-gas emissions will spark an economic rebound.

“I don’t think so…maybe I’m optimistic, but there’s very little debate” that a new green energy economy will bring economic prosperity, Mr. Chu told reporters.

Don’t look now, but there’s actually quite a lot of debate as to the economic merits of the new green-energy economy. Whether that will spell a healthcare-style revolt against the energy and climate bill stewing in the Senate is another question.

An update: Energy Department spokesman Dan Leistikow added: “Secretary Chu was not comparing the public to teenagers. He was saying that we need to educate teenagers about ways to save energy. He also recognized the need to educate the broader public about how important clean energy industries are to our competitive position in the global economy. He believes public officials do have an obligation to make their case to the American people on major legislation, and that’s what he’s doing.”

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


Sunstein Picked for Sharing Obama’s Radical Views?

Comments echo president’s argument for ‘redistributive change’

Was President Obama’s newly confirmed regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, chosen because he holds radical positions that mirror some of Obama’s own personal views?

WND last week exposed Sunstein argued it is “desirable” to redistribute America’s wealth to poorer nations.

The comments seem eerily similar to a 2001 radio interview that surfaced on the Internet during last year’s presidential campaign in which Obama is heard promoting “major redistributive change.”

In the interview, Obama doubted whether redistribution of wealth could be brought about by the U.S. court system. He did not propose another mechanism for such radical change.

However, as WND reported, Sunstein, the new White House regulatory czar, proposed interpretation of federal laws be made not by judges but by the beliefs and commitments of the U.S. president and those around him.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Globo Threatens National Sovereignty

Look for your neighborhood ATM to spit out Globos, not dollars, if the United Nations has its way.

Many Americans will be stunned to learn that the United Nations has called for a single, global currency. Similar mumbles have been made by Russia, China and India. Russian president Dimtry Medvedev tossed a prototype “united future world currency” to leaders at this summer’s G-8 meeting in Italy. The supranational coin bore the motto “Unity in diversity.” Though economists agree such a prospect is at least a decade away, Americans have an opportunity to think deeply about the relationship of national sovereignty and national currency.

[…]

It is naive to assume that the Globo will be immune to political manipulation or corruption. Once mandatory monetary policy is set from outside, how independent is any nation? It is a nearly inhuman feat to design a means to regulate regulators such that they cannot favor one industrial nation over another. If a single global authority controls world economic policy, there is little to prevent the use of that sweeping authority to achieve political power and ideological control over our citizens. Imagine a nation’s fiscal future held hostage to compliance with the Kyoto Protocols or submission to the U.N.’s vision for the Global Commons? In fact, the report outlined this specific strategy in the section on climate change. “Emissions regulation and control have to be made more stringent” to achieve the U.N.’s vision of good growth. Furthermore, “climate-friendly” efforts must not be “left to market forces alone; they also require strong and internationally coordinated government action,” including a reduction of emissions achieved by “strict regulations.” National sovereignty will have little meaning when a nation is shackled by monetary control from beyond its borders.

[…]

The recent wrangling over the Euro is a lesson in the currency-sovereignty relationship. Some governments and their citizens are unwilling to shelve their national currency in exchange for imagined stability and efficiency. The Euro, as a regional currency, has not been an equally felicitous arrangement for all. It’s not unforeseen that nations would be censored culturally as well. Some Latin nations were “softly” bribed by the World Bank and IMF to institute national birth control policies as part of development loan packages. The bribe took the form of partial debt forgiveness when nations met specified goals.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Charges Obama Fund-Raiser in $290 Million Fraud

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Hassan Nemazee, a fund-raiser for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, has been indicted for defrauding Bank of America, HSBC and Citigroup Inc out of more than $290 million in loan proceeds, U.S. prosecutors said on Monday.

The announcement follows last month’s indictment of Nemazee, head of a private equity firm and an Iranian American Political Action Committee board member, on one count of defrauding Citigroup’s Citibank.

The new indictment adds allegations that he defrauded two other banks, Bank of America and HSBC Bank USA, in a similar fashion by falsifying documents and signatures to purportedly show he had hundreds of millions worth of collateral.

The office of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan and the FBI said he used the proceeds of his scheme to make donations to election campaigns of federal, state and local candidates, donations to political action committees and charities.

He bought property in Italy and paid for maintenance on two properties in New York.

His lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

As of August 2009 Nemazee owed Bank of America about $142 million and owed Citibank about $74.9 million, the indictment said. He drew on a line of credit he fraudulently obtained from HSBC to pay the Citibank loan.

Nemazee, 59, typically donates more than $100,000 annually to Democratic political candidates. He is listed as one of the top “bundlers” of contributions to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a website run by the Center for Responsive Politics research group.

“For more than 10 years, Hassan Nemazee projected the illusion of wealth, stealing more than $290 million so that he could lead a lavish lifestyle and play the part of heavyweight political fundraiser,” United States Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in a statement.

Nemazee was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on August 23 as he was checking in for a flight to Italy, according to court papers. He was released on bail.

If convicted on three counts of bank fraud, Nemazee faces up to 30 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. He is also charged with identity theft.

The case is: U.S. v. Nemazee, 09-mj-1927 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

           — Hat tip: AP[Return to headlines]


Vatican Official: Church Erred in Holding Kennedy Funeral

The tug-of-war over Ted Kennedy’s soul seems to be eternal.

In a speech last Friday night to a gathering of Catholic conservatives at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, an outspoken American archbishop now heading the Vatican version of the church’s Supreme Court said that politicians who support gay marriage or abortion rights cannot receive sacraments without publicly repenting their ways:

“It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and to conduct oneself in this manner,” said Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, whom the pope transferred to Rome in 2008 after Burke’s often-stormy tenure as archbishop of St. Louis.

“Neither Holy Communion nor funeral rites should be administered to such politicians,” Burke said. “To deny these is not a judgment of the soul, but a recognition of the scandal and its effects.”

The remarks come from an account of the 50-minute speech by Deal Hudson, director of InsideCatholic.com, a conservative Web site that hosted the Sept. 18 annual gala for some 200 supporters. (Among them: American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, the National Review’s Kate O’Bierne, and Ed Whelan, head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.) Hudson was an adviser to the Bush White House on Catholic issues.

Burke’s blast is not exactly a surprise, given his track record of sharp criticism of pro-choice Catholic politicians — he has said they should be barred from taking Communion and has encouraged ministers who distribute the Eucharist to withhold it on their own initiative. Burke has not been shy about exhorting fellow bishops he sees as too lenient, either, as he did in this March interview with Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry. (Burke later regretted that Terry had aired the videotape.) And he is a favorite speaker of Beltway conservatives, having given the keynote at last May’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

But for Burke, now a prominent official in the Vatican’s judicial system, to — in effect — openly oppose the judgment of Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley (and most other bishops) regarding sacraments for Kennedy and other Catholic pols, and to, in effect, give aid and comfort to a Catholic right that has stepped up criticism of the hierarchy to fierce levels, is remarkable. Burke did not just say that politicians like Kennedy should not be provided a private funeral; he advocates denying them a funeral Mass at all.

Cardinal O’Malley earlier this month rejected that course of action “in the strongest terms,” as he wrote in a blog post that was an unusually blunt response to critics of his decision to allow Kennedy a funeral Mass and to preside at it:

“We will stop the practice of abortion by changing the law, and we will be successful in changing the law if we change people’s hearts. We will not change hearts by turning away from people in their time of need and when they are experiencing grief and loss,” O’Malley wrote.

“At times, even in the Church, zeal can lead people to issue harsh judgments and impute the worst motives to one another. These attitudes and practices do irreparable damage to the communion of the Church.”

In his well-received speech last Friday — the standing ovation lasted seven minutes — Burke rejected such an approach.

“We should have the courage to look truth in the eye and call things by their common names.” He added that for a politician who support abortion rights and gay rights, for example, to return to the sacraments, “his repentance must also be public.”

Burke also rejected concerns that speaking out as he has is fomenting divisions within the church, and at the highest levels.

“The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth in love. This does not destroy unity but helps to repair a breach in the life of the Church.”

Still, Pope Benedict XVI’s exchange of letters with Kennedy seemed to indicate a pastoral concern for the dying senator that contrasts with Burke’s approach, and few bishops — from Rome to Boston — believed Kennedy should have been denied a funeral.

With the apparent push-back on health care reform from the Catholic center (and the right, of course; Burke also decried Obamacare in his speech), it seems clear there is a struggle for dominance inside the Catholic hierarchy in America, and one that does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

‘Dark-Haired’ Voters Become Focal Point of German Elections

BERLIN — Hürriyet Daily News

The influence of “dark-haired voters” in German politics will be stronger than ever as Sunday’s elections will likely result in a narrow victory, migrant representatives suggest.

Germany is counting down to the election of its federal parliament, called the Bundestag, on Sunday while political parties have sped up their campaigns to gain undecided voters. “German politicians, for the first time in history, are campaigning in an effort to gain migrants’ votes, or at least, not to alienate them. It is remarkable that they don’t play on Turkey’s EU membership bid or integration problems,” Özcan Mutlu, a candidate for Berlin from the Green Party, told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Of the two partners of Germany’s grand coalition — Chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger Frank-Walter Steinmeier — neither has seemed to pull off a decisive win. “A narrow election victory is expected so they don’t want to anger the Turkish community,” Mutlu said. “This time, almost all the parties included Turkish names in their list.”

Christian Democrats Union, or CDU, leader Merkel wants to create a center-right coalition with the liberal, business-friendly Free Democrats, or FDP, while Social Democrat Party, or SDP, leader Steinmeier seeks an option with the Green Party. Although the Left Party has attracted a significant chunk of voters away from the SDP in recent years, it will likely stay at the opposition due to its radical line.

“The dark-haired voters will show themselves. The Turkish community is the majority of the up to 5 million migrants in Germany, and it is a great chance to voice their basic demands related to integration,” said Safter Çinar, spokesman for the Turkish Association in Berlin.

Following a roundtable meeting with representatives from five political parties, Çinar sounded doubtful about a “pro-immigrant shift” in German politics. “There is no evolution in their minds. For example, the CDU firmly rejects our main demands, such as double citizenship and local election rights for long-term residents,” he said. “They are also not supportive of mother-tongue education rights.”

Approximately 700,000 to 800,000 Turkish-origin voters are expected to cast their ballots and a number of Turkish politicians from different parties have been running in the elections, which is scheduled for Sept. 27.

“I believe that the Turkish community is excited for the elections as they had to struggle to gain this right,” Mutlu said.

“Socialists grow stronger as migrants gain ground,” said Bekir Alboga of the Turkish Islamic Union, or DITIB, in Cologne.

Lale Akgün, whose family moved to Germany when she was 9, is running for the SDP in Cologne and called on the people to “use this historic chance to shape the future.” In a phone interview with the Daily News, Akgün said: “Merkel has introduced regulations to make a family union difficult. Without paying attention to the basic problems of migrants, a number of summits and roundtable meetings took place to deceive us. She will go further if she wins.

“Looking at the commitments in party programs, I feel the migrants have started to have more of an influence. I think they will either go with the Greens or the SDP,” Akgün said, adding that the Left Party could not become a coalition partner due to its radical line.

Sevim Dagdelen is another German politician of Turkish origin but says she finds that description “discriminatory.” “The Left Party is the only option for migrant rights because the Greens and the SDP are out of the question after their failure in the past,” Dagdelen told the Daily News. “People are looking for alternatives after being disappointed with the SDP and the Greens, who did not keep their promises.”

Calling on migrants to cast their ballots, Dagdelen said, “It is only way to prevent conservatives from getting stronger.”

Aydan Özoguz is a veteran Turkish-origin politician and has been campaigning for the SDP in Hamburg. Özoguz is hopeful for the election with increasing support as the day gets nearer. He defends the SDP, saying the party proved their capacity through the financial crisis. “The ministers of finance and labor have performed with remarkable success during the time of crisis. They are both from the SDP. Also, traditionally the SDP gains more votes toward election day,” she told the Daily News.

Confirming that migrant voters have become more effective during this election, she said: “The SDP, Greens and even liberal Free Democrats have been paying more attention to migrant-related issues. We are rethinking double citizenship, for example. We are also defending that long-time residents can vote in the local elections even if they are not citizens.”

Some 80 out of 100 Turkish-origin deputies in both the federal and state-level parliaments have set up a network to voice migrant-related problems, although they are members of different political parties. Their next appointment is with President Horst Koehler in October.

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


Ireland: ‘No’ Side Are More Committed — Ganley

THE result of the second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty hangs in the balance because ‘No’ voters are more committed, Libertas campaigner Declan Ganley claimed yesterday.

Mr Ganley said ‘No’ voters were “more committed and more informed”, and therefore more likely to vote.

He thus suggested that some of the ‘Yes’ lead showing up in opinion polls was likely to be a soft vote that would not turn out on the day.

“I’m absolutely sure it can be won (by the ‘No’ side),” Mr Ganley said. “I am confident it can. It would be a win for Ireland, and for Europe, if there is a ‘No’ victory.

“The ‘No’ voter is a more committed voter. They are a more informed voter, because they know it is not about the economy or about jobs, or about whether we are in Europe and will get money from the ECB.

“The ‘No’ voters know that, and some people that voted ‘Yes’ last time are going to be shifting their vote this time. I know, because I have met them.”

Mr Ganley was speaking after dropping off a copy of the treaty with a highlighter pen to Fine Gael headquarters “because we would like them to show where the jobs are”.

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Ireland: Blow to ‘Yes’ Bid as Church Refuses to Take Sides

THE Catholic Church last night dealt a blow to Government hopes of its outright support for the Lisbon Treaty.

The hierarchy has decided not to align themselves for or against the treaty, but assured Catholics that they are free in conscience to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

This neutrality was expressed in a brief statement issued last night after a meeting in Maynooth of the standing committee of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

While condemning “misleading and incorrect claims” in the referendum campaign, the bishops resisted growing public pressure to censure by name the monthly Catholic freesheet newspaper ‘Alive’ which has promoted rabidly anti-Lisbon views at church porches.

Nor did the bishops issue a forthright condemnation by name of the extreme Catholic lay group Coir, which has persisted in claiming that the Lisbon Treaty will introduce abortion in Ireland.

But they warned that “any material which misinforms voters is an interference with the exercise of a fundamental right and has no place in church buildings or grounds”.

The statement falls far short of a declaration made last week to the Oireachtas Europe committee by the Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, in which he strongly advocated approval for the Lisbon Treaty.

Bishop Treanor stated unequivocally that a Catholic could, without reserve and in good conscience, vote ‘Yes’ for the treaty. He went as far as saying that there were no grounds to justify a ‘No’ vote on the basis of specifically religious or ethical concerns.

Last November Cardinal Sean Brady made it clear to the same Oireachtas committee that “a committed Catholic, even before the current legal guarantees had been secured, could vote in favour of the Lisbon Treaty”.

These comments, as well as strong pro-European addresses by the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, had raised expectations in political and business circles that the bishops would come out in support of the treaty, rather than reaffirm their neutrality in the first referendum last year.

Importance

In the new statement, ‘Values Matter’, the bishops recognise that the Lisbon Treaty is of the greatest importance, not only for Ireland but also for the future of the European project.

But they say that although the situation has changed since the June 2008 referendum with the addition of legal assurances on abortion and other ethical issues in response to the worries expressed at that time, their 2008 pastoral reflection, ‘Fostering a Community of Values’, remains relevant.

“In it we highlighted the distinctive roles of politics and religion,” the bishops said.

“While we do not seek to align ourselves with either side of the referendum debate, we wish to make it clear that a Catholic can, in good conscience, vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”

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Ireland: We Are Parasites. We Moralised, Postured, And Lectured as We Received Billions in Aid From EU



By Kevin MyersI hadn’t expected so many of the No-to-Lisbon crowd to have been so personally vituperative and sneering in their reaction to my change of mind on the forthcoming Lisbon referendum.Intellectual ‘No’ voters, I thought, (and wrongly, it seems) were the calm deliberative type who would understand why I had decided that a ‘No’ vote would be both unproductive and a political idiocy. Both categories of my argument are based on the nature of the Irish state, and the people therein.Frankly, we are parasites. We moralised and postured and lectured, even, as we received billions in aid from the EU.We have lived within the NATO shield for 60 years, have never contributed a penny to our own defence, yet have endlessly indulged in an interior discourse about our “neutrality” and the “immorality” of the foreign arms industry. Moralising sanctimony fills our public life.An RAF container is spotted at Shannon and the media passes into a paroxysm of self-righteousness, though the moment we have an air-sea rescue crisis off our Atlantic seaboard the first people we call in are the RAF.Yes, yes, yes, technically the veto to Lisbon is within our legal powers. And yes, the proposed EU constitution has the clarity of a Tokyo phonebook in Braille for people with burnt hands.But, firstly, we are political debtors to the EU magisterium; and secondly, there is always a penalty for exercising one’s rights.Not merely must one shoulder one’s own responsibilities within a society, but one must also then take responsibility for one’s own actions.If we block the EU momentum, then we must answer to the political forces that we are obstructing: we, who as a state, have almost never done anything for anyone.For no one owes us anything. No one in Europe can say: yes, you sent in combat troops to fight the Nazis or to guard Germany or Norway against the communist threat.The Turks stood fast on the southern-eastern flanks of NATO against the Soviet empire. We did nothing to guard its western approaches. When we might have been expected to be manly, and to have paid the price for freedom — as the Turks certainly did — we indulged our own almost bottomless capacity for a self-deceiving moral superiority which we called neutrality.We might have deceived ourselves; but we deceived no one in Europe. However, the Brussellistas are a patient and cynical folk. They’ve come to terms with many kinds of quirky identities on the margins of mainstream Europe: Sicilians and Faroese and Ulster-Scots and Bretons.However, the marginal identity of the Irish also had a vote in the EU. So be it.But we should not push the power of that vote too far, especially since much of the ‘No’ vote in the last referendum on Lisbon was of the most infantile, contemptible, degrading variety — as in ‘if we vote Yes, we’ll lose our precious neutrality, and will be voting yes to a European Army and conscription’.Bah!This is foreign affairs as it is taught at the shrine at Knock: the Irish are a holy and peace-loving people, who are against military alliances of any kind.In other words, we’re the classroom goody-goody who says the rosary loudest, and genuflects most conspicuously, and then calls on God to intervene when the school is on fire. We’re not the impious and irreligious classmate who kicks down the schoolroom door and drags out the burning children, and gets burnt in the process.(Because, remember, we’re neutral).The Brits, on the other hand, really can vote ‘No’ for they have the moral and historical gravitas to be able to say ‘sorry, chaps, but we don’t like the way this Euro-thingummy is going: too centrist, too unaccountable, too legalist, too arrogant and altogether too Holy Roman Empirish’.For that’s the dividend that the British can draw upon for all the blood and treasure that they spent on holding out against totalitarianism for the 50 years between 1939 and 1989. Yes, the French might well dream of creating a new Greater Rhenish empire for themselves. But as a political and military power in world affairs, a Germano-French alliance with Italic-Iberian allies would be about as substantive and awesome as an Argentinian-Brazilian axis. Neither China nor Russia would worry for a single second about an EU dressed up in Rhenish military garb — not now, not ever.And the idea that Ireland alone can lead the internal dissidents of Europe against such a eurostate is rather like expecting the Isle of Man to be in the forefront of resistance to Hitler.So it really doesn’t matter whether the EU is heading in the wrong direction, as I firmly believe it is. The political reality is that we’re merely a lifeboat on a davit on SS Europa: we must go wherever the ship, with its incomprehensible and possibly toxic constitution, is taking us. I just hope that when the EU founders on the rocks of history, as it will, I shall not be around to see it. And if you really want your children to grow up within a rock-sure European civilisation, then emigrate to the USA — the first, last, and best hope of mankind.

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Ireland’s National Sovereignty Under Threat

OPINION: I AM astonished at how advocates for the Lisbon Treaty, rather than deal with real concerns about the treaty, frequently resort to slinging insults at their opponents. So far I have found myself on the receiving end of abuse such as “nitwit”, “mad ayatollah” and “unemployable f***ing head banger”, writes ROBERT BALLAGH

However, I must admit that the last thing I expected was that The Irish Times would publish an entire opinion piece labelling me a hypocrite.

Sarah Carey’s allegation seems to be based on the notion, commonly held by many on the Yes side, that if you are against the Lisbon Treaty then you must be against the European Union and all its works and pomps!

This is nonsense. Let me make my current position quite clear.

While I am vehemently opposed to the Lisbon Treaty, I am not, nor have I ever been, opposed to Ireland’s membership of the European Union and certainly I am not, nor have I ever been, opposed to Irish citizens vindicating their rights through European legislation. Simply put, I am against this treaty, not against the European Union.

In seeking to bolster her personal attack, Sarah Carey accuses me of opposing a succession of EU treaties. This is simply untrue!

The first EU treaty that I have ever campaigned against is the Lisbon Treaty, and my reason for taking this stand is that I believe that Lisbon is simply a step too far.

I am convinced that if Lisbon is ratified Irish democracy and Irish sovereignty will be irreparably damaged.

Interestingly enough, Sarah Carey agrees with me on this issue, but admits that she does not care.

Even the mildly curious must wonder what it is about the Lisbon Treaty that causes the European establishment to lose all sense of proportion in its frantic efforts to keep this unloved treaty alive.

I, for one, am unable to detect any adequate explanation in much of the old guff we heard during the last campaign about a “better Europe” or a “more efficient Europe”.

In truth, none of this stuff can account for their readiness to set aside all legal and democratic constraints in their ruthless defence of this treaty. No, I believe there must be an alternative explanation.

During the course of the last referendum campaign the phrase “an unprecedented grab for power” surfaced a few times as a description of the Lisbon Treaty, but, unfortunately, at the time, no one really developed this proposition.

Nonetheless, I believe that it provides us with a hint as to why the European elites are so determined to force through this treaty, come what may.

One argument frequently raised by some on the Yes side suggests that the Lisbon Treaty is “no big deal”, that it is simply a gathering together of previous treaties and, as a consequence, represents nothing more than a modest reform package.

I’m afraid nothing could be further from the truth.

Make no mistake about it, the Lisbon Treaty is a truly radical, even revolutionary, document.

To understand this one needs to appreciate that what we call the European Union today is not a state. It is not even a legal or corporate entity in its own right.

However, if Lisbon is ratified all this will change. In strictly legal terms, an entirely new European Union will be established. This will be a union in the constitutional form of a European federal state.

The current European Union will cease to exist and will be replaced by this legally new European Union which will be separate from and superior to its member states, just as the USA is separate from and superior to say, Kansas or Louisiana.

By transforming the legal character of the union, the Lisbon Treaty will transform the meaning of union citizenship.

Presently, each and every one of us is, first and foremost, a citizen of our own country, in our case Ireland, and in strictly legal terms, any individual relationship with the EU amounts to no more than having a purple cover on our passport.

However, if Lisbon is ratified, all this will change. Under the treaty regulations, every Irish person will become, firstly, a citizen of the European Union and secondly an Irish citizen.

This is new and represents a radical shift in the relationship between the individual citizen and the European Union.

For example, the duty of obedience to the union’s laws and loyalty to the union’s institutions attaching to this citizenship will be superior to those attaching to the citizenship of one’s own country, and even though member states will retain their own national constitutions, these will be subordinate to the new union treaty regulations.

As such they will no longer be constitutions of sovereign states in their own right, but instead, will resemble, the constitutions of various states in the USA, which, of course, are subordinate to the federal US constitution.

Make no mistake about it, if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified, then, a sovereign independent Irish nation will cease to exist.

The dream of “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies” was what fuelled the centuries of struggle carried out by Theobold Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly.

The loss of national sovereignty implicit in the Lisbon Treaty will represent nothing less than a renunciation of those centuries of struggle.

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Italy-Slovenia: Berlusconi, Good Neighbours

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 18 — There are still “a few problems” between Italy and Slovenia which the two governments “are working on” in order to “maintain good relations and I believe that wéll resolve all existing small problems” said Silvio Berlusconi in a joint press conference in the Prime Minister’s office after his meeting with the premier of Slovenia, Borut Pahor. When introducing his guest, Berlusconi pointed out that this is Pahor’s first visit to Italy. The Italian premier added that he has “always had a good relation” with Pahor, “also because he speaks Italian: he’s been in Milan, he has told me about his experiences. He has studied an important television network” he added with a smile, “which happens to be Channel 5”. Berlusconi underlined the good personal relation he has with Pahor but also the political relation with the Slovenian leader: “We sit together at the table of the European Council and we always agree”. The two countries, he continued, have a “very good relation,” which becomes evident from the presence of more than 3,000 Italians in Slovenia and 30,000 Slovenians in Italy. “We both have a legislation which respects minority groups. There is much trade between our countries: we are Slovenia’s second partner after Germany both in imports and exports. There are a few problems we are working on and I believe wéll resolve all existing small problems”. The Balkan, and “in particular Kosovo, Albania and the Serbian citizens living in Kosovo” were also discussed in the meeting, Berlusconi explained. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Premier and Fini Lunch to Mend Rift

Differences were threatening long- standing alliance

(ANSA) — Rome, September 21 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini met on Monday in an apparent bid to iron out differences threatening their long-standing alliance.

Cabinet Undersecretary Gianni Letta, a seasoned political mediator and Berlusconi’s right-hand man, invited them to his house for lunch after they sat side-by-side at a state funeral for six Italian paratroopers killed in Afghanistan last week.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi told reporters after the funeral that the two would heal the rift.

“Fini and Berlusconi will make peace,” said Bossi, who has himself been at odds with Fini over the Speaker’s new liberal-minded stances on a number of issues, including a living wills bill and voting rights for immigrants. Bossi brushed aside talk of political strife with the Speaker, saying that despite their spats they had “a good relationship” because “the positive thing about Fini is that he keeps his word”.

“He said something on immigration then said other things but I’m not worried: he keeps his word,” indicating that Fini would not stray from the centre-right alliance’s hard-line stance on immigration issues, including the controversial sea ‘push-backs’ to Libya. The Northern League is a strong supporter of Italy’s recent immigration crackdown, while Fini has stressed the importance of respecting asylum rights and proposed citizenship for legal immigrants.

Earlier this month, Bossi accused Fini of being “crazy”.

The speaker and his loyalists have in turn taken issue with the premier’s regular weekly consultations with Bossi, saying that the League leader was seeing Berlusconi more than his own party allies. One of Fini’s closest aides, the deputy House Whip for the People of Freedom (PdL) party, Italo Bocchini, said that Fini and Berlusconi would not part ways because over the last 15 years they had “changed the political scene in Italy”.

Bocchini said in fact the two would agree to cement their alliance by working together to give birth to a strengthened and “more structured PdL” which would guarantee the centre right a long string of future victories.

Speaking after the two-and-a-half hour meeting, Bocchini said “conditions had emerged” to ensure a continuing alliance between the two, political speak meaning that problems had been sorted out.

Berlusconi and Fini have been close allies since 1994, when the media magnate decided to step into politics, although Fini once formed a separate election alliance that did not win over voters.

Earlier this year Fini agreed to merge his National Alliance party with Berlusconi’s Forza Italia to form the PdL.

Fini, however, has repeatedly voiced displeasure with the way the PdL is run, calling for more democracy, and complaining that the premier is caving in to Bossi and the Northern League on a number of issues.

Last week, more than 50 ex-AN members of the PdL wrote a public letter to Berlusconi proposing a “permanent consultation pact” between the two PdL co-founders to prevent the party “short-circuiting” and fling open policy debate to all sides.

Fini has also come under repeated fire from Il Giornale, the Milan daily owned by Berlusconi’s brother Paolo and last week he decided to sue its editor, Vittorio Feltri.

Feltri has penned a number of front-page editorials, accusing Fini of “betraying” the PdL, of playing “comrade” to win support among centre left MPs for his political ambitions, warning him to change tack or leave and threatening to use a nine-year-old alleged sex dossier on AN.

The premier has said he has no control over Feltri and had no prior information on the editorials. Alessandro Campi, who heads Fini’s Farefuturo web magazine, said last week that Fini “will never abandon” Berlusconi nor “will he trip him up by setting up a new party”.

“Voters wouldn’t appreciate what, to all effects, would amount to a betrayal”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Treachery in Eastern Europe

Obama would have us believe that the land-based missile shield is no longer needed because the facts and intelligence data have changed and currently show that Iran is “now further behind in their missile development than originally thought.”

Obama claims we have a new defense system that is “smarter, stronger and swifter,” but what he failed to tell us is how strapping a few short-range missiles to the deck of a ship is realistic protection for that region or America. He has cut the defense budget and scrapped defense programs and technology that were being developed that would have provided America with a military edge. He has capitulated to his left-wing extremist anti-war supporters, and now he has betrayed the trust and confidence of Eastern European leaders who jeopardized their personal well-being to support the planned missile shield.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


OECD: Italy: Productivity Could Increase by 10% With Reforms

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 21 — Reforms to the market leading to less regulation could result in a substantial increase in productivity, which could reach 10% in countries such as Italy, France, and Germany in a 10-year span, according to an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) report on the EU economy. The report explained that “the potential earnings in terms of productivity from reforms to regulations are considerable”. The same report stated that Italian industries are forced to pay for the most expensive electricity prices out of all of their competitors in the OECD area, stressing that the price of electricity for businesses in Italy has reached 200 euros per megawatt/hour compared to just 40 euros paid by businesses in France. There is a huge gap between Italy and the country with the second most expensive electricity prices, Ireland, where local businesses pay less than 130 euros per megawatt/hour. Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic all pay over 100 euros, while in Europe, in addition to France, Norway and Austria also pay less than 50 euros per megawatt/hour. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Even Bullfight Fans Against De La Vega Bull Death

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 15 — Moscatel, a 540 kilo bull from the famous raiser of “corrida” bulls Victorino Martin, resisted for 30 minutes before succumbing to death in Tordesilla, in the province of Valladolid, skewered by the lance-blades of amateur “banderilleros”, who repeated a controversial tradition today in spite of the mobilisation of animal-rights groups, singers, the Parliamentary Association for the Defence of Animal Rights and even the Taurino Pacma party. The tradition, known as the “Toro de la Vega”, is one of the most controversial in that the bull is at the mercy of the blades that impede it from reaching the escape line, beyond which it would be saved. Even the Taurino, Pacma party demonstrated on Sunday against “the lynching of defenceless animals” with a march that began from the Plaza España in Madrid; while the singer of the group Celtas Cortos, Jesus Cifientes, led the demonstration in which thousands of people took part on Sunday in Valladolid. “Mistreatment of women is considered inadmissible everywhere, while kind eyes look on the mistreatment of animals like the ‘Toro de la Vega’, doing nothing to stop this bloody tradition”, the singer said in protest from the front of the demonstration. Moscatel joined the other 13,349 bulls and calves butchered in the 3,295 fights, ‘corridas’, races and taurine festivals that took place last year in Spain. Over 60,000 animals per year, according to the National Association for the Protection and Well-Being of Animals, are mistreated or killed in Spain as a part of what are called “cultural festivals”, defined by animal groups as “an aberration of morals”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Teacher Become Public Officers Against Bullies

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 15 — School bullies and unruly classrooms, the high dropout rate and attacks on teachers, who spend one third of their day trying to bring students back in line, are some of the school problems which Esperanza Aguirre, chairman of the Madrid Community, has decided to deal with by giving greater authority to teachers in Madrid, who will be assimilated by law to public officers, so that any affront can become matter of criminal proceedings. During the debate on the state of the region, Aguirre announced that she will soon submit a regional draft law that will assign public authority’ to teachers in Madrid, the same that is granted to public officers, in order to give them “moral support” and a “status which they currently lack”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Supposedly Pacifistic Calls for a Withdrawal of German Troops From Afghanistan Raise Thea Dorn’s Hackles

“Pacifism aimed at feathering one’s own nest is a moral sleight of hand,” writes author Thea Dorn in response to the prominent German writers who demanded in Freitag a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan (more here). She’s particularly incensed by philosopher Richard David Precht (in the Spiegel) and author Martin Walser (in the Zeit), who argue that the mission “negligently” endangers Germany’s security. “On of the one hand, the West as a whole is considered such a dubious culture, that we deny it the right to defend itself with force against those attacking it with out any scruples whatsoever. At the same time, we in Berlin, Cologne and on Lake Constance would like to be able to enjoy our red wine in peace. And I wonder why the current brand of pacifism is always flanked by its flipside, anti-Americanism. Precht, for example, characterises the American Way of Life as ‘the 20th century’s most successful weapon of mass destruction’.”

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


Terrorism: France/Italy Trade Northern Africa Information

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, SEPTEMBER 18 — Italy and France exchanged terrorism-related information, particularly focused on northern Africa and threats from that area which affect both nations, during a meeting between Italian and French chiefs of police that was held today in the Viminale (the Italian ministry of the Interior). Reportedly, the meeting analysed the results of recent collaboration between the police forces of the two countries on a major investigation which led to the arrest, last May, of two French nationals accused of international terrorism. Both wanted by the Belgian and French anti-terrorism units, the Imam of Belgium, Bassam Ayachi, and his collaborator, Raphael Gendrom, a French engineer converted to Islam, were arrested and charged with organising terrorist activities in Europe to support al Qaeda. The common goal of the French and Italian police forces is to boost cooperation and raise the level of collaboration against subversive threats. The meeting between Italian police chief Antonio Manganelli and his French counterpart Frederic Pechenard also focused on the fight against illegal immigration and the fight against drug trafficking out of North Africa.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Council Spends £100k of Public Money on Rebranding Museum… Only to Keep Original Name

A council was criticised today after it drafted in a team of top consultants to rebrand a museum in Bristol — and they came back with the idea of reusing its original name.

The project currently has the working title the Museum of Bristol, but when it opens in 2011 it will be called ‘M Shed’, the historic name of the harbourside building.

Residents today vented their fury at local reports the rebranding exercise reportedly cost £100,000. But Bristol City Council has so far not confirmed the cost.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Forgetful Patients to be Fitted With Microchips to Remind Them to Take Their Pills

Patients will be fitted with a microchip in their shoulder to remind them to take their medicine, under a new scheme being developed by a drugs company.

Older people will be given pills containing a harmless microchip that sends a signal to the chip in the shoulder when the pill is taken.

But if the pill is not taken by the forgetful patient, the chip in the shoulder will then send a text to a carer or the patient to remind them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Father Arrested for Carrying Out Citizen’s Arrest on Yobs ‘Who Threw Apples at Him and His Wife’

When police failed to help after Roland Digby’s house was repeatedly pelted with apples by a gang of youths, the father-of-three tried to perform a citizen’s arrest.

But instead of the yobs, it is he who has been left facing court.

He was arrested and charged with common assault after allegedly placing his hand on a 16-year-old’s shoulder to restrain him.

The youth swore at him and a scuffle broke out, so Mr Digby put him in a ‘full-nelson’ behind-the-back armlock ‘to make sure he didn’t get away’.

About 15 other teenagers then joined the fray, which ended after several minutes when Mr Digby escaped with a ‘clipped lip’.

But despite four 999 calls no officers turned up to his house. When they did arrive five days later, it was Mr Digby that was arrested.

The courier driver, 49, said: ‘ People who stand up for their own rights face a criminal record, while the perpetrators get off. I am totally disgusted by this. The police have just hung me out to dry.

‘When I was young, if someone told you to disappear, you would, but now people say you can’t touch them or you’ll get in trouble.

‘I have lived in this town for 25 years and used to run an off-licence. I always complied with enforcing ID checks and I had a good relationship with the police.

‘They know me well but I am shocked by what has happened.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Jilted Student ‘Watched Beheadings and Terror Videos to Beef Himself Up Before Stabbing His Ex-Girlfriend’

A university student watched terrorist videos before smashing his way into the home of his ex-girlfriend and stabbing her in the back after she began a new relationship, a court heard today.

Barry Nason, 26, allegedly carried out the life-threatening attack after he discovered German student Birgit Massam had a new boyfriend.

The ‘jealous’ student watched video footage, including beheadings, terrorist training exercises and petrol bombings, to ‘beef himself up’ before dressing in an Army uniform and arming himself with an axe and a knife.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Most Rivers Fail to Meet Tough New EU Pollution Standards

Three out of four rivers in England and Wales have failed tough ecological tests introduced by the European Union.

Only five of the 6,114 rivers and their tributaries have reached the highest ranking for the overall quality of their eco-systems. Of these, four are in Northumberland — the Ridlees Burn, Barrow Burn Catchment, River Till and Linhope Burn — and the fifth is the river Caletwr in North Wales.

A total of 117, some 2 per cent of all rivers, were found to be the dirtiest and most inhospitable to marine, plant and invertebrate life. Among them is the Stour estuary in Kent, part of a nature reserve run by the RSPB.

But even famous chalkstream rivers such as the Test, a favourite stretch for anglers, is in trouble. Paul Knight, of the Salmon and Trout Association , said: “People may not think of the Test as failing because it is cleaner. But the new system of scoring rivers means that when you look at the ecology — the number of fish, plants, invertebrates and the tiniest bugs — it is not doing well. The main problems are linked to over-abstraction and lack of river flow and diffuse pollution from phosphorus from laundry detergents and nitrogen from pesticide run off from farmland.”

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


UK: New US Ambassador Wants to Show America is Not a ‘Dumb’ Or ‘Bullying’ Power

Louis Susman, the new US ambassador to Britain, wants to improve the nation’s impressions of his country, insisting “we are not a dumb power, we are not a bullying power”.

Mr Susman, a fund-raiser for President Barack Obama’s campaign, said the US wanted to ditch the reputation as a controlling power and reach out to communities across the UK, including Muslim groups.

He added that he intends to “enhance and strengthen” the relationship between London and Washington, suggesting that Tony Blair’s subservience to the Bush administration during his time as Prime Minister was “unhealthy”.

In an interview with the Financial Times, his first with the media since taking up the post, Mr Susman, said: “We are not a dumb power, we are not a bullying power.

“We want to build partnerships, we want to listen, we want to consult, we want to co-operate, and that’s what I want to do.

“I think that there have been eight years of difficult times for America abroad and anybody who doesn’t agree with that isn’t looking at reality.”

Mr Susman said Mr Obama, and Gordon Brown got on well together and had been working closely on this week’s G20 summit in Pittsburgh.

He then added: “To compare it to the previous relationship [between Tony Blair and George W. Bush], well some people might say that relationship wasn’t healthy. Many people here in the UK didn’t think it was healthy because it was without questioning and [without] interaction.”

The release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, appeared to damage relations with America after Mr Obama told Mr Brown he was disappointed by the extradition.

However, though reflecting that disappointment, Mr Susman said it would not get in the way of the “special relationship” Britain and the US share.

Mr Susman reflected that disappointment, by saying of the extradition: “We did not think it was appropriate, we told them we did not think it was appropriate, we continue to feel it was not appropriate and the British and Scottish governments know that.”

However, he added: “I think you have to look at the relationship in totality. We are an incredible partner for the UK in all our intelligence efforts, we are incredible partners in all of our military efforts. It’s almost seamless how well the two countries work together and I have seen that first hand. So when I look at the special relationship I look at the big things.”

[Return to headlines]


UK: One in Six Patients ‘Wrongly Diagnosed by NHS Doctors’

Hundreds of thousands of people could be misdiagnosed by NHS doctors every year, an investigation has revealed.

Medics could be getting it wrong in as many as one in six of patient consultations in hospitals and primary care, according to Misdiagnosis, a BBC radio programme broadcast yesterday.

While most cases do not result in the patient suffering serious harm, a sizeable number are likely to experience significant health problems as a result.

But cases of misdiagnosis are not recorded anywhere in the NHS and this has led to growing demands for better reporting systems to help doctors prevent it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Police Told to Treat Hundreds More Attacks as ‘Honour’ Crimes

Hundreds of attacks are to be treated as ‘honour’ crimes in a new drive by police to prosecute more offenders.

Prosecutors hope the drive will also ensure that victims receive more rapid protection that can save them from possible further violence or a forced marriage.

Under the new guidance it will be assumed that an honour crime has been committed in any case in which there is the slightest sign that such an offence has taken place — even if the victim has not reported it.

Elements of the strategy are designed to ensure that potentially vital evidence of honour-based persecution is not overlooked.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Public School Teacher Jailed for Lesbian Trysts Can Still Meet Victim, 15, On Release From Prison

A public school music teacher was yesterday jailed for having a lesbian relationship with a 15-year-old pupil — but told she could continue seeing her when she leaves prison.

A court heard that trumpet mistress Helen Goddard, 26, helped weave a web of lies so the ‘ vulnerable’ girl could stay in her flat overnight, and took her for a weekend in Paris, where they joined a gay pride march.

Judge Anthony Pitts jailed Goddard for 15 months, saying: ‘This case is so serious an immediate sentence of imprisonment is inevitable.’

But despite hearing from the girl’s parents the devastating effect the five-month sexual relationship had on the teenager, he rejected a prosecution request to ban the teacher from contacting her victim for five years, claiming it would be ‘unnecessary, unkind, and cruel to the victim’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Payouts to Inmates Who Wait Too Long for Parole

Hundreds of violent criminals could win compensation after the High Court ruled yesterday that delays in granting parole to an arsonist violated his human rights.

Judges said a heavy caseload was no excuse for the ‘unlawful delay’ in considering Kevin Pennington for release from jail.

Their decision threatens to open the doors to a wave of similar claims as the Parole Board’s backlog is running at more than 1,000 offenders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Retired Couple’s Home Trashed by 150 Yobs Who Gatecrashed Granddaughter’s Party Advertised on Twitter

A retired couple’s home was trashed after 150 drunken teenagers gatecrashed a party advertised on a social networking site.

Brian and Glennis McDonald, who were attending a wedding, had given their 15-year-old granddaughter Victoria permission for two friends to stay the night as a treat.

They even left her a note saying: ‘Bye darling. Have fun with your two friends.’

But just hours later, they were called by police and forced to return home to a scene of devastation after the gathering snowballed out of control when details were posted on Twitter.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Social Workers Ignored Mental Patient Brandishing Knife Days Before He Stabbed Grandfather to Death

A mental patient showed a lethal knife to social workers just days before he used the same weapon to stab a grandfather to death.

Paul Cusack, 32, who had previously been arrested for possessing knives in public, produced the weapon during a home visit and told social workers he had bought it for his own protection.

But just days later he attacked Sidney Waller, 67, a joiner, as he carried out work at his block of flats and repeatedly stabbed him in the neck and body.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: School Children ‘Tried to Strangle’ Boy, 9, With Skipping Rope in Playground

A schoolboy needed medical treatment after two young children tried to strangle him with a skipping rope, it has been claimed.

The nine-year-old pupil was apparently throttled with the rope after being pounced on by a gang of children in a primary school playground.

His family are furious after a boy and a girl were suspended for one week for the attack.

The boy’s father, who is considering taking legal action, said: ‘I can’t believe those kids just got a week off. That’s not a punishment. They probably just played on their PlayStations.

‘I can’t believe the school haven’t done more. They didn’t tell the other parents or the governors that this had gone on.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Serbia: Gay Parade Activists Vow to Fight

Belgrade, 21 Sept. (AKI) — The organisers of a gay parade cancelled in the Serbian capital Belgrade on Sunday after threats of violence have vowed continue their fight against discrimination in the Balkan country.

Organisers accused the government of yielding to threats but police described the parade as a “high risk event” and said they could not guarantee the safety of the participants.

This prompted the organisers to cancel the “Belgrade Pride 2009” march.

Milica Djordjevic, a member of the parade’s organising committee, said she expected no more than 1,000 participants in the parade.

“How is it possible that 4,500 police officers weren’t able to protect 1,000 participants?” she asked.

Police minister Ivica Dacic said he had planned to put 4,500 policemen on the streets, at a cost to the city of around 300,000 euros, but could not guarantee the safety of the participants.

Although police on Sunday arrested 37 ultranationalists, they reacted too late to threats which had been made weeks ago, Djordjevic told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Djordjevic said she was disappointed by “ambiguous” statements issued by politicians and others about the parade.

“The parade was not an end in itself, but a means of promoting gay rights and we will continue the fight until these goals are achieved,” she said.

Gay rights are still a taboo in Serbia and the gay community is largely forced underground, despite laws protecting it.

Two right-wing nationalist organisations, Obraz and the Serb Popular Movement 1389, had openly threatened to disrupt the parade and to set on fire buses transporting the participants.

Only four of the ultranationalists detained on Sunday will be tried, including Obraz and 1389 leaders Mladen Obradovic and Misa Vacic, Belgrade police director Milorad Veljovic said.

“The arrests will not prevent our followers from continuing to oppose not only gay parades, but all those who jeopardise the traditional values of Serbia as an Christian Orthodox country,” Obraz leader in Belgrade, Damir Grbic, told AKI .

“We have scored one victory, but we won’t stop until Serbia becomes a normal country,” Grbic said.

Although the Serbian parliament enacted a law in March banning discrimination against gays — amid fierce opposition — gays cannot marry or adopt children in Serbia.

Many gays are forced to lead a double life and use coded messages to meet in their homes as well as clubs and bars.

The planned gay parade caused a bitter rift between pro-European politicians who support the parade and nationalist groups and religious conservatives who oppose it.

The parade was supported by the Serbian human rights ministry and was the first one planned since 2001, when a gay march ended in violent clashes in which over 40 people were injured.

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


Serbia: EU to Approve Additional Eur 200 Million Aid

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, SEPTEMBER 18 — The EU will grant an additional EUR200 million of macroeconomic aid to cover Serbia’s budget needs, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic said after meeting with Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia. The funds represent a loan granted under very favorable conditions, such as those applied in the EU itself, said Djelic, who also signed an agreement on EUR100 million in non-returnable EU assistance for the Serbian budget. The agreement on the EUR200 million in macroeconomic aid will be signed in November, and the funds will be used to cover the budget’s priority needs and Serbia’s European integrations program. The EU has granted the EUR300 million for the needs of the Serbian budget on condition that the program the Serbian authorities agreed with the International Monetary Fund be continued, as well as the reforms that are preparing Serbia for association with the EU.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Animals: Mediterranean; Agriculture Top Cause of Extinction

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 21 — Agriculture threatens 65% of species and is the top activity causing mammals to risk extinction in the Mediterranean region. Turkey is the country with the most at-risk species. So underlined a study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Along with agriculture, the second and third top activities causing species to risk extinction are hunting and invasive species. Together, all three of these activities destroy and degrade mammals’ natural habitats in the Mediterranean region, a condition that affects 90% of at-risk species. Habitat destruction occurs also due to urbanisation, infrastructure, pollution, and climate change. For each species there are specific causes. Bats, for example, are threatened by tourism, caving or improper positioning of gates at the entrance of caves, which has contributed to them losing their natural habitat. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Mammals: Mediterranean, One in Six Species Risks Extinction

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Of the 320 species of mammals that populate the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, one out of every six risks extinction according to a new study conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to their data, from 1500 until today eight species have gone extinct. Among these is a species endemic to Sardinia and Corsica, while the other seven only went extinct at a regional level. The researchers observed that 3% of mammals are “in critical danger”, 5% are “in danger”, 8% are “vulnerable”, and another 8% are close to being at risk for extinction. More than one-fourth of mammal populations (27%) are in decline, while 31% of species have a stable population. There is insufficient data on for 40% of mammal species, while only 3% have increased their population. Mammal biodiversity in the Mediterranean region is greatest in the mountainous regions. The mountainous regions in Turkey, the east, and north-western Africa are the regions with the most mammals that risk extinction. Of the 49 threatened species, 20 (41%) are unique to the Mediterranean region. “The main cause of extinction,” said Annabelle Cuttelod, the co-author of the report, “is the destruction of the natural habitat of these species. We need,” she concluded, “action at an international level to protect natural areas and reserves to assure that the biodiversity of these areas is not lost”.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Muslim Man Beheads Christian in Egypt

By Mary Abdelmassih-

Egypt (AINA) — Osama Araban, a Muslim man riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, went on a rampage last week in Egypt, killing 63-year old Coptic Christian Abdo George Younan, in the village of Bagour, before traveling onwards and stabbing with intention to kill two other Copts in two different villages, at least 10 km apart (AINA 9-18-2009).

In the village of Behnay he repeatedly stabbed Coptic shoemaker Adib Boulos before being stopped by eyewitness Behman Saeed, after whom Osama Araban ran, leaving the victim behind. Adib suffered a broken scull and lung hemorrhage, and is still fighting for his life in intensive care unit at Shebin el-Kom Hospital.

Osama Araban then traveled to the village of Mit Afif and stabbed his third victim, Sobhy Barsum, a blacksmith. He also stabbed his brother Hani Barsum in the neck — only to be saved by a co-worker. Hani was also hospitalized.

Osama Araban was arrested the following day.

The funeral procession of Abdo Younan was attended by thousands of Copts, led by Metropolitan Archbishop Benjamin of Menoufia Diocese and seventeen clergymen. Hundreds of banners were held, showing the amount of anger and injustice felt by Copts. Anti State Security chants were heard during the procession, besides calling on President Mubarak and the government to save the Copts from the hands of the fundamentalist who are killing them.

This incident which took place on September 16, 2009, has left Copts in Egypt shocked and angered, not only because attacks against Copts have been escalating, but because of the way the murder was committed.

The details of the attacks, not told by the media, but exposed by Coptic lawyers and activists, reveal that 35-year old car painter Osama Araban not only stabbed Abdo nine times but also severed his head from his body — an Islamic ritual beheading. He then meticulously washed his bayonet with the water hose the victim was using, before setting off on his motorcycle to the next two villages, looking for more Coptic victims.

Egyptian State Security, which is in charge of drafting press releases and news related to Muslim attacks on Christians, decided from the start which route they wanted the incident to take, and tailor the news accordingly.

In an attempt to influence public opinion for the forthcoming acquittal of the Muslim killer, the media reported that the reason for the killing was a “material dispute.”

Renowned attorney and activist Dr.Naguib Ghoraeel, head of Egyptian Union Human Rights Organization, issued a press release on September 17, calling the crime a massacre, and confirming that what happened was revenge against Christians. He accused the Interior Ministry of lying I suggesting the incident “is a mere quarrel,” and warned them that no one will believe that the murderer is “mentally unstable,” should they use this defense.

Ghoraeel accused the police of seriously tampering with evidence, by insisting on the body being removed by ambulance. “Investigators came to a scene without a body, and then went to inspect the body in another place,” he said.

Many lawyers believe that this step was taken in order to reduce the judicial verdict down to manslaughter.

According to Copts United Advocacy, Reverend Estephanos Azer, the priest at St. Serapium Church in neighboring Shebin el Kom, condemned the authorities and media fabrications when dealing with cases of Muslims killing Christians. He denied any financial dealings between the victim and his killer.

“I hope that the authorities would respect our intelligence. The media treats us as a herd of sheep. We refuse that completely. We have logic and can think.” He went on to voice what all Copts are saying that with every attack on Copts, the incident has to have one of two scenarios: either the killer is “mentally deranged,” or the incident is due to a “material dispute.”

Taken the criticism the State Security received regarding their usual scenarios, they have now decided to take a completely different route, never used before. The pro-government newspaper “Youm 7” reported that Obdo Younan “Insulted Islam” and the killer therefore decided to take revenge by killing him. This news was picked up by other news agencies.

Following this murder, Coptic shopkeepers in Bagour, Manufiya province, north-west of Cairo, are terrified to open their shops. “I am a watchmaker, How can I work when I feel that if I look down, someone might jump on me and behead me,” a shopkeeper told Free Copts.

George Abdo, son of the slain victim, believes that a radical Islamic organization is behind the incident. “For whose benefit is all this government misleading information?” he said, “we want justice nothing more.” George said that by appeasing the radicals at the expense of the Copts, the government is giving them a green light to do as they please with the Copts. “Pressure on Copts will lead to explosion sooner or later. We are unable to live this way; we have nothing to loose,” he warned.

In an interview with Free Copts, lawyer activist Ashraf Ghobrial, one of the organizers of the Coptic National Strike on September 11, called on President Mubarak to personally intervene to ensure the safety of Coptic citizens. He said “I am saying there must be someone behind the killer. We ask the State Security to look for the terrorist cell behind him. If they don’t, this incident will happen again and again, in different parts of the country. We want the State Security to protect us, all what they do is spy on us.”

No Muslim has ever been sentenced justly for killing a Copt. Consequently, the Egyptian Government’s manipulation of facts is not to save the Copt’s murderer from a just punishment, but more to save its face in front of the Western world for being blatantly unjust towards the Coptic victim, given that Egypt is a member of the UN Human Rights Council which is responsible for the protection of human rights around the globe.

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

EU: Veneto Wins Project for Israel and Palestinian Activity

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 14 — To educate for peace, involving the media: this is the aim of the European project, won by the Veneto Regional Council as leader of “PET-med”(EU Partnership for Peace). The action plan, informs the Veneto Regional Council office in Brussels, provides for the setting up of a series of activities in the territories of the State of Israel and the Palestinian authorities of the West Bank and of Gaza with the aim of strengthening the role of the media as an instrument to promote tolerance and mutual understanding between local communities in conflict. The objectives include the identification of shared standards and work methods which allow complete and impartial information on the conflict and the peace process in Israel and Palestine, the development of teaching methods for students and teachers on the critical use of media on the subject of conflict, the setting up and production of a radio format through joint work by professionals in the sector, and finally the creation of transnational workgroups that include members of the various communities involved in the conflict.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Morocco: Investment Fund Buys Land in Jerusalem

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, SEPTEMBER 21 — Moroccan investment fund Quds, (Jerusalem in Arabic) announced that they have bought land in Jerusalem for 5 million dollars and intend to preserve the Arab-Muslim cultural character in the eastern part of the city, annexed in 1967 by Israel. “The land, 1800m2, will host a cultural centre called the House of Morocco” said Abdelkebir Alaoui Mdaghri, the head of the Al Quds Fund and former Foreign Minister. “About 90% of Arab-Muslim lands were annexed by Israel, which built buildings and houses,” added Mdagri; “it is urgent to act otherwise there will be no Arab-Muslim land left in the holy city”. In 2009 the Al Quds fund donated a new surgery ward to the Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem and financed the construction of a college and the restructuring of four schools. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Music: Elvis Unites All Just a Stone’s Throw From Jerusalem

(ANSAmed) — ABU GOSH (ISRAEL), SEPTEMBER 14 — Israel has its own Graceland. In the primarily Arab Abu Gosh suburb, just a dozen kilometres from Jerusalem, the memory of Elvis has been devotedly — if not religiously — cultivated by the legend’s most hardcore fans. The HQ is the Elvis Inn: a 1950s-themed restaurant, managed by Jews but frequented by Arabs too in the name of the legend who once again unites rather than divides. There are thousands of photos, posters and postcards. Icons cover every spare inch of the place. There are also 4 life-size statues of Elvis in various poses, for example sitting at a table or strumming a guitar. But the artistic verve of the owners — brothers Uri and Amnon, who have run the restaurant for some 20 years, reaches a pinnacle on the painting that adorns the ceiling. Ten years ago Uri unscrupulously copied the frescos of the Sistine Chapel to illustrate the salient moments of Elvis’ life. It is all illuminated by orange neon to underline the dramatic developments of the personal life of the legend from Memphis. Every year, on the anniversary of the death of Elvis on August 16, the local lookalikes meet here and sing in his honour. “We celebrate his life and his legacy,” said Eran Lev-Ron, who has been an Elvis impersonator for 30 odd years. And Elvis-mania is not confined to the restaurant. Just around the corner is a hairdresser who promises customers a perfect quiff which was Elvis’ trademark for years. Whilst in an unnamed parking lot, near a petrol station, there are two golden statues of the idol measuring 4 metres in height. One, in a typical swinging pose, has an arm raised: it is said round here that he is indicating, in a rather profane way, the road to Jerusalem.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Swedish-Israeli Relations Continue to Deteriorate

Relations between Sweden, the EU presidency-in-office, and Israel have gone from bad to worse after Israel accused Sweden of breaking an EU ban on contact with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the allegations at a meeting with Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos 10 days ago, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Sweden on Monday (21 September) reportedly summoned Israel’s ambassador in Stockholm, Benny Dagan, to clarify Mr Netanyahu’s remarks and issued a robust denial.

“The government of Sweden has no political contact with Hamas. We are acting in accord with all EU policies in this area and allegations about such contacts have no substance,” it said in a statement.

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad on 14 September told EUobserver that high-ranking officials from EU countries, including people “very close” to EU leaders and foreign ministers, meet with the militant group on a weekly basis.

He mentioned visits from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, the UK and Luxembourg, but not Sweden.

The EU in 2006 formally suspended high-level talks with Hamas, which it calls a terrorist entity.

Swedish-Israeli relations already suffered in August, when Sweden declined Israeli demands to censure a Swedish newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of selling the bodily organs of dead Palestinians.

Sweden’s chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, on Monday (21 September), quashed an enquiry into whether the organ-harvesting article incited racial hatred.

The Nordic country has also criticised Israeli settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories and supported an EU freeze on plans to upgrade diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.

Spain, which takes over the rotating EU presidency in January, has in recent times been more Israel-friendly than Sweden.

Spanish Prime Minister Jorge Luis Zapatero is to visit Jerusalem on 14 October. And foreign minister Moratinos has good contacts with the Israeli administration following his work as the EU envoy for the Middle East peace process from 1996 to 2003.

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

Middle East

Barry Rubin: How the West’s Enemies Are Saving it

When people are very pessimistic, I say to them: Don’t worry our enemies will save us.

By that I mean that the enemies of peace, progress, and democracy—Islamists and radical Arab nationalists, terrorists and silly people in the West alike—are so intransigent, obviously lying, and dangerously wrong about society that they will convince and force most people to reject and combat them.

Even when thrown lifelines, even when confronted with naiveté, they reject concessions, turn up their nose at compromise, go too far, and make their nonsense so illogical and apparent, as to either teach the naïve in political and intellectual power or persuade others push them aside in order to survive.

Today offers some examples of this idea:

The presidency of Barack Obama and the relatively soft stands of European states have given Iran a great opportunity. Tehran could have made a show of flexibility, a strong pretense about being cooperative, and met with Obama. This would have forestalled a higher level of Western sanctions, while Iran could still work secretly on nuclear weapons.

After all, even after a virtual coup by the most hardline faction, the stolen election, the strong repression, the show trials of dissidents, and the appointment of a wanted terrorist as defense minister [that’s a pretty amazing list, isn’t it?], the West was still willing to deal with the regime.

Instead, Iran produced an “offer” to negotiate so minimal that even the Europeans rejected it. While this doesn’t mean all is well—Russia and China will block and sabotage even moderate sanctions; the West Europeans will oppose really strong ones—at least Iran’s last-minute effort to derail the process altogether will fail.

Imagine what the Iranian regime could have done if the ruling establishment had let someone less extreme than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get elected, then claimed this showed what a moderate and democratic state they were running. A charm offensive could have defused the nuclear controversy and the sanctions would have fallen away. Iran would have been set loose and a few years from now could have finished its nuclear program in a relaxed manner.

But no!

Turn to Lebanon…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Brzezinski Suggests Obama Shoot Down Israeli Jets

‘They have the choice of turning back or not’

The national security adviser during the administration of President Jimmy Carter says the United States should shoot down Israeli jets if that nation chooses to take military action against a nuclear project in Iran.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, in an interview with the Daily Beast website, declared, “We are not exactly impotent little babies.”

Israel long has been thought to be considering a military strike against operations in Iran that could result in a nuclear weapon for the regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israel has stated that it is unwilling to have its future threatened by a leader who believes it should be wiped off the map, as Ahmadinejad has stated, with access to nuclear weapons.

But such an Israeli attack on Iran probably would have to fly over coalition airspace in Iraq.

“Are we just going to sit there and watch?” Brzezinski demanded.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Cinema: Lebanese Press Attacks Israeli Film ‘Lebanon’

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 21 — The Lebanese press has unanimously attacked the Israeli film “Lebanon”, which won the Leone d’Oro award at the Venice Film Festival, about Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, branding it “biased”, “hypocritical” and “lacking self-criticism”. The film, directed by Sam Maoz (who fought in Lebanon), recounts the horrors of the war seen from inside an Israeli tank, showing the dead from a slit of the tank and describing the torments of the four soldiers inside. The film will not be released in Lebanon, where Israeli products are boycotted. “It is an operation of self defence where the Other does not exist, where there is only a masked, absent enemy, which the film treats as a terrorist,” writes the An-Nahar correspondent in Venice. An-Nahar is close to the pro-West government majority. For daily paper Al-Akhbar, which backs the Hezbollah minority party, “a lot of people thought it was a film against war, that it criticised wars carried out by the Israeli State… but in fact it doesn’t criticise anything. It deals with the psychological crises of four solders inside a tank.” Pro-government daily Al-Mustaqbal writes that the festival jury wept for the fate of “four solders who ‘suffered too much’“, but not for “the victims of war”. “27 years after having killed a person for the first time in his life, Maoz replaces the tank with a movie camera,” writes An-Nahar. “The first time he kills, the second time he tries to convince you… but the truth is lost.” For Al-Akhbar, “Maoz took advantage of the trend launched by Ari Folman in Cannes” with the animated film ‘Waltz with Bashir’: “This Israeli fashion of examining the tortured conscience is continuing with success.”(ANSAmed).

2009-09-21 10:33

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran Nuclear Head Says New Centrifuges Built

Iran’s nuclear chief said Tuesday the Islamic Republic had built a new generation of centrifuges as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned that his country was ready to confront the “forces of darkness” from anywhere in the world.

“Our scientists have built new generation of centrifuges and cascades with 10 centrifuges each are now being tested,” Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

Salehi said the new generation of centrifuges can enrich uranium with “more than five times the output capacity” of the earlier standard centrifuges and that Iran “plans to raise this capacity to 10 times.”

Iran and the world powers are at loggerheads over Tehran’s decision to continue enriching uranium, the process which can generate the raw material to make an atomic bomb.

The atomic chief’s statements came shortly after Ahmadinejad, speaking at an army parade marking the anniversary of the eruption of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, renewed his demand that U.S.-led foreign forces operating in neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan leave the region.

“We advise you to go back to your own land. Our region will never accept a lengthy presence of foreigners,” the re-elected president, dressed in his trademark light-color jacket and wearing sunglasses, said at the ceremony attended by top military and administrative officials.

“As you saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, people are against the presence of foreigners. It is impossible (for foreign troops) to have a stable base in the region,” added Ahmadinejad, who according to state television left Iran shortly after the parade, bound for New York where he is to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting.

During the parade, Iranian military pick-up trucks were seen sporting large banners proclaiming, “Death to Israel” and “Death to America.”

“Satanic powers”

“Our armed forces are ready to confront the forces of darkness. If anybody wants to shoot a bullet at us from anywhere, we will cut off his hands,” the president said in his address to the nation.

Thousands of soldiers participated in the parade during which Iran also showed off its range of missiles, including the latest Sejil version, and displayed its fighter plane, Saegheh, which it claims to have built domestically.

The annual event marking the invasion of Iran by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces which provoked a war lasting almost a decade was marred when a military plane taking part in the extravaganza crashed near Tehran, according to IRNA.

IRNA later dropped the report from its website without giving any reason. No independent confirmation could be obtained concerning the reported crash.

The parade took place opposite the mausoleum built for Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on the outskirts of Tehran.

Ahmadinejad said the Iran-Iraq war, which killed about a million people on both sides, and which Iran describes as the “Sacred Defense”, was a “humiliation to Satanic forces.” Iranian officials refer to the United States as the Great Satan.

“Chemical weapons were used against our nation and the Satanic powers equipped Saddam (Hussein) against our nation. Saddam was backed by certain arrogant powers,” the president said, reminiscing about the brutal conflict.

“We ask the arrogant powers to revise their polices… they sell weapons and then talk of peace.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Yemen: Army Defeats Shia Attack, 140 Rebels Killed

(ANSAMED) — SANAA (YEMEN), SEPTEMBER 21 — More than 140 Shia rebels have been killed in the north of Yemen during violent clashes with the army in Saada, capital of the Saada province and stronghold of the rebellion. The news was reported by a military source. The rebels attacked the city from three directions, trying to conquer the presidential palace, the symbol of state power in the province. Government forces were able to defeat the attacks, with violent clashes in which the guerrillas suffered heavy losses. “The bodies of more than rebels have been recovered so far,” said the military source. The Shia rebels ask for the return of secular power to the Zaidit imam in the Saada province, on the border with Saudi Arabia, annexed in 1962 by the Yemen (which has a Sunni majority). The rebellion began in 2004. On August 11 the army launched a massive offensive on the Zaidits. This morning’s attack broke the truce announced 24 hours earlier by government forces. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Kabul: Flowers and Cards for the Fallen, You Are Our Heroes

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 21 — Hundreds of bunches of flowers and cards reading “thank you, you are our heroes” and “you make us proud to be Italian”. This is how thousands of people from Rome and from the whole of Italy have paid tribute to the 6 paratroopers killed in an attack in Afghanistan last week, who are now lying in state at the Celio military hospital in Rome. Outside the chapel of rest, people who have come to pay their respects have left hundreds of bunches of flowers. “Thank you defenders of the nation and of freedom,” reads one card attached to a bunch of roses. “May the Lord reward you for the courage you have shown in helping others,” reads another. “You are our heroes.” The funerals of the six paratroopers will take place today, a day of national mourning in Italy. A long funeral cortege will this morning carry the six coffins from the Celio hospital to the San Paolo basilica for the state funeral, which will take place at 11am.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


U.S. Says Pakistan, Iran Helping Taliban

Reporting from Washington — The U.S. military commander in Afghanistan says he has evidence that factions of Pakistani and Iranian spy services are supporting insurgent groups that carry out attacks on coalition troops.

Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are being aided by “elements of some intelligence agencies,” Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal wrote in a detailed analysis of the military situation delivered to the White House earlier this month.

McChrystal went on to single out Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency as well as the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as contributing to the external forces working to undermine U.S. interests and destabilize the government in Kabul.

The remarks reflect long-running U.S. concerns about Pakistan and Iran, but it is rare that they have been voiced so prominently by a top U.S. official. McChrystal submitted his assessment last month, and a declassified version was published Sunday on the Washington Post website.

The criticism of Pakistan is a particularly delicate issue because of the United States’ close cooperation with Islamabad in pursuing militants and carrying out drone airstrikes in the nation’s rugged east.

“Afghanistan’s insurgency is clearly supported from Pakistan,” McChrystal wrote, adding that senior leaders of the major Taliban groups are “reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s ISI.” The ISI has long-standing ties to the Taliban, but Pakistani officials have repeatedly claimed to have severed those relationships in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

More recently, the ISI has been a key U.S. partner in the capture of a number of high-level Al Qaeda operatives, including alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. But U.S. officials have also complained of ongoing contacts between the spy service and Taliban groups.

U.S. frustration peaked last year when Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials secretly confronted Pakistan with evidence of ISI involvement in the suicide bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

Since then, U.S. officials have sought to avoid public criticism of the Pakistani service as part of an effort to defuse tensions in the relationship. Indeed, U.S. officials in recent months have said that the ISI had become more committed to the counter-terrorism cause after one of the service’s own facilities in Lahore was the target of a suicide bombing.

McChrystal’s comments are the first public indication in months that the United States continues to see signs of ISI support for insurgent groups. Experts said elements of the ISI maintain those ties to hedge against a U.S. withdrawal from the region and rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.

“There is a mixture of motives and concerns within the ISI that have accounted for the dalliances that have gone on for years” with insurgent groups, said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA counter-terrorism official.

Iran has traditionally had an adversarial relationship with the Taliban, and McChrystal’s report says that Tehran has played “an ambiguous role in Afghanistan,” providing developmental assistance to the government even as it flirts with insurgent groups that target U.S. troops.

“The Iranian Quds Force is reportedly training fighters for certain Taliban groups and providing other forms of military assistance to insurgents,” McChrystal said in the report. The Quds Force is an elite wing of the Revolutionary Guard that carries out operations in other countries.

McChrystal did not elaborate on the nature of the assistance, but Iran has been a transit point for foreign fighters entering Pakistan. Experts also cited evidence that Iran has provided training and technology in the use of roadside bombs.

U.S. intelligence officials said Iran appears to calibrate its involvement to tie down U.S. and coalition troops without provoking direct retaliation.

Iran’s aim “is to make sure the U.S. is tied down and preoccupied in yet another theater,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. “From Iran’s point of view, it’s an historical area of interest and too good an opportunity to pass up.”

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya Criticises US Somali Raid

Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula has criticised last week’s raid by US forces in Somalia in which a suspected al-Qaeda member was reportedly killed.

Mr Wetangula told the Reuters news agency that he felt uncomfortable when the US conducted operations in the region without sharing information.

He said such “lone ranger behaviour” had frequently failed to achieve the stated goals.

Kenya is a US ally in the fight against East African Islamist militants.

Mr Wetangula also said that he welcomed any “success” in the raid.

US Special Forces flew into Somalia by helicopter, killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan and carried away his body, officials said.

Analysts say Nabhan was one of the most senior leaders of al-Qaeda’s East Africa cell.

It is believed he fled to Somalia after the 2002 attacks and was working with the al-Shabab group, which the Americans see as al-Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia.

Al-Shabab, which controls much of southern Somalia, later staged a suicide bombing on African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, saying it was revenge for the US raid.

Nabhan was suspected of two attacks on the same day — bombing an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and trying to shoot down an Israeli airliner.

The authorities in Kenya also regard him as a suspect in two attacks on US embassies in the region in 1998.

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


Muslims Mass-Producing Children to Take Over Africa, Says Archbishop

One of the most powerful figures in the Anglican Church believes that Africa is under attack from Islam and that Muslims are “mass-producing” children to take over communities on the continent.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, 56, was elected Primate of Nigeria last week and his elevation could exacerbate tensions at a time when Anglicans are working to build bridges with Muslims. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali resigned as Bishop of Rochester earlier this year to work in countries where Islam is the majority religion.

Nigeria is split almost half and half between Christianity and Islam. There are about 17 million practising Anglicans in the country, but they face persecution in the north, while the two faiths vie with local religions for supremacy in the rest of the country.

Archbishop Okoh made his controversial comments about Islam in a sermon in Beckenham, Kent, in July. He said that there was a determined Islamic attack in African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

“They spend a lot of money, even in places where they don’t have congregations, they build mosques, they build hospitals, they build anything.

“They come to Africans and say, ‘Christianity is asking you to marry only one wife. We will give you four!’ “ Archbishop Okoh described this as “evangelism by mass-production”.

He said: “That is the type of evangelism they are doing: mass-production, so if you have four wives, four children, sixteen children, very soon you will be a village.”

Africa was “surrounded by Islamic domination,” he said, and he urged Christians to speak out now or lose the authority to speak. “I am telling you, Islam is spending in Uganda and in other places, it is money from the Arab World,” he claimed, accusing Christians of abdicating their responsibilities. “Who is the leader in the Christian world? There is no leader.”

One senior member of Britain’s Muslim community said: “The views presented by the Archbishop are extremist and overwhelmed by Islamophobia and his elevation will certainly foster misunderstanding and extremism. Knowing the communal geography of Nigeria, he will be a massive danger to community relations and cohesion in his country, besides places like London.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Denmark and Ireland Drop ‘Sham Marriage’ Demands

Denmark and Ireland say they will not demand changes to the EU directive on the freedom of people to prevent sham marriages. Denmark and Ireland have dropped their demands for a European law to be changed to prevent immigrants arranging sham marriages to stay in the EU. Both countries have accepted that few other member states wish to reopen the EU directive on the free movement of people within the EU. The European Commission had also opposed such a move.

Denmark and Ireland declared themselves satisfied with conclusions agreed by EU interior ministers yesterday which assert that member states are allowed to take “appropriate steps” to combat abuse. The conclusions add that if evidence shows that the abuse continues and is widespread, the matter will be referred to the Commission to be addressed by “the most appropriate means”. Karen Ellemann, Denmark’s interior minister, told her EU counterparts in a meeting in Brussels yesterday that she would continue to monitor the extent of sham marriages and abuse of the EU law. “If there is a systematic tendency towards fraud the Commission is obliged to come up with a proposal,” said a Danish official.

The official added that it remained a “long-term goal” of Denmark to see the directive changed. The issue took on political significance in Denmark last year when the Danish People’s Party, a far-right party that supports the government, said that it would withdraw its support if the directive remained unchanged. Ellemann is today (22 September) meeting members of the Danish People’s Party to explain the outcome of the meeting in Brussels.

The issue arose from a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in what was known as the Metock case in July last year. The ECJ struck down a law in Ireland banning non-EU citizens from living in Ireland with a non-Irish EU spouse, unless they had lived together previously in another member state. Denmark and Ireland, supported by the UK and Austria, said the ECJ ruling prevented them from stamping out marriages of convenience.

A spokeswoman for the Irish government said: “Ireland continues to have real concerns about the potential for exploitation of the directive in light of the Metock ruling. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will continue to exchange information on abuse and fraud with other member states and the Commission, as agreed today.

“In July the Commission issued guidelines on the implementation of the directive, saying that member states could put a minimum duration on marriages with non-EU citizens, but other factors would also have to be taken into account, such as whether the couples held a joint mortgage.

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


France: Police Dismantle Migrant Camp in Calais

Calais, 22 Sept. (AKI) — French police on Tuesday began dismantling a makeshift migrant camp in a bid to tackle suspected people smuggling near the northern port of Calais. French officials said 278 migrants had been detained in the security operation at the camp, known as “the Jungle”, and more than 1,000 had left the area.

Rights protesters clashed with around 600 police who sealed off the area and some arrests were reported.

The squalid camps consisted of cardboard, plastic tarpaulins and scraps of wood and housed about 300 men from countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Somalia.

Rights activists formed a human chain when the operation began early on Tuesday.

The head of Calais police, Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, said the operation had been a success.

He said 146 adults and 132 self-declared minors had been detained by police and the minors had been transferred to special centres.

Many of the residents are believed to have had plans to cross the English Channel to seek asylum in Britain. Others hoped to obtain refugee status in France.

The French government’s decision drew criticism from humanitarian groups who question whether demolishing the camp will help resolve illegal immigration issues.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees sent staff to Calais earlier this year to counsel people about asylum procedures in France and Britain.

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


Italy’s Migrant Crackdown Sparks Political Tensions

ROME (Reuters) — The deaths of 73 African migrants who drifted for three weeks in the Mediterranean without rescue have heightened concern about Italy’s crackdown on immigration, opening cracks in its ruling coalition and a rift with Brussels.

Five survivors, picked up off the Italian island of Lampedusa, said their grey dinghy left Libya carrying 78 people. A day later, the motor died: two pregnant girls, raped by traffickers, were among the first to die of thirst and exposure.

Italy is the first landing-point in Europe for many migrants from Africa and tragedies in the Mediterranean have become a fixture of the migration season, but since Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi toughened its immigration laws, things have changed.

The migrants said a dozen fishing boats passed but only one answered their calls, throwing food but refusing to board.

“There used to be competition among fishermen to save lives, but…with Italy’s new law making immigration a crime, they’ve become too afraid,” said Laura Boldrini of the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. “The Mediterranean has become a No Man’s Land.”

In Italy, the survivors were placed under guard. Unless they win asylum, they may face detention under legislation passed in July making it a felony to be an illegal immigrant or help one.

That followed a deal Italy struck with Libya in May enabling it to return migrants stopped in international waters to Libya: the UNHCR has said that arrangement, the fruit of Berlusconi’s closer ties with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, consigns hundreds of asylum-seekers to inhumane camps in North Africa.

Rome’s hard line has strained relations with the European Commission, which last month called for an investigation into the repatriations to Libya. Berlusconi threatened to block all EU business unless Commission spokespeople were silenced.

“We need more than words,” Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said last month, denying Italy was responsible for the tragedy. He said frontier states were being unfairly burdened by illegal migration to the 27-nation bloc: “This is a European problem.”

Current EU President Sweden has vowed to discuss migration at an October summit, but analysts say it could be hard to curb mounting racism in Italy as the global crisis ups unemployment.

FAR RIGHT NOT MARGINAL

Italy’s crackdown was promoted by the far-right Northern League, a lynchpin of Berlusconi’s coalition, following a 75 percent leap in migrants arriving by sea last year to 37,000.

The measures, which include legalizing citizens’ patrols to enforce law and order, cut the number of migrants landing in south Italy between May and August to less than a tenth of last summer’s 10,000 and struck a chord with many Italians, worried by mass immigration and rising crime.

One TV poll said 71 percent thought the five survivors of last month’s boat tragedy should be tried as illegal immigrants.

“There is no doubt that racism is becoming more visible… and it’s going to get worse: partly because of the economy,” said James Walston, professor of Italian politics at the American University in Rome. “It’s dangerous because the far right in most countries is marginal. Here it is not.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Rome’s Migrant Policy in Spotlight

EU, UN, Human Rights Watch voice concern over ‘push backs’

(ANSA) — Rome, September 21 — Rome’s policy of forcibly escorting boat migrants approaching Italian shores to Libya instead of bringing them to Italy was back in the international spotlight on Monday. The European Commission, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and Human Rights Watch all expressed concerns over the so-called ‘push-back’ policy, which provides for asylum claims to be vetted in Libya rather than in Italy. Libya is the main departure point for African migrants and asylum seekers trying to reach Europe via Italy. The policy, which was launched in May, was criticized after a meeting of European Union interior ministers at which Justice and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot unveiled detailed proposals to distribute refugees more evenly across the bloc. Meeting with reporters in a joint conference with UN Refugee Commissioner Antonio Guterres, Barrot said the situation facing asylum seekers in Libya had to change as soon as possible. “We must show the Libyans that the current situation is unacceptable and cannot continue for much longer,” said Barrot, who is also vice-president of the EU’s executive body. Guterres expressed “strong reservations” over Italy’s policy. “Our position is very clear,” he told reporters. “We do not believe that conditions in Libya provide the necessary safeguards to protect asylum seekers”. He said there was a “severe risk that asylum seekers will be sent back to their countries of origin”, and said individuals in Libyan detention centres were subject to “terrible conditions”.

The Italian government’s special envoy for humanitarian emergencies, Margherita Boniver, admitted conditions in Libya were problematic but said efforts were being made to rectify the situation. “There should be inspections and recommendations and Libya should face penalties until its mistreatment of migrants ends — on this point we are all in complete agreement,” she said. Boniver also stressed that the push-back policy was only enforced against migrants in international waters. “Once people reach Italian waters, they are not accompanied back to Libya and Italy, as it has always done, receives them”.

Italian Interior Undersecretary Saverio Nitto Palma said Italy was doing its best to cope with a large number of asylum seekers. “There has been a large increase in the number of asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa who are travelling through Libya,” he explained, calling for a specific program to deal with the situation. However, the remarks by Barrot and Guterres prompted renewed calls for a change in policy from opposition MPs and migrant groups in Italy. Sandro Gozi, an EU policy representative for the largest opposition Democratic Party said there had been “too much criticism from authorititative voices” and warned Italy “will pay for its arrogant rejection of migrants with political isolation”.

Leoluca Orlando of the small Italy of Values party said the Italian government was now facing “criticism on a near daily basis from international and European organizations for its violation of refugee rights”. The Italian Refugee Council expressed satisfaction that Barrot “has finally made it clear that people who need protection cannot be taken back to Libya”.

One of Italy’s most senior churchman also voiced concern over the rights of refugees on Monday.

Addressing the opening of the Italian Bishops Conference, the organization’s president Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said “human rights guarantees for immigrants contained in national and international laws” should not be “ignored”.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH RAPS ITALY. The remarks by Barrot and Guterres came on the same day the New York-based international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a scathing 92-page report on the push-back policy, entitled ‘Pushed Back, Pushed Around’. “The reality is that Italy is sending people back to abuse,” said HRW refugee policy director Bill Frelick, who authored the report.

The report, based on interviews with 91 migrants and asylum seekers in Italy and Malta since May 2009, said the push-back policy was an “open violation of Italy’s legal obligation not to commit refoulement”, which is the forced return of people to places where they risk abuse or death. “Italy flouts its legal obligations by summarily returning boat migrants to Libya,” said Frelick.

“The EU should demand that Italy comply with its obligations by halting these returns to Libya”.

Libya is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which provides internationally recognized rights for asylum seekers and refugees, has no asylum laws and does not distinguish between refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants. People entering Libya without documents or permission are treated as illegal entrants and subject to arrest. The Italian government says its policy is compliant with international law and EU regulations and draws attention to fact its location on the EU’s southernmost border means it has to cope with a disproportionate number of arrivals. The government says Italy has rescued more than 52,000 boat migrants between January 2007 and August 2009. More than 1,300 people intercepted in international waters have been sent back to Libya since May this year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Video: Police Clear French Migrant Camp

French police have moved in to dismantle a makeshift camp set up by migrants near the port of Calais.

French officials said 278 migrants had been held in the operation at the camp known as “the jungle”. More than 1,000 were thought to have already left.

Rights protesters scuffled with police and some arrests were reported.

UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson said reports Britain would be forced to take some of the migrants were wrong but that it would help “genuine refugees”.

Resigned

Rights activists initially formed a human chain as the operation began early on Tuesday.

Aerial television pictures showed officers moving unhindered throughout the camp and calmly leading out a line of migrants.

But other shots showed some jostling and scuffling between police and protesters, some of whom were reportedly arrested.

After the camp was cleared, bulldozers were brought in to raze the makeshift shelters.

The chief of Calais police, Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, told reporters the operation had been a success.

He said 146 adults and 132 self-declared minors had been detained. None of those held were female, he said.

The adults were taken into police custody and the minors taken to special centres.

France says all will be offered the chance to apply for asylum or voluntary assisted repatriation.

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

Culture Wars

Abortion: Spain; Go-Ahead From State Council for New Law

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 18 — Spain’s Council of State gave the go-ahead to the decriminalisation bill proposed by the socialist executive branch of José Luis Zapatero, which allows, among other things, every woman the possibility to decide for an abortion autonomously within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, reported the Spanish press. The opinion of the council, which is not mandatory, holds that the reform is compatible with the constitution and doesn’t breach one of the most controversial points, the extension of the right to abortion to minors between the age of 16 and 18 without consulting their parents. The State Council, in any case, recommended that parents of the minors that decide to abort “are listened to”. The Minister of Health, Trinidad Jimenez, stated today in an interview with Radio Onda Cero, that he is in favour of keeping the bill in its present form, though it may be subject to a second reading at the ministerial council on September 25. Once approved definitively, the proposal will be able to proceed through parliamentary procedures. Currently abortion in Spain is allowed only in case of rape, deformation of the foetus or health risks to the mother. This last case was claimed by about 98% of women who have had abortions in Spain, without the time limits provided for in the present law. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Obama Science Chief: Abortion Can Save Planet

John Holdren’s textbook says forced sterilization may become necessary

Despite the claims of some media watchdogs, President Obama’s science czar contended in a textbook he co-authored that involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under certain conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by “climate change.”

John Holdren argued in the 1970s college textbook obtained by WND, “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment,” that, “Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying.”

The book, last revised in a 1977 edition, was co-authored with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich and Ehrlich’s wife, Anne.

The authors also advocated abortion as an acceptable form of population control and proposed that the best survival strategy for a pregnant woman is to abort her baby.

[…]

A close reading of “Ecoscience,” however, shows the authors clearly stated their acceptance of abortion as an effective population-control technique.

“An abortion is clearly preferable to adding one more child to an overburdened family or an overburdened society, where the chances that it will realize its potential are slight,” Holdren and the Erhlichs argued on page 760 of the 1977 edition of “Ecoscience.”

“There is little question that legalized abortion can contribute to a reduction in birth rates,” the authors wrote on page 761. “Liberalization of abortion policies in those countries where it is still largely or entirely illegal is therefore justifiable both on humanitarian and health grounds and as an aid to population control.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Bulgarian Chosen to Head UNESCO

The UN cultural and scientific organisation Unesco has chosen its new leader, former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova.

Ms Bokova beat the favourite, Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, whose candidacy had been clouded by allegations of anti-Semitism.

It took five days and five rounds of voting to choose the new Unesco head.

In the end it was down to Ms Bokova and Mr Hosni. In the final round it seems a coalition formed to keep Mr Hosni out.

Mr Hosni, who would have been the first Arab head of Unesco, was always a controversial candidate.

For many years Egypt’s culture minister, he has spoken in the past about the “infiltration of Jews into the international media”.

Last year he said he would be willing to “burn Israeli books in Egyptian libraries”, though he has since apologised for the remark.

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

1 comments:

alan said...

Behold the power of the Mossad

"Iran's sole Simorgh AWACS aircraft was lost during a military parade Sept. 22, one of two Iranian military aircraft that crashed in Tehran while participating in a display to mark the anniversary of the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

The Simorgh collided with one of the Air Force's Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighters over the area of the Imam Khomeyni Shrine, southern Tehran. According to eyewitnesses, the crash occurred immediately after the parade. Apparently, no mayday call was issued.

Eye witnesses reported that the flaming planes landed on the mausoleum burial site of the Islamic revolution's founder Ruhollah Khomeini, a national shrine."